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!

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