Category Archives: Yoga Tips

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. 

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! 

 

 

How to use a Neti Pot – Video Tutorial

How to use a Neti Pot

Using your neti pot every day is a powerful tool to help keep your sinuses happy and clear through fall & winter. Use it after long days raking leaves, dusting the house, or when you get debris in the nostrils. Watch this video for a presentation on how to use the pot, and feel free to ask questions in the comments below if you need any help!

How to use a Neti Pot

You can buy a Neti Pot at Awaken Yoga, or on Amazon.com, and the Himalayan Institute Neti Wash at Awaken Yoga or on Amazon.com, as well!

How to use a Neti Pot