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.

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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!

I’ve tried the new TEEKI yoga mat

If you practice yoga in the west, you have probably heard of Teeki or seen one of their yoga pants.  Teeki is a company who makes cool (and unfortunately pricey) yoga pants made of recycled plastic bottle, with amazing design.When I’m in LA (where the company is from) i can’t walk in a yoga class without seing at least one person wearing a Teeki pant, and it sometimes includes me.

I mean for a yogini who likes wearing cool stuff (I know that we are supposed to be not attached to material things, and I really made a lot of progress on that point, but I’m still a work in progress in the yoga sutras world 😀), the idea of having nice pants made of recycled plastic bottles, it kind of makes you feel good. 

I heard 6 months ago that they were working on a yoga mat. I have to say that i was not impressed by the idea, there are more and more yoga mats with cool designs, and I thought they were gonna be just one of them. 

As a daily yoga practicionner and yoga teacher I’m a Manduka devotee. I know they are super heavy and it’s a bummer to walk around with them, but on the other hand they are the best.

When I saw the design of the Teeki’s (the one with the buffalo skull) it was love at first sight! When I saw the price I held back!  More expensive than a regular Maduka eeew (110$). But after having a bad day I decided to indulge myself and order it. My alibi was (i always need an alibi lol) that I was traveling to LA for another teacher training with Shiva Rea, and that if i had it delivered there i wouldn’t have to travel with my heavy Manduka!

When I opened the package the first good surprise was that it comes with a little strap to tie it after you roll it and I really appreciate that. It’s a simple thing but it’s so useful!!! When I enrolled it I was in love again. It’s so pretty. The design is amazing. The material made me think of a tyre or something like that. But Teeki is a green brand so their mats are 100% green, made of tree rubber and  shell powder (as a vegetarian I just pray that no animals were killed in that process, I need to investigate that).

I’m using it for 10 days now, every single day, many hours a day (I was doing a training with Shiva Rea and we were practicing sometimes 5/6 hours daily), and I have to say that I can’t wait to be back home and compare with my Manduka because I think it’s almost as good! Or may be better because the Eko Manduka is not as comfy. I use the Pro at home. The only thing is that the Manduka might be a little bit harder (but I need to try them both at the same time to be sure) which helps me for arm balances and inversions.

The + :

Very comfortable, the recycled material, the design, not slippery even the first days you use it except when you step on the design who’s in the middle, the little strap, hard and soft at the same time, not as heavy as a Manduka pro (but not super light either), it’s a wide mat.

The – :

The price, the smell the first days. 

I seriously think that Teeki did an awesome job with their mats and I’m sure they will have many more designs to come! Good job!

Soon I will share with you my experience with my favorite brands of yoga pants! Stay tuned. Namaste

  

The (not so) wonderful yoga world.

When I’ve started yoga, and even before that, I used to think that yoga practicioners were super open minded, generous, honest and happy people who were smiling 24/7 because they were probably enlightened or something like that.

Very quickly I found the smile of one of my teacher a little bit suspicious, too wide, to “teethy” (does that word even exist?), too… fake? Was that even possible? I mean yoginis are supposedly close to nirvana, they must be happy all the time! Well at least that’s what I thought.

And then I took my teacher training after 4/5 years of regular practice, and I started to hear some stuff about yoga teachers (male mostly but probably female as well) who were kind of using their yoga teacher position to take advantage of cute students, and date them (and that’s a nice version of what some of them are probably doing…), and we had this class about the “does and dont”  for a teacher… I was surprised because, naive as I was I used to think that yoga would make you an ethical person. Well it’s not.

Just make your research and you will be amazed by the stories you’ll hear. Let’s take Bikram example: he was a world known teacher who came up with the idea (a good one) of doing yoga in a room heated at 40°c. There are numerous yoga studios in the world who teaches his method. Well the guy has no less than 6 lawsuits for sexual harassment and even rape! It’s safe to say that we are far from Nirvana here….

There is the Osho case as well. A lot of yoga teacher are still quoting him, but he was very controversial, some people used to call him the sex guru, and some members of his community tried to poison at least 750 people in Oregon. The guy was arrested in the USA for violation of immigration laws, he was carrying some jewelry and some weapons.. A very yogic attitude!

Without talking about those extrem cases, when I look around I see war between yoga studios, some would call that competition, but how can you tell your students that there is no such thing as competition in yoga and having a “wall street attitude” towards the other studios, or teachers? It sounds wrong. I see people  who wake up one morning deciding they are going to teach yoga without taking some trainings of any kind, thinking that their “infinite” knowledge is enough. I’ve heard teachers trashing each other…
  And I could go on and on and on….

No the yoga world is definitely not as peaceful as you think it would be. It’s the reflection of our society, and let’s face it our society is far from being a pretty one. But what matters is YOU. You can make a difference in that jungle, when you step off the mat you can carry with you all those beautiful sentences your teacher told you and try to apply them to your life, even though your teacher might not. You could be an ethical yogini, it takes one person to change the world.

Om Shanti