Monday, April 26, 2010

my five elements/ koshas...flowing vs. holding

There are five elements that relate to the five koshas (sheaths/layers) including: earth (annamya kosha), water (pranamaya kosha), fire (manomaya kosha), air (vijnanamaya kosha) and space/either/sky (anandamaya kosha). Here is the dominating order of my koshas/elements:

1.Fire: I feel like I have a lot of passion. Fire is a burning, transformative power energy that is always seeking the next level. Fire is always rising, and aspiring for greatness. I always try to do my best. I need to monitor my fire because too much fire can be destructive.

2.Air: Air is very quick moving, it never stops and it never it gets stuck. I feel like I have a very quick moving mind, very dexterous. I can take topics/subjects/metaphors and apply them to many things. I can learn about an aspect of inner spiral in utkatasana (chair pose) and then figure out how to apply that aspect of inner spiral in all other poses. I can learn that inner spiral is a way to draw into the self. Inner spiral starts at the medial (inner) heal and wraps around like an ace bandage all the way up to the floating ribs, the core slightly engages, and then the inner spiral comes out the back and widens the back. So when you inner spiral you draw into your front body (which is like a metaphor for drawing into yourself) in order to expand more fully on your back body (which is a metaphor for expanding and interacting with the universal…the rest of the world).

3.Earth: I feel I am stable and have discipline. The earth is solid, hard and unweaving. When I am passionate about something (ex. The study of yoga) I am strong and unwavering I have a lot of disciple. If I teacher tells me to do something I hear it once and will remember and practice it with discipline. When problems arise, I have strength, and determination. However in terms of my doshas (my ayurvedic constitutions) I am pitta (fire), and vata(wind). So I balance my kappah dosha(earth) by eatting heavier foods, avoid spicy foods (which is my weakness, I love the fire in my mouth) and applying oil to my body.

4.Space/either/sky: Sky is unbounded and wide open. It is having a beginners mind. I think the longer you practice yoga the more you can develop this mind like “I know what I am doing…I have been practicing for years…I am the shit…”Being like the sky is being soft and humble. Like no matter what a teacher teaches even if you have heard it a thousand times before you can still learn, you can choose to be open, willing, and humble. Every experience is new and every experience presents a new opportunity to learn. It is having an attitude of “just try it”. When I was younger I was a competitive snowboarder and I also was a little depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be humble I needed to be the best and show others that I was awesome. I didn’t have a lot of the element of sky. Aftering practing yoga I stopped competing in snowboarding and feel much more open and soft. I feel Anusara has helped me to be humble. Every Anusara class I take; I learn more about myself and about the practice. The more I learn about Anusara yoga and myself, I realize I know very little and I have SOOO much more to learn. This is so humbling. I have said this before..But one thing I love about the humbling experience of Anusara is that as I get my ego smashed down, instead of feeling like I should go cry, I feel empowered and eager to learn and practice more. I know that the poses I do, if I do them with fullness (Purnatva) and with heart they are perfect. Just like my neighbors pose are perfect even if we don’t look the same. Of course I could always use more sky, more humbleness, and more openness. I am sure the more I practice Anusara yoga the more humble I will become.

5.Water: Lastly I think I have the least amount of the water element. Water is flexible, humble and it is down moving. When an obstacle comes in the way like a rock, the water doesn’t freak out, it goes around any obstacle. It goes with the flow. I like plans and order. When obstacles come up it is harder for me to be flexible and say “that’s okay”. For the past five years I have been practicing vinyasa style yoga. I thought the flowing nature of this yoga, that moves with the breath pretty quickly, would help me become more flexible and flowy. I did get good at flowing. However, that became my plane, what I expected. I was used to holding poses for just a few breaths with less emphasis on alignment, and flowing quickly. Now I think that holding poses and practicing alignment for an unknown amount of time, actually adds more water element to my practice.… here is a fun fact…I learned that the muscle spindles take 90-120 seconds to release, to make sure that we aren’t in danger. That means it is good to come into a pose to move around and find the alignment and then to hold the pose for more than 90 seconds so the muscle spindles have a chance to relax. This is very different then the way I used to flow and practice but I think it brings more water more fluidity to my life. Learning that things don’t always have to go the way I think they should. For example, I don’t always have to lift my leg up as I inhale and swing it through as I exhale. I can just step my foot straight between my hands. I still love flowing but I also love what I learn with my mind, body, and heart when I hold a pose.

I loved the Anusara immersion (part 1). I am so excited for my personal practice, I feel I have so much to work and focus on….fun fun fun!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

chit (to know more) ananda (to be more happy)

I re wrote my last blog...So it is very similar but with some differences.

This weekend I took the first part of the Anusara immersion from Adam Ballenger, the owner of Kula studio. I learned so much. Its funny, I would say for the past 8 months I have been practicing Anusara yoga daily, reading about the principles, watching the John Friend teacher training DVDs and I actually thought that I was getting a grasp on this wonderfully full and amazing system of yoga. Then I took the immersion, I smile and I realize how little I know and how much there is to learn. I feel humbled and empowered to learn more, study more, and practice more. I know this past weekend was just a tiny taste of what Anusara has to offer…and I am salivating.

After taking the immersion, even though my body is so sore from many hours of practice and sitting, I am feeling such a strong pull to my matt, and wanting to practice all I have learned. Now I am very aware that I rely on hyper extending my knees (not doing shin loop) in most of my advanced poses, again so humbling. I love that this humbling experience doesn’t make me want to cry and hide under my bed sheets, but instead it is a motivation to keep me practicing.

It’s funny how I found Anusara after practicing and teaching more Iyengar vinyasa flow for many years. When I started doing Anusara I was always thinking “how can I take these wonderful principles of alignment and flow with them”. But now I enjoy holding in the asansa going over my new mantra…open to grace (foundation, inner body bright), muscular energy (hug muscles to bones, periphery to midline, periphery through core lines to focal point), inner spiral (expanding), outer spiral (narrowing), organic energy (shining out from focal point along core lines and out through periphery, expanding away from midline, and shining out through skin), loops (ankles back, tops of shins forward, top of thighs back, scoop tail bone, expand kidneys, shoulders back and behind heart, top of ears back), and shins in thighs out…

One of my favorite things I learned over this weekend was John Friends reasons for studying yoga. I think his reason has been the same as my intention for the past few years but I never was able to articulate it in such a simple way. The reason to practice and study yoga is to know more (chit) and to be happy (ananda).I love this it is so simple and so meaningful. I love how I can take this on any level, learning more about my body, my mind, my relationship with others, my relationship with myself, my inner energy…And from learning this knowledge I can be happier. Now I acknowledge that this isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is really really hard it requires a lot of tapas heat, discipline, and effort. I do believe with my whole heart, that the more I practice yoga, the more I study, the more I continue to learn about myself and spirit, learning that there is no separation between the two ( non-dual) the more happy I will become.

This is also the reason I meditate. It is my intention when I sit. From sitting whatever my practice may be, silence, mantra, visualization…I know that in my practice even if it is short it is helping me learn more, to discover the truth of who I really am, and that learning more is contributing toward my happiness. Now I see each day, each obstacle, every activity as an opportunity to learn more, to gain more chit so that I may experience more ananda, delight, bliss, and happiness.

I practice and study yoga and meditation so that I may know more and to be happy! I even chant this before my practice in the Anusara invocation “sadchitananda murtaye”.

Friday, April 23, 2010

anusara immersion 1 part 2

So happy for my second section of Anusara immersion to start. I am learning so much about the principles of alignment, which are fabulous because they apply to every pose. in other traditions i have practice i needed to learn the alignment for each pose differently. i learned what alignment to do I virabhadrasana (warrior 1), the alignment in virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2), Trikonasana (triangle pose), Succasana (seated position)...but in Anusara you use these five principles: open to grace, muscular energy, inner spiral, outer spiral, organic energy. and you apply these five principle in a dynamic way to every pose. Then there are more refinements that include the seven loops and shins in thighs is fabulous...My practice, my teaching, and my life is changing. I am so grateful for learning this wonderful practice of Anusara. I am learning to CHOOSE to align with grace, with Shri (beauty) and with the divine. This makes my happier, my mind calmer, and my relationships better.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Anusara Immersion #1 part 1

What an amazing weekend.
This weekend I took the first part of the Anusara immersion from Adam Ballenger, the owner of Kula studio. I learned so much. Its funny, I would say for the past 8 months I have been practicing Anusara yoga daily, and reading about the principles, watching the John Friend teacher training DVDs and I actually thought that I was getting a grasp on this wonderfully full and amazing system of yoga. Then I took the immersion, I smile and I realize how little I know and how much there is to learn. I feel humbled and empowered to learn more, study more, and practice more. I know this past weekend was just a tiny taste of what Anusara has to offer…and I am salivating.

Whenever I have free time I find myself drawn to my matt. Haha, instead of finishing my many finale projects and papers and studying, as school is wrapping up :)(although I am studying), I can’t help but want to practice all I have learned…my foundation of hands and feet, opening to grace, all the loops. Now I am very aware that I rely on hyper extending my knees (not doing shin loop) in most of my advanced poses, again so humbling. I love that this humbling experience doesn’t make me want to cry and hide under my bed sheets, but instead it is a motivation to keep practicing.

It’s funny how I found Anusara after practicing and teaching more Iyengar vinyasa flow for many years. When I started doing Anusara I was always thinking “how can I take these wonderful principles of alignment and flow with them”. But now the more I learn (and this might change my flowy friends, no worries) the more I enjoy holding in the asansa going over my new mantra…open to grace (foundation, inner body bright), muscular energy (hug muscles to bones, periphery to midline, periphery through core lines to focal point), inner spiral (expanding), outer spiral (narrowing), organic energy (shining out from focal point along core lines and out through periphery, expanding away from midline, and shining out through skin), loops (ankles back, tops of shins forward, top of thighs back, scoop tail bone, expand kidneys, shoulders back and behind heart, top of ears back), and shins in thighs out…ahhhhhmazing!! So if you are coming to my class we might be holding poses longer… To top it off I learned John Friends reason for studying yoga that I have absolutely fallen in love with. This new intention, which isn’t really new. I think it has always been my intention but now I can just articulate it better, makes holding these poses for minutes and going over the mantra even more enjoyable…Are you ready: to know more (chit) and to be happy (ananda)! Isnt that great! We practice and study yoga so that me may know more and to be happy! Does chit, ananda sound familiar? in the Anusara invocation “sadchitananda murtaye”.

(another blog will probably follow shortly about this intention chit, ananda…but teaching two classes today, tons of homework, and then there is that energetic draw to my matt that I can’t resist…

Friday, April 16, 2010

Twists...its spring!

Spring has sprung!! Spring is a time of manifestation of planting seeds that we want to blossom.

This week I thought it would be great to focus on twists. Using the action of a twist is similar to weeding the garden before you plant your seeds and flowers. When we twist we massage and tone the entire visceral system, and bring great circulation to the spinal disks and muscles. We also increase the mobility for the lungs allowing us to breathe more fully. John Friend writes in the Anusara teacher training manual that “when the twisting action is completed and the organ is returned to its original position, fresh blood surges into the organ flushing out wastes and purifying the organ.…It is a natural and powerfully effective way to detoxify the organs and glands, thereby boosting the health of the whole body.”

As humans we cling and attach to so many things. We tend to attach to things that bring more suffering into our life out of habit. We cling to fights we had a day, week, a year+ ago. We cling to limiting ideas and thoughts…we don’t think we are good, or strong, or special enough…

I like to imagine when I twist (or weed my inner garden) that not only am I letting go of physical toxins but I am also letting go of limiting ideas, inner hostility, negativity, self judgment…as if twisting was a way to let go of anything that no longer serves me. If we can twist out toxins, ideas, thoughts, stress and tension, we can create more room and space to plant new seeds of love, happiness, patience..anything that we want to bloom in our life.

Can we use the physical action of a twisting in our asana practice to help remove any “weeds” in our garden so we may plant new seeds with an open heart.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Akshaya Tritya is on Friday...a very auspicious day

(I have learned about Akshaya tritya from Flow Yoga SLC, to learn more about Vedic astrology check out their Vedic Lectures

Akshaya tritya is approaching. Akshaya tritya is a very auspicious time according to the Vedic calendar when both the sun (Surya) and the moon (Chandra) are both in certain positions together along with the Shukla Tritiya tihi (third day after new moon). This year Akshaya tritya is from Friday April 16th at 1:15pm until saterday April 17th 6:15am.

There are many legends on this day, but two most popular ones are from Mahabharata.
1)When Pandavas on a 12 year exile, Lord Krishna gave a bowl to Pathram on the Akshaya tritya. This bowl was a Akshaya (that which never ends) Pathram and every food put in the bowl was never ending and she could feed everybody.
2) Sage Ved Vyasa is considered the one who wrote down the Mahabharata, but while he was writing he understood that he thinks faster then he can write, so he asked Ganesha to help him write down Mahabharata on this Akshaya Tritiya day.

Akshaya tritya is a great day to start anything new. …Just like spring. What seeds do you want to plant so you can cultivate and experience the beautiful flowers.

Muscular Energy, Organic Energy and The Focal Points

In Anusara yoga we focus on focal points within the body. These points lie on the central energy axis along the spine called the sushumna channel. We use these focal points as an inner drishti (gaze) to draw energy and collect energy in (muscular energy) and then to expand and extend energy out (organic energy).

There are three focal points: the core of the pelvis, the bottom of the heart, and the pallet of the mouth. In every pose we do, there is an active focal point.

The focal point of the pelvis is located at the bottom of the sacrum and the top of the coccygeal process. This focal point is activated in standing poses, seated poses and by default whenever the three focal points are in one line, like chaturanga dandasana and plank. So in these poses we draw energy and strength into the low belly. We find inner stability and then from the core of the pelvis we root down and extend out.

The focal point of the heart is located at the bottom of the heart and the top of the diaphragm. This pose is active in most arm balances and in AMS*. In these poses we draw energy into our heart. We find our inner strength and then from the heart we share and shine our beauty and energy from the inside out.

The focal point the palet is located at the upper palet. We draw our awareness to this point whenever the head is in contact with earth including sirsasana, sarvangasana, sethu bandha… In these asanas we draw into the roof of the mouth finding strength and balance and then we organically extend out through the crown, out through the toes, the skin, the eyes… sharing our radiance.

When we draw into a focal point it is called muscular energy. We draw in from the periphery toward the active focal point. We hug the muscles to the bone. I like to think of this drawing in action to be an opportunity to check on ones self. Am I honoring my body in the pose? Am I being healthy in my life? Am I taking me time? Am I doing things that make me happy? Through muscular energy we connect and remember our innate goodness, our inner radiance, and our authentic self.

From drawing the energy in, from connecting to our self, we then extend back out. This energy extension is called organic energy. Just like muscular energy is about uniting with the self, organic energy is about sharing our self and contributing to the whole. It is sharing and radiating our beauty with the whole. It is our way to play with the universe and add our unique beauty. It is connecting to our inner radiance and shinning back out from the focal point out through the limbs and through the skin.

We want to create a dynamic balance between muscular energy and organic energy. We don’t want just to be one but to have harmony. When we create this harmony between effort and ease, strength and flexibility… we can fully connect to our heart. If we are just muscular energy, just strength, stability, effort, steadfast we become ridged. If you imagine a big, dry, hard rigid tree and something stressful happens or a big gust of wind comes along the tree will snap and fall down. If we have too much organic energy, if we are to flexible and soft we get limp. Like a baby tree, a young sapling with shallow roots, when stress or wind blows the sapling will flail in the wind until it gets uprooted and falls over. This metaphor is a good example that we can’t just have one we need balance. We want to be like bamboo, strong yet flexible. Remember, however, that this balance is dynamic it will change and shift from pose to pose and day to day.

May we always remember to connect to our self, to remember our inner beauty and then choose to share our beauty and heart with the whole.

*Audo Muka Savasana

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Smile with your eyes

Your eyes express the energy of the whole body physically, emotionally, and spiritually. With this reasoning, changing your eyes can change the energy of your whole body. When we get upset or sad we hold our eyes with tension, this creates a negative energetic expression that moves throughout our whole being. When we are happy or excited we shine through our eyes and we can feel the energetic shift it makes throughout our whole body. Whenever I am sad and/or just feel horrible I try to smile because I know when I smile my eyes slightly twinkle and that little twinkle helps bring more happiness into my body even when I don’t feel happy.

The other day I heard a fun statistic….”the eyes expand up to 45% when you see something beautiful” the pupil expansion is the physical response to us experiencing Shri, which is the essential beauty of life.

Whenever we are in an asana pose we create Shri, we make beauty with our body and we can add even more beauty energetically by twinkling our eyes. The eyes shine with magical radiance. This cultivates a feeling tone of total bliss. Like we are saying with our eyes “I know I am intrinsically good and beautiful and I want to share my unique beauty and goodness with the whole world”. We can do this with our eyes.

When we sit at a desk all day, look at a computer… or are stressed out a natural response is furrowing our brow and tightening the muscles around our eyes. This cultivates and spreads the feeling tone of tension throughout our whole body. Not only do we then experience this tension that we created but we take this tense, stressed out energy into the world. By the action of the eyes we are choosing to contribute negativity, stress and fear into the universal energy. Why would you choose to contribute that energy to the whole instead of choosing to add a blissful “life is great, or maybe even fabulous!!” energy to the whole! I say choose because it is our choice. No one is making us hold our eyes in a certain way…that choice is ours. It can be hard to choose to create positive magical eyes when life is hard, but we can still make that choice.

So choose to bring more beauty into your asana practice and into your life by softening the tension around your eyes and shining and smiling with your eyes.

I CAN!! more on manipura

I subbed Jami’s level 2 class this morning at Flow Yoga SLC and it was fabulous! The students rocked it!

I continued to focus on the manipura chakra creating strength, connecting to our sense of self and personal power. I also learned some more about the manipura I wanted to share. The manipura is where we get humor from, I think this is great so in class today I encouraged the students to remember their humor and remember it is okay to laugh and not take our self too seriously, especially when we are working on handstands.

(Like I mentioned in the previous post) We use the strength from our manipura chakra to remember…Today in class we were working on remembering our intention and our heart throughout the whole practice to keep coming back to our intention. This is the cycle, we forget our intention, we notice we forget and we comeback. We also worked on remembering our shoulder alignment (shoulder loop). We have the tendency to curl our back and bring our shoulders off of the back body in a position of self defense. When we practice yoga with our shoulders held in this position we not only avoid opening the heart but we also build the muscles of our back to continue to hold our shoulder like this. This is a negative self perpetuating cycle. We do yoga because we want to open our chest, but we continue to hold the head of the arm bones forward in our asanas which builds strength in the shoulders in a way that keeps them rounded forward. So our chest doesn’t get more open, so we practice more yoga…And round and round you go. That is not what we want, we don’t want to shield and protect our heart. There are some circumstances when protecting the heart is a good thing..but mainly NO! We want to share and express our heart. We choose to strength the back so we may hold our heart open. When we physically do this should alignment we are energetically choosing to express and share our heart/love. So the cycle to remember the shoulders is very similar to remembering the intention. We hold the shoulders in alignment, we let the shoulder integration go, we realize our shoulders have rounded forward, and then we engage shoulder loop…We do all of this remembering with compassion and non-judgment.

Another great thing I learned about the manipura chakra….the verb phrase is “I can!” How empowering…Today we cultivated this mantra with these asanas…I can float forward from my down dog! I can do handstand! I can link balance poses! I can do full dancer!…
Manipura Symbols and correspondences
Meaning: lustrous Gem
Location: Navel, solar plexus
Element: Fire
function: will, power, strength
Inner State: Laughter, joy, anger
Body Parts and Glands: digestive system, muscles, pancreas, adrenals, plasma
Malfunction: ulcers, diabetes, hypoglycemia
Color: yellow
Seed Sound: RAM vowel sound: All (like in father)
Planets: Mars, Sun
Verb: I can
Gemstones: Amber, topaz
Sense: sight
Guna: rajas
Symbol: ten petals of blue, downward triangle, with Hindu solar crosses (svastikas). At the base a running ram
Deities: Agni, Surya, Rudra, Lakini
Operating Force: combustion

I read parts of this poem during class today, I got this from Wheels of Life, By Anodea Judith
It is dark and cold.
We are still and we breathe in…and out…in…and out…
We are cramped with lack of space.
We are stiff with lack of movement.
We are cold with lack of warmth.

In the darkness we long for life.
And we breathe in…and our…in…and out…
Each breath opening to each and every cell.
Each breath igniting a tiny spark of fire, of warmth of light.

We are still, yet we sense a growing warmth within us.
We are alone, yet we sense others around us, trapped in the cold and dark, longing to break free, longing for warmth and light.
There is a form here, but it is empty.
There is life here, but it is still.
There is awareness here and it is awakening.

From a place of stillness, we call forth movement.
Slowly reaching out, expanding, breathing, stretching, flowing.
Into form, we invoke life.
Its spark from the fire of the place between…
Between ourselves and others, between past and future,
Between the known and the unknown.
We move and dance, please singing through us as the dance of life burn its way through our fears and our pains. Feel its warmth melting tension, pulsating, growing—the rhythms lifting and moving, healing and soothing, warming and cooling.

From a place of infinite movement we call on the self. We call on the self to awaken to another part of the journey. We call upon the self to awaken to the sun, the fire, the warmth, the transformation. We call upon the self through our will, and it rises to our call.

We reach for the sun and call upon the yellow ray. The ray of life, the ray of creation, the ray of consciousness, the spark of fire…We call upon the flame to burn within us and temper our passions into strength. With strength we fight the dark, pushing and straining, to realize it is part of ourselves, part of our strength, part of our fear. We laugh, and put down the fight, merging, becoming whole, becoming stronger. We pass between the pillars of light and dark, honoring both…
And find ourselves in a new and glorious land.

A land of bustling activity, teeming with life, sparkling like stars with shining rivers of light reflecting the sun. The sparks catch our eyes, we turn toward their glow and they move and dance, connecting and igniting all that they touch. They touch something within, igniting strength, will, action. Sparks fly, igniting other threads, other fires…they explode…and are gone.

We are lifted, we are lightened, we are laughing. We feel our bodies sway with the rising heat, hot tongues of fire moving within us, expanding, contracting, but growing ever wider, yet returning always to its source within us. Our bodies now burning, radiating heat and light and strength and will. Power pulsating through us, from above, below, around, and running though, transforming all that is within and without, our bellies bursting with joy.

Feel this energy deep within your body, burning with the fire of your own life. Feel it pushing deep into the Earth, down through the Earth, to the hot molten center of Earth. Feel it return from the Earth, rising up from the heat below, though your legs, your pelvis, your belly, moving up through your body, through each part of your body—your arms, your hands, your checks, neck and head. Feel it flowing out of you, connecting with other sparks, filaments of energy, other fires of life. Feel it connect with the thoughts inside you, your constant sparking neurons, interconnecting filaments of energy, lines of thought, patterns in a web, ebbing and flowing in pulsing flames, burning with the glow of activity.

You are an intersection of energy, merging, combining, exploding, radiating. Extend your awareness without and within, making connections, weaving a web of power, like a fire, growing higher and brighter.

Think of the times when you knew this power. Times when you felt connection, vitality, importance and strength. Think of the times power flowed effortlessly through you, like warmth from the sun. Think of those times and feel them now. Feel your body radiate their purpose, dance with their majesty, sing with their strength.
In this fiery world of activity you are a channel for power around you. You open to it, you burn with it, you drink it in and you pass it on…easily, effortlessly, willing, joyfully.

Your power peaks and returns, feeding the fire within—a molten core, feeding your body, silently charging, ready to expand again, when next your purpose calls.

The fire has burned high, and the coals now glow with warmth. Exhilarated, your body relaxes. A smile plays upon your lips, your hands are at peace with the strength they have carried, and you again return to the gentle breathing…in..and out…in…and out…in…and out.
Satisfied, you rest.
(Anodea Judith)

May we always remeber our own strength, our own passion, and our own beauty! Having deepened our strength in the maniupura chakra we now have a greater capasity to hold the enrgy of the dive into the energy of the heart, and to share and express it with others.

thanks again flow yogis for letting me sub and take seat of your teacher.
Sources : Wheels of Life, by Anodea Judith

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Manipura Chakra

We start our yoga practice by taking a seat and reflecting on our self in silence. From this place we set an intention, which in some way allows us to connect more fully to our heart.

Then we move into the physical asana practice where we move from one pose to another. As we do this physical practice, we begin what I call, the cycle of remembering the heart. In this cycle we forget about our intention/heart, and then with compassionate awareness we notice that we forgot, and then we connect back to our intention/ heart. When we connect back to the intention we don’t just hear the words in our head but we invoke the feeling tone of the heart that brings a reassuring deep peace and a connection and remembrance to our inherent goodness. This cycle happens for every yogi no matter how advanced, the only difference is a beginner yogi might have longer periods of forgetting their intention and an advanced yogi maybe quicker to notice when the intention has slipped away or they may even be so aware that they can catch when the intention begins to slip away but hasnt completely left. This is the practice of remembering the heart.

In the classes I taught on Wednesday, one was an all level class at Flow Yoga SLC and a Level 1 & 2 class I taught at The Yoga Center we focused on the manipura Chakra. I will also be continuing this theme for my Friday classes. The manipura is the third chakra which in Sanskrit means "city of jewels." It is located in the solar plexus, navel and digestive system. It is where we get our sense of self and where we draw our personal power, discipline and passion from. When we hold an asana we find the strength and vitality to stay in the pose from this energy center. This chakra is not only important because it helps us connect to our full potential and our own strength, but it is also important because it sits below the anahata chakra (the heart chakra). The chakras build off of each other in steps, if you don’t have a developed connection to your manipura chakra you won’t have the capacity or strength to connect, open, and share you anahata chakra. So not only do we draw on this fiery chakra when we need more physical strength and endurance throughout practice, but we also use the strength, discipline, and passion of this chakra to continue to come back to our intention and to remember our heart.

So in my classes this week we energetically focused on cultivating our connection to our manipura chakra finding our discipline and passion so we may deepen our awareness to the cycle of remembering the heart and have the strength to continue to connect to our intention and hold space for the energy of our heart.

Asanas physically in this class we build up fiery heat through:
•Surya Namaska 5-10X
•Chaturanga tune ups (i.e. good old pushups…with alignment and breath)
•Jumping forward from AMS (we took AMS at the wall finger tips a little less than one hand print away from the wall, good foundation in the hands, shoulder loop, inner spiral thighs, scoop in the tail bone, toned belly…then hoop! Working to get the sit bones to the wall. This is great it teaches you how hard you have to jump to get the hips over the wrists without worrying about filling over)
•core work and abductor strengthers
•AMC (handstand 3 ways…L at wall, heels at wall, heels at wall to bent knees working our way to full hand stand)
•Reverse wirabhadhasana
•In this class physically there were times when the students were asked to dig deep and call upon the power of their manipura chakra…while smiling of course.
•I also continued to ask where are you in your cycle of your heart felt intention? Are you very aware of it and immersed in the feeling tone, have you forgotten about it, are you bring your awareness back to it…remember no judgments just awareness.

I think next week I might be feeling the anahata chakra since we have been building up the personal strength to move more deeply into the heart…

Suggested mantra meditation: Ram is the bija (seed sound) for this energy center. Repeating this sound out loud releases a vibration sound energy that helps you connect to the region of the manipura chakra. So simply repeat….Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram…find your own internal rhythm.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Making beauty through asana…SHRI

I was watching one of John Friend’s Yoga Teacher Training DVD’s today and he was talking about reasons we practice yoga. He said one reason to practice yoga is to co-create with the divine, so we may bring more beauty into the world through our artistic expression. I love this! We all have the power to create beauty though our own freedom! We can choose to co-create with the Universal! Through the practice of Anusara yoga, by aligning with the divine and remembering the Universal, we experience delight.

Through the practice of asana, pranayama and remembering the heart we draw into ourselves (muscular energy). Through this drawing in we find our inner luster, we remember our divine nature, and we remember our beauty. In drawing in we see and experience our intrinsic goodness. We have this moment of AHHA, like an inner sigh, as we recognize that we are an expression of this one divine essence! Through this recognition we can shine out (organic energy). We shine out our glorification of this inner recognition. When we come to this place of inner connection and recognition and shine out from this divine space, we add the most beauty possible to the world.

In this DVD, John used a metaphor that I really liked and used in my classes today (at Flow and Kula). John said it is like we are all an instrument and our instrument is unique to each one of us. No one in the world has the same instrument as us. With our own instrument through alignment, breath, and our heart connection we can play the instrument and make the most beautiful noise. A noise that no one else can make, a noise that is truly ours to contribute to the whole. When we practice with heart and alignment we play our instrument as best we can. We contribute this sound to the whole in our asana class making a beautiful orchestra! Not only do we contribute our unique instrument sound to our asana class, but we contribute our beauty to all the yogis worldwide, contributing to the global orchestra. John said that we can also think of ourselves as a whole orchestra and that each part of our body is its own instrument. Through aligning each part of our body correctly and being very aware of all the different body parts/ musical instruments, we contribute to one orchestra. (What a lovely metaphor)

I have been practicing mainly Vinyasa, and Prana Vinyasa Yoga for many years and have recently found Anusara yoga. When I think about this metaphor, especially the one where I am the whole orchestra and each part of my body is its own instrument that contributes to the beautiful sounds of the whole orchestra (my whole self), gets me thinking about how I used to perform asanas. I thought I was getting pretty good. I looked good in the pose, I could hold it for a long time, but now I realize that not every part of my body was involved in the pose. I had trained myself to come into a pose and collapse and just allow my bone structure to hold me up. I wasn’t playing all my instruments in the most beneficial way. Yes, it was easy because I wasn’t engaged. Now when I do yoga, even if I am in a basic class, every pose I come into, and every part of my body, every instrument is contributing someway to the whole.

This is Shri. Shri means “radiance” in Sanskrit, it can also be translated as beauty or that which is inspiring. Shri is essential beauty, something that lifts and opens your heart. Shri is the recognition of our intrinsic goodness. The effervescent light that shines from within when we align with the divine and we experience a AHHH...sensation in our mind body and spirit.

May we align with the divine in our asana poses and in our life so we may choose to contribute more beauty to the world, and with this wonderful life we have been blessed with.

Happy day to you, may we all reflect and connect to our heart on and off the matt.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New buissness card!!

Thanks Alysha!
Alysha Kester took photos and helped me desing....

Purnatva (perfect fullness)

Inspired by the full moon on March 29, we explored the Purnatva “perfect, fullness” in my Tuesday evening (Kula Yoga) and Wednesday morning (Flow Yoga) classes.

When I saw the full moon on the 29th I was in awe! It was so beautiful, radiant and full. As I looked at the moon I felt a connection to my own beauty, my own radiance, and my whole fullness. Purnatva often translated as “perfect fullness”. I was hesitant at first about bring up the term perfect in my yoga class, so often we think perfect means striving for the best, yet it seems always out of reach, like we aren’t quite good enough yet. I didn’t want my students to think of that. Instead I wanted them to think of perfect as perfectly content with where they are in there existence, in their life, in the moment, and in their pose. In recognition of their own perfection they fill full. Full of the divine essence that fills us all in such abundance.

I know I keep coming back to this, but it just keeps coming to mind. “Niralambaya Tejase” the last line of the Anusara invocation which means the inner sparkling brilliance of the heart that is always present. I think of this verse when I think of Purnatva. That we are so full of this inner radiance and that this radiance is always present, and as long as we do our best in whatever (life, relationships, yoga asana, meditation) then we are perfect in that moment. Maybe being perfect in that moment means not taking the full expression of the pose whether we can do it or not. Being perfect means listening with an honest compassion to our body and honoring how far we should go in a pose.

When you practice from a place of Purnatva, allow yourself feel luminous, beautiful, and full like the moon, cultivating an attitude like there is nothing lacking in this moment or any moment. When you look at the moon you see the holes and the dips and in a way those holes are the moons imperfections, but they just add to the perfectness of the moon! Without the holes, without the imperfections the moon might not be as perfect. Being perfectly whole means loving and accepting where you are in life or in your asana. You are imperfectly perfect! Just as you are, right now in this moment!

When you realize you are perfect just the way you are and that you are always full of spirit and are an expression of Grace, you feel perfect and full (Purnatva). One mantra I use when I feel like I am not perfect, not full, or I feel defeated is….”I am perfect and whole”...A simple mantra/affirmation but it helps shift my mood and energy tremendously.

Things to remember in your asana practice:
•Instead of striving for perfection in your pose connect to your inner essence and feel the fullness from within. When you practice yoga asana from this inner connection any pose you do is perfect and full.

•Remember your Divine essence; know your asanas are already perfect as they are when you honor yourself and your body.

•Have fun as you connect with your breath, your alignment, and your awareness of Niralambaya Tejase. Remember that your asanas bring beauty into the world through your artistic expression.

•When you come into an asana, allow every moment and every breath help you bring more beauty, more fullness, and more perfection into your asana. Like holding the pose is a delight because it gives you an opportunity to keep finding more beauty and fullness. Instead of coming into a pose (that might be more advanced) if it means you can only hold perfectly full for two breaths but after that you slowly begin to collapse out.

•Om: Wolfs howl at the full moon in recognition of its perfect fullness. As you Om at the end of class, allow it to be your howl recognizing your own perfect fullness.

Throughout the class I read two quotes on perfection (remember perfection is not this idea of striving for the best, but it is being perfectly content with where you are in your existence, in your life, and in your yoga pose):
•I read a chant from the Shavasya Upanishad:
“purnamada purnamidan
purnaat purnamudachyate
purnasya purnaamadaya
purnameva vashishyate"

My favorite translation:
“This is perfect, that is perfect
Perfection comes from the perfect.
Take the perfect away from the perfect,
and only the perfect remains."

•I read a poem by Dana Faulds, Perfect Emanation:
"The perfect emanation is
alive inside each one of us
right now. I'm not denying
my imperfect translation,
my stumbling fits and starts,
or my dark side.

Yet look at what is
manifesting! Witness how
the thread comes off
the spool without tangles,
how the tapestry of life
weaves itself
using me a loom."


I found wonderful information about Purnatva from Katrina's blog, Katrina is an Anusara® inspired teacher ( from Olga Rasmussen whos is a Certified Anusara® Yoga Teacher

Aligning with the universe allows us to ride the winds of grace toward the center of our heart.

Practice staying connected to your heart as we introduced challenges into our asana practice! This was the theme of the Level 2 yoga class I taught at Kula on Tuesday night 7:30-9pm last week….

Rumi..."On a day when the wind is perfect the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day."

I took a Ayurveda lecture from Aaron Leitko at Flow Yoga on sunday. Aaron briefly summarized Ayurveda, which translates to mean the science of life. Ayurveda focuses on the 5 elements including earth (prithvi), water (apas, jala), fire (agni), wind (vayu), and ether (akasha, akash). Through this science we learn how to create harmony between the five elements in our body, our emotions, and our situations…When talking about the 5 elements Aaron briefly used a metaphor about a sail boat that went something like this…when we create balance between these elements, we align with the universe and through this harmonious alignment the universal winds blow our sail boat in the “right” direction. Isn’t that lovely? I am going to expand with this metaphor.

This reminded me of our yoga asana practice and more specifically Anusara yoga. Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” “following your heart”. When we use precise alignment with our physical body in asana poses we are also aligning our mind, our heart and our spirit with the universe, as a result the universal winds blow our sail toward the center of our heart, and the center of our being. It feels like life is working with us instead of against us.

However so much of our life off the matt doesn’t align with the universe. Sometimes our actions, intentions, wants, and needs are in such contrast with each other that instead of not having the help of the universal wind, it’s like we take out the oars in our boat and start rowing away from the center.

How can our actions on and off the matt better align us so may ride the universal winds of grace toward the center of our heart? How can we not pick up the oars and row away from the center, if anything how can we oar toward the center?

Finding this alignment in our asana practice has two stages. The first stage is finding the alignment of our body, mind, heart, and spirit and noticing the harmonious effect it has on our being. The second stage is coming into this alignment and then introducing various challenges and seeing if we can maintain this clam, heart centered and luminous feeling. I love practicing this second stage because life off the matt is full of challenges. When we practice confronting challenges and maintaining a lightness of heart on the matt, when we are faced with an obstacle off the matt it becomes easier and we are more aware of not losing our center.

Suggested asanas… These poses are already challenging, remember you can practice the first stage by just maintaining alignment. Adding the variations creates more of a challenge but so is staying connected to heart. When challenges confront you in life how do you respond? Do you constrict out of the heart? Or do you use the challenge as an opportunity to connect to life more fully while maintaining balance?

•Vrksasana (Tree pose):

1.Ardha Chandrasana variation: bring the sole of the right foot to the left inner thigh with your hands in anjali mudra, experience your inner radiance. Keeping this inner shine reach your left hand toward sky, and spread your right fingers like the sun with the thumb at heart center and palm facing the left, so the right hand resembles your heart budding open like a flower. Now begin to reach your left hand toward the right, contracting the right oblique muscles and puffing the lefts ribs up as you turn the chest toward sky. Maybe switch your drishti past the left arm pit. (picture of this variation the leg is in 1/2 lotus)
2.Twist variation: hands in anjali mudra begin to twist the torso to the right, and take your drishti over your right shoulder, then twist to the left brings the drishti over the left shoulder.
3.Back bend variation: with the inner thighs moving back scoop the tail bone scope the tail bone as you lift the heart and do a bend backward, take your drishti up toward the sky. Smile
4.On a block variation: stand on a yoga block and do the same variations, quite a challenging being 2-3 inches above the ground.

•Pincha Mayurasana (foararm balance):
1.Twisting variation: while balancing on your foararms start to twist your torso to the right and then toward the left.
2.Back bend variation: while balancing on your foararms melt your heart, bring it forward, integrate shoulder loop, lift up your head smile. Then begin to reach your feet toward the front of the room.

•Hanumanasana (splits): doing a pose like hanumanasnas is challenging and we normally run into our ego and self judgment. When in Hanumanasana, no matter how far you are in the pose, can you cultivate an attitude like “where I am is perfect and beautiful!” Find your inner sparkle within this difficult pose.

•Bakasana (crow pose): balancing on your hands is a challenge, but add the extra challenge of a longer hold. Can you stay heart centered and luminous 5, 10, 20 breathes. Keep smiling.

For more information on regular Ayurveda talks visit:

Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

My Intention It is my intention as a yoga teacher to help you bring more health and vibrancy to your body, ease and alertness to your mind...