Why should you do a workshop?

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Before I was a teacher I was a student, and the great thing about yoga is that I am forever a student. Just because I received my 200 hour certification does not means I am wiser than every student in who isn’t certified. Actually, I learn the most from my students! If you have never made it to a workshop my hope is that I can convince you to try one!

Workshops are a great way to gain additional knowledge on specific postures or different aspects of yoga that you are trying to improve on. In most yoga classes you either plow through the postures, or you might not see the same postures for a month or two. Plus in a studio class it might be hard to ask the teacher a specific question during or after class, because other students might already have their ear or the teacher is already heading to his/her next class to teach.

When I was a new yoga student I took a  bunch of workshops. For example one of the workshops I took was all about working your bandhas. This was a workshop that specifically worked on bandhas and how to activate them in a bunch of postures, which is difficult to teach in an everyday yoga class.

Another workshop I took was about Kundalini Yoga. I have always loved deepening my knowledge in asana work and learning about different forms of yoga is a great way to do this. I have always shied away from the softer practices, so I thought I would take a leap a try this Kundalini workshop. I was skeptical at first, but the instructor was amazing and greatly increased my knowledge on breath work and meditation! What I learned from this workshop helped my greatly improve my asana work.  So, I eventually took two more!

Most people think that you can only take workshops for the well-known, nationally renowned yoga instructors which can be hard to come by and expensive. However, that is not the case. If you do your research, you will often find that local yoga studios offer workshops regularly with their teachers. Sometimes these workshops are offered at the normal drop-in rate if you register which is a great deal for students to learn the ‘right’ way to do a posture or sequence or explore a new type of yoga.

I encourage everyone in 2017 to do some research and try to take a workshop or two to help deepen your yoga practice! If you are in the Philadelphia or DC metro area, you can take one of my upcoming workshops (click here for my schedule) or check out the yoga group on Facebook that lists out many of the workshops being held at all the local studios.

I hope to see you at one of my workshops!

Have you taken a workshop? How did it help your practice?

Don’t forget to follow my yoga journey on Instagram and Facebook.

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Why Yoga?

Whenever I tell people that I am a yoga instructor I almost always get the same response — a very confused look and a very surprised WHAT!? There is a disconnect between the many reasons that people actually to do yoga and a lot of reasons why people THINK other people do yoga. Some people have a preconceived notion that you either have to a) be a hippy whose ultimate goal is enlightenment or b) have to be super flexible and at least be able to touch your toes. Those things might be true for some people, and being flexible is certainly helpful, but not necessary in order to benefit from a yoga practice.

I’m not here to convince you that once you roll out your yoga mat in your next yoga class that you will have this ultimate connection with the universe that will let you know how to touch your toes.  Here are some questions I want you to think about if you haven’t tried yoga.

  1. Have you ever drove home from work and mysteriously forgot the last five minutes of your drive?
  2. Have you ever had a workout session that you couldn’t concentrate on because your mind was jumping around to everything else but your workout?
  3. Have you ever bumped into someone, something or just total missed what was right in front of you?
  4. Have you ever at work or at home was just in the zone and got a lot of things done on your to do list, then the next day it just seems impossible to concentrate on that to do list?

If you answered yes to any of those questions then yoga can definitely help you out. If you answered no to all the questions, well you are better off than most but yoga can still help!!

A yoga class can be a scary thing especially to a beginner or even an experienced beginner. You walk into a class and it either seems intense or you find yourself watching Cirque du Soleil. Everyone in the yoga studio was a beginner at one time and was just as scared as you are, even the teacher had to start somewhere!

The most simplistic answer I think I can give for why you should do yoga, is to pay attention. That is what all those questions above have in common and I find that most mistakes in life happen when we do not pay attention. Meditation is simply practicing concentration or paying attention. The physical exercise is an added bonus.

I know life can be tough and cause a lot physical strains on your body. A yoga class is a moving mediation, the postures you go through in any tradition or level of class are designed for you to pay attention to your body (and not the yogi on the mat next to you)!

The next class you make it to listen to the teacher for the posture cues then just concentrate on your breath. Don’t think about how much your hamstrings are yelling at you. Just pay attention to your breath and acknowledge whatever pops into your brain, then breathe it a way!

Easy enough, give it a shot a let me know how it goes!

Don’t forget to follow my yoga journey on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Tonics and Elixirs

It was about a year ago when Northern Virginia got hit with a blizzard, and I got extremely sick. This wasn’t going to work for me because my son was about two months and my wife was about to go back to work. I probably bought out CVS’s cold supplies and was still sick for about a month. That was a lot of cold and flu medicine that I made repeat purchases on. I might as well have had a weekly subscription on Amazon!

I decided to try some more natural remedies since the over-the-counter stuff just wasn’t doing it for me. Fortunately some of it helped and now I am converted to a natural remedy believer (hey — if it works!!) Below are the tonics I use when I start to feel under the weather!

Fire Cider

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Fire Cider was the fist step in my conversion toward natural remedies. It was about midway through my sickness last year that my wife’s friend told her about Fire Cider and Oregano Oil. My first thought was I don’t want to try this hippie crap, but I was desperate. I begrudgingly drove to MOMs organic and bought the ingredients. The dosage was three times a day of one tablespoon of Fire Cider and four drops of oregano oil. At the end of the second day I felt better than I did the first couple of weeks taking the over the counter medicine. This hippie crap is not hippie crap, it is an excellent tonic that saved money and most importantly WORKED in the long run!

 

Brad’s Prevention Tonic

 

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I found another great tonic from BonAppetite.com, called Brads Prevention Tonic. This tonic is great for taking when you are in the beginning stages of your sickness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 2″ piece peeled ginger
  • 1 1″ piece peeled turmeric (optional)
  • 1 sprig mint, lightly bruised
  • 1 sprig tarragon, lightly bruised
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 full dropper Quantum Cold & Flu Liquid Extract (about 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 full dropper elderberry liquid extract (about 1/4 tsp.)
  • Splash of unsweetened cranberry juice (not from concentrate)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

The Golden Elixir

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The last tonic I’m going to talk about is a morning tonic I use. The base of this tonic is warm lemon water, best drinking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  Here is the recipe that I got from yoganonymous.com, and the changes I made to it:

Ingredients:

  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp raw honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Pinch sea salt (I get a little fancy with pink Himalayan Sea Salt)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

For an added punch I add one teaspoon of Moringa to make this tonic more of a morning tea. I add a tablespoon and a half of this to a cup of water in the morning on an empty stomach.

These are three great tonics I use to try and stay healthy what are some things you have tried!

 

An Impromptu Ego Lesson

img_5180Several years ago, after I finished teaching a yoga class, an older gentleman who brought in his son to take the beginner yoga class after mine started to talk about why yoga is excellent for people. In particular why it is good for managing the ego. It ended up being a fairly long in-depth conversation that I have not forgotten to this day.

I have sat on this lesson he gave me and have thought about it in each yoga class I have taught. I did not have a tape recorder or a scribe, but I wanted to share in my words what resonated with me and how I think it applies to yoga.

The ego is a fantastic tool, mechanism, or organism inside your body that helps you survive. It is great for self preservation as it wants to keep you comfortable and hates change. If you are comfortable at all times, you are not stressed or in pain. To the ego this means you are doing a great job at surviving. Sounds great, right?

However, the ego would rather have you lay on the couch or do the bare minimum to get through life. It will also hold you back from taking risks or trying something new. You may see someone do anything you want to do. But you don’t want to try whatever that thing is for the fear that you may try and fail. The result may be embarrassment which the ego does not like.

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I have taught the same multi-level class for the last eight years, occasionally I can see the ego take hold of students. This is why I always talk about YOUR practice and not paying attention to what others are doing. Students who don’t feel that they can do what other students are doing may get discouraged and stop taking class or they try harder without paying attention to their bodies and get hurt because of ego.

Sometimes the ego will make you back out of a posture because they feel discomfort and mistake it for pain. Your ego wants you to think you’re in pain so you get back to your comfort zone.

My yoga teacher has always told me to find comfort in the discomfort in your yoga postures. The ego doesn’t want change it wants to stay stagnate and comfortable. Yoga attacks the ego by helping you learn the tools to find the comfort in the discomfort.

I never saw the man again after that conversation, but I am very thankful for his wisdom.

 

 

Creating Beautiful Transitions: Jumping Back From Tripod

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In 2016 I talked with my students about, and practiced, building a strong foundation in each of our postures. In 2017, we are going to take the foundations we built and create beautiful transitions! Here is an example of a vinyasa I will be teaching in new year!

Taking Vinyasa from Headstand:

The best variation of headstand to learn jumping back from is tripod. Set your foundation in tripod by pressing into the knuckles of your hands taking the pressure out of your wrist (or think about lifting your fingers off the ground). Draw your elbows towards each other; as this happens, draw your shoulder blades together down your back. Ideally you will engage each of these alignments at the same time, but if not try engaging each one individually.

You have two options for you set up for jumping back

  1. Pike position: keeping the strong foundation in the above step, next you will lower your legs parallel with the floor. If you have a tight lower back or tight hamstrings (like I do in the picture) you can bend your knees. Bring your legs parallel with the floor and shift your hips towards the back of your mat. Hold for 5 breaths.
  2. Touch up position: keeping the strong foundation from step 1 and lower your feet until there are a couple of inches off the ground and hold for 5 breaths.

The Descent!
Jumping back from pike position or touch up position you want to land into Chaturanga and not high plank. Your arms are already in your perfect Chaturanga position! To descend, don’t slide your head off the ground as your feet fall! Try to lift your head off the ground up to possibly 1 inch! Use your strength to move into Chaturanga with control.
Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask!

My 2017 Teaching schedule

Sunday
9am @ Beloved Yoga Reston
1045am @ East Meets West Yoga

Click here for information on my upcoming workshops (more are in the works for this year!)