Vinyasa yoga in known for connecting breath with movement. it’s sometimes translated to “to place in a special order.’ While I personally practice the Ashtanga primary series, I love to play on my mat so I can teach a creative flow that get’s students out of their routines and adds spontaneity to the practice! My teacher, Silvia Mordini, is one of the most creative teachers I know! Her flows are playful, unpredictable and invigorating! Check out some of these below and teachers- feel free to incorporate these flows into your class!
–I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker online because I want everyone to share their own unique voice, not mine.–
I haven’t had my voice for over a week. Only one explanation needed: I live in Seattle. Teaching my yoga classes with a weak voice this week has been a struggle, but its more of a sign of patriotism to my city than an annoyance. Sorry if you’re from Denver or are equally as annoyed with the 12th man, but I want to briefly discuss the beautiful vibe in Seattle the past few months.
Yoga means to yoke, to unite. A well known stereotype here in the pacific northwest is ‘the Seattle freeze.’ Basically it’s the idea the Seattlites are generally very friendly, but can be very standoffish in social situation. The spirit of the 12th man has united us into an enormous family with boundless pride in our community. Honestly, I’m very sad the Superbowl is over, and this spirit will inevitably die out, making way for future events that will divide us once again.
The power of Mantra. Different sounds have different effects on human psyche. Waves on a beach relax us, the violin strings enchant our heart, and maybe thunder causes awe and fear. The speaking or chanting of Mantras provide us with the power to attain our goals and lift ourselves from the ordinary to the higher level of consciousness. Our twelfth man mantra is not unlike the sacred sanskrit mantras- they empower us to be our best, promote positivity, and uplift those around us.
This was a rare point in time, here are some sweet moments from the victory parade-
Click here for some great photos from the pros.
Representing primordial femininity, reflecting the light of the sun, the Moon is our mirror. No one is immune to its magic- just as the waves of the ocean willingly abide to it, human behavior patterns have been shown to be influenced by the moon’s fluctuations. The Moon’s regular cycles have been honored by countless people throughout time, helping us measure the passage of time and being a constant muse and source of creative energy.
Although we experienced a BIG moon at the beginning of the month, the official Lunar New Year arrives January 31! Even if you stated your intentions on the first of the year, it’s always good to reaffirm those intentions so their importance doesn’t fade away. But it doesn’t stop there! As my teacher Silvia often says, “if you want something to change, you have to change something.” I think where I tend to go wrong with resolutions is getting a little vague and fuzzy about the details. I need a what and a how to go with it. It’s the daily actions that allow the undercover miracles of this year to unfold.
Let it be like a rebirth of your self, beginning at the beginning with the conception of your wildest dreams and intentions. Write them down, say them aloud, tell people about them! While studying for my photography degree, one of my professors would tell us to introduce and describe ourselves as artists. You have to become comfortable with that reality to make it a part of you.
Then move on to the growth and development phase, the phase where you nurture that wild intention and it becomes stronger and more tangible. This stage could be like the growth of a newborn to a toddler, rapid, noticeable changes that are immense and exciting. But it could also be subtle, less dramatic changes like the development of a human after 19 or 20. Be patient, everything is a process. But in many cases, the more successful you are at nurturing your baby intention with the new habits and actions it needs to manifest, the faster and more significantly it will grow.
Step three: Manifesting. It could be this year, it could be in twenty years. That doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re moving in the right direction.
I’ve created a worksheet for you to really get clear about your own intentions for 2014. It’s really simple, I didn’t want it to remind anyone of a school assignment(I hated those). This document includes some affirmations, a mantra, and some prompts to get you thinking about the year ahead. I highly encourage you to print a couple of these out and fill them out for each individual goal. Then, put them somewhere you will see them! Taped to your bathroom mirror, next to your bed, etc. I really hope this is helpful to you!
Download PDF here: 2014 Intentions Worksheet
What’s in store for you in 2014? Stay tuned, I’ll be posting my 2014 goals this week!
Yesterday I had my second rolfing session. While rolfing doesn’t feel particularly feel good like a massage, it’s totally worth it to me to go nerd out about anatomy and physiology with my brilliant ‘rolfer.’ I am amazed by her knowledge of the human body and love to pick her brain. I wanted to share with you some of the tips she gave me about sitting that will improve postural alignment and overall balance in my body.
I don’t have a tv, but I told my rolfer that I spend most of my ‘sitting time’ at home at my desk. Right off the bat she recommended that my computer screen be slightly raised so the chin is lifted as opposed to tilted down. Your keyboard should be at a level where you arms sit at a 90 degree angle, like sphinx pose. Your knees should ideally be lower than your hips and your spine erect rather than curved.
Sitting on a very soft surface(like a sofa) puts our pelvis in a posterior tilt and curves our spine, so placing a more firm prop underneath you keeps the spine straighter. It makes sense to me now why most meditation pillows are firm and filled with beads as opposed to soft and fluffy.
I have always had problems with badha konasana, sukhasana, and most sitting meditation poses (without the use of a block) because my spine wants to round and I quickly feel back pain. That being said, these changes have not been easy for me! I am on day two of making these changes at my desk, and my back feels very tired. As I was told by my rolfer, this takes time to develop muscle memory and break the habit of years of slouching.
If these changes are unrealistic, maybe just schedule a pop-up reminder on your computer reminding you to sit up straight!
For goodness sake- do NOT sit on a ball! It’s almost impossible to sit with a straight spine on such a soft surface.
Happy 2014 Yogis! A time to celebrate sweet endings and exciting new beginnings.
Who is Ganesha? Ganesha is one of the celebrity gods in Hindu philosophy. He is the destroyer of vanity, selfishness, pride and is the remover of obstacles. He clears the obstacles in your life, so there is nothing stopping you between you and your ideal life. I feel Ganesh is a kindred spirit to me because he loves sweets, and he loves to dance!
He is half boy, half elephant, and the son of Shiva and Parvati. The head of Ganesh represents the Atman (ultimate reality), while his child’s body signifies the earthly realm of human beings. In his upper right hand Ganesh holds a whip or goad, which seems harsh but helps him propel mankind forward(like cattle) remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesh’s left hand helps him capture and restrain all difficulties.
In his lower right hand is a writing tusk he broke writing the Mahabharata, one of the two major sanskrit epics. The Mala beads in his other hand represents the endless pursuit of knowledge and being a student of life. The candy he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the life, he loves sweets! The snake that runs round his waist like a belt represents energy in all forms. He travels by mouse!
On December 31st I took my last yoga class of 2013. The teacher asked us to close our eyes and consider the question, “what would you do if there were no obstacles stopping you from your ideal life?”
Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough this or that…. These are excuses we use all the time. In this time of new beginnings, let’s get really clear on our 2014 intentions by letting Ganesh demolish our obstacles and excuses and not waste another moment of 2014!
Ganesha’s Mantra. Ganesh resides in our firey root chakra, the foundation of our being, and we can ignite him by chanting his mantra or silently thinking it during meditation. “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha,” which can be loosely translated to “Yo! Time to wake up Root Chakra! Let’s get the energy of transformation moving so I can kick my obstacles’ ass and live my ideal life!”
And now for all of you auditory learners, Ganesha’s story through the immortal words of MC Yogi!
In the spirit of the holiday season, I present you with two interpretations of ahimsa.
From Patanjali’s yoga sutras:
2.35 As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility.
(ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)
ahimsa = non-violence, non-harming, non-injury
pratishthayam = having firmly established, being well grounded in
tat = that, of his or her
vaira-tyagah = give up hostilities (vaira = hostility, enmity, aggression; tyaga = abandon, give up)
Given here is Kino, the fabulous youtube celebrity of Ashtanga yoga, and Sri Swami Satchidananda, spiritual teacher. The important takeaway here is what Ahimsa means to YOU. Kino and Swami cannot use their fame to ahimsa the evil out of the world. But if we, one-by-one, commit to kindness in our daily lives, we can!
As you can probably see, I haven’t written a post in a good long time. Little Windmill is my baby and has helped me evolve my writing style and develop my voice. It has given me the opportunity to meet many new friends and express my story. Community is a simple and powerful thing, and LW has helped me contribute to the conversation. So, why the absence? I’m glad you asked.
The truth is, my yoga practice has been more of a source of stress for me recently than the stress reliever it should be. I’ve been suffering from chronic back pain, pain in my hamstrings, and general soreness that doesn’t seem to go away.
For this I’ve tried numerous treatments- hot baths every day, essential oils, taken 10+ days of complete rest, acupressure points, myofascial massage, and most recently rolfing. It is extremely discouraging to me because my yoga practice is not only very close to my heart, but also my livelihood. There are poses I could once easily do that are a struggle for me now, and some that just seem impossibly out of reach.
I guess you could say I’ve been feeling pretty down in the dumps about my practice lately because of this, which has less-than-inspired me to write about it. I’ve been so frustrated with the physical aspect of yoga that the spiritual element has been lost to me. In addition to this, my meditation practice has suffered, and my motivation is poor.
A big truth is, I struggle with yoga! But I know that our minds are so strongly connected to our bodies, that our practice is constantly evolving, and this is part of the process. For me, that is a gift. Yoga practice never ends. We’re never finished. We don’t reach a goal and stop. We continue on. We see where our practice takes our body, mind and spirit.
So this is me setting intention for 2014. I am committing to sharing my truth, my Satya, my dharma with you.
Namaste and thank you for your continued support and understanding!
Here’s an excerpt from the awesome blog My Bikram Yoga Life. I absolutely love this idea, so I began my own ‘drop back wall’ at home. Thanks Leigh for the great post and inspiration!
Full post: 148 BackBends.
In the last seven days I have done 148 backbends. Is that a lot of backbends to do in seven days? I don’t know. I just decided to see how many I was doing in a week. I know that backbending is an important part of my practice, and I was doing them at home. However, I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing as many as I could or should. Keeping track of it for a week got me doing more than I think I normally would because I was paying attention. Plus, as a Type A personality, I just like to count things and keep score on myself.
Backbending got really fun yesterday (for real). I got some sticky tape and put a blob of it on the wall where I was currently landing when I went backwards doing wall walks. Then I put another blob just a bit under the first to give myself something to work towards. This helped in about a 1000 different ways.
First (no, I’m not going to count to 1000), it helped me see how far down the wall I was able to walk.
Second, I could see where I was in relation to the floor. Going backwards down the wall is a bit freaky. All I see is a solid color (yellow if I am at home and blue in the studio), but I often don’t know where I am on the wall. Now I know.
Third, it gives me something to look for. This helps me push myself. Once I’m warmed up, I know the marker I should be able to hit, and now I’ll just keep going until I hit it. Then, I can see my goal just below it, and I can decide if I can try for it or not. Right now, I’ve hit my edge, but I’m hoping to push to my new marker in a day or two. Having something to look for also keeps me focused.
So what does all this backbending look like? Well, I can’t make it down to the floor just yet. For now, I leave you with a picture of my current state of being.
The most common question i get sent is about my diet! What do I eat and what is a typical day of meals like for me? I know there are a lot of great blogs that made their name documenting every bite they take during the day. That’s not my thing, but I decided to do it for one day, which has been educational for me as well. Fueling well is SO important, and I find that sticking to a diet rich in raw foods and juices is the best choice for me. Always just listen to your body and make the right food choices based on how you feel.
When I go to bed I throw whatever citrus fruits I have around in a gallon jar of water. Today’s was half an orange and a cinnamon stick. I also love cucumbers in the mix. I had about half of my water and then a big honey crisp apple. Then I went to yoga and had another apple and some water.
For breakfast I had my morning cereal, which I usually just throw together. But I measured today: 3 TB Chia seeds, almond milk(carageenan free), 2 TB ground flaxseed, 2 TB hemp seeds, 1 Cup frozen blueberries, 1 TB coconut nectar, and 1 TB cinnamon
I also had my tea: Celestial seasonings Bengal Spice tea with french vanilla coconut milk creamer*. It tastes like a spicier chai tea latte… I went for a second cup, it’s so tasty!
*So Delicious brand coconut milk creamer does contain carageenan
I took a delicious kale, cucumber, apple, lime juice to work with me. The (not so) secret mix: 1 head kale, 2 cucumbers, 2 apples, 2 limes- for a perfectly balanced, not too bitter, delicious green juice.
For dinner I had a delicious salad. This one had a greens mix of spinach, kale, and chard. Toppings were 1/2 cup of chickpeas, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, shredded carrot, 1 TB olive oil, 1.5 TB nutritional yeast. I also love cucumber in my salads.
For dessert I had a small version of my typical green smoothie: frozen berries, greens(I usually use plain spinach), banana, almond milk/water and sun warrior protein powder. In the morning I’ll maybe add some cacao powder (it’s loaded with caffeine). If I want a super power green smoothie, I’ll brew some green tea the night before and use that as the liquid in place of almond milk. I use YogiTea Blueberry Green Tea.
For snacks in between meals, I have fruits, vegetables, and a raw nuts. I don’t limit snacks, ever. If I want to have five bananas, I do. Sometimes if I’m lazy I’ll just make a super-sized smoothie in place of a salad.