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.
GERD, aka acid reflux, is a common problem in pregnancy, menopause and aging. Hormones, stress, diet, medications and lifestyle choices are all things to examine as contributing factors. Some you can change and others not so much. How do you practice yoga asana and keep your throat above your belly at all times to avoid triggering GERD? It's absolutely possible with a little creativity. This tutorial looks at some basic ways to adjust your practice to help you shift from what you can't do into what is possible. Check out the "no forward folds" and "chair vinyasa course" for more ideas!
Shoulder stand is a great pose to invoke deep relaxation - IF you have the flexibility to get into it AND the strength to sustain it for (at least) several minutes. When you do it using the support of a chair, you can stay longer with more ease. It's especially great for tight shoulders and tender necks because your body weight shifts out of the neck/shoulders and into the support of the chair. If this is new, make sure you preview getting in and getting out of the shoulder stand so you know how to move safely to take care of your neck! Over time, this practice will strengthen and open your shoulder girdle and give your more internal support for all inversions.
Wanna roll around and PLAY on your mat AND clock some abs in? "The Clock" is perfect for this! If you love the sensations of opening your whole body and you know you need to engage your core to find your center, this floor series is a great way to get the best of both worlds. We will do some straight-up abs to start - just in case you forgot where they are?! Then we leverage the floor to create circular moments in the shoulders and hips and full spinal rotation in all directions. It's a fluid, fun and sneaky way to clock in some core work. NOTE that this is fun for students with flexibility. LOTS more props are needed for tight/tender bodies... "supported clock" coming soon! (A third blanket might be handy!)
When you're not in the mood to do anything and you know moving will (almost always) make you feel better, get some props and roll around on your mat - or your bed?! This hip-opening session has your hips on a blanket for extra traction in your lower back. Rocking around on the blanket is a super sweet way to massage your lower back. Enjoy opening your whole body with minimal effort and maximum support! Make sure you have blocks/bolster/support to place your feet on to avoid over-stretching the front body and compressing the back body so you truly feel equanimous - open and at ease.
This side-lying series is a favorite with students because it builds strength that can be felt immediately without any strain! Instant gratification! It's great to support tender knees, hips and low back. Use it as a warmup or a stepping-stone for a standing sequence, or just to do something new that increases sensory awareness - because "new" is fun like that! Students who have injuries or weakness LOVE this because they have complete control of how far they move; they know they are getting strong and they don't have any fear of the compressive force of gravity and load on their joints. Pro tip: try it with the bottom foot pressing the wall for even more feedback and support!
If you have tender knees, the safest and simplest way to build strength is on your back. Then it's time to engage gravity from sitting and standing positions with neutral legs. I am sitting on 2 blocks to start this session, but you can sit in a chair instead and get the same benefits. We'll use the wall to shift weight out of the knees while finding the right amount of movement that builds strength without strain. Root down into your feet and rise up out of your seat to power up your legs. Feel yourself getting stronger, gaining more movement and fluidity as you stick to this practice. It's simple but not easy for any body, but your knees are worth it!
Releasing the hips can relieve low-back tension from extended sitting, tight hips from hiking/biking/running/living, or simply relax the mind/body by shifting the nervous system out of the stress response. This practice includes a lot of rocking movements that also quiet the nervous system, giving the body and mind just enough sensation and activity to focus on a gentle rhythm. Whether you have had a hectic day and need a relaxing practice or you have chronically tight hips that are a friend for life that you need to attend to... this session will leave you feeling relaxed, rested and spacious.
If you are a beginner or feel a little off balance, take your standing practice to the wall. It gives you extra feedback, courage and strength. The wall helps you feel your spinal alignment. Its support gives you the courage to be bold in your balance poses. Pressing into the wall creates a closed chain of leverage that helps build extra strength. It's also sweet for the finishing poses, using your feet on the wall to get just the right amount of release and relaxation after a simple, strong standing practice. Enjoy the balance of working hard and relaxing deeply in this session!
Not up for a standing practice and want to build strength? Bridge pose is a great way to build strength in the hips and entire back body while also creating mobility in the spine and chest. It's easy to control how much you move and that makes it safe for students who don't have a lot of strength or balance in standing poses. Rolling bridges get your abs in gear to control your descent and support your spine. There are lot of modifications for bridge. Note that these are "baby" or half bridges; whereas, in a full/high bridge, you wouldn't want to keep the blanket behind your head and might even want to put a blanket under the shoulders to protect the neck.
If you want happy knees, it's essential to have strong and supple hips - among other things! This session spends a LOT of time standing on your knees. You may find that a blanket under the knees creates enough cushion for you. Or, you may have really tender knees and want to find a different class. (Stay tuned for more!) If you're still with me, you will be amazed by how much strength you build in hips/hamstrings by standing on your knees, and you may also be surprised to sense how much balance is required. The struggle is real! You'll have blocks handy to help you feel safe as you move in unfamiliar ways, and you'll get a nice hip-release series to finish for dessert!