Category Archives: Yoga & Meditation

Fertility Yoga Practice

This practice is designed to do as a full series, or you can select the asanas that you have time for if you desire a shorter practice. They are in a good order for you to select from. We included asanas that open the hips, bring blood to the pelvis and reduce stress in the mind and body. Inversions are your golden child for increasing fertility because of their power to heal the nervous system, increase circulation, and calm the mind. For more enhanced instruction on these poses feel free to contact us for a private session at the studio or on skype. 

Balasana

  1. Start in child’s pose, you can support yourself on a cushion, and rest for as long as you can, or at least 10-20 long, slow breaths. Set yourself an intention for your practice, such as, I am creating a safe space for my baby or I am filled with fertile energy.
  2. Lift yourself slowly and begin to flow through cat and cow for 3 minutes, moving with the breath.
  3. Take a rest in child’s pose, circle the wrists. Visualize the energy around you whatever color you like, something that soothes you.

Balasana (1)

  1. Stretch into downward dog, we recommend a minute here or three rounds of 5 breaths if you need a rest in between in child’s pose. Stretch and breath!
  2. Come back onto your hands and knees, and step one foot forward into a lunge, please move the foot under the knee to avoid strain, and be sure to activate your core and legs. Stay here for 5-8 breaths. Slide the foot back and repeat on the other side. Feel the power in your legs and core, and know you are are filled with strength and personal power.
  3. Step your foot back through in between your hands, and begin to walk it over towards your opposite wrist as you lower your knee down behind your arm. You can support yourself on a cushion like Kira for a modification. We caution you on this pose if you have knee issues or very tight hips. Please modify or skip this pose until you have enhanced instruction from a good teacher. To exit the pose you can roll to your side in a fetal position for a few breaths or swing the leg back to rest in child’s pose. BREATH DEEP. Let tension release with each exhale and any emotional anxiety to release.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Balasana (2)

  1. Find your way into a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together. Sit tall and stretch your knees towards the floor and lift your heart. Visualize the space in your pelvis as a fertile ground for your baby or filled with light. Stay here for 8-10 breaths, breathing into your belly.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you and take them as wide as you can. When you feel a gentle pull in the inner thighs breath and flex your feet to root your legs down. Stay for 8-10 breaths without strain, but you want to feel a stretch.
  3. Pull one foot towards you and cross the opposite leg over your thigh. Sit tall and wrap your arm around your leg and look over your opposite shoulder to get a good rinse in the spine and digestive system. Stay for 5-8 breaths on each side.

The last series of poses are so important, you can do these as an evening practice, and stay in them for several minutes each and up to 15-20min in savasana.

Balasana (3)

  1.   Lift your hips onto a cushion, right under the sacrum and practice your  yoga breathing for 10 breaths.
  2. Lower down slowly and pull the knees into the chest for a few breaths.
  3. Once your back feels ok, move your sit bones to the wall as close as you can and swing your legs up the wall. The closer your glutes are to the wall, the better it feels on the back. Stay for 5-10 mins.
  4. Bend the knees into the chest and when you are ready, move away from the wall enough so you can lie flat on your back for as long as you like. It is helpful to do a guided meditation for this or listen to some quite music and practice a point to point relaxation, like yoga nidra.

Recommended Meditations to Try:

Second Chakra

Breathing Practice

Loving Kindness Meditation

The Top Ten Best Ways to Practice Yoga

I am writing this article from the perspective of the average Western yoga student who attends a studio class a couple times a week or practices at home, I picked the top ten things I feel are very important to someone looking for the best experience in their yoga investment. I hope you can use this as a little checklist for yourself while you practice.

  1. Practice a little each day. Yes it is better to do 10 mins a day than store it up for when you can hit the studio. So in between those studio classes, do what you remember at home to keep that good feeling going.
  2. Always have an intention. This will harness the mind so you can keep revisiting it. Click here on more ideas about Sankalpa and Intention.
  3. Practice to your body, not to anyone else’s. Understand what is good for you might not be good for someone else and vice versa. Know your limitations and your progress goals in your mind, emotional and body.
  4. Practice with a good teacher who has taken training at a good school. If you feel your teacher is not giving you the best instruction, it is time to move on or try something new. Your teacher should be compassionate, kind, and able to modify for you and teach you step by step.
  5. Understand the styles of yoga, and explore. I suggest not just showing up to a class because it fits your schedule. That might be frustrating to you or the teacher. Not all class styles are all level, call the studio to find out if the class you are taking is right for you, I get several calls a day about this very topic.
  6. When you practice, you should feel a bit uncomfortable at times when you move your body in a way you have not before, but never in pain. Iyengar says, “Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.”
  7. You must practice the breath.  Iyengar also says, “Breath is the king of mind. By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind.”
  8. Ask questions.  Be a beginner. Two classes does not make you an expert of anything, and we do not expect that of you either. If something does not feel like it is working or is painful, a good teacher will always know how and will help you modify. Just ask.
  9. Realize that a good solid practice takes time to develop. It can take several years before you master a certain asana, feel like you can center and focus your mind, or relax completely in savasana…or not. We are all different, accept that. It took me 3 years to master pigeon and 5 years to do a single chaturanga.
  10. Stay away from pop-culture yoga if you want an authentic experience. Be careful of fitness based yoga, hot yoga, and other forms of what they might be calling yoga out there. If you try a class you did not like, there is more out there, try a different class, studio or teacher and give yourself a fair chance to find what you like.

Quick practice tips:

Have a good mat to practice on, I once heard a teacher say you would not go running in a bad pair of shoes, have a good mat. I sell and use Jade at my studio. 

Try not to practice on carpet at home if you will be on the wrists at all.

Do not practice with socks on, you need to feel your feet to connect to the earth.

Make sure your clothing does not inhibit your practice.

Videos and real live instruction are totally different.

My perspective on hot yoga: yoga is meant to calm the nervous system, not spike it or yo-yo it. Big increases in temperature will spike the nervous system, and depletes our natural resources by wasting heat which is the anti-yoga. Our bodies heat themselves, especially with more intense physical practices, even in the winter. So do your nervous system a favor and let it find balance, and your bodies heating system will keep you warm when you start to move and cool you when you start to relax. Too much heat will also make you feel more flexible than you are, and you are more likely to risk injury.  Sweating does not mean you are detoxifying, do your research, the facts are out there. It is about getting YOUR body to do the work, not a furnace. 

What Should Yoga Look Like? A Contemplation…

What should or does yoga look like?

Well, this is an interesting question I have battled within myself for the last 12 years…

I know that human beings have an intense desire to belong or fit in, which starts with our first 3 chakras:

Our first chakra, known as the root chakra or Muladhara Chakra,  tells us that we belong OR should have a sense of belonging to our tribe: AKA our family, neighborhoods and geographical locations.

Our second chakra, the sacral chakra or Svadistana Chakra says: seek partnerships, and learn how to honor one another!

And finally our third chakra, the Solar Plexus Chakra says: BE AN INDIVIDUAL, HAVE CONFIDENCE, SELF ACCEPTANCE, SELF ESTEEM AND VITALITY! it shouts it at us! You know the old butterfly feeling in your belly? That is all third chakra.

But sometimes we drown out the third chakra and say, NO! It is more important that I fit in and that is where I will find self-acceptance, in the power of the group, or tribe that I belong too….do you remember high school?? Most likely you did foolish things to sacrifice your individuality then.

Well today, that doesn’t work. When we don’t understand personal power, we give it away to the power of the group. Our group could be family, our ethnic tribe of neighbors and friends, it can be our classmates, or for yoga practitioners today, belonging to a certain studio or “type” of yoga.

It is a good feeling to be supported by the group, but it is also a safe feeling that sometimes holds us back from exploring our true nature.

We might get lost in translation and think: I cannot do my yoga practice without my friends, without my studio, without my mat in this exact spot each week, without my sexy yoga cloths, without my favorite yoga mat… Luckily, I never put constraints on my practice in this way, but I have seen it happen to others, especially when they are afraid to leave the studio nest and go exploring what’s out there. My teacher trainees are assigned the “task” of going to other studios and venturing outside the box.

I was always at ease exploring and doing my asana practice at home and trying other studios and so forth, but found not every studio is friendly or ready to open their arms to you. Lack of warmth and acceptance I find is a theme of many studios today. The biggest compliment my students and clients give us at my studio is: I feel like I am at home.

I am not trying to “I” you to death, but to just build bridges in your reasoning to how you choose to make your choices. Apply this to any place in your life and you will see where you are drawn to being in the tribe and being yourself.

This brings me to my whole big contemplation for this entry:

So what, pray tell, is the yoga body supposed to look like then? What do Westerners think yoga looks like?

When I started to discover yoga, the covers of Yoga Journal still had our modern masters gracing the covers, and now there are a few too many dancer/models shining on the glossy cover page at you, shouting: You must look and bend like me! Really they are not saying that, they just get paid to do their job as the cover model, but you make that conclusion whenever you see the media…

Each day, I get several phone calls from people wanting to try yoga for the first time. Many of them when they call tell me how out of shape or in shape they are because they are worried about being able to do it at all, or they don’t want to be put in too easy of a class. I hear fear of a beginner, or I am too beginner. I don’t hear people say, I want to increase the level of my inner understanding….

I hear, “I am very in shape, I exercise regularly, I am not flexible, I am out of shape, I want to lose weight, I go to the gym everyday…” You hear the shame and the pride as people explain who they think they are to me on the phone by how they look physically.  I am not judging them, I am just observing our behavior as a whole, and here is what they are all trying to tell me:

I am afraid YOU will judge me by how I look in a class.

YIKES!

Well with all the spanx, lycra, and leggings this industry has promoted itself to be, I can understand the fashion, body complex. Well, let me correct you all on your observations of yoga, IT AINT ABOUT WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE ON THE OUTSIDE.

Yoga IS what your inner body reflects. The inner body must be toned, purified, and healthy in order to: practice asanas, breath properly, engage in practices of the mind and concentration, and to be able to tune into your inner being to be able to connect to the universe, god, spirit, whatever you want to call it..or for the yogi’s Ishvara Pranidana.

Yes, yoga is about finding a closeness to god!

WHAT??? Religion?

Nope, that is called spirituality my friends. Being at one with each other. Practicing love, compassion, forgiveness, radiance, openness, truthfulness, cleanliness and so forth.

You will find this as the root to many of the yogic scriptures and texts. The next time you walk into a studio, and see women and men in tight clothing, people with socially accepted bodies, people with socially unaccepted bodies, hot studios, cold studios, naked yoga, dog and me yoga, or whatever fad is in that week, let me remind you what yoga IS: a path of dis-joining or letting go of the untrue self to seek only the truth and find the true self or ATMAN.

Didn’t sign up for that? Well, most of us don’t at first. I know when I began I was seeking change, to understand myself more, to understand more about chakras, yoga history, to be able to perform certain asanas, and delve onto a deeper spiritual path. I didn’t know what vinyasa yoga was at the time, only a nice hatha practice with poses like triangle, warriors, baddha konasana and so forth.

I knew I felt great after. I knew I felt things stirring in my 20 year body and under the surface that felt more important than fitting my ass into a pair of tight yoga pants, even though my ego wanted that too because I was being propaganda’d that all the time. I remember a teacher a lot of people respected for many reasons (maybe her knowledge, maybe her body, maybe her ability in asanas) telling me I was fat in her own way once, and I remember thinking I felt sad that she needed so much healing if my weight bothered her…but true yoga helped condition me to not take it personally.

We made it that way. We made it worshipped for the body to look a certain way. So how can I be blown away by such shallow a comment? I wasn’t! People are people, this is their beliefs, but the important thing is, I didn’t believe her!

I don’t do this to fit in, if anything, this industry has set me apart from a lot of people… but that is a part of the practice, the coming apart, and then the coming together.

So where is this conversation with myself coming from?

Mostly the desire to have my body to look a certain way, and it brought my inner working material, also known as my stuff, up. I know it would make my life easier in some regards, to have a more socially accepted body, but that is not a yoga body. There is no such thing. A yoga body is a self-accepted body.

I have come very far in my physical practice, now it is time to come far in my mental practice. It is time for me to: accept the body I have, engage my thought around self-love and acceptance, and to seek the body I want with love and health being the goal…and still do all those bad ass asanas that keep me strong. I am good with that, and real with that.

Yoga: Commodity or Necessity?

Yoga is not a commodity, it is a necessity.

Yoga has reached a peak point of industry value: you got your yoga pants, mats, bags, headbands, gloves, socks, towels, sprays, balms, DVD’s, CD’s, music, magazines, books, podcasts…you name it, yoga is everywhere and branded as everything.  It has blown up so much and so fast that the consumer doesn’t know that all they need is there body and some comfortable cloths to take a class or do a home practice.

The market has of course shaped it into a multimillion dollar industry.  The issue is, finding the right class or options for yourself that: fit your health, your budget and your wellbeing. Nothing is worse than going to a yoga class and leaving more stressed out than when you came. Words of wisdom, don’t give up, try somewhere else or someone else.

My studio is humble.  I always wanted it that way. Smaller classes, better instruction, no fitness or pop culture yoga, well-educated teachers and the offering of yoga education. Allowing students to really understand their bodies, their limits, their health and wellness goals, or to just come in and not worry about anything other than relaxation and breath.

I have an up front and honest way of teaching and running my business. My teachers have agreements they sign, no contracts or worse non-competes. They know what my studio’s core values are, what they are responsible for and what I give in exchange, it is all right there.

My classes, I am pretty transparent. I never went for being the type who wanted to be worshiped, that is sort of a trend today for some teachers and studios. I like incorporating humor into my life lessons, since I need to laugh at myself more.  The really good teachers, teach from their most honest and truthful places.  I connect that way and translate into hopefully something my students need.  We all have our own gift of how we approach this practice.

The challenges we face as Western yogi’s is we have all fallen off the boat too.  Left our practice, or our teaching careers, only to come back knowing how much we need to keep our lives as yogic as possible.

Living a yogic life can be defined as living as gentle to the earth and others as possible (ahimsa), practicing truthfulness with kindness (satya), acknowledging the abundance we all have, and that we all have what we need (asteya), abstaining from wasting ourselves away energetically to processes that no longer serve us (brahmacharya), and knowing that the journey is to find who we are and understand our own beautiful individuality (aparigraha). This is within the parameters of the yamas or codes of conduct.

Direct truthfulness, is not unkindness.  This is huge for me!

This year was a remarkable year for me to understand that bit of myself that I needed to accept. That I am who I am.  That other people need to own who they are too, and their own reactions.

It is important the value of our dollar, but in order to stay in business, we cannot give it all away for free.  YOGA IS AN INVESTMENT IN YOUR HEALTH, YOUR HEART, AND YOUR LIFE. I know that, that is why i invested in becoming a teacher and taking classes before I was trained.

Yes it is not easy to get told no, even when you agree or disagree, but the truth is, I am running a business, and trying to survive in this already saturated industry, and I need loyalty, devotion and that za za zoo from my staff to keep us afloat. When the time comes, it is not easy for me to have to say it either, I need more from you.

Every studio has a special deal, I know that, and I am not trying to be the cheapest studio on the block, I believe in my studio and what it offers, so I do not fear when people leave, I know they might come back, or the door opens with a new face sooner more than later.

So where does the yoga start and end when you run a yoga business and have to make sure you make a living so you can survive?

Well, number one is self preservation in some ways. I have to realize people have a right to see me how they want to see me.  You cannot judge on a first meeting and sometimes even a second, third or 100… People are people and you NEVER KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN SOMEONES LIFE.

I stuck my neck out when I went out there on my own to do this for a living, but doing it to earn a living has nothing to do with me making it my living.  I try to live as yogic as possible and fail every day at making it a whole day.  So I give myself permission to feel how I feel and move on.  I am human, and feelings are necessary, but they don’t have to rule who I am. At least I hold myself accountable. I don’t pretend to be perfect, I screw up all the time, I just wish that others would own up to it when they do.

I truly am grateful for my life, for the people, students, teachers I have met on this path. We all are weaving some kind of web for ourselves…but yoga, it is a necessity to our survival now a days. We have so much going on in one day, it is not as simple as waking up and raking the fields anymore which was hard hard work, but a daily necessity.  We have choice after choice and option after option on what we can do with our time on this earth.

Yoga gives back to us way more than we give to it at first, how did you feel after that first neck roll and breathe practice? Calmer, more alive? How did you feel the first time you could touch your toes again? Confident, grateful, more connected?  Yoga gives us our lives back… how can we say it is a commodity or an additional expense?

If martinis are $8-15 a pop now a days, or a crappy drive through meal the same, or you spend $3 a day on designer coffee, add it up, what is it doing for you?  Take that money and make an investment in your health and your life.

Do your research, find a yoga studio who will support you in your life and your healing, and not cater to pop culture, and tight yoga pant caffine sipping teachers, and come to a place that actually gives a damn about you… There are three of them in my area alone, check them out: Awaken Yoga (me!), Branches of Wellness, and Blue Sky. I know that these teachers care about you, and I am fine with letting you know about them, what is all this crap about competition?  THERE IS NO COMPETITION IF YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST!   So be kind and gentle, we fail quite frequently to fulfill everyone’s expectations, but each breath is an new opportunity to change and find freedom.

Please if you liked this post, I would love to hear from you your top reasons why you would not give up your yoga practice or why it is so important to you.  Let the other readers see how powerful this practice is!