Monday, September 29, 2014

Don't Let Life Get You Down

For the next month I will be subbing for my teacher Adam While he teaches some Anusara series in China! So cool. I am so honored I get to sub for such an amazing teacher. This is my class notes from this mornings practice. I felt very confident while teaching and I had several students come up after class to thank me and ask me questions. I am looking forward to subbing for him this month.

Class: Anusara at Centered City Yoga on Monday
Theme: Don't let life get you down instead rise up.
Antidote: on Sunday I had some plans: hike, garden, outdoor wedding reception to name a few. So when I woke up to a down pour of rain I thought what will me, my husband and my toddler do. Then I remembered that saying "Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you respond " we ended up going on a long drive and then doing some finger painting Halloween themed crafts. It was a great day. We can't control that life and gravity pull our physical body into a slouch. But we can control how we respond to that. Today in class we will respond by utilizing gravity pressing into our foundation so we can rise up!
Heart quality: co participate
Poe: first principle. Root to rise
Apex: Ustrasana
Props: 2 blocks, strap, blanket

-warm up-
Mod surya B with L one leg at a time 4x
Lunge fingers clasp in front of heart- standing hip stretch
W2 fingers clasp in front of heart
Lunge clasp hands behind back- standing hip stretch
W2 - falling Warrior
Anjaneyasana- lunge
2 blocks chat arm work
Hrl twist- w2
Mod. parsvak- Half moon chapasana
Lunge- tad quad- tadasana dancer
Pigeon quad
Blanket roll : Danurasana on belly
Blanket roll: danurasana on thighs
Ustrasana upright
Eka pada Ustrasana upright
Ustrasana full 2 blocks
-cool down-
Supta twist
Supta passive femur bone root

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In A Rut?

Thursday's anusara class
Poe. First principle: side bodies long, collar bones broad. Muscle energy: arm bones back
Theme: someone asked the question on Tuesday: why is it hard to start new healthy habits and easy to stay in bad habits? Answer: Samaskaras
Antidote: rut in the road

Like a deep groove or rut in the road, a samskara is a tendency/habit/path that we keep tracking into. It is easy, comfortable, and our tendency to steer toward and fall right into it. There are only two ways to break out of a well dug samskara. First, we have to be aware of and acknowledge our tendency or habit and second, we have to create a new pattern. This is easier said then done. Think about this deep groove in a road, that is not only hard to get out of but to create a new groove is also hard. On top of that the new groove won't be as deep as the old more used one so to not slip back out of the new and fall back into the old is hard. It takes patience, perseverance and playfulness (because I don't like taking myself to serious).

A pattern I have been working with recently is anger. Lately when I have been getting angry I visualize I am digging my anger samskara rut deeper. I don't want it any deeper! I work to redirect my emotions and attitude to be compassionate, understanding, and patient.  I again visualize but this time I'm seeping the rut of this new pattern. That visualization helps me to realize that I don't want to stay stuck in this unhealthy pattern. I want to form a deeper groove for health and happiness.  It’s up to us to step into the yoga and make better choices as we apply our awareness and willingness to be choose which pattern we step I to and reinforce. Are we staying in a negative habit that we are comfortable in or can we move into unknown creating the known in a new way.

In this class we will notice our natural tendency to shorten the spine and round the shoulders forward. These tendencies are strength with lazy posture. This is a very deep samsakara for many of us. Today we will be awareness and then action into creating and deepening another option: side bodies long, colar bones broad, head of arm bones back.

Mod surya B one side at a time with lunge

Lunge clasp hands
Anjaneyasana- L- standing hip stretch
Hrl twist- w2
W2 - rev W
L- Quad stretch - Dancer

Pigeon quad twist
L.l quad- ardha hanuman
On blocks chat prep sbl, broad, abb one side at a time then both
Pec stretch at wall 3x
Pincha manuyrasana 3x

Camel quad
Natarajasana strap 2x

Fish crunches
Table press into one hand at a time then both to activate kidney loop while maintaining low back curve
Supta twist
Thigh bone rooting passive symmetrical

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vegan Basil Pesto + Roasted Veggie Recipe

Yummy Dinner

*Roasted Sweet Potato and Parsnips Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes peeled chopped
2 parsnips peeled chopped
1/2 red onion (optional)
1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp basil pesto
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. toss veggies with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden and tender, turning once or twice. Let cool a little bit. Mix pesto with lemon zest and juice (optional). Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons over sweet potatoes, serve the rest alongside.

*Vegan Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1 to 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbs nutritional yeast

Place the basil, walnuts or pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground. Turn the motor on and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Vata Balancing

With fall right around the corner which starts on September 22 with the Autumn equinox followed by the winter solstice and the commencement of winter.  It is a very transitional time, bringing cooler, dryer, windy elements into our environment which also enhances the wind factor in our own bodies. Vata is the wind dosha in Ayurveda that very often gets unbalanced during this time of change.

Ayurveda’s mantra is: ‘Like increases like,’ while ‘opposites balance each other out.’ So if Vata is in abundance in the climate, we are reflecting it as well by feeling an excess of air and ether in our bodies, And if your constitution tends to have Vata in it anyway, like me, chances are you will get extra ungrounded and thrown off balance.

However we can stay centered during the climate transition by practicing the opposites to balance. We can stay warm, moist, steady, rooted and engaged. This can be accomplished with:
*nutrition: think warm soups with root vegetables, warm tea with spices, cooked veggies. Two of my favorites is squash soup and roasted veggies.
*meditation: to let your physical body rest and slow down. As well as steady and slow your mind.
*pranayama: breath exercises to slow down you mind, body, and nervous system. The paranayama technique I have been using most frequently is spinal breathing. I image an elevator or light starting at the base of my spine as I inhale and travel all the way up to the center of my forehead and slightly forward by the end of my inhale. As I exhale I breath and follow the light or elevator back down to the base of my spine and pause before staring my next inhale. Repeating this for 5-30 minutes is awesome. If you want to go a little deeper into this technique as you exhale and follow the light or elevator back down, at the same time engage your pelvic floor muscles to press the breath out of your lifted spine. It is challenging to follow one thing down from your third eye to your pelvis (which is grounding) while pressing your breath and lengthening up in the opposite direction.  But once you get it going it is so centering and stabilizing.
Yoga: use your practice to stay grounded during this vata season with longer help poses, use your muscles to stay steady, work on rooting into your foundation and with that connection to foundation expand up to the sky (only as much as you can stay rooted) and focus on your breath. Forward folds and hip openers are great to cultivate grounded-ness. But backbends, arm balances and twists done intelligently  are also awesome but require more intention and work to cultivate grounded-ness.
Other lifestyle: warm baths, lots of sleep, oil messages, slow deep massages, sitting by a fire

My Tuesday anusara public class:

Theme: stay grounded during the change of the season with timed longer held poses
Principles of emphasis: 1st, 2nd, 5th root to rise

Surya Namaskar 3x

1 min timing:
Hrl- tree- Standing quad stretch- standing pigeon
Active pigeon
L.L quad W2- rev
Hrl twist- mod. Parsvak
1/2 moon - standing pigeon- W1
1/2 moon- standing pigeon - W1

Tarasana uprights - fold
Baddha konasana upright- fold
Sirsasana - bakasana

Camel block
Pigeon Mermaid

Matsendrasana twist
Supta passive femur root

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Intentional or Habitual

Lately I have been thinking about the way we practice on the mat and how much, if any, it differs from the way we live off the mat. If we don't intentionally choice to practice differently we will practice our yoga postures with the same habitual misalignment's we practice off the mat. For example, if you work at a desk all day, then drive home and sit on the couch and then go to yoga and do a pose most likely your side bodies will be short and your arm bones will be forward and narrow, the same general slouching posture you were in all day. If we want to shift that habitual posture we have off the mat we have to stop reinforcing it on that mat.

This has really been settling into my brain lately.  And I love it. Yoga is a time I set a side so I can make healthier habits in my body, mind and heart.

I do this with my body already for sure. I make a point to do different more optimal physical alignment on the mat to help train myself to do better alignment off the mat. I also work to shift my attitude to a more joyful one, to train my heart to feel full and happy especially when my heart feels down off the mat.

However recently I have noticed that I don't make a point to change my mind from being habitual on the mat. Off the mat my tendency is to speed through my day as well as be hard on myself. I have noticed both of these mentally showing up on my mat. I am now reminding myself to slow down, hold poses longer, do less vinyasa and take a much longer shavasana or seated meditation. I have also been editing my mind talk to be positive and sweet.

I want my yoga asana practice to be a time I set aside to do things intentionally and not habitually so I can be healthier in my body, mind and heart.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cozy Orange: Perseverance

Monthly blog for cozy orange. Am awesome apparel company I support. Check them out I am in love the with new Juno skinny yoga pants I just got. 

 I have been re-reading The Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Svatmarama, I love diving into classic texts again and again because each time I read them something new sticks out. This time in chapter one what stuck out was Swami Svatmarama insistence that perseverance is one of the traits needed to bring success to the yogi. I have found this true not only in my yoga practice but in all of my relationships.
Perseverance has been such a key role in my marriage. Being able to move through challenges, continue to show up for each other and strengthen our skills of communication, patience and compassion lets us come out of the challenge even stronger and more on fire for each other than before.
Perseverance has also been a key role in my relationship with my yoga practice. I am able to show up on my mat or my cushion (even when I am too busy or I don’t want to) and work on my skill of connecting to Grace, to my breathe, and to the innate goodness inside of me. Practicing my connection to these during hard times makes them easier to connect to during good times and helps me stay more centered during both. Making time to practice every day a priority has been so beneficial to every area of my life. I do a handstand almost every day. If nothing more flipping upside down makes me very happy and empowered. I also make a point to sit for at least 5 minutes in the morning or at night.

I practice and teach Anusara Yoga, a style of yoga with a big emphasis on alignment. An area I have been working on in my asana practice has been stability in my knee placement. Second toe, middle of the ankle, knee and hip socket should be held in one line. I am a pretty bendy person by nature and if I am not focused my feet will turn out and my knees will knock in. This is awesome if I want to wear out my knee joint and ligaments quickly. Which I don’t! Since this is not what I want I have to really use my awareness and discipline to watch my placement, use my muscles (especially gluteus) and track my knee in line with my second toe. Yes it is tedious (although I love nerding out on alignment) but boy does it make a difference in how my ankles, knees, hips and even my low back feel. Being able to notice that I am coming out of alignment and putting in the extra effort to hold myself in good alignment takes such perseverance and is so totally worth it, in my opinion.

I think one of the biggest “ah-ha’s” I have had over the past few years is that perseverance and discipline leads to freedom and happiness. That is ultimately always my hearts deepest yearning, however I didn’t understand in order to have that freedom and joy I had to cultivate steadfastness and discipline. It is that pulsation, we have to have both. Now I know that if my marriage, my practice, my work, whatever it is doesn’t have as much joy as I want I need to sit down and figure out how I can refine my discipline so I can experience the other side of that pulsation. I want to add, that life isn’t all joy, there are bad situations but if I use my disciple I can always make the situation better.

As I write this I am in my backyard looking at the beautiful flowers that are so vibrant as a result of the crazy rain storm we had last night. Another example of perseverance, the flowers made it through the storm and as a result of enduring that challenge are even more beautiful and vibrant. I hope if you are struggling in any area of your life you will remember that enduring a challenge while holding steady to your intentions will eventually lead your back to joy and freedom. Success on and off the matt is determined by your perseverance like Swami Svatmarama writes in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Hope you have a terrific day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Self Trust

Class plan + sequence + theme notes

Heart quality: Trust, self trust
Principle of emphasis: open to grace (foundation) and muscle energy.

When we use the muscles to hold optimal alignment not only are we preventing future injuries and healing old injuries, we are also taking care if ourself in a way that develops self trust. In today's world it is hard to trust others. I lock my doors, i build walls around my heart and when I get hurt physically, mentally or emotionally I even loss trust in myself. By takin time on the mat to really take care of myself by integrating my body I start to foster self-trust. I start to feel and believe that I am not going to hurt myself and I make self care my first priority over how deep I can go in the pose.

In this class we will use our muscles to hold good alignment. I am going to really emphasis the feet engagement. So often the feet barely get used and lack of integration in the feet can lead to bunions, flat arches and can be a contributing factor to ankle, knee, hip, spine, and shoulder injuries since the feet are the foundation of the rest of the body. The way we are going to work the feet will be pressing the toe pads down so fiercely the knuckles of the feet lift up  we will do that a few times, I call this toe pad presses. Once that is developed then keeping the toe pads pressing then press the knuckles and ball of the foot down as well. When we do this in lung it is important that the heal is behind the knuckles of the foot instead of stacked right above the toes. That stacked alignment doesn't give you the ability to press the toes and turn on the muscles and lift the arch as much as when the heel is behind the knuckles but still off the floor. When the knee is on the ground in low lunge or kneeling chataranga the heels will stack right over the toes  that's ok. When the foot is active and presses the hip should lift up and drag back from that chain of muscular integration.

We will also work the muscles of the arms in pincha work. In this inversion the forearms are the foundation just like the feet are in standing poses so we will work them similarly. And we will trust that when we are strong enough that we can do some version of this pose without face planting.

1/2 sun 3x
Lunge awareness in feet root to rise
Low lunge back foot toe pad presses , then ball and toe pads
Lunge back foot toe pad presses then ball and toe pads- tree
AMS toe presses
Lunge- tree
Pigeon back foot work with knee down an lifted
Plank - chat- cobra toe work

Wall pec shoulder stretch T arms
Forearm prep work
Dolphin don't face plant trust the strength of your arms
Dolphin leg lift
Pincha manurasana at wall

Tadasana block AL
Virasana blanket roll
Ardha hanumanasana 2 blocks

Seated pranayama centering with vajrapradama mudra (look below to learn more about this awesome mudra)

Vajrapradama Mudra: interlock your fingers and place your hands over your chest. It is the symbol of trust. Vajra means thunderbolt and in Buddhism the thunderbolt is a weapon against doubt, one that chases away mistrust. Pradama means confidence or trust. The symbolism of the interlaced fingers is a web. The web signifies our connection to everything around us. This helps us remember our connection to the universe and its grand plan for us. When we look at life as being part of a greater whole then we can start to see that everything that happens for us has a reason that we may not be able to see right now. This mudra is a symbol of unshakable trust and confidence, in yourself and in your faith. Use this mudra to restore confidence in yourself, to let go of mistrust of others, to gain faith in your intuition, and to restore hope and peace in the face of obstacles.

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...