Sunday, December 30, 2012

Teacher of the Month - Rachel Page

Teacher of the Month Questionnaire
Rachel Page
By April Evans

Join Rachel at the Hot Studio
Mondays 5:15-6:30pm All Levels

In addition to being one of New York Yoga's stellar class instructors, Rachel is also a member of the Teacher Training staff, responsible for giving the portion on Yogic Philosophy, Ancient Texts, and the Subtle Body.  Her passion for these elements of Yoga is evident in her teaching style, as well as in her gorgeous tattoos.  She has travelled the world and done multiple teacher trainings, making her point of view very inclusive. Rachel is confident in speaking her own voice, but she does so while creating the space for her students to discover and inhabit their own. 

When did you first discover yoga?
I first discovered yoga in 2000 while I was working out at the Y.  I happened to take a class - I had heard of it but never tried it and I thought "I might as well do it."  After the first time I thought "This is something somewhat athletic that I can actually do!"  I tried everything when I was younger; softball, basketball, and was never really good at them.  Yoga was something I could actually do.

How long have you been teaching? 
For about 10 years, a little over 10 years.  I've done several trainings, but my main training has been through Integral Yoga.  I studied at the ashram Yogaville in Virginia.

What makes your class unique?
I don’t find them particularly unique; they're just a blend of everything I’ve learned, everything that’s been passed down from my teachers.  I feel like everything’s already been done in yoga class. What I’m doing is just putting my spin on what my teachers have taught me. I do a blend of all my teachings, based in Integral Yoga and Jivamukti Yoga namely.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I’d have to say just sitting in sukhasana for meditation.  I feel like that’s the reason we practice yoga: to find a place where we can be comfortable in the body so that we can sit for longer periods of time. Hopefully eventually we can reach the state of yoga, the state of enlightenment.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
I love savasana, because it’s so challenging. It's harder than the inversions or arm balances, it's when you truly get to test how yogic you really are and if your yoga practice is working in the way it’s supposed to work.  I think it’s easy to stand on one leg for a minute or stand upside down for a couple minutes.  I think being able to be still is really challenging.  It’s the most important asana out there in my opinion.

Best advice for beginners?
Just don’t give up, stick with it.  Don’t get frustrated and don’t compare yourself to anyone. Just be open to whatever comes up emotionally, spiritually, physically.  Stay open.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Stop considering yourself an advanced yogi.  If you are really truly an advanced yogi you are an enlightened being.  I don’t think too many of us that come to our mat, even on a daily basis have come to that point yet.  There's a Buddhist quote I really like that I'll paraphrase: “A spoon full of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable, but a spoon full of a salt in a lake makes little difference.”  The point is, just keep an open mind.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
I would say leaving in the middle of savasana, but my biggest one has to do with teachers.  That's yoga teachers who don’t practice ahimsa and who eat meat.  I’m sure a lot of people aren’t going to like that answer, but I have to be honest. 
How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?
Yoga is my daily life.  I live in an ashram and I’ve lived here for over 4 years. So I am on the mat practicing everyday and meditating everyday.  I’m living in a spiritual community so I really can’t separate yoga from my daily life.  It’s part of it.

Passions besides yoga?
Animal rights, riding my bike, spending my time with my friends, and vegan cooking and eating.  I’m really passionate about just working on myself, improving myself everyday and just trying to be a better person, and then accepting if I’m not a good person one day.  Because I'm a work in progress.  I’m not perfect.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pose of the Month - Malasana

Pose of the Month
Malasana – Garland Pose
By April Evans

The holiday season is filled with excitement of many varieties.  We all feel the buzz in the air brought on by the twinkly lights, bustling streets, and busy stores.  We anticipate parties and presents, food and friends, travel and transition.  These feelings are exciting at first, but can soon turn to anxiety as our to-do lists grow and our time to complete them shrinks.  In the hustle and bustle inherent in this season, Malasana, or Garland Pose, takes one of our favorite seasonal decorations and turns it into a wonderful tool for grounding.  This pose is considered by many to be one of the most beneficial poses in the entire asana practice.  It is a perfect pose to open the hips and lower back after you’ve been sitting in a car or on a plane.  It is equally useful a shape for simply feeling the feet root down after you’ve been running all over trying to get your shopping done.  This season give yourself the gift of a few breaths a day in Malasana.

Opens the hips, groins, low back, and ankles
Strengthens the thighs and the abdomen

How to:
If possible, practice this pose with a mirror to your right or left.  This will enable you to check the alignment of the spine.

1. Stand on the mat and separate the feet about mat’s distance apart.  Turn the toes out slightly.
2. Bring the palms to press together at the center of the chest in Anjali Mudra.
3. Anchor the tailbone down and feel the abdomen pull in.  Notice the long line from the tailbone to the crown of the head.
4.  Keep this line intact and hinge the hips back into a low squat, the elbows coming to the insides of the knees. 
5.  Press the elbows into the knees and feel the chest brighten forward and shoulder blades draw together, making the upper spine as straight as possible.
6.  This is where the mirror comes in handy.  If you are very flexible in your hips and legs, it is likely that the low back is rounding.  Lift the hips up a couple inches and tip the chest slightly forward to bring work back into the legs.  If you are tighter in your legs, it is possible that your heels have popped off the floor.  You can place a blanket underneath them or separate the feet a little more and lift the hips a little higher.  If you have any issues with your knees, do not lower all the way down into the low squat.  Instead, take the feet very wide and stay in a high-squat.
7. Ease the back of the neck and the face, take 10 deep, full breaths as the spine lengthens, the legs and feet ground, and the hips open up.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Teacher of the Month - Jan Stritzler

Teacher of the Month
November 2012
Jan Stritzler
By April Evans

Join Jan at the York Studio for Gentla Prana Yoga
3:05-4:20pm Mondays

Jan has been a teacher at New York Yoga for over a decade and is adored by loyal and devoted students.  She has been working in the dance and fitness industries for three decades, and teaches to a diverse population of students.  Whether you are a beginner, an advanced yogi, or have sustained an injury, Jan will meet you where you are and help you move forward.  She is passionate about creating an environment where her students can breathe, reflect, and respect the mental and physical states in which they arrive to her class.

When did you first discover yoga?
I discovered yoga as a teenager through the dance.  It was a big part of the dance world in the 1970s, so I’ve known about it for a long time.

How long have you been teaching? 
I did my yoga certification 15 years ago with Prana Yoga, but I’ve been teaching fitness, dance, and combinations of those since I graduated from college in 1982.

What makes your class unique?
My first response is to say that because my training is in Prana Yoga, using sound makes my class unique.  I integrate healing sounds and chakra sounds into vinyasa, which adds a dimension to class that isn’t always there.  The other thing is that while I teach a Gentle class, it is not a beginner’s class.  There is tremendous power in the subtlety of a Gentle class.  I’m interested in consciousness and creating a loving space for people to be loving with themselves.  Everybody comes to class for a different reason, and people hear what they are ready to hear.  In my class you’re really being asking to feel and sense and be with what you need.  That’s not an easy thing.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I love teaching Tadasana because I feel that it really connects people to their bodies and to their alignment.  It’s a wonderful way of lengthening and opening the body to prepare for everything else.  I also love to teach pranayama and breathing. I like to use sound and breathing within Tadasana. 

What is you favorite pose to practice?
It changes all the time, but this week I've been enjoying Sun Salutations.  I have really been embracing and exploring them for myself.

Best advice for beginners?
Be a beginner and allow yourself not to know, without that being a bad thing! Understand that yoga is not about being able to put your leg behind your head – it is more.  Read a lot from both ancient texts and modern yogis and immerse yourself in it to learn more.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Think about where you are in each moment and where your challenge lies.  Maybe your challenge is meditation and stillness.  Maybe your challenge is that headstand you’ve never been totally comfortable with.  Keep questioning, “Where do I go now?” and try not to become complacent.  Understand that yoga is not about being able to put your leg behind your head.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
My pet peeve in general is people thinking you can only do yoga if you are a certain way.  "I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” or “I can’t do yoga because I don’t like to move slowly."  It bothers me when people have preconceived notions about something they just don’t understand.
How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?
I have my own yoga practice every morning.  It is sometimes longer, sometimes shorter depending on what I'm doing, but I do something every morning.  I also sit and breathe before I go to bed at night

Passions besides yoga?
I adore and use essential oils every day.  I also love and adore cooking.  I have to say my biggest passion in my life would have to be hanging out with my family.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The benefits of Hot Yoga

You like to sweat, right? Based on the popularity of hot yoga it seems like you're not alone. Our hot classes at New York Yoga are always cooking. But what do you say to people when they ask why you do it? What are the benefits of hot yoga?

Here are eight compelling reasons from Yoganonymous to get into the hot studio. We couldn't agree more.

Haven't taken hot yoga yet? Now is the time. See you in the studio soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pose of the month - Kapotasana

Pose of the Month
Kapotasana – Full Pigeon
By April Evans

Near Thanksgiving many of us contemplate the many things for which we are grateful.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, practicing gratitude and compassion can help us heal, help, and rebuild.  Kapotasana, a pose which is equally grounding and heart-opening, is the perfect representation for being rooted in compassion.  The full expression of Kapotasana is not right for all bodies and can take years to achieve.  Respect your body’s boundareies; as long as your intention is to open your heart, you’re still doing the pose.

-Stretches the entire front body (ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, throat)
-Stretches the psoas
-Strengthens the back muscles
-Extreme heart opener

How to:
Before coming into this pose, ensure that the quadriceps, hip flexors, shoulders, and chest have been warmed up.

1. Come to stand on the knees. Point the toes and press the tops of the feet and the shins into the floor.

2. Take the hands to the lower back and use them to press down and lengthen the lower back.  Feel the tailbone lengthen away from the crown of the head and the lower abdomen engage, firm the thigh muscles.  To find this sensation of stability in the thighs and lower back, place a block between the thighs and squeeze the thighs into the block.  The remaining steps may be done with or without the block.

3.  Lengthen the back of the neck by tucking the chin toward the chest.  Continue to press down on the back of the pelvis with the hands, and on an inhale lean the chest back and tip the heart further toward the sky.

4.  Use the strength of the abdomen and the legs to support the body in this shape while bringing the hands to press together in a prayer shape at the center of the chest

5. Continue to lift the heart, slowly drop the head back.  When the floor behind you becomes visible, begin to reach the arms overhead and drop the hands, then the crown of the head to the floor behind you.

6.  Actively press the shins forward and down into the floor and lift the pelvis as much as possible.  Begin to crawl the hands toward the feet so the forearms come to the floor.  You may be able to grasp the ankles or the calves.

7.  Take at least 5 deep breaths here, feeling the shins and forearms root down while the front of the body opens and expands.

8.  To come out of the pose, walk the hands backward so the forearms lift off the floor.  Use the strength of the arms to lift the head and tuck the chin back in toward the chest.  Take one or both hands to return to the lower back and lift back upright to stand on the shins. 

9.  Hold child’s pose for several breaths.  After such a deep backbend it can also be useful to hold plank pose for several breaths

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Put on your Yoga Face!

New York Yoga instructor Lulu Hagen was recently featured on Good Morning America with her facial yoga technique. New York Yoga hosted a wonderful workshop on The Yoga Face, and GMA was kind enough to come check it out.

The Facial Yoga techniques that Lulu writes about in her book, Yoga Face, can help improve the strength of facial muscles, and slow the signs of aging. Find out more at the link below, and come in to New York Yoga and check out a class with Lulu! She teaches at the Hot studio on Thursdays at 9:30am.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pose of the Month!

Halloween is a celebration of things that scare us.  For many yogis, inversions are the scariest part of the asana practice.  An inversion is any pose that turns you upside down and gets your heart over your head.  Pinchamyurasana, known more commonly as “Forearm Stand” is a deep heart opener as well as a core strengthener.  A perfect pose to practice during the colder months, this pose stretches out the shoulders and warms up the core.

-Strengthens the shoulders, back, and abdomen
-Stretches the shoulders, neck, and chest
-Like all inversions, activates the “off-switch” portion of the nervous system, creating a calming effect

How to:
Before attempting this pose, ensure that the hamstrings and the shoulders are sufficiently stretched, and do some core-work as well.  Be aware that it can take years to fully realize this pose in the body, and that’s ok.  Try the steps outlined below, and stay and work where you meet your edge – one day you will push through that boundary and onto the next step. No fear!

1. Bring the skinny edge of the mat to a solid wall. Come to hands and knees and lower down onto the forearms.  See that the elbows are as wide as the shoulders and the hands are 6” to 1’ away from the wall. 

2.  Tuck the toes and lift the hips into Dolphin pose (like Down Dog but on your forearms).  Gaze forward at the thumbs.  If it is difficult to keep the elbows from winging out, use a strap and a block as pictured here:

3.  Walk the feet as close to the wall as they will go.  Keep the gaze forward at the thumbs and lift the right leg up.  Notice if the lower back collapses. If so, then scoop the naval in and up so the tailbone lengthens back.  Keep the right leg very active, and lift way up onto the ball of the left foot. 

4.  Start to put a little more effort into the rocking of the left foot and hop the left foot a few inches off the floor.  Maintain a long lower back and a long right leg.

5.  Begin to increase the size of the kicks, keeping both legs as straight as possible on the ascent.

6.  If both feet can reach the wall, lengthen the tailbone up toward the ceiling and then take the right foot off the wall so it stacks on top of the rest of the body.  Then bend the left knee and come to the left toes against the wall.  Squeeze the knees and thighs together and try straightening both legs.

7.  Repeat steps 3-6 on the opposite side.  Take Child’s Pose.

8.  As comfort increases in the pose, move farther and farther away from the wall until you can skip Step 6 and bring both feet up without stopping at the wall first.

Bye-Bye Fear!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Life is on Your Side

Life is on Your Side is a non-profit organization founded by New York Yoga instructor Joseph Glaser in memory of his sister, Erin Rose Hall, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2009.

LIOYS is dedicated to making alternative holistic healthcare financially available to young adults living with cancer.

Joseph will be hosting a donation based yoga class at New York Yoga's York Avenue location on October 19 from 8:15-9:30. 100% of donations will go directly toward paying for the treatment of young adults dealing with cancer diagnoses.

Please join us in the studio on October 19. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Candlelight Yoga

New York Yoga is being featured on Course Horse this month! They have recommended our candlelight class as one of their current classes to check out, and we tend to agree with them.

If you haven't done one of our candlelight classes before, treat yourself. Incorporating essential oils and relaxing burning candles, this yoga session will help you learn fluid transitions that allow poses to flow from one to another to develop strength, stamina and flexibility, while also calming the mind. It is at once a physical and relaxing class for the body and the mind.

Our Candlelight classes are offered on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 9:05pm at the York studio. We'll see you there soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flipping Your practice on its head!

We were reading this great article that has a video with some helpful tips for getting your inversion practice to where it needs to be. And if looking at a video isn't helpful, if you, like me, are a more hands on practitioner, you have got to check out New York Yoga's own Lauren Harris, who will be hosting a handstand camp in the hot studio on October 13 at 6:30pm.

Getting those inversions will take your practice to the next level, and the benefits of handstand include a better sense of balance, improved circulation, full-body strengthening, and a renewed sense of self confidence.

Sign up for Lauren's workshop here. We look forward to turning your practice upside down.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yoga for Super Bowl Champs

A recent “Yoga in America” Study found that 27.8% (or a little over 4 million) of the people who are practicing Yoga in America today are male, and that number is on a continuously upward trend. The days of classifying Yoga as a primarily female practice are over, and we have seen some excellent ways that Yoga is reaching out to a broader audience.

Dayna Macy, a spokeswoman for Yoga Journal, suggests age as one factor. “As men get older, yoga becomes much more attractive,” she said.

There has also been a wider admission by professionalathletes that Yoga has helped them in their profession. High profile players like Lebron James, Evan Longoria, and Shaquille O’Neal use their regular Yoga practice to enhance their performance. Says Lebron James, “Yoga isn't just about the body, it's also about the mind, and it's a technique that has really helped me”.

The Super Bowl Champion New YorkGiants have had Gwen Lawrence on staff as a full time Yoga instructor for 11 years, and Yoga practice is mandatory for all team rookies. Lawrence says of her philosophy: “strength plus flexibility equals power on the field. Doing these moves not only keeps players less injury prone – because a tight, rigid body is more likely to crack and break – but they also translate into power. Think of it this way: you have a bow and arrow, and the bow string is strong and unbreakable, but if it’s too tight, you can only pull it back an inch and the arrow flops down on the ground.  But when the string is flexible, you can pull it far back, and the arrow has more power. When joints are open, strong and flexible like this, they can create more power with less effort on the field.  That way, they can stay on the field longer and win the game in the end.”

When asked about Giants star quarterback Eli Manning, Lawrence says that he regularly attends yoga, and that he’s “very flexible”.

Men, there is no reason to be scared of yoga anymore. Now is the time to get back into the studio and enhance your practice with New York Yoga. Because who doesn’t want to be as flexible as a Super Bowl Champ?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Only 5% of Americans do Yoga??

This great article talks about the percentage of Americans that currently practice Yoga regularly. While the statistic shocks me, it's the reasons people give for not going to class that give me pause.

“I can’t turn my mind off. I am too busy thinking about all the things I need to do. I can’t just sit there and stretch. I am just too distracted to get anything out of it.”

“I don’t look good in yoga pants.”

“I tried it once, but I couldn’t get the breathing part of it down. I felt like I was hyperventilating.”

“Yoga is too slow for me, I’d much rather do more aggressive exercises like what we do in my CrossFit class.”
“I am just not that spiritual.”

To me, those read as a list of exactly the reasons to come to a yoga class. Our lives have become so complicated and busy, and we worry more and more about our appearance, and we forget to simply breathe!

These are all the reasons we practice. And we encourage you to share your practice with New York Yoga. In the last week of National Yoga Month, let's remember to never say "I can't", and to always say "I will".


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Teacher of the Month - Kristin Leal

Kristin Leal is one of New York Yoga’s most trusted and treasured teachers, with a list of accomplishments very difficult to summarize. In addition to teaching yoga, she is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Reiki practitioner, holds certifications in Thai massage and Neuromustular and Myofascial release, has created and led yoga teacher trainings all over the world, and helped create the ISHTA Marma Point teacher training. She is a huge anatomy junkie and can usually be found with a skeleton in her bag. Kristin’s passion for anatomy and her open, friendly demeanor create the space for students of all levels to be comfortable in their bodies and in their practices. Soothing, sweet, and grounding are all words that can be used to describe her class.

Join Kristin at the York Studio:
Mondays 6:05pm – 7:25pm Open Level Vinyasa
Mondays 7:35pm – 8:50pm Vinyasa Basics
Wednesdays 4:35pm – 5:50pm All Levels Vinyasa
Wednesdays 6:05pm – 7:35pm Vinyasa Basics

When did you first discover yoga?

In 1993 I went to a class with my best friend. We were both dancers and she brought me to the old Jivamukti Yoga School.

How long have you been teaching?

I started teaching soon after that. I was already teaching dance classes, so I started teaching some yoga within those. I also began teaching friends and people I worked with. This was before teacher trainings were really done. There were a few in the city, but it wasn’t popular at the time to do them. I have taken many trainings since, including one at Jivamukti with Adrienne Burke, an Anusara training with Betsey Downing PhD, and other trainings with Rodney Yee.

What makes your class unique?

I don’t know if it’s unique, but I try to broaden the idea of yoga as being something beyond asana. I try very hard to expand yoga’s definition to include bringing consciousness into each and every aspect of your living. I’m extremely passionate about anatomy and teaching it. My goal there is to get people excited to learn about their own form and to celebrate their uniqueness rather than thinking they have to conform to any one cookie-cutter shape.

What is your favorite pose to teach?

Savasana. I think Tadasana and Savasana are the two most important poses. Tadasana is a wonderful way to learn how to truly stand in your own body and be in the moment of now. Savasana is how to really practice your surrender in that moment.

What is your favorite pose to practice?

Savasana. Surrender. There was a point where 10-15 years ago I was really into achieving different poses like arm balances and inversions, and I found that it doesn’t leave you with much, but a couple injuries. If you learn how to embody yourself, learn how to be present; that seems to be more useful.

Best advice for beginners?

Laugh, don’t take yourself too seriously. Do the best you can to engage, and let go.

Best advice for more advanced students?

Laugh, don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep taking classes and different teachers and keep your mind open the best you can.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?

I don’t really have them anymore. I used to have quite a lot of them: people texting in class, leaving early, not paying attention. But one of my teachers, Alan Finger, said, “You have to let people be where they are, and meet them there.” That really chilled me out.

How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?

Yoga is my daily life.

Passions besides yoga?

Other than yoga I teach anatomy internationally, tantra philosophy, comparisons of the Western anatomical model and the Eastern esoteric model, as well as a Marma therapy course. I’m kind of a dork. I really just like studying anatomy and talking to whoever will listen to me about it. You could also say I have a passion for chocolate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yoga Date

So you're dating a yogi. There can be many pitfalls and challenges associated. Your practice, or their practice, is intensely personal. But aren't relationships about sharing the intensely personal parts of your life?

Check out this great article from Yoganonymous about Yoga dates. And always remember, there is no room for judgement in your practice.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pose of the Month

Pose of the Month: Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)

In the Ayurvedic context, Autumn is known as a Vata season, or a season of change.  Vata is filled with the qualities of air, and when the winds of change are in the air around us, sometimes we can have a hard time feeling grounded.  Lizard pose is a wonderful pose to practice if the transition into your fall routine leaves you feeling jumpy or anxious.  It is a personal favorite of mine.  It is simple and effective, and comes with myriad variations to suit the needs of your hips, legs, and back on any given day.

-Opens the hips flexors
-Opens the thigh muscles
-Releases the back
-Balances Vata Dosha
How to:
1. Come to a low lunge with your right foot forward in between your hands and your back knee lowered on the floor.
2.  Heel-toe your right foot to the outer right edge of the mat so both hands come to the inside of the right foot, stacked underneath the shoulders.  Check that the right knee is stacked over the right ankle; if the knee is moving past the ankle then step the right foot farther forward.
3. If this is too difficult, place blocks underneath your hands.  If you need more stretch, lower the forearms down where your hands were, either onto blocks or the floor. 
4. Squeeze the right knee toward the right shoulder.  Scoop the belly button in and up, and lengthen the tailbone down and back.
5. Stay and breath for at least five deep and full breaths.  Let gravity win, and enjoy the close proximity to the ground.
6. Repeat on the left side.
Popular Variations:
For Outer Hip Opening: Turn the right toes out toward the side of the mat and roll to the outer edge of the right foot, allow the knee to splay out to the side. Press the right hand into the right inner thigh just above the knee and twist the chest toward the sky by straightening the right arm as much as possible.  For extra Vata balancing, inhale from the twist, then exhale and turn the chest toward the floor and undulate the spine forward.  Move between these two shapes for several breaths. Repeat on the left.
For Quadriceps Opening: If you are comfortable on the forearms, cross the left forearm across the top of the mat, otherwise rise back onto both palms. Reach the right hand back for the right foot.  Turn the shoulders toward the floor and forward fold, gently pulling the right heel toward your bottom. Repeat on the left.
For Strengthening: Tuck the left toes and lift the left knee off of the floor.  Firm the thigh muscles.  To add core strengthening, rock forward way on to the tops of the toes and feel the lower abdomen engage. Take the right hand to the right ankle and work the right shoulder under the right knee.  Extend the right arm out to the side like an airplane wing.  If desired, lengthen left arm out as well.  Repeat on the left.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Make the most of your travel time

We prefer you do these poses in class at New York Yoga with your favorite teacher, but if you must travel away from us, this could be very helpful stuff!

Do you have favorite ways to keep your practice alive when you are out of your regular routine? Let us know in the comments. We love the feedback!

Have you liked us on facebook?
follow us on twitter @newyorkyoga

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New York Yoga in the News!

Check out this great feature on New York Yoga. We pride ourselves on being your neighborhood studio and are thrilled to continue providing you with excellent teachers, an excellent schedule, and excellent service in both of our studio locations.

We've been here since 1999. How long have you been a part of the New York Yoga family? Sound off in the comments below!

How to be a Bada** Yogi

This is a great article from the Yogavibes blog that is a really great reminder of some things that we can sometimes forget in our practice. As for what she says about social media, well, we love seeing our New York Yogis on facebook and twitter, so share away!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Touch Me Baby! The Magic of Yoga Adjustments

 Here is a great article about the art of adjustment and physical contact in Yoga. How do you feel about in class adjustments? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Touch Me Baby! The Magic of Yoga Adjustments

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teacher of the Month: Frank Mauro

Join Frank for class!
Tuesdays 4:35 – 5:50pm All Levels Vinyasa at York

Frank Mauro was one of New York Yoga’s original teachers when it first opened its doors over a decade ago.  After becoming a prominent teaching figure at Om Yoga Center he is back!  Frank’s demeanor is genuine and easy, creating a free and comfortable atmosphere in his classes.  When you attend his class you can expect personalized attention, clear instruction, and a friendly tone.  Take his class and you will have no trouble understanding why he has taught internationally and been praised by many of yoga’s biggest names.

When did you first discover yoga?
I actually did yoga as a kid, I used to practice with my father.  So in the late 60s/early 70s I used to do headstands and plow and meditate.  Then I got to that point where every kid completely doesn’t want to do what their parents are doing, so I stopped.  In my 20s I worked for an art gallery, I’m an artist, and the woman who owned it used to send everybody on trips.  This one trip, about 25 years ago, was me and four other artists.  We went down south to North Carolina and the other artists would wake up and practice yoga every morning and I thought, “That looks really relaxing.”  I guess I had adult pressure and stress at that time that I had acquired.  It was more useful because I was learning this de-stressing thing as a little kid, which is kind of like having a glass of water in a swimming pool.  I started to practice once or twice a week on my own when we got back to New York, got my own membership, and it was from that point that my practice was pretty steady.

How long have you been teaching? 
15 years this summer. I’ve taught mostly in the city but I’ve taught retreats and workshops around the world.  I worked for Om for almost 12 years so a lot of it was through them.  I was teaching the West Coast, the South, the Midwest, mostly teacher trainings.  Up until last April I was traveling twice a month for the last 9 years.

What makes your class unique?
Well I would say that if it is unique, it hasn’t been unique for a long time until recently.  I think it’s because I no longer take anything that’s told to me as gospel and I no longer teach anything as “This is the way.”  If anything, I’m more pessimistic in my teaching.  My point of view is: before you even ask yourself, “Does this work?” ask yourself “Why.”  It’s ok if you don’t want to do this; it’s ok if you can’t find its purpose.  But ask, because I think once there’s purpose, then there’s drive for some sort of clarity, accuracy, technique, method.  That all sort of sits on “Why.”  If my class is unique, I would say it’s because I haven’t seen too many people press the “why” button too much.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
Probably the ones that I have the hardest time with my body taking the shape. Over the years I’ve probably been a more backbendy, handstandy, jump in and out of arm balances type of practitioner.  So I enjoy teaching seated forward folded postures, energetically cooling stuff like baddha konasana and pascimottanasana and those kinds of poses that are really rooted and quiet.  I’m more energetic and at times frenetic, so I like teaching the seated, grounded things.  I teach the stuff I need to hear.  I want to do things that girl dancers do.
What is you favorite pose to practice?
I just like practicing sun salutations.  I’m never at a loss for being a creative, but there are times that being creative comes at a higher energetic expense than others.  If I’m traveling and teaching, I don’t want to be thinking about anything else but what I’m going to be teaching that weekend.  So sometimes just 10 A’s and 10 B’s is fine by me. I’ll throw some twists in but in terms of favorite poses to do, it’s just a movement of my body.  Something that’s opening but grounding, something like fish pose that has a rhythmic quality to it.

Best advice for beginners?
Don’t run before you can walk, and don’t be ashamed of walking.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Be willing to look back and question what you’ve done until this point, and it’s ok if you no longer think that direction is correct.  This is what this thing is all about…stay away from people who have all the answers.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
When people, especially advanced students, judge their self worth or their availability of  movement by extreme asana.  You’ll see them and their bummed out and like “Aw man, I hurt my neck and I can’t even do kapotasana.” So? Can you turn your head? Can you go to the store? Can you meditate? Can you breathe? Do you feel good in your body?Can you just be happy that you have a neck today? People have this idea that they are “injured” or that they’re “out of commission” because the doctor told them to stay off their wrist and they’re bummed.  So that’s a big pet peeve of mine. This practice investigates everything from the ground up and tears apart artificial confidence.  That attitude keeps you from rebuilding yourself from a place of being really humble and takes it into a place of ego.
Attached to this is a misunderstanding of ego.  Most yoga teachers and yoga practitioners consider ego to be thinking you’re hot stuff.  I think your ego is anything that makes the story about you, even if it’s a self-deprecating thing.  The story is not about you and your pain.  You’re part of the big picture.  You should have a sense of confidence. There’s a function for ego, so the pet peeve is that teachers want to abolish this so-called enemy “ego.” I’m not exactly sure if Freud and Jung were wrong that there’s a function to it.

How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?
I kind of watch other people and how they live and function in uncomfortable circumstances. Yoga off the mat for me is about asking, “What are my responses to extreme comfort and extreme discomfort?”  In all my extreme comfort there’s a seed of, “This is going to end soon.” And so I wish it would last forever which means I am now suffering; I’m no longer enjoying the ice cream sunday, because I’m now thinking, “This is going to end” or “This is going to make my middle aged body out of shape.” And then when I don’t want something, I notice how childlike I can get. “Oh when’s this going to stop,” when really it’s going to stop in 4 or 5 minutes.  I kind of look at the extremes and find out where I fit in them.  When things are going really smoothly, there’s not a whole bunch of learning you can do there.  It’s when it’s extreme that there’s a whole lot of self observation going on I can think, “Oh I actually think I can see some progress in myself, I like the direction that I’m moving in regards to this type of response to this type of thing.”

Passions besides yoga?
I am an artist.  I am a painter, but now that I’m switching the way I’m working in yoga and I’m no longer working for one person and one thing, I’d like to start getting more into visuals, maybe filmmaking.  I’ve always found my biggest inspirations as a painter to be musicians and filmmakers.  They’ve always had big influences on me.  I think of the way someone makes a film, and how they would paint just by looking at it cinematically.  Something I’m not good at at all, but I enjoy it more than anything, is playing music.  I play guitar, horribly, but I don’t give up.  I’ve always surrounded myself with better players and I’ve really taken a long time to progress.  I’ve been told by several people that I’m tone deaf.  But the level of enjoyment is enough to categorize it as an outside of yoga passion.