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.