Welcome to my blog: Its an honor for me

The practice of Yoga has been a long journey within that has changed me in many powerful ways. When practicing yoga, I become more aware of my internal world and I am present within. Through my therapeutic yoga classes , my hope is to assist you in beginning your own JOURNEY WITHIN and help you heal and change. Yoga provides the perfect pathway to transform, blossom and thrive.
I am honored to serve expecting mommas and their little ones not only as a Pre and Post Natal yoga teacher but also as a Hypnobirthing educator and an Infant Massage instructor. I wear many hats in this world, but all of them are to help birth ourselves into a new state of consciousness. And for that, there are no words.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yoga During Menstruation

Yoga practice during menstruation is a controversial issue. There are those who say that no woman should practice yoga during her menstruation, others say practice everything. Some say practice inversions, others say avoid. Some say a strong practice is useful, others say to practice restorative asanas.

All women are different with regards to menstruation. Some may not have any side effects, low energy or feel at all different than they do during the rest of the month, while others have such extreme pain, mood swings, fatigue, bloating, irritability and so on that they have to stay in bed for the first few days. Because no woman is the same there are no set rules regarding what to practice during menstruation but there are some general guidelines that can help. What is important is that we listen to our bodies during this time.

The menstrual cycle is very delicate. If we are stressed, travel; change our diet and so on then our cycle can change. It is very important to be aware of our cycle and to listen to our bodies. Those who do not may often have irregular periods or no periods along with many other symptoms. The state of our menstrual cycle reflects the state of our physical and mental health. Therefore it is not just asanas that can have an impact on it but also the mind, making meditation and reflection an important practice.

Menstruation time is a time of heightened awareness and sensitivity. Often the problems that we have during the month become more real at this time and affect us more strongly. At this time it is particularly useful to examine these problems and find solutions. Menstruation is a time to explore and look within. It is a time to nurture and heal the body and mind.

Again the way we look at our menstruation greatly differs between women. Some women prefer to ignore it as much as possible, to pretend or detach themselves from what is going on. These are generally the ones who are more competitive and out to prove that they are just as strong as men. Strength is good but we should also have the awareness of our bodies and give time to listen to them. It is not to say that we can all hang around the house not doing anything but we can treat our bodies with care and respect. We should put in efforts to remain balanced and therefore cultivate inner strength.

Some associate guilt, uncleanliness or other negative emotions. These may have come up due to the culture one has grown up, the views of one’s parents or some other events in life. Relaxation techniques such as yoga nidra can be very beneficial for these women in clearing away these negativities and instead bringing acceptance and positivity of one’s self.

The main reason why we may choose not to practice may be due to the associated symptoms of menstruation. If a woman is having very extreme menstruation then even the thought of practicing will cause negative emotions. The best practice at this time is then yoga nidra and some gentle pranayam such as bhramari (humming bee breath), anulom vilom (alternate nostril breath), ujjayi (victorious breath) and deep breathing. Om Chanting will also be very beneficial.

If we are not feeling too uncomfortable then a yoga practice can be useful to help alleviate any period pain or back pain, balance the emotions – mood swings, anxiety, anger, depression, irritability and gentle open the pelvic region, relieving any congestion. Menstruation is a time to vary ones yoga practice to look within and find the peace and tranquility.

Asanas to avoid
In a yoga practice there are certain asanas that should be avoided during menstruation. The main type of asanas are inversions. These should be avoided throughout the menstruation. The reasoning for this is that when we practice inversions one type of prana, known as a apana, which normally flows in the downward direction from the manipur chakra (naval centre) to mooladhar chakra (cervix), is reversed. This is useful to help increase the prana in the body and to help awaken the kundalini but when menstruating it goes against the natural flow. It can therefore stop or disturb the menstruation at this time and lead to other reproductive problems later on. Another reason is that during inversions the uterus is pulled towards the head and causes the broad ligaments to be over stretched which cause partial collapse of the veins, leaving open arteries to continue pumping blood. This can lead to vascular congestion and increased menstrual bleeding. Previously people used to think that inversions could cause endometriosis and infections but it is now thought not to be the case.

Secondly, any very strong asanas particularly strong backbends, twists, arm balances and standing positions that put a lot of stress on the abdominal and pelvic region should be avoided, especially if the woman is going through a lot of pain at the time. The reasoning for this is very logical. If the pelvic region is causing spasm and pain why cause more contraction and pressure to the area. Also these positions need more physical strength and exertion which can be lacking during this time and can be depleted further by the practice. Strong vinyasa and power yoga should be avoided for the same reasons. Surya namaskar, when done slowly and gently, can be useful, however it should be avoided if there is a lot of pain or heavy bleeding.

Thirdly, bandhas should be avoided for similar reasons. On a pranic level they move the apana upwards instead of down and physically they add more contraction to an already tight region and in the case of uddiyan bandha increasing the heat which can lead to heavier bleeding.
It may seem like there are many positions that cannot be practiced however this is not the case. Many positions can still be practiced and many more positions that may not be in ones daily practice can be incorporated and explored. It’s all about listening to the bodies needs and accepting that this is a time of introversion, acceptance and balance.

Asanas To Practice
Do remember that it is not necessary that you have to practice asanas during your period. For the first two days you may have a break from asanas. That doesn’t mean you cannot practice other techniques such as pranayam, yoga nidra and meditation. All will have benefits. It is important that if you decide to practice that you should be aware of and listen to your body. Do not push or strain and instead do some more gentle poses but hold them a little longer. Generally it is good to practice positions that allow one to become more grounded, to alleviate any emotional disturbances and to gain inner strength.
To warm up one can practice the preparatory movements 1 to 12, arm movements, leg and knee movements. The pawanmuktasan series 1, 2 and 3 from Swami Satyananda are also recommended. Surya namaskar (Sun Salutation) can be practiced if there is no heavy bleeding or cramping. But it should not be performed in a fast manner. Chandra namaskar (Moon Salutation) is another alternative which is more soothing, harmonizing and calming at this time and helps to cultivate the feminine aspects.
Gentle forward bends give a light massage to the abdominal and pelvic region, helping to relieve congestion, heaviness, cramping and heavy bleeding. They also bring calmness to the mind. Examples include Paschimottanasan (Forward Bend),Ardha paschimottanasan (Half Forward Bend), Ugrasan (Ferocious Pose), Vajrasan Yoga Mudra Type 1 (Child’s Pose), Shashankasan (Hare/Moon Pose) and Janu Bhalasan (Standing forward bend). Practice these positions to 50-60% of your capacity or with the support of cushions or bolsters. Do not strain or do strong forward bends. Vajrasan Yoga Mudra Type 1 and Shashankasan can be practiced with the knees further apart.
Gentle twisting positions can remove back pain, cramping and congestion. Examples include leg movement type 2, vakrasan (twisted pose)type 1, preparatory movement 2 and 3 and gentle twists in sitting positions. Avoid very strong twisting positions.
Gentle backbends, especially when supported, can alleviate back pain and pelvic discomfort. Examples include Supta Vajrasan (Sleeping Thunderbolt) (sitting on heels or with heels apart)and Supta Titaliasana (Sleeping Butterfly) supported with bolsters. The Vajrasan series is also useful especially for removing tension from the back and to remove pelvic congestion. The whole series can be practiced or just a few of the poses. Avoid strong backbends.
Leg up the wall poses help to remove stagnant blood from the legs without lifting the pelvic region and help to open up the pelvic region. Legs can be straight up the wall or separated to a comfortable distance or with the soles of the feet together.
Other useful positions include Marjariasan (Cat Pose)and Vyaghrasan (Tiger Pose) which both help to remove back pain and pelvic tension. Titaliasan (Butterfly) to tone the pelvis, Sulabh Pawanmuktasan (Simple Gas Release Pose), with knees apart, to relieve back pain, Sulabh Koormasan (Simple Tortoise Pose), Simple Pigeon and simple supine spinal twists. 
This is not a complete list as there are thousands of asanas to choose from but just remember the guidelines and main points when choosing and practicing asanas.

Pranayam is very useful during menstruation as it helps to balance the emotions and calm the mind. It can also help one to deal with any pain. Do remember that there should be no strain with the breath and also no kumbakh and bandhas as these will increase the heat and redirect the prana in the upward direction. Deep breathing is very beneficial, especially when practiced in Tadagasan (Pond Pose) or Shavasan (Corpse Pose). Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath), Anulom vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing), Ujjayi (Victorious Breath), Sheetali (Cooling breath through the tongue) and Sitkari (Cooling breath through the teeth)are all useful practices. 
Avoid fast breathing, Bhastrika (Bellow’s Breath), Surya Bedan (Right Nostril Breathing) and Kapalbhati (Frontal Brain Cleansing) as they will increase the heat which may cause heavier bleeding and will also put excessive pressure on the abdominal region.

Meditation is another useful practice at this time particularly as one is more sensitive and aware at this time. Om chanting and meditation on Om can be used. Antar mouna, the practice of inner silence is a technique where one observes ones thoughts. Chanting of personal mantra or mahamrityunjaya will give benefits as will simple meditation on the breath or ajapa japa. Yoga nidra is also strongly recommended at this time.

Cleansing Practices
Some cleansing practices can be done at this time but most should be avoided. Jal neti and Danda neti can be performed as can Tratak but avoid Kapalbhati, Vaman, Lagoo Shankarprakshalan and Poorna Shankarprakshalan.

Going to a Class 
Many teachers say it is better to do your home practice during menstruation instead of going to a class. This is because many times during class one may feel compelled to follow all of the teacher’s instructions. One may push themselves more when their body is not ready for it and one may practice inversions when these should be strictly avoided. The main reasons for this are that one does not want to be the odd one out and many women don’t want others to know that they are having their period. Many teachers will give options to practice instead of inversions but if not just substitute one or more of the recommended asanas for during menstruation. Remember that you are practicing for yourself, not for your teacher or a friend, so it’s always better to follow what you feel.

Example of a private practice during menstruation – remember you can change it, add and remove positions, hold some for longer or shorter, just listen to the body….
1 Hour Practice
Tadasan (Palm Tree Pose)
Tiryak Tadasan (Swaying Palm Tree Pose)
Kati Chakrasan (Waist Rotating Pose)
Preparatory Movements 1 – 12 Once
Shavasan (Corpse)
Arm Movements 1, 2, 3
Knee Movements 2 and 3
Ardha Pawanmuktasan (Half Gas Release Pose)
Supta Titaliasan (Sleeping Butterfly) - 2 minutes with bolster behind back
Supta Vajrasan (Sleeping Thunderbolt) - 2 minutes with bolster behind back
Vajrasan Series – holding for 20 seconds each position
Vajrasan Yoga Mudra Type 1 (Child’s Pose) - 5 minutes with knees apart and cushion under head if needed, plus releasing arms to the side
Titaliasan (Butterfly) as an asana and as a movement
Sulabh Koormasan (Simple Tortoise)
Ardha Paschimottanasan (Half Forward Bend) – with cushion or bolster
Paschimottanasan (Forward Bend) – with cushion or bolster
Ugrasan (Ferocious Pose) – with cushion or bolster
Marjariasan (Cat Pose) – 5 repetitions
Vyaghrasan (Tiger) – 5 repetitions on each side
Vakrasan (Twisted Pose) Type 1
Swastikasan (Auspicious Pose) and twist to side
Deep Breathing in Tadagasan (Pond Pose)
Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath)
Om Chanting

Yogic practices for the rest of the month to balance the menstrual cycle
Many yoga techniques can be practiced throughout the month to help balance the hormones, the menstrual cycle and to prevent pre menstrual syndrome, period pain, emotional disturbances and other associated symptoms of menstruation. 
Asanas – Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), Sarvangasan (Shoulderstand), Halasan (Plough), Matsyasan (Fish), Kandharasan (Shoulder Pose), Ardha Chakrasan (Half Wheel), Chakrasan (Wheel Pose), Bhujangasan (Cobra),Shalabhasan (Locust), Dhanurasan (Bow), Paschimottanasan (Forward Bend), Ushtrasan (Camel), Viparit Karni (Inverted Pose), Sirshasan (Headstand), Ashwini Mudra (Horse Gesture), Aakarna Dhanurasan (Archer’s Bow), Marjariasan (Cat), Garudasan (Eagle), Veerasan (Warrior), Trikonasan (Triangle).
Other – Yoga nidra, Antar Mouna, Om chanting, Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath), Ujjayi (Victorious Breath), Uddiyan Bandha (Uddiyan Bandha), Moola Bandha (Root Lock), Agnisar (Fire Breath).


Asana is a very popular component of Yoga. Asanas are practiced in all countries. Millions of people are practicing Asanas every day. The main question is whether they are practicing correctly. Correctly means as per the way prescribed by Patanjali the pioneer of Yoga. Patanjali has mentioned the definition of Asana. The Sutra for this definition reads as follows: "Sthir sukham asanam"

Sthir means Steady, Sukham means comfortable and asanam means posture. The meaning of this definition is " Steady & comfortable posture is Asana. "These are the two qualities of the Asana or posture. Presence of only one quality is not sufficient to qualify it as Asan. Hence a stage which is steady and comfortable at the same time is called Asana. So there should be no movements in the body, at the same time there must be no pain or even discomfort in the body. Then only this stage can be called as Asana.

There are some movements that are essentialto take up the position and also to release the posture and bring it back to thenormal position/preposition. We can analysis the method of practicing asana as follows.

Initial Position "Preposition"

Stage 1: Taking the asana position - by making some movements the final position is attained.

Stage 2 : Keeping the asana position steady for some time.

Stage 3 : Releasing the asana position - by making some movements the asana position is released.

The stage 1 & 3 contain the movements hence they are not "asana" as per the definitation

Mentioned by Patanjali.

There is no movement in the stage two hence the stage two is "Asana" If you want to practice Asanas practice the stage two for a longer time. Stage 1 & 3 are not asana but they are essential for taking the asana position. That is why the movements for asana are very slow. Hence the correct procedure for practicing Asana is as follows.

The movements required for attaining and releasingasana position are to be made slowly and then the Asana ismaintained for the longer time. The time duration must be such that the practitioner must feel comfortable. Asana is to be maintained steadily as long as it is comfortable. Asana must be released when comfort is lost and some pain, stretch or discomfort starts due to overstrain

The same explanation is equally applicable to the mind also. 
The mind must be steady and comfortable in the Asana position. So try to practice your yoga as per the definition of Patanjali!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Back at Breathing Room on Monday evenings:

I am honored and thankful to be able to be back to teach at Breathing Room Yoga in Livingston starting this Monday, October 11th from 5:45 - 7:00 pm. I will be taking over Allison Meredith's class, who is taking some time off to enjoy her last few months of pregnancy. My class is therapeutic in style and is focused on encouraging students to explore movements to alleviate tension and discomfort. Breathing techniques, mudras and mantras to move energy, reduce stress and promote healing are all used. These classes will accommodate people with specific needs such as knee replacements, neck and shoulder issues or back pain. Focus is on moving in ways that are safe and pain free.

Please bring a tennis ball to the first class.... :)

Looking forward in seeing you all there.


New Moon and Navatri Cycle

Its always darkest before the dawn.

The last day before the new moon is the darkest night of the month and we often feel that mirrored in our own life as there may be some difficulty in our outer life that causes "darkness" within or the reverse when what is brewing in our shadow begins to project out into our life. How we experience this peak of "endarkenment" can change and coincide with a natural going within or retreat to emotional melt-downs with the display of sadness, grief, swelling of feelings, neurosis, conflict, emptiness and despair. If we are not aware of the powerful mirroring of this peak darkness, it catches us off guard particularly if we are in a high-peak cycle of joy, stability, "life is wonderful" state of being. The days before the new moon can rock our world if we are not aware of this natural shift.

The hardest part of householder life is to maintain a steady rhythm of personal retreat necessary during times we we are naturally moving inward. Monks and nuns, sannayasins (renunciates), yogins and yoginis have these ritual rhythms as the center of their life which is also full of challenges. The potency of ritual life is to be able connect with the larger cycles of nature that are effecting every being on this planet simultaneously and be in harmony with the cosmos.

When we are feeling at our "lowest", "darkest", most vulnerable, our practice becomes truly alchemical as we are very aware of the need to understand, listen and move with a new energetic flow. Balancing excess vata and pitta is very common at this time as the air and the fire fan each other creating aggravation. Yoga can be viewed as an inner rasayana or alchemical elixir working with both the elements and the prana-shakti to alchemically transmute stress and karma into bliss and authentic being. Tantric-based yoga develops a connection to the alchemical flow of life - how every moment is a creative opportunity to be in true presence, dance with change, create antidotes for difficulties, and sustain the flow. Our practice, our sadhana, is the place to align our life with the sacred flow, the alchemical movement that renews us again and again.

The New moon is the reflection of this process and this month we have the opportunity to renew ourselves in the sacred 9-night festival known as Navaratri.

This ten-day cycle connected to the three aspects of the Great Mother - Creation, Sustaining and Dissolution and Victory over Ignorance or Sarawsati, Lakshmi and Durga. Most likely before the new moon and this transformative time of fall, we are able to connect with what we are letting go of, what we are sustaining with love and what is emerging within us. It is during this Navaratri cycle that we have access to authentic transformation as well as magnifying the blessings in our inner and outer life that are the essence of Sri - the creative, regenerative power of the one - that although beyond personification - becomes invoked as the divine feminine within all.

I am grateful to all the amazing men in my life who choose to honor the sacred feminine in their beloved lover, wife, sister, daughter, son, their own self, the Earth. I encourage all the yoginis to make as much space in their awareness as you can over the next 10 days to really connect with the Shakti within.

Navaratri CycleNavaratri begins Oct 8

Days dedicated to Durga - Oct 8-10

Days dedicated to Laksmi- Oct 11-13

Days dedicated to Saraswati - Oct 14-16

Dusshera - last day of Navaratri Oct 17

The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshipped.


The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Being the oldest religion in the world, Hinduism has numerous belief systems.

In Hinduism the adherents believe in one omnipresent Deity but may worship Her/Him in any of the numerous manifestations that are prevalent all over India. Navaratri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in form of Shakti [Energy or Power]. Dasahara, meaning ‘ten days’, becomes dussehra in popular parlance. The Navaratri festival or ‘nine day festival’ becomes ‘ten day festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshipped with fervour and devotion.

Living Yoga Sadhana for Navaratri

These are the recommendations for yogis and yoginis during Navaratri

1) Create Sacred Space- AltarCreate your altar or renew your current altar. Clean the Space for your practice and set-up your supplies (incense, lighter, etc.). You can activate your altar in a specific way for each sadhana with relevant pictures-murtis-symbols (images of the Divine), sacred objects and specific colors of cloth, flowers and candles. Keep your altar simple but potent as a reflection of your inner being. Choose vital and expressive colors and images; Siva-shakti or Shakti or images of your own creative inspiration.

Explore the pathways of awakening kundalini shakti as the divine creative brilliance within nature, within your body and as a supreme navigating intelligence within the flow of one’s life. Includes essential daily practices, meditation, kundalini namaskar, prana flow creative sequences and prana sahaja flow – the spontaneous awakening.

Have a candle at the center of your altar or images of the Goddess according to the predominant day - Durga, Lakshmi or Sarawati.

2) Meditate in the morning and evening with bhava, mantra and devotion - the duration is not as important as the consistency although the longer the seep the deeper the soak. You can have your regular meditation practice and add or substitute the mantra connected with each Shakti for a mala (108 rounds).

Om Aim Saraswatiye Namaha

Om Dum Durgaye Namaha

Om Shrim Lakshmiye Namaha

You can also listen and chant the 108 Names of the Goddess, and Lalita Saharanama (1008 Names of the Goddess).

Here are some suggestions of tracks and artist below

* Craig Pruess

* Bombay Jayashri Goddess Namavali

* Shakti Blessings - by Benjy Wertheimer - "Jala"

* Lalita Sahashranama - CD and book from www.amma.org

3) Live and practice yoga with heightened awareness, with intention, seva and rasa vinyasa(tm) - an alchemical connection to the flow in your daily life.

According to the three phases of Navaratri - 3 days for Dissolution and Letting Go; 3 days for Manifestation and Abundance; and 3 days for creative energy how will you focus

4) Fast in some form either by releasing a food item such as alcohol or sugar or being pure vegetarian for the entire 10 days. This is a very powerful way of strengthening your inner dedication and relaxing attachments.

5) Journal your experience and share.

For additional information on the significance and rituals of Navaratri check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navaratri

The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshipped.