Tag Archives: basics

Chakra Slow Flow with Marisa Bonfanti at Shambhala Yoga & Dance

Last night I stopped into a cute center I’d heard a lot about — Shambhala Yoga & Dance, in Prospect Heights. Friends were telling me that the owner really honestly tries to connect the community through her yoga center; classes are only $13 for a drop in, $6 community classes are offered at peak times, and social events like salsa parties bring neighbors together for some fun.

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First Time for Yoga

Do you remember your first yoga class? The questions, the perceptions, the expectations (or lack thereof)? Yesterday’s Times had a nice first-time-to-yoga narrative:

Ignoring the warning bells deep inside my brain, I grabbed a book, thinking that if the class got too long for my limited physical capacity, I would just slip outside and read.

Not so much. Turns out that the whole yoga thing is about staying in the moment, searching within yourself, absorbing the energy of the people in the room.

Just one class, and a few days later she was already “jones-ing for yoga.” :)

From At Risk: Of Resembling a Pretzel

Quickie Practice

Gosha I borrowed your photo
Gosha I borrowed your photo

Crazy week last week, but I kept up a daily practice, a MORNING practice no less, for the length of it. Why? I got off on a good foot last weekend (a blissful hiking/yoga retreat with some Russian friends)… and my morning practice is 15 minutes short!

3-5 sun salutations, left and right sides

100 breaths of fire (in Plank)

2 handstands

That’s it. It’s delicious and fun, I’m so stiff that I don’t try to stretch, I just step back all sloppy and sleepy. And it wakes me up and sets the tone for the day.

And, five minutes of meditation after I get off my computer each night has cleared my insomnia! Yoga EXPRESS, love it.

[I’m just writing this so I remember that daily practice doesn’t have to be a big ordeal.]

Wanting to Be

I was thinking the other day about what I wanted to be in the future. When I grow up. I want be someone who practices yoga and meditation every day.

Then I realized — I am that person, RIGHT NOW, if I practice yoga and meditate today. It’s not like “I want to be a world-famous photographer” where you have to build a portfolio and a reputation over years and years. All I have to do is practice yoga and meditate today. And tomorrow. And repeat. It’s an identity that’s defined by habits, not by goals. Verbs, not nouns.

I’m going to major in linguistics.

9 Questions with Yogoer

What are you looking at?
What are you looking at?

Ahoy people! Someone nice has gone and interviewed me. What are the hidden gems of the NYC yoga scene? What’s the best music for yoga practice? How awesome is the Yogoer iPhone app? I know these are the questions keeping you up at night. So go ahead and read the full interview on MindBodyGreen!

Q & A with Erica Heinz of Yogoer: Hidden Gems of NYC Yoga, Her Favorite Yoga Music, iPhone App, and More!

You can spend quite a while there, reading inspiring interviews and illuminating overviews. MindBodyGreen is a great new digest of healthy living content. I just learned The 7 P’s of Goal Setting! Plus, you can vote up any news article, or submit one yourself. Enjoy!

Gold Star for You, Kid

How do you keep your practice schedule organized? For me, pen and paper never gets old. And this week I made it into full color:

Mastery of Space and Time
Mastery of Space and Time

That’s my newly-encircled calendar. It’s just an ugly wall calendar from the office supply store that I like because of the weird to-do forms at the top of each page. I was getting overwhelmed with the exercise/ice routine recommended by my PT, on top of my yoga practice, on top of trying to build a meditation practice. I am not a robot and it’s hard to remember to do six exercise routines a day. And floss my teeth.

So, my calendar sat there, and finally BEGGED for some doodling. Blue circles are for meditation. Yellow is for yoga. The black boxes are for icing and strengthening my knee (twice daily). Then I write everything else in red so it pops forward.

I figured I’d show this at the beginning of the month while it looks all perfect. Already the checking off of boxes is giving me great satisfaction and motivation. My inner six-year-old takes over scheduling from now on. Maybe I can get my sister the first grade teacher to give me some stickers…

Teaching, Beginning, Being One Piece

Yesterday I taught a workshop for Internet Week NY. I’d randomly decided their schedule of events needed “yoga and teatime” in addition to the lectures and cocktail parties. I set up an RSVP form, so I could gauge interest and experience levels, and had 40 people “interested”, and 14 people RSVP. Nearly all marked their experience level as “0–10 classes”; none marked “over 100″. So I got to thinking about what I wanted to teach in a true beginners’ class — the last time I taught beginners, I was still teaching the Atmananda Sequence verbatim.

I knew that Sun Salutations were a good place to start; they supposedly contain every essential alignment, and since students are forced to do them all the time in classes, they would be valuable topics to cover.

I was also thinking about the specific audience: Internet Week participants, i.e. people who sit in Computer Pose 40 hours a week. So I thought some wrist, shoulder, neck, and back movements might be good: Table Top, Locust, Rabbit, Seated Crescent, Spinal Twist, Bow. Also some stretches for the hip flexors, which sit in 90º forward bends all day: Lunges, Hero, Camel.

And I was chewing on something Leslie said last week: “the PRINCIPLE of Chaturanga is learning to hold the body all in one piece.” (Quote is approximate.) It was so interesting to think about a single lesson we can learn in each pose. And then I thought, well, this is a good thing to work on in ALL poses: finding the unity and integration of the body. On a practical level, it teaches us to avoid injury by using our whole body to lift boxes, get out of bed, stand on our heads, etc. On a mental/emotional level, it reduces the hierarchical war of head, heart, gut, and hips; we want them ALL to be happy and acknowledged. And it’s a good metaphor for the Internet: bringing vast and varied communities together in one piece. It’s kind of the whole point of yoga: union, coming together.

Finally, I was feeling like challenging Down Dog. Ever since my shoulder injury, I have been realizing how complex this pose actually is. There are a thousand ways you can arrange the shoulders in this pose, and a thousand points of emphasis. It’s a subtle balancing act of how much to widen the shoulders (or not), externally rotate the upper arms, internally rotate the forearms, straighten the arms (or not), send the sitbones or the tail to the sky, lengthen the spine or relax the neck… and that’s not even getting into the unique upper body strength one must build. (Practicing Half Down Dog standing at the wall is a great start, but still we need something to fill the vinyasa.) So, all I needed was another relevant aside from Leslie (“Down Dog, for all its ubiquity, is not really a beginner’s pose…”) to have the validation I needed to try something new. (Leslie, here’s a prime cut of someone taking your ideas and bastardizing them straight into yoga class ;) Child’s Pose is the usual substitution, but I didn’t want to lose the upper body strengthening entirely, so I played around with Dolphin, the forearm stand version of Down Dog, where I could focus on the shoulders and upper arms more clearly. So this is a full-fledged Vinyasa class with absolutely no Down Dogs.

And then I took some of my favorite poses and glued everything together in an order that flowed. Here it is. It went well enough that I got a round of applause at the end of the class :) :) :) For those of you that attended the class, I hope you enjoyed it and find a way to make it your own!

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Sangha Yoga Shala: Open (House)

Sangha Yoga Shala
Sangha Yoga Shala

Sangha Yoga Shala, a new studio in Williamsburg, opened its doors yesterday. They stopped by to announce an open house this Sunday, May 3rd:

FREE Yoga classes, food, demonstrations, and Bob Marley? Swing by to celebrate the opening of Sangha Yoga Shala!

All events are free.  We highly recommend that you call (7183842097)  and email info@sanghayoganyc.com to pre-register for the yoga classes as they will fill up!

10–11:30am  Free Vinyasa Class with Sara Little
12–1:15pm  Free Basics Class with Cory Washburn
1:30–3pm  Yoga Jam, accupuncture demos, reflexology demos, and much more…
3:15–4:30pm  Free Open Vinyasa Class with Malissa Larson
4:45–  Music Jam

If you’re around, check them out! 107 North 3rd Street (between Berry and Wythe), #2H.