What and Why Vinyasa Yoga?

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I often forget that other people don’t know what I know, a common mistake of experts, for sure. So, to help remedy that, I want to explain what is Vinyasa Yoga (called many different things: Slow Flow, Flow, Energetic Flow, etc.) and why I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

Vinyasa Yoga is:

1. A flow. A dance. It’s movement partnered with breath. It’s an inhale to open or elongate your body and an exhale to deepen and fold.

2. It’s an intelligently designed sequence of postures that strengthen and stretch the entire body. Often the instructor will have a specific area of focus for that class (say backbends for example) but none the less, every area of the body should receive a little love, opening, releasing, stretching, and strengthening along the way.

3. A Vinyasa class will often have fun, upbeat, modern music played right along with the traditional Indian yoga music you think of when you think yoga class. Music is used to build up speed and heat and bring us back then into relaxation at the end. A techno dance song can be soon followed by a Steve Wonder slow song without a raise of an eyebrow.

4. It’s a moving meditation. Classes usually start with a seated meditation practice: a breath focused meditation, a hold of a mudra (hand gesture), a feel/sense of a particular body part, an awareness of the inner sanctuary, etc. Meditation has a long history of health benefits.

5. It’s fun and playful! A Vinyasa class will often bring in a posture or pose variation (or two or three) that aren’t “in the book.” This playfulness brings a humility and trust from the students to follow the skilled guidance of the instructor. This may be one of my favorite aspects: childlikeness, humility, trust.

Of course, all yoga is about consulting your body (and perhaps a doctor to see if it’s right for you at this time) and really hearing, feeling, getting to know what is good for you and your body in that moment. There are so many variables on any given day including the food we eat, the sleep we got or didn’t, prior injuries, medications, thoughts, emotions, etc. and each day is new. One more reason to love yoga: it’s an opportunity to learn and familiarize yourself again with your body, mind, and spirit, and live in the moment. The mat (or paddleboard!!) shows us what’s in our hearts and minds and gives us the chance to right it if need be.

The Vinyasa Yoga tradition combines ancient wisdom and experience with modern fun and advances. I hope to see you in a Vinyasa Yoga class soon.

Namaste my friends. xoxo

 

Who, what, when, why, where: Yoga, me, Bali

I recently was asked by one of the gyms where I teach to put into words my Bali yoga training experience: why I went, who I studied under, styles I received training in, and info about those styles. I just sent this off in an email and thought it would be something great to put on here as well. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

Why I went:

I recently spent 3 and ½ weeks on the island of Bali where I received 200 hours of yoga teacher training from the Awakened Life School of Yoga based out of New York City. My goal was to deepen my understanding of yoga, the practice, the history, to refine my own personal practice, and to strengthen my ability as a teacher improving my skills, technique, cuing, sequencing, and adjusting. I have been teaching for Shasta Athletic Club since April of 2011 and have sought training from various instructors since to improve my teaching but felt the time had come to offer my students more.

Who I studied under:

The Awakened Life School of Yoga was founded by Liz Carey and Chris Sabido both yoga instructors themselves with successful careers as corporate coaches, mentors, and business owners who have studied meditation, counseling, and spiritual enrichment. They brought in 3 other experienced yoga instructors: Basil Jones, Gabrielle White-Wolf, and Joe Miller. These 3 regularly teach in NYC, own studios, advise and teach celebrities, appear on national television programs, write for print and online yoga and health publications, and travel the world teaching yoga and yoga teachers. The training and influences of these instructors includes a master’s degree in anatomy at Columbia University, a PhD in biomedical science, membership with the International Association of Yoga Therapists, yoga teacher training at the Om Center in NYC, certification in Feldenkrais and Sanskrit, with extensive practice under Leslie Kaminoff, Amy Matthews, Tom Myers, Gil Hedley, Sean Corn, Sharon Gannon, David Life, David Swenson, Dena Kingsberg, Edward Clark, Alanna Kaivalya, Emil Endel, and Daniel Aaron.

Yoga styles I was trained in:

The bulk of my training was with Active Vinyasa Flow which has its roots in Hatha yoga. We also practiced and studied Slow Flow (a slowed version of Active Vinyasa), Restorative Yoga, breathing techniques (pranayama), and various meditation styles.

Info about styles:

Hatha is a Sanskrit word that means willful or forceful. Literally, “ha” means sun and “tha” means moon; symbolizing the balance that is inherent to the practice of Hatha yoga. This is a path towards creating balance and uniting opposites. Using our physical bodies we develop strength and flexibility while we learn to balance our effort with surrender in each pose. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas, poses, or postures), with the sequences of asanas designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones.

Vinyasa yoga uses the poses of Ashtanga yoga but links them to breath in a flowing, varying sequence. (Ashtanga yoga is a set series of postures that you adhere to each time you practice.) Active Vinyasa is a strong and fun class typically with upbeat music that begins with sun salutation poses, then moves to standing postures, balancing, seated and reclining postures, backbends, and core isolation and strengthening. Special emphasis is always placed on moving safely and correctly into proper alignment, using breath to move, and practicing quieting the mind to find and leave the class with more peace and calm.

Restorative yoga is a gentle healing form of Hatha yoga that is practiced with props to provide support for complete relaxation. Only 5-6 poses are practiced in an entire Restorative yoga class. These gentle poses create physiological responses that are beneficial to your health and can reduce the effects of stress and stress related illness. This is a slow class that is deeply nurturing and suitable for all ages. Breathing and meditation techniques are applied during the gentle, restorative poses that use bolsters, blankets, belts, blocks, and other props. A deep relaxation is gained helping bring the body into even more balance.

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Bali Yoga Trip: Day 24: yoga all day long

It’s been a great day! I spent most of it at the Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio and the Bali Buddha Café. I took 3 classes at the Studio (Hatha, Roll and Release, and Fly High) and ate raw pizza, a raw food platter with spreads, kombucha, and raw chocolate pudding dessert. I spent maybe $11 on all that raw food and 2 kombucha’s. Ah-mazing!

I felt a bit like Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love” today. If you haven’t seen the movie, Julia visits Bali (Ubud even, if I’m not mistaken), as part of her journey to find herself, discover more about life, and do things that she’s always wanted to, all by herself. I brought a book with me, Richard Branson’s “Losing My Virginity,” and read it at the Café in between classes. I met and talked with some of the other yoga students (one was even from CA) and explored a few of the shops near the studio. It started down pouring with rain at around 4:00 pm and I thought it would be over by the time my class ended at 6:45, but it didn’t. I walked back to the home stay in the steady rain covered with only a shawl. I got pretty wet but happily refused taxi’s and enjoyed living in the moments. It’s been a great day: one of slight uncertainty, one of adventure, one of exploration, one of trying lots of new things, one of meeting some great new people, one of exploring new yoga classes and areas of my body, one of testing limits, one of prayer, one of raw food eats, and one of lots of love, not to sound cliché. I am planning on doing something similar tomorrow. I want to try the Radiantly Alive Vinyasa Flow class tomorrow and follow it with the Core Yoga class. We’ll see how I fell after tonight’s Flying High class. I might be a little sore from it.

I hope you enjoy this video of my Home Stay! I just tried to take a shower but the hot water lasted for about 30 seconds and as I tried to get the cold to make it warm, I lost all the hot. I’m planning to shower at the studio tomorrow. It’s actually a much nicer facility.

Until next time, may this inspire you to follow your dreams, to roll with what comes your way with childlike amusement, to try new things, and to talk to strangers. Namaste!

Bali Yoga Trip: Day 23: Candidasa to Ubud

From the ocean to the city, I’m now in Ubud now that my yoga teacher training is over. Ubud is a yoga mecca of sorts. There are lots of yoga clothing, statue, and accessory shops here (along side the surf and general tourist stores). There are several yoga studios and many, many, energy healing centers here. It’s a large city, much different than Candidasa, but yet, there are still the farms (rice, I think mostly) within the city and we ate the Café Angsa tonight that overlooks a rice farm. It was beautiful. I am typing this in my new room at the Indra Homestay, sharing a room with one of my roommates from the yoga training, Joey. Our friend Nicole is also here, staying in her own room. We were at a resort in Candidasa, Puri Bagus, with room service, pool, bar, restaurant, beach, cabanas, spa, etc. This place is much, much different. We are paying 10,000 rupia per night (which is a little less than $10) which should give you an indication of the difference, but, I LOVE it! I will definitely make a video of this place to show you. It is SO Bali! I’ll save the details for then.

My plan tomorrow is to go to the Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio in town and take 3 classes: either the Radiantly Alive Vinyasa class or the Hatha class, the Roll and Release class (using tennis balls and other props to release myofacial tissue in the body), and the Flying High Yoga class (described as “using the aid of gravity and the Hanging Yoga Belt, learn how to lengthen the spine and increase your flexibility. The hanging Yoga Belt is a fantastic tool to perform restorative inverted poses, and to intensify ground Yoga poses as well. It relieves tension in the muscles, elongates and decompress the spine, and increase flexibility.”) It may sound odd to have just completed a 200 hour yoga training and then go to a studio to take more yoga, but I love it! This studio has a special day pass where you pay 15,000 rupia (a little less than $15) and you can take as many yoga classes as you’d like for the day. After the amount of yoga I’ve been doing each day, 3 classes will be easy in comparison! I’m thinking it’s a good deal and I want to increase my experience with different styles, teachers, and make the best of my time here in the yoga mecca. ☺

From underneath the most powerful ceiling fan I have ever experienced, I say goodnight and Namaste!

Bali Yoga training: Day 17: peak

This is the final week of my yoga teacher training! I can hardly believe it, yet it does feel like it’s been a long time. I’m very, very happy to be here, in hot, humid, sweltering Bali while there is SNOW in Redding! God is so perfect. I am not opposed to snow, at all, but it does present a challenge to leading/teaching a stand up paddleboard yoga class with On Water Yoga when the lake is frozen. I actually hope that it begins to warm up for when I return! I would love to be able to take my new skills to the water, but one step at a time, which leads me to this video.

I am scheduled to teach an active Vinyasa Yoga class this Thursday morning with my group of 7 (8 total including me). We will be the last group to teach and so far we’ve seen 2 groups go already. It’s been really nice to slowly take our time, practicing, gaining insight via what other groups have done, continue to learn adjusting techniques, sequencing, alignment, etc. I am really happy with my group, our choice of poses, intention, meditation and opening, and the peak pose I picked and am leading. Each of in the group teaches 15 minutes of the 2 hour class.

A Vinyasa Yoga class is designed around a “peak” pose so that the warm up and middle of the class is designed to prepare one’s body to be ready for the most difficult, or the peak pose. I picked one we haven’t done yet here in Bali and one I have introduced to my land yoga classes in Redding, but would like more guidance and skill at teaching, particularly the modifications. When I asked my yoga instructor Gabrielle about the pose and it’s name she said, “Wow, you’re not messing around! Going straight into it!” Well, yes! Yes I am! It’s been a good challenge for me and the group to think how to structure for something we haven’t done in class and which no one in my group has ever done before, yet, it’s been easy at the same time. I am really happy with the way my group is working together, being supportive, open, and up for the challenge. There was really no questions asked, just an ok, let’s do it attitude!

There has been an overall sense of things starting to wind down and come to an end, along side the energy around us teaching classes. Today Chris, one of the co-founders of the Awakened Life School of Yoga, talked about meditation after our training is over and suggestions for how to integrate it in to our everyday lives. I have to admit that when we first started I wasn’t that interested in the meditation component as was presented in our pre-work assignments, but I can really see and feel how meditation can be used to tame the wildness of the mind and let our spirit be our guides. Before this yoga training, I had only done contemplative prayer meditation (choosing a verse, some words, or other such inspirational teaching and turning the mind repeatedly back towards it for a set amount of time) but now I’ve done several different types of meditation here, maybe 5 or 6 different ones. I’ll probably write more about this in another entry. It’s late now and I’m starting to fade, but to touch on it briefly, I am beginning to think about how I can incorporate more meditation into my life back in Redding.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for praying for me! I pray that you are encouraged, enlightened, and that you experience more freedom and happiness in your life from reading this.

Until next time, namaste!