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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!
  • Supta Virasana: Restore Your Belly

    Most of us spend the lion’s share of our days sitting in chairs, with our joints in flexion. Our hips are flexed to 90 degrees, as are our knees. Our shoulders hunch forward—unless we constantly remind ourselves not to hunch. By the time I shut down my computer in the evening, my body craves at least a few minutes of the opposite.

    One of my favorite poses for countering the effects of sitting, as well as preparing my body to wind down for sleep, is Supta Virasana. Supta Virasana is the lying-down version of Virasana, aka “Hero’s Pose.” Supta...

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  • Tree Pose: A Link to Ancient Wisdom

    “What is it about these trees that inspires us so? Our calendars and our tape measures become instruments of humility when we measure our lives against theirs. To touch an ancient tree—or better yet—to hug an ancient tree, is to embrace the past.”

    – from John Moran’s Journal of Light: The Visual Diary of a Florida Nature Photographer (University Press of Florida)

    On my mat yesterday morning in Tree Pose, I was thinking of John Moran’s quote about trees—how if we embrace them, we embrace the past.

    As I lifted my right foot off the ground, placed...

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  • Starting a Yoga Practice

    A new year is upon us. A healthy percentage of us use this annual marker to reset our lives—resolving to give up what doesn’t work and start something new. If that something new you’d like to start is a yoga practice, here are some tips that might help:
    Finding the Right Yoga Class

    Ask friends. The bigger, better-funded studios have much more advertising power than the more modest studios and teachers, so they are easier to find. They may also have great teachers, but huge classes are not for everyone. Ask friends, relatives and co-workers where they like to...

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  • Give Your Body Some Gratitude

    The past few years have given me a bit of a wake-up call. My body, which has always been very low maintenance, has been sending me a big message: “Stop taking me for granted!”

    Almost two years ago, my left hip was replaced because of hip displaysia. I’ve long known it was only a matter of time for my right hip. Now the time has come. In another week, I'll have a new, titanium hip joint to match the other one.

    On the first day of an 18-day meditation retreat I at Spirit Rock Meditation Center last summer...

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  • Grounding Your Yoga Practice

    In 1989, I went to Pune, India, to study with Geeta and BKS Iyengar. A group of 30-some dedicated practitioners from around the U.S. joined senior teacher Mary Dunn for a three-week intensive.

    I gravitated toward a group of teachers who all stayed at the same $10 per night hotel—which I’m sure is not nearly that good of a deal these days. In the evenings, we’d gather on one of our balconies and discuss our day of classes.

    A theme that kept arising in our discussions was disappointment in the absence of “advanced” poses in our asana classes...

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  • 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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