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Archive for the ‘asana’ Category

I frequently get asked if there are DVDs and/or books that I’d recommend for new students (or even experienced students). I just got an email from Yoga Journal offering a discount on the DVDs I like best.

The Step By Step series is a great introduction to yoga or even as a way to fine-tune your asana and breath practice. The coupon is 20% an individual DVD or something like 45% off for all three.  Enter coupon code SBS2 at checkout and click “Redeem Coupon” to receive your discount or call 1-800-I-DO-YOGA (436-9642).

I don’t plug a lot of yoga ‘stuff’ here, just the things I use and love myself. I highly recommend getting all three discs.

In related news, my recommendating for practicing with a DVD (whether you’ve practiced yoga previously or not) is to watch the DVD at LEAST once to make sure you’re familiar with the positions. If there’s anything that sounds confusing, make notes on a sheet of paper that you can keep next to your mat during practice. You should NOT be looking up at the DVD while you’re practicing – it’s bad for your body and negates all the good work you’re trying to do!

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Of course, every day there has been a good day. I really enjoy the folks there and have liked getting to know new people in town.

I got an email today from a yoga teacher in Michigan. There’s a workshop the weekend that I’m going home to see my mom and I registered for a session on Sunday while she’s at church. I’m really looking forward to it, since my practice has slacked while I’m acclimating to the altitude. I’m just hoping a week away doesn’t mean I start all over when I come back.

My reading record so far in 2009 isn’t too bad, so I’m considering keeping track of the books here, with an impromptu review if I feel the need. I haven’t made up my mind as yet. I’ve officially used all my remaining book gift cards and I’m looking forward to all of them showing up. Some of these are books I’ve wanted for ages and several are by authors I love enough to buy in hardcover (with someone else’s money).  It would be amazing if some of them arrived before my road trip but I’m not holding my breath.

Now that I uploaded my pics and took care of Daily Leadville, I think I’m going to head to sleep.

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I packed two additional boxes of food (no, I’m not done). I created my WTF H$lidays mix. I also ripped 3 mix CDs for my cross-country drive. Luckily my CR-V has a tape player and I’m armed with mix tapes from college. Fie on thee, bad radio reception!

Crippling my packing effort has been the usa network. Yesterday it was Bring it On and today, Stick It. I love those movies with most of my heart and, yes, I’m easily distracted.

Today Cheryl is coming over to pick up a spare bedroom set. In retrospect it was possibly a bad idea to get rid of it, what with (yanno) the spare bedrooms. On the other hand, we don’t have to move it and it’s not like we get that many overnight visitors anyhow.

I’m in the laundry proces, will pack the last of all clothing materials except what I need for the next four days, pack the food and bathroom necessities. I’ll tape up the remaining boxes and I think Shane is coming over to help me do a trial run on packing the car. With any luck, I’ll get to a yoga class tonight.

Speaking of yoga, I was doing side plank in a class the other night and noticed that my shoulders and arms are looking pretty ripped. Nice. I don’t generally notice my body from an aethetic standpoint (I’m more of a ‘function’ kind of girl) so it usually takes a pretty dramatic change/visual to grab my attention, but it was kind of cool. I don’t think my arms have gotten dramatically bigger/stronger, I just haven’t had occasion to look at myself in side plank for a while.

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But feel confused or intimidated – or you just aren’t sure how to practice on your own without a teacher – I’d highly recommend this special issue of Yoga Journal. It gives great descriptions of the asanas, some example ‘flows’ that you can work through on your own, and it talks about modification. Most importantly, it talks about inversions in terms of safety and strength, with none of the ‘reverse the flow of blood’ asshattery. You can order it from the site, either in hard copy or digital.

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With the holidays coming up, it makes sense to talk about low cost and environmentally friendly gifts. I know, “Magazines? What?” But magazines are usually (not always) $20 or less for a year’s subscription. AND they CAN be environmentaly friendly!

There are a few magazines that I read regularly. Not surprisingly, most of them are yoga magazines. They’ve all got good information and I’m the kind of person who wants to hang on to them. I’m also the kind of person who has great intentions about cutting out the articles or recipes that I want to keep (so I can get rid of the rest of the magazine) and never quite gets around to doing it.

Last year I discovered Zinio. com. It’s a fantastic website that offers magazines in digital content. You can choose to download them or read them from the Zinio website. Either way, they’re not stacking up in piles next to your end table. The best thing is that you can read them forever. If there’s an article you want, you can print it out. You only end up with the paper you want, rather than being stuck with a whole magazine to discard. 

I’m lazy. I know I’m lazy. And this site is brilliant for me. My two personal recs: Yoga Journal and Women’s Health.

Yoga Journal (which I also link in my sidebar) provides a lot of great information and insight from several different teachers. I don’t love all their advertising (a common complaint of people who aren’t fans) but I also only look at the advertising if I’m LOOKING for something. I skip all ads and go right to the articles I want. Having this in e-format is fantastic because you can print out the information about asanas, or their ‘master class’ and save what you like. It is not my favorite yoga magazine (see: Yoga + Joyful Living) but it’s a close second.

I didn’t get into Women’s Health until Spouse started reading Men’s Health. Men’s Health has great articles about fitness and diet with an upbeat and pro-health/anti-negative message. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Women’s Health does the same thing but is tailored to the specific concerns of women. It’s not just Men’s Health for Women. I love their recipes. Their articles are about lifestyle change and positive attitudes. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single negative word in each issue. And they’re full of REALLY PRACTICAL tips that you can actually use. In almost every issue there’s a 15-minute workout feature (or something like that) with an emphasis on correct form (a personal tweak of mine). It does a great job of covering everything – diet, health, beauty, fitness, sex, and relationships – and makes it feel like you’re talking to your best (smartest) girlfriends about it. It’s not gossipy, just educational. The recipes are great and you can also find workouts and workout playlists at their website (which is also awesome). Not only that, it manages to be ENTERTAINING. Loves it.

If you were only going to choose one of these magazines, I’d go with Women’s Health. Their most recent issue has quite a lot of yoga info in it and overall I think it translates better to general workouts.

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I have mentioned previously that I am not cute when I work out. I don’t ‘glow’ or ‘shine’. I sweat like an NFL linebacker – or, more accurately, like any member of the Detroit Lions offensive line. ;) As a result, I’ve never been a huge fan of hot yoga.

I took a great class in Boston (Hip Hop Yoga) that was in a heated room – 80 degrees, not the Bikram 100-110 range (which I still think is crazy). I liked the class but when I was in my triangle position, I had to mop off my face with the leg of my pants. All of the other dancers in the room (what you get when you take a class near a conservatory) looked lily white and perfectly cool, while I appeared to have inhaled Chinese Five Spice and chased it with jalepenos.

This is apropos of the classes I’ve been taking lately, which are also heated at about 75-80 degrees. As the weather has turned colder, I’ve got a better appreciation for the warm room. You still have to warm up your muscles, but the base temp makes that much easier. It also helps to loosen the muscles sooner, so that you can get deeper into asana earlier in the practice. I’ve been enjoying the classes but I’m still not loving that sweat drips off of my face and onto my mat. Not because I’m sweat-phobic but because it’s a distraction when there’s sweat running up my nose or down into my eyes. Having to mop down with a towel is a distraction, too.

I’m not sure what a good compromise woud be. 70 degrees, maybe? Warm but not hot? I’m going to keep on with the classes because it’s so refreshing to follow someone else’s directions. I also really do like the classes, I’m just not entirely convinced to the hot side. I *can* say that I don’t hate it and that it won’t keep me from trying other hot classes, I just probably won’t make it a regular part of my own practice.

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It’s unusual for me to get into yoga diatribes very often. Most people I know do not practice yoga regularly and I don’t generally talk about my teaching philosophy unless I’m talking about classes. When most of the people you know don’t practice, it doesn’t come up in conversation that frequently.  This weekend, though, my mom and I were talking about the move and whether or not I’d teach yoga in Colorado.

I’d love to keep teaching. I enjoy it SO much and it would be great if I could keep on doing it. At the same time, I’m going to be in a new place setting up a new life and starting out is hard. As evidence, it’s taken me two years to get a serious following of students.

I teach to all levels and there are a few reasons for that. Most importantly, it’s because you never REALLY know what kind of limitations people are working with. Sometimes they’ll tell you if they’ve got an injury, more often than not they don’t. Second, people need to feel like they can choose their own workout. Providing modifications lets them do that. Third, when I’m doing my own asana practice I run through a checklist of things – foot placement, which muscles are active and how, how I can change the position. If it’s valuable to me after my years of practice, I’ve got to believe it’s valuable to others.

When I teach, I typically use the modified asana. It’s simple – given an option a) or harder option b), most people feel pressure to go with the harder option. By taking the modified version a) myself, I’m eliminating a competitive element in the class. It’s not about MY workout, it’s about the students. And the fact is that most students feel more comfortable using a modification if the instructor does.

This is all apropos, by the way, of my classes this week. In every single class this week, my students made their own modifications. Students who were relatively new and students who have been in my class for a while, relative beginners and folks with prior experience. In every. Single. Class. someone (or more than one someone) modified down to where they needed to be.

I don’t get all new-age catchphrase about yoga. I’m pretty pragmatic about practicing and its benefits. I don’t utilize chanting in my classes. But I’m going to tell you that it actually gladdened my heart to see my students do their own thing. It was like it filled me up with light each time. I thought, “I’ve done my job.” Because with yoga, you’re SUPPOSED to go at your own pace. You’re supposed to listen to your body and adjust your concentration. And by listening to your body you IMPROVE your concentration. You improve the connection between your body and your brain.

I’m incredibly sad to be leaving my students. I feel guilty about leaving them with limited options to find instruction. But this week, I thought “They can do this. I’ve done a good enough job. They can adjust in any classes they take.” My shoulders felt lighter. I felt accomplished.

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