LL-yoga-superstar

Bow Pose

Bow pose, also known as Dhanurasana, is one of my favorite poses.  Because I have a very flexible back, it is one that I have always been able to easily come into and feels fantastic. Bow pose is a backbend and therefore strengthens the back muscles while opening the entire front of the body including the chest, abs, thigh, groin and throat.  It is also a hip opener giving a deep stretch to the hip flexors.  Bow pose is an energizing pose that helps with fatigue, anxiety and gives a little extra kick to your metabolism.  It is a recommended pose for those with respiratory and digestive issues as well as menstrual discomfort.  Last but certainly not least, Bow pose helps to improve your posture!

A big thanks to Danielle Top for taking this photo of me at Sangha Yoga Shala!

Here I am, doing Dancer Pose at Sangha.  I learned this variation from one of my very favorite yogis, the inspirational Toa Porchon-Lynch.  Next time you are in Dancer, see if you can pull your extended foot a tiny bit closer to nestle in the crook of your elbow.  Then wrap your extended arm up and around your head, grab hold of the hand of your bend arm, and voila!

Photo by Danielle Top

Extended Side Angle, also known as Utthita Parsvakonasana, is a pose that I look forward to practicing in every class.  This pose was initially very difficult for me to hold.  Being naturally flexible, I could easily twist and lengthen to the full extension of the pose, but holding the position without wanting to collapse and being able to come out of it fluidly and with control was tough.  My initial yoga hurdle was to gain more strength.  One of the key secrets to extended side angle is that it requires a fair amount of core strength.  By tapping into your core you can more easily twist your chest up towards the sky, opening your heart, as well as push your shoulder more firmly into your knee, opening your hips. 

The secret to healthy eating is doing more yoga

Most people are engaged in a constant battle with food.  They know they should choose the apple but the candy bar seems more inviting.  A few years ago I’d actually stopped battling, declared myself a loser and proudly always took the unhealthy choice.  And, because I was always making the unhealthy choice, I never noticed a difference in how I felt when I ate something healthy versus unhealthy.  Feeling sluggish or hyped up from rich or sugary foods was my norm and the occasional apple wasn’t going to drastically change this.

But, as I’ve mentioned before, after coming back to Vinyasa yoga, and making it a daily practice, my eating habits have completely changed.  I now crave fruit, vegetables, whole grains and other yummy nutritional things*.  And I haven’t had to even think about it or “engage in battle” with my brain for one second.  The healthy choice is the only choice I want.

I didn’t realize just how much this had become part of my daily life though until last night, when a friend offered me a piece of caramel candy.  The first thing that popped into my head was the memory of the last time I ate a few pieces of candy and how gross I felt afterwords.  Not only did I say no, but I also shared that eating candy makes me feel disgusting.  Whoa, who am I?!  When did I start even noticing a difference in the way I feel when I eat candy?  Looks like I have to credit yoga for this one as well.  Doing daily Vinyasa has made me more mindful of my body, and therefore aware of how bad I physically feel when I make even the tiniest of bad food choices. 

So, the next time you find yourself wishing that you ate healthier and felt better, don’t bother forcing yourself to diet.  Just do some yoga.  It will all come naturally from there.

*I’m almost positive that there is some sort of nutrition value within organic vegan donuts topped with fresh coconut flakes and I do feel good after eating one.

One Arm Over Shoulder Pose, otherwise known as Eka Hasta Bhujasana. One of my favorite arm balances to teach in Core Vinyasa. Wanna learn how to do it yourself? Come to class tomorrow at 11am at Sangha Yoga Shala and find out!

anonymous asked:

What are tips to having better posture?

Good question! 

To begin, let’s go over how to stand with good posture.  Start by pulling your shoulders back and down your spine.  Don’t squeeze them together, just bring them in line with your neck and slightly down.  Think open collar bones.  Next, take any “banana curve” out of your back by tucking your tailbone.  Again, not so much that your hips are jutting out forward, just enough to straighten and lengthen your spine.  By bringing your shoulders and hips in line, you will feel your abs engage.  This is a good thing.  Last but not least, make sure that your head is sitting on top of your spine.  Look at your profile in a mirror.  Your neck should be straight, not too far forward or back.  When your head is correctly aligned on top of your spine, you will also feel your abs slightly engage.  And since we’re mentioning abs, it’s much easier to have better posture if they are strong.  Having a strong core = better posture.  When your yoga teacher leads you to lower and lift in boat pose, it’s not to be cruel.  It’s to help you by strengthening your core.

Make sure to practice these alignments in your yoga as well.  When you inhale up to Tadasana (Standing Arm Reach) make sure that your shoulders are back and down your spine, your chest is open and your tail bone is tucked.  When you inhale up to a flat back within a standing forward bend, really make it a FLAT back.  Look forward, focus on lengthening your spine out, and sending your shoulders back and down.  By practicing these cues in all of your poses, from your warriors, to your twists, to your tree, they will start to feel more natural.  Bringing better alignment into your yoga helps bring it into daily life.

Last, but not least, go about your day imagining a string going from your heels all the way up your legs, spine and out the top of your head.  If someone was to pull the string from above, that is how you should stand.  When you are sitting, imagine the string starting at your tailbone and going out the top of your head.  Sit upright, as if someone was pulling the string.  And don’t forget to open your chest!

Forearm wheel, an amazing chest and shoulder opener and super fun pose.  It’s great for an energy boost, stretches the entire front of your body, and believe it or not happens to be the correct way to fall out of a forearm stand;-)

Mindfulness in the Modern Day World is Hard

Over the past year and a half I’ve been trying to become more present within my life, essentially more mindful of what I am doing at this moment, rather than replaying the past or worrying about the future.  But the more mindful you become, the more evident it becomes at how unmindful you often are.  Having worked for a couple start-ups and then running my own business, I am used to wearing many different hats and constantly multi-tasking.  It had gotten to the point 2 years ago, a normal weekday night would involve working late on my laptop, in front of the TV, while texting, talking on the phone, eating, blogging and drinking wine.  The thought of just watching TV or just eating or just editing photos at night seemed horrible.  Why would you ever want to do just one thing when you can do 15 at the same time?  This even carried out into my social life, in that I could never carry on a face to face conversation without texting, emailing and/or tweeting at the same time.  I had all sorts of excuses for this behavior (I own an online store and always get customer questions, sales, etc therefore I need to check my Blackberry every second, etc.) but the end result was that I was never fully conscious of my actions no matter what I was doing or where I was, except maybe when I was asleep.  Reading a book, or anything beyond 3 pages was nearly impossible as I had very little attention span for more than 15 minutes.  Going to the movies where I would have to sit for an entire 2 hours and pay attention to 1 thing was like hell and made me extremely anxious.

As a child and teenager I could sit and read a book for hours.  Or just take a walk.  Or lay on a blanket in my yard and stare up at the sky.  What had happened to that?  Where had my patience gone?  

The more I discuss this with friends, especially entrepreneurs, the more I see this as a common phenomena.  Rarely do you see a person just walking alone and not checking their phone (at least in NYC).  It’s common to text through out the day, while working, eating, what have you.  The addition of smart phones has meant that email is not something just left for work communication but can be taken anywhere and answered at any time.  Therefore, you become used to doing at least two things at the same time all the time.  It is because of this that yoga appeals to me and many of my multi-tasking friends.  In yoga, you must pay attention to what you are doing, otherwise, you can’t hold the pose, or even know what pose the teacher is telling you to get into.  You have to be present, to be mindful of your body and breath.  

Lately I’ve been trying very hard to just do one thing at a time.  To sometimes put my phone in another room so as to not text.  When I am walking my dog, I try to pay attention to just her, and our little adventure through the streets.  When I am eating, I try to pay attention to my food that I am putting in my mouth, its taste, its texture, versus just mindless putting stuff in my mouth while I watch tv or read the news.  I have begun to read books again, and for more than 15 minutes at a time.  I’ve even started noticing a new email from a friend in my inbox and instead of interrupting whatever I’m doing to immediately respond, to leave it unopened and first finish my current task at hand.  Believe me, I am a work in progress.  While writing this I’ve checked my email twice, gone to the bathroom once (really just as an excuse to leave my desk), and stopped writing to ponder if I should now vacuum my apartment.  Just like meditation, being present is a practice, not a perfection.  

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Having good posture is SO important in our daily lives.  When you stand or sit up straight your spine lengthens, your abs are ever so slightly engaged and your heart opens.  You send a message to those around you that you are alert, confident and someone worth knowing.  Having a 3 star Army General for a grandfather helped me learn good posture from the get-go.  But doing yoga has helped me keep it up. 

I love watching my private clients improve their posture as time goes by.  Each time I come to teach at their homes, I’m greeted by a taller and more confident person.  The best part though is hearing them tell me that their friends have started to compliment them on their posture and how much brighter they appear.  I just tell them that’s what happens when you do yoga with a “superstar” (insert irony here).

From personal experience I can say that good posture really does help get you noticed.  It’s actually rare for me to meet someone and not get a comment that they had noticed me across the room because of my good posture.  It’s even helped me get asked out on dates. 

Above is a great video by Tara to help you get started on your own quest to perfect posture.

The author of the Blackbook article above (click on link), describes Sigur Ros’ music as the kind of music “people do yoga to”.  Well, as a yoga teacher with many mixes on hand to keep my classes fun and interesting, there’s only 1 song on 1 mix by Sigur Ros.  Not because I dislike their music, but because it’s often rather slow, too slow for an energetic, up-beat Vinyasa class.  Although this new song could be great for savasana.  Thoughts?

Have you ever noticed that Asian women don’t seem to age?  One of my very good friends is Korean and first generation American.  Her mom once told her that as she ages, there will come a time when her non-Asian friends start to look much older than she does.  Hilarious but true.  Our traditional American fondness for the sun, sugary treats and cars (aka driving and not walking) are not beauty inducing, no matter what your background.  Taking heed from our Asian friends can do us all some good.  Click on the link above to read how you can improve your health and slow down the aging process.