I teach SmartFLOW yoga! What is it?

Methodology and Philosophy behind SmartFlow yoga and why I’ve choosen to teach this yoga.

Somebody once asked my teacher what is SmartFLOW yoga, she answered: If Iyengar yoga and Vinyasa yoga had a baby, it would be SmartFLOW (Yes we do use props!! and we love it) . I always smile when I think about it.

The philosophy of SmartFlow is based on the fact that every living being is unique and because of this, every aspect of yoga practice is presented as an inquiry, so the practice allows each of us to ask questions to self without any excpectations for outcome.

Every practitioners is in a state of observation of itself.

We, as yoga teachers, always ask our students not to look at what their neighbors are doing since every body is different, and they should only care about their own practice. SmartFlow yoga really emphasizes that, and encourages every students to experience her full potential, and to be connected to her practice.

The philosophy of SmartFlow is to allow any practitioner to understand the language of the body and to recognize the meaning of any sensation it creates.

It allows them to communicate with their body and to accept it as it is. It also helps bringing their mind to stillness by focusing on their practice.

Most of the time this will lead the students to a deeper practice of yoga, meaning they will start to apply (or at least have an interest in) the other limbs of yoga.

Understanding the language of our own body allows us to avoid injuries. It’s important to know its boundaries, know when we have to soften and rest or, may be know when we need to be more present. In SmartFlow classes acceptance is always encouraged, acceptance toward what is and what is not today. The student is always aware that every day is different and that what is happening or not happening today might be different tomorrow.

This state of mind allows us to honor the present moment.

By this practice of inquiry SmartFlow embraces all type of yogis.

What makes it easy to celebrate the fact that every human being is individual is the (shall I say it ?) smart methodology of SmartFlow. Instead of giving rigid one size fits all cues, the sequences are created through the lens of Movement Principles, which allows to understand asanas through lines of motion.

Instructing asanas this way avoids the implication that they should look a specific way, it’s quite the opposite, it allows to create an atmosphere of exploration and inquiry.

The student is given a clear and specific movement that has a direction toward an asana and a clear route that leads her back to center.

There is a full expression of effort and a return to center.

Everybody has, because of this mechanism, a safe practice that creates spaciousness and stability in the joints. It allow the breath and prana to flow clearly.

The movement principle mechanism is the exploration of the direction that each asana moves us away from the center aka Tadasana, mountain pose.

By understanding the movement, the effort, that takes us away from center and how to return to center, we can create balanced transitions into and out of each pose, and everybody can create its own full expressionof the pose.

This mechanism allows the student to know herself, and that’s one of the goal of yoga to my humble opinion.

I have chosen to teach this style of yoga because of this. I want to teach my students how to be aware of their body, to get to know their body and accept it as it is.

In our civilization we are obsessed with our apparence and therefore we are obsessed with how our body looks like, but we are incapable of communicating with it.

We are incapable of travelling into the Self.

The practice of SmartFlow allowed me to feel parts of my body very clearly and therefore helped me to move more precisely into the asanas, without the risk of injuries, and that’s exactly what I wish for my students.

I’ve met SmartFlow yoga at a hard time of my life and It has also drove me to do some Introspection and to be more opened to meditation, it helped me to control my breathing during practice which was very hard for me.

All that benefits I got, I want to share them with my students, that’s the reasons why I want to teach this specific practice. I have experienced it, I know it works and it’s worth sharing !

It took me a little bit more than 2 years to get my certification, I could have just participated to the training, but being able to call my class SmartFLOW is a plus. Yoga practitioners know the seriousness of Annie’s teaching, and I benefit from that.

(Although beware SmartFLOW classes are given by yoga teachers certified by Annie Carpenter, and implies that this teacher has at least 500h of teacher training with at least 300h in SmartFLOW yoga, the title is SmartFLOW, do not mistake that with Smart yoga, smart vinyasa or other similar designations.)

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Bye Bye 2018

It is with no regret that I let you go. You were tough. I’m a different person than 365 days ago that’s for sure. The good thing is I’m more focus on my yoga practice. Not that I wasn’t before, but I’ve realised that it is the main thing that makes me happy.

Good things happened though!

I’ve been to India! And I loved it. (you can read my previous posts about it.)

I’ve trained a lot and with fantastic teachers and I feel very lucky! Annie Carpenter, Maty Ezraty, Dona Holleman and Krista Cahill. I’ve studied yoga philosophy with Dr John Casey and Richard Rosen.

The french Yoga Journal likes my articles and publish them on their blog. 5 of them so far!

I had the best burning man ever. It was my 10th burn and it was epic. I went there depressed and fill with dark thoughts, I left with a light heart. I’ve volunteered more than the years before and it filled me with joy.

And… I am now a certified SmartFLOW yoga instructor which makes me very happy. I’ve started to study SmartFLOW with Annie two years ago and it has deeply changed my practice and my way of teaching. I was already certified in power vinyasa and Prana flow, but I felt incomplete, it was not the yoga I was looking for. Annie’s method resonates with me, and with what I expect from a yoga practice.

All this good things helped me to step away from what brings me anxiety, pain and darkness, even when those things or persons were part of my life. I had to rethink my expectations for the future. Truth is, everything can stop in 1 second, so I will not expecting anything from anyone anymore, I’m stepping away from toxic, selfish and narcissistic people, and I will just walk my path and see how it goes.

I have many projects, but I do not expect anything from that either, I will take things one hour at a time.

I wish you all a great new year to come.

Namaste

The benefits of chair yoga

People who don’t practice have two different kind of ideas about yoga:

Those who think that we stay in Padmasana and meditate for hours, and those who think that we spend our days with the feet behind the head standing on one hand. But there are so many options between those two  ideas, and one of those options is practicing yoga sitting on a chair.

In fact, if you think about it, not everyone can practice standing, for many different reasons. The chair becomes a yoga prop, it becomes the yoga mat. This kind of practice is not only (as you could think) for the elder people, it’s also for people with health issues, or people that can’t use their legs for some reasons, but also for people at the office that don’t have the time, neither the space for a more traditional practice. By practicing on a chair they can still relax, release the tensions, and move their body. It’s beneficial for the body and the mind.

1. Benefits on the body

Practicing on a chair allows to modify a lot of traditionnal postures by making them more accessible for any kind of people/bodies. There are many postures you can do seated, a lot of twist that allows you to stretch your back and massage your internal organs, some hip openers, shoulder openers… There is also the possiblity of using the chair as a support for a standing posture, such as triangle pose or tree pose for example. Some people with balance issues might find it very helpful. 

In fact, this practice benefits to every part of the body, it allows a better bloodstream, improves balance in a significative way, detoxifies the body, ameliorates the posture and the flexibility. Moving makes the mucles more active so they get stronger, and we can say the same about the bones too.

But the body is not the only one that benefits from this practice:

2. Benefits on the mind

The simple fact of moving a little,  can give a person whith a disability or a health isuue,  new hopes, and a better self esteem. Simple things like a better balance or a bigger range of movements, even the releasing of tensions, allow inner peace. Someone stressed by a long day at the office can easily make this observation. Like in a more traditionnal yoga practice, the relation between the body and the mind is better, even the spiritual aspect of yoga can be shared. The practitioner learns how to breath in a better way too. All of this increase the well being and can even offer a better health.

Chair yoga is definitely an amazing option that should be more offered.

Stay tuned for other thoughts about my experience as a yoga teacher! Namaste.

 picture courtesy of JLC 

Weird alignment cues, how to deal with them.

Recently I went to a class for the first time, the teacher had a really great energy, and I couldn’t wait to get started. All was going well but suddenly she told us in a standing posture, that we had to put all the weight on our heels. I was surprised (it was not Utkatasana), so I asked her if what I understood was correct, and she confirmed. I tried to apply it but it didn’t feel right for my body, specially for my knees and my pelvis.

After a while, we were supposed to do chair pose and she told us to arch our back, and I was in shock because I’ve always learned the opposite. In every single class I took as a student I was asked not to arch my back in chair pose. No need to say that’s what I teach too. It felt so wrong for my back, and my pelvis, I had to fake it. And I started to lose confidence in the teacher, and lost interest in the class. I faked it until the end. But, the good side of it: I was super careful, listening more to my body and not to what she was saying, so I still had a good and different experience.

When I went home, I made some research and couldn’t find something about weight on the heels, or arching the back in chair pose, so I asked one of my teacher about it, and just like me he was really really surprised and thought it was weird if not wrong. So I asked him what to do in that case? When you go to a class where the teacher makes you do alignments that don’t seem right? And what if you don’t do them and the teacher insists and come to adjust you?

Well, he said don’t do it, and if they insist tell them that you understand what they say but that today your body is not in the mood for it, so you’re gonna do a little bit differently.

My point is it’s gonna happened some day, you will step in a class where some cues won’t feel right for your body. Just listen to it. Be aware of what your body tells you (not only in yoga), and follow the path that seems correct to you. Even the best teacher in the world can make some mistake. We all are human after all.

Namaste.

The Dharma Yoga wheel, my favorite yoga prop!

Last year, while I was doing my teacher training, the Dharma yoga wheel started to be everywhere on Instagram. I wanted to buy it bur thought it was a little expensive (almost a 100$ for a piece of PVC). One day one of the teacher I follow posted a discount code and I decided to buy it. 3 weeks later the wheel was there.

The wheel is a very nice prop to open your back. I’m doing a few exercises with it at the end of my practice almost every day. The only thing that upset me, is that you have to pay (again!!) to be able to download from the website a few pictures showing you what you can do with it. It seems that they wanted to make the more money as possible with it and in the yoga world this kind of attitude always disappoints me.

Luckily now you have the choice and many other brands came up with the same idea. Because except for the money aspect of it, this really is a great prop. Even for back pain you can massage yourself by rolling your back on the wheel. I even take it to the beach and use it to rest my back on it while I’m doing dolphin watching!

If you were hesitating, I strongly suggest you google it and find the one that suits you best, because it will take your practice to another level, and if you are a teacher, your students will appreciate the tool!

Stay tuned! Namaste.

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Sweating is good for your health!

As some of you know I’m a yoga teacher in Europe, but I’m doing all my training in the US, and one of the big difference between those two cultures in terms of practicing yoga  is the perspiration. When I’m in LA every classes I go to are given in a slightly heated room :usually around 28° Celsius ( it’s not Bikram or hot yoga), and people sweat. Oh yes they do! Even myself who I thought I wasn’t the sweating type, well, when I’m out of those classes, I look like I’m just stepping out of a shower. At first I didn’t like it, I was struggling a little, but then I realise I was a little bit more flexible, and that after a while my skin was glowing (in a good way). Even my best friend who came with me once told me that my skin was way more radiant when I was in LA than home, and the usual cold I use to have every witer simply disappeared.

Where I live and teach there are a lot of different people from all over Europe and Russia, and I don’t know if it’s because they used to live in the cold, or may be they just think sweating is dirty, or may be they don’t want to mess up their make-up, but they always ask for turning the AC on. I always disagree and explain them why. But when I attend classes as a student and someone open the window in winter or turn the AC on, I realize that my muscles are tighter, and I feel like I could hurt myself easily by going deeper in some asanas, and I don’t enjoy the class as much because it’s harder to let go in those conditions.

So let’s talk about the good effects of sweating:

1. SWEATING IS GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN

When you sweat your pores open and release the dirt that’s inside of them. I don’t make up this, ask your dermatologist! Just wash your face after, and your skin will be cleaner than ever.

2. SWEATING DETOXIFIES THE BODY

It flushes the body of substances of alcohol, cholesterol and salt. A study in 2011 found many toxic elements seems to be excreted throught sweat.

3. SWEATING MAKES YOU HAPPIER

Some research has suggested that: “temperature-sensitive neural circuits to specific regions in the brain exist and may play a significant role in controlling mood.”

4. SWEATING PREVENTS COLDS AND OTHER ILLNESS OR INFECTIONS

Some studies suggest that “human perspiration contains a naturally occuring antimicrobial peptide called dermicidin, which has been proven to fight tuberculosis germs and other dangerous pathogens, and viruses, bacteria and funghi.” The natural antibiotic is naturally activated in salty, slightly acidic sweat.

5.SWEATING LOWERS KIDNEY STONE RISK

Some research from the University of Washington found that exercise in the heat makes you sweat out salt and hepls to retain calcium in your bones rather than having them go into the kidneys and urine where stones form. Plus sweating makes you want to drink more which helps in that process too.

6. SWEATING HELPS REDUCE PAIN OFF SORE MUSCLES.

This is because of the production of endorphins that are natural painkillers.

And finally last but not least:

7. PRACTICING IN THE HEAT MAKES YOUR MUSCLES MORE FLEXIBLE WHICH CAN PREVENT INJURIES

Heat warms up the muscles, that makes your body stretch more easily, and can help you prevent injuries such as pulled muscles.

I’m not saying you should practice in a heated room if you don’t want to, what I’m trying to say here, is that practicing yoga in a room not heated is fine, but the benefits of the internal heat created by the yoga practice and the breathing, should not be interrupted by the opening of a window or turning the AC on, IT IS HEALTHY TO WEAT, IT’S NOT DIRTY. Not only it has many many benefits you should consider, but it’s nothing that you can’t get rid off  with a simple shower.

Namaste detoxified sweaty readers 😜 , stay tuned for new reflexions inspired by my yoga practice!

Yoga Trance dance certification, or Sahaja Vinyasa.

Right after I was done with my 200 hours teacher training, I still had some time left in LA, and I decided to do another training, with the great Shiva Rea. I don’t know if everybody knows about her, but she is an amazing yoga teacher who leads THE Prana flow certification. I used to take a few classes with her every time I was in LA, and I was always blown away by how fast she build up the fire in our bodies, how “flowy” her classes are, how intense is the energy that came out of the group she leads. So when I heard that she was leading a small 30 hours training in Exhale Venice, I immediately signed up.

I’ve never heard about Yoga Trance Dance before, so I had no idea what I was going to learn, but I trusted her. After those 9 weeks of training I was kind of exhausted, and I had a bad cold, so I was far from being 100% in the class, but It was worth the shot! I can safely say that Oregano oil and sweating from all the dancing made me recover from my cold faster faster than I thought.

What is Yoga Trance dance? To quote Shiva “Yoga Trance dance is a meeting of two great rivers, yoga and dance.” Yoga in the beginning allows us to be present in our bodies, to feel the prana, it prepares us to go deeper in a free-form dance that helps us to release many things and allows us to find ourselves, into the power of the flow.

Even in the history of yoga you find Lord Shiva (how ironic?) who is seen as the first teacher of both yoga and dance. We have to keep in mind that a yoga pose was named after him: Natarajasana the lord of the dance.

So let’s just say, to keep it simple that the yoga trance dance is a form of yoga that with the helps of rhythm drives us to a free-form dance, a meditative trance, who allows us to experience the “unified self that is yoga”.

Sahaja is a Sanskrit word that means “spontaneous, natural, simple, or easy”, and it describes perfectly what is yoga trance dance, while starting with yoga poses we slowly goes to a spontaneous and natural form of flow.

On the Saturday evening we hosted a Yoga Trance dance for every people who wanted to join, and we were lucky to have live music from the amazing CC White and her band. Seriously, if you’ve never heard of CC White, I invite you to check her( CC White) you will thank me later! I loved how Shiva organized this by starting only with us (the students in the  teacher training), and sharing this moment of intimacy before the doors open to the public. It might be nothing but it made us feel special.

Sharing those intense moment with this great teacher made me want to pursue my yoga journey with her, so I’ve signed for the rest of he Prana flow certification. I wanted to achieve the 500h to be an advanced yoga teacher anyway. 200h is great but Yoga is such a big thing I have the feeling I will be both a student and a teacher for the rest of my life.

Stay tuned for more yoga adventures!