TashaYoga Has Moved!

Moving!Tasha is now blogging at www.mergeyoga.wordpress.com

For more information about Tasha and about MergeYoga, see the “About” pages on the new site…

All previous blog posts (from TashaYoga) are available at MergeYoga, and you can subscribe to the new blog as well!

Thanks so much for following — More to Come!




I’m not the type of person who gets into random meet-and-greet chit-chat.

I’m not the type of person who reveals a lot about myself.

I’m not the type of person who’s into team sports.

Hmm, this could go on.

I’m finding that one of the brilliant rewards of Yoga is its teaching about limited definitions of self.  For instance, just a few months ago, I didn’t think I had the type of body that could “do” Pigeon Pose:

Pigeon Pose

Instead, I said I was “the type with tight hips.”  Which was somewhat true.  Relative to other body types, (and even other parts of my body) my hips were (and are) rather tight.  I could always sense a flowing availability in my muscles, except when it came to postures that asked more of my hips, such as Pigeon or Cow Face Pose.  

Cow-Face Pose.  (Such a strange name.)

But in Yoga, there are no “types.”  There are only different bodies.  And each of those bodies is different one day to the next!

If I hadn’t seen pictures of these poses (like the ones above), all I would have known was the teacher’s instruction, the movements, and the resulting feeling of my own body as it moved.  And that’s all I needed to know.  It’s all that matters. 

In Yoga, you’re encouraged to pay attention how your own body truly feels in any given posture.  When you do, you’ll find that the feeling changes over weeks and months of practice.  (For instance, as you may have guessed, I can now sit in Pigeon Pose, although I give myself plenty of time, and I make sure I’m plenty warm).

Changes.  Oh my, the cheesy pictures never end!

But the feeling of each pose will also change with each breath!  You don’t have to wait weeks or months to see change… You can see it in every passing moment.  It won’t be some earth-shattering change, and it probably won’t be noticeable to anyone else.  But everything changes, and it changes constantly.

So in Yoga, the attention given to breath, and the invitation to really be present in your own body for whatever is happening right now — Both teach us about change, and about our inability to pin ourselves down.  Why would we want to?

With each breath, there’s new air, there’s a new rise and fall of the belly, there’s the smallest bit of letting-go on an exhalation.  And the mind changes too, flitting all the time from one thought to the next.  

So you’re the type of person with a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders?  What about after a massage, or after a restorative Yoga class?

You’re not the type to touch your toes?  What about in six months?

You’re not the type to do a backbend?  What about a mild one, such as Cobra?

A gentle Cobra Pose

And beyond Yoga… You’re not the type to eat healthy foods?  What about when you eat something delicious and then you find out that it was healthy?

You’re not the type to enjoy exercise?  What about the way you feel when you’ve done something good for yourself?  (Maybe the “type” here is not you, but your idea of what “exercise” is or has to be.)

You’re not the type to open up with strangers?  What about that one moment when you felt confident and let loose, and it felt freeing?  Are there ways to recapture that?

The truth is, there simply are no types.  Any category in which we place ourselves (or allow ourselves to be placed by another) is too limited to hold us.  We change with every moment, every breath, every dying cell.  

And that’s good.  Yeah, I totally went there again with the emerging butterfly thing representing positive change.  I can't help myself sometimes..

And the beauty of this truth is available not only for us, but for the other people in our lives.  How much (or how little) do we expect of other people, based on the limited categories in which we’ve placed them?  Every moment is a decision.

The (very cool!) truth is, we all get to decide in any given moment what type of people we are.  Nothing is set in stone except the past.  And while the past can inform and advise the present, it doesn’t have to determine it.  

Whoever you were yesterday isn’t who you have to be today.

You’re not the type to do Yoga?  What about when you wake up and stretch your arms overhead?   🙂

You’re the type who constantly limits yourself with small ideas like “types?”   That’s only true until you stop.


Try this simple exercise for experiencing the your ever-changing awesomeness.  (You’ll just need a toy ball, soft & rubber-ish (not a softball), about 3-4″ in diameter.)

Lie flat on your back on the floor (this won’t work on a bed), legs outstretched and arms down at your sides.  (If you’d like, roll up a blanket or towel to place under your neck, or grab a thin folded blanket to use as a pillow.)

Notice if there’s any space between your back and the floor.  Space is neither bad nor good; just notice.  Most likely there will be at least enough space to slip your hand underneath your back.

Now bend your knees so that the soles of your feet rest on the floor, maybe 6-10 inches from your buttocks.

Place the toy ball directly under your sacrum — That point just above your buttocks where the spine meets the hips.

Get comfortable and balanced, and breathe steadily.   (This should be very easy.  If you’re rolling all around, or if it’s hurting your back, the ball probably doesn’t have enough give.  Just look for a softer one.)

Stay in this position for at least four minutes, and up to eight.  (If you tend to get antsy, it’s a good idea to try this while watching a TV show.)  Let your breath be steady and easy.  Imagine that your back is melting around the ball.  

When 4-8 minutes have passed, gently remove the ball from underneath your back.  Keeping your knees bent, allow the sacrum area to settle and relax more.

Finally, stretch your legs out and lie flat, as you did when you began.  

Notice now whether there’s any space between your back and the floor.  

Notice any differences?  Let me know!

The Possibility of Beginning. Maybe.

Well friends,

It’s a New Year.  We huffed our way through the holidays (in a spirited, good-natured way, one hopes), and we’ve crossed the threshold into 2009.  

I’ve often felt that this (somewhat arbitrary) point in one’s calendar should elicit some kind of significant transformation, some sacred renewal, some refreshing sense of purpose, meaning, intention, whatever. 

Yes, I went there.  The Caterpillar representing Transformation.

But I’ve rarely actually experienced anything of the sort — At least on or around January 1st.

However, many people regularly do.  And if you’re one of the regulars – It may be worth giving a quick thanks for such a palpable sense of Beginning.  

And I’d like to request membership into your club, perhaps just this time around, as I’m feeling a small bit of transformative Good happening beneath the surface.  

The purpose of Yoga, to whatever extent you practice it, and during whatever time of year, is actually… transformation.  Which makes the New Year a great time to let it shed some light in your corner…

Tree Pose

I describe Yoga as a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that leads you to your next and better place — Regardless of where you start.  

I started Yoga in a very isolated and frightened place.  At the time, I was dealing with undiagnosed depression and a hefty bit of self-doubt and self-hatred.  I was accustomed to working out in order to reach specific physical goals, and Yoga, at first, was another work-out option for me.  

The jarring thing was that the practice was so hushed.  Even when I felt like I was sweating through it, the idea of counting breaths made me… breathe.  And it made me listen to the breaths.  

I slowed down.  I felt calm.  (Unintentionally I assure you!   Calm was scary!)  It was utterly different than anything I’d done before.

Not to mention that in some of the poses, as I breathed, I would feel my body loosening and letting go.  I saw how physically uptight I was, how closed in… And how, with a bit of time and attention, it was possible to open up.  I saw distinct parallels with my emotional life, although I didn’t want anyone drawing them at the time.Gavel.  (Sentenced; get it?)

From the beginning, I think Yoga gave me a vague sense that nothing was sentenced.

Everything was changeable, even my own self-perception.  A lovely new idea.  

I still grapple with my will: With wanting to overtake a posture rather than allowing it to show me something about myself or my body.  I’m Type A, so it’s likely that this will continue to be my greatest Yogic challenge for some time.  But I also credit Yoga with teaching me a couple key Type-A-Take-Notice things:

1. You can always breathe – No matter how stressful or difficult the situation is…

2. and you can always let go just a little bit more.

Letting Go.

The practice of Yoga, even when seen only as a physical “workout,” will bring about some amazing transformations.  In addition to a more toned physique, increased strength & flexibility, lower blood pressure, improved respiration, reduced stress, supple joints, and better sleep…

…you may notice some sweet bonuses along the lines of greater ease with your body, a more objective view of anxieties, a practiced kindness toward yourself, more mindful consumption, a sense of having done something healthy… Etc.

This comes as a result of Yoga’s peculiar approach (at least in the world of physical training): In which you enter each posture not only to reach a physical goal but to truly take notice of where you are, right now, here on this mat.  

What is your body truly capable of?  Does it need rest?  Where do you feel the most sensation?  Are you clenching your jaw?  Can you take one more deep breath?  Can you relax anywhere?

The noticing is the beginning of the Change.  

Right now, my personal practice of Yoga is teaching me about vulnerability.  I often hide from my emotions, using physical or mental challenges to busy myself away from issues of the heart.  So you could say that it’s my practice of Yoga that’s given me a sense of Beginning this year…  

Here’s why:  As I mentioned, I’ve often gone about my practice by attempting to overtake each posture by sheer will and strength. (“I will get into headstand without a wall, I will not arch my back, and I will stay up there so help me until someone else falls down first!”)

I'm Fiercely Ambitious and Unaware!

Such focused ambition can be helpful in some arenas, but mostly what it does for me is block out anything unsavory.   By making my goals the only things that truly capture my attention, I give myself  a way out — A way to ignore the process, the moment, my actual life — with all its difficulties, questions, doubts, disappointments, and depression.  (I should note that I also wind up missing its joys, loves, inspirations, celebrations, etc…)

Choosing Not to Look.So as the year begins, I’m contemplating the idea of process.  In Yoga, I’ve seen that it’s possible to be fully aware of each moment, and to be truly kind to myself  — Even if I’m still on my way toward my “goal.”  

I’ve also seen that when it comes down to it, that very kindness is the whole point.  

And that it takes a lot more mastery than headstand.


Yoga, Eating, and Being Round-ish


Since everyone else is talking about it at this time of year…

At my heaviest, in college, I weighed 205 pounds — having been overweight since about sixth grade.  (High school and obesity is a sad combination; just fyi.)

My lifestyle these days is very different from anything I would have imagined at 18 years old, but I definitely still live with the physical and psychological effects of spending my formative adolescent years as a very round girl.  

I’ve now lost my excess weight, which was a hard-fought battle.  I am proud of the success; I think it’s good to acknowledge it — But to be honest, my road to weight loss was paved with self-hatred and exhausting self-criticism.  (Just because something is successful doesn’t mean it’s truly positive.)  

…When I encountered Yoga, it was its compassion and mindfulness that I found appealing.  I’d spent my life ignoring, depriving, and hating my body.  This exercise that invited me to look at my body, to listen to it, and to appreciate it — no scornful critiquing in sight — was utterly new… And very precious.

Child's Pose

Yoga invited several crucial changes to my physical body, my coping mechanisms, and my self-perception… Changes that are still very much in development.

And since they’re in development, looking in the mirror is still very tricky for me.  What I see is a combination of reality and of the images and ideas I formed about myself years ago.  

I still struggle with using food outside of its intended purpose(s).  Depending on the moment, it often  functions as reward, as comfort, as distraction, or as a poor substitute for self-kindness.


(Sometimes I think I’m being good to myself by eating a few cookies.  But if I was truly good to me, I’d give myself more rest.  I’d take deep breaths.  I’d notice the sunset, the air, the moment.  I’d laugh more often, I’d confide more often, I’d listen more.  But — I can’t.  I haven’t learned that kind of love or compassion.  I simply don’t yet place that much value on me.

So, when it comes down to it, a few cookies, a bag of chips, a bowl of M&M’s — They’re like throwing cheap presents at myself, hoping they distract me from seeing that I never spend time with me.) 

Offering Chocolate

And just so we’re clear, it’s not that there isn’t any genuine pleasure to be found in food.  It’s just that to find it, you have to truly be there with it.  Smelling it, tasting it, savoring it… Mindful & present.  You can’t be using it to get something or somewhere else.

Enter Yoga’s compassionate practice.  Namaste

What does Yoga have to do with eating?  With the pleasure of food, with being good to one’s self?

The practice of Yoga helps you learn to slow down, to embrace stillness and quiet, and to truly listen to your body.  You learn to be comfortable with the silent moments, and to hear what it is that your body, your mind, and your spirit really need.  

Through Yoga, you also generate a compassionate acceptance of your body — learning that who you are, right now, right here on the mat, is good and beautiful.  You can slowly peel away the habit of judging yourself against cultural standards, commercial images, or even your own expectations.  

Once you begin to accept and love yourself as you are, you can start to look at whatever emotional and spiritual hungers are driving you to find fulfillment, distraction, and/or comfort in food.  

Finally, using the steady strength, perseverance, and trust learned in the physical practice of Yoga, you can open up to these discovered hungers.  You can learn more about your real needs and then work to meet them in truly nourishing ways.  

Perhaps that will mean something as right-now as saying “no” more often, studying more about Journalingyour spiritual path, or calling a friend.  Maybe it means something as long-term as changing careers, examining a close relationship, or seeking professional counseling.  Maybe it’s a calling, a hobby, volunteer work, making time for family… It could be many things at once.  You’ll know what it is — what your body, mind, and spirit really need — when you take the time and make the space to listen.

And thankfully, Yoga can offer that time & space.

As far as eating goes, over time, your attention to your physical needs as well as your spiritual and emotional hungers will heighten your awareness of how you treat yourself: including what you put into your body.  Rather than choosing certain foods based on the restrictions of a “diet,” you’ll be inclined to choose healthier fare simply because it’s more nourishing.

Mindful eatingAnd when you do choose a few cookies, you’ll be able to enjoy them fully & mindfully — Not as a poor substitute for deeper human needs.  

For more on Yoga and the effects of the practice on eating, dieting, weight loss, and self-esteem, see “Why Yoga Works when Diets Often Fail,” offered by Yoga Journal Magazine.  An excerpt appears in my previous post.

Here’s to peace, health, and (truly) good food for all of us…

…And to a beautiful, mindful, and hopeful New Year!

Why Yoga Works…

From “Why Yoga Works when Diets Often Fail”

There are many reasons why people feel powerless over food and gain weight. I use food as emotional comfort or to calm my anxiety. Sometimes eating seems the easiest way to feed unfulfilled inner hunger. Often, people rely on fast food to speed them through their too-fast lives. Many simply ignore their bodies’ needs for nutrition and exercise. Regardless of the cause, yoga is an antidote for food oblivion—it slows us down so we experience the body and commune with the spirit.

If there are emotionally based reasons why a person eats unwisely, it may be that yoga—especially the relaxation—opens a channel for clearing those emotions. Varshell relates a student’s discovery after shedding 20 pounds: “This woman realized through yoga how many emotions she stored in her body. She usually stuffed those feelings with food,” she explains. “I’m convinced if you don’t allow yourself to release emotions, they’ll come out as rage, disease, depression, or excess weight.”

Lovely news for Yogis (and Yoginis).

It’s an exciting time to be practicing (and teaching) Yoga.  Every time I read health literature (or any kind of ‘trendy’ magazine), I find new research published that shows more ways in which Yoga is a glorious boost to one’s health: physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.

Yoga T-Shirt

Here are a couple recent finds from a random read today on the treadmill… Fabulous.

Taken from Fitness Magazine, December 2008  

Fitness Mag Website Screen Shot

Outsmart Your Fat Hormones:

Hormone Culprit: Cortisol

Wreaks Havoc: During stressful situations

The Science Behind It:

When you’re tense, your adrenal glands increase the release of cortisol, the infamous ‘stress hormone.’  Your body interprets the sudden surge as a response to a fight-or-flight situation, causing you to crave high-fat and high-sugar foods — meant to replenish the energy your body believes it spent warding off danger.  What’s worse, cortisol is also partly responsible for the unsightly – and unhealthy – belly bulge, a known risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, say researches from teh University of California at San Francisco.  ‘Because the abdomen has a greater density of cortisol receptors than other areas in the body, stress affects that tissue the most.  So eating sugary or fatty food in combination with high cortisol levels tends to cause fat to be deposited around your middle and central organs,’ says Emily Newman, Ph.D., lecturer in health psychology a the University of Edinburgh.

Your Outsmart-It Plan:

Exercise.  Elite athletes have lower levels of cortisol under stress than nonexercisers, find a recent study from the University of Zurich.  Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins that ‘signal to the brain that everything is okay, helping to drive cortisol production down,’ says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of The Female Brain.  Not a marathoner?  Yoga and meditation suppress the hormone too.  In fact, cortisol levels dip as much as 25 percent after just one 50-minute yoga session, according to the Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.  

CobraAnd another, from the same issue…

Get 5 Pounds Thinner This Month!

…Perfect posture is the easiest way to look as if you spent a week at a weight-loss spa.  To stand taller, start your day with yoga.  An hour and a half twice weekly for nine weeks added a centimeter to the stature of women, found a recent Temple University study. 

Yoga class, anyone?  Oh how I’d love to see you some more.  Cheers!

Tuesday, December 9.

The Tuesday review for the Interested…  

Our theme was Surrender: Being at peace with the body you brought to the mat.  Exploring the body, and allowing it, peacefully, to have whatever strength it has.  To see where your edges are, but once you’ve found those edges, to surrender to them: To not wish it was otherwise, to not become discouraged or irritated by your body or its perceived limits.

We began with some gentle stretches: the neck, twisting, cat/cow.  We added some hip circles, which help to loosen to the pelvic area and bring awareness to any tightness in the hip joints.  We did the Table Balance again, working not only on balance but abdominal strength, followed by Child’s Pose.

We explored rolling up onto the back of the head, very gently stretching the back of the neck.  After Warrior 1 finding Downward-Facing Dog a couple times (with Child’s in between for a lovely rest), we found the Full Warrior 1: Pulsing in and out of it in order to safely explore our edges and the amount of strength and balance we could bring to it that day. 

We also found 5-Pointed Star for the first time, followed by the Goddess Pose–

5-Pointed Star  

Goddess Pose…Which took us into Warrior 1 on the other side.  These are all ideal postures for building strength and confidence, which means they’re also great for learning Surrender.  Your body as it is has its limits, and this is not a bad thing.  It’s simply The Way It Is.  It’s a beautiful thing to feel strong and confident in your body, not because you’ve achieved a certain look to your pose, but because you’re truly feeling yourself IN that pose — Embracing the reaching, stretching, dipping, flexing, and breathing that’s happening.  Embracing it, enjoying it, appreciating it — However it looks for you at the moment.

We moved through a more full version of the Sun Salutation for the first time, which is lovely for raising the heartrate and warming the body.  And warmth throughout the body not only brings awareness to the muscles, circulation, etc, but it also allows those muscles to release a bit more easily.  Warmth also inspires the body into a deeper rest once Relaxation rolls around.  


We found the Tree Pose again, a great opportunity to Surrender.  In this posture, it can be easy to become irritated at yourself for being unable to stay balanced.  It’s a beautiful teacher — A beautiful opportunity to sense that ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  Your body is where it is today, and your ability to balance is not something to judge, but rather something to notice.  To appreciate.  To breathe through.  

Tree PoseWe finished the sequence with some belly-down postures, including Cobra and Half- and Full-Locust.  In these postures, rather than using our upper-body strength to thrust the body up, we focus on grounding through the pelvic bone and using our lower-back muscles to gently lift up.  Gently, so that we notice where our edges are.  So that the neck doesn’t crane back. (At least not yet!  Perhaps later on in the full version.)  And gently, so that the spine stays long and spacious, even as it enters into a mild backbend.  

Cobra PoseWe finished off with the Bridge Pose and a few leg stretches using a Yoga strap.  Bridge is another beautiful opportunity to Surrender: to see where the body can go, and then surrender to its limits, to its edges, with gratitude and compassion.  

Bridge Pose 1  Bridge Pose 2

In a beginning Bridge pose, the arms stay extended down the sides with the palms against the mat.  As in the second picture above, a straight line is created from the shoulders and chest through the knees.  As you advance in the posture, with increased strength and flexibility, the hands may clasp beneath the torso (as in the first picture above), and the body makes a bit more of an upside-down “U” shape from the shoulders to the knees.  The Bridge posture ultimately prepares the practitioner for Chakrasana, or Wheel Pose:

Wheel Pose

Thank you all so much for practicing, for finding compassion for your body, for taking time to be gentle with yourselves and for exploring your edges with me!  December 14th’s practice will post very soon. Meanwhile, take your five minutes today…


Sleep ToesHello friends,

It’s been a wholly beautiful week… My last few days have been deliciously consumed with Ellery’s holiday show with Ric Hordinski, which was as magical as we could have expected (and perhaps more.)  Justin and I are feeling particularly Grateful today… And it’s a great season for it.  

I’ll post Tuesday’s sequence for you very soon — (Our ‘theme’ was Strength vs. Surrender, and I think it may have been timely for all of us… More to come on that.)

But meanwhile… Rest.

This morning, I was listening to Buddhist teacher Ajahn Brahm via podcast, and he said, 

Five minutes’ investment in Rest will save you hours of time later on. 

He was applying this to the idea that in our culture, most of us work inefficiently.  We think that in order to meet our goals, to be successful, to become who we want to be, we need to work work work.  Because of this,  the ideas of rest and of taking time are nearly enemies.  With this mentality, we rarely show up for the present moment — The only one that ever really matters.

Sadly, the way that life truly works makes this harried lifestyle ineffective.  Which we tend to find counter-intuitive…

Ajahn Brahm mentioned a large company in London that recently tripled its clientele, doubled its profits, and retained all of its staff… Leading to its reception of a Best Business Practices Award that year.  When asked how the company achieved all of this, they said that they simply banned Overtime: No one was allowed to work more than 8 hours a day and no more than 5 days a week.  

Because of this, the employees were rested.  Their home lives were healthier, with improved family relationships.  And with more time to devote to family and to other interests, their time at work was devoted and positive.  The ‘office politics,’ often a result of simple fatigue and irritability, diminished — improving morale, cooperation, and productivity.   Employees’ work was more efficient because they had time — apart from the workday — to deal with their other obligations, family crises, etc.  And interactions between employees and business clients were positive, because the employees enjoyed their work.  As a result, clients enjoyed working with the company, and recommended it to others.  

All of this because the employees were cared for and rested.  The result was more and better work!


We’ve heard stories like this before, but I think most of us still feel that the busier, the more harried, the more stressed we are, the more productive we are.  And (perhaps?) even the more valuable we are.  

And with this busy-ness & time-consumption comes fatigue, irritability, destabilized/strained relationships… Not to mention the physical and emotional effects of chronic stress.  


We wind up with repressed (or not-so-repressed) resentment toward our work, even if it’s something we believe in, because of the other interests/passions/hobbies/relationships that it blocks out with its demands on our schedules & mental space.  

So there are many ways in which Ajahn Brahm’s thought is true:

Ajahn Brahm

* Five minutes’ investment in rest can give you mental clarity to assist your brainstorming– Cutting down on the hours you invest in a project, dilemma, etc.

* Five minutes’ investment in rest can lend the poise and peace of mind to deal with a confrontational person, a difficult situation, etc– Cutting down on the time spent mixed up in office politics, in apologies, in worrying about personal encounters, etc.


* Five minutes’ investment in rest is enough to break the pattern of chronic stress, lower your blood pressure, fill your lungs with oxygen, and release some muscular tension– Improving your immunity and your heart function and saving the time you may otherwise spend at home with an illness, in a hospital with heart problems, or dragging yourself through your work day with a common cold.  

* Five minutes’ investment in rest can help bring balance and rest to your mental state so that it’s easier to fall asleep at night.  Which means you get more sleep and have more energy the following day, which means that the work you do is better and more efficient.


* Five minutes’ investment in rest is enough to refresh your senses, bring you into the present, and inspire you with the power of the immediate moment.  It’s enough to remind you of your motivation for your work: what truly inspires you to put forth your effort.  It’s enough to remind you of your love for your family, your love for your fellow man, what really matters in life, the small-ness of problems that otherwise seem insurmountable… Not to mention your personal values & your faith.

Hands All of this can save time you may spend later on trying to make up for half-hearted work, or trying to repair or maintain difficult relationships that crop up as a result of negligence or stress.  It can save you time dealing with depression, apathy, listlessness… and/or years spent doing work from which you feel disconnected.  

Incidentally, just five minutes of Yoga has been proven to lower blood pressure, calm the nervous system, increase energy, release tension, provide deep rest (often better than a nap), improve sleep, improve digestion, improve mental focus and clarity, and even increase a sense of happiness and peace.  


In short, take your five minutes.  You’re too busy not to!


December 7, 2008.

Thank you fine friends for weathering the snowy cold for our Sunday evening class!

Our focus was on Balance: The balance in Yoga between effort and ease, between strength and surrender, between grounding and reaching.  

We began with some centering, neck stretches, seated quarter-moon… And then moved on to the Cat/Cow (or Cat/Dog), and focused on the “Dog-Tilt” of the tailbone: The scooping-up action of the tailbone when in the Cow position.  This scooping and pelvic tilt is the same action you apply over time to the Downward-Facing Dog: Tilting the tailbone toward the sky as the heart sinks low between the arms.

Cat/Cow Stretch         Down-Dog with Chair           Downward-Facing Dog  

After Puppy Pose (the modified version of Down-Dog, where we rest on our elbows) and Child’s, we moved on to Table Balance: From all fours, the right arm and left leg reach out from the torso in a straight line (then repeated on the other side).  Table Balance helps to engage the core so that there’s more stability… It’s a great balancing posture (obviously), and a great way to pay some attention to the abdominals.

Table Balance

We moved on to Downward-Facing Dog, trying it with that dog-tilt, bending knees and coming up on the toes to see if the spine could scoop in just a bit more.  Then we found Modified Warrior 1 again (on one knee), and then up to standing poses, beginning with Mountain.  We emphasized grounding down through the feet: Understanding that the more grounded we are, the further we can reach out.  (Note how true this is of life in general!)

We practiced the standing Quarter-Moon (leaning to each side), the shoulder-opener with straps, a standing backbend (paying careful attention to our individual bodies and surrendering to where we are now — Rather than trying to force into a pose).  We found a few Rag Dolls throughout the course of the class: Always great for releasing tension along the spine and shoulders/neck, and for complementing any backbends.  

We did some modified Yoga push-ups, (modified Chaturanga), spaced between Child’s Pose — The two of which comprise a great balance between effort and ease.  We were able to do several more push-ups when we had that rest in between them… A lesson that can also translate into life.  🙂


We found Warrior 1 for the first time in this series; thank you guys for going for it!  It’s a truly beautiful posture and a great teacher… It emphasizes the strength you have in you right now, regardless of how deeply into the posture you’re able to go at this point.  It teaches that you can feel strong in any circumstance: Your body can reach out in all directions at once.  You can breathe through challenges.  You will find rest afterwards.  All of this comprises a great life-lesson…

Warrior 1

We also did the Tree Pose for the first time in our series… A beautiful balancing posture that illustrates strength and groundedness, regardless of your level of practice.  It’s a beautiful balance between grounding through the standing foot and lifting up through the crown of the head, through the fingertips if they’re overhead… feeling the body light as air with the grounded stability of that standing leg.  

Modified Tree     Tree Pose

We found Child’s Pose again, and then Bridge Pose (lying on back with soles of feet near buttocks; lifting hips with arms at side or underneath torso).  This was another first for our series, and we’ll definitely do it again in coming classes… Like all Yoga poses, it’s a brilliant teacher.  If you’re breathing steadily, you can lift yourself much longer than you may originally believe that you can.  In addition, by bringing awareness to that same steady breath, you will notice when it becomes too labored, shallow, and/or rugged.  At this point, you can lower down and offer your body the rest it needs.

Bridge Pose

The goal in Yoga is to find your edge and to see if your body is ready to go just beyond it.  The goal is never to simply ‘endure’ — Any pose should be held with full breaths — though some may be shorter than others!

We finished with some supine poses using the strap: Leg circles (drawing circles on the ceiling/wall with your foot), and a side leg stretch to open up the groins.  Great opportunities to listen to your body and determine who you are on the mat today.  You may want to stretch further,  stretch differently, look differently in the posture.  But the mat is a place to surrender those wants, and to bring awareness to who it is that showed up on the mat.  This body, this moment — is just as it should be.  You’re exploring it, pushing it, accepting it, awakening it, putting it to rest.  That’s what Yoga is all about.

Oh Stress. We wouldn’t miss you.

So, friends.  

You and I, this season, working, shopping, promising, photo-ing, greeting, eating, partying, and still more working…

Feeling a little um, stressed? 

Yes, I thought so.  Here’s some fine news for us:

Child's Pose in Class

…But what happens when we experience moderate stress repeatedly, day after day? Our bodies activate the same emergency systems [as when faced with acute stress, like a car accident], although to a lesser degree. Unfortunately, when invoked chronically, physiological responses that help us cope with danger can become dangerous themselves. Suppression of digestion can contribute to gastrointestinal problems, and promotion of high glucose levels in the blood may contribute to diabetes. Constricted blood vessels, a pounding heart, and rapid clotting can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke. Suppression of inflammation can also suppress the immune system, making us more susceptible to infection and possibly even cancer. Chronic stress can also lead to infertility, poor healing capability, and exhaustion. 

Stress Busters 

Luckily, there are lots of ways to reduce stress or even to head it off in the first place. They fall into three main categories: changing your situation, changing your attitude, and taking good care of yourself. Changing your situation—getting a new job, moving to a new neighborhood, or leaving an unhealthy relationship—can be very effective, but it’s often not practical or even desirable. Changing your attitude—deciding you don’t have to knock yourself out working overtime to prove your self-worth, for example, or deciding it’s not your responsibility to make your partner change—can be very powerful, even life-transforming, because it puts you in control. When you realize you can choose how you react, many events you formerly found stressful may lose their power to push your buttons. Taking care of yourself—eating right, avoiding harmful drugs, exercising, making rest a priority, and scheduling time in pleasant environments with nice people—helps you recover from stress and keeps it from building up again. 

One of the best stress busters around is yoga. It directly counteracts both the physiological and psychological components of stress, simultaneously helping you take better care of yourself and change your attitude. The stretching you do in yoga relieves muscle tension. Upside-down poses and reclining poses slow the heart, relax the blood vessels, inhibit production of norepinephrine, and calm the brain. Pranayama (yoga’s classic breathwork) slows respiration. As you practice being more aware and mindful, you gain a sense of self-control, equanimity, and peace. Perhaps most important of all, meditation and the teachings of yoga philosophy can help you realize that most of the things that upset you just aren’t worth getting stressed about. 

–Roger Cole, PhD, taken from Yoga Journal: “This is Your Body On Stress.”

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