The simplest but most liked post from my Instagram page this year.Read More
Honest, informative writing on a life inspired by yoga.
Turns out people notice what you don’t do.
A regular to one of my yoga classes recently had knee surgery and when I asked how they’re feeling in their practice they said, “great, except in child’s pose... I didn’t mention it to you since you don’t give assists like that (deepening assists e.g. pushing on low back in child’s pose).”
Hands on adjustments in yoga or the lack there of is a form of communication and I think it’s important to know what you’re saying with them if you give them.
When I use to let people adjust me the assists we’re always about deepening the pose I was in - whether I needed/wanted it or not. Sometimes they were too much and I injured myself. As a teacher, I deemphasize going deeper so there’s nothing for me to push on. I don’t emphasize an aesthetic so there’s nothing for me to correct. I do focus on and foster things like interoception, finding, allowing and the personal power to arrive in your signature alignment. More studios are taking notice with some offering (yes/no) consent cards so students have a say in their experience on the mat. It was after learning more about adjustments and the complexities of consent culture that I decided they’re not central to my teaching. Touch can of course be healing and I realize some people love hands on adjustments. That’s great. I’m not trying to be your everything in the yoga studio. As I continue to redefine yoga with sustainable movement the less I need to “fix” or change someone’s yoga pose. My approach is to make more space for movement diversity.
Rare photo of me giving a down-dog push to a fellow yoga teacher friend who also knows her body very well.
What is it that you find yourself day dreaming about the most? That idea or goal that comes back to you again and again. It scares you a little bit to think about actually doing IRL, but in your minds eye you see it clear as day and it is successful, beautiful, empowering.
Go ahead and flex your daydreaming muscles. New research (ref) suggests that it’s good for us. The structured kind of daydreaming that has a touch of realism to it has shown to increase creativity, problem solving and greater productivity in adults. And daydreaming can give us mental practice for pursuing important goals before we have to invest any real time or effort. I DIG IT!
For me, it’s a studio space of my own. A place to hold all of my creativity. A space to create a movement, movement.
“Novels begin, not on the page, but in meditation and day-dreaming - in thinking, not writing.”
- Joyce Carol Oates.
A quick list of ingredients for my dream multi-use yoga studio:
1. Non dogmatic modern vinyasa yoga
2. Meditation for busy, exhausted humans 3. Functional, fun movement
4. Modern dance
5. High sturdy ceilings to swing/hang from
6. Restorative yoga
7. Teacher support group discussions 8. Guest teachers and workshops
NINE MINUTE SAVASANAS
10. Donation based offerings
12. Extensive unorthodox prop wall
13. Lavender oil and smudge sticks
14. Rose quartz and hella black tourmaline
15. Fellow teachers whose mission is kindness, openness, growth, education, connection
16. A curious and diverse community that values movement and sees it as a way to build a more sustainable, integrated (and badass) life.
Onward and upward we go in 2019 - via our favorite most cherished daydream.
Despite what social media shows me I don’t believe everything has to be beautified to be relevant. Every detail filtered into perfection puts us more at odds with the parts of us that aren’t #gorg. The world will do enough to us, we don’t have to do it to ourselves. Blemishes, stretch marks, skin that rolls and wrinkles - none of it has to be called beautiful to be valid. What I’m saying is, I don’t need the bags under my eyes to be pretty. I earned them, or more likely inherited them and I am ok with that. All these things, our features and our flaws make up the body we cruise around in. All these things make us HUMAN, and the only remedy needed for being human is to be true to yourself.
I use to try so hard to talk like this until I realized it was more effective to just be me and speak my truth about movement and breath. This comes from learning, immersing and integrating. I stopped trying to memorize (recycled) cues and inspirational phrases, and started seeing the bigger picture of what I was offering, what I was teaching. This gave me much more content which meant endless, authentic ways to articulate it.
There’s nothing wrong with being eloquent, but the pressure is off.
SAY THE REAL SHIT. From Livia Cohen-Shapiro.
Metaphor, poetry, lofty words and aspirational spiritual lingo. The kind of words that strung together sounds lovely. Oh, ever so lovely. But when strung together, no sentence is made. No true lexicon at work.
Prayers, intentions, fancy words that our collective culture has decided are beautiful and awash with "spirit” make manifest the projection that Spirit is something you can buy and sell.
If you have ever left a class confused because the teacher said beautiful things but somehow nothing at all, you are likely on point. After all those words that streamed forth sounding so illustrious, no real substance actually added up.
There was nothing there.
Smoke and mirrors.
Words, like painted walls, can be just an aesthetic.
Some words and teachings might be aspirational. Sometimes we teachers need to say them to believe them and to make them real. That’s partly how matrika works. We say to make real.
But we are also responsible for making sense. For saying real shit. We are being charged with the task of offering substance. And for creating environments where the substance can be felt, found and transmitted. Instruction needs direction and accuracy. Not so that students do what you say, but so they can understand in their felt experience what you are trying to say. And then choose. Engage self-agency. Explore possibility.
It is very hard to explore safely when nothing makes sense. When words don’t add up. When language does not match expression and intonation.
We can get very lost in our words you know. There are many reasons we turn into talking heads, trying to believe what we are saying.
I invite all of us as teachers to drop down another inch, right into the space that motivates our word choices. What are you actually trying to say, to convey? Keep asking for real shit.
Ask 100 people what yoga is and you will likely get 100 different answers. Its definitions are as diverse as the communities who practice - as they should be. Some traditionalists may find this problematic, but I find it to be freeing which is exactly how I like my yoga. Since September is National Yoga Month I decided to share some of my very favorite takes on yoga from teachers around the country that I've practiced with and enjoy learning from. I hope they inspire your practice and broaden your sense of what yoga can be in our modern world.
The balancing of opposing forces. - Laurel Beversdorf
A living tradition. - Brea Johnson
Yoga happens inside. It’s not a question of muscles. It’s an arrangement of bone. Guts. Spinal cord. A hearing of nerve. A sounding of depth. @coalfury
Yoga isn’t really a thing. It’s just me working on being fully me. - Sparkle Thornton.
The perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are. - Jason Crandell
The practice of Yoga is a never ending journey of personal development and exploration. - Embrace Yoga DC
Yoga is the practice of presence. How to be present so you know yourself follow your fluctuations and needs because when you tend to that you are contributing to the world. - Rachel Yellin
The practice of yoga is about bringing greater intelligence to the body on every level, from the physical and physiological, to the mental, intellectual, and spiritual. - badass yoga nun.
A perennially expanding line of inquiry - unknown
PS: It's ok if you're still figuring out what yoga means to you. There may be people who tell you your yoga isn't real. They don't get a say in the answer. Only you.
What has 52 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles? Your feet! It's no wonder Leonardo Da Vinci called them a "masterpiece of engineering and a work of art."
This month in my group classes we're taking a closer look at how the feet and legs support you in, well, just about everything. It's an area of the body we take for granted especially since we walk around on our feet and legs all day without much thought. How often do you think about the engagement of the muscles in your feet or how the 3 arches (yes 3) in each foot are influencing, supporting your overall posture?
"Essentially we’re standing on a triangle with one point at the base of the big toe, one at the base of the little toe and one at our heel. Connect these three points together and you get a triangle. Now take these three points and connect them to the top of the ankle joint and now we’ve created a pyramid and that my friends is a very stable structure to be standing on." - David Keil.
Yoga is one of the few mainstream group movement practices where everyone takes off their socks and shoes. It's a unique opportunity to build a healthy, stable foundation. With a little attention to this small part of the body we can build strength, agility and balance. Our feet are connected to our legs and our legs are connected to our hips and on up the chain... you get the idea, your feet are quit literally the foundation that connects, supports and influences the rest of your awesome body.
In most yoga classes the stretch is an inherent part of the practice, but when you take a closer look at familiar postures like triangle pose we can use our awareness and hone our attention to the subtle body to create a balance of flexibility + stability. It's not overtly obvious, but when we slow down and tap into the power of our legs - Voila! Strong + flexible hamstrings. I wrote all about my love of Trikonasana here, but read on to see how incorporating a block to draw up through the legs in triangle pose is just one way to help you find the less obvious qualities of activating your feet and legs in yoga.
To bring more strength into your hamstrings during your yoga practice start with the feet.
- In triangle pose, press into the mound of your big toe of the front foot.
- Make the action with the feet like they are sliding in towards one another. Feel the inner thighs awaken.
- Use a block at your calf muscle. This will give you feedback and help activate the musculature of the legs. This can be especially helpful if you have a lot of flexibility, because it is easy to hang out in the stretch and lock the knee joint.
- Hug muscle to bone.
It's February 2018!
This marks a few notable occasions that I'm celebrating with this blog post - It's the month of love with Valentine's Day and the beginning of what has become known as wedding season. For me, it also marks four years since I started Cincinnati Bridal Yoga!
CBY was my first leap into entrepreneurialism that began when my dear friend Mer Hogan gave me the support and freedom to dream storm in her beautiful studio, The Shakti Factory. Stacy Sims advised the look and layout of branding and provided her word wizarding on the first website launch. I would not be the movement educator/yoga boss woman I am today without their supportive space-holding.
There were plenty of no-show classes and "cricket" responses to advertising offers, but I learned to own my identity as a teacher and a small business owner. I refined my approach, I grew and cut my teeth on what I love to do - which is teach movement and create unique yoga events.
since then my community has grown and so have my offerings. Cincinnati Queer Yoga was born, followed by aerial yoga and of course TRISHA.YOGA which encompasses them all. I had the perfect incubator of love and support at The Shakti Factory. It was one of those, "what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?" experiences. Dream-storming at its best. It was (without knowing) the jumping in point for so much of the work I've since created and refined.
Below is a reprisal of an interview I did for Weddings By Maura that digs into what CBY is. Cheers to four years of beautiful brides restoring their bliss with BRIDAL YOGA.
What inspired you to start Cincinnati Bridal Yoga?
I started Cincinnati Bridal Yoga after planning my own wedding and wishing that I could have someone create and guide me and my closest friends in a beautiful yoga class before the wedding. I wanted other brides to be able to experience that.
Tell us about your background.
Well, when I’m not practicing or teaching yoga I’m creating content for workshops, teacher trainings and planning yoga events around Cincinnati. I’ve been a mover my whole life. Previously a dancer with the Dayton Ballet and currently as an independent artist that collaborates with various movement practitioners around the country.
Why should a bride consider practicing yoga on her wedding day?
Oh there are so many reasons! Your wedding is the happiest day of your life, but it can also be one of the most stressful – from the long planning process to the pressure to please everyone. Yoga can help reduce wedding day stress so that you can slow down and enjoy and remember every moment of your big day. Yoga is known to reduce anxiety, boost happiness and of course give you better posture and confidence.
Is Cincinnati Bridal Yoga appropriate for yogis of all levels or people who have never done it before?
Cincinnati Bridal Yoga is accessible to all levels of people – even those who have never done yoga. Many of our brides and their guests are a mixed levels group and we accommodate that so everyone can participate and benefit from the experience. And what better time to try yoga for the first time than your wedding?
Do you practice a particular type of yoga? Hatha, restorative, etc?
We offer a variety of styles – everything from gentle yoga, partner yoga, to an active vinyasa flow. Once a client books a class we work with them on everything from the music playlist to the style of yoga. We let the bride choose the style of yoga that she wants for her bridal yoga class. The most popular is a gently restorative class that helps everyone connect with their breath and feel more present in their body.
Does CBY have a studio where you meet or do you meet brides somewhere else?
Both! Cincinnati Bridal Yoga holds its classes at variety of places around Cincinnati including, Elemental Om. The studio has everything guests might need such as extra yoga mats and blocks. We will also meet brides at their location of choice – whether it’s their home, or reception space.
Do you only practice in the immediate Cinci area or do you travel?
Most of our clients are within the Greater Cincinnati area, but destination bridal yoga can be arranged.
Are there other events brides can have CBY help with other than their wedding day?
Yes, although wedding day yoga is the most popular, we also do yoga classes for bridal showers, and blissful bachelorette parties.
Do you have any advice for brides and grooms?
As a long time yogi and newlywed, my advice to brides and grooms is to always return to the breath. When there’s that feeling of overwhelm turn your awareness inward to notice your breathing. It works every time.
Contact me to plan your yoga party/event/bridal yoga and I'll get right back.
More about Cincinnati Bridal Yoga here.
I want my movement to be useful and relevant to my overall health for the long term. I want my strength and flexibility to be in symphony to one another. Find the right amount of the pose for YOU.Read More
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