Welcome to Yogi Sticks!

Do you know your Gomukasana from your Adho Mukha Svanasana? Is your Vrksasana all it can be? And how do you feel about Supta Baddha Konasana? Do you know what I'm even talking about?

Sometimes the Sanskrit - however beautiful it sounds - is not very helpful. So, to encourage my students to expand their yoga practice into their home, I sketch the poses we practice during class on a chart and add the Sanskrit and common name. Hopefully, this is a useful tool to help them along in their yogic journey. I also troll the internet, books, and journals to find interesting articles about yoga and the yogic lifestyle.

12-20 Backbends

With the holiday schedule in full effect, I am slowly drowning in a to-do list. So I was unable to scan the drawings from practice Monday. However, here is a list of poses we did in case you'd like to access some hidden energy during the weekend (Backbends are energizing, you know!). Remember to strive to bend your entire back evenly, not just rely on your low back to move:

Supported Fish (Matsyendrasana)


Rocking Lunge (Anjanayasana)

Standing Camel (Utthita Ustrasana)

Sun Salutation A with Sphinx and Up-Dog

Half Bow/Half Locust


Reverse Table or Eastern Plank

Bridge (in Temple Mudra and lifted leg)

Camel (Ustrasana)

Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Half Lord of the Fish twist (Marichiasana)

Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)

Corpse (savasana)

The quote from Monday is a Japanese folk Zen saying: "Fish live in streams. Birds nest in trees. Human beings dwell in warm hearts."

Good Morning!

We should all aspire to wake up like this!

11-29 Wide Angles and 12-01 Flow

A few of my favorite flows were strung together (like Christmas lights!) to create practice this evening. Starting with "Genie" arms rotating while your follow your forearms with your entire face, moving through an easy pose (sukhasana) series, then onto the more challenging plank series. We then started our standing poses with lunges, warriors, and a reed pose. We moved back down to the mat with a delicious pigeon to cowface flow. Bridge and an extended leg stretch series cooled us off and got us ready for the ever-important savasana.

The quote for tonight was interpreted from the Yoga Sutras: Think of your mind as a lake. When the surface of a lake is agitated, the bottom cannot be seen. Immeasurable treasure may lie there, but it will remain undiscovered until the day the water stills. When the mind becomes quiet, you find awareness of self. Your treasure.
I heard that a few people were a bit sore from this practice Monday evening. I know that we may have discovered a few muscles that have been hiding. The opening series was from Tias Little's workshop. Starting in a sort of reclining tree pose, begin to press your upper elbow down with the breath. Continue for several breaths and then add a pressing down of the shoulder area as well. Then relax the upper body as the bent knee presses into the mat. Again, after several breaths with just the knee pressing, add the buttock/hip area into the work. Eventually, alternate between upper body and lower body presses. Finally, end with all parts pressing at the same time.
Tonight's quote is also based on the Yoga Sutras: Change the mind and the effects will change. How difficult to pull up a might oak. How simple to pinch off an acorn's sprout.

Kids' Yoga Class

Starting in January, young yogis will gain strength, flexibility, confidence, and a sense of calm in this class designed for 6-12 year olds. As a former elementary school teacher and (soon-to-be) Registered Children's Yoga Instructor, I will lead practices full of imagination, songs, and games. We may be offering a special family rate, too!

At the same time, Heather is offering a special one-hour class for parents/caregivers. While your kids enjoy their yoga class, it's ME time. Join her for an hour of strengthening, stretching, breathing, and peace.

I hope to see you and your favorite little people at the studio - a yoga practice is a wonderful gift to share with the family! Please feel free to forward this information on to other families!

Post-Thanksgivng Thanks

Thank you for allowing me to guide your yoga explorations. It is truly an honor and a joy. I hope it contributes to your health and well-being.


11-15 Breath Awareness, 11-17 Feet, and 11-24 Side Body

This set of poses was inspired by my weekend workshop with Tias Little. Always move with the breath and remember that sometimes small movements with awareness are often more constructive (and instructive) than big, fancy poses! Look for more series from Tias in the future!

Quote: "Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls." -Mother Teresa Feet are soooo critical in every aspect of life. We spend so much time in restrictive shoes and on hard, even surfaces. This spells trouble for ankles, knees, hips, and on up the line. So take some time each day to stretch your feet.

Aristotle provided the quote for tonight's practice: "Happiness is an act of virtue in a complete life."

These flows were designed to move with the breath - one pose moving with the inhale and the partner pose moving with the exhale. Take the time to notice where the breath leads you - is it constricted somewhere? What does the breath do to the spine? Can your breath lead you to more comfort in the pose? This kind of moving meditation allow us to develop a mind that clings to nothing.
Quote from practice: "The most wasted of all days is that during which one has not laughed."
-Nicolas de Chamfort

Daily Om

Interested in some stimulating conversation each morning? Wanting to tip-toe into your inner self a bit more? Take a look at Daily Om. Each day, an article comes to your email's in-box to ponder. Sometimes it is about finances ("Heal Your Money Karma") and other times it is a bit more soul-searching ("Resurrecting the Soul"). Just a few paragraphs everyday may provide just the taste of yoga you are craving each day off your mat. And when you are ready to practice on your mat, you know where to find me!

Tias Little Is Here!

Tias Little, the internationally known yoga instructor, is going to be in the studio this week! It is an honor to host such an innovative, intellectual, inspiring yogi. He brings his love of literature, history, architecture, and anatomy into his yoga practice. Even if you don't get a chance to study with him in person, please take a moment to visit some of his postings on YouTube to enjoy his thoughtful teaching.

Check the Yoga4All website for his schedule, as well as books and CDs by Tias Little.

11-8 Shoulder Flexibility and Stability

Take it easy on your shoulders - they are complicated and easily made cranky! Personally, my shoulders and I are still getting to know each other...and are relationship is not an easy one! But, I always feel more relaxed after working through some of the tension that builds up around my shoulders, neck, and upper back.

There are dozens of traditional poses that focus on the shoulders. I like the Yoga Journal website: www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/anatomical_focus/shoulders. There is a list of poses, along with photos and instructions, specific for shoulder work. Browse through to revisit some favorites, or find new "tricks" to try.

Quote from tonight: "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Anna is going to be teaching my class on Wednesday, November 10th so I can watch my daughter perform at the Story Telling Festival.

On Monday, November 22, Heather will be subbing for me while I am camping with my family on the Homassassa River.

Both of these teachers are wonderful - energetic, creative, and extremely knowledgeable. I know you will enjoy working with them.

11-1 Balance and 11-3 Shoulder Stand

Shoulderstand is known as the "Queen of all asanas" for it's re-nourishing properties. Practioners believe it to encourage eternal life, as it reverses the flow of a vital oil in the body. Please use caution when practicing shoulderstand, as it can be rough on the neck. That's why I encourage students to use at least 2 blankets under their shoulder blades and upper back to be absolutely certain that there is no pressure on the neck. Additionally, using the wall (as in the photo) helps with stability. And NEVER look around once in the posture - keep that nose pointed straight at the ceiling, please.

Wednesday's quote from Joyce carol Oates: "We're here to feel the joy of life pulsing in us - now"

Balance was the name of the game Monday evening, with a playful practice that culminated in crow (bakasana). This, like all balance poses, take tremendous core strength. YouTube has several "how-to" videos regarding crow, so take a look and use a crash-pad (a blanket) in front of your head - not that I think you will fall, but it gives you an extra boost of confidence while trying it. And remember, doing what I call "toe-crow" is just as powerful as the full posture (instead of both legs off the floor, try to get one up and the other just balances on the big toe). Be brave and give it a try!

Quote from Monday's class: "Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once." -Lillian Dickinson

Mobile Yoga

Check out the YogAmazing podcast (through iTunes) for FREE yoga classes. The videos range from practices for specific sports (even surfing) to exploring other people's yoga stories. A great resource that I draw inspiration from in forming my classes once in a while.

10-25 Toning and 10/27 Side Body

Quote for Wednesday night: "Life isn't all about what you don't have, but yet, what you do with what you've been given." -robert M. Hensel
"We should be generous in our judgement of others, for we can never really now all there is to know about another." -Desmond Tutu

10-18 Backbends and 10-20 Strenthening

As Halloween creeps up on me, I'm short on time today. So, here are the class sketches as well as the quotes from practice:
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." -George Bernard Shaw
"Intense love does not measure. It just gives." -Mother Teresa

Yoga Addiction

Do you ever feel the need to practice hamstring stretches in the office? Work on your pranayam in the school's car circle? Perfect tree pose while washing dishes (my personal favorite)? You will enjoy this fun posting on a local Tampa yoga blog: Top 10 Signs You Are Addicted to Yoga.

THAT Does Yoga, Too?

Yes, even your tongue is an important part of a yoga practice!

Your tongue works as a "switch" between the gross and subtle body, between the peripheral and central energy systems. It can direct the movement of body parts just by using pranic force. The tongue influences other body movements without heavy muscular activity by triggering different elements in the body (ie: earth, water, wind, etc).

In yoga, there are four distinct parts locate don the hard and soft palates where different energies can be brought under control simply by placement of the tip of the tongue:

1. During asana (physical postures) practice, your tongue should be against the palate behind the root of the upper teeth without touching them. This movement influences the body's wind element and makes breath deeper and body movements smoother and lighter.

2. If you place the tip of your tongue against the center of the roof of your mouth, you increase heat in the body by activating the seat of fire in the mouth.

3. If your mouth is dry, roll your tongue back farther to place the tip at the edge of the soft palate. This is the seat of water in the mouth. This placement also increases energy.

4. Finally, scattered energy can be re-centered by trying to touch the tip of the tongue to the tip of the uvula (that hangy thing in your throat) while imagining the uvula reaching toward the tongue. This movement triggers the seat of the earth element in your mouth, which activates the seat of the earth element in the body...your mula bandha (the energy lock in the perineal area). Try it - you'll feel a lifting down in the pelvic region when you try to bring tongue and uvula together!

10-11 Moon Poses and 10-13 Neck and Shoulders

I had a request for neck and shoulder stretches, so I took some poses from a wonderful book: Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain by Carol Krucoff.

The quote for tonight: "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that theses obstacles were my life. -James Patterson

Yoga celebrates the union between two disparate identities, and tonight we played with our Moon side, trying poses in unconventional ways and exploring an adapted Moon Salutation. A quick Google search of Moon Salutations will provide a plethora of examples to choose from to develop your own personal version.

Tonight's quote: "Think, if you will, of your life as an art gallery and of the events in it as paintings that you have made. A week ago, or a year ago, or just yesterday you began a picture and today it turns up in the gallery that is your life. You stop to look at it. Is it beautiful...or is it ugly? Whatever it is, see it as a painting in the gallery of your life, and consider that spirit in which you paint today determines how nice your gallery looks tomorrow." -Brian Browne Walker

10-6-10 Pelvic Prana and Mula Bandha

Energizing the lower body tonight. One of my favorite "tricks" to find movement in places we thought were immobile (whether by design or by misuse) is to squeeze a block between your thighs in different poses, moving it forward and back with just the rotation of the femurs. Tonight we tried it in Table, Cat/Cow, Mountain, Forward Fold, and Downward Dog. Give it a try and see what release you can find.

We also reviewed Mula Bandha - the energy lock in the low pelvic area. To find the correct muscle, imagine that you are stopping the flow of urine - or kegel exercises. You engage the pelvic floor (the space between the pubic bone and tailbone. At first, it feels like you are contracting the muscles around the anus and genitals, but you really want to isolate and lift the perineum. That lifting up of the muscle "locks" the energy in the body so you can use it in your poses. It provides instant stability and strength. The area where mula bandha is located in the root chakra. In the Kundalini yoga tradition, it is where the potent energy lies dormant until awakened by yoga practice.Other common bandhas we often talk about in our practice include hasta bandha (hand lock), pada bandha (foot lock), jhalandara bandha (throat lock - like in bridge pose), and uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock - like in boat). When you activate your throat, abdominal and root locks it is called Maha Bandha (the great lock).

Quote from practice: "Never let anyone come to you without coming away better and happier"
-Mother Teresa

Your Thoughts, Please...

This article is stirring up all kinds of conversation in the yoga community. What do you think? Are you able to incorporate your yoga practice into your religious beliefs? Is yoga an impediment to your beliefs, or does it help you connect to your faith? I'd love your thoughts!
Click here for the article.

Schedule Reminder

I bet I'm not the only one forgetting my new schedule at the Yoga4All, so here it is again:
Mondays 5:30-6:45 / Wednesdays 7:00-8:15

The class level remains the same, but it has a new title: "Hatha Yoga Blend - Beginner's 2".
Check out the entire schedule at www.yoga4all.com.

Also, I am subbing in Indian Shores this week. You can find me on Thursday at 9:00 at the Indian Shores Community Center (on Gulf Blvd. next door to Salt Rock Grill). It's only $6, so I hope to see you there!

Let Yoga Be a Journey

This was written by Melissa Gerson (my sister!), a yoga instructor in Parker, Colorado:

A lot of yoga participants are looking to achieve the perfect yoga pose according to someone else's standards. Well, here's the thing...The perfect pose is different for each person. Everyone's body is unique, everyone responds differently to a pose, and no one's pose will ever match someone else's. You can push it, to try and force your body into a certain look. And your body might match the "picture perfect pose" perfectly, but that doesn't mean you've perfected the pose. (Say that 10 times fast!) And it's not just the physical aspect. There's a mental portion to every pose as well. It's more important to know what is the purpose of the pose. Why am I doing this? What's the point? If you don't know, ask. Otherwise, you might end up hurting yourself just trying to make the pose look "right". Maybe, technically, your arms should be at 90*. Well, what if your arms don't go to 90*? What if they are at 88*? Or 72* Does that mean the pose is wrong? How about instead, think about the reason why your arms should try to be at 90*. Is it for an arm stretch, a shoulder stretch, a strengthening move, or all three? Then can you find a position that is moving towards 90*, that includes the purpose of the pose? And as long as you feel the stretch/strength happening, should it really matter if your arms are at 90*? Nope. Not at all. What if you're extra-stretchy? Should you stop at 90*? Again, what's the purpose? If it's stretching, no. If it's strengthening, then probably yes.

However, this means that you, as the yoga participant, have a lot of responsibility. If yoga poses were all about the look, I could simply come around and move you into the correct pose, hoping not to hurt you while I do that (and a lot of instructors do just this, but that's their perspective, and good for them). But you're not a puppet, so cut the strings! It's more important that you take your awareness inside, find the purpose of the pose and move your body accordingly. Yes, I'll still make a few mild adjustments, but mostly for safety or to direct your awareness. But your pose is up to you. Maybe, for whatever reason, today your body is extra tight and you don't want to push it. Then take your awareness inward and find your pose. And I won't come around and force you into something you're not ready for. Your body will achieve all of the poses, when it's ready. Forcing a pose will only slow you down. In yoga, pain is not gain, it's simply pain...which makes your body tighter, adds stress, and makes you not want to come back to class, which makes you tighter still, which makes you grumpy, which makes others grumpy, and isn't the world grumpy enough already? So let's make the world a happier place just by listening to our bodies, honoring its' requests, and being nice to ourselves. See how yoga solves the world's problems? :)

Okay, back to the rant and my last point...Don't get frustrated! These poses were created by yogis who have been practicing 10-12 hours a day since childhood in 100*+ temperatures. It's their job, their lifestyle, and in come cases, their religion. I'm grateful that these yogis exist/existed, I am humbled by their dedication and I honor their teachings and guidance which offer amazing direction for our practice. But that's exactly what their teachings are - a direction, not a goal. A goal means that if we don't achieve it, we've failed. The only way to fail in yoga is to give up, to quit trying. Did you really enjoy your first yoga class? Probably not. But you tried again. And now look where you are! Yoga is a journey. Remember that most of us didn't start yoga until much later in life and only because we could feel how stiff we were becoming. So should we be ashamed that we can't touch our toes? No way. We're trying, we're slowly loosening up and that's all that matters. Does it mean we're not healthy if we can't wrap our leg around our neck? Nope. Healthy means our body is strong enough to support our lifestyle - that's it. And I don't really need my leg around my neck, so I'll be happy to settle for less back pain and a stronger core. If I get more physically from my yoga practice, then it's a bonus but not a necessity.

Please note that all of the above is just my opinion. Believe me, a lot of people will disagree. And I've tried to stick with only the physical aspect of yoga. Believe me again, you do not want to get me started on the mental/spiritual side unless you are looking for a long, boring summer read. I wanted to write this mainly because I keep hearing people say, "I can't do yoga, I'm not flexible enough", which makes me a little crazy. That would be like saying, "I'm not sending my daughter to school because she can't read". We've all seen the covers of yoga magazines, with the beautiful woman smiling while in some crazy pose with perfect hair and make-up. In reality, who actually looks like that when practicing? I don't like the image this gives yoga. We work hard and we sweat. None of us are flexible unless we stretch. I had a teacher say once that it's good to be tight because then you don't have to move as much. Look at the guy int he picture above. Imagine how far he has to go to get a deep, satisfying twist. I applaud his abilities, but that's a lot of work! I think I'll stick with my not-so-perfect poses and choose to feel great about myself no matter how far over I can or can't bend. Because I'm trying. And that's perfect. Now go have a great day!

9-20 Yoga for a Good Mood, 9-22 Thighs

As we settled into practice Wednesday evening, I reminded us to set this intention: "I am attempting something difficult and unfamiliar, and I appreciate myself for trying." Thank your body for agreeing to be you again each day.

On that note, we worked into our thighs in this practice. Lots of strengthening, and of course, lengthening.

Quote: "Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another." - Desmond Tutu

This series was inspired by an article in the new Whole Living magazine (www.wholeliving.com). The practice was a few of the many, many poses that have a direct effect on our emotions. For example, twists (like fish twist - Mariachiasana) relax the back, shoulder, and abdomen (the places we store tension), and improve digestion (getting nourishment throughout the body). Inversions (like downward dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana and forward fold - Uttanasana) increase blood to your brain and energize your body. And some of the most important mood enhancing poses are back bends (camel - Ustrasana, locust - Salambhasana). Chest openers allow more room for breath and prana, more space around the spinal cord, and allow more energy for clearer thinking. And finally, pranayama (breathing practice), increases the intake of fresh oxygen, increases your energy, detoxes through the exhale, and promotes a clarity of the mind.

Abraham Lincoln provided the quote for tonight: "Whatever you are - be a good one."

Drum Roll, Please...

Big changes are afoot in the studio on Wednesday nights!

My Wednesday beginner class will begin at 7:00, an hour later. This time change will give us the opportunity to use the larger "wood room" to ease any crowding. Mondays will remain 5:30-6:45, and Wednesdays will now be 7-8:15.

I know that this will be an issue for some students, but I hope you will be able to continue to attend your practice with me. If you have any comments, concerns, suggestions, etc., drop me a line at ajames05@tampabay.rr.com. To contact the studio owner, Marty, call 727-392-9642 or check her website at www.yoga4all.com.

I truly feel blessed to lead your practice each evening, and I look forward to working with you through the schedule changes. Thank you for your patience, support, and positive energy!

9-13-10 Sciatic Nerve and 9-15-10 Chataranga

I can hear the groans when we transition from forward fold (Uttanasana) into plank as we move through the Sun Salutation series. I believe it is because students just know that I'll say, "Keeping your elbows in, lower down chest first and bottom last. Then pull through to cobra." Not an easy move. So, I tried to break this bit down and practice that forward motion (8 points touching and plank to cobra). Remember to imagine you are rolling a peanut or a marble with your nose as you stay low and get long. Try not to get frustrated - as your strength and flexibility grow, it will become easier and graceful. Promise.

Quote: "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

This was not the first time we worked around the sciatic area (see the post from March 23) - and it certainly won't be the last! Who doesn't have problems with their hips and low back occasionally? We tend to sit too much, wear shoes that are too pointy or high, and abuse our bodies with overuse all at once (I'm thinking of the yard work this weekend...). So send some love to your low back and buns - they work hard for you!
Quote from practice by John Lennon (and another absolute favorite): "Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted."

Breathe Easy!

"The mind is the king of the senses. And the breath is the king of the mind."

Without awareness of our breath during yoga practice, we are simply stretching or doing aerobic exercises. However, when we add conscious breathing, we are moving deeper into the tradition of yoga and all of the benefits it provides.
Prana is our life force, our energy, and it rides into our body on our breath. Prana is like the electricity in an appliance. Turn off the electricity, and the appliance turns off. It is that simple: no prana = no life.
Lucky for us, breathing is one of our first responses to entering the world. So, we should know how to breathe, right? Unfortunately, along the way, our lives interrupt our breathing. We no longer use our full lung capacity and therefore lose out on the benefits of a full "dose" of prana. Yoga's pranayam practice is a wonderful way to reintroduce ourselves to our breath.
Respiration is the only body system immediately under our conscious control (you can't change your heartbeat or redirect your digestion). Because we have this control, our breath is our doorway into the body.
In yoga, it is believed that different stages of our life have different needs:
Sunrise (0-25): Asana (movement, poses)
Mid-day (26-75): Pranayam (breath work)
Sunset (76 +): Meditation
You can see that pranayam practice is critical during most of our lives, yet we often focus externally, worrying more about outward appearance while leaving our breath health out of the picture.
When you decide to focus on your breath, there are six principles to explore:
1. Control directional flow (movement of awareness) - this is when we begin to notice the breath and consciously decide to breathe through our nose, for example, or a particular nostril.
2. Threshold (speed of breath) - we average 15 to 20 breaths a minute. That is a lot! Once we begin breathing with awareness, we can control the speed of our breath. Taking longer breaths and fewer breaths per minute can change your life.
3. Ratio - There are four parts of your breathing cycle: inhale, hold at top, exhale, hold at bottom. Different ratios have different effects on your body.
4. Technique - Different "types" of breath have different effects on your body. For example, some pranayam practices control temperature, some control relaxation effect, etc.
5. Place of Mind - Just being aware of your breath will change it.
6. Relationship of Asana, Pranayam, and Meditation - No one part of the yoga tradition works without the others.

For more information, a wonderful resource is "Yoga of Breath" by Richard Rosen. This book combines science, philosophy, and practical applications to truly explore your breath, and thereby your life. Also, a quick search on http://www.youtube.com/ using "pranayama breathing techniques" provides a huge number of hits - just watch with caution, as some practices can be quite powerful. I really enjoyed BKS Iyengar's 2 minute video of just one breath: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcPjvp4La8A He exhales for over 20 seconds!!

9-9-10 Forward Fold: Uttanasana

Has it really been 9 days since I posted? I apologize and promise to get it together now that school has started. I should be back on a schedule soon... Wednesday evening we worked on Forward Fold (Uttanasana). In the above illustration, note that the back of the legs (from glutes through heels) is stretching. Likewise, the fronts of the thighs are contracting, allowing the hamstrings to relax. Easier said than done, right? But, trust me when I tell you that forward fold is a great antidote to stress, as it calms the brain and relieves minor depression. According to Yoga Journal, Uttanasana stimulates the liver and kidneys, and obviously stretches the hamstrings, calves, hips. The pose strengthens the thighs and knees, improves digestions, helps relieve the symptoms of menopause, and reduces fatigue and anxiety. Folds are even known to relieve headaches, insomnia, asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis. WOW!

I hope the practice left you feeling calm, yet energized!
I still have one week left teaching on Indian Shores (Community Ctr, next to Salt Rock on Gulf Blvd) at 9 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It's only $6 - hope to see you there!

Nadi Sodhana - Alternate Nostril Breath

I am planning on starting practice on Wednesday (9/1) with at least one round of Nadi Sodhana. Here is a wonderful explanation (including video!) of Alternate Nostril Breath - it's benefits, challenges, and techniques. Enjoy and I'll see you tomorrow at 6:00.

Release the Seeds Within

This essay is from Diana Reed, a yoga instructor in Hernando county. It was printed in the St. Petersburg Times this morning (8-28-10), and it struck a chord with me. See what you think:

"Have you had an apple lately? Do you notice that the minute you bite into that red or green crunchy fruit, the flesh begins to change?

What was once pure, untouched and untainted begins to stain and brown, reacting to the air around it. The tender seeds within the apple are now exposed, assaulted by the atmosphere.

The apple has been invaded.

And yet, when its seeds are left on the ground, when they are tossed to the side, they find new ground. They take new root, sinking deep into the soil then pushing toward the light, sipping sweet water. To grow again.

We are apples. Many times throughout our lives our coverings are ruptured. We bruise and brown, taint and sour.

Where we once thought we were free of emotional turmoil or strife, we find a new bite into our psyches, a new rupture to our hearts or a new stain on our souls. Like the apples' flesh, we react to the world around us.

We notice the change in the air, the raised voice, the unfriendly gesture, the lie revealed.

We discolor again and again. We may look for untouched pars of ourselves but there is always something around the corner that we didn't expect. Something we didn't see coming, an eating away, an eroding.

But what if we were more like the seeds? What if when we are tossed aside, we find new soil? What if we rooted in, drew down, then up...and grew?

Learning to see our core reveals the depth of what makes us who we are and teaches us that no matter how many times the flesh is ripped, the see remains unchanged.

The see within knows what it needs to carry on. It searches for fertile soil, or even digs into rocky ground. It drives its new fragile roots into the earth and points its young sapling toward the heavens. It drinks the clean water life provides, wraps itself in viable sunlight and rises...rises...rises.

Have you had an apple lately?"

8-23-10 Chest Expansion

Let's give our bodies the chance to take full breaths of air! To stop slouching! To digest our food properly! All we are saying is (sing along if you know it...) is give chest expansion a chance!

Remember to lift from the sternum, not bend at the waist - we are trying to move the entire spine equally, not make our already bendy low back more bendy.

Quote from the Dalai Lama: "There's no shop that sells kindness. You must build it within."

8-16 Legs and 8-18 Shoulders

Shoulders were the focus of practice Wednesday night. Be mindful - shoulders are delicate, so do not push them to "pain". Sensation and heat are fine, but not wincing or grimacing.

We also tried a guided meditation as we settled into savasana. It was from the book, "Meditations for Transformation". I received positive feedback after class, so I'll try to include these more often (once every couple of weeks? Let me know what YOU want!)

Quote: "Passion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength." -the Dalai Lama
We powered up the legs on Monday (and great turn-out, by the way! Thank you so much for coming to practice!).
One of my favorite quotes closed practice: "Unhappiness begins when you let others define success for you."

Where To Find Me...

The lovely and talented Anna will be subbing for me on Wednesday the 23rd at the studio. It is my son's back-to-school night, and I can't miss it!

If you are able to make daytime classes, I will be teaching at Indian Shores Community Center (next door to Salt Rock Grill on Gulf Blvd) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10:15 on 8/31 through 9/16. It is only $6, and you do not have to have a rec card - just show up! Hope to see you there!

8-9-10: Psoas Awareness and 8-11-10 Pigeon

Psoas work tonight! Wait...what kind of work? Is that appropriate language to use on a family-friendly yoga blog? Yes. Yes it is.

The psoas is a little appreciated muscle that you only hear of in two situations: yoga and the doctor (or chiropractor, or massage therapist). The psoas ("so-as") is like a bridge linking the trunk to the legs. It is vital for alignment, joint rotation, and range of motion. It is also responsible for unconscious physical tension, such as in the flight-or-fight response. So, if your psoas is chronically tight (like you are curling into a fetal position), your body thinks you are in danger which releases chemicals from the adrenal glands, exhausting the immune system.

Because it is buried so deeply in our bodies, it is not as familiar as our biceps or calves. But in yoga we work to release the psoas in back bends and outward rotation poses (such as warrior 2 and triangle).

Click on "Bandha Yoga Anatomy" on my Favorite Links on the right. When you get to their homepage, click on "Scientific Keys" and then "Awakening the Psoas" to find some fabulous information.

Quote for tonight from Horace Greeley: "Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; riches take wing; only 1 thing endures, and that is character."

Our pigeons came home to roost in class tonight (and thanks for the wonderful turnout! I love yoga parties!). Pigeon is all about our hip rotators (the buttocks area of the front leg) and our hip flexors (along the front of the straight leg's thigh and pelvis. Plus it is internal rotation of the back leg and external rotation of the front. No wonder it is such a challenging - and rewarding - pose!

We all love to work on hip openers for one main reason - we all have tight hips. Why? First, too much sitting, which means no rotation, no flexion, and no extension. Second, the most popular exercises and sports require hip strength, but not hip flexibility (tennis, golf, walking, swimming, etc). And third, stress accumulates in the hip area (and that is a life-long build-up).

When working with your hips, remember that you may taste bitterness before getting to the pose's sweet spot. Be gentle. Be mindful. Be consistent.

Quote from practice: To know others is wisdom; to know yourself is enlightenment. To master others requires force; to master yourself takes true strength." -Lao Tzu

8-2 Glutes and 8-4 Low Back

I wanted to give our low backs some relief tonight, so the poses and flows were chosen to stretch and strengthen the back muscles, as well as the abdominals and other supporting muscles. Triangle, Revolved Triangle, and Half Moon were all done along the wall to aid in alignment.

Quote: Unless you try something beyond which you have already mastered, you will never grow.

Monday evening's class was all about our glutes. These muscles are of vital importance to our posture and back comfort. The practice explored some strength building as well as hip openers (especially frog and firelog).

Quote from practice: "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." -The Dalai Lama


I just got back from eating at Beirut Cafe - a new Lebanese restaurant in Seminole. It was so delicious! Everything is homemade and beautifully done. We had the sampler platter with hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh (best I have ever had - lots of tomatoes), and labneh (pictured above) along with a few other things. Then, of course, we had dessert which included pistachio baklava with rose water.

A lovely couple runs the cafe - taking turns in the kitchen and at the register. The owner said they are always adding items to the menu, and many dishes are vegetarian. I hope you can find time to try it out - you can get it all to go, too.
Beirut Cafe is at 5281 Park Street (just north of Kohl's). YUMMY!

Yoga 4 All coupon

Did anyone find the Yoga4All coupon in the August newsletter?

You can buy a 10 class pass for only $90 (that's $10 off)! The newsletter went out on July 31st and the coupon expires on the 15th. So, check your old email, scroll to the bottom of the newsletter, and visit me at the studio!

Salutation Nation

On Saturday, August 7th, the
Tampa Bay yoga community will participate in Salutation Nation, a nation-wide free yoga class. The local event is 9 am at the Tampa Museum of Art (you are asked to arrive early for registration). All levels are welcome and FREE! It will be led by a Lululemon Athletica ambassador (Annie Okerlin). For more information, do a Google or Facebook search for "Salutation Nation".
I think it sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday morning!