Outline of My Yoga Workshop This Weekend

I am on the way to Massachusetts to a yoga retreat I am facilitating called "Portable Yoga: A Thousand Yoga Tools To Live your Best Life".

It is my intention to offer the tools I continue to use for my practice because they help, in daily life. Today. In a practical way.

There are many little details that can be absorbed throughout the workshop and I hope people who are coming will benefit.  I am grateful for all the participants making it in on the cold weather.

This is the outline:

Introduction:

Welcome, and congratulations on taking time for exploring the depth of this moment through yoga. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we go through the workshop:

-       Keep hydrated
-       Be punctual for all classes
-       Commit to our weekend so you can get the most out of it
-       Eat very light in the morning (since we will have yoga and pranayama)
-       You can eat a more fulfilling meal at lunch when your digestive fire is at its peak
-       Allow yourself the space and chance to slow down
-       Never force.  Always respect your body.
-       Respect your rhythms
-       Go within while we are practicing so you can access your inner silence and let others access it too.
-       If possible try to evacuate your bowels in the morning
-       We will observe functional speech after we retire at night and until we join together for class in the morning

The First Four Yoga Sutras

1.1 - Atha yoga-anuśāsanam
Now we start the exploration, study, and practice of yoga.

1.2   yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ
When you are in a state of yoga, all fluctuations of the mind cease.  We are in a state of integration.

1.3   tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe-'vasthānam
Then we reside in our true SELF

1.4   Vṛtti sārūpyam-itaratra
Otherwise, misconceptions skew our perceptions.

Practice

We will explore chapter two of the Yoga Sutras through practice on Saturday and Sunday

SCHEDULE

7:00 – 8:30 AM Breakfast (try to keep it light)

8:30 to 11:30 AM
Saturday Morning Portable Yoga Program

-       Contemplation
-       Portable Yoga Asana Exploration
-    Pranava Japa (Repetition of OM) to find the seat, and to quiet the mind.
-       Practice of Pranayama - Breathing
-       The Mental Muscle of The Yoga Practice

11:30 to 1:30 Lunch

1:45 – 3:45 PM Saturday Talk. Mantra and Silence:

-       Interview and Q&A with James on the Yamas and Niyamas
-       Mantra  - The Gayatri: Why?
-       Sitting In Silence (5 minutes)

3:45 to Dinner Time: Reflection time on your own – Suggestion: Journaling.

5:30 to 7:00 PM Dinner

8:00 to 8:30 PM Saturday Night Program:
-       Chanting
-       Trataka
-       Relaxation
-       Silence (Functional Talk)

8:30 PM Sleep and rest

SUNDAY

7:00 – 8:30 AM Breakfast (try to keep it light)

9:00 to 11:00 AM Sunday Morning:
-       Contemplation
-       Asana
-       Pranayama
-       Recap
-       Questions And Answers

MORNING OF SATURDAY

The Poses

Sun Salutation A
Sun Salutation B
Standing Forward Bend
Triangle
Airplane
Transition
Dandasana - Sited with extended legs
Sited Forward Bend
Transition
Janu Sirsasana (Head to knee)
Transition
Marichasana C modification
Transition
Boat Pose
Transition
Baby Back Bend
Full Back Bend (Wheel)
Sited Forward Bend
Shoulder Stand
Headstand – Or Wide Angle Forward Bend (standing-modification)
Sited breathing
Lotus exploration
Relaxation pose

The Pranayamas

Breathing Oceanic, three part-breathing

Pre-Nauli 

Agni Sara

Jivha Bandha 

Kapalabhati (Skull shinning) it is not hyperventilation, it is a fanning of the sacrum, sacred area. 

Ujjayi

Sitali

Rest

The Mental Part of The Practice:

Why?

-       Sharing ideas is the currency of the 21st century. 
-       When the idea muscle is exercised it sweats, giving it a better chance of relaxing later on, when in need of silence.
-       Ideas are the way out of being stuck

Waiters’ Pads Distribution

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Talk with James Altucher

The five Yamas of Patanjali  - Restrains

1.         Non-violence, or ahimsa
2.         benevolent truth, absence of falsehood , or satya
3.         Non-stealing, or asteya
4.         Spiritual advancement by learning and practice. Some traditions associate it with celibacy. Or brahmacharya.
5.         Non-appropriation, absence of avarice. Or aparigraha

The Five Niyamas of Patanjali - Observances

1.         Cleanliness of thought, mind and body. Traditionally, this item is listed under Yama; this word means purity. Or Saucha
2.         Happy satisfaction; good contentment. Or Santosha
3.         Spiritual effort; austerity. Or tapas.
4.         Self study. Or svādhyāya
5.         Surrender. Or ishvarapranidhana

The Gayatri Mantra:

Why?

All teachers on the lineage of Krishnamacharya (grand-father of all of our current styles yoga) devote pages and praises to the Gayatri Mantra.

For example: Krishnamacharya himself chanted the Gayatri mantra while holding his breath in pranayama practice

Pattabhi Jois  (as Sharath told us candidly in conference) would sing it one hundred and eight times a day. 

B.K.S. Iyengar recommended it for japa, or mantra singing, to help with concentration.

Swami Sivananda had this to say about it:

"Gayatri is the Mother of the Vedas and the destroyer of sins. There is nothing more purifying on the earth, as well as in the heaven than the Gayatri. The Japa of Gayatri brings the same fruit as the recitation of all the four Vedas together..."

The Mantra:

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devás yadhī mahi
dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt

What It Means:

We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may it inspire our intuitive intelligence.

In the Media:

The Gayatri Mantra is the opening song (arranged by Richard Gibbs) for the television series Battlestar Galactica.  Here is the beautiful YouTube video:

Benefits ascribed to the Gayatri mantra include: (as per Virasami Pastor’s book which I found in Mysore, South India)

-       Vitality
-       Light
-       Toleration
-       Strength
-       Riches
-       Reputation
-       Divine Effulgence
-       Material objects
-       Age
-       Countenance
-       Name
-       Fame
-       Breath
-       Juices
-       Food
-       Desired object
-       Nourishment
-       Attendants

SATURDAY NIGHT

-       Chanting Gayatri Mantra
-       Trataka Practice
-       Relaxation

Benefits of Trataka:

2.32 of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika says "Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway to these problems".

Some of the benefits associated with Trataka include:

·      Improves eyesight and vision.
·      Improves concentration, intelligence and memory.
·      Enhances self-confidence, patience and willpower.
·      Calms the mind and provides inner peace and silence.
·      Brings greater clarity in mind and improves decision-making ability.
·      Helps to overcome mental, behavioral and emotional ailments.
·      Provides stress relief and deep relaxation.
·      Deepens the sleep and cures sleep related disorders such as headache, insomnia, nightmares, etc.
·      According to Gherand Samhita (shloka 5.54), Trataka promotes clairvoyance or perception of subtle manifestations.

SUNDAY MORNING: Making the Practice Your Own

-       Contemplation
-       Asana
-       Pranayama
-       Questions and Answers









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Tony Robbins Gives Me An Amazing Yoga Tip

I'm a lucky girl, I got to meet Tony Robbins in his house in Florida because James was interviewing him for his podcast, and because of the release of Robbins's latest book: "Money".



[If the video is not showing here is the link]

Tony has been an inspiration to me since forever. And meeting him in person was amazing, because he exudes positive energy.

Now, if you told me a few months ago that I would find an incredible yoga tip in a book called "Money" I would be suspicious, but there it was, on page 42... in black and white.

The tip was so shocking to me that it left me thinking about it for days and inspired me to make a video.

When the interview was finished and Tony Robbins agreed to have a photo with James and myself I disconnected the equipment as quickly as I could and ran behind him to thank him for writing that special story on page 42.

I told him how it had made a difference to me, especially because of my practice, but really in the way in which I look at life as a whole.

He was happy that we had read and paid attention.

I hope you get as much of an AHA! Moment as I got from it.

To order Robbins's book you can go here:

http://youtu.be/g0KIHUJcXys

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YOGA: How Do I Motivate Myself To Practice Day After Day - 3 Suggestions

Paula shared her frustration with the repetition part of the asana practice.  Do you sometimes feel like quitting? she said.  I think is fair to say we've all been there at some point.

As per me,  I find that the rigidity is mostly  of the "mind" because the mind gets bored easily.  And it wants out.


[If the video is not showing, here is the link]

I also find that when the mind gets "bored" it is probably because a break-through or a deepening is happening.

Leaving the practice could be counter-productive at a time of discomfort because it is exactly when things are shifting.

So, to continue with a daily and dedicated practice, and yet keep it real, I do three things:

1.- KEEP THE RITUAL AND DITCH THE PRACTICE FOR THAT DAY

On days when I cannot practice it because my mind just WON'T, then I do the "ritual", meaning that I set up the mat and get ready, take one breath or do just one sun salutation and that is it...

I stop right there.

So I keep the ritual, and ditch the practice, for that day.

I get to keep the "container" and the "sacred space" so that whenever the energy or the urge to practice returns everything is ready.

2.- READ INSPIRING YOGA LITERATURE

The energy of other practitioners, funneled through books, stimulates me...

For example I recently read (and interviewed) David Keil's Functional Anatomy Of Yoga and the book proved to be a gem.

Little tips from the book helped me go within, into the body, and concentrate as I practiced.  I tell a little tip in the video that is making all the difference.

Not only that but I learned new ways to approach poses and correct some mistakes.

There are also books on philosophy that inspire me, like Light on Life by BKS Iyengar among hundreds of others.

3.- GO TO A NURTURING YOGA RETREAT

When I find myself bored or not wanting to practice, that is exactly the time when the practice is about to get deeper, and a retreat helps me...

I choose retreats carefully.

I go to teachers I respect and that know a lot more than me, then I feel this nurturing... this new insight, this time to forget the world and go within.

I am grateful for the questions that people send me here and I hope this inspires you to keep getting on the mat, to practice and let all the rest come.  Because it does come.

Here is a previous question I received at AskClaudiaYoga with the video answer:

How Do I Roll Over My Feet (from down dog to up dog and vice versa)

Stay tuned for "TheYogaPodcast.com" coming up in January.



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One Word That Can Make You Or Break You

 I just managed to make James upset. “Don’t interrupt me every time I say that word”, he said.

“Please” he said, “I lose my train of thought”.

He was sweet but firm. And I’m an idiot.

It all started at a workshop in 2006 where the facilitator had us simulate a gag reflect until we would almost vomit every time we heard ourselves say the word “should”.

For four days I felt my stomach turn every time I uttered the damn word.

At first it was uncomfortable, then we were all laughing, then it made sense…

“Should” is what I think is true because someone else convinced me (I should go to college I should buy a house, I should have a baby before 35)

“Should” hides unexplored territory. It means I’m at the mercy of uncommon sense.

“Should” means I’m scared.

When I type: ‘define should” into Google, the #1 response is: 

Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions.

Should is always a criticism of me, done by me, and based on what someone else thinks. 

YIKES

“I shouldn’t come across as too pushy, or determined”   GAG

“I shouldn’t talk about that”   GAG

“I should seek permission first”   GAG

And being a woman doesn’t help.

500 years of burning at the stake make for a vast collective source of anxiety and “I don’t know if I should take a chance”.

Time to appease that fire.

Ever since the seminar I’ve changed the word.

Now I use “CHOOSE”

- I choose to be determined. And how I come across is none of my business.

- I choose to talk about this.

- I choose to ask for permission where applicable.

“Choose” shifts the responsibility from “what they think”, whomever they are, back to what I can control.

I choose implies I make my own decision.

James types away on the other room, he is always writing. That is what he loves, and I respect that.

And from now on I choose to stop the “should” harassment.

I choose to let him use any word he wants.


He is a freaking writer.

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How Do I "Roll Over My Feet" When Transitioning From Up-Dog to Down-Dog and Vice Versa?

Julia asked me on AskClaudiaYoga how exactly does one roll over the feet when transitioning from up dog to down dog and vice versa. 

I am grateful for the question. Thanks Julia!



[Link to the video in case you can't see it]

For starters, the way we align our pushup position (before we go into upward dog) is important. 

These are some things to keep in mind:

I recommend entering the push up (chaturanga) from plank, because that allows the alignment of wrists with the shoulders and provides information for the distance between the hands and feet, which is important.

Then instead of going down, just bend the elbows and keep them close to the torso (I know, hard!) 

Once In Push-Up (chaturanga dandasana) keep these in mind:

- Wrists aligned with the shoulders
- Arms next to the torso, very close
- Tail up (not falling)
- Balls of the feet and hands are the only thing touching the floor
- Feet close (about hip distance apart but no more)
- There is a modification where the knees can go on the floor if it is to hard for the beginnings
- Remember to breathe

Then...

Moving towards upward dog, the chest goes forward and upwards and this makes the rolling over the feet, as you will see in the video easier...

In Up Dog keep in mind:

- Wrists aligned with shoulders
- Elbows slightly bent ( a tiny bit )
- Neck relaxed
- Thighs off the floor
- Back of the feet on the floor
- Chest moving forward and upwards
- Head rolling back
- Mouth close (lips together)
- REMEMBER: you are stretching the whole FRONT of the body. 

Always remember to breathe because yoga is a breathing practice

From here, to roll over to down dog what I do is use the tailbone and sacrum leading me UP towards the ceiling.

The spine follows and then it becomes more understandable how the rolling of the feet happens.

For some people it might be a bit painful, and I've seen some do one foot at the time. That is OK for a while but best not to build bad habits...

Enjoy and ask me anything at AskClaudiaYoga.com

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David Keil's Amazing: "Functional Anatomy Of Yoga" Book Review

I just interviewed David Keil for "The Yoga Podcast' (launching in January- He will be the guest of the first episode).

To prepare for the podcast, I read very carefully his latest book "Functional Anatomy Of Yoga, A Guide For Practitioners and Teachers".  

And I also watched all his DVDs again.   

That was a LOT of anatomy in one week!


My copy before I filled it with
post-its
And I have to tell you it had a PROFOUND effect on me.

For starters, it slowed down my practice, way down, because at every pose I would remember tiny bits of information and go:

 "Ohhh... THAT is what he means", 

and then move onto, say, "revolved triangle" and go "Ahhh... There is where the thoracic spine gets to twist!" and on and on and on and on....

The first part of the book where he goes over the terminology is a bit dense for me because I have very little knowledge of all the muscles and tendons and ligaments and joints.  

It helps, however, that some of the muscles have latin names...  Go figure, one advantage of being a Spanish speaker.

But once you get pass this first section you find that it is important to go through those first pages because just like in yoga practice, once you get the foundation right, you start to "fly" with the material.

One thing I really liked about the book is that from the very early pages he starts to integrate the anatomy into what that means for a pose, for you and me. Today.  

If you read it I can guarantee you will have to put the book down and strike a pose, just to try, test, and experiment.

I like that.  It is incredibly practical and focused on yoga.


And I am about to tell you a secret, and no, I don't get a commission.

The secret is that if you get both the book AND the DVDs on Anatomy (see review link at the bottom) then you get a 3-D experience. Why?

Because it's as if David comes into your living-room and you find yourself pushing your hands into your stomach trying to find your psoas, and then you can't help it and you HAVE to try that back-bend preparation. And down the anatomy rabbit hole you go!

The book is not only thoroughly researched and slanted, yes, towards yoga practitioners/teachers, it is ALSO challenging...

For example:

He has one part (and I paraphrase) where he questions the reader point blank.

He says:

"What is it I hear you say? You say you tried to do the hand-stand for 8 years and still nothing? Really? Don't you think maybe it's be time to change your "approach"?

And I laugh. 

Because he is right. 

I HAVE tried for 8, well maybe 6 years, and it IS time to change approach, but I had never read this book before. 

In my defense, it was not published yet. Now it is. Lucky us. 

I tried hand-stand yesterday and I was amazed at how FAR a little understanding can go. James tried it too (against my advise) because my excitement over so much learning got to him too...  

And on that note... I have to say James just got his first "head-stand".  I think I am happier than he is about that, and believe me, he IS happy.   So feel free to congratulate him on Twitter.

Back to the book, take for example this little nugget I got today (I am reading it a little bit each day because it would be hard to take it in all at once)

You know how a lot of people spray out the feet on back bends?  And you know how every yoga teacher worth its weight will tell you to keep the legs parallel as much as possible? 

Well David explains to me that the hip flexors don't like the feeling of the legs parallel, so they resist it.   

THAT is why we "avoid" it and open the feet out.

Same with the shoulders.  

When coming up into a wheel or backbend... if the elbows go outwards, they are "avoiding" doing the real work that has to happen.

Isn't that something?  Just that was worth the price of the book for me. Of course he explains all the terminologies which I don't remember right now.  I will have to keep returning to the book again and again.

HERE ARE THREE THINGS YOU CAN TAKE FROM THIS REVIEW

1) What the book did to me:

A) It re-introduced asana practice for me.

For example, in a basic pose, like standing, just "standing" (toes touching heels slightly apart), if I simply lift my toes, that awakens the muscles around the lower part of my leg (tibia), which in turn informs how my quadriceps and hamstrings are aligned, and my pelvis, and how I stand, how I walk, how I move, the position of the spine, how I think and how I even live...

Wow.

B) I FINALLY understand triangle pose. 

Finally GET WHY it is that the alignment has to go the way it goes... I used to just repeat what I was told, now I get it. So when I am on the mat, my body takes on a whole different meaning.

The yoga mat is a playground now.

C) The book made me love my body a lot more 

Because I now understand how amazing it is.

Just to notice, for example, that the hips hold two-thirds of the weight of my body, and that the tissue and ligaments that hold the leg together to the hip are so strong you could not pull it, even if 3 people were pulling, because it won't break, gives me a whole new level of respect.

2) Anatomy for Specific Asanas = GOLD

He has a section at the end of the book where he integrates all the anatomy lessons into the asanas. That is gold. For anyone who practices. 

3) It inspired me to ask LOTS of questions to David

When he was on the podcast yesterday, I had about 20 questions (and they kept coming), and they still keep coming.  

His approach is humble and fascinating, and I hope you hear the episode (I will post when it launches in January) so you can experience his humor, depth of knowledge, and great ability to make anatomy accessible for yogis and for everyone, really.

You can get the book here.  

P.S.: It is best if you buy it from this link because this helps David get paid for the years of work he put into this (even if not much (publishing books is not a way to get rich)) but at least a bit.

David's Website
Here is my review of David's "Hands On Adjustments" DVD
Here is my review of David's "Anatomy" DVD 
Davids's Facebook and Twitter

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