I teach yoga because I hope to bring others some of the joy, the strength and the ease that it's brought me, both on and off the mat, mentally and physically. My yoga practice has changed my life, and I'm not just talking about stronger arms and longer hamstrings.
Yoga for me was not love at first breath. I took my first yoga class as a college cross country and track runner looking to fulfill a PE requirement to graduate. I learned a lot, but by the end of the semester, I had decided yoga wasn't for me.
It wasn't until I walked into Ally Hamilton's vinyasa flow yoga class in 2006, a little over a week after moving to Los Angeles from New York, that I really began practicing yoga. I was nursing a sore back from the cross country drive and my hamstrings had forgotten what a stretch felt like, but I was hooked. Two days a week turned into three, three into five, five into six. I did my teacher training with Ally at Yogis Anonymous in 2012 and started teaching there the following year.
I have a background as a journalist and believe that our stories are our currency in life -- that the path to compassion starts by sharing and listening to each other's experiences. I also believe that sweating and laughing are two of the better things in life, and if you can do both at the same time, all the better.
We warm up the body and fire up the core with some sun salutes spiked with a bit of core strengthening. You'll have chances to play with standing balance in Warrior III, Twisting Ardha Chandrasana and Eagle Pose, and some hamstring-opening opportunities with Standing Splits and Hanumanasana. Crescent pose, Locust and Bow pose let you open up the front side of your body, and we finish with a reclined Gomukhasana (with an option to thread the needle instead). Savasana should be sweet.
A medium-energy flow for days when you want to sweat it out while also taking care of yourself. Standing poses include Warrior II and Extended and Bound Side Angle. Heart and hip opening on the floor follow, with single pigeon and an option to thread the needle instead.
Get into the hamstrings and play with standing balance with a heart-opening, hamstring-opening flow. Eagle pose, Warrior 3 and Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe all ask you to fire up your core and balance, while some low and high Crescent lunges open up the psoas and fire up the quads. Side Plank and Bakasana give you time to play on your arms, and then we work our backbends on our bellies with locust and bow pose before we hit the floor for a long Savasana.
A sweaty hip-and-shoulder-opening Humble Warrior flow with a few twists. Get into the spots where you're holding on so you can let go and give yourself permission to release. Warrior III gives you a chance to play with standing balance, while opportunities for Eka Pada Koundinyasana II, Bakasana, Bhujapidasana, and Tittibasana give you a chance to play on your hands. Lizard pose, Janu Sirsasana, Double Pigeon (aka Fire Log pose) and Baddha Konasana give you plenty of chances to let go in the hips.
Thorn in your side? Get it out with this hip-opening flow that gets deep into the side-waist. Extended and Bound Side Angle, Skandasana, Janu Sirsasana, and Double Pigeon, as well as some twisted Crescent Variations, help you find the space to open up along the side body and find some room to breathe and move. As usual, there's time for backbending and inverting on the way to a sweet Savasana.
A sweaty flow gets you into the side body and hips with Warrior 2, Extended Side Angle, and a simple twist. We sprinkle some extra hip opening throughout the class, leaving no part of the hips untouched before we hit the floor for more hip opening, with single pigeon, and some heart openers.
This heart-opening flow gives you plenty of time to get into the psoas and shoulders (and the hips!) with poses like Crescent, Humble Warrior, Lizard, Skandasana, Eagle, Puppy Pose, and a reclined Gomukhasana. You'll also find time to play with standing balance in Warrior 3 and a standing Marichyasana variation.
A heart-opening flow with a twist or two. Open up across the heart and the psoas so you feel freer by the end of class. We flow through Series A and Series C with some low crescent lunges, tackle Series B with a Humble Warrior variation, and then move on to a twisty Reverse Crescent Flow. We get some standing balance with Eagle pose and Warrior III with eagle arms, and open up the hamstrings with Hanumanasana/Monkey pose before some heart-opening on the floor and a good, deep Gomukhasana/Cow Face pose to open the hips (with an option to modify).
Take the time to notice how you feel in each pose as you flow through Warrior II, Ardha Chandrasana, and Extended and Bound Side Angle poses. A pause in Goddess Pose/aka Standing Frog, gives you a chance to really feel those hips and quads and keeps you in the moment. As usual, there's time for backbends, and then we take a little extra time for inversions before single pigeon (or threading the needle on your back).
We build some good solid heat with a Humble Warrior and Warrior II flow that's guaranteed to get into the hips (and shoulders) while it challenges your stamina. Looking for extra hip-opening? You've come to the right place. Lizard pose, a hip-opening side plank variation, and single pigeon get the job done. There's more time to get into the shoulders with a bound side angle and side plank. Backbends, as always, are included, and a wide-legged forward fold at the end will set you up for a well-earned savasana.