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Yoga Practice

When it comes down to it, yoga is all about practice—the day-to-day experience that eventually makes yoga our own. Here are tips, musings and commentary on the practice we all love!
  • Bakasana: Not Just a Party Trick

    It’s the season of colored lights, familiar carols and full calendars. In December we’re often juggling family, friends, gift-buying and parties. The dizzying pace can often leave us feeling unbalanced. Yoga has remedies for this. My favorites are Restorative practice, long Savasanas and balancing poses.

    Balancing poses not only teach the extremely valuable skill of balancing, but they can also collect a fragmented mind. They require concentration, so they teach us about concentration.

    At the mention of balancing poses, we often think of Vrksasana (Tree Pose) or Hasta Padangusthasana (Standing Big-Toe Pose). But standing on one foot is...

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  • Trying Hot Yoga? Here Are Some Tips

    As the year comes to a close, most of us have one major priority: finding just the right gift for each person on our list. A close second could be finding a way to maintain fitness while navigating the season’s traditional celebration of copious amounts of food.

    The key is to remember to move our bodies, even as we enjoy our holiday treats. But the weather can be a bit nippy for a brisk walk. So why not warm up AND move your body by trying a Hot Yoga class?

    Most Hot Yoga classes take place in a...

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  • At Peace with Change

    It’s hard not to feel betrayed by your body when you get sick.

    I’m not talking about getting a cold or the flu, severe allergies, chicken pox, measles or mumps, although these conditions pose challenges of their own.

    It’s when you find yourself facing a life-changing illness—cancer, say, or renal failure, or a host of neuro-muscular disorders—that you might think of life’s changes as unfair.

    And if you practice yoga, you may feel betrayed by the changes in your body, as well as by the very practice that you expected to keep you healthy.

    This sense...

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  • Vrksasana: Growing Roots

    Trees are our partners in keeping this living, breathing planet alive. We inhale the oxygen that trees exhale, and they inhale the carbon dioxide we exhale. We are inextricably tied together.

    Trees can also teach us about the importance of cultivating roots. While only the trunk, branches and leaves are usually visible to us, the roots of most trees are just as massive as what’s above ground. Knowing that this complex invisible root system is what keeps a tree upright can teach us about grounding our own bodies.

    Vrksasana (Tree Pose) emulates the steady, rooted stance of a...

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  • In Harmony: Yoga for Musicians

    If you play a musical instrument—including your own voice—you probably know that practicing can take a toll on your body. But practicing is the heart of the matter. You can’t get to that inspiring state of feeling the music flow through you and out your instrument—a sort of musical Samadhi—without a foundation of lots of practice. Every musician knows that this state represents thousands of hours of wood-shedding.

    All that practice can be hard on your body. Each instrument has its unique ergonomic quirks. Violinists and violists often experience neck and shoulder pain. Same for flutists. Other woodwind players...

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  • Protect Your Wrists in Chaturanga

    I remember the first time I was able to hold myself up in Chaturanga Dandasana. After spending a year struggling with lifting my body off the floor, it was truly thrilling. Later on, I can remember being amazed that I could make it through 108 jump-through sun salutations without crashing and burning.

    Now, 30-some years later, I still practice it, but I’m much more focused on quality than quantity.

    The thrill of Chaturanga does not come without possible pitfalls. Chronic wrist pain has emerged as a common yoga-related injury. Chaturanga requires that our wrists support a significant percentage...

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  • Writing Yoga: Empty Mat, Empty Page

    Before I begin, the emptiness seems so vast, and my thoughts and actions seem so small, so insignificant, that they hardly seem worth pursuing.

    Where should I begin? With cat and dog tilts? Mountain pose? Forward bends?

    And what should I write? Can I describe the discomfort? The emptiness? The insignificance of these actions?

    Amazingly, though, once I step on the mat or open my journal, these fears evaporate, and the emptiness disappears, too, no longer a vast vacuum waiting to swallow me up.

    Instead, I find myself excited by the prospect of discovering something new...

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  • Yoga Practice is a Long-Term Relationship

    I began yoga practice in 1982. I was, of course, much younger then. I don’t know that it ever crossed my mind that I might someday enter my 50s or even my 60s. But once I began practicing asana, from the first class, I knew that I’d found a practice I could continue for the rest of my life.

    My picture back then was that my practice would probably look pretty much like this: I’d practice for at least an hour every day. I might change what poses I focused on, but the trajectory of my practice would always...

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  • Cool Down: Restorative Twist

    Spinal twists may be the most-often-requested type of asana in my classes. Not only do they feel good, but they also help keep your core muscles supple and your spine mobile.

    While the lumbar spine is only capable of twisting about five degrees, the thoracic spine—the section of the spine connected to the rib cage—loves to twist. The thoracic spine also happens to be an area that tends to become less mobile as we age. So twisting helps that more stable area of the spine maintain its range of motion.

    In yoga, we practice spinal twists in standing...

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  • Teaching Yoga—30 Years of Gratitude

    Friends who knew me in grade school and high school would probably never have pegged me as a person who’d end up teaching yoga. I was painfully shy. If students had been graded on participation back in my high school days, my GPA surely would have suffered. Knowing I had to give a talk in speech class kept me awake at night. I trembled uncontrollably while performing solo on piano and oboe—not a pleasant situation, especially on a wind instrument.

    And yet, when I first became enamored with yoga and was made aware of a teacher training course back...

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