All posts tagged: fitness

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 …

Follow Your Bliss

 “There’s a lot I’m learning in life, but one thing I am absolutely positive of is that a big key to unlocking true happiness is to follow your bliss….” If you ask people what they love doing, I mean really, truly, light-their-souls-on-fire-love doing, many can’t give an answer. Those who can will usually follow up by saying with a heavy mix of regret or resolution, “But I don’t really have time to do it.” I understand that. Life comes with a wide array of responsibilities and events that eat up our time and devour our energy, and it just doesn’t always seem possible to find the secret formula for doing what we love in life. There’s a lot I’m learning in life, but one thing I am absolutely positive of is that a big key to unlocking true happiness is to follow your bliss. It sounds like a cliche (it is), it seems like a hippie-dippie yoga concept (for sure), but that doesn’t take away from the power of this simple concept. If you follow …

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: 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 …

Fake It Till You Make It: Becoming a Morning Person

Full confession: I despise, hate and otherwise abhor waking up early. It’s not my thing, and I blame the fact that I’ve worked night shift for years as an ICU nurse and also my persistent childhood habit of refusing to go to bed due to my intense fear of missing out. I’m still convinced that the moment I go to bed, the world gets so much more interesting and everyone is having fun but me. No one can really disprove this belief, so it reigns on. In addition, the second my head hits the pillow, I suddenly become responsible and instantly remember about 50 tasks that I need to do. I’m sure you’ve heard some of the conventional “here’s how to wake up like a normal working adult” so I’m sharing a few of my personal tips that I like to call: “Wake Up & Get Yo’Self Outta Bed NOW!” 1. Get to bed early like your mom used to try to make you do: Seriously. No one wants to even broach the prospect of …

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, …

Beating the Yoga Blues

Yoga is a journey that has it’s peaks and valleys, to be sure. Sometimes, we leave a practice feeling on top of the world. In fact, yoga is famous for the euphoric high that comes after a ridiculously grueling session. Maybe science hasn’t nailed down exactly why yoga is so magically healing and emotionally satisfying, but any regular to yoga will swear by its powers. Speaking of science, we do know that yoga, which incorporates tons of back bends and twists, causes the body to release a high level of neurotransmitters like serotonin (which is directly responsible for happy feelings). The spine of course is connected to the brain, and both are big control centers for neuro activity and hormonal releases. While yoga usually leaves us feeling oh so blissful, sometimes it also stirs up deep emotions and can leave us feeling like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck. It’s not uncommon to feel emotionally drained after a big influx of neurotransmitters, hormones, twists and bends…but it seems hard to shake at times. From a …