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another yogini is born

I had another student tonight bring her own mat.  She told me that she would like to practice at home and thought the mat would be encouragement.  It just makes my heart swell.

Also, tonight after class a student came up to me and told me how much she loves my class.  I thought my heart would explode.  I remember just starting yoga, and even now, going to a class that I love.  It really has the power to change my outlook.  That feeling after a good class with a great teacher (not calling myself great, just thinking of my teachers) is like being wrapped in a cozy blanket.  My body feels limber and calm.  My mind is quiet.  My heart is light.  My stress is gone.  It is bliss.  Pure bliss.  And, to think that my students are getting even a small glimpse of that bliss makes my heart bubble over.


christmas tree

We aren't going to be home much in December, but we still put up a Christmas tree.  The wonderful husband even put lights on the house.  Very festive.


people of the book

Last week I finished Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book. I had read her Pulitzer Prize winning March. It is an account of the Civil War from the perspective of the father in Alcott's Little Women.

People of the Book was inspired by the Sarajevo Haggadah. The Sarajevo Haggadah dates from 1350 and has a long and unclear history. It is beleived that the book originated in Spain and was smuggled out of the country after the expulsion of the Jews. Not much is known about the book until 1890 when it was sold to the National Musuem in Sarajevo. During World War II the book was saved from the Nazis by the museum's curator (Dervis Korkut smuggled the book out of the museum to save it at the same time as he was protecting a young Jewish woman by hiding her in his house). The Haggadah was saved by the museum's director, Enver Imamović, during the Bosnian war. This priceless Jewish book was saved twice by Muslims who risked their lives.

People of the Book is Geraldine Brooks' fictionalized account of the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah from the perspective of a rare book expert hired to restore the book after the Bosnian War. I really enjoyed the book. But, I am really intrigued by Brooks' research of the book and her attempts to patch together a history. I think her journey would make an amazing book and I am trying to find more to read about it. I have already found an article she wrote about Dervis Korkut (The Book of Exodus: A Double Rescue in Wartime Sarajeco) click here and look for the link on the left side of the page.

The book has beautiful illustrations and is considered one of the most valuable books in the world.  The illustrations from that time period are very rare.    


sasha and mishoo

I can't wait to get my hands on this book: Shasha and Mishoo, Little Yoga Warriors. The little ones I know aren't even walking yet, but they are going to get this book. From Amazon.com:

In Sasha and Mishoo: Little Yoga Warriors, the timeless arts of storytelling and yoga are gracefully interwoven to create an engaging, interactive experience that encourages children to have fun and expand their cultural horizons. Sasha and Mishoo have lost their kitty to the wilderness! The children walk across a colorful Indian landscape in search of their kitty, but along the way they encounter a number of nature's obstacles. Before they can turn the page, they, and the reader, will have to stop and hold the appropriate Yoga Pose for 10 deep breaths. A completely interactive experience for both child and parent, by the end of the story the reader has completed 10 different Yoga Poses and taken part in a remarkable visual journey across India.


om yoga

When I first started practicing yoga, I was way too intimidated to go to an actual class.  I began my education with books.

My first book was OM Yoga Today:  A Yoga Practice For 5, 15, 30, 60 and 90 Minutes.  The book is really easy to follow for a beginner and goes easy on the touchy feely stuff of yoga that is sometimes intimidating and sometimes, just not your thing.  I found the book very accessible and started to piece together a practice from it.  I love the stick figure drawings, but as a beginner, you may want to look for a book with more detailed photos of poses.  But, OM Yoga Today, teaches how to put together your own practice.  It starts with five minutes a day.  Five minutes!  Everyone can fit that in.  

Yoga Body, Buddha Mind is a bit more advanced, but the photos make it accessible for beginners.  Ideally, I would pair it with OM Yoga Today.  This book goes more into the yogic philisophy from the Buddhist perspective.  I think it is a wonderful book when you are just moving past the physical part of your practice and just beginning to explore the spiritual aspect.  This book was very helpful to me when I finally decided to give in and see what was on the other side of asana.  


parivrtta janu shirshasana

As a yoga teacher I hate to admit that there are asanas (poses) that are not my favorite. This is especially hard when teaching because I find myself eliminating those poses from my classes. I'm not proud of it. I have various reasons for the omission. Some asanas hurt me. Some asanas are just flat out hard to teach. In some asanas, I'm afraid students will move too fast, or throw their heads back, or just hurt themselves in some way. Some asanas, such as shirshasana (headstand), are just impossible to teach for lack of wall space, props, etc.

Today I taught an asana that makes me cringe with apprehension: parivrtta janu shirshasana or revolved head to knee pose. For me personally, this is such a difficult pose. I'm always anxious about doing it correctly and by correctly, I mean safely. The very last thing I want to do is hurt my students, or myself for that matter. Since I am afraid of this asana, I haven't practiced it myself in months. This does not help the situation.

The way I practice yoga and the view I have of the practice is that there is no absolute in asana. Everyone can do the poses and the poses are unique to each individual. Just because you can't bend yourself into a pretzel doesn't mean that you aren't realizing a pose or that you aren't doing yoga. I use goals as approximations to coax my students deeper into their exploration of an asana, not as an absolute that the student must master.

With that said I find myself eliminating these asanas from my practice because I can't do them! So, in an honest effort to better serve my students and my own practice, I am slowly beginning to incorporate these poses. My bugger of a pose may be bliss for another.

Here is parivrtta janu shirshasana. Enjoy! 

1. Begin sitting with the legs in a wide straddle. Fold the left foot in to rest against the inner right
thigh. Activate the legs.
2. Drawing the navel in, exhale and twist to the left, facing away from the extended leg.
3. Inhale and extend the left arm up over the shoulder, with the palm facing inward. Exhale and
side bend to the right, continuing to twist and open the torso.
4. Lower the right elbow to the floor along the inside of the right leg.
5. Inhale and extend through the spine. Exhale and lower further into the pose. Grasp the right
toe with the left hand. Gently rotate through the ribs to lift the sternum.
6. Exhale and release the hands from the foot. Inhale and raise the shoulders. Exhale and release
the legs back into Easy Sitting Pose.
7. Repeat on the other side.


winter yoga


It is finally snowing.  I love the snow.  Cozy winter clothes are my favorites.  Beanies, scarves, Uggs, and sweaters.  There is something about a snowy day that makes me wish I was at home in the kitchen making soup.  Candles lit all around and a stack of books on the table.

I also love the feeling of coming in from the snowy cold to a warm studio.  I love being able to practice in a tank top, in the heat, and see the snow falling outside.  It has to be one of my favorite things about winter. 


Fortunately, the yoga room at the YMCA is super cozy and warm (way too warm all summer long!).  But, the yoga room at Fuel isn't as cozy.  I'd like to find some ways to make it cozier, but it is really hard in the gym environment.  I don't think they want twinkly lights on their mirrors.  And, they probably don't want me burning candles or incense. 

I have thought a lot about investing in some props, especially blankets (blankets are such versitile props when you have nothing else), but, I'm cheap.  Also, I think transporting the blankets back and forth would get old fast.  I'll keep thinking about it...

In the meantime, I will enjoy this snow and hope that it lasts all winter.