Learning Janu Sirsasana C

 

Janu Sirsasana C is one of the most challenging poses of Primary Series. It's very confusing and scary to new students. This video talks about some techniques for approaching this pose.

Remember for this one, its the hip joint and the ankle that rotate - not your knee. Your knee is open about 75 degrees to the side - and there should be no pressure on your knee. It should all originate from the HIP JOINT - but people with tight hips tent to recruit flexibility from the knee here. Additionally, it is one of the deepest flexions of the knee in primary series.

I use a bench or windowsill to teach this pose to new students. This helps the student understand what the foot and hip are doing in the pose - because when the student is standing its much easier to open the hips. It also gives the student a lot more space to work with.


Want to learn more about opening your hips? Check out my online course Be Hippy!

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Practicing Yoga through Pregnancy

 

Students frequently ask me about practicing while pregnant. I've had lots of students practice their entire pregnancy and others who weren't quite up to it. I think the key is to do what feels right for you - and continually reevaluate what that is.

However, since I have never been pregnant I thought I should ask the expert. So here is Christina Flemming. Pregnant Ashtangi and Mid-Wife, who knows what she is talking about.

I hope this is helpful.

  • Change the way you approach the practice and let go of idea of moving forward.
  • Embrace going slower, letting go of bandhas, and letting go of postures.
  • Grieve the losses of your pregnancy - not only the postures but other things that are changing.
  • It's typically safe to continue with any practice you had before the pregnancy, be that marathon running or yoga practicing.
  • Don't add any new postures.
  • Continually reevaluate where you are at.

Watch the video for more talk on the subject.

  


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Assisting Guidelines

I had the big honor of assisting Tim in his Mysore room last week last week. Luckily, I've had plenty of time to think about how I believe assistants should serve in the Mysore after working with my own assistants for many years. So, I thought I would share some of my personal guidelines for assisting while it was fresh on my mind. These are some lessons that I’ve taught to my own assistants, as well as what I let guide me while assisting Tim.

First off, I tried to teach like I’ve learned from Tim. He always influences me, of course, but I do think it’s especially important to honor his teachings when I am teaching in his room. So I don’t go into his Mysore room and teach like anyone else. I just do my best to emulate Tim’s style and philosophy while still bringing myself.

I made sure to introduce myself to as many students as I could. I always ask students' names and try my hardest to remember them - I think this is important when working with...

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My Worst Case Scenario

For every situation in life we can imagine a worst case scenario - sometimes a conversation goes drastically different than you’d hoped; sometimes workplace drama turns ugly; sometimes you break a bone or a window or a heart (or your own); sometimes you find yourself stuck with all your worldly possessions on the side of the 101 freeway in the rain because your movers showed up a week early with too big a truck to fit down your street.

Or maybe that one’s just me. But, either way, the story of rebooting my life started with what was basically my worst-case scenario. My movers, who had already been somewhat less than professional moving me out of DC, were more than a week ahead of schedule for the delivery to California. So, I changed my flight, packed my bags, and left without the chance to say many goodbyes or to let anyone in Encinitas know that I would be arriving early.

It was 7pm when they called to let me know that they’d sent a bigger truck than...

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Karandavasana: Step by Step

 

Karandavasana is a challenging pose. Don't let yourself feel overwhelmed. Instead break it down into a series of doable steps.

  • The first step is a solid pincha mayurasana. I'm pretty strict about this in my mysore room - if you can't hold pincha, you won't be able to do karandavasana. So be patient here and use it as an opportunity to get strong. Need more help in pincha? Check out my online class Advanced Core for Yogis.

  • In order to do karandavasana you have to be able to do lotus with no hands. This is tricky. You can learn more about lotus in my online class Be Hippy. I do occasionally let students do karandavasana by lowering into a bakasana with the forearms on the mat. So if a student has a knee injury or ankle injury or just can't do lotus then I give them this alternative.

  • Next I typically have students practice lotus with no hands and lowering the lotus from a tripod headstand. It's easier for most people to balance in headstand than it is pincha. If a student doesn't have...
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How to Create a Home Yoga Practice

If you’re trying to start a home yoga practice, you might have noticed something - practicing yoga at home is hard. Then again, just like any other disciplined practice, yoga is always hard. But I think, like with so many other of life’s challenges, the biggest strategic change you can make is to your own mindset. 

 Consciously decide that you are going to create an awesome yoga space for yourself, and that you are going to have a transformative home practice, and you will. But if you tell yourself that you can’t practice at home because of any of the million distractions that can keep us from practicing, then guess what? You won’t. Our thoughts create our reality - don’t limit your practice potential with limiting beliefs.

 That said, I know it’s easier said than done, and I know how “out there” this all might sound, so here are my practical tips from seven years of practicing mostly by myself. I’ve had my ups and...

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We Get to Be Selective

With all that is going on in the world right now, and specifically the ashtanga community, it’s hard for me not to feel saddened and frustrated. I suspect anyone who has practiced yoga for any length of time has probably seen on their news feeds a lot of the same things that I have. Trending incidents like the sexual abuse allegations against Guruji and the removal of dedicated teachers from the KPJAYI list are hard to ignore. But truly, these are just the most recent and high profile incidents.

I don’t have direct experience with either of these things, so I can’t address them specifically, but for me it does bring up memories of numerous other incidents in my career as a yoga practitioner and teacher when I have seen or heard things that felt ethically wrong to me. Some of them I addressed, some of them I didn’t, but I now wish I had. 

Incidents like a student dropping in as a visitor in a different program and being started on a new series,...

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Keep the Energy Flowing in Purvattanasana

 

Purvattanasana is a full body integration pose in Primary Series. It's strengthens the backside of the body and opens the front side of your body.

It opens shoulders and chest, tones hamstrings and glutes, and works our entire body.

  • Start with elbows bent
  • Pull low belly in and scoop pelvis
  • Extend arms as you lift up
  • Push toes down, lift butt up
  • Bend elbows and pull hips back to lower down

Entering and exiting purvttansana in this way gives you the chance to work your entire body safely.

Want more full body integration tips? Check out my free online course on your central axis.

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How to Keep Your Cool During the Holidays

For a lot of people the holidays can be stressful. Extra expenses, jam packed schedules, travel, holiday shopping and parties lead to over stimulation - and this throws off our balance.

During the holidays it's easy to lose track of the things that contribute to our overall happiness. It’s also easy to take on additional things that throw off routines, relationships and environment. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed and over stimulated. We finally stumble out of the holidays in January feeling like a hot mess and needing a month to recover. 

When the holiday hoopla starts to feel like too much: Practice. When the days seems impossibly short and cold: Practice. When you are sure you are going to be on the naughty list: Practice. When everyone is getting on your last nerve: Practice. When you are tired, feel bloated, partied too much, spent too much money: Practice.

 When things get tough, like they always will, this is what you should do: Practice.

 Practice...

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How to Find a Genuine Teacher

In yoga the teacher plays an important role. The teacher not only sheds light on the subject of yoga - but the relationship itself is foundational. The specifics of the teaching such as techniques and beliefs are not as important as the love and relationship established between student and teacher. Yoga, to yoke, is about connectedness, and that begins with the connection between two beings. Connection is the driving force in transformation.

Good teachers remain heavy in their experience and not swayed. One of the definitions of Guru is heavy.

I think as students we seek to find teachers because we need someone to help us hold what is too big for us all on our own, and hopefully to provide a vision for us beyond what we can imagine for ourselves.

One of the central components of being a good teacher, is to be clear on what you’re teaching. My job as a teacher is to impart my knowledge of asana, but I’m not an asana teacher, I’m a yoga teacher. My job is also to...

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