Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet the Teacher of the Month

Michael Gilbert is known for his Basic and All Levels classes at both New York Yoga and New York Yoga Hot.  He is also one of the Directors for New York Yoga’s Teacher Training program and the founder of Language of Intensity. Michael has guided many new yogis and teachers into the world of yoga through his alignment based classes and workshops.  Often, he can be heard encouraging students to “listen to your body” and to “check in, see how it feels” in order to help personalize the poses.

A firm believer in choice, he gives plenty of options or modifications during class; one of them is always “Smile. You’re doing yoga.”

Michael, when did you first discover yoga?
A friend took me to my first class in 1986 and I liked the calming affect yoga had on me. I also had some back pain at the time and realized after the fact that the yoga class had helped. I started teaching on and off that same year.

How long have you been teaching?
Twenty three years all together. I have been at New York Yoga for eight years now – I first got involved leading a workshop for the Teacher Training Program and after that started teaching a regular class.

What makes your class unique?
My aim in class is to get people to change their perspective. I also try not to take yoga too seriously.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
Revolve triangle. Because if there is one pose that alleviates the most conditions - knee pain, sciatica, back pain etc. - this is the pose. Revolve triangle opens up the outer edges of the body better than anything other pose.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
Halasana and shoulder stand – calms you down, gets rid of stress and restraint. I am always interested in inversions because they allow me to see world in a different way.

Best advice for beginners?
Always recognize that you have a choice. I find many beginners come to class and try to force themselves into everything or push to hard. So if you are new to yoga, remember that you have options and don’t over do it.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Focus on how a pose feels to your body versus what you think the perfect pose is.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve would have to be when students don’t stay for the whole class, because the person leaving early disturbs other students.

Our readers would like to know two things. What are you reading now?
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick. Someone told me that it is a beautiful book on changing perception related to contradiction – so far that is very true.

And what is your guilty pleasure?
My kids. Not chocolate or sweets or anything like that – definitely my kids.

Well… and maybe red wine.

Michael is Directing the Fall 2010 Teacher Training with Jenny Gammello
and teaches 
Monday 11:00a-12:20p - Vinyasa Basics
Thursday 4:35p-5:50p - Vinyasa All Levels
Thursday 8:15p- 9:30p - 75 Min All Levels Hot Vinyasa
Sunday 9:50a-11:20a - Vinyasa Basics

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stretch it out with Paschimottanasana

August - Pose of the Month

End of summer. End of practice. End of the day. Paschimottanasana is a forward bend that helps to calms a distracted mind and end unnecessary thoughts. A deceptively simple looking pose, it is an intense and rewarding pose and a very soothing stretch for the entire back, from your heels to your neck, rejuvenating your entire system.

Benefits of this pose include but are not limited to:

Stress and mild depression relief
Fatigue, headache and anxiety reduction
Spine, shoulders and hamstrings lengthening
Digestion improvement.

How to –

1. Come into a seated position on the floor with legs stretched straight forward and together.

2. Exhale fully.

3. Inhale again and raise the arms overhead. Feel the ‘elongating stretch’ from the tip of your tailbone, right through the entire spine, shoulders and arms to the hands.

4. With an exhale, slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your arms and back as straight and extended as possible.

5. Allow your hands to grasp as far down the legs as possible, either:

a. wrapping the hands right around the soles of the feet,

b. grasping overtop of all of the toes, catching the big toes with your thumbs, index and middle fingers,

c. or holding the ankles, or as far down the lower legs as possible.

6. Relax the head, arms and entire upper torso. Do not let the legs roll outward; pull up the outer thigh muscles and keep the knees pressed down. Stretch forward and rest the front of the body on the legs.

7. Maintain this position and breathe in a deep and relaxed manner for 20-30 seconds.

8. Inhale, come up.