Today’s blog post is from blogger (yogi, yoga teacher, mother and my friend), Daisy Whittemore, RYT.  You can see Daisy teaching at extendYoga and handstanding away for the next 100-ish days.  Handstands seem scary to many (definitely to me!), but here’s a fun way to conquer your fears and really commit to nailing your handstand– or any pose that you are working towards.

Check out the Handstand Challenge, the Okinawan Way—120 days to work on your handstand…

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Hello beautiful extendYogis!  Two very smart, sweet, and powerful extendYoga friends have recently started a 120 day handstand challenge.  Yes.  120 days!  Of course, I love a challenge, and I am really loving the idea of a longer challenge than the usual Instagram monthlies, or my previous nagging about the magic of 40 days.  I also love the simplicity and focus of one pose, as many of you already know about me. So, I am taking the challenge with them, as have several other extendYogis.  We all thought it would be fun to expand the community and see if others want to join in the fun, and provide some sweet kula support for each other.  Of course, these two awesome handstand advocates are one of your fellow students, the beautiful and and amazing Adam Drescher, as well as the beautiful and amazing Lika, who most of you know, and if you haven’t been to one of her classes yet, well, you must go, like today.  It was prompted from several conversations at the studio, a desire to get better at their handstands, and Adam was reminded of a challenge from his martial artist days.

The full details of the Ancient Okinawan Handstand Challenge are below, as written by Adam, followed by some additional instructions and thoughts from me.  You must start your 120 days before the end of September to participate. If you are interested, please send me an email at pause@findingpause.com with your full name and the start date.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, or Lika Elwood.  Adam has said he will make very cool mementos for everyone who signs up.

PLEASE NOTE:  You don’t need to be able to do a handstand in the middle of the room, or even at the wall to participate.  There are other options, which I have included below.  As well, I am providing some thoughts and attention to warming up and caring for our bodies, especially our wrists and our shoulders, during this challenge.  Be smart, yogis.  Use this as an opportunity to provide yourself with more love and care, not less. Don’t use this “challenge” to beat yourself up, physically or emotionally!  Please.

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What is the Ancient Okinawan Handstand Challenge?

Hundreds of years ago, Okinawan martial arts masters created a most unusual training methodology.  They started with the notion that performing a complex and challenging exercise (with complete sincerity) a certain number of times per day for a certain number of days will “change your blood.”  What is meant by this is as follows: blood is the sacred fluid of life.  A complex exercise performed in this manner will change not only the body and mind but will also cause a shift within the functioning of the practitioner’s central nervous system.  After trial and error the masters concluded that the optimal formula is to repeat such an exercise three times per day for a period of 120 consecutive days.     

Note that it has been explained that the actual number of days required if the exercise were to be performed with perfect sincerity would be 108.  In Buddhism and Hinduism this is a sacred number.  It is considered to be a “semi-perfect” number.  108 represents 9 dozen.  Due to the fact that humans are imperfect and incapable of performing with perfect sincerity the masters demanded 10 dozen days of repetitions to compensate for human imperfection in efforts.  Thus, there is in point of fact a method to the madness – a magic to the number if you will.

Rules of the Challenge

The practitioner is to perform three handstand “sets” each and every day for 120 days.  For the sake of balance, a “set” will mean two handstands – one handstand from a standing split with the left leg rising first and a second from a standing split with the right leg rising first.  The sets can be done at any time in a 24 hour period.  They can be done all at once or one in the morning, one at lunch, one at night – or any which way at all.  As long as they are done every 24 hours.  In other words, the practitioner is to perform 6 handstands per day (no more) for 120 consecutive days for a grand total of 720 handstands.

If the practitioner fails to perform the three sets on any day of the challenge then he or she must start over from day one.  This is critical to the experience.

As with all aspects of practice, safety comes first and foremost.  For this reason, the handstand challenge is not a “for time” exercise.  To do handstands for long periods of time  under some of the conditions that might arise during 120 consecutive days could prove dangerous.  The practitioner is encouraged during this challenge to work through illness, congestion, headaches, emotional disturbance, etc.  To attempt long handstand holds during challenging physical or emotional times could be dangerous.  Danger or risk of injury is not part of the program.

This exercise is about transitions into the handstand – not about endurance. The goal is to smoothly transition up into the handstand, get steady and balanced  if you can (however long that takes – 2 seconds, 5 seconds, maybe 10) and then come out of it with control.  Advanced practitioners can choose other methods of getting up into and out of the handstand.  But, let it be clear that this challenge is not about holding the handstand for long periods of time.  It is about transitioning into and out of the handstand with grace and ease.

Those who need it are encouraged to use a wall to prevent themselves from falling.

What can the student expect to experience?

At some point during the 120 days a student will likely experience what it would be like if yoga became equal to their very top priorities in life.  This is because the further into the challenge one gets the bigger the stakes become if a day is missed.  

Note that a set of two handstands might take only 20 seconds or so.  Then a moment of rest and repeat twice.  So we might only be talking about two or three minutes of work a day here, after appropriate warm up.  But, these few minutes along with the challenging posture that is the handstand will be more than enough to put the experience into a student’s head – that for 120 days, making yoga is a priority in my life. This in itself  is a unique experience that is well worth having.

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HANDSTAND OPTIONS

The challenge indicates going into handstand from standing splits, but acknowledges other methods and indicates wall support is okay.  There are many other options to build your handstand practice.  I am providing videos of some of them. Of course, if you have an advanced handstand practice, do your practice, focus on transitioning in and out, and be sure to lead with both feet evenly over the course of the challenge. For a demonstration on how to do handstand with the support of a wall, from downward dog, check out my video below:  

Or go to http://vimeo.com/105925567

For a demonstration of how to transition into handstand without wall support, from standing splits, I did this outside in the tall, soft grass.  It is clumsy and poor Charlie gets a mean kick on the nose, but it will give you an idea of the practice.  As you will see, I am still a big chicken this way and rarely get my foot high enough for fear of tipping over.  Perhaps in 120 days, I will be a little bit better.  For the moment, I get scared.  Maybe I can convince a braver soul to let me videotape them so you can get a better idea.  (Also coming soon: I will work on another video to come where I show a good strategy for falling out of handstand into a cartwheel-like exit.) See below:

Or go to: http://vimeo.com/105921644

For those of you who aren’t yet ready for a handstand, there is a half arm balance variation that may be more accessible to you.  You could do this as your challenge for the entire 120 days, or perhaps you start with this, and as you get stronger and more confident, you could transition into full arm balance.  See half arm balance demonstration below:

Or go to: http://vimeo.com/105925314

CARING FOR YOURSELF DURING THE CHALLENGE

According to the challenge, the focus is transitioning into and out of 6 hand stands per day.  These can be done in sets, e.g., 3 sets a day over the course of the day.  Or during one practice.  No matter how you decide to slice up your work, 120 days is a long time.  Please take good care of yourself.  How?

WARM UP.  Please do something to warm yourself up prior to your practice.  A few sun salutations, shoulder openers, wrist warm ups.  We will periodically post tips and ideas to help you along your journey, beginning with a little wrist love next week.

PRACTICE WITH INTENTION AND WITH CARE FOR YOUR ALIGNMENT

—Always be mindful of how you place your hands on the mat.  I have written a whole blog on placing your hands on your mat in your practice.  The key is to place hands shoulder width apart, lining wrist creases up with the front of your mat, or slightly turned out (but never turned in), and anchor yourself firmly down in the mound of your index finger, energetically drawing your thumb and forefinger toward each other.  Spread fingers wide, like the rays of the sun, and press the tips of your first finger pads (under your nail bed) down.  Keep that throughout.  It is critical for your wrist health, and to maintain good shoulder alignment that you do NOT onto outer edges of hands or wrists.

—Position your shoulders over your wrists, hugging your forearms toward each other, elbow creases turn slightly forward, and create a broadness in your chest, shoulders plugged in and powerful.  This is a sturdy, stable base. Keep it as you transition up, try to find your balance, and come back down.

—Gaze between your hands throughout.

—Be mindful of your feet too.  Engaged feet when they are off the ground, flexed, pointed of flointed (in between and point and a flex, sort of like Barbie feet).  In my videos, my feet aren’t always engaged, especially when I am kicking up without a wall.  This is not good.

—Allow some rest between sets.

FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.  Also, please remember as you practice, this is NOT a timed handstand challenge.  It is NOT about holding the handstand for long periods of time.  It is about transitioning into and out of the handstand with grace and ease.  Moreover, no matter how psyched and/or frustrated you may get over the course of the challenge, try to avoid overdoing it, e.g., try to avoid doing a lot more than the challenge indicates.  This is like a marathon. Use your life force wisely.  That is not to say, 6 and no more, never ever, but try to avoid my mistake of eager beaver on the second day and kicking up about 40 times or more.  It made the two days afterward a little rough.

BE KIND.  As mentioned, please don’t use this challenge as an opportunity to get down on yourself or overtax your body or mind.  This is an opportunity for growth, not another opportunity to brow beat yourself.

JOIN THE CHALLENGE 

If you want to join the challenge, please email me (Daisy, aka Yoga Nag) at pause@findingpause.com with your full name and your start date.  I will keep a running list of who is participating, and post it at extendYoga so you know who your challenge buddies are.

 

As always, do yoga.  Today.  Everyday.

Peace and pauses,

Yoga Nag, aka, Daisy Whittemore

www.YogaNag.com

Daisy Whittemore is a mom, wife, writer, yogi, yoga teacher and recent blogger on a quest for life’s pauses: for the sweet spots—those moments, oftentimes slippery little cracks in the foundation of our daily lives—that give us pause (that don’t take our breath away) but give us breath.  She hopes to encourage herself and those around her to find a little more pause in each day for silence, yoga, creativity, love, play, pleasure, or whatever it is that restores you. You can find Daisy on her website:  Yoga Nag and her Facebook page.

Handstand Challenge, the Okinawan Way

Handstand Challenge, the Okinawan Way

TGIF yogis!  This week’s fun pose Friday post is all about camel pose or ustrasana.  I love this pose!  Not only because I love a nice, deep back bend, but camel pose really opens up my heart, chest and throat as well.

It’s a great pose to help release anything we are holding onto (physical and mental).  Be mindful when you are exploring this pose, as the more advanced variations can be very intense; on the lower back especially.  Make sure to give yourself time to rest in between.

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Check out some tips and benefits of this pose:

  • Stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, and throat
  • Strengthens back muscles
  • Improves posture
  • Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck

Like many (pretty much all!) yoga poses, there are lots of variations of this pose- something for everyone!  For beginners: no need to reach for the ankles at first.  And remember that you can always tuck the toes under versus being on the tops of your feet.  This version will allow you to find a little more stability/balance and height (making the heels of your feet not as far of a reach for your hands).  Blocks definitely come in handy for beginners as well.

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For a more advanced variation, try to extend one leg, and/or reach one arm back behind you.  Don’t let the back bend collapse when extending your arm– actively reach back with the hand, but at the same time send the heart forward.

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Tips to keep in mind when working on your camel:

  • Thighs/legs should be parallel and hip width distance apart.
  • Press your shins and tops of the feet (or balls of the feet) firmly into the floor.
  • Don’t clench your butt!
  • When first exploring- start with hands on your back (right above your booty).  Fingers can be pointing up or down.  If the fingers are pointing down– think of your hands being in the your back pockets if you were wearing jeans.
  • Always, always be leading with the heart; pushing the chest forward as you take your back bend further.
  • Don’t strain the neck.  Open the throat.  Smile!

Have fun and report back!

fun pose friday: camel pose

fun pose friday: camel pose

Check out our teacher feature.  It’s all about Emily Star!  She currently teaches at extendYoga on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays.  Her playful classes feature dynamic postures that are accessible to all participants!

Tell me a little bit about yourself (something we might not know)
I’m pretty introverted – one of the reasons I started practicing yoga in my teens was that it was a way to stay active without having to play a team sport (a.k.a. talk to people). Getting up in front of a room full of people and speaking from the heart takes me out of my comfort zone every day – in a good way.

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Tell me what students can expect in your classes
I aim to teach classes that provide students with a well-rounded practice – a mix of breathing exercises and/or meditation, standing poses, shoulder/hip opening and integration, core and balance work, and relaxation. We’ll find key actions that will help us explore a family of asanas (poses that share similar structure) and often build towards a challenging pose.  I generally leave the last few minutes of class for open practice, so if there’s a pose or inversion that you are working on that we didn’t get to in our group practice, you’ll have some time for it (or you can take a longer savasana!).
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What is your current favorite yoga pose and why? 
I’m learning a lot from forearm stand and handstand. Inversions are extremely challenging for me, but I look back to a few years ago when I hated and could barely do any arm balances and remember to have hope. I think it’s important to practice poses that keep me humble, engaged, and eager to learn. I also find that I want to take better care of myself (eating better, getting enough sleep) when I have an elusive goal pose.
extend handstand
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Where/to who do you look to for inspiration (yoga and/or non-yoga related)?
The teachers that I’ve trained with (Stacey Latus, April Puciata, and Anna Guest-Jelley) have written tomes that I turn to again and again, and the books that they’ve recommended fill my bookshelves/bedside table/trunk of my car. I love taking classes from extendYoga and D.C. area yoga teachers, and have learned most of what I know about progressive sequencing from practicing with Kat Kuzner, who teaches in D.C. and has wonderful audio files that I use for my home practice. I am always seeking out book recommendations from friends and fellow teachers – currently reading The Radiance Sutras as translated by Lorin Roche and A Life Worth Breathing by Max Strom.
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For cooking inspiration, I spend way too much time looking at the New York Times and Washington Post food sections, food52.com and smittenkitchen.com, and I listen to The Splendid Table podcast. I try to adapt the flavor profiles of recipes they post to work with my vegetarian diet and tiny kitchen.
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For music inspiration, I use soundcloud, spotify and facebook to keep track of releases by artists I love. Pandora, pitchfork and soundcloud also help me find new music. I also subscribe to music podcasts such as Hometown Sounds, Morning Becomes Eclectic, and the KEXP Song of the Day.
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emily
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Other than yoga, what are your passions/favorites?
I like to browse used record stores, hike, sing, cook, sketch, doodle and paint. Andrea Creel is teaching me to blues dance.
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What’s on your iPod?
Everything you hear in class, plus a lot of music that I love deeply, but is too wordy/fast/loud for Vinyasa, and a bunch of guided meditations from Tara Brach. And my podcasts! I drive a lot for work and This American Life is one of the highlights of my week.

teacher feature: emily star

teacher feature: emily star

Happy fun pose friday my yoga peeps!  I’ve been all about koundinyasana (and arm blanches in general) lately.  I’m usually pretty excited to take koundinyasana if it’s given to me as an option in class and I also enjoy teaching it in my classes.  AND it’s today’s #independanceARMy challenge pose.  If you’re not already on instagram and want to add yet another social media outlet into your life- check us out!  Many of your teachers and extendYogis are an active part of our virtual community.  I learn a lot through these challenges and it’s always fun to connect with other like-minded yogis.

Last week I went on a “run” (turned into a light jog and a 20 minute yoga practice in the park), and found a sweet spot on the trail and went to town.  I love this pose because it makes me feel strong and I usually get into it from downward facing dog which is really fun because it makes me feel like I can fly for a brief moment!

Koundinyasana in the park was actually pretty tough– maybe because of the extra weight of my shoes?  Or the uneven surface?  Regardless, it was fun getting a quick outdoor practice in and “running” back home.  ;)

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Some benefits of this pose are that it strengthens the arms and wrist as well as it tones the belly and spine.  I like to get into it from Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), but you can also approach it from Utthan Pristhasana (lizard pose).

Check out some great tips on how to get into Eka Pada Koundinyasana II from Yoga Journal and this super helpful YouTube video <– there are a couple different approaches in this one.

I didn’t start really getting comfortable with this pose until one of my teachers, Greg Marzullo gave me to the tip of getting there from down dog.  As you inhale one leg up into your 3 legged dog, don’t think twice, use your momentum and swoop the leg right into the arm balance.  If you hesitate and break it down along the way, it’s more tricky to land the leg on your upper arm (you will be in your old faithful chaturanga arms) and lift the back leg up at the same time.

Lot’s of tips and videos from the instagram group on this pose here too:

Kerri Verna aka, beachyogagirl: http://instagram.com/p/qkxKFcyHG6/?modal=true

Kino MacGregor aka, kinoyoga: http://instagram.com/p/qk7NDWsOoq/?modal=true

Laura Kasperzak from twofitmoms aka, laurasykora: http://instagram.com/p/qktEA1Fj5Z/?modal=true

lauras  beach girl

enjoy!

fun pose friday: koundinyasana II

fun pose friday: koundinyasana II

I love music. And all genres too. Anything from pop, jazz, rap, new age, country, kirtan (duh) and beyond! I’m open to it all and that’s how I feel about yoga as well. So when you ask me what goes into one of my class playlists, it’s simple; what I like, how I feel, and what I think you might want to flow to as well!

I also take into consideration what type of class I have planned and if there is a specific theme involved. As a yoga teacher, you have to adapt, meet your students where they are and think on your feet! If I’ve planned for a super chill, relaxed vibe/class and my students walk in wide awake, ready to work and raring to go, then I might switch to my more upbeat and energetic playlist (and class plan).

There are also some schools of thought on whether to play music in yoga class at all. Some styles of yoga/teachers strongly suggest not playing any music what-so-ever. Reasons for this vary; but many believe that music can be distracting and take away from the practice. For me, I choose to play music because I enjoy it and it makes me feel more comfortable, which in turn helps me to be the most authentic person and teacher that I can be. Not to mention that my students love it as well!

When creating a class playlist, I do think it is important to follow some simple guidelines:
• Keep it clean: Unless you’re putting together a playlist for your home practice, stay away from inappropriate songs/messages/lyrics.
• Keep it simple: I love playing music in class, but you do want your students to listen to you and pay attention. It’s always fun to dance in class, but focus is essential, so nothing too complicated or distracting.
• Keep it fresh: Fresh and current playlists help in keeping your classes dynamic, fun and ever evolving. It’s always nice to tailor your music to the change of the seasons, times of day, special occasions, class level/style, etc.
• Have an intention: Just like your class plan, there should be a thought process behind the songs you choose and the order in which you play them. I always start and end my class playlist with songs that have no or very little lyrics. Generally, my classes (and playlist) build up and then come back down.
• Have fun with it! Don’t stress about building the perfect playlist. If something doesn’t work, you can always change it up!

Enjoy some of my favorite playlists:

fresh, chill, summer:

feeling sprightly:

party time:

what’s in a playlist?

what’s in a playlist?

Today’s blog post is from Linda Naini, MPH, CCRP (yogi, wellness coach, meditation teacher, health analyst, and my friend).  You can find Linda leading her Rooted In Bliss meditation classes every 1st Sunday of the month from 5:30pm-6:20pm or offering one of her unique workshops at extendYoga.  

We live in a day and age where it’s very easy to move through the days, weeks, and even years of our lives without connecting to our most authentic self. Going to bed each night feeling great because we checked off everything on our to do list or feeling stressed because there was so much left to do on the list, only to realize years later that the lists had nothing to do with what was most important to us. Our heart’s desires were left unfulfilled in our haste to get things done.

They say that the way you live today is the way you live your life. So how are you living your life? Have you had time for authenticity and connection today?

One way to reconnect with this magical being that is the authentic you is by coming back to the present moment, dropping your attention back into this body and this breath. There are many paths that can help us to reconnect with our heart and spirit. And one that I find helpful is an altar. 

What is an altar?
An altar is many things to many people. For me, it’s a dedicated space for reflection, meditation, or prayer.  It’s a refuge from the external world and a place I can come to for guidance, support, and comfort.

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It’s also a visual reminder to go within and touch back into your most genuine self, your inner voice, or higher self. Allowing you to surrender to a higher power, whatever that is for you.

linda altar

Why should I have an altar?
It can add beauty to any space in your life. It also provides a place to reflect on your personal or spiritual priorities. It’s a physical reminder to carve out some time for focusing on your intentions. It can be dedicated to honoring Divine energies, expressing gratitude, or giving and receiving blessings.

How do I make an altar?
There is no right or wrong way to make an altar. It can be as small and simple or as large and elaborate as you would like. You can also have more than one altar. I personally have one at work, one in my bedroom, another in the living room, and an outdoor mini zen garden/altar in my balcony. Pick a place that feels right for you. Places where you can sit in quiet contemplation and won’t be disturbed will usually work best.

Follow your intuition when deciding what should be included on your altar. Think about your intention for creating an altar and choose items that reflect and support your intention.

lindas altar outside altar

Some items you might want to include on your altar:

-candles

-incense

-fresh flowers

-prayer beads

-journal

-spiritual images or items

-crystals

-artwork

-poetry

-mirror

altar

Once you’ve made your inviting sacred space, use it. This could mean anything from meditating for thirty minutes every day and night to pausing a moment and taking a conscious inhalation and exhalation in front of your altar. Do what works for you at any given time and remember that this is all a practice. There is no perfect way to do it. What’s important is your loving intention.

Want more?
Join us this Sunday from 1:30pm-3:30pm where you will meditate, get clear on your intentions, and create your own unique altar using the provided supplies and materials. No experience necessary. All are welcome!

 

 

linda-naini-1024x680Linda is passionate about helping clients of all ages live their best and most authentic life. As a certified Wellness Coach and Meditation Teacher, she loves creating and offering fun, effective, and focused coaching and meditation programs for groups and individuals that combine research-proven techniques with ancient traditions from around the globe. She also offers private coaching and meditation sessions via telephone, skype, or in person at Rooted In Bliss in North Bethesda, Maryland.

alter with an altar

alter with an altar

We are so excited for our Kid’s Yoga Camp to start next week!!!  (FYI: we have 1-2 spots left for any last minute kiddies- join us!).  Our camp Co-Creator/Director, Roni Zelivinski (is-DA-BEST and), has written a super fun guest blog post for us– all about… 

The ABC’s of Kid’s Yoga – Why Yoga is Essential for Kiddos ~ Letter by Letter

Affirmations: to remind ourselves that we are awesome, amazing, and loved

Breath: learning to use our bellies to breathe and connecting to our breath

Creativity: inventing our own yoga poses and using our imaginations to play and grow

Dance: getting out the wiggles and jiggles to start off class. Nothing like a hokey pokey to loosen up our bodies!

Eco-friendly: opening up our minds to ways we can protect the Earth

Friends: making new friends and interacting with other kiddos

Gratitude: reminding ourselves of all that we have to be thankful for

Healthy: we exercise together without even knowing it, and have yummy healthy snacks

kids yoga

Introspection: noticing how we feel that day and sharing it- all feelings are good feelings

Judgment-free zone: kids get to be kids, anyway they want to be! And teachers get to be kids too!

Knowledge: sharing wisdom with friends fosters enthusiasm about learning

Laughter: there is nothing better for the body, mind, and spirit than to giggle with buddies

Mindfulness: closing our eyes and awakening all of our senses to the world around us- the sound of breathing, the music, the way our mats feel, the warmth of our palms

Noticing: the way our bodies MOVE. How does one touch their right foot with their

left hand?

Organized: classes are planned, but still go with the flow~

PLAYFUL

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Quack, ribbit, bark, meow: laughing and making sounds while practicing

Rest- there is always time for a two minute colorful guided relaxation

Stretch: nowadays kids spend their entire days sitting at desks in school. Yoga is their chance to move and stretch all of their muscles, bones, and growing bodies

Turn off those electronics! Yoga is digital-age accessory free

Unity: playing games, doing poses, reading books all together

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Vibrant: colors, creativity, music, toys, props- kid’s yoga is full of super colorful and abundant energy

Wash: away all the stress from the day. There are no competitions, quizzes, grades or winners in yoga. The most important rule is to have fun and do what you love

Xylophone: drums, maraccas and more! Exploring the gift of music

You are you and I am me: yoga encourages self-expression, self-awareness, self-confidence and love

Zzzzz: a good yoga play time means a better sleep, happier dreaming, and happier parents :)

 

Check out more on kid’s yoga and the benefits here!

 

new head shotRoni Zelivinski is a local Vinyasa yoga teacher for yogis of all ages, a Doula,  Zumba instructor, salsa music lover, barefoot-walker and aspiring midwife. She co-created the extendYoga kids camp with Arlet Koseian and is very passionate about the importance of play for all ages!  Originally from Israel, she grew up in Rockville and spends most of her time studying at the University of Maryland and teaching classes in the DMV.  To learn more about Roni, check out her blog!

the ABC’s of kid’s yoga

the ABC’s of kid’s yoga

TGIF yogis!  So this week at the studio was all about Grasshopper pose (also known as Dragonfly or Revolved Flying Pigeon).  It came up in every class I took in many forms: full grasshopper, baby grasshopper, and everything in between.  The same day I taught this pose in my Tues/Thurs early AM classes, I took another class revolving around this pose a few hours later.  It must be in the air (or all our teachers have been taking each other’s classes) ;)

We’ve actually briefly visited this pose before in a fun pose friday post over a year ago.  Check out the ah-mazing Krista Block demoing: http://extendyoga/2013/fun-pose-friday-grasshopper/.

Why write about the same pose twice?  Well, because why not? :)  and mainly because last year I couldn’t do it.  Surprise!  This year, I can!  It’s pretty impressive how much our practice can evolve and how much we can learn in a year’s time… same goes for off our mats, right?

arlet grasshopper

Last time we didn’t real break this pose down, so here we go…

  • step 1: Ground down in your right foot, cross your left foot just above the right knee- FLEX the left foot and sit back (think Utkatasana).  Bring the weight onto your right heal, bring the hands into prayer at the center of your chest.  Stay here for 5 breaths.
  • step 2: Slowly twist to the right, reaching your left elbow to the sole/center of your left foot.  Push the elbow (or upper arm if you can- eventually the arm pit!) into the foot as you press the palms together to deepen the twist. Start to sit lower and bend the right knee even more.  Only move onto step 3 if and only if you can get the sole of the foot above the elbow.  If you can’t get deep enough into the twist and work the foot up the arm, you won’t have anything to balance on.
rachel brathen

photo courtesy of: Rachel Brathen of Rachel Brathen Lifestyle

  • step 3: Here comes the fun part!  Keep sinking deeper into your right leg until you’re close enough to place your hands, shoulder-width apart, on the ground (foot still on upper arm/above elbow).  Look past your fingers and start to lean your weight forward, finding your Chaturanga arms– creating a shelf for you to literally stand on.  
  • step 4: Keep bending the elbows and standing on your left arm.  Start to lift the right leg up off the ground and in towards your booty.  You might stay here or if you feel balanced and your left foot is not sliding down towards your elbow,  keep looking forward and extend the right leg straight. note: in the photo above, Rachel starts with the gaze forward and then moves it towards the right toes– this is option too!  Once you’ve got the pose and feel confident in it, the gaze will follow.

Got it?– Now what?  At first you’ll probably rest the outer part of your right thigh on your arm (on your chatarunga shelf).  With practice and as you gain more strength, you can work up to a fully straight leg hovering above the elbow.

Don’t get discouraged if you fall out (or bust your leg!).  This is a great pose that has lots of steps and variations– so there is plenty of work to be done before moving onto the next part and eventually the full pose.

Failed attempts (this is ego getting in the way actually– WHY did I HAVE to try in the flower pot?!#@%$%):

grasshopper 2

Aftermath + a busted, bloody leg:

grasshppper fail

 

 

Check out some more tips on getting prepared for and into this pose via master yogini Kathryn Budighttp://blogs.yogajournal.com/challenge-pose-grasshopper.html

Have fun and report back!

fun pose friday: grasshopper II

fun pose friday: grasshopper II

Hi there blog followers!  It’s been a while since we’ve connected… seems like I’m always saying this :/

Trying to stay more active in the blogsphere, but as always, so MUCH has been going on.  April and May are already a blur; I took a trip to my old stomping grounds at Yoga Journal LIVE! in NYC, directly after that, DC Yoga Week and Yoga on the Mall happened, and oh yea, I got engaged!  <3 more on the that stuff later. ;)

This post is dedicated to my trip to NYC and to the ridiculously talented teachers that I was able to spend time with.  When I got back to extendYoga after my weekend at the conference, a student asked me: “If you could take away one thing from the experience, what would it be?”  I didn’t hesitate when I answered:

“[This weekend] was a reminder to always step out of your comfort zone and that there is so much more out there then we are used to or even know about.”  

Whenever I sign up for these things, I make it a point to go in a little blind, i.e.: sign up for yoga teachers, classes, workshops and different yoga styles that I am not accustomed to, or even that I have never heard of.  Of course, I also take this awesome opportunity to visit my favorite teachers as well, but most of my time is spent trying out the NEW and exciting stuff.  This year was no different.

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check out my schedule- what a lineup!
Ana Forrest, Dharma Mittra, Kathryn Budig
Leslie Kaminoff <– accidentally slept through that one :(
Amy Ippoliti, Seane Corn and Shiva Rea

 

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obligatory yoga pose pic with the Yoga Journal gobo

As you read this post, I highly suggest clicking on the links for each of the teachers and browsing.  Maybe you follow a few, maybe you come back to it in a couple days; but take 10 minutes to see what’s out there in this big, beautiful, yoga world.  You might just find something that you’ve been missing!

I hit the ground running (and nervous) with an advanced heated workshop with Ana Forrest.  I knew a little about her and her story and a little about Forrest Yoga, but hadn’t seen anything more that a 5 minute video of her (warning: video is scarrrrrry, a.k.a. amazing).

Needless to say– the next two hours were kick a@% and I mean literally… she kicked our butts.  The name of the workshop was “Gravity Surfing;” I think that explains a lot. haha.  It was the hardest physical practice I had ever experienced and I was dripping sweat at the end.  I also found the pranayama portion of the workshop very challenging as well.  She lead some pretty advanced breath work, which had me leaving the workshop feeling energized and clear headed– ready to take on the next challenge!  I think it was the perfect way to start my weekend (although I paid for it the next day– holy soreness!).

ana and her assistants

Ana & her assistants (who were awesome!) at the Yoga Journal LIVE! Marketplace
photo courtesy of: Ana’s Facebook fan page

Next was Dharma Mittra; another teacher that I had heard so much about, but never had the pleasure of learning from.  I felt like I knew so much about him and Dharma Yoga through one of my local teacher’s (in DC), Brittanie.  He’s this guy:

dharma

photo courtesy of: Dharma Yoga Center

Oh yeah, and did I mention, he’s 75 years old?!?!  What an inspiration.  The workshop was challenging for me for a few reasons.  First off, it was slow; which I am not used to.  We held poses for a long time and he threw in quite a few advanced variations- some that I didn’t know I could actually do!  At the same time, Dharma himself is super light and fun, so it made the intensity of the class a little bit more breezy.  His sense of humor is totally on my level and listening to him was a great reminder to not take things so seriously– it’s just yoga after all!  My favorite part was the 30 minute yoga nidra at the end– heaven!  He talked a lot about overall health and diet as well, which was educational and again, inspirational.  It’s really great to see what optimal physical and mental health looks like and that it can be maintained (with practice), at any age.

dharma group

group shot at the end of the workshop (I’m behind the camera taking the pic) :)

Then we had a quick break for lunch and did some browsing through the Marketplace (a dangerous place where every yoga and health related vendor imaginable has an alluring booth set up with sales of all sorts).

Ran into some familiar faces….

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extendYoga peeps at Yoga Journal LIVE!

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partner Tree pose with Andrea!

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the Sangha Space in the center of the Marketplace. aerial yoga anyone?

Next was my FAVORITE!  I’ve been following this effervescent goddess for a few years now.  She never ceases to amaze me.  The one, the only… Kathryn Budig.  We (at least I do), talk about yoga crushes, but I don’t just have a crush on her, I just love everything she stands for and how real she is.  She’s just so approachable and down to earth.  Can’t express how much she ROCKS!  Not to mention, her equally awesome assistant, Taylor Harkness– who’s creating his own following as well (don’t worry, multiple yoga crushes are OK).  It’s beautiful and contagious to see happiness and friendships between people that work and spend so much time together.  And those two really have something special… all in the name of yoga too!!!  Woot woot!

me and my new friends

me and my new friends! ;)

I don’t even know where to start with the workshop– as always, Kathryn delivered and I ate it all right up.  We did lots of fun, juicy hip opening work as well as arm balances, inversion play and of course super creative transitions.  The room was filled with smiles from strangers and laughter throughout the workshop.  A true judgement free zone.  LOVE!  <3 <3 <3

OMG- check out this awesome video of Kathryn & Taylor rocking out a happy hour demo at the conference to none other than the original goddess, Beyoncé.

The next day… I accidentally slept through Leslie Kaminoff‘s workshop- whoops!  Heard it was great though!  I’ll have to catch him next time.

On to Amy Ippoliti.  Another new teacher that I knew the least about.  I really just heard a couple local teachers (mainly Naomi and Krista) mention her name and that they really liked Amy.  So I decided to check it out– and boy was I happy I did?!  Amy’s awesome!  Talk about real… she’s super friendly, open and laid back.  The theme of the workshop really resonated with me: “Shine on You Crazy Diamond: Core Brilliance.”  We talked about how to learn to be strong on the inside and soft on the outside.  Don’t muscle your way (and strain yourself) though yoga OR life.  Diamonds are the strongest gem, that can never be scratched.  At the same time, so beautiful and delicate.  It’s not enough to be tough, we should also be soft and vulnerable.  I love this message.

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photo courtesy of: Coldwater Photography

I loved how Amy gave so many shootouts to other teachers during the workshop too; so humble.  That’s pretty cool, right?  She also spent time with almost everyone in the workshop– not sure how she managed that because there were probably over 60 people there!  I think my favorite part of the workshop had to be when she came over and manhandled me into yogi dandasana pose.  Not sure I’ll ever get that one again, but I sure have the memory forever.

My last workshop was with the ever so beautiful, Seane Corn.  Saved the best for last???!  I’ve been wanting to work with her for a while now, but kept telling myself that she comes to the DC area from time to time and put it off.  When it came time to sign up for my courses, it felt right to finally sign up for an afternoon with Seane.  Oh. my. gosh.  She rocked my world.  The workshop was a lot of discussion, followed by some asana and revolved around finding your voice and making magic.  Sounds so out there, but it really landed for me.  Seane is one of the most well spoken, smart and honest yoginis I’ve encountered.  It was really nice to end the weekend with people sharing: their personal journeys, what brought us all together and asking lots of questions.  Check out Seane’s outreach work that she’s dedicated so much of her time and practice to: Off the Mat, Into the World.

Oh and I forgot to mention the “evening event” that a few of us extendYogis met at.  A fun, yogi style dance-yo-pants-off party with Shiva Rea, Seane Corn and DJ Drez.  A portion of the event’s ticket sales went to Shiva and Seane’s individual organizations: Yoga Energy Activism and Off the Mat, Into the World.

dj drez

DJ Drez in the house!

I Heart Hot Yoga

represent! #Ilovehotyoga #extendYoga

shiva

in the midst of dancing our asana’s off, we had a visitor join us in our dance circle

At the end of the weekend, I was a.) sore as hell b.) happy as ever and c.) ready to come home and share all my experiences with everyone!  But most importantly, I was so grateful and lucky to have put myself in some unfamiliar situations and get out of my comfort zone.  There’s so much out there… in the yoga world and beyond!  Go for it… and don’t look back!

field trip to yoga journal LIVE!

field trip to yoga journal LIVE!

Last week I guest blogged for Active Life DC about what you should think about before signing up for Yoga Teacher Training.  Check out the posts (and my past posts) here:

You’ve been thinking about, you’ve been researching online, you’ve been visiting studios in the DC area… so how do you decide?*

Well, first things first: make sure this is something you really want to do. You don’t want to go in iffy or unsure. While researching, you might change your mind, or postpone your training plans, but if you sign up for a yoga teacher training program, you are about to commit a lot of time and a lot of money… still want to? Good, because I definitely think it’s worth it.

ArletHandstand

extendYoga students working on their handstand with their teacher, TanO (far right). photo courtesy of Arlet Koseian.

 

Now, what to consider when choosing the best yoga teacher training (referred to as YTT) program for you, read on…

1. Cost:

Be prepared to spend between $2,000-$3,500. The majority of 200-hour YTT programs in the DC metro area fall in this range (depending on the location, style of training, if there is a visiting Master teacher involved, etc.). Some studios offer scholarships, work-study and other discounted registration options. If this is something you are interested in, make sure to inquire within the studio (fyi- these opportunities may not posted in the training description, so make sure to ask).

Don’t forget to factor in added costs for books, travel and food: books and materials could run you between $75-$250. If you need to pay for parking, metro, gas, etc. keep that in mind. And pack a lunch/snacks! You might be spending some long days at training— factor in your lunch breaks or bring your own. tip: buy used books, or borrow from your yogi friends. If you’re a big note taker like me, you might opt for new books, so you can have at it with your highlighters.

Post YTT costs: If you do end up teaching (note: you don’t HAVE to teach yoga after completing training- more on this below), consider some of the post training costs: Yoga Teacher insurance ($125-$200 per year) and Yoga Alliance Registration fees ($100 initial fee, $55 annual renewal fee).

2. Time/Training Schedule:

Depending on what you are looking for and your specific schedule needs, there should be a program out there for you. There are a couple options: a more intensive version (more hours a day, less total days), or over the course of a few months, or a longer-term program that could run for up to a year; usually taking place on weekends.

If you have a full time job, the weekend format might work best for you. If you are able to take off for an extended period of time, are in between jobs, or have the availability, you might want to check out a 1, 2, 3 or 4-week intensive program.

tip: what type of learner are you? For me, the intensive route was the way to go. I’d rather immerse myself and have my 100% focus on the task at hand and THEN, spend a few weeks/months letting it all soak in. If you’d rather have more space in between meetings to digest all the practice/information (and there is A LOT to digest), then spreading it out might work better for you.

3. Location:

You’ll be spending lots of time at your YTT studio/facility. Make sure it’s comfortable and convenient for you and you are familiar with the parking/metro situation. In addition to actual training dates, most programs require you to take additional classes at their studio (even more visits you’ll need to plan).

4. To Teach or Not to Teach?

It’s a common misconception that you HAVE to teach once graduating from YTT. It’s really up to you what you do with your education. I will say that many times, yogis go into training saying “I never plan on teaching,” and the come out wanting to do nothing but teach! There are also those who go into it thinking they were born to teach yoga, and along the way, they would rather focus on and deepening their personal practice. As long as you go in completely open minded and open too all the possibilities, the rest will work itself out.

5. Your Yoga Ability/Level

Another misconception of YTT is that you have to a super duper advance practitioner to participate. Unless you are applying for an advanced (300, 500, 800-hour, etc., or specialized) training, there are usually no/minimal requirements to sign up.

That said, I wouldn’t sign up for YTT if you haven’t been practicing some sort of yoga for at least a year or if you have any major/debilitating health issues or injuries. So don’t worry, you don’t have to be able to stand on your head for 10 minutes to sign up!

6. Size:

This goes back to what kind of learner you are. Would you rather be in a small, intimate group setting or with a group of let’s say, 20-30 other yogis– your choice!

7. Former Grads, References & Reputation:

The best way to get to know the ins and outs of a yoga teacher training program is to talk to former graduates of the program. A good way to start is by looking at the lead teachers that are running the training– if you already have a relationship with them, ask them about it!

Know anyone that has completed the training? Ask them what they thought (and then ask them if you can borrow their books). Many studios hold open YTT Q&A sessions as well. That’s a great way to get to know about the teacher’s involved, meet some other potential trainees and get a feel for the program.

Last of all, don’t be afraid to ask for or review a list of references (many places already post feedback on their website). It’s a big decision, so ask as many questions as you need and do your homework before taking the plunge.

Good luck and let us know where you end up receiving your yoga teacher training certificate!

*This post is all about Yoga Teacher Training programs in the DC metro area. There are lots of trainings all over the country and abroad. If you decide to go train in Costa Rica for a month– please do, and then come back and tell us all about it!

7 Things to Consider Before Signing Up for Yoga Teacher Training

7 Things to Consider Before Signing Up for Yoga Teacher Training

Today’s blog post is all about Sara… and today is actually her birthday too!!!  Happy Birthday Sara!!!  :)
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The Sara(h)s and Lisa run this place.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would without my work exchange crew.  You really don’t realize what goes into the daily operations of extendYoga until you are behind the desk and behind the scenes– just ask a Sara(h) or Lisa!
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So what’s the deal with Sara? —there are currently 4 that work at the studio.  I often refer to them as the Sara(h)s: Sara C, Sarah E, Sarah S and another Sara C, and actually some times Sarah B during winter and summer breaks.  I don’t know how we landed so many Sara(h)s, but we sure are lucky to have them.
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It’s all about Sara C today.  Check out this interview and make sure to give her a birthday hug, high five or smile, next time you see her greeting you at the desk or rolling her mat out in class.
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  • Tell me a little bit about yourself (something we might not know). 
My husband Mike and I started practicing yoga together in 2011; we did the groupon circuit. We loved extendYoga so much that we stuck with it! I am a Professional School Counselor by day and a Hebrew tutor by night. I love to sing, but not in public!
sara sara and mike

  • What is your current favorite yoga pose and why? 
It’s hard to choose one yoga pose that I love most. I’d have to say wheel because it makes me feel strong and flexible at the same time.
  • What is your favorite part about working at extendYoga and about yoga in general?
My favorite part about working at extendYoga is the community that has come together around this special place. It’s a place where people become fast friends. My favorite part of yoga is learning to look inside myself and challenge my ideas of what I think I can and cannot do.
sara c
  • If you could only take one extendYoga class/teacher for the rest of your life– which one and why?
Nina all the time.  I love her calm voice and her acceptance of and appreciation for all of her students.
  • Other than yoga, what are your passions/favorites?
I love to run – it challenges me physically and mentally. I also love to sing and play piano, but don’t do either enough! I love to cook and bake, and am getting into trying new recipes.  ***join Sara & Juliet at extendYoga on 4/26: Flow for a Cause and raise funds for Sara’s 1/2 Marathon efforts and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society***
sara run
  • What’s on your iPod?
Well this is a loaded question – I have tons of music on my iPod! The most listened to are probably: Guster, Counting Crows, Ari Hest, Rosi Golan, Coldplay, Keane, Damien Rice, Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes, Graham Colton, Pete Yorn, and The Weepies.

staff highlight: Sara C (and happy bday)!

staff highlight: Sara C (and happy bday)!

Check out this post from guest blogger and extendYoga teacher, Leslie Edsall.  Today’s post is all about self-care.  If you feel like you always put others first and yourself last… READ ON!

love

As busy moms, daughters, sisters, and caregivers, women tend to put themselves last in terms of priority. Despite the hefty roles that women play in caring for others, they still need to carve out solo time to recharge, renew and reconnect with their own personal goals and/or reduce stress.  How do you create a self-care environment that helps to enrich your energy rather than distract from it.  Try these tips:

Create a Morning Ritual  

  • Building rituals into your time will help you keep your commitments.
  • Your rituals work best when they are automatic.
  • Try working out or taking time for reflection at the same time each day.

Build in Recover Time from Stress

  • Managing your energy is often about managing your down time.
  • With any major energy expenditure, create a wave of recovery to balance the scales.
  • Ideally, you would take the same amount of time relaxing, breathing deeply and settling down. 

Be Positive

  • Try to make what you are doing more enjoyable.
  • See the positive side of any struggles; use them as learning experiences.
  • Smile, laugh and choose an activity that makes you happy.

Avoid Multi-Tasking

  • Keep in mind that multi-tasking works best when you make a conscious decision to do it.
  • When you do two things at one time, you are not giving all of your energy to either thing.
  • Commit yourself to the most important thing at the moment. Be present.

Use Your Stress

  • Rather than trying to eliminate your stress or stormy periods in your life, use it.
  • Recognize that these periods are your best times of growth.
  • Just as stressing a muscle will cause it to grow stronger, use your stress to help you be stronger and live more purposefully.

When Relapse Happensand it likely will!

  • Be prepared: have a “plan B” in mind for your self-care each day.
  • Don’t let a relapse take away from the achievements made to date.—
  • Take note of what helped you get back on track.  Ask yourself: What triggered this? How can future relapse be avoided?

plan b

Are you ready to take care or YOURSELF for a change?  Here’s a great, (MD-VA-DC) local, retreat built just for you!

Women’s Retreat – A Weekend of Self Care

The idea of self-care for women is the concept behind a local women’s retreat at the Carderock Community Center in Bethesda, MD, May 3 – 4, 2014.  As the care taker for my parents over the years, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I can relate to the daily and weekly pressures that exist for women of all ages as we strive to help care for others before ourselves. 

The main goal of the retreat is for women to get away without “going away.”  At this retreat, women can re-connect with themselves through yoga, meditation, outdoor activities, education sessions, group kayaking, acupuncture and spa services. Attendees will take time to get grounded by connecting with the outdoors, with themselves and with other women.  See the full schedule and register here: Women’s Wellness Retreat

retreat

Continue to love yourself first or simply remind yourself of the wonderful person that you are!

 

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Leslie Edsall loves to work with people to develop healthier habits in nutrition, yoga and self care from her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She offers a variety of online and in-person health coaching programs, teaches yoga classes at extendYoga and leads wellness retreats. Leslie also offers private sessions via telephone, skype, or in person in Bethesda, Maryland. To learn more about Leslie: www.TrifectaWellness.com

Discovering Wellness for Caregivers Through Self-Care

Discovering Wellness for Caregivers Through Self-Care

It’s been a wild month… like really.  Between all the snow days, the f#$%^#% polar vortex, valentine’s day, cupid’s undie run and mercury retrograde– I don’t know which end is up!

Yet, in the midst of all the maddness and moving at warp speeds, there have also been several moments where time stands still– particularly with numerous events that happened over the last several weeks.  Not only in my life, but in the lives of some of my besties (my best friends).  Sometimes it takes a big life-changing event to make you stop and smell the roses.

As I was looking through my photos, I realized I have met 4 new babies over the course of 5 weeks.  Not to mention, several run-ins with other babies between the ages of 3 months-1 year old.  If that’s not enough, my partner in crime and long time BFF has one on the way!

In addition to so many babies coming into the world, it was practically everyone’s birthday; my birthday, my BFF of almost 20 years; Lora’s bday, my yoga teacher friends: Sara CrosbyHetta Welch & Shannon Cady and Michael Jordan (not a yoga teacher) :).

#aquarius #pisces #aquariuspiscescusp #bestsignsever

Where am I going with this, you ask?  Well, as I was holding baby #4 the other day and gazing at his precious eyes and little baby hands and feet– I didn’t know what time it was, I didn’t check my phone, I didn’t care how cold it was outside… I was mesmerized and hypnotized by this little, living thing, all his squirming and those adorable sounds that babies make.

I was reminded by the innocence, purity and honesty of babies.  And how we all start that way when we enter the world: no judgments, no inhibitions, no worries (except for when the next feeding or poopy diaper changing is happening).  So AUTHENTIC and refreshing.

For the rest of that day and next couple days– I reminded myself of all these things and tried to channel my inner baby.  Being stuck at every red light, worrying about bills, having little energy, not crossing enough off my TO DO list– it really doesn’t matter.  Babies don’t have all these “things” bogging them down.  I reminded myself, to stop, chill, breathe and be happy that I am healthy and surrounded by so many who love and care about me.

It’s really not that profound, but had I not made the time to visit these new bundles of joy, I probably would have gotten another camera ticket because I just HAD to get to wherever the hell I was going.  So, next time you’re running around crazy, try to stop and smell the roses… or baby poo.  (gross)

And now… the most adorable photo collection of babies… brace yourselves- my friends make extremely cute tiny humans:

nikhil

baby: nikhil
bestie: rini (my UMD college roommate)

 

sienna rose 2

baby: sienna rose
bestie: nicole (friends since the 6th grade & my roommate in NYC)

 

baby: george bestie: beth (my first college roomie at udel)

baby: george – this guy was born on MY BDAY!!! :)
bestie: beth a.k.a “roomie” (my first college roomie at UDEL)

 

baby: sebastian bestie: lika (my guru & friend)

baby: sebastian
bestie: lika (my guru & friend)

 

r love

baby: roxanna love
bestie: jarrad (how does it feel that I called you my bestie?!) ;)

baby: drew bestie: pam (friend and owner of allay yoga)

baby: drew
bestie: pam (yogini friend & owner of allay yoga)

 

maya feb 19

baby: maya
bestie: sara (friend/teacher at extendYoga and funny enough, we actually worked at the same place in college, but met years later)

 

2/28: New addition to the post.  I met baby Charlie this month as well…

charlie

baby: charlie
bestie: daisy a.k.a #yoganag (yogini partner in crime, teacher at extendYoga)

 

And one on the way!!!…

baby: ??? bestie: emily (we met freshman year of college in UDEL. now she lives in LA :( )

baby: ???
bestie: emily (we met freshman year of college at UDEL and have been BFFs ever since)

 

How big is your smile right now? :)  Happy Friday!!!

babies, birthdays & besties

babies, birthdays & besties

No fun pose friday post today… but something even better!  A teacher spotlight! Woot, woot!  I love all our teacher’s at extendYoga of course.  There’s something unique and special about each and every one of them.  This month’s spotlight is shining on our very own Emma Andrews!  If I had to describe Emma in a few words, it would be: fun, smart and someone who I’ve always thought has her sh*t together. <– I think that’s is a huge feat; like, for reals!
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It’s always fun to learn a little bit more about your teacher’s (and that they actually do things off their yoga mat)!
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So here we go, Emma Andrews everyone:
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Tell me a little bit about yourself (something we might not know)
I sound American but I grew up in a very British family – and lived in England as a child – so I don’t consider myself entirely American. To complicate the matter I lived in Canada for six years in my early twenties so ‘home’ is never just one place.
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Tell me what students can expect in your classes
Alignment. I teach a flow style that incorporates plenty of movement (think: sun salutations), but I think students are surprised by my focus on safe alignment and a slower pace. And I love props.

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What is your current favorite yoga pose and why? (a pic of this would be great if you have it)
Since starting an ‘office’ job I’ve been struggling with tight hips and hamstrings – as a result I’m loving moving back and forth from Lizard into Half Splits. Yum.
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Other than yoga, what are your passions/favorites?
I set a goal to run ten half marathons in ten years and in March I’m running my 10th…in 6 years!
emma extendyoga
What’s on your iPod?
My yoga students know I’m a sucker for Bon Iver but right now I’ve got Drake on repeat.
emma extendyoga3
You can catch Emma at extendYoga.  We are so excited that she’s teaching a NEW class on every 2nd Sunday of the month: Restorative Yoga!!!  Check the class schedule here.

teacher highlight: emma andrews

teacher highlight: emma andrews

Today’s blog post is from Linda Naini, MPH, CCRP (yogi, wellness coach, meditation teacher, health analyst, and my friend).  You can occasionally find Linda taking a class, leading a meditation session, or offering one of her unique workshops at extendYoga.  And great news… she’s leading her Rooted In Bliss meditation classes every 1st Sunday of the month, 5:30pm-6:20pm, at extendYoga– starts in March 2014!

 

I recently read an article on Mindfulness Meditation entitled, “What the Focus This?” This blog is my attempt to answer that question in preparation for the meditation class I will be leading at extendYoga on every first Sunday of the month.

What is this Mindfulness Meditation thing?

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of pausing and noticing your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment in the present moment without judgment. So instead of imagining the future or rehashing the past, we give ourselves the space to be RIGHT HERE-RIGHT NOW.

Why should I make time for this practice in my busy schedule? 

Thanks to extensive research in the past few years, we now know that mindfulness meditation can help alleviate depression, anxiety, pain, and high blood pressure. It’s also been shown to help us enhance our focus, concentration, decision making, and immune response.

Many of you have read articles noting these finding and you may have thought that trying mindfulness meditation could potentially help with your sleep, productivity, peace of mind, and overall happiness.

But you just don’t have the time to add yet another thing to your life.

I hear you! And I’m with you! And I’ve got two things to say about that:

1) Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and at any time. So it can be done while driving to work, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or running errands. AND we can also benefit a lot from having a “formal” practice. This brings me to:

2) I too used to flirt with the idea of meditation and felt that I didn’t have time for it. So what happened?

Why do I now practice Mindfulness Meditation on a regular basis?

The answer is easy: Snowmageddon 2010 & Greg Marzullo!

linda greg

“Between a stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Viktor Frankl 

On February 5, 2010, the snowmageddon storm gave me the pause I needed to notice the “space” in my internal storm. Without the pause, we usually go to our “feel good quick” solution which is more of a reaction than a response. My internal storm was what I called life at the time.

Often we run away from what feels bad in an attempt to save ourselves from the pain. And as the old age adage goes:

“The only way out is through.” -Robert Frost

“What we resist persists.”  -Carl Jung

class at extend

I was able to pause long enough to see what was here and now; my perfect storm of a dying father, a lengthy home renovation, a relationship ending, and stressful work environment which I had been covering up by busying myself and doing what “needed” to get done. Slowing down and noticing this space between stimulus and response, allowed me the choice to pause and feel the pain that was underneath my anxiety around this storm. The “ugly” crying that followed was very liberating and I wanted more so I signed up for a 6 week meditation class through the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.

As with all practices, it’s a practice: so I took the class, continued to pause and move through emotions and started noticing a bit more fluidity in my life. Because of my mindfulness practice, I was able to have moments of presence with my dad that I will cherish for the rest of my life. My dad passed away a few months later and my practice seemed to leave with him. I was back in “doing” mode, engaging in every opportunity to keep busy.

Then came my second pause, just as powerful and effective as snowmageddon, and in a much more dynamic, attractive, and unforgettable package: I attended my first restorative yoga class with Greg Marzullo. He was reciting a poem from Walt Whitman and as I laid there in Supta Baddha Konasana, he said:

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.”

And there it was again, the pause that allowed me to see the space where I could either choose to busy my mind in that moment or feel what was there. And feel I did. I cried my heart out in that class. Again, I felt light and a bit more fluidity in my life. Since that time, I have continued the practice of pausing through meditation and yoga. And the combination has allowed me to open to so much possibility in my life. The love, opportunities, and joy that I am now able to experience more fully and frequently are well worth my 20-30 minute meditation practice each day.

rooted in bliss

Now when I take time to pause, I still have my moments of pain, and I also have many more moments of gratitude, love, and peace.

So what better place than here and what better time than now?

Why not gift yourself with pausing and noticing your breath for the next 5 minutes?  Taking a few minutes to notice each inhalation and each exhalation without trying to change anything. Give it a try. It’s amazing what can show up! What can move, what can shift, and what can grow.

 

linda naini

Linda is passionate about helping clients of all ages live their best and most authentic life. As a certified Wellness Coach through the Maryland University of Integrative Health, she loves creating and offering fun, effective, and focused programs for groups and individuals that combine research-proven techniques with ancient traditions from around the globe. She also offers private sessions via telephone, skype, or in person at Rooted In Bliss in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Still snowed in?  Here’s an activity that might be fun (but it does require a trip to your local home improvement store).  Check out my DIYY (do it yourself yogini) post…

Greetings from a do it yourself yogini!  I like to think that I am handy person.  After all, I am pretty much filling the roll and providing general handywoman, plumber, cleaning and painting services at extendYoga on the daily.  You name it; I am your go to maintenance person.

Most of the time, I actually enjoy fixer-upper projects, rolling up my sleeves and getting crafty.  I especially like to paint, so when I came across a photo of a giant chalkboard online, I thought that it would be a great idea and fun addition to the studio.  Originally this idea was added to my “summer projects” list, but it wasn’t actually completed until early November 2013 (you know how that goes).

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After researching online and grabbing all the supplies, I got to work.  If you are interested in this easy, fun and affordable project, check out the step by step below.

Supplies needed:
Chalkboard paint*
Paint rollers
Paint brush
Painter’s tape
Pencil
Tape Measure
Level (or the iHandy Level app on your smartphone)
Chalk

Depending on how big your chalkboard is going to be, the approximate cost for the project should be between $30-$50.  The paint is the most of it, about $10 per pint.

*There are various brands of paint, make sure to read the directions before you get started.  1 pint of paint is probably enough unless you are painting a large wall.  You’ll need several coats (2-3), so make sure you get enough paint and account for keeping extra for future touch ups.  I used almost 2 full pints and kept a 3rd unopened pint for future touch ups, in case I need  to paint a new coat or start a new project.

Chalkboard location selection:

When choosing your new chalkboard location, keep this in mind:
-Make sure the area you are painting is flat, smooth and clean
-If you are painting directly on drywall, prime the area first
-If the area is already painted, you can paint right on top, but make sure to sand down any bumps, rough spots— it’s very important to have the surface as smooth as possible before applying the chalkboard paint
-The paint works great on pretty much any surface, but check the back of the can for specifics

Fun places to paint on:
-In your kitchen
-In kids’ rooms or on top of a kids’ table
-On a door
-On the glass of a large picture frame

Once you have your wall/surface ready, use your pencil, ruler and level to tape off the area.  Once you tape is up and firmly pressed down, you’re ready to paint!

tape1

Make sure to paint in even coats and paint in once direction and smooth (avoid globs, streaks, etc).

 paint2

You’ll want at least 2 coats.  The paint dries pretty quickly, but in order for the paint to set and work properly, you should let each coat dry for 24 hours before applying the next coat.  I painted 3 coats on this board.

After your final coat— the most important step is curing the paint.  Do not start to write/draw on your chalkboard without completing this step.

cure3

Take the side of chalk (I would recommend white chalk for curing) and rub the entire painted area.  This is what breaks the board in and will allow you to be able to erase the board without leaving behind marks.  Note: there will be a good amount of chalk dust that will accumulate from the curing process (you might want to put something on the floor for easy clean up).

chalkdust3

After curing, you’re ready to erase.  Most paint manufactures recommend you do not use regular chalkboard erasers on the paint.  I use either a large slightly damp sponge or old t-shirts (something not super abrasive).

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Once you have erased— you’re ready to go!  Get creative and have fun!

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Chalkboard paint versus chalkboard spray paint:

If you are looking to add a chalkboard indoors, and on a fairly large area, I would recommend chalkboard paint.  I have used chalkboard spray paint on the top of a small children’s table.  If you are able to take the object you are painting outdoors, spray works nicely, but for larger areas that require a little more durability, I’d go with paint.

Happy crafting!

DIYY (do it yourself yogini): chalkboards

DIYY (do it yourself yogini): chalkboards

hi there!  It’s been a while since posting a fun pose friday post.  I’ve got a fun one for you today.  Serving up Marichyasana– 4 ways (1-4 or A-D).  I’ve only explored I and III– let me know what II and IV are like!

(mar-ee-chee-AHS-anna)

Marichi = ray of light

You might find a variation of Marichyasana (referred to 1, 2, 3, 4 or A, B, C, D) in many yoga classes, but you’ll for sure find all 4 in the Ashtanga Primary Series.  note: I’m not a devote ashtangi– so feel free to enlighten me with any thoughts on this post/these poses!

Let’s check out some of the benefits of these poses:

  • Stimulates and also calms the brain
  • Stretches the spine and shoulders
  • Stimulates/massages abdominal organs like the liver and kidneys
  • Improves digestion

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Marichyasana I:

tip: Activate the straight leg by flexing the foot and pointing the toes up.

deepen this pose: Forward fold bringing the torso and forehead closer to the straitened leg.

Extend Yoga Arlet-12

photo cred: paul.lee.photography@gmail.com

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Marichyasana II:

tip: Warm up with poses like Half Lotus, Baddha Konasana and Gomukhasana

deepen: If you are looking for something more challenging – you cray!  (or see IV for a different challenge).

marichyasana-b-cs-9

photo cred: http://www.ashtangayoga.info

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Marichyasana III:

tip: make sure you’re sitting up nice and tall before taking your twist

deepen: Take a peak (your gaze) back behind you, over your shoulder.  Want more?  Play with a bind– hand on the ground wraps around your back.  Other hand meets the back hand.  Hold on tight!

marichyasana

photo cred: my MacBook ;)

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Marichyasana IV:

tip: Text me a photo when you do this– I need proof!

deepen: do you see where the toes are peaking out?  I can’t even!  #humanpretzel

marichyasana-d-cs-9

photo cred: http://www.ashtangayoga.info

For more Marichyasana party time, check these out:

images: www.ashtangayoga/primary-series/ and google images galore

video of all 4 versions: www.youtube.com/marichyasana A-D/

fun pose friday: marichyasana I-IV

fun pose friday: marichyasana I-IV

Today’s post is the second part of a 2-part blog, by guest blogger and extendYoga teacher, Leslie Edsall.  Last week, we talked about what is means to detox, our fears and our relationship with food.  This week, we’ll talk about how we can reduce our toxic load and begin the detox process.  Enjoy!

The most amazing gift we can gives ourselves is some time to breathe and come to a point of readiness to change. If we give ourselves time to change our behaviors, mentally, by doing a detox program, we can make lifestyle changes to feed our bodies with the foods that is was created to take in.  We were made to eat what our grandparents ate – foods from the ground, foods from the trees and water from the ocean rather than some amped up version of water with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine while ingesting foods that are laden with so many fillers that the food has more calories than vitamins or minerals.

I want to dispel any myths you might have about a whole food-based detox (a.k.a.: clean eating or foods found in nature) and take the “fear” out of the word detox for extendYoga’s readers.  If you come away with a better understanding of how the body works and why a detox can be beneficial a few times per year, then I have done my job!  :)

trifecta 5

Detoxifying during seasonal changes is common in other cultures throughout the world, especially in the spring & fall.  Ayurveda is one example of a 5,000 year old way of eating that includes a cleanse (means the same thing) with the change of seasons.  Let me dispel one notion about detoxing – a detox is not a diet, though you may lose weight as a by-product of releasing toxins.  The real purpose of the detox is to remove the items that fog the mind and clog our systems.  On a detox, you replace those items with whole foods & activities that enhance well-being. The items I’m speaking of are not just food related.

I will never forget thinking I was super healthy – consuming green juices, smoothies and eating all the healthy foods I could get my hands on – but I had not given up the toxic shower products, lotions or toxic household cleansers.  Everything we touch, ingest and breathe forces our liver to get to work.

body 6

Your liver is what detoxifies your body to protect you. It filters out the bad stuff so it can keep you healthy.  Too often we have too many toxins in our environment and our organs get exhausted simply trying to do their jobs to “clean our internal house.”

Your liver is like superman because has at least 500 know jobs to handle. The biggest job of all is to filter all the toxicity from your body and excrete it.  Your liver is always working hard to filter toxins from your bloodstream and make sure they leave your body.  A few jobs that the liver takes on include:

  • Endocrine function, releasing substances in o the blood such as globulins, liver glycogen and T3.
  • Metabolic regulation and taking care of 13% of your blood supply.
  • All toxins (internal & external) must be filtered by the liver.
  • Thyroid regulation.

Imagine giving your liver and all of your organs a break: supporting them just for once instead of asking them to continue to do all of the work while we arm the body with toxins if doesn’t deserve to deal with. What is we were nourishing our organs and telling them, “No worries, my friends; I am here to help.”  Let me share some more interesting facts with you.

5 tips to reduce your toxic load:

1. Use herbs that support the “detox organs” – your liver, kidney and colon. I suggest drinking herbs in their natural state such as milk thistle tea, nettle tea and dandelion tea.

2. I encourage dry skin brushing. You can use a towel or a loofa to brush the dead skin off your body. Your skin is your largest organ and by doing this daily you are supporting the excretion of toxicity and lessening the burden for your liver.

3. Eat organic whenever possible. There is a list called “the dirty dozen” and I have included the link below for your knowledge. Remember, pesticides lead to liver overload. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

4. Reduce processed and packaged foods. These are all loaded with toxins and chemicals.

5. Replace household and personal products with products that are 100% natural and chemical-free.

Your organs deserve some love.  Just like you love to be loved, so does you liver. What else can you do to release toxins?  A LOT, read along for more tips.

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Mindful Movement
Aim to move for 20-30 minutes each day of a detox by doing gentle exercises including: walking, yoga, tai chi, light aerobic exercise. Be present and use it as a form of moving meditation. Focus on your breath, the smells, sights, sounds and feeling within your own body. Let go of thoughts on what to do next and become mindful of offering your body this gift of movement and freedom. This exercise will awaken your mind, body & spirit.

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Daily Breath Work & Mindfulness
In order to release stuck toxins & clear the mind, daily breath works key. Create a mantra for your detox. Examples include:

(Inhale)                (Exhale)
No where to go   Nothing to do
Om                         Peace
I am                       Love

Daily Affirmations & Journaling
Journaling and positive affirmations are an excellent way to let go of old habits of thought and speech.  Find 5 minutes a day to write down something “new & good” that happened or what you look forward to today.  Also, add one thing that you are grateful for each day.  Gratitude is an easy, but amazing way to shift you away from negative thought patterns. This is a very rewarding and detoxing exercise when it is practiced on a daily basis. Try it out and you will see!

Massage
A massage is also an excellent way to move lymph through the system and rid the body of toxins.  Choose the type of massage that is right for you.  Deep tissue and lymphatic drainage massages are best for detoxing.

Detox your Closets or Office
This is a great time to take a look at areas in your home or office that need a little bit of clearing out. This activity will make you feel lighter, happier and deepen the overall detox process.

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Be Kind to Yourself.
Most of all, be kind of yourself on a detox program because holding on to negative thought patterns are counter-productive to the detox process.  A detox is all about letting go of your former beliefs about yourself, your looks, your diet, your career, your relationships, your home life and so on. A detox is a chance to re-set the system, from head-to-toe, with support from others. Begin to love yourself more and let to “fitting in.” The only person judging you on how you “do” on a detox is yourself. Be kind, un-wind, breathe, try new foods, get more rest, read more, criticize less, and you may even have an epiphany or two along the way.

Happy detoxing!

Leslie Edsall is a nutrition, yoga and health education expert who offers nutrition programs, teaches at extendYoga and offers workshops in the local community.  To learn more about Leslie: www.TrifectaWellness.com.

Detoxing – Fad, Fear or Ancient Science? (part 2)

Detoxing – Fad, Fear or Ancient Science? (part 2)

Today’s post is the first of a 2-part blog, by guest blogger and extendYoga teacher, Leslie Edsall.  In part 1: Leslie shares her thoughts about detoxing: what is means to detox, dispelling myths/rumors about detoxing, our relationship with food and how we let our fears (and excuses) get in the way of living a healthy life.  In part 2 (posted next week), Leslie will tell us about how we can reduce our toxic load– not just through our diet, but in our daly lives and begin the detox process.  Happy detoxing!

detox 1

It seems like everywhere you turn, someone talking about a cleanse or a detox program. I have no doubt you have heard about juice cleanses, raw food diets, gluten free and the new craze is the Paleo diet. But, the questions on everyone’s minds are, “why should I do it, is it sustainable and can I eat real foods?”  These important questions should be clearly answered by an expert leading a specific detox. Personally, I always aim to guide my clients in a safe, effective manner by offering detox programs that are based on real foods and education-based.  But this article is really not about what I offer, but more so about helping people to better understand the many facets of a detox.

The most interesting question that I enjoy tackling when working with clients is – what is the real issue that is holding you back from trying a detox?  You might be surprised or you might not be, depending on if you have considered a detox or perhaps you tried one for more than three days and you failed the first time around, like I did!

When the initial fear-based questions about detox safety can be answered, I find that the sticking point for people is actually their own relationship with food (or drinks), rather than the detox itself.  Please don’t think that I am perfect in this sense because I am here to tell you that I am not!  I avoided going gluten and dairy-free in nutrition school for an entire year in 2007 because I did not want to give up these foods, even though all the research showed that my skin issues, digestive issues and joint pain were related to how these foods effected my body through inflammation.

 bread 2

After I finally went gluten and dairy-free, it took me another three years to try a detox to clean out the toxins because I did not want to give up wine for 30 days.  I committed myself to a 30-day detox the first time out of the gate!  As a nutrition & health coach, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person when I try something.  If it doesn’t work for me, I’m not going to suggest it to clients or create a program that I don’t believe in 150%.  I also wanted to see if I could go to social events for 30 days and not have, “a drink in my hand” that was based on alcohol.  This was foreign territory and I was really nervous, but after my first happy hour with just soda water and lime, I knew that I could do it for a month.  It’s that first step in to the unknown, away from the habits that our society has set up as, “socially acceptable,” that are the biggest hurdles of all.

When people get anxious about social events and adapting meals for a detox, I encourage clients to be okay with, “fitting out,” not just on the detox, but in today’s society overall. Don’t be afraid to ask for considerations with foods/ drinks as you work through food and drink triggers.  Anyone who acts like a food or drink doesn’t trigger something for them, is lying.  We all have these triggers.  Even if someone’s triggers are not always inflammation-based issues, they do exist because we all have some sort of relationship with food.  Sometimes the triggers are brain-based and this is where fitting out may have previously created stress.

You can sort through what sets off habits and just know that you are not alone in these struggles.  Relationships with food are real-life struggles due to manufactured substances that cause addiction and they are not uncommon by any means.  I see it every day and the food industry is more than happy to have you addicted so that they can sell more goodies to make the population sick and health insurers can make more money off the sick, the cycle continues… but, this is another topic. Just know that big business is behind the marketing of our food supply and you don’t have to fit in to their mold. You can be okay with “fitting out,” as you consider what doesn’t serve your body and how it is different from someone else.

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In essence, our own relationship with coffee, wine, bread, cheese, chocolate, sugar and so on holds us back from being 100% healthy. In a world where we have processed foods laden with fillers and sugars, super-size options, comfort foods and desserts to ease our depression, drinks to forget our sadness, coffee or energy drinks to ignore our insomnia, is it really surprising that more people are afraid of detoxing than interested?  Not at all.  I’m always ready for more, “no’s” than, “yes’s” when I start to promote another group detox program.  And isn’t it eye-opening to see that we are not willing to commit to doing something 100% positive for our bodies?  And let’s think on that for a moment.

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In today’s society, we’re in such a rush (traffic, deadlines, obligations) and pulled in so many directions (socially, career-wise, relationships, fitting in exercise), that we don’t think we are, “strong enough” to detox, mentally and physically.  People think they can’t break away from addictions or change habitual patterns even for 3, 7, 10 or even 14 days.  What will it take to get to your own point of readiness to change?  Will it take a health scare? F or some, unfortunately it does take a health scare because again, our society and most doctors don’t worry about us unless we are already sick.  But, what happened to disease prevention?  It is now in our hands to figure this out – how can we stay healthy or bring our bodies back to health?  We are the future of health insurance and you are strong enough to do what it takes to make your way to a healthier you!

Check out next week’s post to learn more about how we can reduce our toxic load– not just through our diet, but in our daily lives and begin the detoxing process.

 

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Leslie Edsall loves to work with people to develop healthier habits in nutrition, yoga and self care from her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She offers a variety of online and in-person health coaching programs, teaches yoga classes at extendYoga and leads wellness retreats. Leslie also offers private sessions via telephone, skype, or in person in Bethesda, Maryland. To learn more about Leslie: www.TrifectaWellness.com

Detoxing – Fad, Fear or Ancient Science? (part 1)

Detoxing – Fad, Fear or Ancient Science? (part 1)

Today’s blog post is from Linda Naini, MPH, CCRP (yogi, wellness coach, meditation teacher, health analyst, and my friend).  You can occasionally find Linda taking a class, leading a meditation session, or offering one of her unique workshops at extendYoga.  And great news… she’s leading a Vision Board Workshop THIS Sunday at extendYoga!

 

An Amazing 2014: Vision Board Style!

After TanO’s awesome yoga class last Saturday, I was drinking some yummy tea in the cozy extendYoga lobby and blissfully chatting it up with a fellow yogini.  She mentioned that she doesn’t have New Year’s resolutions and that every day is new and she takes it a day at a time.

As a mindfulness meditation teacher, I agree and love the practice of being in the NOW for so many reasons that I would love to tell you about (perhaps in another blog if Arlet ever gives me this amazing opportunity again)!

So, what are vision boards?

A visual aid of what you would like to see, feel, and be in your life.

arlet v board

Arlet’s vision board from last year’s workshop (above)

If living in the NOW is the way to go, why would I create a board envisioning the future?

So here’s the thing- I know what I want to see, feel, and be in my life, but then these little distractions show up like:

Facebook, other people’s opinions (friends, family, significant other, coworkers, magazine articles, blogs, cultural norms, etc.), bills, errands, traffic, Google, unexpected life events, work, and so on… and then I’m checking emails, sending emails, texting, going to social events, joining various groups, checking off items from my do list, making the cut, making the money, living the dream… WAIT…

STOP!

Whose dream am I living?  Whose dream am I striving for?

I see vision boarding as a way to pause and look within and create a visual reminder of my heart’s desires. So that I am not as easily swayed and confused in this world that is constantly telling me it knows what I need in order to live my best life.

I think Carl Jung said it best:

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

 

linda v board

me and my board (above)

A vision board is a tool that helps me stay awake for this ride we call life. When I take the time to really look within and create my board from that space, I have a tool that reminds me of my heart centered focus and flow. So this simple yet powerful tool helps keep me moving on my heart’s tracks. And when I do hop on some shiny new external track, I’m more apt to notice and hop off before I’m taken for a ride.

How do I make a vision board?

There are various methods and what I find to be most helpful is to clear my head and really take some time with my heart. So before I take out my poster board, scissors, glue stick and favorite magazines, I breathe and meditate. Once I’m in a blissful state of mind, I take some time to visualize how my best life looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds. I journal about it, looking for key themes and words and once I’m clear on what I want and why I want it, I start flipping through magazines. I then cut out words and images that depict my vision in a way that is energizing and empowering.

When do I make a vision board?

It’s always more fun and powerful to create vision boards in a group setting where you can gather information, get ideas, and receive input from other people. Vision boards can be created at any time and some of my favorite times to facilitate vision boarding parties:

-each new calendar year
-birthday
-graduation
-anniversary
-bridal and baby showers

2014

So what are you waiting for?  Join me for a vision boarding party!  Happy vision boarding everyone and enjoy your AMAZING 2014… wherever it takes you.

 

linda naini

Linda is passionate about helping clients of all ages live their best and most authentic life. As a certified Wellness Coach through the Maryland University of Integrative Health, she loves creating and offering fun, effective, and focused programs for groups and individuals that combine research-proven techniques with ancient traditions from around the globe. She also offers private sessions via telephone, skype, or in person at Rooted In Bliss in North Bethesda, Maryland.

An Amazing 2014: Vision Board Style!

An Amazing 2014: Vision Board Style!

So we know how good yoga is for us, but yoga is especially great for all those pregnant goddesses out there.  Practicing yoga before, during and after birth is ideal, but feel free to start at any point, as it’s only going help your pregnancy and birthing experience.  Speaking of goddesses, our very own Lika Elwood is quite possibly the most beautiful and graceful pregnant yogini I have ever seen.  In honor of Lika and all the preggos around the world, this week’s fun pose Friday post is all about great poses for those who are expecting.

Hip opening poses = yummy poses for mamas to be.  Malasana (or Garland Pose or Yogic Squat) is a great one:

lika squat

lika squat 2

There are lots of benefits of this pose, such as:

  • Stretches the ankles
  • Stretches groins and back torso
  • Tones the belly
  • Extra beneficial for the expecting because it helps release tension throughout the hips, lower back and ankles– which are all parts of the body that go through major tension and stress while the baby is growing.

*Note: This pose can be an intense hip opener, so if you need to lighten up or need more support feel free to use a prop (block or blanket) underneath your seat to add more comfort and ease.

Standing poses, like the Warriors (or Virabhadrasana I and II) are really nice, grounding poses for pregnant yoginis:

warrior 2

Some benefits of Virabhadrasana II:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders
  • Especially yummy for moms to be because it helps: open up your pelvic area, strengthens your back muscles, and tones your lower body and also relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy.

Lastly, balancing poses can be tricky during your pregnancy, especially as the belly grows more and more and your center of gravity is constantly changing.

Ardha Chandrasana (or Half Moon) is a great balancing pose that you can modify many ways.  Feel free to use a block for your lower hand and/or push into a wall with the lifted leg/foot.

Or if you are super talented and have an advanced practice, you might try this variation:

half moon

Lika, really?  Wow!  Isn’t she awesome?!

Before planning your preggo yoga routine, make sure to note: if you have never practiced yoga or have practiced very little before your pregnancy, you should practice only prenatal yoga while pregnant.

If you already have a strong yoga practice before your pregnancy, you may be able to continue a fairly vigorous practice with modifications, after your first trimester.  Always, let your teacher know and listen to your body.  You will know best what feels good and what you should avoid.

Good luck and enjoy!

fun pose friday: preggo edition

fun pose friday: preggo edition

It’s that time of year again (already?).  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday– any way you look at it, the holidays and holiday shopping is creeping up.  The good news is– if you have a special yogi or yogini in your life, we’ve got the best holiday gift guide for you!  And even better news– if you’re in the DMV area, many of these gifts can be found at extendYoga (probably for less and no shipping).  :)

 

namaste_om_gf_satellite__52005.1333650914.1280.1280Every gal loves a good piece of jewelry, but yoga inspired jewelry– now we’re talking!  Erica Sara Designs jewelry has so many amazing pieces in not only the yoga collection, but many other themed collections as well.  You can also get pieces personalized/monogramed.

Erica Sara Designs jewelry ($30 and up)

 

 

 

 

matIs your friend or partner’s yoga mat getting a little funky?  Grab him/her a new mat!  Try kulae’s Elite Hot Hybrid.  The PERFECT mat AND towel for hot yoga lovers.  Available at extendYoga in Bamboo and Sea colors.

kulae’s Elite Hot Hybrid ($88), extendYoga ($68)

 

 

 

 

yogi-toes

Another great gift for the sweaty and slippy yogis out there.  If you don’t want to invest in a fancy mat, definitely get a towel to step up your practice.

Yogi Toes Skiddless Yoga Towel ($64), extendYoga ($60)

 

 

 

 

 

 

yoga-journal-magazine-subscriptionGet a gift sent directly to your home every month, year-round!

Yoga Journal subscription (~$14 for a year subscription)

 

 

 

 

 

 

natureboxfoods.1367620218If you like having gifts mailed to your home, this gift is PERFECT for any health food/yoga (organic) nut.  NatureBox is a simple, affordable way for you and your family to eat healthier.  Subscriptions are easy to set up, can be paused at any time and shipping is always free.  There are 3 gift subscription options: 3 month, 6 month and 12 month.

NatureBox ($59.95, $99.95 or $199.95)

gift card

 

How about a good ol’ fashioned gift card to your honey’s favorite yoga studio?!  Always a crowd pleaser!

Yoga Classes or Gift Card ($??)

 

 

 

 

thai-yoga-extendyogaShare the Love: Couple Thai Massage with Dahlia Shaaban.  Trying to connect on a deeper energetic level with your partner?  In this dynamic massage, you will learn to utilize acupressure and deep yoga stretches to release stored tension in the body. Your partner will enjoy the benefits of yoga without the effort! You’ll learn all the principles of compassionate, therapeutic touch and yummy, easy-to-do-at-home techniques that release tension in common areas of the body that hold stress, including the neck, shoulders, lower back and hips. 

Share the Love: Couple Thai Massage ($70 per couple, $35 individual)

 

 

 

 

art of yoga bookWrap this book up and add a note in your card about planning a trip to the first ever exhibit of it’s kind; Yoga: The Art of Transformation.  It’s a beautiful exhibit and book.  Great gift for a friend/co-worker!

Yoga: The Art of Transformation ($38-$55, hardcover/paperback)

 

 

 

 

 

 

imagesSpend the holidays and the new year in some new yoga duds.  Onzie yoga gear are all the rage.  With so many patterns and options, there is something for everyone.  AND all their products are made in the USA!

Onzie capri and long pants ($56-$65), extendYoga ($45-$52)

 

 

 

 

Greg-Tuscany-RetreatSaving the best for last, the ULTIMATE yogi gift.  The trip and retreat of a lifetime!  Your choice of two retreats with Greg Marzullo and crew.

Italy in May 2014: Surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and fruit trees, the villa features spacious rooms, breathtaking views and a nearby pool to enjoy on lazy afternoons. The food is revelatory – prepared by loving hands from ingredients grown at the villa’s organic gardens.  read more…

Italy: On the Heels of Dionysus ($1,600, plus flight)

Spain in Aug-Sept 2014: Spiritual explorers discovered ancient truths reflected in the wisdom of yoga; even a quick glance reveals the deep resonance between the mystics of all cultures, and, like Spain itself, our retreat will be a meeting place for the divine. read more…

Spain: Mystic Devotion ($1,650, plus flight)

 

***don’t forget your stocking stuffers***

vegan thin mintsVegan girl scout cookies– Yes!  You read it right!  Grab a box for your kids, spouse, friends (and obviously yourself).  Lot’s of vegan (and non-vegan) options.

Vegan Girl Scout Cookies ($4 per box)

 

pura-vidaVideoBanner-913x396Wearing one is cool, but stacking is way more fun!  Snag a couple and help someone start their puravida collection.  Wait, what? Each purchase also helps provide jobs in Costa Rica AND supports causes like: breast cancer, save the dolphins, migraine research, prostate cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, eating disorder awareness, hurricane sandy relief, autism speaks (just to name a few).

puravida bracelets & accessories($5-$20), extendYoga ($4-$15)

 

volunteer4And if you are still looking for gifts or even an addition to your existing shopping list, please consider volunteering your time, making a contribution to a cause, organization, charity event or person(s) in need during this holiday season.  Need help finding a cause?  Check this list for ideas.

 

 

 

Good luck and happy holiday shopping!

holiday gift guide for the yogi in your life

holiday gift guide for the yogi in your life

This post –and sorry it’s been too long since the last one– is dedicated to our recent 2nd birthday.  Woot!  Woot!

Each anniversary of the studio (even though it’s only been 2 :) ), I like to reflect back on the previous year.  Last year, it was all about survival and dealing with unexpected changes/situations.  Which don’t get me wrong, is a constant theme when running extendYoga.  But this year, it was more about CELEBRATING.  Not just celebrating another year keeping the doors open or in the “let’s have a party sense,” but celebrating: change, taking chances, over-coming challenges, new faces, old faces, the seasons changing, and of course,

celebrating YOU.

family tree

photo: our extended family (round 2). thanks for leaving your mark Nov 2011 & Nov 2012

Whether you’ve been to the studio one time, one hundred times, or not at all, if you’re reading this, you are in some way a part of our family.

And we THANK YOU!

Without you we couldn’t take those chances, we couldn’t get through each day, each week, each month, each year.

I’ve had these fortune cookie messages taped in my wallet (and transferred to a couple different wallets) for about 7 years now.  And yes, I’m guilty of ordering Chinese food (often) to my NYC studio apartment that was smaller than the extendYoga lounge area.

I saved these fortunes waaaay before extendYoga was even an idea or at all a possibility.  In fact, if you told me 7 years ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing today, I’d never believe you.

wallet

“You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment.”  

“You will take a chance in something in the near future.”

This year, I’m celebrating so many things, but most of all I’m celebrating having “urges,” desires, goals and not being afraid to go after them.  Celebrating not being afraid to take chances; all-the-while not knowing whether you’ll come out on top or not.   I wouldn’t know a life that doesn’t include constantly searching for what’s next and reaching towards getting closer and closer to crushing my goals and making new ones along the way.

I live for this.  

And for this:

suggestiong box

photo: anonymous suggestion box love notes. (if you’re wondering, I save ALL of them)!

And you better bet I live for when one of our awesome teachers walk’s out of teaching a class and says: “This place is so cool.”  #truestory

And this:

board

photo: chalkboard msgs from the BEST yogis on earth (and kick@#$ artwork from The art of JARRAD 113)

 

How perfect is it to have this awesome Ganesha chillin’ on the board?  I never want to erase it!  Ganesh is not only fresh, but the Remover of Obstacles and the God of Success… yes, please!

ganesha

photo: #Ganeshisfresh

A beautiful yogini hit the nail on the head when she picked up a piece of chalk and wrote:

“I am so happy we are all here.”  

Yes, yes… I am so happy we are all here too.  Now let’s celebrate.  Chinese food anyone?

with love, peace & forever goal setting,
arlet

 

 

sunset

photo: sunset on Wilkins Ave~ life is beautiful

a fortune cookie once told me…

a fortune cookie once told me…

fb cover photo.001

We’ll keep this week’s blog post short and sweet.  Since we are gearing up for a busy, busy month and our 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY, I’ll just share what’s up at the studio next month in honor of our birthday:

All November long will be filled with FREE classes, giveaways, contests & more! 

Here’s how to advantage of all these wonderful deals:

Come to class (we’ll have day of giveaways at the studio)

Like & follow extendYoga here (it’s easy! just click):

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Once you have liked and followed us on facebook, twitter and instagram, you can participate all month and win FREE classes, giveaways, retail items and more!

 

We’ll be tweeting on Tuesdays (twitter)

Hashtagging on Humpdays (instagram)

Posting on Fridays (facebook)

 

If you don’t join us virtually, don’t worry!  You can still take advantage of:  

ALL CLASSES FREE on Tues, Nov 5 – please sign up in advance

$5 Fridays

Donation class ~ An extended Family Thanksgiving Flow: Thurs, Nov 28: 10am 

FREE Relaxation, Meditation, Aromatherapy classes: Fri, Nov 29: 1:05pm and 5pm

 

Stay tuned for my annual year in review blog post next week.

Thank YOU for being a part of extendYoga!

our 2yr anniversary!!!

our 2yr anniversary!!!

Let’s face it, we can’t get away from our computers and smart phones.  These days when we are looking for something, the first place we go is google.  Even if we aren’t searching for something specific, between facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest and blogs, there’s always something to catch up on.  And if you are like me, you #dontwanttomissathing.

As if there wasn’t enough already out there, this post is about three great online resources when it comes to all things yoga.  The first two (DoYouYoga and YogaTrail) are newer to the scene and definitely worth a look, as I think they will move to the forefront of all the yoga resources that are out there in the yogasphere.

Each of these resources consistently blog, send out email newsletters, of course post on all social media outlets, as well as provide online services– many for free or for little cost.

 

DoYouYoga.com ~ Your daily yoga blog (~1.5 years old)

DoYoYoga-Your-Daily-Yoga-Blog2

about:  DoYouYoga is a yoga blog that is run by yogis for yogis! We’re a platform for yoga enthusiasts who want to share their knowledge with others. We want to be the #1 resource for all your daily yoga needs, reaching from news and health advice to yoga instructions and guides. We are building a community of writers, yoga instructors, nutritionists, physicians, authors and gurus to share their ideas, experience, knowledge and inspiration with you!

what’s hot: MyYogaPro. This month, DoYouYoga will be launching a Kickstarter Campaign for MyYogaPro.  MyYogaPro is an online yoga program that combines 16 in-depth yoga video courses with a cool way to track your progress, earn rewards for your achievements and interact with other yogis on your journey. MyYogaPro puts YOU in control of your practice, wherever your are.

yoga pro

Weeks leading up to the Kickstarter Campaign launch, DoYouYoga reached out to yoga studio owners, yoga teachers and yogis from all over the country, to help promote and share information about this amazing project.  I am happy to be a DoYouYoga Ambassador and help spread the news!  Check out this video to lean more.

 

YogaTrail.com ~ Your online directory of reviews, teachers, studios and more! (~1 year old)

Yoga-Trail-Logo

about: Our yoga directory aspires to be the largest, most comprehensive, and most up-to-date directory of its kind. But more importantly, it provides you with independent reviews and yoga-centric criteria for evaluating a studio, a teacher, a training program, or a yoga retreat. How? By relying on you, the community. While each listing is created and managed by their owner, every profile includes detailed ratings and reviews by real visitors and students. Instead of getting just promotional descriptions, you get relevant information to help you find your ideal yoga experience.

what’s hot: This is a great resource for yoga teachers to promote themselves, but also for students searching for teachers/studios/trainings.  Starting an account and adding reviews are free.  You can also post events to your page.  Shiva Rae recently joined the directory, so we know it’s legit!  :)

Note: YogaTrail is fairly new, so reviews and directories are still being created.  Explore the site and review your favorite teachers and studios and spread the word!  (think Yelp, but for all things yoga)

 

YogaGlo.com ~ Online yoga classes whenever you want (~5 years old)

YogaGloLogo

about: Despite all the recent patent drama, YogaGlo is a great, affordable online resource for anyone interested in yoga.  It is the online yoga experience in HD video that provides the experience of being in the class, at your home.  YogaGlo’s classes are taught by experienced certified teachers who embody yoga and teach with an intimate understanding of the classic yoga texts and various yoga traditions.  Classes cover the spectrum of asana styles, meditation, lectures, workshops, special events and are offered in all levels, from beginner to advanced.  The best part?  You can be as specific as you want with your class choice: pick a teacher, style, level and duration.  It’s a custom class in the comfort of your home!

what’s hot: If you are unsure, try the 15 day FREE trail!  After your trail period, the subscription is only $18 a month for as many classes as you like.  It’s a great deal, especially if you are on the go and/or traveling.  Just log on from any computer and get started!

 

So don’t beat yourself up about being glued to your phone/computer, (IF) you’re logged on and having fun in all the glory of the yogasphere!

#namaste

#yogasphere resources you should know about!

#yogasphere resources you should know about!

Greetings from a rainy and wet day in North Bethesda, MD!  Whether you have a meditation practice or are interested in meditating– it can be a challenge to carve out time in our day to really just sit with no distractions and be with ourselves.  We are all so busy and unfortunately, the last person that we tend to make time for are ourselves.  This is when I take meditation to the streets (ie: while running errands).

When I find myself running all over town, attempting to cross things off my list, I try to incorporate my yoga/meditation practice INTO my to-do list.  A couple weeks ago, I had to go to the dentist.  No choice, it’s something I had to do.

So as I hear the buzzing of my dentist’s drill (ugh), I began to meditate.  How, you ask?  Well first of all, I don’t know about you, but the dentist’s chair is not my favorite place to be.  So I thought, what better time to zone out and not think about or feel what’s going on in my mouth?!  I literally stared into the overhead light and practiced my own version of “candle” gazing.

Candle gazing is a popular meditation technique– great place for a beginner to start his/her meditation practice.

Granted a nice quiet place with no distractions is ideal for meditating, but some times you just have to make it work when/where you can!  I already was forced to sit still in the chair for several minutes and that’s half the battle right there!  After a few minutes, I was able to tune out the noises, stare into the light and deepen my breath.

Before I knew it, my dentist was done!  Keep in mind, you may get interrupted when your dentist asks you if you’re feeling ok and you have to answer or give a quick nod/blink, but if you are focused, you can jump right back into your mediation.  Plus, you’ll looked so relaxed that your dentist will sense that you are doing just fine.

So, when you schedule your next check up– try this out!  You’ll leave the dentist smiling- not only because your teeth are sparkling, but because you were able to find some time even in the most hectic or uncomfortable moments.

Another great place to squeeze in a meditation session is at the nail salon.  Last week while getting a pedicure (a yogi’s necessity and treat), I got a good 10 minutes in.  My feet are extremely ticklish, enough so that I almost can’t stand when a pedicurist is touching them.   I want the love, but I live in fear that I am going to kick someone in the face every time I go in to get my tootsies beautified.  I came up with challenge– can I meditate my way through the pedicure and not move or wiggle at all?  Success!

If you are lucky, your chair has a massage feature.  Turn that sucker on, close your eyes and enjoy the moment.  Start your deep breathing.  Who cares (no one!) if you make sounds when you breathe?  Plus your eyes are closed, so you won’t see anyone watching you. :)  If you feel like you are in a groove, you can even chant to yourself or repeat your favorite mantra.  Maybe you want to repeat your version of OMMmmmm in your head.

Here’s a great list of beginner chants from Yoga Journal.  Pick one that resonates with you and have at it.

The next thing you know, you’ll open your eyes and gaze down at your pretty yoga themed Essie colored toes.  Guys– this goes for you too.  Don’t worry, most of us WELCOME you to get a pedicure… often. ;)

If you think you have no time to meditate– make the time.  If you live in the DC-MD-VA area, the least you can do is get a session in during your rush hour commute.  Just please don’t close your eyes, even if you are crawling on I-495!

meditating at the dentist?

meditating at the dentist?

TGIF yogis and yoginis!  This week’s fun pose friday post is all about Birds of Paradise.  For me, it’s one of those poses that I know I am either going to get into (or not) within a few minutes into class.  Some times I pop right on up and some days, it’s just not happening.  Does that ever happen to you?

The beautiful and uber talented Krista Block mentioned the other day on her facebook page how “It’s important to remember that a Bird of Paradise is actually a flower…. not a bird. If you approach the asana like a flower lifting from the ground instead of a bird taking off, balance is much easier to find. This one’s all about patience.” 

birds-of-paradise

it’s a flower, not a bird :)

birds

play time at Lake Artemesia in Berwyn Heights, MD

With the help of Yoga Journal, let’s talk about how to practice this one.

A very common way to get into this pose is via Extended Side Angle Pose (or Utthita Parsvakonasana).  Once you are feeling open and your bottom hand is able to comfortably touch the mat inside of your front foot– then and only then should you try to bind the arms.  From there you can try out your Birds of Paradise.

  • Let’s start with the right side:  once you have established your bound Extended Side Angle with your right leg forward, slowly bring your left foot to meet your right (feet are now parallel, about hip width apart).  
  • Gaze down in between your feet or a little bit ahead and take a moment here to readjust as you start to shift your weight and ground down into your left foot, beginning to lift the right heal off the mat, coming up onto your right tippy toes.  If this pose is very new to you, this might be it for you today.  If you feel stable in your left foot and are able to lift a little more, then…
  • Keeping your bind, and with steadiness and control, continue to lift up, slowly straightening the left leg as you rise to standing up tall.  As you continue to grow your Birds of Paradise, you want to open up the chest/collar bones.
krista in birds

Krista Block looking beautiful & strong

  • If you are balancing just fine here (with your right knee still bent), then you can begin to play with straightening the right leg.  The next step from here would be to gaze over the left shoulder.

Note:  this is definitely one of those poses that requires a lot of steps and also one to build up to (patience).  It takes lots of practice and being very open and warmed up.  Don’t muscle through this one and most importantly have fun experimenting!

See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: birds of paradise

fun pose friday: birds of paradise

Dare I ask… Do you find yourself bored in yoga class?  Your favorite poses are not so interesting any more?  You’d rather go get fro-yo then take your friend up on a yoga class date invite?  You feel like you hit a yoga wall (and not like when you’re practicing handstands).

If you answered yes to any of these– you might be in a yOgA rUt.  It happens to the best of us; really, it does.
Here are some quick tips for when you find yourself in a yoga bind (yoga bind, get it?!):

  • Try a new class/teacher– this is the first thing I do when I’m in a rut.  We are creatures of habit, and although it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a yoga/exercise routine; taking the same class(es) for week’s on end can be not so exciting.  If you’ve been taking Hot Power yoga every Monday night for the last year– maybe mix it up and try a totally different style, class length or class level.  Be open to new experiences– you might just find something you’ve been missing!

Think outside the box

  • Change up where you post up– do you always snag your special spot in the back, next to the wall or by the fan?  I’m usually sneaking in (tisk, tisk), after class starts at my studio and head straight to ”my spot” by the door.  But every time I get in the front row or in the middle of class– it’s a whole new experience for me!  Try a new place to roll out your mat.  It could change your whole perspective on class.
  • Treat yourself to some new gear– no need to spend beaucoup bucks on top of the line yoga apparel/accessories, but you’d be surprised at what a difference a new mat makes.  Have you been eyeing a new pair of yoga pants in a funky color or pattern?  It’s definitely not about what you look like in class, but if some new duds excite you and make you feel good while practicing, try this yoga rut tip on for size!
  • Talk to your fav teacher– chances are, if you’ve been frequenting the same classes/studio, your yoga teachers know you and your practice pretty well.  Maybe they have some tips for you to spice things up.  Ever thought of asking them to stay after with you for a few minutes to work on that pose you’ve been trying to land for months?  Or maybe even scheduling a private session with them might be a nice change of pace.
  • Make yourself UNcomfortable– the first thing I tell students when they show discomfort or apprehension towards something new, is tell them to DO IT!  If there is an opportunity to try something new; whether it be a crazy pose that you never thought was possible, a new class, a new teacher, even taking a break for a few days… DO IT!  We learn so much about ourselves and our practice when we are faced with challenges, uncomfortable situations and spontaneity.  It can be so refreshing and exhilarating.  Ask yourself– what do you really have to lose?
handstand
So, when you are feeling meh, and the last place you want to be is on your mat, remind yourself of why you love yoga in the first place, mix it up and get right back at it!  The good  great news is, that the yoga is not going any where and it will be there for you, no… matter… what.

What are you waiting for?!  Make your way out of that rut and back onto your mat!

spice up your yoga

spice up your yoga

TGIF!  Happy fun pose friday yogis and yoginis.  This week’s fun pose is a balancing pose.  We love half moon pose (or Ardha Chandrasana), but have you ever bound your half moon?  No? Try it!  It’s fun… and wobbly.  So here’s the deal on bound half moon:

Benefits:

  • strengthens the abdomen, ankles, thighs, booty, spine
  • improves coordination, focus and balance
  • helps relieve stress
  • improves digestion
  • increases circulation

catherine bound half moon

You can get into this pose a couple ways.  I think the natural (and more challenging way) is starting from half moon.  I like to get into half moon by transitioning from warrior II (or Virabhadrasana II).  That way, your hips are already open and your front foot is already firmly rooted on the ground.  You can use some momentum and push into your front foot and make your way into your half moon.

From half moon:

Once you are stable in half moon, you can slowly start to bend the knee (of the lifted leg) and reach for the top of your foot or ankle.  Keeping the hips stacked, slowly begin to open up; opening the hips and chest.  Once you are there, play with your gaze… maybe up? :)

From a forward fold:

If you are dying to get right into it, there a less challenging/less balance compromising option pictured below.  You can start with your hips square, facing the top of your mat, come into a gentle forward flow, ground down into your right foot, as you bend the knee of your left leg and reach for your foot/ankle with the left hand.  From here, start to open up, stacking the hips (which should now be open):

photo from sadienardini.com

photo above: sadienardini.com

Hetta-Welch1

Try some variations: revolved half moon, bound revolved half moon– wha?? huh??!!?

see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: bound half moon

fun pose friday: bound half moon

Chia, flax, hemp, sunflower… what do these all have in common?  They are all types of seeds… and we are supposed to eat them!  There’s been a lot of talk about seeds and the health benefits of them.  If you’ve been wondering what these super seeds are all about, this post will help break it all down for you (and give you some delicious recipes to try)!

Seeds may be tiny, but they’re packed with lots of good nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, vitamins and more.

Here’s what you need to know:

Chia seeds:
pros: helps balance blood sugar, adds healthy omega-3 oils to your diet, energizing, low in fat, helps curb food cravings, high in fiber
cons: none to be found!
recipe & photo: triple berry chia pudding

photo from skinnytaste.com

photo from skinnytaste.com

 

Flaxseeds (one word):
pros: high in fiber, includes: thiamin, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids that aid in keeping a healthy digestive system, use a ground version to maximize benefits
cons: be careful!  too many flaxseeds may lead to too many visits to the bathroom!
recipe & photo: banana-oat flaxseed muffin

photo from skinnygirldaily.com

photo from skinnygirldaily.com

 

Hemp seeds:
pros: packed with protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamin E and minerals that keep the heart healthy
cons: these seeds do not contain as many vitamins and minerals as other seeds
recipe & photo: tabouli hemp seed salad

photo from http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog

photo from kimberlysnyder.net/blog

 

Sunflower seeds:
pros: offer high concentrations of vitamin E, antioxidants, thiamin, magnesium, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus and fiber
cons: though they offer healthy fats, they should be used in moderation
recipe & photo: roasted acorn squash w/sunflower seeds

photo from ecurry.com

photo from ecurry.com

 

Pomegranate seeds:
pros: red and juicy! offer vitamins C, K and folate, antioxidants and potassium– all help fight heart disease, prostate disease and help control weight
cons: generally only available October-January
recipe & photo: pomegranate pilaf

photo from marthastewart.com

photo from marthastewart.com

 

Sesame seeds:
pros: high in calcium, manganese, iron, phosphorus and magnesium– that can help protect the liver
cons: though they offer healthy fats, they should be used in moderation.
recipe & photo: baked sesame chicken

photo from allrecipes.com

photo from allrecipes.com

enjoy and see you on the mat (or for lunch?)!

what’s the deal with seeds?

what’s the deal with seeds?

TGIF!  This week’s fun pose friday post is all about one of my favorite warriors– warrior III or virabhadrasana III.

veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna

Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet; wielding a thousand clubs; and wearing a tiger’s skin.

I am super into balancing poses lately and warrior III is a great one.  I especially love transitioning from warrior III to standing split (or urdhva prasarita eka padasana).  With the help of fit sugar, let’s check out the benefits of this pose and how to get into it!

Benefits of warrior 3:

  • Strengthens the ankles and legs
  • Strengthens the shoulders and muscles of the back
  • Tones the abdomen
  • Improves balance and posture

Variations:

Play with your arm placement:  airplane arms, arms straight out ahead, hands in prayer, hands on hips… if you always practice the same version– today is the day to try a new one!

warrior 3

My posture (above) is actually not perfect here– right leg (lifted one) should be more in line with my torso/head. It’s hard to balance on a tree log while being bit by mosquitos! :)

How to get into this pose:

  • You can get into this pose from a few starting positions.  I like to get into it from warrior I.  From warrior I (with your left leg forward), lower your torso and lift your right leg, bringing your body parallel with the ground.  Extend your hands out in front of you (or take any other arm variation).  Flex the right foot and point your toes down.
  • If extending your arms creates pain or pressure in your lower back, then bring your hands to your hips or in prayer (or any other arm variation that works for you).
photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

  • While in this pose, reach the crown of your head away from your right toes to create length in your spine. Engage your abdomen. If you feel pain in your knee, bend it slightly.
  • Hold this pose for five deep breaths, then lower your right leg, returning to warrior 1 and then try the other side!

enjoy!

fun pose friday: warrior III

fun pose friday: warrior III

This week’s blog post is about when a consistent yoga practice can end up hurting you!  No, really.

Here’s what I mean… so Monday morning I felt like absolute cr@p!  After a long weekend being in my friend’s wedding– I had major lower back pain, sore muscles, TIGHT hamstrings, stiff shoulders, a foggy mind and felt like I was in the body of an 95 year old (and I don’t mean her):

MG_4822

OK, so yes, I did eat a lot, drink some (OK fine, a lot), and danced A LOT (in high heels).  All of these things combined do not usually equal a bright and cheery morning after, but I’ve done all this before and not felt particularly like this.  I couldn’t understand why I felt so odd, unbalanced and quite frankly, super weird… until I realized… I HADN’T PRACTICED YOGA IN 6 DAYS!!!  Now it made sense.  I don’t think that I had gone this long without at least a 15 min practice in a couple years.

The week leading up to the weekend got away from me, then it was wedding time, before I knew it, a week had passed.  My body was literally like screw you, you took something that I love away from me and now you must suffer!  Once I came to this epiphany, I ran (hobbled, rather) into the green room at extendYoga and forward folded into uttanasana.  RELEASE!  It hurt so good.

arlet flat back arlet fold

Then I continued through a few sun salutations (surya namaskar).  Child’s pose (balasana) was next, followed by a minute or two in downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), then I got a little wild a couple times and ended with handstands (adho mukha vtksasana) at the wall.  Oh my gosh– I felt so much better.  I was still a little bit of a mess, but it made sense to me; my body and mind was going through yoga withdrawal and I was paying for it.

Breaking a consistent yoga practice can legitimately hurt you!  This made me think of addictions, and like many addictions, once you stop, your body literally physically/mentally NEEDS whatever it is that you can’t live without.

After this week, this is one addiction I am not willing to give up.

So the next time you are like me, and are worrying about getting the steps to the Cha Cha Slide right, make sure to stop and make time for your yoga fix or you just might be in for a pretty mean lack-of-yoga hangover!

If you are ever unable to get to your local yoga studio,  here are some helpful posts about getting in a home practice.  Remember the key is consistency— not the length of your sessions:

Yoga Journal – home practice
do one pose a day, everyday, for 40 days
yoga when you travel – airplane yoga
fun pose friday – your home practice

jonesin’ for yoga,
Arlet

confession: I have a yoga addiction

confession: I have a yoga addiction

Today’s blog post is from blogger (yogi, yoga teacher, mother and my friend), Daisy Whitemore, RYT.  You occasionally can see Daisy subbing at extendYoga and stay tuned for Daisy’s WEEKLY class at extendYoga this Fall!  :)  Enjoy!

 

Yoga is a practice, best done every day.

I need to continually remind myself of this.  I need to literally nag myself many times a day to practice.   Sometimes the nag wins.  Sometimes she doesn’t.  For me, the Do One Pose—Today concept works.  It feels possible, plausible, even in the midst of seeming chaos.  Many of you responded positively to the blog, and I continued to nag at you, my Facebook friends and likers for a week or two, to do your daily pose.  Of course, then, as usual, life got in the way, and I felt I was being a little too haggy naggy.  So I stopped.

Yet.  I am back.  Yoga Nag’s summer vacation and silence is over.

Do your pose.  Today.  Even better: Do your pose every day.  For 40 days.

Seriously, try it.  There are so many reasons to create daily regularity in your practice.  We know that doing something daily across a period of time can make or break habits.  There are debates about the number of days required.  This naturally changes with the intensity of the habit you are trying to form or curb.  For example, drinking eight glasses of water a day is likely easier to ingrain than an hour-long home yoga practice every day.

A small psychology study from 2009 saw the plateau for habit forming at 66 days, a little over two months. The thing is there are a lot of ideas out there for how long it takes to change our behavior.  Some say 21 days; some follow the cycle of the moon and say 28 days; the Kundalini yogis say 40 to change a habit, 90 days to confirm it.

Personally, I like 40 days. It feels way better than 66, just shy of one devilish six.  Perhaps it is the drama girl in me, linked to the Biblical rain for 40 days and 40 nights, as I seek full destruction to set out on my new ark alone with all of my carefully paired partners and habits. Or perhaps it is because it is the highest number ever counted on Sesame Street. The truth is that 40 days has worked for me.

Daisy W handstand

About 3 years ago when I had fairly small children, a daughter in third grade, and twin boys in first, my husband was going to be away on a work trip for over a month.  I was mostly a stay-at-home mom at the time, so the family scheduling and juggling was not as extreme as it could have been. Yet, I am not the most elegant single parent in the world.  I tend toward drama when left to my own devices.  I was anxious about being the only hands on deck.  On that first night, after all of the kids were in bed, I unrolled my husband’s extravagantly big (for me, as I am a short cake) yoga mat in the middle of our kitchen.  I turned on some Snatam Kaur.  I turned down the lights.  And I started to practice.  I had rarely practiced yoga at home at this point, just a pose here or there, mostly trying to get to one or two classes a week.  That was all the exercise I did, besides the movement of life, raising children, keeping house and garden.  About 25 minutes in, following the cues of my body through an odd array of poses with significant intensity and a tendency for over effort, I placed my hands under my feet in a forward bend (Pada Hastasana) and let me head hang.  I began to cry.  First, little drips, and then, big sobs welled up from deep in my belly.  I kept my hands where they were.  I stayed in my pose and continued to cry.  It felt great. There was something about that pose, the complete circuit of it, the rest it was allowing me after a brief but heavy and awkward practice.  Within that pose, I felt something new, allowing myself to just be, to be there, where I was at that moment. The little me inside was feeling nurtured and understood, that I needed to hang my head, even pout slightly, that I needed to rest, but that I also needed to work first to be able to rest. I knew at that moment that I was approaching my husband’s absence differently than I had before. I knew at that moment, in this simple experience in this very short period, a flurry of shifts had happened inside of me, and that the pile of angst I was feeling had been at least partially released.

I moved into child’s pose, but the sobs stopped.  The house was quiet.  I could hear the hum of the refrigerator.  I could feel my body in my kitchen.  I could feel the sweetness of this home we had created.  I imagined our children cozy in their beds. I remembered my husband away, feeling him missing us yet proud to be doing the work he was doing.  I felt so much.  I felt clear.  And still.  And capable.  These feelings combined with the power, albeit clumsy, of giving myself yoga in my house, all by myself, was overwhelming.  I knew I was taking care of myself.  I rolled onto my back for Savasana, which I had never in my life done alone in my house on a yoga mat.

That night, as I was going to sleep, I knew what I needed to do.  I promised myself yoga every night my husband was away.  I actually hoped I would have a similar bout of tears the next night.  I knew I was onto something important, something that felt good and would help me as I made my way through my month as a single mom.  I said to the undisciplined girl inside who likes to be in charge, I am going to do yoga every night until my husband comes home, because there is another little person inside who likes to feel this way, who wants this.

The miracle is that I did it.  I practiced yoga every night.  Some practices lasted 2 hours, some 20 minutes, some were self-taught, which is a wonderful experience in itself, and some were Yoga Glo driven.  But every night, I rolled out that mat after the kids went to sleep and did yoga.  And I kept doing it even after he came home.  I made it to 40 days straight.  This process dramatically altered my usual husband-is-away behaviors and mood. But, really, it was much more than that.  In those 40 days, I became a yogi.  I became committed to the practice, and I saw what regular practice can do for my body, my heart, my mind, and yes, even my spirit.  It was major transformation.  I mean MAJOR.

Daisy Whittemore

So that is my tale, my reason for the 40-day timeframe.  My reason to practice yoga every day.  It worked for me.  I am not insisting on a 20-minute to 2-hour practice.  You can start smaller.  Commit to doing one pose a day for 40 days. But do your pose really well, with intention and care, giving yourself time to build the pose and to really sit in it, seriously, for 6-10 full breaths.  (And do the other side, with same intention and care, if a one-sided pose.)  Follow your body’s lead if it wants to take you places from that pose—what a bonus!–and see what happens.   I fully believe if you do this, it will change your relationship to yoga and your practice.  More importantly, it is likely to transform your body, your mind, your spirit, and maybe even your life.

Try it. What do you have to lose?  Start today.  Start with a pose that you love.  This is usually a good place to start, a pose that makes you feel good, that makes you feel awesome, whether that is strong or at ease, or both.  Do this pose every single day.  If you do more, great.  If you don’t, keep doing your pose.  If you miss a day, it is okay, just keep going as if you didn’t.  Some people believe you have to start the count down all over again.  I find that to be unnecessarily punishing and unproductive.  Alternately, you could extend your time, adding a day at the end for the one you missed.  Or if you missed two, or three.  The key is not to beat yourself up, just keep going, keep doing your pose, keep practicing your yoga.

I hope to poke back at you in the next week or so with more suggestions and thoughts.  Yoga Nag, at your service.

In the meantime: Do One Pose.  Every day.

 

Daisy Whittemore is a mom, wife, writer, yogi, yoga teacher and recent blogger on a quest for life’s pauses: for the sweet spots—those moments, oftentimes slippery little cracks in the foundation of our daily lives—that give us pause (that don’t take our breath away) but give us breath. Just like those fleeting seconds at the top or bottom of your breath, between inhale and exhale, the pauses are always there—waiting for us to inhabit, explore, and experience. She hopes to encourage herself and those around her to find a little more pause in each day for silence, yoga, creativity, love, play, pleasure, or whatever it is that restores you. You can find Daisy on her blog:Finding Pause. Also ‘like’ her on Facebook.

do one pose. everyday. for 40 days.

do one pose. everyday. for 40 days.

Happy fun pose friday!  This week’s fun pose is Wild Thing or as I like to call it, Wild THANG!  There are some variations of this pose and it could also be referred to as Flip Dog.  Here’s the step by step on how to get into this one:

  • Start in downward facing dog
  • Bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot, like Vasisthasana (Side Plank).
  • As you inhale, lift your hips and stay strong in your right hand.  On an exhale, step your left foot back and place your toes on the floor with your knee partially bent.
  • Lift your hips higher until you curl more into a backbend with your right foot solid on the ground.
  • Keep breathing and curl your head back, extending your left arm.
  • If you flipped your dog, than your feet would be  more in line with each other (like in Wheel) versus one leg extended out.  You would still get into Flip Dog from Downward Facing Dog, but skip the side plank!
wild thing

Me (Arlet) and Emily in our wild thing/flip dog!

Some benefits of this pose:

  • Opens up chest, lung, and shoulder areas
  • Opens the front of the legs and hip flexors
  • Builds strength in shoulders and upper back
  • Looks pretty!

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: wild THANG

fun pose friday: wild THANG

TGIF!  Today’s fun pose friday blog post is Hero Pose or Virasana.

(veer-AHS-anna)
vira = man, hero, chief

**Warning:** If you have sensitive knees or ankles, please modify.  This one could be killer on them!  Let’s talk about the benefits of this pose and how to modify as well as a deeper variation of hero pose.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Strengthens the arches
  • Improves digestion and relieves gas
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester)
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
  • Hero pose is also a great pose to practice if you struggle with allergies

How to get your Hero on:

1. Kneel on the floor (on a folded blanket or mat to pad your knees, shins, and feet if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor.  If you have ankle pain, you can also use a blanket behind you, under your feet/ankles for support.

2. Exhale and sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward.  Then sit down between your feet.

hero pose

3.  If your butt doesn’t comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or thick book placed between the feet.  Lay your hands in your lap, one on the other, palms up, or on your thighs, palms down.

4. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs and lift the top of your sternum. Widen the collarbones and release the shoulder blades away from the ears. Lengthen the tailbone into the floor to anchor the back torso.

5. At first stay in this pose from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out, press your hands against the floor and lift your butt up, slightly higher than the heels. Cross your ankles underneath your butt, sit back over the feet and onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. It may feel good to bounce your knees up and down a few times on the floor.

Hero variation: Reclining Hero Pose or Supta Virasana

This pose is a deeper version and an intermediate/advanced variation of virasana.  Please DO NOT try this version if your booty doesn’t sit comfortably on the ground between your feet in virasana.

From virsasana:

1. Exhale and lower your back torso toward the floor. First lean onto your hands, then your forearms and elbows. Once you are on your elbows, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and release your lower back and upper buttocks. Then finish reclining, either onto the floor or a support (like a blanket).

reclining hero pose

 

2. It’s alright to lift your knees a little away from the floor to help soften your groins; in fact, you can raise your knees a few inches on a thickly folded blanket. You can also allow a little bit of space between your knees as long as your thighs remain parallel to each other. Do not, however, allow the knees to splay apart wider than your hips – this will cause strain on the hips and lower back.

3. To begin, stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually extend your stay to 5 minutes. To come out, press your forearms against the floor and come onto your hands. Then use your hands to lift your torso into virasana. As you come up, lead with your sternum, not your head or chin.

To deepen this pose even further, you can raise your arms towards the ceiling and stretch them overhead on the floor, palms up (facing the ceiling).  Grab opposite elbows if you like and enjoy!

Arlet reclined

See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: hero pose

fun pose friday: hero pose

Namaste yogis and yoginis!  Well, it’s been two months since I graduated from yoga teacher training (YTT), and to be honest, it’s still settling with me.  Although it feels likes ages ago, every day something from training crosses my mind and a new piece of insight, information, or memory appears, as if it was yesterday.

YTT 2013~ lookin' good!

Flow Yoga Center YTT 2013~ xoxo

Whether it’s an encouraging email from my training group (best group of yoginis out there- shout out girls!), something that strikes me in the middle of a class, a song that takes me to a special place or just a random moment that comes to me when I’m driving to work– those days were and still are one of the most humbling and rewarding accomplishments of my life thus far.

working on sequencing

working on sequencing at YTT

As I look back over the last six months, so much has happened; so many changes, so much to be thankful for, but most of all, so much growth.  Growth not only for our studio, but within myself, which seems to be making an impact, a positive impact, on extendYoga.  I never really thought that going through YTT would effect extendYoga too much, except for maybe throwing myself on the schedule from time to time.  In my mind, it was the “smart thing” to do.  A great “business decision.”  But really, I was soooo wrong (in a good GREAT way)!

A couple weeks after my training was over, a few of our teachers told me “something has changed at the studio… there’s a different feeling here since you’ve been gone… and it’s awesome.”  I noticed it too, but thought it was just me.  When I’d catch myself playing the Krishna Das pandora station and not the Ke$ha station, or when lighting incense, or the first day I was back at the studio after training– I went out and bought three buddhas– like I felt like I had to go get them immediately for some reason. LOL.

*the day I want from hardly making any noise in yoga class to OM-ing at the top of my lungs

*the day I said “ew, gross that’s weird,” to neti-potting my heart (or nose) out!

*the day I stopped freaking out when a teacher is going to be late because they are stuck in traffic

*the day I took the seat of the teacher versus being a student

holllarrrrr

holllarrrrr woot! woot!

Now don’t get me wrong, I do still do love me some Lady Gaga and I’ll often blast such music in the studio lobby (especially on $5 Fridays), but it’s usually mixed in with some Kirtan and MC Yogi. :) Things, for lack of a better word, are easier now.  I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but things just happen the way they happen.  It’s unpredictable, it’s scary, it’s fun, it’s all over the place, it’s life… and I love it.

graduation day at yoga on the mall

graduation day at DCCY (DC Community of Yoga)’s, Yoga on the Mall

grad day 2

graduating with thousands of yogis under the sun = heaven

So with that all said, the question is: NOW WHAT?  Our teachers, Debra and Brittanie, asked us this same question before we left our last day of training.  My answer then and my answer today is the same: WHO KNOWS?!  And for the first time, I am OK with not having a “plan,” not organizing something or mapping it all out to the minute.  I am enjoying these new changes, these new feelings and the anticipation of what is to come, because I know it’s going to be awesome and it will be what it will be.

I’ve been teaching classes here and there– subbing at extendYoga, private clients, a high school football team, outdoor classes at the Pike Central farmer’s market, community classes at lululemon Athletica Bethesda Row, and I’m happy with this.  Look out for some community classes lead by me and some of my YTT friends at extendYoga in August too!

So if you’re down, I’d love for you to join me and ride this ride to who knows where.  I promise it’s going to be OK.  Are you in? ;)

Ommmmmmmm, 
Arlet

ps- here’s some great yoga music/artists. Enjoy!

the day I turned off Rhianna and turned on Krishna Das

the day I turned off Rhianna and turned on Krishna Das

This week’s blog post is from guest blogger Jessica Band.  Jessica Band is the Social Media Director at Central Farm Markets.  For more information about Central Farm Markets, please visit their website.

What’s going on at the markets this summer?

So much!  Our market schedule is packed with musicians, wine tastings, chef demo’s, special craft vendors, plant clinics, and of course, lots of great food! Our farm market vendors bring the freshest produce, dairy, meat, seafood, and baked foods from local farms to the DC Metro area.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with extendYoga to host those great FREE outdoor yoga sessions.  Our last session in early June had a great turnout despite the weather!  There are two more classes this month – July 13 and July 27 at Pike Central Farm Market.

market yoga arlet

We also have some great special programs that are going on now, and events that are coming up later in the summer.  Here are some of them, to name a few:

1. CompostKIDS Program (going on now through September 1)

A lot of our market patrons participate in the Compost Crew’s food recycling program, and we wanted to extend this wonderful lesson of food recycling and composting to the kids who come to our markets.  Kids who want in on the fun get a compost canister and a punch card.  Each week, CompostKIDS will bring their canisters to the market and empty them into the compost bucket located at the Compost Crew’s table and get their cards punched.  When they get their card punched 10 times, each child will get a gift card for school supplies and a bag of compost for their gardens.  They get treats, t-shirts and other prizes throughout the program.

Compost kidscompostkidsshirts

2. Cook’s Corner

Almost every Saturday, Chef Lynn Foster is cooking up something delicious.  Cook’s Corner started this year and is only at our Pike Central Farm Market.  Each week, Chef Lynn does food demos or cooking classes that feature seasonal market ingredients from our vendors.  Stay tuned for more classes so you can sign up before they fill up!  Proceeds go to Manna Foods.

Cook's Corner class

3. Bake Bethesda a Pie Contest

Our annual pie contest will take place on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend (September 1) at Bethesda Central Farm Market.  Kids and adults can submit their best pies and bring them to the market on September 1st.  We have some fabulous celebrity judges from the food industry in the DC area that will select the best pies.  After prizes are awarded, everyone can taste their favorite pie…FREE! Proceeds go to Manna Foods.  Registration opens on July 17!

pie contest

We hope to see you soon!

what’s going on at Central Farm Markets?

what’s going on at Central Farm Markets?

Happy fun pose friday yogis and yoginis!  This week’s fun pose is revolved triangle pose or parivrtta trikonasana.

(par-ee-vrit-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna)

parivrtta = to turn around, revolve

trikona = three angle or triangle

I find that revolving my poses (like triangle, half moon or side angle) are super challenging.  These poses are not simple and take a lot of balance, strength and focus to achieve.  A block is your friend in all of these poses.  You probably already know triangle pose, right?  Well, time to revolve it!

With the help of Yoga Journal, let’s get you into this pose:

  • Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Bring your hands to your hips.  Step your left foot back about 3-4 feet from your right foot.  Align the left heel with the right heel, with the left foot angled slightly out.  Hips are square to the front of your mat.  Legs are straight.
  • As you exhale, turn your torso to the right.  With another exhale, lean forward over the front leg and turn your torso further to the right. Reach your left hand down, either to the floor (inside or outside the foot) or, if the floor is too far away, onto a block positioned against your inner right foot.  Right arm comes straight up.  Arms are in a straight line from floor (or block) to ceiling.
  • Beginners should keep their head in a neutral position, looking straight forward or to the floor. More experienced students can turn the head and gaze up at the right fingers.
  • Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. Release the twist and come back to standing.  Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed, twisting to the left.

revovled triangleLayout 1Revolving Triangle

Benefits of this pose include:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs
  • Stretches the hips and spine
  • Opens the chest to improve breathing
  • Relieves mild back pain
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs
  • Improves sense of balance

 

Enjoy!  See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: revolved triangle

fun pose friday: revolved triangle

OK, OK… I know, ENOUGH WITH THE BACKBENDS!  I just can’t help it!  I love me some backbends people (or yogis, rather).  We’ll keep this week’s fun pose Friday post short and just… fun!  We are playing with going from wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) to handstand (Urdhva Mukha Vrksasana)- using a wall, A.K.A. a yogi’s best friend, of course!

A couple days ago, I went to a backbend workshop/class with the beautiful, talented and new momma, Naomi Gottlieb Miller.  *Workshop plug: catch her at extendYoga Sat, June 15 and again in August for two fun and flow-y workshops!*

The theme of the class was backbends of course, with dropbacks being a major focus.  But what really stuck with me was the overarching theme of working through our “weaknesses.”  Naomi talked about not using that word (weakness), but looking at the things, parts of our body, our practice, our lives, that maybe need a little bit more help or a little bit more love.  Don’t look at that pesky shoulder injury (me) as a weakness, but find a way to work through it and strengthen it (with out over doing it!).

So keeping this idea of our weaknesses in mind, we snuggled up against a wall and worked our wheels/handstands out.  I didn’t snap any pics at the workshop– but here are some of Lika, Daisy and myself that we took the other day.  Enjoy!

start in wheel:

arlet 1

one leg up, push into the wall:

arlet 2

other leg comes up, send the leg that was on the wall into your splits:

arlet 3

*Tip: it helps when you have a yogi or friend spotting!  Roger’s got a hold of one of my toes.  Until I feel comfortable and stable, I’m happy hanging out with my “toe support.”  Thanks Roger!  On your own, you can slowing move the foot that is closest to the wall away from the wall until just your tippy toes are grazing the wall.  Eventually you won’t need the wall at all!

Check out some pros in action (Lika Elwood and Daisy Whitemore):

lika daisy

Happy Friday!  See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: wheel to handstand… splits

fun pose friday: wheel to handstand… splits

Itching?  Sneezing?  Coughing?  Scratchy throat?  Headaches?  Allergy season is among us!  People who are allergic to tree pollen suffer the most in the spring, where people with allergies to grass pollen suffer more in the late spring and summer.

T_Allergies_1

If you are one of the lucky that have allergies (and also love yoga), you might find this post super helpful.  We already know that yoga can help us in so many ways– and it can help with allergies too!  In addition to yoga tricks that will help your runny nose, I also highly recommend using a netti pot.  I am a big fan!

With the help of Yoga Journal, here are some helpful tips and a yoga sequence that will help you breathe easier and help with those stuffy sinuses.  The key to clearing out the sinuses is to have the proper opening in the shoulders.  When your shoulders are fall into place correctly, you will feel more space in the neck and shoulders, which will encourage the opening of the sinuses.  Keep this in mind when going through your poses.

Allergy Sequence (hold each pose for up to 5 min, except for bridge– hold that one for 20-60 seconds):

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

4. Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)

recline here

5. Headstand (Sirsasana)

6. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) –  hold for 20-60 seconds

7. Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

8. Plow Pose (Halasana)

End your allergy asana practice with with Corpse Pose and rest and then rest some more.

More helpful info on allergies:

Huffington Post: Allergy Season Stronger Than Normal This Year

Top Supplements for Seasonal Allergy Relief

Yoga For Immunity: Can I Practice When I’m Sick?

Good luck and see you on the mat (sans tissues I hope)!

asanas for your allergies!

asanas for your allergies!

Happy fun pose Friday!  This week’s fun pose is a fun one for sure: Flying Pigeon or Eka Pada Galavasana.  We had fun playing with this one last week.  Like many yoga poses, I like to break them down into steps.  Once you master one step, you can move onto the next, until you get to where you want to be.

Step 1:

Start standing crossing the right ankle above the left knee cap, while flexing the foot.  Bend the standing leg, moving your weight into the standing foot and begin to squat.  If you are feeling a deep sensation and stretch here, stop and enjoy the moment.  This may be it for you today.  If you feel good, move on… hinge at the hips, moving the torso forward and continue to fold over the torso… step 2…

flying pigeon 1

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal / Kathryn Budig

Step 2:

Place your palms firmly on the ground, keep your gaze forward and bend the standing knee deeper.  Shift the right shin onto the triceps as close to your armpits as possible. Think chatarunga arms here.  Tip: What’s going to help you the most in this pose is to lock the right toes around the left arm, pushing/curling the toes around the tricep.  Feel good, feel strong, move onto the next step…

Step 3:

Look slightly forward, continue to bend the elbows, grip your toes around your upper arms and play with lifting the left foot off the ground.  You’ll need to wiggle the left foot back a few inches as you begin to take more and more weight off the left foot and lift it off the ground.  Keep this up for a few breathes, if you’re ready, move onto step 4…

Arlet Flying

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4:

Keep that tight toe-hug around your left arm, round the upper back and begin to push through the left foot.  Floint (flex and point, think Barbie foot) the foot!  Without an active foot, you will not get into this pose fully.  Spread the toes, lift the leg, don’t forget to breathe and take flight!

Check out this beauty:

daisy pea 2

photo: Daisy Whitemore

You should definitely be warmed up before trying this one and make sure to try the other side too!  Remember, master each step before moving onto the next.  You might repeat steps over and over before moving on.  We all know playing with new poses is fun, but stay safe and listen to your body!  It will tell you when it’s time for what’s next.  More tips on taking flight in Eka Pada Galavasana at Yoga Journal.

See you on your mat!

fun pose friday: flying pigeon

fun pose friday: flying pigeon

Happy hump day yogis and yoginis!  I had a couple students ask me about how to clean their yoga mats this week (especially after hot yoga classes– yuck!).  Here at the studio, we use homemade mat cleaner and it works really well.  Believe it or not, some yoga mats can actually go right into your washing machine too!  Enjoy these tips on how to keep your mat tidy!

3 ways to clean your yoga mat:

1). wash your mat by hand:

Buy mat cleaner or make your own.  There are great, natural, affordable mat cleaners out there for purchase.  If you want to make your own cleaner, there are lots of great recipes to pick from and they are all super easy.  Pick up a spray bottle from Target, CVS, or you can even recycle an old spray bottle that you might have from other cleaning products around your home– just make sure to clean/wash it thoroughly before filling it with your yoga mat cleaner concoction.

This is the mat cleaner mix we use at extendYoga:

  • warm water
  • 3-5 drops of Tea Tree oil (can get at Whole Foods or Amazon.com) — a 2 ounce bottle tea tree oil lasts forever.  I’ve been using the same bottle at the studio for over a year now, and there is still some in there!
  • some times I add a tiny drop of Meyer’s All Purpose Cleaner or 2 drops of dish soap
  • if you want something that smells nice, add a couple drops of any other essential oil (like lavender)

Instead of soap or cleaner– you can use a couple drops of white vinegar (this is a little more stinky– but it does the trick)! Grab a spray bottle, fill it up, give it a shake and spray away.  Use a sponge or towel to wipe down your mat and you’re good to go!  More mat cleaner recipes! 

tea tree oilclean your yoga mat

2). wash your yoga mat in the washing machine:

Toss your mat in the washing machine (by itself, no clothes) using cold water, on the gentle cycle and a mild detergent like Woolite.  Remove the mat BEFORE the spin cycle and rinse off the soap with room temperature or lukewarm water.  Hang or drape your mat and allow plenty of time to dry (like overnight).

Make sure to double check the mat manufacturer to make sure it is washing machine safe.  Some eco, rubber or biodegradable mats might not be suitable for the machine.

clean your mat in the wash

3). take a shower with your mat!

I’ve heard about people washing their mats while in the shower and then hanging dry over the shower rod.  Perhaps a post yoga class routine every month or two?!

some tidy mat tips:

  • you only need to do a deep/extensive cleaning every couple months – no need to go crazy after every class or you’ll wear your mat out!
  • try to fold or hang your mat versus rolling every once and a while, so the funk doesn’t get trapped in and any moisture is able to dry
  • make sure your mat is completely dry the next time you use it
  • make sure your feet are clean before hoping on your mat, especially now that we are in flip flop season– clean feet = cleaner mat!

 

See you on your (sparkling clean) mat!

stinky yoga mat?

stinky yoga mat?

Today’s fun pose Friday post is not only about your home practice, but about: one. fun. pose. Or how our guest blogger Daisy Whittemore likes to phrase it: Do One Pose–Today.  BLOG ALERT: A great way to pick one pose to work on at home is to read our blog on Friday’s.  We post our favorite poses each week on fun pose fridays with tips on how to get into them, photos, videos, benefits of the pose and more!  Daisy’s full post can also be found on elephant journal.  Enjoy!

I hear a lot of friends and yoga students talking about wanting to create a regular home yoga practice.

They simply don’t know where or how to start. They are often afraid they don’t know enough, will somehow do something wrong or will hurt themselves. One student recently said he was, “worried he would create muscle memory of doing poses wrong and wreck his practice.”

In response, what I want to say (but usually don’t) is that practicing yoga at home is not really that complicated or dangerous. It shouldn’t induce fear. It is very unlikely that you will hurt yourself. You are more likely to tear your Achilles playing tennis, blow out your knee running or even get into a car crash on your way to the grocery store, than you are of hurting yourself practicing yoga at home.

This is not to say there is no risk.

I am certainly not suggesting be reckless: all of you beginner yogis bustin’ into scorpion pose in your living room after dinner. The point is to try to lessen the angst and the mystery around yoga. I am also not suggesting you stop going to your classes. After all, I am a yoga teacher—I want you to keep coming to class. But I also want you to learn how to practice on your own. I want you to learn how to claim this practice for yourself. It can be very empowering and fun. It will build your practice dramatically.

The bottom line when considering a yoga practice at home: Be smart. Move slowly. Listen to your body.

Do what feels good. Use the information you are learning in your classes. Yoga is not about landing the picture perfect pose (although Yoga Journal and all of the pictures of perfect poses out there in the world tell a different story but that is a blog for another day). Each pose is a work in progress—for all of us. Each practice is a work in progress—for all of us. There is always more to do and learn and experience, no matter what your level. This is one of the great beauties of yoga. It is a practice: for studio, home and anywhere in between.

There are many avenues to exploring a home practice.

Lately (for my own attempts to practice at home) I have reduced my ambitions to simply this: Start with one pose today. A pose that I love to do—that makes me feel good. The thing is, yoga can be pretty simple. You can build your pose anywhere: by your bed when you are stepping into or out of it; in your living room; on your front porch; in your garden—or (where I spent two years practicing yoga) in your kitchen.

You don’t need a mat, or any props. Just solid ground and your body. As far as I am concerned, it can be child’s pose. Any pose. But build it with intention and care. Don’t just slam your body into it: Breathe. Move slowly and consciously. Place your body in the form and continue to breathe. Feel your breath moving through you. Feel your body in space. Allow yourself to settle into the pose. Feel your strength and your capacity for softness. Consider even closing your eyes (which may challenge your balance) and breathe some more.

There—a home practice. Right there, in one pose.

What I have found in the practice of yoga is, that just like eating one potato chip—it is very hard to do just one pose (no matter where you are in the spectrum of your yoga practice). My guess is that it may be the same way for you. Your mind (or better yet your body) may want to take you somewhere else from that pose.

For example, let’s say you just want to get your down dog on. You take down dog and your body might say, I want to lift up one leg or I want to plant my foot between my hands and give my hips a lunge. Your body might want to float forward into plank pose (this is not usually my desire) or you may think, I want to jump my feet to my hands and have a forward bend or maybe even, I want to flip my dog, and go wild thing.

Let’s say you want to feel warrior II—so you stand in your kitchen and make it happen. Your body (or perhaps your mind) might say: I want to goddess it and sweep my front hand over my head, then I want to bring my forearm to my bent leg.  Now I want to take triangle and then half moon pose—or, I could windmill my hands to either side of my front foot and push back into downward facing dog.

This just happens. The more you practice yoga, at a studio, in a gym, or in your living room—the more one pose will lead to another. So, my big tip lately to all of you who want to build a home practice is:

Begin with one pose, on one day.

In some cases, you may take a pose and realize: Hey, this doesn’t feel as good as it does when I am at the studio. In this case, consider why. Consider the poses you do in class before that pose.  Read more on elephant journal here…

For example, it may be that you want to take triangle pose (but wow!) you feel tight. Try a few other poses—for example, warrior II or side angle pose (something to get you into your hips) then a forward bend to get you into your hamstrings and maybe a downward-facing dog to open hamstrings and shoulders. Then, try your triangle again (one small teacher moment caveat: If you are taking a pose that has two sides, do your body a favor and do both sides).

If you listen to your body, it will likely tell you a few things (or a lot of things).

Sometimes it will tell you to back up; do some other things to warm up first. Other times it may say: Wow! Let’s keep going because this feels good. Some days your body may tell you that one pose was enough. Even in the latter case, you have done one pose at home. One pose is better than no pose. Doing one pose is planting the seed for more.

Either that day or the next—in a month, or in a year.

If this seems like a silly approach to you (or if you are scared to go it alone) there are other ways to build a home practice for yourself. They extend far beyond watching the same DVD over and over again (unless that works for you, in which case, keep on keeping on):

1.) Consider a service such as Yogaglo.com (which I love). It costs about $20 a month and brings endless yoga classes streaming to your computer at any hour of the day.

2.) Try another online aide (such as one that just popped up on Facebook) a 30-day challenge with free, short (under 20 minutes) yoga flow classes daily for a month or Amy Ippoliti does a 30-day pose challenge (which I have joined multiple times).

3.) For those of you living in one of the many yoga prolific regions, there are likely workshops at your local yoga studios to help you build your home practice.

4.) Ask your teacher for some homework each week.

5.) Roll out your mat every day and sit on it: see what comes. (Another very simple possibility, which a dear yoga buddy suggested to me when I was struggling with a consistent home practice).

6.) And of course, keep going to your yoga classes and building upon the wisdom for your home practice. This is not merely for brand new yogis—but for all of us.

The possibilities go on and on. I have done all of the above at different points in my yoga lifetime to spur me on, and then tried them again. Sometimes they work. When they don’t—I switch gears and try something else.

The bottom line is to: Start slow, start small, and start simple. Let it grow.

Don’t pledge to do 108 sun salutations a day, or practice for an hour a day, unless you already do something close to this and are trying to expand your home practice. Just like overambitious new year’s resolutions: lofty goals can often come back and bite us hard in bum. And rather than making us feel good about ourselves—teach us that we are failures.

Please don’t use a home yoga practice as another excuse to beat yourself up.

We all have different ways of learning, of making changes to the rhythms of our lives. If one attempt fails, try another (or try the same thing again). Be patient and kind to yourself. Beginning something new is hard.

For me (right now) the one pose—one day path has been fruitful. Try it. See where it takes you.

 

 

Daisy Whittemore is a mom, wife, writer, yogi, yoga teacher and recent blogger on a quest for life’s pauses: for the sweet spots—those moments, oftentimes slippery little cracks in the foundation of our daily lives—that give us pause (that don’t take our breath away) but give us breath. Just like those fleeting seconds at the top or bottom of your breath, between inhale and exhale, the pauses are always there—waiting for us to inhabit, explore, and experience. She hopes to encourage herself and those around her to find a little more pause in each day for silence, yoga, creativity, love, play, pleasure, or whatever it is that restores you. You can find Daisy on her blog:Finding Pause. Also ‘like’ her on Facebook.

 

fun pose friday: your home practice

fun pose friday: your home practice

Hola from the extendYoga blogosphere!  Today’s post is an oldie but a goodie and about a topic that I really care about.  I’m re-posting a blog post from last year’s blood drive in honor of our 2nd Annual Blood Drive this Saturday, June 1!!!  Here’s all the info about the drive this weekend.  And on to the (slightly revised) post…

I’m excited to blog about something that is very important to me.  :)

So many are uninformed, scared, nervous and have misconceptions about this topic.  The topic being: donating blood.  Don’t… stop… reading… see?  I knew you’d be hesitant to hear more!

Well, the fact of the matter is, that yes, you may think it’s scary, BUT when you have the power to actually save someone’s life in a matter of just an hour– I think it’s pretty easy to get over those fears.  It may also help to know that every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 38,000 donations are needed EVERY DAY.

Now of course, some may have legitimate medical reasons to not donate, but 37% of Americans ARE eligible to donate (and less than 10% actually do).

If you are part of that 10%– THANK YOU!  And please continue to save lives with your donations.

That other 27%… well if you have ever thought about donating, but said to yourself: “It’s not for me, there is enough blood, they don’t need mine, I don’t like needles…” or any other excuse, here is an opportunity to finally try it!

On June 1, 2013: 9:30am-2pm, we will be hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross.

Everyone who signs up will not only have the opportunity to save a life, but will get 1 FREE CLASS at extendYoga to use by September 30, 2013.  AND– you will also be entered into a raffle to win 1 MONTH OF FREE YOGA! WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO SIGN UP!? (well here is a whole list of more reasons)

We have 2 classes during the drive, so feel free to take a class, donate blood and top off your day with free juice and cookies!  Sounds like an AWESOME Saturday to me!

While IN class, here are some yoga poses you can work on to help your blood circulation and flow:
-Deep breathing
-Inversions: shoulder stand, headstand
-Standing postures: warrior poses, triangle pose, tree pose
-Relaxing/Restoring postures: shavasana, legs up the wall

To sign up:
call the studio: 301-881-3330 (currently, taking drop-ins only)

I hope to see you there and please invite your friends (it’s always nice to have a buddy with you)!

Yours truly,
Arlet, blood type A+ :)

Have questions?
Feel free to call the Red Cross: 1-800-Give Life or Arlet at the studio: 301-881-3330

Some more helpful links:
Donor eligibility requirements
How to prepare/what to do before donating
What to eat before donating
Blood Facts and Statistics

extendYoga / 12106 Wilkins Ave, Rockville, MD 20852

save a life? free yoga class? sign me up!

save a life? free yoga class? sign me up!

OMG!  It’s been waaaaay too long.  I apologize for the being M.I.A.  I was just a tad busy with yoga teacher training, the studio and life (more to come on all these things later). :)  Today’s fun pose Friday is not on a specific pose, but about back bending.

For the past few weeks, myself, Daisy Whittemore, Lika Elwood and few other yogis have been hangin’ and yogi-ing after Lika’s 9:30am $5 Friday Heated Flow class.  It started as an impromptu “hey, check out this pose I learned the other day,” to “what should we work on next week?”  I can’t always join, but Lika and Daisy have been pretty adamant and consistent about our Friday morning workshops/play time (they are in the back room as we speak- or as I type, rather).

Last week I really wanted to work on a previous fun pose Friday post that I have yet to master (but am getting closer): dropbacks.  We discovered last week, that my back is quite bendy.  I always knew I had a pretty open back, but last week I actually felt like I could really do a dropback (one day) and that it’s really more about fear versus ability.

Enjoy these pics from the past couple Fridays.  Check out these major bendy backs:

 

Pictured above: using a wall is great way to start to work on scorpion pose or vrschikasana and forearm stand or pincha mayurasana.

It doesn’t get any better (or beautiful) than this:

 

That’s Daisy and Lika with Roger (above), working his acro-yoga skills.  He’s an amazing and dedicated yogi!

This was so much fun (notice that we had to prop Daisy up with blocks so her feet would meet up with Lika’s!):

 

Enjoy! Happy Friday yogis and yoginis!

fun pose friday: bendy backs

fun pose friday: bendy backs

Happy hump day!  Today’s post is all about amazing yoga in the DC-MD-VA area coming up during DC Yoga Week! The DC Community Yoga Association (DCCY) is proud to present the 8th annual DC Yoga Week and Yoga on the Mall.  April 29 – May 5, over 40 participating studios in the DC-MD-VA area will offer FREE and $5 yoga classes all week long as well as discounts on class packages, workshops, and yoga merchandise.  On May 5, from 11am – 1pm, the week will close with Yoga on the Mall, one of the largest outdoor yoga classes hosted in the country.

All  info and details can be found here:

DC Yoga Week website

Yoga on the Mall ~ May 5: 11am-1pm  yoga on the mall location: Constitution Gardens (by Vietnam Memorial) Rain date: May 11
John Schumacher, Patty Ivey, Greg Marzullo and Kevin Waldorf-Cruz lead the free class on the National Mall.

Sign up for free and $5 classes at extendYoga in Rockville:

DC Yoga Week: April 29-May 5

DC Yoga Week: April 29-May 5

This week’s blog post is about how AWESOME the Yoga Journal Conference in New York City was 2 weeks ago.  I’ll keep it short and just share a few pics and highlights. :)  I was so lucky to have the opportunity to make it to the conference and some how managed to squeeze it in between events at extendYoga and yoga teacher training.  It was a quick trip, but it felt great to be back in my old stompin’ grounds/the city that never sleeps (where I first discovered yoga).

So many ridiculously amazing teachers like: Kathryn BudigSharon Gannon and David LifeRod StrykerAna Forest, Dharma Mittra, Sadie Nardini, Seane Corn and more were at the conference.  I was lucky enough to spend the entire day with Kathryn Budig.  I actually didn’t know too much about her, which was nice because I went in with little expectations.  I had however, admired her crazy photos (she’s the one in the nude toesox photos in Yoga Journal Magazine- absolutely beautiful), stalked her website thoroughly and watched a few of her videos online.  She was amazzzinnggg and by the end of the workshop I was handstanding and tripod headstanding to my heart’s content!

Here’s Kathryn demoing tripod (check out that stage set up!):

This way to the Sangha Space… Free classes in the center of the Market Place (this was a dangerous area with so many yoga vendors)!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new bracelets!

Hey!  Is that Emily Star?! Emily made it to the conference too- but we missed each other.  Beautiful Urdhva Dhanurasana/wheel pose!

Wait…  and Krista Block was there too! (workshop alert: Krista is coming to extendYoga on April 28 to lead her Freedom of Flight: Arm Balance workshop!)  Here’s a photo of her with her teachers, Sharon Gannon and David Life.

Found this one of my workshop group on the YJC facebook page.  I’m deep thinking…

More pics of the YJC NYC here!

Next stop for the conference is Colorado, Sept 22-29, then Florida and San Francisco.  If you can make it to a Yoga Journal Conference at some point in your life, I highly recommend it. I wish I could have stayed the whole weekend. So much fun!  And no, you don’t have to be a crazy skilled, advanced yogi… anyone is welcome and there is something for everyone.  I can’t wait for the conference to come to this area again.  How can we get it in DC?!

See you on the mat!

me + yoga journal conference = <3

me + yoga journal conference = <3

This week’s fun pose friday post is all about a pose I have been working on for a few months now… Supported Headstand or Salamba Sirsasana.

(sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna)
salamba = with support (sa = with
alamba = support)
sirsa = head

Ever since I started my yoga teacher training last month, I have made it a personal goal to get into this pose… WITHOUT the help of a wall.  I’ve dabbled in headstand for a few years, but never had the guts to go up in the middle of the room without the comfort of a wall.  I still have a ways to go, but now that I have moved past the fear factor (in a the middle of a room, alone), the next step would be to pop right up in the middle of a full class.  If I can do headstand in the middle of a full $5 Friday class at extendYoga without psyching myself out and/or falling on someone– I’ll be one happy yogi!

Before you read about how to get into headstand and why it’s so great for you, here’s a little video journal about my headstand journey…

Warning: these videos aren’t professional!  (Taken by me on my iPhone.  And yes, I listen to pop music when I practice my headstands- video #2). :)

March 25- wobbly, yikes! click photo to watch

April 2- needs work but getting better. click photo to watch

April 11- almost there! click photo to watch

There are many ways and tips to get into this pose and different variations as well.  Here’s what Yoga Journal says:

  • Kneel on the floor. Lace your fingers together and set the forearms on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Set the crown of your head on the floor. If you are just beginning to practice this pose, press the bases of your palms together and snuggle the back of your head against the clasped hands. More experienced students can open their hands and place the back of the head into the open palms.
  •  Inhale and lift your knees off the floor. Carefully walk your feet closer to your elbows. Actively lift through the top thighs, forming an inverted “V.” Firm the shoulder blades against your back and lift them toward the tailbone so the front torso stays as long as possible.  Tip: when starting out, try to stay in an “egg shape” for at least 8 breaths before you start to move the legs straight up.  Maybe you practice the egg for a few weeks before you even try to extend the legs.  Shout out Flow Yoga Center YTT for this helpful tip!

Me in an “egg shape”

  • Exhale and lift your feet away from the floor. Take both feet up at the same time, even if it means bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor. As the legs (or thighs, if your knees are bent) rise to perpendicular to the floor, firm the tailbone against the back of the pelvis. Turn the upper thighs in slightly, and actively press the heels toward the ceiling (straightening the knees if you bent them to come up). The center of the arches should align over the center of the pelvis, which in turn should align over the crown of the head.
  • Firm the outer arms inward, and soften the fingers. Continue to press the shoulder blades against the back, widen them, and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the weight evenly balanced on the two forearms. It’s also essential that your tailbone continues to lift upward toward the heels.
  • As a beginning practitioner stay for 10 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes (I’m probabley at about 1 min right now… if I’m lucky). Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in the pose. Again gradually add 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. Come down with an exhalation, without losing the lift of the shoulder blades, with both feet touching the floor at the same time.

 

Benefits of Supported Headstand: 

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands
  • Strengthens the arms, legs, and spine
  • Strengthens the lungs
  • Tones the abdominal organs
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Therapeutic for asthma, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis
  • More benefits from  MindBodyGreen.  Check this out: 10-Reasons-to-Do-a-Headstand-Every-Day
Tip:  This can be a tricky pose for beginners and you want to avoid putting too much weight onto the neck and head when coming in and out of this pose.  You should definitely start practicing this pose against a wall until you get comfortable with how it feels and figure out the proper weight distribution.  On that same note, once you feel you have the balance, proper breathing and strength, don’t be afraid to move away from the wall– this is a big step, but you can do it!

fun pose friday: headstand

fun pose friday: headstand

Guest blogger, Alison Lea Sher of Be You Be Sure is in the house today!  Enjoy her post about what being a yogi means to her (and maybe you too).

Yes. We yogis love Krishna Das, though to most people he appears to be some sort of self-sanctified deity. Why do we sit there chanting in call and response to a white middle aged man with an Indian name? What do we yogis keep twisting our limbs to tap into? For many, the method to our madness will forever remain a mystery.

Once you get into yoga, you’re into it. You leave a good class feeling the best feeling in the world – united with some part of the self that is light and new. Your body feels younger. You are getting healthy.

If you’re a diehard yogi, you may have bought the style of Lululemon pants recently recalled while Jimmy Kimmel made fun of you. You may have three new tattoos since you started an asana practice. You probably have a mantra you repeat to yourself in the morning, before bed, and while sitting on the toilet. You have shifted your identity into one of the yogi.

You’re a yogahead now. You may eventually go as far as to change your name to Zen. You’ll drink the Kool-aid. You’ll think spirulina can cure AIDS. You’ll tell us all we can solve our indigestion by standing on our heads.  I think this is what most people are skeptical of when they see their friends walking further and further down a yogic path.

Yes, the culture of yoga can appear a bit cultish, like we’re a commercialized sect of blissed out and trim born-again white women. We eat lettuce wraps and escape the stress of the world by retreating to a magical space in our minds. We sweat together in heated rooms, moving in unison as a teacher shares juicy nuggets about the secret of life and orders us around in Sanskrit.

Yoga people sometimes get a bad reputation. Yet, when I think about who are in the grand scheme of the world, when I compare us to all the different types of people pillaging this earth, I’m glad we’re here. We’re here to heal. We’re seeking a life of compassionate understanding and service. Yoga people mean nothing but well – imperfect as we still are despite all the stretching we do. Yet, people are weary of yoga because it is ultimately esoteric and religious.

After 7 years of practice, I’ve come to realize that if I shout about my love of yoga, I will seem like a voodoo-loving buffoon with hot buns. I’ve learned it’s wiser to wear my yoga soul clandestinely. As I continue to integrate my practice into all aspects of my life, I try to do so without advertising this self-actualizing pursuit. I’ve become a stealth yogini ninja who adheres to the virtue of moral secularism in our “freedom of worship” society. I do this, not because I fear rejection from those who think differently, but because I don’t want to ostracize myself from all the great people out there who just happen to think shrines studded with golden statues of Vishnu and Ganesha are weird.

I’m a believer in the power of physical and energetic union to rock your worldview. I know you can find peace of mind through the body. I know meditation will make you a kinder person. I want everyone to taste what this feels like. I want the power of this experience to ripple out into our violent world.

To live my yoga peacefully, however, I’ve had to challenge my yoga ego. My yoga ego has chased me to retreat centers. It keeps me coming back to my mat – and all this is good. But when my yoga ego suddenly wants to get an ohm tattoo on my forehead to prove my commitment, I won’t let it.

I live in the world with shakti stars in my eyes, keeping my views on energy science to myself, so I don’t come off as a fundamentalist. Most people I meet now know nothing about my double yogini life. They don’t know how I source my inner light.

I’ve grown to become fine with this. I’m fine with people thinking I’m naturally positive and energetic. Pfft! What people don’t know is I’m doing yoga all the time – at the gas station as I curse the fossil fuel industry, while yelling at the top of my lungs gridlocked in DC metro traffic. Yes, anger yoga is yoga for the real world! I’m a total yogini, through and through. I just wear a disguise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison Lea Sher (a.k.a. Bee) is a creative writer, journalist, and the co-founder of Be You Be Sure – an inspirational website for the millennial generation. 

The Lifestyle of an Undercover Yogi

The Lifestyle of an Undercover Yogi

To neti pot or to not neti pot?!  I say– yes!  Since returning from my 10 day intensive yoga teacher training at Flow Yoga Center, I have been actively irrigating my nasal passage (words I never saw myself saying).  I’ve used my neti pot almost every day for the last 10 days.  Boy, what a difference nasal irrigation makes!

If you don’t know what a neti pot is, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  Although it’s a practice that dates back to the ancient Hindu practice of Ayurveda, I didn’t really know much about it until I was in a room with 20+ die hard yoginis. Neti pots did fly off the shelves however, once Dr. Oz introduced Oprah to neti pots!

Using a neti pot is especially helpful with this crazy weather we have going on in the DC-MD-VA area.  The change of seasons and allergies can be killer on your sinuses/create congestion. Not-to-mention, every day substances and pollutants enter our sinus cavities through our noses.  So what can be done about it?  Simple. Wash your nose!

The purpose of nasal irrigation and what neti pots are all about:

Nasal irrigation is a personal hygiene practice where the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses.  It promotes good sinus and nasal health.  People with chronic sinusitis including symptoms of headache, halitosis, cough, and nasal congestion often find nasal irrigation to provide relief.  Many people believe that regular use of a neti pot is more effective for nasal allergy and sinus symptoms than are over-the-counter medications.

The neti pot itself is a simple instrument, which looks like a cross between a small bulb-shaped teapot, gravy boat or Aladdin’s magic lamp.

Here’s how it works:

  • Get yourself a neti pot (easy to find at: Whole Foods, CVS, Amazon, Target).  You can get one for less than $15.
  • Get some salt with nothing extra added, ie: non-iodized salt.  Many neti pots come with pre-packaged, pre-measured salt packets (this is what I have).  It makes it really easy to get your mixture just right.
  • Fill your pot with lukewarm distilled water or previously boiled water.
  • Either use your pre-pacakged salt pack or add 1/4 teaspoon of your salt to your neti pot and mix until salt is dissolved.
  • Tilt your head slightly sideways, at about a 45-degree angle, and insert the spout of the neti pot into your nostril. 
  • Let the water flow into the nostril gently and slowly. If the water begins to flow out of your mouth, you are not tilting your head correctly.  
  • Relax and ***breathe through your MOUTH.*** Once you are done, remove the spout and blow your nose. This will help clear any leftover water in the nasal passages.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Make sure to clean your pot thoroughly after each use and store in a clean, dry place.
  • You can do this once or twice a day, or even just once and awhile.  

Watch this video to see a neti pot in action.

Check out some pics of me (on the right) and Brittanie DeChino (left) from my yoga teacher training demonstrating the wonders of the neti pot!

At first, using a neti pot seems super weird and even a little scary.  How does the water go in one nostril and come out the other?  Is the tempertaure of the water ok?  Am I using the right salt?  But, once you get comfortable breathing in/out through your mouth and get over the process of it, it’s actually very easy!  Warning: the first few times, you may have some technical difficulties and possibly swallow some water (which is totally safe if you do).  Don’t get discouraged, just try again!

Once it becomes part of your daily routine, it’s less “weird” and more I brush my teeth, I wash my nose, I start my day.  :)

Enjoy and happy nose cleaning!

nasal irrigation? yes, please!

nasal irrigation? yes, please!

Happy Friday!  Today’s fun pose was inspired by local yoga teacher, Daisy Whitemore.  She posted a video of her self getting into this pose, well, poses: Crow (Bakasana) into Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana).  After (I think she mentioned) 142 takes, she nailed it!  Practice makes perfect!  The video ends with Daisy saying: “super fun… try it… you’ll like it.”  Isn’t that true with so many yoga poses?!

To get the real idea, you should watch Daisy’s video and the videos listed at the bottom of this post, but here’s a general explanation:

Start from a yogic squat (Malasana) and make your way into a high crow pose (or crane).  Once you are in crane, your arms stay pretty much in the same position (you will straighten them as you go up from crow).  Most of the work will come from your core.

Lifts your knees up at the same as when you are straightening your arms and slowly begin to lengthen your legs all the way up.  You may have to pause with the legs together and bent on your way up, steady yourself (using your core), and then continue to straighten your legs.  And there you have it!  Sounds easier than it is.  This transition may take years to master it.  Good luck!

Tips:
*Start by using a wall
*Start with a strap – you may have to work with a strap for a while.  Place the strap above your elbows and in way where your arms are shoulder width apart.

Check out these videos for more details on how to get into this super challenging, but fun pose:

Daisy Whitemore Crow to Handstand with Strap

Krista Cahill Crow to Handstand - more explanation from beginning to the final end pose and using a strap

Kathryn Budig Crow to Handstand with Strap - demo

Kathryn Budig Crow to Handstand - demo

See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: crow to handstand

fun pose friday: crow to handstand

Today’s post is by a guest blogger and extendYoga teacher, Leslie Edsall.  She is running a 14 day Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse.  Why cleanse?  What’s cleansing all about?  Check it out:

Why do a Cleanse?

Daily living causes toxins to build up in the body. Our main sources of toxicity include:

Environment
*air and water pollution
*industrial toxins, herbicides, pesticides, radiation, etc.

Lifestyle
*prescription drugs
*processed flours and sugars
*tobacco & caffeine
*hormones & antibiotics found in industrial meat products
*artificial sweeteners, flavor enhancers, preservatives & dyes

Internal toxins
*normal metabolic processes of digestion, hormonal production, etc.
*certain strains of intestinal microbes, “bad” bacteria and yeast, produce toxins in the GI system that can be absorbed into the blood

Emotional toxins
*anger, fear, resentment, grief & related emotions can trigger responses in our nervous and hormonal systems that indirectly impact our ability to detoxify
*releasing emotional toxins is as important to maintaining a healthy body as cutting out unhealthy foods that contribute to toxic overload

One way to start the process in making changes in our bodies (and life) is to cleanse it.

Check out Leslie’s 14 Day Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse

What do you have to lose? What no longer serves you? 

If you are concerned about your health and you don’t want to feel bloated or lethargic, check out Leslie’s Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse and learn more about her guided approach below. Leslie’s goal is to coach you to confidently complete your daily tasks and STILL feel full of energy and rid the body of unhealthy toxins. This is all possible by cleansing the most natural way, with real, whole foods.

Ready for the details? Read on!

Leslie’s whole-food “cleanse” is a 100% food-powered cleansing program. This is not a cleanse with powders, juices and pills. Quick-fix cleanses sound appealing (we want everything yesterday!), but a crash cleanse does not remove the source of the problems: how we deal with stress, our eating habits and education on food combing. In summary, they don’t lead to lasting lifestyle changes.

The 14-Day Whole Food-based Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse fully supports learning to make better decisions through health education, a step-by-step Cleanse Guide, an optional Health Food Store Tour and a supportive group environment.

Join the Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse and you will get:

  • Prep Week – prepare at your own pace AFTER Easter, including a full grocery store list
  • Meal-by-meal plans & recipes during the actual 14-day cleanse phase
  • Over 30 recipes to keep you satisfied & on track
  • Coaching emails to keep you motivated, focused & accountable
  • Tracking Pages to check your progress
  • A cleanse “program kit” which gives you knowledge about cleansing & healing
  • Weekly, guided calls with cleanse participants
  • Invitation-only” Cleanse Google email group to communicate with cleansers
  • A bonus, 3-Day Juice Cleanse booklet for future use
  • The opportunity to attend a Health Food Store Tour

Spring Rejuvenation Cleanse Event Page   for call schedule & testimonials!

Register by Friday, March 22, 2013

Leslie Edsall is a nutrition, yoga and health education expert who offers nutrition programs to clients, leads yoga classes in the local community and offers nutrition workshops.  To learn more about Leslie or to schedule a consultation: www.TrifectaWellness.com

All About Cleansing

All About Cleansing

This weeks fun pose friday post is one we love to hate… Chair Pose or Utkatasana.

(OOT-kah-TAHS-anna)
utkata = powerful, fierce

How many times have you been in class and when you’re not expecting it and… BOOM chair pose!  Quads are on fire and then your instructor tells you to sit a little deeper.  Oh dear.  It burns!  I’m totally guilty of standing up for a quick break and shake out my legs when my instructor is not watching.  Come on, we’ve all done it!

Chair Pose: why does it hurt so good?!

 chair pose OR

chair pose?

Here’s the step by step on how to get into chair pose and the benefits of it.

Thanks Yoga Journal!

  • Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms.
  • Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs.
  • Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor.
  •  Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.

Benefits of chair pose:

  • Tones the leg muscles majorly!
  • Strengthens hip flexors, ankles, calves, and back
  • Stretches chest and shoulders
  • Stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: chair pose

fun pose friday: chair pose

Today’s blog post is from blogger (yogi, yoga teacher, mother and my friend), Daisy Whitemore, RYT.  You occasionally can see Daisy subbing at extendYoga:)  This is her third post on her Relentless Affection / ARA series. This week is all about knees!

Taking care of your knees in yoga, as in life, is critical, necessary, and will help you continue to practice yoga and move around more happily in your world. For sure. The practice of yoga does require a lot from our knees. However, when done with proper alignment and muscle engagement, it can actually be very healthy for our knees. Yoga strengthens the muscles in the lower and upper legs, which protects and stabilizes the knee joint. Yoga has also been known to help restore function to knees after injury, and help with osteoarthritis in the knees. While this is great news, if you have problems in your knees, don’t just tell your yoga teacher. Talk to your doctor about doing yoga, being very clear about the kind of yoga you are doing, and even showing them some of the poses.

Unfortunately, you can’t count on your teacher to know what is right or wrong for you. Some teachers have a great sense of anatomy. Some do not. But very few of them are doctors, have seen your medical file, or your x-rays. Our knees, in fact, all of our joints, are complicated and need particular care. One important fact about knees is that they are hinge joints, intended to move forward and backward, and not laterally, not side to side, not twisting (ouch!). This is important to keep in mind as you move through your yoga practice.

Thankfully, I have a few other tips, besides this small, very obvious, yet often overlooked nugget of wisdom. One great gauge in taking care of your knees is no pain. This may also seem very obvious, but actually it isn’t. Many of us suffer through a lot of things, and by things, I mean pain, when it comes to our exercise. A good rule for the knees is no pain. When you practice yoga, you should not feel pain in your knees. No little twinge on the left side or the right side is good. This is not healthy stretching. Nor do you want to feel pain in the front of the knee, under the knee cap, or deep inside the knee. No pain, period. If you do feel pain, you need to stop, realign, and try again. If you still feel pain, stop and talk to the teacher. If you are at home practicing, stop and talk to a teacher later. Sometimes, however, you may not get a pain signal during a pose. You may feel achey in the knee afterward, or the next day. This could be a sign that you have overworked your knee, or have been out of alignment.  Remember it the next time you practice. Often knee pain is a result of our hips lacking flexibility. Therefore, warming up your hips joints early in your practice is essential for maintaining good knee health. In addition, paying attention to where and how you place your feet is crucial for knee care.

The bottom line is to place your feet with care, following instruction, and to keep the muscles in your feet engaged in your practice, whether standing on them, sitting on them, or when they are in the air. Simply lifting and spreading your toes in standing poses engages the muscles in your lower legs and, in turn, protects the ligaments in your knees. Flexing the feet and engaging all toes, especially the baby toe, in the front foot of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon pose), for example, is another way to protect your knee joint. Check out Practicing Yoga with Relentless Affection for Yourself for more details on how to place your feet throughout your practice.

In addition to these practices, there are three fairly simple guidelines to take good care of your knees as you practice.

1) Microbend your knees. In standing, straight-legged poses, give your knees a tiny little bend, which allows your muscles to support you, not your knee joint. This also means don’t lock your knees, even if your yoga teacher tells you to. Don’t do it. Disobey them. Lie and tell them you have a doctor’s note. Some yoga practices do teach locking the knees. Indeed, there are ways to do this that are actually safe, but the mechanics are complicated and often not taught properly. Your best bet: microbend your knees. In addition, when your legs are bearing weight, never ever hyperextend your knees. What does this mean really? Never let your knee bend backwards, even slightly. For one, it looks gross. For two, it is not good for your knees joint, or the tendons and ligaments in the knee. For three, it doesn’t help your practice, build your muscles well, or allow important blood or energy flow through your legs. If you have this tendency, as I do, to bend your knees even slightly the wrong way, be especially vigilant about microbending your knees. In addition, when you are in wide legged poses, energetically draw your legs toward each other, as if you are a rusty pair of scissors trying to close. This will engage your leg muscles more actively, drawing muscles to bone, and protect your beautiful knees.

drawings by Daisy Whitemore

2) Track knees toward your second and third toes. In standing poses, when you bend your knees, always track your knee toward your second or third toe. Don’t let them turn inward, or outward. Generally, your hip flexibility comes into play here. If your hips want your knees to go one way, and your feet are trying to make them go another way, you need to adjust your stance so that your knees track toward your second and third toes. This is true for most bent leg poses including lunges, of all varieties, and for Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I and II, Parsvakonasana (Side Angle pose), for Utkata Konasana (Fierce Angle pose, or Goddess pose), and Utkatasana (Chair pose). It is especially true in twisting variations of poses. When twisting, peek down at your knee and make sure it isn’t trying to exit the pose. Make sure your knee stays in alignment, tracking toward second and third toe.

3) Position bent knee above ankle. In many standing poses where knees are bent, keeping your knee directly above your ankle is a good general rule. For example, in lunges, Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I and II and Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), you want the bent knee to form a right angle, with shin perpendicular to the floor, thigh parallel.

drawings by Daisy Whitemore

There are plenty of exceptions to this, such as Utkatasana (Chair pose). In addition, this rule is not quite the hard rule of one and two. It is a great guideline for beginners, as well as intermediate students. But, as you advance in your practice, things will change. You may then be able to bring your knee safely forward of the ankle, for example, in Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon pose). As your practice develops, you will likely create more flexibility in your spine allowing you to bend backwards further. Therefore, the energy, that is, the trajectory of your body weight, is not moving forward directly into the knee.
Even in these cases, however, positioning knee beyond ankle puts additional pressure on the knee. If it feels bad in your knees (during or the next day), don’t do it. Stick with the right angle rule. Why Align? Practicing with these alignment and muscular cues in mind is providing relentless care for yourself in your practice. Care-ful alignment is just that, alignment that is full of care for you and your body. As one of my great yoga teachers , AJ McIntyre (if you are ever in Charlottesville, Virginia area, find her), used to say, “trust but verify.” (Yes, she quoted former President Reagan in yoga class, regularly. It is originally a Lenin quote.) No matter where you are in your practice, no matter what level, it is good to trust that you are doing the right thing, but always verify. Look at your knees, at where they are in space. Adjust as necessary. Continue to be your own alignment advocate. Take care of your bodies. Relentlessly.

 

About our guest blogger: Daisy Whitemore is a mom, wife, writer, yogi, yoga teacher (substitute teaching at extendYoga sometimes), a recent blogger, and on a quest for life’s pauses, for the sweet spots–those moments, oftentimes slippery little cracks in the foundation of our daily lives–that give us pause, that don’t take our breath away, but give us breath.  Just like those fleeting seconds at the top or bottom of your breath, between inhale and exhale, the pauses are always there–waiting for us to inhabit, explore, and experience.  She hopes to encourage herself and those around her to find a little more pause in each day for silence, yoga, creativity, love, play, pleasure, or whatever it is that restores you. You can find her at www.findingpause.com and/or like Finding Pause (www.facebook.com/FindingPause) on Facebook.

Trust but Verify: Caring for Our Knees in Yoga

Trust but Verify: Caring for Our Knees in Yoga

Happy fun pose friday!  This week’s pose post is a short one but a fun one for sure; Grasshopper pose.  I’ve heard is called Dragonfly pose as well.  I tried this pose for the first time last weekend at flow yoga center in Krista Block‘s class.  It was my first Jivamukti class– pretty awesome.  Krista is actually running a workshop at extendYoga on Sun, April 28th, 1:30pm-3:30pm.

Here’s some quick info about it:

Freedom of Flight: Arm Balances & Inversions
Curious about arm balances and inversions? In this empowering, playful workshop we will explore the joy of connecting to the earth through our hands and taking flight! Beginners will leave with a strong foundation of what is required to lift off the ground with confidence and experienced flyers will learn new, creative approaches and entries. Come with a sense of adventure and leave feeling light, connected, and youthful.  Check here  for more details about the workshop!
 x
OK- back to our friend the grasshopper…
grasshopper

photo courtesy of Flickr / Isidro Vila Verde

Check out Krista above in Grasshopper.  The most helpful hint Krista gave in class when attempting this pose was to really, really focus on literally stepping on your forearm with your bent foot (right foot in this photo).

It’s kind of a tricky pose to explain, so watch this video to check it out!

See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: grasshopper

fun pose friday: grasshopper

Hi loyal yogis, yoginis and friends!  The rumors are true… wait, what rumor?  You may have heard something about me and yoga teacher training.  YES!  I’m taking the plunge!  Starting this Friday, March 8, I will be diving head first into a 200 hour yoga teacher certification program at Flow Yoga Center.

If you follow extendYoga on facebook, twitter and instagram, you may have seen some posts of me at Flow.  In addition to our training schedule, we are also required to take 20 classes at Flow– so that was me getting a jump start!  I’m so excited for the training, but even more so to be taking it at Flow.  Many of our teachers got their training there, so I know it will be awesome (and that studio ROCKS)!

I spent a lot of time looking for trainings in the area.  Looking at different locations, dates, timing, cost… but before that, I spent more time asking myself if I wanted to sign up for a training at all.  I had always told myself, “I’m sure I’ll do it one day,” “When the time is right.”  And I made a lot of excuses, “Who’s going the run the studio?,”  ”I’m too busy right now.”  I realized there is never going to be the perfect time and the studio’s going to be just fine.  So I woke up one day and signed up!

It’s a big decision that so many of us yogis think about.  Here’s a helpful post on 5 Reasons to Do a Yoga Teacher Training.

I haven’t started the training yet, but I’ve already learned so much just getting to THIS point.  Some times you have to step outside of your comfort zone and just go for it!  I thought running my own business and opening the studio was a big enough leap, but I’ve learned that you have to keep taking those leaps/risks and each one leads you to the next.  I’m excited, nervous, anxious and happy all at the same time.  This should be a journey and experience of a lifetime and I am ready for it!  Will I teach after the program?  Who knows?!  Right now, I’m rolling with it and will wait to see what unfolds…

As for extend, don’t worry, you’re in good hands.  For 10 days, Roni, Lisa, Jacky, my friend Vanessa and yes, even my Mom will be holding down the fort while I’m gone.  Letting go of the studio for more then a few days, was a BIG deal for me (another pre-training learning), but once I did– I became totally comfortable with it (well maybe not totally).  Just don’t tell me about any disasters and I’ll be fine!

I can’t help but think:

Gotta go– I have some major hOMework to do before Friday!

See ya in T-10 days!

Arlet

yoga teacher training… me?

yoga teacher training… me?

Happy Wednesday!  Today’s blog post is all about the kiddies.  We all know that yoga is good for us and that we need it in our lives, but it’s just as amazing (and necessary) for kids!  Kids of all ages can and should practice yoga.  These days it’s hard to keep kids focused and entertained (especially when many of their eyeballs are glued to tvs, video games and computers).  Perhaps introducing something new like yoga might open their eyes to a whole new way of looking at things… with the computer off.  The reasons as to why yoga and kids mix are endless.  You want to know why?  Oh,well, here’s just a few:

Physical:

  • Yoga promotes physical strength, encouraging children to use all of their muscles in new ways. This is great for non-athletic children who typically shy away from physical activity in fear of failure or being picked last. It also helps athletic children to excel in other physical activities and sports.
  • Yoga promotes body awareness.  Young children learn about their spines, joints, and muscles. They learn how to manipulate their bodies and maximize their mobility.
  • The flexibility that results from a child’s yoga practice increases his or her range of motion and helps prevent injuries.
  • Yoga helps children to develop improved posture.  Children actually become excited to sit up straight and stand up tall. Make sure that they understand that this rule applies outside of yoga, too!
  • Yoga teaches children to listen to their bodies by modifying or changing poses that are too hard or cause pain.
Mental:
  • Yoga builds self-esteem and self-respect.  A child’s yoga practice is a rare opportunity to do something without ever having to worry about being wrong.
  • Yoga is non-competitive. It is one of very few (if any) non-competitive activities that a child can participate in. In day-to-day life, children compete on everything. Who’s the smartest? The tallest? The prettiest? The most popular?
  • Acceptance is a large part of yoga. Children learn that they are okay just the way they are. And when they don’t feel the need to constantly compare themselves to others, they become more accepting of everybody else’s differences.
  • Yoga helps children to focus and concentrate in school and get better grades.
  • A child’s yoga practice helps in developing creative thinking skills and encouraging original thought.
  • In yoga, children learn to take turns, to be nice, and to respect others.
  • When children practice yoga, they learn how to be still (and quiet!). This helps them to listen with attention and make good decisions.
Both:
  • Balance is a key element of yoga. The balancing poses promote mental and physical balance. Mental clarity and balance emerge from the effort of trying the poses. Even if a child never learns to stand on one foot, if they can learn to stay calm when they fall—and to get up and try again—they’ve learned balance.
  • The only way that anyone grows in life is through challenge.  When a child is facing an extreme challenge with a particular pose or activity, the child can learn to modify the pose in order to find the success within the challenge.
  • When children learn to breathe deeply and fully, and become more aware, they can bring peacefulness or energy to their bodies.
  • As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!
  • YOGA IS FUN!

If you are wondering where and how you can get your kid(s) into yoga, check out any of your local yoga studios and you should be able to find something!  The beauty of yoga is that kids can practice alone, with a friend, with a parent or a group.  So at the very least– you can do some yoga with your kids in the comfort of your home!  Many schools now have yoga programs as well (or would be open to starting one).  Contact your kid’s school or teachers to see if it’s a possibility.

This summer at extendYoga, we are holding KIDS extendYOGA CAMP: June 24-28, 2013.  It’s a jam packed week full of awesome, not-just-yoga, but crafts, games, music, community service projects and more!  This session is for 5-8 year olds, but please contact us if your kid falls outside of this age range and you are interested in camp.  Check here for more info and to sign up!

Here’s a sneak peak:

Come play with us at our adventurous kids yoga camp! Together we will explore yoga poses as we travel from the wild safari all the way down to the depths of the ocean! It’s a time to relax, have fun, meet new friends and play~ while stretching and learning exciting ways to move our bodies. We’ll also get crafty with various craft activities, play games, practice journaling and participate in seva (community/volunteer service) projects. We hope to see you soon! No prior yoga experience is required.

All the details: extendyoga.com/kids-camp

See you (and your kids) on the mat!

kids + yoga = a happy place :)

kids + yoga = a happy place :)

Today’s fun pose is clearly one of my favorites (see photos below)!!! I can’t get enough of Dancer’s Pose (AKA King Dancer Pose) or Natarajasana.

(not-ah-raj-AHS-anna)

nata = actor, dancer, mime

raja = king

I love doing this pose because I can always experiment with different variations of it and I really enjoy the challenge of kicking my foot up higher and higher each time.  Yes, I fall out of this pose often– but hey, that’s how I get better at it!

holiday dancer… burrrr

mountain dancer… focus

obx dancer… which way to the beach?

With the help of Yoga Journal (don’t forget to sign up for the 2013 Yoga Journal Conference in NYC!), here’s how you get into Dancer’s Pose:

  • Start standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).  Shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left heel toward your left buttock as you bend the knee. Press the head of your right thigh bone back, deep into the hip joint, and pull the knee cap up to keep the standing leg straight and strong.
  • Try to keep your torso relatively upright. Reach back with your left hand and grasp the outside of your left foot or ankle.  You can also flip you hand so that your palm is facing out and reach for the inside of your left foot or ankle (this is what usually do).
  • Begin to lift your left foot up, away from the floor, and back, away from your torso. Extend the left thigh behind you and parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward, in front of your torso, parallel to the floor.
  • Stay in the pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Then release the grasp on the foot, place the left foot back onto the floor, and repeat for the same length of time on the other side.

 

Some benefits of Dancer’s Pose:

  • Develops a sense of balance and focus
  • Opens the chest and lungs, creating more space for the breath
  • Strengthens spine and entire leg
  • Stretches thighs, shoulders

random dancer photoshoot fun at extendYoga!

Enjoy your Friday!  See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: dancer’s pose

fun pose friday: dancer’s pose

I’m going to Yoga Journal’s Conference in NYC this year!  Who’s coming with me?!  It’s April 4-8, 2013.  Check out some amazing 40+ master yogi instructors teaching 100+ classes including styles ranging from Ashtanga, Forrest, Kripalu to Iyengar, Jivamukti, Restorative, and more!  Some instructors include: Kathryn Budig, Sharon Gannon and David Life, Rod Stryker, Ana Forest, Sadie Nardini and more!  Register by March 1, 2013 and get $50 off the main conference.  See info below and see you in my old stompin’ grounds, New York City!

Save $50 off the Main Conference with early bird discount.  Register by March 1 – use code NYC14

Your Journal Conference New York City

Yoga Journal Conference in NYC ~ Early Bird Discount

Yoga Journal Conference in NYC ~ Early Bird Discount

This weeks fun pose Friday pose is Supported Shoulder Stand or Salamba Sarvangasana.

sah-LOM-bah sar-van-GAHS-anna)
salamba = with support (sa = with
alamba = support)
sarva = all
anga = limb.

With the help of Yoga Journal– here’s how to get into it:

Step by Step

  •  Lay down on your back with your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso.
  •  Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face. Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you). Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on your mat and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.
  • Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your butt. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly. Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer.
  •  Soften the throat and tongue. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin. Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular. Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the mat support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor.
  •  As a beginning practitioner stay in the pose for about 30 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds to your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes. Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in the pose. Again gradually and 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso again, and roll your back torso slowly and carefully onto the floor, keeping the back of your head on the floor.

Some benefits of Supported Shoulder Stand:

  • Gets the thyroid gland functioning more efficiently–the thyroid is the gland responsible for managing your metabolism.
  • Promotes good circulation to brain.
  • Provides a great stretch for the neck and upper back.
  • Is beneficial to people with constipation, indigestion and asthma.
  • Benefits women suffering form painful menstruation.
  • Increases blood flow to the brain–therefore helps headaches, congestion and sore throats
  • Stretches the spine, keeping it long and strong.
  • Tones the legs and abdominals.

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: supported shoulder stand

fun pose friday: supported shoulder stand

Cough… cough… ah-CHOO!… sniff… sniffle… sound familiar?  Seems like everyone around me is either getting sick or just getting over some kind of ailment or sickness!  Especially in the DMV area– the weather and mother nature has been so erratic (hot, cold, snow, rain, hot again), that our bodies don’t what’s going on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, the good news is, practicing yoga can help us fight off illness and recover more quickly.  So, yes, you can practice when you are sick.  Just know what you should and shouldn’t do and like any regular, healthy practice, know your body and only pracitce what feels right.  Bad news, if you are really sick (ie: contagious and extra germ-y), practice at home.  We don’t want other yogis dropping like flies during class!

Today’s post will help you boost your immunity as well give you some helpful poses that you can practice when you’re feeling under the weather.

Feel something nasty coming on?  Try:

  • Twists: The purpose of twists is to ring out the toxins from our major organs and systems.  This includes the cold and flu viruses.  By stimulating our organs, we give them the opportunity to properly restore balance naturally. Twisted chair, revolved hand to big toe, and reclining twists are great options.
  • Inversions: When we practice inversions, we stimulate the lymphatic system which flushes toxins from our bodies. The lymphatic system does not have its own pumps so movement is required to keep it operating.  Inversions (legs up the wall, supported bridge, shoulder stand, headstand) all carry the benefit of boosting the lymphatic system.
  • Restorative: Nothing restores and boosts our immune system as much as rest and relaxation. When we rest, we give our bodies and minds the chance to naturally recharge. When we are run down and tired, we are much more likely to get sick or stay sick. Make sure your practice has at least a few minutes of savasana each day.

COLD BUSTER POSES:

Standing Forward Bend

Supported Bridge Pose

Legs Up the Wall Pose

Supported Bound Angle Pose

Reclining Twist

Widespread Forward Bend

CONGESTED? YUCK! TRY:

Standing Forward Bend

Bridge

Camel pose

Plow pose

Bow pose

Headstand  (one of the most difficult poses, but incredibly energizing and detoxing to let stagnant blood rush from your toes, filter through your heart, and rush into your head).

TIP: Try Restorative or Yin Yoga when you’re sick. These practices require a lot less effort (cardio-wise) than Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga, and can give the body the time it needs to recover and relax.

TIP: Drink lots of water!  Eat healthily, get enough sleep, and incorporate these yoga postures into your day and you’ll be well prepared to take on anything that comes your way, the cold and flu included!

So grab a tissue and your mat… and get better!  See you on your mat (in spirit).

yoga for immunity~ Can I practice when I’m sick?

yoga for immunity~ Can I practice when I’m sick?

Happy Friday!  This week’s fun pose friday is: Lizard Pose or Utthan Pristhasana.

This pose is a great, deep, hip opener that feels oh so good.  It really stretches your inner and outer hips.

With the help of DOYOUYOGA.com, we’ll share the benefits of this pose and how to get into it!

  • Begin in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). On an exhale, step your right foot forward to the outside (pinky finger) edge of your right hand. Both arms should be to the left of the right leg.
  • Lower your left knee down onto the ground and release the top of your left foot. Take a look down to make sure that the right knee isn’t moving past the right ankle, and distribute the weight evenly across both hips.
  • Sink your weight down into your hips and check in with your body. If you feel comfortable, lower down onto both forearms. Keep the chin lifted and the chest open.
  • To move even deeper into the pose, curl your left toes under and press up into the ball of the left foot. Actively lift the inner left thigh and press the left heel back while reaching the chest forward.
  • Remain in your expression of the pose for 5-10 breaths. To come out, plant your palms down on the mat and step your right foot back to Downward-Facing Dog, resting there for several breaths before repeating on the other side.
Benefits of Lizard Pose:
-Great stretch for hip flexors, hamstring and quads
-Improve flexibility of your hips and strengthen leg muscles
-Strengthens glut muscles
-Calms the mind by relieving fatigue, tension and anxiety

Tips:
-Don’t worry if the forearms can’t come down onto the mat just yet. It’s fine to keep your arms straight or slightly bent, and just sink your hips toward the ground.
-Try placing a block underneath the elbows as you begin to find more openness in your hips.
-If the back knee feels uncomfortable, fold the mat over lengthwise or tuck a folded blanket underneath the knee.
-There’s a tendency to drop the head and collapse through the chest in Lizard pose. Keep the head and neck aligned with the spine by lifting the chin slightly and sending the gaze forward.

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: lizard pose

fun pose friday: lizard pose

Today’s blog post is from guest blogger, Bonnie Schmidt.  You can catch her teaching her kick butt flow class at extendYoga on Mondays and Wednesdays!

Bring Your Mind to the Mat: 3 Yogic Philosophies to Help You Keep the Peace

Can you remember the last time you felt stressed out?  How about anxious?  What about worried?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, guess what?  You’re completely normal!  With more demanding work schedules, never-ending errands and personal obligations it’s no wonder we often can’t remember the last time we felt at peace and totally relaxed.

For those of us that seek refuge on the yoga mat, we know how powerful a regular practice can be.  Our asana practice helps release a lot of tension in our bodies and creates stillness for us in savasana.  But what about those times we can’t break out into down dog?  This is when our mental yoga practice comes in handy!  I am a firm believer that combining a physical yoga practice with a mental one is our key to keeping the [mental] peace and here I’d like to share three yogic philosophies to tap into when you’re feeling frazzled:

Ahimsa- lose the ‘tude!  I bet if you took stock of all the negative thoughts that crossed your mind on a daily basis you’d be shocked.  We often have more negative thoughts than positive ones, and they start from the moment we wake up in the morning.  Instead of mentally beating ourselves up, let’s commit to kindness.  You’re smart!  You’re capable!  And you can do it!  Now you try.  Feelings of anxiety are usually accompanied by our own personal negativity about ourselves.  Turn it around!  Think of how much more of a peaceful place your mind will be when it’s focused on positive thoughts.  Bonus- positivity overload leaves little room for negativity to slip in!

Satya- tell the truth.  Our stress response is triggered just as much by an imagined danger as it is a real danger.  Are you freaking out about an upcoming flight?  A public speaking gig?  Think through your fear and be honest with yourself.  Is what you’re afraid of actually going to cause you bodily harm?  When we begin to see our fears for what they are – thoughts – they lose their power over us.  Because honestly, all that we really become anxious over is just a thought.  The thing we’re stressing about might have not even happened, yet we’re in a state of panic over it.  Being truthful about our anxieties will help us see that most times what we’re stressing about most is an imagined outcome of an upcoming event.

Svadhyaya- The practice of self-study is one of the most powerful philosophies in helping you alleviate anxiety!  Get to know your stressors, or the events and situations that cause you to become stressed and anxious. Begin to understand how your body reacts to stress. Study your thought patterns and behaviors. Know what tends to stress you out and what helps to chill you out.  Become an expert in ‘you!’

So the next time you step into the studio, bring your mind onto the mat too!  You’ll be blissed out in no time.

Bonnie Schmidt is a yoga instructor in the DC area and founder of Anxiety to Zen, a holistic and mindfulness based approach to alleviating stress and anxiety.  She offers classes and workshops that focus on utilizing yogic practices and philosophies to help people alleviate their stress and anxiety.  Having overcome a debilitating anxiety disorder herself many years ago using these exact practices, she knows how important it is to have a healthy outlet and a way to keep the peace!  For more info on Bonnie, her work or her classes and workshops, please visit Anxiety to Zen or connect with her on Facebook

Bring Your Mind to the Mat: 3 Yogic Philosophies to Help You Keep the Peace

Bring Your Mind to the Mat: 3 Yogic Philosophies to Help You Keep the Peace

Happy fun pose friday!  OK– here’s a funny (and scary?) looking one: lion pose or Simhasana.

sim-HAHS-anna
simha = lion

Step by Step via Yoga Journal:

  •  Kneel on the floor and cross the front of the right ankle over the back of the left. The feet will point out to the sides. Sit back so the perineum snuggles down onto the on the top (right) heel.
  • Press your palms firmly against your knees. Fan the palms and splay your fingers like the sharpened claws of a large feline.
  • Take a deep inhalation through the nose. Then simultaneously open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, curling its tip down toward the chin, open your eyes wide, contract the muscles on the front of your throat, and exhale the breath slowly out through your mouth with a distinct “ha” sound. The breath should pass over the back of the throat.
  • Some texts instruct us to set our gaze (drishti) at the spot between the eyebrows. This is called “mid-brow gazing” (bhru-madhya-drishti; bhru = the brow; madhya = middle).Other texts direct the eyes to the tip of the nose (nasa-agra-drishti; nasa = nose; agra = foremost point or part, i.e., tip).
  •  You can roar two or three times. Then change the cross of the legs and repeat for the same number of times.

Benefits of lion pose:

  • Relieves tension in the face and chest
  • Improves circulation of blood to the face
  • Keeps your eyes healthy by stimulating the nerves
  • Helps prevent sore throat, asthma, and other respiratory ailments
  • May help treat bad breath

Now RARRRRR like a lion my yogi friends!

fun pose friday: lion pose

fun pose friday: lion pose

Today’s blog post is from blogger (yogi, yoga teacher, mother and my friend), Daisy Whitemore, RYT.  You occasionally can see Daisy subbing at extendYoga. :)  This is her second post on her Relentless Affection / ARA series.

 

I’m back with more important, and yes, verbose, blather about caring for yourself in your practice, whether in a class, at home, on a plane, or at the park, wherever you find yourself doing yoga.  If you missed last week’s post, just page down a bit (or click on the link).  I was relentlessly ranting about how to place your feet as you move through your practice, and providing simple tips to do so with care and intention.  This week, we are going to do the same thing, but focusing on the hands, particularly when they are weight bearing, with a small mention of them off the mat.  I am hoping you are honing your skills, as Agents for Relentless Alignment, ARAs, for yourselves.

HANDS ON THE MAT
Where you place your hands when they are on your mat varies slightly according to the pose, and you will have to rely on your teacher for guidance as you move through your practice. A smart rule of thumb for one of our most common poses, Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog, aka, Down Dog), in case no one has ever told you, which, I am aware, is a pretty common experience for many yoga students: the middle of your hand should line up with your outer shoulder.  Check yourself.  Is this where you place your hands in dog?  If not, realign yourself.  Get religious about it. Seriously.  It will impact your shoulders, your spine, your neck, and likely more.  Place your hands with intention.

Educating yourself in how to place your hands is another great step in taking relentless care of yourself in your practice.  In Table position, or Down Dog, or upside down, say, in Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), your wrist creases should be parallel, as in line up, with the front of your mat, or the wall in front of you.  There are variations for those with particular needs in particular situations, but lining up your wrist creases is a good general rule.

In addition, think of your palms having four outer corners and root them evenly: mound of index finger, mound of pinky finger, inner wrist/thumb pad, and outer wrist pad.  A common tendency in weight-bearing poses is to put most of your weight into the outer and bottom edges of the hands, stressing and flattening them, and allowing the inner edge, the mound of the index finger, to literally lift off of your mat.  Don’t do this.  Never ever.  Share the burden.  Root down into the mound of your index finger.  Balance the weight across your hands, evenly.  Relentlessly.  It will save your wrists.  If you are someone who has struggled with carpal tunnel, or someone who spends a great deal of time at a computer, or playing an instrument, such as guitar or piano, or someone whose wrists hurt in yoga classes or doing push ups, be vigilant about this particular practice, and see if it helps.

In addition, while keeping the even rooting in the four corners of your palms, also spread your fingers wide like the rays of the sun, and evenly.  And claw the mat like a tiger. I love saying that.  Roar! This will likely lift the middle parts of your fingers up, which is okay, but really claw, so your fingernail beds get white, imagining that your fingernails are growing into your mat.  As you root and claw, root and claw, root and claw, all four corners of your palms, including the mounds of both index fingers, and all ten fingers, RELENTLESSLY, the middle of your palm should lift away from the mat.  A small tunnel may appear between the outer and inner wrist corners, probably big enough for a small straw–a secret passageway to the heart of your hand, and leading to a future with happy and healthy wrists. These are great actions that indicate you are really rooting and clawing.  Keep up the good work, and try this in all poses where your hands are on your mat, bearing weight.  (One small caveat, in the spreading of the fingers, don’t overspread the thumb, a common practice, but keep it evenly spread like the rest of your fingers.)

In poses where your hands are supporting part or all of your body weight, place them with relentless intention, integrity, and muscular action.  Don’t be casual about your foundation, never ever.  Build your poses from the base up.

HANDS OFF THE MAT
Finally, when your hands are in the air, keep them active, and spread your fingers.

See “NO!” picture below.  This is a sad hand,  even a slightly creepy hand.  Right?  It makes me go, eww, yuck. Don’t finish your poses with apathy.  As a teacher, it is so hard to see beautiful, carefully built and aligned poses, such as Utthita Trikonsasana (Triangle pose), with the top hand hanging limp and lifelessly in the air.  Shine yourself out, spread your fingers, and reach for the stars.  It lights up the entire pose, will literally lighten your load, and it may feel like you have a party going on somewhere deep inside.  I swear.  Try it.

NO! bad yoga hand :(

YES! active yoga hand :)

Next time:  ARA for the knees.

 

About our guest blogger: Daisy Whitemore is a mom, wife, writer, yogi, yoga teacher (substitute teaching at extendYoga sometimes), a recent blogger, and on a quest for life’s pauses, for the sweet spots–those moments, oftentimes slippery little cracks in the foundation of our daily lives–that give us pause, that don’t take our breath away, but give us breath.  Just like those fleeting seconds at the top or bottom of your breath, between inhale and exhale, the pauses are always there–waiting for us to inhabit, explore, and experience.  She hopes to encourage herself and those around her to find a little more pause in each day for silence, yoga, creativity, love, play, pleasure, or whatever it is that restores you. You can find her at www.findingpause.com and/or like Finding Pause (www.facebook.com/FindingPause) on Facebook.

Relentless Affection Advocate Strikes Again: Hands

Relentless Affection Advocate Strikes Again: Hands

Happy Friday!  So I like to post poses on fun pose Friday that I personally can do myself or am close to mastering or have at least tried!  This week, I am posting about a pose that I have never achieved or even come close to.  It is one of my goals to one day just try this one!  But I’m not going to lie, it scares me!  That’s the beauty of yoga, right?  So many poses to try and so many variations to tackle.

Drum roll please… this week’s pose is: the drop back… dun dun dunnnnnn (insert creepy/scary sound effect).

A drop back is basically the movement of falling backward in space between Standing/Tadasana/Mountain Pose and Wheel/Urdhva Dhanurasana/Upward Bow Pose.  Sounds easy enough– but it’s not.  This pose can take years to master and you must be warmed up before trying.  This is definitely an advanced pose and I’ve actually only seen a few people ever do it.  The second part of this pose would be starting in Wheel pose and making your way up to Standing in a smooth motion (that has many juicy steps in between).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best way to really imagine this pose is to watch someone do it.  Check out these videos, give it a try, and let me know how you do!

Quick demo:

Yoga Joural dropback demo - what it looks like

How to:

Kino Yoga Standing Up and Dropping Back - really great break down and steps in between to practice before actually dropping back

Astanga Dropbacks Podcast - how to drop back and also stand up from starting in wheel

Asana Kitchen dropback video - good example of what trying this pose looks like and ways to start to play with it (using props and help)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: drop backs

fun pose friday: drop backs

Howdy!  We hear everyone talking about why hot yoga is good for us– but do we really know why?  And since it’s so F$#%ING cold out in the DC-MD-VA area this week, today’s post is all about my favorite and yours… HOT YOGA!

If you’ve never tried yoga in a heated/hot environment, the first thing you should know is to not be scared or intimidated by it!  It’s a wonderful way to practice yoga and extremely good for you.  Of course, if you have any health issues or sensitivities to heat, always consult your doctor first with questions/concerns.  Just like any yoga class or yoga pose, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t push it.  Also don’t forget– child’s pose is always an option!

If you are like me, a hot yoga junkie, you might know that you love hot classes, but you should know why your body loves you for taking them!

Before I go into the benefits of hot yoga, I would also like to point out that heated and hot classes are DIFFERENT than Bikram Yoga.  I often get the question at extendYoga, “Oh, so your hot classes are Bikram?”  Me: “No, we don’t offer Bikram here.”  Student: “But isn’t that hot yoga?”  There are actually many styles of yoga that are often practiced in the heat: Vinyasa, Power Yoga, even classes that incorporate weight training and yoga– in the heat!  Heated/hot classes can range any where from 85-105 degrees; the heat can be dry heat or humid; just depends where you are taking class.

This guy is not who/what I am referring to when I talk about hot yoga :)

 

 

 

Yes, Bikram Yoga is hot, actually VERY hot (105 degrees), but Bikram classes are a series of THE SAME 26 yoga poses over the span of 90 minutes.  That means, every class is exactly the same, every time.  Get it?

Enough about Bikram and all his shenanigans… bring on the heat!

The TOO HOT TO HANDLE benefits you need to know about:

  • Detox and Sweat:  Moving your body in a heated room flushes away the toxins of all the glands and organs of your body. It brings nourishment to every cell of your body so that each one can perform it’s function and keep your body healthy.  When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.  Not to mention it always feels good to get your sweat on!
  • Focus and Mind:   Ever notice how before class, you might be frantic and frazzled (at least I usually am)?  After class, I feel clear headed, focused, and happy!  When you’re focused in class, going from one pose to the next, sweating your a@# off, you become more aware, focused and determined off the mat.
  • Strength: Your heart can work the same way practicing yoga in a heated room as it does when running a mile. Particularly in poses where you are balancing and contracting your muscles at the same time.  Yoga is no joke when it comes to building strength and muscles.  You will get stronger and also gain cardiovascular strength, even more so when you are working extra hard in a heated class.
  • Flexibility:  Think you are not flexible?  You’d be surprised what you can do in a hot room.  Suddenly, you might see yourself doing this with ease. The heat will allow you to safely reach new levels of personal flexibility which is also therapeutic for your body.  And, let’s be honest– being flexible is super fun and cool.
  • Weight Loss: Your digestive system, metabolism and your appetite habits will improve, which helps curb cravings. Warm muscles actually burn fat more easily as the heat flushes and detoxifies the body. Hot yoga can burn anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories a session. Of course, the harder you work in class the more calories you will burn.  The way you stretch and compress your internal organs and glands also stimulates your metabolism, so calories are burned quicker outside class as well.
  • Healing: With a regular practice, yoga can help to heal old injuries and also prevent them in the future. This is especially true for back pain.  Hot yoga is also known to reduce symptoms of conditions and illnesses including diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, arthritis and obesity.  I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’d rather go to more yoga classes and less doctor’s visits!
  • Your Skin: Watch your face and skin develop the ‘yoga glow’ as your eyes become brighter and your skin becomes more clear and soft. As you sweat, your pores are opened and cleaned allowing natural lanolin to release through the pores, softening and preserving your skin’s elasticity.  As your body detoxifies, you may eventually never need deodorant again– OK maybe that’s pushing it.

 

Hot yoga class tips:
  • Bring a towel and bring a friend.  It’s always nice to try new things with friends!
  • Let your teacher know if you have any injuries before class.  Once you get warmed up, you might feel like you can do anything!  But be careful, you don’t want to hurt yourself.
  • Remember to drink plenty of water BEFORE AND AFTER class.  Since your body will be detoxing and sweating, you will be less hydrated than normal and will need to replenish everything you left on your mat. :)

I hope those of you who are apprehensive give hot yoga a try and those who are in love, continue to SWEAT it out!

See you on the (sweaty) mat!

hot yoga is for cool people: benefits of hot yoga

hot yoga is for cool people: benefits of hot yoga

TGIF!  Today’s fun pose Friday blog post is Dolphin Pose.  With the help of MindBodyGreen we can help you get into this great shoulder opener and mild inversion.  Dolphin Pose is a great alternative for those of you that cannot comfortably get into Downward Facing Dog because of pain or discomfort in your wrists.

  • Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Bring your forearms to the ground, elbows should be right under your shoulders. Tuck your toes and lift your hips and stomach straight up.  You should be forming a “v” shape.
  • Continue to press the forearms actively into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them away from the spine and draw them toward the tailbone.
  • Your knees may be bent at first, try to straighten your knees.  But, if your upper back rounds, it’s better to keep your knees bent.
  • Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.  Then release your knees to the floor and exhale.
Benefits of Dolphin Pose:
  • Stretches your hamstrings and calves
  • Opens your shoulders and chest
  • Strengthens your arms and legs
  • Helps regulate digestion
  • Tones your core muscles
  • Relieves back ache, fatigue and stress
Once you master your Dolphin Pose, you can start to play with some forearm balances.  Start with kicking up against a wall. Try one leg, try both legs and work your way up!  You can also start with your both feet against the wall and literally walk up the wall while your forearms are strongly pressed against your mat.  Check out this video to see what this forearm balance looks like and also how to use a wall with your Dolphin Pose: Forearm Balance/Dolphin Pose.

 

See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: dolphin pose

fun pose friday: dolphin pose

Today’s blog post is from blogger (yogi, yoga teacher, mother and my friend), Daisy Whitemore, RYT.  You occasionally can see Daisy subbing at extendYoga. :)

 

As my friends, some students, and likely some strangers who read my blog are hearing, repeatedly, doggedly, I have an umbrella policy for the new year: relentless affection for myself and others. It is not easy work. The relentless part is particularly tricky, as in, not sometimes, not periodically, not when I feel like it, not every other day, or every week. Relentless, as in regular, constant, never absent. This is definitely a work in progress. I am also considering what “affection” means. I am not really talking about getting a pedicure or having a glass of wine when you are stressed, but rather the needs underneath those offerings.  For example, in the case of a pedicure, is it the need to feel touched, cared for, helped to feel pretty, wanting to sit in a vibrating chair for an hour where no one has access to you, or something else entirely?  What drives the desire for a pedicure? Reaching for a glass of wine, what are you wanting?  A relaxing space, peace of mind, to feel celebratory, to stare into the swirl of glass, or even to feel like you are the kind of person—for 15 minutes–who gets to sit at ease, quietly, with a glass of wine in your hand?  With three children, I recognize the latter desire, and often crave retreat to a more personally-indulgent space.  Knowing this, before or as you reach for the glass, can inform your life.

Mining for what lies underneath the offerings we do make for ourselves, when we make them, even periodically, is where I find the most productive and interesting fodder for moving into our lives with more care and intention.  It also helps us find additional, or alternate, ways to satisfy our needs.

But already I am getting sidetracked, as is my way, in order to give you background to where I am taking you: how to provide relentless affection and care for ourselves on our yoga mats.  One great way to do this is with relentless attention to alignment. Learning, for yourself, simple ways to take care of yourself on your yoga mat, no matter where you are, at home or in a class. Becoming your own Agent for Relentless Alignment (ARA), your own ARA. I am drawn to creating acronyms from years as a bureaucrat, and it seems slightly amusing for me to create one for yoga.  We all need more amusement, especially when discussing alignment, which can be–snore—super boring. Yet, alignment is critical to yoga.  And often, you won’t get enough alignment cues in your classes, because of many reasons, many of which merely relate to the amount of time a teacher has, and the varying levels of capability of the students in any given class.

My hope is to give agency to you, the student, in your practice, equipping you with some very simple tools to take care of yourself on your mat. Of course, in yoga, there are a lot of poses to consider, yet underlying most, if not all, of these poses are some fairly simple alignment principles that you can learn, and begin to practice, whether you have a teacher reminding you or not.  Or you can decide not to practice them, but at least you will have the choice, to do a pose with attention to your alignment, or not.  Being your own agent, your own ARA, you have a choice.

For this post, the focus is on your feet, the foundation for many yoga poses, the place where the weight in your body is often distributed as you move through your practice.  (Your hands also provide foundation in many poses, and I will focus on their alignment next week.)   I will also talk a bit about your feet when they are in the air, as well.

Building your practice from the foundation up, with relentless attention on where and how you place your feet can keep your body safe, can help you build your practice, and may even inform or alter the way you make your way through the world off of your mat.

Placing your Feet
Depending upon the type of yoga you practice, or your teacher, you will either place your feet together, or hip-width apart in Tadasana (mountain pose).  If hip-width, and you don’t know what this means, find your hip points, the bones at the front of your pelvis that may or may not stick out depending upon your gender and size, and imagine dropping a string from that place, as plumb line, down to the earth.  It should intersect your second toe.  That is hip-width apart.

In Tadasana, also make your feet parallel, meaning second or third toe creates the number 11.  This can be a little tricky with some feet, especially if you have been wearing high heels your whole life and scrunching up those little toes.  If your toes are too curly to create the number 11, try the outer edges of your feet, make them parallel.  This may make you feel as if your toes are turned in, slightly pigeon toed, which is likely a relative feeling, meaning you are used to your feet being slightly turned out.  If your practice brings your feet together and parallel, your big toes will likely be touching (again, if they haven’t grown curly or bent), and the back of your feet will be just slightly apart, allowing room so your ankles aren’t crashing into each other.

Parallel feet, also known as Tadasana feet, whether together or hip-width, inform your entire posture, how your knees track, if your thighs naturally thrust forward or move back, how your hips sit over your legs, the position of your pelvis, and of course, your beloved spine.  Be relentless about parallel feet in your yoga practice.  There are very few poses for ballerinas in yoga. Check the placement of your feet, regularly, as you move through your practice. For example, in lunges, look at your front foot. Is it parallel to the long side of your mat?  When you twist, in a lunge, does that foot stay parallel?  When you are in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), is your front foot parallel?  When you lift your back leg in ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) or ardha chandra chapasana (sugar cane pose), look at your standing leg foot.  This is a common place for our toes to turn inward too far, and your knee will likely stay facing forward.  Don’t allow this. It is not healthy for your knee in particular, and makes it harder to build the pose, to open in the upper part of your body, and to lift your arm to the sky.  Relentless parallel feet, unless instructed otherwise.

Working Your Feet
It is also important to think of your feet as having four corners: big toe mound, little toe mound, inside of heel, outside of heel. (This doesn’t include your toes.)  I often think of them as wheels, and my feet are little cars driving me around and off of my mat. Even though this somehow helps me envision the four corners idea, it may not be the greatest image for stability, at first glance, but if you think of the tires of a car balancing and counter balancing, as the car moves around, it may help, especially in more challenging balancing poses.

An informative project, when you have a little time to spare, is to stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart and feel where your weight naturally falls.  What is your tendency?  Does it fall to the insides of your feet, or to your heels, or maybe you live a lot of your life on the balls of your feet.  We all have our own ways, learned and bred, of carrying ourselves through the world.  See if you can feel what your body naturally does.  Then, see if you can shift this tendency and distribute the weight more evenly across the four corners of your foot bed. You can also lift and spread your toes, which activates the muscles in your lower legs, often underdeveloped, or just underused. I use this strategy sometimes to see if I can get better traction into all four corners of my feet (my little wheels).  The process, if you want to break it down, and really spend some time with your feet, is to start with your big toe mound, and press into it; keeping that, lift your inner arch and ground down through your inner heel.  Now, lift and spread your toes, even that possibly sleepy little baby toe, landing your baby toe mound.  Finally, root down in your outer heel. (For great details on this, and other actions for relentless alignment, make friends with Doug Keller)

You can try these same exercises in various poses, noting your tendencies and correcting them, either with this precise corner by corner construction, or merely just trying to balance the weight evenly across the four corners of your feet. For example, try it in a Prasarita Padatasana (Wide-Legged stance) or Utkatasana (Chair pose).  Don’t forget to first double check that your feet are still parallel.  Be relentless!  Or try it in a one-legged pose, such as vrksasana (tree) or garudasana (eagle), finding even balance across the four corners of the foot of the standing leg.  Try it in the asymmetrical standing poses, such as Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II).

When Your Feet Leave the Floor
Flex your feet whenever they are off the floor.  Spread your toes and flex them.  Press through the four corners as if they were on the earth.  As I mentioned, it activates the muscles in your legs, which protects them from tearing, as well as their attachment points, tendons and ligaments. In poses where only your heels are on the earth, such as Janu Sirsanana (Head to Knee pose) also flex them, keeping your toes pointing to the sky.  Remember, relentlessly parallel.  Your teacher may have particular tips, such as pressing through the mound of your big toe, in particular poses.  He or she may also suggest a “flointed” foot in some poses, which is in between pointed and flexed.  I prefer to call it “Barbie foot,” because that is funny, and yoga classes usually need a little sense of humor here and there.  This foot action is fine. Again, rarely will you be asked to be a ballerina.  No pointed toes unless a teacher that you trust, that doesn’t seem like a misplaced dancer, suggests it. The key is to keep your feet alive and active, with your muscles engaged, even when they aren’t supporting you.

When you lift your leg behind you in various poses, such as Chakravakasana, variation (opposite arm and leg lifted in table pose), Eka Pada Adho Mukha Savasana (One Legged Dog), Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Splits), Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III), in addition to flexing that lifted foot, try to bring the back foot parallel to the front foot, as if you were standing on it. Tadasana foot behind you. This one is less about the safety of the knee and spine, and more about the proper alignment of the pelvis in the pose.  A common tendency in these poses is to open our lifted leg up, bringing the lifted foot parallel to the floor. In doing this, we can lift our legs higher, which can feel fun and stroke our egos, because we are so impressed with how high we can get our foot. Look at me go!  I am awesome at this! And it is fine if you want to do this, but please know that it is not in the best alignment. Or do it, to get it out of your system, and then reign yourself back in.

To come into better alignment, I like to use my baby toe as navigator, and send it, like an imaginary plumb line into the earth, which will also turn and lift your inner thigh up toward the sky. You can use your inner thighs as navigator too, turning them in and lifting them upward, but somehow the baby toe as navigator works better for me.  And square your hips.  In one-legged dog, your teacher may say, bend the knee of your lifted leg and open it up. That is okay. Go for it (but root evenly through both of your hands, keep your shoulders square, paying particular attention to the shoulder opposite the lifted leg, don’t let it collapse, hollow that armpit.  See, I am relentless.)   If, however, you are in a flow and doing a simple Eka Pada Adho Mukha Savasana (one-legged dog), plumb line your baby toe into the earth, and square your hips.  There are ways to get that back leg higher, even with such alignment, but those are tips for another day.

Our feet are very important in yoga. Begin giving relentless attention to them in your practice. Place them, lift them, use them, rely on them, with care and intention. It will build each pose, from the foundation up, and will likely change your practice.  Sometimes dramatically. It will help you with balance. It will build new muscles in your feet, and your legs, in your body.  It can rebuild fallen arches and counter life’s hard knocks on these critical parts, it can help your lower back.  It offers a lot more affection for you than a pedicure.  It can do wonders for you all the way up to the crown of your head.  I pinky toe promise.

Practice these relentless tips for your feet in your practice, at home, at the yoga studio, in the gym, in the park, wherever you are doing your yoga, and whether you have a teacher guiding you or not.  Because, let’s be clear, even when you are taking a yoga class, you never know who your teacher is going to be. You may go to your awesome, regular class and be confronted with a substitute teacher.  Someone like me, who won’t stop nattering at you about your feet. You may walk into a new gym or a new class, and not know if the teacher will watch you as you move through your practice.  I am not trying to give yoga teachers a bad rap.  I am one. I am merely trying to help all yogis out there have some agency in their practice, learn some simple ways you can protect yourself and grow your practice with integrity and awareness, on your own.  Knowing more about your foundation is a simple way to give yourself smart and sweet care on your mat.

Become your own advocate, your own Agent for Relentless Alignment, your own ARA, on your mat.  This is providing yourself with relentless affection.  This is caring for yourself, with steadfast devotion. This is also safe, healthy yoga. As with all things yoga, it may inform your life off the mat as well.

Next week: ARA for your hands.

 

 

About our guest blogger: Daisy Whitemore is a mom, wife, writer, yogi, yoga teacher (substitute teaching at extendYoga sometimes), a recent blogger, and on a quest for life’s pauses, for the sweet spots–those moments, oftentimes slippery little cracks in the foundation of our daily lives–that give us pause, that don’t take our breath away, but give us breath.  Just like those fleeting seconds at the top or bottom of your breath, between inhale and exhale, the pauses are always there–waiting for us to inhabit, explore, and experience.  She hopes to encourage herself and those around her to find a little more pause in each day for silence, yoga, creativity, love, play, pleasure, or whatever it is that restores you.    You can find her at www.findingpause.com and/or like Finding Pause (www.facebook.com/FindingPause) on Facebook.

Practicing Yoga with Relentless Affection for Yourself

Practicing Yoga with Relentless Affection for Yourself

Happy 2013 yogis and yoginis!

This week’s blog post is paying homage to extendYoga‘s favorite posts, events and happening of 2012:

 

 

  •  April: Our first (of hopefully many) American Red Cross blood drives.

 

  •  All year: Giving back to the Montgomery County homeless community ~ sharing the gift of yoga.

 

  • September: Wine, Chocolate and Yoga?!  Yes, that happened, and it was awesome!
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  • And my fav poses of 2012:

mermaid pose and side crow

 

May your 2013 be a healthy, happy and fun one!

See you on your mat!

 

favs of 2012

favs of 2012

It’s not sleeping!  It’s SAVASANA!  This week’s fun pose Friday pose is Savasana.

(shah-VAHS-anna)

sava = corpse

We all need more savasana in our lives, and that’s the truth!

Do you run out of class before final relaxation?  Do you wonder what the point is?  Well, there is a reason why yoga classes include and end with savasana.  We are all on-the-go and our minds are always running a mile a minute (guilty, as charged)– but it’s important to give yourself a break!  Give yourself the gift of savasana.  Savasana is actually the completion of class and allows our bodies to get into relaxation- where your breathing slows down, blood pressure lowers and energy is drawn from the extremities of the body toward the vital organs.

Other benefits:
• decrease heart rate and the rate of respiration
• decrease muscle tension
• reduce general anxiety
• increase energy levels and general productivity
• improve concentration and memory
• increase focus
• decrease fatigue and increase deeper, sounder sleep

Here’s how to get into savasana:
  • Lie on your back with your feet spread slightly apart from each other. Put your arms at your side with your palms facing up, your fingers curling naturally. Your eyes should be closed as well.
  • Inhale deeply and hold it as you tense your entire body (this is an option). Clench your jaw, purse your lips, flex your leg and arm muscles, tighten your buttocks, curl your toes, tighten your abdomen, wrinkle your forehead, tense your ears, blow air into your cheeks, and clench your fists.
  • After tensing your body for a few seconds, exhale and relax all of your muscles at once. Let the tension from your body sink to the floor. Make sure every muscle in your body is softened. The general rule of thumb is to stay in the pose for 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice.
  • Slowly start to come back by wiggling your fingers and toes while still keeping your eyes closed.
  • Bring your knees to your chest, wrap your arms around them, and give them a squeeze.
  • Keeping your knees against your chest, roll onto your right side and slowly push yourself to an upright position using your right elbow.  The head should always come up last.
Don’t beat yourself up if this is a hard pose for you.  Believe it or not, it’s a hard one for many people!  Just like any other pose, practice, and you will master it!
See you on your mat… in savasana!

fun pose friday: savasana

fun pose friday: savasana

Today’s fun pose is: Side Crow Pose (also called Side Crane Pose).  Side Crow is one of my favorite arm balances and there are many variations.

Some benefits of this pose include:

  • improves balance
  • alleviates back pain
  • strengthens wrists, forearms and abdomen

With the help of Yoga Journal, here’s how you get into side crow:

Bend your knees to a half-squat, thighs parallel to the floor. Take your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh as you soften your belly.

Exhaling, twist your torso to the right, bringing your left lower ribs across toward your right thigh as far as you can.

Slide the back of your left arm down the outside of the right thigh, bringing your outer armpit as close to the outer thigh as you can. Keeping the arm in place, do a slight back bend and draw your right shoulder back to twist your torso more deeply.

Exhaling each time, repeat these alternating backbending and twisting movements until you reach your maximum rotation. Then slide your left upper arm several inches toward your right hip and press it firmly against your right thigh; maintaining this pressure, draw the upper arm back toward your right knee without allowing the skin to slide. This will rotate the flesh of the upper arm outward, locking it in place.

Now squat down fully, buttocks just above your heels. Place your left palm on the floor just outside your right foot. If the hand doesn’t easily reach the floor, tip your torso to the right until you can put your palm down flat. Maintaining contact between your left upper arm and your right outer thigh, lean even more to the right until you can place your right hand on the floor. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and positioned on an imaginary line drawn diagonally away from your right foot angled in the direction of the heel. Set your fingers parallel to each other. Most of your weight will still be on your feet.

Concentrate on maintaining the point of contact between your left arm and right thigh as you slowly lift your pelvis and shift it to the right, aiming to bring the middle of your abdomen above and between your hands. This is not the precise balance point, but if you get this close you’ll probably be able to find the perfect position by feel. As you get close, the weight on your hands will increase, while that on your feet will decrease until they lift easily.

Now put the finishing touches on the pose. Keep your feet together and press out through their inner edges. Draw your heels toward your buttocks. Exhaling, soften your belly to prepare for the twist, then pull your left hip strongly down and lift both feet up. Your left arm may remain slightly bent, but straighten it as much as you can without allowing your legs to slide down.

Straighten your right arm completely. As you lift your right shoulder, twist your spine further. Lift your chest and head, and look forward. Breathe evenly and naturally. Hold the pose for 20 seconds or longer, then lower your feet back to the floor with an exhale. Repeat it on the other side for the same length of time.

Beginners: Try lifting one foot up at a time to get a feel for how far forward you need to bring yourself. Do not let your head drop!  This will cause you to tip forward and lose balance. Put a blanket in front of you so you won’t be afraid of hitting your head if you fall.

Advanced: Try the following variations:

Straighten both legs, keeping the feet in line with the hips.

Straighten both legs, and move the left leg to the back.

 

Happy Friday!  See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: side crow pose

fun pose friday: side crow pose

Here’s a shout out to my favorite blog posts of this month! Woot Woot!

Yoga and Flexibility
Ahh… this is a favorite phone call that I get at extendYoga, often.  The “I’m not flexible, I can’t do yoga,” comment.  How many times have you heard that one!?  It’s not all about flexibility and ANYONE can try it… really!  Read more here: I’m Not Flexible Enough For Yoga.

Bikram vs. the (yoga) World
Has it all finally come to an end?!  For decades, copyrighting yoga sequences (ie: Bikram Choudhury’s 26 poses) has been a controversial and hot topic.  But now, copywriting sequences has been declared a sham!  U.S. District Judge, Otis Wright ruled that: “Even if the manner in which Choudhury arranged the sequence is unique, the sequence would not be copyrightable subject matter because individual yoga poses are not copyrightable subject matter.”  Such a controversial matter and so many opinions… what will happen next in the yoga world?  Read more about Bikram and copywriting sequences:  Yoga Sequences Can’t Be Copyrighted and Federal Court Rules Bikram Can Not Copyright Asana Sequence

Yoga While Aunt Flow is Visiting (CLOSE YOUR EYES MEN)
Another interesting blog post I came across is about Practicing Yoga During Your Period.  Ugh the time of the month… do you dread it?!  It all depends on how you feel I guess, but there is also some controversy behind to practice or not.  What do you think? (OK MEN- YOU CAN OPEN YOUR EYES NOW!)

Holiday Yoga Quickie
This is a really great post about How to Fit Yoga into your Holidays.  I’ll never forget when one of our teachers at the studio told me how she would excuse herself from holiday dinners at her in-laws home to go practice yoga in the bathroom!  Some times, you gotta do, what you gotta do.  This blog is includes a great 5 minute standing sequence that you can squeeze in during this hectic season.

You and Your Dristi
And last of all, maybe the most important of my favorite blog posts: Adjusting Your Dristi and Grounding Your Energy.  Especially now, during the holidays– when we are traveling, picking loved ones up from airports, battling the shopping lines at the mall… it’s important to get grounded and looking down can help us with that.  ”If our eyes are ‘all over the place,’ then our bodies are ‘all over the place’ and inevitably our energy is ‘all over the place.’ We end up scattered.”   Take a moment, pause and look down.

Enjoy!

my fav blog posts!

my fav blog posts!

This weeks fun pose is Dhanurasana (Bow Pose).

(don-your-AHS-anna) 
dhanu = bow

This pose is called bow pose because it looks like an archer’s bow, the torso and legs representing the body of the bow, and the arms the string.

Here are the many benefits of this pose:

  • Heat and strengthen the entire body; mostly legs, back and buttocks
  • Massage the abdominal organs
  • Improve digestion
  • Help with respiratory ailments
  • Help with fatigue
  • Help with anxiety
  • Stretch and open whole anterior spine
  • Improve posture

With help from Yoga Journal, here’s the step by step on how to get into bow pose:

1. Lie on your belly with your hands alongside your torso, palms up. (You can lie on a folded blanket to pad the front of your torso and legs.) Exhale and bend your knees, bringing your heels as close as you can to your buttocks. Reach back with your hands and take hold of your ankles (but not the tops of the feet). Make sure your knees aren’t wider than the width of your hips, and keep your knees hip width for the duration of the pose.

2. Inhale and strongly lift your heels away from your buttocks and, at the same time, lift your thighs away from the floor. This will have the effect of pulling your upper torso and head off the floor. Burrow the tailbone down toward the floor, and keep your back muscles soft. As you continue lifting the heels and thighs higher, press your shoulder blades firmly against your back to open your heart. Draw the tops of the shoulders away from your ears. Gaze forward.

3. With the belly pressed against the floor, breathing will be difficult. Breathe more into the back of your torso, and be sure not to stop breathing.

4. Stay in this pose anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. Release as you exhale, and lie quietly for a few breaths. You can repeat the pose once or twice more.

If you get comfortable with bow pose– you can rock and roll with it or even go from side to side.

Happy Friday and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: bow pose

fun pose friday: bow pose

Thick? Thin? Eco Friendly? Light? Heavy? Cost?  Today’s blog post is all about choosing the right yoga mat for you.

If you have already taken your first yoga class, the next step is getting your own mat. Or if you haven’t taken yoga yet,  your mat could be your first step!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think choosing a yoga mat is much like choosing yoga pants– everyone has preferences; capri, long, tight, loose, fold over at the top.  We all have personal preferences and different things are important/not important to us.  For example, I don’t care what brand my yoga clothes are, as long as they are flattering, comfortable and most importantly don’t give me that “muffin top” feeling/look.  So, like pants, we can be just as particular with our yoga mat selection.

Once you’ve determined the basics, then you can get creative with patterns, colors, etc.

Here’s a general guide (with some help) from GAIAMlife to get you started:

  • Length: Choose a mat that is appropriate for the size of your body.  If you are close to 6ft tall or taller, you’ll want a longer mat.  The standard yoga mat length is 68″ inches long.  Long mats are 72″ or 74″.
  • Thickness: The thickness of your yoga mat has a lot to do with how comfortable it is– too thin, and your knee may get banged up during crescent lunge.  Select a yoga mat thick enough to help you avoid discomfort from practicing on hard surfaces.  If you have injuries or joint issues, a thicker mat is helpful.  The trade off for a thick yoga mat is that it can make it harder for you to feel a strong connection to the floor, making you more wobbly in Tree Pose, for example.

Standard mat: 1/8 inch thick (light weight, you’ll find this mat any where)
Some where in the middle: 3/16 inch thick (comfortable for most) – this is my fav!
Extra think: 1/4 inch (for extra support and cushion, good for injuries)
Super thin: 1/16 (light weight, good for travel, fold up and pack)

  • Material: The material of your yoga mat is going to determine how it wears over time. Texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness and sponginess, are all based on what your mat is made of.  If you are allergic to latex, avoid yoga mats made of natural rubber or PVC.  The upside of mats made of PVC, is that they can endure your use and abuse for more than a decade.
  • Texture: The texture of your yoga mat dictates how much traction and slipping and sliding you do. It provides physical barriers to sliding (this is especially important if you are a hot yoga lover).  And because texture affects the way a yoga mat feels, it’s also a component of overall comfort. If you’re a yoga princess, any bumpy texture will likely aggravate you in savasana.  In my opinion, a textured mat is the way to go.  I can grip into poses with my hands and feet better with a textured mat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stickiness: Look for a mat with a decent amount of absorbency.  It can be dangerous for sweat to accumulate in pools on your mat.  If you find yourself slipping on your mat from sweaty palms or feet, bring a towel.  There are a ton of yoga towel options out there like yogitoes and NamaSTAY.
  • Eco-Friendliness: If eco-friendliness is important to you, avoid yoga mats made of PVC.  You can get a yoga mat that’s eco-friendly, has a thickness that meets your needs for comfort and portability, and has a texture and that prevents slippage.  I love eco-friendly mats, not only because I’m a Mother Earth lover, but I have found that they are usually the perfect combination of texture, stickiness and come in a good middle ground thickness.  I love this eco-friendly mat from kulae.  We sell them at extendYoga and people love them!

A few more things to remember when choosing a mat:

Try a few before committing!  At our studio, we have a couple different mats you can try in class and then purchase if you love them.

lululemon athletica Bethesda Row even gave us this mat for students to test drive before they grab one at their local lululemon store.  The lululemon mat is actually ridiculously awesome!  It’s non slip, durable, antimicrobial (helps prevent mold and mildew) and it miraculously soaks up sweat– seriously, sweat disappears on this thing!

And most importantly, don’t forget, you don’t need a fancy mat to be good at yoga.  :)  Use a mat that you are comfortable with and works best for you!  Some of my favorite mats have been from Marshalls and Target!  (Target actually has a Diane von Furstenberg mat out right now):
Remember: it’s what happens on the mat that matters most.  See you on YOUR MAT!

ps- one more thing: don’t forget to recycle your old mats!

how to pick your yoga mat

how to pick your yoga mat

Today’s Friday fun pose is definitely a crowd pleaser– Child’s Pose or Balasana.

bah-LAHS-anna
bala = child

Not only is child’s pose a great break and rest period during a kick ass flow class (or any yoga class), but there are also many benefits to this pose.  Including:

  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest
  • Recommended if you have dizziness or fatigue
  • Helps alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Flexes the body’s internal organs and keeps them supple
  • It lengthens and stretches the spine
  • Relieves neck and lower back pain when performed with the head and torso supported
  • It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
  • Normalizes circulation throughout the body
  • It stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee
  • Calms the mind and body
  • Encourages strong and steady breathing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how to get into one variation of child’s pose:

1. Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.

2. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.

3. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.

4. Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.

There are variations of child’s pose.  You can have your arms by your side or reaching out in front of you.  You can have your legs spread wide or  knees touching.  Whatever feels right for you!  Always know that child’s pose can be taken at any time.  I like to think of it as my happy place.  :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday!

fun pose friday: child’s pose

fun pose friday: child’s pose

Happy Friday!  Last week’s fun pose Friday, we talked about Cat Pose.  This pose is almost always paired with today’s pose post: Cow Pose or Bitilasana. The two poses, Cat-Cow are practiced together for a gentle, flowing vinyasa.

There are many benefits of cat/cow-ing (just created a new yoga term!), not to mention it feels really good on an achy back.

Benefits of Cat-Cow:

  • Improves posture and balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
  • Increases coordination
  • Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands
  • Creates emotional balance
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind

With the help of Yoga Journal, here’s how you get into cow pose:

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.

As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward.

Exhale, coming back to neutral “tabletop” position on your hands and knees. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Happy cat-cowing.  See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: cow pose

fun pose friday: cow pose

Greetings from Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands!  I am here for Antonia’s wedding and it is BEAUTIFUL!  There are no other words.  I’ll keep this blog about travel short and sweet…

Traveling and flying can be taxing on your body. Even a quick trip can wipe you out. The good news is you can practice yoga anywhere, including on a plane!

Here are some simple moves and poses that will help stretch you, improve circulation and get you out of those many times, uncomfortable airplane seats.

These exercises from CNN Travel will keep you calm and comfortable when traveling (good for long car trips too)!

For all 18 moves/poses, go here: 18 Exercises For Healthy Flying

Hip and Leg movement: Wake up your legs!

With your legs together in front of you, while you press your left foot firmly onto the floor, bend your right knee and carry your thigh close towards your chest, keeping a straight back.

Hold for five-10 breaths, before tilting your knee out to the side, opening your hips and lightly placing the opposite palm onto the sole of your foot.

Inhale deeply, pressing the knee towards the floor. Now exhale deeply but slowly, while raising your knee to your chest. Avoid forward bending.

Repeat 20 times on each leg and shake your legs to release.

Benefit: Creates mobility and takes pressure away from your knee joints.

Easy Sitting, Deep Exhales

Sit cross-legged, close your eyes and bring your hands into a prayer position. Take a few long deep inhales, and sigh deeply when you exhale, to release any unwanted tension. After repeating a few times, concentrate on breathing naturally.

Slowly begin to move your right hand (fingers face up) to the side as you exhale, following the movement with your eyes, and as you exhale, draw the hand to meet back into prayer at your chest.

Repeat the same on your left side and continue as slow as you can for five-10 rounds.

Benefits: Feelings of anxiety that are mental overloads can easily be dissolved by releasing an excess of built-up stress upon your exhalation breath, and keeping your mind anchored onto your breathing pattern. It relaxes you while you sit.

Shoulder Opening, Interlocked Hands

Stand at the exit or aisle with your feet aligned to your hips. Roll your shoulders back as you slowly interlock your hands behind your back. Keep your chin tucked and back straight.

With your feet pressing firmly into the floor, press your fists down and away from your body. Breathe deeply and hold for five-10 breaths before releasing.

Benefit: Creates openness into your shoulders, strengthens arms and keeps your upper body mobile.

 

Safe travels on your next trip and see you on the mat (or beach towel)!

airplane yoga

airplane yoga

This weeks fun pose is Cat Pose.  This pose is often paired with Cow Pose.  It’s a great pose for beginners (or anyone!) and releases the back and neck muscles.  It’s also a great pose to be in when you want to transition into child’s pose.

With the help of Yoga Journal, here’s how to get into it:

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position.  Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.

As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.

Inhale, coming back to neutral “tabletop” position on your hands and knees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your cat pose!

fun pose friday: cat pose

fun pose friday: cat pose

We all know that the holidays can be stressful with preparing for guests, traveling, shopping, etc.   But what about how much we EAT during Thanksgiving and the holidays?!   I hate the feeling of being too full and bloated (but yet I still eat so much during Thanksgiving)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some helpful hints from fitsugar of how you can use yoga poses to help you digest and not feel icky after your 3rd helping of pumpkin pie.

Hero Pose: Hero Pose is a very centering pose that relaxes the body while activating the nervous system.

Downward Facing Dog: Downward Dog brings the body into alignment and relaxes your gastrointestinal tract.
Standing Forward Bend Pose: Standing Forward Bend helps calm everything down. This pose stimulates some of the toxins in your organs that slow down digestion.
Open Triangle Pose: Triangle Pose gives love to your intestinal area and increases blood flow. It brings the benefits of a forward bend and a twist all at once.
Seated Heart Opener: This stretch creates space in your stuffed torso, which can ease abdominal cramps.
Knees to Chest: WARNING!!! If you’re feeling bloated or have gas pains, this is the stretch for you. Experiment with this pose in private.
Childs Pose: Forward bending creates heat in the abdominal area to keep the digestive juices flowing, and if any of your belly woes are due to stress, this pose will help alleviate those worries.

 

 

 

 

Also, here’s a video demonstrating some digestive yoga poses.

Have a happy, healthy and awesome Thanksgiving everyone!

turkey day yoga tips

turkey day yoga tips

Since extendYoga just had it’s 1 year anniversary a couple weeks ago (YAY!), I thought I would take this blog post to reflect on this past year… and what a crazy one it was!

It seems like yesterday that this was happening (July-October 2011):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I so tan in that photo?!  We got into our space in July 2011, and it took about 4 months to get all our construction, permits, inspections and approvals in line.  There were points during that process that I asked myself if I was sure and I had doubts, but went with my gut and kept trucking.  Then we miraculously opened on Nov 5, 2011!

 

 

extendYoga secret: We actually sent out our Grand Opening Celebration invitations before we were 100% sure of our opening date.  We had to meet our printing and mailing deadline and decided to go for it!  Good thing it all came together the week before, or we’d have to have the grand opening in the parking lot!

 

 

 

 

 

The first few weeks were rough… I mean, really rough.  Antonia and I would take turns working at the reception desk and call, email or text each other: “Did anyone come to class?”  Answer: No.  We knew this was normal and were warned in advance since our sister studio, Whitman Wellness Center, had just gone through this 11 months prior.  Our teachers were so optimistic and stood by us.  I remember being excited when 2-3 people came to class– what a great feeling!  Then, the next day… no one.  And so, the ups and downs, highs and lows of running your own business began.

Funny business owners 101 lesson: I remember I was all paranoid/nervous about writing the first company checks and learning how to use Quickbooks.  Well I wrote out all the checks to the teachers… and forgot to sign them.  Duh!  I had to have the teachers bring them back and have me sign them so that they could be deposited.  I never forgot that.  It was such an “Arlet thing to do.” haha

November…December…January…

lululemon athletica Bethesda Row asked us to be their studio of the season (holy sh#%!)!  A LivingSocial deal… long hours… countless meetings… blogs… and then slowly… they came.  We began to say to ourselves, “Hmm, I think something is happening.  Something good.”

Then this happened (Feb 2012):

At the end of Feb 2012, we had a faulty sprinkler head go off and flood the entire studio. Thank goodness everyone was OK, but we were devastated.  We had to close for 2.5 weeks and completely re-do floors, walls, bathrooms, paint… everything we had just done 4 months prior.  :(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest, we asked ourselves if this was a sign to call it quits and throw in the towel, but we pushed through and opened… again.  What got us through it was the out pour of support from our, at the time, small set of customers and the community in general.  It was also the first time we met Pam from Allay Yoga.  I remember checking my voicemail and getting a message from Pam opening her doors to us.  She had only opened 1 month before us herself and felt that she had to reach out and help in some way as soon as she heard the news.  I remember hanging up the phone and told Antonia: “I just got a message from the nicest woman alive.”  This is the sort of thing that kept us going.

After a couple weeks… students came back… supportive, concerned, excited and happy to be back in their [our] newly remodeled sanctuary.  Although it was hard and unexpected, it was an exciting time for us to see that in what little time we were open, we had made a difference, an impact on some lives that we didn’t necessarily know about.

Fast forward through winter and spring… Antonia got engaged!  A hot, hot summer.

Something we learned: so it turns out people don’t crave hot yoga in the summer.  You’d think we’d thought of that, but we learned the hard way (which is often the only way to learn).

The weather got cooler, leaves changed color…

And here we are, (here I am), 1 year later sitting in the extendYoga lounge, bloggin’ my heart out.  It’s hard not to be emotional as I look back at what seems like 10 years ago, not 1.  So much has happened and so much more has yet to come.

 

 

 

 

After it all, I can truly say I am exactly where I am supposed to be. xoxoxo

my year in review <3

my year in review <3

Today’s fun pose Friday is one of my favorite (but some times towards the end of class, my not so favorite): Plank Pose.  Plank is an awesome strength building pose that I think I have a love-hate relationship with.  Sometimes at the beginning of class my chaturunga‘s and planks are so strong.  Towards the end, my arms are screaming… not anther plank!  That’s when my knees drop to my mat.  Does that happen to anyone else?!

Also, does anyone remember the other form of planks: PLANKING?  This was the crazy trend circa summer 2011 where people would plank in crazy or unusual places, snap a photo and post it on various social media outlets.  You gotta check out the 65 Best Planking Pictures From Around the World.  Here’s an oldie but goodie of me and my friend Vanessa, planking our friend’s car (yes this really happened):

There are many benefits of the REAL Plank Pose:

  • Strengthens your arms, wrists and quads
  • Tones your abdominal muscles
  • Stretches and strengthens your spine
  • Provides a sense of balance and stability
If you have ever done a push up, then you’ve also done plank.  If you have ever taken a class at extendYoga, then you DEFINITELY practiced many, many planks!

 

Here’s how to get into plank pose:

1. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).  Then inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor and the shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.

2. Press your outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then spread them away from the spine. Also spread your collarbones away from the sternum.

3. Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.

You can also perform this pose by itself and stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.  I like plank pose because most athletes are familiar with the pose since it’s popular in the yoga and sports works.  So when newbies come into the studio, they at least know and are familiar with this very common yoga pose.

Planks a lot for reading!

fun pose friday: plank pose

fun pose friday: plank pose

Today’s blog post is a quick one – just a reminder to vote tomorrow AND if you are a DC/MD/VA local, there are over 45 local yoga studios participating in Election Day Yoga:

On a day of great divide, yoga unites – FREE YOGA CLASSES NOV 6, 2012

On Election Day, Nov 6th, the Washington DC area yoga community stands for unity by bringing people together in complimentary yoga classes all day.  We request that you come early with a mat to ensure a spot at class.
For information on other participating studios, visit www.electiondayyoga.com.
p

extendYoga is participating in Election Day Yoga and we have 4 awesome FREE classes on the schedule:
9:30am Hatha
6pm Heated Flow
7pm Flow
7:30pm Heated Flow
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Mats and towels are complimentary if you need/forget yours. Sign up for class here

 

Here are some helpful links to take a look at before hitting the polls:

Yoga Votes
Voter Registration and Polling Place Look up – Maryland
Where do I Vote? – Virginia
Polling Place Locator – DC
Ruck.us
Vote Smart

election day yoga

election day yoga

Today’s guest blogger is from Maryland yoga instructor Sarah Thomas Gulden, RYT 500.  

“Chakra” means wheel in Sanskrit and is a term used to describe a kind of energy (or “Prana”), which flows and moves like a turning wheel.  All energy is the same, ultimately, but energy can move at different frequencies and exhibit different qualities. All light is the same but, when refracted, one can perceive a rainbow of different colors. When does “red” become “orange?”  We don’t have to know the exact boundary for when the color of “red” becomes defined as “orange” to still understand them to be separate colors. Different musical notes are vibrations of sound on a continuum. Western music historically defines the notes on a scale of A, B, C, D, E, F and G and uses “Sharp” or “Flat” to describe half tones.  But, when we look at how music evolved globally in other cultures, we can see that musical notes are also on as much of a continuum as a rainbow of light.

Like all Prana, chakra wheel energy is meant to flow, change, and move continuously. Our perceived problems emerge when the natural movement becomes stagnant or blocked.  River water flows evenly and happily enough on its own until damming and blocking its flow changes its nature to create an imbalance of overfull on one side and drained and empty on the other.  The stagnant, unmoving water could breed a toxic overgrowth of disease and rot on its side while the under-watered area adjacent could shrivel away to an inhospitable desert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work of “balancing the chakras” is a life’s work, even “the” work of life itself. You can’t go into a yoga class or an energy session and have all your chakras adjusted to the correct settings one time and then set off fixed and cured forever.  Everything we experience in life will uniquely change our energy and change the balance of our chakras from one moment to the next. If preparing for your son’s graduation raised your anxiety and attachment fears in your lower chakras, maybe you soothed them by fixing up his old room and strengthening bonds with your spouse.  But this process could now open questions and third chakra concerns about your identity and purpose as a parent of grown children.

Think of chakra work as something that you will continuously tinker with, adjust the knobs and adapt as circumstances change.  The very act of concentrating too hard on changing the “one” problem chakra or energy point in your life can become a source of attachment and actually increase its blocking nature.  Tinker with your second chakra emotional issues for a little bit, and then balance with writing and communicating out some fifth chakra concerns.

Enjoy the movement, growth, and change, and use chakra work only when things seem blocked to get you moving again!

 

Try a mini 10-minute Chakra workshop at our 1 Year Anniversary Celebration on Nov 3, 2012 if you’d like to learn more!

Sarah Thomas Gulden is a yoga instructor, who specializes in vinyasa flow, prenatal and babies/kids/teens.  She’s also leading her annual Restoration in the Rainforest Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica – Feb 2013.  She teaches at extendYoga on Monday and Tuesday mornings.  Check out her class schedules and learn more about Sarah here: www.sarahthomasgulden.com.

 

what’s a chakra?

what’s a chakra?

Cow face pose or Gomukhasana (go-moo-KAHS-anna) is a challenging seated pose.

go = cow (Sanskrit go is a distant relative of the English word “cow”)

mukha = face

Cow face pose is a deep hip opener and is often difficult for people with tight shoulders.  Although it is a seated, deep stretch pose, it is noted as being a restorative one as well for its ability to let you go inward in order to get a full muscle release.  Many people find that opposite legs and arms may be more/less flexible.  Using a strap is very helpful when practicing this pose.

We are linking up with Yoga Journal for the step by step to get into this pose.

Step 1:
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), then bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left foot under the right knee to the outside of the right hip. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. Try to bring the heels equidistant from the hips: with the right leg on top you’ll have to tug the right heel in closer to the left hip.

Step 2:
Inhale and stretch your right arm straight out to the right, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly; the thumb will turn first toward the floor, then point toward the wall behind you, with the palm facing the ceiling. This movement will roll your right shoulder slightly up and forward, and round your upper back. Sweep the arm behind your torso and tuck the forearm in the hollow of your lower back, parallel to your waist, with the right elbow against the right side of your torso. Roll the shoulder back and down, then work the forearm up your back until it is parallel to your spine. The back of your hand will be between your shoulder blades.

Step 3:
Now inhale and stretch your left arm straight forward, pointing toward the opposite wall, parallel to the floor. Turn the palm up and, with another inhalation, stretch the arm straight up toward the ceiling, palm turned back. Lift actively through your left arm, then with an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand. If possible, hook the right and left fingers.

Step 4:
Lift the left elbow toward the ceiling and, from the back armpit, descend the right elbow toward the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the left arm right beside the left side of your head.

Step 5:
Stay in this pose about 1 minute. Release the arms, uncross the legs, and repeat with the arms and legs reversed for the same length of time. Remember that whichever leg is on top, the same-side arm is lower.

This is what the back of cow face pose should look like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

fun pose friday: cow face pose

fun pose friday: cow face pose

We have had many students walk in and out of the studio over the past (almost) year.  Some long-time yogis, some gyms lovers, some runners, some skeptics, but recently, CrossFitters have found a special place on their mat here at extendYoga and also at their gym.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with CrossFit– it ROCKS!  A quick explanation: it’s a strength and conditioning program including constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement, with the goal of improving fitness.  Workouts are intense and demand all-out physical exertion. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, weightlifting, use of barbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, boxes for box jumps, and many bodyweight exercises.  These elements are mixed in numerous combinations to form “Workouts of the Day” or “WODs.”  Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress.

Although there are thousands of affiliated CrossFit gyms all over the US– they all have one thing in common– TIGHT MUSCLES!  Yoga is an excellent compliment to many workouts and exercises, but especially CrossFit and for many reasons (from Empire Athletics/CrossFit541):

Variety
While yoga may not incorporate the high intensity element of the CrossFit workouts (usually), it does use our bodies in different ways than we may use it on other days in the gym. Today you may be working on the quick movement in the snatch and tomorrow, in your yoga practice, you could be working on shoulder stability in a pose like side plank followed by some intense poses to improve the flexibility in your shoulders that will allow you to properly perform the snatch without injury.

Balance
Balance not only means the balance training you receive working in yoga balancing poses.  Balance also applies to balancing our workout days with our active rest days.  Balance is finding a meeting point between stretching and strengthening our muscles. Balance is beginning to balance our mind/thoughts. Without this balance we are more prone to injuring ourselves both in body and mind.

Awareness
At CrossFit, you must always be aware of, and pay close attention to your form.  However, many times because of the quickness of the exercises and the pace of our workouts, we may not be paying attention to how our body feels as we are in the process of moving it.  In your yoga practice we could focus on specific movements, just slower and with awareness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some more benefits of adding yoga into your X-Fit routine:

  • Increase Flexibility
  • Respiration & Breath Awareness
  • Agility
  • Build Core Strength
  • Injury Prevention
  • Alignment
  • Calm the Mind
  • Reduce Stress
  • STRETCH TIGHT AND OVER WORKED MUSCLES!

***Don’t forget about HOT YOGA.  Yoga in a heated environment will help you stretch your muscles even deeper, not to mention get your SWEAT ON!

So the next time you are completing a sick burpee routine, don’t forget to work in some downward dogs to balance you out!

The photo above is of Krystal from extendYoga teaching a class at CrossFit DoneRight – Savasana or “corpse pose” was a favorite!

Can’t make it to a studio, here are some great yoga poses for CrossFitters from lululemon that you can do at home or at the gym!

See you at the gym (then on your mat)!

Arlet

CrossFit + yoga = <3

CrossFit + yoga = <3

It’s been a couple weeks since our last blog post.  We are back from a mini blog hiatus with some great blogs coming your way!  Hopefully I can stay on top of blogging.  Although I’ve blogged before– this is a new commitment for me that I am looking forward to taking on!

Everyone’s heard of yoga at work, office yoga, chair yoga, etc.  But have all you desk job peeps out there ever really tried it before??  Even though I work at a yoga studio (shout out extendYoga!), I have recently found myself at the reception desk for hours… no bueno!

It’s ALWAYS a good idea to get away from behind that desk, un-glue your eyes from your computer and give yourself at least 5 minutes of time to check in with yourself– mentally and physically.  It’s NEVER a good idea to be in the same position for hours on end, especially sitting at a desk.  No matter what your job is, working in an office or at a desk can be stressful and not to mention awful on your body.

Some simple exercises you can do while seated at your desk are: chair twists, head and neck rolls, simple standing stretches and walking meditation/breathing exercises.  More details on specific exercises can be found here:

MindBodyGreen posted How to Take a Yoga Break at Work.  Eric Thompson from office space for rent also wrote a great post about 7 Yoga Techniques You Can Do at the Office.

If you are inspired and committed to de-stress at work, try this 15 days of yoga at your desk challenge from Yoga Journal.  You can throw on your headphones and watch a short video each day with new exercises that you can do at work for 15 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SO- you might think your co-workers are going to think you are losing it when they see you doing backbends at your desk, but once they see that you are more focused, less stressed and more productive, I bet they will join you!  Also, keep in mind that many companies are open to offering yoga and other wellness programs to their staff.  Make sure to ask if you have any options– we send yoga teachers to offices all the time for lunch time yoga sessions, morning or afternoon yoga and more.

If you work in the DC metro area and are interested in corporate  yoga and/or wellness programs – give us a call at extendYoga: 12106 Wilkins Ave, Rockville, MD 20852, 301-881-3330.

Hope to see you on your mat (and not at your desk)!

 

yoga at your office

yoga at your office

Here are some of our favorite recent articles!

Spinach and Yoga posted 10 Belly Friendly Snacks for Sensitive and Bloated Tummies.

Yoganonymous blogged: Yoga Research: Five proven Facts that Make Yoga Awesome.  Sounds like a great article to send your friends that aren’t convinced about the amazing benefits of yoga!

Want to know How to Find the Best Time to Detox?  Check out the MindBodyGreen article and start to prep!

YogaDork posted a comical montage of What Your Yoga Teacher Really Does During Savasana.

MindBodyGreen also talks about Why You Should Drink Warm Water and Lemon.  Seems like a great (and quick) way to benefit your body everyday!

 

Enjoy and See you on the Mat!

-extendYoga

what we’re loving- the latest yoga blog posts

what we’re loving- the latest yoga blog posts

Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle Pose is a great side body stretch from your feet all the way up to your finger tips.

Here’s how the sanksrit breaks down:

Utthita = extended

parsva = side, flank

kona = angle

There are so many different variations, and you can modify this pose to make it work for whatever level you are at.  It really warms up the spine and gets you ready for your practice (or even just gets you ready for your day!) For you advanced yogis, you know this is the pose that you can work on your full or half bind (bound side angle pose) , or even transition to bird of paradise.  Its a great pose with so many benefits and so much opportunity for advancing your practice!

Here are the major benefits:

  • relieves back pain
  • lengthens the spine
  • stretches the abdomen and hips
  • strengthens the knees and tones legs
  • stimulates abdominal organs
  • increases stamina

We’re linking up with Do You Yoga for the step by step and some great tips!  You can check it out by clicking here.

If you wanna check out this pose in person, or just to practice,  you can stop by extendYoga for one of our many Flow or Heated Flow classes!

Enjoy and have a great day!

fun pose friday: extended side angle pose

fun pose friday: extended side angle pose

Today we’re sending you the best from all our yoga blogs this week…Enjoy!

Feel like you’re always running from somewhere to get to your yoga class?  We love this post about the 3 Must Haves for Yogis On-The-Go.

I haven’t made the switch from iced cofee to hot coffee yet (my official “summer’s over” moment), but it certainly feels like Fall is in the air!  Check out this post on How to Use Yoga to Transition Into Fall.

DoYouYoga posted 3 Yoga Poses to Improve Posture.  Check them out here, and stand up a little more straight!

Namastilo posted Bargain Hunter: Yoga Towels.  Read this post if you’re in need of a new yoga towel, these range from $11-$32!

Yoganonymous posted a yogi reading list entitled “What Your Yoga Teacher Read this Summer”…check it out for some fall reading!

YogaDork used this infographic to show Your Brain On Meditation.  Check it out to see the difference between Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta and Gamma waves!

And, not just because we have to, but because its going to be AWESOME –   Here’s a link to our post about our Wine and Chocolate tasting…and you can sign up for the event here  (only $20!)

Enjoy your reading, and we’ll see you on the mat!

what we’re loving: latest links from the yogi blogosphere

what we’re loving: latest links from the yogi blogosphere

Relax & Unwind: Limited spaces still available

for extendYoga’s

First Annual Wine & Chocolate Tasting on September 29th, 2012

Join us for a “Night In!”

If yoga isn’t your thing, but you’d love to come to a wine tasting you’re in luck! By popular demand, the wine tasting portion of the workshop is now available as a separate event for a maximum of 60 people.  We’re half FULL so reserve today.  Come how you are!  Feel free to come in your sweats, yoga clothes, jeans or whatever you plan to wear if you go out afterwards.  Either way, we don’t want you to miss out on this fun, tasting, interactive wine tasting.

 

For only $20/person, enjoy a wine and chocolate pairing from Chateau O’Brien, a high-quality Virginia winery and food samples from Trifecta Wellness. Taste, sip, mingle and enjoy!  Want to find out more about the featured wines?  Read below:

  • 2010 Northpoint White – a refreshing, elegant wine with underlying minerality and subtle accents of tropical fruit. Produced exclusively in stainless steel to preserve its naturally bright and crisp character                 
  • 2009 North Point Rose – a refreshing, dry wine with hints of strawberry, citrus, and peach-laced fruit.
  • 2008 Padlock Red – blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.  Rich in dark fruit with lovely tannins and a silky finish. 
  • 2009 Petit Verdot Cellar Collection – a Petit Verdot uniquely at home in Northern Virginia.  Full bodied & rich, tannic, expressing opulent dark fruit with subtle spice accent, and a clean finish. 
  • 2010 Virginia Apple Wine – a dessert wine that is full-bodied, elegant wine that captures the essence of apples at their peak of fall ripeness. The wine is crisp with delineated flavors and possesses lush aromas of vibrant ripe apples. 

 

Please note: All wines featured will be available for purchase at the event!

Don’t forget about the chocolate pairing and food samples to enjoy as well .

Saturday, September 29, 2012

7:30 pm – Wine & Chocolate Tasting

Click here to register today  – limited space is available

Enjoy a “night in” at extendYoga for only $20/person

Questions?  Contact us at info@extendYoga.com or 301.881.3330

extendyoga is located at 12106 Wilkins Ave in Rockville, Maryland

chocolate and wine tasting

chocolate and wine tasting

Vasistha literally means “most excellend, best, richest”, and vasisthasana is translated to what we know as side plank.

Benefits include:

  • strengthens the arms, belly and legs
  • improves sense of balance
  • stretches and strenthens the wrists

We’re linking up with YogaJournal for the step-by-step

-Start in plank pose.  Shift onto the outside edge of your left foot, and stack your right foot on top of the left.  Swing your right hand onto your right hip, turn your torso to the right as you do, and support the weight of your body on the outer left foot and left hand.

-Make sure that the supporting hand isn’t directly below its shoulder; position the hand slightly in front of its shoulder, so the supporting arm is angled a bit relative to the floor. Straighten the arm by firming the triceps muscle, and press the base of the index finger firmly against the floor.

-Strengthen the thighs, and press through the heels toward the floor. Align your entire body into one long diagonal line from the heels to the crown, your spine should be straight.

-If you’d like you can stretch the top arm toward the ceiling, parallel to the line of the shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position, or turn it to gaze up at the top hand.

-Hold for 5-15 seconds and then come back into plank pose, and do the same sequence on the other side.

To read about one yogi’s journey with slide plank you can click here, Yoga with Nadine takes you through a few different variations that will help modify your body into the side plank that works best for you!

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

 

fun pose friday: vasisthasana

fun pose friday: vasisthasana

What we’re loving today:  Our awesome instructors at extendYoga.  We have a studio party this weekend (photos to follow), and we’re so excited to have (almost) all our awesome teachers in one room at the same time.   We’re highlighting some of our instructors events and workshops below – enjoy!

Pratyahara Retreat (with Sarah Thomas Gulden)

September 28-30, 2012

Yoga * Juice Fast * Silent Retreat

at Am Kolel Sanctuary & Renewal Center

Beallsville, MD (1/2 hour drive north of Bethesda)

Come experience the serenity of “pratyahara” (sense withdrawel) through three days of peaceful “Silent Retreat” –no talking– so as to find a quiet internal space as well to purify physically through a guided organic juice fast.  The retreat offers two yoga classes each day: waking up to morning vinyasa, and later in the day, a more restorative yin class.  There are also twice daily meditations, pranayama (breath work), and opportunities for workshops, Yoga Nidra, walking meditations, hikes, and chanting.

For more information on the retreat you can visit Sarah Thomas Gulden’s site here, and click on the “retreats” page.

Seasonal Eating – 14 Day Fall Food-based Cleanse with Trifecta Wellness

Fall foiliage, whole food cleansing & eating what the body craves 

Even though Labor Day is behind us and the weather is still warm, fall is a time to reflect on the energy of the last two seasons while taking stock in what lies ahead. Soon, the leaves will turn beautiful hues of red and orange while the chill in the air says, “winter is around the corner.”  This fall, recharge your mental and spiritual engines with a 14-day Whole Food Cleanse commencing with the Fall Equinox on September 22nd.  What better way to welcome in the season?  Join us to get your mind and body prepped for the cooler months.  What better way to re-charge the immune system so you’re ready to tackle the flu season with plenty of inner strength?!

14-Day Whole Food Cleanse details:

  • Begins Saturday, September 22, 2012 complete with a Prep Week and Shopping List to get you prepared for success.
  • Four, weekly conference calls at 10-11 am, EST
  • Join fellow attendees via conference call and email to support each other and share your health goals
  • Receive a program packet full of over 25 recipes, cleansing techniques, support materials, health education & more

Why Cleanse? Consider doing a cleanse this Fall if you:

  • Want to lose weight
  • Are struggling with anxiety or depression
  • Have a hard time committing to a healthy diet
  • Would like the support of fellow cleansers
  • Want more energy & better sleep
  • Have mood swings and cravings
  • Want to release old beliefs, emotions and behaviors

  Check out the FAQ document for more information.  Register now, limited space is available! 

Goddess to the Core with Sierra Bender

Join Sierra in Core Power technique exercise, Yoga, drumming, boardbreaking, and Goddess to the Core Inside Out Workout.

Sunday, September 30th, 9am – 5pm

$145 for the day, and all registrants get a copy of Sierra’s book.

extendYoga: 12106 Wilkins Ave, Rockville MD 20852

To reserve your spot you can click here

what we’re loving: events coming up!

what we’re loving: events coming up!

 

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana translates literally to One Foot Extended Upwards Pose, otherwise known as Standing Split.

Be sure that your body is very warm before you come into this pose.  Splits preps and Crescent lunges are great preparations for Standing Split.  You can move into this pose in a number of different ways, so experiment and see what works best for you.

 This is a great pose to practice against a wall – you use the wall and work on pressing your raised foot into the wall.  The wall helps to support the raised leg and allows you to deepen your fold (photo below).

Benefits:

  • Calms the brain
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves and thighs
  • Improves balance
  • Stretches the back of the leg, and the groin
  • Strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles
Here’s how to get into the pose:

1) Begin in Standing Forward Bend.

2) Bring your weight to the right leg and lift your left leg up behind you.  Make sure your hands stay firmly planted to the floor. Also be sure you’re keeping your hips squared.

3) Deepen the stretch by walking your hands closer to your right foot.  If you’re feeling balanced start to lift either one or both hands and hold onto your right ankle.

4) Try to maintain an equal strength between both legs. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

5) Lower your left leg as your deeply exhale, then repeat on the other side!

Here’s another step-by-step guide from Michael Taylor, who is a yoga guide at one of our favorite studios in NYC, Strala Yoga.

Enjoy and See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: standing split

fun pose friday: standing split

Tuesday, September 5, 2012

That’s right.  Yoga and Local, FRESH food.

On Sat, September 15th, extendYoga‘s pairing up with the Central Farm Markets, Rockville Pike location and offering two COMPLIMENTARY yoga classes.

 The sessions will take place on the grassy area in the middle of the market.  The first class is from 10:30am – 11:15am (adult class), and the second class is family friendly and offered from 11:30-12:15pm.  We’ll have around 10-15 mats available, but you’re encouraged to bring your own mat if you can.

For more information, please check out this link: Central Farm Markets Free Yoga Classes – Rockville

The Farmers Market is located at 11806 Rockville Pike, between Old Georgetown and Montrose Roads in Rockville (Mid Pike Plaza: La Madeline, Toys R Us, Chipotle Shopping Center).

The market is open from 9am-2pm on Saturdays, so feel free to come early to get your shopping done before class!

Excited to check out Central Farm Market but overwhelmed at the thought of so many great choices?  lululemon posted 9 tips for shopping a farmers’ market.

We hope you’re loving this as much as we are!

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

FREE YOGA at the Central Farm Markets in Rockville

FREE YOGA at the Central Farm Markets in Rockville

Monday, September 4, 2012

In honor of Labor Day the studio is closed today.  We hope you take this day to spend some time with loved ones or with yourself.  Either way, enjoy your day and the last unofficial day of summer!

ps – our new fall schedule is up – you can check it out here.

See you on the mat!

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

Halasana comes from hala, meaning plow.  The pose is named after the shape of an Indian plow (or plough), which is used to cultivate the land.

FitSugar.com says that “If you work all day at a desk, you’re not doing your neck, shoulders, or lower back any favors.”   This pose does look strange at first – but I can assure you, once you try Plow it may become part of your daily routine (it’s normally a pose taken at the end of practice, since it requires your spine to be warmed up).

There are multiple benefits, you can check them out below:

  • calms the brain
  • stretches the shoulders and spine
  • reduces stress and fatigue
  • stimulates the abdominal organs and the thyroid gland
  • helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • therapeutic for backache, headache, infertility, insomnia and sinusitis
Here’s how to get yourself into Halasana:

- From shoulder stand (or supported shoulder stand), bend from the hip joints to slowly lower your toes to the floor above and beyond your head. As much as possible, keep your legs fully extended.

- With your toes on the floor, lift your top thighs and tailbone toward the ceiling and draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis.  Continue to draw your chin away from your sternum and soften your throat.  Be sure to keep your face looking straight up here, don’t look side to side as it may cause extra strain on your neck.

- You can continue to press your hands against the back torso, pushing the back up toward the ceiling as you press the backs of the upper arms down, onto your support. Or you can release your hands away from your back and stretch the arms out behind you on the floor, opposite the legs. Clasp the hands and press the arms actively down on the support as you lift the thighs toward the ceiling.

- Plow is usually performed after Shoulder stand for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. To exit the pose bring your hands onto your back again, and simply roll out of the pose on an exhalation.

 

Enjoy Halasana and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: plow pose

fun pose friday: plow pose

My personal favorite brand of nail polish has come up with a “fitness collection” of nail polishes.  The Essie colors are always fresh and beautiful, but the name is what seals the deal.  One of my friends only chooses her colors by the names,  she’s always proud to know the exact color she’s wearing.

I bet your wondering what what “yoga themed” nail polish looks like, right?  Check out the colors below!

Here are the names and the color descriptions:

  • yogaga: a peachful sandy beige
  • boxer shorts: a cool purple color
  • gym dandy: a neutral brown hue
  • marathin: a rosy pink hue
  • pilates hottie: a lovely lilac hue
  • spinning again: a matte red shade

These shades promise to have you relaxed and ready for your next trip to your yoga/fitness studio.

Enjoy!

what we’re loving: yogaga

what we’re loving: yogaga

Mayurasana or Peacock Pose is one of the best detoxifying poses.   It gets its name not only because of the shape of the pose, but because of its strong, tonifying effect on the digestive system.  If you do this pose, you’re supposed to “have a stomach like a peacock.”

For many of you (and me included), this phrase probably left you a little confused…stomach like a peacock?!  After looking into it, I found out that peacocks actually eat a wide rande of foods everything from poisonous snakes, to scorpions, and all kinds of insects.  They’re able to digest all these animals without harm to their stomachs.  So, I wouldn’t practice peacock pose and start testing the limits of what YOUR body can digest, just take my word for it, and know that it’s stengthening your digestive system.

Besides its digestive benefits, here’s how Peacock Pose can help you:

  • invigorates the entire body
  • increases blood circulation throughout the abdominal organs
  • relieves many digestive ailments
  • massages and strengthens the stomach and spleen
  • revitalizes the pancreas
  • tones and supports the reproductive organs and sexual funtion
  • decreases acidity in the blood (especially when performed in the morning)
  • strengthens wrists, elbows and shoulders
  • promotes elimination of toxins (especially from the liver)

To give you the step-by-step, we’re linking up to Kathryn Budig and her Challenge Pose Blog, so click here.

 

If you want to fully experience the pose – you can even get the full “look.”  Namastilo put together a “look inspo: peacock pose, peacock clothes.”  You can even buy those amazing peacock leggings here.

And if you want to see a video on some variations  - you can check out the “Mayurasana – Variations of Yoga Peacock,” on our YouTube favorites page.

Enjoy, and see you on the mat!

 

fun pose friday: mayurasana

fun pose friday: mayurasana

August 22, 2012

“Never worry about numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”  ~Mother Teresa

Today’s post is about giving; giving back, and giving to your community.  When we decided on the location of extendYoga we LOVED the space.  It was open and provided a clean slate for us to build out our dream studio.  Once we moved in, we took a walk and introduced ourselves to our neighbors.  It was on that walk that we found the Interfaith Works Women’s Shelter.  We immediately felt a need to be involved.

It started with a simple fundraiser.  We planned a donation based class in January, and all the proceeds went to buying high efficiency laundry detergent – something the shelter was in dire need of.

We then realized that the women at the shelter could greatly benefit from yoga, and we decided to teach a yoga class for them.  Since January, we’ve been teaching these women once a week (even the flood didn’t stop us!).  It has been so amazing to work with such a great group of women, who go through so much in their daily lives, yet still manage to make it to their mat to get some time to work on themselves, their body, and their mind.  While we love seeing their faces every week, it’s when they stop coming to class that makes us the most happy.  This means (in almost all cases), that they’ve gotten a job and moved out on their own.    We’re so thankful to be involved with such a great organization.  (you can read more here)

Today, we (extendYoga and Interfaith Works) were filmed for News Channel 8, and its airing tonight (Wednesday, August 22 at 10pm EST)!!  We’re thrilled to have publicity around something that means so much to the studio.  Be sure to check it out if you live in the MD/VA/DC area. (update: here’s the link to the story)

If you’d like to learn more about InterFaith works you can check out their website here.

Donating your time, or money/supplies  is an easy way to give back to your community.    If you’re in the Rockville area you can check out this website to learn about ways to help.

what we’re loving: giving back

what we’re loving: giving back

I know most have you have seen the video: Shit Yogis Say (which is hilarious), but do you ever find yourself in a yoga class and the teacher says something in Sanskrit and you have no idea what she just said?    Luckily, Yoganonymous posted a 1.5 minute guide to Sanskirt and instead named it “What Yogis Say.”  You can check out the link here,  or read below for more.  The links go to different Yoganonymous pages, so be sure to click through if you want more info or related stories!

 

Asana: Yoga posture. Yoga pose. A physical position in which stability and ease are balanced and maintained.

Ayurveda: The science or knowledge of life. A thousand year old scientific approach to medicine, Ayurveda recognizes differences in individual constitutions and treats each person uniquely.

Bandha: To bind or lock. You may hear your teacher talking about bandhas or locks. A bandha is a muscular hold that enhances subtle energy flow. Here are the three most commonly used bandhas: Jalandhara Bandha, Mulabandha, Uddiyana Bandha.

Chakra:  Subtle energy centers. Wheels of light.

Guru: Teacher.  And Sat Guru which means the teacher within, YOU.

Jalandhara Bandha:  Chin lock.  This lock is in the neck and is used to prevent downward loss of spiritual energy especially from the crown chakra. To practice this bring and hold your chin down towards your chest.

Karma: Action.

Kriya: A cleansing process.

Mantra: Sacred sound or word or phrase often used as a focal point in meditation.

Mudra: A gesture used to recirculate energy and focus the mind.

Namaste: I honor the light in you and you honor the light in me, when we are both in this light together we are one, or, “I bow to you.”

Niyama: 5 Lessons or suggestions for how you treat yourself.

Om: Universal representation of what is yet to be made manifest. Our potential.

Prana: Life force energy.

Pranayama: Regulated breathing. Using the breath in an organized way to circulate prana in the body.

Sadhana: Practice.

Sanskrit: The ancient language of Hindu scriptures and yoga texts, which is the source of modern Indo-European languages.

Shanti: Peace.

Surya Namaskar:  Sun Salutation.

Yama: 5 ethical suggestions for how you treat others

Yoga Sutra: The classical work on yoga by Patanjali.

 

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

 

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“shit yogis say:” a short guide to sanskrit

“shit yogis say:” a short guide to sanskrit

Downward Facing Frog, or Frog Pose is an extremely useful stretch for runners or other atheletes who risk injury to the groin or hip area.  It also benefits anyone who spends a lot of time sitting and are at risk for developing tigh hips.  There are a few other asanas called Frog Pose, but this version, Adho Mukha Mandukasana is most commonly found in Yin Yoga (although I’ve seen it a lot in Vinyasa classes).  I know I’m a little crazy about using the cheesy (frog and fish) photos to go with the poses, I just can’t resist!

Frog pose is definitely a challenge for those of us with tight hips.  Most people I hear from have a love/hate relationship with Frog Pose (is there a pattern with love/hate relationships and yoga poses?), however, I’m sure everyone LOVES coming out of the pose.

Benefits include:

  • open and stretches the hips
  • stretches the groin and inside of the thighs
  • provides slight back bend
  • aids digestion

Here’s how to work your way into it.  Be sure to stop at your own limit, and breathe through any blocks and/or resistance that you may feel.

1. From table, walk the knees out to the sides as wide as comfortable. Bring the ankles directly behind the knees with the feet turned out towards the side walls.

2. Bring the elbows and forearms on to the floor with the palms flat on the floor (or with the palms pressed together).

3. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.  Feel free to stay in this pose and continue your breath for as long as feels good to you.

4. To release: rock the hips forward and either bring the palms under the shoulders and press back up into table, or walk the arms forward lowering the hips and whole body flat on the floor.

Check out this YouTube video if you want a different approach to get into the pose.

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

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fun pose friday: frog pose

fun pose friday: frog pose

Today’s What We’re Loving is focused on the latest from the yoga blogosphere.  Check out the links below, happy reading!

Like to golf?  Here’s 3 Ways Yoga Can Improve Your Golf Game.

Scorpio?  Aries?  Namastillo shows your your YogaScope for the month of August. 

If your summer’s been like mine, you’ve been travelling everywhere!  I always feel “off” when I’m not practicing yoga.   Here are some tips on getting your yoga in while on the road, it even includes ways to rearrange your hotel room and use furniture as props!

 

Want to know how to improve your savasana?  Check out these 5 tips for a Blissful Savasana. (ps – I need this t shirt!)

 

Feel like you’re not already wasting enough time on facebook?  Here’s a Yoga Retreat Game.  Its described as The Sims meets Farmville, meets yoga retreat.

 

See you on the mat!

 

what we’re loving: links from the yoga blogosphere

what we’re loving: links from the yoga blogosphere

While I was visiting some friends over July 4th, the topic of exercise and moving your body came up a few times.  My friends father let me know that he walks a marathon…weekly!  He does about 3-4 miles a day during the week, and then finishes the weekend with slightly longer walks to catch up on any mileage that he missed.  As a lover of walking, I was definitely inspired by this and have been trying to up my mileage ever since.

As I’m walking, no matter how hard I try to engage my core, and keep my spine straight, I always feel like my lower back is crunching by the end of the walk.  I’ve found a few yoga poses help to de-crunch and elongate my lower back, and big toe pose definitely does the trick!    I also have to admit, that after a long walk and big toe pose, nothing is better than putting your legs up the wall.

Here are just some of the benefits of big toe pose:

  • calms the brain, helps relieve stress and anxiety
  • stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • stretches the hamstrings and calves
  • helps relieve headache and insomnia
  • improves digestion
  • lengthens the lower back

We’re linking up to Yoga Journal for the steps to get you into the pose:

1. Stand upright with your inner feet parallel and hip width apart. Contract your front thigh muscles to lift your kneecaps. Keeping your legs completely straight, exhale and bend forward from your hip joints, moving your torso and head as one unit.

2. Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between the big toes and the second toes. Then curl those fingers under and grip the big toes firmly, wrapping the thumbs around the other two fingers to secure the wrap. Press your toes down against your fingers. (If you can’t reach your toes without overly rounding your back, pass a strap under the ball of each foot and hold the straps.)

3. With an inhalation, lift your torso as if you were going to stand up again, straightening your elbows. Lengthen your front torso, and on the next exhale, lift your sitting bones. Depending on your flexibility, your lower back will hollow to a greater or lesser degree. As you do this, release your hamstrings and hollow your lower belly (below your navel) as well, lightly lifting it toward the back of your pelvis.  Lift the top of your sternum as high as you can, but take care not to lift your head so far that you compress the back of your neck. Keep your forehead relaxed.

4. Finally exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides, pull up on your toes, lengthen the front and sides of your torso, and gently lower into the forward bend.

5. If you have very long hamstrings, you can draw your forehead toward your shins. But if your hamstrings are short, it’s better to focus on keeping the front torso long. Hunching into a forward bend isn’t safe for your lower back and does nothing to lengthen your hamstrings.

6. Hold the final position for one minute. Then release your toes, bring your hands to your hips, and re-lengthen your front torso. With an inhale, swing your torso and head as a single unit back to upright.

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: big toe pose

fun pose friday: big toe pose

Today’s What We’re Loving is dedicated to sugar busting.    Here are some of our favorite articles this week about sugar myths, sugar addiction and how to kick the habit.

Cereal is one of the most processed foods available; many are loaded with carbs and lacking in fiber.  Avoid cereal – its recommended to eat (rhyme coming) clean lean protein and healthy fat  for breakfast.  Check out more in this article - Cereal: Not the Breakfast of Champions.

Did you know that the average American consumes 10 teaspoons of high-fructose corn syrup a day?! This is just one of the eye-opening facts in this infographic from MindBodyGreen.

Feel yourself getting tired throughout the day and want a natural way to keep those energy levels up?  Start by avoiding energy draining foods:  fast food, canned, frozen, packaged and processed foods are all energy zappers.  They are all difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content.  Check out this article for Ayurveda and Yoga Tips for High Quality Energy.

Remember our post about Sugar Addiction?  Well, Trifecta Wellness is offering a 30 Day “Kick the Sugar” Challenge starting Monday, August 20th.  Don’t worry if you’re not in the Maryland area, since its over the course of 4 weekly conference calls, you’ll still be able to participate.  You can see the details and sign up here.

See you on the mat!

what we’re loving: sugar busting

what we’re loving: sugar busting

Today’s post is written by Edie Lazenby.  Edie teaches Beginner Flow at extendYoga on Saturday’s, and this weekend (August 12th) has her second Family Yoga workshop at 3:30 at extendYoga.  The cost is $15 per child (adults are free) – There are a few spots left – you can sign up here.

 

Family Yoga? Why do I love teaching this? Because you see how people can connect and have fun exploring themselves and one another in a safe non-challenging environment. There is no right way or wrong way. Of course for the little ones skills like listening and following directions are employed. But who would not listen when asked to paddle through the ocean on a surfboard or roar as loud as a Mommy lion protecting her cubs?

We play games. We have fun. We share.

Partner poses give the adults and the children a chance to be together and help each other do the pose. Partners have to communicate openly and willingly to make sure what the other is doing is supportive. Siblings too have the opportunity to play together here, the older one’s taking a leadership role and sometimes children will do poses with children they’ve never met before, which takes some courage when you’re an adult, much less when just a young one.

Family yoga builds harmony. Family yoga gives everyone quality time. The parent’s don’t have to be in charge. The children don’t have to challenge anyone. The goal is for all to have fun. Many times the yoga is new to the children or the adults. Or, the adults do yoga and the children have an opportunity to do what they see their parent’s do with them.

Is it Asana-based? No…not when the children are younger. It is based on fun. We play games. We breathe. We Aum. We might play a game of hot potato or make a portrait with the students with the poses to tell a story. When I have had a class with four year olds and 12 year olds it is amazing how the older children participate, have fun and enjoy sharing with the younger students.

Yoga is about connection and how we engage. Families are already connected and engagement is the name of the game. Family yoga just makes sense because all the ingredients of yoga are already there. We just add awareness and fun.

 

Edith Lazenby is a full time yoga teacher, trained at City Fitness in Washington, DC, and Willow Street Yoga Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has been writing poetry since she was nine years old. Poetry is her first love and yoga continues to feed her heart. She writes because she loves it. She teaches because she loves it. She tells her students all the time: do it because you can. That works for her. She believes in creating opportunity. She believes in helping herself and others. She thinks faith is the most important gift of life, because when we lose everything else we still have that in our heart. She believes the natural state of being is happiness, or bliss, or Ananda. Life is a celebration. Poetry and yoga help her celebrate.

 

See you on the mat!

fun with the family (yoga)

fun with the family (yoga)

Today’s fun pose is – hands down – one of my favorite poses.  Viparita Karani, or legs up the wall pose just seems to be THE cure for anything you could possibly think of.  In addition to calming a racing mind, here are more of the benefits:

  • anti aging benefits
  • helps arthritis
  • helps reduce high blood pressure
  • helpful for respitory ailments
  • improves digestion
  • relieves mild backache
  • restores tired feet or legs (this one’s for you, runners!)
  • calms anxiety
  • relieves symptons of mild depression
  • helps with insomnia
  • relieves swollen ankes and varicose veins
  • regulates blood flow
(see all those benefits?  I’m telling you, it’s a cure all!)

Here’s how to get yourself into the pose:

Start by collecting the items your will need for this pose, which ideally includes a yoga mat and a yoga block (don’t have these?  You can fold a blanket up, stack a few pillows, etc).  Start by sitting sideways against the wall with either your right side or left side against the wall.  From here, you can lift your legs up as your twisting your legs towards the wall and your torso, head and neck are twisting and laying down on the mat.   Your heels and sitting bones should be supported against the wall. If you have any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching it – this should not feel like a hamstring stretch. Rest your head on the mat/floor, and keep your spine straight.

Support your body by placing a block/folded blanket/pillow on the ground beneath your back on the small of your back. This should not be uncomfortable or painful in anyway, so if it is, please take a second to reposition your prop so its gently and comfortably lifting your hips.  Your sitting bones do not need to be against the wall, rather “dripping” down into the space between the wall and your support.

If your neck feels strained, place a small, rolled-up towel under it. Close your eyes.  Rest your arms out to your sides. Open your shoulder blades away from the spine, relaxing your hands and wrists. Keep your legs held vertically in place, but only partially flexed.

After you come out of this restorative pose, be sure to lie on your side for a few breaths before sitting upright with your back against the wall, then slowly rising to your feet.  Its normal to feel a little tingly in your feet or legs – just give yourself a second while on your side to notice this, and make sure your legs feel back to normal before you slowly stand.

Since you can modify props (don’t have a block but have a pillow you can fold up?) it’s always the perfect time to do legs up the wall…after you get back from a run (or a bike ride like in the photo above), at the end of the day, while chatting on the phone, while reading, if you need a little energy boost, even on vacation.   Want to see it done for you?  Here’s a YouTube video link.  Enjoy!

 

See you on the mat!

fun pose: viparita karani

fun pose: viparita karani

The Olympics are everywhere – and if you’re like me, you’re probably frusterated with social media lately for all the spoiler alerts throughout the day on the events and outcomes.  Is anyone else finding it impossible to watch the games at night without knowing who won already?

While watching the games I’m so impressed with each of the athletes (especially Team USA!), and their incredible strength, stamina and overall athletic abilities.  Since this is technically a yoga blog – I thought I’d share this article that highlights some of the Olympic atheletes that incorporate yoga into their training.

You’d assume the Olympians eat a strict diet, and eating heart healthy, protein rich foods.  This article goes over weird diets of the Olympians.

Here’s an interesting take on yoga and the Olympics that discusses how asana is only one of the eight limbs, but it’s the obvious Olympic limb.

My fiance noticed that the USA Men’s Volleyball Team was sporting lululemon – he was so proud of himself for noticing my favorite brand on our athletes.   Here are some photos!

See you on the mat!

 

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what we’re loving: olympics edition

what we’re loving: olympics edition

We had such an amazing turn out at our donation class last Friday to benefit Michael Joel Hall.

I wanted to keep today’s blog short, and send you this link to follow all that’s going on in the yoga community for Michael Joel Hall.  You can also find a complete list of donation classes being held all over DC, MD and VA.

Thank you to everyone that attended ANY donation class in and around the DC area.

If you’d like to go and show your support, you can attend a special donation class hosted by lululemon Logan Circle.

Here’s the info:

Sunday, August 5th at 5 p.m.
Meridian Hill Park – 16th and W St NW
12 Teachers – 108 Sun Salutations – Bring Your Own Mat

For more details, here’s the facebook event link!

yoga cOMmUNITY

yoga cOMmUNITY

Today’s fun pose is Matsyasana or Fish Pose.  Some claim that if you perform fish pose in water, you will be able to float like a fish – try it out for yourself!

matsya = fish

There are many benefits to matsyasans:

  • Stretches the hip flexors and the muscles in between the ribs
  • Stretches and stimulates the organs of the belly and throat
  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck
Before we take you through the steps to your fish pose, we should warn you that with any chest opener you could feel an giant emotional response.  Read about Anacostia Yogi’s emotional experience with fish pose here.

Here’s how you can realize your fish pose:

1. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Inhale, lift your pelvis slightly off the floor, and slide your hands, palms down, below your back (on either side of the small of your back) . Then rest your buttock/backs on the backs of your hands. Be sure to tuck your forearms and elbows up close to your sides.

2. Inhale and press your forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Next press your with an inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor. Then release your head back onto the floor. There shouldn’t be a big amount of weight (just really light!) on your head to avoid crunching in your neck.

3. You can keep your knees bent or straighten your legs out onto the floor. If you choose to straighten your legs be sure to keep your thighs active, and press out through your heels.

4. Stay for 30 seconds, keeping your breath steady. When you’re complete in fish post, gently lower your torso and head to the floor. Draw your thighs up into your belly and squeeze.

Here’s a video on youtube showing you a slightly different variation of how to get into the pose.

Enjoy your fish pose – and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: fish pose

fun pose friday: fish pose

Today’s blog is written by Greg Marzullo.

Massacres by the Syrian government have killed thousands.

A young man in Colorado goes berserk and guns down a movie theater full of people.

Here in D.C., a yoga teacher and his boyfriend were viciously assaulted over the weekend. (to attend a donation based yoga class to benefit Michael Joel Hall at extendYoga, click here)

At every turn, with every click of a remote or a mouse, we’re confronted with the insanities of humanity run amok. Violence, degradation and breathtaking suffering are our daily bread, leaving us to wonder what any of us can possibly do in the wake of such overwhelming odds.

The answer is simple, yet nonetheless daunting: Transform yourself.

The Bhagavad Gita, the Song of the Lord, is one of the great spiritual classics of the world, and although the actual time of composition varies between the sixth and second centuries B.C.E., the wisdom contained within its verses have stood the test of time. Ranging in content from impermanence to the true nature of the transcendent Self, the Gita has been a guidebook for yogis, saints and everyday people trying to lead a better life.

Set against the backdrop on an impending epic battle between two sides of a large family, the Gita is a conversation between the mortal warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Lord Krishna. As Arjuna stands on the battlefield staring across enemy lines, he sees his foes and recognizes them as friends, cousins and well-loved uncles. Despairing at having to slay kith and kin and fearful of incurring great sin, he throws down his bow and says, “I will not do this thing.”

It’s at this point that Krishna leans down and says (if he were to speak in 21st-century idiom), “Get your ass up and fight.”

It’s at this point that Krishna delivers the famous lines of the text, which are meant to help all peoples overcome the war of the mind and reach enlightenment. This is not just some far-fetched notion meant only for holy people meditating atop the mountains; the Gita is specifically designed to assist those engaged in the rigors of the real world.

Mohandas K. Gandhi lived his life by this book, and although there is some debate as to whether or not the Gita is in favor of war, the great pacifist said to try living your life by this book and see if you can harm anyone. In some of the most moving passages, Krishna tells Arjuna to see God in all creatures, from a priest to a cow.

Recognizing the divine in all beings is so obviously needed in today’s world. Who could say a cruel word to God? Who could raise a fist or an assault weapon to that which is Pure Love?

In order to find peace and change the world, we must drink deeply from the wellspring of transcendent consciousness that bubbles up within each one of us. The Gita in all its profound wisdom is like a divining rod held in our trembling hands. If we just become still and listen, the rod begins to twitch and tremble, leading us eventually to that font of wisdom that never runs dry.

You are the rod and the fountain. Change yourself, change the world.

 

Greg Marzullo is teaching a third installment of his workshop, Yoga of the Revolution on Sunday, August 5th at extendYoga.  To read more and sign up please click here.

 

Change yourself, change the world.

Change yourself, change the world.

Today’s fun pose is Mermaid, we practiced this today at extendYoga in Lika’s morning heated flow.

When Mermaid Pose is performed in correct alignment, it creates freedom throughout the entire front torso. It also lifts and opens the heart. This pose also provides a deep stretch to the thighs, groins, shoulders, and chest. It improves mobility in the spine and hips, strengthens the abdominal muscles, and stimulates the organs of the torso.

To show you the step by step, we’re linking up with Kathryn Budig – check out her instructions here.

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: mermaid pose

fun pose friday: mermaid pose

These Zen Bracelets are adorable on their own, and look great stacked too!  Check out Blooming Lotus Jewelry here.  My personal favorite is the yellow jade with the elephant charm.

I need to take a yoga class with this playlist.   You had me at David Gray.

These candles are soy and handmade by Array of Aromas.  The wax never gets hot – so when its melted you can use it as oil on your skin.  The best part? They smell delicious!  I can’t get enough of the Black Raspberry Vanilla. (extra bonus = you can pick them up at extendYoga!)

This is a great post on Yoganonymous – “10 Signs that Point to Your Social Media Addiction”

I have to say we’re guilty of: You answer questions with “you should read my blog post about that.”

See you on the mat!

ps: click here to sign up for our email lists!

what we’re loving: jewelry, candles, music & more!

what we’re loving: jewelry, candles, music & more!

Today we’re re-posting a great article from Terri Carr, the author of YogaSOULutions.net.  We have people say “well, I’m not flexible, so I can’t do yoga” all the time.  Our response is always the same – you need yoga to make you more flexible :)

 

Why Flexibility Doesn’t Matter in Yoga Practice.

You have probably overheard a comment like this at some point, “I don’t like/can’t do/am not good at yoga….I’m not flexible,” as if the sole purpose of yoga is for flexible people to get together to practice their flexibility ;-)

Sigh. Whenever I hear this kind of comment, I want to jump in with, “No, no, no. Yoga is not just for people who are already flexible. It’s about increasing your flexibility and your strength and your balance, not just on the physical level but mentally and emotionally too.”

I want to say, “Please take a half dozen or so classes and see what it feels like to actually experience the effects of yoga once you put aside the idea that you are not ‘good’ at it.”After a couple of weeks (or even one class!), you might notice you can actually move in ways you couldn’t before coming to yoga, or you might observe that you feel calm and grounded in stressful situations. You might find you can comfortably stand your ground in a situation where previously you would run away, or  that conflicts with others happen less as you communicate with more openness and understanding.

I do try to say something to this effect, but I usually get the sense that the listener hasn’t really heard me. And the myth persists.

I guess it will persist until people have had a taste of the TRUE benefits of yoga, which is to say the openness and flexibility of spirit, the renewed sense of vibrancy, the joy and happiness of being able to roll with life’s rhythms instead of resisting them.

Just because someone can do a wide straddle split, or put their leg behind their head does not mean their life runs smoothly. It just means that they have an advanced degree of physical flexibility.

Sometimes a person can actually be too flexible, or too open in the sense that they don’t keep any boundaries for themselves. Whatever is asked of them, they give, running here and there trying to accommodate others, but disregarding their own needs.

So, folks, if you are one of those people who still thinks that yoga is ‘for flexible people,’ give it a second look. In most yoga classes you will see varying levels of flexibility. Even among people in their 20’s, some yogis are not all that flexible.

But if they practice regularly, they will become at least a little more flexible. But even better, they will feel more resilient, more patient, more determined, more forgiving, more accepting, more compassionate. Things we can all be good at.

flexibility and yoga

flexibility and yoga

I’m up in MA, celebrating some friends and family birthdays and I was able to fit in a yoga class this morning at the Whitman Wellness Center.  We worked on tripod headstand (and the transition to and from crow pose), so that’s the inspiration for todays’ fun pose Friday post.

When practiced correctly (and safely), headstand has many benefits to the mind and the body.  The pose increases blood flow to the brain as well as stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands to revitalize and calm the mind.  As other inversions, it helps to relive stress, depression and insomnia.  It also regulates your metabolism, improves memory, concentration and aids circulation.  When it comes the the physical body, sirsasana II works on the neck, abdomen, shoulders, back and arm muscles and thereby strengthens the core.  It helps lengthen the spine and relieve pressure on the lower back.

If this pose brings up a lot of fear for you make sure that you take your time in the setup, establish a focal point for your eyes, and breath as you begin the process.  No matter how advanced your practice, it is incredibly important to treat each headstand with respect; aligning and moving into the pose with commitment and integration.

Click here to be walked through step by step by our favorite challenge pose master, Kathryn Budig.

 

Enjoy your SAFE practice of tripod headstand and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: sirsasana II

fun pose friday: sirsasana II

Lots of text with no photos today – but we’re sharing (some of) our daily blog reads!

 

For clean eating, fitness, healthy lifestyle mixed with fashion and pretty things we love Think Pretty Thoughts.

Our daily read of yoga style, yoga lifestyle and diys is Namastilo.

A holistic and wellness blog about avurveda, yoga is Spinach and Yoga.  There are tons of great recipes, and the blog gives you a balanced approach to wellness.

The Daily Downward Dog has lots of fun playlists, inspirational stories, and shares fun yoga experiences with you.

Lululemon has a community blog about yoga, running, goal setting and “a healthy dose of inspiration.”  They have fun stories behind their yoga clothing, yoga playlists, and feature yoga and fitness events happening around the country.

MindBodyGreen always has tons of content and has quick reads like “3 Life Lessons” and “5 Practices to quiet your mind.”  It’s a daily go-to for inspiration.  It claims to be the “Go-to Guide for Yoga and Wellness,” and for us, it is!

If you’re only going to read one blog and want to be in the know on all things yoga, YogaDork is the blog for you.  It has a fair share of celebrity posts, big news in the yoga world and great interviews.

Yoganonymous has great interviews and shares big yoga events happening across the country.  They have fun reads like “7 mouth watering recipes for a healthy independence day,” and always feature fresh content.

 

We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

See you on the mat!

 

what we’re loving: blogs!

what we’re loving: blogs!

Today we have a guest post by one of extendYoga’s fabulous instructors, Leslie Edsall.

Deconstructing Cravings
The body is an amazing source of intelligence. It is always pumping blood, never skipping a heartbeat, digesting food and maintaining homeostasis. Is this reliable, intelligent bio-computer making a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or chocolate? Are cravings due to lack of will-power? I’d like to suggest that cravings are not a problem, but they are critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.

The important thing is to understand why you crave what you crave. Is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients? Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too stressful. Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message. A craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, more exercise, more water or more love in your life. The key to stopping the sugar craving is to understand and deliver what your body really needs.

Your body knows best and is always trying to create balance. However, products like refined foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol are confusing as they throw the body off-balance and can create serious cravings.  The body tries to get what it needs to restore internal harmony. The more your food is whole and healthy, the easier it is for your body to stay in balance and provide you with a happier, healthier life.

The next time you have a craving, treat it as a message from your body instead of a weakness. Try these tips to respond to your body:

  • Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
  • Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit and sweet or root vegetables.
  • What is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express, or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
  • When you eat the food you are craving, enjoy it, taste it, savor it; notice its effect. Then you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time.

 

Food Focus: The Easiest *(Fun) Way to Get More Greens

 

Why Green Smoothies?

See below for many health benefits of blending greens in to a delicious smoothie:

  • Use 60% organic fruit and 40% organic greens.
  • When blended well, the cells in the greens are “ruptured,” making the nutrients easier for the body to digest. This creates an energy rush!
  • As opposed to juices, green smoothies are a complete food because they still have fiber; an important part of our elimination system
  • With a 60/40 ratio, the fruit taste dominates the taste.  Promise!
  • Green smoothies are easy to make and a quick clean up afterwards. Children love them!
  • When consuming green smoothies, you’re greatly reducing the consumption of and salt in your diet by replacing it with a healthier alternative
  • Regular consumption forms a good habit of eating greens.
  • After a few weeks, most clients actually begin to crave and enjoy eating more greens.

 My two favorite green smoothie recipes are below.  Enjoy!

Mango-Banana-Spinach
2 mangos (or one cup, frozen)
1 handful of organic spinach
1 banana

½ an avocado (healthy fats for glowing skin)
1 tablespoon of peanut butter (yummy protein option)
2 cups ice if using fresh mangos, use water if frozen mangos
Blend for 3 minutes until smooth and enjoy!  Makes 2 servings

Strawberry-Banana-Romaine
1 cup organic strawberries or mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
1 banana
1 bunch organic romaine

½ cup of quick cooking oats (raw – this is optional for a healthy carb boost)
2 cups water
Blend as above

Here’s a YouTube video of the Strawberry-Banana-Romaine recipe above in case you need a little motivation to get started.  Share with the whole family! Try a green smoothie as a mid-day snack or experiment with starting your day off right at breakfast.  You’ll be amazed by the results and find yourself craving them after just one week!

 

Leslie Edsall is a nutrition, yoga and health education expert who offers nutrition programs to clients, leads yoga classes in the local community and offers nutrition workshops.  To learn more about Leslie or to schedule a consultation: www.TrifectaWellness.com

deconstructing cravings and green smoothies

deconstructing cravings and green smoothies

Urdhva Dhanurasana can also be referred to as upward bow or wheel pose.

urdhva = upward

dhanu = bow

Most people that I hear from have a love/hate relationships with backbends.   Backbends can feel especially unfamiliar and difficult since its such a deep arch in the spine, as well as opening in the chest and across the abdomen.  The truth is – that backbending is just not a movement that most adults make in their day to day lives.

Because of the intense opening throughout the front of the body, backbending often brings up feelings of anxiety and stress – the key is to learn how to stay with the difficult places and work through them.

Pre urdhva dhanurasana: It’s best to practice backbends when the body (especially the spine!) is warmed up, and its most safe to start with a few gentle backbends such as bridge pose and work toward a deeper backbend from there.

Post urdhva dhanurasana:  Make sure to neutralize the spine with either downward dog or dandasana.

Benefits include:

  • Strengthens the arms, wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen and spine
  • Improves posture
  • Relieves tension in tight shoulders and eases mild back pain
  • Stimulates the thyroid (regulates your metabolism) and pituitary glands (regulates secretion in all the other endocrine glands)
  • Increases energy
  • Counteracts depression
  • Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, osteoporosis and infertility
We’re linking up with Kathryn Budig’s Challenge Pose for the step-by step!
Enjoy your weekend and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: wheel pose

fun pose friday: wheel pose

Happy Monday!  In a little under 5 short months I’m getting MARRIED!  Crazy right?

With so many major things left to still plan – I find myself daydreaming about the little things…daily activities like snorkeling, trips to sting ray city, rum tasting, and yoga, of course!

I was inspired by my friends destination wedding itinerary where we had a yoga class in the Rocky Mountains on her wedding day (you can read about that here), and we’re planning on having a morning beach yoga class every day during our wedding week in the Cayman Islands.

With all things wedding on the brain I thought I’d share some things I’ve been reading about weddings and yoga :)

My fiance is coming to all the classes at extendYoga this weekend, and I’m so excited to practice next to him.  Check out this post on 7 Yoga Poses for Brides and Grooms.  You’ll learn how to chill out and get in shape for your wedding day!

While I can’t say that we’re considering it – Here’s an interesting idea…you love yoga right?!  Why not have a yoga wedding complete with white yoga pants!  Read all about the trend here.

While wedding planning can be fun and exciting, for a lot of people its stressful.  Here’s a breathing meditation specifically to help people deal with stressful relationships and family issues.

We have so many students engaged and planning weddings and its so fun to hear about all their planning!   Are you incorporating yoga into your wedding planning?

 

See you on the mat!

yoga and your wedding

yoga and your wedding

The fun pose of the day is adho mukha vtksasana or handstand.

adho= downward
mukha = face
vrksa = tree
asana = pose, posture

Today was a steamy 100 degrees, so we didn’t even need to add more heat to our heated flow class this evening.

With the natural heat we had an amazing class – and we started our handstand prep.  While I spent my time with my feet on the wall (like the photo below) , I feel like I made a lot of progress!

Before we take you through the steps to handstand, here are just a few of them nay benefits:

  • Strengthens the shoulders, arms and wrists
  • Improves sense of balance
  • Calms the brain
  • Relieves stress and mild depression
  • Stretches the belly
  • Improves circulation
We’re linking up to Kathyrn Budig and her Challenge Pose blog to help guide you through the steps.
Enjoy and we’ll see you on the mat!

 

fun pose friday: handstand

fun pose friday: handstand

happy Wednesday yogis!

These flip flops are awesome – and I have to admit, I’m a sucker for anything DIY.  Learn how to make these studded flip flops here.

 

This concept is straight out of a Hollywood sci-fi movie.   Check out this high tech tank top that will give you a subtle nudge in the area that needs adjustment.  It’s a great concept – but won’t replace the need for awesome instructors!

 

We love this post on staying cool in the heat that combines ayurveda and yoga moves.

 

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

what we’re loving

what we’re loving

Summer has finally arrived!  And based on the weather we had last week— it’s looking like it’s going to be a scorcher here in the MD/DC/VA area.

I had my first trip to our neighborhood pool the other day.  It was so refreshing taking a dip every few minutes after frying in the sun (make sure to always lather up with your SPF)!

If you are like me, yoga is always on your mind.  As I read this month’s addition of Yoga Journal in my pool chair, I couldn’t help but think… how can I incorporate yoga into my adult swim?

When I headed back to extendYoga, I googled ‘yoga at the pool.’  Low and behold, of course you can do yoga at the pool!  You can virtually practice yoga anywhere… duh!

Women’s Health Magazine wrote a short article  called Yoga Water Workout; with pictures too:

backbend

standing head to knee pose

triangle pose

By practicing in the warm water at the pool, you can work deeper into poses and hold them longer without getting too tired (since your muscles will be relaxed and the water will support your weight).

Since water yoga is low impact and gentle on the muscles, it’s also great for the elderly, pregnant and anyone with injuries.  Check out these additional water yoga exercises on LIVESTRONG.COM.

Remember when you used to do handstands in the pool when you were young?  And we all floated on our backs (aka: savasana).  Turns out, I was doing water yoga before I even knew what yoga was!

So next time you need a break from the sun, jump in the pool and get your yoga on.  I can’t wait to try some moves the next time I’m poolin’ it this summer.

I wonder how this could work in the ocean???…

See you on the mat (and at the pool)!

yoga for pool lovers

yoga for pool lovers

A few of you may be asking “how is supported shoulder stand a fun pose?!”  Well, it is a pretty pleasant asana, and more importantly it will help you cool down during all this heat!

This inversion requires little muscular effort (unlike a headstand, or handstand), so the large muscles can rest. It encourages lymphatic fluid to flow toward the heart, sweeping out toxins and boosting circulation.

Other benefits include:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates the thyroid and abdominal organs
  • Stretches the shoulders and neck
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia

To enjoy this pose with the least amount of effort you should put a block under your sacrum (as in the photo below).  And that’s what we’ll walk through today.

 

1) Begin lying on your back on a mat or rug.  Come into Plow (below) with your feet over your head and your hips over your shoulders.  Be sure to have your block close by.

2) Grab your block and put it under your sacrum (the height of the block should be based on how much support you’re looking for: choose the lowest height for more relaxation, and a slightly higher height with the block on its side to get the hips higher).

3) Relax here.  Go into savasana, with your arms by your sides and your palms facing up (this helps open and relax the shoulders).   Try and keep your body completely relaxed.  If you find it at all difficult to breathe, just shift your hops away from your head a few inches.

4) If you’re feeling any pressure in your neck, press the back part of your head into the ground.  Don’t shift your head side to side, try to keep the body in as much of a straight line as possible to avoid straining any muscles.

5) Stay here for 10 or more breaths, and when you feel complete you can slowly lower your feed back down towards the ground coming back into Plow pose.

6) From here bring your hips slowly to the ground and hug your knees into your chest.

 

Be sure to take your time coming out of this pose.  Since its an inversion, you may feel a little dizzy if you try to stand up too quickly after the pose.

 

Enjoy and see you on the mat!

fun pose friday: supported/half shoulder stand

fun pose friday: supported/half shoulder stand

Right in the middle of a HOT week  - see what we’re loving this week…

Want some yoga art in your life?  We love this post by lo over at Namastillo…My favorite is “With my Whole Heart”.  For more information and where/how to purchase head on over to Namastillo.

extendYoga

 

The heat is certainly here – read this MindBodyGreen article to find out what foods are going to cool you down.  I was a little sad reading this because when it gets hot the two things I reach for are frozen yogurt and iced coffee.  The article explains when it get hot you need to enjoy water-rich foods.  While that Starbucks iced coffee might seem like a quick fix, it’s actually going to dehydrate you.  A quick trip to yogiberry may actually cause congestion and hinder your body’s cooling systems.   Instead its recommended to reach for fresh and raw vegetables and fruit with a high water content.  For the full list check out the article here.

Some people think that hot yoga in the summertime is crazy, while others are thinking “if I’m going to be sweating anyways I might as well be doing some hot yoga!”  Check out this new “hot but not” tank from lululemon – looks light and airy and I’d buy it just for the back!

Enjoy the heat and see you on the mat!

yoga art, what foods cool you, hot but not

yoga art, what foods cool you, hot but not

I love blogs.  So, I’ll confess, one of my favorite things to do is open my google reader and catch up on all the latest in health, wellness, fitness, fashion, weddings, and diy projects.  I “star” all articles that I want to look into, or use as future inspiration for a post, and I usually find a few things that I want to try out, or incorporate into my life.

So, when one of my favorite lifestyle, workout and healthy living bloggers Think Pretty Thoughts posted about her routine of drinking Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), I couldn’t get to Whole Foods fast enough.

All this may sound crazy,  don’t worry – I’ll walk you through the steps you need to know to get yourself started on this (not so) tasty little treat after I first talk about the many benefits:

  • High Cholesterol:  A 2006 study showed evidence that vinegar could lower cholesterol.
  • Diabetes:  Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower glucose levels because it lowers the rise in glucose that commonly occurs after meals.
  • Rich in Potassium: Helps prevent brittle teeth, hair loss and runny noses, also key for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, and heart activity
  • Calcium: helps create strong bones and teeth
  • Contains ash which gives ACV its alkaline property.  Ash aids your body in maintaining proper pH levels for a healthy alkaline state
  • Rich in malic acid which gives Apple Cider Vinegar its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • Helps improve bowel irregularity and helps to remove toxins from the body at a faster rate
  • Helps clear up skin blemishes
  • Bloat Reducer
  • Weight loss: ACV helps with weight loss by breaking down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them
If that’s not enough – here are 25 uses for Apple Cider Vinegar.

I couldn’t find any studies on this one – but some claim its an instant cure for hiccups!

Wanna get started?!

Go pick up a bottle of ACV.  Make sure it’s unfiltered, not pasteurized and made from organically grown apples.  It should be a cloudy dark yellow/brownish color and, if it’s not shaken, it should have a lot of cobweb like build up on the bottom of the bottle (that build up is the good stuff, it’s referred to as the “mother”).   My go-to brand is Bragg.  It’s sold at Whole Foods, some grocery stores and health stores.  Make sure whatever kind you get that it’s not tansparent – that will give you all the bad taste and none of the benefits listed above.

Start off with 1 tablespoon in a full 8oz of water, stir it up and enjoy :)  Please give yourself a little time to get used to the taste  - it’s prety disgusting at first, but it grows on you and you will enjoy it once you start enjoying the benefits of it!

If you truly don’t think you can handle the taste – here’s an alternative drink recipe that include honey.

I try to drink that mixture 1-2 times a day.  PLEASE NOTE: its not recommended to drink more than 3 tablespoons per day as its extremely acidic and could overtime cause damage to your stomach.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to facebook and/or email (info@extendYoga.com).

See you on the mat!

all about apple cider vinegar

all about apple cider vinegar

Today’s fun pose is brought to you be Amanda Credeur.  Come check out Amanda’s classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.  For the schedule of classes click here.

Astavakrasana/Eight-Angle Pose

Asta means eight, vakra means bent or curved (angle), and asana means pose.

This pose includes a forward fold, twist, hip opener/leg extension, and arm balance all rolled into one. Keep an open mind when practicing (just have fun with it!) and you’ll gain increased core and arm strength, enjoy a deep twist, gain flexibility in the hips and hamstrings and get a huge confidence boost. Before you try this pose, you should do a few rounds of sun salutations, warrior 1warrior 2extended side angle, low lunge and lizard. After you’re done practicing eight angle pose, enjoy a cool down of child’s pose, happy baby and corpse pose. Please do not practice this pose if you have any injuries in your hands, arms or shoulders. If you have knee injuries you can keep your knees bent as much as you need to in this pose.

 

Let’s start on the right side!

 Sit up straight, with your legs stretched out in front of you. Grab your right foot with both hands and gently bend your knee toward your chest; put your knee under your arm pit. Slide your right arm on the inside of your thigh, under your calf, and put your right hand on the floor. If you can manage, put your left hand on the floor (both hands on either side of your hips); if that doesn’t feel stable, keep holding your foot with the opposite hand. Grounding down through your hips and your hands, lengthen your leg for 3-5 breaths, and then let your leg go.

 Bend your knees, putting your feet flat on the floor. Put your right hand between your legs, twist to the left. Pressing your hands through the floor, keep twisting and bending your elbows. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

 

Cross your left leg (bottom leg) over your right ankle (top ankle). Squeeze your arm with your thighs. No, really; sqeeeeeeeze your arm and start engaging your inner core muscles (root lock/mula bandh anyone?).

 

Pressing into your hands (fingertips are important!), use your feet for support to lift your hips off the floor. Remember: bend your elbows, open your chest toward the floor.

 

Press your feet and hands into the floor and lift your hips up; try to keep your shoulders level with each other by dropping the shoulder with your leg on it, and lifting the free shoulder up.

If you feel confident enough, lift your feet off the floor by stretching the legs out (you can keep a bend in the knees). Lifting with your thighs won’t get your far; you have to use those inner core muscles and work on the balance of the pose between your hips and your feet.

 

Relax, and sit back down. Readjust in the twist to set up for one more try. Make sure your thighs are squeezing your upper arm (above your elbow).

 

 Lift your feet off the floor, and extend through the heels. Keep your feet lifting tot the ceiling and use your hands and abs to lift your hips off the floor.

Slowly lower your chest to the floor by lifting your hips up. Press your tailbone back, and press your heels away from you. It’s a balancing act of opening the chest, lifting the hips, and extending the legs…. try to keep your shoulders level. Look forward, breathe and smile! Slowly sit back down.  Do child’s pose, downward facing dog, and then repeat on the other side.

If you have any questions at all, comment on our Facebook page, or email us at info@extendYoga.com. Amanda is happy to answer questions.

Come try out astavakrasana in Amanda’s classes next week!

See you on the mat!

fun pose friday: astavakrasana

fun pose friday: astavakrasana

What we’re loving this week is very scattered!

The humidity here is getting a little out of control.  For those of you whose hair is unaffected – ignore this post and know that we are all super jealous!  For the rest of us, I found a natural Frizz Fighting hair mask reicpe on MindBodyGreen:

  • Blend together 1 cup of pure coconut milk, 1 ripe avocado, 3 tablespoons of honey, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Mix at high speed in a blender until smooth. Generously apply evenly to shampooed hair. (If you or your nieces have fine hair, avoid your roots to keep your hair from looking flat).
  • Cover with shower cap and allow it to sit on hair for at least 15 minutes (and up to 1 hour, depending on how much time you have!).
  • Rinse and follow with conditioner. Leftovers can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Here are 4 Simple Ways to Be Happy.  They really are simple!  My favorite might be to “Lose your addiction to ‘dramayama’”- what a great word!

 

I’m loving summer and fresh, local farmers markets!  Need a guide to know when fruits and veggies are in season?  Here’s a great cheat sheet!  Right now its: Corn, Eggplant, Bell Peppers and Okra for veggies and in the fruits its: Apples, Figs, Grapes, Mango, Watermelon and Tomatoes.  Eat up!

 

See you on the mat!

Zero Frizz, Happy, Watermelon

Zero Frizz, Happy, Watermelon

 

Today’s fun pose is Hanumanasana or Splits pose.

Here’s the story behind the name:

Hanuman is the monkey God whose story is narrated in the Ramayana (an ancient Hindu epic).   He is one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon and his story in the Ramayana is known for its astounding ability to give the reader inspiration to face ordeals and conquer lifes obstructions.  In the Ramayana he was given the task of locating Rama’s wife Sita, who had been kidnapped by the demon king of Lanka.  The story goes that he took a giant leap across the ocean between India and the island of Lanka to rescue Sita, and Hanumanasana represents his super-human leap.  So if this pose is difficult for you or requires perseverance to achieve, relax, because you are embodying the true feeling of the pose.

Benefits:

  • helpful in gaining flexibility
  • stretches the thighs, hamsrings and groins
  • stimulates the abdonminal organs and makes the blood flow properly through your veins

There are a lot of prepatory steps in realizing the full expression of the pose, and you may only make it to the first one.  Instead of cursing yourself for not getting it, learn to love your individual experience and be happy where you are at.  You will get it!

You can see all the steps on how to get into this pose by clicking here.

And here’s Arlet and I practicing Hanumanasana on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain last fall:

 

Enjoy!

fun pose: hanumanasana

fun pose: hanumanasana

Today we’re loving guest blogging for Hitched Salon in Georgetown.  Check out our post on getting wedding dress ready and staying relaxed during all the crazy planing:  From Hello to Hitched

 

(free class is for new customers only)

See you on the mat!

say “i do” to Yoga!

say “i do” to Yoga!

With summer right around the corner (YAY!), it means schools are coming to an end.  Lots of our students are coming in for their daily zen, their time to get away from their books/notes/library and take some time to breathe.

We’ve all been in experiences where we’ve had some symptons of anxiety – Sunday night blues, butterflies and nerves before a first date, a racing heart in a job interview, or a complete blank out during a big test.

While it might be difficult to practice most yoga poses sitting in a conference room waiting for an interview to start, or sitting at a desk while your exams get handed out, we’re going to highlight some poses you can practice to combat stress before you leave your home (or even if you can sneak away to a bathroom).

The poses below are just some of the many yoga asanas that can help reduce your stress and anxiety.  If its too hard to remember  a specific pose, just remember this: try and get your heart higher than your head, or even your feet higher than your heart.

What’s important to remember in any case of stress or anxiety is to continue to breathe, so while in any of the asanas below be sure to keep your breath strong and steady.  Click here to read more about the importance of breath.

 

 

Seated Forward Bend

For instructions on how to get into the pose, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing Forward Bend / Uttanasana

For instructions on how to get into the pose, click here

 

 

 

 

 

Dolphin Pose

For instructions on how to get into this pose, click here

 

 

 

 

Malasana / Garland Pose

For instructions on how to get into this pose, click here

While in Malasana, reach your hands out in front of you (about 12 inches) and place them flat on the floor.  Then just rest your neck down, almost touching your chin to your chest and slightly round your back into your squat.  This puts the head a little below the heart and helps to relax your body. (it’s also very comfortable and calming)!

 

Now you have a few strong poses under your belt to practice when you’re feeling stressed and/or anxious.  Here’s how the poses benefit your nervous system and overall body:

  • Enhances your ability to concentrate and remain focused.  These poses help increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve mild depression
  • Helps the body effectively relax by relieving tension and pain in your muscles that is often caused by stress
  • Relives headache, insomnia, back pain and fatigue
Good luck – and remember to breathe!
See you on the mat!

yoga for stress and anxiety

yoga for stress and anxiety

I’m up in Massachusetts for the weekend and was able to catch an amazing class this morning.  Not only was the instructor incredible, but it was in my moms studio, AND I was practicing inbetween my sister and my best friend – does it get any better than that?!

While we worked up a great sweat and had very energetic sequences, we also worked on a new pose (to me) – eka hasta bhujasana (elephant pose).  We actually did elephant pose to astavakrasana (eight angle pose), but that’s a whole new future post.  Like most asanas, I found that one side was much easier than the other.

Here’s what it does for you:

  • Strengthens the arms and abdominal muscles.
  • Stretches the hips and groins.

Here’s the step by step.  (And if you’re really feeling crazy here’s a video of elephant pose to eight angle pose)

Sorry for the late and quick post – its our engagement party this weekend and we’ve been running around like crazy getting everything together.

Have a great weekend and see you on the mat,
Antonia

fun pose friday: eka hasta bhujasana

fun pose friday: eka hasta bhujasana

 

I’m a big Bethenny Frankel fan, she had me at Real Housewives of NYC.  I was so happy to watch her season finale and see that she got the talk show that she wanted!  Here’s a quick article from YogaDork that has a video of Bethenny and Ellen.

 

There’s nothing better than a cold smoothie with all this heat!  Never know whether to blend or to juice?  Check out this article for some advice and tips! 

 

Have you ever tried Bikram Yoga?  Here at extendYoga we offer an alignment based practice in a VERY HOT room that is Bikram inspired called Traditional Hot Yoga.  You can read this article entitled “5 Reasons Why I Love Bikram Yoga” and come check it out!

And lastly: While the summer is HOT and its here, you can still benefit so much from taking a heated yoga or hot yoga class.  Here are some Tips for Enduring Hot Yoga Class.

 

Enjoy your week and see you on the mat!

 

what we’re loving: Bethenny, Smoothies and Hot Yoga

what we’re loving: Bethenny, Smoothies and Hot Yoga

The term ‘sugar addiction’ has finally been making some headway in the media.
Ironically, the cause of sugar addiction truly stems from the mind. Researchers say that sugar and the taste of sweet is said to stimulate the brain by activating beta endorphin receptor sites, the same chemicals activated in the brain by the ingestion of heroin and morphine. Sugar is a manufactured, white substance just like the two mentioned above. Why else would it be so hard to give up coffee (with sugar added), diet or regular sodas, chocolates, cake, sweet treats and so on. Everyone, I mean everyone, has a food or drink vice (be it big or small) that is contributing to their lack of vibrant health. It took me 4 years to get my dad fully off of coffee. His coffee was full of three heapings of sugar, but it finally happened. (replaced with green tea, no sugar) If my dad can do it after drinking coffee for 75 years, beating a sugar or caffeine addiction certainly IS possible. After all, none of us are perfect, but we all continue to strive for better health and more energy.

Why this topic?
Because I have struggled too! I have to admit that my sugar of choice is dark chocolate. It’s much easier to be mindless and eat what we want UNTIL it is no longer serving you. I came to that place several years ago and although I do admittedly fall off of the “healthy eating” wagon now and then. When I do, my body pays the price and I jump back on. I’ve learned to eat what my body (not mind) needs at least 90% of the time. Sugar is also associated with many chronic conditions including decreased immunity, some chronic infections, diabetes, weight gain, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, pain syndromes, irritable bowel syndrome, ADD, chronic fatigue, and candida.

What about the food industry’s involvement?
Let’s reflect on advertising. Consumers are going about purchases without being mindful of what is fueling sugar addiction from marketing. (think pretty little candy packages) Add stress and the habitual use of food as a coping mechanism during busy days, skipped meals, emotional distress and so on. Before you know it, you have a full-blown addiction to sugar. (and the Mars Bars companies are more than happy to have you!)

Society needs a change for the better.
Our society and future generations need our help to educate them on how to break these habits and instill healthier choices. Children are being diagnosed with adult onset diabetes at alarming rates which increase every year. The time to change is now – as an individual, a family, a community, and a country if we just begin with ourselves. But how? Work with a nutrition educator, a health coach or a holistic nutritionist to help you better understand what’s behind your sugar addiction. You ca also learn to “crowd out” the foods that are no longer serving you. Start with a health food store tour and a pantry clean out to put you on the right track to continued success!

 

Leslie Edsall is a nutrition, yoga and health education expert who offers nutrition programs, teaches AM yoga at extendYoga and offers workshops in the local community. To learn more about Leslie: www.TrifectaWellness.com

the truth behind sugar addiction

the truth behind sugar addiction

With the long weekend almost here, we’re going to highlight a VERY fun yet, EXTREMELY challenging pose:  Eka Pada Rajakpotasana II (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II).

Here’s how the name of the pose breaks down in sanskrit:

eka = one
pada = foot
raja = king
kapota = pigeon

extendyoga

Want to know why to do it?  Some benefits include:

  • stretches the entire front of the body, including: ankles, thighs and groin, stomach and chest as well as the throat
  • stretches the deep hip flexors
  • strengthens back muscles
  • stimulates the organs in the abs and neck
  • can allow for deep emotional insight
  • stills the mind, and calms the nervous system
  • improves posture

To give you the step by step, including photos – we’re linking to Yoga Journal’s Challenge Pose with Kathryn Budig.

Send us photos of you in your Eka Pada Rajakpotasana to info@extendYoga.com and we’ll feature you on our facebook page!

Be sure to honor and remember all of the men and women who have lost their lives serving our nation this weekend. Happy Memorial Day!

 

See you on the mat!

 

fun pose Friday: eka pada rajakpotasana II

fun pose Friday: eka pada rajakpotasana II

With our new blog look we’re launching a bit of new blog content.  So, every Wednesday you can look forward to seeing what’s hot on our radar.

 

hot yoga, yoga

 New Yoga Clothes.  Okay so, maybe we did agree with #9 on this yoganonymous list that’s been going around, but there’s something about new yoga clothes that bring back the “new back to school clothes shopping” experience.  With summer right around the corner, it’s a great excuse to pick up a few new pieces.   I’m loving this lululemon power dance tank in heathered rose quartz.  Its a perfect staple for hot yoga classes this summer, and the light color will look great with a sunkissed glow!

yoga, extendYoga

 THIS LADY.    Many of you have seen the interview with Master Tao Porchon Lynch who just got inducted into the Guiness Book of World Records for being the oldest living yoga teacher at 93!!!  For those of you who haven’t seen it – you can click here.  Its worth checking out for the beautiful photos!

 

 

How many of us look like the photo on the left for 40 hours a week?  If you substistute the computer in the photo for a smartphone/ipad/kindle then its probably more like 60 hours.  Ladies Home Journal posted this article  (its an oldie but goodie) about how to incorporate yoga into your workday.  I especially like the chairtwist.  The photo is great:

 

What have you seen lately that you’re loving?  If you want to submit something that you can’t get enough of you can email us at info@extendYoga.com

See you on the mat!

 

what we’re loving

what we’re loving

Today’s post is written by one of extendYoga’s talented instructors, Amanda.

A Call to Give and a Big Thank You!

We’ve all heard the word karma before, in a joke, in a yoga class, or in an article. Karma Yoga is one of the six branches of the yoga tree. Most of us are familiar with the branch of Hatha Yoga, which focuses primarily on the practice of asana/postures. Karma Yoga focuses on yoga through action, with an emphasis on seva, selfless giving. Since the concept and practice of Karma Yoga is immense enough for many blog posts, today’s post will focus on seva, sometimes simply referred to as service. When you donate to an organization, hold the door open for someone else, or lend an ear to friend, you are practicing seva.

Spring and summer are great times to think about seva (selfless giving). There are ample opportunities to attend donation yoga classes, run a 5K, volunteer for environmental projects, and donate money or other items of need to organizations/causes. Seva is very personal, so before you decide to give of yourself, you should reflect on your values. What causes are important to YOU? Cancer research? Homelessness? Giving in line with your values will ensure you foster an even greater connection to the cause, and feel even better about your action(s). Whether you give because you feel a connection to a person, event, or organization, allow yourself to reflect. Seva is a great addition to any yoga practice because it brings you on a journey of self reflection.  You’ve done something selfless for another; breath deeply into those feelings.  Reflecting on seva will allow you to see and enjoy the gift.  Seva always includes a gift back to you: a chance for self discovery, or even a wonderful yoga class.

While there are plenty of individual ways to give back to your community, partnering with a business that takes seva seriously, is wonderfully rewarding and particularly easy. We don’t all have the resources for large donations, or a room to host a yoga class; that’s where businesses come into the seva picture. Businesses, especially local, have resources to double our gifts by allowing us to partner with our fellow yoga students, and neighbors. You also get greater satisfaction knowing your gift has community impact. extendYoga is one of these businesses dedicated to seva. For our students, it is important to show that we care just as much about our community as you do. With that in mind, we plan on actively participating in community seva, which allows you an easy way to practice seva along with us. Since extendYoga doors opened in November we’ve collected three large boxes of toys for Toys for Tots, held a donation class that raised funds to purchase high efficiency laundry detergent for Interfaith Women’s Shelter, and held a blood drive for American Red Cross (free class to those that donated).  Just a few weeks ago I was honored to teach a donation class that raised $155 for  St. Jude’s Research Hospital.  None of this could have be done without YOU. You are the yogis graciously giving to benefit others, so thank you. We appreciate your support in making this community a better place, and ask that you continue to partner with us in all our seva events.

Our next donation class is Saturday, May 19th (you can sign up on our website here); donations will benenfit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Also this summer will be a donation class benefiting Headstand for DC (www.headstand.org) date TBD (check our website or facebook for more information).  If you have any ideas for other service events or organizations in the area that we can partner with, please let us know.

Much love & gratitude,

Amanda

extendYoga

12106 Wilkins Ave

Rockville, MD 20852

www.extendYoga.com 

karma yoga

karma yoga

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here.  It’s good to be back on the blog and I’m excited to blog about something that is very important to me.  :)

So many are uninformed, scared, nervous and have misconceptions about this topic.  The topic being: donating blood.  Don’t… stop… reading… see?  I knew you’d be hesitant to hear more!

Well, the fact of the matter is, that yes, you may think it’s scary, BUT when you have the power to actually save someone’s life in a matter of just an hour– I think it’s pretty easy to get over those fears.  It may also help to know that every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 38,000 donations are needed EVERY DAY.

Now of course, some may have legitimate medical reasons to not donate, but 37% of Americans ARE eligible to donate (and less than 10% actually do).

If you are part of that 10%– THANK YOU!  And please continue to save lives with your donations.

That other 27%… well if you have ever thought about donating, but said to yourself: “It’s not for me, there is enough blood, they don’t need mine, I don’t like needles…” or any other excuse, here is an opportunity to finally try it!

On April 20, 2012: 9am-3pm, we will be hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross.

Everyone who signs up will not only have the opportunity to save a life, but will get 1 FREE CLASS at extendYoga to use by Oct 31, 2012.  AND– you will also be entered into a raffle with other April donors to win a 16GB iPad2!  WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO SIGN UP!? (well here is a whole list of more reasons)

We have 3 classes during the drive, so feel free to take a $5 Friday yoga class, donate blood and top off your day with free juice and cookies!  Sounds like an AWESOME Friday to me!

Fri, April 20 classes during the drive:
8:30am Hatha Yoga (mixed level)
9:30am Flow (mixed level)
12noon Flow (mixed level)

While IN class, here are some yoga poses you can work on to help your blood circulation and flow:
-Deep breathing
-Inversions: shoulder stand, headstand
-Standing postures: warrior poses, triangle pose, tree pose
-Relaxing/Restoring postures: shavasana, legs up the wall

To sign up:
call the studio: 301-881-3330
sign up directly at: http://www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation
or respond to our blood drive facebook invite

I hope to see you there and please invite your friends (it’s always nice to have a buddy with you)!

Yours truly,
Arlet, blood type A+ :)

Have questions?
Feel free to call the Red Cross: 1-800-Give Life
Myself or Antonia at the studio: 301-881-3330

Some more helpful links:
Donor eligibility requirements
How to prepare/what to do before donating
What to eat before donating
Blood Facts and Statistics

***If anyone is available and interested to Volunteer for part of or the whole day– please let me know!  We need someone to help pass out juice and cookies.  :)

extendYoga

12106 Wilkins Ave, Rockville, MD 20852

What’s better than a free yoga class?… saving a life… or two!

What’s better than a free yoga class?… saving a life… or two!

Today’s blog is coming from extendYoga’s talented instructor, Amanda Credeur.

Celebrate Spring (& our REOPENING) by Saluting the Sun.

Spring is known as a time of renewal, so it is fitting that the reopening of extendYoga coincides with the Spring Equinox (March 22nd).   Come celebrate the Spring Equinox THIS SATURDAY for FREE! at 1pm.  Along with rebirth, the Spring Equinox is associated with he most well known yoga sequence, the Sun Salutation* (Surya Namaskar). As we move from the shadows of winter into the spring sunlight, sun salutations are a wonderful way to welcome this new season.

The sun salutation sequence is great as a short, daily, home practice, which can help maintain proper alignment between regular yoga classes. Regularly practicing sun salutations is a great way to check in with your body every day; since the sequence includes the same poses, noticing subtle changes in the body between practice sessions becomes easier. One of the best benefits of regularly practicing sun salutations is that the poses build a strong foundation for many intermediate and advanced poses. If strength isn’t always what you’re looking for, any memorized sun salutation can be used as a form of moving mediation.

While the most popular Sun Salutation is Surya Namaskar A (pictured above), there are many other versions and variations. Anyone can easily adjust Surya Namaskar A to fit their practice level. For example, the sequence can be modified by holding some of the poses longer than one breath, practicing lunges when stepping forward and backward or practicing hand stands as the transition to and from downward facing dog. The possibilities are endless! We hope you’ll join us in our flow and power yoga classes to learn the many variations and benefits of the Sun Salutation sequence. Join us in our celebration of spring by saluting the sun!

As a way to get you back into your yoga practice since we’ve been closed – extendYoga is offering this class FREE on Saturday, March 17th at 1pm.  Be sure to sign up online: HERE or call the studio: 301.881.3330 to reserve your spot!

See you on the mat,

Amanda

*Link to pose names and descriptions of the full sequence: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2746?page=2

Please note: While there are many benefits of practicing sun salutations there are also possible pitfalls. If you have injuries, especially in the shoulders, wrists, or feet, you should ask your instructor for modifications or forego practicing poses within the sequence that you cause discomfort. 

extendYoga

12106 Wilkins Ave in Rockville, MD 20852

info@extendYoga.com

301.881.3330

Saturday: 108 Sun Salutations to Celebrate Spring (and our reopening!)

Saturday: 108 Sun Salutations to Celebrate Spring (and our reopening!)

Today’s post is written by Emma Andrews, one of the lovely instructors here at extendYoga.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are one of the ancient texts containing the basis of the philosophy of yoga. Written in Sanskrit, the text is broken up into four different sections, “padas”, or “feet”. Each pada contains short lines or, “sutras”. These sutras are meant to be contemplated as part of a student’s mental and physical practice of yoga. Dating back to somewhere between 5,000 B.C. and 300 A.D. , the sutras were intended for a very different student,  but I believe they are still relevant nuggets of wisdom to broaden the modern-day student’s mind.

“’Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah.’

The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.’”

-        Samadhi Pada, Sutra 2. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

This second sutra speaks to a core theme of yoga. Yoga isn’t just about doing different poses to build up flexibility and strength; it’s about finding focus and peace on the mat and transferring those discoveries into daily life. I know, it sounds a bit hokey, but consider that as a yoga student you’re moving through different poses to build strength and flexibility so one day you can do the poses without worrying about the actions. In the same way a natural runner runs to clear their mind, a natural yogi (or yogini) comes to the mat to clear their mind. Moving through the actions becomes calming and meditative.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to move through vinyasa after vinyasa in a meditative state, but next time you’re in class, see if you can practice yoga without letting all the “vrittis” (mind chatter) get in the way. When the voices in your head start chattering, see if you can push them away and focus on what you’re doing in that present moment. Learning to restrain your thoughts is part of the practice of yoga.

-Emma

extendYoga

12106 Wilkins Ave

Rockville/North Bethesda, MD 20852

finding peace and focus on the mat

finding peace and focus on the mat

While our post a few weeks ago was about going green (if you missed it you can read it HERE), today’s post is about GETTING your greens.

Like us, I’m sure you all had big hopes of being super healthy, eating right, exercising more, (insert resolution here) in 2012.  Its been two and a half months – how are you all doing!?  If you’ve fallen off the New Years Resolution wagon – don’t be too hard on yourself, its not too late to get back on track.

An easy way to make sure you’re eating right is to make sure you’re loading up on greens – the more the merrier.  My favorite green right now is Kale,  I cannot get enough.  Apparently I’m not the only one.  The Huffington Post recently wrote and article “7 Reasons Kale is the New Beef” and lululemon athletica recently blogged “whats up with kale”.

Here are some reasons why Kale is such a super food:

  • one cup of kale contains over 1000% of your daily recommended value of vitamin K (which supports one growth and regulates blood clotting), and over 350% of your daily value of vitamin A (helps your vision, growth, bone formation, tissue repair, etc) and  5 grams of fiber
  • per calorie kale has more iron than beef
  • per calorie kale contains more calcium than milk! (and its also better absorbed by the body than dairy)
  • a serving of kale contains 121mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 92.4mg of omega-6 fatty acids
The list goes on!
Want to know how to incorporate it into your life?  Here’s an easy recipe for a quick smoothie with only 4 ingredients (and it’s gluten free/vegan):
1 banana
1 green apple (cut in pieces)
1 cup kale
1 cup spinach (or more!)

Throw all in a blender and add water as needed.   It only takes about 5 minutes to make, and gets you 2 fruits and 2 vegetables (and I promise it doesn’t taste like spinach!).   Its a great breakfast smoothie and gets you your greens first thing in the morning!

Now that I’ve told you my secrets – tell me, How do you incorporate greens into your life?

extendYoga

12106 Wilkins Ave, North Bethesda MD 20852

301.881.3330

getting your greens

getting your greens

Everywhere you look people are doing yoga.  Not only “normal” people like you and I, but everyone from star athletes to celebrities to OPRAH incorporate yoga into their lives.

There are so many benefits to practicing Yoga it would be hard to name (and type!) them all in this blog.  For  example, Sting says Yoga is reversing the aging process, and Meg Ryan says it changes her life.  You can read about the other celebs who have a regular practice HERE.

Matthew McConaughey practices yoga shirtless (does he ever wear a shirt?!) on the beach, and Jennifer Aniston says yoga is therapeutic for her (and helped her get over Brad).

Now onto athletes…

Superbowl bound NE Patriots Cornerback Devin McCourty credits his success to hot yoga in the off-season.  And Lebron James’s secret is Yoga (and where he practices is a secret too!)

Do you want to have a regular practice but don’t have a celebrity paycheck?  Not a problem!  extendYoga’s new schedule starts FEBRUARY 1st and we’re happy to announce that we have Four classes for $5 on Fridays in February.  Join us every week and enjoy and hour of yoga for just $5 (that’s less than a latte at Starbucks!).  We’re also teaming up with lululemon athletica to offer COMPLIMENTARY classes on Sundays at 11am – that’s right, $0 for one hour of yoga!  At extendYoga we’re making it more affordable than ever to get yoga into your life.

See you on the mat!

extendYoga

12106 Wilkins Ave

Rockville, MD

www.extendYoga.com

yoga: everybody’s doing it

yoga: everybody’s doing it

We’ve been getting lots of compliments on our unique artwork here at extendYoga.  In the past few years Arlet and I’s yoga mats have seen hundreds of hot yoga classes in a number of different cities and, needless to say, they have taken a lot of wear and tear.  With the opening of extendYoga we decided to end our relationship with our old mats and hang them on our (new) walls to give them the proper retirement they deserve.

Here are some (iphone) photos of our mats:

Framing our mats was our way to recycle our mats, and hold onto our memories (not to mention, have free and meaningful artwork for our walls).

Here’s a list of other ways to recycle your yoga mat if you find (like most of us) that you have those few mats that you can’t get rid of but just don’t use anymore: 50-ways-reuse-your-yoga-or-fitness-mat

And just because we’re on the subject, below are some of our favorite (and eco-friendly) products.

With all the yummy tea at the extendYoga Tynan Tea bar, we’re trying to use plastic, reusable tea cups: Eco_Cold_Drink_Cup

A refillable water bottle is always great to have.  There are BPA free, stainless steal and contain no paint or plastic:  www.kleankanteen.com

Enjoy going green!

going green

going green

2011 was a great year, lots of exciting events, fun changes, and many things to be very thankful for.  We’d like to take a moment to thank EVERYONE for their support of extendYoga.  Arlet and I relied so heavily on our friends and family in 2011, and we’re so blessed to have such a supportive group surrounding us.  In addition to our friends and family we also have an amazing group of instructors at extendYoga that we are so lucky to have. They have believed in us from the start, stuck with us through a lot of construction set backs during our opening process, and they continue to amaze us with their support for the studio, and their belief in us and extendYoga.  And last, but certainly not least, we have a wonderful group of clients in our community that we can’t thank enough for coming to classes and visiting us at the studio! Thank you all so very much, we appreciate you all every day!

Now for a personal thanks – and that’s to my best friend, business partner, and basically my better half.  I could not have lucked out more in having Arlet as my business partner and I’m so thankful for her everyday. I never knew I could sit next to and talk to someone for 12-14 hours a day, and then when we part still feel the need to call immediately because there’s something else to discuss (whether its a new marketing idea for the studio, or to recap what happened on the latest episode of the Kardashians…yes, we watch the show – don’t judge).

With all those thanks out there, and without finishing my novel on all the reasons I’m thankful for Arlet – I’m going to shift to 2012.  The New Year is here, and I’m sure (like us) you’ve all made your new years resolutions and intend to keep them throughout the year.

One of our intentions for the studio is to give back – to you, and to the community.  We’re continuing this intention in 2012, and already have a lot on the calendar for it.

  • We know yoga can be expensive, and we want to make sure it can be accessible to everyone so we offer two $5 classes per week at extendYoga.  Check out our schedule to see the $5 class times: http://extendyoga.com/classes/schedule/.
  • We’re offering a FREE ZUMBA class on Thursday, January 5th.  To sign up online click here.
  • We have an ALL PROCEEDS GO TO CHARITY class on January 16th.  The class is only $5, so please feel free to donate more.  All proceeds will go to buying high effiency laundry detergent for the Interfaith Works Womens Shelter in Rockville.  You can sign up for that class here.  We’re planning lots of other ways to give back to you and the community – so if you have any causes you are passionate about and would like to work with us please email us at info@extendYoga.com

To end this post with some laughs – I’m going to repost YogaDork’s 10 best and funniest Yoga videos of 2011.  You can see the top 10 and watch them HERE.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Namaste,

Antonia

Set your intentions for 2012

Set your intentions for 2012

While I’m sure everyone is prepared this year, and already has their gifts purchased and wrapped, we have the perfect gifts for the yogi in your life.

I’m an avid blog reader, and YogaDork is on my list of daily reads.  YogaDork posted the “Best Yoga Gifts of the Year” on their site…you can check that list out here: http://www.yogadork.com/news/yogadork-holiday-gift-guide-2011-the-best-yoga-gifts-of-the-year/

I decided it was time for me to put together my yoga wish list for 2011 Holidays (just in case Santa reads our blog):

Since the studio is finally open I’ve been taking a lot of classes with our great instructors.  My mat is getting a lot of wear and tear so I’m going to be needing a new one soon!  This kulae tpECOmat in midnight/ blossum is great for hot yoga, its very anti-slip!

I love a versatile pant that I can practice in and then keep on while I run some errands.  These Zweet Lima Capri’s are the mix of style and function and let’s be honest, I love anything with rouching!

Lululemon No Limit Tank, this is the perfect top for all the hot yoga classes I’ve been taking at extendYoga.

For anyone who knows me, you know my ideal outfit (for any season other than in the summer) is yoga clothes, and now that I work in a yoga studio I can get away with wearing my yoga clothes everyday!   I can’t get enough of the Run: Your Heart Out Pullover from Lululemon.  I’m a sucker for anything with thumbholes.

After class its tough to go out in the cold with my capris and uggs (since a part of my calf is exposed to the winter!), so I’ve been loving leg warmers lately to keep my whole leg warm and bridge the gap between my boots and my capris.  These leg warmers are hand crafted in the USA and are made from reused, recycled and earth friendly materials.

These Made with Love Recycled Rubber Bracelets are great to wear during yoga because they can bend with you, and don’t make any loud clinking noises like other bangles.  The best perk is that the proceeds go to providing shelter, meals, education and training programs to children from the streest of Dakar, Senegal.

Now that I’ve outlined my ideal outfit and day to you, what’s on your holiday wish list?

Still need a gift for the yogi (or anyone) in your life?  At extendYoga, we have lots of variety in our retail shop and you don’t have to worry about shipping costs, or your gift not getting here in time.  We also have great holiday specials going on until January 7th (only $950 for a YEAR membership with unlimited classes!  Way to get a jump start on your New Years Resolutions!), as well as gift certificates in any amount.

Stop in to take your favorite class, try something you never have, buy a last minute gift, or just unwind with some gourmet, complimentary tea from our Tynan Tea Bar.

happy holidays and namaste,

Antonia

a guide to top yogi gifts

a guide to top yogi gifts

a few big December announcements for you all!

Our Holiday Fair is fast approaching!  Come to the studio on Saturday, December 17th anytime between 12-4pm and finish your holiday shopping!  Our class packages will be 10% off!  We’re featuring local artists, crafts, jewelry, clothing, organic cleaning products, accessories, etc.  Stop by and put your name in our jar.  One lucky attendee will recieve a MONTH of FREE unlimited classes, and three people will win 5 class passes!

We’re an official TOYS FOR TOTS drop off, so please bring by any new and unwrapped gifts.  We are collecting gifts until December 20th.  For more information on the organization check out the website: Toys for Tots.

And last, but not least – we have some holiday specials to share!

For someone who wants to try out yoga…
YOGA 101 GIFT PACK
5 yoga classes with suggested class plan
1 yoga mat
$15 gift card to our retail area

$75 (a $115 value!)

For the yoga-fanatic in your life (or for yourself!)…
YEAR UNLIMITED
1 year unlimited Yoga (that comes to only $79/month!)
$15 gift card to our retail area

$950 (a $1165 value!)

For anyone and everyone…
GIFT CERTIFICATES available in any amount!

(holiday specials available through Sat, Jan 7, 2012)

Winter is finally here!

Winter is finally here!

Well… we did it!!!  We are open!

This is a little overdue… but THANK YOU to all of those who came to our grand opening celebration on the 5th.  And a special thanks to so many friends and family members who worked so hard and helped the week leading up to the opening (we had a lot of late nights and pizza dinners)!

We were more than thrilled with the turnout and it was truly a special day for Antonia and I.  We are so thankful for all the support and grateful to be a part of the community.

 

 

Our 10 minute sample classes at the opening were a hit!

Our visitors loved 10 minute Zumba! Check out a full Zumba class at the studio 6pm-7pm on Thursday nights!

Me and my mom at the front desk under our logo decal we had put up a couple days before the party (we love it)!

Our first couple weeks in business have been great.  We are excited to see new faces and get to know our neighbors each day.  Don’t forget that we are offering 10% off all our packages for the rest of November!

Stay tuned for information on our first HOLIDAY FAIR!  On Sat, Dec 17, 12pm-4pm we will be opening the studio up to the community and local vendors who will be showcasing their crafts, art and more, for all to enjoy!  extendYoga will be offering 10% off all packages during the holiday fair as well.

Last of all, with thanksgiving around the corner… we take a look at how far we have come and how blessed and THANKFUL we are for everything that we have and for everything that lies ahead.  We wouldn’t be able to follow our dreams without those who love and support us every day.

And to Antonia– I have no idea what I would ever do without you!!!  I could tell you in person, but I feel the world (or our handful of blog followers) should know what a wonderful, supportive, patient and caring person, friend and business partner you are. :)

Gobble gobble!  Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Arlet