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.
Our shoulders are the teenagers of our body - they wanna be free but that freedom gets them into all kinds of trouble. If your shoulders are the troubled teens of your body, they may need some structured support to set them free. We start slow and easy to sort out where the trouble spots are. Then we play with a strap and use other tricks to help focus attention on what's happening with the shoulders. We explore all the ways the shoulders move. Then we set them free in an easy vinyasa C to feel the shifts that happen when we give our attention to the places where we are stuck.
In a perfect world, a backbend creates a perfect arc that opens the front body without any compression to the spine. A fitness ball gives you the support and feedback to create that arc, for a more spacious backbend with much greater ease. If you struggle to get your wheel up off the ground, the ball is a great way to build strength with the ball beneath as a safety net. OR skip it and stay in the yummy, supported extended bridge. Wait for the ball under your belly for the easiest plank of your life. And stay for the sweet savasana with legs on the ball.
We need strong glutes and hamstrings for all kinds of reasons. But we tend to lose our a$$ as we age... and overall strength and balance. All you need is a little extra support - chair, sofa, bed - to safely strengthen your backside in modified standing poses that are guaranteed to get your rear in gear. The bonus of strengthening from standing is challenging balance, which also gets your brain in gear. This session alternates between strengthening and releasing and is appropriate for any body that needs a little extra support and a little more power in the rear engine.
We are all asymmetrical. Sensing what's off-kilter in our pelvis and core is especially tricky to pinpoint. This practice uses blocks to help us feel our center. Think of the block as the friend you can trust to tell you the truth and set you straight. These insights give us options to consider: What feedback am I missing? Where do I need to be stronger? Where might I need to be softer? What can I change? What can I accept? Do I need new friends? ;) How can we better support ourselves and each other so that we all feel a little more centered?
Got a stiff back from a long hike or a Netflix binge? Get some relief with undulating spinal movements in all directions of travel. From heel to head, we take it outside the linear box and keep it moving with lots of variations on the theme of releasing backline tension. We'll sneak in some core support because nothing says back relief like abs in the game. We finish up with my favorite "clock" movements before settling into a timeless stillness where residual tension unwinds.
Shoulder-stand has the potential to create a relaxed and resilient mind when you can stay in this pose with enough ease and enough time to truly reap its benefits. If you are not super familiar with how to set it up - well, jump to the 26-minute mark to understand the setup, entry and exit so that you can fully enjoy the pose. Note the modifications that can support you in finding a place of ease if this is new. We spend the first 26 minutes preparing the body and mind to feel focused and supple. From this place, we invite calm into the body and imagine we can share this calm and spaciousness as we move through our lives.
If you are stressed out and needing some extra support, this class is for you! It's easy to forget how much our inner resources, our practice and our props can hold us together when we are faltering. This practice moves slowly from downward-facing savasana - no need to face the world! - and supported downward dog, bridge, candlestick and plow with some yummy inwardly-focused poses in between. Find shelter in your practice as you find the peace within.
Sticky, tight shoulders can be a pain in the neck and the bane of your backbend. In this practice, we start by opening the shoulders and freeing the neck with a strap in a "closed chain" - Think stability and support for the neck and shoulders. We explore how freeing the shoulders opens the door to an open chest and long neck that makes backbends more fun... so long as we bring our abs to the party and support the low back, too! Don't worry. I'll remind you along the way. I've got your back!
Chair shoulderstands can be really soothing for the nervous system. Getting into them, not so much! Instead of slithering to the ground head first like it's no big deal, we do a lot of prep work right side up. We warm up the body and get centered (read: core work!) first. Then, step by step, we gather ourselves into the chair and gracefully find our way into the support of the chair, the comfort of the wall, and land on blankets to support the shoulders... staying center and grounded so that the pose feels like a soft place to land and a sweet spot to rest. Then you will be gently guided into releasing the pose and resting on solid ground with a new perspective and a quiet mind.
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!
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