May 22, 2013
If you are an athlete seeking yoga, you have stumbled upon a leading, legit source. YogaVibes does athletes proud, offering yoga classes from a highly esteemed, knowledgeable collective of yogis – yogis that just received a page of visibility in the Yoga Journal. Yippee! We are gettin’ those vibes out there!
These featured yogis are the real deal. If you truly aim to enhance your athletic performance, push past mental and physical barriers, and achieve your highest goals, turn to these stellar teachers for inspiration, guidance, and support.
- Sage Rountree :: As an endurance sports coach, an accomplished age-group triathlete and runner, a highly experienced teacher, and a continuing student of physiology, Sage knows what’s up. Her popular yoga classes and workshops for athletes draw students ranging from recreational athletes to Ironman triathletes, Olympians, NBA and NFL players, and NCAA players and coaches, including UNC men’s basketball and football. Take her online yoga classes to discover ways to sharpen your focus, relax for peak performance, and remain balanced.
- Gwen Lawrence :: Gwen is the yoga instructor for 5 Pro 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. She is well known for her sports-specific Power Yoga for Sports classes and training programs and was recently dubbed the “Best Innovation in Sports Medicine” by ESPN Magazine.
- Ted McDonald :: As a former Elite Adventure Racer and Lacrosse player at UCLA, Ted has been an athlete his entire life. Educated in both Iyengar and Ashtanga styles of yoga, his classes focus on strength, alignment and the breath, in order to help his students increase flexibility, strength, and focus. Ted also offers many forms of meditation, yin yoga, and restorative yoga classes designed to lengthen connective tissue, prevent injuries, and open energetic pathways in the body.
- Rolf Gates :: Gates is the author of the acclaimed book on yogic philosophy, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga. He conducts 200 and 500-hour Vinyasa Intensives and Teacher Trainings throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a former social worker and U.S. Airborne Ranger who has practiced meditation for the last sixteen years, Gates brings his eclectic background to his practice and teachings.
- Pete Guinosso :: Known for his joyful energy, compassionate guidance, and sense of humor, Pete creates a spiritual yet light-hearted environment for his students to uncover the deeper benefits of yoga. Pete’s teaching style is best described as a Forrest Yoga Inspired Vinyasa Flow. His online yoga classes are designed to help you journey toward connecting your mind, body and spirit through breath work and awareness.
- Danielle Diamond :: For over fifteen years, Danielle has been teaching a kick-butt yoga class that focuses on alignment and breath to open your body through a creative sequence, designed to make you smile as much as you’ll sweat. Danielle is the founder of Xen Strength Yoga – a modern twist on yoga that fuses a Vinyasa flow with light hand weights.
Do yoga to discover the secret to unlocking your ultimate athletic potential.
To access our growing collection of yoga videos for athletes, check out YogaVibes’ Yoga for Athletes page.
Apr 1, 2013
Rather than force you to indulge in yet another April Fools’ Day related post, I’m going to talk shoulder openers.
First, here’s a bold face truth moment: My typical reaction to all shoulder openers is yuck. Years of athletics left my shoulders in a pathetic, unyielding state. Opening up these knotted and taut suckers is tricky business. Due to the unfriendly vibes I get from most shoulder openers, I am constantly attempting to rationalize and prank my way out of practicing them, naturally favoring postures for which my body feels better designed. I snobbishly stick my nose up at any given shoulder-opening asana and dream of practicing handstand or arm balances instead. Yes, I’m Tess, and I’m hostile in the face of all shoulder-opening postures. There. I said it.
My shoulder-opening avoidance only works for so long. Then, Dolphin Pose comes up. Or Pincha Mayurasana practice surfaces. And finally, like clockwork, backbends arise. My shoulders scream in agony. I curse their lack of flexibility and mobility. Realizing that this bodily restriction needs reversing, I make a commitment to diligently practice and embrace shoulder openers. Then, for whatever reason, I don’t. I’m sure you have a pose or two (or even a set of poses) that your body strongly rejects. It’s totally okay. It’s totally natural. It’s just not a valid excuse for avoidance. Why? Bold face truth: That avoidance creates imbalances and limitations in your practice.
Well, yogis…I am fed up at this point with my shoulder-opening limitations. I am super aware that something needs to give. I realize that I need to put in the work and stop pouting if real change is to occur. I need to invite these unfriendly poses into my home practice regularly. Only then, will I start to unfasten and unlock the tightness. Only then, will I be able to access many of the postures I dream of accessing. I realize that these babies aren’t going to magically peel open. I gotta put in effort. No more excuses.
So, I have created a loose plan of action. It’s simple, really. Practice more (LOTS more) shoulder openers. The following postures will be integral during the opening process. Check out the demos in these free online yoga videos:
- Dolphin Pose
- Forearm Balance or Pincha Mayurasana (Note: Only attempt this posture after you feel super comfortable in Dolphin Pose)
- Camel Pose
- Arm Asana or Eka Bhuja Swastikasana I
- Shoulder Stand & Plow Pose
- Forward Folding with Shoulder Opening variations
- Wheel or Upward Bow Pose
- Downward Facing Dog
- Bow Pose
Let the shoulder-opening efforts commence. Ugh. I mean…Yay!
Mar 12, 2013
Are you suffering from a bad case of tennis elbow? Are you noticing some body imbalances? Are your shoulders as tight as a drum?
If so, your body is sending you signals. It’s saying: Beef up on your shoulder and upper back strength, re-establish proper alignment and body symmetry, open up those shoulders, and please….please do yoga!
Listen to your body and hit the mat to experience relief, improve balance, boost strength, and soak up all the other benefits of the practice. Yoga will do a lot for your game. With its emphasis on alignment, the practice will help to even out any body imbalances resulting from the use of the same arm for forehand and backhand strokes. Shoulder opening asanas will open up the shoulder joints to beat out any tightness resulting from serves and ground strokes. The practice as a whole will increase balance, core strength, and body intelligence.
But the benefits extend beyond the physical body to the mental body. Yoga will enhance your calm and focus by teaching you to deeply connect to your breath. Connection to the breath will help you to stay rooted in the present moment and keep your head in the game.
To get going with your yoga practice, check out the newest addition to our online sports-specific yoga videos with Gwen Lawrence: Power Yoga for Tennis.
This online yoga class will address the obvious needs of all you tennis and racquet sports athletes: the shoulders and wrists, and, also, the legs. As you know, tennis is a very active, agile sport. So, not only do you need flexibility, but you also need strength in the legs and feet to get the best, most powerful push-off to change directions on a dime. At the heart of this sport is a strong core. In this online yoga class, you will toughen it up to unleash the champion within. (34 mins.)
Step-up your power, presence, and intelligence on the court.
Mar 11, 2013
Here’s the first question that dropped into my consciousness in preparation for a talk with Brian Ratté, YogaVibes’ Founder and Vision Keeper: How does a guy in corporate executive sales and sales management for companies like Oracle and IBM come into yoga? My follow up inquiry: What the heck initiated that shift? And finally: What series of experiences merged to give rise to YogaVibes?
Well, like life itself, the story of YogaVibes isn’t so linear. The story is circuitous and slippery, resulting from a series of life experiences that brilliantly merged to plant a seed – a seed that was diligently watered and nurtured until it sprouted and grew. It is still growing.
Yet, the story must have some place of conception. And it does. Let’s take it back to 90s.
In the 90s, Brian had his nose in the books. Dabbling in quantum physics texts, reading books such as Gary Zukav’s Dancing Wu Li Masters, The Tao of Physics, and Autobiography of a Yogi, Brian became increasingly aware of the convergence of science and spirituality.
All of these different styles of inquiry and more were pointing to the fact that everything at the sub-atomic level – the unseen layer of the universe – was pure, energetic vibration. From this highly intelligent and connected sea of cosmic vibration, creation emerged.
Yogis have realized this energetic principle for some time. In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda explains Aum as a cosmic vibration upholding creation:
“God is the Word or Om or Holy Ghost or Cosmic Vibration or Cosmic Energy. God is Cosmic Sound resulting from the Cosmic Energy and Cosmic Vibration. God’s first manifestation is the Word or Intelligent Cosmic Vibrating Sound.”
Okay, so how does all this apply to the origin of YogaVibes? Just you wait. Hint: Think vibration.
In 2004, Brian experienced a life-awakening experience involving his health. Like many, he turned to yoga to find balance. Heavy work-related travel carried him into yoga studios around the world. As a quasi-international yogi, Brian became very drawn to the deep sense of unity he experienced in the yoga-sphere. Though uprooted from home and familiarity, he still experienced a profound connection to health, wellness, and community when practicing yoga.
Yoga’s potential to inspire meaningful connection and form community became clear. This realization sparked an Aha! moment: What if these yoga communities could come together in a virtual stage? What if he could help these studios and communities connect to yogis beyond their local environments?
And thus, the seed for YogaVibes was planted – a seed that he couldn’t help but water and nurture. He thought: I must do this. He strongly felt that this was in line with his dharma – his ultimate purpose.
The next step was to stitch together a strategy to render this vision a reality. Of course, it didn’t happen overnight.
In 2006, YogaVibes was still a zygote. Since it was newly developing, it was without name. That was about to change. By chance, Brian stumbled upon a New York Yoga magazine and read an interview featuring Sharon Gannon and David Life, founders of Jivamukti Yoga. In the magazine, he read a quote from David that hit him smack-dab in the third eye:
“The Chakras – a model for viewing various levels of consciousness, helps by giving context and structure to the way that our nervous system experiences and reacts to the world around us. Chakra tuning means that you “VIBE” with any of the various levels of consciousness, bringing our unique experiences under the clear light of perception.”
This quote would soon attach a meaningful name to his virtual vision.
On a flight home from a trip, another Aha! moment sparked. He realized that yoga is a process intended to open ourselves up, increase our receptivity, and fine-tune our awareness. By allowing us to tap into the life force (prana), align our energy, and melt away the Maya (the illusion of the ego), yoga offers a way to elevate consciousness and connect to an elevated “VIBE.” Hence…YogaVibes!
This name – YogaVibes – appropriately embodies the convergence of spirituality and science that even the most respected physics research location in the world has recognized. At CERN, located in Switzerland, stands a human-sized statue of the dancing, vibrating Shiva depicted as Nataraja: The Cosmic Dancer. Shiva symbolizes cosmic creation and destruction, and offers a metaphor for the cosmic dance that modern physicists have only recently begun to investigate and explain.
That brings us to the present. What has become of one small seed of thought is now a phenomenal platform in a virtual stage that allows people to share their beautiful communities to larger communities, enhancing connection and exchange in a smart, authentic way. What’s more, it allows yogis around the world to practice yoga anytime and anywhere, to experience a deeper connection to community and to the self, and to expand individual consciousness.
The orb over the E in YogaVibes symbolizes the energetic expansion and connection that YogaVibes aspires to create through the power of yoga.
“We are literally bringing and vibrating yoga from community to community. And for me, that thought raises my vibration.” ~Brian Ratté
Mar 8, 2013
My teacher started off our practice yesterday with a discussion of prana.
Prana…what is this? In yoga, prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. There is prana – energy or life force – in everything. Prana is in the concrete, in your cup of coffee, in the air you breath, in the words you read, in everything. All things consist of prana, as do you.
The consequence of living in an urban environment is that the prana concentration is lower. Within concrete jungles, there is less room for the prana to flow freely as compared to more natural, open environments.
Returning to my home, Yosemite National Park, I can instantly feel the higher prana concentration. Life moves at a gentle, calm pace and my movements and breath follow suit. On the flip side, when I venture to NYC from Philly, I instantly feel the much lower prana concentration. Everything is moving so quickly. Everything is more congested. As a result of less prana, I can feel my breath begin to shorten – to get caught up in the prana surrounding me.
This is normal. We definitely get caught up in the prana surrounding us. We begin to move with the pace of the prana. If you are an urbanite like myself, you may find that your breath is always short, quick, and strained because you are constantly caught up in the prana of your environment. This is not ideal.
The length of the breath matters. A longer breath translates to a calmer person. A longer breath in the yoga practice translates to a deeper practice. You can deepen the breath to deepen your journey, deepen the pose, and deepen your experience. A long, conscious breath keeps you rooted and fully alive in the present moment.
You can consciously choose to lengthen the breath and, thus, increase your prana and the prana in your environment. You can breathe for the people and life around you. All you have to do is breathe longer and fuller. Easy.
This weekend, take time to really feel your breath. Feel the beginning, the middle, and the end of the breath. Practice a 3-breath count. Inhale, 1, 2, and 3. Really savor the moment at the top of the inhale. At this point, your chest should be fully expanded and completely filled with breath. Feel it. Then, slowly exhale, 1, 2, and 3. At the bottom of the breath, feel it. Draw everything in. The bottom of the exhale is a great opportunity to activate and feel all of your bandhas working.
On the mat, practice a 3-count breathing technique or alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana), keeping up with the 3-breath count. Check out these free online yoga videos demoing these highly accessible forms of pranayama.
Alternate Nostril Breathing with Sarah Starr
3-Part Breathing Technique with Shala Worsley
Don’t get caught up in the rhythm of urban prana. Use your breath to set your own gentle, relaxed rhythm.
Photo Credit: Pranayama via www.mikehoolboom.com
Mar 5, 2013
Have you come across our Xen Strength Yoga classes yet?
If not, allow me to introduce you.
For a serious, kick-butt yoga experience you gotta rock some Xen Strength Yoga with Danielle Diamond.
These online yoga classes strategically incorporate light weights into a lively Vinyasa flow. The Xen Strength Yoga program is designed to sculpt, lengthen, and challenge every muscle group for a total-body, sweat-stimulating workout. So, snatch a pair of light (3-5 pound) hand weights and get your asana to the mat.
First, warm up with a newly added rigorous upper body and core sequence. In this online yoga class, you will get the intense energetic burn you want without sacrificing precise alignment and missing out on all the benefits of yoga that you love. In this Vinyasa flow, you will be inspired to work toward your edge and to challenge yourself. Yet, you’ll also be encouraged to honor your current skill level – to stay true to where you are at. (23 mins.)
You can definitely run-through this flow and treat it as a stand-alone practice. If you’re so daring, you can follow it up with another kick-butt Xen Strength Yoga flow to get in a full hour-long experience. Check out Danielle’s Xen Strength Cardio Challenge or Xen Strength Hip Opening class to experience more intensity, flow, and sweat.
What’s the word on Xen Strength Yoga online?
Let’s see what people are saying so far…
“DD, you are my hero! I used to be a bodybuilder, but now that I am 50, I have gotten bored with traditional weightlifting. Not to mention, a slight loss of energy! So, yoga with weights gives me hope that the beauty, strength, and peace of yoga can be paired with some weight training, to hopefully achieve a dynamic result!” John
“Loved it very much!!!!!!! Thank you, Danielle!”
“Wow! Quick + sweaty with a good cool-down stretch…that’s how I would describe this one…”
Test drive some Xen Strength Yoga for yourself to see what all the buzz is about! Invite in all the benefits of your yoga practice paired with some weight training to achieve profound, dynamic results.
Photo Credit: Yoga with Weights via www.breathinghappy.tumblr.com
Mar 4, 2013
Do you want to take your game to the next level? Do you want to improve your strength and flexibility and dramatically decrease your risk for injury?
Enter Power Yoga for Baseball.
After years of training baseball players at every level, Power Yoga for Sports creator Gwen Lawrence realized that the two most overlooked areas of an athlete’s development were stretching and mental expansion. And that is where the 5,000-year-old art form of yoga came in.
To cater to these neglected areas, Gwen created a special baseball-specific yoga workout to improve virtually every aspect of a player’s game. Each Power Yoga position corresponds to movements on the field. For example, the spinal twist translates into increased throwing power, while lunge twists add hip rotation for hitting.
Regular practice of this workout will increase the range of motion in the hips to better swing the bat. The shoulder joints will lengthen and strengthen to improve throwing form. Shortstops, expect to increase agility. First basemen, increase flexibility to better perform the splits. Pitchers, create solid shoulders. Catchers, improve balance and strengthen the legs. Whether you are a first baseman relying on the splits to make the out, or running at top speed in the outfield, this online yoga practice with Gwen Lawrence is a necessity for all baseball players.
In this online yoga class, focus on opening up the hips for a more powerful swing at the plate; improve ankle strength and stability for a powerful stride; and create open, supple shoulders to protect the vulnerable joints and increase your velocity. Used by professional athletes, NCAA champs, and high school phenoms, this online yoga class covers it all! Do it every day or once a week to watch your performance on the field get better every time. Bonus: This online yoga video features all of the same techniques Gwen uses when teaching members of the NY Yankees, including Alex Rodriguez! (36 mins.)
But the benefits of this practice don’t stop at the physical body. No matter what your game is, yoga benefits the mental body. Practicing yoga will help you stay mentally fit on the field. The emphasis on the breath in the practice will definitely enhance concentration power and awareness. Practicing to breathe on and off the mat will help you be in the present moment. On the field, the breath will keep your head fully immersed in the game.
Before you step up to home plate, step up to your mat. Get down with some yoga online to take your game to the next level.
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 27, 2013
As mentioned, the warrior asanas are dedicated to a powerful hero named Virabhadra. This warrior, interestingly enough, was created from one of Shiva’s matted locks of hair. In a fit (over a girl, of course), Shiva tore a dread from his head and chucked it to the earth and up rose Virabhadra. Warrior I (with the arms overhead and the gaze to the sky) is a physical representation of the great warrior as he arose from the earth. Warrior II represents the sword Virabhadra whipped out (arms open) to slice off the head of the father that broke him and his girlfriend up. Real nice. Warrior III (arms extending forward) represents the action of Virabhadra reaching forward to pick up the head and put in on a stake. Lovely.
Don’t worry. This atypical love story ends happily. Shiva made it right (even after killing his girls’ father) and eventually got the girl.
The warrior poses are a reminder that even when things go bad (catastrophically bad), we always have the potential to make it right. We all screw up just like Shiva (sometimes monumentally). Luckily, pain and destruction are only temporary. With strength and love we have the ability to conquer even the worst of our destructions.
Tune in to Adri’s free online yoga video for some helpful tips on how to establish good alignment in this strong standing pose.
The key in Warrior I is to keep the hips even and square so that both side bodies are long and extended. It’s also important to take the backbend out of the pose by drawing the navel in (activating Uddiyana Bandha).
Take these tips from Adri and combine them with lots of Virabhadrasana I practice to become a warrior on your mat. And remember what the warrior poses represent. Maybe you’ve been meaning to make something right. What’s stopping you? That’s right. Nothing. So, go be a warrior off your mat. Go make it right.
Solider on, yogis.
Photo Credit: Warrior I via www.camillialee.com