June 21 is International Day of Yoga

The International Day of Yoga (and the summer solstice!) is on Friday June 21. Many yoga studios have special events planned around this auspicious day. We do not have classes on Friday at the studio but will celebrate in classes on June 18 & 19, and 25 & 26. In honor of this June event, Take Me To The River Yoga will donate all the proceeds from all classes in these last two weeks of the month of June to The Spring.

Headquartered in Tampa, The Spring was established in 1977 and is the Department of Children and Families (DCF) certified Domestic Violence Center for Hillsborough County.

The Spring’s mission is to prevent domestic violence, protect victims, and promote change in lives, families and communities.

The Spring’s mission aligns with the Eight Limbs of Yoga and we are happy to support their efforts as we practice yoga at the studio. Our number one “branch” among the Eight Limbs of Yoga is Ahimsa, the concept of non-violence and of doing no harm. Join us in support of The Spring in this season of celebration for the International Day of Yoga.

Check the class schedule, come to yoga class and have your class fee sent as a donation to The Spring. If you’d like to bring gently worn clothes, or would like to make a larger donation to The Spring (by cash or checks) drop them off when you come to class.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. Namaste!

Home Yoga Practice

Do you have a home yoga practice? Have you developed a regular yoga practice for yourself? Maybe your regular practice is to go to your favorite yoga classes every week as consistently as possible. And your home yoga practice might be to take a few minutes to move and stretch each day.

I started thinking about home yoga practices for my students. Sometimes I have to cancel a class. When I’m away from our classes together, I hope my continued encouragement to do yoga at home gains traction. As a yoga teacher, I want students to learn yoga and eventually develop their own home yoga practice. A person makes the most progress when yoga becomes a part of their everyday lives. So, let’s consider the merits of both a yoga studio practice and a home yoga practice.

Home Yoga Practice vs Yoga Studio Practice

Most of us would agree that practicing yoga with others helps to keep us in class, and on the mat from start to finish. It may make us more motivated to put in a strong yoga practice. We stay with each pose, attempt each move, and participate more actively. Yoga is not a competitive sport but it can feel like a team sport. A “team of yogis” moving through asanas and breathing together in pranayama can inspire you go that extra mile. It is uplifting to watch as others move together with you in a yoga studio class.

The home yoga practice can make yoga easy. For starters, you’re at home! You don’t have to find a class, get dressed, comb your hair, drive your car, or go online to schedule or pay for class. The downside is you don’t have to commit to… well, anything. The home yoga practice can make yoga hard, because it is easy to get distracted with home tasks. Like some many areas of our life, we bemoan: “The mind is wonderful servant but a terrible master.” But let’s decide that your heart is in it. You know it will be a good and positive habit to develop. Even the servants of your logical mind must yield to the obvious pros and cons.

Merits of a Home Yoga Practice

  • Developing intentional awareness – many yoga studio teachers (like me!) will give the queue to become more aware, to notice sensation, to scan the body, to go inside and check in with how you are feeling. The teacher may be talking through this at just the moment when you need quiet and stillness! In a home yoga practice, develop a keener awareness by suggesting these queues to yourself by yourself. You set the intention when you say to yourself, “now, go deep inside and feel your body from the inside out.” 
  • Giving your body exactly what it needs – you’re the expert on your own body! You know the difference between a twist that feels oh-so-good versus one that is unpleasant and is moving in the direction of painfulness. Ask your body what it needs. Offer yourself movement suggestions, “how does this feel? oh, well, how about this, then?” Move in ways that help you release and relax, and strengthen and balance.
  • Working on advanced poses – So you want to do headstands? Gear your home yoga practice to poses that prepare your body for headstands. For example, warm up and spend the rest of your time going up and coming down (gracefully! and against a wall!) from headstand and child’s pose with strength and control.
  • Choosing more meditation or more pranayama – Have you ever been in a studio yoga class doing alternate nostril breathing and reluctantly had to stop before you were ready? I have! Several more rounds would have been oh-so delicious. A few minutes more (or less!) of mindfulness meditation or savasana would have been just right. Experiment with yourself. You choose!
  • Working with personal preferences – In a home yoga practice you may find yourself doing the same poses and sequences every session. What’s up with that? A home yoga practice gives you the opportunity, indeed the intention to examine your own choices. Like eating habits, what we most avoid doing in yoga class may be exactly the thing we need most! Working with personal preferences help us to notice and choose a practice (a habit, a meal, a pose) that creates more balance in our lives.
  • Going long or going short – What’s the ideal yoga practice time. An hour? An hour and 15 minutes? Ninety minutes? Two hours? With a home yoga practice you decide. Some days it may be exactly 23 minutes using your phone timer. Other days it may be outside, in the park, in between walking, skipping or running. Go long or go short. Just go and do it!

Planning a Home Yoga Practice

Deciding to develop a home yoga practice is the first step. Once you set the intention to begin, you’ve already started! Yoga Journal offers a few keys to a successful home practice:

  • Make a date with your mat – use the time you have, even if that means 15 minutes
  • Find inspiration – books, videos, or using your favorite sequence from your studio class
  • Choose a focus – standing poses, inversions, twists, forward folds
  • Beginning and ending – develop quiet and calm for the start and the finish
  • Just do it – get past your mind stuff and “experience yourself more clearly”

Beginning a Home Yoga Practice

There are all sorts of videos online for yoga, pranayama, meditation, mudras, chanting, and yoga philosophy. The following are links that give me inspiration in teaching yoga and in doing my own home yoga practice. You may recognize some of the postures, queues, and language that I use when I teach classes at Take Me To The River Yoga studio. You can always come to Take Me To The River yoga studio to practice these same styles in a studio yoga class with me. I encourage you to also try a few of these online classes, get inspired and develop your own most meaningful home yoga practice. 

Somatics and Yoga – James Knight’s youtube channel “Gentle Somatic Yoga” lays out several different somatic practices by topic. For variety and for addressing specific issues, this is a good primer on the topic of Somatics and Yoga.

Mindful Hatha Yoga – Mindful Hatha Yoga tends to be a more gentle practice with focus on slow movement and concentration on the breath. Yoga with Adrienne is a popular yoga channel with different styles. I like Adrienne because she’s approachable, has a sense of humor, and gives great direction and options. This is her Gentle Yoga – 25 Minute Gentle Yoga Sequence

Chair Yoga – The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has posted several chair yoga videos. This “Gentle Yoga in the Chair” is one of the best I have found.

Kripalu Vinyasa Flow – One of my teachers at Kripalu, Coby Kozlowski teaches this Moderate Kripalu Vinyasa Flow class. 

Mindfulness Meditation – Tara Brach is my go-to meditation teacher. Her videos and podcasts are so inspiring! Here’s her youtube channel. Most all her talks begin with a discussion and end with a short, guided meditation. She is easy to relate to, offering poignant, compassionate quotes from Rumi, Rilke, and telling stories to give texture and deep meaning.

Kirtan Kriya – The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation explains the steps, benefits and results they’ve seen with the practice of Kirtan Kriya. Read up on the technique using the fingers, then go to this link to practice with music and timing. The youtube video has are no words or instruction but just provides the framework of music, chanting and timing for this practice. I’ve written on Mudras and Homunculus Man to explore the physiology behind the effectiveness of hand gesture practices.

 

Yoga and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic Kidney Disease: How Big is BIG?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is big. It’s as big as the globe, and it affects 1 in 10 people worldwide. One in TEN! That’s big. And in the United States that statistic balloons out to a whopping 1 in 7. In addition to the astounding rates of CKD, adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases. Consider that it is often paired with other chronic diseases. That makes CKD even bigger.

The yogic lifestyle addresses the main risk factors that contribute to CDK and other chronic diseases: lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol. These four main risk factors are big when you consider how many people participate in these four risky behaviors. A yogic lifestyle reinforces discernment and discipline. Practicing a yogic lifestyle brings awareness to thought and action. With yoga practice we learn to listen to the body and choose wisely.

What in the world can we do?

World Kidney DayWorld Kidney Day, a global awareness campaign launches their big annual events to bring awareness of preventive behaviors for addressing kidney disease worldwide. March 14, 2019 is World Kidney Day. The theme is, “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.” Everyone, everywhere? Sounds really big.

The World Kidney Day campaign urges several concrete measures to improve kidney care. Starting with, “Encourage and adopt healthy lifestyles (access to clean water, exercise, healthy diet, tobacco control. Many types of kidney diseases can be prevented, delayed and / or kept under control when appropriate prevention measures are in place.”

Yoga and the “sister” practice of Ayurveda have direct application to promoting kidney health. The ancient practices of Yoga and Ayurveda offer teachings of movement, breath work, healthy diet, and meditation – all contributing to stress reduction and an overall healthy lifestyle.

National Kidney FoundationThe main functions of the kidneys are to clean the blood, support healthy bones and tissue, and to keep the blood pressure normal. The National Kidney Foundation points out this symbiotic relationship of the kidneys and the heart: hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension. Heart disease in the number one cause of death in people with the CKD. Family history, hypertension, and diabetes are all risk factors to chronic kidney disease.

Stress is another BIG risk factor

Stress has a negative impact on every type of disease. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. And every risk factor of Chronic Kidney Disease is aggravated by stress. Stress raises your heart rate and elevates your blood pressure. Anything from an anxious thought to a life-threatening event can trigger the body’s stress response. The body releases adrenaline and cortisol to enable us to think quickly and act even quicker. This super human reaction is great when it’s really needed. The problem comes when we fall into a pattern of reacting to every day events as if they are a major challenge. And sometimes they can feel that way!

Fear of losing your job is distracting and creates constant worry. An argument with a loved one can sour your mood for the rest of the day. Even stressing out over the latest political rant can seem like a threat to world peace. Our lives are filled with every day events that cause the mind to worry, fear, and to stress out. When the mind is not at peace, the body remains ready to react. This state of readiness is the stress response. Great when it’s needed, harmful when it keeps us on constant alert to the next threat looming around the corner.

Yoga is BIG at stress reduction

The first two “guidelines” in yoga, the yoga sutras in English and Sanskrit are:

1.1 Now, the teachings of yoga (atha yoga anusasanam)
1.2 Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind (yogas chitta vritti nirodha)

The first two sutras sum up yoga’s big picture. The teachings of yoga are for calming the mind! We use yogic movements of the body (asanas, the postures), yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) and concentration (dhyana) to help ourselves bring calmness to the disturbing thoughts in our mind. Yoga is a stress reduction practice!

When we breath slowly and deeply, and focus our thoughts on how our body is feeling we create the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response was coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. (His relaxation response technique is a close replication of the centuries old approach to several different forms of meditation). The relaxation response sends millions of messages to the body and the brain – in that order! It confirms to all systems that we are calming down. It informs the nervous system that everything is fine. 

And everything is OK

  • Breathing relaxes the body
  • Adrenaline stops flowing
  • Heart rate returns to normal, or slows down further
  • Blood pressure normalizes or comes down
  • Mind returns to the next task at hand

Sample one hour practice*

(1) Physical postures done with awareness (many of these postures may be more effective with variations that involve twists and rotations at the waist). Search for the following pose descriptions on Yoga Journal’s site.

A. Standing asanas (1 minute each): Mountain pose with arms stretched and with bound hands (Urdhva-Hastasana), Backward bending, from waist (Ardha Chakrasana), and Half-waist-rotation pose (Ardha Kati Chakrasana).

B. Sitting asanas (1 minute each): Extension of the front body (Purvottanasana), Cobra (Bhujangasana), Hare pose (Shashankasana), Seated twist (Bharadvajasana/Vakrasana), Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)

C. Supine asanas (those in reclined position, 1 minute each): Reclining bound angle posture (Supta Baddhakonasana), Reclining cross legged posture (Supta Svastikasana), Bridge pose (Setubandhasana), Shoulder stand on a chair (Salamba Sarvangasana), Inverted lake pose (ViparitaKarani), Air releasing pose (pavanmuktasana), Corpse posture (Savasana) with bolster support under chest.

(2) Breathing techniques (Pranayama, a 10-15 minute session): Hands in and out breathing (10 rounds in 2 minutes), hand stretch breathing (10 rounds in 2 minutes), tiger breathing (10 rounds in 2 minutes), alternate nostril breathing (Nadisuddhi; in 5 minutes), left nostril breathing (Chandra AnulomaViloma; 27 rounds in 5 minutes, 4 times per day), humming bee breath (Bhramari; in 2 minutes), Cooling pranayama (Sitali; 9 rounds) and abdominal breathing in lying-down position in 2 minutes.

(3) Yogic relaxation at the end of asana and pranayama (Savasana, a 20 minute session): Techniques with imagery or mindfulness based stress reduction meditation. (Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga Nidra, or a rotation of consciousness practice).

*Practices to be avoided are pranayama and asana that may raise heart rate (i.e., Bhastrika, Kapalabhati, and inverted poses like headstand).

References

Role of Yoga in Chronic Kidney Disease: A Hypothetical Review, Kashinath GM, Hemant B, Praerna C, Nagarathna R and Nagendra HR, Division of Yoga and life sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA University), Banglore, India, https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/role-of-yoga-in-chronic-kidney-disease-a-hypothetical-review-2161-0959.1000167.php?aid=26109

Keep your kidneys healthier with yoga, The Art of Living, organization founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-for-stronger-kidneys

Yoga Therapy Kidney Disorders, Asana International Yoga Journal, https://www.asanajournal.com/yoga-therapy-kidney-disorders/

Chronic stress puts your health at risk, Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Take steps to control your stress, Mayo Clinic staff, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

 

 

 

International Day of Yoga – IDY 2018

IDY International Day of Yoga in Tampa, FL
Celebrate International Day of Yoga in Tampa, FL

Celebrate IDY with FREE Yoga Classes

The “official” International Day of Yoga (IDY) happens every year on June 21. Take Me To The River Yoga studio in Tampa will be celebrating International Yoga Day 2018 with FREE YOGA CLASSES. The regularly scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday classes on June 19 and June 20, 2018 will be free. Anyone who has paid for a series of classes will get a free pass for any of these classes.

Yoga classes are held every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am and 7 pm at Take Me To The River Yoga. Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation is a traditional series of yoga poses taught in most forms of yoga asana. I will be leading a series of Sun Salutations in the regular classes and a version of the Sun Salutation in the Chair Yoga classes. Check the schedule and sign up online to make class a breeze.

Started in 2015, June 21st is the International Day of Yoga

This year marks the third year for the IDY. The date was originally declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Celebrate IDY and your yoga practice by attending yoga classes in your area. Consider doing a personal practice of (10) sun salutations every day during this week. Celebrate yoga in your life. Start every day greeting the rising sun with Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation. Warm up, wake up and enliven the whole body at the beginning of your day.

Celebrating Yoga around the globe

Watch this video “Sun Never Sets On Yoga – A 24-hour Journey of Sun Salutations Around the Globe” published by the Art of Living, Sri Sri School of Yoga in 2015. People all over the world were doing yoga Sun Salutations for IDY. Tracking yogis from 100 cities around the world doing Sun Salutations celebrated the days leading up to the International Day of Yoga. It’s beautiful to see all the different people moving through the poses. Surya Namaskar is a salute to the sun. It honors the day and celebrates the international yoga community.

Chair Yoga is still YOGA

Chair yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga
Getting ready for Chair Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga

Chair Yoga is still YOGA. Still, meaning in the future, as in the past (an adverb). I’m not talking about “still” as an adjective (not moving)! It’s the real deal. When you do yoga in a chair you are STILL doing yoga. You do yoga with all the benefits of movement, breath, and mindfulness. Even if you swear by your uber-active Ashtanga or your hot flow Vinyasa, Chair Yoga may STILL have something to offer you.

We’re still doing Chair Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga studio in the Wednesday morning 10 am class. It started out with one of my students needing a few more options to the poses in our regular Hatha Yoga practice. She was uncomfortable in our reclined poses. So I combined our favorite yoga poses with Chair Yoga for seated poses, and several options for standing variations using the chair.

As an aside here… people often ask what its like in a typical studio class. My usual response is that it depends on who shows up! My classes do have brief descriptions and titles like Kripalu Yoga, Kripalu Vinyasa Flow, Mindful Yoga, HRV Yoga, Energy Body Yoga, etc. But “It is all Hatha to Me” (I need a t-shirt with this slogan). Hatha Tantric Yoga. Traditional Yoga. Classic Yoga. I teach YOGA to the class. I check in with the students who show up, and adjust the class accordingly. That often means offering several options to the poses, depending on the ease and preference to the anatomy and the energy in the room!

Chair Yoga combines all the elements of a typical Yoga class using the chair as a “prop.” Props like blankets, blocks and straps will be familiar to those students who have practiced yoga. The chair is just another prop. The special prop-erties of the chair are support and comfort for weight, balance and mobility.

Students wary of sitting on the floor, or getting up off the floor come to appreciate the support of a chair in their yoga practice. People with conditions such as ankle, knee or hip pain, low back pain, lack of flexibility, fatigue, shortness of breath may find greater ease by practicing yoga in a chair.

One of the first Chair Yoga practices I experienced was in a 2012 youtube video posted by the Moffitt Cancer Center here in Tampa, Florida. It’s called Gentle Yoga in the Chair. The practice is wonderful and the comments below the video post tell the true story of what this kind of practice can mean for many, many people. I have gone to Chair Yoga school on this video and with many online Chair Yoga videos. Even with a long running personal practice, I find Chair Yoga is still YOGA!

If you relate to the popular yoga meme, “I just came for the Savasana,” you simply must experience Savasana in Chair Yoga. It’s still Savasana!

Saturday Yoga in the Garden

Yoga in the Garden - Saturdays 9:30 - 10 am - Seminole Heights Community Garden
Photo credit: Ellen Leedy Photography

Yoga in the Garden every Saturday 9:30-10 am at the Seminole Heights Community Gardens (SHCG) at 6114 River Terrace in Tampa, FL. That’s just two doors east of Take Me To The River Yoga studio! Every Saturday, Take Me To The River Yoga studio is hosting YOGA in the GARDEN from 9:30-10 am. It’s a real short class, no mats needed, standing poses only, but shoes are recommended.

This is a donation class with proceeds going to the garden, and it’s open to everyone! What a good way to get warmed up and well-stretched for the day, and also to get acquainted with the full organic fabulousness that is the Seminole Heights Community Gardens! The weed pulling pose will change your quads for the better (just kidding!) Come do yoga in the garden and LIKE the Seminole Heights Community Gardens on Facebook, too. #seminoleheightsyoga #tampayoga #takemetotheriveryoga

we are all ONE

We are all ONE. Why not start acting like we are all ONE? Why not practice like we are all ONE? Come to any Take Me To The River Yoga studio class, bring up to 3 of your friends and pay for just ONE. What’s better than BOGO? FBO: Four becomes ONE. Practicing yoga with your friends is relaxing, enjoyable and can bring your posse together in a meaningful way. Like eating dinner out, doing a friends weekend, or throwing a pajama –yoga brings you and your friends together as ONE. Your group of friends will enjoy moving your bodies with asanas, deeply breathing in and breathing out in the practice of pranayama, and mindfully sitting in meditation for the shared experience of yoga.

Tired of feeling separate and separated? Worn out by divisiveness? Nauseous from all the quibbling? Flattened by explosive news? Transfixed by evil? Paralyzed by general ugliness? Confused by who you really are? Unsure of your identity? Here’s a little secret . . . that’s not really so secret. It is something you should know. It is something you DO know. It is something the person who you think you are DOESN’T know. I’ll whisper it now, “we are all ONE.”

International Day of Yoga – Wednesday, June 21

June 21
International Day of Yoga, June 21

What will you be doing on Wednesday, June 21, 2017?
Since June 21 is the International Day of Yoga, take a yoga class. Or participate in a yoga-inspired event. It seems like the best idea is to check out the local yoga studios in Tampa. So that definitely includes yoga classes at Take Me To The River Yoga Studio! Celebrate International Day of Yoga with us. We will have our regular Wednesday classes (10:00-11:15 am and 7:00-8:15 pm).

Which Mudra for this day?
On International Yoga Day we will be practicing Prithivi Mudra, gesture of the Earth. There are several reasons for the choice for this mudra, aside from the obvious! Prithivi means “Earth.” This mudra directs our breath and awareness down through the body for a feeling of being more grounded. Grounding to our Earth in yoga and mudra practice helps us feel stable, secure and safe. It sends the message to our body that we are grounded.

When we are grounded we are better able to inhabit our bodies and connect with our natural world. It is important to love, honor and ground into the Earth right now. It is important to remember how our beautiful Earth supports us. We thrive because our Earth creates a most awesome experience for all Earthlings. We must protect our Earth and tie ourselves closer to its power. We must share in protecting our planet to preserve our own existence. It’s that important!

More about I Day of Yoga
The UN General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga in 2014. The idea began at the suggestion of the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. He addressed the assembly saying, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

 

June 21 – International Day of Yoga

InternationalDayOfYogaLogoIn 2014 the prime minster of India, Shri Narendra Modi spoke before the United Nations and called for setting aside a day as “International Day of Yoga.” The date is June 21 and is celebrated all over the world with inspired yoga studios and yoga teachers everywhere celebrating the practice of yoga. Many studios offer free yoga classes and other special events to mark the importance of the practice of yoga in their communities.

Resources to learn more about yoga and International Day of Yoga can be found on the government of India’s page on International Day of Yoga. Particularly helpful is the 44 page pdf document “Common Yoga Protocol” that can also be viewed online as an interactive “flip book.”  The document gives extensive explanations on what yoga is, several pages on asanas, details on pranayama, references to the eight limbs of yoga, health benefits and more.

“Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and Nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us to deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” – Shri Narendra Modi

InternationalDayOfYogaAsanaRead through the Common Yoga Protocol document and check out the section on asanas. Each asana is clickable to a window that pops us listing the steps of the posture and a  link to a video on how to practice the posture. It is interesting that each asana video comes from a different source. The different videos truly represent yoga in the modern world where we experience a wide range of yoga styles and many different teachers that use both traditional and unique approaches to the postures and to the sharing the practice in a yoga class.

More Yoga Playlists

RauryGodsWhisperMusic sets the mood in just about every situation and it can certainly set the tone for a yoga class. There are as many ways to use music in a yoga class as there are asanas to warm up, build heat, cool down and end in Savasana. The choice to use music ranges from providing background sound to fill in or cover up the sound of heavy breathing, feet slapping the mat, or the sound of puffing and groaning. But music can also begin to move practitioners from posture to posture, touching personal chords that may involve a history with a particular song or a syncopation that rings with emotional frequency.

For yoga practice, my personal preference is to choose a playlist that moves along the lines of the classic yoga class structure starting with centering on the mat. For the playlist below I start the class with the magical, ice-tinkling sound from Bjork. “Frosti” is like a switched on version of the miniature child’s piano. We then move on to ambient house music and then “Strange Overtones” by David Byrne, taking the class into the first stages of warming up. By the time the class is into 16 or 17 minutes it seems just right to rip into Led Zepplein’s “Ramble On” as we begin moving the body into a spiraling, kundalini awakening. Hands clasped overhead, tracing the ceiling with circles and rotating the hips into a first chakra wake up call. Toning it down a bit, after all THAT excitement we move onto “The Seven Souls,” a far out rendition by Material that mashes up the unlikely combination of spoken word by William S. Burroughs and The Notorious B.I.G. backup singers doing the chorus “God save our souls…” At this point we’re a mere 30 minutes into class as Raury, the amazing 18 year old Indigo child from Atlanta sings “God’s Whisper.” Oh, my.

From here, it’s the Black Keys, Kailasa, music from Mali, a touch of Alicia Keys, some melodic Storyhill, back to some ambient chill stuff from Paul Van Dyk, some mystical, groovy Stoppa & Nobby and then grounding down/winding down the class with yoga’s anti-message from Orbital, “Attached.” The whole thing wraps up to a fine finish with Suphala in KCRW’s Jason Bentley remixing of something he calls “Piscean Dreamer.” And it’s off to Savasana we go!

Here’s the playlist. Be sure to check out the links below to sound versions of all of these songs.

YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga8

 

If you’d like to sample some of these tracks, listen to them here on soundcloud and youtube (many of these are remixes, personal renditions by fans and are a bit different than the originals, but you’ll get the drift!):

Frosti, Bjork
Saratoga, Ultramarine
Strange Overtones, David Byrne
Happy Day, Talking Heads
Ramble On, Led Zeppelin
The Seven Souls (featuring William S. Burroughs), Material
God’s Whisper, Raury
In Time, The Black Keys
Guru Ghantal, Kailasa
Niger, Mali Music
Lovin U, Alicia Keys
Paradise Lost, Storyhill
Nothing But You, Paul Van Dyk
Sweet Lassi Dub, Stoppa & Nobby
Attached, Orbital
Piscean Dreamer, Suphala

Music credits go to all the artists mentioned in this post. I have purchased each and every one of these songs, along with thousands of other recordings by these artists and others that I have in my personal music collection. I recommend that you support musical artists by actually buying their music, talking about their music with your friends and supporting local and international musicians by going to their concerts and purchasing their music. Music makes a difference!

Dr. Ray Long comes to Tampa Bay

RayLongYogaAnatomyBookCoverDr. Ray Long, MD FRCSC (FRCSC is the designation for Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada) will visit the Tampa Bay area November 7, 8, 9 for an event sponsored by the Suncoast Yoga Teacher’s Association. The multimedia workshop titled “Anatomic Yoga,” will be a great opportunity for yoga teachers and yoga practitioners in Tampa and the surrounding area to get under the skin of the yoga asanas through an intensive peek at anatomy.

The author of several books on yoga anatomy, Ray Long is a board certified orthopedic surgeon who has studied hatha yoga for over two decades and has trained with several yoga masters including B.K.S. Iyengar. His distinctive books are immediately recognizable for the fabulous illustrations by Chris Macivor.

Learn more about yoga anatomy and the work of Ray Long on his website, blog and his “muscle of the week” on Facebook.

Website: BandhaYoga.com

Blog: DailyBandha.com

Facebook: Bandha Yoga – The Scientific Keys

Yoga Music Playlists

Music is not a necessary element to the practice of yoga. Sometimes music in a yoga class can be distracting in that it is annoying or even worse, if it is so good that you find yourself listening to the music instead of your breath! Whatever the circumstance, music has a way of tapping into our senses and into our emotions. Most everyone has had a profound experience with music through its effect on mood and emotion. Right now you are probably recalling hearing a song that made you incredibly sad, one that kept playing over and over in your mind, a catchy melody that you found yourself humming at some random moment, a song that went perfectly with a ride along the ocean or one that made you jump to your feet to get out on the dance floor.

So it is with care that music for the yoga class is selected carefully. Some yoga teachers play ambient music at a real low volume to act as a soft buffer, others like to play popular or rock music to lighten the spirit and enliven the energy. For me, I gravitate toward music that sets me in mind of the ancient wisdom of yoga. I also like to time my music to start off slow and contemplative, building to high energy and then coming down to a cooling, soothing musical space to carry the class to Savasana. I like an element of surprise in the musical selections, choosing eclectic sources that one might not consider for yoga.

I’d like to share a dozen of my yoga class playlists. Check these out on iTunes or SoundCloud and use them in your own practice. Or, come on over to the Take Me To The River Yoga studio for class and hear them first hand!

YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga1

 
YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga2

 
YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga3

 
YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga4

 
YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga5

 
YogaMusicTakeMeToTheRiverYoga6

The first responsibility of love is to listen

Themes in my yoga classes are often influenced by podcasts that I listen to. One of my favorites is from Tara Brach, a Buddhist teacher combining Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practice. She founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC and has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

I listened to a podcast where Tara was presenting a teaching titled, “Listening to the Song.” It was an appropriate theme for this year’s Valentine season and the message grew so large for me that I continue to excerpt ideas from what she shared.

The full version of Tara Brach’s talk “Listening to the Song” is on her website and can be played as audio or video.

Here are the “Cliff Notes” from her discussion:

  • Paul Tillich quote, “The first responsibility of love is to listen.”
  • Mark Nepo quote, “To listen is to lean in softly with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”ChineseCharacterToListen
  • The Chinese characters that make up the phrase “to listen” include symbols for ear, eyes, undivided attention and heart.

Three energetic conditionings that keep us from listening:
1. Wanting – approval, control, someone or something else, having an agenda
2. Self Protection – need to appear a certain way to others (right, smart, etc.)
3. Inattention – being distracted or “blanking out” when none of our particular wants or fears are being addressed

Gateways to listening:
1. Opening your senses
2. Awakening with undivided attention
3. Invoking a tenderness of heart

The whole discussion combined an approach similar to how and why we practice yoga. We set an intention, we practice, we become very still and listen to our own reaction within our bodies and within our hearts. Listening to ourselves and listening to others is a similar exercise needing no less than 10,000 hours to gain competence.

Tara does not lead us into the final yoga posture of “savasana” near the end of her talk but it would have been wonderful if she would have asked the audience to come into the corpse pose and be still while she red the poem “Lost” by David Wagoner. For it is in our stillness that we find ourselves “here” and bring ourselves in the present moment, listening to the forest that has made a place around us. Now, if we can only let it find us!

Lost
by David Wagoner
from Collected Poems 1956-1976 © Indiana University Press.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

 

A gift for the Lotus Pond Center for Yoga and Health

Please make a donation toward the purchase of the two gifts to be given to the Lotus Pond Center for Yoga and Health.

The gifts will be presented with love and gratitude by the 2013 Spring Infusion (graduating December) & Immersion (graduating October) 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training classes.

Donations in any amount are acceptable, with the suggested amount being between $25-$40.

We’re still accepting donations.

If you cannot pay online and need to pay in cash or check, please email Tish Ganey at takemetotheriveryoga@gmail.com to make arrangements.




Namaste!