Tag: yogi

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

DIY Bolster: how to make a yoga pillow for super yummy poses

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

[Just so you know this post contains affiliate links]

Yoga bolsters are great props, especially for restorative and yin poses.  They’re also nice to sit on for meditation.  If you don’t have a shop to buy one in your area or if you want one on the cheap, you can make a bolster on your own.

 

Materials for your bolster

  • fabric
    • one large piece 28″ by 18″ plus seam allowance
    • two small pieces 6″ by 3″ plus seam allowance
  • stuffing
  • sewing supplies (thread, sewing machine or needle, scissors, etc)

 

How to sew your bolster

  1. The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peace
    Also check out our yoga shop 🙂

    Cut your fabric to size, don’t forget to leave some extra room for seam allowance

  2. Pin then sew the long sides of the big piece of fabric together, with the right sides of the fabric together
  3. Pin one small pieces onto an open ends of the large piece (which is now a tube)– if the corners don’t match perfectly, it will be an ovular end, which will also work
  4. Sew the small end piece into place
  5. Repeat with the other end piece, but leave an opening for the stuffing rather than sewing all the way around
  6. Turn the pillow right-side out
  7. Stuff it FULL (you want a nice firm base to support your yoga poses)
  8. With a needle and thread, stitch up the opening you left for stuffing

For a pillow case

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas and yoga wear on Etsy

Follow the same steps as the pillow itself, except you will need slightly larger fabric (e.g. 30″ x 19″ and 7″x 4″) so the case can fit around the pillow.  Also, rather than sewing closed the long side, install a closure like a zipper or buttons.  Later, when you add the second end, you can seal it all the way up rather than leaving a hole for stuffing.

How to use the bolster

7 Restorative Poses to relax and rejuvenateCheck out some poses to try with your bolster in this post on restorative yoga by clicking the image on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructor

Yoga Teacher’s Eye: what a yoga instructor can learn at a yoga class

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style OR learn to be a better instructorThings to observe in a yoga class

Here are a few concepts you can keep an eye out for in class if you are learning about teaching yoga.  These aspects can also help you find your favorite teacher or style of yoga if you are trying different classes.

  • style– along with the style of yoga, how does this instructor interpret it?  e.g. Is it classic vinyasa or a little slower?  Is it heavy on lunges? Do they hold the poses for a long time or flow freely between asanas?  Did they bring in a few poses from another style of yoga?
  • personality– how does the teacher add their own flair to the class? What attributes do they bring to the class that make it different from another class in the same style of yoga?
  • voice– what is the quality of the instructor’s voice?  e.g. Are they loud enough? Is their voice gentle and soothing?  Is it firm and encouraging? Does it inspire you to add energy to your poses?
  • cues– how does the instructor describe the poses and transitions?  Does it give you a new way of thinking about the pose?  Is there an alignment tip you hadn’t heard before?  Is it clear what you need to do?
  • sequencing– how do the poses flow together?  Is there a connection between poses you hadn’t thought of before? Was the class leading to one particular pose?  Were there groups of types of poses (like standing then arm balances then abs?)
  • theme– how does the instructor bring it all together?  Did the class focus on one aspect of alignment? A concept, like propping vs. collapsing vs. yielding?  Was the class devoted to the idea of peace, balance, femininity? Or one of the Hindu gods? A full moon?
  • reflection– the last thing to think about is how the class affected you.  Did you like the style? Would you prefer to do things another way if it were your class?  What did you learn?  What take-aways can you find- about yoga, any of these concepts or yourself?

Putting it all into action- my experience at a retreat

A couple of weekends ago, 2 gal-pal yoginis and I headed down to the beach for a yoga retreat and some rest and relaxation in the sun.  Since I haven’t been to a yoga class in a couple of months, I was excited to listen and learn and of course move.  I practice and teach regularly, but it’s so nice to also receive some instruction and improve my own poses and practice.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorI think since yoga teacher training, though, I will likely never see a class in the same way.  I am forever filing away phrases for cues and noting things down about transitions and a teachers’ style and personality.  In ytt, our instructor warned us about this, saying, “you will never be the same again, but that’s probably a good thing.”

At the retreat, one of the most interesting things for me was the structure of the classes.  The teachers spent probably 75% of class in standing postures.  Especially in the early morning, that was hard for me.  I’m not exactly lazy, but I’ve never been the most energetic person either.  Also, it doesn’t go with the style yoga I’ve learned and embraced.  I know many people enjoy this active yang style of yoga, but I learned during that weekend that my style is a little calmer.

I think yoga is a sort of spectrum.  There are yogis who are there for the workout and yogis who are there for the spiritual practice and yogis who want some combination of the two.  The names of the yoga practices can help identify that sort of balance that a teacher offers or a practioner desires but there’s such a range within each style, so in a way the only way to know about any given class or style is to try it.

Something else I noticed at the retreat was the use of voice.  The main instructor had a very strong voice with clear, deliberate cues.  She was firm and energetic, like her class.  She used great imagery to describe the way the poses could be gracefully transitioned and practiced.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorThe instructor gave supportive guidance in the arm balance workshop- talking with each yogi individually about their struggles with gravity, strength, balance and fear.  She showed some humility in inversions as she modeled a pose that wasn’t her strongest, still giving valuable tips and demos.  I also noticed how incredibly important it is to be personable off of the mat with each of the students.  I admired these qualities in instructors.

At the retreat, we had early morning meditations.  The instructor encouraged us not to speak before mediation in the morning, which I really liked.  It made the practice more serene and organic. I noticed in the meditation, she didn’t give direction for our thoughts.  Some styles of meditation try for a mind completely free of thoughts, in which case no instruction is needed.  I found out I prefer a meditation where the mind is focused on one train of thought, like the breath or a mantra.  It is easier for me, but it also lends itself to a practice that feels more meaningful to me.

It’s interesting how seeing a style that was quite different from mine reinforced my understanding of my preferences and my yoga style.  I had a great time and learned a lot, but much of it was about myself and my yoga.

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” -Judith Hansen Lasater


Anahata Heart Chakra: balancing, meditations, mudras, mantras and more

Heart Chakra: meanings, meditation, balancing mantras and mudra

Anahata Heart Chakra: balancing, meditations, mudras, mantras and moreThe Heart Chakra (or Anahata Chakra in Sanskrit) is located in the center of your chest, level with your physical heart.  It is the middle of the 7 chakras, with more physical chakras below and more spiritual chakras above.  It is associated with the color green and the element of air.  The heart chakra is responsible for love, warmth, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, kindness and joy.  This chakra utilizes love as a healing force, also bringing unity to your body, mind and spirit.  It can help us to identify our personal truths.

Balance

A balanced anahata chakra promotes feelings of empathy and understanding, compassion and respect– both toward others and towards the self.  Also, a balanced heart chakra helps you feel connected to life.

An imbalanced heart chakra can lead to feelings of grief, possibly hanging onto old losses or emotional pains.  Fear and ignorance reign over love.  Imbalance can also manifest physically.  Because the heart chakra is associated with air and located in the chest, pain and illnesses can form in the lungs, chest and heart.

An overly open heart chakra can lead to excessive expectations of others socially or romantically.

MantraHridaya Mudra for the heart chakra, as well as meditation and ideas for balancing

To open the heart chakra, try to bij mantra or seed mantra sound, “Yam.”  You can chant it aloud or internally.

If you prefer English, you can embody an affirmation, “I am open to love” or “All love resides within me.”

Mudra

To access this chakra, try the Hridaya mudra.  Place the tip of the index finger at the root of the thumb.  Then bring the tips of the middle and ring fingers to meet the thumb.  Keep your pinkie straight. With both hands in the mudra, place them on your knees facing upward.  You can practice this mudra for up to 30 minutes, while focusing on the chest and heart chakra.  The middle and ring fingers are related to the energy channels (nadis) of the heart.  Closing the circuit with the thumb helps release pent-up emotions from the heart.

Meditations

Find a comfortable seat.  Take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself.  Meditation for balancing the heart chakra as well as other ideas for balancing the anahata chakraThen imagine the world sending you love.  Breath in that love on your inhalation, bringing love to your heart center.  On an exhalation, send that love around your body, letting it spread to every corner of your being, filling you with love.

If your heart chakra is already overly open, you can envision the opposite, pulling love from every corner of your being on your inhalation and on your exhalation, sending it out into the world, sharing it with those who need it most.  If you choose this version remember a candle doesn’t burn out if another candle is lit from it- you can share the love from every bit of your being without losing the love you need for a balanced anahata chakra.

As an alternative meditation, imagine a green light glowing in your heart center.  Let the light ebb and flow- follow it, however it may change, glow or grow.  Focus on it.

Asana

Heart-opening asanas help to open the heart chakra as well.  These are poses like camel, bow, dancer and cow-face pose.

GreenLocation of the Anahata chakra as well as balancing, meditations, mantras and mudras

Green foods like spinach, lettuce, kale, lime, and mint can help harness the energies of this chakra.

Green gems like emerald and jade are good for this chakra.

Finding greenery in plants and out in nature can also be a helpful cure for the heart chakra.

The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peace
Also, check out our shop!

The heart chakra is one of the most important chakras.  Love is so needed in our world, as are compassion and forgiveness.  Also on an individual level, this chakra is the centerpiece that connects the spiritual and physical.  A balanced anahata chakra is essential for your self and your interactions with the world.

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All about the Heart Chakra: mantra, meditation, mudra, asana, meanings, and balancing

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu/ May All Beings Be Happy and Free. Kirtan mantra chant and personal story

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu Mantra chant

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu/ May All Being Be Happy and Freeeeee

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu/ May All Beings Be Happy and Free. Kirtan mantra chant and personal storyLonger Translation:

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

My Experience with the Mantra:

You might not be able to tell, but I am singing this as I write.  This beautiful mantra has been stuck in my head for nearly a month now and I don’t mind at all.  It’s a lovely phrase to live by.  There have been a couple of times that I have been in a tough place emotionally (I’ll spare you the intimate details) and when this mantra came back into my mind, it softened my feelings a bit.  I’m not saying I was cured, but it helped me find perspective and a little more love to apply to the situation.

On New Year’s Day, I went to a kirtan/restorative class (what could be better) and we sang this mantra at the end of the session.  Everyone was so calm and so centered, the mantra just flowed through us, joining our hearts into one beautiful song.  I was honestly close to tears and others’ cheeks were streaked with that liquid love.  There’s such a sense of community and unity when a large group is singing together.  It’s really moving.  It’s hard to step back into the regular world untouched by such a moment or mantra, which is probably a good thing.

How you can use the mantra:

Withing you: Perhaps as a meditation or just in a spare moment, try to embody selflessly wanting happiness and freedom for all.  Not just the ones you love or agree with (of course them too), but really, truly, share with all.  All includes you as well so let happiness and freedom shine on you.  Imagine sharing that happiness and freedom with those who need it most.  Imagine others also spreading joy and freedom; know you are not alone.  Feel the happiness and freedom for yourself and let those feelings emanate from you.

Interacting with others in our world: As you move through your day, see if you can spread a little happiness or a little extra love.  It could be as simple as a sharing your smile with someone.  Or trying to see a situation from someone else’s point of view.  Even in your thoughts, you can wish someone well and maybe they will feel your positivity.

Sing it! Singing has a calming effect because you are exhaling more than you are inhaling.  It allows you to release tension, fear, anger and sadness along with your breath.  Chanting mantra is also a form of meditation.  It allows you to focus your mind on the mantra rather than your troubles, worries or to-do list even if it’s only for a moment.  You can sing along silently if you feel uncomfortable singing.  You will still receive the benefits of focusing in and the positive energy of the mantra.  Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the mantra.

Video in case you want to sing along:

I haven’t been able to find a video of the song that reflects the version that we sang at kirtan that day, but at the moment, I’m also fairly obsessed with the version in this video.  If you’re as taken with it as I am and you want to integrate the mantra into every aspect of your being, you’ll be singing along by the end.

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu women's tank, great for yoga or kirtan with translation on the back ($32)

This beautiful mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu" is on one side of the mug, and its English translation is on the other: "May All Beings Be Happy and Free." Perfect for a cozy cup of tea or coffee. ($15-20)

 

I also designed this shirt and mug for days when I want an extra reminder of the mantra. Click through if you might want one too!

 

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana. Learn about the origins of yoga poses and how asana can be incorporated with other aspects to fully experience "yoga" history, theory and philosophy. #yogasana #asana

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana: history, theory and philosophy

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana.  Learn about the origins of yoga poses and how asana can be incorporated with other aspects to fully experience "yoga" history, theory and philosophy.  #yogasana #asana

The third and most well-known limb of the 8 limbs of yoga is asana.  This means all of those yoga poses—the physical practice of making all of those shapes with your body.  In the West, asana often is yoga.  We sometimes forget about the other 7 branches.

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When yoga first started, about 5000 years ago, it was all based around meditation, with the goal of gaining self-awareness.  As yoga progressed, different postures for meditation were created, at first only 16 poses.  Yoga asanas were created as a means of building discipline and concentration for meditation.  The body’s sole purpose was to house the spirit.  As time went on, the number of postures grew.  In early 1800’s there were just over 100 poses or asanas and now there are thousands.  In modern yoga, more and more poses are being created as people experiment with their bodies and transitions into new shapes.

Asanas are often grouped based on the orientation of the yogi or the goal of the pose, like standing postures, balancing postures, folds, back bends, seated poses, inversions, hips openers, twists, supine poses, etc.  Instructors often try to incorporate all of the types of postures or parts of the body in a class.  Other classes aim at a “peak pose,” opening the muscles needed for a final, specific posture.  Other classes are based on a theme and all of the poses relate to exploring the theme conceptually.  There are lots of different ways to sequence a yoga class, practice or flow.

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana.  Learn about the origins of yoga poses and how asana can be incorporated with other aspects to fully experience "yoga" history, theory and philosophy.  #yogasana #asanaIdeally, yoga poses (asana) should be combined with the other 7 limbs of yoga to create a fuller experience; body, mind and soul should unite in yoga.  The word “yoga” itself is translated as union or yoke.  The limbs of yoga must be connected to reach yoga’s full potential.

 

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yoga

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaFor many years, I only did yoga asana in a group fitness class or with a video. I needed someone to follow, someone to tell me what to do next and guide me from one pose gracefully into another.

When I moved to Myanmar, I had two dreams: that I would be able to drive a motorbike around and that there would be a fabulous yoga studio for me to practice at. Only one of those wishes came true: I bought a motorbike on my first Saturday in the country.

So to make up for the other unanswered dream, I started doing videos online.  However the electrical power supply and the internet were both unreliable. I started doing 20 minute “Yoga Download” podcasts. I liked it, but the podcasts were definitely very complete sessions—straight through from warm up to cool down. So I never felt that itch to do just one more pose, though my muscles and joints longed for more.

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Intro: My Start Slow with Yoga Self Practice

One day, I didn’t have any new podcasts so I simply rolled out my mat. That’s always the first step: roll out the mat. At first, I just sort of stood on it awkwardly in mountain pose, thinking soooo wait what do I do again?

Then I remembered sun salutations. I struggled at first with small things, like wait, when do I raise up to the flat back again? Before or after the downward dog? Or both?

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaBut after a bit, my muscles started to engage and my mind started to connect with my body. I could feel my blood flowing and my lungs pumping. It all felt so right. I knew I needed the movement. After a few rounds, I sort of stopped again, stuck. Well. Then what?
Slowly poses started to come to mind and I threw a couple of vinyasas in here and there when I remembered. My transitions were clunky and disjointed.  As I remembered various poses, I did them. I was standing, balancing, then laying on the mat, then seated before standing again. I had a hard time remembering what I did on one side so I could also do it on the other. I just did everything I could think of! Then after a while, more and more poses were flooding my mind but I had to take savasana because I tired myself out!

The reason I’m sharing this story is to spread encouragement. It’s wonderful to start and to try asana on your own.

Starting your yoga self-practice

If you’ve been to a fair number of classes, you probably know more poses and more about them than you think. Trust yourself and your knowledge when you’re on the mat.

Get visual reminders

Look for some resources, like info-graphics from Pinterest with a whole collection of poses. Print them so you can glance at them for inspiration from time to time.  I recommend printing or buying an image or poster that’s how lots of poses at once for easy reference.  You won’t have to stop your practice to see what poses you can do next.  Alternatively, you could get a Yoga Sequencing Deck to help inspire and remember poses AND put them in order for your practice.  This particular deck corresponds with the book,Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes which helps break down poses by levels and gives many sample sequences.

Inspirational Books

Read some yoga books, like Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit. This book is very helpful for describing the process for getting into each pose and what to focus on once you’re in it. It was great for me as a reminder of the alignment and goals of the poses. If you’re worried about hurting yourself in self-practice, this book could be the reassurance you need to find yourself on the mat.

Another fantastic book is 2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses.  It literally has 2100 different poses.  It’s a great book to grow with.  As you become more flexible and develop more strength, you can find new poses to challenge you every step of the way.

Draw it out

Drawing little sequences for yourself so you know which poses in particular you want to tackle. It is ok to stray from the plan if you find your body actually wants to do something else.

Listen to your body

As you became more and more comfortable with poses and sequences, you’ll start to hear from your body more and more. For example from my experience, I could feel tightness in the back of my leg and I knew from experience downward dog would elongate the muscle perfectly to soothe it. Or I would just get a sense that my body really, really wanted to drop down into malasana (garland pose). That was one of my most common distractions from standing poses: desire to do malasana. I almost always give in to whatever my asks.  I think it’s good to give your body what it wants in terms of asana.  It usually knows what it needs.  There’s a quote, something like, “I listen when my body whispers so I won’t have to hear it shout.”

Pain

On the topic of listening to your body, be aware of signs of pain. In yoga, it’s good to challenge yourself and push yourself. Try new poses, new binds, new variations. However, it’s also good to stop where you feel resistance. You never want to feel real pain in yoga. Injuries take a long time to recover from, physically and mentally.

Start slow when you need to

Sometimes my body would tell me it was too tired to start so I’d lay on the mat in supta badda konasana (reclining bound angle pose) and just wait to feel the pull to shift into a supine twist or happy baby (ananda balasana). Once I got going, I often found starting a few poses begged for more and I would be standing, balancing and striving for new limits before I knew it.  Usually, a little movement will coax you into wanting more.

Some days I practice for 10 minutes and some days I have to cut myself off after an hour and a half or so because I have other things I should do. You never know what may be waiting inside that will find you on the mat.

Creating a Yoga Space

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaOne of the other most important things about practicing is finding a good place to do it. Make sure you have enough room and set up a pleasant atmosphere for yourself. BKS Iyengar says you must find a place with good light and no insects, but I think it goes way beyond that. Make your space sing: light a Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spacecandle or incense, turn on some music that reflects your mood or your practice, de-clutter, add something nice to look at or inspire you. If you have props, like a bolster or block or strap that you use, bring them to your space. If you feel at peace and at home in your yoga space, you will be much more likely to feel drawn to it and want to practice.  Click the image at the right to learn more about creating your own yoga space.

Final words of Encouragement

I’m 100% sure you can do it!  Roll out your mat today.

“Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” Self-practice will teach you a lot about yourself inside and out; body, mind, and soul.

Self-practice Suggestions

• Roll out your mat and start
• Trust yourself and your knowledge
• Be present
• Listen to your body

Guide to Understanding the 8 limbs of Yoga

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Niyamas: how to incorporate them into your life

Guide to Understanding the 8 limbs of YogaThe first of the 8 limbs of yoga, the Yamas, have to do with the way we behave in the world.  The second limb are the Niyamas, which deal with the way that we that we treat ourselves; how we behave in relationship to personal actions and outlooks.  There are 5 Niyamas.

  1. Saucha is translated as purification or cleanliness. This concept goes beyond keeping your body clean inside and out, it also means keeping a clean mind and a clean environment for living your life.  Try to take in pure foods, substances, thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.  Some people interpret this niyama as one of the main goals of yoga as a whole.
  2. Santosha means contentment. This means being satisfied in the present moment; appreciating what you have at any time.  This also relates to not wishing for more or wishing for what someone else has.  Materialism doesn’t bring happiness.  Santosha means accepting and appreciating what you have, which leads to happiness and joy.  Remind yourself that you are enough.
  3. Tapas is said to mean austerity or self-discipline. This niyama refers to motivation to better yourself.  It is a focused energy and a desire to commit to self-practice.  Tapas creates an internal fire or heat that helps purify and solidify commitment.  This determination helps you reach your goals within yoga and in your daily life.
  4. Svadhyaya is translated as self-study. This means getting to know yourself- your needs, abilities, desires, faults, and nature.  It means wanting to know the deepest, most true form of yourself.  Self-study also gives you room to improve and become the self that you most want to be.  It also helps you recognize your divine nature or the divine within yourself.
  5. Ishvara is said to mean surrender or devotion to God. This doesn’t have to be interpreted as a particular god.  Ishvara means accepting that everything is related and connected.  It means trusting in the universe; surrendering to the greater good or higher power.  Devoting your practice or actions to this higher power allows you to let go of your attachment to your self.  It allows you to recognize something bigger which opens the mind to the concept of the interconnectedness of everything.

With the yamas and niyamas combined, yoga guides our ideal behaviors internally and externally.  Embodying the yamas and niyamas creates a strong foundation within each yogi for moving further into the 8 limbs of yoga.
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Yoga All Over the World Yoga Gear Women's Apparel, tote, tee, bag, water bottle and more

Yoga All Over the World Goodies

I’ve been working on some pen-and-ink drawings.  Then I added my design to lots of cool items.  If you click the image below, you can see my Yoga all over the world Collection.  [Disclosure: this is an affiliate link; if you click through and purchase something from this link, I will receive a commission for my designs.]

yoga-all-over-the-world-ad

Amazing must-have book for yoga teachers and learning yogis: recommedation and shop

2100 Asanas Recommendation: Awesome Yoga Inspiration Book for Yoga Instructors and Students

I have to give credit to my sister for finding this yoga book, 2100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses.  When I was visiting America, she brought it over to my mom’s house to show me.  We were both really excited as we flipped through together and started trying some of the new and different shapes on the living room floor.

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Click here to check out 2100 Asanas on Amazon

2100 Asanas has really rocked my yoga world.  I find this book to be great inspiration for my self practice.  It literally does have 2100 yoga asanas, which means there are hundreds that I hadn’t seen before.  When I flip through the pages, I can’t help but think “ooh that would feel good!” about some poses or “wow, that’s something to work towards.”  It really motivates me.  I like to keep it by my mat when I practice.

One of the the hardest things for me in creating yoga lesson plans is thinking of new poses to keep each class fresh for my experienced yogis but still have do-able poses for my new yogis.  This book has a good variety of levels and variations for each pose, which helps me create simultaneously challenging and accessible classes. For self practice or teaching, I recommend this book for inspiration.

My path to Yoga: Blog about finding asana, yoga and self

My Path to Yoga: what lead me to start doing yoga and how yoga changed me

My path to Yoga: Blog about finding asana, yoga and selfI’ve been doing yoga since college in Arkansas, back in 2005.  My friend Merry invited me to go with her for PE credit and I figured, “why not?”  In a way, I feel like when she asked me to go to yoga, it was the universe speaking to me through her.   We were a little out of place, because the class was mostly adults from the local community who had clearly been before.  We laughed hard as we tried to figure it all out on our mats on the smooth wooden floor of the fluorescent-lit gym.  Everything was so awkward and perplexing, but it all felt good and it was fun.  We were shushed a lot for being so rowdy, but we calmed our giggles week by week and stretched a bit deeper week by week too.

The next year when I transferred to the University of Delaware, I joined the yoga club.  It met two or three times a week and I was there for every session.  I dragged my new friends along with me too.  Soon I had a small crew of yogis.  The girls who taught the classes seemed well organized.  They knew so many different moves (which I now know are called asanas) and always knew how I could push myself harder at just the same moment  that I knew I could go deeper.  They made an announcement at one class, saying they were looking for new teachers.  My insides lurched for the opportunity, but I didn’t believe in myself.  I didn’t think I knew enough about the “moves” and I couldn’t imagine being bold enough to stand in front of everyone and simultaneously show and tell them what to do.  So I let the suggestion wash over me.  The same thing happened when I heard my neighbor had done her yoga teacher training course.  I thought, “that should be me” but I also let that idea float away.

After I graduated with my degree in business in the epicenter of worst slump of the recession, yoga and I lost touch for a bit.  I lost touch with more than one of my passions as I sat on the couch and applied fruitlessly to every job I could find related to my new degree.  After 3 months, I got an email that said “teach English in Korea” and I applied on a whim.  I was there a month later.  That year in Korea and two years in China slipped by before I found myself on a yoga mat again in Istanbul, Turkey, my next home in 2013.  My friend Kat found an ad for a cheap month of hot yoga and invited me along, which I felt I couldn’t resist.  We were in a nice apartment-turned studio facing the Marmara Sea with sleek lines and Buddhas for décor.  A lean Turkish lady with a smooth voice but a clipped accent guided us through the asanas.  We bent and twisted and leaned and grew in a way that felt so familiar and so natural and so necessary.  I didn’t realize how much I’d missed yoga.

The next year, I joined a fancy gym in my new neighborhood.  Sometimes I went just for the steamy hammam in the locker room, but mostly I went for the classes, including yoga.  I was thrilled to have regular access.  After every class, I came out feeling lighter, more limber, calmer, clearer and truly, happier.  Another studio in my new neighborhood had a deal so Kat suggested we join.  We were in a dim basement with a low ceiling for another month of hot yoga- we went almost every day to sweat it out and stretch it out.  I found I was more flexible in the heat even when I felt like I could pass out.  I got lots of positive encouragement from the instructors there who learned to recognize us.  I would have gone more after the deal, but couldn’t afford it.  So I was back to my regular gym a couple of times a week, but I wanted more.

dharamsala

In the Summer of 2014, I visited India on a volunteering trip and on a free day, found a poster for yoga classes.  I went to the studio which turned out to be teacher training center.  One of the trainees led the class.  I was the only non-trainee to show up (in a while it seemed).  They made training seem so do-able.  I remember looking at the Himalayas out the window upside-down doing bridge.  In that moment, I knew I was right where I should be.  Everything felt right.

For my next job, I moved to a little city in Myanmar where everything was covered in a thin layer of dust.  They had colorful local markets and quaint bamboo huts, cows in the middle of the road, big smiles around every corner, gold stupas reaching for the sky and gorgeous rice fields stretching to the foot of the mountains.  But they didn’t have a yoga studio.  I was more than a little bit disappointed, but I perused the small shops and found a mat.  A new friend, Jenn, turned me onto a pod cast with short sessions and I also started to try to guide myself.  I knew lots of asanas.  I knew which ones could morph into other similar poses.  I could breath energy into my body with sun salutations too.

That next Summer, in 2015, I visited Bali, a land studded with yoga studios.  I spent weeks dropping my boyfriend off at the beach to surf and motorbiking over to yoga before picking him back up for lunch.  It was heavenly.  I got into a new flow and found a new need for yoga.  One particular class really struck a chord with me in Ubud- hatha with Emily, as recommended to me by another yogi, Ali, who I’d met at the beach.  I felt really compelled by Emily and wished I had time for more classes.

Back in Myanmar, when the internet worked, I’d sometimes go on Facebook.  I noticed a trend on my feed- lots of my gal pals were doing yoga and a few were even teaching it.  This observation made me consider doing the training myself.  I sent lots of messages asking how they got into it and what suggestions they had.  I felt inspired by their responses and started to look into courses with my radar mostly on India.  My sister Natalie and I were talking and she said she’d love to do the training too.  She mentioned Bali and I said I would only do it there if it was with Emily.  She googled Emily and said, “Guess we’re going to Bali this Summer!  There’s a training session in July!”

I worked hard on preparing myself, mind, body, and spirit for devoting myself to yoga.  I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t been practicing in the last couple of years as much as some of my fellow future instructors surely had.  Part of me felt like maybe I should wait, but I told myself, “really, there’s no time like the present; now or never.”  I threw myself into something I didn’t know if I was ready for, but that was not new to me.

In a way, I feel like I’ve been pulled here by forces beyond me.  Like a trail I couldn’t see stretching ahead over mountain slopes.  Friends along the way have pointed me in the right direction.  Their voices were my guru or my guide, sending me ever further along the path toward yoga.

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