Healing and becoming whole with nature, beauty and yoga's wisdom.

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Thanksgiving Week Yoga Teaching Schedule

     There's always something to be grateful for. Let's celebrate it. If you have some free time this Thanksgiving week I would love to see you and your loved ones on the mat. If not have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday   9:15 am   Level 2/3   1 hr and 30 min   www.birchwoodcenter.com   Nyack, NY

                12 noon   Gentle Warrior   1 hr and 30 min    www.bamboomovesenglewood.com    Englewood, NJ   

Wednesday   11:45 am   Gentle Plus Yoga   1 hr and 15 min   www.birchwoodcenter.com   Nyack, NY 

Thursday   9:30am   Gratitude Yoga Flow Open Level (level 1/2)   1 hr and 30 min   www.bamboomovesenglewood.com   Englewood, NJ

Friday   9:30 am   Level 2/3   1 hr and 30 min   www.birchwoodcenter.com   Nyack, NY 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bandhas/Inner Locks Inspiration


     To understand the bandhas, our inner locks, we must tap into our energy body. The fastest way there is to sit still, close your mouth and deepen your breath through your nose. Eventually you can pause for a brief moment at the bottom of your exhales while contracting your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as well as bowing your chin down to your chest. This action of contraction are the bandhas. However the work is refining your breath and finding the subtle muscular work needed to find your inner locks. This requires plenty of time studying with a skilled teacher and your imagination.

      This Bandhas post is inspired by my teaching last week about the inner locks at Ramapo College of New Jersey's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training special Bandhas Study class. Below are a few notes on our 3 most sought after inner locks:

Mula Bandha- 

     Mula means root or foundation. It is located within the perineum. A beginner way to find it is to contract your pelvic floor muscles. Overtime the contraction is more central within the perineal body and less focused within the anus and urogenital muscles. The benefits of engaging mula bandha is our exhale, our downward wind called apana vayu meets our inhale, our upward wind called prana vayu. This meeting creates that wonderful and healthy yoga bliss zone state that keeps us coming back for more yoga.

Uddiyana Bandha-

      Uddiyana means flying upward. To find it contract your abdominal muscles in and upwards after a complete exhalation. This lock sits within our fire center, our third chakra. This bandha burns the impurities that weigh us down and replenishes our well. Engaging this lock strengthens the core body and massages the heart.

Jalandhara Bandha-

      Jala means a net or web. To find it drop the chin to the chest. This energetic net catches the nectar, amrita that drips down from the crown chakra. This nectar would be burned within the fire of the belly if this lock is not engaged. Jalandhara bandha regulates blood flow to the heart, neck and head. Similar to mula bandha, engaging jalandhara bandha encourages the upward wind, prana vayu to meet with the downward wind apana vayu. This union balances our energy in a beautiful way.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bandhas Yoga Study at Ramapo College of NJ

Containing your Inner Light

     After taking your first few yoga classes you will start recognizing the Sanskrit words that are being used. Words like prana, namaste and Om are most likely said during class even if your teacher chooses not to speak much Sanskrit. Eventually you will hear "engage your bandhas." This is a popular cue that means way more than squeezing your pelvic body, abs and dropping your chin down to your chest. However doing all that squeezing on the bottom of your exhales is a good place to start. Over time those bandha contractions become more subtle and the energetic result of engaging your bandhas creates a distinctive and positive energetic shift.

      To start the definition of bandhas is locks. More specifically the energetic locks that can be found within our body by controlling our breath. Traditionally bandhas were considered powerful and advanced Tantric practices that were done for positively affecting your body's subtle energy and not for structural support while standing in Warrior poses and beyond. Classically it is only called bandha work if it is practiced in a seated position with a purpose of energy management by way of breath work.

      However I'm guilty of so many times in class saying "engage your bandhas" as a quick cue to encourage my students to contract their pelvic floor, abdominals and neck muscles while in more difficult postures. I guess you can call an "engage your bandhas" cue while in a Warrior pose, a bandha like movement or simply a pelvic, abdominal and possibly a neck contraction. Trust me, there's a benefit to the quick and easy "engage your bandhas" cue whether you are seated in its cross legged origins or sustaining a Warrior pose. We will talk more about this distinction and the specifics of the bandhas, their energy body anatomy, benefits and easy to understand ways to teach and practice bandha work this coming Friday Nov. 10th 6-9pm at Ramapo College of NJ within the Krame Center. This special Bandha Yoga Study class is part of Ramapo College of NJ's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training and is open to drop in students.

    Please visit www.ramapo.edu for more information.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bandhas/Inner Locks Yoga Study Fri. Nov. 10 at Ramapo College of New Jersey

Containing your Light

         As your yoga practice progresses you will eventually hear your yoga teacher say "Use your bandhas." You're not alone if you heard this and internally asked yourself "What?" Yoga philosophy teaches that we have 5 layers of being called the Koshas. The first layer is the physical flesh and bones part of us and the second layer is our life force which is referred to as Pranayama Kosha. This life force or you can call it vital energy can be described as the energy which resides within our breath and heartbeat. Within this life force/pranayama layer of us is where we can start to talk about our bandhas, the inner locks. The bandhas are energetic locks we can turn off and on to let's say contain and refine our use of our vital energy.

        I do love the subtle energy body teachings of yoga and I'm happy to share that on Friday Nov. 10th 6-9pm at Ramapo College of New Jersey within the Krame Center in Mahwah, NJ I will be leading a very special teaching on this information where we will discuss and explore the koshas, vayus, mudras, chakras and yoga postures as a means to deeply understand the bandhas. This 1/2 lecture and 1/2 easy to follow physical posture practice is part of Ramapo College's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. This special class is open to drop in students. Please join us if you are interested.

       Please visit www.ramapo.edu for more details 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Vayus/The Inner Winds Breath Artspiration

Vyana Vayu-governs circulation and is present within the entire body.

     As you practice yoga postures you quickly realize the need to stretch your breath. Perhaps one of the first Sanskrit words you learned was prana. Often prana is described as the breath but it's a little more than that. It means "life force" or you can call it "life energy." It also includes energies present in inanimate objects. In living beings prana is considered to be responsible for all mental and physical functions. Prana has many characteristics and there are 5 types called the vayus which are well worth understanding to deepen your yoga practice.

    On Friday October 20th 7-8:30pm I will be leading a Yoga Study Circle focusing on The Vayus/The Inner Winds at Birchwood Center for Yoga and Massage in Nyack, New York.

    During this special class we will examine the 5 Vayus with easy to follow seated and on the back exercises. We will also discuss the many benefits of stretching and directing your prana into different areas of your being while on and off the yoga mat. Since the Vayus are energy and maybe an abstract topic to digest I've created some Vayus Artspiration with a few notes to ease your understanding of the 5 Vayus. Enjoy and please visit www.birchwoodcenter.com for more information and to register for this special Yoga Study Circle class.

    Prana Vayu is the basic vayu from which all other vayus arise. Prana Vayu resides within the chest and moves upward into the third eye. It governs intake, perception and inspiration. Imagine a newborn baby taking its first breath. This is a beautiful example of Prana Vayu animating a being. Prana vayu is like food that nourishes and supports us and then assists us in moving forward and onward. If we are unable to absorb Prana Vayu the body will die. Disturbed Prana Vayu leads to illnesses of the breath, senses and mind

     Udana Vayu like Prana Vayu is an upward movement that enables us to speak and sing. It is associated with the throat chakra/vishuddha chakra. Besides communication Udana Vayu's upward moving wind inspires thoughts, words and actions from a higher perspective therefore a balanced Udana Vayu propels one's transformation. When Udana Vayu is unbalanced illnesses occur in the throat, neck and head.

     Apana Vayu is responsible for exhalation and for the downward and outward movement of energy found in elimination of wastes. Apana Vayu resides in the lower body, specifically within the intestines and the root chakra/muladhara chakra. Think below the belt bodily functions such as toilet needs, sexual and childbirth rely on Apana Vayu's strength. When Apana Vayu is unbalanced disease within the pelvic body can arise such as bladder, pelvis, colon, urinary and reproductive issues. Because of Apana Vayu's outward movement it is also associated with the body's defenses and immune system.

       Samana Vayu is the inner wind that is responsible for digestion of what we consume. It assimilates emotions and information in the gut and mind in addition to absorbs breath in the lungs. Samana Vayu's home is within the stomach and intestines. It works with our fire energy center, manipura chakra located in the navel. Think of Samana Vayu as the gatekeeper inner wind. It assists in separating what we need and don't need when it comes to digesting food, ideas and emotions. When Samana Vayu is unbalanced digestive imbalances arise such as gas, bloating, slow digestion and super fast digestion that leads to loose bowel movements.

        Vyana Vayu is found throughout the entire body and its origin is located at the heart center, anahata chakra. Vyana Vayu is involved in the functioning of the heart and lungs. This wind moves energy up, down, side to side and expands and contracts outward to the outer edges of the body. Vyana Vayu governs the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems. Vyana Vayu is the wind that gets us to sweat and radiate our inner light. When you want to connect to Vyana Vayu's strength think about that post savasana afterglow feeling when your mind and body are balanced. When Vyana Vayu is unbalanced a lot can go wrong physically because this wind encompasses the entire body.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vayus/Our Inner Winds Breath Work Yoga Study Circle at Birchwood Center, Nyack, NY

   If you find pranayama, mudra and chakra yoga studies interesting you will enjoy the next Yoga Study Circle I will be leading at Birchwood Center for Yoga and Massage in Nyack, New York Friday October 20th 7-8:30pm.

   This special class will focus on the Vayus-Our Inner Winds. Here we will examine the 5 Vayus with easy to follow seated and on the back exercises. We will also discuss the many benefits of directing your prana/life force into different areas of your being while on and off the yoga mat.

   Please wear comfortable clothes and visit www.birchwoodcenter.com to register for this special class.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

7 Wheels of Light Artspiration-Chakra Study at Ramapo College of NJ

Friday Oct. 6th 6-9pm at Ramapo College of New Jersey in the Krame Center I'm leading a very special Chakra Study class. This class is part of Ramapo College's 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and is open to drop in students. In preparation for this event I created some chakra art to inspire along with some notes to ease one's understanding of our chakra energy body. My suggestion in digesting this post is observing the artwork and reading each chakra's notes and feeling what comes up without over analyzing it. If you over think it you just may miss feeling your chakra body.

   Let's start with an easy chakra description: Chakras are 7 wheels of light that spin and shine bright within our energetic body. Life's stresses and struggles can shut them down yet we can break open our 7 seals of chakra light with breath work, yoga and meditation practice. The gift that comes from blooming your light body open like a lotus flower is your truth is revealed and from there the magic you've been waiting for appears.

   Above is an image of the the seventh chakra, Sahasrara Chakra. It's a pure white light that's shining down on your crown. Its mantra is OM and the element is space. When this chakra is balanced it is a thousand petal lotus that has bloomed wide open and unites you with your highest self.

   Healing Affirmations: "I am fully connected. I am limitless. I am blissful. I am love. I am understanding."


   The sixth chakra is Ajna Chakra. It shines within the third eye which is in between your eyebrows. It is the color of the twilight sky. This blue/purple energy center's element is space and its bija mantra is OM. When you clear this center, your mind is quiet and you see clearly.

   Healing Affirmations: "I see the big picture and I accept my path."

   The fifth chakra is Visshudha Chakra. It sits in the throat and represents communication. Its color is blue like the sky, the mantra is HAM and the element is space. When this energy center is balanced your words are pure.

   Healing Affirmation: "I listen. I have clear and compelling words. I lovingly speak my truth."

   The fourth chakra is Anahata Chakra. It rests in the heart center, in the center of the chest and its key is the breath. YAM is its mantra, air is the element and green is the color which opens you to love and eliminates fear.

   Healing Affirmation: "I am love. I give. I receive in gratitude. I forgive."

   The third chakra is Manipura Chakra. It sits in between the navel and solar plexus. The mantra is RAM, the color is yellow and the element is fire which shines as bright as the sun. This golden flame fuels your digestion and houses your truth and ego.

   Healing Affirmations: "I manifest my dreams as I connect to the universe."

   The second chakra is Svadhisthana Chakra. It sits in the center of the hips and rules relationships. The color is orange and the mantra is VAM. Water is the element which makes it move.

   Healing Affirmations: "I like. I dislike. I create. I am worthy of pleasure and love."

   The first chakra, Muladhara Chakra's bija mantra is LAM, the color is red and its element is earth. This chakra is found in the base of your pelvis. It is your survival center which governs your home, family, money and holds your space in being a part of supporting the whole universe. 

   Healing Affirmations- "I am strong. I am safe. I am grounded."