Monday, October 29, 2007

The Perfect Yoga Sequence

When I was doing my early yoga training I came across a number teachers who seemed to claim that they had found the yogic secrets and that their sequence of postures was from a lineage of people that dated back thousands of years. Usually it was not an unbroken lineage, however, and the current teacher/guru just reached back in time and recreated the secrets of the ages or heard it in messages sent via dreams or visions.

Then I met Sam Dworkis and I said, "Sam. You're a senior teacher and you've been close to some serious yogis. What's the truth? What's the 'best' yoga sequence?" Sam looked at me and replied, "Do some standing poses, some floor poses, some forward bends, back bends, and some twists." What?!? He didn't try to sell me on his version of what the "right" thing to do was. Because there is no "right" thing to do.

Whatever gets you to class. If you go because you think that sequence of poses will work magic, then go and do that sequence. Whatever gets you to the path will be fall away anyhow and you'll be left with yourself and your own practise.

Today at lunchtime yoga someone mentioned to me that there's a country singer named Sam who sings a song that says, "the secret is that there's no secret." Yoga's everywhere!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No One Really Cares if Your Body is Stretchy

Okay, maybe if your body is super-stretchy we care and we'll even pay to watch, like in Cirque de Soleil. But in general, no one really gives a ____ how stretchy you are. Chances are we won't even find out how stretchy (or not) you are because we aren't doing yoga together.

Today someone who was in the room I would be teaching in told me in response to me suggesting he stick around for our yoga class, "my body doesn't stretch that way." Aaargh!

Let me say this again, it doesn't matter how stretchy you are. If you breathing, you can do yoga.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stretch 'em if you got 'em

I had a chat with someone yesterday who has come down with a serious back condition that she thinks may be related to sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day for 10 years. Do you think? Maybe? A lot of us get really focused at our work and it's hard to pull ourselves away from what we're doing.

After being hospitalized for the condition, this acquaintance is back at work and is now trying to get up every 45 minutes and walk around a bit. Many workplaces offer lunchtime yoga (I know because I teach those classes!). If you have a chance to stop during the day and give yourself a stretch and do some extra breathing, do it!

If you need some support, go to my website and click on the recordings. There's the 3-part breath and 6 movements of the neck plus a relaxation. You can get my DVD and do some of the exercises at work - just play it on your computer!

On another note, I graduated yesterday from Level 1 of Boxing through WBK. I'm proud. I have to stay in Level 1 (I didn't pass to Level 2 but they say it usually takes 2-3 rounds of Level 1) and that's just fine with me. It's a fun workout and I like that I have some accessories. Boxing gloves are cool.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Yoga Video - be careful with this one

I was watching this video today and it has some great things in it.

It also has some things to watch out for. If you're young and fit and are stretchy then doing these exercises will be fine and fun. If you're over 35 or are new to yoga or have injuries, doing what this model suggests will quite possibly frustrate you and possibly injure you.

Sam Dworkis has a great article about how yoga teachers need to be careful when teaching people who haven't been doing yoga for a while. Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seven Random Things About Me

Thanks to Megan, I have been charged with sharing seven random things about me. I'm nervous as I write this. I want to get good things to share with you that will surprise and entertain you while keeping my privacy :)

Since I'm a yoga teacher, I guess I'll see if I can come up with some good yoga random facts...

1. I can do a headstand in full lotus. But you'll never see me do it because I don't show it off in yoga classes. Okay, you'll rarely see me do it. Every once in a while some of my students will get me to do my "bragging pose," and that's it. I guess for a yoga teacher it's not that impressive, but for me, who considers herself a regular gal, I still get a kick out of it.

2. I was in charge of heating up an auditorium at Kripalu when Bikram came to visit to show us his style of yoga. It was tricky because the air conditioning kept turning on to handle the heat coming on. I rented a heater to pump hot air into the room from outside but we all would have died if that method was used as it was kerosene and just bad. In the end we plugged in little space heaters all around the room and with a hundred bodies in the room we heated up just fine.

3. I met Mother Teresa in India. But you already know that so I'll think of something else. I used to be the manager of lululemon in Westboro. It seems so funny now. At the time I liked the idea of doing something yoga-related and businessy but I like teaching yoga better. I still have lots of clothes from that era - they last a long time!

4. I'm not a vegetarian. A lot of people figure yoga teachers are supposed to be vegetarian, but I'm not. I have been. I was vegetarian while I was living at Kripalu and Omega too. When I got pregnant I felt like eating meat and that's when being vegetarian ended. When my daughter was old enough to eat food we would have been thrilled if she only like vegetables and turned her nose up at meat but that's not how it went. She could suck all of the meat off of a chicken bone and loved chewing pork fat and well, we're not vegetarian here.

5. I have a sanskrit name. When I was at Kripalu I chose to become an initiated disciple of Yogi Amrit Desai. He have me the name "Sunali." For a couple of days afterwards I was saying my new name and would say, "Swanili? Sulini?" until I got it right. There's a common name in India - Sonali. I was in India with my guru and we were hanging out and chatting and I said, "Gurudev...I see the name 'Sonali' here and I you gave me the name 'Sunali.' What's the difference?" He simply said, "Sonali, Sunali, same thing." Pssssssss. All the air going out of my big special name ego. (It means Golden Girl, by the way.)

6. My house is messy. I figure as a yoga teacher I should have a clean house that would show you I practise "saucha," or purity. I struggle with letting things go and I have way more things than I need in my house. It's an area I'm working on.

7. I never wanted to be a yoga teacher. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but it wasn't my intention to become a yoga teacher. I went and did it as a thing I felt called to do, but I didn't see myself as a teacher. Certainly not of yoga! I still don't! Maybe that's why I don't take it too seriously :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Guess We Made a Point

I'm back at that place I wrote about below in between classes and someone in charge said, "you can't do yoga in the hall," which I think was more like, "you can't keep doing yoga in the hall," and they're going to fast track finding a new space :) I suppose it doesn't have good "optics" to have a yoga class in this program and then not provide space for it. It actually made the class fine and my students did the full program even though it was mildly public. I really acknowledge them for being brave and flexible! It's not an ordinary yoga class to begin with and then to have it continue to be "non-traditional," well, it was a lot to ask.

When you want your yoga, you'll get your yoga.

I was teaching a class at lunch time today and I noticed that I was more sore than I usually am and just noticed. After the class someone asked me how my weekend was and I remembered that I went bowlikng on Saturday. That's why I'm sore! I have not been bowling in really a long time and I understand now why my neck and shoulders are tight!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You Can Do Yoga Anywhere

I have a place I teach at that I don't want to name and see if I can tell the story ... so here goes. I've been teaching this special group for I guess a year now, maybe a bit longer, I'd have to check. Over the summer we were moved around a bit and had the classes in different rooms, pushing furniture to the side and making do in various rooms. We finally were able to do the classes outside - in fact, it was my sister who implemented that while I was away during the summer - and doing yoga outside was working great and the weather was really cooperative, so we didn't have a space issue until recently when it started turning "Fall."

Monday was the first day we needed to stay inside and Monday was a holiday so the place was quiet. I suggested we do yoga in the hallway because there was enough space for all of us and it worked out great. I played some tunes, we used a corner, and it was really quite okay. It reminded me of when I lived at Kripalu and we came up with this idea that everyone on staff should be able to do yoga at the same time everyday. As it turned out, we didn't have enough program room space for 350 people to do yoga at the same time and some of us ended up doing yoga in the corridors, which was different and actually quite fine. The hall my room was on was one of the corridors used for yoga so if I was sick or skipping yoga for some reason I had to stay in the room until our sadhana was over - until that whole "doing yoga at the same time" thing fell apart. But that's another story.

So I'm back today working with my group and there's no space and the woman who does the bookings for the space is home sick and it's a bit of a deal and we end up just using the hall again. The people in this class are such troopers. Today's not a holiday and people are walking around and eventually, through, our yoga class and we're only 6 people in total. I let some of the people nearby know that we could hear everything they said and once they understood they got quiet. A couple of people involved in the program found themselves with no choice but to walk through our little class and I figure they probably got the message that the yoga classes need sufficient space. We've been making do for a long time and this probably really highlighted the situation.

And the other thing is that it is a total reminder to me that you can do yoga anywhere. You don't need special clothes or mats or space or anything. Anybody can do yoga. And yoga can be done anywhere. As this group did its final relaxation with the busy-ness in the background I was reminded of the luxury that many of us have to practice in dedicated spaces and what a treat that is. But when you don't have the right space - don't give up - make that space and see what happens. It may surprise you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Beryl Bender Birch

I'm on Beryl Bender Birch's email list and she sent me a link to this article she liked where she was interviewed. I was just reading it and I think it's great. Her voice has such wisdom and reason. She makes sense of difficult ideas.

I hope you enjoy this interview with her.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Birthday season has passed, my daughter turned 9 this past week, and now we are in the season before Hallowe'en, that being Thanksgiving. I'm about to leave to teach my Sunday class in a minute, so this is brief.

I'm the type of person who can be grateful at the drop of a hat. Lots of times I forget to be grateful, but when reminded, I can easily come up with things to be grateful for. Recently I was feeling a lot of love towards my boyfriend/partner, whatever we're going to call each other, and I told him I was grateful for his ex-girlfriend who he'd been with for a long time, for taking such good care of him (that doesn't really capture what I meant but it's that idea). And yesterday I had the opportunity to tell her that. The context was right and I wanted to share that with her. She received it and said that was one of the nicest things I could say.

On another note, there's a workshop coming up on November 4 that you should check out. is the address. It's the India-Canada Friendship Circle's last gathering of the year and the topic is really exciting. Click on the link to read about it.