Chakra, Sanskrit for “spinning wheel of energy”, signifies one of seven specific energy centers in the body and mind. The seven main chakra centers are aligned along the spinal column and are connected to our being on several different levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Since our chakras are connected to our being in so many different ways, it is important that they are balanced. When our chakras are balanced, energy flows freely and we are able to achieve mental, physical and spiritual well-being. If the chakras are out of balance, the energy doesn’t flow as smoothly or effectively, resulting in feelings of disconnect or dissatisfaction.
Want to learn more about these fascinating spinning wheels of energy? This week’s featured classes concentrate on introducing and opening up the chakras through asana and meditation. Also, our seven part chakra series will provide more insight into each of the seven chakras.
Chakra Meditation for Balance with Giselle Mari: This chakra meditation provides a great entry point to these seven subtle energetic centers and the karmic relationships that correspond to them. Sit, be still, and focus your attention, intention and bija (seed) mantra on your chakras to make way for peaceful balance. Prop Suggested: A blanket to sit on.
Chakra Radiance from Root to Crown with Sianna Sherman: Learn the wisdom of the 7 Chakras and how each chakra is meaningful for your life. Each chakra has specific asanas and mantras for activation. From the root to the crown, you will be transformed and bring greater radiance and balance into your life. Prop Needed: A block. Props Suggested: Blankets for shoulderstand and wall space for inversions.
Tour Your Chakras with Elena Brower: Take a quick, comprehensive tour of your chakras. With just a few minutes at each latitude, learn the shorthand for the function of each chakra and become familiar with ways to open and explore your practice with the chakras in mind.
4th Chakra Heart Flow with Claire Missingham: This heart flow is a morning sequence that gets the energy around the heart (4th Chakra) flowing. Vinyasa to begin to slowly build the rhythmic foundations of breath and movement within the framework of structured alignment and skilled sequencing. Based around the concept of the heart. Props: 2 blocks, blanket
2nd Chakra Sacral Flow with Jo Tastula: This is a creative flow that explores the water element and fluid movements. We delve deep into the hips, pelvis and lower back and also the second chakra which is our center for birthing creativity. Guided meditation to start, then warm up pelvic tilts and figure 8 leg rotations. We flow through warrior/triangle sequences (virabhadrasana/trikonasana) into more challenging transitions like half moon into standing hip opener (ardha chandrasana and eka pada galvanasan prep). Finishing with pigeon (eka pada raja kapotasana) and guided savasana. BLESS!! Optional Props: Blanket, block
According to the yoga tradition, the bandhas are the next step after asana. In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Rod Stryker explains the three major bandhas, their effect as well as how we practice them. Learning to use bandhas effectively opens the doorway to taking your asana to the next level.
Known as a “teachers’ teacher,” Annie is the creator of SmartFLOW Yoga, an intelligent marriage of mindful movement with compassionate, wakeful alignment. Annie creates practices that are at once advanced and challenging, yet safe and playful. She has been practicing yoga since the 70s, performed and taught for the Martha Graham company in the 80’s and continues to be a dedicated student (geek!) of anatomy, evolutionary movement, meditation and classical philosophy. She believes that Yoga has a multitude of expressions and can truly transform and heal each of us, teaching us to embrace passionately all that life presents.
Annie is the author of RelaxDEEPLY, a CD of restorative yoga, and Yoga for Total Back Care,” a DVD produced by Yoga Journal and several SmartFLOW manuals. She contributes regularly to Yoga Journal and Origins magazines. An influential Teacher Trainer since 2003, Annie leads public classes, 200/300 Teacher Trainings and mentors young teachers at Exhale in Venice, at YogaTree in San Francisco, and internationally.
Annie’s first YogaGlo classes are now on the site so you can start practicing online with her today:
Elemental Core Flow – Strong, challenging flow to explore how your back and front bodies support each other to create length and core strength. Connect to a pace that slows and grounds while strengthening your core in many plank variations including Vasisthasana (side plank), Virabhadrasana 3 and handstands. Quiet, deep savasana.
Pranayama to Quiet a Busy Mind – A short and sweet sitting meditation practice with Ujjayi and Viloma 2 breath to shift your active or distracted mind into a calm, grounded peaceful state.
Sunset Flow – A great quickie practice with enough Yang so you feel alert and strong. The practice has a nice cool down finish too. Two short standing pose flows and deep hip and hamstring release.
Hip Opening Inquiry – Learn the nuances of your hips and how to stand tall in tree pose! Use the asymmetry of tree pose to find the symmetry within.
Grounded & Free – Deep, slow and strong. This practice will help you discern the difference between hip flexion and spine flexion. Ground your hips, lengthen your hamstrings and open your psoas so you’ll feel stable and free. Supta and Uttitha HastaPada Gustasana, Vira 3 and Sirsasana are your guides.
Femurs Descending – A strong flow with specific alignment cues focusing on softening groins, moving thighs back and supporting the lower back symmetry. This class starts slow, then moves into a strong flow of sun salutations, neutral standing poses, balancing poses and handstands. Backbends are included to release the core work and finishing with a sweet savasana. You will feel grounded and focused and work hard.
A solid foundation determines the viability of the rest of the structure as it goes up. In order to sustain any type of growth, evolution or success, one must have a solid foundation from which to build. Whether it’s a new creative pursuit, a new personal goal or your yoga practice, a good understanding of the fundamental elements will help you establish a foundation that allows you to thrive.
This week’s featured classes will help us build a solid foundation, inside and out.
The Foundation of Standing Poses with Sianna Sherman: At the heart of yoga is the wish to grow with awareness in every area of life. In this foundational class of standing poses, you will learn key biomechanics to stabilize the physical body and restore a spacious feeling in your mind and heart. Props Suggested: A block and a strap.
Stable Foundation with Marla Apt: Using the feet to align and enliven. The feet can be the gateway to alignment of the joints, balanced action in the muscles and ease in the asanas. In this practice you will mindfully focus on the actions of the feet as well as balancing the weight on the feet as the foundation of the standing poses to bring evenness to the legs, hips, pelvis and back. Prop Suggested: A block.
Create a Foundation for the New with Elena Brower: A slightly more active sequence, with a focus creating a foundation of serenity, for magnetizing a new life, a new project, or a new relationship. Based on chapter 2, verse 65 of the Bhagavad Gita, from Dr. Douglas Brooks’ translation entitled Poised for Grace, cultivate a base of calm and rest your mind there. Mellow standing poses to stimulate circulation throughout your abdomen, a seated hip opener, legs up the wall (Viparita Karani), meditation and savasana.
Connect to the Subtle Realms of Your Being with Kia Miller: This practice builds a solid foundation from which we can then connect to the subtle realms of our being. Bring your sense and humor and join Kia for a wild ride to liberation. This class includes an 11 minute meditation which uses the mantra Har Har Mukanday. Har – Creative aspect of Source. Mukanday – Energy of Liberation. Enjoy!
In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Richard Freeman explains Svara. The flow of breath. Learning to observe the flow of breath in the nostrils and the subtle impact the breath can have on mood and concentration takes practice and patience.
The wrists are among the weakest parts of the body, so it’s very common (especially if you are at a computer all day or you are doing a lot of weight bearing yoga postures) to experience some kind of wrist pain.
Looking for a way to relieve wrist discomfort or just looking to give your wrists a break? Well, yoga to the rescue! This week’s featured classes will help to build strength and flexibility in the wrists, as well as help to alleviate any tension or discomfort due to overused wrists.
Release Hand Strain with Tias Little: Releasing strain from hands, wrists and carpal tunnel. We will aim to create elasticity in palmar fascia, carpal tunnel area to help relieve strain in hand, particularly from keyboard work. Props Needed: A strap and a wall.
Wrist Flow with Dice lida-Klein: This short flow is all about our wrists! Using multiple vinyasas to warm up, we make our way through crescent pose to warm up our legs, lizard pose and half splits to open our hips and hamstrings, and finally eka pada koundinyasana 2 for our arm balance. From there, we make our way into mayurasana and some variations. We top it off with some wrist therapy and wrist stretches. Enjoy my fellow yogis! Prop: optional block.
Demystifying Arm Rotations with Marc Holzman: Proper alignment of the arms is essential for a safe practice. Your wrists, elbows and shoulders will thank you for many years to come. Using down-to-earth, simple cues, this quick tutorial teaches the internal and external rotation of the arms that can be used in every pose for a safe and powerful practice.
In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Claire Missingham explains that flow comes naturally and flow feels like it creates freedom when we are in a creative state of mind. We become less concerned with the outside world and we just allow what is inside of us to be freed.
Many of us save our yoga practice for the afternoon or evening. With a long, stressful day behind us, we want nothing more than to clear our minds, shift our focus and release whatever stress that has accumulated throughout the day. By the end of our practice we are calm and relaxed, the stress has subsided and whatever seemed to bother us during the day is now a distant memory. What a great way to end the day, right?
Yes! But what if there was a way to start the day off right? Morning yoga to the rescue! A morning yoga routine can set the tone for the entire day. It helps to clear our thoughts so we can remain calm and clear headed throughout the day, it gives us more energy and endurance and it prepares us mentally and emotionally for our daily activities and interactions with other people, in turn making us more patient and less reactive. What a great way to begin the day!
This week’s featured classes will help get your day started off on the right foot. Rise and shine!
Awaken & Prepare the Day Ahead with Claire Missingham: The Kriyas, as defined in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, are practices that have a cleansing affect on the mind or the physical body. These morning practices awaken agni (digestive fire) and uplift any stagnant energy for the day ahead. We finish with uplifting mantra and affirmation to keep repeating all day.
Connect & Create a Beautiful Day with Jo Tastula:Connect with the creative energy of the morning and harness the powerful energy of the mind with this well rounded sunrise flow. Meditation and guided breathing, followed by gentle warm up and sun salutations (surya namaskar). Our flow opens up into temple pose and wide legged forward bend (prasarita padottanasana) with crescents and warrior 3 to invigorate (anjaneyasana & virabhadrasana 3) Finishing postures include locust pose (shalabhasana) and headstand (sirsasana). Wishing you a phenomenally awesome day! Prop Needed: A blanket.
Morning Flexibility with Tara Judelle: This class uses slow movements to coax our body into flexibility and fluidity for the day. Includes forward bends (paschimottanasana, upavistha konasana) and hip openers (gomukhasana, baddha konasana). Props Suggested: Two Blocks, Blanket, Strap.
Morning Wake-up for Balance, Vigor and Joy with Giselle Mari: Yoga is the type of wake up call you want to receive in the morning. Gently and slowly wake up the body with some stretching and heat building. This will kick start your day better than any cup of coffee – ok, maybe not that good! – but you’ll be caffeinated (yoga style) and ready to take on life with balance, vigor and joy. Props: Two Blocks, Two Blankets and One Strap.
Good Morning Energizing Flow with Amy Ippoliti: Begin your day with this energizing sequence designed to awaken the body and give you a positive outlook on the day ahead. Gentle stretches, easy half sun salutes, culminating with a hip opening restorative pose. Good morning to you! Props Needed: A Chair and Blanket. Props Suggested: 2 Blocks.
Gayatri Mantra Morning Flow with Sianna Sherman: Chant the Gayatri mantra with the morning sun and activate the solar power of your day with this standing flow that opens up into pincha mayurasana and backbends. This is a great up-tempo practice.
In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Steven Espinosa explains that often times we can get moving so fast in our daily lives it’s like our feet never touch the ground. Yoga helps with grounding both sides of the body to help us move forward from a balanced and centered place.