Monday, February 28, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: Spoiled Yogi: If I Owned a Yoga Studio ...

OH boy, this one speaks to me. I firmly believe that what you put out there comes back to you at least tenfold or more. I really believe in Karma yoga, that is giving back to the community. I LOVE teaching yoga to people who have never practices yoga, and students are not risking anything by coming to a free class. That being said, I also need to feel valued and in our society that means getting paid. ;) Also helps pay for the groceries! But there is a happy balance and I like what this blog suggests: at least one free class a month. That and all of the OTHER things she mentions.... Read for yourself and feel free to let me know what you think... c'mon, be daring... COMMENT.

Spoiled Yogi: If I Owned a Yoga Studio ...: "... I'd have at least one free class a month. And when I say free, I mean FREE!, not donation-based or almost free. Why? Because people who ..."

On another note, kind of along the lines of having a studio EXACTLY the way I'd want: Something that I do that isn't always popular is that I am happy to recommend another yoga teacher or another studio to a student. After all it is all about the student, not about the teacher, not about the studio. And that isn't something that is unique to yoga... it is called CUSTOMER service. I'd like to think that I treat a student as I'd like to be treated: with honesty and authenticity. It really IS possible to make a living while staying true to your principles. It might not always be easy... but if it where, then it wouldn't be so rewarding!

Namaste my friends and as always, take a few minutes to connect to your breath each and every day!

Friday, February 25, 2011

From Spoiled Yogi - What Does Your Favorite Pose Say About You?

Oh my, I FORGOT to add this blog posting! I love this blog anyway but this particular one stood out...

Spoiled Yogi: What Does Your Favorite Pose Say About You?

It is a hoot to think about your favourite pose and what it might say about you! HA! Frankly my faves change with the seasons and my moods and the mobility of my body. Not to mention the sports that I am currently doing.... for example today I was skiing and so my hips are feeling the need to open. My quads are in need of stretching... and I NEED restorative yoga. During the summer months when I am gardening, paddling and cycling and the weather is warm and sunny all the time, I have other needs.

What about YOU?? Send me a comment!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Radiohead - Lotus Flower

Sometimes I feel like I should be in a 12 step program:

Hello, my name is Heidi and I am a voracious reader of yoga blogs....

BUT, I can't help myself. There are a lot of great blogs out there and I absorb from so many sources. So much to learn and so little time, it seems.

I read the Flying Yogini and today she posted this great video that I just had to share. It is Radiohead's Lotus Flower... the dancing just got to me and I had to get up and join in as it played. Think I'll be adding this song to my yoga playlist... which changes frequently, as my students know!

Get up and dance....

Friday, February 18, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: The Daily Bandha: A Cool Tip for Deeper Breathing in Yoga

More important reading for Pranyama Month! I absolutely LOVE this blog and I learn something new every time I read it. And especially in light of my focus this month, I am learning more.

I have Ray Long's books and use them constantly to inform and reaffirm my teaching. The illustrations by Chris McIvor make it all come together so well. (Image courtesy of

This is what Ray has to say:

So, here’s a cue for activating one of my fave accessory muscles—the serratus anterior (SA) and his buddies, the rhomboids. Pause for a second. Rest your hands on your thighs. Now, exhale naturally and then gently draw the shoulders back to bring the scapulae (shoulder blades) towards the spine. As you inhale, imagine pressing the sides of your shoulders and upper arms against an imaginary wall, like a doorframe. Feel how this expands your chest. Repeat this cue two more times before reading on . . .

Click on the link to read on....

And, as always, IF YOU FEEL like commenting... please do so. Really, I know people read my blog but sometimes I feel like I am talking into a VOID!

Just saying, is all.... ;)

What I'm Reading Now: Men and Yoga: What's the Biggest Misconception?

This is a GREAT posting MindBodyGreen blog. Click on the following link to read the whole thing: Men and Yoga: What's the Biggest Misconception? - MindBodyGreen

SO the guy whose picture I have included in this posting is Michael Taylor who teaches at Strala in NYC. Here is what HE had to say about what he thinks the biggest misconceptions are:

Michael Taylor: Can I pick two? One is that yoga is weird -- for odd-balls! The other is that yoga might give a good stretch, but we need to get strength and fitness elsewhere. For the first -- yoga is a health system, designed at a time when health meant our Whole health, and when we couldn't turn to surgeons or pharmaceutical dispensaries as a last resort. So there's nothing intrinsically weird about a system that gives us self-reliance and control over our physical and psychological well-being. No doctors required. True, some of yoga's teachers over the past few decades have been a bit strange, but the system itself is very straightforward and uncomplicated. My wife (and yoga teacher!) Tara Stiles is making this very clear -- and her approach is vastly expanding yoga's reach and impact now. It's not about adopting new languages, or anyone else's religions or philosophies -- it's simply up to your own direct experience.

What do YOU think?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wonderful Day

Hi All,

What a wonderful day this turned out to be... my cold (why am I calling it "my" cold?) is ALMOST gone and we had snow up at the mtn so I went skiing with my daughter, her boyfriend and a good friend of mine. It's amazing how GOOD it feels to feel... GOOD. Can never take that for granted. Any day on the mtn is a good day.

Also I am working on putting together a series of workshops and that seems to be coming together nicely... more details to follow for my gorge-area friends and fellow yogis.

I have been enjoying bringing more pranayama practice to my yoga classes and am looking to expand to the chakras next month and beyond. My pranayama practice made me think a lot more about the heart chakra... OK, maybe it was VALENTINE'S day or reading Donna Freeman's posting on elephantjournal that did that. Whatever the reason. I have also been doing a lot of heart opening and softening poses in my classes.

I took this photo yesterday afternoon from the dining room window at our house... it just looked so neat and made me feel artistic again. I have been letting that side of me... rest... for wont of a better word, for a while. I have set an intention to let it flower again.
Maybe it is that spring is in the air? The days are getting longer, albeit SLOWLY, and I see the little changes in the garden so perhaps that is feeding my creative energy.

March isn't so far away after all....


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I'm reading: Spoiled Yogi: A Yoga Story: Sofia

Spoiled Yogi: A Yoga Story: Sofia: "Yoga discovered me a couple of times in my young life, but I was only truly captivated by its immense power within the last year. Growing up..."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What I'm Reading: 5 Ways to Get More Out of Every Pose | Yoga Blog

OH boy, I had to share this. As a teacher, there are days I feel that I repeat these things ad nauseum, but I believe they are all SO TRUE.

And when I hear another teacher or amazing yogi saying the same things I know it is so.

To read the entire posting for yourself, click the link:

5 Ways to Get More Out of Every Pose Top Five Tuesdays Yoga Blog Yoga Journal

Below I have listed her 5 things, in a nutshell, but DO read her posting to get the details! Trust me, it is worth it.

1. Hold it
2. Breathe into the area of sensation
3. Pay attention
4. Relax
5. Change it up

Couldn't have said it any better myself...

Erica Rocks.

SO Stoked... YogaDork Giveaway!

So... here I sit, at home, trying to nurse my body back to health... feeling a little sorry for myself (What! How COULD I catch a nasty cold.... duh) while remarking at how our bodies just do what they need to do no matter what our minds wish when I get an email saying I'd WON something.

Yeah. Sure. But really, this is a good one. I read this great blog called YogaDork and a while back there was a contest asking us to answer the following:

Big Q – How do you keep your yoga fresh?

Here's what I wrote:

"GOOD question! How DO we keep it “new” or “fresh”… how to keep from burnout in yoga and indeed in other aspects of our lives?

I take the time to listen to what I need (as opposed to what I want)… and this is NOT always easy. Sometimes it means just going ahead and trying a new pose, a new class or teaching a new pose, technique or listening to new music. That usually triggers a response within me and I can go from there. And I love it when I SUPRISE myself and that “new” pose or challenging pose is just what I need, or the reaction from the class is: COOL! What next?

If ever I feel stale I take a day off… do something DIFFERENT and come back to yoga refreshed.

Sometimes just finding a different place to practice, whether in the same room or not is enough… and I like to shake it up a bit with my students and have us face in different directions during practice. Who says you have to do it the same all the time?

Oh, and SOMEtimes all it takes to keep things fresh and new is… a NEW OUTFIT! I think I need one.

Namaste "

Now, I don't know if it is what I wrote or luck of the draw but either way I think it is So Cool. I am so stoked and will wear my new MeSheeky outfit with PRIDE!

Keep life FRESH!
Let your heart sing EVERY day....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I'm Reading: Softening my Heart. ~ Donna Freeman

Got a link to this blog posting this morning Softening my Heart. ~ Donna Freeman elephant journal. Obviously appropriate for February, Heart Month... Valentine's Day, etc.

In this posting, Donna writes:

In Indian thought, the heart chakra is the centre from which feelings of love, joy, generosity, understanding, compassion and respect flow. It is the centre of positive (yang) energy in the body, and when it is open and connected to the breast, these feelings course throughout the body. Ultimately, when the heart is softened, we can sense the divine in all beings and epitomize the sentiment behind namaste (the divine in me, sees the divine in you) in all our actions and interactions.

How DO we soften the Heart? I find myself saying that as I teach class and perhaps am not conveying the concept well enough. Read her posting to learn how to soften the heart within your yoga practice. I will be incorporating more of this in my classes!

Namaste, and embrace the Day...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Always Learning, Always!

Am feeling rather under the weather this week but I can't say that it is bothering me too much... well other than my not running today (hey, the SUN WAS OUT!). Sometimes we need that permission to take it easy, to give ourselves a break. And when that doesn't come from within... well, getting a cold will do it for you!

That being said, I taught 2 yoga classes today and really enjoyed them. I subbed for a friend of mine at 6:45am and love seeing familiar faces that I don't normally get to see that often. And my practice at that time of day is softer and more introspective, gradually waking up and getting ready to greet the day. It seemed to be the right pace for everyone in the class too. I spent less time practicing and more verbally cueing and find that influenced my wording. Perhaps because I am feeling a little sick, I was gentler and saw it reflected back at me through my fellow yogis. As the title of my post says: Learning, always....

Then my usual Tuesday morning crew (plus & minus a few) arrived a scant half hour later and it was wonderful to see them and be ready to take the slow-flow up a notch and build more heat, albeit also in a gentler way today. Not only for me but for a couple of student's injuries. Again, room for learning as I watched the students a little closer for the cues as to when to take it up a notch and when to dial it down. Not that I don't do this ANYway, but it just felt more in tune today, more intuitive.

OH, and then this blog posting arrived in my inbox this morning: 5 Signs You Might Be Trying Too Hard. Gave me a lot to ponder as I recognized myself and some of my students! Read the blog posting and let me know what you think.

This is excerpted from the posting by Erica Rodefer:

If I've learned anything from my practice it's that trying hard doesn't always lead us to our goals. It is possible to try too hard. Trust me. If trying too hard were a place, I'd be the queen! If you try to force your body into a pose you're not ready for it might work for a while, but over time the outcome will not be pretty. Slow and steady almost always is more effective. There has to be some effort, though. So how can you tell if you're trying too hard?

Thank you Erica. Again, learning. I love life, makes my heart sing.

On another note, perhaps related, perhaps not. As I was running the other day a thought occured to me... why is it that many of us have such difficulty taking care of ourselves, really taking care of ourselves? Not the diet, exercise, beauty, blah-blah stuff... but the REAL stuff. Taking care of our mental & emotional health? Maybe because it is so much easier to take care of the external: going to the dentist, getting a haircut, buying the "right" groceries, running etc.... But when it comes to taking time for ourselves to decompress we leave it be, or squeeze it in at the end of yoga practice... (apologies to David Bowie's song)

A savasna, an OM, and thank you ma'am, we are DONE. Hmmm. Makes you think.

Not to take away from meditation in motion, which improves my mental health as I run, cycle, ski, paddle etc, etc but sometimes moving all the time takes us aways from what is REALLY going on underneath the surface. You know what I mean... what is silently, slowly simmering under the surface.

SO, on that note, I will endeavour to take time each and every day to listen to my mind. To be still, and quiet, to see what rises to the surface.

What do you think? Let me know. Or not!

Namaste, my yogis and yoginis.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

LOVE this song....

No yoga today... I went running, stretched a bit afterwards and then decided I needed a break from yoga for a day. I saw this on a friend's FB posting, downloaded the song from iTunes, and the video from YouTube.... and wanted to share with you.

This will be on my Yoga Playlist this week... jsut have to figure out where it will go...

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Pranayama appreciation....

It seems that pranayama awesomeness and awareness is all around me this month! I subscribe to the blog My Five Minute Yoga and the following posting arrived in my inbox this morning - Five-Minute Yoga Challenge: find a time of day to watch your breath. Couldn't be any clearer to me that this is where I need to be directing my energies this month! If you would like to read Eve's posting, please click on the link:

I love that she sets up these mini challenges for the reader to take part in and they are all achievable and realistic. I like that she tells it like it is. We are all human and starting a new habit or changing old habits can be difficult. So break it down to 5 minutes... that's all it takes. And give it some time to settle in so that the new practice becomes... well, a new habit!

So this week's challenge from Eve is to find a time of day to watch your breath. It's that simple and she gives wonderful, detailed instructions on how you can do that. Instructors always talk about that in class but the challenge (there is that word again ;)) is to take that OFF the mat and into your regular life. To catch yourself when the time is right and carve that 5 minutes to STOP... listen to your breath and let the process begin...

Will you take the time?

I hope so... :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Serendipity in Action: Breathe with the Dalai Lama! | Yoga Buzz Blog

I love life... sometimes it is SO serendipitous. Here, in little ol' Hood River, I have dedicated my February to Breath Awareness and Pranayama and I get this lovely posting from Yoga Buzz.

From February 4-6: His Holiness The Dalai Lama will initiate The Buddha Maitreya. Maitreya is the Buddha of Universal Love, and the goal of this teaching is to bring abundance, peace, and joy to the planet. For this event, taking place at a monastery in India and documented by Elevate Films, The Dalai Lama has called ten thousand monks from around the world.

Read on:

Breathe with the Dalai Lama! Yoga Buzz Yoga Blog Yoga Journal

Since we cannot all just up and go to India, here is the link to the site Do As One... where there are online "breathing rooms" and we call join others from around the world to breath together! From their site I have copied this:

"The Goal: To serve and connect humanity by establishing a legacy of healthy, conscious breathing.

The Vision: One billion people will breathe together synchronously by November 11, 2012."

The final question in the Yoga Journal blog posting is:

"We want to know: Do you think breathing together has an effect on the planet?"

OH boy, what a great question! Especially at this time in our history, I believe this to be true.

What do YOU think?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I'm Reading: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known About Yoga As A Beginner | Yoga Blog

LOVE, LOVE this posting.

5 Things I Wish I Had Known About Yoga As A Beginner Top Five Tuesdays Yoga Blog Yoga Journal

And I love reading all the comments as well. I also posted a comment which I'll add below. I think it is important that we all take the time to reconnect to the beginner's mind. Perhaps not all the way there for me, as there were just so many things that made yoga a challenge both physically and mentally. But to have the attitude of openness and a willingness to experiment. I love the definition of Beginner's Mind, which in the Zen tradition is called Shoshin. Click and read to learn more. I especially like this quote from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."

Here's what I posted as a comment to the 5 Things blog posting:

"Wow, I have so many things that I wish I'd known... BUT then it wouldn't have been such a personal journey. I think I would have missed some of the most valuable lessons I have learned.

That being said... I wish I'd known HOW to listen better, to allow the process to begin. And to just not be so impatient... and to know that forgiving myself was not a sign of weakness but a sign of love.

I so love reading everyone's posts. Thanks! It helps me as I teach beginners a lot and I need to remind myself that we are all beginners... "

SO, with that, I will remind myself to embrace the Beginner's Mind in all that I do. Well, I'll try, that's for sure!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pranayama Month.... Surya Bhedana

So February is here! Wow... as I sit here with blazing sunshine outside my window, it is hard to believe that it is still WINTER. Well, at least here in the PNW.

The American Heart Association calls February American Heart Month... I find it a wonderful way to incorporate heart opening poses into my practice and infuse my teaching with all manner of poses relating to the heart, both physically and emotionally. And, to me, delving deeper into pranayama is just a natural extension of that theme.

Last week, as a prep, we explored how our breath affects us on a daily basis: in our practice, at work, at play, as we sleep... under stress, in happiness, relaxed or busy. Then we began to explore how we change our mood, our perceptions and indeed our body through our breath... our power, our source.

Here is a great link to a site that asks some great questions such as what IS pranayama. Also suggested reading - Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing by BKS Iyengar

We all talk about Ujjayi Breath, aka Whisper or Victorious Breath and throughout practice I often remind my class come back to the breath, but this month we will reconnect to what it really means to practice Ujjayi Pranayama.

As an aside: It is thought that the best way to correctly learn pranayama is with a teacher, so I would suggest that, if you have never practiced some of the breathing techniques I write about this month, that you take a class.

This week I am introducing Surya Bhedana Pranayama (also known as warming single nostril breathing) during the beginning portions of class. This breathing technique stimulates the heating energies in our body. The sun or Ha (right side of body) or Yang energy is called forth through this breath and is thought to stimulate the brain and indeed the body. I am also linking here to Yoga Journal's page on Surya Bhedana Pranayama so you can compare what is written.

My experience in this morning's class was that I began to feel energized and ready to take on our practice with a clearer head. Unfortunately we had so many things to talk about after class that I forgot to ask my students... if any of you are reading this, please comment below.

I would love to hear from anyone else familiar with this technique to let me know your experiences...

Enjoy your yummy breaths.