Yoga And Breathing To Relieve Back Pain - Event in NYC Tue Dec/2

This is an opportunity to learn a few tips that can alleviate and sometimes even eliminate completely any back and neck pain from your life.

I am offering a special 2-hour workshop in NYC (in the mid-town area) on Tuesday, December 2nd from 5:00 to 7:00PM.

I hope you are around and can join me.  The session is great for preventing and avoiding all future back/neck pain.

The location of the event will be emailed to you after you sign up, within a week before the event, but it will be in the mid-town area of Manhattan. You can register here.


This is a practical yoga workshop for anyone who experiences back and/or neck pain from time to time.  For example if you sit (or stand) for long periods of time (i.e.: at work and/or while commuting)

It is also good if you happen to feel stiff in the mornings but the pains go away throughout the day, or if you experience general back or neck pain but you have many periods when you don't feel it. Meaning that the pain is temporary.


1) - A dynamic/short demonstration of the anatomy of the back and neck, and WHAT causes pain,  (Short lecture style)
2)   The ONE THING you need to know to AVOID ALL FUTURE back and neck pain
3)   We will practice together 6 easy and safe exercises proven to relieve back pain.
4)   We will also practice 6 easy and safe exercises proven to relieve neck pain.
5)   We will practice 3 simple breathing exercises to help the back be well supported and healthy
6)   BONUS: You will receive a FREE autographed paper back of the WSJ Best Selling book: "The Power Of No" because learning to say "no" to distractions and things that are not good for us is KEY to keeping a healthy back, neck, body and mind.

[Here is the link to the event in EventBrite]


The workshop maybe informative but not necessarily helpful if you have a herniated or dislocated disk, or a metallic or any other implant in your back or neck, or a chronic case of permanent back pain.
In a those cases you will probably benefit more from a doctor, and I am just a yoga teacher focusing on preventing and alleviating mild pain.

It is also NOT a good idea to come if you think it's an opportunity to pitch something to James. 


a) A yoga mat.   If you don't have one get this one for under $18. Because It does the job, it won't break the bank, and its all you need.  Or borrow one from a friend.

b) A good disposition and sense of humor.  We are doing yoga! 

c) Oh, and also, come in with comfy clothes... So you can relax and breathe easy.

P.S.: If you think someone else may benefit from the event please share it, forward it, tweet it... It's all good.

Hope to see you at the workshop.  Here is the full Eventbrite page for it.

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To The Voices That Say I'm Not Good, I Say...

To the voices that say: "It's crazy to call yourself a success",
I say,
   "There seems to be a crazy here, but it's not me"

To the voices that say "you are not worth it",
I say,
   "I disagree, but I know how you feel"

To the voices that say: "you are fat"
I say,
   "I have substance, and I know how to use it."

To the voices that say: "You have an accent"
I say
   "Yes, and it is elegant"

To the voices that say: "You are just fishing for compliments"
I say
   "I can see how you would see it that way"

To the voices that say: "I wish you would die"
I say,
   "Oh dear! It must be hard to feel so envious

To the voices that say: "There is nothing special about you"
I say,
   "I'm sorry you are short of sight"

To the voices that say: "You will die one day! You know?"
I say,
   "I've died so many times, I'm sure I'll be allright"

To the voices that say "You are not smart enough"
I say,
   "Oh but I am wise! Well beyond my ears.

To the voices that say "Your stomach is too big"
I say,
   "Yes, because I am a beautiful woman"

To the voices that say "You are getting older and you ain't pretty"
I say
   "There is beauty in giving life in new ways, in writing form-in dancing form-in painting form-in speaking word-in yoga pose, in any form!"

To the voices that say "You are not a prodigy and never will be"
I say,

To the voices that say: "it is not good"
I say,
   "It is"

To the voices that say: "You are not allowed, authorized, permitted"
I say,
   "Oops! Think I lost that memo.

To the voices that say "It has been done"
I say
   "It has not been done with my special touch yet"

To the voices that say "You have no proof"
I say,
   "I don't need proof for what works for me"

To the voices that say "There is no god"
I say,

To the voices that say: "You should shut up"
I say,
   "Oh men, you are in for it."

To the voices that say: "Yes you can"  -   I say:   "Thank you!"

To the voices that say "You can trust your voice" -  I say:   "Ahhh, f'course...Duh!"

To the voices that say "keep going, keep trying, keep at it"   -  I say:   "I will! I am!"

To the voices that say "There is talent here"  -  I say: "Yes! You are quite right."

To the voices that say "you are strong" I say:  "Thank you James"

To the voice that says: "Don't publish this, I don't know if you are really the embodiment of this", I say "Publish"

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Yoga Hack: Getting to Touch your Toes in a Sited Forward-Bend

You probably heard that the body is NOT stiff... the "mind" is stiff...

Pattabhi Jois said that, and he was right... And that can be proven by this lovely little hack.

If when sited, as you attempt a forward bend, you cannot touch your toes, you can have a partner (in this case James, thanks J) touch your feet while you grab THEIR hands...

See the photo below where James helps me in two different versions. (If you can't see the photo click "display images" on your Gmail)

On the left photo  he is hovering over me and the palms of his hands are touching my feet while I grab his wrists.

On the right photo  he is in front of me (less intimate form) and his fingers are touching my feet while I hold on to his thumbs.


The mind cannot distinguish what is it that is touching the feet... It cannot tell that it's not my own hands that are  doing it... Even as I clearly see with my eyes that it is James doing the touching.

Mind blowing ha?

And so the mind gets trained into thinking that it has the "type of body that can touch its toes or feet in a sited forward bend"...

And as the mind gets flexible... so does the body

Of course that is always keeping alignment in check and all the rest... Watch the video below for the full talk on forward bending, and thanks to Priscilla for asking me to go deeper into this mind blowing hack.

[If you cannot see the video here is the link]

For those of you in the New York area remember that I am teaching five more classes exploring the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga at Sky Baby Yoga in Cold Spring NY.  These are the dates:

Saturday,  October 4, 2013   -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM
Saturday,  October 11, 2014 -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM
Saturday,  October 18, 2014 -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM
Saturday,  October 25, 2014 -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM

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Yoga: Start Practicing with these 3 Profound Poses

My friend Cheryl asked for the 'impossible':  3 poses (and only 3) to get started with yoga...

I get it though, she is a NY Times best-seller author, a fully booked coach, as well as an international public speaker, not to mention she writes, every, single, day... So ... yeah, I get it, she only has a few minutes.

And so, after much thinking I came up with this short sequence which, even though is less than 10 minutes long, contains huge benefits for the body, mind and spirit.

[If the video is not showing click here to see it]

I am grateful to Cheryl for the question and quite happy that she liked it.

Ever since she shared it on Twitter the video has gotten 700+ views which is a cause for rejoice on my part, as I hope many more people catch the same bug of stretching and breathing and getting into this yoga thing.

For those of you in the New York area remember that I am teaching five more classes exploring the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga at Sky Baby Yoga in Cold Spring NY.  These are the dates:

Saturday,  October 4, 2013   -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM
Saturday,  October 11, 2014 -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM
Saturday,  October 18, 2014 -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM
Saturday,  October 25, 2014 -      9:15 Am - 10:30 AM

I am also facilitating a weekend retreat of yoga including asana, pranayama, and kryas at Kripalu in November.

P.S.: My favorite book by Cheryl Richardson (who asked for the video) is The Art Of Extreme Self-Care because I realize I need to take time to do things that nurture me if I am ever to be able to give.

You can't  give what you don't have, so here is to YOU, hoping you take advantage of the short sequence and enjoy some yoga.

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Join Me For A Free Ashtanga Yoga Exploration Class 9/20/14 in Cold Spring

Come to SkyBabyYoga in Cold Spring this Saturday, September 20th for a FREE exploration into the Ashtanga Yoga world.

This (below) comes from their web-site, I hope you can make it…  And remember if you are in the NYC area, the Metro North train leaves you right at the doorsteps of the studio.

A FREE kick-off class to celebrate the start of a new six-week series in the practice of Ashtanga with Claudia Azula Altucher.

Come to this open-level exploratory Ashtanga yoga class in which we will go over the most beneficial poses of the primary series at a moderate pace and with plenty of modifications, so that everyone can participate and enjoy it.

You will get all the benefits of a hundred years of a traditional practice in a friendly and inviting environment:

- Open level (everyone is welcome and no prior experience with yoga is necessary)
- Learn a dynamic sequence that challenges but also 'blisses you out'
- Lots of modified poses so that nobody is left behind
- A breathing practice that meets you exactly where you are
- A sequence that you can take home with you - For life
- We will have an open mind and an attitude of fun to get the most juice out of the practice
- We will do the traditional opening and closing chant together

Hope you can join me.

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10 Things I Learned From BKS Iyengar --- Honoring His Passing

BKS Iyengar has passed away, and it is sad to see someone we grew up with as a yoga "teacher of teachers", pass.  

I want to remember him with 10 things I learned directly from him, which for some reason stick in my imagination and never leave me.  

Weather I learned them from books or from hearing them from a You Tube video, he had this magic as he spoke where his words resonated.


When Iyengar asked his teacher (non other than Krishnamacharya) to teach him pranayama (the fourth limb of yoga where we learn to extend/control/retain the breath), what did the teacher say?

The big K said "NO" to him, because Iyengar was too sick and not ready.

What did Iyengar do?  Did he give up? No way!

He spied on him, used mirroring-neurons techniques to study and see how he should practice by copying what the teacher did.

Then he studied by himself.  There is a YouTube video going around where he takes a one minute inhale and a one minute exhale.

Nothing stops us when we want to learn.  There is ALWAYS a way.

Some might say he did not respect tradition. 

But he looked at ancient sources, he observed his teacher, and he did the best he could. And millions learned from it. 

Including me. Thank you BKS Iyengar. 

When we love and are passionate about something much larger than ourselves we lose all sense of prohibitions and man made rules. We just have to do it, and so he did.


Don't forget that the word "practice" implies there are periods you are practicing for. Iyengar had great balance between practice and life. 

If we do not take time to restore the nervous system after practice then we run the risk of being agitated, or jittered. It's not worth it.

Iyengar was always about the entire body, the entire spirit, the entire life. Your life, our lives.


He said once that although his book "Light on Yoga" had a suggested  3-year course on yoga he could also have written it as a 10-year course on yoga.

Because he did not know it would take so long for some students (like me) to progress... 

It's not about speed or achievement. It's about Yoga.


"When I practice, I am a philosopher, when I teach I am a scientist, when I demonstrate I am an artist" BKS Iyengar.

Within practice his focus is on the highest...

But when teaching, precision and determination, proof of what works, that is what counts...  and when he is showing the practice, then it is art in movement and art in stillness.

Practice leads to skill, leads to minute appreciation of the subtleties of how yoga interweaves with body and spirit. This is the art of yoga.


When I think of a lion I think of a big animal that roars and scares me.  

He was known as "the lion", that is Iyengar's reputation.  

He was very strict in classes, he says, because he wanted people to be disciplined and to respect the form of the practice.

Every time I remember him while I am on the mat I tend to try a pose again, or do it with more intention, or stay in it longer.  Such is his effect. 

Always go a tiny bit deeper each time, not just in yoga but in everything in life. 


In one of his latest interviews he said that yoga is a science and like any other, it must be explored by all of us, the students that come after, the next generation.

It is our responsibility to keep on going deeper with it, finding the balance between what we learn and what we "download" from divine intelligence as we practice.

To believe that yoga needs to be static and never change is simply untrue. It's not real.

Everything changes.


He used to do as many backbends as years he turned, every year.

I've not been able to do this.  Maybe I am lazy.  Maybe my back is not there yet.  Maybe I am different.

I am different.

But I admire him for this, for challenging himself to keep his back young. This is how he played. This is how you live to 95.


"One way to test how difficult pratyahara (the fifth limb where we withdraw the senses to make room for concentration) is to go for a walk and at the same time try not to comment or judge or even name what you see or smell:  

"Even on a country walk, though you might  be able to stop yourself from saying: beautiful, it will be almost impossible not to let yourself name the objects -teak tree, cherry tree, violet hibiscus, thorn bush, etc."

Ever since I read that I try appreciate nature with my whole body and mind and not just my brain that likes to name things.  It is not easy.

Not naming things and rather BEING with them is quite the challenge.  I think I will try that today.


I'm not sure if I counted them all. But Iyengar wrote at least 22 books on Yoga that I could find. 

For Iyengar, Yoga wasn't limited to the mat. He lectured, he traveled, he wrote, every day until his death. 

Whatever you are interested in, whatever you do that can change the world, let it infiltrate every area of your life until you breathe and live it and all around you can benefit from it. 

That is what Iyengar did for Yoga. That is what I hope to do in the areas of my life I am passionate about. 


That comes from Light on Life, one of his latest books:

"The yogi steps towards death fearlessly like a soldier who would be ashamed to cling to life, and like a saint because he is already part of the Oneness that he has recognized as the Supreme Reality"

We are afraid to die because we are afraid we have not lived... 


We must live!


Light on Yoga
Light on Pranayama
Light on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Light on Life
Light on Ashtanga Yoga
Core of The Yoga Sutras
Path To Holistic Health

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"The Power Of No" Is $1.99 (80% Discount) For This Week

Publishers don't usually do this, so I am grateful to Hay House for offering the book for less than a [Starbucks] cup of coffee...  And of course, I wanted to spread the word.

I hope you get it because this is a once-in-a-life-time offer as I have no control over the price.

I don't much like writing short posts like this that only talk about a price reduction, but the reality is this is quite a steep discount, so I wanted you to know.

Okay, the link on the photo won't work because blogger is not letting me add a link to the photo... But, you can click here to get it.

And... if you read or have read the book, I would love it if you left an honest review in Amazon, because it helps me with rankings.  

Don't have a Kindle?

If you don't have a Kindle reader that's not an obstacle because you can download the "kindle app" in your phone or in any device, and read it "on-the-go" for less than what a Starbucks coffee costs.

For example, you can get the app for Android or I- I-Pad... It's that easy.  Even better, you can now read from your very computer with the cloud reader.  

You can get the book here.

I hope you are having a great summer and great, warm practices.

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