Mar 15, 2013
During a very magical yoga class this past week, my teacher shared words with the class that I instantly connected with: Wrap EVERYTHING in love. I’ve been reciting these powerful words silently and aloud since they were shared with me. This newly acquired mantra keeps helping and reminding me to vibrate love in ALL different avenues of my life – to wrap all my experiences and my relationships with friends, family, strangers, yoga, pets, and myself in love. What a beautiful idea, right?
This weekend take some time to think about this mantra and the practice of love. Maybe you are wrapping certain aspects of your life in love and not others. The truth is all experience is an opportunity to share and receive love. I am a firm believer that love is all that truly matters and that’s why these words resonate so highly with me and, I believe, have the potential to resonate highly with you.
But let’s face it…the practice of love, though simple, is not easy. Many of us are closed off to giving and receiving love. I was once incredibly closed. Many of us are holding onto past negative experiences, which creates blockages within and leaves no space to receive. I, too, was once packed with blockages. I’m still working through them. I’m sure I’ll always have work to do. I don’t beat myself up over them and nor should you. Love is not always something we lead with because, quite frankly, we don’t know how. Love is a practice. Love is an art. How do you learn it? You practice. You attempt to paint all your experiences and color all your relationships with love. Like any practice, it takes work. LOTS of work.
Without yoga, I’m not sure I would be writing this to you. Yoga opened me. Yoga created space within to receive. Yoga also helped me to let go of my emotional baggage and shed many toxic layers that were getting in the way of my ability to give/accept love. Yoga has so much potential to awaken your own access to love. You just gotta put in the work and allow yoga to do the work on you. It’s not easy work. It’s not always pleasant. It’s re-opening wounds. It’s facing all of that darkness. It’s a struggle, no doubt. But so worth it.
One way to bring light and positivity into your life is to set and state empowering intentions. The reason I resonate so strongly with this intention is because it facilitates the practice of love – and not a selfish or reserved love, but a love that encompasses everything. Love isn’t something we dish out only to people or things we think deserve it. Love is for everyone and everything. Hence, wrap it all in love. Wrap your relationships in love. Wrap your yoga practice in love – each asana, every breath. Wrap your thoughts, words, and actions in love. Wrap yourself in love. Everything!
To increase your receptivity to this mantra and to love, practice some heart-opening, heart-healing yoga online this weekend. Here’s an offering of some amazing yoga videos I whole-heartedly recommend:
- Blast Your Heart Open with Gigi Yogini
- Backbends to Access More Love with Jeanne Heileman
- Anahata: Finding the Lightness of the Heart with Jeanne Heileman
- Heart Chakra Healing and Balancing Kundalini Yoga Set with Kiyomi Takahashi
Vibrating love to you all,
Photo Credit: Love via www.beliveinyou.tumblr.com
Mar 1, 2013
All sorts of noise constantly bombard us. Noise outside. Noise inside. Urbanites like myself are especially bombarded. Horns. Sirens. Buses. Trains. So much noise. But even when the external world is quiet, the noise still persists. Thoughts. Ruminations. Questions. Lists. Memories. So much self-created, internal noise. Sometimes I need liberation from all of it. I need it to settle and stop. I want to enter a place of nothingness – a place without distraction and thought. I just want to float in a place of serene silence. But how?
I do yoga for those sweet moments, sometimes mere seconds, of which there is no noise. I do yoga to experience that sensation of dropping in and tuning out. Sure, sometimes I don’t get there. And when I do, the experience is usually very brief. But I know that if I let go and surrender to the flow, it will happen. And I’ll only have realized it happened, the moment I fall back into the noise. Brief as they may be, these moments of nothingness are special and rejuvenating. For a second, I am without worry. Without fear. Without obligation. Do yoga enough, and you’ll inevitably experience this place. You’ll put a lid on all the noise.
How you reach this place will vary. For me, a long, vigorous Vinyasa practice works best. Constant movement combined with a deep connection to the breath ultimately lends a moment or moments of liberation. As I sweat, I feel like I gradually shed layers of heaviness and toxicity. I let go of anything I’m holding onto. Outside happenings disappear and the inner workings of the mind stop churning. I call it an escape. It’s a brief vacation away from all external and internal chatter.
This weekend, choose a vigorous Vinyasa practice and surrender to the flow. Connect to your own internal rhythm: your breath or life-force. See what happens. Maybe you drop into the flow and temporarily tune out. Maybe the noise stops for a second or a few seconds. Maybe it just mellows out a bit. Flow without expectation. Just surrender.
Start with a side plank series, Sun Salutations and core work to warm up the body and prepare for a standing, slow flow in this online yoga class. Opportunities to practice arm balances, such as one-legged crow (eka pada bakasana), side crow and eka pada galavasana will be provided as options. End with backbends and shoulderstand before settling into a well-deserved savasana. (86 mins.)
Challenge yourself in this advanced online yoga practice. Start slowly with a restorative heart and hip opener, then begin to build heat with a core plank series and a standing flow including Sun Salutation variations. Progress through a series of quadricep/thigh openers to prepare for advanced backbends, including salabhasana, dhanurasana and natarajasana. Practice a standing balance sequence including Warrior III, standing splits and kundalini’s descent. End with seated hip openers with an opportunity to practice the arm balance astavakrasana. Cool down with alternate nostril breathing and savasana. (87 mins.)
Start with a reclining, hip opening sequence with a strap that will prepare your body for a standing slow flow. In this online yoga class, there will be an opportunity to practice tripod headstand (sirsasana II). You will end with seated hamstring and hip openers. (88 mins.)
Break off from the noise. Put a lid on it. Enjoy a sweet, Vinyasa escape.
Photo Credit: www.besswess.wordpress.com
Feb 28, 2013
Balancing on your hands is no easy feat. It requires a good deal of upper body strength and deep core strength. But brute strength is not enough. Body intelligence and connection to the breath are just as important. A sweet balance of effort and ease is required to float into and stick arm-balancing postures. So, strong-arm tactics alone will not work here. In fact, forceful action will probably land you on the ground.
Like anything, arm balances will come with practice. Development of strength in the upper body and core will also make way for greater access to arm balances. Think LOTS of plank and Chaturanga practice.
To get the ball rolling with some arm balancing fun, check out two new online yoga classes:
Time to take off and fly! Whether you are learning to balance on your hands or are looking for new ways to fly, this online yoga practice is for you! This session will offer different kramas and stages suitable for experienced beginners, intermediate and advanced practitioners. Enjoy the mandala flow as you move around your mat and experience your practice from many different directions. Guest musician Daphne Tse will serenade you during savasana and a music playlist will be provided by Yogi-Tunes. (59 mins.)
Start with a side plank series, Sun Salutations and core work to warm up the body and prepare for a standing, slow flow in this online yoga class filmed at Exhale Spa. Opportunities to practice arm balances, such as one-legged crow (eka pada bakasana), side crow and eka pada galavasana will be offered as options. End with backbends and shoulderstand before settling into a well-deserved savasana. Enjoy music provided by Shaman’s Dream. (86 mins.)
If you’re not ready to get down with the fancy poses, just begin with the basics (crow, planks, dolphin, etc.) to keep building strength and body intelligence. Before you know it, you’ll land your first fancy, exhilarating balance and become an arm-balancing addict. Once you master the art of one arm balancing act, you’ll be on a mission to experience yet another.
Feb 26, 2013
Yoga Nidra is an incredibly accessible practice. Anyone can do it. It’s highly recommended for all and can be especially beneficial for bodies that are restricted from the more physical elements of yoga such as asana.
Yoga Nidra is sometimes referred to as yogic sleep. But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not the time for some traditional shuteye. Yoga Nidra is better described as sleep with awareness. It’s a period of time ranging from 20 to 45 minutes where the body experiences no movement. The body sets up in a comfortable corpse pose and then receives direction from the teacher. Guided imagery and body scanning are techniques that the teacher will use to induce deep relaxation.
The Yoga Nidra experience varies. Not everyone will have the same experience and not everyone will reach the advanced stage of the practice: Nirvana, enlightenment, or total bliss. Even if you don’t reach this blissful state, you will still experience a ‘wow’ feeling post-practice and soak up all the benefits:
- Total body and mind relaxation
- Stillness and silence (quieting of all the “noise”)
- Better sleep
- Helpful for PTSD treatment
- Enhanced focus, concentration, and awareness
- The experience of a super nap (Some say Yoga Nidra feels better than true, traditional sleep)
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Meditation preparation
- Potential bliss
To press your system’s refresh button, practice Yoga Nidra under the guidance of an experienced, master teacher: Sri Dharma Mittra.
Sri Dharma Mittra teaches that stress is the number one cause of injury and illness, and that we must explore methods to keep balanced and joyful in the thick of everyday life. Guided Relaxation removes tension and fatigue in the physical body, relieves depression and anxiety, relieves headaches, reduces cravings and desires, rejuvenates and energizes the entire system, bolsters the body’s natural healing capacities, and normalizes the circulatory system’s functioning. In this online yoga class, you will be guided into a state of deep relaxation where the breathing and the thoughts are slowed almost to the point of stopping, which can be as restorative as a full night’s sleep. When done regularly and with pure intention, one can depart the body and cross over into Psychic Sleep, briefly experiencing the Astral Plane. It is through this deep practice that one can gradually come to recognize that you are so much more than the body or the mind. The benefits of this practice are cumulative – the more you do it, the greater the benefit. No previous experience needed! (45 mins.)
Put stress, tension, and fatigue to sleep. Quiet the noise. Experience bliss.
Photo Credit: Corpse Pose via www.suburbanyogini.com
Feb 14, 2013
In case you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, today is a good reminder to bring it back. And I’m not strictly referring to that lovin’ feeling that you may have for someone else. Maybe you need to bring it back to yourself.
Bring it back with some love-inspired yoga online. Practice one of five heart-themed yoga classes to journey inwards, connect to yourself, and open your heart.
- Fluid Heart Opening Flow with Hala Khouri
Focus on opening the upper spine, shoulders and heart in this online yoga class filmed at Exhale Spa. Connect to your body, breath and essence with compassion and love. (80 mins.)
- Blast Your Heart Open with Gigi Yogini
Open your heart and let the light of love shine from within in this short online Vinyasa yoga class. Tap into a sense of universal abundance to access your highest potential through sacred breath and movement. (29 mins.)
- Heart Chakra Healing & Balancing Kundalini Yoga Set with Kiyomi Takahashi
This powerful Kundalini yoga set is the perfect practice to uplift your energy. The short meditation at the end of the class will induce a sense of calmness in your heart. This class is designed to remove energetic blockages from your Heart Chakra, so you can connect with yourself with true compassion, and allow yourself to receive the healing, love, and compassion that you deserve. The ending meditation adds clear perception to your relationships with yourself and others. May the increased healing energy from your heart penetrate and dissolve your pain and the pain of others around you. Open and balance your heart to love yourself and all creatures. (49 mins.)
- Backbends to Access More Love with Jeanne Heileman
This online yoga class will thread together a number of seemingly easy backbends that when coupled with mantra and breathing techniques, will open the energy of goodness that lies deep within your heart. If you can do these backbends in this method, your body will be able to handle any type of backbend. (63 mins.)
- Anahata: Finding the Lightness of the Heart with Jeanne Heileman
The quality of the Heart Chakra is Air, yet most of us do not feel as though our hearts could be as light as air. This online yoga class will help transform your perspective. You will be guided through a specific pranayama called Viloma that moves the breath against the grain of what is comfortable, to create expansion and strength in the lungs and heart. Jeanne will then guide you on a journey deep within the heart, using Tantric techniques she has learned from her master teacher, that can help you find a beauty and deep love that dwells at the darkest cave of the heart. (24 mins.)
If you’re a lone wolf this V-Day, consider your yoga practice your valentine. Reconnect with it. Get intimate with it. Love it. Let it teach you, expand your consciousness, and elevate your vibration. Let it bring back that lovin’ feeling. Because it will. Yoga has been my greatest lover. Added Bonus: I know it’s not going anywhere.
Photo Credit: Camel Pose via sevenswans.tumblr.com
Feb 12, 2013
We are incredibly excited to partner with Gwen Lawrence!
Known as a visionary in the world of Power Yoga for Sports, Gwen Lawrence has worked with clients such as Alex Rodriguez, Amani Toomer, and Brian Cashman (to name a few). Additionally, she is the yoga instructor for 5 pro sports teams in New York, including the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the New York Rangers, in addition to major college teams such as Yale and UNC. Legit.
With her unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with extensive knowledge of anatomy and nutrition, Gwen is able to provide her students and athletes with overwhelming, transformative benefits. As evidence, June ESPN Magazine featured her as the “Best Innovation in Sports Medicine.”
“I chose to partner up with YogaVibes because when I saw what they were doing and how they were enabling Yogis to connect with teachers that they may never have the opportunity to connect with, I knew it was for me,” says Gwen. “As a Yoga teacher, you want to touch many peoples lives all over the world. Moreover, when I met the Founder, Brian, I then knew it was a home run. I immediately felt a part of his family and was super impressed by his integrity. That is so important to me to be associated with people and businesses that still take pride in what they do and how they connect with people. YogaVibes is that company, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
We are deeply honored to welcome Gwen to our growing family and offer her sports-specific yoga classes to a larger audience of yogis and athletes. Check out her latest online yoga videos, featuring 4 sports-specific flows:
- Power Yoga for Sports – Soccer (36 mins.)
In this online yoga class, Gwen will demonstrate techniques that she uses when teaching the NY Red Bulls. Learn to open the entire leg from the quadriceps and hamstrings to the ankles, calves, and toes. Due to the demands on the field, Gwen will provide ways to maintain a flexible and strong back that is able to rotate better, enabling you to see over your shoulder to protect the ball.
- Power Yoga for Sports – Runners (28 mins.)
This online yoga class offers all runners, from the avid runner to the weekend warrior, an amazing complement. Practice opening up the legs and holding stretches longer to really dig in and get faster results. Learn to detect and address imbalances before they lead to injury.
- Power Yoga for Sports – Golf (32 mins.)
In this online yoga class, Gwen will shed light on the techniques she uses when teaching LPGA players. Learn to keep your hips and back flexible and strong, increasing the power required to strike the ball. Gwen will address the importance of keeping a balanced, symmetrical body to maintain health. Work your shoulders and wrists to help perfect form.
- Power Yoga for Sports – Football for Strength & Stability (22 mins.)
Different from speed and agility positions, linemen are known for strength and stability. In this online yoga class, learn how to open the hips and find comfort in a deep squat. Address the shoulder joint to effectively absorb great force when blocking. In addition, Gwen will teach easy ways to protect the wrist joint, making it stronger, more flexible, and giving it greater power to push and also protect itself in the event of a fall on the field. Take advantage of all the same techniques Gwen uses when teaching the New York Giants!
Gwen will also be offering more sports-specific yoga videos of varying lengths and themes, including classes for skiing, football (speed and agility), tennis, baseball, horseback riding, hockey, basketball, swimming, and more.
To learn more about Gwen, please visit her website at gwenlawrence.com.
Photo Credit: Gwen Lawrence via gwenlawrence.com
Feb 11, 2013
Do you experience difficulty expressing yourself? Speaking your truth? Do you silently conduct negative, self-critical conversations with yourself about yourself? If you experience any of these communication drawbacks, you may be up against an imbalance, or blockage, of your throat chakra.
Worry not. This is not an incurable condition. In fact, there are ways to heal a throat chakra imbalance through the physical practice of yoga.
Gigi Yogini teaches that simple exercises combined with song can unblock this subtle energy center and unleash your ability to express yourself freely and genuinely:
These days, it’s not often that you sing in a yoga class. But singing is a great way to open the fifth energy wheel in the body, the Throat Chakra (Vishuddha), which is known as the purification center that relates to self-expression.
It is said that when our throat chakra is open we can transform negative experiences into wisdom.
Opening this energy wheel can bring about balance between the past, present and future. When we learn how to express ourselves by using our voices so say what is most true, and to ask questions when we need clarification, we create a sense of freedom.
This chakra not only reflects verbal communication but also includes non-verbal communication and the way we silently speak to ourselves.
Sometimes I hear how critical the negative mind can be and my observing mind is shocked. I often try to counterbalance the mean and insecure thoughts with a powerfully positive and uplifting mantra or statement. Using affirmations with my actual voice helps me overcome the limitations expressed by my subconscious one.
While opening the throat chakra is often an energetic practice, it can also be aided physically.
In the video below, we do some simple physical exercises to release any tension in the jaw, face, neck and we even sing a little song you might know and love. The point is to loosen up physically, and mentally, to have some fun.
Speaking your truth takes practice and sometimes it’s easier when you can smile and laugh. This way you can remind yourself of who you really are.
Practice Gigi Yogini’s Throat Chakra Opener – a playful online yoga class exploring mantra and affirmative singing.
Smile, maybe laugh, and find balance in the way you communicate to the world and to yourself.
Photo Credit: Image via www.instagram.com/nessavendetta/
Feb 8, 2013
“After the demands of the ego and its greed surrendered, the struggle for fulfillment of personal desires lessens; life takes on a new zest like a breath of fresh air.” ~Swami Sivananda Radha
The ego is bound to creep its way in while you’re on the mat. As human, there’s really no way to permanently escape it. It is your sense of self or I am-ness or, as my neuroscience professor coined it, it is your I-function. The I-function is the part of the self that wants and desires. It functions as the doer, the storyteller, the maker, the feeler, and the thinker. It is YOU.
The problem with your ego is that it can make everything about YOU. It makes everyone and everything seem totally separate and disconnected from your self. The goal of yoga, however, is unity and oneness. The goal of yoga is to realize our profound connection with all creation. Yoga reveals that it’s not all about YOU.
In your practice, how do you deal with the ego? How do you break away from it? How do you leave it off the mat? And how do you experience this sense of profound oneness?
One word: Nonattachment. Nonattachment is the practice of breaking free from all of your wants, desires, things, and emotions. Nonattachment is not allowing yourself to get pulled down or distracted by the things unfolding in your external world. Nonattachment is all about quieting those ego demands.
Okay, so how do you go about doing that?
Man…it’s a pretty heavy process. The first step, however, is fairly simple. Just become more aware of what you cling to in your practice. Make note of your distractions, feelings, thoughts, annoyances, etc. Through heightened awareness, you can start to loosen the ego’s grip a little bit. Also, as you begin to identify those things you are clinging to, you being to realize that it’s really not those “things” that are the problem. The problem is YOU. Yoga is about getting rid of everything that causes you struggle. Interestingly enough, your own ego creates your struggle because it tells a false story – a story of disunity and disconnect. Bad ego!
To practice leaving the ego at the door, get sweaty with some flow this weekend. Practice one of two strong online Vinyasa flows taught by Elisabeth Halfpapp and Jodi Carey, both filmed at Exhale Spa. Link breath to movement to create a steady and consistent flow from pose to pose, encouraging a moving meditation. In these online yoga videos, be prepared for mental and physical challenge. Also, be willing to let go. Let go of those ego demands and limitations!
Also, practice Kia Miller’s free online yoga video exploring an Ego Eradicating pose combined with Breath of Fire. Because, come on…who doesn’t need a little bit (if not A LOT) of ego eradication?!
During your practice, cultivate awareness of all the things that make you lose focus, cause you upset, etc. See what pops up. Post practice, put some pen to paper to record what surfaced. Do these things pop up a lot on mat? Off the mat? Why are they popping up? Just take inventory to get a feeling for your ego’s sneaky ways.
Do yoga to loosen the ego’s grip and be free of its limits. Do yoga for your soul; not your ego.
Photo Credit: Image via www.healingthroughdoing.tumblr.com
Feb 5, 2013
Are you on sensory overload? Chronically stressed? Wigging out? If you’ve been feeling like a spazz lately, I recommend you hit your mat to dose up on some R&R immediately.
Why is relaxation and restoration so essential?
Let’s turn it over to Gigi Yogini…
Most of us are bombarded by stimuli these days. Whether it’s our phones buzzing, the influx of emails, sounds of traffic, or constant commercials, our nervous system is dealing with an incredible amount of input from the outside world.
Do you ever notice how you rush to pick up the phone, even if you’re otherwise busy? Or how you jump in your seat when someone honks their horn? Perhaps your heart starts to race when you find yourself in an uncomfortable sales situation?
These responses are natural. They reflect the functions of our body’s Sympathetic Nervous System.
The general action of the SNS is to mobilize the body’s “fight or flight” response system. This increases blood pressure, breathing rate, and muscle blood flow through the body.
When we are in this stress response state, our digestion is impaired and we start releasing hormones, which put the body into alert mode. It’s as if there’s a constant red light flashing inside, warning us to rescue ourselves from danger.
The truth is, while certain stress can help us strengthen and grow in particular instances, one of the greatest threats against our health is chronic stress.
When this high level of anxiety becomes regular, it can lead to hypertension, adult oneself of diabetes, immune suppression, osteoporosis, memory decline, and many other illnesses. Many of us don’t realize how taxing our busy lifestyles can be.
Luckily, we also have the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is responsible for the maintenance of the body when it’s at rest. Conscious Relaxation is the best way to counteract and reverse the physiological effects of stress in our lives.
The PNS unconsciously regulates the internal organs and glands in what is often called the “rest and digest” system as opposed to “fight or flight.” The breathing rate slows down, alpha waves are generated, metabolism increases and muscular tension releases allowing the body to better use oxygen. Without needing to go to sleep, the nervous system calms down and the body begins to replenish and repair itself.
So even if you love your cardiovascular classes and Vinyasa style yoga, trying to take a little time to practice Restorative Yoga. Especially if you lead a busy life with little time to relax, give yourself a chance to repair and restore. Either way, regardless of your lifestyle, everyone’s body deserves an opportunity to restore in order to heal from, and prevent, stress and illness.
Remedy your spazz-syndrome, recover from stress, and replenish your system with some Restorative Yoga online. Start with Gigi’s Restorative Yoga practice, appropriate for all levels. Settle into stillness to uncover deep relaxation.
Photo Credit: Restore via Sabriya Simon Photography
Feb 1, 2013
All this wintry, windy weather has got me all scatterbrained and imbalanced. The winds of the mind – the thoughts – have been whipping and whirling around in my head just like the snowflakes outside my window. To resolve this craziness, I have been giving myself some serious doses of yoga to remain sane.
Lately, when I hit my mat, my intention is to direct my focus inward to find refuge from all the distractions of my external environment. I have discovered that a really sweet way to turn the focus inside is to practice forward folds.
Forward folds are not only calming and grounding. They also present an awesome opportunity to go deep within yourself and temporarily detach from the outside. I have found it super settling to just dangle in a standing forward fold (Uttanasana). I close my eyes. I cultivate deep Ujjayi breathing. I allow my breath to take me deeper and deeper into the pose. As I go deeper, I experience a reconnection with myself. A wave of calmness infiltrates my system.
To infiltrate your system with serenity, take a moment this weekend to explore some delicious forward folds. Re-establish an intimate connection with yourself and experience refuge from any craziness surrounding you. Send your focus inside.
To direct your attention within, turn to these free online yoga videos exploring forward folding poses and sequences.
First, enjoy this short online yoga video with Sage Rountree – Forward Folds to Stretch All 3 Parts of Hamstrings. Explore a standing forward fold and wide-legged forward fold. Hold both of these postures for up to 2 minutes to really experience their soothing benefits.
Next, enjoy Uttanasana variations with some sweet shoulder opening options. Create flexibility and experience a satisfying release in this online yoga video with Tingting Peng.
Lastly, take it to the floor with Sage Rountree in this online yoga video exploring a seated forward folding sequence. Experience a lovely stretch in the hips and hammies.
Take a forward fold. Go deep within yourself.