Thursday, May 31, 2012

June is in the Air!

Hey New York Yogis,

Check out our awesome specials and workshops for June! As always, if you have questions feel free to email us at or call us at 212.717.0706.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex: Brahmacharya

As you might know, brahmacharya in its most strict definition is a complete vow of celibacy. For most yogis, though, who can't help but be more than a little human, the practice becomes more of a commitment to mindful sexuality. Today on's IntentBlog, yogi Rebecca Pacheco blogs about some of her feelings about the subject. You can also read the views of NYY's own Rebecca Merritt in a blog post about brahmacharya on her blog. How do you feel about the practice? Is it something you'd try, or be willing to think about?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Studying the Yoga Sutras: The Five Kinds of Thoughts

By Lisa Dawn Angerame

In my last post, I explained that Bhagavan Patanjali says there are five kinds of vrittis, thoughts, which can lead to either bondage or freedom.  What are the five categories of thoughts? 

The first category is called pramana, which means right and unchanging knowledge of what was previously unknown. We gain correct knowledge three ways. The first, pratyaksha, is perception through our senses.  We perceive the world, its general and specific characteristics through our five senses, and information is then presented to the mind. This is the most important means of gaining right knowledge. 

Another way to attain right knowledge is through anumana, logical inference, wherein we are able to establish the correct cause and effect relationship about something because we have already perceived the specifics directly.  For example, if there is smoke, there has to be fire. 

And finally, we gain right knowledge through, agama, verbal and written testimony of others who have reached the endpoint of knowledge and realized the truth.  The words are initially spoken and then written down.  Think of Jesus and the New Testament, the Buddha and the Pali Canon, and Sage Patanjali and the Yoga Sutras.  All of these sages had transcendental experiences and were able to communicate them to the world.  However, this is not to say that is okay to accept these words on face value as blind faith plays no part in our personal quest for enlightenment.  We need to do our own practice.

The second category of thought, viparyaya, is false or wrong knowledge, perceiving a thing as being other than what it really is.  It encompasses all delusions, illusions, and confusions and can arise through impaired sense perception, defective inference, and invalid verbal testimony.  The good news is that viparaya gets dismissed by right knowledge.  For example, say you are walking on the beach and you something sparkling in the sand.  At first you think it is a piece of gold but then when you pick it up and inspect, it you realize it is simply a rock that glints like gold in the sun.

The third category of thought, vikalpa, is another type of false knowledge but it is based on words that have no corresponding perceptible object.  An idea arises in the mind that is created by the power of the words themselves but there is no corresponding perceptible object.  While useful in worldly communication, and will continue as long as we interact via language, we have to be conscious of the fact that thoughts based on vikalpa are illusions. For example, time is vikalpa because it is a construct of the mind. There is a sundial in the park near my apartment.  After daylight savings time went into effect, the dial shows the “wrong” time.

What is the difference between an illusion created by viparaya and one created by vikalpa?  In viparyaya, after we realize the true nature of an object, the delusion is no longer there.  But in vikalpa the illusion is still there. 

The fourth category of thought is nidra, deep sleep.  It is the state of mind caused and supported by the quality tamas or restlessness.  Sometimes we sleep and have no memory of having slept.  But other times, we are so restless that we are tossing and turning because thoughts are disturbing our sleep.  We are the physical embodiment of the activities of the mind.  Upon awakening, we feel cloudy in our minds and heavy in our bodies, and because there is memory of having slept upon awakening, deep sleep is considered a vritti, with the goal to bring the mind under control in order to have restful sleep.

The fifth category of thought is memory, smriti, recall of experience without addition.  In fact, all of the vrittis, including smriti, are considered memory because all thoughts create lasting impressions.  Smriti is memory of memory! We are the sum total of all of our experiences.  Everything else is a delusion.  Every memory creates an impression in the mind, and these impressions, whether they lead to bondage or freedom, need to be controlled in order to abide in our own true nature, in the state of yoga.

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. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Teacher of the Month: Lauren Harris

By April Evans

Lauren Harris’s confident, vibrant, and joyful presence is contagious and affecting. Her passion for helping students discover their own strength is evident in her classes, where newbies and advanced yogis alike are led to new levels of possibility. Lauren’s belief in her students and playful sense of humor create the space to explore and take chances. Expect to sweat, laugh, invert, and she’ll be darned if she can’t get you into crow pose!

Lauren is dedicated to continually growing her practice, and loves that with yoga there is always more to learn.

Catch Lauren’s class at the Hot Studio:
Wednesdays 8:25 - 9:25am
Wednesdays 8:15 - 9:30pm
Saturdays 8:00 - 9:00am

When did you first discover yoga?  
I discovered my passion for yoga when I practiced with a friend in Texas at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I think it was 2003 but may have been 2002?  R.E.M. played that year....

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for three years.

What makes your class unique?
I try to have a real life perspective for my students and encourage them all to continue to deepen their practice no matter if they are new to yoga or seasoned yogis.  I think you need to laugh in class sometimes.  I try to encourage the students to be themselves, listen to their bodies, move like themselves, and have a little fun with it.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
Bakasana/Crow.  So many students think they can't do crow, but the majority of them are perfectly capable, they just need to be hand-held through it the first time to help position themselves into the right shape to get the pose, and more often than not, to alleviate the fear associated with the pose.  I find it incredibly rewarding when I help a student hit the pose for the first time - bakasana is kind of a yoga rite of passage, so its great to be able to take students through that gate knowing the potential influence it can have on their practices.

What is you favorite pose to practice?  
Handstand, handstand, handstand.  I'm a little obsessed.  It’s like flying.  I just want to be upside down as much as possible!

Best advice for beginners?
Everyone was a beginner once.  Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the room; its only you and your mat.  Keep an open mind.  Yoga doesn't require any special skills, just showing up to class to practice will work. Like Pathabi Jois said, "practice and all is coming."

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
See above!  I'd say the advice for beginner applies equally to advanced yogis.  I'd encourage students with deep practices to make sure they are continuing to learn and deepen their practice.  If a pose gets "easy", it’s time to take it deeper!

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
Clique-y yogis and yoga teachers who don't welcome new students into a studio.  And when I'm practicing and/or teaching, students who continue to practice and move around during savasana.

How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?
I make a tremendous effort to continue my practice, take classes from all kinds of teachers so that I can continue to learn for myself and to enable me to better teach my own students.  I think that yoga helps us learn to be more respectful of life and I try to live with great respect to other people and animals. (I'm vegan)

Passions besides yoga?
I have two kids, Emmy and Megan.  They are 5 and 6.  So it’s yoga and them!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Downward Dog Has Your Back

Downward dog will forever be a yoga staple, but why? A lot of it has to do with the goodness it does for the back, activating what's known in acupuncture as the bladder channel. The bladder channel "run[s] from the inner eye, up and over the head, down the entire spine and posterior leg, along the side of the foot and ending at the pinky toe," and it has the most acupuncture points in the whole body. The pose is practically designed to make your body feel good! Check out more here in this article by Sara Calabro on Elephant Journal!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yoga Gets Its First Reality TV Show

Yesterday, the Veria Network debuted the first ever yoga reality television show. The show, Rock Your Yoga, takes place in New York and involves a 30-40 minute yoga session followed by guest appearances, Q&A, and lifestyle tips. Is it something you would watch? Or have you watched it, and what did you think?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We Want to Side Plank Like That When We're 93, Too

At 93, Tao Porchon Lynch will be named the world's oldest living yoga teacher this Sunday by the Guinness Book of World Records. She was photographed recently by photographer Robert Sturman in Central Park. We find the photos utterly inspirational, and hope to be able to do the same at her age! Check them out here on Elephant Journal.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lazy? You, too, can do yoga!

In today's post on Yoga Journal's "The Good Life" blog, yogi Erica Rodefer describes what she calls "The Lazy Gal's Guide to Yoga." Because, really, yoga is about mindfulness, be it reminding yourself to practice or taking the time to listen to what your body needs. Yes, sometimes we all need to skip practice in favor of taking a nap, but it's important not to chide ourselves for simply being human. If you find yourself being lazy, though, take a look at Erica's list and see what you can do to beat it!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pose of the Month: Tittibhasana (Firefly)

By Rebecca Merritt

Symbolically fireflies stand for inspiration, illumination and energy. An ordinary bug by day, the firefly is a source of light and beauty by night; reminding us that what’s on the inside counts. The Yoga Sutras tell us: Once the obstacles and false identities have been temporarily set aside, the true Self, which has been there all along, naturally comes shining through (1.3). This May, be radiant in Firefly pose.

  • Stretches the back torso and inner groins.
  • Strengthens the arms and wrists
  • Tones and tightens the belly.
  • Improves sense of balance
  • Calms the mind by relieving from tension, stress and anxiety.
1. Standing at the top of your mat come into an Uttanasana, forward fold. Heel-toe feet a little wider than hips distance apart.
2. Exhale and fold torso forward between your legs, begin to squeeze the shoulders.
3. Reach hands back behind the feet, fingertips facing forward.
4. Begin to squat, bringing the full palm of the hand onto the floor. Start to shift the weight into the hands as you bend the elbows back as you would in Chaturanga Dandasana.
5. Shift your weight back to rest on your upper arms and slowly bring the feet off the floor.
6. Cross ankles in front of you, to help gain balance, and then work towards stretching the legs out to the sides as straight as you can. Keep the pelvis high to help the legs become parallel to the floor.
7. Begin to straighten the arms.
8. Without tensing your neck, lift your head and gaze forward. Breathe slowly as you hold the pose.
9. To release, bend the knees and return feet to the floor. Come to squat or stand.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NYY's Annelise "Lulu" Hagen on Live! With Kelly

New York Yoga's own Annelise "Lulu" Hagen is not just an instructor at our Hot Studio, she's also the author of The Yoga Face, dedicated to "eliminating wrinkles with the ultimate natural facelift." As such, she was just featured on Live! With Kelly Ripa!! We're so excited for Lulu, and you can check out the video from the show below. You can also find The Yoga Face on sale in our boutiques!