All posts tagged: ashtanga yoga

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 …

Yoga Injuries: Now What?

When you end up with a yoga related injury, it’s a little…disillusioning to say the least. But the truth is, it’s not yoga. It’s the way yoga is being practiced. Pain is the body’s way of telling us we’re not properly aligned. Yoga does exactly what it’s supposed to: teach us where our bodies need to heal and how to heal. The key is to just listen.  Yoga is therapeutic. It’s known for it’s almost magical healing properties. It’s basically like the fountain of youth. So when you end up with a yoga related injury, it’s a little…disillusioning to say the least. It’s like finding out Santa doesn’t exist and Rudolph doesn’t even have a red nose all in one day. I mean, it’s actually just a bit offensive. You’re supposed to heal me, yoga! Not hurt me! How dare you! But the truth is, it’s not yoga. It’s the way yoga is being practiced. Pain is the body’s way of telling us we’re not properly aligned. Yoga does exactly what it’s supposed to: teach …

Review of the Dharma Wheel

Yoga falls into that rare exercise category of “no equipment needed.” Other than a mat, all that’s needed is you, yourself, and your open heart. Maybe it’s our complex day to day lives that push us towards making everything more complicated than it needs to be, but sometimes yoga just seems…too simple. Surely I need more gadgets, gizmos a plenty, and at bare minimum some whozits and whatzits galore. (AND YES. I so just referenced The Little Mermaid, thank you fellow nerds and red haired children alike for knowing that.) Back to the point at hand: yoga. I find myself looking for ways to “add on” to my yoga practice. Aren’t there props that I need? Shouldn’t I be investing in more training apps that I may or may not use? I really will do a handstand better if I buy super expensive pants…right? Part of me still feels disbelief at how simple yoga is, and yet how transfiguring it’s proven to be for millions of people, including myself. Now, when I see the random belles …

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 …

Love Nature More: Outdoor Yoga

“Nature is my religion. The trees my churches, the mountains my cathedrals.” One of the many amazing things about living in the heart of Washington, DC is that there are ample parks and locations dedicated to preserving and enjoying nature. My friends who aren’t from DC often think of here are a crowded city, but it’s actually incredibly scenic and gorgeous, and beautiful blend of stunning landscapes and architect woven together. I’ve never been one to really try the outdoor yoga thing. I saw way more disadvantages than advantages: people staring at you like you’re some kind of hippie-dippie weirdo, the distraction of what’s going on around your practice, the discomfort that can come with bugs and grass and sun and wind and whatever. Still, I felt the urge to get outdoors and soak up some bright greens and blues of nature, and it revolutionized my practice. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly without fear for newer and richer experiences.”  It was such 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: 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 …

Happiness Starts Here

Ask anyone what the secret to being happy is, and they’ll throw out at least a dozen responses: Be true to you. Love yourself first. Do what you love. Love others. Choose to be happy (a difficult feat for those suffering under the staggering weight of depression). While most of us have a pretty good cognitive grasp on how to be happy, the practicality of the matter is a whole different issue. But ultimately, regardless of our efforts, the motive behind what we say, do, and even think plays a powerful role in our happiness. One of the things that I love about yoga is that it burns away many of the distractions and mentalities that bar us from a sense of peace and happiness. The spiritual side of yoga teaches us to shrug off the weight of things that slow us down, and how to tap into a sense of true joy. If yoga has taught me anything, it’s shown me how to connect to God and my great potential to be happy. What …

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 …

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 …