Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Challenging Yourself

If you feel stuck in your practice, try something completely different. My friend Carla started doing an improv class at Rudramandir in Berkeley to add some diversity to yoga and lifestyle.
Several things I have done to break out of my box:

1) And most amazing was working with my father and Stephanie at Beyond Soccer in Lawrence, MA. This city is in extreme struggle. The drop out rate in Lawrence High is 60%, the city is ridiculously poor, and crime/gangs infiltrates the community. Ironically, this city borders one of the wealthiest and affluent neighborhoods in Massachusetts- my home town of Andover. I worked at the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence during high school to connect with the community, which was an amazing experience. However, I am MOST impressed with what my father started with Beyond Soccer (on facebook and website is This program takes kids off the streets and onto the field to learn the skills of the game, run hard, laugh and play. The kids LOVE it. If you are in the Boston area they are always looking for help, and this is a great way to take your yoga off the mat!
2) I took an Anusara yoga class yesterday with Pamela Marshall at Union Yoga in Andover. Fabulous! Loved the sequence; focused on heart opening/backbends. The peak posture was urdvha dhanurasana with the option to put elbows on the ground (anyone know the name of this pose?). My low back felt awesome after this class, and it usually feels a bit sore after backbends. Remember to elongate before pressing up into full wheel so to not pinch your L5 S1, and to take some time in bridge to prep. We also did dhanurasana as the pose prior, which felt like a great prep to get the alignment in the legs- flex your feet and hold ankles knees hip width. There is a really cute anusara community in the northeast.
3) I started running again- have to do it in the morning or night because the humidity is ridiculous. My dog was trailing a bit in the end because of the weather, make sure to take extra notice on your pup if he is going on a run with you. They get dehydrated easily.
4) The most intense in a while- spin class at Spin City in Andover this morning. Wow. Dan Fyfe was the teacher, a really tall and fit dude who is so nice but totally kicks your butt. Encouraging and a bit like boot camp in the words to get you moving, but absolutely necessary to get my bum off the seat and my legs moving. Loved that he focused on form and alignment for the back. Very different from the Real Ryder bikes at Corepower (which are also great!). Spinning focuses on interval training with sprints and there are 2 positions to switch between. It was an awesome workout, will definitely be going back. $15 drop ins, I may do their 2 months for $90... I can feel it in my abs. Make SURE you wear padded shorts- I didn't and it was painful by the end of the 45 minutes.

To Worcester today to visit some family... maybe a yoga class in the evening. Much love!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer has arrived!!!

It is HOT  in Boston! Haven't felt this heat in a few years. It is hot in the morning, afternoon and at night. In the bay it chilled off in the evening for a comfortable sleep. Definitely something to readjust to! The perk of the heat? I ventured to Dennisport, Cape Cod on Sunday with my father where we had delectable fish at the Swan River and a bottle of wine. The next morning proved to be the most perfect beach day I have encountered in quite a while and I am going to say it- even better than California. I swam in the ocean, laid out in the sun, read a book... feels like summer! The downside is that Cape Cod has no dogs on the beach rule. Not cool.

Some extremely obese people were hanging out at the beach, and out of interest I observed what they were feeding themselves, how they talked about their self, and how they were feeding their children (who were not yet overweight, but we all know all brownies and no exercise will lead to another generation of obesity running rampant in our country). Their lunch consisted of white bread with peanut butter (most likely with hydrogented oil), brownies, chips, some type of wine cooler for the adults,  juice boxes, and ice cream from the guy who wheels the ice cream cart around to all the Dennisport beaches. Waves of calories striking innocent children who will grow up to look like their obese mothers struggling to get out of their beach chairs. WHAT is this world coming to?!

Some think maybe people don't care about not being able to see their own toes, or the battle of rising out of a chair due to their weight. However, I believe this is incorrect. Point proven when one woman said, "Let me take your picture! Stand up in the water!" to the other. Her response? "No way! You can only take my picture if my body is in the water".
Ashamed of her body, yet continues to treat it like waste. Granted, MOST of us no matter what we look like have issues with photographs of ourselves. I think it reveals a lot about what we have to work on. Body image, skin issues, etc continually dictate how we feel about ourselves. So where to go from here?

Back to the mat. Not only does your practice make you physically stronger, supple, and flexible, but internally your mind is shifting.  As my good friend and amazing yoga teacher Jennevieve says, "Trust the practice. Even if you don't think it is working, and don't see results immediately, still trust the practice because you will".
Most people that are overweight cannot do yoga as most of us can. However there is so much out there!

Also, Michelle Obama is on the forefront to healthier lifestyle. Check it out

The children are the future. The parents are who feed and raise them. If we all make an effort to help someone we know- whether big or small, happy or sad, this is what we need!!!

One of the most beautiful immediate expressions of this was at Seaworld in San Diego (I went there on a free ticket! It was crazy). Two women were struggling to put their wheelchair in their van. People were walking by and ignoring the women who were almost toppled over by the wheelchair. My brother witnesses this and walks right up to help. So simple yet so beautiful!

Studio to check out if you are in the mid-cape: Yoga Center of Cape Cod. I took Ali Klein's hot vinyasa class 830 am on Monday. Cute studio, very friendly and have some great clothing! The room is very small with mirrors and heated by a few small heaters. Ali was SO nice and inviting, we chatted about New York and where she trained (Pittsburgh). It was a slow moving class, she was a bit wordy and did the practice on her mat the whole time. No adjustments or looking around to see if people were ok, but I think with more practice she will start to be comfortable getting off her mat to teach. That was the case for me! Thankfully I had some GREAT instructors to help me out. Feedback is so important as a teacher, take the time to ask someone you know for constructive criticism for your class.

Tip of the day: We get by with a little help from our friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Upon the Blue Ridge Mountain, there I'll take my stand

Love that I'm starting this blog with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman's album "Been All Around this World" and eating granola in California. An overcast day in San Diego, but we all know it will clear up by 11 and be a beautiful day...again! My plane for Boston takes off tomorrow where I will spend a few months practicing and teaching yoga before traveling back to school in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina.
This blog will focus on yoga and conscious health as I travel around and develop my practice as a teacher and student. Any extra suggestions, articles, posts etc are warmly welcomed!!!
For the past 2 years I have been teaching yoga in the bay (Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco), and decided to continue my studies in writing at Warren Wilson College with some of the best professors around. Despite a true valiant effort there was NO way I was going to spend two years taking math classes before transferring to university. I am lucky my parents can afford to send me to a private college where I can take classes that matter to me...not calculus.  Though I will miss Berkeley and teaching at Corepower Yoga immensely, I recognize the importance of developing my writing and adjusting my focus to become an editor of (hopefully) Yoga Journal to take yoga to the next level. As my teacher Ganga White says, "Yoga is evolving...The caterpillar doesn’t know what a butterfly does. You can only project where you are going by what you know. But future possibility is way beyond what you can project. We don’t know where we are going–the possibilities are unlimited".

I practice mainly power yoga and vinyasa, though any class that can strike a balance between sun and moon, light and dark, yin and yang is all good to me. The best yoga classes by far reside in the bay area. All the Corepower Berkeley staff is amazing especially Monika Kaufmann, Becky Roskop, Carla Torres (Hot Power Fusion and C2), Lacey Calvert and Mariah Rooney for Yoga Sculpt (yoga with weights- intense and awesome workout). Outside of that studio Stephanie Snyder, Sean Michael Hall, Gretchen Mehlhoff,  and Judy Bussell. Until recently I loved the Forrest Yoga classes in the bay, but now it is really slowed down and strict on what they can and cannot teach and I am not digging that. Freedom in yoga brings freedom to the self.
This list is just SOME of the instructors to check out if you are visiting the bay!
San Diego has proven to have some awesome classes as well, my favorite being Amy P at Corepower Yoga.

San Diego is one of the most workout focused cities I've ever been to. Everyone is wearing Lululemon clothes, running, carrying yoga bags, boot camp in the park, etc. It has been inspiring! I've cut out bread and focused on eating delicious veggies and fruit from the farmers markets in the area and feeling awesome.

Tip of the day: Eat a big salad of seasonal vegetables with a bit of protein (beans, chicken, whatever) you will be full. Simple!

More to come! Stay clean, focused and as Michael Franti says:

"exhale from the heart
not from the lungs
*speak* from the heart
not from the tongue
Listening is understanding
and finding compassion
love is the action of soul satisfaction
a tongue can make wishes and also fine kisses
taste a sweet cake and also cast disses
but nothing compares to the voice from within
without it we might just be mannequins
up to no darn good shenanigans
learn to be skilful movers of the stones
that block the heart and turn humans to clones
learn to forgive, set free the bones
touch with your flesh, take off the rubber gloves
love like your life depends on it
because it does"
-Speaking of Tongues by Michael Franti