Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shoulder Aligning + backbending + heart expanding workshop

Taught a shoulder alignment + backbending workshop today at Avenues Yoga. It was a blast. So grateful for all the yogis who braved the storm to practice. My students teach me so much.  

Theme: remembering that every moment, day, breath is an invitation to align fully to that which nourishes us. Ex: food: each meal is an opportunity to decide how you are going to nourish yourself and as a result of your action you will feel happier, more content or you will feel yucky. Same goes with the way we hold our self. Every moment is an opportunity to align your posture or asana pose to one that is healing and therapeutic or to collapse into bad posture and perpetuate the cycle. Now I am not saying I am perfect and am always in good posture or make the best food choices. But I am getting better and faster at noticing when I am out of balance and learning how to bring myself back into the flow of nourishment. When I am nourished I feel better physically, mentally, emotionally. The question is often posed, why practice yoga asana? My answer: To be happy. And on a really gross, dense level, when I practice good alignment on my mat my body hurts less, injuries heal and when my body is not in pain I am happier…
I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being. “Hafiz.
Principles of emphasis:
·         side bodies long
·         inner body bright
·         arm bones back
·          tips of shoulder blades behind heart
·         Organic extension from heart
Heart Quality: curiosity, perseverance


1.      Tadasana, one arm zombie, manual plug ABB with other hand. (SLB, ABB,TSBBH, OE)

2.      Zombie plug both arm in

3.      Table (SBL, ABB, TSBBH, OE)

4.      Fish

5.      Upside down fish

6.      break down chataranga

7.      adho mukha shvanasana

8.      Mod. parsvakanasana

9.      Pigeon s.i.t.o arms

10.  L.L quad -> anjaniasana s.i.t.o

11.  Trikonasana

12.  Tadasana sbl-abb-tsbbh

13.  Trikonasana sbl-abb-tsbh

14.  Handstand at wall

a.       Table-> “L” SBL, ABB toward middle of room, TSBBH heart toward wall hallow armpits, organic energy extends into floor

b.      Against wall, ABB toward wall, TSBBH heart toward middle of room hollow arm pits, OE

15.  Pincha mayurasana

a.       Table ->“L” SBL, ABB toward middle of room, TSBBH heart toward wall hallow armpits, organic energy extends into floor

b.      Against wall, ABB toward wall, TSBBH heart toward middle of room hollow arm pits, OE

16.  Hero blanket  roll calves massage forearms

17.  Supine infraspinatus stretch internal rotation, other arm in diamond shape

18.  Pec Major/Minor stretch at wall 3x

a.       hand on wall face middle of room high five wall

b.      pinky finger on wall arm abducted and extended face away from hand

c.        pinky finger on wall arm bent in ½ diamond shape, face away from hand

19.  Natarajasana 2x

20.  Janusirsasana

21.  Pasarita janusirsasana (hold edge of matt and pull)

22.  Urdhva danurasana  (SBL, isometrically drag heels of hands away from feet, draw heels of hands laterally, and org extend from heart into floor)

23.  Gallopers twist

24.  Supta femur rooting

25.  Therapeutic : Mat under armpit create space

26.  Supta tadasana neck work

27.  shavasana

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


My husband and I went to The Aviary today for some bird watching. Watching these winged creatures present in nature also brought me into the moment, feathers ruffling, beaks peaking, eyelids blinking, bird heads turning, breeze blowing. I saw this in others no matter the age kids, adults, seniors, people would get captivated and pause from the busy-ness of life to watch an owl rotate his head, a peacock cross a bridge, ducks fly from one pound to another...

When I came home I rolled out my mat and practiced some bird poses: crow, side crow, pigeon, firefly (not a bird but a winged animal), and bird of paradise.

Bird of paradise = Svarga Dvidasana. Svarga= heaven, Dvid= twice lived, Asana=posture
I heard Noah Maze explain the mythology of these Sanskrit words. He stated that there are three things that are "twice lived"
1) Birds: they are born in an egg, and then the egg hatches and they are born again.
2) Teeth: we have baby teeth, then they fall out and we have permanent teeth.

and lastly 3) yogis. Even in our asana practice the last pose that we do, corpse pose (shavasana). We die at the end of our practice roll over to be born again. We have the opportunity to be born again every moment, every day, every practice.

Being born again is like being able to awaken to the sweetness of heaven while living in the chaos of life. I can have the shittiest day and be stuck in my head about life is not going the way I want it to, but by the end of class after coming out of shavasana I get a new perspective. Sometimes its not even a conscious shift I just come out of the class more content even though no life situations shifted.

I think this is so cool. We get to re awaken all the time. When I fall into selfishness, unhealthy habits, injury, sickness, fights.. whatever the situation is, I have the opportunity to change the way I am acting in order to get different results. I can make mylife a trajectory! I want my life to evolve for the better! I was in a workshop with Desiree  and she was said she feels 6o is the new 30 years old. I want to feel like that, and I think it will come if I continue to wake up many times to an attitude how can I make today a better day then yesterday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reverence of Valentines Day

I think Valentines is often looked at a day to celebrate the love one has in a romantic relationship, leaving single people to hate the day while partners exchange pricey gifts to show their love. I like to think of valentines day as an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the many relationships I am in. With my husband, but also with my students, teachers, friends, strangers, earth, electronics, pecs, family. We are constantly in relationships and valentines is a great day to really notice that.

When I am on my mat on valentines day the main relationship that I notice is the one I am in with myself, with my body/mind/spirit. I get to observe how the actions I take with yoga through asana/meditation/pranayama.... effect the relationship I have with myself. On this day I am filled with reverence for myself.

Many people have alters or shrines beautifully decorated to show their love and respect for something like a Deity. Yogis have their body, the saying "your body is your temple" captures this nicely. When I am on my mat I try to practice the way of offering respect. How can I make my breath an offering, my bones and muscles offerings? I love so deeply the practice of Anusara Yoga for this because going through the universal principles of alignment and refining my pose to one that is most optimal and therapeutic feels to me like the sweetest bow of respect to the sweet spirit within me.

Definition (from of reverence (noun):

  1. Feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe, veneration.
  2. The outward manifestation of the feeling: to pay reverence.
  3. A gesture indicative of deep respect; bow, or curtsy.
  4. The state of being revered.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Observations from my mat

some observations....

Getting in the zone:
I move through the 5 universal principles of alignment: open to Grace, muscle energy, expanding spiral, contracting spiral, organic energy, and then move through secondary principles like the seven loops, bandhas..

Often to find Open to Grace I will say some prayers in my head. Ill l sometimes say the serenity prayers (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference) or the 3rd step prayer (God, I offer myself to thee-- to build with me and do with me e as Though wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will...) These prayers help me remember the bigger picture, taking me out of "its all about me, and whats the biggest variation of the pose so I can be the best" and instead help me remember why I practice and help me surrender myself to the flow of Grace. This also cultivates the actions of 1st principle: My side bodies naturally lengthen, my inner body expands, outer body softens, and I feel connected to earth/my foundation as I come back to the remembrance of a power greater then myself.

One way I cultivate muscle energy is by bending both legs and isometrically drag them to the mid line from the sides and front and back. This gets much better results for me then keeping the leg or legs straight say in trikonasana, parsvatonasana, uptivista konasana... It also helps me create more expansion in  the pelvis, then keeping the tone and the openness I extend my legs and start contracting spiral...  Also in muscle energy I am a big touch-er on my own mat. I am not afraid to investigate and feel with my hands different body parts to check and see if they are doing what I am wanting them to do. This has been duper helpful. For example for a while I thought I was engaging my hamstrings in glutes in certain poses but with further investigation I discovered that although I thought I was engaging them nothing was happening. I had to learn tricks, like push into the front of the heel for glutes, and pushing into the heel isometrically drag the leg backwards for hamstrings.

Ill be in a pose applying the refinements and feeling the bliss that comes when my muscles, bones and breath are flowing toward optimal alignment. But I notice that I am using a lot of effort and my pose is laking that "outer body soft" refinement of first principle. In my head I will think "my skin is so soft, like Velvet, light, soft, smooth Velvet.." or "my skin is like a flower petal, soft and smooth, with dew drops, such soft petal like skin, oh and I can feel the sun shining on my petal skin". This sounds silly especially when I verbalize it, but it does bring a flavor (rasa) of soft sweetness to my poses.

Once I am in the zone:
My breath with deepen. Everything feels like it flows better. Aw I wish I could put in words the "this is the place" feeling I get when I am close to optimal blue print.

A fun thing I have been noticing lately is that my fingers will wiggle gracefully with enthusiasm, aka jazz hands.

Not a new observation, but a good reminder, is that once I am in the zone, NOTHING SHOULD HURT. I practice for a lot of years coming into "the final version of the pose" and I would feel pain and pinching in certain body parts (often my lumbar spine) but that thought that came with the pose. It wasn't until I started practice Anusara Yoga, this alignment based practice rocks. Now I know if something hurts I need to back out of the pose, refine refine refine and deepen, and if  pain or discomfort persists I should hold a modified version of the pose.

Its been such a cool experiencing of watching myself unfold and evolve through this practice of opening, engaging, expanding, contracting, extending. In the Anusara tradition, optimal freedom, stability, and self-recognition are created in yoga poses by systematically applying a series of alignment principles in a sequential order. Those principles are constant, and applicable to every human body in every yoga pose. There is artistry in their application to individual bodies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leading with the HEART

I have tweaked my shoulder lately from to much play with my hula hoop. When I practice yoga and do body work I put so much attention on my alignment but when I dance with my hoop and try to learn more tricks I forget about my alignment and as a result little shoulder injury. To heal I am coming back to alignment techniques like shoulder and skull loop, that serve my body so well. These are the last two out of the seven loops of Anusara yoga. The loops are considered minor principles are come after performing the "major" universal principles of alignment of open to grace, muscular energy, inner spiral, outer spiral, and organic energy (in that order).

Here are some thoughts I have had on these loops:

It has been really interesting to watch my posture transform throughout my yoga journey and especially since starting practicing Anusara. If I look at pictures years ago my shoulders are rounded folder and I can see the lack of confidence and insecurity in myself. Not to mention the pain I would get in my shoulders and neck. Now my shoulders are naturally stay integrated in my back and I can see the new confidence and self-worth I now have. However... even though my shoulders are drawn back my head is still held forward (some body workers call this “forward carriage”). Here is a picture from three years ago, my shoulders are somewhat on my back but my jaw and head are in the front jutting out past my heart.

When I do skull loop in conjunction with shoulder loop my head moves back, heart lifts, low belly tones, forehead and eye lids soften, back of neck releases... When my head is sticking more forward then my heart like in this picture it reminds me of running my life from my head and being disconnected from my heart. The mind and intellect is great stuff, I think we have the power to think for a reason but I want to use my mind to help me navigate the world from my heart. Performing shoulder loop and skull loops lifts places my heart more forward then my head. That’s a powerful place for me to be.

5 aspects of shoulder loop:

1. Side bodies long

2. Inner body bright/ outer body soft

3. Hyoid bone back

4. Shoulder loop

5. Extend up the back of the neck from the soft palate of the mouth

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...