Leslie has been exploring movement her entire life. From ballet to boxing, her exploration brought her to yoga 20 years ago. Over that time, she has practiced many different yoga styles and has traveled to India to study with the masters of Ashtanga and Iyengar, Pattabi Jois and BKS Iyengar. She found the practice so transformative that she became a walking billboard for yoga, which inspired her to become a teacher. She did her first teacher training at YogaWorks in 2001 and continues to be a student as well as a teacher, living the questions that life asks. She has studied and practiced therapeutic yoga for years and has witnessed its healing transformation in her own body and life as well as in her students. Certified as a gait therapist by Sherry Brourman and a yoga therapist through Loyola Marymount University, Leslie understands the body's systems beyond structure, what occurs in dis-ease and how yoga can be used safely to effect a greater sense of ease and well being.
Leslie has had the honor of combining the healing art of yoga with the science of medical research, collaborating on the design and implementation of several NIH-funded yoga studies. She is a consultant for the UCLA Department of Geriatrics as well as the Biokinesiology Department of USC in a true East meets West partnership.
Leslie believes the practice of yoga starts with the breath. By connecting to the breath, you connect to your self. By expanding and freeing the breath, you expand movement and create freedom in the body, in your self and in your life. She infuses her teaching with her joy of life and irreverent sense of humor as she guides students along their personal journey, meeting them wherever they are.
If you feel stiff anywhere in your back side - from head to toe - you may have more than one place that's a little stuck. This practice takes you through lots of variations on some basics to find the sneaky spots where tightness can linger. The great thing about variations is we don't get so caught up in doing it right and we have more freedom to just move in ways that feel right for us. This can really free us up to notice the changes in our breath that cue the shifts in sensation. Trusting our breath helps us to trust ourselves and our bodies. Oh, what a release that is!
Imagine having the same dexterity with your feet that you do with your hands. Imagine how steady and grounded that would make you feel. This practice will wake up your feet and help you feel the connection between using your feet and using your legs. This connection helps to stabilize the ankles first, so you can find the alignment to hold yourself steady and move with greater ease. We start slow and steady on your back. Then we move into some simple but challenging balances using props and the wall. Not only will it give you better balance, it will help you feel grounded for life - in a good way.
Most students LOVE Reclining Big Toe pose in all its variations. Using 2 straps for support can double your pleasure... but setting up two straps doesn't tend to double your fun. The reward is that you can relax and be in the poses for much longer with greater ease. Two straps stabilize the pelvis and low back and release grippy groins. It also shifts the sensations, as you get into those hard-to-reach places that your body tends to avoid releasing. This tutorial gives you a slightly less complicated version - don't tell the Iyengars?! - to KISS so you spend less time thinking about it and more time experiencing it. As with anything, take as many details as you need and come back for more as you learn to love the support that two straps gives you.
What if your mat were your only prop? Or you didn't have a mat but you had a blanket? Adapting to what is means being curious and playful and coming up with new ways of being and doing. Not so easy if you are feeling stressed! But doing anything in a novel way can give us a sense of curiosity and empowerment. It takes us from focusing on what we don't have to exploring what is possible with what we do have. It turns out that using a mat as a prop gives you new options for familiar poses... and invites you to make it up as you go along... because, really, that's what we are always doing anyway :)
The more you sit, the tighter your hips get, and often, the more your back hurts! So don't just sit there...use your chair to open your hips and release your back with dynamic movement! Whether you can't get down on the floor or you're just looking for some simple movement between zoom sessions...this practice works to open the hips while protecting the knees. These movements also secretly build strength in your hips and core. There is nothing like moving on the breath, starting where you are and feeling the freedom of movement to help you recognize you are not stuck! Learn it at home and take it with you on your next road trip! 2 blocks are helpful, but you can also improvise!
Do you love straps and want new ways to use them? Or are they a pain to set up for you or your students? This tutorial will set you straight and set you up to make straps easy and fun to use. Straps can give you stability in your joints as you deepen your stretch. They can provide resistance to press into to cultivate strength. You decide whether you want a strap to do the work for you or help you work more. So get your strap on and make good choices ;)
Sometimes we all feel a little stuck - at home, on the road or in a rut. I find doing something familiar in a new way gets me motivated and moving. Familiar is soothing. New is inspiring. This session guides you through familiar poses, like bridge, with some different variations and props to keep it interesting... and to keep you moving! Use a couple of pillows and a towel to get cozy and relaxed at the end of this simple strengthening session.
Here's a practice for when you're on the road and away from your props! You can still get a restful session even if you've left your bolsters at home :) This practice is all about allowing yourself to be as you are. Breathe in Peace, then send peace back out into the world. This is a great session anytime you want to calm your nervous system, it's a beautiful before-bed practice, and it's an opportunity to slow down, meditate and open.
If your (down) dog is giving you trouble, "he" may just need some new tricks to get "him" in line. Sure, it might be as simple as better alignment. But dogs are people pleasers by nature. Maybe it's time to look at the nature of your dog and see what "he" needs to be a good dog. This session explores lots of warmups and props that address some common dog issues. Play with these to help you see what you need for a happy dog. Remember that consistency, patience and positive reinforcement are keys to any kind of training. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a treat every time you show up on your mat.
KISS - Keep It Simple, Silly - in your chair when you don't know where to begin a yoga practice. Simply feeling your feet, your breath and your movement will guide you into what is possible in this moment. Let yourself be surprised by how much you can move in a chair and how much strength and confidence you can build. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breath and the river of sensation that is ever present. These simple things can soothe your mind, improve your balance and sense of control over your body as you move through life.
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