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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!
  • Advanced Poses: Making Wise Choices

    I lay awake, muscles strained and sore, unable to sleep after the yoga class that I’d taken earlier in the day.

    We had explored “easy” or basic poses, and the teacher had encouraged us to stay in the poses far longer than usual. Her approach turned “easy” poses into much more advanced poses.

    While I held each pose, exploring new feelings, new ways of being. I forgot about the straining hamstring or tight hip joint. I ignored the discomfort and pain and kept pushing. The instructor led us into new territory, inviting us to experiment, and I trusted her as an experienced teacher...

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  • Relax Your Back in Forward Bends

    Forward bends are an integral part of asana practice. Bodies folded in half “like a jack knife” are iconic images in the yoga photo canon, and loose hamstrings are often considered to be essential to being a “good” yogi. (I quibble with this, but that’s another post!)

    Because of the wide variations in body structures, many—probably most—people will never touch nose to knee with straight legs. This is not a problem. Yoga practice was never meant to be about performance.

    The good news is, forward bends confer other benefits beyond hamstring stretching. Forward bending is calming and grounding, and it is much...

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  • What Yoga Is and Is Not

    As yoga’s popularity has exploded in the past 15 or so years, there are a whole lot of new yoga styles and modalities have sprung into existence. In addition to Hatha, Kundalini, Iyengar, Viniyoga and Ashtanga, the styles that have proliferated in the U.S. since the 1960s, there are the “yoga ands,” hybrid practices such as yogalates and paddleboard yoga. And then there are the Ashtanga spinoffs such as Power Yoga, and the Bikram spinoffs such as Hot Yoga. Modalities such as Viniyoga, trauma-sensitive yoga and Yoga Therapy cater to individual needs.

    All these different styles have widened yoga’s appeal, and...

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  • Yoga Teaching: The Wisdom of Not Knowing

    This morning a student asked me what should have been a simple question: What should I be feeling in this position?

    A minute or so later, I’d given her the best non-answer I could. Why a non-answer? First, I’m not inside her body. I can’t know what she’s feeling. Second, there are many, many variations on what she could be feeling depending upon where the resistance is in her body. Finally, we are all put together differently, and we’ve all cultivated different habits in our bodies over the decades. No one’s asana practice will ever be exactly like another’s. For that...

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  • Practicing Yoga: Moving Into Stillness

    Practicing Yoga, Quieting the Monkey Mind
    “When the mind is steady, we can see a little truth. When the mind is disturbed, we can't see anything.” Swami Kripalu

    Before I started practicing yoga, my mind would run in different directions at once, thoughts pulling one way, then another, making it hard to concentrate, hard to focus, hard to stay in the moment or even recognize the moment that I was missing.

    But then I stepped onto my mat and began my asana practice, and something about the movement of my body on my mat helped me find my way into stillness in...

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  • Teaching Yoga: Lifting the Veils

    How Teaching Yoga Uncovers Your True Self
    As a lifelong teacher, whether it be science, health or yoga, I love and appreciate the trust that people give me in my teaching. I take that very seriously. Patanjali tells us in the very first Yoga Sutra-1.1 अथ योगनुससनुं atha yoganusasanum that when we begin the study of yoga, both teacher and student commit to the practice, the teachings and to each other. More than an intention, it is a sacred vow that both are to honor.

    Through this commitment I get to experience the change my students have over time and they get...

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  • Inspire Your Yoga Practice with Mindfulness

    If You’re Bored with Yoga Practice, You’re Not Paying Attention
    How many times would you guess you’ve practiced Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)? Or how about Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)? Pick any one of yoga’s staple asanas and you may have placed your body in its requisite shape hundreds or even thousands of times. Does it ever feel like the same old, same old? How is it that some people can nurture a yoga practice for 30, 40, 50 years or more and not be completely bored with it?

    Whatever kind of asana you practice, keeping your yoga practice interesting can...

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  • Bringing Your Yoga Home: Tips for Developing a Home Yoga Practice

    Tips for Developing a Home Yoga Practice
    Yoga class is great, isn’t it? It relaxes you, invigorates you, and grounds you. It helps you recoup after a busy day or sets the tone for the day ahead. But what about those days where you can’t make it to a yoga class? What then?

    One if the most common things I hear from my yoga students is that they don’t know how to practice yoga on their own. They feel insecure or at a loss of what to do once they get to their mat.

    If you can relate, let me ease your mind...

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  • Yoga Practice: 7 Ways to Counter the Effects of Sitting

    Parsvakonasana

    Some say that sitting is the new smoking. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to make this claim, but as a person with a part-time job that requires sitting at a desk and typing out blogs, I certainly support the idea that prolonged sitting seems to be less than ideal.

    Effects include foggy brain due to poor circulation, weakened abdominal and gluteal muscles, neck problems from too much flexion (aka text neck), hypertension, heart disease and even possibly colon cancer. The Washington Post published a chart that goes into more detail.

    Yoga practice can certainly play...

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  • My Yoga Mat

    My Yoga Mat
    The mat that I carry to my yoga class each week is falling apart.

    It was my wife’s mat originally. She bought it when she started taking classes, and then found a thicker, sturdier mat when she became serious about yoga.

    Using her old mat, I feel close to her when I practice, even if she’s not beside me.

    I take it to class even though it’s pale purple, the color of lilacs, because it’s lighter and smaller than the mat that I use for my home practice.

    I know that I could trade it in and get a new mat, a...

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