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.

BKS Iyengar

Many of the postures I bring to practice are from an "Iyengar style", named (suitably) after BKS Iyengar. The Iyengar practice focuses on holding poses longer in order to find the correct alignment. It also uses props extensively to help the body find alignment, and when this alignment occurs, freedom follows. Click on this link to find out more about this amazing yogi.

Local libraries and bookstores also have books by Mr. Iyengar, including the classic "Light on Yoga". In fact, the studio (Yoga 4 All) has a copy you are able to check out, too.

5-19-2010: Knees...The Return

I know you didn't get enough last week, and I hate to disappoint, so here you go!! Remember, we are not only stretching the connective tissue in the knee, but building strength and stability in the surrounding muscles. Practice ahimsa - nonviolence to others and yourself. If it hurts, don't do it!!

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."

Off Topic: Blueberries

My mom, kids, and I went blueberry picking today in Hudson. We came home with over 20 pounds of organic blueberries in only about 1 1/2 hours of picking. This total doesn't include the massive amount the kiddos ate while picking (it is encouraged!). If this has piqued your interest, here's the information for this farm - we've gone the past 4 years and it is very well run, clean, and the family is so friendly:

Owen's Blueberry Farm

12839 Kitten Trail, Hudson


They provide the buckets (with handy straps to tie onto your waist for double-handed picking), restroom, and a few other produce items.

You need to go soon - they are only planning on being open through June 5th (8-6 daily).

Along the same lines, if you are interested in Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) or buying a share of a farm, check out Sweetwater Organic Farm (see the website in my Favorites links). I've been a member there for 3 years and have enjoyed 9 months of weekly organic produce pick-ups each year. Everything from sunflowers, collards, chard, kohlrabi, lots of lettuce varieties, carrots, potatoes, herbs, and the list goes on and on. They are currently selling shares (which you can split amongst a number of people) and half shares.

5-17: Good Morning Sunshine

The hardest movement in this morning series is just walking onto the mat. Once you get there, you are goign to be happy you did!! The poses focus on the hips and sacrum - often the places that need some stretching in the morning. Along the same lines, Sun Salutations are always optimal, especially in the morning. There are several variations of Sun Salutes on YouTube, if you are interested.

Quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Yoga in the Media

I uncovered a couple of yoga "finds" that you may enjoy. First, check out http://www.hulu.com/ and search movies for "yoga" and you'll come across an hour-long movie called "Yoga, Inc" - an exploration of yoga's development in the USA, and how the practice may be losing it's spirituality (and whether that's good/bad/or even yoga anymore). The movie also investigates the Bikram yoga franchise - again, is it still yoga if it is marketed and profited from? And can yoga be a competition? In the Olympics? Is it "yoga" when it is just the physical asana? Warning - about 26 minutes into the movie, the language gets fairly rated 'R'. Also on the Hulu website are several short videos of yoga practices - free to use!

Along the same lines, a new book has come out: "The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America". I haven't yet read it, but it looks quite interesting.

And finally, while it isn't about yoga, I have found a wonderful podcast that explores some of the "big" questions in life. Radiolab (http://www.radiolab.org/ or on iTunes) tries to explain scientific and social phenomena in a narrative style. I particularly enjoyed : "Placebo Effect", "Animal Minds", and "Limits". Not all of the podcasts are family-friendly, so keep that in mind before playing it in the car with little ears listening.

Yoga Murder Mysteries

I haven't read these yet, but I'm hoping to find them in the library. Apparently they have recipes and yoga facts. The titles include (I love these!): "Corpse Pose", "Dial OM for Murder", and "Murder on the Eightfold Path".

5-12-2010 Knees

Knees are my "holy grail" - I think I (subconciously) began my yoga practice to save my genetically doomed knees. Which means lots of work with the supporting muscles: hamstrings, calves, and thighs. So, we obviously have a lot of poses to work through. So many, in fact, that we ran out of time during practice! On the sketch, I drew a red 'x' on a few of the poses that we didn't have time to practice. But not to worry - I'm already planning out the second installment of "Knees" for next Wednesday. So I'll see you there!

Our practice quote: "Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use." - Ruth Gordon

5-10-2010 Empty Your "Junk Drawer"

I found the basics of this practice in the new Yoga Journal - and just loved the description: "You know your junk drawer at home? The pelvis is like the body's junk drawer. Whenever you don't know what to do with a feeling or experience, you put it there." So, time for some spring cleaning! Opening your hips will release negative emotions, improve alignment, and if done slowly and with awareness, can be quite delicious!

Quote for tonight: "Of all the commodities we value, only time is non-renewable. Use it well."

Quick Energy

I've been asked to create a quick sequence to replace the need for caffeine in the afternoon, so here you go! Inversions (forward folds) send blood to your brain, chest openers/backbends open the ribcage to promote full breaths, and twists squeeze out the tensions that bog us down. The breathing practices I chose were: Breath of fire (pump the belly on the exhale), 4 sips in through the nose and 1 long exhale through the mouth, and/or Breath of Joy (3 inhales with arms swinging up-out-up and exhale as you fold forward). I hope this provides you with a more productive afternoon!!

The Science of "Om"

This was sent to me by one of my teachers. I love when science, philosophy, and history all converge!


5-3 Core and 5-5 Glutes

After working on our glutes through this practice last week, I was sore! Guess I need to pay more attention to the areas I can't see back there. But, needless to say, strong glutes (HUGE muscles) lead to better alignment and more protected back. So get that "yoga butt" that you may have heard about.

Quote: "A lamp does not flicker in a place where no wind blows; so it is with a yogi who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him." -BKS Iyengar

More core work - by popular demand. It's always good to work on your core, and luckily, most yoga poses do just that, even if not labeled specifically for "core" work. Keep your abs pulled in and up (uddiyana bandha) to help with balance, posture, and alignment. You shouldn't feel these poses in your back!
Tonight's quote: "Enough is as good as a feast." - English proverb

4-26 and 4-28 Technical Difficulties

As I'm trying to scan the sketches in for the post tonight, I hear a scratchy/whiney/not-so-good sound coming from the scanner. So, since my IT guy is out playing softball, I will be unable to post the last two classes. However, I did find this sketch of a Moon Salutation on the web, and it is pretty close to the one we did in class. Hopefully, I'll be back up and scanning tomorrow!