Category Archives: community

we pray you would speak the names of your neighbors with love still wet on your lips

Sending many positive thoughts to the people of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Louisiana, Miami, and all others affected by Tropical Storm Isaac. Set your intention for practice today on sending positive energy to some of the people who need it most right now. Namaste.

All photos from NPR

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good energy

It’s difficult to describe why some days in class your practice is ‘on,’ and some days it’s ‘off.’ While there are several things that factor into this, some are out of your control. When you’re in a class, there is an energy. A group buzz that everyone can feel. It’s taken me a long time to write this, because describing ‘the energy’ of a class has proved very difficult…

When I began at my current studio, I didn’t know anyone and I attended every class alone. Since then, my close friend has joined my studio and attends the same classes as I do a couple of times a week. I did a short teacher-training workshop where I met many yogis who I’ve remained friends with and have made friendships with other regular attendees.

Sometimes it’s confusing to me, because the truth is- I don’t need anyone else to complete my yoga practice. In theory, the teacher, music, instructors, are all just extras to guide you through asanas. However, when I’m between the mats of friends or acquaintances, no matter how close our relationship is, the energy is so powerful! I feel stronger and able to feed off of their spirit and what they give to their own practice. This elevates my practice more than I ever thought possible. I’ve come to love full, mat-to-mat classes, just because the vibe in the room is so great.

The more yoga I do, the more I experience the difference between a class with bad energy and a class with good. While I know yoga is a personal journey, there’s no avoiding the influence of others in life. So if we have to be affected by others, why not take away the positive?

If I feel the energy is heavy or I’m feeling alone in a class, I try to look inward and remember why I am here, and not let it get to me. If there is great energy in the room or I’m with friends, I feed off of it! I use it to support my own practice, and it makes me very happy!

On that note, I have ALWAYS wanted to try AcroYoga or partner yoga! Anyone ever done it?

*Photo courtesy of Haute Yoga Queen Anne

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A couple posts ago I wrote about the Icelandic Naked Yoga Project. While this project was largely showing a beautiful connection between raw landscape and real, imperfect people; it got me curious about the actual practice of naked yoga. This is a real thing, it exists in many studios and gyms across the country.

In my own city, Seattle, there is The Yoga Den. It’s a men-only studio that hosts clothed and naked yoga classes a couple times a week. I contacted them with a few questions:

Sti: What are the benefits of doing yoga in the nude?

John:

  • It allows one to be and/or become comfortable with one’s body as well as others. So much of society and media place stigma’s on our physique. By accepting one’s own body as well as someone else’s regardless of size, shape or age, a deeper sense contentment and self awareness can be experienced.
  • it allows more freedom of movement. Really.
  • it can bring a deeper sense of focus. By being aware of obvious distractions, one can take their mental and emotional awareness to a deeper and more personal level by keeping their attention on their own mat.
  • It’s fun! Anything that is fun creates happiness and contentment. Can’t go wrong there.
S: Why offer only men’s naked yoga and not women’s?
J: Men in general are still unsure of yoga. Most studio / schools / classes are predominately attended by women. The Yoga Den was created as a place where men, straight or gay, could learn more about the practice of yoga in their own community. The Yoga Den offers both clothed and naked classes. The naked aspect of the class was to create a space for men to be comfortable with themselves in a non-challenging, non-sexual atmosphere.
S: How many men are in a typical class?
J: Class size varies week to week. Average class is about 5 to 10 students.
S: Are there any notable transformation stories of men who do men’s naked yoga?
J: Many guys attend class to see what it is about. For some it has been a challenge to get naked in a room full of strangers or friends and then do a physical exercise. They may be nervous because they have never done yoga or have never done it naked. There have been many guys who have attended class never having done yoga let alone a naked class and walk away with a huge relaxed smile. Self confidence is built by challenging one’s preconceptions and normalcy. Classes have been attended by guys that are over weight, have physical or health issues or major scarring from burns or surgery. Exposing what may create insecurity in a non-judgemental atmosphere can have incredible healing affects. A lot of guys just think it is fun! We shed our clothes and our ego and acknowledge ourselves and each other as equals.

S: How in the world do you do crow pose when you’re nude and sweaty?

J: There are always plenty of towels at hand. 🙂

Thank you for the information, John.

I am as guilty as anyone of analyzing other people’s appearances during class. But when everyone is nude- everyone is vulnerable. I can see how that would make me feel very free.

I’d love to hear about anyone’s experiences with naked yoga!

nude yoga

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icelandic naked yoga project

An interesting collaboration of art and yoga by Anthony Prower and Hanna Birna Geirmunsdóttir of Reykjavík, Iceland. This book features a collection of breathtaking portraits taken all around Iceland. It’s easy to make yogis look great when they’re in Lululemon head to toe, but creating portraits that display people in this raw, very human sense is refreshing.

In a side-note, naked yoga is a real thing. Seattle Men’s Naked Yoga has regular nude classes, and insists it is a non-sexual, comfortable environment. I would be interested to know what the benefit of being nude in yoga class is?

The charm and niche of this book is not the fact that the yogis are nude, it’s that they’re real people. Not models, athletes, or contortionists. There are stretch marks, love-handles, boney legs and goose bumps. It comes back to the fact that yoga is for everyone. Yoga belongs to humanity. 

The Icelandic Naked Yoga Project – Cover

Co-author Tony Prower in Vrksasana

Purchase The Icelandic Naked Yoga Project here

An interview with the artists here

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olympians & Yoga

I had to talk about this great video if only for the fact that my home studio, Urban Yoga Spa, is featured. Olympic soccer player Alex Morgan has practiced yoga for four years. She does hot power vinyasa, which she says makes her muscles recover from long practices, and helps her focus and mental stamina. She goes on to say that yoga is ‘rehab for her body,’ and that she needs an hour every once in a while to focus on her breath.

I love hearing about athletes doing yoga because it does so much for the body and mind. It reminded me of an article last week about an Olympian doing yoga at The Grinning Yogi on Capitol Hill. With all the intense training they do, yoga must feel like a treat to their muscles and joints.

I highly encourage you to watch this video filmed at my home studio, it’s beautiful and reaffirms why we all spend the time we do practicing yoga.

Here are some articles on the benefits of athletes doing yoga.

Yoga training with Olympians

Why every athlete should do yoga

Pro athletes who practice yoga: Lebron, Shaq, Andy Murray, the Philly Eagles & more!

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Go W/ The Flow

At the beginning of July I attended an event called “Go W/ the Flow,” hosted by Haute Yoga Queen Anne. Yogis Tori Reynolds and Ben Rivet(BJSR) are doing a three month long nationwide tour making stops at studios across America teaching their flow set to live music. More on them here.

Tori’s class is a traditional high energy Baptiste flow, and set to Ben’s soundtrack it’s a great experience. Ben beat boxes and plays the guitar, reading the room and going with the rhythm of the flow. Tori is a great teacher, inspiring and positive. They’re both just excited to be doing what they’re doing which creates a wonderful energy in the room. If they happen to come to your city during the remainder of their tour, I highly encourage you to attend, it’s an awesome way to switch up your routine.

It’s amazing how music really can ‘get you out of your head and into your breath.’

Tour dates:

July 26 – Equinox – Woodland Hills, CA

July 28 – Lululemon Athletica – Los Angeles, CA

August 2 – King Yoga – Aspen, CO

August 3 – Lululemon Athletica – Aspen, CO

August 5 – Elan Yoga & Fitness – Fort Collins, CO

August 6 – Prana Denver – Denver, CO

August 23 – Yoga One Inc. – Seekonk MA

Augist 28 – High Street Yoga – Westerly, RI

August 29 – Wayland Square Power Yoga – Providence, RI

September 2 – Power Yoga Chicago – Chicago, IL

September 10 – Lululemon Athletica – Cincinnati, OH

September 14 – Bare Feet Power Yoga – Chicago, IL

September 16 – Core Essence – Milwaukee, WI

September 17 – Dragonfly Hot Yoga – Fitchburg, WI

September 18 – Perennial Yoga – Fitchburg, WI

September 19 – Dragonfly Hot Yoga, Madison, WI

September 22 – Root Down Yoga – La Crosse, WI

September 25 – Chagrin Yoga – Chagrin Falls, OH

October 6 – Midwest Outdoor Experience – Dayton, OH

October 19 – AC Power Yoga – San Antonio, TX

October 20 – The Yoga Project – Mansfield, TX

October 21 – The Yoga Project – Arlington, TX

November 8 – Epic Yoga – Brentwood, TX

Novermber 9 – MBH Yoga – Cummina, GA

November 11 – Jiva Yoga Center – Hilton Head Island, SC

More information and an interview with Ben Rivet.

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binds

One of my favorite yoga instructors, Cassandra, often says during class, “we don’t do yoga to change ourselves, we do yoga to discover the awesomeness that has always been there.”

For some of us that does mean change. To look inside yourself and make changes in your life based on what you love the most about yourself. While we do this subconsciously, we definitely learn to like ourselves more. And when you like yourself more, you believe in what you can offer the world.

I believe in practical application. If yoga did not improve my life, I would not do it. That’s why I took interest in Yoga Behind Bars, a Seattle non-profit that now brings yoga classes to inmates around the country. I found several non profits that are working to do studies on the effects yoga has in prison. Through Prison Yoga Project, you can even donate a book to a prisoner for less than $10. Let’s keep in mind we have to share the world with these people when they get out. I would be relieved to know that the ex-con standing behind me in line at Safeway has been exposed to the healing powers of yoga.

Yoga builds balance, on the mat and off. While some people argue that yoga is a luxury that prisoners do not deserve, I think that by finding that balance they can go on to live healthier more productive lives after their time is served. Yoga can bring them motivation not to just stay out of prison, but to give the world the awesomeness that they have to offer.

All photographs ©Robert Sturman

The full article and coverage can be found here courtesy of Komo 4 News

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