“Let go,” “release,” and “undo,” are terms loosely thrown around by many yoga instructors. Are we really spending $20 per class to have someone tell us to relax? No wonder I can’t get rich! The theory goes that if you are able to momentarily step away from the outside world placing it on hold and turn your attention inward that you will finally tap into that inner child that you so dearly miss. As a yoga instructor I agree with this theory only somewhat because then there are those of us who “do” in order to “be.” Somehow through all of this “doing” or “undoing” (which is still doing something) you will supposedly find your true creative spirit. Isn’t going to your local yoga studio and practicing yoga in and of itself doing something, even if you are laying in Savasana (Corpse Pose)? My point is we cannot NOT do.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Location: International Sportsmedicine Institute
3283 Motor Avenue
2nd Flr (above Elizabeth Taylor's Aquadic Center)
West Los Angeles, CA 90034
COST: $15/Class (CASH or CHECKS ONLY)
I invite all of you to enjoy your Friday mornings with me at this lovely space. Investing $15 for a one hour and fifteen minute yoga class where you will learn to move with maximum efficiency and minimum risk for injury is a drop in the bucket
Wednesday, 04 April 2012
"Don't sweat the small stuff" is an all too familiar cliché that’s thrown around. Sounds great! Sign me up! But wait, here’s the fine print: Putting these five little words into action is exasperating when daily life consists of dozens of small things to fuss about. I consider myself a highly educated individual and understanding the idea of not “Sweating the small stuff” on an intellectual level is pretty simple; however, internalizing and actually living by these words is a whole other story.
The notion of kaivalya in yoga philosophy describes the effect of being in a continuous state of samadhi. Samadhi is only attainable by following the eight-limbs of yoga. “Kevala” translates as "to keep to oneself" so it is often described as isolation or an aloofness. When in a state of kaivalya, an individual becomes so keenly aware of the world around them that they begin to exist within it without being subject to it. Unaffected. There is no good outcome. There is no bad outcome. Things are as they are and the only controllable is the individual’s reaction to any given situation. This isn't to say that worldly circumstances cease to apply, only that wherever this individual may be, he or she ceases to become a victim of those circumstances. The material world is as it is. It has no other meaning beyond what we as humans ascribe to it. The material world is a social construction.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
REMEMBER TO JOIN ME TOMORROW AND EVERY FRIDAY FOR:
MORNING FLOW @7AM & RELAX, RESTORE, REJUVENEATE AT 5PM
Where: RaKsa in Culver City
Cost: 1st Class is FREE!!!!
Check out my bio on the RaKsa Wesbsite
See you in Down Dog!
Thursday, 05 January 2012
Often I find myself on the brink of judgment…judgment of others. Yes, I am aware that this is not exactly a desirable quality for a yoga instructor, but I am human. Keeping your cool in this hot, hot world is a challenge for everyone, but where do you draw the line between judgment and compassion? Let’s say a co-worker who comes across as lazy and professionally inept confides (or complains…depending on how you wish to interpret it) in you about a myriad of personal problems including his financial losses and inability to pay child support to two different ex-wives. Is he reaching out for help by phishing for advice, friendship, or maybe even a compliment? Another co-worker who rendered herself as completely useless and incompetent by asking questions like “will the internet being down affect the fax machine?” irks you to your very core. However, you learn that this poor woman’s son is extremely ill and despite the bleak circumstances of her personal life she shows up to work with a smile on her face every day. Does your perspective change? How can you go from “what an absolute idiot!” to “Oh, that poor woman?”
Wednesday, 04 January 2012
With the New Year almost here, we could all use a little more yoga and little less stress... STARTING JANUARY 6th JOIN ME BRIGHT & EARLY FOR MORNING FLOW YOGA OR IN THE EVENING TO RESTORE AND REJUVENATE YOURSELF. Where: RaKsa (10846 Washington Blvd in Culver City) When: Morning Flow from 7am-8:20am /// Restore, Relax, Rejuvenate from 5pm-6:20pm FIRST CLASS IS FREE!!!!!
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Yoga, pranayama, asana, dharana....these words generally do not elicit anxious and hormone ridden middle school or high school students. Why not? Yoga isn't an 18+ modality. On the contrary, yoga is beautifully available to anyone and everyone at any time and now Y.O.G.A. for Youth is making this possibility a reality!
Between now and November 15, 2011 Y.O.G.A. for Youth is giving away a FREE quarter (10 weeks) of yoga classes to ONE lucky Los Angeles County School on Sunday, December 4th, 2011.
Tuesday, 08 November 2011
"Do as I say, not as I do." These are the famous last words from people who appear to be wiser than they actually are. Last week while practicing at Yoga Works I witnessed something that blew my mind. The class I was in was a popular level 2/3 vinyasa flow class taught by one of the most popular instructors; however my gripe wasn't with the instructor or the sequencing of postures. I was standing one row behind another prominent, yet younger, Yoga Works instructor and I noticed her continuously stopping her practice to turn around and scope out the class in a way that was well… let’s just say it, bitchy. I was shocked! I totally get it if you have an injury or need to modify certain poses to take care of your own body, but that wasn't what was happening here. Don't get me wrong, the instructor in question is a great instructor and has a rock solid yoga practice herself; however her entire aura was tainted with attitude and judgment. Additionally, the instructor in question was practicing next to a friend and kept chatting with her friend loud enough for the row behind to hear. Did I mention there was music in the class? Yea, that’s how distracting the energy was. This is yoga not social hour at Urth Cafe down the street. When we step into the yoga studio and especially onto our mat aren’t we supposed to focus our attention on arriving and staying present mentally, physically and spiritually? Yoga teaches us to release judgment and quell the ego but I guess some people fell asleep during that lesson, which is fine if you aren’t then teaching others to do the very thing you gloss over.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
It's really unfortunate that many gyms that offer yoga classes don't offer yoga props! Props like blocks and straps help make poses more accessible. Props can transform active poses into restorative poses. For example, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana without a block is more active which means you actively use your muscles to hold yourself up in the pose. However, placing a block underneath your sacrum in Setu Bandha feels wonderful. The block transforms this backbend into a milder one and it is quite delish. When coupled with pranayama, the benefits of practicing a restorative bridge pose span from physical rejuvenation to mental revitalization.
Monday, 17 October 2011
Do you relish the hours, minutes and seconds leading up to yoga class or do you approach your yoga practice as another task to check off the "To-Do" list? So many of us, myself included, correlate our self-worth with how much we can get accomplished. The more tasks we check off our "To-Do" lists the more productive we feel as members of society and the more valuable we feel as individuals. The connection between what we accomplish and our perceived self-worth is totally arbitrary and artificially constructed by Western culture.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
As a movement professional I take verbal cues very seriously regardless of whether I am the one giving them or receiving them. The ability to articulate movement to a student is the difference between good instruction and great instruction. I had many ballet teachers in my career yet only two of them were able to articulate their instruction in such a way that I immediately understood what to do with my body to achieve the desired lines. The same clear, concise and most importantly individually tailored verbal cues are necessary to proper yoga instruction. Whether you are an advanced yogi or a beginner or whether you are a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet or a ballet enthusiast, everyone needs a fresh pair of eyes. I call this the "spinach in between your teeth effect." If you have a piece of spinach stuck in between your teeth, wouldn't you want someone to tell you about? If you had your skirt tucked into your underwear in public wouldn't you want to know about it? How about if you had a piece of soiled toilet paper stuck to your shoe at a trendy nightspot, wouldn't you want someone to tell you???
Wednesday, 05 October 2011
Many thanks to those of you who attended my workshop yesterday on Getting Grounded at the beautiful Shakti Sanctuary in Palos Verdes. I am so excited to say that I will be teaching there now. The class schedule is to be determined; however, I am officially accepting new clients for privates and semi-privates at this AMAZING space. Please contact me for more information if you are interested in getting your yoga on with me in this stunning setting. I can say with utmost certainty and authenticity that practicing in an environment like Shakti Sanctuary will take your yoga practice to the next level allowing the benefits of your practice to fully soak into every cell of your being.
Check out my bio on the Shakti Sanctuary website.
See you in Down Dog!
Monday, 03 October 2011
As the month of September comes to a close, I want to remind all my loyal readers that September is National Yoga Month. Yup, yoga is so popular these days it gets its own month! Why is it so popular? Why are you reading this post? What connection do you have to yoga? Why do you step onto your mat to practice the same set of poses over and over again?
Let’s face it, as humans we are guilty of being creators of habit. We like routine because it feels safe. We seek out routine because it brings a sense of comfort. Consistency and the certainty of knowing what happens next keeps us grounded. Taken to the extreme these habitual tendencies can be detrimental to our optimal existence but a dose of habit in moderation is a good thing. Each time I step onto my mat to practice I am fully aware that I am about to execute the same poses over and over again; however, each time I step onto my mat I am just as aware that it is a different day with a different set of circumstances. Each day my body is a new and different body than the day before. Although I probably practiced Bakasana hundreds of times in my life by now I know that on this particular day something about the pose will feel different than the last time I practiced it. For example, if I feel more connected to my core on a given day I will feel lighter within the pose. On the other hand, if I feel mentally frazzled and disconnected to my core on a given day it makes it more difficult to find my balance and to hold the pose for as long as I desire. Circumstances. All of life is circumstantial. Being able to navigate through the various layers and sensations on this day during a yoga practice is a metaphor for maneuvering through a thing called life. Celebrate by stepping onto your mat...even if that is all you do.
Monday, 26 September 2011
I knew I wanted to discuss success today, but was unsure where to start so I turned to my trusty dictionary for help and here is what it told me:
the accomplishment of an aim or purpose : the president had some success in restoring confidence.
• the attainment of popularity or profit : the success of his play.
• a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity : I must make a success of my business.
• archaic the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims : the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises.
All four definitions involve attachment or expectation of a specific result. I suppose the question then becomes how do you define your goals? I am not interested in this, at least not today. I want to know how do you define success and why? Maybe you drive a really nice car, does that make you successful? Do you dine at McDonalds or at McCormick & Schmick's? Which one do you associate with success? Duh!!! When I teach yoga I always offer students options with the hope that they will pick an appropriate one for their level. About 90% of the time the less advanced students push themselves to the maximum. Not only do I see how their physical bodies suffer, but I also see it in the way their faces wince from physical discomfort. Ironically, the more advanced students pause more often during their practice and take time to honor their body and rest during their practice. Does success in yoga mean contorting your body against its will into a given position just to please your ego? Attaining the final version a yoga pose might arouse a brief sense of accomplishment; however, this will fade all too quickly for if the process of positioning the body into these postures is miserable one will not look forward to the next yoga practice. So this is when I pause and ask the question: why do you do what you do? Are you on auto-pilot? Do you do what you do out of physical, financial or social necessity? Do you do what you do because you actually love it? I insist that success in yoga is not executing all the poses perfectly, but only those who want to listen actually do.
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Yoga instructors, listen up! Do you ever find yourself recycling the same words to convey important instructions to your students? It can get pretty annoying hearing “just let go,” or “try to relax,” or “pull your belly in.” Expanding your yogic vocab is essential to the flow of a good yoga class. Using verbs instead of adjectives is more beneficial for students so consider this when scrolling through your mental Rolodex of yoga instructions. Students come to yoga class for instruction on what to do and how to do it, not for a description of postures or moving body parts. For example, “Draw the tailbone towards your heels” concisely communicates an action to the student versus “The tailbone is drawing to the heels.” Ability to communicate the same idea using different language is what distinguishes a good instructor from a great one.
Friday, 26 August 2011
0fKBhvDjuy0 WE ARE MERELY PARTICLES OF MATTER THAT ARE SELF AWARE...
Tuesday, 16 August 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
Many of you seem to be really intrigued by the topic of my last post Meditate on Mulholland...as was I.
Transcendental meditation or TM evokes a mysterious and esoteric reaction from many people. I've found that the idea of meditating is bothersome to many of my students and some of my friends. Just uttering the word "meditation" causes most non-yogis to feel quite uncomfortable because it involves sitting quietly with one's self. S-C-A-R-Y! Being confronted by the cacophony of your own chitta (a.k.a. stuff in your mind) can certainly freak people out and cause them to avoid any type of meditation altogether. However, think about it this way: meditation is like surfing. It's every young surfer's dream to catch that perfect wave, the one that encapsulates you like a tube or barrel and then to ride that perfect wave all the way in to shore. Once you catch the "meditation wave," you become aware of the fact that you are observing yourself in your rawest and most pure form. This experience is often described as your individual consciousness merging with the Collective or Cosmic consciousness. The longer you ride the wave, the longer one’s connection to True Self lasts.
The late Maharishi Mahesh, the founder of TM explains the simplicity behind it. Anyone can do it at any time anywhere. Watch this video and your qualms and misperceptions about TM will dissolve almost immediately and you will see that if anything, TM is more logical than mystical
Thursday, 09 June 2011
Almost everyone I talk to is facing what seems to be unprecedented levels of stress, whether it pertains to a career, a wavering relationship or even beliefs and ideals that once appeared unvarnished. It’s frightful when what we know begins to crumble because we cannot know what will happen in place of the familiar; nor should we know. With the jarring uncertainty we face in today’s world, no matter where you are or who you are, empower yourself with the only thing that we can control: our reaction. It’s difficult to control your immediate reactions when you constantly gauge them by how the world affects you.
One of the most invaluable benefits of being a yogi is learning how to use your breath to calm the mind. It can be done anytime and anywhere. You don’t need to go off to some ashram in India and sit under a tree for five hours to become enlightened. Becoming aware of your breathing and doing some basic pranayama (breath retention) exercises while sitting in Los Angeles traffic can have profound effects on your nervous system and your mood by the time you arrive at your destination (whenever you get off that damn 405!)
Related Post: Breathe Yourself Into Peace
9 WAYS TO BREATHE YOURSELF TO A LESS AGITATED YOU:
1.) Counting your breath. Inhale 1, Exhale 2… Exhale 10. Start over when you reach 10. If your mind wanders, start over without cursing yourself or anyone else.
2.) Mantra. Assign a mantra or positive affirmation to each cycle of breath. 1 cycle=1 inhale and 1 exhale. For example the mystical symbol “OM,” or “May I be well.”
3.) Location. Notice where you feel the breath as it moves in and out of your body. Where can you use more breath? Do the back lungs fill up as easily as the front? Do both nostrils admit and expel the breath equally or is one more restricted than the other?
4.) Pranayama/Retention of the breath. Try inhaling until you are halfway full and pause. Complete your inhale until the lungs are full and pause. Exhale completely and pause. Take a recovery breath or two in between sets. Do 10 sets.
5.) Link movement with breath. It’s as simple as lifting your arm upon inhalation and lowering your arm on upon exhalation. Any movement works as long as you remember to assign either an inhalation or an exhalation to each movement.
6.) Taste of your breath. Become aware of the taste and the sensation of the breath in your mouth or your nose. Is it sweet, dry, bitter?
7.) Temperature. Is the breath cool on the inhalation and slightly warmer on exhalation? How slight is the temperature difference on the way in than on the way out? Play with altering the temperature of your breath by breathing with the nose only, then the mouth only, and then try alternating.
8.) Quality of breath. Notice if your breath is short and choppy or if it’s smooth and complete. Short and jagged breath is a symptom of an agitated mind.
9.) Duration of breath. How long are your inhales compared to the exhales? Can you smooth out both parts of the breath so they are equal in length? Try inhaling for four counts and then exhale for four counts.
Monday, 16 May 2011
Prana-whata? Yea, that was my first thought when I heard the word pranayama for the very first time. Prana is the Sandskrit word for “vital life” and is understood as the life force energy that resides within each and every one of us. Pranic energy is that which sustains all life and does so through breath. Yama, the first limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yogic path, relates to our attitudes towards the outside world. Therefore, pranayama is the way in which we exercise control over this life force energy. The benefits of pranayama or breath retention are vast. Studies have shown that a regular pranayama practice has profound effects the nervous system in addition to the physical body. A daily pranayama practice can lower blood pressure, ease tension and stress by eliciting the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the relaxation response.
Who has time these days to sit cross-legged on a yoga mat for an hour each day? No one! No problem. It’s not the amount of time you practice pranayama that matters, it’s the quality and the consistency of your practice. How do you practice pranayama if you’ve never done it before? It’s as easy as these three steps:
Monday, 02 May 2011