The physical purpose of this practice is to open the muscles of the shoulders/chest. The underlying spiritual purpose is practicing the ability stay open in the face of our most intense life challenges. These lines of Rumi’s poem The Guest House perfectly embody the...
The physical purpose of this practice is to open the muscles of the shoulders/chest. The first 9 minutes of this practice focuses on deep shoulder opening techniques. The underlying spiritual purpose is practicing the ability stay open in the face of our most intense...
Your spine and its energetic ethereal double called sushumna nadi act like an antenna. This antenna behaves just like old school TV antennae did not so long ago. The antennae (for those of you who are too young to remember) are rods or wires for radiating or receiving radio waves. If the TV picture was fuzzy, we had to adjust the antennae, moving them into the right place to receive the waves. When we align the curves of the spine and its energetic double (sushumna nadi), your body becomes more effective at moving blood, lymph and breath as well as more effective at opening the energetic channels in the body so prana (aka energy/ life force) flows freely.
In this practice we align the top of the "antenna". We all have "tech neck" a condition where the skull is anterior to the rest of the spine. It comes from reaching the head forward to look at our tiny smart phone screens. This one misalignment can wreak havoc throughout the body. This alignment principle is called "skull loop". Skull loop is illustrated in the photo below.
Inspired by advice given in an op-ed written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this practice focuses on stabilizing the lower body in twists. Two of the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from the article are as follows: be independent, and find a way to manage even when the challenge before you seems insurmountable. To embody twisting poses in a healthy way, they require a tremendous amount of strength and steadfastness in the part of the body that is staying stable. If you'd like to read the full article, click here. Our peak pose is parvritta trikonasana (twisting triangle). It is ambitious to do this pose in such a short mount of time so please move mindfully.
This sequence is designed to stimulate your lymphatic system and therefore boost your immunity. Lymph can be moved through the body through muscular contractions and gravity. We will use both these techniques to stimulate the movement of lymph in the body which is...
Clear alignment in the body leads to clarity in the mind and in the heart. This week’s practice uses the same theme from last week but we apply it to the lower body. Our focus is on an alignment principle called inner spiral. This principle alleviates low back pain, opens the hips...
Dharma, a sanskrit word that means duty or purpose, is our theme for this week’s practice. What is your highest calling? This is your dharma. For example, I have many dharmas but being a mother and teacher are two of them. I know...
This week’s practice is focused on one alignment action that is part of shoulder loop: external rotation. We all need this practice because we spend most of our days in internal rotation at a desk, in a car or clutching our phones. Externally rotating...
If even coming close to doing a pose that resembles the "splits" freaks you out, then this practice is for you. We explore an alignment concept called "inner spiral" and learn some of the techniques for doing this extreme pose in a safe way. Hanuman is a character from Hindu mythology. He is half human and half monkey. In the Ramayana, Hanuman leaps across the Indian Ocean to help rescue the girlfriend of his best friend, Rama. So, the leap across the ocean is the stretch we embody when we do the "splits".
Hanumanasana is a tremendously effective pose for opening and also strengthening the hamstrings. We work muscular energy and inner spiral in the legs while using shoulder loop to maintain an open heart.
Hanumanasana teaches us to remain open hearted even during challenging times. He is the symbol of seva which is a sanskrit word that means service. Fill your heart to the brim with everything for which you are grateful. Allow your full, grateful heart to turn all your words, thoughts and actions into acts of seva.
This sequence opens the spleen and stomach meridians as laid out by Traditional Chinese Medicine. Regardless if you want to improve your digestion (btw, its not just digestion of food but also ideas etc.), this practice is a slow exploration of decompressing the...
My god...It is so hard to be vulnerable. This practice asks you to do just that; to open your heart methodically and strategically so that you can embrace the full spectrum of what your life has to offer. Our spiritual heart center is called the Hridaya. It is a powerful gateway into deeper connection with the spirit. What's interesting is that its in a cage....the ribcage; protected like a medieval castle. But vulnerability is essential to thriving in this life. So, we must create opening in this part of the body in order to connect to and awaken to the power of the heart. Expect lots of slow methodical movement and so great tricks for opening the shoulders and the mid back.
This is one of the most important alignment principles I teach. In this practice, we workshop aligning the legs to create space in the low back. We all need to understand this alignment principle to counter the sitting and misaligned standing that is pervasive...
The 45 minute class peaks with the arm balance Eka Pada Galavasana. Kula is a sanskrit word that means community but with a particular focus on the individual. Your body is a Kula made up of individual parts that play a crucial role to the functioning of the whole. Sometimes we decide to neglect certain parts of who we are phsycially and spiritually. The concept of Kula encourages us to ignite all the aspects of ourselves and bring our full selves to everything we do. This practice focuses on the pelvis a part of the body that is essential for your Kula to function optimally.
This practice focuses on organic energy which is the lengthening out from the core to the periphery. In Light on Yoga, Iyengar talks about the concept of mudita which is “a feeling of delight at the good work done by another, even though he may be a rival. The yogi saves himself from much heartache by not showing anger, jealousy or hatred for another who has reached the desired goal which he himself has failed to achieve.” Fans embody this wholeheartedly; cheering the accomplishments of players to whom they have no personal connection, sharing in the delight of their successes. How often do you selflessly delight or feel joy for someone else’s achievements? And since this concept isn’t always present in our society, I like to find it wherever I can. Let's turn the mania of the Super Bowl into a yogic moment.
This is the fifth and final class in our alignment principles series. In this class, we focus on Organic Energy which explains how we stretch and lengthen the muscles in the most effective way.
Strength and grounding is what this practice is all about. We build to Pincha Mayurasana/Forearm balance. This week’s practice is the counterpart to the work from last week. It is definitely worth doing the past 3 practices before you do this one.
Our alignment principle this week is Organic Energy: extending from the core out to and beyond the periphery of your body. From a solid connection to the alignment, we will challenge ourselves to lengthen and reach beyond our self-imposed boundaries. We will explore the power of organic energy to lighten the posture Pincha Mayurasana aka forearm balance.
This practice was inspired by this quote from Brene Brown's Book Braving The Wilderness, "People are hard to hate close-up. Move in." Organic energy is a physical manifestation of this concept: be clear in who you are and don't be afraid to lean in toward people or situations who challenge you. This week let's reach for the scary yoga pose, the uncomfortable situation,the current work crisis, the people who have different political beliefs or whatever challenge is crossing your path now.
There are many reasons why one practices yoga but the long and short of it is remembering one's essence (who you are at your core) and expressing that essence. But how do you do it? In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell studies people who our society deems to be extraordinary. The popular story is that they are geniuses untethered by the usual hard work the rest of us must endure. People like Steve Jobbs and the Bill Gates were just lucky and smart. Actually no, they were not only lucky and smart but also had opportunity to practice their skills. Its the opportunity and practice that are the keys to succeeding in the ways that outliers do.
That's what we do in this practice. We will take one action, engaging the hamstrings with a bent knee (aka kicking your heel to your butt) to refine our expression of a deep backbend called Natarajasana (Dancer pose). Yoga isn't an overnight success story. We must create the opportunity for transformation and then practice a lot.
And if all that didn't convince you that this week's practice is worth hitting the mat a few times, then know that this work will lift your butt!
Shri has many meanings a couple of which are boundless beauty and life affirming goodness. It is the radiant energy in all things manifest. By its nature it is boundless. For example, it describes the power that enables grass to break through concrete sidewalks. It will stop at nothing to be expressed. The good news is that it is in us and all around us. If we create openings in our body, mind, and heart then Shri can fully express itself as you embodying your true self.
So, what does that mean for this week's practice? Lots of shoulder loop and heart opening. The shoulders carry a lot of tension for most of us and its a great place for us to work this theme.
If even coming close to doing a pose that resembles the "splits" freaks you out, then this practice is for you. We explore an alignment concept called "inner spiral" and learn some of the techniques for doing this extreme pose in a safe way.
There are many principles we could focus on for this practice which peaks with Parvritta Bakasana (twisting crane pose). But I chose to focus on kidney loop because it forces the exploration of the more subtle mechanics of twists like the breath. I hate when teachers say things like "breathe into your smallest toe" (insert puke face emoji) because unless you are some jedi breath master that cue makes no sense. However, in this class you can actually move the breath into the back side of your ribs and waist which aids in creating a deeper twist. Connecting to the back of the body also creates a natural bowing action which is the universal posture of gratitude.