Wednesday, 20 January 2016

(via)
One day after he passed away, I blasted a trusty old Bowie playlist during an evening class. Afterward, one of my students told me how much she had loved it and began to cry.

The power of music is phenomenal and, as I always argue, any emotion it generates within you has the potential to enhance your yoga practice. I’m not saying that Heroes or Diamond Dogs are always going to be appropriate for everyone during a class …but they’ve been a hit the past week.

Bowie's In Space

The Man Who Sold the Word – Vitamin String Quartet
Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie
China Girl – David Bowie
Starman – Milky Edwards & the Chamberlings
Diamond Dogs – Beck
Heroes – David Bowie
Sound and Vision – David Bowie
Queen Bitch – Seu Jorge
Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie
Sorrow – David Bowie
Rebel Rebel – Seu Jorge
Where Are We Now – David Bowie
Nature Boy – David Bowie & Massive Attack
Golden Years – James Murphy 


I haven't put a playlist on Soundcloud but I will share just one video from the list. I fell in love with Bowie thanks to Seu Jorge and Wes Anderson. This one is my favourite...


(via)
One day after he passed away, I blasted a trusty old Bowie playlist during an evening class. Afterward, one of my students told me how much she had loved it and began to cry.

The power of music is phenomenal and, as I always argue, any emotion it generates within you has the potential to enhance your yoga practice. I’m not saying that Heroes or Diamond Dogs are always going to be appropriate for everyone during a class …but they’ve been a hit the past week.

Bowie's In Space

The Man Who Sold the Word – Vitamin String Quartet
Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie
China Girl – David Bowie
Starman – Milky Edwards & the Chamberlings
Diamond Dogs – Beck
Heroes – David Bowie
Sound and Vision – David Bowie
Queen Bitch – Seu Jorge
Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie
Sorrow – David Bowie
Rebel Rebel – Seu Jorge
Where Are We Now – David Bowie
Nature Boy – David Bowie & Massive Attack
Golden Years – James Murphy 


I haven't put a playlist on Soundcloud but I will share just one video from the list. I fell in love with Bowie thanks to Seu Jorge and Wes Anderson. This one is my favourite...


Friday, 20 November 2015

Bhi Bhiman
I’d say that 90% of the time, when I give students my business card in class it is because they want to see my playlists. Some yogis really get into the tunes they practice to - I even have a few students who bring music suggestions into class or email them to me. I have recently become completely and utterly despairing over the music on the radio and have pretty much stopped listening to it in the car (where I spend a disproportionate amount of my life). I love discovering and listening to artists you are not likely to hear on the radio in Los Angeles and apparently my students appreciate the music discoveries as well. I’m really enjoying Cali boys DJ Drez and Bhi Bhiman at the moment, and am super excited to see my lovely Perth gal pal Leure releasing new music.

Bye bye, radio. I do not miss you.

In other fun, frivolous notes of fun, do you know how many ‘covers’ of Regina Spektor’s Us are currently on Soundcloud? Go look. Seriously. It’s ridiculous.

Folky/Anti-Radio Yoga Playlist

Midnight (In India – DJ Drez Remix) – Coldplay
We Don’t Eat – James Vincent McMorrow
When I Grow Up – The Human Experience
Wicked Game – James Vincent McMorrow
Archangel – Chet Faker
1998 – Chet Faker
Mushaboom – Feist
Us – Regina Spektor
Guttersnipe – Bhi Bhiman
You Are My Joy – The Reindeer Section
Empire State of Mind (DJ Drez India Remix) – Alicia Keys
Swim Good – Leure
Tomorrow Will Be Kinder – The Secret Sisters
Shanti (Peace Out) – MC Yogi






Bhi Bhiman
I’d say that 90% of the time, when I give students my business card in class it is because they want to see my playlists. Some yogis really get into the tunes they practice to - I even have a few students who bring music suggestions into class or email them to me. I have recently become completely and utterly despairing over the music on the radio and have pretty much stopped listening to it in the car (where I spend a disproportionate amount of my life). I love discovering and listening to artists you are not likely to hear on the radio in Los Angeles and apparently my students appreciate the music discoveries as well. I’m really enjoying Cali boys DJ Drez and Bhi Bhiman at the moment, and am super excited to see my lovely Perth gal pal Leure releasing new music.

Bye bye, radio. I do not miss you.

In other fun, frivolous notes of fun, do you know how many ‘covers’ of Regina Spektor’s Us are currently on Soundcloud? Go look. Seriously. It’s ridiculous.

Folky/Anti-Radio Yoga Playlist

Midnight (In India – DJ Drez Remix) – Coldplay
We Don’t Eat – James Vincent McMorrow
When I Grow Up – The Human Experience
Wicked Game – James Vincent McMorrow
Archangel – Chet Faker
1998 – Chet Faker
Mushaboom – Feist
Us – Regina Spektor
Guttersnipe – Bhi Bhiman
You Are My Joy – The Reindeer Section
Empire State of Mind (DJ Drez India Remix) – Alicia Keys
Swim Good – Leure
Tomorrow Will Be Kinder – The Secret Sisters
Shanti (Peace Out) – MC Yogi






Monday, 9 November 2015

 Do you remember the old Paul Frank slogan, 'Paul Frank Is Your Friend'? I never bought a giant monkey face product the entire time Paul Frank was a popular brand, but I still always think of the slogan when I say to students, "Props are your friends." We often bring a lot of ego on to the mat and a lot of students are reluctant to use props because they associate the use of a block or strap with weakness or lack of skill. I love props. When I practice I always have a bolster, block and blanket beside my mat. Props have a few different purposes; they can assist you to achieve a pose safely where physical limitations prevent you from finding the full expression, provide building blocks for more advanced poses, and also offer support for restorative poses. All props have various uses, but blankets are particularly versatile as you can modify their shape to suit your needs; ie you can fold them, roll them, drape them and spread them for a variety of uses.
One of my favourite uses of blankets at the moment is to offer lift and softness for a supported Shoulder Stand, or Salamba Sarvangasana. Some people think that this is an intermediate/advanced pose, but I actually think it's great for all levels as the support offers padding for the back and particularly tight shoulders, and also it makes it a little easier to squeeze the elbows towards each other and prevent the upper arms from rolling in towards each other. I do find, however, that the extra lift means I sometimes come up and over a little quicker than I would flat on the floor, so make sure you move slowly when lifting the hips into shoulder stand or plow.

Supported Shoulder Stand - How to...

1. Place two of three folded blankets half way along your yoga mat and fold the mat over the blankets to create a thick padding for your shoulders and upper back - experiment with the height of the blankets and ensure that it is comfortable for your neck.

2. Lie back on the fold of blankets and mat so that your neck is just hanging off the edge. As you would with regular Shoulder Stand, draw your knees towards your chest and lift your lower arm from the elbows towards the ceiling like little robot arms, ready to catch your hips.

3. Peel your tail bone towards the ceiling, allowing the rest of your spine to follow as  you extend your legs towards the ceiling - remember, move slowly to ensure you don't tumble back and hurt your neck. Slide your hands around your back and spread the fingers wide to support your lower back. More advanced students might walk their hands further down the spine towards the floor to provide more lift for the legs, eventually bringing your hips directly over the shoulders. Actively pressed your shoulders and upper arms into the mat.

4. For yogis who enjoy Halasana/Plow, you can continue to slowly draw your feet down towards the floor above your head. Again, take it easy and avoid simply falling over yourself to ensure there's no sudden pressure on the neck. If your toes touch the floor, you can lower your hands behind the back to press on the mat, or interlace your fingers and press your wrists against the mat.

5. To come out of the pose, move as slowly as you did when you came into it. Return your hands to your hips if you lowered them to the floor for Plow and bend your knees towards your chest. Very carefully roll your spine and then your hips back down onto the mat.

 Do you remember the old Paul Frank slogan, 'Paul Frank Is Your Friend'? I never bought a giant monkey face product the entire time Paul Frank was a popular brand, but I still always think of the slogan when I say to students, "Props are your friends." We often bring a lot of ego on to the mat and a lot of students are reluctant to use props because they associate the use of a block or strap with weakness or lack of skill. I love props. When I practice I always have a bolster, block and blanket beside my mat. Props have a few different purposes; they can assist you to achieve a pose safely where physical limitations prevent you from finding the full expression, provide building blocks for more advanced poses, and also offer support for restorative poses. All props have various uses, but blankets are particularly versatile as you can modify their shape to suit your needs; ie you can fold them, roll them, drape them and spread them for a variety of uses.
One of my favourite uses of blankets at the moment is to offer lift and softness for a supported Shoulder Stand, or Salamba Sarvangasana. Some people think that this is an intermediate/advanced pose, but I actually think it's great for all levels as the support offers padding for the back and particularly tight shoulders, and also it makes it a little easier to squeeze the elbows towards each other and prevent the upper arms from rolling in towards each other. I do find, however, that the extra lift means I sometimes come up and over a little quicker than I would flat on the floor, so make sure you move slowly when lifting the hips into shoulder stand or plow.

Supported Shoulder Stand - How to...

1. Place two of three folded blankets half way along your yoga mat and fold the mat over the blankets to create a thick padding for your shoulders and upper back - experiment with the height of the blankets and ensure that it is comfortable for your neck.

2. Lie back on the fold of blankets and mat so that your neck is just hanging off the edge. As you would with regular Shoulder Stand, draw your knees towards your chest and lift your lower arm from the elbows towards the ceiling like little robot arms, ready to catch your hips.

3. Peel your tail bone towards the ceiling, allowing the rest of your spine to follow as  you extend your legs towards the ceiling - remember, move slowly to ensure you don't tumble back and hurt your neck. Slide your hands around your back and spread the fingers wide to support your lower back. More advanced students might walk their hands further down the spine towards the floor to provide more lift for the legs, eventually bringing your hips directly over the shoulders. Actively pressed your shoulders and upper arms into the mat.

4. For yogis who enjoy Halasana/Plow, you can continue to slowly draw your feet down towards the floor above your head. Again, take it easy and avoid simply falling over yourself to ensure there's no sudden pressure on the neck. If your toes touch the floor, you can lower your hands behind the back to press on the mat, or interlace your fingers and press your wrists against the mat.

5. To come out of the pose, move as slowly as you did when you came into it. Return your hands to your hips if you lowered them to the floor for Plow and bend your knees towards your chest. Very carefully roll your spine and then your hips back down onto the mat.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

DJ Drez & Marti Nikko

Thank God for SoundCloud and all the little gems you can find there. So, so good. The DJ Drez reimagining of the oh-so-overplayed Royals has been a big hit with students. I’ve also become a big fan of Amazon Music so between the two services I have a whole lot of new music to share during class.

Nectar Drop  - DJ Drez
Rock on Hanuman – MC Yogi with Krishna Das
We Must Go On – Pretty Lights
Fools (Peter, Bjorn & John Bortlax Cobra Remix) – The Temper Trap
Awake – Tycho
Ashley (Aether Flip) – Yo La Tengo
The Last Day – Moby ft. Skylar Grey
Try to Be – Blue Hawaii
Kill the Doubt – Cactus Channel ft. Chet Faker
Don’t Wait – Mapei
Royal Krisha – DJ Drez & Marti Nikko
Florence and the Machine (Dimond Saints Remix) – Florence and the Machine
So Good – Lucy Peach
September Fields (Acoustic) – Frazey Ford

DJ Drez & Marti Nikko

Thank God for SoundCloud and all the little gems you can find there. So, so good. The DJ Drez reimagining of the oh-so-overplayed Royals has been a big hit with students. I’ve also become a big fan of Amazon Music so between the two services I have a whole lot of new music to share during class.

Nectar Drop  - DJ Drez
Rock on Hanuman – MC Yogi with Krishna Das
We Must Go On – Pretty Lights
Fools (Peter, Bjorn & John Bortlax Cobra Remix) – The Temper Trap
Awake – Tycho
Ashley (Aether Flip) – Yo La Tengo
The Last Day – Moby ft. Skylar Grey
Try to Be – Blue Hawaii
Kill the Doubt – Cactus Channel ft. Chet Faker
Don’t Wait – Mapei
Royal Krisha – DJ Drez & Marti Nikko
Florence and the Machine (Dimond Saints Remix) – Florence and the Machine
So Good – Lucy Peach
September Fields (Acoustic) – Frazey Ford

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

I have a confession to make.  When Zayn left One Direction, amongst the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the world around me, I was somewhat surprised to hear that the band would be continuing on as a quartet….because I thought they had always been a quartet.  One Direction held so little significance to me that I didn’t even know how many of them there were.  There were five of them?  Really?  Because…you know… I’m not a teenage girl.  I do, however, love Lissie.  Story of My Life makes me want to punch someone when I hear One Direction on the radio, but Lissie’s cover is beautiful. 



I went to a Hatha class yesterday which… left a lot to be desired.  Every now and then I accidentally find myself being instructed by an egomanic and this happened to the max I’m afraid, but my favourite part of the instructor’s many rants during the class was when he announced that he would not be playing bad music – or good music – or any music at all, because music should not be played while practicing yoga.  Ok, each to their own, but I intensely disagree. I love practicing yoga with music.  It helps me focus and it gives me energy, both as an instructor and as a student.  So there. 
I call this list Block because I’ve had an intense writers block – I couldn’t even string together a playlist for weeks now.  I finally managed to scrape together this one and I no longer feel like I’m playing the same music again and again in my classes. 

John the Revelator – Nicholas Jaar
Lost (Runaway) – Saint Wknd ft. Inglsh
Natural Blues – Moby
Sleepyhead – Passion Pit
You’ve Got the Love – Florence and the Machine
L.E.S. Artistes – Sanitgold
Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love – Coldplay
All in Forms – Bonobo
1998 – Chet Faker ft. Banks
Et Ta Mere – Vin’s & The Zoufris Maracas
Kusangi – Odeza
Get Lucky – Daughter
Story of My Life - Lissie


I have a confession to make.  When Zayn left One Direction, amongst the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the world around me, I was somewhat surprised to hear that the band would be continuing on as a quartet….because I thought they had always been a quartet.  One Direction held so little significance to me that I didn’t even know how many of them there were.  There were five of them?  Really?  Because…you know… I’m not a teenage girl.  I do, however, love Lissie.  Story of My Life makes me want to punch someone when I hear One Direction on the radio, but Lissie’s cover is beautiful. 



I went to a Hatha class yesterday which… left a lot to be desired.  Every now and then I accidentally find myself being instructed by an egomanic and this happened to the max I’m afraid, but my favourite part of the instructor’s many rants during the class was when he announced that he would not be playing bad music – or good music – or any music at all, because music should not be played while practicing yoga.  Ok, each to their own, but I intensely disagree. I love practicing yoga with music.  It helps me focus and it gives me energy, both as an instructor and as a student.  So there. 
I call this list Block because I’ve had an intense writers block – I couldn’t even string together a playlist for weeks now.  I finally managed to scrape together this one and I no longer feel like I’m playing the same music again and again in my classes. 

John the Revelator – Nicholas Jaar
Lost (Runaway) – Saint Wknd ft. Inglsh
Natural Blues – Moby
Sleepyhead – Passion Pit
You’ve Got the Love – Florence and the Machine
L.E.S. Artistes – Sanitgold
Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love – Coldplay
All in Forms – Bonobo
1998 – Chet Faker ft. Banks
Et Ta Mere – Vin’s & The Zoufris Maracas
Kusangi – Odeza
Get Lucky – Daughter
Story of My Life - Lissie


Monday, 17 August 2015


I’ve mentioned before that I’m not all that up-close-and-personal with Yin and Restorative Yoga because I have the attention span of a gnat and don’t like being still for long periods of time, but every now and then I teach slow paced classes, and I do have a tendency to throw the odd restorative pose into a regular class if I think the students need it.  One I often use, and I know students usually love, is a Restorative Pigeon.  Pigeon is one of those poses which gets a lot of yogis in an emotional pickle because it’s either incredibly intense for their crazy-tight hips, or they’re doing it incorrectly and therefore hurting themselves.  A long time ago, I started shoving blocks and folded blankets under the hips of any student who refused to admit that they couldn’t get both sit bones down on the floor; mostly because I don’t want them to hurt themselves by torqueing their knee in at an unnatural angle, but also a little because….you know…I don’t want to get sued for allowing my students to hurt themselves. 

Whenever I teach this pose to a student for the first time, most look at me like I’m crazy for about three seconds, and then realise that it’s pretty awesome when they get over the peculiarity of it.

How to Restorative Pigeon


1.        Place a bolster smack-bang in the middle of your mat so that is horizontal before you.  Place your hands in front of the bolster and lift into a Downward Facing Dog with your feet behind the bolster.  Lift your right leg into the air for a Three Legged Dog. 


2.       Swing your right knee over the top the bolster and bring it down to the floor so that your right heel can rest alongside the long edge of the bolster before your left wrist.  Lower your hips onto the bolster with your left leg extended behind you.  YOUR RIGHT KNEE MUST BE FLAT ON THE FLOOR! Slide as far forward onto the bolster as you need to in order to make this happen. 
3.       Check in with your right foot and ensure that you’re flaring the toes back towards your knee.  Check in with your left leg and ensure that your hamstring, calf and heel are all pointing up to the ceiling.  The leg should be straight out behind you with no sickling in the ankle. 


4.       Walk your hands as far forward as you can to lower down onto your elbows.  If it’s comfortable to do so, lower your chest down until you can rest your forehead on the floor or a prop of your choice.  
   Now... take a little nap.


REMEMBER!  Look after your knees!  If this posture hurts your leading knee in any way, get out of the pose immediately.  If a regular Pigeon stretch causes pain in your knee, a supported stretch may still not be appropriate for you, so please listen to your poor aching joints and avoid any permanent damage.  


I’ve mentioned before that I’m not all that up-close-and-personal with Yin and Restorative Yoga because I have the attention span of a gnat and don’t like being still for long periods of time, but every now and then I teach slow paced classes, and I do have a tendency to throw the odd restorative pose into a regular class if I think the students need it.  One I often use, and I know students usually love, is a Restorative Pigeon.  Pigeon is one of those poses which gets a lot of yogis in an emotional pickle because it’s either incredibly intense for their crazy-tight hips, or they’re doing it incorrectly and therefore hurting themselves.  A long time ago, I started shoving blocks and folded blankets under the hips of any student who refused to admit that they couldn’t get both sit bones down on the floor; mostly because I don’t want them to hurt themselves by torqueing their knee in at an unnatural angle, but also a little because….you know…I don’t want to get sued for allowing my students to hurt themselves. 

Whenever I teach this pose to a student for the first time, most look at me like I’m crazy for about three seconds, and then realise that it’s pretty awesome when they get over the peculiarity of it.

How to Restorative Pigeon


1.        Place a bolster smack-bang in the middle of your mat so that is horizontal before you.  Place your hands in front of the bolster and lift into a Downward Facing Dog with your feet behind the bolster.  Lift your right leg into the air for a Three Legged Dog. 


2.       Swing your right knee over the top the bolster and bring it down to the floor so that your right heel can rest alongside the long edge of the bolster before your left wrist.  Lower your hips onto the bolster with your left leg extended behind you.  YOUR RIGHT KNEE MUST BE FLAT ON THE FLOOR! Slide as far forward onto the bolster as you need to in order to make this happen. 
3.       Check in with your right foot and ensure that you’re flaring the toes back towards your knee.  Check in with your left leg and ensure that your hamstring, calf and heel are all pointing up to the ceiling.  The leg should be straight out behind you with no sickling in the ankle. 


4.       Walk your hands as far forward as you can to lower down onto your elbows.  If it’s comfortable to do so, lower your chest down until you can rest your forehead on the floor or a prop of your choice.  
   Now... take a little nap.


REMEMBER!  Look after your knees!  If this posture hurts your leading knee in any way, get out of the pose immediately.  If a regular Pigeon stretch causes pain in your knee, a supported stretch may still not be appropriate for you, so please listen to your poor aching joints and avoid any permanent damage.  

Monday, 13 July 2015

I realised early on in my time in Los Angeles that being a foreigner made me somewhat exotic as a yoga teacher.  People often comment on my accent and my style of teaching.  Sometimes, students note how different my use of language and names of poses can be.  I admit, I am lazy when it comes to Sanskrit - I use a little here and there but my use of English names is....often under scrutiny.  I began practicing yoga in London, trained as a teacher in Vancouver, started teaching in Perth, and finally ended up in Los Angeles where yoga is decidedly modern, but still, there are differences in the way teachers approach yoga depending on the origins of their practice.  

For example, Twisting Gecko.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember when I started calling it Twisting Gecko but I did not make it up.  Perhaps it was in a class in Australia.  Most teachers here seem to refer to it as a variation or modification of Lizard (utthan pristhasana).  I refer to Gecko as the motion of altering Lizard by lifting up in the inside edge of your front foot, rolling your knee to the side.  Then, if you have the flexibility in the quad of your extended leg, reaching back to hold that foot with the opposite hand, moving into Twisting Gecko.  It's not just about hip flexibility, this one will also make your quads scream if they're tight.  Listen to your body and be very careful with the knee of your back leg as you lift the foot.  

Here's how.... 


1.  Find Lizard by swinging your right foot forward between your hands from Downward Facing Dog.  Drop your left knee to the floor and shuffle your right foot to the right hand side of the mat, angling it at a 45 degrees.  

2.  Roll the outside edge of your right foot onto the mat.  You should be able to look down and see the sole of your right foot.  

3.  Yogis with tight hips can keep their left hand on the floor, towards the middle of the mat, with their right hand resting on their right knee as they look over their right shoulder.  More flexible yogis will be able to lower their left elbow to the floor, rotating their forearm until it is parallel with the top of the mat, before resting the right hand on the right knee.  

4.  Super flexible yogis will be able to lift their left foot up towards their seat and reach back with their right hand to hold the left foot.  

I realised early on in my time in Los Angeles that being a foreigner made me somewhat exotic as a yoga teacher.  People often comment on my accent and my style of teaching.  Sometimes, students note how different my use of language and names of poses can be.  I admit, I am lazy when it comes to Sanskrit - I use a little here and there but my use of English names is....often under scrutiny.  I began practicing yoga in London, trained as a teacher in Vancouver, started teaching in Perth, and finally ended up in Los Angeles where yoga is decidedly modern, but still, there are differences in the way teachers approach yoga depending on the origins of their practice.  

For example, Twisting Gecko.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember when I started calling it Twisting Gecko but I did not make it up.  Perhaps it was in a class in Australia.  Most teachers here seem to refer to it as a variation or modification of Lizard (utthan pristhasana).  I refer to Gecko as the motion of altering Lizard by lifting up in the inside edge of your front foot, rolling your knee to the side.  Then, if you have the flexibility in the quad of your extended leg, reaching back to hold that foot with the opposite hand, moving into Twisting Gecko.  It's not just about hip flexibility, this one will also make your quads scream if they're tight.  Listen to your body and be very careful with the knee of your back leg as you lift the foot.  

Here's how.... 


1.  Find Lizard by swinging your right foot forward between your hands from Downward Facing Dog.  Drop your left knee to the floor and shuffle your right foot to the right hand side of the mat, angling it at a 45 degrees.  

2.  Roll the outside edge of your right foot onto the mat.  You should be able to look down and see the sole of your right foot.  

3.  Yogis with tight hips can keep their left hand on the floor, towards the middle of the mat, with their right hand resting on their right knee as they look over their right shoulder.  More flexible yogis will be able to lower their left elbow to the floor, rotating their forearm until it is parallel with the top of the mat, before resting the right hand on the right knee.  

4.  Super flexible yogis will be able to lift their left foot up towards their seat and reach back with their right hand to hold the left foot.  

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