All posts filed under: The First Class

What is vinyasa? Part 2.

Yesterday, I talked about vinyasa classes. So today, let’s chat about the vinyasa as a sequence of poses. When you go to a vinyasa class, and you hear the teacher say, “move through your vinyasa,” she or he is talking about three specific poses together: chaturanga dandasana (low plank), urdhva mukha svanasana (upward-facing dog), and adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog). Let me break down transitions into each pose and modifications. Vinyasas generally start from a plank position. I say generally because once you add jumpback/floating into the transition, you actually skip plank and go straight into a chaturanga. But that’s for another post on another day. 🙂 Exhale, chaturanga. From plank, shift forward on your toes so that the shoulders are forward of your wrists. This gives you room to bend your elbows into chaturanga, leaving elbows stacked over wrists. Chest is broad. Elbows stay in next to the ribs. Back is long and straight from your shoulder blades to whatever is touching the ground (toes or knees). The breath is an exhale as you lower …

What is vinyasa? Part 1.

The word vinyasa means connecting breath with movement. Often times, you’ll hear it in two places. 1. Describing the style of the class. 2. A sequence of poses, usually as a transition from one flow to another. Today’s post will break down the first: The Vinyasa class. The Vinyasa class When you see vinyasa on the schedule, you can expect that it will be a flowing, moving practice rather than a static practice or one with lots of starts and stops. Vinyasa classes are designed as a sequence of poses that make sense together. For example, a flow may have 3-5 standing poses that are all forward-facing hips (such as warrior 1 –> warrior 3 –> warrior 1 –> revolved warrior) as those poses smoothly transition from one to the next versus a standing pose, followed by seated, followed by supine. Generally, the breath that connects poses are inhale for upward/forward/opening motions and exhale for downward/backward/closing motions. If you ever lose your breath while practicing, think about the direction of the movement and jump back on the …

Intro to Yoga Series at ABP

This being National Yoga Month and all, September is proving to be a great month to kickstart or reacquaint yourself with your yoga practice. If you’re here on my site because I’ve been asking you (begging, nudging, hinting, demanding nicely) for years to come TRY some yoga with me, then clear your Sunday mornings. I’m leading an Intro to Yoga series at Austin Bouldering Project the next four Sundays (that’s September 11, 18, 25 and October 2). You don’t need any prior experience. You don’t even need a yoga mat as there will be some available in the studio. This is a true 101 series, where we start from the basics. These are 75 minute sessions with discussion, instruction/demonstration, workshopping of poses and plenty of laughter on the mat. If you have questions that begin with, “What does ____ mean?” or “Why do we ____?” or “How do I ____?,” then this is a perfect place to start. Hop in to one of these classes or come to all 4. No prior registration is required. Class starts promptly …

9 Pieces of advice for new students

I can usually tell who the new students are in my yoga classes. They set up their mats on the edges of the room. They are constantly peeking their eyes open when everyone else has eyes closed. They fidget uncomfortably in savasana, and I can see their minds on overdrive, wondering when exactly the torture of lying still will end. If this sounds like you, no worries. There’s a short learning curve to get acquainted with your yoga practice. To ease into group practice more smoothly, here are my 9 pieces of advice to get the most out of your yoga class. Set up where you can see and hear the teacher clearly. This is especially important in a class set up where everyone is facing one direction. If you’re hiding in the back corner, you can’t see or hear, and the teacher has a harder time seeing you to be able to offer adjustments and cues. Grab a block and a strap, whether the teacher specifically directs the class to do so or not. …

How to pick a first class

I get this question a lot from friends who are interested in starting a yoga practice to undo the aches and pains of a sedentary office job. I’m new to yoga. What classes should I be looking at? While I personally prefer ashtanga and vinyasa for my practice, I like to recommend classes that move slower to someone new. Even if my friends are athletic, I think it’s important to learn the fundamentals of breath, alignment, and drishti, and also getting familiar with the names of common yoga poses. Classes that are titled Hatha, Iyengar, Beginners and All Levels are usually a good place to start. A slower-moving class gives the teacher more opportunities to make sure you’re practicing safely and to offer more instruction. It also gives you time to settle into each pose before moving on to the next new thing. Yin Yoga and Restorative are also nice options for beginners who are looking to feel less stiff rather than getting in a challenging workout. Coincidentally, many of these classes are offered in …

Tip: Turn off your phone alarm

I’ll tell you about the first time I learned this lesson. I was on a 6 am flight for work. I turned off my phone per the flight attendant’s instruction. At 7 am, my phone alarm for my normal work-day started beeping. In my morning grogginess, I thought, “How annoying that someone on this plane didn’t turn off their phone as instructed.” And then, I realized the beeping was coming from my bag!!! To my horror, I was the rude passenger whose phone was making atrocious sounds mid-flight. Apparently, shutting down power on a phone does NOT disable the alarm functions. So the other week, I went to a 9 am Saturday yoga class, turned off my phone ringer and set my bag in a cubby hole. I try to let myself sleep in until 9 am on Saturdays (as often as my baby will allow… *sigh*), and since I was up an hour before my usual time to make it to this class, I completely forgot about the default alarm time that was still enabled …

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