Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yoga Confidence 101

In a blog post on Yoga Journal's Good Life blog, we're reminded of five reasons to be confident in yoga. Sure, it's difficult when the person next to you is doing the deepest expression of one-legged king pigeon you've ever seen, but it's important to remember there's no competition. Confidence in yoga comes from personal achievement. How do you stay confident in your yoga practice?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yoga in the Wild

Like most humans in this day and age, we love a cute animal picture. Especially when it's combined with yoga. Check out Buzzfeed's compilation of animals "practicing" yoga here. Which is your favorite?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pose of the Month: Eka Pada Galavasana - Flying Crow Pose

By Rebecca Merritt

Eka Pada Galavasana is an excellent pose to help you face any fears – of arm balancing or otherwise. Flying Crow will help test your balance and focus. It is a pose where you need to trust your heart (shifting the weight forward on your chaturanga arms) and keep your head up (by keeping your gaze forward) to conquer. And on or off the mat doesn’t that always seem to be the case?

-          Strengthens arms
-          Strengthens neck and shoulders
-          Stretches hips
-          Improves focus
-          Improves balance
-          Stimulates digestion

How to:

1. From Tadasana begin to move into Tree pose by drawing the right knee in towards the chest while you balance on the left foot. Place the right foot to the inner left thigh, opening the right knee to the side, and find your balance.
2. Remove the right foot from the inner left thigh, and place the right ankle just above the left knee.
3. Bring palms to meet in front of the heart. Begin to sit back as if in Uttkatasana, chair pose.
4. Slowly fold forward, bringing the backs of the arms to the shin of your right leg. Continue to fold until you can plant the palms of your hands to the floor. You may need to come up to tiptoes on your left foot.
5. Hook the toes of the right foot around your upper left arm. Keep the right foot strongly flexed and the toes tightly hugging the arm.
6. Bend the elbows, coming into chaturanga arms. Pick a point to focus on out in front of you.
7. Bring the weight of the body forward into the hands as you lift the left foot off the floor keeping the knee bent at first. Keep the gaze forward.
8. Bring even more weight forward as you straighten the left leg behind you.
9. Flex the left foot strongly as you continue to hug the right foot to your upper arm.
10. Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teacher of the Month: April Evans

By Rebecca Merritt

April is one of New York Yoga’s home-grown teachers and a rapidly rising star. She began teaching right after graduating from our 200 hour teacher training program and earned her first class just a few months later. April teaches from a deep, genuine place, bringing her personal experiences to the practice. Her passion is apparent in her teaching and her classes will help you look inward to balance your mind, body connection. 

As her student you can expect a vigorous Vinyasa flow with peak poses to push your practice. April’s words will inspire, and her transitions will blow your mind.

 Take April’s class…
     Tuesday, 9:30am Hot Vinyasa
     Tuesday, 6:35pm Hot Vinyasa Basics
     Wednesday, 6:20am Hot Vinyasa
     Sunday, 2:35pm Vinyasa Basics


When did you first discover yoga?
I first found yoga during my freshman year of college while earning my acting degree. A couple of friends were going to a class at a gym on campus. They never went to another, but I went back. It was a lead Ashtanga primary series, so that’s what I did for the first four years of my practice.

How long have you been teaching?
A little bit over a year now. I was certified here at New York Yoga with Jenny Jared and Michael Gilbert and started teaching pretty much right away. I graduated in January and was teaching donation classes by February.

What makes your class unique?
What I think makes anyone’s class special – and what makes everybody’s yoga practice special is what you bring to it. It is about being able to honor where you are at any given moment – what you’re thinking about, what you’re working on. I hope my being able to check in with myself, and then share with my students, makes my class unique.
You can see my meditation reflected in the creativity of my sequence and usual there’s a little dharma talk in the beginning. I try to offer enough for the body and mind to contemplate during class.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I really like teaching any pose that seems impossible. This is usually the intermediate poses like Bird of Paradise or Crow. I like poses that seemed impossible to me when I first started practicing and then one day just happened. You don’t go back from there. I like bringing people to the edge of their perceived limitation and showing them that they are strong, powerful, and capable.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
I would have to say my favorite things to practice are not the poses themselves but the transitions in between them. I have such joy sequencing my classes because of the creative transitions. I love going from Devotional Warrior to Peaceful Warrior – the bowing in and sweeping open.

And of course I love jumping back from any arm balance. My current goal is Astavakrasana to Eka Pada Koundinyasana – I’m about forty percent there on a good day. Thank goodness it’s a life long practice!

Best advice for beginners?
Honor yourself. Be okay with being uncomfortable. Know that you are not the only person in the room who isn’t sure what’s going on. Know that you are not the only person in the room who thinks chanting Om is uncomfortable. Know that you are not the only person in the room doesn’t know the Sanskrit names for the poses.

It’s a personal practice but you’re never alone.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Lately, I’ve been working being able to pull apart the impulse to do something and doing it. It’s my tendency to take the most advanced variations of poses, because I like to and it makes me feel open and strong, but we have to recognize that desire and impulse is not really us. So, being able to pull apart the impulse and decision to act is important.  My practice is: impulse, full breath to observe, and then act. Then the decision is based on what you really need. That way you start to see the difference between who you really are and the experience you’re living.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
When people leave in the middle in Savasana. Just don’t do it. If you can’t stay, just leave before and no one will judge you for that. You may not think Savasana is important, but lots of people do … including your teacher.

How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?
Well for one thing I live in Hell’s Kitchen and have to walk through Times Square to get to any train. Trying to get through Times Square without being exasperated with everyone is a challenge and part of my daily yoga. I don’t always succeed but I guess that’s the point.

Passions besides yoga?
I am very passionate about theatre. My favorite thing is to do deconstructive pieces based on other works. I do a lot of avant-garde pieces, usually using a lot movement. Music is another passion. You can see that reflected in my playlist.

I am also super passionate about being good to the people in my life - including my students. Lately I’ve realized how many wonderful people are really willing to step up to the plate for me, and I’m passionate in letting them know I appreciate that.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Would You Do Yoga in an Airport?

At the Dallas/Fort Worth and San Francisco airports, there's a new way to pass the time. DFW just installed its first yoga room, so travelers can "get grounded while they're grounded." The yoga room at the San Francisco airport actually opened up in January. We'll be interested to see if the trend continues, and where it might be headed next! So what do you think: asanas before airtime?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Studying the Yoga Sutras, Part II

By Lisa Dawn Angerame

In my first post about the Yoga Sutras, I explained the meaning of the first four sutras of the first book, the Samadhi Pada:

“Now, I vow to you that yoga is when the activities of the mind are arrested and you abide in your own true nature. At other times, you don’t.” 

In these first four sutras, Bhagavan Patanjali explains what yoga is and what happens when we are not in a state of yoga.  The rest of the sutras – there are 196 in all – offer tools and techniques to realize the state of yoga, which is to abide in our own true nature, as well as what happens to us when we reach this state, what powers we attain, and how we transform.  More on that later.  For now, to know our true nature, we must deal with the activities of the mind: our thoughts and feelings.  In the next two sutras, Bhagavan Patanjali states:

“The activities of the mind are fivefold and can lead to either bondage or freedom.  These five are valid and unchanging knowledge, false knowledge, knowledge through words without object, knowledge of sleep and knowledge of memory. ”

All activities of the mind are categorized as one of five kinds.  For the purposes of arresting the activities of the mind, four categories are not enough and six is too much.  Five is just right!  To arrest all of them is to abide in our own true nature.  In subsequent sutras, Bhagavan Patanjali outlines the precise technical definitions of each and how they are connected to one another.    

The five kinds of thoughts and feelings can either lead to bondage or freedom.  The practice is to figure out what kinds of thoughts we are having.  Are they painful, not painful, happy, or unhappy?  Thoughts come through the mind independently of each other and coexist; they don’t cancel each other out.  The effort is to understand whether we are strengthening or weakening compulsive thinking and actions.  We want to develop thoughts that lead to freedom, which is real lasting peace, beyond happiness or unhappiness, and then drop those thoughts that lead to bondage. 

Why is this important?  Because in order to change, we must become aware of the habitual thought patterns that keep us bonded to negative ways of being.  This is such a hopeful practice.  In the legendary words of Led Zeppelin, “Yes, there are two paths we can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Contemplate this.  We have the power to choose freedom from thoughts that bind us.  But what exactly are these five kinds of thoughts?  Stay tuned.  This is the second of many posts on the Yoga Sutras!

Lisa Dawn has been studying the Yoga Sutras in depth with master teacher A. G. Mohan of India.  She has memorized all four books and teaches small groups. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Do Taxes and Tadasana Mix? Part II

If you're interested in learning more about the yoga studio taxation issue, check out this post from YogaDork. It groups together many of the big points about the situation, including what's at stake for yoga studios, teachers, and the state of yoga in New York. How do you feel about the taxation issue? Let us know here!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April Specials and Workshops!

Hey New York Yogis, check out the specials and workshops happening this month below. Also, we're having a clothing sale in our boutiques until April 15th, where all clothing is 20% off!