• Five Tips to Turn Any Room into Your Personal Yoga Sanctuary

    Walking in through the doors of a dedicated yoga center transports your mind and body directly into that familiar yoga zone. The atmosphere palpably impacts your sense. The dim lighting calms the nervous system and provides an antidote to the perpetual blue glow of phones and mobile devices. Sanskrit chanting acts as a portal to a timeless past rooted in India’s rich history.

    Incense wafts through the air and the smell ignites something within your subconscious. Each step into the yoga center seems to mirror the inner journey until you’re standing on your yoga mat, in the yoga room. And then, you’re ready to practice. You’re in the mood for yoga. That’s all well and good if you have the luxury of going to a yoga center for practice. But what about if you’re traveling and on a busy work schedule and all you have is your hotel room? Or, what if you need to practice yoga at home? It is possible to transform any room into your personal yoga sanctuary. There are some DIY methods to recreate the feeling of sacred space wherever you are. As a home yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher who travels and teachers, I practice at home and in hotel rooms almost all the time. It is a rare and happy occurrence when I find myself practicing yoga as a student in a dedicated class. I cherish those classes because they will me up! But, I’ve learned how to make any room into a space for spiritual practice. I’m sharing a few of my tips below. Feel welcome to adjust as needed and add your own tips in the comments below.

    1. De-clutter

    Ok this sounds basic, but it really makes a difference. If you’re unrolling your yoga mat in a small hotel room the first and perhaps most important thing you can do is to clean up a little. The same goes for shared spaces at home. If you’re thinking of making your living into a mixed-use yoga space, decluttering is crucial to give you peace of mind while practicing. The outer world is a reflection of the inner world and it will be exceedingly hard to relax and turn your mind inward when you’re surrounded by a mess. For a mixed-use shared home yoga room, try finding some furniture that doubles as storage. When you’re not using non-yoga items like toys, magazine, hats, or shoes, store them neatly away.

    2. A Nice Shawl

    This may be entirely personal, but I travel with a large shawl that I wrap myself in for meditation and lie under for final relaxation (called Savasana in many styles of yoga). This blue woven shawl comes from India and having this item with me brings a feeling of coziness and safety to wherever I am in the world. Yes, I realize I’m basically saying I carry the adult’s version of a blanket around the world in my suitcase. But it really helps create that feeling of sacredness for me.When I unpack in a new hotel room I take out my shawl and fold it up near the spot where I will practice and mediate. When you walk into any room at my home you’ll see blankets and shawls folded up and neatly kept over sofas, and most importantly, stacked in my home yoga room. If your yoga room is also doubling as your living room, try keeping a neatly shawls close by the area where you’re going to practice.

    3. Mood Lighting

    Changing the intensity of the light makes a big change in the feeling of a room. If you crack up harsh fluorescent lights it can feel jarring for the nervous system. Try installing dimmers in your home, or, even better, smart lights that can change both color and intensity. If your yoga room is also your home office, you might find that you like a pure white light during work hours, but prefer a soft white or even amber toned light for yoga and meditation. When I’m traveling there are not often dimmers available, let alone app-controlled smart light bulbs, so my next best solution is indirect lighting. If I’m going to unroll my yoga mat for practice and meditation near the bed, I’ll turn on a light in a different part of the room, preferably one with a lampshade. Or, sometimes I’ll leave the light in the bathroom on and partially close the door. It really depends on the hotel and the lighting. They key with lighting is to find the perfect balance between so dim so you feel sleepy and so bright so your nervous system is not able to calm down.

    4. Smells

    I love scented everything. Whether essential oils, scented candles, incense or good quality perfume. But that also means I’m really sensitive to smells. There is one scent that I’m very picky about when I’m about to practice yoga or sit for meditation—food. I’m sure you can imagine why. The last thing you want to be while practicing yoga or aiming for a deep meditation is to be hungry. Sometimes smelling food starts an automatic hungry reflex. Whether I’m at home or in a hotel room I clear out the surrounding scent with fresh air, either by opening the windows or turning on a fan. I make sure that all food items are stored properly and all dirty dishes are placed in the dishwasher or cleaned. Then, I’ll either light a scented candle, burn some incense or diffuse some essential oil. If I’m traveling and I don’t have an oil diffuser what can also work is to place a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball near the fan or AC vent.

    5. Mat, Props and Cushions

    While I travel with a shawl stuffed into my suitcase, I do not often travel with a full set of yoga accessories. If I’m traveling and teaching I often borrow a yoga mat. Some hotels have yoga mats in the gyms. But there is a really great trick for yoga in hotel rooms—use a big bath towel right on the carpeted floor. Don’t let not having a mat stop you from practicing while traveling. Using a big bath towel is about as big as a yoga mat and will give you good traction and cushioning. For a cushion, grab a pillow off the sofa, chair or bed. For props, be creative—instead of a block, use a book or a bottle. Instead of a bolster, use a pillow. For your home yoga room, there is no need to go out and purchase the full set of yoga accessories. Instead, think consciously about what tools you actually use in your practice. Then choose the ones that will truly assist your practice and keep them neatly stored in a designated area along with your yoga mat.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Five Common Mistakes that Hold your Home Yoga Practice Back

    I saw the most progress in my yoga practice when I practiced at home, alone. When there was no one there to watch me I discovered who I really was in relation to yoga and I found out what this practice really was to me. When you face difficult poses without the guidance of a teacher to support your body, you are forced to find a way to make even what feels impossible work.

    Yoga really became an introspective journey of self-exploration after I got established as a home yoga practitioner. There are common mistakes that many students make when they’re trying to set up a regular home yoga practice. I faced many of them and I’m sharing some of my self-sabotaging moments with you so that you can hopefully avoid them.

    Decision Fatigue

    If you stand on your mat and have to ask yourself the question—what shall I practice?—you will have a harder time actually practicing. When you spend valuable mental resources just deciding on what to practice rather than on actually practicing, you can end up exhausted before you start. To alleviate that, try this. Instead of waiting until you’re on your yoga mat to decide what to practice, have a set routine that you do every day. If you practice Ashtanga Yoga then this is already there for you in the repetition of the same series of poses every day. But, if you’re looking to establish a home yoga practice with the support of online videos, that’s something else. Set time aside on Sundays to choose one video that you’ll practice for the week and then practice with that video every day for the whole week. So many people want something new each time they get on their mats. But if you only do a routine once you won’t give it time to integrate. Having a set routine helps you get better at that routine. Repeating the same thing over and over with intelligence targeted for improvement is the definition of practice. There are studies that show that reconsuming content relaxes the nervous system. Just think about watching a rerun of your old favorite show. If you cannot stand to do the same class every day, then try setting a playlist for one week of practice and repeating that week of practice for four weeks. At Omstars, we create playlists of the week to help guide students through their yoga journey.

    Distraction

    Let’s face it, being home is distracting. Between laundry, dishes, dust, and the mail, there is always something to do. Turn off messages apps and disable your phone function while practicing. If you use an online video streaming service to guide your practice, try setting the phone or device to WiFi only and quitting your messaging apps. That way you won’t get interrupted by phone calls during your practice. Don’t feel like you have to answer the door for every package that arrives. Some deliveries requires a signature, but most parcels can be left at your door. If you notice dust in the corners make a note of it, but don’t stop your practice to start cleaning. If you hear the ding of the washing machine, avoid the temptation to get off your mat and put the clothes in the dryer.

    Ease Friction

    Choosing your yoga clothes first thing in the morning can be daunting and lead to distraction. Lay out your yoga clothes the night before and place them by your bed. Then, the moment you get up out of bed put on your yoga clothes. If you like to shower first thing in the morning, they place your yoga clothes next to the shower so they are ready for you. Studies show that once you’re wearing exercise clothes you are much more likely to actually just do the activity. Similarly, unroll your mat. If you can in fact keep the mat unrolled in a permanent place that’s even better. But if not, then unroll the mat as soon as possible and go stand on the yoga mat in your clothes. At some moment the practice will simply start happening.

    Not Eating

    I know the yoga dogma says don’t eat before practice. This works well if you can get on your mat within an hour or two after waking up. But, if you’re a parent who has to shuttle kids to school before getting on your mat it can be hours between when you wake up until when you get on your mat. Trying not to eat before practice can lower your blood sugar and make your body too hungry to practice properly. The solution? Eat a small, healthy breakfast early in the morning that will be digested before you get on your mat later in the day.

    Going it Alone

    As a home yoga practitioner you may feel like island on your own. Your family may or may not support your decision to get on the mat from the beginning. Connecting with yogis in a virtual community can be a big support. Whether you decide to join a yoga challenge or get involved in some of the thriving online communities built around certain yoga channels or just cultivate a few friendships with fellow yogis that inspire you, building relationships in your yoga world means a lot. When a friend leaves a positive comment on your post it motivates you to keep going. Similarly, checking in with fellow yogis that you find inspirational can keep you motivated. Remember, it’s not about comparison and competition but genuine connection and community.

    What other obstacles do you face in your home yoga practice? Share them below!

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor, Backbending yoga pose, how yoga works

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • The Myth of the Pain-Free Practice

    With your first heartbeat, you sign up for a ride called life. Life is a Self or God choreographed sequence sprinkled with crazy experiences, joyous events and untimely disasters you couldn’t even imagine ever happening to you. What an amazing ride.

    Not knowing everything that is going to happen in the game of life is par for the course.

    Doing everything “right” will not shield you. Following all the rules does not guarantee results because, when you signed up, you were not given the rule book in the first place. You can only do your best and follow what you think are the rules. Life comes with no guarantees. And even if it did, it is locked away in the same forgotten place you put the rule book.

    When you get on your mat, you are still within the parameters of the game of life.

    Your Yoga mat is not inside a bubble that shields you from unexpected pain. You still don’t have the rule book or even a user’s manual for your body. Scientists and doctors do not completely understand the human body. If they did, you could go to the body story right now and get a new one. You could order the perfect body on Amazon Prime and get one day delivery. You wouldn’t even need Yoga poses because you could order a body that is already primed for meditation. Want to do a handstand or put your foot behind your head? Order a body that can already can do it. Done.

    No one can promise you a pain free life or a pain free Yoga practice.

    I don’t care how many letters are behind their name, how many followers they have on Instagram, what their lineage is or if they know every muscle, bone, organ, ligament and vein in the body by heart. Your body is a complex glorious creation that no one fully understands. Throughout your life, this body is shaped and formed by unique experiences, many of which you don’t even remember. Even the traumas you do remember can shape your body in a way that is completely undetectable by you, your doctor, your pastor or your teacher. A movement, a food, a scenario that has never been a problem, all of a sudden is.

    No Yoga alignment, anatomy or technique training comes with a mind/body/soul reader that allows you and your teacher to see every single trauma, ailment, bacteria, fungus, and diseased cell in your body. No one can see the ticking time bomb that is your existence. Even if this mythical machine existed, you would need to be scanned with it every minute of the day because you are constantly having new experiences and being exposed to new inputs that could possibly become a problem.

    Learning as much as you can about your body prevents most injuries and ailments but not all of them.

    Studying with teachers who know a lot about the body, will prevent many Yoga injuries, but not all of them. If you get stuck on the idea that there is a such thing as a pain free Yoga practice or existence, your Yoga practice will also become stuck. Why? Because there will inevitably be some pain. When that pain comes, you will have the choice of continuing your practice and learning from this new information your body and your life has given you or quitting. You will have the option to grow or stagnate.

    This article is not about pushing through pain.

    This article is not against learning as much as you can about your body and finding a good Yoga teacher who also knows a lot about the body. Do not push through pain. Please find a good Yoga teacher. Use the best technique that you can. Rest when needed. Do all of those things. This article is about the unattainable need for perfection that has also permeated the world of Yoga. If you sit and think, you can come up with many examples in life where you and people you know have done everything right and everything still ended up incredibly wrong.

    But yet, for some reason, you expect that everything that happens on your Yoga mat should and can be perfect. You expect your teachers to be perfect. Your lineage to be perfect. Your community to be perfect. All while knowing that you have never met a perfect human being in your life. Knowing that you have never met a human being that has never had pain, a baby who never cried, a man that has never been sick or woman who could predict everyone’s future with 100% accuracy. However, when you get on your mat, this magical scenario supposedly can be achieved.

    Fear is a great marketing tool.

    The world of Yoga is now bursting with people who can promise you a pain free practice, with no unpleasant feelings…for a fee. There are many charlatans building their platform on the promise that they will never hurt you. Anyone who has been in any long term loving relationship can attest to the fact that all the love in the world is not a guarantee against hard feelings and misunderstandings. Anyone who has worked with the human body for a long period of time, you fall into that category, can tell you that things don’t always go to plan. But for some reason, you feel that this smiling Yoga teacher, who also came into this world without a body rule book, can give you this guarantee.

    Another component of the promise of a pain free practice is the canceling of teachers who speak openly about their injuries. I have seen people on social media use a teacher’s injury as proof of that teacher’s ineptitude, lack of knowledge about the body or to prove that their teachings are harmful. This could be the case for sure. It could also mean that they were yet another person without the life handbook. An old soccer injury reared its head at the very moment they perfectly stacked their joints for a handstand. Or maybe, they fell down the stairs running after a baby wearing slippery house shoes (true story).

    In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2:16 it says, “Pain, that has not yet come, should be avoided.”

    This is amazing advice. You should not be seeking painful experiences in your Yoga practice. You should do everything possible to not have pain on your mat. However, without the mind body soul x ray machine, the user’s guide and the ability to know every single thing going on in your body and your student’s body at any given time, total avoidance of pain is not possible.

    By Shanna Small

    Read More Articles by Shanna Small

    Shanna Small is the author of, The Ashtanga Yoga Project, a website that teaches how to live the wisdom of Yoga in modern times. Shanna began her Yoga journey in 2000 and her teaching journey in 2005. She has studied the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chanting and Ashtanga at KPJAYI in India with Sharath Jois and Lakshmish. She received her Yoga Alliance registration for Vinyasa Yoga in 2005 and served 4 years as the director of Ashtanga Yoga School Charlotte. She has written for Yoga International, OmStars and Ashtanga Dispatch Magazine. Photo Credit: Wanda Koch Photography

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga

    So, you want to try yoga? As a beginner, it can be both overwhelming and intimidating to start. You don’t know where to begin and all the people practicing seem to fit a particular mold. Well, this beginner’s guide to yoga is designed to help you get started safely and find the tools you need to begin your own journey.

    What Time You Practice.

    Some basic things to think about are what time you practice, how often you practice, and how to choose a teacher. Practice is best done as a daily ritual, much like brushing your teeth. The body also responds to consistency with training. Choose a time that works for your schedule and then commit to that practice time for at least one full week, or ideally, one full month. Tradition yoga texts recommend to practice first thing in the morning, before breakfast and before the mind gets too stimulated.  However, if your best chance at consistency is to practice after work, at the end of the day, do that. In order to increase your likelihood of maintaining your practice, schedule “yoga” in your calendar and set a reminder five minutes before. Put on your yoga clothes as soon as you wake up in the morning. Studies show that just wearing your work-out clothes increases the likelihood of actually working out significantly.

    How Often You Practice.

    A big part of getting started is about taking the “shoulds and shouldn’ts” out of practice and really connecting to what feels right for your body, what works for your schedule and making conscious decisions that nourish your personal journey. At a minimum, I’d suggest to practice twice a week. But ideally it is recommended to practice six days a week. Five minutes a day six days a week is better than an hour once a week. The daily disciple makes a difference in how the practice integrates with your life.

    How to Choose a Teacher.

    Choosing a teacher or a class can be a big question. If you’re searching for a local teacher, find the most qualified well-trained teacher in your city and see if they offer beginner programs. if you don’t like the style of yoga that they teach after the course is over, try another studio. Remember, yogis are human beings. Don’t expect your teacher to be an enlightened master or a copy of the Buddha. They are people, just like you, who have been practicing and studying yoga for awhile. They have taken a few steps further on the yoga path than you have, but on a human-to-human level you’re equals. That being said, be open and hear what the teacher has to offer and be respectful while maintaining your personal boundaries.

    Joining a Yoga Challenge is Another Way to Get Started.

    If you’re looking to start a beginner yoga program online, there are many offerings. A good way to start is with a program that takes you through a full 30 days of practice. It helps if the online system allows you to track your progress so that you can both hold yourself accountable and give yourself positive reinforcement for practice sessions completed. Just like searching for an in-person teacher, choosing the right online teacher requires a bit of research. Find the most qualified well-trained teacher whose style you connect with and see if they have a beginner yoga program. Joining a yoga challenge is another way to get started. When you’re practicing at home you’ll miss the feeling of community that you get at a yoga studio. But when you join a yoga challenge there is a virtual community of yoga that you connect with as you practice and share the experience together.

    You Don’t Need All the Gear to Start.

    You don’t need all the gear to start, especially if you’re practicing at home. If you have an area rug or carpeted floor you can just put on a pair of old sweatpants and a t-shirt and follow the videos. No one cares what you wear at most authentic yoga studios, but sometimes it just feels safer to start at home when you no know it’s just you and the practice. Try it out for a week or two and then if you fall in love with the practice, buy a mat.

    Allow Yourself to be Where You Are.

    Don’t expect to be good at yoga from your first class or even first 1,000 classes. If you think you need to be flexible and strong from the beginning then yoga will be utterly impossible. Instead, allow yourself to be where you are, which is at the beginning of your journey. In doing so you will learn your first lesson from the yoga practice—that is, how to be humble enough to admit the vulnerable truth that you’re a beginner. It doesn’t feel good to be the person in the room who seems not to know what pose to do, where to put your mat or have to modify all the poses. But, every single yoga practitioner has gone through just that. Even the master teachers whose practice seems to exist in an effortless gravity-free zone started off dazed and confused by even the most basic poses. When I first started the practice I couldn’t touch my toes in a forward bend, lift my body off the ground or say a single word in Sanskrit. Over twenty-years later and things look a lot different.

    You Don’t Need to be Particularly Good At Yoga To Experience the Deep Benefits of the Practice.

    It takes time. If you think yoga will be a panacea for all your life’s problems within your first class, you will be disillusioned. But if you commit to at least a month of consistent practice, somewhere between three to six days per week you will start to experience some small shifts that act like a beacon for the path ahead. You don’t need to be particularly good at yoga to experience the deep benefits of the practice. You just need to show up on your mat and try. It takes at least a year of practice before you will start to notice substantial life changes. Commit to the practice for the long haul and the practice will lead you down the rabbit hole of personal transformation, the end of which brings your life more peace, happiness and joy. That’s the promise that yoga makes to every single practitioner. All you have to do is keep practicing and put in the work.

    Expect to be Sore.

    Expect to be sore. I still remember the morning after my first yoga class. During and immediately after the session I felt amazing. My mind was calm in a way that I hadn’t known possible and my body felt light and free. The next morning, however, I could barely walk. My hamstring muscles were so sore and achy that I could hardly move at first. I started off practicing two days a week. That lasted for about four months before I jumped into a six day a week practice. Each time I increased the frequency, length or intensity of my practice I got sore in new places. A healthy dose of muscular soreness that leads to increased strength and flexibility is part of the practice of yoga. Twenty-years later and I’m still sore!

    There is No End to the Journey.

    Think about yoga as a slow steady progression towards a more mobile body, a happier and more peaceful life. The more you give to the practice, the more it gives back to you. There is no end to the journey, just more steps to lead deeper down to center of yourself. Much more than just a bunch of poses, stretches and power moves, yoga is a true spiritual path that opens the door to deep life learning. At first you may not make the connection between body, mind and soul, but that’s ok, that’s why you’re here on the mat and why you want to start yoga. Whether you’re interested in beginning yoga because you want to heal your body, relieve chronic pain, decrease anxiety, lift depression, manage your temper, or whether you’re on a spiritual quest from the beginning, the practice can be for you. All it takes is that you show up, unroll your mat and practice every day you can.

    Ready to get started with yoga?

    Start the Yoga Is Challenge Today!

    Explore what yoga is to you, and start the Yoga Is Challenge! Every day for 30 days, receive a new accessible practice designed to guide you on a process of inner awakening. Each class will be centered around a pose with modifications to make it truly accessible & offer key lessons about the meaning yoga can have in your life. This challenge is appropriate for all levels from beginner to the most advanced. Commit to the Yoga Is Challenge to experience more peace, happiness, & love in your life.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Why do you practice yoga? Kino Macgregor Ashtanga Yoga teacher, OMstars

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga & 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga & practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram & over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube & Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world. To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center & experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, & ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone.

  • Breath is Life

    Breath is directly linked to life force energy. Yoga often uses the word prana which refers both to the breath and to the vital energies of our body. As we move breath through the body, we also move Prana. The steadiness, fullness and depth of our breath reflects the same characteristics of that vital flow of energy.

    The practice of pranayama, the fourth limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is the practice of intentionally directing the movement of the breath. It requires practice to become aware of our breath and to direct it intentionally. As we focus our attention on the movement of our inhales and exhales, our awareness is drawn inward to experience ourselves on a deeper, less distracted level. So how does this benefit us? What are the effects of breath control?

    On the physiological level, breath is literally life. The oxygen we take into our bodies through breath is processed through our lungs and heart into our blood where it is transferred throughout the body to every single cell. Within the cells, oxygen is the catalyst for the chemical reaction that creates energy, it keeps our cells alive. Our cells breathe. Breath equals prana equals life. The more effective our breathing, the healthier our bodies are on the cellular level. The health of our cells affects the well being of the entirety of our anatomy: our abdominal organs, our brain, our muscles, bones, skin, blood… literally everything.

    While breathing is something that happens naturally without our effort it is also something that we can control, direct, and manipulate. It can happen on the subconscious level as well as the conscious level, a function of the autonomic as well as the somatic nervous systems. It is the only system in the body like this. The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic, our fight, flight, or freeze response, and parasympathetic, our rest and digest function. You may easily observe how the breath responds within these two functions. When we are stressed, experiencing some extreme emotion or circumstance, our breath becomes quick, forceful, possibly erratic.

    When we are at rest, calm, and peaceful, our breath slows, and lengthens, even quiets. Our breath responds to our state of mind and emotions. This relationship also exists in the reverse. Our nervous system is affected by our breath. By intentionally slowing, lengthening, deepening the breath, we send a message via the diagram and vegas nerve throughout our body that all is well, we are safe, we are at peace, slowing the heart rate and initiating relaxation. Through the breath, we can control the state of our minds and emotions, we can control our experiences.

    In our asana practice, we are increasingly challenging the steadiness of our breath. The first layer of an asana practice, especially a vinyasa method, is the breath. The breath establishes a rhythm and dynamic, and we then layer movement over it. Ideally the movement and positions of our bodies do not alter the pace, rhythm, or tone of our breath. Of course, this is difficult, this is the challenge, this is the point. We are intentionally creating increasingly intense situations for our nervous system and then requiring our breath to remain steady, requiring our nervous system to remain steady. This practice over time lengthens the space between impulses, allowing us the time to make intentional discriminative choices of response rather than pre-thought reaction. Establishing control of breath affects the experience of our nervous system, allowing us to grab the reins of our impulses, directing thought and eventually life force energy.

    Pranayama practice similarly creates a challenge for our nervous system but instead of maintaining an even steadiness of breath, it varies the rhythm and pace of breath, working with retentions and alternating the use of the nostrils. By challenging the extremes of breath, it challenges the experience of the nervous system and asks us to remain calm, remain at peace, remain in control. Physiologically, it strengthens the muscles of respiration and increases lung capacity which improves the efficacy of the function of breathing.
    New research is still being done on the breath, particularly how it affects our brain and its functions. One recent study I’ve heard about focused on different mindfulness practices, like yoga asana and meditation.

    They found that the common link that resulted in neurological benefits was the attention to the breath. Another breath study of epileptics came to a similar conclusion, they observed that different types of controlled breathing activated different regions of the brain, noting that simply focusing on controlling the breath may be the key. Our focused intention lights up otherwise un-accessed parts of the brain. A third study I recently came across was related to how breath affects the cleansing function of brain fluid. The fluid of the brain is meant to draw out impurities and toxins to be filtered and released from the body. The depth and breadth of the breath seemed to increase the volume and effectiveness of this process which has implications for diseases like Alzheimers.

    The breath is our link between the conscious and subconscious mind. It is the communication between our body’s experience and our mind’s awareness. It is connection. The breath supports the vitality of every key cell in our body, affecting the functionality of every system. It is the force that drives vitality, prana. It is life. Giving attention to breath in our yogic practices provides deep and broad benefits to our body, mind, and spirit.

    By Angelique Sandas

    Practice Ashtanga with Angelique on Omstars

    Angelique Sandas is a life long student of movement and the interconnectedness of mind body and spirit. It began with gymnastics and dance, initiating her love of movement, the body’s natural way of expressing ideas, emotions, and experiences. Angelique received her B.A. in dance from the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1999. It was during these years that she was first introduced to yoga. In yoga, Angelique’s relationship with movement developed new depth and meaning. Movement became a path to profound inner transformation. She was inspired to share what she was learning and felt drawn to teach. In 2003, Angelique traveled to Thailand to study with Paul Dallaghan in the Ashtanga yoga system as taught by K. Pattabhi Jois and received her teaching certification. She has also studied pranayama and yogic philosophy with Sri O.P. Tiwari of the Kaivalyadhama Institute, India and received advanced anatomy and adjustment training from David Keil. Until 2007, Angelique taught and practiced in Chicago. She then moved to Miami Beach where she worked closely in the Ashtanga method with her teacher and mentor Kino MacGregor as well as Tim Feldmann and Greg Nardi at Miami Life Center. Angelique ran the Mysore program at Shanti Yoga Shala in Philadelphia, PA in 2012 – 2013 and Delray Yoga Shala in Delray Beach, FL. 2014 – 2016. Currently, Angelique runs a Mysore program Ashtanga Yoga Palm Beach at Yoga Path Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, FL. She remains a dedicated instructor and a devoted student of yoga, growing into the potential of the spirit through it’s physical expression.

  • Downward Dog: Reexamining What is Habitual

    I teach a broad range of classes, from basics to hot vinyasa to honey flow (and if that intrigues you, check out my website!). Joining those classes on any day are a range of yogis from beginners to advanced to fellow teachers, those with whom I have practiced for years and those I meet for the first time.

    Now for the surprise. I break down downward dog to every single student in every single class. Only a day-one yogi has never been in downward dog, so of course, it is my honor to introduce that yogi to this foundational pose.

    And most yogis who have been in downward dog many times can still benefit from the grounding instructions, “sharpen your arms, bring your toes up to engage the front of the legs, don’t worry about touching your heels down to the ground.”

    But what about the advanced yogis? What about fellow teachers in my class? Is there a purpose to breaking down a pose they do dozens of times each and every day? Yes. And it is a reason that extends far beyond downward dog and even more broadly than yoga.

    Things we do again and again become habitual. In fact, it is a great evolutionary survival mechanism of our brains that we can approach familiar movements with an automaticity that reserves our precious brain power for novel endeavors.

    But this automaticity exacts a toll. It can be hard to be mindful in the habitual. Reexamining the things we do regularly can give them a renewed sense of purpose. So no matter how many times you have been in downward dog, make it feel like your first.

    • Feel the even weight of your body between your limbs.
    • Sharpen your legs, sharpen your arms, and extend the side of your trunk.
    • Push the front of your thighs towards the back of your thighs and lift your hips upwards and backwards.
    • Feel the stretch extend from the soles of your feet, through your calves and into your hamstrings. Let that lengthen your spine.
    • As you fold forward, sending your unique energy inward, accept that calming effect on your nervous system and allow yourself to look within. I bet you’ll like what you find. 

    By Ahmed Soliman

    Check out Ahmed’s Mindful Alignment course on Omstars

    Practice with Ahmed LIVE on Omstars

    Before I found yoga and began teaching, I was a wildlife biologist and environmental scientist. Serving the natural environment and helping to recover endangered species was my way of giving to a greater good. This is a concept that I’ve carried daily into a yogic lifestyle, both in teaching and in practice. I seek to serve this community in a way that supports strength, healing, and sustainability. After having multiple knee surgeries due to a car accident, I myself sought these qualities from my own encounter with yoga. I had to transition from contact sports like soccer to the safer and deeper space that the practice provides. A continuing student of Iyengar yoga, vinyasa, and meditation, I believe that awareness of breath, knowledge of the body, and mental focus on the mat lead to mindfulness and living harmoniously off the mat. I draw from my own experience and the study of human anatomy to offer a safe and grounded space for practitioners. I endeavor to help them explore their physical boundaries with a focus on intelligent alignment, awareness of breath, and steadying or relaxation of the mind. I have studied with Nikki Costello, Nikki Vilella, Magi Pierce, and other influential teachers. I am an ERYT-200 hour yoga alliance certified teacher with additional specialized training in anatomy, meditation and yoga nidra. Connect with Ahmed on Instagram or http://yogisoli.com/

  • Yoga for Menstruation

    As someone who has had to seek medical intervention in the past, I can tell you that the most consistent relief I’ve had has happened since I have had a consistent yoga practice.

    Menstruation can be hard. Whereas it’s normal and expected once girls hit puberty, those 5-8 days can be dreadfully, frighteningly painful for many women. From anxiety to mood swings, lower back pain to crippling abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea to constipation. As someone who has had to seek medical intervention in the past, I can tell you that the most consistent relief I’ve had has happened since I have had a consistent yoga practice. Try adding yoga to your daily routine and see how it helps. You can also try these yoga poses for menstruation. They will help to relieve symptoms of bloating, heavy bleeding, PMS and lower back pain.

    Supta Baddha Khonasana

    This is a reclined variation of Butterfly Pose. You can also place a cushion, bolster or blanket under your back, the entire length of the spine. Hands can be flat on the ground, palms up. Or, you can place one hand on the heart, the other on the lower pelvic belly. Breathe. This pose opens up the hips and groin area and helps to relieve traditional lower abdominal cramps. Stay here for 5 minutes.

    Legs Up The Wall

    This pose is especially helpful for those of us who struggle with lower back pain associated with our period. It supports the lower back and the relaxed position, with the spine flat on the ground, eases compression in the lower back area. If a wall is not available, feel free to choose a similar variation but with the knees bent and feet drawn close to the glutes. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes.

    Bound Angle/Cobbler/Butterfly Pose

        

     

    Bound Angle Pose works by opening and massaging the pelvic area of the body. This pose can also help with heavy bleeding. You can sit with the spine straight, grabbing the feet. Or, place several blankets, a bolster or a cushion underneath the torso and come into a folded variation. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

    Sideways Cat Stretch

    From all fours: inhale center, exhale, try to bring the head to the glutes. Alternate, left and right sides.
    The aim here is to help the pelvic muscles to relax and ease the discomfort that results in cramping pain when those muscles contract. Repeat 5 times on each side.

    Supine Twist:

    Supine twists are great for relieving the symptoms associated with menstrual cramps. They aid by easing the discomfort in the lower pelvic region and also stimulating blood flow and circulation. The stretch on the lower back and hips is also quite soothing. Add a bolster, cushion or folded blankets under the bent leg to make yourself more comfortable. Then stay in this pose, on each side, for 3-5 minutes.

    Savasana

    Menstruation often comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Savasana relaxes and calms the nervous system and helps to balance the emotions. Hold Savasana for 5 minutes.

    Happy period.

    By Sasha Daley

     

    I started practicing yoga in 2015. I had a pain in my knee and, after searching Google, figured I had nothing to lose by trying. I watched my life and relationships become transformed by my practice. So much so that I pursued my 200 HR certification with Bodhi Yoga Academy in 2018. I advocate yoga and it’s transformative, healing properties for all peoples and all bodies. I see yoga as a safe space, a place where we forget who we think we are, who we’re expected to be; it is where we allow the body, the mind, the breath to be so perfectly intertwined that we can just be. Being a teacher is great. Being a student of the practice is, by far, my greatest accomplishment.

  • Demystifying the Mysore Method

    And even if you have some knowledge of what Mysore is, the idea of taking a class may be a bit intimidating.  I totally understand. It is hard to anticipate what you are in for when you think about taking your first Mysore class. However, it really is a very welcoming and inclusive form of yoga practice even for beginners. Maybe especially for beginners. Allow me to clear up some of the haze around the mysterious Mysore Method.

    I teach the Mysore method of Ashtanga Yoga.  Have you heard of it? If you practice any yoga technique you have probably heard of Ashtanga, but Mysore may be a mystery.  And even if you have some knowledge of what Mysore is, the idea of taking a class may be a bit intimidating.  I totally understand. It is hard to anticipate what you are in for when you think about taking your first Mysore class. However, it really is a very welcoming and inclusive form of yoga practice even for beginners. Maybe especially for beginners. Allow me to clear up some of the haze around the mysterious Mysore Method.

    First of all, let’s be clear on what Ashtanga is. Ashtanga Yoga is a vinyasa method. Vinyasa refers to the synchronizing of movement to breath. Breath is the first layer, a steady flowing of in and out, setting the pace and dynamic of your yoga practice. The body’s movement is layered over the constant rhythm of the breath. In a vinyasa method, such as Ashtanga, the postures, moments of stillness, are linked by transitional movement sequences. Every breath has an assignment, either to maintain and deepen the experience within the posture or to transition from one posture to the next. In this way, the mental connection to the practice can remain unbroken. From the first inhalation to the last exhalation, the practitioner is asked to stay focused, stay engaged, stay in their yoga.

    Practice with Angelique LIVE on Omstars

    Ashtanga is a vinyasa method that has a set sequence of postures. You do the same postures in the same order ever time. The sequence is progressive in that each posture is built on the information received from previous ones. There are six series of postures, each one more challenging than the last. The first is referred to as Primary Series, also Yoga Chikitsa, yoga therapy, and is intended to rehabilitate the body. The postures address the main areas of the body: spinal column, hips, knees, shoulders, as well as the internal organs. The intention is to assist in healing old injuries, correcting chronic patterns, and bringing the body to its most optimal neutral state. The second series, referred to as intermediate series, or Nadi Shodana, is a practice of nerve cleansing. This practice deals with purifying the energy channels of the body. The third series and beyond continue to challenge the physical body and the subtle bodies of energy, mind, emotion, and spirit in increasingly deep and intense ways. Each series can take many years to learn and fully integrate. Most practitioners find a lifetime of benefit within the primary series alone. A handful may venture into the intermediate series and only a few work their way into the advanced series of Ashtanga Yoga.

    Mysore then is the traditional self-practice approach to the Ashtanga technique. It derives its name from the city in India, Mysuru, where it developed and where the current head of the lineage continues to live and teach. In a Mysore class, each student moves independently, according to the timing of their own breath, through the sequence of postures as they have learned them from their teacher. The teacher moves through the room, giving assistance, instruction, and guidance as needed on a one on one basis. This method requires a commitment of time and effort. Frequent and consistent practice results in deeper understanding and greater connection to the work of the yoga. It is considered to be a daily practice that includes one day of rest per week, rest on the full and new moons, and rest for women during their monthly cycles.

    When a student new to the practice begins, the teacher provides a lot of attention and instruction, teaching them the beginning sequences of the practice, bit by bit. They do not need to know anything about Ashtanga to begin, they don’t even need to know anything about yoga! The instructor meets them where they are and teaches them the practice at the pace that best suits them. Every practitioner is different and this method honors that. The teacher determines the student’s readiness to progress deeper into the challenges of the practice. As the student mentally integrates the order of postures and physically integrates the information of each pose, the teacher gives them more information; more poses, building slowly and intentionally through the series.

    Practice the Primary Series with Angelique on Omstars

    The nature of the method allows for a significant amount of independence for the student. They are required to memorize the order of postures and to flow through them according to that memory. They are also given the space and time to give attention to areas they struggle with. A student may do one posture two or three times to work on obstacles before continuing through the sequence, or may stay a bit longer in order explore an experience. There is opportunity for each student to do the work they need to do in order to best receive benefit of the practice.

    This method also allows for a relationship to develop between student and teacher. A good teacher of Ashtanga Mysore is assessing your progress as it projects forward into the days, weeks, months, even years to come. They are aiming to develop a program that will help you navigate the practice according to your specific strengths and weakness. Trust grows in this relationship based on an understanding and empathy from the teacher and a knowledge that the teacher has themselves gone through the same process. The student is tasked with finding their teacher, the person they connect with, can trust, and allow the overall guidance of their practice.

    Ashtanga Mysore can be an incredibly transformative yoga practice. The set sequence allows for a daily checking in of progress and the fluctuations caused by…well, life. If the practice remains the same, day to day, what changes? We do. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states are subject to fluctuations. This is natural. The consistency and structure of the Ashtanga method is the framework within which we can become aware of and assess these fluctuations. As we develop understanding of how our lives affect us, we can make choices. We can learn to respond intentionally rather than react impulsively or out of habit. The set sequence also allows for muscle memory to develop, freeing the focus of the mind to enter a more meditative state. When we no longer have to think about what pose comes next, we can fully immerse in the present, in the sensations of the posture and the thoughts and emotions that arise. We can find and cultivate the inner witness of the present moment, the self that observes and can remain steady within the swirl of distraction. When the self can be at peace, no matter the intensity of the posture, the self can also be at peace no matter what challenges are encountered off the mat.

    By Angelique Sandas

    Angelique Sandas is a life long student of movement and the interconnectedness of mind body and spirit. It began with gymnastics and dance, initiating her love of movement, the body’s natural way of expressing ideas, emotions, and experiences. Angelique received her B.A. in dance from the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1999. It was during these years that she was first introduced to yoga. In yoga, Angelique’s relationship with movement developed new depth and meaning. Movement became a path to profound inner transformation. She was inspired to share what she was learning and felt drawn to teach. In 2003, Angelique traveled to Thailand to study with Paul Dallaghan in the Ashtanga yoga system as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and received her teaching certification. She has also studied pranayama and yogic philosophy with Sri O.P. Tiwari of the Kaivalyadhama Institute, India and received advanced anatomy and adjustment training from David Keil. Until 2007, Angelique taught and practiced in Chicago. She then moved to Miami Beach where she worked closely in the Ashtanga method with her teacher and mentor Kino MacGregor as well as Tim Feldmann and Greg Nardi at Miami Life Center. Angelique ran the Mysore program at Shanti Yoga Shala in Philadelphia, PA in 2012 – 2013 and Delray Yoga Shala in Delray Beach, FL. 2014 – 2016. Currently, Angelique runs a Mysore program Ashtanga Yoga Palm Beach at Yoga Path Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, FL. During her 2011 visit to study in Mysore, India, Angelique received Authorization to teach Ashtanga Yoga. She remains a dedicated instructor and a devoted student of yoga, growing into the potential of the spirit through it’s physical expression.

  • Yogis at Ramadan

    When I teach yoga, I often say to my students “as you are.” For example, “as you are, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” What I really mean is something much deeper than that. As you are — whatever you brought with you to this mat and this practice, whatever your body is today, whatever emotional or spiritual energy you have with you, we can work with it because as you are, right now, is exactly as you are supposed to be.

    This month, Ramadan, is one of deep inward reflection for Muslims. For many non-Muslims, the month of Ramadan immediately suggests a time of fasting, hardship, and deprivation. Perhaps for those very reasons, many of my non-Muslim friends are shocked to hear that I maintain my same yoga teaching and practice schedule throughout my observance of Ramadan. They are indeed correct that Ramadan involves fasting — from dawn to sunset, Muslims, myself included, refrain from the intake of food and drink and even abstain from bodily pleasures of intimacy. And they are certainly correct that this is a deprivation and can be a hardship, but the result is a time of deep cleansing and renewal and the effect supports and enhances my yoga practice. My yoga practice is deeper and more spiritual than it is at any other time of the year. Yoga and Ramadan bring out the best in each other and the combination brings out the best in me.

    When I teach yoga, I often say to my students “as you are.” For example, “as you are, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” What I really mean is something much deeper than that. As you are — whatever you brought with you to this mat and this practice, whatever your body is today, whatever emotional or spiritual energy you have with you, we can work with it because as you are, right now, is exactly as you are supposed to be.

    “As you are” takes on an even deeper meaning to me during the month of Ramadan, because it is a month stripped bare of distractions. We spend a lot of time distracting ourselves from who we are. For many of us, we are not comfortable facing who we truly are, so we distract ourselves with food, alcohol, sex, curated, online personas of ourselves, memories of what we once did, anxieties about what we might one day do. In fact, we have any number of tools at our disposal to keep us from facing the stripped down truth of who we are, as we are, at any particular moment. Yoga provides one framework for accessing our true selves, as we are, by penetrating and examining the five koshas, or sheaths, that overlay our true selves. The observance of Ramadan helps us strip away the distractions and focus on each kosha.

    Annamaya is the physical layer, our flesh and bones. During Ramadan, we fast during daylight hours and make careful choices to hydrate and nourish ourselves during the precious few hours between sundown and dawn, mindful of the delicate balance with our bodies’ countervailing need for sleep. Making the right choices involves a keen understanding of our physical selves, where our body is on that day and in that moment.

    Pranayama is our energetic layer, manifesting through the breath as a symbol of the energy of life. Islam encourages us to find balance in our lives and, during the month of Ramadan, we are asked to fast from the worldly desires that may, at other times, overtake us and throw us out of balance. During this month, we fast from temptations, anger, and aggression. Instead, we prioritize compassion, kindness, giving, and community involvement. This renewed focus cleanses our energetic selves.

    Manomaya is the mind, our means to self-identify, and Vijnanamaya is our intellect and wisdom. During the month of Ramadan, we increase our practices of reflection, contemplation, meditation, devotion, and prayers. Our increased prayer practice forces us out of the daily bustle and drops us into ourselves. This inward focus quiets the noise of our daily lives and connects us deeply with our own spiritual beliefs. Free from that noise, we understand who we are and we grow the intellect and wisdom that supports us on our path.

    Anandamaya is the absolute truth, our true self, as we are, at this moment. These daily practices purify our body, our mind, and our soul. Ultimately, they help us pull back the curtains we wrap around ourselves and face the reality of who we are. It might not be quite who we thought. It might not be an Instagram-perfect reality. It might be something we’ve been avoiding. But finding our true self is important because it links us to God. Believing in God requires you to find yourself and believe in yourself, after all, you are the only version of yourself that He made. To ignore or hide your true self is to ignore God. To change yourself or avoid your true self is to assume that God made a mistake in creating you. He didn’t. We tend to look for things in the wrong places, God included. In Arabic, we say Allah for God, pronounced al-Luh. When we say it over and over, it mimics the sound of our own beating heart. Our own heart is the best place to find our connection to God. 

    So, find your true self and celebrate what you find.  You may not be perfect, but you are as you should be, right now.

    Practice with Ahmed on Omstars

    By Ahmed Soliman

    Before I found yoga and began teaching, I was a wildlife biologist and environmental scientist. Serving the natural environment and helping to recover endangered species was my way of giving to a greater good. This is a concept that I’ve carried daily into a yogic lifestyle, both in teaching and in practice. I seek to serve this community in a way that supports strength, healing, and sustainability. After having multiple knee surgeries due to a car accident, I myself sought these qualities from my own encounter with yoga. I had to transition from contact sports like soccer to the safer and deeper space that the practice provides. A continuing student of Iyengar yoga, vinyasa, and meditation, I believe that awareness of breath, knowledge of the body, and mental focus on the mat lead to mindfulness and living harmoniously off the mat. I draw from my own experience and the study of human anatomy to offer a safe and grounded space for practitioners. I endeavor to help them explore their physical boundaries with a focus on intelligent alignment, awareness of breath, and steadying or relaxation of the mind. I have studied with Nikki Costello, Nikki Vilella, Magi Pierce, and other influential teachers. I am an ERYT-200 hour yoga alliance certified teacher with additional specialized training in anatomy, meditation and yoga nidra. Connect with Ahmed on Instagram or http://yogisoli.com/

    Join live classes with Ahmed on Omstars

  • A Simple Sequence for Gentle Yoga with Kaitlyn

    Set your day up for success with simple stretches in the morning. This simple gentle yoga sequence will guide you through the steps and help set your intention for the rest of the day.

    You’ll need your mat, a quiet space, and blocks or books for this sequence. Start by finding a comfortable seat. Bring your hands palm face down on your knees if you’d like to ground down your energy, or face up if you’d like to receive energy for the day, or one of each if you can’t decide.

    Take a moment to notice your sit bones grounding into the space beneath you, the length of your spine, and the crown of your head reaching toward the sky. Allow your shoulders to relax away from the ears, soften the facial muscles, and relax the space between the eyebrows. Start to bring your awareness to your breath, taking deep inhales, and slowly releasing the breath on an exhalation.

    Focus on your breath, and set an intention for the day.

    Bringing your palms face down on your knees, inhale to press the heart center forward, begin to lift the chin and the gaze, and roll the shoulders away from the ears.

    As you exhale, begin to round the spine as you tuck the chin toward the chest and fall back on your seat. Repeat three times.

    Next, bring your chin to your chest, roll the chin along the collar bone rolling right ear to right shoulder, lower the left hand toward the earth or a block, and gently rest your right hand on the side of your head without putting any pressure on it, just allowing the weight of your hand to give you a deeper stretch. Repeat on both sides.

    Inhale and bring your arms overhead, palms can press at the top, or your arms can be separated, and exhale to bring hands through to heart center. Repeat three times.

      

     

    Inhale to reach the arms overhead, and exhale to lower the right hand toward the earth, walk or slide the fingertips away from you, and reach the left arm overhead for a side stretch. Repeat three times on both sides.

    Next, inhale to reach the arms overhead, and exhale to twist towards the right, bringing your right arm behind you like a kickstand, and the left arm in front, bringing your hand either onto the floor or your right thigh. Use the breath as a tool to soften into your twist. Repeat three times on both sides.

    Slowly make your way onto hands and knees into a table top position, allowing your shoulders to stack over the wrists, and your hips to stack over the knees. You can bring a blanket under your knees, or fold your mat for more support for your knees. Inhale as you press the heart center forward lifting the chin and lifting the gaze. Exhale as you round the spine, pressing the ground away from you, tucking the chin towards the chest. Repeat Cat/Cow three times.

         

    Walk the hands slightly forward and begin to lift the sit bones up and back for downward facing dog, keeping the feet hip distance apart. Take a shorter down dog than you usually would, and invite a bend into the knees. Alternate from side to side to bend into the knees, and maybe move the hips from side to side. Do what feels good in your body today. Pause here for a few deep breaths, and bring your focus back to your intention.

    Moving into your Anjaneyasana, or low lunge pose, step your right foot to the top of the mat between the hands. Lower your back knee towards the earth, and square the hips toward the front of the mat. You can place blocks or books under your hands to bring the ground up toward you. Pressing the heart center forward, start to breathe into this space for a moment.

    Start to walk blocks/books back toward your body. Straighten into the front leg, bringing the toes to point up towards the sky. If you’re feeling tight, stay right here, or gently fold over the front leg.

    Now working with the breath, inhale to bend into the knee to walk the blocks/books forward opening through the heart center, and exhale as you walk the hands/blocks back in toward the body and gently fold. Use the breath as a tool and move back and forth three times. Repeat this on the second side.

    Note: if one side feels tighter then the other, don’t judge yourself. Just breathe into wherever you are on each side. If it feels better to pause in either variation, feel free to pause. Do what feels right in your body, today.

      

    Come back into your downward facing dog for a few deep breaths. Slowly bring your knees toward the earth, separating them as wide as you’d like. Bring your big toes to touch, and begin to melt into your child’s pose, bringing your sit bones toward your heels. Bring your forehead to touch the ground, or you can create fists with your hands, and stack your fists and bring your forehead to your fists. Always do what feels comfortable for you in your body.

    Pause here for a few breaths, bringing your awareness back to your breath. Are you breathing deeply? Is your mind wandering? Take a few deep grounding breaths here.

    Slowly make your way back into a comfortable seat. Bring your hands to heart center, bow the chin towards your chest, and take a moment to reflect on the intention that you set at the beginning of your practice. Thank yourself for finding time to come to your mat and practice today, and take this grounding feeling with you throughout the rest of your day.

    Namaste.

    By Kaitlyn Kreitzman

    Kaitlyn started practicing yoga in high school to combat the high demands of school work, sports, and life in New York. It was an on and off practice until college where she really became dedicated to making time on her mat daily. After realizing the amazing benefits of a yoga practice, and watching them become a reality in her life, Kaitlyn wanted to share this practice with others. She received her 200-hour RYT in 2015 from Urban Bliss Yoga In North Carolina. She taught on her college campus and in studios around the area of Fairfield Connecticut. After she graduated with a B.A. in Graphic Design and Illustration, she wanted to expand her knowledge of teaching and received her 500-hour RYT at Simplicity Yoga Studio in Long Island, New York. Kaitlyn now teaches and lives in Northwestern Colorado. She draws her inspiration for her classes from her everyday life. Kaitlyn’s classes focus on alignment, breath work, meditation, and yoga philosophy. She loves to help others take what they learn on the mat and incorporate it into their everyday lives. Kaitlyn works as the Social Media Manager, and Graphic Designer for Omstars. When she’s not teaching or practicing yoga, she enjoys camping, hiking, rock climbing, reading, and painting.