A Yoga Sequence for the Feminine

In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a sequence that is often used to specifically honor the feminine within. Now, this doesn’t mean that men can’t do this sequence. On the contrary, I believe this sequence can and will help anyone, whether its to honor the feminine or just as an alternative sequence.

Traditionally, it is called the Moon Salutation. One can consider it the sequence to honor the moon, like the Sun Salutations are used to honor the sun and fire within.

Image result for moon salutation

Here is are the poses (pictured above) that make up the Moon Salutation Sequence. (Note, this is one variation of Moon Salutation. Many more variations can be found online.)

Standing Mountain Pose — Tadasana

Upward Salute Side Bend/Half Moon — Urdhva Hastasana

Goddess Squat — Utkata Konasana

Star Pose

Extended Triangle Pose — Utthita Trikonasana

Pyramid Pose — Parsvottanasana

Low Crescent Lunge — Anjaneyasana

Low Side Lunge

Garland Pose — Malasana

Low Side Lunge

Low Crescent Lunge — Anjaneyasana

Pyramid Pose — Parsvottanasana

Extended Triangle Pose — Utthita Trikonasana

Star Pose

Goddess Squat — Utkata Konasana

Upward Salute Side Bend/Half Moon — Urdhva Hastasana

Standing Mountain Pose — Tadasana

This sequence can be done any time of day. Morning or evening, when the sun in shining or the moon is beaming, the Moon Salutation sequence can be incorporated in any yoga sequence.

Go forth! Honor the feminine within!

Happy International Women’s Day!

Pose Breakdown: Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Let’s breakdown a pose that is fairly standard in most yoga practices: Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

First and foremost, there are many ways to do this pose and for each person it is going to look and feel different. That’s OKAY!

Here are two basic versions of Tadasana:

Image result for mountain pose

The basic aspects of Tadasana are:

  • keep full contact of both feet on the ground
  • straighten legs
  • firm thigh muscles (squeeze them together)
  • bring belly in and up (engage core)
  • straighten back
  • relax shoulders (keep them down/away from neck)
  • keep gaze straight ahead (keep your focus, drishti, on something immobile)
  • keep breathing deeply, slowly
  • hands can be open, at sides or in prayer at the heart
  • feet can be together, touching or about hips width distance

Tadasana is a great pose for standing meditations or beginning a yoga practice. It can help bring focus to the mind, allowing you to feel grounded and present. These are important aspects to begin a yoga practice.

Tadasana also can encourage feelings of strength. Here’s a fun experiment to do with a friend. Stand completely relaxed, muscles and feet loose. Allow your friend to gently push you. Did you move or shift position? Now, come to Tadasana. Stand firm, grounded with muscles engaged. Now, again, allow your friend to gently push you. Did you move or shift position? In most cases, the invocation of Tadasana provides stability and strength, which leads to minimal movement when touched. Translated off the mat, being grounded and feeling strong can allow us to remain steadfast when presented with adversity!

Some other benefits of Tadasana:

  • improves posture
  • unifies body and mind
  • promotes better blood circulation
  • promotes lengthening of the spine

Enjoy practicing Tadasana and see how it changes when you’re more aware of your body!


Drugs, Alcohol, and Yoga

There seems to be a growing trend in yoga classes and yoga studios to add either drugs or alcohol to the yoga practice. I have recently seen stories of “Ganja Yoga” and “Beer Yoga” classes popping up across the country and all over the world. There seems to be this idea that having a high takes yoga to another level.

Image result for ganja yoga

I have to say, I don’t know if I’d agree. While I admit, I haven’t tried doing yoga while being in any form of mind-altered state, I can’t conceptually see the benefit to it. From my understanding, these substances are meant to take you out of yourself, take you away from the things in your mind that keep you rooted and grounded. These are forms of escape from your life. While yes, some people use yoga as a temporary escape, the true purpose of yoga is to unify yourself with yourself. Yoga is used, more often than not, to keep one grounded and centered. In the Yoga for Recovery training, we used yoga to embrace the feelings, good or bad, that came up during the practice. THAT’S THE POINT! Yoga literally translates to union…union of all parts of the self, mind-body-soul. I just don’t see how dissociating these things can really align with the traditions of yoga, any type of yoga.

Image result for beer yoga

Now, maybe these substances are being used to help the body relax so that it can get into the poses during the asana practice. Maybe these substances help individuals with any anxiety or pressure they feel from being in a yoga class. I’m certain individuals who participate in these yoga sessions can come up with their own reasons and defenses. To that I say, to each his or her own. I can’t say that these classes are right or wrong. Honestly, if you want to try it, maybe it’s the fun thing that gets you into the yoga studio. In my humble opinion, I don’t think its for me. I know I can’t knock it until I try it, so I won’t completely knock it, but I don’t know if I’d ever want to try it.

*Please note, the statements above are 100% my opinion and do not reflect any stance taken by any other contributors to this blog or any classes mentioned above.


Yoga Revolution

Throughout the month of January, I participated in the 31 Days of Yoga Revolution with Adriene (Yoga with Adriene). I’ve done many different types of challenges like this at various times of the year, but I have to say this one may be my favorite. Most of the challenges I’ve done in the past have been short term, somewhere between 5-10 days. Last fall I did a long challenge, 30 days, but it wasn’t what I expected.


I went into this new challenge with an open mind and an open heart. I didn’t want to bring any past experiences into this challenge, so I took the new year as a reset and a restart. I figured this challenge would be a great way to kick start a new year and really make a solid attempt to do 365 days of yoga!

Each day, a short 25-35 minute yoga video was sent via email. It was accompanied by an often very long, but very thoughtful and thought-provoking text. So many mornings, when I was too tired to think about practicing, I would read the email and it would reinvigorate me, help me reaffirm this challenge and my goals for my life. The first email also included this calendar, allowing me (and the other yogis) to see what lay ahead.


Some of the practice titles looked daunting, I will admit. I will also admit that some days I wasn’t 100%. I did most of the sessions in the morning, before starting my day. Some days I really did not want to practice for 35 minutes. Some days I just wanted to do my own thing…AND THAT’S OKAY! The point is, I stuck to it. Each day, no matter how I felt or what mood I was in, I went to my mat and gave myself up to the practice.


Some practices were tough. Some were easy. All were EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED.

Ultimately, yoga is what you make it. It can help you become the best version of you possible. It can help empower you to take that step towards your career or life goals. Or it can simply be a way for you to get away and be calm.

I highly recommend this 31 Days of Yoga Revolution. You can find the entire challenge on YouTube (31 Days of Yoga Revolution). Adriene also has various other challenges, like Yoga Camp (Yoga Camp). Even if you simply review her YouTube videos and pick and choose which ones you want to do, they are a great way to get started with yoga and to really become more serious about your practice. Adriene also has many instructional videos on specific poses which is great for beginners and advanced yogis (sometimes we need a reminder to prevent injuries).

Here’s to finding what feels good in 2017. Heyyyoooooooo!

Yoga with Animals

Goat Yoga. Bunny Yoga. Cat Yoga.

Related image

The news headlines have been recently saturated with stories of yoga with different types of animals. So what are the benefits of doing yoga with animals?

Animals are often seen as companions. They can provide calm when we are stressed and provide comfort when we are lonely or sad. In a yoga class, animals can provide a sense of comfort and distraction. Many people feel overwhelmed or intimidated when in a yoga studio class. Looking around, it’s almost natural to compare ourselves to others in the class. With the addition of animals, one can be distracted from those feelings by focusing on the animals.

Image result for goat yoga

Distraction can also be a negative side-effect of doing yoga with animals. The main purpose of yoga is to bring yourself into the present moment, to focus on the sensations of the body and the feelings within. Having animals roaming around the studio (or farm) can take away from that “being present” mindset. It can also distract you from focusing on your breath or on specific poses in the asana practice.

Either way, yoga with animals in on the incline. Studios across the country are beginning to offer classes with “social” animals and the reviews are more positive than negative. Maybe yoga with animals helps increase awareness, as you are having to focus on your yoga practice and try not to be distracted by the cute, fluffy bunnies. Maybe it’ll help to focus on the sounds and smells of the farm while the goats are chewing on their grass. Ultimately, yoga is what YOU make it, so give yoga with animals a go! Who knows, it may be the purrrrrrfect practice for you.

Image result for bunny yoga

Yoga for Kids

Let’s be honest, kids can often drive us bonkers. They are little bundles of high energy which, when combined with lack of sleep, can lead to exhaustion and frustration.

Yoga is a great tool not only to help kids use that energy but also to help instill a sense of calm and focus. Many kids have trouble focusing or sitting still, which can lead to other issues later on. Yoga can teach children tools and techniques to help them focus and sit still not only at home but at school and in many other situations.

Image result for kids yoga

Here are just a few of the benefits yoga can have for children (and adults):

  1. Yoga promotes non-competition.
  2. Yoga promotes self-acceptance and awareness.
  3. Yoga promotes empathy.
  4. Yoga teaches techniques to focus and stay calm in difficult situations.
  5. Yoga supports and promotes positive mental health and coping strategies.

Image result for kids yoga

So now that you’re convinced yoga is good for children, how do you teach them yoga? You don’t have to go through an entire 200 hour yoga teacher training. Though a short day or weekend training is recommended, here are some quick tips to teach basic yoga to children.

  1. Keep the practice FUN!
  2. Be high energy to promote high energy.
  3. Do the poses with the kids.
  4. If the kids are old enough, allow them to provide input on what poses they like.
  5. Build your class for your kids at their level.
  6. Keep the class fast paced.
  7. Use games, be playful. Yoga doesn’t have to be serious.
  8. Help the kids by adjusting them or assisting them.
  9. Use positive reinforcement.
  10. Use props/toys. (Meddy Teddy)

One of the key things to remember is that kids will be kids. They will get distracted, they will want to stop. Just go with the flow and see how the practice progresses over time! After a few weeks/months, you may see a difference!

Image result for kids yoga

Yoga for Work Stress

Now that the holidays are over, many of us are dealing with the reality of going back to work. Many of us struggle to continue feeling the relaxation and renewal we gained through a vacation or simply having time off. Even after a long weekend, so many of us curse that dreaded Monday alarm. This is often because of the stress we feel from our jobs. Every job has stress, whether you work at a computer all day or you work with people, stress is a factor. This stress often illicit physical and mental reactions, resulting in a negative association with our jobs or workplace.

Here are some yoga tips to help mitigate that workplace stress:

First, before doing any physical poses, when you feel stressed take a few deep breaths.

Then, continue on to do a few yoga poses at your desk to help reduce some of that work place stress. Here are some examples:

Seated Crescent Moon Pose

Image result for chair crescent moon pose

Chair Pigeon Pose

Image result for chair pigeon pose

Sit and Stand Chair Pose


Desk Chaturanga (push-up)


Desk Downward/Upward Dog Pose

Credit: Women World

Seated Cat/Cow

Image result for chair cat cow

Repeat each pose as desired, or as much as you have time for. Also remember to breathe throughout the pose. Hold each pose for 5-10 breaths to receive full benefits for stress reduction.

Hopefully these will help in transitioning back to reality.

*All images are from Google Images

Yoga Listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

Image result for unesco

The ancient practice of yoga is now listed as one of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. In 2014, UNESCO’s committee for safeguarding listed practices voted unanimously for India’s proposal to add yoga. Yoga is now OFFICIALLY an international heritage and treasure…as if yogi’s really needed an official notice.

So what does this mean?

The main reason for creating the list is to highlight cultural contributions and heritages present around the world. By creating this list, UNESCO is essentially fostering understanding between cultures, highlighting the great contributions they have made to societies and cultural progress.

As quoted from the UNESCO website:

“Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world.”

Essentially, this list is a means to preserve cultural practices. UNESCO is not only highlighting yoga as a cultural contribution to the world, but it’s also creating a means to safeguard the practice from cultural elimination. Apparently, UNESCO may offer technical or financial support to communities who may be struggling to protect such ancient practices. This is still something to be seen happen or confirmed by UNESCO.

Ultimately, the addition to yoga to UNESCO’s list of cultural contributions helps us further the use of its traditions not only for physical exercise, but for overall health and healing. It also gives yogis an even better response when asked, why yoga?

For a complete 2016 additions to the list of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, click here.

Image result for yoga

Trauma-Informed Yoga

“Trauma-Informed” is another buzz word going around these days. What it means to be trauma-informed isn’t always clear though. How to become trauma-informed is even more unclear.

In the realm of yoga, being trauma-informed seems natural. Sadly, it’s not always the case. Often the things we, as yoga teachers, try to do to assist the practicing yogi may in fact cause the trauma to resurface and may even lead to re-traumatization. Something as simple as moving someone’s hand can be the difference between a very gentle stretch and an anxiety inducing movement.

Many organizations are offering trauma-informed yoga teacher trainings. While the full 200 hour teacher training may not be completely trauma informed, weekend workshops and classes often incorporate or emphasize techniques necessary to work with traumatized and vulnerable populations.

One such organization is Street Yoga. This organization, based in the state of Washington, provides trauma-informed yoga classes to at-risk youth. This organization also travels around the world to provide trauma-informed yoga teacher training workshops to allow for vulnerable populations to have access to yoga. Yoga can teach many coping skills, allowing traumatized individuals to cope and move through their trauma.


Some key examples to being a trauma-informed yoga teacher includes:

-Minimal physical adjustments

-Reducing the use of vulnerable poses (like child’s pose)

-Minimal use of difficult or exotic poses (like headstands)

-Providing safe space for sharing

-Incorporating meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and asanas (physical yoga poses)

Yoga is being used as a means for individuals to deal with trauma. Many UN Peacekeepers have used yogic techniques to not only deal with the work they do on a daily basis, but teaching these techniques to the refugees to help them deal with their own realities. Something as simple as a deep breath can help pause a stressful moment and allow for space and time to process and move through it.

While yoga won’t solve or fix any problems or trauma, yoga can provide tools to process and deal with situations in an effective way.

For more information on Street Yoga, check out their website: http://streetyoga.org/

International Yoga Day


On December 11th, 2014, the UN General Assembly declared June 21st to be the International Day of Yoga. The declaration was a result of a call by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to make June 21st the International Day of Yoga. To the Assembly, Mr. Modi stated: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition . It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. ”

June 21st, 2015 was the first official International Day of Yoga. Over 175 nations supported and sponsored the event. Celebrations included large scale community classes made available throughout many countries including the U.S., India, and Kenya. Making yoga available to the masses is one of the main goals of International Yoga Day. While many countries embrace yoga, access can be an issue. By providing free community classes, this day allows everyone to experience the magic of yoga. In 2016, the celebrations continued. Yoga studios around the world offered free classes the entire day as well as large scale community classes.

Let us hope this tradition continues to grow each year, allowing yoga to touch and heal the world around us. Embrace and celebrate the yogi within and remember to always respect where you are at. I look forward to celebrating each year and sharing yoga with everyone in my community.