Monday, December 27, 2010

Muay Thai Kickboxing for Kids

Keep karma, love and warmth. Also included: Backbends.

As many of you might know Yoga is not just Asana or doing the physical poses. Yoga is chanting, singing, meditation and all kinds of other things! I myself am much more of an Asana Yogi BUT I am greatly a Karma practicing Yogi because the world will only take care of you as much as you take care of it. My favorite Christmas ritual (I celebrate Christmas as a commercial and American holiday and not a religious holiday) is volunteering for the homeless at Goddard Riverside Community Center with two of my besties. We started this about 4 years ago. We sometimes do Thanksgiving and/or Christmas Day. Its an awesome way to spend my Christmas morning because I get to see my friends before heading off to family gatherings. We basically help out by preparing food and/or preparing the space where people will be served and then we go out and do meal deliveries to people who have difficulties leaving their homes. I'm not here to toot my own horn or anything but just putting it out there that in the hustle and bustle of New York living its kind of awesome to do something so physically and spiritually rewarding while hanging with your friends. Its not completely self-less for me of course, I'm mostly hanging out and having fun with my friends, but at the same time why not help out the universe? There are other places that take volunteers such as the Food Bank, The Bowery Mission and God's Love We Deliver. (I've only ever personally volunteered at Goddard and Food Bank.)

Another Christmas time ritual I try to keep is getting together with my friends and cooking brunch for ourselves. Brunch is such an easy meal to put together and taking time out of life to be with friends is so important to me nowadays because its so good for my heart. This is what our Post-Christmas brunch looked like.

And HELLO snow in nyc?! How U DOIN'? Because of the snow I was one of two people who showed up to Yoga this morning. I was all climbing mounds of snow to get to the gym too because no one was shoveling at 6am...Well due to low attendance I had to do crazy backbends in class! My arms went numb doing this (see picture for example below)...because my instructor kept telling me to walk my legs towards my hands. WHOA NELLY! Needless to say, I had an awesome class today. Thanks to my instructor who showed up to teach class in this madness!

What Union Sq looked like today at 6:15am

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jnana and Chin Mudras

One of my biggest battles in life is insomnia so I wanted to write about a mudra that can be used for it. If you practice yoga you've probably done it already because it's so common and also found in different religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Catholicism.

How to do it: Join the tips of your index finger and thumb. The rest of the fingers are extended. Place the hands on the knees in this Mudra while sitting. Pointing up its called the Jnana Mudra, fingers pointing downward its called the Chin Mudra. The Jnana Mudra can also be practiced held in front of an open chest.

Both are good for countering stress and tension, as well as useful in concentration and meditation.  I find it to have a calming and quieting effect on my mind when I have insomnia. I lay down in my bed, flat on my back and use the Jnana Mudra with hands laid on my thighs and do some type of breathing exercise. Another helpful exercise I complement this practice is to keep my eyes relaxed but open in the dark, staring at the ceiling and count at an even pace up to twenty. Then close my eyes gently and count to twenty and continue. Usually I find that at some point I fall asleep.

P.S. Why do some of these horrible PhotoBooth images make me look like I have chin hair?! NOT COOL cause I DON'T!

Chin Mudra
Jnana Mudra
Both hands! Variation in front of the chest.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I finally learned the importance of keeping my chin down.

You cannot deny what you can learn from having a good pad holder in Muay Thai. This was my trainer when I was at Fairtex Bangplee, training his son who has had 100-something fights. Go figure. That kid was my friggin idol! During morning training he could be seen leaving the camp for school in his uniform looking all proper and wai-ing all of us. In the afternoons you would see him kicking like a maniac like in this video.

Sesame seed oil, up my nose. YES!

Things I have been doing wrong:
not taking vitamins
not sleeping enough
not eating properly
not practicing mudras

The result? Sinus congestion! So bad. My yoga practice has been terrible the last two days because of it. Forget about pranayama...everything aches and feels tight. I thought my back was going to tear open when I did full pigeon this morning. ACK.

So this brings me to my natural remedy. Both in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine! I have been using pure organic sesame oil...yes, up my nose! So its best to lay down and use an eye dropper, 2-3 drops. I use a soaked q-tip, throw my head back while standing in the bathroom and let it drip into my nose. I once had a yoga teacher who told me to sniff it and also pour it into my ear! I've never tried it but since I've tried putting it up my nose, I swear it works. Not only does it lubricate my dried out achey sinuses, but it also helps to draw out the mucous.

Ayurvedic practitioners also believe in doing a self massage with sesame seed oil which is supposed to be favorable to all doshas and great after dry brushing and showering. I did it for a while but it didn't seem to moisturize any more than my regular lotion, but I never tried the dry brushing. Either way, sesame oil is AWESOME and totally saving my life right now.

Here is a great link I found for other natural remedies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On the subject of running.

Look, I totally have jet lag but check out my Vibrams! Went running all over Thailand! No, that's such a lie. I ran mostly on treadmills and by the beach in Phuket, but they went a long way and of course the Thai guys in the Muay Thai camps were all..."What is that?!" Totally blew their minds...Vibrams to Thailand!

Speaking of running,  a cool book I'm reading right now. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami.

Holy screaming ITBands!!!! +Fish that eat your feet!

I am still trying to recover from my 2 weeks of virtually no Yoga. ITB are suffering immensely!

On another note, something I wanted to share that I did in Thailand...Fish Spa! So there is this type of fish called Garra rufa some people call them doctor fish or reddish log suckers. They're from Turkey and they're often used for spa purposes! The fish nibble on you removing dead skin, calluses and bacteria. Cleans and clear pores, promotes blood circulation, stimulates the feet and helps with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. I saw it in Thailand everywhere from the malls in Bangkok to the massage places in Phuket. I originally was so hesitant but I figured, where else would I do this? Its just for your feet. So basically you sit with your feet in a big fish tank while the lil buggers feed on you. Can I just say its...HILARIOUS. So ticklish I thought I was going to pee myself! I could hardly stand it for 30 min. and I had to really really concentrate to stop from laughing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Well hello cold weather, I'm back from Thailand!

Hello! Back in NYC and....holy coldness!
Quick things to update on...
• I only practiced Yoga 2 times in the last 2 weeks which makes my body feel terrible! NEVER AGAIN!
• Lots of Muay Thai and running makes my ITbands really upset. Frog pose and gomukasana are the answer.
• Mudras mentioned in the last posts, totes work. I practiced mudras but not asana....ha!

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Zombies eat your brains

Obviously, I've been gearing up and getting ready for my trip to Thailand, hence random Muay Thai posts...but before I leave a few things...So everyone around me has been sniffling, coughing, looking all zombie-like... and I have been taking all kinds of preventative measures because who wants to be sick on vacation? Or worse...sick on a long flight to Asia.

I've been doing the obvious: drinking tons of water, Emergen-C packets, zinc, multi-v's, coconut water, ginger, resting, sleeping and keeping distance from those already infected by the T-virus. Some other things that I SWEAR are working:

Drinking Bird's nest. Maybe it was on one of those shows in which some guy -who is not Asian, goes to different Asian countries to eat dead bugs and other weird things...but its supposed to be so good for you according to my Chinese grandmother who is no longer with us. It doesn't really have much taste to it, and it at least doesn't taste bad. Plus you can knock it back quick in small doses like a shot. I had 4 of them this week and I SO believe its helped me when I was in the "almost getting sick" mode.

Linga Mudra. Interlace the fingers with one thumb up with the thumb and forefinger tips touching of the other hand and encircling it. Said to increase the powers of resistance against colds, coughs and chest infections. It loosens mucus caught in the lungs. Not to be weird but I've used this everyday for a week and a half and I swear it works though I've also been taking ginger which could be contributing.

Shankh Mudra. Wrap the four fingers of your right hand around the thumb of the left hand, then touch the right thumb to your left middle finger. Hold the hands in front of the sternum. This is also called the "shell mudra" because it looks like your conch shell. This mudra is said to help with any type of throat problems. It can also be useful and great for people's singing voices (not mine), especially when you are singing "om" while doing it. I've been using this particular mudra at the beginning and end of classes these last few weeks when we "om" and I will tell you it has a calming effect on me as well as helps promote better posture and having a more open heart/chest which I need to improve for myself!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Trent Reznor w/an 8 pack"

So there is this blogger who has taken a year to do a bunch of gym trials and freebies to 1-save money and 2-decide what gym she will join after the year. My friend who is a personal trainer did a trial workout with her and here is her post.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ushas Mudra

So I haven't been posting lately. Trying to tie up some loose ends before going on vacation! But wanted to share Ushas Mudra.

Its so easy peasy. Interlace your fingers. Important for women to have the right thumb between left index finger and left thumb, press on right thumb with left thumb. This mudra is great for waking up in the morning when you're laying in bed and still feeling sleepy. I place my hands in this mudra on my belly and do a square breathing exercise. Which is inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale on a count of 4, hold for 4 and repeat. Another variation is to put clasp hands behind the head while laying in bed. Inhale and exhale vigorously with eyes and mouth wide and pressing the elbows back into the pillow or bed.

In case you're wondering, I get my mudras mostly from this book and some online research. I only write about the ones I've tried using myself. The thing about my Yoga practice is that its always  been more asana than anything. So I am quite behind when it comes to meditation and such, though I am delving more into it nowadays.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Swinging in silk

As my journey in learning Aerial Silks I did lots of moves in a sling, which is basically like a big silk hammock. Some of the moves tend to be easier bc the silks are completely supporting me but my teacher still gave me really hard upper body strength type moves. My arms are killing me! And instead of climbing silks today I climbed a rope. OUCH for rope burn! Didn't get to practice foot wraps but to give you an idea of what that looks like...

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Firefly impression!

I guess with the cold and waking up to pitch darkness, there are less and less people showing up to 7am Yoga. I guess people are having the case of the Mondays. It IS my favorite Yoga class so I always get my butt out of bed to try to prevent coming down with the latter. Today, we went through titibhasana, firefly. OK this is not one of my beautiful poses. You know how certain poses just look beautiful and graceful when you're in them? I feel like people have those poses for themselves, the ones they can get into with ease and just look fabulous in. Titibhasana is not one of them for me. The thing about it is, I can wiggle my body into the pose, but it doesn't feel great and am quite sure it looks awkward. So, with the lack of attendance the instructor tells us to get into "titibhasana". In sanskrit it sounds even more confusing and a few people look around confused...he just points to me and what she's doing. OH great all eyes on my ugly looking firefly pose? I did my best and held it for about 5 quick seconds before getting out of it! OH the pressure. So now comes my description of how to get into Titibhasana.

1. Come to a Yogi squat. That is feet almost as wide as the mat. Hands in a prayer and elbows pressed against inner thighs/knees, bootie all the way down but not touching the floor. Back is very straight. Try to get your feet parallel. Hold for about 3 breathes.

2. Now place hands on the mat between the feet and raise the hips/bootie up to the ceiling in a forward bend, feet are still wide and knees are bent.

3. Here comes the weird part, which is more of a prep before the pose than anything. OK, so bend the knees a little more, bring your feet a lil wider than hip distance. Now you want to shuffle your shoulders under your thighs. I're saying...WTFORKS? OK bend the knees but keep raising the hips. Your shoulders are probably not going to actually go under the thighs but that's what we're reaching for. Mine don't! So most likely you'll get your upper arms under your thighs. Bring the hands to the bootie cheeks. Right hand on right cheek, left on left. Got it? Yeah this is uncomfy but try to stay there for 2-3 breaths.

4. Keep the shoulders/upper arms under your thighs, but start squatting down again, similar to step 1, but this time place your hands under each foot, fingers facing forward, keep your thighs on your arms, now they'll be on your triceps, if you can keep them on your shoulders...amazing! Walk your feet/toes forward in front of you, keep looking forward, pressing into the hands, use your bandhas!!! Engage your abs and slowly life one foot at a time.

5. Bend your elbows more to give your legs more of a surface to lay on. But if you're super flexible and your legs are on your shoulders...WOW, you can keep your arms straighter.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stop chatting, stop texting!!!!

Technology is killing us! OK computer freaks and geeks (yeah I am one too), look we spend way too many hours hunched over a keyboard...and the texting has got to be making it all worse. Is your chest all concaved and back all hunch back of Notre Dame? I am constantly hearing more and more from friends and colleagues who have careers in which they are stuck in front of a computer developing serious back injuries. No, not problems, like straight up injuries. Some injuries so bad you might think they got hit by a NYC cab. Instead, its from sitting on their booties typing away as I am right now for maybe 8-14 hrs a day and not taking the time out to get up and take a walk or a quick stretch. Don't get me wrong, technology is awesome and great, but we, as healthy, conscious people must find a way to compensate for the toll its taking on our bodies.

I cannot stress the importance of staying active! Below are some great ideas for maintaining good posture and not allowing the muscles in your body to degenerate.

1. Set a timer on that trusty smartphone or blackberry that goes off every 30min-1hr reminding you to get up and walk a lap around the office or take a down dog or uttanasana.

2. Go outside for lunch and take a short walk. This will also make you a more efficient worker!

3. Do some stretches in our chair.
-Interlace the fingers, press the palms up to the ceiling, pull the shoulders down and away from the ears, relax the neck.
-Drop the head to the right side, place the right hand over the right ear and let gravity stretch the side of your neck. Switch sides.
-Neck and shoulder rolls, easy peasy!
-Chair dips
-I am sure you're capable of coming up with even more chair stretches!

4. Maintain good posture. Roll the shoulders back and down. Keep the shoulders above the hips. When standing shoulders, hips and ankles all in line. Tuck the tailbone under. Feel pressure on the lower back? Try putting something under your seat to raise up the booty an inch or two, taking away the bend in your lower back.

5. Breathing exercises. My favorite breathing exercise to practice in releasing tension is square breathing. Inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4. Repeat. Breathing can do amazing things for the tension you hold in your neck, shoulders and back when feeling stressed.

6. If you already feel like your body is suffering from all this computer time, contact my friend Alex! He's really been a big help to a client of mine who has major back injuries that even Physical Therapy didn't do much for. He's so knowledgeable about the human anatomy and he has reasonable prices!

With that said, I taught a very slow paced and restorative Yoga class today which is a nice switch up from my regular rigorous Vinyasa type of style.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5 Tibetan Rites.

Another cool thing I took away from the Thyroid Workshop...was the 5 Tibetan Rites. It's an exercise program used by Tibetan monks to stay vibrant and youthful. More about the 5 Tibetans here.

Janet Jackson loves my fav Vegan spot. Red Bamboo, W. 4th St.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dancing monks and marathon rehab.

Some cool goings on in the city. Too bad I don't have the time to check it out.


Broadway (at 60th St)
Subway: A, C, B, D, 1 to 59th St–Columbus CircleGet directions
Lincoln Center presents the White Light Festival, which features the U.S. premiere of Sutra, a dance piece by choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui featuring 17 monks from the Shaolin Temple. British artist Antony Gormley created the set; the score, by Polish composer Szymon Brzóska, is performed live. 
Free Yoga classes at Lululemon in celebration of the NYC Marathon. Good luck to my people who are running this weekend! If you want to donate money to their causes:
American Cancer Society

Follow up on Yoga for Thyroid

So I posted about this workshop concerning balancing the Thyroid and 5th Chakra. I went to the workshop and disappointingly found it to be not as informative as I wanted it to be. I feel there is so much conflicting information out there and this further confused me! Also, because we ran out of time there was little info on diet and nutrition. So in this post I will go over my own findings and reinforce ideas that I did not find conflicting information on.

Great Yoga poses for balancing the Thyroid hormones. This applies to different thyroid conditions as it is a balancing effect. Shoulderstand, fish pose, camel pose and plow pose.

Now the rest of this is for Hyperthyroidism -that's what I have. Slower metabolism -basically. So what sucks is, I gain weight easily. I find that Yoga is great for it. I felt the most balanced during the months in which I did teacher training. That was about 4 months of practicing Yoga 5-8 times a week. Also, it created balance in my appetite. I felt it was the most manageable and also more realistic. Doing any type of weight training makes me ravenously hungry. So overall -more Yin type of exercises -anaerobic, slower paced was helpful. However my personal wants are to do more Yang type activities like Martial Arts, so its a balancing act. I just stay away from weight training. I had to give up kettlebell training a year ago.

As for diet I found all the conflicting info. So the best I can say is, stay away from processed foods. This is hard! But I try to eat lots of raw fruits and veggies. I try to go organic for certain staples like eggs and milk. Also being that I have to take thyroid medications every morning I have to be sure not to take any supplements or soy products until about 4 hours after the medication because they affect the absorption of the meds into the body.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Need to relax?

DE-STRESS - A Complimentary Hour Of Deep Relaxation

AT: Atmananda Yoga
67 Irving Place, 2nd Floor (Between 18th & 19th St)
New York, NY

Take a delightful break mid-week and enjoy an hour of Deep Relaxation.
Renew and Recharge on Wednesday evening.

Sutra Guided Relaxation is a distinct technique that helps you let go of stress and leaves you feeling rested and refreshed. Working from the inside out, it is both healing and energizing.

...This blissful experience promises to take away tension, anxiety, worry, fear, anger and all things negative – and instead, take you on a journey of restfulness & tranquility. It is simple in its essence, deeply beneficial & stabilizing.

A fusion of Hyperbolic & Breath Of Life™ exercises, Sūtra Guided Relaxation melts away the strains of your everyday regime and lightens the burdens that sometimes shadow us. Meant to suit your demanding life, it helps you unwind completely and emerge energized, composed, in-control & empowered with a transformed perspective.

Calm the mind, body and senses.

It's a Gift Of Love for New Yorkers.

If you are unable to attend on Nov 9, remain in the know of future FREE WORKSHOPS by signing up ay:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some help with insomnia

Shakti Mudra is great for when you have trouble falling asleep.
How to do it: Put the tips of the ring fingers and little fingers together. Middle and first finger are bent downwards and the thumb is placed over them. Done with slow breathing and focus on the pelvic area.

I took great Yoga class today at Atmananda. We worked on lots of advanced poses like bird of paradise, peacock and scorpion. I didn't expect to, but I actually got my scorpion today! I was working so much on focusing that BAM! There it was. But I got kinda scared and got out of it right away. AHH that weird "AHA moment, it strangely freaks me out. Check out my break down of scorpion in a previous post here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Competitive Yoga

I'm not big on it, but here it is!

TRX and Prithivi Mudra

Last night I took a TRX class. It was so hard! If you check out the link, its basically suspension straps that you use to do exercises with your own body weight. Basic ones are planks, push-ups, and lunges. But there are lots of other cool exercises that can really kick your ass. Just started offering it at Five Points! I also tried it at Nimble Fitness which is expensive but more of a semi-private type of studio.

And now onto Prithivi Mudra aka Earth Mudra. Join the tips of your ring finger and your thumb together, then extend the other fingers. Same on both hands. This is great for restoring equilibrium and self assurance. And for fun, the last picture is my half bound, kneeling lunge. One day I will make the full backbend!

Jump backs and Jump forwards

Have you ever been in a Yoga class and in the front of the room you watch these intense Yoga guys do their vinyasas like they're flying in the air? I mean they fly up into a hand stand and weightlessly land into a perfect chattarunga. Then when they come forward from downward facing dog they fly up again into a perfect handstand, hover weightlessly, effortlessly then slowly land with their feet right there behind their hands. OK well its not always guys, I have seen some amazing women do it but men with their upper body know. Whatever the case maybe, its frigggin amazing and beautiful to watch. It is also a dream of mine to be able to do it.

My jump backs are much better than my jump forwards but on either end I haven't been attempting handstands really. I can't even really do a handstand without the safety of a wall behind me, which could be part of the problem. Also my hamstrings are sometimes so tight I can't be in uttanasana and have my hands planted completely flat...more like finger tips. Well, here is a video I think is helpful though it still seems this is one of those things that just take a lot of practice!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dr. Michael Greger's Nutrition of 2010 in Review!

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, among countless other symposia and institutions, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Come see and hear him speak
Pine Tree Spa
101 W 17th Street 2nd Floor (17th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY

When: Mon, Nov 1. 7-9pm
Suggested Donation: $10

More about Dr. Michael Greger:

Dr. Greger's recent scientific publications in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Critical Reviews in Microbiology, Family & Community Health, and the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition, and Public Health explore the public health implications of industrialized animal agriculture.

Dr. Greger is also licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition and was a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He was featured on the Healthy Living Channel promoting his latest nutrition DVDs and honored to teach part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's esteemed nutrition course at Cornell University.

Dr. Greger's books include Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, Carbophobia: The Scary Truth Behind America's Low Carb Craze, and Heart Failure: Diary of a Third Year Medical Student. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shin splints and funky toe shoes.

I once got this really annoying injury called plantar fasciitis not from running but from walking around in flat shoes for an entire winter, when I tried to go back to normal shoes, the problem arose. Now this happened to me because I have a bit of an arch and my feet do not like flat shoes, especially ballet flats. My feet really like to either be barefoot or in a good sturdy 2.5-3" heel. I am not a doctor or anything, but I know what my body likes. Something we constantly have to remember in Yoga in order to prevent injury. Well I went to a podiatrist and he told me in order to allow it to heel I was to stay off heels. Well I will tell you the problem did not even begin to get better for 2 weeks. I could barely walk until I finally decided to walk around my house in comfortable heels...fixed in 1 week!

However, when I tried to get back onto the treadmill I started getting shin splints. One of the most annoying injuries ever because it takes forever to heal itself and it feels pretty miserable. I all together gave up running for a long time and though I sort of hate running, I do get runners high and I feel awesome after finishing a run. Lastly running is one of the few exercises where I see immediate results in my weight. After careful examination on the whole running situation I started to see that I was a heel striker. When I'm in running sneakers, I would strike my heel down first, then slap the rest of my foot down. I read all kinds of stuff about it but I also realized how much it applied to me. If I got on a treadmill with running shoes and tried to run for 10min at the speed of 5, I would feel the shin splints. I noticed in Capoeira class they had us warm up by running around on a wood floor barefoot, no pain. I started to realize, when I was barefoot I was no longer landing heel first. Further researching the whole thing I came upon theses weird toe shoes...Vibram 5 fingers. They have totally changed my whole view on running. I LOVE them. I still hate the task of running but once I get going and finish I feel pretty awesome. I don't recommend this for everyone, but it totes works for me! I have 2 pairs.

Above is the pair I use to run outdoors, which I do once in a blue moon. I have a friend who runs outdoors in them regularly, up to 10 miles...and then any more than that she swaps them for running shoes, but ultimately goes back and forth bc the Vibrams trained her to run more properly, thus preventing injuries. This also greatly helped my knee pains. Heel striking was really hard on my joints!

Now 2 great poses for shin splints.
1. Sarvangasana. Shoulder stand. Yeah one of my least favorites but I am pushing myself to do it more and more.
Lie flat on your back with arms by your sides, palms press down to the floor. Swing the hips and legs over head. Try to straighten legs, and flex feet, try to get the feet to touch the floor behind you. Interlace the fingers and walk the shoulders in towards each other. Now bring the hands to the lower back. Make sure you're not on your neck but you are on your shoulders. Bring legs straight up.

2. Viparita Karani. Legs up the wall pose. Sit with one side against the wall, legs extended, with one leg touching the wall. Lie down on your back and swing legs upward, positioning your butt where the floor and wall meet. It also feels really good to put a pillow or bolster under your sacrum.

These poses are both great to stay in for a long time as it allows the blood to flow back to your center, which helps the inflammation from the shin splints. Try it! Legs up the wall is also generally a great alternative to headstand or handstand.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Something different in Crowne Heights

I taught Yoga in a flower shop in Brooklyn today.

Yoga and Religion

The whole question of Yoga being religious or not always comes up. Some people vote that Yoga is more spiritual than religious but what does that really mean? I say it all the time... "I'm Spiritual not Religious". So to me it means...I don't subscribe to any one religion but I believe there is a higher power of things and I believe in things like Karma and treating people the way I want to be treated.  I believe in respecting my own family and their beliefs and where it all came from and I also DO NOT believe I should school people on their beliefs or believe that one way of thinking is more superior than the other.

Is Yoga religious? To tell you the truth I think it can get pretty religious. I have been in classes and workshops where the instructor is really trying to get me to subscribe to their way of thinking. Judging me for eating meat or wanting to have attachments. Maybe that is not everyone's idea of religion but it gets culty. It can get culty. And what exactly are they asking me to chant? Do they know themselves? OK so it may be my lack of knowledge, or it can also depend on a persons idea of religion. In the West we seem to think Religion is something specific. But in other cultures the lines are more blurred, there are family and ancestral traditions which I don't consider religious, but could be thought of that way by someone else. Also, there is the idea that Religion is part of a persons culture, where in the West there seems to be this idea that sometimes you can choose your religion by converting.

Whatever the case may be, you decide for yourself. I personally don't chant in classes except for OMs or if my friend Carol is teaching. (Only because she is my friend. ) In the meantime, check out these articles.

Yoga and Christianity

Yoga and Judaism

I may admit that it could seem religious, but I will have to say that...Yoga is NOT demonic...don't take it to the next level, now!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Squaring the hips.

The other night I was teaching my friend his first Yoga class and it was challenging on both sides. For me because I was assessing his ability level and at the same time trying to make it interesting and enjoyable and also trying to describe things to someone who doesn't have that much body awareness. Meaning that he is not used to following instructions based on how to move his body...kind of the way dancers or martial artists have great body awareness. They can watch something done and just mimic it right away. Or without having to look listen to directions and move accordingly. Comes with practice obviously. Well, I kept saying "square off your hips" and finally he was all "UHM what do you mean?" And I explained it meant to try to keep his hips in line. He thought almost every instruction was hilarious bc when I say to "square off your hips" that doesn't mean you have to actually have your hips completely square or inline, as much as it means to TRY to do it. Or when I said to him "twist open your chest towards the ceiling" it didn't mean his chest was actually going to be facing the ceiling, but just trying to do it!

Anyways it was funny but it got me thinking about the whole concept of squaring off the hips. which brings me to my yoga mat diagram. I want to use this diagram to mostly break down a lot of the standing lunge poses, such as warrior 1 and 2, extended side angle, parsvakonasana, parsvatonasanas.

OK first we will start with easy peasy -Tadasana. When you stand at the front of your mat, your toes should be in line with that first line there. I would draw that line about 1 inch from the top of your mat. Now draw a straight line vertically down the center disecting the mat evenly. Right foot stays on the right side and left foot stays on the left side. The second horizontal line is different for everyone. Its basically our plank like. Come into a perfect plank and then draw a line in front of your toes, and push back into a downward facing dog. Same line for both poses.

So going back to the whole squaring of the hips. When in warrior 1 you square your hips towards the front. Many times the alignment of the feet is, front foot straight forward at the center of the mat, facing 12 o'clock. The arch of the back foot is aligned in the center with the hell of the front foot. NOW, in that position, can you square your hips? I think thats pretty hard actually! And might kind of twerk your back knee. Think about revolved triangle or pyramid pose -parsvottonasana. If you're feet are in the ideal warrior positions...this too be difficult to do without twerking the knee and also balance wise. So here I suggest squaring off the hips and as a general rule...keep the right foot on the right side and the left foot on the left side. Now turn the back foot forward slightly and the hips can naturally square off.

Now to break down the downward dog/plank line on the diagram. When you are in warrior 1 your back foot is just in front of the line...still keeping right foot on right side, and left foot on left side. Front foot is always big toe in line with the line at the top of the mat. Same goes for pyramid pose.

Now you can bring your back leg behind the line when you go into warrior 2, here because you're squaring off to the side you can align heel to arch in the traditional way, or still keep right foot to right side, left foot to left side. Whatever feels good. The back foot also goes behind the line in extended side angle pose and lizard pose.

Of course there are so many different variations and ways of practicing yoga, but I really like using the lines on the mat. It gives me a place to be on my mat so when I am in down dog, my finger tips are always lined up, 1 inch from the top of the mat as well as my front foot in standing lunge poses. Secondly, the back line allowed me to measure my progression in how wide my stance got the more I practiced, until it is where it is today, which I think it will stay there but its a good marker for progress. And lastly, the idea of keeping left on left side and right on right side just gives me a good concept of constantly thinking about how square my hips or shoulders are in certain poses when they need to eb square.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Men and Misconceptions about Yoga

Another great link about boys doing yoga.
Part 2 of the 5-part series on MindBodyGreen regarding Men and Yoga

Yoga for Thyroid

There are some cool events and workshops coming up at Prema Yoga. A very cute studio in Carroll Gardens where my very good friend Carol (HA!) teaches. She is amazing and everyone should take her class! I am planning to check out this class since I am one of the 30% of people that has a Thyroid problem. 

Yoga for Thyroid Balancing | Awakening 5th Chakra
with Sarah Willis
Saturday October 30, 2010 | 4:00 - 6:00pm
$35 early-bird (up to October 25) | $40 at the door

Please pre register for this event by emailing
Some studies indicate that up to 30% of the American population suffers from thyroid disease, ranging from mild hypo- or hyper-thyroidism, to Graves Disease, and Haschimotos. Commonly employed modern medical practices include taking synthetic thyroid hormone daily; introducing radioactive iodine into the system; and in some cases, surgical removal of the gland. The ancient science of Yoga tackles the problem from a more wholistic point of view. Very specific yoga postures, pranayamas (breathing exercises), and meditation, are incorporated into daily practice, along with diet modification. Following such a protocol can provide real and lasting results to people suffering from thyroid disease, because when followed faithfully over time, the work re-calibrates and revitalizes glandular, and immune system function.
This workshop is open to everyone, whether you are diagnosed with hypo- or hyper-thyroid conditions. You do not need prior Yoga experience, nor do you have to be currently afflicted with thyroid disease to participate. 5th Chakra (for which thyroid and parathyroid glands are the energetic center) work is also helpful for those who would like to improve their hearing, and singing voices.

2 hour workshop includes:
*learning 5 Tibetan Rites (asana)
*correct practice of Thyroid Balancing Yoga poses
*discussion of anatomy & physiology of thyroid / parathyroid glands
*hand-outs with pertinent information for continuing study & practice
*nutrition / diet pointers
*a light healthy snack!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things that are not Yoga

So an update on my Aerial silks challenge...Saturday's lesson went well. I was able to climb much easier and hold myself onto the silks for like 3 seconds. Held myself enough to actually get this foot wrap:

And some info for Capoeirista's...Lululemon and Capoeira Brooklyn will have a free class tonight!

Capoeira Brooklyn and Lululemon are collaborating to offer two free one-hour introductory capoeira classes this week at Lululemon's Brooklyn Showroom, located at 472 Bergen Street.

tonight! Tues Oct 12: 7-8pm, Instrutora Rouxinol
           Thurs Oct 14: 7-8pm: Mestre Foca


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things to add to your Epsom baths!

I am so big on repairing my body from the damage I do to it during the week. I do this very unhealthy thing in which I do not take days off from working out. EH I know its so bad! But I take active rest days! On those I run 2-3 miles and take a Yoga class. That happens about once a week. After its been so long I can't remember the last time I rested I will usually force a full total rest day, or it will happen on its own because of travel. ANYWAYS, because I do this to myself, I have to 1- do a lot of Yoga (because the other physical stuff I am doing is Muay Thai, running and Capoeira when I get the chance...and recently Aerial silks. ) 2- get massages and sometimes acupuncture and 3- take epsom baths. Actually, I should do the baths more often in order to save me $ from having to get massages and acupuncture! Especially because its been recommended to me to do at least once a week by my acupuncturist. This means that 1-my acupuncturist's main focus is not to make money off me and that he is a very good acupuncturist and 2 -that I REALLY should listen to him.

Here are my favorite bath products that are included in my bath ritual:
Epsom Salt -the whole carton! Hot, hot, hot as you can stand water! And stay in there for atleast 15min or as long as you can stand it.
The rest of my bath stuff comes from LUSH
Bath bombs! My favorites: Geo Phyzz, Fizzy O'Therapy and Avo Bath

Bubble bars, crumble them into the bath as the water fills the tub. My favorites: Sunny Side and the Comforter Bubble Bar

Bath melts that are lovely for the skin, just let them melt into the bath water. My Favorite, Mangoe melt!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Savor the Seasons and boys doing Yoga!

I just took an AWESOME class at Atmananda with one of the instructors I missed the most! Joyce Yu, who is holding a workshop dealing with Yoga and Diet called Savor the Seasons on Sunday Oct 17th. For more info visit her website.

According to the NYT its ok for guys to do yoga now. DO IT!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Deconstructing Scorpion Pose

Seeing as I busted out my Peacock last week..though its obviously not mastered yet...Yoga is a practice! I thought I would start to refocus back on my scorpion pose, which has been another difficult pose to get. Every once in awhile I can hold it for just 1 second. I believe fear is a factor in this as well and just finding that sweet spot aka the center of gravity while in it. Usually once I get it I am either excited or scared and lose it. So here is the weird thing about my scorpion practice...I can't do forearm stand, which many people do first then arch the back and go into scorpion.

Directions for getting into scorpion as I was taught by the Atmananda Yoga sequence:
1. sit on heels, and bring the forearms on the floor against your knees, grab opposite elbows then release and interlace fingers. Tuck the pinky inside the cradle you make with your interlaced fingers.
2. elbows still touching knees, forearms on the mat and interlaced fingers creating a cradle in which you will place your head for sirsasana -headstand.
3 Start too go into headstand. Place your head down between your interlaced fingers. Sometimes it helps the keep the thumbs up as if they're a place to put your pony tail, or imaginary pony tail (I don't know why but this helps!)
4. Tuck the toes under and lift the hips. You're likely already aligned with your hips above your shoulders, if not, walk them in a bit. Then bring your knees in as you slowly lift the legs up. Breathe!
5. Press into your hands and forearms. Start to put more weight into the inner forearms. And start to pull the shoulders back and chest forward -think bhujangasana (baby cobra) or sphinx pose.
6. Start bending the knees and arching your back, keep pressing into your forearms
7. When your back is arched as much as you can as you can balance and begin to bring your gaze forward. Breathe, pull the shoulders back more and press into the forearams
8. Lift your head up and place your hands down FLAT while pressing into the wrists and inner forearms. YAY SCORPION!

OK so I know that step 8 is scary and kind of unstable. Actually at Atmananda they tell you to place one hand down at a time which I cannot accomplish without face planting. I just don't have that balance and maybe that's my problem but I've been practicing it this way for about 8 months and sometimes it sort of works.

And here are some lovely facts about the pose. It is called Vrischika-asana in sanskrit.
Benefits: Strengthens the muscles in the hands, forearms and shoulders. More focus on palms and wrists. You have to use your abs and bandhas here so it will strengthen your abs and should benefit any problems within the abdomen and also strengthen and stimulates the reproductive organs. It also is great for spine flexibility. You are getting maximum stretch to your shoulders, neck, back and chest. Fully expanding the lungs. Being inverted will also increase blood flow to the brain and circulation throughout the limbs.

Some pics I found of the pose:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unlikely Yoga Dude

Body Language

Article written by one of my fellow Capoeirista's in NY Metro

Strength training

I hate strength training, but its something I have to start doing for my upper body to do these damn Aerial Silks! So my BFF who is a personal trainer is going to be helping me. If you're looking for an awesome personal trainer who is well versed in anatomy, core stabilization, strength training and conditioning...check him out!