Fire Ceremony and Cleansing Ritual during my Shiva Yoga 200hr RYT Teacher Training Program last month. What are you ready to let go of and release? What are you ready to leave behind? What are you holding onto? What is holding you back? What are you ready to burn in the fire?Read More
Look at the judgment, criticism, and endless commentary as you move through your practice. The Ego behaves as if everyone asked us for our opinion on everything – but in reality, nobody asked us for our opinion on anything. Whether we verbalize the commentary or not – we have to listen to it. You’re either present or you’re not. You’re either in this moment or you’re not. And if you’re caught up in your head, judging the moment that just passed, you’re not really in this moment.Read More
The Pigeon family of poses prepares the hips for the Lotus Pose. These poses could also go in the Leg Behind the Head family too — a deep forward fold with the hip in external rotation and flexion. If you are new to putting your leg behind your head, start on your back in Thread the Needle — an Easy Reclined Pigeon. When this is too comfortable, hold the shin with both forearms and straighten the other leg. It will be like you are in an upside down Single Pigeon. If you feel comfortable in this Reclined Pigeon, keep the arm close to your ankle under the shin and put your other arm behind your head, like in the Cow Faced Arm Position. Lean your head back against your arm. When this starts to feel comfortable, you are probably ready to take your leg behind your head. Bend the straight leg first and pull the knee of the bent leg to the floor, beside your chest, almost like half of Happy Baby. Work your shoulder behind your knee, and then eventually the leg behind the head. Straighten the other leg. Go slowly. The Leg Behind the Head Pose takes the hip into deep flexion, so be careful of your low back. This pose also takes the hip into deep external rotation, so be careful of your knee.
Sometimes we support others and sometimes they support us! Community is so important. Feeling the love and support from those on a similar path. Connecting with others who share our struggles. Celebrating our triumphs together. One of my favorite things about being a part of a yoga teacher training is the powerful bonds of friendship that form. It’s really beautiful to hold space and lead a teacher training program too, and watch the students connect and bond. I think the teacher training experience really cracks us open. I have some really deep and powerful connections from the teacher trainings I’ve done over the years. Friends I think I will have for life. We went into the fire together! We looked at our stuff as it came to the surface. We let others really see us and we really looked and saw others with their walls down as well. I always honor my teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, and teach a fun class similar to his Maha Sadhana practice on the last day of my Shiva Yoga training. Dharma always finishes his Maha Sadhana with a chair line and I’ve started doing the same. This was a really special community that came together last month in Wenling. I’m looking forward to our next Shiva Yoga training in Los Angeles in a month. Join us for another special gathering! Take your practice to the next level. Learn to become a teacher. And connect with a similar group of people on a similar journey.
When you take the journey inward and experience your inner Light — Love, kindness, and compassion, flows out of you to those around you. You ask, “How can I be of service” “How can I help?” “How can I make the world a better place?” We could say another name for the ‘pure consciousness’ within us is ‘love’. Not the kind of love that is selfish and asks, “What’s in it for me?” The kind of love that says, “I want to help.” “I don’t want anything in return.” “I want to be of service.” It’s time for us to shift our perspective. More compassion and kindness. Less judgment and criticism. How could you practice more kindness in your life right now? How are you going to be of service today? How are you going to make the world a better place? Instead of looking at the world and thinking, “What’s in it for me?” — what if you looked at the world instead thinking, “What can I offer?” “How can I help?”Read More
“Replace old patterns that aren’t serving you with new patterns that will lead you in a more positive direction” — Krishnamacharya
What are your patterns? What are the ways you distract yourself when you are trying to concentrate? Stay present. Look at the “yogic mirror”. What is your practice revealing to you? By becoming aware of your patterns — you start the process of undoing them. Each time you try to concentrate, your mind tries to distract you. An inner battle takes place. If you win the battle, you increase your will power. If you lose the battle, the pattern gets stronger.Read More
Handstand Workshop today at Aladdin Yoga in Shenzhen! We kick off our 3 Day Weekend Intensive today. Excited to work with these students. There are so many poses you can practice to improve your Handstand. Plank Pose is one of the best warm up poses for Handstand. If you have a solid Plank Pose and a solid Chatturanga (Low Plank) you are strong enough for most arm balances, including the Handstand. See how long you can hold your Plank Pose this weekend. Can you hold for 3 mins? 4 mins? 5 mins? I used to be able to hold the Plank Pose for 8 mins before I’d completely lose my form and fall apart. Some of you remember the days when we used to regularly hold a 5 min Plank Pose in my classes in the Southbay in Los Angeles. The Handstand isn’t an essential pose in yoga. It is great for teaching us core strength and shoulder stability. strength. Handstands take us out of our comfort zone. This means they can teach us courage and be very empowering. How quickly can you move passed your fear and resistance and go into the fire? 🔥💪. This is Yoga! It all starts with tapas. Have a great end of your week and start to your weekend! Let me know how the hold in Plank Pose goes
Once you have mastered balancing on your head in the Bound Head Balance and the Tripod Head Balance -- it can be fun to practice transitioning between these poses and other more advanced Head Balance variations. I learned so much about the Head Balance Poses from my teacher Sri Dharma Mittra. Dharma is a master at transitioning between Head Balances when he’s upside down and even balancing on the head with no hands. I’m not very good at these transitions yet but I find them a lot of fun. Some days I can balance on my head with no hands for a second or two and some days I can’t really find the balance at all. Always remember to have fun and keep your practice light. Be playful! I think we fall and fail at things we try 1000 times before we find the balance and find success. But if we never try and never fail we never find success. It doesn’t matter what your poses look like. It matters if you try. Get out of your comfort zone. Put forth your best effort. Let go of your expectations and let go of the results. Just show up and do the work. This is Karma Yoga. If you fall, don’t worry, no one is watching and no one really cares, except maybe you, and only if you are identifying with your ego.Read More
The Tripod Head Balance is an excellent intermediate Head Balance Pose. The Easy Tripod, with the knees on the back of the upper arms, is a great pose to teach you to let go of the wall and find balance in the middle of the room. My teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, often jokes that Elephants and Dogs can do the Easy Tripod. Lol. The Tripod Head Balance is more challenging than the Bound Head Balance. There’s more weight on the head. It’s harder to find the actions in the arms and the shoulders that will protect the neck. This Head Balance Pose is also less stable than the Bound Head Balance. The Tripod can be used as another Viparita Karani Mudra, just like the Bound Head Balance. We can also transition from the Tripod Head Balance into Arm Balance Poses. Transitioning into Arm Balances from the Tripod Head Balance is much more challenging than coming into these poses from the ground. Once you master the transitions from the Tripod Head Balance you can practice transitioning from your Handstand.Read More
We did a lot of handstand practice in my recent Shiva Yoga 200hr RYT Teacher Training program in Wenling. One of my first teachers always talked about the wall being such a crutch for people working on their inversions. If you constantly practice kicking up into a handstand and using the wall to catch your balance, you start to lay down this pattern in your mind. Even when you are strong enough and don’t need the wall, it is often really hard to break the pattern in your mind and let go of the “crutch” of using the wall.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some really wonderful teachers in my life and on my yoga journey. Each of my teachers always brought a sense of lightness to things, they all found ways to be playful and to have fun. I try to bring this playfulness to all of my classes and remind the students that I’m training to become teachers to always remember to have fun when they are teaching. I love yoga and I love teaching yoga. That’s one of the greatest things we can share with our students — our love for yoga. The practice is intense and challenging and takes a lot of hard work. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey and have fun! Find moments to play. Even in the middle of the fire and the intensity, try to stay light and have fun! I really like this hand to foot transition — from Plow Pose, rocking up to the balance, and then trying to slowly lower the legs for the Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold. Give it a shot the next time you are on your mat. It’s harder than it looks and it is almost guaranteed to make you smile.
Some more highlights from our Shiva Yoga 200hr RYT Teacher Training Program! I will miss this amazing group of Yogis. I am leaving Wenling today for Shenzhen! I am sad to leave. Leading these trainings is definitely a practice for me. Yoga teaches us so much about concentration, going into the fire, experiencing the present moment, and then letting go, surrendering. This is yoga practice. Over and over again. It’s like that when I lead these intensive Teacher Training Program’s too, just like another practice. It’s been an intense 5 weeks. Incredible focus and concentration. We went deep into the fire. Now, it is time to let go and prepare for the next adventure. Time is always moving forward. Concentrate, go into the fire. Breathe into each moment, live fully, and then let go, let it go, and focus on the next moment. Every ending is a new beginning! Namaste. Lots of love to you, Wenling! See you again soon.Read More
The Guru is the one who is “heavy” with knowledge! I try to pack as much as I can into my Shiva Yoga Teacher Training programs. There is so much to learn in yoga. The asana is such a small part of the bigger picture. If you’ve done training with me before you know that we cover the walls and decorate the room with the many creative projects we are working on during the program. Focusing on the bigger picture of yoga and understanding yoga philosophy can be just as fun as breaking down an asana and understanding alignment and anatomy, and both are essential, if you want to be a good yoga teacher. Teaching asana without philosophy is like serving a meal without the sauce. The sauce is essential! If you are just doing yoga exercise you will get many benefits from your practice but if you are practicing yoga you get those same benefits and you also have the potential to change your life, your relationship to your Self, and your relationship to everything and everyone around you! Don’t forget the sauce! LolRead More
Teaching my students some different variations of Vacistasana and different transitions in and out of the pose. This transition from the Equestrian Pose (Runner’s Lunge) is one of the easiest ways to come into full Vacistasana. Told my students the story of Vacista and King Vishvamitra too. It’s a good story about karma, tapas, letting go of the ego, and letting go of magical thinking.Read More
We covered a lot of philosophy this past week in my 200hr Shiva Yoga RYT Teacher Training Program. Here’s some pics from one of the afternoon’s where we looked specifically at Samkhya philosophy and Samkhya’s major contributions — the theory of the 3 gunas and the theory of the 25 principles. In order to understand the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the journey inward to experience the pure Consciousness part of yourself it is essential that you understand Samkhya philosophy. There are many passing references to Samkhya in the Yoga Sutras. Without understanding Samkhya philosophy it is easy to get lost when studying Classical Yoga philosophy and the Yoga Sutras. Samkhya philosophy is sometimes called the foundation of Classical Yoga philosophy. Some scholars even refer to yoga as the practice of Samkhya philosophy.Read More
Teaching my students a lot about jumping forward in the flow this past week in our 200hr Shiva Yoga RYT Teacher Training Program. When you are jumping forward in your Sun Salutations and transitioning to the front of your mat, think of jumping up and then slowly bring the feet down between the hands. If you practice this a lot you start to find a place in the middle where you are in stillness -- a point where you are no longer going up but you haven’t started coming down yet. When this transition becomes smooth, you can start to do advanced transitions, like floating into your crane pose (bakasana). This will also prepare you to come into arm balances from your Tripod Head Balance and Handstand.Read More
My translator and students looking on as I demonstrate an exercise that teaches the actions in the shoulders needed for inversions like the handstand and Head Balance. Shout out to @yogatuneup Jill Miller for teaching me this variation when I did YogaTuneup training with her 10 yrs ago. Hug your elbows in and push your biceps out, lift your shoulder blades (away from your neck) and widen your shoulder blades, externally rotate your arms, engage your core, reach your hips back and push your chest through your arms. Incredible! Check out the same actions in your Downward Dog or Handstand immediately afterward and you’ll be blown away at how clear you can feel the actions in these poses and your awareness of the muscles you need to stabilize your shoulders when working with the arms overhead (in flexion). A gift from one of our anatomy wizards (Jill). Namaste yogis!Read More
Morning selfie with some of my students, arriving early for training! We are 2 weeks in! Leading these programs is transformational for me as well as the students. It’s an exhausting experience for all of us. My goal is to push them out of their comfort zone, hold space for them, encourage them to grow and challenge themselves. In the process, I am also pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I am challenging myself, and they are pushing me and helping me to grow too. We are in the fire together, breathing into it, surrendering to the experience. It’s a beautiful ride! It’s a beautiful journey! Namaste.
The Head Balance and Shoulderstand are unique asanas. They are two of the original Hatha Yoga poses. The goal of these two poses is not to have an affect on the body. They are mudras. A mudra is a position that we put the body in to have an affect on the nervous system, the energetic body. A mudra is sometimes called a seal too. Mudras act on energy the way a mirror acts on light. Energy that is normally moving down and out is turned back in and up.
The Head Balance and Shoulderstand are called viparita karani mudras, the reversing the flow mudras. The Head Balance is said to stimulate the pituitary gland, and the Shoulderstand stimulates the medulla oblongata and the vagus nerve. These two poses are the king and queen of the asanas in Hatha Yoga. They are given these names because they stimulate the masculine and feminine sides of the autonomic nervous system. They are also very powerful poses, like the King and Queen of a country.Read More
Arm Balance Workshop! Arm balances are considered advanced warm up poses. Advanced students need more challenging poses in order to go into the fire. Each arm balance is simply a variation of a Standing Warmup Pose but done in either Plank Pose or Low Plank. If you can hold Plank Pose and Low Plank then you are strong enough to work on many arm balances. Are you flexible enough, though? When you understand the anatomy of each pose it’s easy to see the different families of poses. Crow Pose is the Deep Squat done in Low Plank. Crane Pose is the Deep Squat done in Plank. Koundinya’s Pose is the Triangle Pose done in Low Plank. Etc. So much fun breaking things down with the Baja Soul Yogis in Cabo! Missing you already!Read More