Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Moon Salutations at YogaLife Institute July 21, 2014

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:24 pm
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Last week I went to a Wednesday night asana lab at YogaLife Institute. I’d never been there before, but I was excited about the topic of the seminar: moon salutations.

YogaLife is a little far from me – out in Devon, it’s about a 40-minute drive, plus a little extra on the way there with traffic. They have a nice large space with an area for shoes, a waiting room and shop, and it looked like several studio spaces, plus offices and a kitchen. In addition to being a yoga studio, they also produce Yoga Living magazine, so the office space makes sense, but it’s definitely a larger operation than most of the studios where I’ve practiced or worked!

I was really interested to attend the seminar on moon salutations, since I know very little about them. The seminar was really interesting – Kristen had us move back and forth through short portions of the sequence, from one pose to the next then back again, to help build some muscle memory and help us remember the sequence. We also did some simple stretches to help us gain awareness of the pelvis that we could then bring to the sequence, and did some group work too. Overall, it was the sort of class where I left my notebook on the floor while we practiced, then picked it up immediately afterward and scrawled frantically to try to get down everything I remembered. I found it really informative and fun, and the Wednesday night timeslot actually fit into my schedule! I’m looking forward to coming back here again!

The way Kristen taught the moon salutation was very different from the sun salutation many of us are so familiar with. Moon salutations are much more about movement: less about hitting the right pose in the right way and more about transitioning from pose to pose with awareness. Where sun salutes rely a great deal on upper body strength, moon salutations work the lower body, especially the pelvis. The group activities we did were intended to highlight the fact that, once we each got used to the sequence, each person did it a little bit differently: one woman’s transitions revealed the flexibility in her hips, while another’s movements left room to spare discomfort in her troublesome knees, and still another person moved very rhythmically, with small adjustments in each pose that set him up to flow seamlessly to the next. There’s no one way, and no wrong way, to do a moon salutation. I really liked the emphasis on fluidity and the uniqueness and beauty of each individual’s practice.

Here’s a graphic showing the sequence of poses. I don’t think it would help for me to list the asanas in order, because it’s less a list of postures to do in order and more like a dance, which I think the graphic emphasizes. If you try it at home you might make your version a little different. The squatting transition from one side to the other is particularly an area where the sequence will vary depending on the body of the practitioner; I also found a spot where I naturally wanted to insert half-moon pose (ardha chandrasana). I found this was a fun sequence to play with, and a perfect addition to my short 5:30 am yoga sessions. I hope you enjoy it too!

Moon Salutation

 

Mother’s Day Yoga Class May 19, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:24 am
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I taught a Mother’s Day class! Well, not on actual Mother’s Day, it was during my usual Tuesday class time – but it was a class designed for moms, with lots of fun partner poses for moms attending with their offspring (although offspring had to be at least 12 or older – that would have been an entirely different sort of class). It was a small class, but a lot of fun!

Here’s the sequence I taught:

And here’s the playlist I created for the class. I tried to include music with a lot of feminine energy, both specifically mother-related and just general girl power tunes; I pulled from both my yoga music collection and pop music. I was pretty happy with the overall playlist – my only sadness is that I made it long enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of music, but instead there were great songs we didn’t get to!

Mother’s Day Class Mix: 18 songs, 1 hour 27 minutes

Track No. Song Title Duration Artist Album Notes
1 Ong Namo 10:03 Snatam Kaur Grace I’ve only just discovered Snatam Kaur. This is a nice light song for the minutes before class begins.
2 New Beginning 5:33 Tracy Chapman New Beginning I like the idea of Tracy Chapman kicking off a yoga class.
3 Sons and Daughters 5:18 The Decemberists For obvious reasons.
4 High on a Mountain Top 2:42 Loretta Lynn Van Lear Rose Loretta Lynn has a great spoken-word song on this album about her mother, poor and desperate, stealing a pair of red shoes for her when she was a little child. A spoken-word song wouldn’t work for a yoga class, but that’s what made me think to pull a Loretta Lynn song for this class.
5 Holiday 4:06 Madonna The Immaculate Collection Because Mother’s Day is a holiday!
6 Girls Just Want To Have Fun 3:56 Cyndi Lauper The Essential Cyndi Lauper For obvious reasons.
7 Ice Cream 2:36 Sarah McLachlan The Freedom Sessions What Mother’s Day would be complete without ice cream?
8 Comptine d’un autre été : L’ap 2:21 Yann Tiersen Amélie Soundtrack Because Amélie is one of the girliest movies I’ve ever seen, but without being trite or predictable.
9 32 Flavors 6:07 Ani DiFranco Not A Pretty Girl More ice cream.
10 Never Knew What Love Meant 5:22 Lotus Lotus A yoga album, but it felt appropriate.
11 Harbor 4:24 Vienna Teng Warm Strangers One of my all-time favorite songs. When I listened to it in the context of a mother-child love rather than a romantic love, I got all teary.
12 Dante’s Prayer 5:25 Loreena McKennitt Live in Paris and Toronto (disc 1) I thought Loreena would be a good pick to include, and this is a light and beautiful song (although I could do without the 30 seconds of people clapping at the end of the live track – but the studio version has monks chanting, which didn’t feel right for Mother’s Day).
13 River, Run 3:46 Suddenly, Tammy! (We Get There When We Do.) My favorite obscure band! Love this song.
14 Beloved 7:05 Anoushka Shankar Rise A great yoga song.
15 True Colors 3:48 Cyndi Lauper The Essential Cyndi Lauper I had to include this one. I often sang this to my YB when she was a tiny baby. In this class, this ended up being the savasana song, which I liked.
16 Green Island Lullaby 3:17 Vienna Teng Warm Strangers This is just a lovely lullaby, in Teng’s family’s native Taiwanese.
17 Yemaya Assessu 3:34 Deva Premal The Essence I love Deva Premal’s version of the Gayatri Mantra, but this is a lighter, less serious chant. Friendly-like.
18 Bliss 6:59 Yogini Putumayo Presents Yoga The final song on the excellent Putomayo yoga collection. I included it here just in case I was running out of music and needed a little more for savasana. Apparently I needn’t have worried!

 

 

Yoga Workshop at the LepreCon March 31, 2014

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:10 am
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Two weeks ago I had a great opportunity to give a yoga workshop at my church. Every year the youth group holds a retreat/sleepover over St. Patrick’s Day weekend (they call it the “LepreCon”, haha). My friend Warren, a social worker and therapist, was giving a workshop on meditation, and he asked if I’d be interested in giving one on yoga (later I found out that Warren had done both last year and his yoga portion had been semi-disastrous, so I was doubly glad I’d agreed to help out!).

I only had half an hour, so I began by talking a little about the benefits of yoga (physical, mental, and emotional), emphasized how a yoga pose should be both comfortable and steady, and described how to use your breath as a guide to where you are in your yoga practice. Then I led the group through a brief series of basic core postures and through a guided relaxation. Warren then took over and led us through several meditation exercises: diaphragmatic breathing and three-part breathing, staying focused in the present moment, and a four-part loving kindness meditation, in which we sent forgiveness and compassion first to ourselves, then to a loved one, acquaintances or strangers, and finally to someone who has hurt us. It was a really great experience, both leading the yoga portion of the workshop and participating in the meditation exercises.

Here’s the sequence of yoga postures I taught:

  • Basic Warm-up: < 5 minutes
    • child’s pose
    • cat/cow
    • down dog
    • standing forward fold
  • Standing Work: 10-15 minutes
    • mountain pose
    • 2 half salutes
    • 1 salute low lunges
    • 1 salute high lunges
    • warrior 1
    • warrior 2
    • triangle
    • standing poses other side
    • tree both sides
  • Cool Down: < 5 minutes
    • seated forward fold
    • knees to chest
  • Savasana/Guided Relaxation: < 5 minutes

And here’s the playlist I used. In planning the workshop, I was torn on whether to include an extra song or two just in case; I decided to leave them out, so as to help me stay on target with timing, but as it turned out I could’ve used an extra two minutes of music. So this is the playlist I wish I had used. It runs about 29 minutes.

Song Title Artist
Cherry Ratatat
Jahta Dance DJ Drez
Runaway Beats Antique
Drop Cornelius
Katamari Stars Katamari Damacy Soundtrack
Bliss Yogini
 

Holiday Yoga Class Sequence and Playlist December 27, 2013

Filed under: music,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 11:37 am
Tags: , ,

Hey there, friends and fans of yoga. With all the holiday cheer going around lately, I haven’t had much time for blogging. So here’s a quick update:

My holiday themed yoga class on December 17 went wonderfully well! My Tuesday night class has not been particularly populous since I started teaching it in October, so I was hoping I might get five or six people – about that many had emailed to say they were coming. And then on the 17th, it was snowy and slushy and cold, and I worried no one would feel like going out. Well, my five or six people showed up, and then a few more people arrived, and then there were five more people coming up the stairs, and we packed the room! It turns out that the yoga studio at Wellness on Park can fit about 14 people (15 if the last person is Donna and she squeezes herself into the corner by the door without a mat), and sadly we even had to turn away a few latecomers. It was fantastic! We had a great friendly group that included three mother-daughter sets, which I absolutely loved. The class was a lot of fun to teach and everyone seemed to enjoy the holiday energy.

Here’s the sequence I taught (I had planned on a few more things but I had to adapt and think on my feet since some things, like legs up the wall, were obviously not going to work with the number of people we had in the room):

Warm Up

  • Child’s pose
  • Cat/cow
  • Thread the needle
  • Downward dog
  • standing forward fold
  • mountain pose

Sun Salutations

  • 5 half sun salutes
  • 2 salutes with lunges
  • 2 full salutes

Standing Sequence

  • warrior 1
  • warrior 2
  • triangle pose
  • revolved triangle
  • extended side angle
  • revolved side angle
  • pyramid/head-to-knee pose
  • prasarita
  • Repeat sequence on the other side

Balance!

  • tree pose
  • quad stretch
  • dancer pose
  • repeat balance sequence on the other side

Cool Down: Seated

  • Garland pose/squat
  • Staff pose
  • Seated forward fold
  • Upward plank
  • Janu sirsasana
  • Janu sirsasana with a twist

Cool Down: Reclining

  • happy baby
  • bridge pose
  • reclining twist
  • savasana
  • Brief meditation

I tried to focus on heart-opening poses and on centering and balance poses. When it’s cold out, we tend to round the shoulders and hunch down into ourselves just when we most need to open the heart; I wanted to include an element of centering and balance because the holiday season is tough on the body and drains energy, even if we love all the celebration. I wanted people to feel relaxed and refreshed and ready to tackle all the gift wrapping and caroling and parties to come.

And here’s the playlist for the class’s music. A few of these songs I might cut for future classes – “The Winter Solstice” by Sufjan Stevens in particular didn’t work for me – but overall I was really happy with the effect.

Song Title Artist
all that I want The Weepies
Maybe This Christmas Ron Sexsmith
Wintersong Sarah McLachlan
What A Year For A New Year Dan Wilson
anorak christmas Sally Shapiro
The Winter Solstice Sufjan Stevens
Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas eels
Christmas with the Snow Marah
Holiday Vampire Weekend
The Christmas Song The Raveonettes
Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time! Sufjan Stevens
Christmastime Smashing Pumpkins
12.23.95 Jimmy Eat World
Snow Loreena McKennitt
Snowman Suddenly, Tammy!
The Peace Carol John Denver & The Muppets
Sweet Secret Peace Neil Finn
Song For A Winter’s Night Sarah McLachlan
Christmas In The Room Sufjan Stevens
The Atheist Christmas Carol Vienna Teng
Hilli Amiina

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday, no matter how you celebrate.

 

vinyasa class sequence October 4, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:19 pm
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My first class at Wellness on Park on Tuesday was a lot of fun! My favorite massage therapist Sarah and her lovely daughter came out to share their practice with me. They both really seemed to enjoy the class (and Sarah wrote such a kind note on her Facebook page!). It was also great getting to know the new studio space! Next time I’ll remember to bring my own music. 🙂

My class on Tuesdays is an all-levels vinyasa class. Before I started going to East Eagle, vinyasa was the main form of yoga I practiced, but since starting my teacher training, I’ve stuck pretty strongly with a classical hatha practice. I feel a little rusty in my vinyasa practice – I don’t feel like I can freestyle it the way I can with hatha – so I’m going to try to make a plan or road map for class every week. This week’s class ended up being, basically, a hatha class with a bunch of vinyasas thrown in, which was perfect for the students I had. Here’s the sequence we did:

Warm-up:

  • childs pose
  • cat/cow
  • tabletop balance
  • down dog
  • fwd fold

sun salutes:

  • 2-4 half salutes
  • one full salute, low lunges
  • one full salute, high lunges
  • 2 standard sun salutes
  • chair
  • forward fold/gorilla pose

standing work:

  • warrior 1
  • warrior 2
  • vinyasa
  • warriors other side
  • vinyasa
  • triangle
  • revolved triangle
  • vinyasa
  • triangles other side
  • vinyasa
  • prasarita
  • goddess

balance: tree pose

cool down:

  • squat
  • cobbler
  • upward plank
  • forward fold
  • upward table
  • boat
  • seated twist

reclining/inversion:

  • knees to chest
  • bridge
  • savasana

I’ll probably riff off this basic outline for a while until I get a bit more confidence with vinyasa style. I’m hoping to get to a vinyasa class in my area sometime soon to experience a class from another teacher’s perspective; I’m also going to do some more research over the next few weeks to explore more sequencing possibilities.

Resources for further reference:

Come out to my Tuesday night class and see what I come up with next time!

 

15-Minute Sequences: Heart-Opening August 27, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:20 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s Heart-Opening sequence is the last in the series, and I’m really excited to share it with you. This sequence will probably run a full 20 minutes, so start out gently with a low cobra and bend more deeply as you warm up. I hope you enjoy it!

My playlist: Krishna Das, “Namah Shivaya” and “Mahamantra Meltdown” from the album Pilgrim Heart

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.

 

15-Minute Sequences: Strength August 26, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:30 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. I designed today’s sequence, Strength, to focus primarily  on upper body strength, as well as core and legs.

  • child’s pose
  • dolphin pose
  • dolphin plank
    • feel free to move back and forth between dolphin and dolphin plank several times to really feel the effects of these poses!
  • downward dog
  • standing forward fold
  • mountain pose
  • 2 half sun salutes
  • 2 basic sun salutations  (emphasizing a hold in plank pose and lowering down slowly into chaturanga)
  • standing sequence (taking a vinyasa after each pose):
    • warrior 1
    • warrior 2
    • extended side angle pose
    • repeat the sequence on the other side
    • after the last vinyasa, stay in downward dog
  • side plank
  • downward dog
  • crow pose
  • seated forward fold
  • in a comfortable seated position, take five deep breaths (or three-part breaths)

Note: Due to family circumstances this past week, I still haven’t practiced this sequence myself – if you try it, let me know how it goes!

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.