Great Arm Balance Workshop at Kula Yoga!

Great Arm Balance Workshop at Kula Yoga!

A few more pics from our Arm Balance Workshop this past weekend at Kula Yoga In Port Orange!!!
These pictures are of the Firefly Pose variations and the Tortoise Pose. The first picture is of the Firefly variation with straight arms and the arms and legs perpendicular to the ground. The second picture is of the Firefly variation with bent arms, the elbows at ninety degrees like in the Low Plank pose, and the legs parallel to the ground.

These poses are similar to the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose. The major difference between them is that in the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose the knees are in flexion.
A long time ago — one of my teachers told me that the arm balance poses were just advanced warm up poses. Each of the arm balance poses is just a standing warmup pose done in either Plank Pose or the Low Plank Pose. Later, another teacher told me that it’s not strength that holds most people back in the arm balance poses, its flexibility. It’s good to note that the arm balance poses aren’t going to help you open your hips up a lot but you do have to have open hips in order to do them.
These two Firefly poses are in the same family as the Seated Forward Fold and the Standing Forward Fold. The last picture is of The Tortoise Pose, another Pose in this family and a close relative of the Firefly.
Be careful of your low back when you are working on these poses. Make sure the muscles on the back of your legs are open and you don’t feel pain in your low back.
If you want to get better at these poses work on your hamstring flexibility. The Hand to Foot Pose would help a lot, especially the lying down variation. And work on all your forward folds

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One Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) Variations.

One Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) Variations.

I am back in LA! I had a wonderful time at Kula Yoga this past week. It was the perfect end to a 3 month teaching trip. Wow! I can’t believe I was gone for a full 3 months! It’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.
Here’s a couple more demo pics from our Arm Balance Workshop yesterday. These two pics are of the One Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) variations.
Once you are balancing in the Crane Pose, to come into the first variation of the One Legged Crane, try to lift one knee off of your arm and bring it to the middle of your chest, or bring it across your body and tap the other knee. If this is successful, try to straighten the leg behind you. Reach up and back like you are in the Standing splits. It’s hard to keep the arms straight in this pose. Do the same work in the arms and the shoulders as you would in the Crane Pose.
The second variation is easier to come into from Downward Dog. Step your right foot forward. Move your foot to the right and bring both arms inside the right leg. Drop your shoulder and work your shoulder behind your knee. Place your hands down, shoulder distance apart. Now, step your back foot forward and bring your knee to the back of your arm, by your armpit. This knee is in the same position as the Crane Pose. Drop your hips and lean back. Lift the front leg and straighten the leg. The front leg will be in the same position as Koundinyasana 2. Press your arms, lean forward, and lift your back foot. Bend your knee and pull the heel closer to your buttocks

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Crane vs. Crow

Crane vs. Crow

The first two poses we explored yesterday in our Arm Balance Workshop at Kula Yoga in Port Orange were the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose.
I think we sometimes confuse these two poses, or, maybe just refer to them as the same pose sometimes — but they actually are two separate poses.
Kakasana is the Crow Pose. Bakasana is the Crane Pose. I think the confusion partially comes from the challenge of the Crane Pose. It’s hard to straighten the arms in this pose. So, a lot of us are working towards the Crane Pose but our pose might look actually more like the Crow Pose. The Crow Pose is a pretty challenging pose too.
Bring the knees farther forward and outside the arms when you are coming into the Crow Pose, and try to stay low to the ground, keeping the arms bent like in chatturanga.
Bring the knees onto the back of the arms, near the arm pits, when you are coming into the Crane Pose. Press the arms to straight like you would in your Plank Pose or in a Handstand.
Hug your elbows in and push your upper arms out. Externally rotate your arms. Slide the shoulder blades down your back and widen your shoulder blades. Engage your core and extend your spine. Hug the inner thighs in and push them back. Bend your knees and your heels to your buttocks. Point your toes.

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Connecting with Community!

Connecting with Community!

Really fun Shiva Power class at Kula Yoga yesterday morning!!! I enjoy connecting with this community so much. There’s something really special about a community of like-minded people coming together. We are all helping each other along. Find your tribe. Like attracts like and same attracts same. Your energy affects everyone around you. Let your line shine brightly. Some days you will inspire the person next to you and help lift them up. Some days they will inspire you and help to lift you up. Push yourself to work a little harder and challenge yourself to go a little deeper. Go into the fire and stand your ground. You’re surrounded by friends. You’re surrounded by family. You’re not alone on this journey. Take it one step at a time. Breathe into it. Let’s keep moving forward. Thank you, Kula Yoga for letting me join and be a part of your community. Always grateful to spend time with you. Love sharing the teachings of my teachers and love practicing with you. It’s been a really fun week. Seeing how much some of you have grown so far this year is really exciting. I look forward to seeing you all again soon. Namaste

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This is your journey. This is your life.

This is your journey. This is your life.

We are all on this incredible journey, each one of us walking our path. The yogis say our journey is from darkness to light. Samkhya philosophy calls the darkness tamas and the light sattva. Tamas is the quality of stillness, heaviness, inertia — when your body feels stuck, heavy, lazy, and tired, and when your mind is dark, depressed, and you have a lot of confusion, and are living in ignorance. We go first from tamas through rajas before we reach sattva. Rajas is the quality of movement, fire, and intensity. You have to go into the fire. Your practice will be intense. It takes hard work. You are up against old, stuck energy, bad habits, and patterns in your mind that aren’t serving you. Breathe into the fire. Stand your ground. Stay calm and find stillness in the middle of the movement. It’s the balance of these first two qualities that will lead you to the light of sattva. Sattva is the quality of balance, a place where the body feels light and energetic, and the mind is focused but calm. This is the place where the light can flow through you. This is the place where you will be able to experience the true nature of your Self. Keep walking on your path. It’s a long, slow journey. Just take it one step at a time. Enjoy every moment. This is your journey. This is your life.

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Building a Meditation Practice.

Building a Meditation Practice.

It took me a long time to develop a meditation practice. Building a self practice is challenging. The best way to start is with a very short practice. Try five mins everyday. Try that for one month and see how it goes. You don’t have to start with a long practice. It’s better to pick something you know you can do everyday. Think of it like brushing your teeth. After one month if you were able to do the practice consistently then try adding another five minutes. Pick one technique. It’s not helpful to do every technique you know and jump from one to the next. The yogis often compare this to digging a well. You don’t want to dig a bunch of shallow wells. You will never hit water. Dig one hole and go deep! A consistent, daily meditation practice will change your life.

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Back to Basics.

Back to Basics.

Really fun Shiva Power class last night at Kula Yoga Port Orange!!! Back to basics.

I was talking yesterday about practice and detachment. What is practice? Effort to steady the mind — concentration. What is detachment? Letting go of distractions. So, our practice is the practice of concentration, staying present, looking at the distractions, and letting them go.


You’re taking a journey to the center of your Self. You’re walking to the center of the wheel. You’re not going to suddenly burst into flames when you experience the true nature of your Self, or turn into light and disappear. Yoga won’t make all your problems and all of life’s challenges go away. But you can change your relationship to those problems and challenges. Yoga will help you shift your perspective. You change your relationship to your Self and you change your experience of the world.


The ego is the part of us that is constantly created separation. If you identify with the ego then you are constantly looking for the world around you to change for you. Yoga is asking the opposite. You change your relationship to your Self and your experience of the world changes.


Be the change! This is our practice. This is the shift of perspective.

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Variations in Scorpion Pose!

Variations in Scorpion Pose!

Some fun variations on the forearm’s yesterday in my Shiva Power class at Guruv Yoga Lake Mary in Orlando!!!
Work on the Dolphin and the Forearm Plank to strengthen your arms and shoulders and prepare for the Forearm Balance. Once you’ve mastered the Forearm Balance you can work on the Scorpion Pose. Or play with splitting the legs, or work on the charging scorpion hollow back variation to open the shoulders and upper back.
Backbending poses and poses that challenge my hip flexors are so challenging for me. I love practicing them, though. And I feel so good after a big backbending practice. 3 rounds of backbends is the bare minimum. 7 is better. And 10 is the best! These words are from my teacher Dharma Mittra.
It surprised me to learn when I started studying yoga therapy that it’s not backbends that are the most dangerous poses in yoga — It’s actually forward folds!
I think we are afraid of backbends because they make us feel vulnerable. They take us into the fire. They challenge us to open up and to let go. We aren’t good at being vulnerable. But the walls we put up around ourselves to protect us from the outside world don’t just keep out the bad things, they keep out everything good we could be experiencing as well.
Make sure you stabilize your low back when you backbend by engaging your core. Don’t go too far. Don’t push too hard. But don’t shy away from backbends in your yoga practice either. We are sitting in flexion most of the day. Chronically tight hip flexors! Herniated discs! Tight shoulders! A closed off heart! Backbends can help you with all these things. These poses are energizing and lift us up too! They are great for the spine! You get to flood the spinal discs with nutrients. Keep your spine flexible and strong, yogis!

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Demonstrating the Pose Koundinyasana

Demonstrating the Pose Koundinyasana

Demonstrating the pose Koundinyasana for my students today at Guruv Yoga Lake Mary in Orlando.
When you do this pose your shoulder stabilizers need to work extra hard so that your arms stay roughly in the same position as in chatturanga — the low plank pose. If your shoulders round forward, and your shoulder blades come off the rib cage, you are in danger of giving yourself a shoulder injury. If you have to look sideways in your pose then you are probably dropping one of your shoulders. Be careful. My teacher would see people doing this and say, “this is an injury waiting to happen.”
All arm balances are essentially chatturanga or plank pose + a standing warmup pose. Koundinyasana is chatturanga + triangle pose.
If you want to deepen your work in this pose you will want to work on increasing hip flexibility and strengthening your arms, shoulders, shoulder stabilizer muscles, and your core. You will want to open your hips more in flexion, abduction, and external rotation. Think of the other poses in this family that you could work on in order to deepen your work in this pose? Triangle pose, Half Moon pose, Standing Wide Legged Forward Folding pose, Standing Hand to Foot Open Hip pose, Vacistasana, Lying Down Hand to Foot Open Hip Pose, and Seated Wide Legged Forward Folding pose, would be a great start — to name a few. Practice your transition from Plank pose to Chatturanga over and over again. Don’t go all the way down. Stop halfway. This will help you build the strength you need in your arms, shoulders, shoulder stabilizers and in your core. Practice holding the Plank pose for at least a minute, or two minutes, or three minutes. And practice holding chatturanga for at least a few breaths. That’s what you are essentially going to have to be able to do in this pose. Have fun!!!
Once you’ve mastered this pose, you can try transitioning into the pose from Tripod Head Balance and Handstand.

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Hot and sweaty Shiva Power class this morning!!!

Hot and sweaty Shiva Power class this morning!!!

Hot and sweaty Shiva Power class this morning!!! Great work, everyone!!!
If you are constantly seeking happiness through the senses, you will be on a roller coaster, going up and down, and up and down. The mind is never satisfied. And their will always be more going down on the roller coaster than going up. Even when you get what you want — after a brief moment of happiness, the mind is asking, “what’s next? What’s next? What’s next?”
The yogis understood the mind was constantly falling down and never satisfied. The only way to experience lasting happiness was to turn inward and experience the true nature of the Self.
It’s time to get off the roller coaster!!!

Get on your yoga mat. Concentrate. Stay present. Look at your mind. And let go of the thoughts. Let go of your distractions. Concentrate. Stop getting caught up in the movements of the fluctuating mind. Turn inward. Experience the true nature of the Self.

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Men do yoga too!!!

Men do yoga too!!!

Men do yoga too!!! Hanging with Luke after class today at Guruv Yoga. I sometimes wonder how different our world would be if more men did yoga? The practice is so healing and so beneficial. I hope in the future more men awaken to the idea that yoga is for them too. I can’t believe how much yoga has helped me grow and transform as a person, AND it’s really challenging physically and mentally. You want to be a better athlete? Do yoga! Train your mind to concentrate so you can accomplish more and work more efficiently? Do yoga! Reduce stress and prevent injuries and disease? Do yoga! Hang out with a room full of hot and sweaty beautiful women who are impressed that you are the one guy who “gets it”? Do yoga! What are you waiting for guys? It’s time to get on your mat.

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Back bending!

Back bending!

Back bending! These poses have been one of my greatest teachers over the years. It’s not easy to be vulnerable. Backbends help us to open up, surrender, and let go. Being vulnerable is hard. But it also feels amazing! The more I practice yoga — the more I feel that this is the really advanced work. It’s hard but it’s worth it. How comfortable are you at being uncomfortable? How much can you let go? How open can you be? What’s your relationship to being vulnerable? I think this is directly related to growth. How much growth do you want to experience? On the mat and off the mat. How much discomfort are you ready to handle? Skill in action. Move with grace into the fire. Breathe. This is your life. Right here. Right now.

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“Copy the teacher, copy the teacher, copy the teacher.”

“Copy the teacher, copy the teacher, copy the teacher.”

“Copy the teacher, copy the teacher, copy the teacher.”

“I am Yogi Gupta, I am Yogi Gupta, I am Yogi Gupta.”

A happy belated birthday to my teacher — Dharma Mittra, who turned 80 yrs old last month. I’m so excited that I will be able to see Dharma this week while I am in New York. I’ve been lucky enough to take 3 Teacher Training programs with Dharma over the past 8 yrs and have come to New York on several additional trips for intensive study.
Dharma sometimes shares a story about practicing with his teacher, Swami Kailasananda — Yogi Gupta. He talks about focusing intensely on copying the teacher, trying to become like the master himself. We walk in the shadows of the great teachers who have come before us. We try to follow in their footsteps. We keep moving things forward, and our students are right behind us. As Dharma would say, “we are all just helping each other along.”

“Copy the teacher, copy the teacher, copy the teacher.”

“I am Dharma Mittra, I am Dharma Mittra, I am Dharma Mittra.”

Feeling grateful for this moment and everything that has led to this moment. Thank you, Dharma.

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On to the next adventure!

On to the next adventure!

On to the next adventure!!! I’m flying to New York today. It’s a long journey. First to Chongqing. I have a layover and then a direct flight from Chongqing to JFK. It’s been an amazing trip so far. These last 2 weeks in Shanghai have been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of new students and made a lot of new friends. My first stop on this trip when I left Los Angeles was to New York. Feels like a long time ago! I’m excited to be back in New York. Hoping to get a practice in with Dharma. I’m teaching 3 special event Shiva Power master classes at Pure Yoga this week. If you are in New York please join me for a class. These classes are super affordable and free to Pure Yoga members. I’m teaching as part of the Visiting Teacher Series. Hope to see you there. Namaste. See you again soon, Shanghai! And to everyone in China — thank you for being such amazing hosts and treating me so well these last 2 months.

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Backbending Workshop at Space Academy yesterday!!!

Backbending Workshop at Space Academy yesterday!!!

Backbending Workshop at Space Academy yesterday!!! My last workshop. Coming to the end of my 2 weeks in Shanghai. It’s been a wonderful collaboration with Space Academy. Thank you to everyone who came to practice with me these last 2 weeks. I’ll miss you. And I will look forward to seeing you again soon.
This was a big workshop yesterday. We packed a lot of information into 2.5hrs. We discussed yoga theory, philosophy, anatomy review, Asana Breakdown, the spine, the tug of war actions, why we backbend in yoga, and we looked at a number of backbends in greater detail. When we backbend we are primarily looking at movement in the saggital plane, and poses that take the hips into extension, the spine into extension, and the shoulders into either flexion or extension.
Some simple things to remember:
1. We want to stabilize areas that are vulnerable and open up areas that do not have a lot of flexibility.
2. Finding the Tug of War actions in the body means in every backbend there will be a little forward fold. One side wins but the other side doesn’t just give up.
3. We want to depress and abduct (protract) the shoulder blades.
4. We want to externally rotate the shoulders.
5. When the hips move into extension they also want to abduct and externally rotate. Don’t let them!
6. Backbends are good for the spinal discs. Backbends are energizing and uplifting. They take us into the fire. They help us to concentrate but they also teach us to be vulnerable and let go. Backbends stretch out the muscles on the front of the body and they strengthen the muscles on the back of the body.
See you on your mat!!!

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Handstand Workshop at Space Academy today!

Handstand Workshop at Space Academy today!


The wall can be a crutch when we practice inversions. But it can also be a tool to help you magnify areas of weakness or areas where you are disconnected and lacking awareness.
I love using the wall to magnify how much core we need in our handstands. If you aren’t ready to do this exercise against the wall you can lie down on the floor first and practice your handstand against the floor, with your hands on the wall.

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It’s been such a great 2 weeks at Space in Shanghai!

It’s been such a great 2 weeks at Space in Shanghai!

It’s been such a great 2 weeks at Space in Shanghai! I’m really impressed with this company. Grateful to Robyn for inviting me to collaborate and teach at the studio. Thank you to all the amazing Space staff for being so welcoming and for all your support. And thank you to the wonderful students who have been coming to my classes. It’s been a pleasure practicing with you and helping you to deepen your practice and understanding of yoga. This weekend I’m leading my last 2 workshops — Handstand on Saturday and Backbending on Sunday!!! See you on your mat!!! Namaste.

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Do You Really Love Yourself?

Do You Really Love Yourself?

I was talking with an old friend today over coffee about love and the deep Soul connection kind of love that is so hard to find. I think we often confuse love with the lust. Just like we often get confused about who we really are and the true nature of the Self. Do you really love your partner? Or are you seeking their love? Love is kindness and compassion. Love says I want the best for you and I want you to become the best person you can be. Love is two people walking down the road together, headed in the same direction. You are responsible for your own happiness. I am responsible for my own happiness. I enjoy your company but I don’t need you.
I think before you can really love anyone or anything you have to learn to love yourself. And in order to love yourself, you have to get comfortable with yourself. Sit in stillness. Be alone. That person you are attracted to doesn’t have the answers to your problems. You have the answers to your problems.
The work you do on yourself is the most important gift you can give to the world. Go into the fire. Let your stuff come to the surface and let it go. Cleanse your body and cleanse your mind. Clear out that old stuck energy and make same space.
Are you ready to love someone? Or are you just looking for someone to love you?

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This weekend I’m leading a Backbending Workshop at Space Yoga in Shanghai!

This weekend I’m leading a Backbending Workshop at Space Yoga in Shanghai!

This weekend I’m leading a Backbending Workshop at Space Yoga in Shanghai!
Backbends have never been easy for me. My hip flexors are incredibly tight. I’ve been working on opening them up for a long time. The progress is slow but I’m making progress. And it’s incredibly rewarding!
One of the challenges I see in our yoga community is the rise of yoga as a business. You have to be very careful as a yoga teacher. Many of the things that your students need are not the things that they want. You can see how they are out of balance and you can help them find more balance. But if your goal is to be popular or if you are running a business you have to be careful you aren’t just trying to please your customers and always giving them what they want. Swami Satyananda has this great quote where he says, “first I find out what my students want and then I try to give them the opposite.”
I remember when I first understood that the most popular teachers weren’t always the best teachers.
There’s friction involved in growth and learning. It’s uncomfortable. It takes hard work.
I used to hate doing backbending. I even didn’t like teachers who taught a lot of backbending in their classes. I resisted my own growth so much. Now, I know the backbends are what I need. They still aren’t easy. I’m in the fire in every one. But I’m learning to love that fire. And I’m training myself to choose to go into the fire. I don’t want to get in my own way anymore.
What are the poses you don’t like? What is challenging for you? What are you avoiding? What if you stopped avoiding? What if you chose to go into the fire? Who do you think you might become if you got out of your own way? I remember my teacher @anniecarpentersmartflow holding us in a pose for a long time and saying, “You can glare at me all you want, it doesn’t mean we are coming out of the pose any faster!” Good teacher’s hold the space for their students. They don’t try to make you comfortable. They don’t try to always give you what you want. They push you to be the best you can be. That’s the job!

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