Monthly Archives: February 2014

2nd Chakra Flow – An Example Vinyasa Yoga Flow

Today I taught a second chakra flow at West Side Athletic Club, a beautiful gym in downtown Portland where I have taught for over three years now. One of my students requested that I share the flow here, so that she could practice again later. So, here’s my flow… Feel free to roll out your mat at home and practice this hip opening second chakra flow.

Seated rock the baby hip circles– one foot extended forward, bend the other knee & create figure 4 shape to stretch the hip
Easy seated fold — Take a cross-legged seat & fold forward. Put a block under head for extra support, relieve back of neck. Switch seat so other chin is in front & take it on the other side.
Stretch hamstrings by interlacing fingers under one foot, extending to sky, leaning back & lifting heart. Do other side too.
Cat/CowCome to belly, place forearms under shoulders, reach back with one hand and grab foot. Pull heel toward hip to find hip flexor stretch.

Sun Salutation Series
Inhale – Mountain
Exhale – Forward Fold
Inhale – 1/2 way lift
Exhale – Step right foot back to low lunge
Inhale & Exhale – Move right foot out to side & circle hips both directions
Inhale – Step back to plank
Exhale – Step other foot forward, outside of wrist, and make hip circles on this side, both directions.
Next Inhale – High plank
Exhale – High to half pushup (remember to modify here if needed by bringing down knees)
Inhale – Upward Facing Dog
Exhale – Downward Facing Dog
Inhale – Bend knees, lift heels.
Exhale – Step or walk or jump forward, big toes touch.
Inhale – Baby backbend (standing)
Exhale – Hands at the heart, Samastitihi

Warrior Flow
Transition to Downward Facing Dog
Inhale: lift right foot
Exhale: Scorpion Dog (bend top knee & stack hips)
Inhale: right knee to right tricep (rest of body is in plank)
Exhale: Step down to low lunge.
Inhale: Crescent lunge, bring hands high, back knee is down.
Exhale: Hands to earth, back toes tuck.
Inhale: High lunge.
Exhale: Side body stretch, right hand lowers while left hand reaches up and over to the right
Inhale: High lunge
Exhale: Warrior 2
Inhale: Reverse Warrior
Exhale: Extended side angle
Inhale: 5-pointed star, turn all ten toes to the left
Exhale: Wide legged forward fold, Prasarita.
Inhale: Halfway lift
Exhale: Turn to low lunge at top of mat
Inhale: Horizon lunge, turn all ten toes to right while right hand sweeps the horizon & reaches back
Exhale: Back to low lunge
Inhale: High plank
Exhale: High to half pushup/Chatarunga
Inhale: Up Dog
Exhale: Down Dog

That was the main flows for the class, we also focused on pelvic tilts, figure four balancing, half pigeon with torso variations, flowing cobra, bridge, and we ended with a delicious eagle leg twist. I LOVE teaching this class (and all my classes)! If you’re looking for yoga for the second chakra, these poses are great because they open the hips.

<photo: Via Nessman on Flickr Creative Commons>

Yoga Inspiration: Rumi’s Poem “The Water You Want”

As a yoga instructor I am inspired by books, art, music, poetry… not to mention popular culture, stuff I see on Facebook, Pinterest boards… ha! There is inspiration all around us these days but sometimes it comes at us so fast that we can’t catch anything solid. For a long time in my life I have been looking outside of myself for guidance. I’ve been waiting for a guru–waiting for some signpost that I’m on the right path, and that there’s some series of steps I can follow to create the life of my dreams. But I’m learning that my own fate can’t be prewritten, and that my own inner map must guide my journey.

A poem from Rumi that I’m sharing in tonight’s CoreRestore at CorePower Yoga its on this point. Wait for that last line… it’s a doozie.

The Water You Want

Someone may be clairvoyant, able to see
the future, and yet have very little wisdom.

Like the man who sees water in his dream
and began leading everyone toward his mirage.

I am the one with heart vision.
I have torn open the veil.

So they set out with him inside the dream,
while he is actually sleeping
beside a river of pure water.

Any search moves away from the spot
where the object of the quest is.

Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way.
Maybe some traveler will wake you.

Give up subtle thinking, the twofold, threefold
multiplication of mistakes.

Listen to the sound of waves within you.

You are dreaming your thirst,
when the water you want
is inside the big vein on your neck.

What if all of us are walking around with our own salvation/happiness/peace already inside!? That’s what yoga teaches. That we are simply removing veils of illusion, polishing mud off the diamond until our true divine selves shine through.

If you see me in class this week, chat with me about this poem. I would love to hear your thoughts! (Once an English major, always an English major.) And if you feel like you’re running ragged these days, I heartily recommend silence and stillness. That’s where you can listen to your own heart song.



Weekly Preview: Themes for my Portland OR Yoga Classes

Photo credit: J.F. Marerro, Flickr, Creative Commons LicenseSometimes I go with the flow in my yoga classes, letting students’ requests and my own intuition guide the practice. At other times I plan my classes out, with a theme of my own in mind. This week I am practicing the latter. Here’s what you can expect in my Portland-area yoga classes for the week of February 24-28, 2014.

Monday 2/24/14
12:00-1:00pm East/West Yoga: 3rd Chakra. Imagination, will, discipline, the fire in your belly that drives you to make your dreams reality.
5:30-6:45pm Prenatal Yoga @ Zenana Spa: Grounding practice with a focus on the 1st chakra.
8:15-9:15pm CoreRestore @ CorePower Yoga NW: We will release tension in the shoulders, using the props to sink deep and gently stretch fascia. Also deep hip stretching.

Tuesday 2/25/14
9:45-10:45am Mama Fusion:
1:05-2:00pm WSAC: 2nd Chakra. Pleasure, creativity, flow. We’ll focus on the sacrum, pelvic bowl, and hips.
4:30-5:30pm Tiny Tots Yoga @ Zenana Spa: Adventure to the moon. Mindful looking. New relaxation tool for savasana.
8:15-9:15pm C2 at CorePower Yoga NW: Cross-body lymph cleansing. Plenty of twists, with emphasis on pumping the lymph nodes down the inside of the legs & arms. Great practice to prevent colds!

Wednesday 2/26/14
12:00-1:00pm East/West Yoga: 4th Chakra. Love, compassion, joy, service. Arms & hands will figure large as they are considered extensions of the heart. We’ll also use back bends, side bends, pranayama and mudra to open the heart.
3:30-5:30pm French American International School: Adventure to the moon, mindful looking. Older kids will finish mandalas. Younger kids will play the feather breath game.

Thursday 2/27/14
1:05-2:00pm WSAC: 3rd Chakra. Imagination, will, discipline, the fire in your belly that drives you to make your dreams reality. Triumphant Ujayii breath will figure large. Plenty of core & twists too.
7:30-8:30 C2 @ CorePower Yoga SE: 1st Chakra. Grounding, elimination, nourishment. Scarcity vs. Abundance. Focus on legs, feet, large intestines, bones.

Friday 2/28/14
3:15-4:00pm PreK & K Kids Yoga @ Harmony Montessori: #2/5. Trip to the zoo, mindful belly breath, breathing buddies, learn Sa Ta Na Ma.5:30-6:30pm Pre/Post-Natal Restorative @ Zenana Spa: 1st Chakra focused class with plenty of grounding postures.

As you can see I’m up to my eyeballs in the Chakras right now! I like to teach chakra series at least once a year. The chakras are loci where the body’s energetic pathways come together. Energy tends to get stuck or flow too fast in these vortices of energy. I appreciate going through the chakras at least once a year, to assess my own place in relation to each one. Like a series of psychological mirrors, we can use the chakras to uncover our own mindless habits in the different aspects of our lives. I hope you can join me this week for class.




< Photo credit: J.F. Marerro, Flickr, Creative Commons License >

Kids Say the Wisest Things

My kids yoga students never fail to amaze me. It’s a cliche among yoga teachers that we learn more from our students than they do from us, but with the little yoginis it’s really true. This afternoon I was teaching a group of six elementary school students. All of them have had at least one semester of yoga with me, so I’m starting to direct their attention to yoga philosophy. For instance, today I introduced the Sanskrit word “Svadyaya,” which refers to yoga’s concept of self study. Then we went around the circle and said in one word how we felt, as a way to “study” our emotions.

After doing the Sun Dance (a kid-friendly version of sun salutations), we settled back in for a second mini discussion about yoga. I had written two questions on the board. Below each you’ll find my students’ responses.

1) Is yoga new or old?
–Old! At least 3000 years.
2) Why do we practice yoga? What is the point?
–Because it’s awesome!
–Because it makes us flexible.
–It makes our bodies strong! Muscles get bigger when you do yoga.
–Because it makes us calm.

Now the quick answer for the first question was from a girl who has been taking yoga for at least two straight years. The answers to the second question really impress me! Indeed, they represent the different layers that many adults discover as they practice yoga. Americans are often drawn to yoga initially as a great way to exercise. Improving flexibility or strength are typical goals. And with all the slick advertising around yoga, it makes sense that people would be drawn to it as something “cool” to do. But for many yogis I know there is a shift toward practicing for more internal reasons–because it makes them better people, ultimately. Better, kinder, more aware human beings. As I like to say in my classes, human beings, not human doings.

Another “Aha!” moment came during craft time. The kids were coloring mandalas, and I was explaining how monks in Tibet create intricate, beautiful sand mandalas, which they allow to blow away and disappear. Right on cue, one student asked why the monks let the mandalas blow away, and instead of answering I turned the question around on them. Why do they let them blow away, do you think? I asked. “Because then the beauty goes everywhere!” one girl answered.

It is moments like that that overwhelm me with gratitude for this life!