Saturday, January 7, 2017

Get your behind in order

New year, more yoga. After a year and a half of study in Sun and Moon Yoga Studio's Dharma program, I have more than 200 additional hours of yoga philosophy, therapeutics, and the subtle practice of asana in my head, and I'm ready to practice teaching! And the beneficent universe (Annie), has given me the opportunity to do so - on Friday nights at 6:30pm.

Since I spend all day, every day caring for my little boys - a not-at-all-boring job, but also not one that gives my intellect a good deal of exercise (my amygdala gets plenty) - I am going to maximize the experience by writing about it. (Almost) every week, my plan is write about that week's class. And so, without further delay:

First Yoga of 2017: Stability and the Sacrum

Also known as: get your behind in order.

In my years (six+ years!) of teaching yoga, I have discovered that the more I plan for a class, the more awkward the execution of the class. I discussed this with my mentor (Alex) and confirmed that I wasn't a nut for feeling this way, and also realized that although the writing down of an asana plan muddles my teaching, planning a theme rooted in philosophy expands it. In other words, if I get my brain in order, the physical practice flows naturally.

So, the way I now prep for a class looks like this: 1) how am I feeling this week? 2) how does this feeling connect to a philosophical teaching? 3) what would feel really good to do that would complement this philosophy?

At the beginning of this year I feel, well, not great. I approach this year with a great deal of caution, and with the knowledge that there's going to be a lot of work to do. I also realize that at this juncture I don't really know what that work will be. But I know that change is coming, and I can expect that I will viscerally disagree with most of the changes. So, how to begin such a year?

In times such as these it is easy to spin out of control. Panic, fear, and overwhelm agitate the monkey mind, and then action is impossible. In such circumstances what I need is to feel grounded and stable.

And so, the sacrum. The sacred bone, Arjuna's chariot, the cornerstone of the skeleton - if your sacrum isn't happy ain't no one happy.

Located at the base of the spine, just above the tailbone, the sacrum lies nestled in your pelvic girdle. Got low back pain? You may be neglecting your sacrum. Sacroiliac joint pain - extremely common amongst yogis, especially the bendy ones - can ruin your year. This joint carries your entire body on its shoulders, and is extremely vulnerable to abuse in the form of bad posture and extended sitting, not to mention pregnancy. There are a lot of people walking around with a pain in their rear.

So how do we get our rears in order? This week I attempted to do just that:

When approaching a therapeutic practice for the deep lower back, it is key to balance the releasing of cumulative (perhaps years of) tension with strengthening the muscles that keep the spine and pelvis in healthy alignment. We began our Friday evening by patting down our behinds, locating the oh-so-important sacrum, and noticing where we were holding tension in our bodies. After breathwork and a meditative hip-opening flow, we began with the subtlest of movements: tipping the pelvis back and forth while lying on our backs to the rhythm set by our breath. We moved on to flowing bridges, and gave our cranky psoas (psoases?) some love by incrementally building up to supta padangusthasana.

Then we stood up and did a bunch of sun salutations.

Ok it wasn't that abrupt. We eased ourselves to mountain post, slow-flowed a few sun salutations with optional vinyasas, and then spent some time building strength in detail-oriented Warrior Ones, side angles, and triangles. Then we eased ourselves back down to the floor for backbend variations, perhaps climaxing in an unsupported wheel, or perhaps in a lovely supported bridge. Finally, free-flow practice or instructed twist, and then, savasana.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TOP 5 TIPS for getting back on your mat ... at HOME

View my monthly newsletter here!

Top Five Tips 

For Getting Back on Your Yoga Mat ... at HOME

I love going to yoga classes. Nothing can beat the energy of a good group class, and no matter what class I go to I always learn something new. For me, nothing can ever replace group practice.

But when I also have a home practice, I get SO much more out of my classes. And life in general.

So, here are my TOP FIVE TIPS for getting on your mat at home!

#5  If you only have five minutes, just practice for five minutes.

Don't feel like you have to do an hour of yoga to make it count. Just three sun salutations (2 A and 1 B), go a long way towards stretching your entire body and energizing your mind.

#4  Focus on what you need that day.

Stretching every part of your body is not a requirement. If you have tight hips that day, do a few squats and a butterfly or pigeon. Tight shoulders? Try cow face pose and alternate with eagle arms. Stressed and exhausted? Legs up the wall, with or without a wall.

#3  Make an appointment with yourself.

When we're home it is so easy to prioritize housework (not to mention Facebook) over self-care. Remind yourself that it is much harder to squeeze in five minutes of yoga than it is to throw a load of laundry in on the fly. So, if you have a few minutes of precious alone time, make it a priority to use that time for yourself.

#2  Do yoga off your mat. 

Yoga does not have to be a zen experience in the perfect location. You can fit yoga into your daily activities. Waiting for water to boil? Do a triangle in the kitchen. Kid driving you crazy? Take five diaphragmatic breaths before returning to battle ... that is, patient, nonviolent parenting.

And my #1 tip for practicing yoga at home? MUSIC. 

Make yourself a playlist (email me for artist recommendations) and play the music from your phone if you don't have speakers. Music inspires us, relaxes us, and makes our home practice flow.

Wishing you health and happiness, 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 2014 newsletter

The Power Inside You

Harnessing the power of your own energy for peace and happiness

This morning I read an article on that illustrated how much power we have in influencing how we experience our lives. The article, titled "Why Saying is Believing - The Science of Self-Talk," offered research based evidence that the language we use - both when talking to ourselves and to others - directly affects our perceptions.

In coping with pain and stress, I have experienced this first hand. If, in my internal dialogue, I choose to focus on the negative aspects of the pain or stress, those aspects will magnify. However, if I offer myself alternatives, such as "I choose to approach this challenge with calm and confidence," I really do believe that I CAN deal with whatever is facing me with calm and confidence.

However, sometimes having the right words just isn't enough. We can say all the right things, but they just won't stick. This is when the power of our own energy comes in. EFT tapping can help us harness that powerful energy, converting our self-talk into much more than just talk: into a belief that we feel deep in our core. As our bodies come back into balance, our minds begin to believe.

So this month I am offering you the gift of a detailed instructional video: "How to do EFT." If you've ever wanted to try EFT tapping, this short video gives you step by step instructions and a stress relief demo that you can follow along with as you tap. You can use it to gain relief from a specific issue, or for general stress and pain relief, and you can view it as often as you need it.

Wishing you health and happiness, 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to do EFT - free instructional video!

Curious about how EFT can help you heal pain, release stress, and clear the underlying blocks that are holding you back? Click on the You Tube video below for a free instructional video!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Need Relief from Chronic Headaches?

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Wishing you health and happiness, 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FREE Belly Breathing Tutorial!

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Take five minutes and follow along with me as I take you through a brief diaphragmatic belly breathing tutorial. Enjoy!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Eat like a Greek to Reduce Inflammation!

Or really, pretty much anywhere in the Balkans.

And I'm not referring to the modern Balkan diet, which has its share of processed junk food and overconsumption of sugar, but the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is marked by fresh vegetables, whole grains, and unprocessed sources of protein, with a healthy dose of freshly cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil.

To get you started, here's a Mediterranean diet food pyramid:

To read more about how to change your diet to reduce inflammation and improve your health, I encourage you to research food plans outlined by Dr. Barry Sears of the Zone Diet and Dr. Andrew Weil.

And of course, diet changes are not the only way we combat inflammation. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress relief are all powerful tools to heal symptoms of chronic inflammation. If you need help taking the first steps towards better health, contact me today and schedule your free consultation.