Archives for October 2014

New to Yoga? Top 5 Things Beginners Should Know

Hands on assists are key for beginners

Hands on assists are key for beginners

1) The wellness and health benefits of yoga (physical, mental and more) will probably trump anything else you’ve ever done.  Beginners can not only expect to be stronger and more  flexible, but sleep better, stress less and fight bad bugs better with yoga-strong immunity.

2) Your success in performing the physical postures/exercises is determined more by your unique body and bone shapes, and ranges of motion facilitated by those shapes.  For instance, if you have a narrow pelvis, aspiring to do the splits is a bad idea!   45 degrees of extension in your spine on a good day?  Then Wheel Pose may not be for you.  It’s not a big deal–there are tons of poses that WILL suit you.

3) All yoga instructors are not created equally, nor are they interchangeable,  as some mass marketeers of yoga would like you to think.  Would you pick a hair stylist based on who’s closest? OK, for some of you, yes, — but, hair grows back!  Hurt your rotator cuff and the recovery time will be longer than getting over a bad hair day. Read teacher bios carefully and look for instructors w/ at least 5 years teaching experience, though 10 preferred.  Also, figure out how long they did yoga before they decided to teach it.  Did they think because they were a naturally flexible dancer or gymnast that they were magically endowed to teach a deeply inwardly-focused, mental practice?  Watch out — they might not understand how less fit bodies work, nor have command of anything beyond the physical postures flashing you back to phys ed!   Ideally, find a teacher who trained in an immersion program (lived yoga 24-7).  The Yoga Alliance certification used to carry weight, but one could argue it is less meaningful nowadays.

4) Treat your yoga like a doctor’s appointment and try not to miss class early on.   The practice of yoga can be overwhelming at first with lots of moving parts — how to perform the postures, breathing exercises, meditation techniques.  The biggest hurdle I find when beginning adults miss a class is more memory-related than anything else.  They forget all the coaching I gave them one-on-one, how I came over and guided them into poses in those first classes.  Then, they miss a week and “poof!” — I have to go back and re-teach it all. This can get a little tedious for the other students.  So, don’t be self-conscious about showing up and not knowing anything, but don’t let down the rest of the class by not taking your commitment seriously. Most of you wouldn’t cancel a doctor appointment due to less-than-perfect weather or a social engagement, then why cancel your Wellness Appointment?  Plan on disappointing people in the short-run with your new-found commitment to yoga–better than disappointing yourself in the long-run.  Look in the mirror and pretend telling someone demanding your time, “I’m sorry, I have an appointment.”  Deliver this line a in hushed tone with a serious face and I promise, they won’t ask!

5) Give it 3 months before you evaluate and avoid The Classic Beginner Mistake.   Authentic yoga practiced as “relaxed exertion” is the epitome of the Japanese concept of “kaizen,” or barely noticeable, continuous  improvement over time.  Subtle, sure, but it’s a big part of how Japan industrialized itself into a superpower.  Once you start coming to yoga 1-3 times per week, your body, mind, mood, outlook –everything launches on a slow trajectory of change.  While some people notice early on, for most, it sneaks up on them–maybe one day lifting a bag of groceries with   new-found upper body strength.  Then, at a party, you’re the only adult limber enough to sit on the floor!  So what’s The Classic Beginner Mistake? Thinking that you’re not really getting that much out of yoga and dropping it for a couple of weeks.  Before you know it, you’re the one who needs to sit in the chair and you realize how much you’ve lost!  Excuses in hand, you come groveling in to class (see number 4).  Yes, of course, we’ll take you back…and try not to judge.



5 Reasons to Consider Private Yoga ~ It’s Not Just for Jennifer Aniston!

You don’t have to be a movie star, professional athlete, or a “famous for no reason” reality TV star to enjoy the benefits of private yoga!  From school teachers to at-home Moms, to corporate executives –there are more people from more walks of life doing private yoga than you might think!

After teaching yoga for 12 years in two different markets, Cape Cod and a St. Paul Suburb, I’ve taught a lot of yogis in the comfort of their own homes, for a variety of reason and motivations.  Here are a few reasons why people do private yoga:

1) Ensures Commitment:  I know where you live!  I am convinced that some people need to 1) pre-pay and 2) have me on their doorstep to make sure they don’t bail out on what is, at the end of the day, a commitment to The Self.  These people have a way of getting dragged into other peoples’ urgency (O.P.U.) at the last minute.  Their conscientious employees, parents, caregivers, business owners, etc. who will pick up a ringing phone as they’re  heading out the door to yoga (something I never do!).  The world is a better place for them, but they tend to cut corners on self care.  By having me show up, the yoga class becomes the urgency at hand, live and in person!  I think they figure: better to spend a little more on private yoga than to keep signing up for group classes and not attend.

2) Relationship Enhancing:  Some of my longest term private students do yoga with a partner, spouse, BFF, or small group of friends. They look at their private yoga as a way to spend quality time w/ loved ones.  One of my earlier successes was a book club where members decided they needed to do something less sedentary together.  Doing yoga as a “duet” class or small group keeps you accountable to more people = more commitment.

3) Health Limitations:   While I pride myself as an instructor who can use props and modifications to make yoga accessible to nearly everyone, there are some conditions for which a group setting isn’t appropriate.  It simply isn’t fair to monopolize the teacher’s time; and, you will likely  start to feel self-conscious.  It’s one thing to need extra help your first few classes –everyone has been there and your mat mates will be understanding.  That said, it’s not an infinite well of patience.  If you constantly need help getting in and out of poses, you’d better consider private yoga–in the long run it’s safer for you.  If your issues require supervision, I can tell you that the teacher cannot be watching and ensuring the safety of your every move, all the time–even in a small class.  The good news:  after a critical mass of private yoga, you might be ready to “graduate” to a group setting if that’s your goal– and,  you’ll have a lot more fun and confidence in doing so.

4) Faster improvement: For those wanting to “jump in with both feet,”  a winning strategy is to combine a  weekly group class with  private instruction.  In the tennis and golf world, this is the norm.  Sure, you play a round or a match and might receive limited feedback from a pro, but to really fine tune, you need that private lesson.  No different for yoga.  We delve into subtleties and  make adjustments, just like you would in any sport.  We also have more time to explore the mental aspects or “deeper practices” which are extensive in yoga.  When private students then turn up for group classes, I notice  they’re more at ease as they’ve already been working with the material.

If you think private yoga might be for you, fill out a “contact” form and get in touch.  While many personal trainers out there purport to offer private yoga, check credentials.  Yoga credentials are different from fitness credentials and you could be overpaying by twice.  At YogaHotDish, pricing is a function of time and distance.  Times available starting at @$70 for up to 4 people.

Private Yoga in your home isn't just for movie stars!

Private Yoga in your home isn’t just for movie stars!