Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween in review

Rocketmen and women, jelly fish in Williamsburg and lots of eyeballs. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some help with insomnia

Shakti Mudra is great for when you have trouble falling asleep.
How to do it: Put the tips of the ring fingers and little fingers together. Middle and first finger are bent downwards and the thumb is placed over them. Done with slow breathing and focus on the pelvic area.

I took great Yoga class today at Atmananda. We worked on lots of advanced poses like bird of paradise, peacock and scorpion. I didn't expect to, but I actually got my scorpion today! I was working so much on focusing that BAM! There it was. But I got kinda scared and got out of it right away. AHH that weird "AHA moment, it strangely freaks me out. Check out my break down of scorpion in a previous post here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Competitive Yoga

I'm not big on it, but here it is!

Mike Schreiber's True Hip-Hop book...look for it!

Cash & Caviar :: Photographer Mike Schreiber from cash caviar on Vimeo.

TRX and Prithivi Mudra

Last night I took a TRX class. It was so hard! If you check out the link, its basically suspension straps that you use to do exercises with your own body weight. Basic ones are planks, push-ups, and lunges. But there are lots of other cool exercises that can really kick your ass. Just started offering it at Five Points! I also tried it at Nimble Fitness which is expensive but more of a semi-private type of studio.

And now onto Prithivi Mudra aka Earth Mudra. Join the tips of your ring finger and your thumb together, then extend the other fingers. Same on both hands. This is great for restoring equilibrium and self assurance. And for fun, the last picture is my half bound, kneeling lunge. One day I will make the full backbend!

Jump backs and Jump forwards

Have you ever been in a Yoga class and in the front of the room you watch these intense Yoga guys do their vinyasas like they're flying in the air? I mean they fly up into a hand stand and weightlessly land into a perfect chattarunga. Then when they come forward from downward facing dog they fly up again into a perfect handstand, hover weightlessly, effortlessly then slowly land with their feet right there behind their hands. OK well its not always guys, I have seen some amazing women do it but men with their upper body know. Whatever the case maybe, its frigggin amazing and beautiful to watch. It is also a dream of mine to be able to do it.

My jump backs are much better than my jump forwards but on either end I haven't been attempting handstands really. I can't even really do a handstand without the safety of a wall behind me, which could be part of the problem. Also my hamstrings are sometimes so tight I can't be in uttanasana and have my hands planted completely flat...more like finger tips. Well, here is a video I think is helpful though it still seems this is one of those things that just take a lot of practice!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dr. Michael Greger's Nutrition of 2010 in Review!

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, among countless other symposia and institutions, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Come see and hear him speak
Pine Tree Spa
101 W 17th Street 2nd Floor (17th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY

When: Mon, Nov 1. 7-9pm
Suggested Donation: $10

More about Dr. Michael Greger:

Dr. Greger's recent scientific publications in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Critical Reviews in Microbiology, Family & Community Health, and the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition, and Public Health explore the public health implications of industrialized animal agriculture.

Dr. Greger is also licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition and was a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He was featured on the Healthy Living Channel promoting his latest nutrition DVDs and honored to teach part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's esteemed nutrition course at Cornell University.

Dr. Greger's books include Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, Carbophobia: The Scary Truth Behind America's Low Carb Craze, and Heart Failure: Diary of a Third Year Medical Student. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Sparkle Shine Glitter, Charity Fashion Celebrity

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shin splints and funky toe shoes.

I once got this really annoying injury called plantar fasciitis not from running but from walking around in flat shoes for an entire winter, when I tried to go back to normal shoes, the problem arose. Now this happened to me because I have a bit of an arch and my feet do not like flat shoes, especially ballet flats. My feet really like to either be barefoot or in a good sturdy 2.5-3" heel. I am not a doctor or anything, but I know what my body likes. Something we constantly have to remember in Yoga in order to prevent injury. Well I went to a podiatrist and he told me in order to allow it to heel I was to stay off heels. Well I will tell you the problem did not even begin to get better for 2 weeks. I could barely walk until I finally decided to walk around my house in comfortable heels...fixed in 1 week!

However, when I tried to get back onto the treadmill I started getting shin splints. One of the most annoying injuries ever because it takes forever to heal itself and it feels pretty miserable. I all together gave up running for a long time and though I sort of hate running, I do get runners high and I feel awesome after finishing a run. Lastly running is one of the few exercises where I see immediate results in my weight. After careful examination on the whole running situation I started to see that I was a heel striker. When I'm in running sneakers, I would strike my heel down first, then slap the rest of my foot down. I read all kinds of stuff about it but I also realized how much it applied to me. If I got on a treadmill with running shoes and tried to run for 10min at the speed of 5, I would feel the shin splints. I noticed in Capoeira class they had us warm up by running around on a wood floor barefoot, no pain. I started to realize, when I was barefoot I was no longer landing heel first. Further researching the whole thing I came upon theses weird toe shoes...Vibram 5 fingers. They have totally changed my whole view on running. I LOVE them. I still hate the task of running but once I get going and finish I feel pretty awesome. I don't recommend this for everyone, but it totes works for me! I have 2 pairs.

Above is the pair I use to run outdoors, which I do once in a blue moon. I have a friend who runs outdoors in them regularly, up to 10 miles...and then any more than that she swaps them for running shoes, but ultimately goes back and forth bc the Vibrams trained her to run more properly, thus preventing injuries. This also greatly helped my knee pains. Heel striking was really hard on my joints!

Now 2 great poses for shin splints.
1. Sarvangasana. Shoulder stand. Yeah one of my least favorites but I am pushing myself to do it more and more.
Lie flat on your back with arms by your sides, palms press down to the floor. Swing the hips and legs over head. Try to straighten legs, and flex feet, try to get the feet to touch the floor behind you. Interlace the fingers and walk the shoulders in towards each other. Now bring the hands to the lower back. Make sure you're not on your neck but you are on your shoulders. Bring legs straight up.

2. Viparita Karani. Legs up the wall pose. Sit with one side against the wall, legs extended, with one leg touching the wall. Lie down on your back and swing legs upward, positioning your butt where the floor and wall meet. It also feels really good to put a pillow or bolster under your sacrum.

These poses are both great to stay in for a long time as it allows the blood to flow back to your center, which helps the inflammation from the shin splints. Try it! Legs up the wall is also generally a great alternative to headstand or handstand.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Something different in Crowne Heights

I taught Yoga in a flower shop in Brooklyn today.

Yoga and Religion

The whole question of Yoga being religious or not always comes up. Some people vote that Yoga is more spiritual than religious but what does that really mean? I say it all the time... "I'm Spiritual not Religious". So to me it means...I don't subscribe to any one religion but I believe there is a higher power of things and I believe in things like Karma and treating people the way I want to be treated.  I believe in respecting my own family and their beliefs and where it all came from and I also DO NOT believe I should school people on their beliefs or believe that one way of thinking is more superior than the other.

Is Yoga religious? To tell you the truth I think it can get pretty religious. I have been in classes and workshops where the instructor is really trying to get me to subscribe to their way of thinking. Judging me for eating meat or wanting to have attachments. Maybe that is not everyone's idea of religion but it gets culty. It can get culty. And what exactly are they asking me to chant? Do they know themselves? OK so it may be my lack of knowledge, or it can also depend on a persons idea of religion. In the West we seem to think Religion is something specific. But in other cultures the lines are more blurred, there are family and ancestral traditions which I don't consider religious, but could be thought of that way by someone else. Also, there is the idea that Religion is part of a persons culture, where in the West there seems to be this idea that sometimes you can choose your religion by converting.

Whatever the case may be, you decide for yourself. I personally don't chant in classes except for OMs or if my friend Carol is teaching. (Only because she is my friend. ) In the meantime, check out these articles.

Yoga and Christianity

Yoga and Judaism

I may admit that it could seem religious, but I will have to say that...Yoga is NOT demonic...don't take it to the next level, now!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Squaring the hips.

The other night I was teaching my friend his first Yoga class and it was challenging on both sides. For me because I was assessing his ability level and at the same time trying to make it interesting and enjoyable and also trying to describe things to someone who doesn't have that much body awareness. Meaning that he is not used to following instructions based on how to move his body...kind of the way dancers or martial artists have great body awareness. They can watch something done and just mimic it right away. Or without having to look listen to directions and move accordingly. Comes with practice obviously. Well, I kept saying "square off your hips" and finally he was all "UHM what do you mean?" And I explained it meant to try to keep his hips in line. He thought almost every instruction was hilarious bc when I say to "square off your hips" that doesn't mean you have to actually have your hips completely square or inline, as much as it means to TRY to do it. Or when I said to him "twist open your chest towards the ceiling" it didn't mean his chest was actually going to be facing the ceiling, but just trying to do it!

Anyways it was funny but it got me thinking about the whole concept of squaring off the hips. which brings me to my yoga mat diagram. I want to use this diagram to mostly break down a lot of the standing lunge poses, such as warrior 1 and 2, extended side angle, parsvakonasana, parsvatonasanas.

OK first we will start with easy peasy -Tadasana. When you stand at the front of your mat, your toes should be in line with that first line there. I would draw that line about 1 inch from the top of your mat. Now draw a straight line vertically down the center disecting the mat evenly. Right foot stays on the right side and left foot stays on the left side. The second horizontal line is different for everyone. Its basically our plank like. Come into a perfect plank and then draw a line in front of your toes, and push back into a downward facing dog. Same line for both poses.

So going back to the whole squaring of the hips. When in warrior 1 you square your hips towards the front. Many times the alignment of the feet is, front foot straight forward at the center of the mat, facing 12 o'clock. The arch of the back foot is aligned in the center with the hell of the front foot. NOW, in that position, can you square your hips? I think thats pretty hard actually! And might kind of twerk your back knee. Think about revolved triangle or pyramid pose -parsvottonasana. If you're feet are in the ideal warrior positions...this too be difficult to do without twerking the knee and also balance wise. So here I suggest squaring off the hips and as a general rule...keep the right foot on the right side and the left foot on the left side. Now turn the back foot forward slightly and the hips can naturally square off.

Now to break down the downward dog/plank line on the diagram. When you are in warrior 1 your back foot is just in front of the line...still keeping right foot on right side, and left foot on left side. Front foot is always big toe in line with the line at the top of the mat. Same goes for pyramid pose.

Now you can bring your back leg behind the line when you go into warrior 2, here because you're squaring off to the side you can align heel to arch in the traditional way, or still keep right foot to right side, left foot to left side. Whatever feels good. The back foot also goes behind the line in extended side angle pose and lizard pose.

Of course there are so many different variations and ways of practicing yoga, but I really like using the lines on the mat. It gives me a place to be on my mat so when I am in down dog, my finger tips are always lined up, 1 inch from the top of the mat as well as my front foot in standing lunge poses. Secondly, the back line allowed me to measure my progression in how wide my stance got the more I practiced, until it is where it is today, which I think it will stay there but its a good marker for progress. And lastly, the idea of keeping left on left side and right on right side just gives me a good concept of constantly thinking about how square my hips or shoulders are in certain poses when they need to eb square.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That is not really how you're supposed to drink your tea.

This is what Soya looks like when she drinks tea. Green Apple tea to be exact. Sts Alps, 3rd ave.

Men and Misconceptions about Yoga

Another great link about boys doing yoga.
Part 2 of the 5-part series on MindBodyGreen regarding Men and Yoga

Yoga for Thyroid

There are some cool events and workshops coming up at Prema Yoga. A very cute studio in Carroll Gardens where my very good friend Carol (HA!) teaches. She is amazing and everyone should take her class! I am planning to check out this class since I am one of the 30% of people that has a Thyroid problem. 

Yoga for Thyroid Balancing | Awakening 5th Chakra
with Sarah Willis
Saturday October 30, 2010 | 4:00 - 6:00pm
$35 early-bird (up to October 25) | $40 at the door

Please pre register for this event by emailing
Some studies indicate that up to 30% of the American population suffers from thyroid disease, ranging from mild hypo- or hyper-thyroidism, to Graves Disease, and Haschimotos. Commonly employed modern medical practices include taking synthetic thyroid hormone daily; introducing radioactive iodine into the system; and in some cases, surgical removal of the gland. The ancient science of Yoga tackles the problem from a more wholistic point of view. Very specific yoga postures, pranayamas (breathing exercises), and meditation, are incorporated into daily practice, along with diet modification. Following such a protocol can provide real and lasting results to people suffering from thyroid disease, because when followed faithfully over time, the work re-calibrates and revitalizes glandular, and immune system function.
This workshop is open to everyone, whether you are diagnosed with hypo- or hyper-thyroid conditions. You do not need prior Yoga experience, nor do you have to be currently afflicted with thyroid disease to participate. 5th Chakra (for which thyroid and parathyroid glands are the energetic center) work is also helpful for those who would like to improve their hearing, and singing voices.

2 hour workshop includes:
*learning 5 Tibetan Rites (asana)
*correct practice of Thyroid Balancing Yoga poses
*discussion of anatomy & physiology of thyroid / parathyroid glands
*hand-outs with pertinent information for continuing study & practice
*nutrition / diet pointers
*a light healthy snack!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Candy rots your teeth.

Gummies using my android Retro Camera app.

Things that are not Yoga

So an update on my Aerial silks challenge...Saturday's lesson went well. I was able to climb much easier and hold myself onto the silks for like 3 seconds. Held myself enough to actually get this foot wrap:

And some info for Capoeirista's...Lululemon and Capoeira Brooklyn will have a free class tonight!

Capoeira Brooklyn and Lululemon are collaborating to offer two free one-hour introductory capoeira classes this week at Lululemon's Brooklyn Showroom, located at 472 Bergen Street.

tonight! Tues Oct 12: 7-8pm, Instrutora Rouxinol
           Thurs Oct 14: 7-8pm: Mestre Foca


Thursday, October 7, 2010

We have tons of classes!

I redesigned this because we have so many classes its hard to read!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things to add to your Epsom baths!

I am so big on repairing my body from the damage I do to it during the week. I do this very unhealthy thing in which I do not take days off from working out. EH I know its so bad! But I take active rest days! On those I run 2-3 miles and take a Yoga class. That happens about once a week. After its been so long I can't remember the last time I rested I will usually force a full total rest day, or it will happen on its own because of travel. ANYWAYS, because I do this to myself, I have to 1- do a lot of Yoga (because the other physical stuff I am doing is Muay Thai, running and Capoeira when I get the chance...and recently Aerial silks. ) 2- get massages and sometimes acupuncture and 3- take epsom baths. Actually, I should do the baths more often in order to save me $ from having to get massages and acupuncture! Especially because its been recommended to me to do at least once a week by my acupuncturist. This means that 1-my acupuncturist's main focus is not to make money off me and that he is a very good acupuncturist and 2 -that I REALLY should listen to him.

Here are my favorite bath products that are included in my bath ritual:
Epsom Salt -the whole carton! Hot, hot, hot as you can stand water! And stay in there for atleast 15min or as long as you can stand it.
The rest of my bath stuff comes from LUSH
Bath bombs! My favorites: Geo Phyzz, Fizzy O'Therapy and Avo Bath

Bubble bars, crumble them into the bath as the water fills the tub. My favorites: Sunny Side and the Comforter Bubble Bar

Bath melts that are lovely for the skin, just let them melt into the bath water. My Favorite, Mangoe melt!

Alice's Tea Cup

 So my new thing are these silly camera apps on my Droid phone. But more importantly my friends from the Bay came to visit and we went to this fabulous place called Alice's Tea Cup, Chapter 2.  They do high tea service. So cute and fun.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Savor the Seasons and boys doing Yoga!

I just took an AWESOME class at Atmananda with one of the instructors I missed the most! Joyce Yu, who is holding a workshop dealing with Yoga and Diet called Savor the Seasons on Sunday Oct 17th. For more info visit her website.

According to the NYT its ok for guys to do yoga now. DO IT!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Deconstructing Scorpion Pose

Seeing as I busted out my Peacock last week..though its obviously not mastered yet...Yoga is a practice! I thought I would start to refocus back on my scorpion pose, which has been another difficult pose to get. Every once in awhile I can hold it for just 1 second. I believe fear is a factor in this as well and just finding that sweet spot aka the center of gravity while in it. Usually once I get it I am either excited or scared and lose it. So here is the weird thing about my scorpion practice...I can't do forearm stand, which many people do first then arch the back and go into scorpion.

Directions for getting into scorpion as I was taught by the Atmananda Yoga sequence:
1. sit on heels, and bring the forearms on the floor against your knees, grab opposite elbows then release and interlace fingers. Tuck the pinky inside the cradle you make with your interlaced fingers.
2. elbows still touching knees, forearms on the mat and interlaced fingers creating a cradle in which you will place your head for sirsasana -headstand.
3 Start too go into headstand. Place your head down between your interlaced fingers. Sometimes it helps the keep the thumbs up as if they're a place to put your pony tail, or imaginary pony tail (I don't know why but this helps!)
4. Tuck the toes under and lift the hips. You're likely already aligned with your hips above your shoulders, if not, walk them in a bit. Then bring your knees in as you slowly lift the legs up. Breathe!
5. Press into your hands and forearms. Start to put more weight into the inner forearms. And start to pull the shoulders back and chest forward -think bhujangasana (baby cobra) or sphinx pose.
6. Start bending the knees and arching your back, keep pressing into your forearms
7. When your back is arched as much as you can as you can balance and begin to bring your gaze forward. Breathe, pull the shoulders back more and press into the forearams
8. Lift your head up and place your hands down FLAT while pressing into the wrists and inner forearms. YAY SCORPION!

OK so I know that step 8 is scary and kind of unstable. Actually at Atmananda they tell you to place one hand down at a time which I cannot accomplish without face planting. I just don't have that balance and maybe that's my problem but I've been practicing it this way for about 8 months and sometimes it sort of works.

And here are some lovely facts about the pose. It is called Vrischika-asana in sanskrit.
Benefits: Strengthens the muscles in the hands, forearms and shoulders. More focus on palms and wrists. You have to use your abs and bandhas here so it will strengthen your abs and should benefit any problems within the abdomen and also strengthen and stimulates the reproductive organs. It also is great for spine flexibility. You are getting maximum stretch to your shoulders, neck, back and chest. Fully expanding the lungs. Being inverted will also increase blood flow to the brain and circulation throughout the limbs.

Some pics I found of the pose: