Sunday, December 22, 2013

Re-finding Balance in Handstand

8 weeks postpartum

I have been really working I cultivate my handstands for over five years and about two years ago I was able to hold my balance in the middle of the room! Then I got pregnant... I continued to do handstands until I was 29 weeks pregnant and got put on bed rest. Then I had a c-section because my placenta was abrupting from the uterine wall. Shortly after giving birth to y beautiful son a flexed my abes an pushed my stomach... Nothing. Total mush. I later tried to do a handstand. I kicked up, did alignment actions + flexed my stomach to stop and balance, but I just kept going over and fell to the floor. Can you say "timber"?
One thing Anusara philosophy teaches us is to look for the good. So besides the obvious goodness of temporarily losing my handstands is gaining my sweet baby boy. Another benefit is that in the process of re-learning and re-finding my balance. I am learning new refinements and ways of phrasing how to teach handstands to my students.

Middle of room:
Muscular Energy: from down dog or from standing slits I kick up toward handstand and squeeze my ankles together crossed. I don't think. I am going to balance in handstand. Instead I think I am going to squeeze my ankle to the front of my opposite shin. Bam! I am balancing in handstand. This happens because I am squeeze the midline (one of the three aspects of muscular energy).

At wall:  I teach handstand at the wall in almost all of my classes. I rarely see handstands being taught in other classes and so many people fear handstands. "I'm not strong enough" I hear so much. Doing handstands at the wall each week I get to see the students gain confidence and get closer and closer to balancing. Now students get excited when we move to the wall and if I don't teach handstand at the wall a few students will hand around after class to get their handstands in. Anyways a few students have been closed to balancing for a while but still can't quite find it. So a I was practicing coming to balance in handstand at the wall both straight up and from "L" pose I found a trick called organic energy.

organic energy: When one is pushing off from L or from regular handstand at the wall they have horizontal movement that brings them to the place they should balance at but the problem is they any stop hat horizontal movement and keep going. Normally I teach don't push off the wall but use inner and outer spiral ad you will natural come off the wall into balance. But still students insist on pushing off. So I suggested that when their body gets stacked to extend down to the floor like crazy from the focal point I. The heart and out through the toes. This will turn the horizontal movement into vertical movement.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstive Class

Apex Pose: hanumanasana (half forward fold to honor the darkness, half back bend to honor the light)
Principle of Emphasis: muscle energy (steadfastness on your path) inner spiral (introspection from turning within) outer spiral (cultivating strength to move forward while holding the intention you gained from reflection) organic energy
Heart quality: Reflection + Commitment
Theme: Winter Solstice. Introspection to gain inspiration as we move into more light and the new year. Winter stolice marks the end of earths exhale with the longest night of darkness as we move into earth inhale (inspiration) and the light begins to grow more and more.

The Sequence:
Child's (honor the darkness)
Table- shalabasana (teach that in asymmetrical poses back leg has more inner spiral front leg has more outer spiral)
DD (teach hope inner spiral and outer spiral happens evenly in symmetrical poses)
high runners Lunge-Lunge
L.L prep - anjaneyasana
L.L quad twist- Parsvotonasana - standing figure 4
Wide leg frwd fold right hand to front of left shin left hand to outer left shin draw torso to left while keeping legs energized, draw inner right thigh in back and wide so the pelvis stays squared and pull left sit bone down and under, sit bone moves toward tail bone getting the left waistline to lift
At wall:
L at wall (being able to turn momentum from horizontal to vertical with organic energy)
Torture asana
Hanumanasana foot on baseboard
Urdhva danurasana hands on base board
Root femur bones
Partner root femur bones

Some things to remember :
There are Golgi Tendons with in the muscle that monitor “danger” and when they feel the body is not protected they contract and seize up to protect the body. We can turn off the “danger alarms” and the resulting contraction by strong muscle work. If you engage you muscle (Called muscle energy in Anusara) for at least 30 seconds the Golgi tendons feel protected and sense the muscles are no longer in danger. As a result they soften and you can move deeper in the pose while keeping the body protected from injury. To be passive muscularly isn’t a good strategy for letting the muscles open.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Postpartum Practice for Low Back *video

A friend asked me to post a yoga video for her to addressthe low back tension she feels after just having a baby. The sequence below is to remind your body of optimal alignment while releasing stored up tension in the body. It will release tightness in the back of the legs and low back while strengthening the low back. Do the whole sequence or bits and pieces when you have time. I am did the practice with my baby so you could see how I adapt my practice with him. He actually cooperated quite well I just needed to bounce his chair every once and a while. Often I need to pick him up for some poses or put him on the ground next to me. My baby comes before my practice so if he needs me and doesn’t seem happy I stop practicing and come back to it later. When I really want to practice my husband watches the baby so I can get some “me time” and a bigger practice in. My baby boy is 8 weeks old.

Teaching focus: Learn to hold healthy spine in lower back
Principles of emphasis:
1st principle: side bodies long
2nd: Hug the midline inner thighs strong
3rd: inner spiral thighs
4th: scoop tail bone so low belly tones to hold curve of low back
Theme: Taking time (even if only a few minutes) to take care of your self. When we are feeling good in our body we experience more health and happiness and from that place we can better care for our new babies.

*check with your health care provider before picking up your practice and remember to always listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, hurts, pulls… don’t do it! You just had a baby. Give yourself a break. P.S you are superwomen!! Your practice will deepen in time. No rush.

The Video:
(if the video above doesn't work here is the youtube url:

The Sequence:
Sucasana Uddiyana Bandha Pranayama
Sucasana side stretches
Table jump rope spine
Anahatasana modified
Down Dog
Table - Shalabasana
Table - Shalabasana butt burner (toe touches, knee bends, knee bent hip extenders, abductor burner)
Thread Needle
Mod Utkatasana hands on knees cat/cow- jump rope spine
Tadasana- half moon side stretch
Down Dog - 3 Leg Down Dog
Wide Leg Forward Fold- Twist (with block, stack of books, soup can..)
Supta Pigeon
Supta Femur Rooting *my go to low back pain move*
Childs Pose

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Solstice Journaling Suggestions

Winter solstice is an invitation to pause and honor natures rythm by turning inward. I encourage you to pause, honor, inquire, and reflect during this magical time. I like to meditate + journal the week leading up to and the week following the solstice and then I re read my journal enteries when I see the first crocuses peak through the dirt (the first flowers of spring).

If you are in SLC I will be teaching a Solstice Inspired yoga class at Sugar Space 9-10:30am by donation.

Here are some of the topics I will be journaling on this year.

Winter Solstice journaling suggestions: 

Look Back

Name at least 3 obstacles you overcame in the last year, and reflect on what lessons you learned or what qualities of character were strengthened as a result.

Name up to 3 challenges you are working on that you feel stand in the way of you reaching your highest goals and intentions

Name at least 3 positive shifts you made in the last year. Give yourself full credit for forward growth, even if they were just little steps (little steps add up to big changes in time)

Name your three most powerful moments or special memories from the last year.

Look Forward

Name 3 goals or intentions you have for the next year. You might pick one in separate category such as Relationships, Career, and Self Development, or you might pick three to work on in one single area of your life.

Now list 3 obstacles that you think might stand in the way of you manifesting your intentions and counter each of them with a solution.

Name 3 qualities of character you want to cultivate this year to help you embody, or manifest your intentions.

Reflect on, and name, the desired outcomes or feeling states that you will experience having realized your intentions. Allow yourself to really feel each outcome in your body. Take your time with it as the more you can not only visualize but also feel where you are going the easier it is to get there!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Upeksha Leads to Harmony

Heart Quality: Harmony

Theme: Upeksha (overview, big picture)

The Sanskrit word Upeksha comes from the root word “iksha” meaning view, gaze at, look upon, or reflect. The prefix “upa-“meaning over or beyond. I like to think of Upeksha meaning overlook. Not overlook as in ignore or to not see, more like a scenic overlook.

Antidote: Lets add a seasonal winter touch to this antidote… When I ride a chair lift I can see so much. I can see the bigger picture compared to when I am speeding down the mountain on my sweet tele ski’s, where I can only see what is in front of me. When I ski I love catching air over the rolling hills. However, when I am coming down the mountain I can see what’s on the other side of those hills, only what’s in front of me, the small picture. When I am on the chair lift I can see the bigger picture, I can see what’s on the other side, maybe there is a crash on the other side of that hill with multiple ski patrollers and someone on a backboard. With this bigger concept about what is going on I can more gracefully navigate the different parts and not jump off that hill.

This is true in my yoga postures too. When I get too focused on one aspect like shoulder loop. I forget that it is only one part that makes up the whole. Just because my shoulders might be integrated doesn’t mean that my ribs and my head are not way out of balance. When I pause, breath and take into consideration what is happening with all the different parts of my body I can again more gracefully coordinate myself leading to more harmony in my mind, body, and spirit.

It’s a great concept to ponder and practice. Stress, chaos and/or mundane tasks pulls us into the “the small picture” and our ability to choose the highest or best course of action is often diminished. This larger perspective allows us to meet the world, or yoga pose, from a calmer + more loving + more capable place. This pausing, taking a breath and trying to see the “scenic overview” can be a magical strategy for navigating just about every situation in life… especially during the holidays.


Sucasana viloma Pranayama
High runners lunge twist - lunge
L.L twist - anjaneyasana
Utkatasana exhale arms forward down and up inhale stay low reach up 3x
Lunge exhale sweep arms forward down back and up inhale tailbone teach up - Lunge twist Anjali mudra - standing Lunge twist T arms- rev - one hand down high runners lunge stretch arm over ear
Leprechaun tapping from DD
Modified Parsvakonasana
Clasp blow Warrior 2- Parsvakonasana hand outside foot
Dolphin – Leprechaun tapping from Dolphin or Pincha Mayurasana
Ardha Chandrasana- Chapasana - Trikonasana
Handstands at wall
Sucasana viloma pranayama 3x

I have been studying Anusara Yoga going on 6 years now and have been contemplating applying for Certification in Anusara. Currently I am Anusara-Inspired which is often compared to a BS and Certification is often compared to a Master’s Degree. One part of the certification process is submitting filmed classes to a review board. This really terrifies me so I have decided to start filming my classes and beginning watching them and refining them before I start thinking about giving it to a certified teacher to review. Today was my first day filming, which was all about figuring out equipment… Will my battery last? Do I have enough memory? Do I need a mic? Does it capture the whole class room? Everything worked accept the sound. I am excited to start refining my teaching skills, even if it takes a while for me to submit my application.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

First Class Back

Notes from my Sugar Space Class, December 7th 9-10:30am by donation.

Principles of emphasis:
First principle: side bodies long, foundation of feet, melt heart
Second principle: muscle energy to help draw arm bones back
Secondary principles: twisting

Theme: 'tis the holiday season. Let's lengthen our side body to make room to fill ourself with holiday cheer + joy and play with twists to let go of stress + overindulges.

The sequence:
Bridget's cross modified one hand one forearm
High runners lunge
Utt rag doll
L.L quad -> anjaneyasana
Active pigeon
L.L twist
Plank sbl- knee to chest Bridget's cross hips down one hand one forearm
Utkatasana twist
Utkatasana twist one foot off ground -> L twist ->L.L quad twist ->vinyasa
Side crow
Supta side crow prep
Side crow
Anjaneyasana  -> ardha hanumanasana
Headstand prep or headstand
Galapers twist quad @wAll
Twisted janusirasana

This was my first class back after not teaching for my 2 month maternity leave. It felt sooo sooo good to be back. I had missed my students and teaching so very much. I was worried after not teaching for so long (this has been my biggest break in teaching for the last 8 years) that it wouldn't come back to me and I lost my teaching skills. But it came right back and felt so good.

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...