Sunday, December 4, 2011

We do what we like

Years ago when my journey into Yoga first began I remember a favorite teacher of mine would sometimes begin class by asking everyone to offer up either a favorite pose or a hated pose; and then she would laugh and include the hated pose of at least one of the Yogis in the room. Years later that still sticks with me as I go around the room in classes I am leading and try to get to know the newcomers and help them get to know all the regulars as well, I will sometimes ask this very same question.
Most of us start up a Yoga practice in an effort to release stress, work out tensions, find peace and quiet...relax both physically and emotionally. Finding a pose that is challenging can be inspiring to some but for others it can add more stress, tension and whatever negative energy the student is trying to leave behind. We do what we like, if we don't like a pose we probably would never practice it unless guided to do so by a teacher. This is not always a bad thing, the poses that we like bring us comfort and we feel accomplished and confident with ourselves in these poses. The poses we don't like can take us out of our comfort zone and challenge us - the key is to not allow this challenge to diminish our sense of accomplishement or confidence. We don't need to perfect every pose we try and we dont need to love every pose either. We should try it out when it is presented to us and without judgement enjoy the asana for what it is, like it or not. If it is one we dislike, put some thought into 'why' we dislike it physically uncomfortable, is it hard to maintain a rhythmic breath while holding the asana, does it spark emotions to well up??? For every pose we dislike there is a reason behind that dislike, if we can work with it and get to the root of that reason we may find that this pose will become a favorite pose. The shift that takes place from dislike to like is a growth opportunity and once that shift takes place we do what we like and what we like includes a whole lot more than before.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


As both a Yogi and Yoga instructor I know how difficult it can be to opt for a modification. For some of us (me too) we don't want to appear weak, accept that we have limitations or admit that our body may have some areas where improvement is necessary; this way of thinking can in fact lead to weakness, injury and setback. I have at times pushed myself beyond my own limits and later suffered the consequences. While teaching I have tried to support and encourage students to take modifications when I see they could benefit from them and seen the struggle of these students who want to push further but just aren't ready yet. If we change our thinking when it comes to modifying we can set our selves up to reach new depths in our practice, create more strength in ourselves and break through barriers. Let's look into it...
I like Merriam-Webster's 3rd definition: To make basic or fundamental changes; to give a new orientation to; to serve a new end.
Often people will associate the modification with the words "I can't", "too hard", "inflexible", "not strong enough", "unbalanced" and all these words are negative so no wonder nobody wants to modify. If we change those word associations to more positive ones modifying can be a choice we make more happily and willingly. A modification is a way to build a strong pose from it's foundation and allow it to grow over time into a confident, competent and graceful asana.
Our minds assert a lot of control over our body - consciously and unconsciously - if we knowingly push ourselves into our asana practice too far too fast we set ourselves up for failure. It may lead to pushing yourself harder the next time or it may lead to giving up completely, either way when we can't do all that we set out to do, we judge ourselves harshly and cruelly.
Next time you come to your mat, while setting an intention during those first few moments of class include "permission to modify". Remind yourself that modifications create a strong foundation that will set you up for success and take you further in your practice. Rather than pushing too hard in each pose, enjoy where your body has taken you and express gratitude for that ability - you may find that once you have accepted where you are today mentally and physically a door will be opened and you can walk right through - the only thing holding you back is your thinking.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Vote for me!

HI All,
Last month I came across a Talent Search for Yoga Journal. The winner will be featured in an upcoming YJ article and the top five finalists will get free stuff from Athleta. Well I figured that since I love Yoga and have had some great accomplishments on the mat that I would enter this contest. I would appreciate your support. You can vote once daily from now until April 15 by following this link
Thank You so much.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Yoga for the Core

March is a month of core for me and my students - for those of you who know me well, I am not a huge core person (crunches are definitely not my thing) in the typical sense. But I do believe that a strong core is a beautiful and necessary foundation for any Yoga practice.
My students and I sweated it out to the sounds of Rusted Root, Van Morrison and Natalie Merchant while incorporating Mermaids, Dolphins, and Boats into a Vinyasa sequence. The image that comes to mind is a beautiful serene beachy class but I assure you it was a great challenge and we are all looking forward to great results by the end of the month.
What many people think of when we talk about core strength is a firm flat belly - but this is simply one muscle group of the core - rectus abdominis. But the core is comprised of spinal erectae muscles, transversus abdominis and obliques which are used in everyday actions and are engaged in nearly all Yoga poses. Uddiyana Bandha the upward abdominal lock, is used in poses from Tadasana to Utanasana to Prasarita. Even more core strength is needed to press through Chaturanga and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and jump or float in and out of Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Having a healthy core consists of more than strength in the abdominal area, it requires flexibility and balance between the muscles that create the entire trunk of the body. Next time you come to your mat focus on your core and you will be surprised to notice how much strength you really do have and how much flexibility and balance can be increased to create even more strength in this area of your body.