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.

    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...