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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!
  • Setting Intention

    Make a Vision Board!

    Many of us set intentions before we begin our yoga practice, start a new year, or even at a new moon. According to Webster, intention is a determination to act in a certain way, a resolve.

    You may have heard of the Sanskrit term Sankalpa, which has been described to me as a vow or commitment, so it’s a bit stronger than an intention. Many times I have heard the two used interchangeably. No worries though; choose the word that feels best for you.

    My life experiences, whether it be teaching, parenting, or doing yoga...

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  • Sustainable Yoga Practice

    Happy Earth Day! This Friday, April 22nd, we’ll celebrate the spectacular planet we live on and recommit to living in a way that allows it to flourish.

    Earth Week is a great time to reassess our energy consumption and decide where we can refine or let go of patterns of overconsumption. This includes all areas of our lives—how we eat, how we travel, how we work and how we play. It also includes how we practice yoga.

    One way to “green” our yoga practice is to use mats, blocks, straps, etc., that are made from sustainable materials—rubber, TPE and PER yoga mats...

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  • Ahhh … Lateral Bending on a Bolster

    Lateral Bending on a Junior Bolster

    There really aren’t a whole lot of day-to-day tasks that require lateral bending. That’s probably why most people find side stretches in yoga—such as Parighasana (Gate Latch Pose), Talasana (Palm Tree Pose) and Parvrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose)—so invigorating.

    Lateral bending can also be woven into Restorative Yoga practice. Practicing a supported lateral bend early in a Restorative session not only feels wonderful, but it also helps prepare your thoracic spine for other poses, especially for supported back bends such as Supported Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) or Viparita Karani (Supported Legs...

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  • 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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