Thursday, March 29, 2012

Do Taxes and Tadasana Mix?

Recently, there has been tax law revealed that may tax yoga studios, ask studios to treat all yoga teachers as independent contractors, and charge licensing fees for studios. Yoga for New York has been actively working to educate teachers, students, and studios about these issues, and if you're interested you can read more about them here.

New York Yoga will also be hosting a benefit class for Yoga for New York on Friday, April 6 from 6:45 to 8pm. The class is donation based and all proceeds will go to Yoga for New York.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Deepening My Meditation Practice

By Lisa Dawn Angerame

I have been practicing yoga asana for over 13 years now. I also meditate, chant, practice pranayama, and study yoga philosophy. For many years, asana was my primary practice. I overcame my fears in pincha mayurasana and can now do fun arm balances like ashtavakrasana. Working through years of tension, my body has become flexible and strong. I love the feeling of resting on my mat during savasana after a delicious, detoxifying asana practice. Most of all, I love the calmness that lingers even after I return to the crowded streets of the city.

Two and a half years ago, I gave birth to my son and the focus of my life changed from me to him. Being a mother has its challenges and luckily all of the practices of yoga help me be the best, most present, mother I can be. Asana helped me regain my body post pregnancy. Chanting allows me connect to my son through sound and I study yoga philosophy during naptime. Recently I have noticed that my meditation practice has become much deeper and more gratifying. I even look forward to sitting in a way that I never did before! In fact, when my son was 15 months old, we started meditating as a family every night. It is such a beautiful way to end the day and send everyone off to bed with a calm, relaxed mind.

Meditation, even for just five minutes a day, is an opportunity to take control of the mind. It is the job of the mind to think in order to function in the world in terms of interacting and conversing with people, problem solving, doing our jobs, taking in new information, etc. But meditation is like a mental vacation, an opportunity to shut out the world and take a break from thinking. A regular mediation practice affords us the opportunity to notice what and how we think.  After a while, we start to notice how often the same thoughts come up. We notice how often we review the past, make our lists, and create future scenarios that may or may not ever come to be. And then something happens. We no longer allow ourselves to get caught up in the drama of those thoughts because the experience of sitting peacefully is so much better. When the mind finally calms down, and is no longer racing, we can just sit and get lost in the beauty and peace of just being.

There are many schools and methods of meditation. I practice the way I was taught the very first time I meditated. At first, it took all of the focus I had just to sit with my eyes closed without fidgeting the whole time and hoping the timer would go off.  Now, I look forward to the time I have on my cushion. I love the whole process of sitting down, getting quiet and clear. On some nights it is harder to focus than on others, but the practice is profound and has deep and lasting effects. I know this because when I get frustrated or impatient, I stop, take a breath, and recall the peaceful state from my practice.

Here are instructions for meditation practice.  

Set a timer for 5 to 20 minutes. Sit down and rest your hands in your lap. With your eyes closed, look at your third eye, the center of your forehead. It is a blank, black screen. You may see colors or lights dancing. Keep your focus there. Count your breaths. If you lose count because thoughts are disrupting your concentration, start over. If you notice your eyes are not focused, focus them. Sit like this and practice until the timer goes off.

Meditate every day. Actively pursue the practice of meditation by studying the way you feel before, during, and after you sit. Give yourself the gift of this special time and truly let it change your life. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Smelly Mat, Smelly Mat, How Are We Cleaning You?

We love our Tapas mats at New York Yoga, and we're so glad to be able to share them with everyone. But how do we keep them clean?

We use tea tree oil for its role as a natural antibacterial agent as well as its protective properties against viruses, fungal infections, and other nasty things. We also use peppermint oil not just because it smells nice, but because it acts as a mental stimulant, has a supportive effect on the liver and respiratory system,and improves concentration and mental sharpness.

Interestingly enough, the cool folks at Alignyo have a similar technique for keeping their mats clean, and have provided the recipe here! So if you don't want your mat to be a smelly one, check out this great article to keep your mat fresh!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Yoga Can Make You a Better Athlete

Yoga is of course wonderful for strengthening any body, but athletes in particular can benefit from yoga's healing properties in terms of focus, endurance, conditioning, and flexibility. As Mind Body Green contributor Rita Trieger writes in her article "How Yoga Can Make You a Better Athlete":

" asanas or postures offer athletes a plethora of ways and means to improve on these qualities, as well as innovative techniques to incorporate balance, muscle conditioning and healing relief for joints."

So if you're an athlete, or know someone who is, you can use yoga not just to relax but to make you even better at the sport of your choice!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teacher of the Month: Ben Lombardo

By Rebecca Merritt

Ben discovered yoga at a young age and embraced it as his calling right out of college. This early recognition of his path has lead to one embodied yogi and one very talented teacher. Ben’s classes will help you align, deepen, and explore your practice.

He runs the gamut at New York Yoga, teaching: Vinyasa Basics, All Levels Vinyasa, Gentle, and Restorative classes. Here is a list of his classes, all at our York Studio:
  • Vinyasa All Levels: Wednesdays, 9:35-10:55
  • Gentle Yoga: Wednesdays, 11:05-12:20; Thursdays, 12:30-1:45
  • Vinyasa Basics: Saturdays, 4:20-5:35
  • Restorative: Saturdays, 5:45-7
So wherever you find yourself in your practice, Ben will meet you there ever ready to help you strengthen and grow.

When did you first discover yoga?
I first started doing yoga when I was thirteen or fourteen – someone taught me how to do a sun salute. Then my junior year of college I started to practice much more seriously. I had some private instruction early on and it was very transformative, very quickly. I graduated from college and went right into teacher training, at Ishta with Alan Finger, because I know yoga was just it for me.

How long have you been teaching?
I started teaching with my Gentle class at New York Yoga – that was the Fall of 2008.

What makes your class unique?
I like to think that I’m helping students develop a real foundation in their practice, so they can explore yoga without getting hurt or losing sight of their goals. Hopefully I’m also helping them get interested in the deeper limbs of yoga.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
Probably plank pose. It is structurally one of the best posed for your body, it integrates everything and requires a lot of instruction to do safety. So I like to be very detailed when I teach it.

What is your favorite pose to practice?
Uttanasana, legs up the wall, handstand - lots of going upside down in all of those.

Best advice for beginners?
Take it slow. Don’t worry about everybody else. Just try to stay true to yourself and don’t forget to breathe.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
You are ultimately your own best teacher. So explore. Don’t be afraid to go back to basics every once in awhile. Sometimes less is more.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
When the yogi personality, where everything is bliss and love, gets taken to the extreme. It creates a denial to pain or the difficult realities of a yoga practice, which is very hard work if you really get into it. And yes, it does lead to more love, but it’s a fuller experience of everything.

What is the difference between Gentle and Restorative Yoga?
In my class you may find that gentle yoga is actually pretty challenging, with detailed alignment, lots of movement, breathing and strengthening. I think strengthening should always be a big part of gentle yoga. Where restorative teaches you to release and surrender which are both very important in a different way.

Passions besides yoga?
I have been very passionate about qigong lately and internal alchemy, which is based off of Taoism. I hope to soon be able to teach that. I also like to snowboard and rock climb.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Momentary Mindfulness

Business author and advisor Dr. Annie McKee is a busy lady, so when her brain and body need moments of respite, she has to create to create them in the seconds she has available. She calls this phenomenon momentary mindfulness, in which you encourage yourself to take a step outside of mundane tasks and find the beauty in the everyday. As she writes in her article on The Huffington Post:

"Every so often during the day, I remind myself to tune in to myself, my environment, and others. I don't pick the moments ahead of time, or have any regular times of day. When the thought or mood strikes me, I meditate for 30 seconds, a minute or two. It might be when I'm getting ready to feed my dogs in the morning. Instead of rushing through the task, I slow down a bit, take a few deep breaths, and then call them. That tiny moment of mindfulness opens me up to their crazy, wonderful joy and I can actually feel how much they love me and I love them." 

If you find yourself rushing too much through life, try to add momentary mindfulness to give you perspective. You may even find that it begins to positively affect your yoga practice!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pose of the Month: Utkatasana

By Rebecca Merritt

This March, explore your inner power with Utkatasana.  Many of you will recognize this as “chair pose” or even “awkward chair pose” because of the shape the yogi makes while practicing it.  However, Utkata translates to powerful or fierce in Sanskrit, so let’s experiment and approach the pose with this gaze. 

Instead of sitting back into the tiny imaginary chair behind you, root down into the feet, feel the power of the pelvis, and open the heart as you lengthen the spine.  Let Utkatasana be an expression of energy and strength, share your unique fierceness.  Who knows, maybe your March will be a little bolder for it.
*Bonus pose:  if you are ready to start some spring cleaning in those organs, you can take Parivritta Utkatasana or Ukatasana with a twist!
How to:
1. Come to stand at the top of your mat in Tadasana. Inhale, reach the arms high by the ears, palms either facing each other or touching.

2. Exhale, bend the knees and squat to find a low seat. Thighs will come as parallel to the floor as you can get them.  Heels stay grounded.

3. Inhale as you roll the shoulder blades down the back.

4. Exhale as you sit a little lower, drawing your tailbone toward the floor and in toward your pubis as you hug in the belly to keep the lower back long.

5. Hold and breathe. To come out of this pose straighten your knees, reach through the fingertips and then exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.

*To take the twist, you will draw the palms to meet in front of the heart in prayer position, Anjali Mudra. Next twist the torso to your right and hook the left elbow or back of the arm outside the right thigh. Inhale, lengthen through the crown. Exhale, twist to the right.  Make sure you keep the thighs parallel here – perhaps drawing slightly back through the left hip. Return to center and repeat on the left side.
·         Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
·         Stretches shoulders and chest
·         Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart
·         Reduces flat feet


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sounds Like Yoga, Volume 17

Our latest playlist is from NYY instructor Joseph Glaser, who you can find at the Hot Studio on Mondays at 8:25am and Fridays at 6:35pm. His tunes include the likes of Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw and Bruno Mars. It's time to get your yoga on! But we recommend doing it without the shades...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March at New York Yoga

Hey New York Yogis! This month we've got a bunch of great specials and workshops for you. Have a look-see below!