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.

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!

7-26 Warrior 1 and 7-28 From the Center

I like to think of my body as having two distinct entities when I practice yoga, and my intent is to find the union between the two parts. In this practice, I wanted to imagine our "hara" center as the dividing line - the lower body grounding and rooting strength while the upper body flows and grows with grace. I hope you found this series well-rounded and useful.

Class quote: "Yoga is not about touching your toes; it is about what you learn on the way down."
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1) was the focus of practice Monday night. The first Warrior pose is often more difficult than Warrior 2 since it has a strong twist of the torso to keep your headlights (hip pointers) facing forward. There are so many bits and pieces to this pose. The following list of "to-do's" in Warrior 1 is from the book, Cool Yoga Tricks by Miriam Austin:
*Stand with your feet four feet apart, aligned with each other and facing forward.
*Lift your arms to shoulder height, palms up.
*Bring your arms overhead, shoulder distance apart, palms facing each other.
*Turn your right leg out ninety degrees an dyour left foot to the right by forty-five to sixty degrees. Turn your torso to the right.
*Find the four corners of each foot.
*Lift your quadriceps (thighs), rotating your right thigh outward and your left thigh inward.
*Align your front hip bones by bringing the left hipbone forward an dthe right hipbone back.
*Move your tailbone downward while lifting your ab muscles.
*Extend your spine upward.
*Expand your chest, lifting the sternum.
*Stretch your arms upward, but not your shoulders. Release your neck, throat, and face.
*Bend your forward knee toward a right angle.
*Look either straight ahead or gently toward the ceiling.
*Keep lifting your ab muscles.
*Stretch the back leg, pressing the back foot into the floor.
*Hold the posture as long as you like. Repeat on other side.

And people say yoga is easy!! Just because we make it look graceful and effortless doesn't mean it is a static practice!
I loved the quote for tonight - words for us all to take to heart: "Allow yourself to become a bigger container to hold all of life."