All posts filed under: Yoga Poses

Review: Best Yoga Books (for yoga addicts like you)

I collect two things in life: books and music. And according to my bank account, I apparently go a little overboard with my obsession for both. I am unrepentant. I am without question a book fanatic/literarazzi/reader-of-all-the-things. I don’t know about you, but any location that houses books in a happy place: libraries, used bookstores, Barnes and Noble, that random pop up store down the street, etc etc etc. I’m not kidding when I say I read at least a book or two a week. I will happily turn down social engagements to snuggle up with a my fat cat and a book. HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH—called my sofaaaaaaaa. Anyway, now that we all know the real reason I’m sometimes a terrible friend (those books aren’t gonna read themselves, people), I wanted to share with you several that I’ve found really beneficial to my yoga practice. Inspirational and philosophical books are pretty easy to come across, but books with a technical focus are often difficult to find. I’ve curated several gems along the way, and they’ve made …

How to Have a Dynamic Yoga Practice

Yoga is an investment. Like money, we don’t want our practice to be a proverbial credit card, where we’re charging skills and tricks that our body actually can’t afford for us to do. We also don’t want to needlessly hoard our energy, so we must learn to invest ourselves and our energy wisely. As with most things in life, you’ll get out of yoga whatever you invest in it. This makes me oh so happy! Hooray! A predicted outcome: work hard, enjoy the results! On the other hand, this makes me feel RIDICULOUSLY GRUMPY: wait, what? Sooo…no coasting? Not even a little cheating?! DAMNIT! I guess I’ll have to rely on good old fashioned hard work when it comes to my practice. Oh, joy. But all good things are worth the effort, and yoga is at the top of that list. Because yoga allows for many modifications and no one is shouting at you to run harder, climb higher, pump heavier, the degree of intensity is a highly personal and regulated primarily by the individual. Pros: you …

Give Me All the Upside Downs (Inversions!)

I love inversions. I mean, honestly I’m like a little monkey when it comes to certain asanas. While inversions bring both levity and varity to your flow, they also build upper body strength. This is a major plus, since a great deal of our yoga work is more from the core down.  In addition to being (in my oh so humble opinion) ridiculously fun, inversions have major health benefits.To clarify, an inversion is any asana (pose) where the head is below the heart. Here are just a small handful of the significant health benefits of inversions: 1. Reverses blood flow and improves circulation: this in itself is a huge heart-helper, because the heart spends all day long pumping blood against gravity to get blood to the body’s limbs. By getting yourself upside down, it actually takes strain off the heart. 2. Gives a great boost the the immune system: going upside-down allow lymph to move easily through the lymph nodes, picking up toxins and bacteria and cleaning out the body. The lymph system is an …

Training with Kino: Fearless Backbends

Backbends: that part of a yoga class that makes most yogis inwardly groan. Most of us are perfectly content to skip all and any camel like poses. And count us out entirely when it comes to Urdva Dhanurasana. There’s actually a scientific and emotional base for most people’s dislike of backbends. Yoga poses release a cascade of neurotransmitters (they cause those feel good emotions or the shock of adrenaline that gets your heart pumping like crazy) that usually leave us feeling euphoric after a yoga class. Backbends aren’t always so kind to us. The spine is massive network of neuroreceptors and neurotransmitters. Needless to say, getting the spine involved in a big way can release a tidal wave of emotions that can flood us with notsohappy emotions. We usually like to back away from these overwhelming experiences, so we avoid getting deep into our backbends. Kino actually explained that these emotional blues are unavoidable in yoga, and hitting that wall is usually when people quit yoga. Introspection and discomfort isn’t usually what we sign up for when we …

Training with Kino: Primary Series

I’ve heard Ashtanga described in more ways than any other type of yoga practice, and usually with some pretty strong emotions; usually people are fanatics about it, but I’ve also heard people speak about it with hostility. The descriptions vary widely: it’s way too athletic, the yoga for young boys, the most liberating emotional experience, too redundant, powerfully meditative. Ashtanga yoga is, in fact a fire-driven and highly athletic practice. This much is true. And a yogi does follow a specific flow that is designed to get the practitioner deeper and deeper into poses without tearing muscles or pulling limbs out of socket. In this pic, you can see Kino helping me get deeper in this asana. It’s sums up a great deal of what Ashtanga is all about: finding the fullest expression of each asana so that we may experience the great peace that accompanies this journey. Noted as one of the most challenging forms of yoga, Ashtanga often attracts highly driven, Pitta (fire) personality types; True, Ashtanga provide a playing field where a yogi …

Training with Kino: Secrets of the Sun Salutations

I recently came back from several long, but amazing days of training with Kino MacGregor. It was beyond incredible, and I am so humbled and grateful for every opportunity to deepen my practice. In addition to attending workshops with her this month, as I’ll have the oppotunity to train with her in April and May before I fly out to London in September for the 100 hour Ashtanga course with her husband and her. Kino is one of my personal role models, not because she’s crazy talented, an amazing business woman, and beautiful person, but because she has passionately dedicated herself to learning and sharing the message of yoga. The greatest blessing of training with her is without a doubt being able to learn more about the heart of yoga. I adore Kino; I mean, she’s my women crush any day, not just Wednesday! But I don’t want to “train with Kino”, as amazing as she is. I want to sit at the feet of someone who is a vessel for yoga and learn as much as I …

Yoga Detox Moves

Spring is that fabulous time of year when cherry blossoms paint DC in pink, and new life unfurls itself by way of buds and leaves and grass. Everything feels fresh and new, and we want to feel that way too. After all, why should Mother Earth be the only one to get a facial, right? “Spring cleaning” is a common phenomenon of the season, but I think it’s partly because the season powerfully awakens in us the desire to detox and start fresh. We want to plant new ideas and watch them grow. Being a little OCD and still traumatized by the show Hoarders, I live a pretty minimal life, but I do love a good scrub down. It occurred to me that while it’s important to clean out my home, it’s equally important to detox our bodies. What an awesome opportunity to re-calibrate and renew ourselves from the inside-out. And fortunately, few things benefit a good detox like yoga. While I firmly believe the best detox is from a healthy food source like clean, …

Review: Cody App & Kino MacGregor’s Handstand Series

Kino MacGregor is truly a yoga sensation; perhaps it’s more accurate to call her a yoga rock star, because she’s mastered the art of garnishing fame and marketing yoga. She uses this skill to spread the message of Ashtanga, and she has an incredible gift for explaining how to do yoga. Her teaching abilities parallel her own practice, because she herself is a committed yoga practitioner. In addition to being an insanely talented 4th Series Ashtangi, she’s also one of the few certified teachers sanctioned by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois himself. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to train with Kino extensively via several yoga intensives, and most recently a 100 hour Ashtanga course. In the words of Shakespeare, though she be but little, she is fierce. Seriously, training with Kino is a butt kicking experience, but it transforms your practice. There are endless ways to learn from her. And learn we certainly can, because she clearly breaks down not just how to master poses, but all the steps along the way. Kino has teamed up with Cody App to provide detailed, step …

The Case for Chaturanga Arms: Learning from Expert Jennifer Martin

Chaturanga is one of the primary moves we learn from day one in yoga. It’s like our basic corner stone, but we often need assistance truly getting this asana (pose) correct. I went to an awesome arm balance and inversions workshop presented this past weekend by the amazing Jennifer Martin. I don’t know if she has any bones in her body, because she’s ridiculously flexible, but her strength is beyond inspirational as well. The east coast as a whole as obviously displeased the weather gods. We’re being constantly brutalized by a barrage of ice storms and snow, and while I love a good over sized sweater as much as any other #basicbitch, there’s only so many layers a girl can wear before looking like that waddling kiddo from The Christmas Story. I personally wear about twenty thousand layers when it’s cold outside, because my Texas blood cannot handle the cold. Creatures who dress cute when it’s negative degrees outside are some kind of ice demon and are not to be trusted. Seriously. They aren’t normal. …

Alignment Focus: Extended Triangle Pose

I’m truly thankful for my teachers who have taken the time to show me proper alignment. It’s something I still work on, because it’s a lifetime endeavor to be sure. As an ICU nurse, I firmly believe in protecting our bodies—we only have one and we put it through a lot! As a yoga teacher in training, I believe alignment brings incredible power to each pose. When people ask me which form of yoga is best, I quickly reply, “I’m realizing all of them, actually!” They each bring something to the table that the other practices do not, and we can have a well-rounded practice when we learn from each practice. While Ashtanga yoga is my jam and I love the athleticism it requires (think Kino MacGregor’s crazy arm balances and inversions—swoon!), I am learning to embrace to spiritual flow of Prana, the healing elements of Tantra, and the safe alignment of Iyengar yoga. The side triangle is a staple pose in most yoga flows, and so here are a few tips and tricks to …