Yoga and Earth Day

As many of my students and friends know, I naturally struggle with one-legged balance poses. Because muscularly and neurologically balance requires practice, several years ago I made practicing one-legged balance poses a priority. Through this regular practice, I’ve become better at them (although still not what I would classify as good).

Similarly, I’ve recently found myself enjoying a regular meditation practice. I’m still just at the beginning of this practice, but already I can feel myself becoming more grounded and less affected by the sway of events around me — my mind is becoming more balanced.

In this context, I’ve been thinking about how Earth Day too is about balance and practice.

Specifically, the observance of Earth Day is about taking time to think about how to bring our modern life into balance with the requirements of the environment. Without constant awareness of our effects on the environment, humans will tend to exploit the natural world around us to bring short-term comforts. To break ourselves of these tendencies, we need to practice balance.

So today, in honor of Earth Day, begin a new practice that will bring you more into balance with the earth. Don’t worry about how big the impact is of the specific act: turn off one more appliance every evening, begin to air dry your clothes, or eat lower in the food chain one day a week. The important thing is to view this new practice as a permanent change — something you will practice the rest of your life.

By increasing your balance with the natural world a little bit every day, you will not only be reducing your negative impact, you will be expanding your practice of yoga.

Happy Earth Day!


Double Dog Blog Post on Chaturanga Dandasana

Friend and fellow blogger Julia Kalish of Double Dog Yoga recently posted a great piece on the common and challenging pose chaturanga dandasana. Check it out here.

Julia has photos of how the pose should look if done properly and common mistakes, as well as a succinct, easy-to-follow description of how to do the pose.

I would like to add that it is important to support chaturanga dandasana from your back (the lats specifically) and your core and not just from your upper front body (the pectorals, etc.). If you’re relying only on your pectorals and triceps to support you, you most likely don’t look like the first picture on Julia’s post and you could be putting your rotator cuffs at risk.

Thanks Julia for the great information!


lululemon — ambassadorship and free event april 30

I heart lulu!

I am not a shopper. I just don’t like any kinds of shopping except one; acquiring new yoga outfits. my weak excuse is that it’s work clothes for a me, and I get to write it off of my taxes…

I have had several tops and pants from prana, be present and lesser known (i.e. target) brands I have liked over the years, but I still remember my very first lululemon top. I found it in 2002. it was navy, and I had to have it. I must have worn it hundreds of times, but it’s still in good shape after all those washes hanging in my closet. I wear a different size now, but that is the only reason why the top is in retirement. I will probably give it away some day or maybe not. it’s when I sorted out my kids’ baby clothes a few years ago and could not part with a faded blue jeans jumper from baby gap…and now my “baby” is 11 and my height. so I am keeping that navy blue top as well. I still remember many of the classes I have taught in it, the students I have met and connected with.

when we moved to germany a few years ago, I was very dismayed to find out that there is no lululemon store in europe. how come? what am I supposed to wear then? at that time there was no on-line store (it is available now, yeah!), and we were not coming back to the usa that often. I survived the first 2 years without a “fix”, then we came back to Boston during the summer of ’07 when I celebrated a “special” birthday. what should the extended family give to someone for that occasion? obviously a lululemon gift certificate! I spent a few hours at the store, spending the very generous gift I received, and more. I just love lululemon clothes; they are stylish, functional and last forever. What’s not to love? I practically live in them 24/7, being a full time yoga teacher/mom. they are perfect for me. the company itself is very impressive as well, if you are interested, please check out their website,
I even went that far to ask my husband’s college roommate, who happened to be part of the VC firm to take lululemon to public a few years back, who I can make contact with at the company to bring lululemon to germany….mind it, I have no retail experience at all.

shortly after we came back to the usa, I submitted an online application to lululemon to become one of their ambassadors. I figured I had been spreading the words about their “components” for years anyway, why not make our relationship legal? the very next day (coincidence?) I met the tysons store manager at a studio I have been teaching, and lovely andrea and I had a nice chat. one thing let to another, and now I am a proud lululemon ambassador.

I will be teaching a free community class at the lululemon store at tysons corner on thursday, april 30 at 12 noon. if you come to practice, you get 15% discount at the store! a good deal and it’s fun! please let me know if you have any questions!


Yoga as a Remedy

More and more, people are beginning to practice yoga based on a need to address a physical issue. On their doctor’s advice or based on friends’ recommendations, students often first come to yoga classes to find relief from low back pain, hip issues, scoliosis and other problems.

While yoga’s origins are philosophical and mental rather than physical, the now common use of the physical aspect of yoga is being extended beyond general fitness to be seen as a remedy for physical problems. And, although yoga can definitely improve misalignments, build muscle, and increase flexibility, simply participating in classes is not necessarily a path to recovery.

Recently I attended a weekend workshop with Elise Browning Miller, a senior Iyengar yoga teacher and expert on yoga for scoliosis. Much of the weekend was general practice, but Sunday afternoon she focused specifically on yoga for scoliosis.

Since scoliosis is asymmetric by definition, practicing yoga to address the condition involves modifying poses differently for each side of the body. The result can be that the two sides of a pose are practiced in dramatically different ways and may be held for different lengths.

The session with Elise Miller got me thinking about teaching not only in the context scoliosis where every pose should be individually tailored to the student’s physiology, but more generally about teaching when yoga is being used as a remedy.

In a private or semi-private session, a teacher can feasibly tailor the practice to address physical issues such as scoliosis; however, a group class environment does not allow teachers the time or structure to present an optimal practice for every student’s individual needs.

So, does this mean that students with physical issues should not attend group classes or should look outside of yoga for relief? I don’t think so. Rather, I think that students with physical problems just need to be more informed and mindful about their practice than other students.

Specifically, I recommend the following:

  • Research the physiology of your issue and understand what is happening with your body as completely and specifically as possible. You don’t have to become a medical expert, but the more knowledge you have, the more you will be able to make appropriate decisions about what will benefit you.
  • Research or talk with experts about how to modify your yoga practice for your issues. There are books available on many specific topics that can provide a good basis of understanding. (I know of books for arthritis, scoliosis, one written by a teacher with MS, and I’m sure there are many more.) You might also consider a one time or periodic private session with an expert yoga teacher to learn appropriate modifications and to create a personal practice that meets your needs.
  • Talk to your regular yoga teacher about your issues. Even if your teacher doesn’t modify the class practice, he or she might be able to provide individual modifications or advice and will be supportive when you practice differently than other students.
  • Create a regular home practice of poses that will address your specific problems. Once a week in a group class is probably not enough to provide a remedy.
  • Finally, make sure that your practice is always your own. Don’t be afraid to practice a pose differently than everyone else. Don’t be disruptive to the class, but don’t feel embarrassed that your pose doesn’t look like everyone else’s. Especially, don’t feel pressured to do something that you know will aggravate your issue just because everyone else is doing it.

By becoming educated and staying mindful, you can maximize the benefit you gain from your yoga practice in addressing your individual issues.

[For anyone interested in yoga to minimize the effects of scoliosis, I definitely recommend visiting Elise Browning Miller’s website ( for books, DVDs, and her workshop schedule.]