Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pose of the Month: Vasisthasana

December – Vasisthasana or Side Plank

By Rebecca Merritt

Let Vasisthasana help you balance instead of juggle holiday stresses and schedules. It is the perfect pose to help you regain focus, and maybe even stretch your limits.

In a text called Yoga Vasistha, Sage Vasistha helps Prince Rama discover spiritual revelation and wholeness. In the story Vasistha encourages Rama to move away from the physical, material, reality and towards a more satisfying spiritual life.

As the Holidays approach, we tend to think of gifts only as those things we receive wrapped up in boxes. Perhaps this year, take the time to think of the gifts wrapped up in you and in all the wonderful loved ones of your world.

Let Vasisthasana remind you that you have the steadiness to handle whatever the Holidays throw your way and the vastness to add to your joy every year!

  • Improves balance
  • Strengthens wrists, arms, legs
  • Encourages strong core and lower back
  • Stretches the hips
  • Full Variation: stretches the groin, inner thigh and hamstring of the lifted leg

How To:

1. From Plank Pose, roll to the outside edge of the right foot and stack the left foot on top of the right. Reach the left hand toward the sky or to the hip first as you find your balance. Make sure your right hand is directly under shoulder to ensure proper support.

2. Stretch in one long line, reaching with the feet and lengthening to the crown of the head. Roll the shoulder blades together down the back to broaden the chest. Stretch long through the right hand. Ground into the hand to help lift the left hip toward the sky.

3. Hold the pose and breathe. When you are ready, return to Plank and take the pose on the other side.


V1. For help with balance, the stacked foot can step behind to provide more stability.

V2. To move deeper into the pose you can play with taking the stacked leg to the sky – either just lifting the left leg away from the right, flexing the foot and working the legs or by bending the knee and grabbing the toes in yogi toe-lock with the left hand, to stretch even further. See pictures below.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sounds Like Yoga, Volume 12

This edition of New York Yoga's Sounds Like Yoga series is brought to you by New York Yoga instructor Teresa Harris. It's an indie-licious playlist, featuring the likes of Bon Iver, MGMT, Beck, and so many more. Click here to listen. Catch Teresa's 90-Minute Hot Vinyasa class on Saturdays from 11am to 12:30pm at our Hot Studio on 85th and Lexington.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Teacher of the Month: Juliana Mitchell

By Rebecca Merritt

Juliana is caring, devoted, and motivational teacher who will have a major influence on your practice. She will meet you at your level, explain how perfect you are in this very moment, then inspire you to take your yoga practice a little deeper simply by being her sweet self. At New York Yoga, Juliana specializes in Restorative Yoga but can also be found teaching Vinyasa, Prenatal Yoga and various workshops (including a Yoga & Chocolate workshop when we are particularly lucky). She is also on the faculty for New York Yoga’s 200 hour Teacher Training Program.

You can join Juliana in sharing her love for Restorative Yoga every Thursday at 3:05pm and Sunday at 7:15pm, both at our York Studio. For those of you who have not yet experienced Juliana’s Restorative classes you are truly missing out on a treat. Restorative Yoga is the dessert of your practice; it will help you lengthen your breath, de-stress, heal and (of course) restore.


 When did you first discover yoga?
When I was 6, I saw the gymnast Nadia Commaneci do a routine on tv and I was in total awe! Deciding to practice every day until I could do splits and backbends like her, I concocted some intuitive way of teaching myself. Unwittingly, I had begun my asana practice. Then when I was about 10, my Mom found Yoga and practiced for a time under Gurudev (aka Amrit Desai). She and I are extremely close, so witnessing the way Yoga brought her joy and balance was incredibly impactful for me. Mom taught me some more poses, introduced me to the concepts of non-duality and non-attachment, and exposed me to the practices of meditation and chanting.

How long have you been teaching?
In 2001, I was practicing Sun Salutations under a tree by myself and in an instance there was a distinct shift like a crack of lightning: This. This path. This path of Yoga. My life has been consciously committed to this path ever since. In 2004 I underwent a Yoga Teacher Training at OM Yoga and was blessed to find opportunities to start teaching right away. Since then, I’ve continued to deepen my studies with a teacher I love named Judith Lasater as well as with some time studying in India (primarily Atma Vikasa Yoga and a little bit in the Swami Rama tradition), and through many other paths as well.

What makes your class unique?
My teaching style is both precise and playful. I like to use rich, evocative language as a teaching tool, blending an encouragement to connect the Inner Wisdom with detailed explorations of anatomy & kinesiology. Paying homage to the breath one moment at a time, my classroom is a non-competitive, non-judgmental arena. Above all, I offer each class as an adventure, a journey back toward that part of ourselves which is already and always has been whole.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I love to teach so many poses. Hip openers, forward bends, twists. Gosh! Tadasana. Anjeneyasana. Dancer. Eagle. So many poses. But, let us not confuse the poses for the Yoga. That is like confusing the diamond ring for the marriage. That’s my favorite ‘pose’ to teach.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
It changes. Right now, Cow Face and Pigeon.

Best advice for beginners?
There is no such thing as being good at Yoga.
And there is no such thing as being bad at Yoga.
Just show up, exactly as you are.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
“In the life of the spirit, we are always at the beginning.” – The Book of Runes

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
While perhaps different than a peeve (and perhaps not!), I would like to call out to my vast yoga family (teachers and students of all lineages, all styles, all traditions): Let us please remember that we are all One under the great tree of Yoga. May we show grace, humility, love and respect with our words and our actions when we speak of traditions of Yoga or of other Yoga teachers, whose ways we may not understand. May we forge a unity of diversity within the Yoga community, and in doing so light a beacon of possibility for the world!
“Peace is every step.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Reader questions…

Why is a Restorative yoga practice important?
We are, by and large, a culture of compulsive do-ers and think-ers. And this compulsive doing and thinking of ours creates a monstrous stress that impairs the body and squelches the spirit. If we look at many of the faces on the subway and see what you see, I expect we will find a great deal of culturally normalized fear and gripping and hardness. While Restorative Yoga draws us back into the cradle of ease that is our true nature, this is a place from which the body can heal and the spirit can lift. Now, look around at the faces of a roomful of Yogis after they’ve practiced Restorative Yoga, and see what you see. You’ll see openness and ease and beauty.

How does yoga affect your everyday life?
The yoga practice has infused me with a light heart, a healthy body and a resilient spirit. This treasury is there for me every day. Jai!

Passions besides yoga?
The biggest passion in my life is my husband Travis, and celebrating and building our marriage. Also, I have an amazing family and phenomenal group of friends. I love time with family and friends, doing anything or nothing. Also, I love cats. I love all cats. And I especially love the two Zen Master cats with whom I live, Spock & Thor. I love to laugh. I love New York City. I love good food, love veggilicious food. Love to read. Love Yoga. D’oh! It all comes around back to that for me…

Jenny Gammello in Forbes Magazine!

Hey New York Yogis! Our one and only Jenny Gammello is featured in the December issue of Forbes! Check out a blurb and the link below!

"After graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 2005 Jenny Gammello spent two years in New York City struggling to launch an acting career ­before deciding to make her peace with grown-up job reality—and study for the LSAT. But a funny thing happened on Gammello’s way to law school. She answered a Craigslist ad from a local yoga studio and found she could make a living doing something she enjoyed even more than acting."
-"How Millenials Can Survive and Thrive in the New Economy," Forbes

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sounds Like Yoga, Volume 11

This edition of Sounds Like Yoga comes from instructor Aubrey Lampkin, featuring the sounds of Massive Attack, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Broken Bells, and much more! Catch Aubrey's hot vinyasa class on Thursdays from 6:30pm-7:50pm at our Hot Studio on E. 85th Street. Check out the playlist here on our YouTube channel!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Power. Yoga. Power Yoga.

Check out this really interesting article by Paul Kendall in London's Telegraph, "Power yoga: how money has changed a spiritual pursuit," about the relationship between people of power and yoga. Here's a preview:

"Suddenly, it’s not only acceptable for alpha males to do yoga; it’s considered by many to be a badge of honour. Billionaire investor Guy Hands, the British chairman of EMI, is a fan. So too are Peter Mandelson (who’s admitted a penchant for “hot” Bikram yoga) and Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief-of-staff. Russell Simmons, the multimillionaire founder of the hip hop label, Def Jam, does a one-and-a-half hour yoga workout every day and Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was a devotee of the Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda. When he died last month, it’s claimed the only book Jobs had downloaded on his iPad 2 was Yogananda’s Autobiography Of A Yogi."

babybites Babies' First Halloween Party at New York Yoga

We were so excited to host the babybites Babies' First Halloween Party at our studio this past Halloween! Check out some photos below.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dive into Devotional Warrior

November Krama-rama: Devotional Warrior

by Rebecca Merritt

Devotional Warrior, though not a traditional yoga asana, is a pose that you have probably come across many times in your practice. When this came up as the pose of the month, I reached out to my teacher Jenny Gammello to see if there was a Sanskrit name for Devotional Warrior I was forgetting. We discussed that there isn’t one because Devotional Warrior is a krama; a transitional pose on the way to poses like lizard or yogi foot behind the head. Jenny encouraged me to honor it even so, saying, “Evolution of the form is as beautiful and important as the traditional roots.”

In Sanskrit, krama means: in order, one after another, or gradually. So Devotional Warrior is a stepping stone to deeper variations of the same shape. November is a perfect time to explore the idea of being on your way to something, but not yet being at the potential end goal. In yoga, we are taught to be in the moment, we do not practice to get any where but instead to value where we are right now. November is a time to appreciate our blessings and give thanks. It is a chance to look back and see the steps we’ve taken in order to get where we are, but more so, to find gratitude in the present moment.

This November, take the time to be a Devotional Warrior, honoring your evolution but also your perfect, present self. 

How To:

1. From Downward Facing Dog step the right foot forward between your hands. On your inhale, bend the front knee, pivot the back foot, and rise up into Warrior I. You may want to step the right foot out slightly wider to the right, encouraging uddiyana bandha to help keep your balance.

2. On your exhale, swim the arms behind you and clasp the hands. Inhale and straighten the arms, rolling the shoulder blades down your back to meet, to lift and open the heart. All the while, keep a bend in the front knee.

3. Ground into the feet, as you exhale, hinge at the hips and fold forward to the inside of your right thigh. Draw the hands up and over the head to stretch the shoulders.

4. Hold the pose for five breaths. Keep drawing your right hip back to deepen the stretch.

5. To come out of the pose, release the arms and inhale back to Warrior I. Transition into Downward Facing Dog and repeat on the left side.


- Stretches and strengthens shoulders.
- Stretches and strengthens the thighs, calves and ankles.
- Good hip opener to prepare for deeper postures.
- Helps improve focus. 

Children and Yoga

Yoga has been proven to have innumerable health and emotional benefits for younger and older children alike. Check out this fantastic article, "Yoga for Kids" by Marsha Wenig, in Yoga Journal for more!

     "The bustling pace of our children's lives can have a profound effect on their innate joy—and usually not for the better.
     I have found that yoga can help counter these pressures. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life's challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sounds Like Yoga, Volume 10

Check out our latest installment of Sounds Like Yoga, featuring the yoga class playlist of our own Emily Shapiro! It features tunes from Bjork, Cat Power, and The Shins for an indie-tastic yoga experience. Give it a listen on our YouTube channel here.