Supportive Yoga on Vacation

Supportive Yoga on Vacation

I’m in Chicago this week for vacation so the blog posts will be a little different than usual.  If you are attached to the normal format, no worries – I’ll be back next week with props and sequences! My boyfriend was kind enough to book us a hotel room right across the street from one of Chicago’s yoga studios (ok, it was a total coincidence, but I’ll let him take credit for it anyhow…) So I decided to lug my manduka (pro lite or not, that thing is HEAVY – but I love it) half-way across the country and take some yoga classes while I’m here. I hate to admit it, but I’m kinda terrified of taking yoga classes with teachers I don’t know – even more so at studios I don’t know.  You’d think (hope) after 10+ years of practicing that I’d be over it.  But between my long list of injuries (mostly non-yoga related but that do affect my practice) and my various hangups, it’s nerve wracking even for (especially for?) me.  Warning: the following paragraphs contain a lot of ego. Let’s start with the most obvious issue…my larger than usual yoga body.  More and more teachers are starting to understand that fitness and yoga ability comes in all shapes and sizes, but there is still a long way to go.  I’m comfortable saying that most of time, teachers assume that I’m a beginner.  If they ask at all, I usually get…”is this your first time at yoga?” not “Do you practice? or “How long have you been practicing?”  Some even act “concerned” and wonder if I...
What draws you?

What draws you?

I had an interesting experience the other day in the Zumba class I take at the gym sometimes.  A number of circumstances resulted in the class being taught at varying points by 3 different teachers.  It was an unprecedented (for me) opportunity to take a look at 3 different teaching styles and evaluate why one worked better for me than the others. I love Zumba and definitely prefer some teachers over others, but I’m not picky to the point of ridiculousness the way I am with yoga teachers.  I assume that my pickiness for yoga teachers is partly to blame on my being a yoga teacher, but to be fair, I was pretty darn picky before I started teaching too.  I’ve also been practicing yoga for a lot longer than I’ve been doing Zumba. The Zumba class made me start thinking about what draws me to a particular yoga teacher (or more frequently makes me shy away). I hesitate when people ask me to give me their opinions of yoga teachers or studios (though I usually don’t hold out for long) because I’m so freaking particular.  I don’t want to color someone else’s experience or impose my craziness onto them.  In general terms though, I think warmth, expertise (this is probably the most important to me right now), creativity and an open mind are what I look for in a yoga teacher. I want to open it up to you – I know there are a few of you out there, so don’t be shy!  What draws you to a yoga teacher or studio?  What makes you want to...
Space left in my Plus Size Yoga series

Space left in my Plus Size Yoga series

Do you live in the DC metro area? Do you wish there was a yoga class that would address your individual practice (without having to pay for pricey private lessons)? Look no further! I teach Plus Size Yoga at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring, MD and I’d love it if you (yes, you) would join us.  Like the blog? You’ll love the class! Folks of all shapes and sizes participate and it’s a great and welcoming group. Bring your hard questions and any issues you may be working with! Men are more than welcome to join too! Plus size isn’t just for ladies 🙂 I run an all-levels class – meaning I will teach to your particular ability and needs. Because I cap the class at 10 people or so, there is always time for personal attention. I’m more than happy to have beginners in the class but I make sure veteran yogis are engaged and challenged as well. FAQ: Q. What’s the difference between your class and a gentle yoga or a yoga I class? A. More modifications specific for your body!  I also wouldn’t categorize the practice I teach as gentle yoga per se – we work on building strength, endurance and flexibility.  Plus size yogis are capable of so much and while I love gentle yoga, I think there are enough classes offering it at studios already.  Because of the small class size, I am able to teach complete beginners and people who have been practicing for a while.  The class is almost always a mix of newbies and veterans. Q.  I see the class...
Did you know?

Did you know?

That anyone can practice yoga? That you have the right to take any class you want, no matter who you are?  That your $20 gives you the right to the same mat space as anyone else? That you are beautiful? That your body is amazing no matter what shape it’s in? That a good yoga teacher will recognize these things and will hold the appropriate space for you in class? That a teacher doesn’t have to look like you or the ideal yogi (whatever that is) to have something to teach you? As a new season starts, so does a new Plus Size Yoga series.  When I introduce myself to new students, I try to make these things clear.  I want my students to take my class, of course, but I also want them to know that they can take any class, that they deserve to practice yoga anywhere and at any time. I think that anyone, plus size or not, who wants to practice yoga could use a reminder that they are already amazing and that yoga can help them remember that. Namaste!...

Chair Headstand Video

Hi Everyone!  After I posted on Friday about getting my plus size yoga class to do Chair Headstand and to turn their “I can’t”s into “I can”s, Amber from Body Positive Yoga asked via Twitter if I could do a video of me demonstrating the pose.  I’ve never done video before, but Amber gave me a quick idea how to go about making one.  During our second photo shoot this weekend, Melinda (Supportive Yoga Photographer Extraordinare) was able to film me doing the pose.  A few swear words directed toward IMovie later, I have a rudimentary video to share.  Hopefully it looks ok – and if not, Amber made me do it! 🙂 *Update (April 2014).  In the video I say to bring the torso and head to rest against the wall.  If you are having trouble getting your hips over your shoulders, this can be a helpful way to train the body to recognize where it should be BUT it isn’t necessary.  Eventually, you should be able to kick up and balance with your head and torso a few inches away from the wall.  It might even be preferable to avoid messing with the natural curve of the spine.  You can, or course, always rest your feet on the wall.  As practice evolves so does teaching!   A note about kicking up:  When we were filming this, I was trying to come up with a way to describe the mechanics of kicking up for folks who are interested in trying this.  The best I came up with was that you are using your top leg as a lever...
Sequence Wednesdays: Warmup

Sequence Wednesdays: Warmup

Welcome back to Sequence Wednesdays.  Today I’d like to share the first part of the warmup that I teach in pretty much every single class.  Why? Well, I like it.  But I also like the comfortable feeling starting the class off the same way each time gives to both me and my students.  I know well the feeling of nervousness going into a class not having any idea what the teacher will ask of us, and it often takes a few moments for me to calm down and center at the very beginning of class both as a student and as a teacher.  So why not make those first few moments gentle and as anxiety-free as possible?  Once the warmup is over, I let my creativity guide my sequencing as appropriate. Another reason I love this warmup is that it contains a fairly accessible “aha” moment for students.  I have students first interlace their fingers whichever way feels natural – most people will do the same fingers on top every single time.  And then we switch the interlace.  When students do this for the first time, most are shocked at how weird it feels and it’s a really good way to introduce concepts like how different poses can feel depending on which side you favor, and how easily samskaras (habits) are formed unconsciously.  What’s exciting for me as I demonstrate is how even both interlaces feel after doing it in every class I’ve taught for the last year or so.  I can assure my students with confidence that if they keep switching which fingers are on top, it won’t...