Thursday, September 29, 2011

October Specials!


Put Down Roots with Vrksasana

October Pose of the Month: Vrksasana
By Rebecca Merritt

Autumn bring us a new season and with it a new schedule. As the kids go back to school we are reminded once again to rededicate ourselves to the practice of yoga. If you feel like time is rushing by or if there are too many to-dos on your list this month, return to your mat and notice that you can slow time down. Vrksasana or tree pose reminds us that we can be flexible and rooted, even when the wind tries to blow us every which way.

  • Strengthens spine
  • Strengthens thighs, calves, and ankles
  • Stretches inner thighs
  • Stretches chest and shoulders
  • Improves balance
  • Relieves sciatica
  • Reduces flat feet

How to:

1. Begin in Tadasana.

2. Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, as you bend your right knee.

3. Begin to lift the right knee towards the chest so that you can reach down and clasp your right ankle with your right hand.

4. Draw the sole of your right foot up and against the inner left thigh; if possible. The foot may also rest on the side of the calf if the thigh cannot be reached. (Just be sure to avoid rest is on the side of the knee.)

5. Try to keep the pelvis square over the left foot and in a neutral, parallel position – you can place your hand on your hips to help find this steadying position.

6. Lengthen tailbone toward the floor, press the right foot against the inner thigh as you resist with the left leg.

7. Draw hands together in Anjali Mudra – in prayer at the heart – and with a soft gaze focus on a fixed point in front of you on the floor.

8. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Step back to Tadasana with an exhalation and repeat for the same length of time on the other side.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Yogasm Exists?

According to an article in today's Daily Beast, the possibility of achieving an orgasm from yoga is entirely possible and happens more often than you'd expect. It comes from engaging the muscles around the mula bandha, the genitalia, for both men and women. As writer Lizzie Crocker reports, sexologist Dr. Jeffre TallTrees says: “When women engage their PC [pubococcygeus] muscles, the tissue around the g-spot swells, which can lead to climax.” For men it's a little different: "When a man draws his sexual energy in, and up toward his navel... he increases his ability to prolong his stamina in the bedroom." So yogasms aren't just an urban myth! Check out the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seattle Craigslist: Yoga Mat for Sale

Check out this amazing, hilarious account of one man's experience in hot yoga for the first (and unfortunately the only) time, from Elephant Journal!

Seattle Craigslist: Yoga mat for sale. Used once. – $1 (Bellevue)


Yoga mat for sale. Used once at lunch hour class in December 2009. Usage timeline as follows:

Register for hot yoga class. Infinite wisdom tells me to commit to 5 class package and purchase a yoga mat. I pay $89.74. Money well spent, I smugly confirm to myself.

Open door to yoga room. A gush of hot dry air rushes through and past me. It smells of breath, sweat and hot. Take spot on floor in back of room next to cute blonde. We will date.

I feel the need to be as near to naked as possible. This is a problem because of the hot blonde to my left and our pending courtship. She will not be pleased to learn that I need to lose 30 pounds before I propose to her.

The shirt and sweats have to come off. I throw caution to the wind and decide to rely on my wit and conditioning to overcome any weight issues my fiancée may take issue with. This will take a lot of wit and conditioning.

Begin small talk with my bride to be. She pretends to ignore me but I know how she can be. I allow her to concentrate and stare straight ahead and continue to pretend that I don’t exist. As we finish sharing our special moment, I am suddenly aware of a sweat moustache that has formed below my nose. This must be from the all the whispering between us.

Instructor enters the room and ascends her special podium at the front of the room. She is a slight, agitated Chinese woman. She introduces me to the class and everyone turns around to greet me just as I decide to aggressively adjust my penis and testes packed in my Under Armor. My bride is notably unfazed.

Since I do have experience with Hot Yoga (4 sessions just 5 short years ago) I fully consider that I may be so outstanding and skilled that my instructor may call me out and ask me to guide the class. My wife will look on with a sparkle in her eye. We will make love after class.

It is now up to 95 degrees in the room. We have been practicing deep breathing exercises for the last 8 minutes. This would not be a problem if we were all breathing actual, you know, oxygen. Instead, we are breathing each other’s body odor, expelled carbon dioxide and other unmentionables. (Don’t worry, I’ll mention them later.)

It is now 100 degrees and I take notice of the humidity, which is hovering at about 90%. I feel the familiar adorning stare of my bride and decide to look back at her. She appears to be nauseated. I then realize that I forgot to brush my teeth prior to attending this class. We bond.

It is now 110 degrees and 95% humidity. I am now balancing on one leg with the other leg crossed over the other. My arms are intertwined and I am squatting. The last time I was in this position was 44 years ago in the womb, but I’m in this for the long haul. My wife looks slightly weathered dripping sweat and her eyeliner is streaming down her face. Well, “for better or worse” is what we committed to so we press on.

The overweight Hispanic man two spots over has sweat running down his legs. At least I think its sweat. He is holding every position and has not had a sip of water since we walked in. He is making me look bad and I hate him.

I consider that if anyone in this room farted that we would all certainly perish.

It is now 140 degrees and 100% humidity. I am covered from head to toe in sweat. There is not a square millimeter on my body that is not slippery and sweaty. I am so slimy that I feel like a sea lion or a maybe sea eel. Not even a bear trap could hold me. The sweat is stinging my eyeballs and I can no longer see.

This room stinks of asparagus, cloves, tuna and tacos. There is no food in the room. I realize that this is an amalgamation of the body odors of 30 people in a 140 degree room for the last 55 minutes. Seriously, enough with the asparagus, ok?

140 degrees and 130% humidity. Look, bitch, I need my space here so don’t get all pissy with me if I accidentally sprayed you with sweat as I flipped over. Seriously, is that where this relationship is going? Get over yourself. We need counseling and she needs to be medicated. Stat!

150 degrees and cloudy. And hot. I can no longer move my limbs on my own. I have given up on attempting any of the commands this Chinese chick is yelling out at us. I will lay sedentary until the aid unit arrives. I will buy this building and then have it destroyed.
I lose consciousness.

I have a headache and my wife is being a selfish bitch. I can’t really breathe. All I can think about is holding a cup worth of hot sand in my mouth. I cannot remember what an ice cube is and cannot remember what snow looks like. I consider that my only escape might be a crab walk across 15 bodies and then out of the room. I am paralyzed, and may never walk again so the whole crab walk thing is pretty much out.

I cannot move at all and cannot reach my water. Is breathing voluntary or involuntary? If it’s voluntary, I am screwed. I stopped participating in the class 20 minutes ago. Hey, lady! I paid for this frickin class, ok?! You work for me! Stop yelling at everyone and just tell us a story or something. It’s like juice and cracker time, ok?

It is now 165 degrees and moisture is dripping from the ceiling. The towel that I am laying on is no longer providing any wicking or drying properties. It is actually placing additional sweat on me as I touch it. My towel reeks. I cannot identify the smell but no way can it be from me. Did someone spray some stank on my towel or something?

Torture session is over. I wish hateful things upon the instructor. She graciously allows us to stay and ‘cool down’ in the room. It is 175 degrees. Who cools down in 175 degrees? A Komodo Dragon? My wife has left the room. Probably to throw up.

My opportunity to escape has arrived. I roll over to my stomach and press up to my knees. It is warmer as I rise up from ground level – probably by 15 degrees. So let’s conservatively say it’s 190. I muster my final energy and slowly rise. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. Towards the door. Towards the door.

The temperature in the lobby is 72 degrees. Both nipples stiffen to diamond strength and my penis begins to retract into my abdomen from the 100 degree temp swing. I can once again breathe though so I am pleased. I spot my future ex wife in the lobby. We had such a good thing going but I know that no measure of counseling will be able to unravel the day’s turmoil and mental scaring.

Arrive at Emerald City Smoothie and proceed to order a 32 oz beverage. 402 calories, 0 fat and 14 grams of protein — effectively negating any caloric burn or benefit from the last 90 minutes. I finish it in 3 minutes and spend the next 2 hours writing this memoir.

Create Craigslist ad while burning final 2 grams of protein from Smoothie and before the “shakes” consume my body.

Note to self – check car for missing wet yoga towel in am.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New York Yoga at Fashion Week!

Words and Pictures by Elyssa Goodman

During this past Fashion Week, we at New York Yoga had the pleasure of attending designer Vivienne Tam's yoga collection presentation, a "Live Sculpture Garden," at Lincoln Center. At the edge of the Barclay's Capital Grove, 20 female yogis downward-dogged, planked, and chaturangaed while wearing Tam's designs, all of which were made of hemp and organic cotton blend fabrics (incidentally, such fabrics allow moisture wicking, anti-bacterial and UV protection, and natural deodorization). This is Tam's first collection of yoga wear, made in collaboration with leading Chinese sports brand LI-NING. An active yogi herself, Tam always wanted her yoga apparel to be fashionable and functional, so set to developing her own line. This Fashion Week the line premiered, after 13 years in the making. As Tam herself has said, "Yoga has been the one thing that not only keeps me focused but provides me with a sense of peace and better energy," and many ways this line is her way to give back.

 The presentation was choreographed by Gaiam power couple Rodney and Colleen Yee, who were also on site to guide the yogis through warm-ups and cool-downs. New York Yoga's own Kelly Stackhouse was one of the yogi/models involved, and you can see pictures of her and the collection below.

As Kelly says, she "seriously loved loved the experience! So rewarding to do something like this for an audience in such beautiful clothing with such inspirational teachers. Was amazing to meet and work with Vivienne and to finally meet in person the wonderful Rodney Yee who I have been eager to meet since I first began studying in 2005 in Toronto, Canada. It was also so great to work with so many beautiful teachers from all sorts of studios all over Long Island and New York City. Teachers I've heard of that I hadn't had the pleasure to meet. And when we had the opportunity to freestyle our practice at Lincoln Center, the things people were doing were so incredible. Just so much talent and beauty...a yoga fashion show, what a brilliant idea. Yes, I would do it again. And again and again. "

That's NYY instructor Kelly Stackhouse on the right!

Rodney and Colleen Yee

Teacher of the Month: Gabriella Barnstone

By Rebecca Merritt

Gabriella Barnstone teaches from her growing love and knowledge of yoga. She is heartfelt, fun, wise and is able to meet you at whatever level you are practicing at with ease. She is a teacher who can take you from beginner to advanced student while continuing to challenge and surprise you as the journey progresses. No matter how advanced you become, she will remind you to keep a beginner’s open mind and to try not to stress about what’s coming next – whether it be in your practice, the class itself or life in general.

At New York Yoga, Gabriella teaches both Basics and All Levels classes. Her sequences work you toward a peak pose or encourage you to focus on one particular part of the practice each time, keeping her classes exciting and ever changing. Her classes will help you check your stress at the door, breathe and lose yourself in the Vinyasa flow.

You can visit Gabriella at New York Yoga on Mondays at 9:35am for Vinyasa All Levels, Thursdays at 11:05am for Vinyasa All Levels, Fridays at 11:05am for Vinyasa Basics and Saturdays at 1:05pm for Vinyasa All Levels. 

When did you first discover yoga?
I think a friend took me to Jivamukti back in the days when Madonna used to go there. But really I started doing yoga because I was taking dance classes and making my own dance theatre work. I was used to everything being so technical and I wanted it to be more idea based. So I needed something that could help me stay strong and loose but that wasn’t dance. When I got into yoga and found myself going all the time, never missing class, and from there just really interested in it.

How long have you been teaching?
When my first teacher training opportunity presented itself to me I thought, I have to do this, I can’t not. I have only been teaching for four years – I feel like a baby. I’m constantly learning something new. I did my 200 hour at Laughing Lotus and I’m currently working towards my 300 hour at Yoga Maya.

What makes your class unique?
My vague answer is me. I believe you teach who you are. I think that’s why it’s so interesting to take class with different people, because you’re bound to get a different perspective that is truly unique. I believe every teacher has something to offer for that reason.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I love, love, love focusing on specific poses in my classes. It is hard for me to pick just one peak pose. I’m going to have to say Savasana. I am not “teaching” Savasana but I am offering it in every single class. I think that it is such an important pose. Most people will say they love it but I have had students who have a lot of trouble with it. Sukasana is that way too. But you do all the other poses so you can do this pose. I find the sitting and stillness can be very hard for people – it can be hard for me too sometimes.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
I have to say Downward Facing Dog, because it always feels like coming home. I do a lot of puttering and warm up on my mat. So when you come in to Down Dog its just the moment of coming to my practice.

Best advice for beginners?
One of my favorite Sutras is the yoga practice should be for a long time, with devotion and enthusiasm. So don’t worry about what you’re trying to accomplish. This will be never-ending practice. If there’s poses you can’t do, don’t worry about it, because there’s always going to be poses you can’t do.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Always be a beginner. Try to have a beginners mind about everything. Once you’ve lost that, what is there?

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
What’s interesting to me about pet peeves as a teacher is that there’s nothing you have seen that you haven’t actually done yourself. This is totally yoga because when things come as that may be a pet peeve they are usually something that we know we have done before and they are right in front of us to deal with.

Reader questions…

How has being a dancer influenced your practice?
I think it’s definitely what made me attracted to Vinyasa, because the flow and linking everything together is similar. It also influenced my practice because I already had an awareness of the body. Though the way that I’m aware of the body now is so vastly different thanks to yoga. My interest in specificity comes from my dance experience too. I love how specific the yoga practice is. Physically it’s a completely different thing but I’m constantly amazed at the poses, their alignment and how intelligent they are.

What are your passions besides yoga?
I have a dance theater company which is definitely a passion. And I really feel like the practice of yoga has made me stop and breath and enjoy things. It has helped me to enjoy my life outside of work – relaxing, cooking, going to the farmers market, etc. It has become my passion to enjoy the simple things in life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where Is Yoga Going?

Yoga seems to have moved a long way from only being practiced by men in India. Many modern yoga experts worry that it's become more of a business than a practice. Take a look at this article from Forbes by Alice Walton, where experts like Seane Corn and Rodney Yee discuss the state of yoga today and where it might be headed in the future.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yoga and PTSD

We've posted before about the positive effects of yoga on post-traumatic stress disorder patients, but this time writer Anu Bhagwati shares her personal story of the way yoga has affected her journey back from the brink of PTSD. As Bhagwati writes, practicing yoga ends up being difficult for military veterans because they have trouble making themselves vulnerable in what are supposed to be some of yoga's most relaxing positions, like savasana. Read more of Bhagwati's powerful story about yoga and PTSD on The Huffington Post.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Specials!

Hey New York Yogis, check out our specials for September below!

Humbled by Hanumanasana

September Pose of the Month
By Rebecca Merritt

This pose is named for the Hindu deity Hanuman, a devotee of Rama. During a great battle, Rama’s brother, Laksmana, falls ill and can only be cured by an herb growing in the Himalayan Mountains. It is thought that no one can make it to the mountains and back in time. However, because of his deep love and devotion for Rama, Hanuman is able to do the impossible and leap across India to the Himalayan Mountains. He does not know which herb to pick, so he brings the entire mountain back to Rama. The herb is found, and Laksmana is saved.

Occasionally we come across a pose that is more about the krama, or steps, than the actual peak expression. I believe Hanumanasana is such a pose. Full split is not something you just happen to slide into; it is a pose we work on, gain an inch, and work on some more. Hanumanasana is about the journey, and surrendering to the process. It is a pose that may seem unfeasible at first, but if you are devoted to the effort, there is no impossible. 

  • Stretches/strengthens hamstrings, thighs, hips, groin and legs
  • Helps prevent and treat pain of sciatica
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs and by increasing circulation
  • Develops concentration and will-power

How To:

 1. Begin in a lunge position. Lower the back knee to the floor. Bring the palms or fingertips to the floor, and draw the hips back to straighten the front leg; flex the front foot.

2. Slide the front leg forward. At the same time, sneak the back leg back an inch at a time.

3. Keep the hips squared to the front; continue to inch the front leg forward and the back leg back, slowly lowering the hips to the floor. Stop and hold when you reach your peak stretch breathing into the pose.

4. Once you have both legs straightened and fully supported by the floor, inhale the arms up overhead or bring the palms to prayer at heart center. Balance here.

5. Slowly come out of the pose by bringing the hands to the floor and sliding the front heel towards you. Repeat, bringing the opposite leg forward this time.