Getting Started with Inversions

Getting Started with Inversions

Hi everyone! As promised on instagram last week, here is the Supportive Yoga Guide to Getting Started with Inversions.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the years figuring out these poses for my body and I am super stoked to share what I’ve learned with you.  So if you think you would never be able to go upside down, or you look at those crazy inverted poses on instagram and wonder how you can build up to that point, this video is for you!  We’ll tackle the prep poses, talk about how you know whether you are strong enough to give these poses a shot and I’ll show you how to use the wall (no other props required!) to build your inversion practice! As I say about 5000 times in the video, I’m only teaching handstand and forearm stand and not headstand or shoulder stand.  Why?  Because I firmly believe that learning those poses over the internet is a terrible idea.  A safety disaster.  Your neck is precious and I really don’t want you to injure it – it’s not hard to do.  If you are interested in these poses, please find a qualified teacher in your area to help you!  Ok, enough lecture!  Here’s the video: And here are links to the videos I mention at the end: hallway handstand and chair headstand. Please let me know if you have any questions and happy...
Stepping Forward and Back in Sun Salutations

Stepping Forward and Back in Sun Salutations

Hi everyone!  I got a question a week or so ago about how to step forward and back during sun salutations if you don’t have time/don’t feel like messing around with blocks – or maybe they aren’t available.  Now, I love props – a lot – obviously, but I totally understand that sometimes you just don’t want to deal with them, or you don’t have them handy, so I’m really glad I got this question and I’m so happy to share this video with you!  I give you a few different options to try (and get a little out of breath by the end – this was a good workout!).  My goal is to empower you to feel comfortable in any class you like, even those fast-paced vinyasa classes, if that’s the practice you prefer, even if your body doesn’t do exactly what the teacher says to do! I briefly say this in the video, but it bears repeating…let’s say you get behind the breath count during class.  Who cares?  I don’t care…and it happens to me all the time.  The nice thing is that downward facing dog is usually held for five breaths in a traditional sun salutation A so you’ll meet everyone there eventually.  Plus, it’s so much more important that you are moving with your own breath than it is to keep up exactly, so cut yourself some slack and don’t rush!  Like most things, sun salutations get easier with practice as your body gets used to the movements – muscle memory is a powerful thing! As always, please let me know if you have any...
Arm balance prep for larger bodies

Arm balance prep for larger bodies

Hi everyone!  If you follow me on social media, you might already know that I sort of declared 2015 to be the year of the arm balance for supportive yoga.  I was getting a lot of questions about arm balances for large bodied yogis and I decided to put some serious thought into how to make these poses work for our bodies.  I’ve been working on eka pada koundinyasana a lot in my own practice so I decided to record a video of how I began prepping my body for this very challenging asana. You need strength of course – I don’t think you need me to tell you that.  And, here’s the thing, large bodies are strong bodies – we just have more to lift.  So any poses where we bear weight are harder for us. What I’m not sure everyone realizes though, is that you have to be pretty flexible to get yourself into the shapes of arm balances too – and that’s where this video comes in.  If you can do three-legged dog (downward dog with one leg up), you can do this prep work.  And if you can’t, you can do the first part of the video (hands and knees). In this video I: *show you how to bring your knee towards your elbow from hands and knees (table top position) *show you how to bring your knee towards your elbow from downward dog *Talk a lot – as per always, be a big dork and laugh awkwardly – as per always *Freak out a little bit about the fact that I’m doing a video...
A Tale of Two Arm Balances

A Tale of Two Arm Balances

Hi everyone!  Before we get down to business here I wanted express my profound respect for and gratitude to the late BKS Iyengar, who left his body a few days ago.  Without his insight and wisdom, I literally could not be doing what I am doing.  Among his many contributions to modern yoga, Mr. Iyengar pioneered the use of yoga props, making this practice accessible to so many.  Though I wasn’t able to study with him directly, many of my teachers did, and his teachings have strongly influenced my life and work. So despite my previous post, please don’t think I have broken up with props.  I love props so much – they really are the best.  Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make arm balances (which tend to make me want to throw yoga props across the room) work for my body since I didn’t think it was fair to just ignore a whole category of poses.  I’ve had some tentative success with crow pose lately, which might be responsible for my new enthusiasm for making arm balances happen, darn it.  Since this is new territory for me, I thought it might be fun to document my attempts at figuring out how to support some arm balances and if you’ve been following me on social media, you’ve seen my efforts thus far with eka pada koundinyasana and viparita salabhasana.  I was expecting to show a couple of snippets of my process, which I did, but it’s been more interesting than I expected because the one that was an intentional project still isn’t anywhere near to done, and the one...
Seated Spinal Twist

Seated Spinal Twist

Of all the families of yoga poses, closed twists are some of the hardest to modify for larger bodies.  But hard doesn’t mean impossible and I really wanted to find ways to incorporate these poses into my own practice and into the practice of my students.  Closed twists are really good for the system – the compression on the abdominal organs can have a detoxifying affect, they can alleviate lower back pain and cramps and, most importantly, they can feel really good if they are set up properly! One of the reasons that seated spinal twist is so frustrating for me is that even with the common modifications, this pose seems to not work with my body.  Why?  Well most teachers demonstrate this pose with the bent leg crossed over the extended leg.  My body doesn’t particularly like leg crossing in yoga poses due to my thigh flesh abundance (I have similar issues in eagle pose or when trying to do the legs part of gomukhasana).  Two things happen – my bent leg foot doesn’t reach the floor and my butt pops up.  So what’s the good news?  There’s absolutely no need to cross the foot over!  I simply bend my knee, hug it into my chest, and pull my foot in close to my butt – as shown in the photo below.  Because of my body shape, I’m going to get plenty of organ compression anyways!  The straight leg should be active, with the foot flexed and the toes pointed up toward the ceiling. Next we need to incorporate the twist part of the pose.  Because this is...
Gomukhasana arms with a yoga strap

Gomukhasana arms with a yoga strap

New city = new yoga studios.  I’ve been running around checking out different studios in my pocket of Brooklyn looking for places to practice and teach – and yes, it’s still nerve-wracking for me to walk into a new studio with teachers and staff I don’t know!  So far, everything has been going well, though I don’t have anything set yet!  For whatever reason, gomukhasana (cow-face pose) has been showing up in almost every class I’ve taken!  I’m going to tackle the arms today.  The legs part of this pose is extremely challenging from a structural perspective if you have a lot of thigh flesh, so I usually skip it and just sit in “ankles to knees” pose, which you can find in my pigeon alternatives post.  You can prop it, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt – pun totally intended. Anyways, back to the matter at hand.  Gomukhasana arms are one of many yoga “binds” where you arrange your arms so that you can clasp your hands behind you in a particular way.  Binds are particularly challenging for those of us with larger or wider bodies because we simply have farther to reach!  Whether you are able to actually get your hands to meet is not even necessarily a matter of flexibility as much as a matter of the ratio of your arm length to the distance you need to cover such as your shoulder girdle in today’s pose or around your thigh in bound extended side angle for example.  I almost always need a little help in binds because my arms are relatively short...