I so resonate with one of my teachers Les Leventhal when he says, “I found yoga on accident. I stayed on purpose.” It is so endless. Our bodies, breath, the space between the asanas. The communal spirit that powers group classes. The magic of Shavasana. The buzz after practicing. Handstand. Oh my.
I was finishing up taking a class at Laughing Lotus SF when my teacher Keith Borden walks up to me with a sparkle in his eye and says, “You need to do the teacher training that starts in a couple weeks.” Doubt, insecurity, questions immediately flooded me. “Huh?” is about all I remember coming up with. 48 hours later I called him with the tuition for the teacher training he was leading. At the time, I was finishing a graduate degree in counseling and thought it would be a nice complement to my practice of sitting with people as a psychotherapist. Then I taught my first class as a trainee and was hooked. I quickly realized that my path was taking another surprising turn.
It is such a delight and honor to teach yoga. I learn so much from witnessing the practice of my students and feel humbled that they choose to be on the mat with me. I never could have predicted that my journey would lead me to sitting with people on yoga mats and therapy couches, and it feels so good to know that it does.
Interested in joining me for a class? I’d love to have you.
Sit with the soles of your feet together 12 to 24 inches in front of your pelvis. Extend your spine forward with your chest lifted. Come as far forward as you can; then drape your upper body either over your legs or, if you feel any tension in your back, over a bolster. Allow your head to rest on the bolster, your hands, or your feet. Let go of all muscular effort. Visualize the cocoon of warm light surrounding you. Stay here for 3 to 6 minutes; then come up gently to sitting.
Bend your left knee, taking your left foot to the outside of your left hip. If it's difficult to sit on the floor with your left leg in this position, sit up on a block. Bend your right knee, and place your right foot on the floor. Walk your hands behind you and lie back, either over a bolster or, if you can continue, all the way to the floor. It's OK if your left knee lifts up. Relax into the pose for 1 to 5 minutes. Then come up and take the second side.
Sit on a folded blanket, extending your legs out wide. Let your legs remain passive and lean your torso to the right, taking your right elbow to your right leg or to a bolster. Rest your head in your right hand, and bring your left arm behind your head. Turn your attention toward the changing sensations in your legs, pelvis, and side body as you soften into the pose. Stay for 3 to 6 minutes; then lift up slowly and repeat on the second side.
With your legs in Dragonfly position, lengthen your spine and twist your torso to the right. Hold your right outer thigh with your left hand. Take your right hand to the floor behind you or all the way around to hold your left inner thigh. Stay for 3 to 6 minutes. Slowly unwind. Pause a moment in the center; then repeat to the left.
Continue with your legs in Dragonfly and sit up tall. Walk your hands forward as far as you can, and then drape your upper body down, resting your head on a bolster or on the ground. Release your body to gravity, allowing space for your sensations. Stay for 3 to 6 minutes. Then lift your torso gently and use your hands to bring your legs toward each other with care.
Sit up on a folded blanket or bolster and come into a simple cross-legged position. Notice if there is any area in your body that feels discomfort. Imagine the cocoon of warmth and sunlight surrounding this area and then let the walls of the cocoon expand to embrace your whole body. Sit for 2 minutes, feeling the effects of your practice.
Lie down on your back and lengthen your legs forward. Press your left thighbone down firmly. Hug your right knee into your chest with both arms and soften your right hip and groin. On an inhalation, extend your legs forward and your arms up and over your head, lengthening your body. On an exhalation, hug your left knee into your chest while grounding your right thigh. Continue moving slowly with your breath, alternating legs, for 8 rounds.
From the prone position, bend your knees and take your heels directly under your knees. Lift your hips and tailbone, and imagine hugging a ball between your thighs. Bend your elbows and lift your forearms perpendicular to the floor, palms facing each other. Press your upper arms and elbows down firmly to open your heart centre and lift your hips higher. Expand your chest with 5 slow breaths. Release and then repeat 2 more times.
Take Reclining Knee-to-Chest, with your left leg extended. Interlace your fingers behind your right thigh close to your sitting bone and extend your right leg up. Flex your right foot and press your right thigh firmly into your hands. Take 8 slow breaths, release and repeat on your left side. Repeat 2 more times on each side. Then hug both knees into your chest and let out a long sigh.
Lie back over a bolster with the soles of your feet together, knees wide, palms face-up at your sides. Visualise your body surrounded by the warmth of the sun. On your inhalations, breathe the sunlight into your whole body and hold your breath. Imagine every cell soaking in the breath like a sponge. On your exhalations, release fully. Repeat this 5 times and then let go completely for 3 to 6 minutes.