Greetings Yogis! It has been a while but I am back in Los Angeles teaching yoga!!!! I am teaching a Summer Solstice Workshop on JUNE 22nd from 1-3pm at Yoga Daya in Culver City. Early Bird rate (before June 8th) is $35, and $45 after June 8th. Space is limited so secure your spot by calling Yoga Daya at (310)-558-YOGA or sign-up online and click the "Workshops" tab at the top of the page.
Friday, 03 May 2013
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
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
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
It's been a busy fall season with rehearsals for The Nutcracker but I am excited to share with all of you that I added another class to my schedule! Beginning this Sunday November 6th restore your nervous system and prepare for the week ahead with a slow yoga flow, gentle stretching and restorative postures.
A restorative approach to yoga coupled with intentional movement techniques induces relaxation. Relaxing the physical body allows blood vessels to dilate improving circulation, digestion and elimination. Conscious relaxation also allows for mental expansion leaving you open and receptive for the week ahead. We will focus on using yoga props to alleviate sensation from pressure, compression and tension on the physical body to achieve a fully rested state. We will also use pranayama and mediation techniques to dim the infinite fluctuations of our "monkey minds."
WHAT: RESTORATIVE YOGA FLOW CLASS w/Susy Vishmid
WHERE: SHAKTI WELLNESS SANCTUARY 27113 Indian Peak Road Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
WHEN: Every Sunday From 5:00pm-6:15pm
Shakti Wellness Sanctuary is a peaceful and nurturing environment, which is an ideal setting for a restorative yoga practice. A consistent yoga practice in a safe, clean and sacred space with access to yoga props will undoubtedly change your perspective on "gym yoga." When it does, observe the benefits of your practice fully soaking into every cell of your being. Ditch the gym and give yourself the gift of yoga in the proper setting. Namaste
Tuesday, 01 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
I am thrilled to announce that I am now accepting new clients at Shakti Wellness Sanctuary in Palos Verdes, CA. Clients will enjoy natural lighting and unique East Asian decor while gazing out into the Sanctuary's lush gardens. When practiced in a proper setting, yoga is a deeply intimate practice, which allows one to reconnect with their true creative spirit. Unlike a haphazard and noisy gym atmosphere, Shakti Sanctuary is an inviting and nurturing space where clients will grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Yoga props including blankets, straps and blocks are provided at Shakti Wellness Sanctuary. Using props enhances your yoga practice by modifying postures and making them accessible for all yoga practitioners. Unfortunately most gyms do not provide yoga props. Enjoy a cup of tea and some healthy snacks provided for clients after completing your yoga practice at the Sanctuary.
So ditch the gym for a sanctuary!
Friday, 21 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
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
Most people begin their yogic journey for the physical benefits and only later realize yoga's positive mental and emotional side-effects. Aside from feeling rejuvenated and experiencing reduced stress levels many yogis also report feeling a state of blissful euphoria after a deep practice. The experience is similar to being in love. Studies show that a regular yoga practice produces dopamine--a neurotransmitter responsible for eliciting deep pleasure in the most mundane of details and endorphins--natural mood enhancers responsible for reducing stress and generating a more focused state of awareness. In essence, yoga and love have a similar effect on the brain. When we love with utmost purity we are truly happy because this kind of love is unconditional. Pure love has no expectations attached to it. The love struck one experiences a change in behavior observable by the rest of the world because when we find love, whether through the practice of yoga or through a deep connection with another person the love is reflected in a willingness to offer 100% of yourself to whatever is. To whatever happens. Love, yoga and dare I say love through yoga opens up the soul and renders an individual as receptive. Being able to welcome the unknown with open arms and open eyes demonstrates that hope is alive and to me this life's greatest gift.
Thursday, 08 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
I was passively watching TV the other night with my dad and when a story on Real Sports with Bryant Gumble came on that absolutely captivated me. Ashrita Furman, a.k.a. Mr. Versatility is a 56-year-old health foods store manager from NYC. Ok, that seems pretty normal; however, this 56-year-old stud also holds the record for breaking the most Guinness records! This self-proclaimed "non-athlete" performs the most outrageous feats in the most exotic of locales. A few examples of Furman's record breaking stunts include running five miles on stilts in the fastest time, a record that had stood since 1892; walking 80 miles with a milk bottle balanced on his head; performing 9,628 sit-ups in an hour; and Furman's greatest challenge was performing forward rolls for the entire 12-mile length of Paul Revere's ride in Massachusetts. Pretty ridiculous eh??
What captivated my attention about Furman's story wasn't the fancy record breaking stunts he performs, rather it was his sincerity and honesty about why he does what he does. Firstly, Furman doesn't do it for the money. He receives no monetary compensation for performing these outrageous feats, nor does he want to. About 30 years ago Furman was introduced to Transcendental Meditation (see my post on TM) by an Indian guru named Sri Chinmoy. The name Ashrita was given to Furman by his guru, which translates to "protected by God" in Sanskrit. Furman truly believes he is protected by a Divine Spirit that sees him through his superhuman stunts. Part of the philosophy behind transcendental meditation is "enlightenment through extreme physical activity." Furman's first test as a disciple was a 24-hour bike race when he was a young man, which sounds utterly daunting and impossible! However, Furman tells us in his interview with Bryant Gumble that he employed his new-found meditation techniques like chanting and visualizations and before he knew it the race was over and he completed 405 miles and tied for 3rd Place! As an awkward high school student, Furman was bullied regularly, but as soon as he discovered the gem of TM, his life changed dramatically. Furman dropped out of Columbia University to pursue a new life under the new name bestowed upon him: Ashrita. Ashrita credits his guru for his phenomenal endurance and agility to this day and asserts, "if one can be in touch with one's inner spirit, anything is possible." If this isn’t yoga, then I don’t know what is.
Wednesday, 27 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
As an athlete, yes dancers are athletes, and as a yogi I find myself in a perpetual state of motion. As the infamous Charlie Sheen said, “I have one speed. I have one gear. Go.” I find this to be especially true in the physical sense. I had a performance last weekend and earlier that week I strained my left serratus anterior muscle and on a scale from one to ten with ten being the worst physical pain possible, I was experiencing an 11! Despite the painful sensation I felt each time I moved my arm up or each time contracted my abdominals or twisted my torso, I still kept on doing it even when I was resting! It’s as if the injury was a crime and my ego was the criminal returning to the scene of the crime. I just couldn’t help myself. I had to keep testing and trying and touching and stretching and flexing in order to see if the injury was still there. Duh, of course it was. I knew this intellectually, but the mover in me is never satisfied until the movement is perfected or the accompanying sensation appropriate.
I pondered this strange phenomenon and somehow arrived at the idea that I don’t get enough pratyahara in my life. Pratyahara is a very important part of any yoga practice. It is an advanced practice involving sensory withdrawal. Pratyahara marks the beginning of yoga as a meditative practice. Pratyahara is the fifth limb of Patanjali’s Eight-Limbed Yogic Path after pranayama. By withdrawing our sensory organs we have no choice but to pay attention to the authentic self. Our eyes stream so much data through to our nervous system that it’s not surprising that so many people feel stressed, fatigued and generally overwhelmed by life. This is especially true in today’s social media driven world because it forces us to move at warp speed. Pratyahara is the act of mental introspection and is the first step towards gaining mental control. The mind is like a young child that needs constant attention. If you look away for a moment, the child will likely run amok. Not every parent is a good parent. The good ones are patient and disciplined because they know that one day their patience and discipline will result in a well-behaved child.
Tuesday, 24 May 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
If you practice yoga regularly then you’ve probably noticed the emphasis on the spine. Most asanas and class sequences are designed in such a way that elongation of the spine takes priority. For example, in dandasna the sit bones are rooting down into the mat, the legs extend out in front of you and the hands touch the ground just outside the hips. Many people cannot sit comfortably with an erect spine and with their legs extended, much less fold forward to reach their toes because of tight hamstrings. Many people also find it hard to press their palms down to the ground in dandasana because their spine is curved. If this is the case, a modification is made to the pose by placing a blanket or a two or even a block underneath the pelvis to “raise” the floor. Immediately, the practitioner experiences relief and ease in the low back and hips and is able to reach their hands down to the ground because the spine is now straight. Another great example of spinal elongation is adho mukha svanasana a.k.a. downward facing dog where the hands root into the mat, the hips lift up and back, the inner thighs revolve away from each other and the heels spin out slightly and lengthen towards the mat. In adho mukha svanasana you use the strength of your legs and feet to help pull as much weight out of your hands as possible while stamping the palms down into the ground. This opposition creates massive elongation of the spine which is why downward facing dog pose feels so good and is often used as a “resting” pose or a “home base” position as you move through a yoga practice.
Thursday, 17 March 2011