I had the opportunity to chat with Bri, one of our teachers at The Yoga Studio, and got to sit down and learn more about the impact yoga has had on her life.
How were you first introduced to yoga? I was introduced to yoga in 2009 because it was a free program at my university. I was a competitive cross country and track & field runner, and my coach wanted me to “stretch”. Who knew it was going to be so much more and eventually lead me to a really fulfilling career!
Why do you practice yoga? I practice yoga as a way to learn who I am and to meet other people. I love meeting new friends and yoga always seems like a place where I don’t need to wear a mask.
What is one tip you would give to a new practitioner of yoga? The biggest tip I’d give to a new student is breathe a lot, breathe deep, and care more about how the poses feel than what they look like. Close your eyes or do yoga in the dark at home to learn more about feeling over seeing. 😉
Anything else you would like to share? I love teaching because it allows me to guide others through what yoga means to me. Everyone has a unique perspective and it’s cool to find people we resonate with. I get to share all the bits that I’ve learned from my favorite teachers as well as things that are unique to me. The most satisfying thing though is helping people learn to listen to their inside so they don’t need a teacher anymore. They become the teacher. At the end of class we say “namaste”. The word is rich with meaning one meaning to me is acknowledgement that we see the inner teacher in each other.
When I think of Partner Yoga I think of Yoga Together because of the building of personal relationships that results from practicing Yoga together. So what is Partner Yoga? It’s the Yoga practice that brings people together through movement. play, breath, touch and yes, intimacy. It can be practiced by ANY two people and is a great way to strengthen a relationship by fostering trust and communication. Typically Yoga is seen as a solo journey and individual experience, but the practice of Partner Yoga brings a whole new aspect of what this practice of Yoga can be.
My first experience with partner Yoga was in my teacher training ten years ago. It was one of the best experiences of my life because it brought me into an innocence and playfulness I had never felt before in my Yoga practice. I turned and laughed at my competitive nature in my practice and truly realized that Yoga, like my body, isn’t always serious or perfect. I have continued to practice Partner Yoga with friends, family and well, yes, my partner. Of course, you will feel more connected with those with whom you share the practice.
By touching, holding, stretching and observing their body language you create deeper intimacy. You begin building pathways to better listening and communicating with each other and you walk away feeling more connected to yourself. It is so fun to try poses you have done by yourself, maybe for years, and figure out together what is being experienced in the body.
I can say that Partner Yoga is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself, and I look forward to sharing Yoga Together with you.
We have many active and strong classes at TYS® for individuals who are seeking a sweaty, powerful practice, but there are many benefits to including a gentle or restorative yoga class in your weekly schedule. This month Jain is sharing with us about these two styles of yoga and what they can do for you.
The gentle practice invites you to slow down and drop into your body. This slower paced yoga practice offers you the opportunity to take the time to feel the sensations that arise within the body during each asana. We practice moving breath around the body, exploring all corners of the lungs. As we take time with each posture, we work on lengthening, and as we hold the posture for several breaths, we are working on strengthening. Each asana works on different parts of the body to maintain mobility and open up space. We also work on balancing the body using simple postures to bring more harmony to both sides of the phyical body as well as bringing balance to the mind. Gentle, the new advanced yoga practice.
Leaving your worries and “to do” lists at the door, the restorative practice offers a retreat from the outside world. We invite you to surprise yourself with the gift of how relaxed you can actually feel. The poses are held for several minutes working to relax the deep tissues of the body with the help of lengthening the breath, engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. By cradling the body with props, the muscles feel supported, and the stretch then begins to deepen, allowing the bones to drop, drawing the body deeper into the pose. As you practice letting go of the outer layers, you will begin to find yourself in a calm and quiet place. A place that resides deep within you. By holding each pose for several minutes we are also practicing patience - patience to stay with the breath, patience to stay with your experience, and perhaps the patience to let go just that little bit more. Rest and restore.
If you’d like to join Jain in one of her gentle or restorative classes, you can view Jain’s teaching schedule at our studio by following this link.
According to the calendar, we just entered into the season of spring. Spring is a time of renewal. It is a time when we are in transition from the dark winter forces and moving into lighter energies. When we think of spring, what comes to mind is rebirth. Flowers and plants start to cultivate new life. Animals give birth to young ones.
In Northern California, we have not made a drastic transition from dark, cold days to the warm, sunny weather. Our spring season started earlier than most of the country. Nevertheless, you can still use this time to start letting go of what no longer serves you physically, energetically and spiritually and bring in anew those practices that will satisfy your soul. A few suggestions that may help you:
- Renew your commitment or balance your yoga practice. If you regularly practice yang styles of yoga (Vinyasa, Level II Aerial, Hot Yoga, Ashtanga, etc) to generate heat in the body, introduce some yin or gentle practices. Or use your yoga practice to detoxify the body of any toxins that you stored during the winter.
- Cleanse your body by changing your diet. During the fall and winter, we eat heavier comfort foods. In the spring, foods are lighter. They help refresh and hydrate the body. Start eating artichokes, asparagus, walnuts, apricots, strawberries and avocadoes.
- Open yourself to new possibilities. Find something joyful that you always wanted to do and develop a plan to make it happen. Trust your heart in setting your intention and give that intention your attention and love.
- Build community. In winter months, we tend to keep indoors and stick to ourselves. Spring is a great time to connect to those around you. Consider volunteering at a local non-profit or joining a community project. By giving to others, you will always get something more in return.
Cindy’s classes for the month of April will focus on the theme of renewal. If you would like to practice with Cindy at TYS® and hear more of her thoughts, she teaches a Vinyasa class at noon every Wednesday at our studio.
I was recently talking to Clarkia Van Schravendijk, who is studying to be a Yoga instructor, about how Yoga can help transition the body through the different seasons. She has graciously written the following article for me to share with you all.
Namaste, Pik Chu
Fall is in the air…. Ayurvedic health educators( sister scientists of yoga) say it is important to slow down and support your liver’s natural ability to remove toxins from the body. One important, beautiful concept comes to my mind…..YOGA! Instead of using extreme detox measures, we can turn to wholesome mind and body yoga practices to un-stress and re-energize for the more stressful winter months to come.
As a yoga student and practitioner I continue to find strength in Surya Namaskara(Sun Salutations) and Ardha Chandrasana(Halfmoon Pose) in transition from long warm Summer – through Fall’s shorter days. We can benefit from adding Parivrrtas (twisting poses) to help the detoxification process and Balancing Asanas( poses) to keep ourselves grounded with concentrated focus on our mental and physical path towards a more busy winter season.
Children are back in school and life has a way of bringing us into a more hectic routine while in the back of our mind the stress of the holiday season is stirring up our sympathetic nervous system. Santosa( contentment) is a cultivation and protects our parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga poses and philosophy can protect our health and overall well being. In my yoga practice I like to incorporate heat building twisting poses which help the lymphatic and digestive system in the detoxification process. And I love standing balancing poses and inversions to calm the Sympathetic nervous system (fright and flight, part of the Autonomic nervous system) and thus promote the relaxation process. Inverted positions increase blood flow to the brain and this brings about a calming effect and can help in reducing stress. And of course after a warming, heartfelt yoga practice I like to replenish with healthy fresh cooked meals of seasonable vegetables, grains, beans and fruits. Maybe I will even go more inside my core and spirit and have candles at the table for a relaxing atmosphere! Try Kitchari, a simple dish of rice and mung beans to purify the body. It offers complete protein and it is also a natural anti inflammatory helping to detoxify the physical and mental body. Explore Parivrrta Utkatasana ( twisting chair pose) and Utthita Parivrrta Hasta Padangusthasana ( twisting hand to big toe pose).
I hope all of you will have a healthy, joyful yoga season!
– by Clarkia