Monday, February 18, 2013

Pose of the month

Pose of the Month
By April Evans
Forearm Plank

During the chilly month of February, especially the one we have been having here in NYC, keeping warm is a major priority.  Forearm plank is a great pose to warm up the entire body by strengthening the core while opening the heart. 
-Strengthens the abdominals
-Strengthens the legs
-Strengthens the back
-Strengthens the arms
-Opens the shoulders
-Opens the chest
-Opens the backs of the legs and arches
How to:
It is imperative that you respect the boundaries of your body in this pose.  If you are building strength, then apply the modifications listed below.  Be patient now and build strength honestly.  If you don’t, you will have to be patient later while you are healing after hurting yourself.
-Come to Plank Pose, the top of a push-up
-Lower the forearms down to the ground, stacking the shoulders directly over the elbows.  Fan the fingers wide, making two parallel lines with your forearms
-If you have trouble keeping the elbows from winging out to the sides, it can be helpful to wrap a strap tightly around the upper arms and place a block in between the hands as pictured below

-Press strongly through the heels to feel the legs engage. (For some bonus engagement squeeze a block between the thighs or press the heels into a wall.)
-The hips want to be in line with the shoulders.  It can be helpful to practice beside a mirror to see if the hips are sagging down towards Sphinx pose or hiking up more toward Dolphin pose.  If the hips cannot stay in line with the shoulders, lower the knees down to the ground.  Maintaining the integrity of a long spine is essential in accessing the strength of the abdominals for support in the pose.

-Broaden the collar bones forward and let the back of the neck remain long
-Stay and hold for 5-10 breaths.  Smiling helps.
-Counter with a child's pose.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Teacher of the Month - February

Teacher of the Month
Peyton Biederman
By April Evans

Peyton's warm and friendly demeanor is sure to make anybody instantly comfortable walking into her class.  She enjoys exercising both body and mind, holding a MFA in Dance Choreography and Performance and a BA in Philosophy, French Literature, and Dance.  For her, yoga allows her to unite the body and mind in a very real way.  She is 500 hour certified, with additional certifications in Prenatal and Restorative Yoga.  It should be noted that as we interviewed she cooked dinner while playing with her cat, and before responding to any of the questions I asked, she giggled before speaking.  If you need a little sunshine, Peyton is sure to help brighten you up.

When did you first discover yoga?
It's a tricky question.  I was a dancer for a very long time and in my modern dance classes we did yoga poses, but it was more just for warming up before the dance combination.  So I was aware that I was doing yoga, but we weren't doing breath awareness or philosophy.  So that's been going on for many many years.  But strictly yoga, it's been about 7 years. 

How long have you been teaching?
It's kind of the same thing.  I taught dance before I taught yoga.  I've been a teacher for 10 years plus, I was teaching dance classes and company classes.  I got my master's in choreography and performance, then I started teaching yoga right after I got certified in 2010.  It was a linear transition from teaching dance to teaching yoga.

What makes your class unique?
Probably what makes everyone's class unique: it's just sort of being yourself.  It's hard to avoid being yourself.  I feel like we all follow certain templates, namaskars, and such.  I teach what I know, but then it's always so different because then it's fused through me.  Even if we were teaching the same exact thing it would be fused through your personality.  I really enjoy giving hands on adjustments.  It's fulfilling to know that I'm giving something back to the student very intimately. 

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I was thinking about this.  You know, actually I like teaching the very beginning if class when you first take your seat.  That centering at the beginning, that settling in.  Sometimes it’s the hardest to turn in and focus on your breath.  It's so difficult but so important and it all comes back throughout class. I often teach alignment cues and breath cues, you touch on the basic fundamentals you're going to come back to over and over again.  I like teaching virasana or supported fish, just getting people to recognize the simple basics like what's in contact with the floor.

What is your favorite pose to practice?
The poses that come easier for me that require flexibility like urdvha danurasana and hanumanasana, but because they come easily I practice the strengthening things like headstand or handstand or inversions.  It's nice to do what comes easily, but when you achieve something that was difficult you feel proud of yourself for pushing yourself.  My favorite thing changes every day: when is it not different?

What advice would you give to beginners?
Just come to class.  We were all beginners at one point and you have to start somewhere.

Advice for advanced yogis?
Take a beginners class.  Coming to class is the bottom line for everyone, but I think it's valuable to take a basic level class.  It can even be more challenging.  You might hold poses for longer,  and if you're coming into it already familiar,  you have the chance to use your perspective to go deeper that way.  I took a basics class today and I was like woo-hoo, I need to do this all the time.

What is your yoga pet peeve?
I try not to have them.  Ideally I want everyone to be on time and stay throughout class, but that's just not realistic.  I try to be open and understanding because we all have stuff going on.

How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life?
I try to use the path of least resistance.  My instinct is to be stressed, you know, riding the subway or something.  Yoga helps me pause before I react, I'm more patient when I'm practicing yoga.  My yoga practice helps me through my commute and I do a daily practice of pranayama for calming and the other many benefits.

What are your passions besides yoga?
Dance and choreography.  I was a dancer since I was 3, and although I don't perform or take class anymore, I still go see performances.  Linked to that, another side note would be music.  I have a lot of friends who are musicians and I like seeing live music.  I like hanging out with my friends, I like going to the beach and going swimming, dancing on the beach. Reading.  I was a writer for a long time because one of my majors was philosophy, one was French literature.  I've loved writing ever since I was a little girl.

Happy valentine's day! Thankful for all my teachers I'm grateful for being part of NYY.  Gotten to be close to some students, it’s a great place.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Yogitales - Kaili Vernoff

Yogitales are your stories. At New York Yoga, we are continually inspired by what we hear from our students, about how yoga has had a transformative effect on their bodies and spirits. We wanted to share those stories with our community of yogis, and Yogitales was born.

 Kaili Vernoff

I started a regular practice more than five years ago. I had dipped my toe in the yoga waters a few times- and always connected with the practice- but it wasn't until I read “Eat, Pray, Love” that I jumped all the way in. The author talked about bringing her yoga mat to Italy, and she said, "I already had a regular practice..." and all I could think was how much I wanted to be able to say that about myself and have it be true.

My life and body have changed incredibly since beginning a steady practice. I have lost twenty-five pounds, and while that is wonderful, to me it is not even the greatest benefit of my practice. One of my motivations for coming to the mat was a terrible tightness in my hips. I was only in my thirties, and couldn't even touch my toes without enormous effort and pain. I had a very young child and wanted to be able to physically participate in her life more. In five years I have not only relieved my pain, but my teachers now call me "gumby hips". I have found greater flexibility than when I was a child. Last year I went for a regular check up and my doctor told me that he believes I have added twenty years to my life expectancy, and said I now have the resting heart rate of a "serious athlete". I was grinning from ear to ear! In addition to these physical gifts, I am more patient, tolerant, kind, and gentle both with myself and others. I have learned through persistent practice that hard work does yield. As one of my teachers always says, "gradually but inevitably" we grow towards the yogi/mother/friend/person we aspire to be.

I learn new things about myself every time I enter the studio. There is always something new to learn, to reach for, and because class is always different, there is no possibility for complacency. I take that lesson into the rest of my day. I have also made wonderful friends at the studio.  It is an incredibly supportive community, and I would miss my yoga family terribly if I ever stopped coming!

New York Yoga has the best teachers in the world. Their entire roster of teachers keep me motivated and focused, but when it comes to broadening and deepening my practice, I've been especially inspired by Lisa and Lulu. These amazing women have been at the studio as long as I have, and have guided me, literally one breath at a time, to a new way of living.  It is clear they are students as well as teachers, and I benefit from their insights and progress as they continue to grow in their own practices.

I can never thank them, and New York Yoga, enough.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Keep Yoga in your Heart

Like you needed another reason to devote yourself to a strong yoga practice, but A small study published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that yoga may benefit people who have atrial fibrillation.

Read more about it at Forbes.

And then get back to class. Keep yoga in your heart, in more ways than one!