Lately I've been on a CorePower Yoga® binge. The initial reason I visited the studio was to inquire about teaching positions; however, I enjoyed the class and ambiance enough to accept the studio’s offer for new students for one week of free yoga. After one week, I signed up for a one month unlimited yoga membership for $99.00. If you are a yoga junkie like me, the monthly membership makes great economic sense, especially when you compare this offer with competing studios that charge twice as much for a monthly membership.The calm allure and immaculate conditions of the CorePower Yoga® facilities are irresistible to the contemporary urban yogi or yogini. CorePower Yoga® class style combines the Ashtanga and Vinyasa methods. Classes range from 60 to 95 minutes conducted in a heated studio with humidity. The more advanced classes are a little hotter, but have no fear because it feels incredible when they turn up the heat! This approach is entirely different than Bikram in that the heat never exceeds 100 degrees, humidifiers are also used in the yoga studios and the instructors incorporate philosophical and meditative elements into the class curriculum.
Friday, 12 August 2011
People often confuse yoga for what it appears to be prima facie, yet this misperception couldn’t be further from the truth. To the uninformed, the word “yoga” connotes a plethora of beautifully tan and fit bodies performing awkward and physically grueling postures. Hatha yoga or “power” yoga as it’s better known in the West, is absolutely a physical practice; however the physicality is a necessary aspect of the Hatha yoga tradition to successfully free yourself from the limitations of your mind, the human condition and therefore your “little old self.”
Since yoga literally means “to unite” or “to yoke” the question is what are we yoking? Not eggs. How can little old me find my place in this big world? Where do I fit in? Or better yet, why don’t I fit in? These questions are variations on the same theme resulting from a disconnect between a limited understanding of self and the Infinite Universe. Call it God, call it Divine Spirit, call it Self-Realization, call it Nirvana (not the band please). I implore you, please call it whatever the heck you want to, but the reality is that there is something “out there” we as humans desperately seek to identify with. The disconnect experienced by some is often so profound that the only viable solution is an unhealthy one like smoking or binge drinking. Then again, a rare breed of tolerable and well adjusted people who come across as whole, pure and authentic do exist. Do you twinge with a wee bit of jealousy and wonder, “How is so-and-so such a well adjusted individual and why can’t I be more like that?!” Here is the kicker: this "well adjusted" individual doesn’t even practice yoga!
Thursday, 04 August 2011
ENTRY FOR THIS TUESDAY'S TIDBIT GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED WITHIN THE NEXT 24-72 HOURS
Wednesday, 03 August 2011
Wednesday, 03 August 2011
Being a professional ballet dancer means taking class every day to stay in shape. If you are not under contract with a company or if you are in between seasons, it can be very difficult to find an adequate professional level ballet class to take. Living in Los Angeles makes it more difficult since the LA dance scene is more commercially oriented than the classical and theatrical dance scene found in New York City or even San Francisco. Fortunately, there are a few options for the professional/advanced ballet dancer when it comes to taking class in the City of Angels and one of them is Reid Olson's class. Reid Olson, former principal dancer with Los Angeles Ballet and soloist with Pacific Northwest Ballet, teaches an amazing advanced level ballet class at Dance Arts Academy in West Los Angeles. Expect to brush elbows with some top-notch professional dancers, but don't be intimidated because many non-professionals also enjoy taking class regularly with Reid. Reid is also a registered yoga instructor and teaches a yoga class on Thursday mornings at 9:30-11:00am before his 11:30am ballet class. Reid often teaches class at City Yoga in Los Angeles. Contact Reid for more information on his yoga schedule.
Monday, 01 August 2011
To meditate is to focus your attention on one thing. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t some cryptic and esoteric task-taking place under a Bodhi Tree out in the wilderness. Meditation can happen anywhere at any time. A meditation practice strengthens our capacity for focused attention. Meditation is a tool to achieve clarity of thought and relief from life’s frustrations and stresses. To experience the benefits of mantra meditation it’s important to practice patience and non-judgment during each meditation session because the human mind, referred to as the monkey mind will undoubtedly wander aimlessly through its vast forests of thoughts and emotional responses. How many times throughout your day do you become sidetracked or distracted from your original intentions? The ability to place and maintain your attention where you choose to is both empowering and liberating.
Mantra meditations are words or phrases that are chanted verbally or mentally. Usually a mantra is prescribed to a student by a guru or teacher. Mantra can also be self-prescribed. For example, by choosing to mediate on the word "love" or "compassion" the mediator invites more love or compassion into their field of awareness and therefore into their life. The word or phrase is the object of meditation giving the mind something to focus on. You will notice your mind pulling your attention outwards, away from the mantra. Sounds in the immediate environment, sensations in your body and of course thoughts will enter and occupy the mind; yet instead of entertaining these distractions, allow them to enter your stream of consciousness and then choose to recommit to the mantra. You will notice these distractions will exit your stream of consciousness as quickly as they entered. With a consistent meditation mantra practice the physical world of distraction begins to gradually fade away and the only thing the meditator construes as reality is the spoken or mental mantra. Ultimately, after a long mantra meditation the mantra itself begins to dissolve until there is nothing but serene and expansive consciousness. No thoughts, no words, no judgment, just space.
YOGI TIDBIT TO TRY:
This mantra was given to me by Julian Walker, a true guru.
Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Close your eyes. Watch the quality of your breathing for a few cycles of breath. Remember that the breath is four-part with the inhalation, the pause after the inhalation, the exhalation and the pause after the exhalation. Begin verbally or mentally reciting the following mantra:
MAY I BE WELL. MAY I BE HAPPY AND SAFE. MAY I BE HEALTHY AND STRONG. MAY I BE FREE FROM SUFFERING AND THAT WHICH CAUSES ME TO SUFFER. MAY I BE WELL.
Begin by reciting this mantra five times. Then build up gradually. Practice this mantra anytime, especially in times when you feel self-doubt and self-conscious.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
The main goal of So You Think You Can Yoga?® is to demystify some of the common misperceptions people have about yoga. One of them is the notion that unless you are naturally flexible yoga is uncomfortable and impossible. Yes, the asanas do require flexibility but they also require strength. With a consistent practice, flexibility and strength develop together; like a married couple. They are two sides of the same coin. People who tend to be on the stiff side usually fare better with poses that require more strength. People who are more on the flexible side tend to do better with poses that facilitate elongation of the muscles and ligaments. Neither one is more advanced than the other per se. The degree of difficulty really depends on which side of the coin you identify with the most. Yoga is about balance. The goal is to reach equilibrium between the two sides of this coin.
Astavakrasana is an “advanced” asana because there are several elements to it. Astavakrasana illustrates the duality of yoga specific to a yoga practice because it requires core strength and flexibility. Below is a sequence of asanas designed to help prepare your body for astavakrasana. It helps to think about this pose in terms of component parts, which include the core and hip flexibility. The sequence below strengthens the core muscles while simultaneously targeting external rotation of the hip joints.
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
I recently saw a commercial on television in which a yoga instructor endorses Advil. I thought to myself, "wow, this is irony at its best!" Isn't yoga the "natural" painkiller? By participating in the commercial, yoga instructor Lacey Calvert deflates the value and the physical benefits of yoga. Many people turn to yoga precisely because they experience pain and because they believe yoga can help extinguish their physical discomfort. This commercial is just another cunning attempt by Big Pharma to shove another pill down our throats in an attempt to solve our problems. Instead of unnecessarily creating another bad habit and popping a pain pill, think about what caused your physical pain. Did you exhaust all possible options to alleviate the pain or are you simply choosing the easiest and most available option? Click here to view the ad.
Monday, 18 July 2011
Over the last few years, I gained an indescribable sixth sense through my yoga practice. As a ballerina, heightened physical awareness is a given. However, these days my awareness is sharper than the sharpest tool in the shed encompassing my emotional and energetic fields of awareness.
The effects of a regular yoga practice penetrate deep from the outside in since we have direct access to what we see, touch, feel, hear and taste. Yogis begin by contorting their bodies into silly shapes and poses and holding them for what can often seem like an eternity. Many people turn to yoga strictly as a form of exercise as I first did. When physical limitations are met, yogis learn to stay focused, resist aversion to physical and/or psychological discomfort that might arise and as a result a shift in perception occurs. This feeling can be exhilarating and liberating and is considered by all yogis to be where the true yogic journey begins. The yoga poses, called asanas in Sandskrit, are merely metaphors for life. Asanas are situational and subject to change much like daily life. They generate the same aversions or attachments experienced in daily life. We identify and enjoy certain asanas more than others, just like we enjoy certain people, relationships and situations more than others. Yoga is a powerful tool because it brings about a revelation in the practitioner. There comes a point where suddenly one becomes fully aware of hard-wired habits and automated thought processes, which is scary… No one wants to be confronted with one’s self.
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Yesterday in Kia Miller's class I had what I can only describe as a beautiful experience. Live musicians accompanied the practice and then lead an 11-minute chant following the physical practice. I am no stranger to mysterious waves of emotion coming over me during yoga class, but yesterday was particularly intense. I felt myself welling up as I made my way into savasana. My choppy inhales signaled a wave of emotion that I was unprepared for. The physical practice was slow, luxurious and therefore quite deep. I had time to explore each part of each asana and each part of my body as I glided through the asanas. No hurry, nowhere to go, nowhere to be but with myself. That is scary. I nearly welled up with emotion right now just typing that sentence. Savasna appears as an easy pose, but most yogis agree that it is actually the most difficult. Savasana, also known as corpse pose, forces one to surrender the physical body with total honesty to gravity like it never belong to you in the first place. The idea is, once the body is at ease, the mind enters into a state conscious relaxation. This is much more difficult than it sounds because minds, as we all know, need something to hold on to. Fear of the unknown makes us anxious and unwilling to let go of conscious thoughts. Many times, unresolved issues or feelings held by our subconscious will rise to the surface during savasana. This is a good thing; consider it like free therapy! It's frightening to be confronted with yourself. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to run or hide. All you can do is allow whatever sensations, experiences and emotions come up to rise to the surface so they can exit the vessel that houses them.
Monday, 11 July 2011
Too many people think they can't do yoga...and the reason they think this lies in their hips. Most people are quite tight in the hips because of our sedentary culture. We sit in traffic, we sit in front of our computers at work and then we come home and sit in front of our computers again as we "socialize" with our virtual friends. Excessive sitting, especially with poor posture, leads to constant flexion of the hip joint causing tightness and stiffness.
True, your hips might be tight with respect to one range of motion, but they might be very loose in another. In other words, your hip flexors could be very tight, yet you might naturally possess more external rotation in your hips than the person next to you making certain poses like pigeon pose more accessible and poses like crescent pose less accessible. This is where the beauty of personal exploration chimes in. If you are honest about your physical limitations and practice consistently and without judgement, you'll notice a refined sense of awareness when it comes to your body. You will begin understanding which poses work for your joints, which ones don’t and most importantly why.
Check out this video. I provide three hip openers for you to try. Each one stretches the hip joint differently. So try all of them on and see which one fits your body best.
Saturday, 09 July 2011
You may feel like you are independent and thus responsible for yourself and only yourself; however, something greater binds all of us together into one collective planet...respiration. On a molecular level, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs every single moment and ultimately ties us all together, whether we like it or not.
Check out this article and then tell me you aren't in some indirect way connected to the very person you are flicking off on your way to work right now! So take a moment, breathe deeply, create happy molecules within you so that the next unassuming individual who's fortunate enough to inherit your molecules resists the urge to yell or torment all the bad drivers he or she comes into contact with when the imminent Carmageddon strikes Los Angeles’s 405 Freeway during the July 15th and 16th weekend.
Thursday, 07 July 2011
In the spirit of the 4th of July (hey better late than never right?)...
"True Independence Is Liberation From The Condition Of
I heard this uniquely insightful statement this afternoon during a kundalini yoga class with one of my favorite instructors, Kia Miller and thought to myself, "Wow, I wonder what our forefathers would think about the condition of the average contemporary mind..."
My Conclusion: Our forefathers would find the contemporary mind overly contaminated by unnecessary stimuli and undernourished with the purity of Truth.
Thursday, 07 July 2011
Wednesday, 06 July 2011
As yogis we have a heightened sense of spatial awareness. But even if you don’t practice yoga, you are still able to move your body through space. The human musculoskeletal system is so sophisticated that it allows you to move like a real live three-dimensional structure through space, unlike a paper doll. There are three planes in which all movement occurs, including the coronal (frontal), sagittal and transverse planes.
Corornal Plane: Motion viewed in this plane appears as side-to-side movements. Adduction and abduction of your limbs occur in this plane. For example, making snow angels in the winter illustrates movement in the coronal plane because the arms and legs move laterally. Another example is steering the wheel of a car. When you steer, do you place your hands at ten o’clock and at two o'clock? Why not?! It's a simple concept, yet for some reason so many L.A. drivers seem to have missed this lesson in drivers ed.
Sagittal Plane: Motion viewed in this plane is best viewed from the profile and is construed as forward and/or backward motion. Walking occurs in the sagittal plane, so does kicking a soccer ball with your foot because it involves the thigh moving forward and towards the torso. Conversely, extending the leg behind you brings the thighbone away from the torso as when a ballet dancer does an arabesque.
Transverse Plane: In the transverse plane motion is construed as rotational. Hula hooping is an activity that involves the torso twisting around its own axis in order to balance the hula-hoop around the hips.
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Exploring the motives behind movement is as relevant, if not more relevant, than simply understanding movement by itself. From a first person perspective, movement is a result of these three categories: pure physical necessity; the desire to entertain; and the desire to transgress (the physical). These categories are not mutually exclusive. For example, when an athlete plays a sport he or she carefully calculates movement out of sheer necessity in order to win the game. However an athlete’s motivation for movement may also result from a conscious or subconscious desire to entertain the spectators. Hence the phrase “spectator sport.” Any performance-based activity dips into the “desire to entertain” category. Yoga is no exception. Indeed yoga is an experimental and personal practice, yet it is also a beautiful form of movement that can and should be enjoyed by the voyeur. Lastly, and the most intriguing motive for movement for me is transgression. When I practice yoga or when I dance I always search for parallels between the two. In ballet, when I lift my arms up in the air to execute a movement it's as if I am transgressing the physical limitations of my own body, which (sadly) is bound by the law of gravity. Similarly when I flow through sun salutations I reach my arms up over my head "saluting" something greater than my physical self; the sun. Is the act of reaching my arms up and beyond myself an instinctual appeal to the Divine? Could the motivation for this particular type of movement signal a desire to transgress my physical limitations bound by the constraints of time and space in exchange for something greater? Surely athletes experience the same desire to transgress their physical bodies when they play sports; however, watching a dancer dance or a yogi practice sun salutations crystallizes a mental image of what movement dictated by the desire to transgress truly looks like.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
What happens when you suffer an injury? No, seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. I am curious what all of you out there experience when your body is not well from something as minute as a paper cut or a bruise to something more serious like a broken bone. Something as minor as a paper cut or bruise can become a major annoyance. Don't you find that when you injure yourself you somehow someway always manage to hit, bang or whack the wounded area? What if the injury sustained is more serious than a paper cut? Let's say a dancer or an athlete sustains a pulled muscle or a sprained ankle, wouldn’t you agree that this type of injury is worthy of a personal "meltdown?"
People who are highly active either as a result of their profession or simply because of a lifestyle choice are gluttons for sensation. Just in case you didn’t hear me the first time, athletes and especially dancers are gluttons for sensation! The degree of pain and range of motion are barometers for how much further he or she can push him or herself physically. Whenever I manage to hurt myself (and it happens more often than I’d like to admit in my line of work) my dad always says, "Don't try it! Leave it alone!” Ahhhh... famous last words. My ex-professional volleyball player father should know better than anyone that when something hurts, when something feels off physically you have no choice but to rub it, stand on it, stretch it, tweak it, and test it out to see if it still hurts... yea, of course it still does; however, at least I feel like I am doing something beneficial for my injury by “testing the waters.” Maybe if I stretch it this way, or maybe that way it will hurt less and in order to determine if my brilliant methodology was a success I must test it out first! Duh! Ouch! Crap! Yup, my foot is still there and so is the pain. Time to R.I.C.E.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
What happens when a child falls in love with a shiny new toy at the toy store and begs mom or dad to buy it but mom or dad refuses? A temper-tantrum. What happens when an adult applies for his or her dream job and doesn’t get it? A temper-tantrum? It’s quite possible. You can take the human out of the playpen (hopefully) but you can’t take the humanity out of the human.
When things don’t go our way we get upset, frustrated, mad and stressed causing our mindset to crossover into dangerous terrain. Thoughts are the basis for emotions. Emotions are nothing more than the colors, which paint the landscape of life. I was at an audition the other day; I got a call back (that’s half the battle right there) and my performance at the call back was nothing short of “fierce” (inserting some shameless self promotion here). Indeed, I was crushed when I did not get this job. As a dancer, it’s best to avoid setting up any sort of expectations despite how awesome your performance was (yea…good luck with that); but let’s be honest, if I didn’t think I had a chance why would I throw myself into the grind yet again and even bother to show up at the audition? As I reflect on the outcome of this particular experience, I am forced to ask myself “Why am I so attached to the outcome?” The results of this audition didn’t change my life in the grand scheme of things so why the hell am I still dwelling on it?
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
A simple breakdown of the kleshas for your enjoyment:
Klesha is a Sandskrit word. A kleshas cause is suffering according to Yogic Philosophy. Kleshas are the constructs for the way we think. Some refer to kleshas as afflictions of the mind. As you read the list of the five kleshas, reflect on your own percieved suffering. Do you find yourself suffering from any just one klesha at the present moment? Maybe it's all five. My suggestion to you if you suffer from all five is DO SOME YOGA!Avidya- ignorance. This is considered the root for all human suffering. Asmita- The Ego. “I this…” “I that…” “Why me…” Raga- Attachment. It can be attachment to tangible as well as ideas or the intangible. Dvesa- Aversion. Maybe think about why you avoid yoga? Abhinivesa- Clinging to bodily life.
Notice that Raga and Dvesa are opposites. How do you behave towards that which you like versus how you behave towards that which you fear or dislike?
Tuesday, 14 June 2011