Saturday, December 31, 2011


In yesterdays class with Adam he talked about the new year ad about meditation. He suggested in meditation that we think of what we want and we deconstruct it. One thing he said that really grabbed me was, think about what will make you happy. Not happy when every thing is going good and you are in a good marriage, job, house. But what will make you happy if your in a bad job, an bad house, your kid is annoying. What will make you happy then. Use that as your intention. Cultivate that in your mediation practice.

So I have been sitting with this a few hours. I have added some situations that would seem like the end of the world to me. Like my marriage breaks, my dog dies, I get fat, I loss a family member, I loss my apartment, I end up homeless... What would make me happy then. It took a little time to get there, mainly re opening myself from the constricting thinking of that will never happen to me, or if it does I could never be happy. But once those layers came off the answer was clear. Having a better relationship with my higher power (Grace, God, Shiva...). Having a good relationship with my God is one of the only things I see that could help me still see the light and be happy if all the shit hit the fan. This is what I want to cultivate. Its the first principle of Anusara Yoga, OPEN TO GRACE.

LIGHT- Elena Brower Speakeasy at Wanderlust VA in 2011

This is one of the most amazing talks I have watched. I love Elena Brower. She teaches truth. She talks about things I experience but am to afriad to say.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Leaving behind in 2011 and heading towards in 2012 + mantras

The end of one year and the start of the next calender year is a good time to contemplate on the past looking at what you want to let go of and leave behind in 2011 ("from") as well as what you want to cultivate and head towards in 2012 ("to").

My to and from's:
from selfish to selfless service
from impatience to patience
from my will to god's will (opening to GRACE)
from lies to true
from fear to vulnerability
from flightiness to steadiness
from drinking to sobriety
from self hate to self LOVE
from yoga to ANUSARA-INSPIRED yoga teacher

One of my favorite people and teachers Elena Brower's to and from's:
from being a slave to my memory - to REMEMBRANCE of my Divinity
from Commentary to Effortless Vortex
from Everything 'Yoga' to Making Space for New Understanding
from Temperamental Tripper to Brilliant Calm
from Defenses to Softness
(Want more of Elena? Check out art of attention and her mindful smack video blog)

While you are thinking moving from and to here are two mantras to use that Adam Ballenger taught this morning in his class.

To let go of. This mantra can be used with something specific in mind or in general:
Om Pat Swaha Swaha Swaha

To cultivate. This mantra is used with something specific in mind:
Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya Namo Namaha

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virabhadrasna 1 & 2 & 3

These past three weeks I have been teaching virabhadrasana poses. Read the Virabhadra story on this blog post.

The first week we worked warrior one.  I told the story of virabhadra in the beginning. Vira one comes from the action of the warrior Virabhadra (incarnated out of Shiva's hair) busting up from the earth and into the party that Darksha (Shiva's father in law and ruler of the cosmos) party. This represents arriving with an intention and have an intention. My main intention is to be loving and tolerant to myself and others, and to be happy. This pose is challenging for me. I remember when I was first started practicing yoga I was instructed to go into and out of first warrior pose with in a breath or two.  When I started teaching I also instructed in this way. Later on I started to study the alignment of the pose. Like the old saying goes "ignorance is bliss". Now days I rarely teach this pose in class and have to push myself to include it in my personal practice. So warrior one week we really worked. Lots of lunge variations getting the hips squared. Towards the end we did some calf smashing work (rolling up a blanket and sticking it behind the knees). This I find helps tremendously to get the heal to the ground.

The second week we worked on second warrior pose. I again summarized the Virabhadra story focusing on the action that we name our warrior two pose after, which is when Virabhadra scans the crowd looking for Darksha.  This represents that we have to look through our life and see where we are acting in ways that don't reinforce the intention. The example I gave for myself is road rage. My intention is to be loving and tolerant of others, and looking at my life (just like Virabhadra looks around the party) I see that when I drive and get all worked up and frustrated because someone is driving slow. That is not reflecting my intention. We did lots of work on finding expanding spiral (inner spiral) on the back leg, keeping that expansion and then doing contracting spiral (out spiral) on the front leg. That's the hard part for me, maintaining an action while performing the next. I also had the students partner up for warrior 2 with one person doing the posture while the other one is by the back leg with one hand on the shin pressing in and the other hand on the inner thigh pressing out (this is the alignment principle shins in thighs out). The students seemed to enjoy partnering which makes me smile.

This week we are working on warrior 3. Again I summarized the story focusing on the third action the warrior makes which is beheading Darksha. Wow how extreme! Beheading is an intense way of looking at this, I prefer to think of it as letting go of. We set out intention (warrior one), we look through our life (warrior two), and we let go of what no longer is serving us (warrior three). This is such an appropriate time to be doing this as New Year is right around the corner and the cold dark weather is such an invitation to turn within. We can reflect on what we want to let go of, as well as what we want to cultivate for 2012. I took a class from Adam Ballenger last week and he was talking about how important it is that we let go of things to make room for the many gifts that life is always giving us. We did lots of muscular energy drawing in from the periphery to the core for stability and inner spiral work on the back leg to keep the hips square, and drawing the waistline in. It was fun I think the students really enjoyed it.

It was really fun teaching like this, having a plan for three weeks. I teach multiple classes a week and I didn't teach the same class twice. But I did use the same apex pose and same antidote of the Virabhadra myth. For more advanced classes I made them work harder and pointed out more refinements and for more beginner or stiffer bodies classes we moved a little slower focusing more on the general shape of the pose.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My birthday

It was my birthday on Thursday the 22nd. I turned 24 years old. This was one of my most connected birthday, I started the day with a long meditation. I got together and practiced yoga asana with some close friends. It was lovely. We did 24 urdhva drop backs, did pigeon droppings (camel drop backs), and urdhvas to ustanasana back and forth... my quads are still soar. I wanted to work into sirsasana tick tocks and manadalasana but it wasn't the right time. I finished making presents (organic bath scrub infused with essential oils). I got to spend time with my younger sister who is visiting from Colorado. Later a new friend of mine threw me a small birthday bash, with yummy food, and great people. One of my favorite highlights from the party was being serenaded by Julian Moons outstanding voice and guitar skills (check her out).

My mom and I were discussing my age yesterday and how I used to be quite shy and embarrassed about my years or lake there of. I have been teaching yoga since I was 18, I felt like my students would treat me differently when they found out this "secret". I remember if students found out it was my birthday and asked me how old I was I would say "I prefer not to say". This is the first year that I shared more about my birthday and didn't feel fear of being viewed differently because I am young. Isn't it funny how things like age (or weight, wealth, ethnicity, music preference, style...) can make us feel separate from others and unworthy. It can feel so real, but if I take a step back I can smile and realize my ______ doesn't make me less worthy.

My friend JD talked last week about yoga being an invitation to know our self more fully. I have boticed in my own practice that in getting to know myself more fully and I am more accepting of myself and more open to sharing about my life both the ups and the downs. He also read a portion of Marianne Williamsons poem saying "it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us". I love this quote it sends a shiver down my body and tears to my eyes. Here is more from Williamsons book A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Conventional and the Alternative Unite

Guest Blogger Allison Brooks shared this article with me to post on my blog. She is a recent college graduate and a holistic health nut! She aim's to enlightne people about the benegits of natural and integrative therapies. Enjoy.
How doctors are prescribing mind-body therapies

When a person begins to think about forms of medicine, many subjects come to mind. There are conventional, allopathic, alternative, complementary, and integrative therapies and the list can go on. All these divisions have different attitudes of the other, and normally are in two separate areas where they are never talked about with the other. But now the tides are changing, and a recent study shows that one in every 30 Americans was using a mind-body therapy (MBT) because their health-care provider suggested it. This is a big step for integrative therapies, but the only hindrance is that doctors prescribed MBT too late and the full effects cannot be felt.

A group of researchers from the Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School recently studied the amount of people that practice mind-body therapies voluntarily and prescribed. They were intrigued by their findings, and relate the rise in MBT acceptance to the transparency of data findings in clinical trials that support the use of mind-body therapies.

To collect data, researchers surveyed 23,000 U.S. households and found that nearly 6.3 million Americans (about 3 percent of the population) practiced MBT, like yoga, meditation, and touch therapies, because their doctors suggested it. Though this seems like a win for the complementary and alternative medicine side, there is one glitch; the people that were prescribed MBT were actually sicker and used a conventional treatment facility more than a person that voluntarily practiced.

This made researchers and everyone reading scratches their heads. How could an MBT that shows all these positive outcomes, leave somebody still sick? The conclusion made by the researchers was that the clinicians prescribed the MBT too late, sort-of like a last resort options when the conventional therapies failed. This will lead into another thesis, “will the adoption of an MBT early in treatment reduce the treatment time and promote healing”? Some claim that earlier use would help with treatment, and would lead to better outcomes for patients and rely less on the health care system.

Though the effects of mind-body therapies are nothing new for the readers of this blog, it is good to have science promoting their use. The use of complementary and alternative therapies in integrative medical facilities has been widely used, but now maybe a direct plan from the start of treatment will be adopted. Now an easier, less painful, and faster treatment can be implemented for chronic conditions and deathly cancers, like pancreatic cancer or mesothelioma. So far, many people swear by the effects of min0body therapies and other complementary and alternatives medicines.
Allison Brooks

Thank you Allison for sharing your love and knowledge with us. <3 Kimberly

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Present

Here is my holiday present to you! (Possibly a present you can give to others) I hope if helps you find different ways to connect back to you heart on your path. 

Here is a list of main heartfelt qualities/ intentions that we want to cultivate in our self and our students. (I got this list from The Anusara Yoga teacher Training Manual)
Kindness Playfulness Joy Non-clinging
Spaciousness Gratitude Yield Devotion
Discrimination Willpower Compassion Steadfastness
Courage Patience Contentment Sensitivity
Endurance Resilience Gentleness Concentration
Mindfulness Surrender Humility Softness
Acceptance Enthusiasm Forbearance Love
Use these intentions to connect more fully with your heart. They are heart-based feelings that can provide guidance.
Enjoy and many smiles to you,
Kimberly Achelis Hoggan-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copy these words into a word document and insert a table around them (so you get nice squares, couldnt ge the format to work in blogger) print these out on thick colorful pieces of paper, cut out the words and put them in a cute little sack along with the instruction card. This is my gift to you since I can give you one in person. They also make great mindful presents to hand out to others during the holidays.
I keep mine in a little box on my alter and draw a card almost daily.
Many blessing, lots of love and smiles
Ho Ho Ho

meditate and breath

During the holidays I find my mind wondering all over the place. To help myself stay balanced and calm during this often hectic season I have been practicing pranayama minimum 10 mins a day. Normally a combo of Nadi Shodhana and Kapalbhati (great heating breath during the cold winter months). Here is a pranayama blog post I wrote a few weeks ago for more breathing techniques. I also meditate 20 minutes 2 times a day. It is always my intention to do this, but I often find myself making excuses "I have so much to do, like cleaning the hair out of the drain... better not meditate". During this busy time of the year I have even more excuses not to meditate. But in my experience the more I have to do and the less time I have to meditate is a sure sign that I must mediate or I will turn into a mess. Its not just me that gets upset when I miss my meditation but my family, students, dog, and community all suffer when I don't take time to sit.

So let this be a reminder to meditate and breath!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One year

On December 06 2010 I came to my husband in tears. I told him that I had an eating disorder and I wanted help. I was sure he would hate me, leave me, yell at me. Instead he held me in his arms and said "he loved me and that things would be okay". Its been a year since that day and things have changed so much. I have been working with a treatment team regularly and they cant believe what a speedy recovery I have had. I often point out a specific meditation I had with my meditation teacher. I felt like I was in a dark cave being shacked. I was scared but I felt this huge surrender. I few tears ran down my checks and he said "God is healing you". I didn't know what to think but I stayed in the meditation. That day effected my recovery so much! Letting a power greater then myself into my life has been huge. As well as being honest to others and letting people help me.

I have mentioned my eating disorder a few times on this blog and I hint at it quite a lot just don't write out the words "eating disorder" instead I write "challenges, difficulties, things that don't serve us". I think every person has something and I think by talking to the bigger picture instead of specific symptoms it is more universal for everyone. It also scares the crap out of me being so honest and vulnerable so I hope to write about it more as a challenge to myself.

That's my update. My life changed so dramatically one year ago and it continues to grow everyday as I remind myself what is truly important to me instead of what is on the superficial layer.

Thanks for reading

Finished Anusara Teacher Training-- My final project-- tears

I just finished Anusara Teacher Training with Adam Ballenger. Wow happy it is done. These past few weeks I felt very stressed and overwhelmed. I talked to a friend about how I put so much pressure on myself, she reminded me that teaching is a refining practice. That no one expects me to teach the perfect Anusara class, so I should give myself a break. Our final project for TT was to plan a 90 minute class, with a apex pose, a principle of emphasis (P.O.E), and a heart quality. It was a different experience for me. Normally I come up with the class planing the day of or day before I teach. Inspired by my own practice, something I have learned, an experience I had.. So it was different to be planning a class for two months.

At the beginning of the teacher training we talked about our strengths as a teacher. Adam encouraged us to teach from our strength another quality. For example some of my strengths are that I am fun, fiery, and playful. It is easier for me to teach these kinds of classes. Adam said it would be really powerful if I can learn to teach a more serious, or grounded kind of class from my strengths. Not that I would let go of my strengths I don't know if I could let go of my playful attitude if I tried. But Adams point was it would make me a more powerful teachers. I thought hard about this as I planned my final project.

I decided on kindness for my heat quality. Working from the personal to the universal, in the beginning of class I said that it takes effort for me to be kind to myself. that it is much easier for me to be self criticizing, judgemental and rude to myself. However in my experience when I put effort into being my friend rather then being my enemy my life feels lie it goes more smoothly, I am a happier person, and I interact with others in a more meaningful way. I game an example of looking in a mirror, saying "do you look at your reflection like an enemy or a best friend. I would never say some of the things I say to myself that I would say to my friend."

My principle of emphasis was shins in thighs out. The effort to be kind to yourself is shins in. The outer shin muscle tends to be a lot weaker then the inner shin muscles so we used our awareness and effort to engage what I was calling "our kindness muscle" which are really the peroneus longus and peroneus brevis muscles. (These muscles pull the foot outward when we spread our fourth and fitht toes.) The first poses I taught was all about getting the students to experience this action, of shins in.  After that was established I started to teach them how with the resistance of shins in they can broaden their thighs out. Just like we only get the expansion and self softening when we put effort in being to being kind to our self. When I am my worst enemy I experience a contraction and a hardening of myself, when I am kind to myself I experience a softening and an expansion.

In one of the many pages of notes I created thinking up this class I had written in big letters. HOME RUN! Where am I going to nail the link of kindness to S.I.T.O? Most of the class my link was emotional but I also wanted to make a literal link of the theme to the heart quality. Adam loves the literal links. My home run was: I pointed out that doing S.I.T.O is a very therapeutic and kind thing you can do for your knees, hips, and low back. (My critique in the end was to link it more, explaining why it is therapeutic. When you draw the shins in and widen the thighs you are aligning the knees in such a great way and you are training your body to be able to hold that alignment. This therapeutic alignment also creates space in the hips and low back that rarely gets the chance to move and often becomes fussed (non movement possible) with age).

The apex pose was parvrita ardha chandrasana chapasana. We moved through some Surya Namaskars while squeezing a block between the shins. Did some lunges. We moved to the wall to get our quads really open, Did splits up the wall and splits on the floor with the foot pushing into the baseboard. We got the hips, legs, shoulders way open.

I had planned planned planned (my main mistake thinking I could be perfect). As the final teacher training approached the more nervous I became. When it was my turn to teach I felt myself freeze up. I have been teaching yoga for five years and have built up some confidence as my role of the yoga teacher. But teaching to a group of teachers and teaching to my main teacher, Adam, was hard for me. As I taught I could feel part of myself go into auto pilot. One of my main auto pilot modes it teaching commentaries instead of actions:
  •  arms circle out around and up vs. reach your arms out around and up
  • hands frame the foot vs. place your hands so they frame your foot
  • feet move back as you lower down chataranga vs. step your feet back, bend your elbows and lower down
After I taught the class and got feedback. I did good at: giving the students ways to measure if they were doing the action, clever sequence, fun attitude... Main things to refine were: linking the theme to the principle of emphasis, giving action commands instead of commentaries... Listening to the feedback was great. I love hearing what I am doing good and what I need to work on. While Adam was talking instead of saying "you talked about how it takes effort for you to be kind to you self" he was saying "you talked about how sometimes you are not kind to yourself". Its the same thing but hearing someone else say it that way was hard. It was a vulnerable topic for me to teach, and although I taught it to myself many times, and practiced with my husband. After I got the reviews I felt this wave of emotion hit me.

After the training I went home and sobbed my eyes out. I think this was a combination of things: how vulnerable my topic was, how much effort I put into it, and how I compare myself to others. After one of the other teacher trainees taught their class Adam got excited saying "wow you are so great. I could easily inspire you, Like inspiring you wouldn't be a problem. That was great" so I got it in my head that I really wanted Adam to say that to me. I also think the tears were just a result of a long journey coming to an end, I started the immersions with Adam 2 years ago and I have grown so much as a result of these training. It was a great experience. Adam is such an outstanding teaching I have learned so much from him and am excited to continue to learn from him.

I have all the requirements now to be inspired I just need a  Certified Teacher to sign off on my class. I was getting my confidence up to ask Adam. Now I think I will wait.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blog Report

My friend and almost Certified Anusara Teacher Leslie Salmon shared a link with me "Blog report". I was so happy to get a list of outstanding yoga blogs that I might not have been in the know about to add to my reading list. I was so excited to see that this blog made it on there. Some days I wonder if anyone reads it, oh the life of a blogger. Big smile on my face!

Joy for the holidays

The holiday season is certainly upon us. The holidays carry a joyful bhava (bhava is a Sanskrit word meaning "emotional flavor" or "feeling"). However sometimes I feel myself getting disappointed when I experience  more stress then I do joy. I have to remind myself that I am already a busy person and when holidays come I try to do so much. If I wake up without much thought and go about my day it is only natural that my emotional flavor will be of stress. Joy is something I have to make my intention and I have to remind myself of that intention everyday. When I keep this in my awareness then even busy moments like holiday shopping or family dinner juggling I can delight in the flavor of joy. How great it is to be around family! How great it is to make offering to the ones I love! Even finding some joy in being stressed (its all part of the pulsation).

Below is one of my favorite quotes from The Yoga of Discipline by Swami Chidvilasananda widely known as Gurumayi an enlightened spiritual master and John Friends Guru:

"The sunrise of supreme bliss shimmers
in every particle of the universe,
so why not drink a fresh cup of JOY every day
and become inspired with new perception?
Remember, love and respect
must be renewed with each dawn."

I have been reminding myself of this quote and have read it in some classes lately. The part that is standing out to me recently is "why not drink a fresh cup of joy every day". This idea that we need to renew these bhava's daily.

Last week in class I focused on twists. Twisting out stress so we can renew our joy each day. I focused on the difference between a twist and a turn. A twist has two counter actions going on, like opening up a pickle jar. If you use one hand and turn the top one direction the whole bottle will move that direction and you wont open the jar. You need to use both hands twisting one hand one direction and the other hand the opposite direction, then wa-la! You can delight in eating your pickles. Same goes when we twist the body, from the belly button up you twist in on direction, and from the belly button down you twist in the opposing direction. I thought twists would be appropriate after thanksgiving festivities. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Its thanksgiving week so I have been cultivating, thinking, talking, and teaching about Gratitude. I taught a few classes focusing on an aspect of first principle, side bodies long. Having long side bodies gives us more room to fill our self with thanks (and thanksgiving food). We also did some refinement work in the shoulders. One thing I often see is when students lengthen their sides they also take the shoulders up toward the base of the head. This fires the upper trap muscles and adds to stress and tension. We worked on keeping the side bodies long while keeping the neck long, cultivating and holding our self full of gratitude while not adding more stress to our life.

The Velour Music Group and WAnderlust Festival sent an email out that included statements from some of my favorite teachers sharing their thoughts on Gratitude. It was such a pleasure to read I wanted to share:

"When I count my blessings over the last year I always consider who and what helped me to know myself more clearly, including that which has helped me to see my shadow because it empowers me to more effectively transform myself. Even some of the painful events of the year can be seen as gateways to connect to the very essence of my heart. I see all of these as blessings, as the revelatory power of Grace, as the principle of the Guru. I give thanks to all of my teachers, to my students, to the full spectrum of my friends, and also to the challenging people in my life."John Friend

"Gratitude is a state of being. When I'm in the state of gratitude, I'm in my heart, I'm focused, I'm open, and ready for everything. I'm able to give so much more of my listening and my attention, and I feel heard and received. When I'm grateful, I feel connected to myself, my kid and especially my parents. Plus Dr. Emoto has proven that the sentiments of Gratitude and Love together create the most symmetrical and beautiful water molecules(!). Consistent levels of gratitude might be my proudest feat this year." Elena Brower

"Gratitude is one of the greatest healing emotions for bringing your brainwaves and heart rhythms into unison. It can melt the toughest situations and heighten the ordinary moments to profound realization. Gratitude opens the chambers of our heart so we can really feel while we are alive - our beloved, our kids, friends, each morsel, where we rest our head, the beauty, the transforming difficulties, our teacher's grace. The passing moment is the soil of gratitude that helps us wake up and appreciate what we have now before it is gone. That is why Thanksgiving is such a favorite holiday. As the earth goes into its fertile retreat, let us take time to remember, celebrate and taste the core of all that we love." Shiva Rea

"I'm grateful for all the ways that my yoga practice continues to inspire and amaze me. The global yoga community is a growing presence of peace on the planet, I give thanks every day for all the yogis, students, teachers, artists and musicians who are helping to usher in this emerging renaissance of Love and Spiritual Understanding. Peace." MC Yogi

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I have been practicing inversions a lot lately and been teaching them regularly in my classes. This way of inverting your body I find helps me reposition my inner self, find clarity, and let stress and judgement fall away. Literally switching my mood to a more accepting one. Its amazing what an inversion will do. John Friend writes in The Anusara Teacher Training Manual "The agitations of the rational mind are dissolved and clarity of perception is enhanced". BJ Galvan has encouraged me to do handstands in the bathroom before a meeting or anything you might need a little boost for. FYI BJ is founder of Handstand Anonymous.

We also help out  our lypmpth system out when we invert ourselves. An inversion is any pose where your heart is above your head, and in some inversion your feet andy our heart are above your head. This is so beneficial to the lymphatic system because it is a closed system which means there is no pump, unlike the respiratory system which is pumped by your lungs or the cardiovascular system which pumped by your heart. The lymphatic system has one way valves that move lympth toward the heart. However for a moment think about how hard that would be. We spend all day right side up, so the lympth has to pump up stream of gravity. So when we invert we help the lympth travel more easily. The lymphatic system has lots of white blood cells that are responsible for fighting bacteria and other disease causing micro organisms. A regular inversion practice helps keep your immunity system strong.

Another benefit of inversions is back relief from being upright which causes gravity to upp on your spin. This compression causes loads of back pain. Inverting is a way of counteracting the pull of gravity. I was at my friends house and he has an inversion table and we had a great converstation about inversions as my feet were strapped into the board and I dangled upside down. Creating space in the spine benefits spinal disc problmes, strengthens ligaments, and relieves myscle spasms.

So my challenge to you and myself is to do 5 mins of inversions a day for 2 weeks.

Classes I am teaching this week

Looking forward to teaching this week. Below are my regular classes plus some subs*
  • Yoga for Stiffer Bodies @ The Yoga Center: Monday 4:15-5:30PM
  • Alignment Flow @ Avenues Yoga: Tuesday 8:30-9:45AM
  • Corporate Class @ DNR: Tuesday 12-1PM
  • *Corporate Class @ VMH: Wednesday 11:45-12:45
  • Level 1/2 @ The Yoga Center: Wednesday 5:45-7:00PM
  • *Anusara @ Sugar Space: Friday 9-10:30AM
  • *Anusara @ Sugar Space: Saturday 9-10:30AM
I am have these steady classes. I feel like I am really gaining confidence as a teacher and refining the way I go about teaching.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011


    I have a fascination about body posture. I find it so interesting that body positioning can either create more discomfort and disease in your life or it can cultivate ease, better health, and a better attitude. The more I study alignment the more I worry about my sleeping position. I toss, turn, sleep on my arm, tweak my next, bend my knees awkwardly... I have wanted to ask a Certified Anusara teachers if they have any recommendation for sleeping but either didn't have the courage to ask or I forgot.

    I was watching my Anusara Teacher Training DVD's with John Friend and this topic came up! John said that he gets asked this question a lot. He said no he doesn't recommend a certain mattress or pillow (darn that would have been to easy). He said that when we get misaligned during our sleep that is a result of some misalignment's that happen during the day. He said these misalignment's should be addressed during the day, and at night JUST SLEEP. This is not the answer I wanted to hear. During the day I work my alignment but still at night I toss and turn and wake up with some kinks and soreness.

    I did a practice with my teacher Adam Ballenger last Saturday and he talked about how hatha yoga is two parts. It includes the action, one definition of hatha is to strike. He also talked about how the "tha" in hatha means a receptivity, a pause where you see your results of your action. I have heard Adam teach something similar to this in a public class relating it to car singles. You car will let you know when the engine needs to be worked on, or when you are low on gas.. But we have to "tha" we have to listen to that information.

    So this gives me an opportunity to practice the "tha". The results, misalignment while sleeping tells me that I need to change what I am doing during the day. Although I was hoping John would give an answer like ____ pillow and you sleep perfectly. But now I just have another way to "tha" to notice the effects of my practice. 

    Sunday, November 13, 2011


    If you are a regular reader of this blog you remember my residence to hanumanasana (splits) and my dedication to practicing the dreaded slits pose until it no longer remains my least favorite pose. This strategy may sound a bit weird for you but it has worked for me in the past. I have done this in the past taking my least favorite poses and practicing them until they become doable maybe even enjoyable. Poses that have made the transition include virabadrasana three (had to practice kidney and pelvic loop), handstand (had to practice good foundation of hands/arms, kidney loop, trust), parvrita trikonasana (had to work on foundation of feet, side body long, attitude).

     My current mission has been hanumanasana. For about 2 months I have been working hanuman every day here is a typical practice. I have been warming up through standing poses that help wake up the hamstrings: pasvotonasana, trikonsasana, ardha chandrasana + chapasana, urdhva prasarita eka padasana (standing splits) + chapasana. After my warm ups I move to the wall.  At the wall I do some handstand work, maybe some forearm balance work, then I move into quad work (can you say "ahhhhh") I put one shin against the wall and the knee at the baseboard as I swing the other foot forward into a low lunge variation, I work my butt toward my heel, after a few minutes I bring my hips lower and reach my arms up (while maintaining my back thigh bone integrated to the back body), then after a few mins I do ardha hanumanasana, then after a few mins a I do a variation of pigeon. All of this happens with the same shin up the wall. To release from this I work the same back foot up the wall and do a variation of splits up the wall, then I press my lifted for into the wall and I draw my lower leg toward my face and come into a handstand variation. After that I switch sides and repeat. Next I move into a ardha hanumansana (1/2 splits) on the first side, I place my back foot on the baseboard with my back knee on a blanket (preferably on a hard floor for easy sliding). Then I press out towards full hanumnasa (splits). In my opinion once your hips are hoovering below 6  inches off the floor I think it becomes a mind game. For 2 years I practiced splits regularly and could get pretty low but there still remained a big gap between my hips and the floor. I soon learned this was a mental gap. It was my mind yell "Oh hell no, I cant get my hips any lower then this". But I found if I paused and reminded myself of the continual practice I have had over a period of time that has build me up for this occasion (no i don't recommend hopping hips to the ground in your fist splits) to get lower to the ground, and normally when I pause, slow down, and calm my panic then to my suprise my hips sink and I get a "touch down".

    One of my teachers, Anusara Certified Teacher, Amy Ippoliti, recognizes the importance of practicing a pose over and overs again. One of her teachings are offered through a face book page: 30 day yoga challenge (click here to visit the site). In this Amy provides a yoga posture and a Eco friendly practice to perform for a whole month, EVERY DAY! Here are some of the last months challenges.

    October challenge was: Do a timed Handstand every day starting with 30sec and then post your record by the end of the month! Eco: Put your phone in airplane mode or off when you practice and when you sleep. Strength increases when you don't have those waves, and we get them enough during the day. Get a respite from them at night.

    September challenge was: Do 5 minutes of pranayama in the morning and 5 minutes of pranayama before bed. Use simple ujjayi breathing, keeping the inhale and exhale lengths even. Eco Challenge: Bring your own utensils! Get in the habit of bringing your own with you everywhere. No plastic! On your mark... get set... go!

    November challenge:  Do a timed Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand) every day starting with 30sec and then post your record by the end of the month! And....Are you drinking enough water? We all could use a boost in our water intake.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011


    Picture source:
    Walked my doggie ,Dharama, to the park today and I decided to swing. I haven't been swinging in a while, it was exhilarating. A storm was moving in, the sky was gray, and colorful leaves were being swirled in the wind. There I was soaring. I was thinking about how fascinating the swinging action is, just the mechanics of it. By pulling at the swing you come forward (flexing the elbows) and by pressing the swing away you move backwards (extension of the elbowa). These actions build up your momentum so you can swing= soar higher.

    This got me thinking extension + flexion is the action we take when we lower from plank to chataranga. A common misalignment during this action is having the shoulders round forward which causes a hallowing in the chest and cause the trapezius muscles to fire. I call these neck muscles "headache muscles" because if I do chatarangas with my shoulders rolled forward and my trap muscles engaged it is a sure way for me to get a headache for the next day or two. However if I lengthen my side body, take the head of my arm bones back, and rotate the tips of my shoulder blades forward towards my heart then I am engaging my rhomboid muscles and the headache muscles are no longer engaged. Not only does this create more stability and builds strength for all future arm balances but it is incredibly therapeutic.

    I watched this action as I was swinging. With just awareness and no effort I could feel the collapse happening in my shoulders and I recognized that the collapse is what made me feel unstable in the transitions of my swinging. I performed these actions and as I pushed and pulled, strengthened and bent my elbows  it felt like I was doing chataranga tune ups (push ups). I felt more stable and I felt more connected to the heart. I breathed deeper recognizing although my life can be difficult and feel uncomfortable those difficulties are on the surface. Just like the ocean bellow the choppy waves crashing up and down on the surface at the bottom it is stable, unified, and full of peace.

    Fun anatomy facts:
    • The elbow joint is called ginglymus (hinge joint)
    • Three bones form the elbow joint: the humerus (upper arm), radius (forearm on thumb side), and the paired ulna (forearm)
    • Two bony prominence at tip of elbow: olecranon (a process (bump) on ulna, and the antecubital fossa (inner aspect of the elbow)

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011


    I just read BJ's beautifully written blog: follow-your-heart. In it she mentions mudita which is one of the bramaviharas (divine abidings) the Buddha taught. Mudhita is experiencing happiness for yourself and for others. It reminds me of clapping for our friends after they shine so beautifully doing an asana. We do not clap because we are forced to, or told to, it is mudita. Seeing someone else taste that bliss is an opportunity to ride that wave with them. You ride the wave and celebrate happiness for others but it isn't overly excited or manic nor is it out of resentment or jealousy.

    A few years ago I over heard some people talking about Ansuara and about how bizarre, uncomfortable, and annoying it is that people clap for one another. This was before I had taken any Anusara.  Years later I took my first Anusara-Inspired class from Jen Hecht. I did a  pincha mayurasana and after some people and Jen looked at me smiling and clapping. This made me feel so good. Towards the end of the class when it was someone else's turn to demo and I was excited to clap, show my support, and be in that moment of "wow, beauty".

    Being able to share happiness, and joy is a deepening experience that brings me closer to god. It helps me see the good and the fullness in each moment instead of noticing what is bad, different, or insufficient. Mudita strengthens my ability to experience joy and it fills me with gratitude.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    40 drop backs

    This morning I taught at avenues yoga . We got deep into the hamstrings a student made a "touch down" in hanumanasana for the first time which is very exciting especially when you work the alignment. All the students left smiling and thanked me after class. Just a few months ago the studio owner talked to me about my class sizes. Saying if I don't get at least 5 paying students my class would be dropped. (Oh those are the least favorite words of mine.) But now the numbers are picking up. This is something that John teAches, saying it doesn't matter about the numbers just helping one student is enough. But it makes me feel really good to know I am getting my numbers up. I even talked to the studio owner after class and she said she received a comment from a student of mine about how refined my teaching is. Its nice to hear this from her since she wanted to drop my class. I received this fb comment after this mornings class:

    "Kim, I seriously adore you. It was so nice to feel supported AND encouraged to bring the booty to the floor! I learned a ton today about yoga and myself. You are nectar, my dear."

    After my morning class at aves I taught a noon class at DNR (my corporate class) then I got together for a small practice to celebrate the lovely yogini Jen Hecht's 40th birthday. And in honor of her years we did a 2 1/2 gr practice which included 40 drop backs in 6 minutes. We also sang happy birthday to her in bird of paradise pose.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    nice morning

    This morning I woke up meditated, thought/wrote down some sequence ideas, class themes, possible heart qualities for my two classes today, Halloween, at The Yoga Center. The past week I have been staying open and hoping that a theme would naturally develop but I only had some ideas. I could feel the anxiety start to creep into my morning so I decided to walk Dharma. I paused and wondered if I should take my notebook so I could continue to journal, brainstorm, or possibly practice. No, I want to be present and I knew bring my notebook would bring along my worry. Dharma and I wandered with out a plan and ended up at a small park. The Fall sunshine was highlighting patches of lawn and trees with the golden sun rays. I found a nice flat spot and just sat, felt the sun rays and the brisk air on my face. Then with out much thought I started to practice. I ended up doing a nice practice focusing on the three aspects of inner spiral: 1) moves the inner thighs in 2) roots the thigh bones back into the hamstrings and 3) widens the thighs. I thought about how these actions bring us into the core of our being (literally spiraling up from the periphery to the core) and I find that inside me is not limited but it is expansive. That we in fact are not limited. Then on the contracting spiral I move into that space of expansion. These actions set me up nicely for my Halloween custom, Monkey. I did hanumanasana on the grass, on one foot, up a tree, foot on a tree, thigh on a tree, and on my back. After some more sitting in the sun we walked home. Now the juices are flowing in my brain for tonights classes.

    This morning was so beautiful I felt like I was in the flow of Grace, or the flow of a ocean I didn't need to push the ocean or over stress out about my class, the ocean and Grace flow by itself. This morning reminded me of  Karen's Blog that I read yesterday. She used a great metaphor in her blog yesterday linking fishing to thinking of a theme and about how important "paying attention and being aligned" is.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Awareness: Looking For The Good

    One of the many blessing of a yoga practice is just that, practice. We get to roll our our mats or meditation cushions and practice for life. One quality we can cultivate is awareness. I have been thinking about awareness a lot this week (and wrote a few blogs about it). I remember when I first started cultivating awareness on my mat I started to notice everything I was doing "bad" or "wrong". My hips lowered to fast in chataranga, my mind couldn't stop thinking, I kept collapsing in my back... Then I would leave my mat and my awareness was still turned on for looking for the bad around me, in my relationships. and in myself.

    To me this is a cop-out in awareness training. Our society is almost trained to look for the bad, just take a look at the newspaper. It is a lot easier to say 5 things your don't like about yourself, your relationship, your job... then it is to say 5 good things. But it doesn't have to be like that. We can train our awareness to look for the good, just like we can strength an muscle. A great place to do that is on the yoga mat. As I practice now I work on bringing my attention to all the things that feel so sweet, My hands feel strong, i feel such a great opening in my side body, my breath is flowing smoothly, my muscles energy in my legs are helps me feel stable...I can see the ripple effect that this practice has on my life. Now I notice the good things in nature, in my relationships, and in myself.

    Looking for the good is one of the teachings that informs Anusara Yoga. Adam has been teaching us in teacher training, to always be looking for the good in our students and to learn how to articulate what they are doing good before offering a refinement.

    Last night I taught a class at They Yoga Center with this theme idea. It was a great, 12 students! Studio owners Lydnesy and Sheldon took my class which gave me a few butterflies in my stomach but I was so happy they came to support me. They gave me some great feed back as well.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Teaching To What I See

    I have been teaching yoga for almost six years. I started teaching vinyasa. I would show up with a class intention and a sequence. I was glued to my yoga mat and basically did the whole practice with the students. I would say the same alignment ques as I did the pose with out checking to see if the students were already doing what I was asking. Over time I started to stop practicing with the students, I tried to wander further away from my mat as I taught but it was hard! My mat was my safety blanket. A few years later I was able to walk around the room but I was still teaching my class AT students and not TO them.
    I just finished the last part of Anusara Teacher Training part two with Adam Ballenger. During these past few weeks I have performed many different teacher training exercises: learning how to scan the room, look for the good first, to see areas where the students could improve, and how to articulate that alignment ques so it is easy to understand and to do. After all of these exercises that caused me some stress during the assignment, this week I really see it paying off. I am no longer teaching at students. Yes I am still planing a class sequence but I am teaching to what I see, I am giving ques based on what the students are or are not doing, and I am not afraid to deviate from my plan if it means helping students.

    Not only is this helping me feel more confident as a teacher. I am no longer just saying my bullet points for the specific asana but I understand the alignment and the principles, I understand why I am asking the students to perform a certain action. And even better I have been getting really good feed back from my students. One women told me she likes the way I say things "it gets me to feel with my whole body, and work harder for a reason".

    I am so grateful to be learning this system of yoga that speaks to my heart, mind, and body. I (as of this weekend) has completed all of the requirements for Anusara- Inspired status, now all I need is a certified teacher to watch a class and sign off on me. SOOOO exciting!!

    Monday, October 24, 2011


    Fall is a time of change and offers a great opportunity to be more aware. Be aware of the changing colors of the leaves and sounds. Be aware of the air, the way it feels, smells, and even tastes. This awareness and wonder of nature helps me be present. It encourages me to feel my breath, my body, and notice what going on in my mind.  Today I walked my dog taking everything in, the beauty of nature, the honking horns of cars, the man racking up leaves... We walked to the park and toward the tree under which I often practice yoga and I saw two bums sleeping. I left the park and found a grassy patch down an alley. There  I practiced.

    Did an hour and a half practice. My intention: Awareness. As I went through my surya namaskar A and B's I noticed my breath, the grass under my fingers, the feeling of my body... often thoughts would cross my mind, "That man racking leaves is staring at me". As I returned to stand at the top of my mat with my hands in front of my heart, I paused with my eyes closed. I noticed how I felt standing, I reflected on how my last sequence went, was I aware the whole time or were there some distractions. I noticed the answer trying to be as compassionate to my self as possible. In other words not criticizing myself for being a failure for having thoughts! Then I reflected on my intention of being aware and continued into the next pose and continuing to reflect.

    Being aware made this somewhat intense practice feel sweet and calm. I even ended up doing sirsasana (headstand) drop backs, and a few rounds of Mandalasana. This is one of the first times of me really doing mandalasana multiple times  back and fourth. I had no clue I was going to be performing that today but I felt this inner pull because I was so present with my self and with my surrounding. It was really great experience.

    Here is a link of Noah Maze freaking rocking Mandalasana and includes tic- toc from Sirsasana (I did not do the tic toc jumping back and forth)

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Perfectionism... Shins in thighs out

    I struggle with being a perfectionist. With wanting to be perfect in all these different categories. I thought that if I looked perfect, lived perfect, act perfect, then I could avoid feeling shame, judgment, blame. I had made check list of if onlys. If only I was thin, smart, talented.... I thought these if onlys would finally make me perfect but I now know its what I thought I needed to feel worthy. I was holding all of this in for so long and it felt like a contraction in my pelvis. I have been thinking about these feelings while performing the alignment principle of shins in thighs out. When I remember that I am worthy right now, in this moment, with whatever may be going on, with my imperfections, I am still worthy. This thought gives me strength and helps me stand strongly on my feet and draw to the mid line of me being, of truth. Just like shins in! When I widen my thighs apart it creates more space as I widen my think bones I imagine releasing all the lies and the if onlys I have been telling myself and with that I can root my tail bone and reach even higher!

    I taught a class on shins in thighs out at The yoga Center on Wednesday night using this theme. This is such a deep teaching for me.

    pranayama + meditation

    This week I have been practicing the first level of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. In this practice you breath in and out of your left nostril five times, after your fifth exhale close off the air to the left nostril and breath in and out of the right nostril, then you realise your hands down and breath in and out five times through both nostrils. (For more information read my last post). I just recently found out of this modification of nadi shodhana. I always practiced with alternating nostrils with every breath cycle, instead of breathing in these sets of five.

    I just went on a bike ride with my dog to Liberty Park sat next to a pound did this pranayama technique which calmed down my mind so much it was easy and enjoyable to slip into a 20 mins mediation. After I watched swans and ducks swim and fly across the pound. It was so tranquil. Dharma dog also had a great time exploring and laying in the sun. Then we just biked home. Although I am no longer doing seated meditation I still feel immersed in this finer vibration that flutters with love and joy dancing under my skin.

    This wonderful meditation was more easeful because I have been practicing daily pranayama in addition to meditation. I feel like with pranayama before meditation it helps my mind quite so much that I am almost pulled into meditation. Like really good foreplay before sex :)

    Now wokring on a yoga project and then off to the second weekend of the second moduel of Anusara Teacher Training with Adam Ballenger


    As the days get shorter and cooler I find myself being drawn to practice more pranayama (breathing practices). Here is a summary of various breath practices:

    Abdominal or diaphragmatic Breathing: In this pranayama technique you are emphasizing the movement of the diaphragm rather then the rib cage. On an inhale the diaphragm moves downward pushing the abdominal contents downward and on an exhale the diaphragm moves upward and the abdominal contents move inward. This breath massages the liver, stomach, intestines and other organs, it tones the heart and improves oxygenation of the blood and circulation.

    Nadi Shodhana Pranayama: with your right hand fold the two peace finger (index and bird) into the palm of you hand. Take your ring and pinkie finger to the outside of the left nostril and your thumb to the outside of the right nostril. You will be shutting off the air to one nostril, I find it helpful to not only close the air off but to pull the check skin away from the opposite nose.
    • Technique 1: Close the right nostril with the thumb. Inhale and exhale through the left nostril 5 times. After 5 breaths release your right nostril and close off the left. Inhale and exhale through the right nostril 5 times. Lower the hand and breathe 5 times through each nostril. This is round one. Practice 5 rounds or for 3-5 mins. In Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha they recommend doing this technique for 15 days until moving onto technique two.
    • Technique 2: Alternate nostril breathing: close off your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril, release your right nostril and close off your left and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril close of the right and exhale through the left. This is round one. Work for 10 rounds. Keep the length of inhales and exhales equal. As you get more familiar and practiced with this breathing technique increase the time until you've reached 12:12.
    • Technique 3: Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention): Close the right nostril and inhale through the left, then close both nostril and retrain the breath, inhale slightly through the left (this brings the respiratory muscles back into action). After the exhale immediately inhale through the left nostril closing off the right, retain the breath, inhale slightly through the right nostril and then exhale completely through the right. This is one round. Practice 10 rounds. During this breath technique use a constant count, for example 5. 
      • A fun note on Kumbhaka: When I was at Wanderlust Squaw Valley I was listening to Chris Tompkins and Hareesh give a wonderful talk. At one post Hareesh said that sometimes when him and Chris are at a concert when the band is really rocking out Chris would turn to Hareesh and say "Kumbhaka, kumbhaka now!". Chris responded by smiling sweetly and saying this is true. Since then when I have been at a concert I have practiced some Kumbhaka.
    • Nadi means 'channel' or 'flow' and shodhana mean 'purification'. Nadi Shodhana norishes the whole body by supplying extra oxygen while expelling carbon dioxide and other toxins from the blood. This breath stimulates the brain and lowers stress levels. This is one of the main pranayama techniques I use in my practice.
    Sheetali Pranayama: cooling breath: Stick out your tongue and roll the outer edges of the tongue up so it forms a tube. Inhale and draw the breath through the tongue. At the end of the inhale bring your tongue in and close your mouth. Exhale through your nose. Set your awareness on the cool sensation on the tongue and the pallet of the mouth. This is one round. Practice 9-15 rounds.This practice cools the body and mind. It effects the brain centers associated with biological drives and temperature regulation. This practice causes muscular and mental relaxation.

    Seetkari Pranayama: hissing breath: Hold the teeth lightly together. Separate the lips and place the tongue on the top palate (khechari mudra). Breathe in through the teeth, after inhale close your mouth and exhale through the nose. Place your awareness on the hissing sound of the breath. This breath realizes the mind and the muscles. It also  keeps the teeth and gums healthy. "Through perfection of this practice, the adept becomes like the god Kamadeva. Kama means 'desire' and deva means 'master', therefore, through this practice desire is mastered and a state of balanced purification is achieved" Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.

     Bhramari Pranayama: humming bees breath: With you teeth slightly open, lips closed and your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Bend your elbows and press the flaps of your ears closed with the index finger. Bring your awareness to the ajna (third eye) chackra. Inhale through the nose and as you exhale create a steady humming sound. This is round one. 5-10 rounds is a good start. Once you become more familiar with this pranayama technique you can increase to 15 mins. When there is lots of tension and anxiety you can practice up to 30 mins for healing. I have never practice for this long but I can imagine it would be heavenly. Bhramari relieves stress and tension. It relieves anger, anxiety, insomnia, and reducing blood pressure. The vibration of this technique creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system.

    Ujjayi Pranayama:This is the main pranayama technique we use during yoga asana unless instructed by an instructor. To perform this breath tighten the muscles of the throat and breath in out and through the nose. It should create a gentle whispering sound, or the sound of wind blowing through the trees. Ujjayi is a calming breath that also has a heating effect in the body. In yoga this breath is used to soothe the nervous system and calm the mind. Ujjya pranayama refers o the victorious upraising of prana.

    Bhastrika Pranayama: bellows breath: This breathe is a force full exhale followed by a force full inhale. The stomach should move rapidly in and out with the breath. Breath in and out like this 10 times, after the tenth breath take a  deep breath. This is round one, practice up to 10 rounds. This practice burns up toxins and removes disease from he body.

    Kapalbhati Pranayama: This breath is similar to bhastrika however instead of having a force full breath on each end of the breath kapalbhakti just has a forceful exhale and the inhale us passively allowing the abdominal muscles to expand. The inhalation should be spontaneous and passive following the force full exhale. Start at 10 breaths per round and take a breath in between rounds. As the abdominal muscles become stronger you can increase how many rounds of breath. The benefits for this breath helps remove sensory distractions from the mind. It helps energize the mind for rest and helps remove sleepiness. It also balances and strengthens the nervous systems and tones the digestive organs.

    Happy breathing to you all!
    Smiles Kim
    Source: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    side bodies long

    The philosophy that informs Anusara say there are different malas, or different dusts on the mirror that prevents us from seeing our self clearly. The three ways that create feeling of limitation around our heart (iccha), knowledge (jnana), and ability to act (kriya).

    Anava Mala- veils the iccha shakti. Feeling limited in the heart, this leads to desire, feelings of lack, fragmentation, sadness, unworthiness, and incompleteness. Sadness.
    Mayiya Mala- veils the jnana shakti. Limits knowledge. Preserve things as separate not realizing the unity/oneness which leads to conflict, anger, and hatred. Anger.
    Karma Mala- veils the kriya shakti. Feeling limited in agency, ability to act, capacity to act. Creates the sense of doer ship. Creates fear of not being able to accomplish something or ability to create. Fear

    I really like this. I have been working with this and linking it to side bodies long in my practice and in some classes. One of the blessings of yoga is it helps us see that we are not as limitted as we may think. For example before I started practicing yoga, or more precisely, before Adam Ballenger started teaching me about open to grace I thought that my side bodies were just short and that's how they would always be. I felt limitted in this way. Over the past 2 years I have realized that I have freedom to lengthen my side bodies which shifts my energy tremendously. This shows me that where I thought I was limited was not true. So off the mat I can remember that areas in which I think I feel limited, I might not be. (It was true for the side body length).


    I just got back from a refreshing camping trip in Moab. I love being surrounded by soaring red rocks, meandering rivers, and the silence. We went with my husbands dad and his friends. Kris gave everyone a medicine bag to put a rock in and hang it around their neck in line with the heart chakra. My husband and I are both giddy for rocks and were very excited. I thought I would find a rock nearby my tent. Driving through town we stopped at the Rock Shop. I just thought I would be admiring but not buying, a near by rock caught my eye. It was white moonstone. I picked it up and intuitively put it in the necklace rock bag. It fit perfectly. Tyler bought it for me. When we got home I am did some research on my new stone.

    • Wear over the heart to soothe the emotions, balance feminine energies and harmonize hormones.
    • Is linked to the divine feminine principle. 
    • Is a symbol of love.
    • Helps release the creative impulse and sustain it.
    • Helps balance hormones and hormone issues. 
    • Helps one become more receptive and in touch with inner feelings.
    • Enhances intuition.
    • Eases emotional states.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    What stories have you been telling yourself?

    Jen and I got together yesterday to continue our mission. We are working towards maksikanagasana 2 (dragonfly 2) its going to take multiple practices to get there. To do this pose you bring a leg behind your head, twist your body over the other leg and balance on your hands, simple right ;). To see Kathryn Budig gracefully demonstrate this fierce pose visit: video.  So yesterday Jen, her dog Bo, my dog Dharma, and myself gathered in a park and played. I have so much fun practicing with friends, I work harder and go deeper then I would if I were alone. Thank you Jen.

    Last week we were able to get our foot behind our head but couldn't get the foot to stay. For example I would take my right leg behind my head and then I would hold my food in place with my left hand. We watched Kathryn's video and admired how she could take both of her hands in front of her heart and the foot stayed in place behind her head. When I tried to bring my hands in front of my heart my leg would fly back down to the ground like a rubber band shooting across a room. I thought "I will never be able to do that, ever, impossible". Even as we practiced yesterday I kept telling myself unconsciously and consciously this story of not being able it. Funny that I was right back to telling myself I wouldn't be able to do a pose after having just posted a blog on the subject. Anyhow a lot of shoulder work, and skull loop, and tada my foot stayed!!! Jen snapped a picture of it.

    What stories have you been telling yourself that are not true and are holding you back? Tell yourself good stories, reach for the stars and keep reaching :)
    eka pada sirsasana

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011


    I watched a you tube video from Certified Anusara teacher Christina Sell ( in which she pointed out how students often get upset when they cant do a pose. When they haven't really been putting enough studentship into it. Her example was kicking up to handstand. Having students get frustrated when they cant kick up, but the only time they practice is when they happen to be in a class when a teacher instructs handstand. She laughed, you need to put in an effort, try to kick up to handstand ten times every she said
    I thought about how this is applicable to my practice. Hanumansana, a pose I have tried to avoid the past six year.. Hanumanasana. I have never felt like I had "good splits". I didn't enjoy doing them in class and I would even get upset with myself for not getting fully into the pose. From the practice I have gained more flexibility but splits still seemed out of my grasp. "I will never be able to do full hanumanasana" was a story that I kept telling myself.

    Christina's video was a great reminder. For the past few weeks I have been working into hanumanasana almost every day. It is a nice experience to just get into my body, to see where my limits are, and watch myself gain patience. Once you get an 2-4 inches off the floor I really think it is a mind game.

    Another pose I have been working on regularly is handstand.The steadiness I am starting to feel is unreal. Handstand was another pose that I thought would always undo able. I was happy to see Amy Ippoliti 30 day challenge for October which is to do a timed handstand everyday starting at 30 secs and then increasing the time increase every day. The eco challenge is to set your phone off to air plane mood during practice and sleep.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    a good reminder

    Leslie Salmon the previous owner of The Yoga Center, currently going through the Anusara certification process, and a good friend of mine has a blog that i regularly read. In a recent blog post she wrote:

     "my blog is my blog -- my thoughts, my correlations, the story of my journey. That's one of the reasons I try to stick with "I, my, me' rather than "you, ours, us" -- it might not apply to you and I certainly don't want to sound like I'm preaching to anyone. So, I read, I learn, I - in turn - share my thoughts. "

    This really got me thinking. I often write "we, ours, and us". I did not realize it sounded preachy. I think I do it more out of timidness not wanting to fully claim what I am saying. I also think I do it to be inclusive. I am aware of this when I teaching and I make an effort to tell personal stories using. However I commonly use none personal language in my blog. I hope I don't sound preachy to anyone. Like Leslie I recognize I don't know everything. I am first and foremost a student. I enjoy applying philosophies and looking at the way I view things. I have challenges, I try to learn from. I actively find myself searching in life and feel very attracted to yogic teachings. The vibrancy and ease that yoga brings to my life and the way these philosophies challenge me to live in a responsive way vs. a reactive has opened and softened my heart. I share these experiences in my blog for many reasons. It helps me plant these seeds deeper in my being and helps me remember. I also hope that it can offer some insight to others. One of my favorite pass times is to read other blogs on yoga, philosophy, and life. I want to be part of the conversation.

    I am grateful to Leslie for this reminder. I want to own what I say and I never want to sound like I am preaching to others.

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    parsva dandasana

    Just got back from memory groove park where I practiced with Jen Hecht. It was a great experience it was our first time getting together like this. Mission: We both wanted to work on getting our leg behind out head, stand up and possibly take it into parsva dandasana (video below). We both brainstormed good poses that would help us build into the pose and main principles that would really help us. We worked deeply into the hips and the three hamstrings. Focused on getting into the deeper muscles and past the more superficial muscles. Lots of side bodies longs and strong shoulder and skull loop. It was a total blast! We both got the leg behind our head laying on our back, rocked up did a forward fold, then managed to stand up in uttansana (standing forward bend) with our foot hooked and then all the way up to standing and then fell out. (dont know the sanskrit names) It was soo fun, I never thought I would be able to stand and keep the hook. We didn't make it to parsva dandasana but it was an awesome journey and it was just our first time. We are getting together next week to work on it again. Our results from the practice is that we need alot of length and particularly low back length so we can find more strength at lifting our torso up, plugging our shoulders in and really working the skull loop to keep leg in place. Jen brought Darren Rhodes new book so we played with alot of fun twists.

    So grateful for Jen. I feel so much stronger when I have a friend reminding me. Reminds me of the story of Hanuman, he forgets he has all these powers and strengths and his friends remind him and then he can access that place and defeat the bad guy :)

    (quick post but thought if I waited to blog about it I would run out of time or forget)

    Here is a video of Kathryn Budig gracefully getting into and doing parsva dandasana.



    Love emanates from the soul

    Reading Ram Dass new book Be Love Now at a cafe with my doggie. This book is like poetry to my soul and moves me deeply. Here is a paragraph page 13

    "most emotions like fear, anger, lust and envy are connected to our personality and the impulses from our conscious or unconscious mind, instincts for survival and procreation. LOVE is part of the emotional spectrum, but it is different because it emanates from our soul. Even when it becomes confused with our ego projections, love is actually from the higher essence of our being, the part that begins to merge with the spirit and approach the One. "

    I love this. The other emotions are not bad. They are not separate from the one. Everything,including all the emotions are all possible entry way to merge our heart with the ocean of love/divine.

    Anusara, anu means one or the soul. Its like the individual in a limited form. For example a cup of ocean water. Sara means in the flow, for example the entire ocean. are hearts can seem small and separate however we are all connected and in flow with each other. We are free to act as we want cultivating different emotions like fear and anger.. We are also free to feel and align to love which is emanating from are soul at every moment!!

    (just got a new app and can write blogs from my phone)

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Immersion with BJ Teacher Training with Adam

    So blissed out from this amazing week surrounded by such great souls. I was so lucky and won the scholarship to take BJ Galvans Immersion 2 at The Yoga Center. It was great to take the immersion 2 a second time from a different perspective. I took it the first time from Adam Ballenger both certified Anusara teachers did a phenomenal job presenting the information to my heartmind and body. My understanding deeps so much as I continue to hear the same teaching over and over and in different ways. Anusara's philosophy of intrinsic goodness touches my heart and influences my practice deeply. Being able to learn/feel these virtues through the gross body is amazing. I wasn’t able to finish BJ's full immersion because I took Adam Ballenger’s teacher training. It was quite a switch going from being immersed in yoga from the aspect of the student to learning to teach this method. However BJ shakti-fied me up so much going into the TT was really lovely, I felt anchored in my center where the heart qualities come more easily.

    The immersion was great opportunity to spend more time at The Yoga Center. The owners Lyndsey and Sheldon have created such a great community and have such a great vision for Anusara yoga in SLC and I am so happy to be a part of this community. I also treasured making immersion friends from TYC. When you go through any intensive training where transformation happens you bond strongly with each other in a really sweet way. I will be reviewing my notes and will post another blog about immersion/TT.

    I just got back from lunch with BJ before she got on the air plane. Its nice to bond with a teacher and see then not just in the yoga class room. I normally get shy around other teachers who I admire and don’t get to know them better as a result and I am so happy I got to spend more time with BJ. I think I will even be assisting her on her tour next year, possibly Costa Rica (which would be a dream come true)

    OM NAMAH SHIVAYA to all the great teachers I humbly bow.

    to learn more about these rocking teachers check out their websites: BJ Galvan Adam Ballenger

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Camping for a Cause Pictures

    Some snap shots from Camping for a Cause. Thank you Girl Scouts of Utah and Annie Cutler for taking the pictures.

     Strong hands soft heart :)

     From your heart extend out through the hands and from your heart extend out through the legs

     Stretch up and down, imagine your a cartoon character and exaggerate the stretch

     draw the legs together powerfully, lengthen side bodies, curl open heart

     chilly morning, building up some heat in the body

     open the inner coastal muscles of the rib cage, expanding your light out

    Camping for a Cause

    On Saturday I taught a workshop at a fundraiser event for Girl Scouts of Utah, called camping for a cause. I have lead workshops for this cause before in the past and I always have a blast. The event is up at the girl scouts Camp Cloud Camp that is off guardsman's pass nestled between big cottonwood canyon and park city. It is so beautiful and untouched up there surrounded by wildflowers, tall trees, and many lakes. When I arrived and checked to see how many people had signed up for the workshop I was very happy to see that 22 women would be practicing with me.
    I talked about community. About how great it is that they are supporting the girl scout community in this way which in large affects salt lake, Utah, and the world. We did lots of back body work as I reminded the students that the back body represents the community and the front body represents the individual self and the ego.  In my life I have faced more then one big challenge where at first I was so determined to solve this problem by myself, I didn't need any one's help. I didn't even think I should tell them I was suffering. Ultimately I asked for help and I was so shocked by how tremendously loving and supporting they were. We can practice this in our asana practice by breathing into the back body, moving into the back body (for example: taking the head back, shoulders, kidneys, thigh bones... toward the back body) These movements into the back body cultivates support and we can go deeper into the pose from this strength.

    The class went really great, adjustments, jokes insights, and lovely asanas. There were multiple times through out the class where students said "wow this is the best stretch ever". We did lots of community support in the poses: supporting our neighbors hearts in tree poise so we can open our hearts and look toward ski, held hands while transitioning from stork to warrior 3, helped support neighbors in different variations of shalabasana... It was really fun lots of laughter, yet still sincere offering of heart. Practicing and/or teaching in outdoor secluded settings move me so deeply.

    After finishing I was thanked by so many students, staff members, and attendees who didn't take the workshop. So much gratitude received it touched my heart. I am so grateful for the Girl Scouts of Utah, the students, and everything that allowed me to be a part of this event.

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Illuminated Heart

    This  is  the essay I wrote trying to win a scholarship for BJ's second immersion at The Yoga Center. The essay question is to write in 500-750 words about the potential to reveal  the Illuminated Heart.
    Yoga, most definitely, has the potential to awaken the illuminated heart. In this easy I will touch on the definition of the word illuminated and point out how appropriate the illuminated heart is for explaining the outcome of a committed yoga practice. I will also reference yogic practices and philosophies that help with this process.  
    The word “illuminated” means, to brighten with light, to make lucid or clear, to decorate with lights (as in celebration), and to enlighten (as with knowledge). This is the invitation of yoga so we may expand and shine out our intrinsically divine essence, to see our self beautifully and clearly, to celebrate this embodied gift by expressing beauty, to know we are connected and to experience vibrancy and ease. We practice yoga to unveil the illuminated heart so we may know more (chit) and be happy (ananda). I don’t think every yoga student would identify this being their reason for practicing yoga, when I first started practicing it was to rehab from an injury and possibly lose some weight. However the practice of yoga helped me connect to my heart.
    Yoga unveils the truth. The truth is that we are connected, we are loved, we are whole, and as John friend puts it a part of this “big ball of pulsating bliss” (describing Shiva-Shakti tantric). The truth is we already have an illuminated heart. This awakening in my experience has not been like turning on a light switch, but more of a steady practice of showing up with an intention to see the heart clearly. To make clear is an aspect of an illuminated heart.   Through the practice we begin to see and feel that all our stories, all the bull shit is just various coverings (daksha, cloaks, kleshas and maya) that make it hard to see that ultimately we are an embodiment of spirit. As we remember this we start to see and experience the world and our self as being made up of absolute goodness, consciousness, bliss, pulsation, self-awareness, ultimate freedom and perfect fullness. These are the attributes of the divine and we experience these qualities in our self and in the world around us because we are all part of the divine.  
    Yoga’s potential for unveiling an illuminated heart, I think really comes in the face of obstacles. Even the physical postures we put our self into on the yoga matt is a challenge. We are taught to stay in the challenge, feel the intense sensation, connect with the breath, feel a sense of ease and feel supported. My practice for a while was learning to face challenges and feeling supported by grace. Now I have been working on learning the distinction between what is satisfying and what is gratifying, again this can be learned on the mat! My point being, the potential of unveiling the illuminated heart through yoga is so high because yoga offers so many different teachings that can be applied to your body and can shift your life. Yoga’s potential for unveiling an illuminated heart comes in its dynamic ability to meet people where they are and help them with their struggles.
    The illuminated heart is like a muscle, because we don’t always think we are bright, beautiful, and intelligent. This doubting makes the muscle weak. But when we overcome these challenges by cultivating heart qualities we strengthen our illuminated heart muscle. So, even when we are off our yoga mat and shit hits the fan we still feel this inner illumination, it is not based on external situations.
    In conclusion, we already have an illuminated heart. Yoga is one of the great ways to unveil that illumination.  Throughout life we are filled with bliss, yet there are many ups and downs that come along with it as well. Just know that at your core you shine with the divine. I want to bring these ancient practices into my life, deeper into my heart, and to refine my asana and move beyond the asana, to awaken more fully into my own illuminated heart. You are that which you seek!

    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...