• Posted on April 18th, 2014 Alice G. Walton No comments

    The Language of Yoga: Bandhas

    The term “bandha” in yoga has several different meanings, some more philosophical and others more literal. The word itself translates as “bind,” “bond” or “bondage,” which can obviously signify a lot of different things, positive and negative, mental and physical. Nikki Villela, of Kula Yoga in New York City, says that “the more literal translation of bandha is bondage or lock. However, at Kula we like to refer to them as valves, as they regulate the flow of pranic energy as a switch would control the flow of electric current.” Sometimes called the “yogic locks,” bandhas are different ways of locking or contracting the body, and are said to direct the flow of energy, or prevent it from escaping. Other connotations of the word have more to do with the human condition, and yoga’s powerful capacity to help us understand and navigate it.

    There are three main bandahs: Jalandhara, Uddiyana, and Mula. “Jalandhara means a netting or mesh,” says Villela. “When employing Jalandhara bandha the chin drops towards the notch between the collar bones as the side waist of the neck pulls back.” The chin can rest gently on the sternum, if possible, as the sternum reaches up towards it. Jalandhara bandha is generally done along with breathing practices, and, says Villela, is thought to regulate blood flow and energy from the constriction of the structures and vessels of the neck.

    Uddiyana, known as the abdominal lock, actually translates as “flying up,” says Villela, and is thought to help energy rise upwards. “When employing uddiyana bandha, the navel draws towards the spine and the abdominal organs are lifted towards the heart (and away from the pull and effect of gravity).” Uddiyana bandha is done after exhaling, and while doing a “mock inhalation” – that is, you open your rib cage as if you were inhaling while the abdominal muscles are drawn strongly towards the spine. This bandha is also said to increase “gastric fire,” and help digestion.

    The last bandha is the Mula bandha, known as the “root bandha.” Says Villela, “This bandha corresponds to working the pelvic floor. It can be helpful to think of the pelvic floor as a second diaphragm or a parachute that contracts and lift up.” Mula bandha is thought to redirect the flow of energy upwards towards the heart, and prevent energy from leaking out through the base of the spine or pelvic floor. ”Awareness of mula bandha helps to organize the organic body and give it support from the bottom up, much like working the feet helps to organize the entire body above them,” says Villela.

    Maha Bandha, or “the great bandha,” is when all three bandhas are done together, begun one at a time and then released in the same order. “For me personally,” says Vilella, “I like to think of the bandhas as a way to assist in one of the yogi’s primary goals: how to channel and then conserve energy. How do we work more intelligently so that less effort is exuded and less energy is lost? How can we conserve energy? How can we get our energy, which is said to lie dormant at the base of the spine, to percolate so that we can channel it and use it more efficiently? The bandhas.”

    As mentioned, bandha also has other meanings. Its translation as “bondage” can also refer to our original state – the state of “unenlightenment,” which yoga seeks to help us undo. In other words, the “bondage” refers to our own spiritual ignorance or unknowingness, and it’s yoga that helps us peel back the layers to reveal a more enlightened self.

    Another meaning from classical yoga is that it signifies the “correlation” or bridge/bond between our two selves, the ego self (the finite) and the transcendental self (the infinite). In this way, it is related to the term samyoga, which suggests that this “correlation” between the two selves is actually the root of all suffering, or dukkha. Through study and practice, it’s possible to break the “bond” – so in some ways, bandha is not only the source of suffering, but it’s also the key to enlightenment.

    Finally, as Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutras, the sixth limb of yoga, dharana (concentration), is about bandha of another kind. With dharana, the goal is to focus on something visual (e.g., a flower) or auditory (a mantra). Since the mind naturally wanders from the object of attention, the task is to bring our attention back to the object, again and again. So here, bandha represents the bond that forms (after a lot of practice!) between the mind and its object of focus.

    So, bandha can have a lot of different connotations. In yoga class, it typically refers to the more advanced practice of the yogic locks. Philosophically, it has different meanings, which, in various ways, all conjure up the larger aims of yoga: To break down the bonds that hold us back, to connect with things outside ourselves, and to move from a limited form of awareness to a more encompassing one. Removing the bonds that limit us and creating new ones within and outside ourselves is, after all, what yoga is all about.

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.


  • Posted on April 17th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Darren Rhodes encourages us to practice without judgement and reminds us that to observe our practice without judgement is a practice in and of itself.

    Take this class with Darren: http://bit.ly/1irjwzn


  • Posted on April 16th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Seane Corn at the YogaGlo Studio

    Marla Apt

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you Glo in LA or in the surrounding area, please join us next week as Seane Corn & Marla Apt will be in town teaching free classes at the YogaGlo studio! You will not want to miss this.

    Seane’s Class Schedule:

    • Tuesday, April 22nd: 5:30-7:00pm: Vinyasa Flow-Level 2

    Marla’s Class Schedule:

    • Wednesday, April 23rd: 4:30-6:00pm: Iyengar-Level 2
    • Thursday, April 24th: 10:00-11:30am: Iyengar-Level 2

    Don’t miss this opportunity to take these amazing classes with these amazing teachers. Please check out our class schedule for more info and head on down to the Glo!


  • Posted on April 14th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Most of us have experienced some sort of deep loss or trauma where our heart felt like it was broken. The experience of losing something or someone that mattered to us can be emotionally and physically debilitating and the thought of ever healing from that loss can seem inconceivable. Although we might not think it at the time and though we may never truly be the same, we can eventually heal.

    If you have been struggling with a broken heart, give yoga a try. This week’s featured classes will help aid in healing a broken heart by nourishing the physical, emotional, and spiritual heart space with unconditional love.

    Yoga for a Broken Heart

    • Heart Healing Meditation with Kathryn Budig: This visually guided meditation takes you through a journey to your heart. It aids in the healing process and allows us to see our light, the light in others and encourages our ability to both give and receive love.
    • When Life Throws You Curve Balls with Amy Ippoliti: When your spirit has been broken, you feel defeated, or you’re grieving, sometimes a practice that helps you blow off some steam and “get back on the horse” is just what is needed rather than something slow or gentle. This is straight up vinyasa, warrior poses, and hand balances for a full body rush of transformative power when times are tough.
    • Release Sadness with Elena Brower: All we have is our inner state. Inspired by a meditation with Tara Brach, we will release physical contractions by moving gently, release heart contractions by opening slowly and pointedly, and release mind contractions using our breathing in a quiet meditation. You’ll feel any sadness softening and dissipating with this practice.
    • Calm Your Heart with Kia Miller: This meditation induces a feeling of calmness. If you are feeling emotionally challenged at work or in a personal relationship then practice this meditation before deciding how to act. Practiced daily it helps to develop your concentration and promotes rejuvenation at a deep level. An essential tool to keep in your back pocket!
    • Let Go of Heartache, Nourish Yourself Deeply with Felicia Tomasko: Every breath is an opportunity to nourish ourselves (inhalation) digest (the pause) and detoxify (the exhalation). We incorporate this process throughout class. In this heart-opening restorative practice, the focus of the breath is to let go of heartache and to nourish the physical, emotional, and spiritual heart space with unconditional love. The sequence utilizes a supported backbend with two blocks along with forward folds and a variety of side bends and twists, all with the aim of creating and enhancing the suppleness of the heart as well as the entire region of the chest, which in Ayurveda is seen as the home of the kapha dosha, the energy of water and earth. Through the breath, we can remove stagnation. Through the breath, we love and nourish ourselves deeply.
    • Hamsa Heart Meditation with David Harshada Wagner: This meditation uses the ancient mantra Ham-Sa to connect us deeply with the heart.


  • Posted on April 10th, 2014 YogaGlo 2 comments

    Tias Little at YogaGlo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you Glo in LA, come join as next week as Tias Little will be in town and teaching free classes at the YogaGlo studio. You do not want to miss this!

    Join us to practice with Tias:

    • Wednesday, April 16th: 10 – 11:30am, Level 2 – Hatha
    • Wednesday, April 16th: 12 – 1pm, Level 2/3 – Hatha
    • Thursday, April 17th: 10 – 11:30am, Level 2 – Hatha
    • Thursday, April 17th: 12 – 1pm, Level 2/3 – Hatha
    • Friday, April 18th: 10 – 11:30am, Level – 2/3 Hatha
    • Friday, April 18th: 12 -1 pm, Level 1/2 – Hatha

    We look forward to seeing you and practicing together. You can check the studio schedule for more visiting teachers and to keep up to date on other offerings.


  • Posted on April 10th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Stephanie Snyder explains that pratyahara helps us turn in and reconnect with our inner enviornment because these days it’s becoming more and more important and also harder to do

    Take this class with Stephanie: http://bit.ly/1n5Y6YY


  • Posted on April 9th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Richard Freeman is a YogaGlo Teacher

    We are honored to announce that Richard Freeman is now a YogaGlo teacher.

    Richard Freeman has been a student of yoga since 1968. He has spent nearly twelve years in Asia studying various traditions, which he incorporates into the Ashtanga yoga practice as taught by his principal teacher, K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India. Richard’s background includes studying Sufism in Iran, Zen and Vipassana Buddhist practice, Bhakti and traditional Hatha yoga in India. Starting in 1974 he also began an in-depth study of Iyengar yoga, which eventually led him to Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. Richard is an avid student of both Western and Eastern philosophy, as well as Sanskrit. His ability to juxtapose various viewpoints, without losing the depth and integrity of each, has helped him develop a unique, metaphorical teaching style.

    Richard teaches public classes, month and week-long intensives at his home base, the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, as well as spending a good part of each year traveling as a guest instructor at studios throughout the world. He is the author of the book, The Mirror of Yoga (Shambhala Publications), and has produced a number of instructional DVD’s and CD’s on yoga asana, philosophy, breathing and chanting.

    You can begin practicing Ashtanga with Richard today as several  classes have been added to YogaGlo:

    • Reaching to Infinity - Basic, but elusive, scapula rotation allows integrated arm and breath movement.
    • Deconstructing Sun Salutations - A step by step deconstruction of the forms used in Sun Salutations. This allows one to adapt the postures and movements to avoid discomfort and to reap the full benefit of this rhythmic practice.
    • The Foundation of Alignment - Prana governs inhaling. Apana governs exhaling. This class explores how these two primary patterns of Internal Shakti are the foundation of alignment and how they need and love each other.
    • Pattnerns & Principles of Pranayama - After finding a correct sitting posture, we will explore core principles and patterns of this basic pranayama.
    • Training the Pelvic Floor – Training the pelvic floor to remain integrated keeps the spreading cobra pattern at the back of the diaphragm. This prevents compression and improper hyper-extension of the spine in full back bends.
    • Optimal Positioning in Shoulder Stands & Plough Poses - This class explores the optimal positioning and action used in Shoulder Stands, Plough Poses and the closely related Jalandhara Bandha.
    Please join us in welcoming Richard Freeman to YogaGlo!

     


  • Posted on April 7th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Stephanie Snyder

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you Glo in LA, come join us this weekend as Stephanie Snyder will be in town teaching FREE Vinyasa Flow classes at the YogaGlo studio. You do not want to miss this!

    Stephanie’s Class Schedule:

    • Saturday, April 12th: 10am-11:30am – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Saturday, April 12th: 12pm-1:00pm – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Sunday, April 13th: 10am-11:00am – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2

    Don’t miss this opportunity to take these amazing classes with this amazing teacher. Please check out our class schedule for more info and head on down to the Glo!


  • Posted on April 7th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Dennis Waitley

    Grace is defined as simple elegance or refinement of movement. From how we handle certain situations to how our bodies move, we all can probably benefit from incorporating a little more grace into everything we do. Looking to incorporate more grace into your mind, body and spirit? Yoga can help. Steven Espinosa says that the practice of yoga allows us to open up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to receive the “blessings of grace” known as “kripa” in sanskrit.

    This week’s featured classes will help you find grace, on and off the mat.

    Yoga for Grace

    • Grace & Grit with Tara Judelle: This class works into challenging arm balances and backbends from a perspective of ease. Includes Eka pada koundinyasana, Eka pada Galavasana, Parsva Bakasana, Dwi pada Koundinyasana and Urdhva danurasana.
    • Understand Your Struggles & Face Them with Grace with David Harshada Wagner: Cease Fire! Let’s face it- sometimes life has its stuggles and battles. This meditation gives us a chance to take a break from whatever we’re struggling with, rejuvenate and prepare to face whatever we need to face with new gusto.
    • The Gift of Grace with Steven Espinosa: The practice of yoga allows us to open up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to receive the “blessings of grace” known as “kripa” in sanskrit. Challenging Level 1 class suitable for beginner and intermediate students. Starts with a gradual warm up with Sun Salutations building to an energetic opening focusing on establishing solid foundational principles. Includes brief tutorial of proper alignment in Plank Pose to protect “dumping” into the lower back. Followed by a strong Standing Pose series combining Warrior 2, Extended Side Angle and Triangle Pose facing the side wall. Continues with Hip Openers in Pigeon, Standing Leg Balance in Tree and Arm Balance in Crow Pose. Concludes in gentle Back Bends with a brief breakdown of proper knee alignment in Bridge Pose and ending in Savasana.
    • Find Grace On & Off the Mat with Amy Ippoliti: Be more elegant and graceful on and off the mat in this all-around practice that begins with a gradual warm up, a standing pose flow, inversions, arm balances, twists, a few back bends and ends with some yummy supine hip openers. Optional Prop: Block.
    • Find Grace in the Unknown with Tiffany Cruikshank: A fun creative class with 60 mins of flow and 30 mins of yin with a focus on the hips. This class is about finding grace within the unknown by adding in some new poses and unfamiliar transitions. This one will get your heart pumping, your challenge is to find the ease in the awkwardness no matter where you end up so that you find the ability to be present and easily drop into that space in the yin segment. We will explore the full tittibasana sequence & a new variation on grasshopper. Props: One Block, One Blanket.
    • Meet Your Limits with Strength & Grace with Kia Miller: In this class we seek to meet our limits with strength and grace. A warrior moves with a sense of calm and purpose, totally invested in every moment aware that every breath is a gift. This class is designed to help you eliminate toxins, improve circulation and give you aerobic benefits. Come prepared to challenge yourself and celebrate your strength and purpose. Props Needed: Blanket


  • Posted on April 4th, 2014 Alice G. Walton No comments

    The Language of Yoga: Sadhana
    Sadhana is often translated as “spiritual practice” or “discipline leading to a goal.” Most people are on board with the idea that it takes some work and repetition to get to any kind of goal. But what’s really interesting about sadhana is that while it has a large element of discipline, it’s also wonderfully vague, which underlines the fact that there’s any number of practices that can get you to that goal. Larissa Hall Carlson, who teaches at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, says that “Essentially, sadhana means simply to accomplish something. It is discipline leading to a goal, or dedication to an aim. The word stems from root sadh, ‘to bring about.’”

    So sadhana is as simple as that: it’s any practice that can foster change. It’s encouraging, then, that sadhana can be just about anything that works for you. Carlson, says that now, “a contemporary sadhana generally includes asana, pranayama, meditation, reading of wise words and scriptures, and perhaps time for reflection, or contemplation. [Sadhana] is a precious time of self-care, contemplation, mindfulness, spiritual study, and even devotion.”

    Once upon a time, a dedicated yogi would have included a medley of these practices every day, spanning several hours of the day. But today many people prefer to focus on one or maybe two types of practice: Asana, meditation, mantra, running, walking, praying, journaling, or even volunteering – any of these endeavors could be a sadhana, depending on what speaks to you, and what works for you. It’s also important to keep in mind that your practice doesn’t have to be hours a day; many people just do what they can – an hour a day or even ten minutes a day – and that can certainly be enough to have an effect on your brain and body over time.

    And this gets to the other part of part of sadhana – the strong element of discipline that’s associated it. This isn’t surprising, though, since most any aspect of yoga (and lots of other realms of life) involves discipline. Even if you’re just doing ten minutes of meditation every day, it’s the repetition – the habit of coming back to something again and again – that’s the key. This works whether you’re trying to change your behavior, develop new ways of thinking, or even get to samadhi. Most of us have experienced the fact that practices are more effective when you do them regularly than when you do them sporadically, and this is what sadhana gets at.

    Carlson also makes the good point that sadhana is very much related to the niyama, tapas, which reminds us that we have to “burn” away the bad habits to make way for the good stuff. “Discipline is connected to the niyama tapas, which actually means ‘heat.’ Tapas is connected to the internal heat and mental fire generated from regular personal yoga practice and the discipline required to maintain that commitment.” It’s powering through the unpleasant parts of a practice that can give us the energy and the space to embrace the changes we want to make.

    Arriving at a goal doesn’t happen overnight, and it can take a lot of practice to generate that change. But the good news is that we can choose the practice – as long as we come to it again and again, those repetitions will eventually pay off. “Just like an elite athlete who trains dedicatedly and consistently to get to the Olympics,” says Carlson, “a yogi uses tapas and many other eight-limbed tools to attain samadhi.” Making sure your practice, whatever it may be, has that mental/spiritual element to it (i.e., that it’s not just physical for the sake of being physical) is important. You may find that the discipline of your practice, over time, can lead to just the kind of freedom you always wanted.

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.