All posts tagged: ashtanga yoga

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 …

New Leaves & Trees (and Other Thoughts)

New Years in the time when we set lovely intentions (we mean to live by), resolutions (we often break) and lofty goals (we can’t always achieve). Change can come. Sometimes, all we have to do is turn over a new leaf, but other times we must plant a whole new tree. Prana yoga honors the seasons as a powerful influence on our lives, and I actually was in a Prana class on New Year’s Day and found it truly inspiring. My teacher said the New Year is a time of cold and dark, and it’s easy to hybernate both physically and mentally. But, she added, this is an amazing time to start planting seeds of potential. We will reap the harvest later. We must set our goals and intentions now, and if we’re faithful to tend them, we’ll see incredible results. It’s not impossible to teach an old dog new tricks, and I am learning one of the most empowering ways to truly reach and keep our goals is to frequently ask ourselves: how, what, …

Inversion Workshop with Marie Belle

Workshops are an amazing and frustrating experience. They’re a phenomenal way to learn new tips and tricks, but at the same time, there are some yoga skills that you simply cannot ever ever ever learn overnight. Yoga forces us to be patient and persistent. You might be able to conceptually understand how to do an asana, but your body will demand you work to obtain the strength and flexibility to get there. Time is our friend when it comes to learning yoga. We can look back and see great growth, even if it doesn’t feel like it while we’re marching on. District Yoga recently held an incredible inversions workshop by internationally renowned Marie Belle. Not only is she a phenomenal yogini and teacher, but she has the most intelligent and beautiful approach to life. Over 100 people crammed into the studio to learn from her, and she still made it feel like a group of friends just hanging out to do some intense yoga. I’m personally tremendously inspired when someone has a rare combination of …

Alis volat propriis: She Flies with Her Own Wings

Alis volat propriis is a gorgeous and inspiring Latin phrase that translates “she flies with her own wings.” I truly believe we as individuals are meant to see, be, and do great things…but we are often prevented from realizing our potential because there are people who devote endless amounts of time and energy to breaking the wings of others or stifling their flight. I don’t understand this. I truly can’t comprehend why people would want to hurt others or even wish ill will on them. The simple truth is, there are people out there who either simply don’t know how to be happy for others, perhaps because they themselves have experienced great hurt in their own lives and merely continue the cycle. Some lovely, beautiful spirits get completely crushed and broken under the weight of hurtful words and actions of these kinds of people. What a true tragedy, because the body heals faster then the heart ever will. On the flip side, sometimes we rely far too greatly on others, and we never reach a …

On and Off the Mat: Just Be Present Part 1

Is it December already? Seriously, Time! Pull those reigns in! You’re running away from me! As the holidays roll around, it’s usually a startling reality that the year has flown by, usually in a blink of the eye. Christmas, like weddings, always seem better in concept than in reality. An entire day dedicated to love, fellowship, and joy? Sign us up, right? But people are usually wildly stressed out and haggard by the time the actual day rolls around. The planning, shopping, organizing and trying to corral everyone together can be a big fat energy zapper. Ask any bride planning a wedding or a mother trying to get things in order for the holidays. I’m not saying it’s all a miserable experience, because big events (like Christmas and weddings of course) often bring huge amounts of joy. It’s the days leading up that often cause us to focus on anything and everything but our current time and place, and to soak it up and enjoy it. I personally despise the mall and would rather trek …

An Asana of Freedom: Wild Thing Pose

I absolutely love the yoga community on Instagram. I am constantly inspired and encouraged by the mutual journey I get to take with other yogini’s, and I am deeply moved when people take time to comment. It’s so uplifting! I try to do the same for others, because it honestly is such a lovely encouragement to me and I want to be that for others. I was recently tagged by a friend to do a stop, drop and yoga pose, and I thought over which one to do. I felt like so many people chose mind blowing poses that demonstrated such strength and inspiring skill. I was tempted to pull something similar out of my bag of tricks, but I felt moved to do one of my favorite poses: wild thing. To see tips on the pose, jump to the bottom of the page. I love the pose wild thing because it’s accessible at many skill levels, and it reminds us we’re all wild at heart and should never let life break us or totally …

How to Do: Side Crow into Eka Pada Koundinyasana

Bakasana (or Crow pose) is usually the first pose that most people learn, but I actually like side crow even better. It flows so perfectly with a typical vinyasa practice, and not only do you get the benefits of core strengthening, but you also get the detoxing, cleansing effects of a side twist. What?! #winning! Another added perk is you get to start adding more transitioning poses and start building up your yoga practice. The Koundinyasana pose is optional, and you can add it on just as easily as leave it out. Tips: 1) Warm up with your sun salutations (review here) and crow (review here)  to get in your flow. 2) Have good contact points! Firmly connect those chatarunga arms to your legs. The key points are close to the hip and the side of the knee. 3) Use chatarunga arms as a platform to get into the pose. 4) Make a triangle of your two hands and gaze focused in front of hands. 5) Spread fingers wide! This will really help with balancing. …

How to Do: Sun Salutation B

So you’ve mastered the sun salutation A sequence and you just want to keep going? Of course you do! I actually love this sequence, and I’ll tell you why (you’re welcome in advanced): go through this five times and you’ll feel it in your legs and booty. “I don’t want a good butt!” said no one EVER. So get to it, little yogini 🙂 After you flow through the sun salutation A 5 times, you should start feeling much more flexible and warmed up. Tips: 1. Alignment not only helps you build strength by properly working muscles, it will also protect you limbs and joints. When your yoga instructor tells you make sure your knee is properly aligned, that means it’s not track OVER your toes or leaning to the right or left. It’s in a straight line. 2. Keep shoulders pulled down away from ears in all poses. If you feel them shrugging up into a “turtle neck” pose, gently roll them back down your back. 3. In chair pose, keep weight shifted to …

Learn: Crow to Headstand (and back again!)

Oh, Bakasana, how we love you! Bakasana (crow to those who want to keep it simple) is definitely that elusive arm balance that introduces us into the addictive world of arm balances. I’m an arm balance junkie, and I just love love love any arm balance; the more pretzel like the better! You can take crow up a notch by learning to go from crow into a tripod headstand (and back down again!) Not only will you work your core like a BAMF, but it’s a pose that’s credited for soothing anxiety, depression, and all manner of ailments. All I can say is it is just goddamn fun. 1. SET UP IS EVERYTHING! Everything! Arm balances are built on foundations we set up. There are many ways to get into crow, but we’ll start with a basic yoga crouch. Hands out about 6-8 inches in front of you with those FINGERS spread out. 2. Hike up on your haunches and place your knees as close into your armpits as possible and form chatarunga arms. SHIFT FORWARD. …

Arm Balance Workshop: Or, How to Wear Out Your Body (in a day)

Today I did an arm balance workshop at a yoga studio in Adams Morgan. First of all, I was wildly impressed that I didn’t abandon my intention to learn and perfect some arm balances, because that area is one of my favorites to brunch in. It’s so fun and eclectic, and I just adore it. I biked over from my home (I know, could I be more considerate of the environment? I mean, maybe if I were a little better at recycling, but whatever)