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.

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...