Friday, April 4, 2014

NYY's Pose Of The Month: April

parsva bakasana: side crow pose

Happy APRIL everybody!

After a long winter, we are all in need of a spring cleanse. Twisted postures in yoga not only increase mobility in the spine, but also help to cleanse the organs and promote good circulation. When twisted, the organs are compressed and squeeze out stale blood which is then replaced with newly oxygenated blood once the twist is released. Twists can relive back pain by stretching and strengthening the spine and most importantly, they help to relieve anxiety and stress because they require lengthening, deepening and regulating the breath.

April's pose of the month is Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose) which is a twisted arm balance.

1) Beginning in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), make sure your toes and heels are together, bend your knees and come into a half squat position.
2) With your hands together in prayer position at your heart's center, take a big inhale to lengthen the space between your vertebrae and exhale to twist deeply to your right side pressing your left arm against your outer right thigh.
3) Continue to breathe, bend your knees a little deeper and place your hands on the floor. Hands should be shoulder distance apart, but make sure your left hand is on the right side of your right foot and your left arm and right thigh remain in contact.
4) Pressing your hands into the floor, begin to shift the weight of your pelvis toward the right lifting the abdomen toward the space between your hands.
5) Squeeze your toes and heels together and begin to lift them toward the sitting bones. Keep your neck long (no wrinkles in the back of the neck!) and stay broad across your collar bones.
6) To go a little deeper, keep twisting and begin to straighten  your arms slowly as much as you can!
7) Repeat on left side.

Remember, you can ALWAYS use blocks. In this pose, a block on its lowest height can be really helpful underneath each hand. Blocks will allow you to find more space to lengthen and twist.

Poses to consider practicing FIRST in preparation for Parsva Bakasana:

  • Chaturanga  
  • Marichyasana III 
  • Utkatasana with Anjali Mudra Twist (Twisted Chair Pose) 
  • Prasarita Padottanasana with a Twist  
  • Crescent Lunge with a Twist  

KEEP PRACTICING and see you on the mat soon!

written by: Teresa Harris

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

At the front of the room: Agustin McCarthy

From film to yoga, Agustin McCarthy keeps himself inspired and on the move. Students love the vibrancy of his challenging physical class matched with his enthusiasm. If you haven't taken a class with him yet... what are you waiting for?

Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher? 
-Yoga helped me to heal my back after experiencing back pain for many years. I decided to become a yoga teacher in order to share these healing techniques that have helped me to live with more balance and without the need for a chiropractor.

Did you ever imagine yourself doing something else?
-I graduated from Columbia Film School and still am pursuing a career as a filmmaker. I teach college film history and screenwriting courses and find that teaching yoga classes is similar in many ways. A screenwriter and a yoga teacher are both offering a personal journey that can help to bring insight and decrease stress in our lives.

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
-I aim to offer juicy, satisfying sequences that will challenge and engage the more experienced practitioners while, at the same time, my top priority is always to retain a safe environment for all my students regardless of their level. Striking this balance in an Open-Level class is the biggest challenge I face as a yoga teacher. 

What is your favorite pose? 
-Anjaneyasana (low lunge): This is a simple pose with many benefits. I love how it opens up my hips and helps me to release tension in my psoas muscles. But it engages me on more than just the physical level. This pose is a wonderful place to find the qualities of Shtira-Sukha (strength and softness). My upper body lifts up and lengthens while my lower body softens and lets go. Practicing these in the asanas helps me to bring these qualities in to the rest of my life – holding on to what is important and letting go of everything else.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your practice?
-My practice has helped me cultivate a relationship to my body and mind in a way I’d never experienced before. I can observe and listen without getting caught up in the drama of it all. This makes my rest of my life easier to manage.

Who inspires you most? 
-My students inspire me to go deeper into my understanding of yoga and to become a more insightful and sensitive teacher. When I see students with physical limitations, due to injury or pregnancy, these are particularly inspiring to me since I see a concrete example of yogis working with their discomfort without allowing it to take away the opportunity to breathe deeply and open up to the present moment.

Catch a class with Agustin:
Tuesdays, NYY York: 4:35-5:50pm
Thursdays, NYY York: 7:35-9:05pm

Friday, February 28, 2014

NYY's Pose of the Month: March

mayurasana: peacock pose

The peacock is a symbol of great beauty, pride and confidence. In eastern mythology the peacock is associated with many deities such as Saraswati, the Indian goddess of wisdom, music and poetry. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and plenty, rides a peacock and Lord Krishna carries the feather of a peacock on his head. The peacock, so closely associated with kings and gods is the perfect symbol for those striving for excellence and success.

In mayurasana strength, balance and confidence are required to execute this beautiful pose. Balancing the torso on the upper arms with palms on the ground and fingers facing the feet, legs are extended long and the crown of the head extends in the opposite direction leaving the body in a parallel position above the earth. Since the gaze is down to the ground below confidence is necessary because the student can’t see where the body is…the student can only feel and visualize the full expression. The pose requires tuning in to feel the balance of the full weight of the body resting on the hands.

First time I took flight in mayurasana was amazing!! Lifting both my head and feet off the ground and feeling the seesaw effect until I fully balanced was challenging and rewarding. This is one of my favorite poses to teach and to practice and watching students evolve into this pose is always gratifying as they learn to shift weight and find the middle.

written by: Stacey Kasselman
Thursday, HOT STUDIO, 4:00-5:00pm
Friday, HOT STUDIO, 9:30-11:00am 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

At the front of the room : Teresa Harris

From Irish Step Dancing to urdhva mukha svanasana, Teresa has delighted many audiences and classes with her folk playlists and sweet, soft voice. By day you will find her in the office, but nothing could keep her away from teaching her students after hours and on the weekends. Her gratitude, passion and creativity always inspires us at New York Yoga. 

How/Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
-I started practicing yoga in high school because I wanted to do some sort of physical activity once I stopped Irish Step Dancing. I was never into sports and was over dancing, so yoga seemed like a good alternative. I loved it and eventually began taking classes almost daily at a local studio and gym. I was drawn to yoga first for the physical and mental benefits but after a few years my interest transpired into something much deeper. I realized how smart and complicated (BUT big picture simple) the practice really is. I looked up to all my teachers and wanted to be just like them and share the practice with others. I completed my first yoga teacher training during my second year in college, began teaching right away and 5 years later, this past September, I completed my advanced 500-hour teacher training. The training is great, but I've learned and continue to learn the most from my students and from my own practice. To me, yoga makes a lot of sense and is so much fun – I’m grateful to be teaching what I love.

Did you ever imagine yourself doing something else? What was it and why?
-I always wanted to be an interior designer, but once I got to college, I realized it wasn't for me. I graduated from School of Visual Arts with a BFA degree in Illustration and in addition to teaching yoga I currently work on the creative team for a brand licensing agency developing merchandise lines for existing brands. 

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
-TWO things: Knowing left from right. (I didn't THINK I had an issue with this until I started teaching..) AND learning how to relax when someone's cell phone goes off in class. I know, it happens, it's life (and has definitely happened to me before!) but cell phones in yoga class is one of my major pet peeves.

What is your favorite pose and why?
-Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward Facing Dog ("Up Dog"). This pose is so easily forgotten and blown over in Vinyasa classes. It's not a pose to forget about! It's a back bend, heart opener, spine lengthen-er, leg strengthener and arm toner. Sometimes we forget that Upward Facing Dog is an ACTUAL yoga pose and not just a means from A to B during a vinyasa. Hold this pose for a minute and see what happens!

What is the most important thing you have learned from your practice? 
-The most important things I've learned from practicing is to NOT overdo it and to always have at least two blocks available. Blocks are awesome tools for EVERYONE in different ways whether you're a tight athlete, a flexy bendy, in your twenties, in your seventies, male, female, a beginner or experienced practitioner. 

What/who inspires you most?
-I am inspired by MY teachers and of course by my students - their curiosity, engagement and willingness to learn is what keeps me teaching class after class.

You can catch class with Teresa at these times:

Monday, HOT STUDIO: 8:15pm
Tuesday, YORK STUDIO: 9:05pm
Saturday, YORK STUDIO: 9:50am
and Saturday, HOT STUDIO: 1:00pm

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

At the front of the Room : Dayle Pivetta

Students are drawn to her firecracker spirit, which matches her fiery red hair. Her classes are filled with energy, giggles and, of course, dance-tastic playlists. Dayle, is another one of our star-power teachers at New York Yoga who always reminds students that yoga is all about celebrating our limitless spirits. We are ever-grateful for her passion, grace, creativity and fire! Oh, and did you know she just got ENGAGED? Many congratulations to Dayle!

Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
-It's funny how the universe works things out- I was really disenchanted and unfulfilled in the career I had set out to do- I came to NYC from Michigan to be an actor, but after 4 years I realized my heart wasn't in it.  I'm a very spiritual person and I believe that I was given certain talents and skills for a reason- I wanted to DO something with them- I wanted to help people- to heal people- to make them laugh, smile, FEEL, get in touch with themselves... My soul searching journey led me to yoga and I quickly realized that I wanted to know as much as I could about this transformative practice- and that I wanted to share it with anyone who wanted to learn! 

Did you ever imagine yourself doing something else?
-DID I?! So many things! I always wanted to be a teacher, but I didn't know what I'd like to teach- I thought about becoming a lawyer or an anchor woman too.  I love to sing and with the guidance of my high school choir director I studied Music and Theatre in undergrad and had every intention of moving to NYC and being on Broadway... I knew it wasn't a good fit when I found myself getting bored yet craving stability-and miserably depressed.  I'm still so grateful for that experience though,  because I would probably not have found yoga if I was a happy anchor woman in Michigan!

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
-That's a tough one... and it changes, but  I'm gonna say keeping my own tank full so that I can practice what I preach! Being a full time teacher is tough and like most New Yorkers I get trapped in doing too much sometimes- I'm constantly working on the art of saying NO and being honorably selfish... it's a practice!

What is your favorite pose? Why? 
I love inversions. Being up side down reminds me of my childhood. I used to hang out on the side of the bed with my head on the floor and just stare at the ceiling and imagine the world was upside down.  Inversions are magical!  Now as an adult they bring up fear and ego and when I let go of those things I feel so strong and capable of anything... like I said before, MAGICAL!

-What is the most important thing you have learned from your practice? 
A few things- go with the flow, let go of control and be present. be mindful. just be. and breathe... always breathe.

What/Who inspires you most? 
-I am a ring one Circus Yogi and one of the Circus Yoga mantras is Practice IS Perfect. I think the process of just practicing something for the sake of practicing- without the need to achieve anything, but just showing up and doing, keeps me showing up. On the mat, but also in every area of my life... practice, practice, practice. Also my students. The dedication and perseverance I see around me daily is beyond inspiring- it's why I teach.

You can catch class with Dayle at the Hot Studio on Wednesdays (9:30-11am) and Sundays (6:30-7:45pm). And at the York Studio on Saturdays (5:45-7pm) and Sundays (4:20-5:35pm).

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Black Ugg Boot Affair

Whoever thinks the ladies (and Gavin!) at the front desk don't have fun at work is entirely mistaken.

Proven by one long email chain and a size 8 Ugg boot.

December 11, 2013
From: Lilly 
Subject: A Black Ugg Boot Affair
Ladies and Gavin, 

If anyone comes into the York studio returning a size 8 black Ugg boot - our dear client Diana will be so very happy.

Someone left class with one Size 8 Ugg and left her with one Size 9 Ugg so now she walks down the street with one shoe too big.

I don't know if this Size 8 boot will resurface, but if it does please call Diana and deliver the good news.

If anyone can turn this into a Shel Silverstein poem I'll make you cookies.


From: Jaida
Subject: Re: A Black Ugg Boot Affair

It's like I read children's books for my job or something....

On the eleventh of December, of 2013,
Diana took class at York.
She took off her boots and hung up her coat,
then practiced her Down Dog, Cobra, and Stork.

Her class concluded in an hour or so,
And she floated out of the room in bliss.
But when Diana went to put her boots back on,
She noticed that something was terribly amiss.

Her favorite Ugg boots were of two different sizes -
One a size nine and the other size eight!
And when she searched the hallway for the missing boot,
she could not locate its orphaned mate.

She spoke with Lilly, working hard at the desk,
And together they looked high and low,
But sadly, the boot did not appear,
And Diana trudged away in sleet and the snow.

So now the front desk staff is left with a mystery!
Riddled with questions and doubt.
Will Diana ever locate the missing boot?
We will just have to wait to find out.

From: Chloe
Subject: Re: Re: A Black Ugg Boot Affair

How can ANYONE compete with that?!?! Not even going there.

From: Nicole
Subject: Re: Re: Re: A Black Ugg Boot Affair

Jaida, you're amazing.
The following is BASED on a true event...I like happy endings ;)

Twas the morning of the eleventh in December this year,
When little Miss. W awoke,
She thought to herself "I'm stressed as can be!
I think I'll take yoga at York!"
She scurried and hurried and ran straight to class,
Her size eight Ugg boots on her feet,
Once at York she slipped off those boots right away,
And laid them to rest on a seat.
What little Miss. W didn't know at the time,
As she ran in the room with a haste,
Was to the left of her boots was a seat just the same,
Where size NINE Ugg boots had been placed!
As their people took yoga, the boots stared in awe,
They had never seen something like them.
They played and they laughed and they shouted at once,
"We must see each other again!!!"
Time quickly passed and the class came to close,
And little Miss W appeared,
With peace in her heart, she slipped on her boots,
All her stress and worries had cleared.
But as little Miss W walked away down the street,
The toes on each foot felt quite strange,
Confused, she ran back and asked the front desk,
"My boots aren't the same! Who's to blame?!"
A giddy Miss Lilly at the desk there at York, said
"Oh my, I'm glad you came back!
For the woman with the other mismatched pair of boots
Will return again tomorrow, in fact!"
And there you have it--as the Ugg boots had intended,
Their brilliant plan firmly stay,
They will indeed meet again, their friendship still strong,
So till then, Happy Holidays, Namaste!!

Happy Holidays from the creative staff at New York Yoga! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yes, "Universal Practice" Does Include the Men!

Men, we understand the feeling of walking into a room filled with women and yoga mats can be daunting. Sure, you may have never come to practice yoga before because you believed that is was just about stretching and being in touch with your feelings. But, now that you're in the classroom and surrounded by female yogi's... you can't help but to feel out of place and uncomfortable. Halfway through the practice, you have most likely realized: this yoga thing it's exactly what you had imagined.

Here is what Stephen Walkiewicz at Men's Fitness has to say:
Going into my first-ever yoga session, I can see that I had this yoga thing completely misunderstood no matter how much credit I tried to give it. To me, it was just a silly stretch workout that vaguely had something to do with meditation-granola munching fluff. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's an intense workout that is physically and emotionally demanding.
More and more, we are seeing men taking the leap to join their first class and then coming back for more every day following. In Western culture, yoga marketing has been very faithful to female yogis by featuring women in clothing advertisements and yoga blogs. We believe yoga to be a universal practice, meaning all can profoundly benefit from being on the mat. Men, if you haven't made the jump to beginning your first class, don't be fooled by the view from outside looking in. Some of our most dedicated students and teachers are strong male yogis who have found the practice to be emotionally and physically challenging... so much so we see them every day of the week!

Don't be intimated, it's your practice too. Here's to the man on the mat!

A few related articles of interest: