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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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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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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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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“He who teaches and doesn’t practice is a fraud. And he who practices and doesn’t teach is a thief.”

“He who teaches and doesn’t practice is a fraud. And he who practices and doesn’t teach is a thief.”

Our final Shiva Power class at Haipoo Yoga yesterday morning! A deep Twisting class with extra core work to prepare for our afternoon Handstand Workshop. This was a really fun group to work with and I’ve enjoyed watching everyone grow a lot in just a few days. We managed to cover some yoga philosophy and I had the students read and discuss five of my published articles on different aspects of the practice as well. I am confident that I shared as much as I could in our 3 days together. I think the greatest thing we can do as teachers is share everything we have with our students. If we do a good enough job they won’t need us anymore. Ideally, we want to eliminate ourselves from the equation altogether. Everything I have is yours! The way we honor our teachers and pay back the debt we owe to them is to share the teachings and become teachers ourselves. There’s an old yoga saying — “He who teaches and doesn’t practice is a fraud. And he who practices and doesn’t teach is a thief.” Better not to be either one.

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Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn.

 Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn.

Sometimes the students inspire me so much! This student came to my class on Sunday afternoon in Fuzhou. She worked so hard! She listened to everything I was saying and paid such close attention to my cues. And she tried so many advanced poses and variations, even though many of them were out of reach. I was so proud of her. And the whole time she smiled and even laughed a few times when she fell out of some of the more challenging poses. I love teaching students like this. They are so easy to teach. No ego. So much light. The irony is that these students are already practicing so much of what we are teaching in yoga. They don’t need the practice as much as some of the students who are the hardest to teach. Sometimes students are rude and disrespectful and don’t pay attention and don’t listen. It’s hard to teach these students. Their mind is closed off. But really they need the practice most of all. Master teacher, Krishnamacharya has a famous quote about only wanting to teach the beginners and the really advanced students because they both know that they don’t know anything. He said the ones in the middle, the students with a little bit of knowledge who think they know everything are the hardest to teach. Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn. Be a good student. Learn as much as you can from the teacher. Are you done learning? Is there no more room for growth? Really? You’ve got it all figured out? There is so much more to learn. You just have to stay open.

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Teaching student to wake themselves up!

Teaching student to wake themselves up!

One of the things I learned from my teachers was to teach the students to wake themselves up. I don’t do a lot of hands-on adjustments until I know students really well. Even then — I follow a few simple rules when it comes to adjusting students in class. If I can cue you verbally to find the adjustment yourself I think it’s more powerful than me simply using my knowledge of the pose to put your body in a better position. If verbal cues don’t work, then I’ll try to “mirror” for you what I want you to find in your own body. If that doesn’t work, light touch can be enough. Now, find it on your own. If all else fails or if I think a full hands-on adjustment will really help you deepen your work and you couldn’t get there on your own, then I’ll do the full hands-on adjustment. But the goal is for you to one day not need me around. I think if we do a great job, one day we’ve given our students everything and they don’t need us anymore. In a lot of ways, our job as good teachers, is to one day eliminate ourselves. Is your teacher teaching you to be self sufficient? Are you growing? Are you waking up? Are you waking yourself up? My teacher, Dharma often answers questions by asking a question back — “What do you think? Use your discrimination.” I think the best teacher’s force us to figure things out on our own. Maybe the best thing for you and your growth is to do things incorrectly for a little while and then figure it out on your own?

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Demonstrating Flying Pigeon.

Demonstrating Flying Pigeon.

Demonstrating the Flying Pigeon (ekapadagalavasana) for my students, during one of our Shiva Power classes, in my Shiva Yoga Intensive program, at Dream Space Yoga, in Shenzhen!
It took me forever to be able to do this pose! I thought I was never going to be strong enough. I didn’t realize that the arm balance poses in yoga are simply standing warmup poses done on the arms. I wasn’t lacking the strength to do the pose. My hips weren’t open enough. If you want this pose to become easier, you have to open up the piriformis muscle. Lots of Single Pigeon Forward Fold and Double Pigeon Forward Fold.
Once you increase the range of motion at the hip joint and are able to externally rotate your hips fully, this pose, Lotus Pose, and Leg Behind the Head variations open up for you. And you protect your knees, which will suffer if you are not able to fully externally rote the hips

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The story of Vacistasana.

The story of Vacistasana.

The story of Vacistasana is a story about a Great Sage, a sacred cow, and magical powers. But it’s ultimately about the journey from darkness to light. There was no sacred cow that gave the Great Sage Magical powers.
The power is within you! You just have to do your practice. Be consistent! Be patient! Train your mind to focus! Keep waking up. Everyday, wake up a little more. And a little more. You can do anything you focus your mind on. Some people might think you have a secret, a sacred cow, or are lucky, or have magical powers. But you know your power comes from your practice, from your dedication and hard work. The power is inside you. It’s inside all of us. You just have to learn how to access it! And then you can do anything.

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Yonion Festival — Day 4! My last class at the festival. What a fun day!

Yonion Festival — Day 4! My last class at the festival. What a fun day!

Yonion Festival — Day 4! My last class at the festival. What a fun day!I taught a Shiva Power Class/Backbending Workshop. We had a thunderstorm in the middle of the class. We were dry under the tent but the power to the sound system had to be cut and it poured rain. It was so loud.
Part of our yoga practice is going with the flow. We shifted to a much more workshop style class. My translator and I tried to be as loud as we could but it was still hard for the students to hear us. I ended up gathering everyone close to the stage. We demonstrated a few things to work on and then I sent them back out to their mats to practice. We did this a few times and it was actually quite a fun way to present to such a big group. Sometimes you get these wonderful spontaneous moments from just accepting things as they are unfolding. My teacher Dharma always used to remind us — Everything is happening the way it is supposed to be. What’s that famous quote — Yoga is not about stopping the waves but learning how to surf.

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Tittibasana (Firefly Pose)

Tittibasana (Firefly Pose)

Demonstrating one of the variations of Tittibasana (Firefly Pose) in my Arm Balance Workshop at Pano Skylos! Thank you for coming, everyone. It was a fun day and a great weekend. I think we connected the dots today and made sense of a lot of things. The arm balance poses are advanced warmup poses. Each arm balance is either plank or low plank + one of the standing warmup poses. If you can hold plank and low plank and your hips are open enough you will be able to do many of the arm balance poses in yoga.

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If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.

If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.

One of the things I love about teaching with a translator is how it slows everything down.
Slowly moving with the breath is really where it’s at in a flowing practice. If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.
Let the breath lead the movement and let the breath wrap around the movement. The breath starts and then the movement starts. The movement finishes and then the breath finishes. This way there’s always going to be pauses. There’s always going to be control. Who’s driving your car? You are. Enjoy the dance between the movement and the stillness. Holding these opposites at the same time is the paradox that allows us to have a deeper, transformational experience. Concentrate but also surrender.
Practicing a slow flow that is connected to the breath will help you stay calm and keep you out of the default network of your brain - where it will be hard for you to not react and get caught up in everything that is coming up for you and just trying to process. Think of the four parts of the breath. There’s a little moment of stillness where the inhale meets the exhale, and another little moment of stillness where the exhale meets the inhale.
I love flowing with my students! I always practice a little bit with my students in every class. I find it helps me to connect with the group energy. I also think it reminds the students that I’m just walking the path with them. I’m not on a pedestal. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. We are all just walking home together.

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Exploring Meditation.

Exploring Meditation.

We started the weekend off with a Meditation Workshop on Friday night. It was a really great evening, with some philosophy and Yoga Sutras discussion, and exploring many different ways to meditate. There are a lot of different meditation techniques because there are a lot of different people with different tendencies. You don’t have to master every technique. You want to pick one the works for you and use it to take you where you want to go. Many paths leading to the same destination. Thank you to everyone who came out for the workshop. It was a lot of fun to practice with all of you.

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Sticking with Our Intentions!

Sticking with Our Intentions!

How is your year going? Did you set any intentions this year? Did you make some resolutions? What is shifting for you? What are you working on shifting in your life? Remember, it’s a practice. You can set the intention and head down the path and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, or if you fall or fail. Just get back up and try again. Our journey is always forward. Sometimes it’s little baby steps. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back to steady ourselves. But it’s always forward.

I started the year off in New York, at the Dharma Yoga Center, practicing with my teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to see Dharma and to start this year off in such a positive way. It’s been an incredible start to the year. My Dharma sister, Diana, hosted me in New York over NYE and we officially began the New Year with a Psychic Development Meditation practice. She also helped me get my diet back on track. I was eating such heavy foods over Christmas. Lots of sugar and lots of processed foods. I found out that I am a little gluten intolerant too and so I’ve cut gluten out of my diet. That’s been huge! I’m back on a plant based vegan diet and have been since December 29th. It’s definitely a practice eating only a plant based diet. I have had cheese a couple of times this past month. I always feel better when I am eating vegan, though. I was really hard on myself when I couldn’t keep my vegan diet going a few years ago. I think maybe I just wasn’t ready for it. It was a real struggle. It doesn’t feel like a struggle this time and I also am okay if I have an overwhelming feeling to eat something not vegan and I have to give in and do it. This whole journey is slow and step by step. I’ve never been a big fan of the “militant” vegans on social media who make you feel terrible for your food choices.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful year and I hope some of the things that you want to manifest in your life are happening. Stick with it. If you concentrate hard enough, you can make anything happen. Hope we can practice together again soon. Namaste.

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Finishing last week at Port Orange with Handstand Workshop

Finishing last week at Port Orange with Handstand Workshop

We finished our week at Kula Yoga last night with a Handstand workshop! These Handstanders worked their butts off. Lots of Asana Breakdown, to better understand the work needed to find balance in the middle of the room. Lots of playful exercises to emphasize different muscles in the body and wake up areas that needed waking up. Lots of work on the core and the shoulders.

Handstands are advanced arm balances. They are great warm up poses for advanced students. They build strength in the shoulder stabilizer muscles and the core. They help students build confidence. And they are a lot of fun!

I had fun practicing with all of you last night. Next time I come back we are going to do the plank competition too!  Lol.

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Working on Opening the Hips!

Working on Opening the Hips!

A fun picture from our hip opening workshop on Saturday. Guruv Yoga in Orlando — I’m coming to teach all this week and we have a Hip Opening Workshop scheduled from 1-4 on Saturday, January 26th! Hope you can join me for the workshop. Let’s explore the hips together. This is a fun all levels workshop with lots of knowledge shared as well as time to practice and explore how things feel in your own body.

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Shiva Meditation Class at Kula Yoga.

Shiva Meditation Class at Kula Yoga.

Shiva Meditation class this morning at Kula Yoga in Port Orange! Powerful way to start the day.

Pranayama, yoga nidra, and seated meditation.

What is yoga?

The stopping of the movements of the mind. When the mind is quiet, in the stillness, you get to experience the true nature of your Self.

What’s left over in the stillness when for a moment the body, mind, thoughts and ego have disappeared?

You!

Our next Shiva Meditation class is tomorrow night at 5:30pm at Kula Yoga In Port Orange. Last one of the week! Hope to see you there.

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Hot and Sweaty Shive Power Class in Port Orange

Hot and Sweaty Shive Power Class in Port Orange

Kicked things off at Kula Yoga Port Orange yesterday with a hot and sweaty Shiva Power class. I’ll be back at the Port Orange studio this morning at 9am for a Shiva Meditation class and at New Smyrna tonight at 6pm for a Shiva Power class. Look forward to seeing you there. Thank you to everyone who came to practice yesterday. Such an open and receptive group. 

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