Tag Archives: Ashtanga

Yoga Snob or Yoga Hobbit?

It has been quite a long time since I’ve blogged.  I’ve written novels in my head but actually having the time to sit down and write it is the problem.  However,  recently I had a student ask me about my own personal practice and in my response I came to the realization that I might be a yoga snob!  Holy crap!  Am I an uppity yogi?   It hit me like a ton of bricks because I’ve always considered myself part of the yoga community.  So the mere thought of myself being a snob is pretty disturbing.  After I got home and was able to really sit with my thoughts I asked myself a few questions to maybe make sense of my new found title.

Was being a snob really all that bad?  What is a snob?  Or maybe I wasn’t a snob at all,  maybe titles are the snobs.  So first things first: What is a snob?

Snob:  A snob is a person who believes a correspondence between status and human worth.  The term also refers to a person who believes that some people are inherently inferior to him or her for any one of a variety of reasons, including real or supposed intellect, wealth,   education, ancestry,  power,  physical strength,  class,  taste,  beauty, nationality, fame, extreme success of a family member or friend, etc.   Often this form of snobbery reflects the snob’s personal attributes.

On no! I am not a snob by the means of Wikipedia for sure.  Not even close to who I am.  So, I’ve cleared that matter, but there is still a problem: I have some issues with the practice of my asanas.  And by no means do I ever what to consider myself better than anyone, so the search continued until I started to ask deeper questions.

The real matter is I’ve become a hobbit in my actual asana practice.  In other words, I’m not going out there anymore and practicing with different teachers in different local studios.  So when students ask about advice on studio practices I’m a bit stuck.

So why have I become a hobbit?  Recently in the last few months my teaching schedule has doubled.  In addition to teaching 10-15 classes a week I’m also recording 2 classes a week on my phone, editing, recording audio and publishing videos for virtual clients.  I’m still being a mom to two busy little girls, a wife to my husband of 10 years and trying to maintain some sort of ‘self’.

I use to love to drop in to local studios and just be a student.  Now I only get that freedom when I’m away traveling or at trainings or on those very rare mornings when I can pull myself away from life to visit my favorite Ashtanga studio here in Durham.

So with all of this in mind,  I’ve put together a few ways to help you not to become a Yoga Hobbit.  For while it’s great to have a home practice (and I’m always preaching to my students about being able to practice at home on your own), it is also important that we do visit studios.  Particularly for the community aspect of it for this is usually where we adults meet friends.  Not only that but it supports local small businesses and it keeps you from becoming a Yoga Hobbit.

  1. Once a month visit a studio you’ve never been to.

This is by far the easiest way to try something new.  Studios pop up every week, so there shouldn’t be a shortage of places to try.  I find using the Mindbody app is a great way to find studios close to you that maybe you didn’t know they were there. Read reviews or maybe just go blindly into a new space with an open heart and unroll your mat to new experiences.

  1. Practice a style that’s different from your preferred style.

We all get caught up in what we like verses trying something we are not sure of but yoga is about union and growth.  We can’t grow if we stay in the same space.  I practiced Vinyasa Flow for almost 6 years before I ever tried Ashtanga, and I was horrible at it, so bad that I didn’t even think of returning to that style until 3 years later.  Yet after coming back with an open mind and a lot less ego I found it was humbling and quite refreshing to know I could learn more, and my glass needed a refill.

I’ve tried just about every style out there and some I like, some I’d never do again but I tried them and that’s the beauty of the practice.  So go try something new.  There are lots of teachers practicing a whole variety of different styles on Muuyu – so you could start there!

  1. Find a Yoga partner to keep your practice fresh.

It is so hard to find a friend, and even harder to keep that friend.  However if you’re one of the lucky ones who have a friend and they share your passion of unrolling the mat make them your practice partner.  You both will hold each other accountable and bring new ideas to one another.  Having someone next to you allows for energy to bounce and creates a universal pull of magic – and who doesn’t need a little magic in their lives?  So find that partner, and get to sharing the magic.

  1. Change your home practice location.

If you’re one of the lucky ones you have a studio of your own and you can change your space accordingly.  However some of us just have a corner or maybe even just the kitchen floor.  But don’t let that stop you from freshening up that space.  Change the plants in your practice space.  Use new scents and oils with the change of the seasons or your moods.  If you can’t revive your actual space, try a new location all together.  Go outside and practice in your backyard.  Try the park, that fishing pier, the local walking trail,  maybe even the hallway while you wait for your kids dance class to end.  Just don’t be afraid to practice anywhere.

Look, life is a major juggling act and sometimes we get so busy we forget that there is a vast world outside of our own little universe.  I lost myself in my own world and I forgot that I too need to try new things even when I was sure that I didn’t have enough time to do so. We’ve all seen that little hobbit that locks himself in his cave, and could care less about the changes that are happening outside that rock.  However one day that rock is going to crumble and that little lonely hobbit is going to have to change, or become stuck right there. So start the change now.  Try something new so you’re not that Yoga Snob or a Yoga Hobbit.

briana_pranamYoga teacher and practitioner Briana Young Roane has over 350 hours teacher training and workshop experience. She started her teaching career in 2005 and since then has owned and run two different studios.  Born in Inglewood, California, and now living and working on the East Coast, Briana brings her sunny CA disposition to each and every class that she teaches whether private or group.  You can find more information about Briana and the classes she teaches on Muuyu here or continue to follow her on her own yoga blog.

 

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Angela’s Yoga Lab: Yoga for All Seasons – Fighting Winter Depression

I am a native Australian.  I was born in Sydney and spent the first 22 years of my life there.

Moving to Berlin in the height of winter I experienced for the first time a physical and emotional coldness as well as a darkness I had never known was possible.  The coldest it gets in winter in Sydney is around 5 degrees (usually overnight or early hours of the morning). And even in winter it would be light outside until at least 7pm in the evening.   Before moving to Berlin I had never seen or touched snow!

Berlin winters can sometimes drop to -20.  It can snow and it is pitch black by 4pm.  It can be harsh.  In fact, it is not uncommon to wake in darkness and to come home in darkness.

Like a bird flying south,  the past few winters I have flown to warmer countries or back home to ‘escape the winter’.  However, this year we will be staying in Berlin and so I have a plan to get me through and to fight fatigue and winter depression through yoga practice and specifically inversions.   (I’ve talked in greater detail about inversions here if you would like to read more).

Research on the use of yoga for depression, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included studies with a total of 3,515 participants.  Findings highlighted that just 30 minutes daily meditation can improve the symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain.  Furthermore, when the researchers compared the magnitude of the gains with those taking medications the effectiveness was similar but with no side effect.

A Swedish study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry and which was built on previous research from 47 clinical trials, also discovered that group mindfulness training proved as effective as the established psychological treatment for depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

As mindfulness and the meditative state can be a vital part of yoga practice it stands to reason that incorporating yoga into your routine can thus have a therapeutic effectiveness in beating back the blues.

Yoga asana builds confidence and strength in the physical body and helps to calm the mind.  By balancing the hormonal endocrine system, strengthening the balance between our para-sympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system,  asana practice maximizes our opportunity to allow the body to function at optimum by producing the right hormones to keep us balanced and feeling in control.

I believe the yoga mat is a monitored environment to work under the controlled stresses that we apply in varying degrees to body and mind,  an environment where we can develop effective coping mechanisms.  When I am feeling unbalanced or depressed yoga has become a useful go-to-tool for moving through it.

During winter time when we have less exposure to Vitamin D (i.e. less hours in sunlight) and have less opportunities to exercise due to extreme coldness and darkness yoga asana takes on even greater importance.

Here are some instant mood and depression boosters:

  • Yogic Breathwork

Yogic breathing clears and maintains healthy internal organs. Pranayama such as Agni Sara connects the mind to the core of the body, actively pumps fresh blood around the body and creates internal Agni (fire) that heats us from the inside out.

  • Flowing Asana Practice ( such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga)

This type of practice keeps the joints supple and lubricated, which is great for when coldness causes crunchiness and stiffness.  Asana where we sweat detoxes us and flushes our system.  This works to boost our immune system which is also essential at this time of year when we are more susceptible to colds and flu.

  • Inversions

Going upside down is a great way to chase depression from cell tissue as it offers an instant mood-shifter and energy boost.  The key in mastering this is to take baby steps to build your core and upper body strength. This journey itself can be deeply healing and gratifying – seeing something build and build to the point where you exceed your preconceived limits of what you thought or imagined was possible on a physical and mental level.

Entry level / Intermediate Inversion Practice

  • Downward Facing DogAdho mukha śvānāsana

After some time and when ready to up-level you can move downward dog onto the wall.  Press your feet into the wall with legs at a 90 degree angle.  Hold here for up to 10 breaths, come down and pause in child’s pose, then move up again for a round of 10 breaths, building up stamina and confidence.  Explore transitions with one leg straightened, and then the other.

  • Dolphin

This asana is ideal for those with tweaky wrists or sensitive people who also cannot do downward facing dog.

Again, after some time when you’re feeling more confident, you can move dolphin on to the wall. Keep legs at 90 degrees to the wall, straightened if possible, bent legs if new to the pose)

Intermediate/ Advanced Inversion Practice

All of the asana listed below can be built up to variations such as straddle, lotus or baddha konasana:

  • Headstand – Shirshasana
  • Handstand – Vrikshasana
  • Forearm Balance – Pincha mayurasana

Do remember that when trying for the first time, only attempt the mentioned asana under the guidance of an advanced teacher, and be sure that you do not have any contraindications to inverting the body or going upside before attempting them.

If you would like any further advice or guidance with anything mentioned in the post also feel free to contact me here.

Yoga Teacher; Forrest Yoga; Asanas; Vinyasa; Muuyu;

Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin.  RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga,  Angela is committed to nourishing  mind and body both off and on the mat.   She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs.  Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga.

Connect with her here on Muuyu.com or on her own website  www.endorphinyoga.eu as well as on Twitter.

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India Appoints First Ever Minister of Yoga

India’s recent cabinet reshuffle has resulted in the creation of the first Ministry of Yoga and natural medicines.  India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a devoted yogi and vegetarian, hopes this new Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) will revive the regular practice of yoga among India’s citizens.  He has appointed former tourism minister Shripad Yesso Naik to take charge of the new department, which was previously under the authority of the Health Ministry.

Determined to spread the benefits of yogic living, Modi even used his September address to the United Nations General Assembly to promote the practice and call on member countries to mark June 21 as International Yoga Day.

In his speech he said, “Yoga should not be just an exercise for us but it should be a means to get connected with the world and with nature.  It should bring a change in our lifestyle and create awareness in us, and it can help fighting against climate change.”

India’s mission to the U.N. has started preparing a draft resolution on the possibility of an International Yoga Day with support already from countries such as the United States, Canada, China, Nepal and Bhutan.

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyu and a co-founder of the company.  Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism.  She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog.  Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life.  However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.

Connect with Siobhan here.