Meet Your Kula: Nina Monobe

Meet Your Kula: Nina Monobe

Part of what makes us so unique are the amazing members of our Yogi community, our kula. Each month, we’ll feature one member of our yogi community, chat with them about their practice, learn more about what draws them to yoga, and get to know each other a little more.

Meet our Maitrī Yogi, Nina Monobe.

Hi Nina! Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m Nina (Marina) Monobe and I love to help others through my veterinary and yoga practice. I’m a Veterinary Doctor who moved to USA to work as a PhD researcher and teacher assistant. During my cultural transition time, I found myself practicing yoga as a therapeutic exercise to fight anxiety and depression. Nowadays, I’m an Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor and AFAA Fitness Instructor. I consider myself living between two different worlds, veterinary & fitness, which I love equally.

How did you begin your yoga journey?

As an immigrant in USA, who left family & friends back in Brazil, I had a difficult time trying to adapt to the new American culture. I always felt overwhelmed trying to prove my skills as good as or better than my co-workers. Subsequently diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I considered a variety of therapies that could potentially help me, including yoga. Soon enough I realized yoga as a life changing experience and I can definitively say it saved my life.

When did you decide to become a yoga instructor?

In 2018, I decided to take my practice to the next level. I wanted to deeply understand the alignment, benefits and history behind it. Since then, I found myself always enrolled in a different training. At this moment, I’m working on finishing a 500-Hour Orthopedic Yoga Therapy Training Course.

What type of yoga do you teach? What lead you to this particular style?

I teach a wide variety of yoga styles, from traditional Vinyasa Ashtanga and Restorative Yin Yoga with mediation music, to Power Yoga and yoga with weights, with pop music. My mission is to bring awareness to people that yoga can be fun and make you flexible, balanced and strong from the inside out and there is always a style out there waiting for you to fall in love!

How has the practice of yoga affected your life? Spiritually? Mentally?

Yoga is body-mind work. It makes me more flexible and stronger from the inside out. Physically I now have better flexibility, range of motion, endurance and muscle strength. I’m more aware of my body limitations and how to mindfully progress my practice. From practicing Pranayama, I’m more centered and present. I’m more grateful and appreciative towards everything in my life. I feel more complete and accomplished. I’m more understanding about situations and patient with people and myself. All of those feelings developed through yoga decreased my anxiety and stress levels.

How do you find compassion for yourself in your journey?

Yoga is a constant learning process. It was through injuring myself (on and off the mat) and not being patient with my body that I learned how to better listen to it. At some point you not only become aware of your limitations but you start loving yourself. As you recognize yourself as a human with ups and downs but in constant progress, you find compassion.

How do you incorporate what you've learned from your practice both on and off the mat?

By becoming more aware and learning how to love myself, I learned to always make adjustments to improve my physical and mental experience on the mat. Sometimes taking easy modifications or taking a slow and gentle flow. This allowed me to see that those small adjustments could always be applied off the mat. Situations I cannot control or plans gone wrong, I always find a way to adjust. Not blaming myself and likewise, taking it easy. Treatment myself with love, sometimes a relaxing bath or playing my favorite playlist to boost my mood. Also, yoga taught me to always take a minute for gratitude, during Shavasana or Pranayama. This is a practice I take everyday even when I don’t step on my mat. Allows me to find peace even on a chaotic day. Finally, by exploring the eight limbs of yoga on the mat, practicing it daily off the mat improved my relationships with family, friends and strangers. Being more patient and compassionate to others and not only with myself.

What would you share with a beginner?

First of all, I always had this misconception that yoga would be a stretching routine, mostly performed by seniors, or people with injuries. I remember being afraid of trying a class and it being super boring, with long meditations. I was totally wrong and I immediately discovered Yoga has many different styles and most of them aim to improve strength, flexibility and endurance. My first yoga class was Power Yoga. I remember taking breaks and feeling ashamed for not being able to touch my toes in a “simple” fold, while people twice my age were so much more flexible and stronger. The shame, combined with the physical challenge made me a regular in Power Yoga. However, I know many people never come back for the same reason. My greatest tip would be to never compare yourself with another person. Yoga is a journey and we all start somewhere. Our bodies are different, therefore, they perform differently and progress happens with practice. Knowing that, let go from frustrations. Focus on where you are and what you want to achieve. Sometimes, record your movements or poses and later on your path come back to see how far you’ve come!

How has your understanding of Maitrī grown and changed over the years, both in your practice and in your everyday life?

At first, most of the meditative practice was extremely difficult for me. Dealing with my mind wanders was always challenging. Maitrī meditation through Chanting helped me to channel my energy, center my mind and body and find peace. Over time, I found self-love and gratitude and consequently, I learned to be less judgmental and goal oriented as I used to be. As I became a yoga instructor, I nurtured my mind to become a beacon of light for others to feed off of, in a way that now what was a way I would use to find peace and happiness helps others to find them as well.

You can connect with Nina and follow along with her yoga journey at @ninayoganow.

You can also practice alongside Nina this with with our Maitrī Grounding Flow and our mantra:

May all beings be well, may all beings be happy. May I treat all beings with love and kindness.

 


take yourself on vote|yogi surprise

This Election Day Is Also "Take Yourself On" Day

Did you know there is a national fried scallops day? Umhmm, it was October 2nd. Put it on your calendar for next year if you're upset you missed it.

There's also a national hermit day, name your car day, and get funky day. What does that even look like?

I haven't filed the paperwork or anything yet, but if there can be a national fluffernutter day, then there most certainly should be a day for us to unilaterally proclaim our desire to improve how we live, love, think, and behave.

Join me in celebrating "take yourself on" today

Election day seems like a damn good choice to celebrate this both nationally and internationally. We are constantly influencing everyone around us in both tiny and giant ways. When you show up for a packed yoga class at the last minute, and someone is thoughtful enough to move their mat to make room for you, it changes your entire outlook on your practice.

No improvement or effort is too small. Yesterday, a man opened a door for me. He was walking in the same direction and hurried ahead so he could open the next one too. "I guess today is 'I open the door for you' day", he said with a smile. I smiled too. And I relished the opportunity to open a door for someone else a little later on that day.

3 very simple ways to embrace the choice to "take yourself on" every single day

  1. Choose one thing each day to improve on. It's so easy because there are unlimited possibilities. Smile more. Offer each person you encounter a compliment. Put candy in someone's coat pocket and don't take the credit. Call (don't text) 3 friends whom you haven't spoken to in far too long. Put a fresh towel out for your significant other before their shower. Offer to walk a neighbor's dog in the rain. Hug the hell out of a tree. Have fun making this list and let your mind go wild. It's truly a blast.
  2. Take on a task you've been actively ignoring. I don't know about you, but my list is too damn long. And there are additions almost daily. Whether it's a chore, conversation, or obligation, just dig in and do it. Today, I will get the dent in my car fixed. It's a hassle and I don't want to spend my time that way, but I know I'll be relieved to cross it off the ever-growing list.
  3. Self-care is a necessity. Understanding self-care is the only way we can offer anything to anyone else is an imperative component in the pursuit of taking ourselves on. We must have energetic reserves to be there for others physically, emotionally, and to be mentally present. There are innumerable ways to make sure self-care is a daily priority. From getting enough sleep to meditation, yoga practice, and spending time in silent solitude, self-care is a crucial ingredient in the arsenal of tools to help you take yourself on.

We'd love to hear your suggestions regarding this all too important life strategy. Please comment so we can learn from you.


sacral chakra affirmations sex|yogi surprise

Sacral Chakra Affirmations & Exercises to Enhance Your Sex Life

Would you like a better sex life?

Who wouldn't, right? It's really about finding the best way for each of us individually to connect with what inspires and excites us. And we all know that our sex drive comes from a deeply emotional place. Even when we want to deny that and insist it's more primal or purely physical, sex is about connection. Connecting to our emotions are how we do that. Gratitude for having a body that functions and can move in sexual ways is another time-tested strategy. And communication is everything. Sacral chakra affirmations can only help us discover our sexuality in more profound ways.

Important deets about the sacral chakra

  • It's the second chakra. It lives right above the root chakra and it builds on that strong foundation.
  • It's Sanskrit name is Svadhisthana and it means "your own place". This is where you own yourself and all that makes you who you are.
  • The sacral chakra's function is emotional connection and pleasure. Roar. We need to value doing things purely for pleasure in a more meaningful way. Sacral chakra affirmations remind us it's not only okay to feel good, it's imperative.
  • Balancing the sacral chakra provides a greater sense of flexibility and fluidity. Its element is water. Knowing how to flow with changes big and small allows us to retain a sense of calm and well-being even when the storms come. Our sexuality is often a reflection of our stress-reactions so being capable of still connecting to our sex drives no matter what we're dealing with helps us to keep our second chakra balanced.

So how do we do this? Oh, you know what I'm going to say. We practice, a lot! But what a fun and motivating practice it is. Let's start with some sacral chakra affirmations that will help us remember our sexuality and remind us to not check out when our feelings bubble up. Even when feelings bring us pleasure, sometimes this can be overwhelming. If we're experiencing self-worth issues, we're likely to scramble away from feeling anything too intense.

Sacral Chakra affirmations

Try these affirmations first thing in the morning and anytime you may feel your sex drive waning or distractions from life creeping into your sexual world.

I am grateful I can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel touch intensely. 

My sexuality is deeply valuable and it's unique to me.

What I find pleasurable and exciting helps me connect to myself on a boundless level. 

Sacral Chakra exercises to bring your fantasies to life

Incorporate these practices to build on the already strong foundation you have and increase both your pleasure and sense of connection to yourself and others.  Our sacral chakra needs constant attendance and inspiration to continue to thrive and extend to the health of our other chakras. Try these in conjunction with sacral chakra affirmations.

  1. Lay down with your hands on your belly. Breath deeply and implore your mind to open. Create a vision of the sexual being you are and add texture and context to lead you towards who you want to be in this realm of your life. What excites you? What drives your passion? If you have a partner, incorporate them into your vision. If you don't, create the partner you want mentally and determine how you want them to respond to you emotionally and sexually.
  2. Make a written list of all your fantasies. Don't hold back. Include places, outfits, props, toys, food, role plays, and anything else that gets you excited. Read this list daily and continue to add to it. Manifest the sexual world you wish to live in.
  3. Practice yoga poses that enliven your sensuality. What postures make you feel alive, beautiful, and full of vigor? Do them daily, several times a day if you're having trouble igniting your connection to the sexual being you are.
  4. Incorporate your root chakra energy and your solar plexus chakra into the development of your sacral chakra balance. Borrow from those energy balances by grounding practices as well as empowering exercises to stimulate and solidify how well your sacral chakra functions. To empower yourself and find a deeper sense of fulfillment, try projecting your voice, getting out of your comfort zone, and asserting yourself in positive ways.

The life we want is begging us to live it. We just might have to direct a little more energy in its direction to have all that we deserve. Enjoy your explorations.

Are you needing a bit more inspiration? Sign up for the Yogi Surprise monthly box and enjoy the delicious sense of self-care and creative boosts our carefully curated offerings can offer you.

 

 

 

 


yoga class themes ideas|yogi surprise

Yoga Class Themes That Land Without Beating People Over The Head

I've been quite guilty of this.

A themed yoga class turns a practice into a deeply personal experience. You'll carry it with you and continue to revisit the offering long after you've left the studio and gone about your day. If the message is one we're receptive to hearing, that's usually enough to hit us hard and insist on further contemplation.

Themed yoga classes offer us a wonderful way to continue our practice long after we've rolled up our mats

This one time, in yoga class, the teacher came in and asked each of us to reach into a basket with our eyes closed and take an item from within. I was so excited until I retrieved my item and saw it was a plastic car. One of those old matchbox racer types. It didn't land right away, but once the instructor gave his dharma talk, it hit me like a wheel barrel full of bricks.

I had somewhere I needed to go and something very specific to do.

The whole class was about looking for signs. And they're everywhere if we're receptive. The woman on my right had a knitting needle placed at the top of her mat. The dude to my left was holding his item, a stress ball, and squeezing the living shit out of it. The instructor suggested we contemplate our chosen item and wait. He gave us time in quiet meditation to let the object speak to us. There was no music and no talking. I ran the little race car with the red stripes against a black background over my hand and up my arm, silently laughing about how silly I was being. Yet it felt so natural and ignited a spark.

The power of suggestion is often all we need to take action

Once we began to move, he'd bring us back to looking for signs from time to time. He didn't mention it every single pose, nor every other. He'd wait until we landed in a posture he intended to help us stay in and investigate. He'd ask one question, and then quietly allow time for us to internally answer.

"How can you make this posture feel brand new to you?"

"Do you think you should change anything or just be inside the pose experience?"

"Are you missing something important here?"

"Should you possibly change your approach here?"

The instructor understood he'd planted a seed but didn't need to over water it. He said just enough to help us find our own way to explore and interpret.

Yoga class themes help us pay attention to what's important

That was my big take away. If we keep falling out of a balancing pose but continue to utilize the same approach and wind up with the same result, we're ignoring something that needs to be acknowledged. When we stop for a second and give the information that's right in front of our faces a chance to sink in, we can adjust and benefit from the newly absorbed data.

After this practice, I felt extra-observant. A private client canceled. Time opened up and allowed me to take a short trip to see an ailing friend. Later that same day, I received an email from another friend who lives in Atlanta. She decided to throw a silent auction and party to raise money and awareness for the same illness my friend is suffering from. I booked a flight within minutes.

Even if we try to ignore our needs and desires, they will eventually insist on our attention

If I had done a home practice that day, I wouldn't have heard what I really needed to sit with. Making the excuse of being too busy to travel and attend to the people and things I love was now no longer possible.

The instructor understood that universal yoga class themes will hit everyone in different ways. I'm so curious about the knitting needle lady and the stress ball guy. How did they continue to practice after class?

 

 

 


yoga friendship shared values|yogi surprise

The Yoga Friendship: How Many of Us Have Met Our Closest Friends Via Yoga?

I'm so inspired by the idea of yoga friendship I actually wrote a novel based on that concept. Yoga studios are a unique place and they practically beg us to connect with others. In the novel, Yoga Trainthe main characters, Devon and Ruby, meet at the yoga studio. Devon has been wanting to approach Ruby and she finally does. As she puts her mat down next to Ruby's, she looks up at Devon and says, "Hi. I like your purple eye-liner." And that was that.

The yoga friendship begins with common ground and a shared experience

Seems like a damn good place to start building a relationship. Yoga becomes the way we live our lives. We all want to connect with other like-minded folks who care about their minds, bodies, and how they affect and influence the world around them. Self-awareness is a key component in the development of a yoga practice. Automatically, we want to form relationships with others who value that too.

We yogis get extremely passionate. A fire starts and it doesn't burn out. We form a much more honest relationship with ourselves and we take that with us out of the studio and into every aspect of our lives. It's big. It becomes who we are and we love sharing that with others.

Yoga friendships often become the core of our support system

It's all about what happens after practice that really offers us a community and genuine friendship. We connect during practice. It gives us something to talk about and bond over. It often leads to making plans after practice. A yoga date is quite common. Some of us even meet our significant others through yoga. It's a special and wonderful thing to share. Conversations become richer and there's a willingness to grow and do that with the support of one another.

I recently had a group of friends over to practice and have a potluck. Everyone asked about each other's dietary restrictions to ensure they were being mindful about each individual's needs. We practiced, helped each other with postures, cackled and cheered one another one. We had music, candles, incense, and essential oils. One yogi had recently finished a singing bowl training and she played for us. Another participant sang in her sultry, ethereal voice to bring us out of Savasana. It was one of the best practices I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy because it was such a team effort. Everyone had something truly special to offer.

Connection is everything

The dinner was incredible and everyone helped clean up. We shared epiphanies and asked questions. I don't think there was a negative comment or complaint the entire night. It was downright awesome and I can't wait to do it again. We already have a date set. How have your yoga friendships enriched your life?


yoga arm balances benefits|yogi surprise

Yoga Arm Balances: The Benefits and Reasons We Want to Do Them So Badly

The first time I saw Crow Pose (Bakasana), I was pissed that the pose even existed. It was surprising to me that yoga arm balances were even a thing. I didn't know much about yoga, and arm balances hit me hard because I knew it would take a lot of practice to be able to achieve them one day.

I remember thinking, "Oh my stars, I will never be able to do this pose. How is it possible that in a class of twenty people, I'm the only one who can't do it?" Everyone else lifted into it so seemingly easily. It was dumbfounding. If everyone else could do it, how hard could it actually be? Um, turns out the answer is pretty damn hard. And acknowledging that is crucial if you want to pursue these postures.

Yoga arm balances are flat out cool. We desperately want to be able to pull them off.

There are a lot of benefits to arm balances. But do they really deserve the amount of attention we give them? Are the benefits that valuable?

The answer is complicated. It all depends on your goals and what you think is worthy of your time and dedication. It also very much depends on your health. If you have chronic shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand injuries or pain, should yoga arm balances be a part of your practice?

Let's examine the benefits first

  • Strength. Yoga arm balances are highly effective in developing strength in the core, arms, hands, shoulders, wrists, and back. Being strong protects us and makes our bodies more efficient. Strength is important.
  • Confidence. When something initially isn't possible and we work for it, the biggest gift is the confidence in ourselves that we develop. When our hard work pays off, we feel really good about our dedication and commitment. It's not so easy to appreciate the things that come easy. We begin to believe in ourselves in more meaningful ways.
  • Learning from failure. To try, fail, try again, fail again, change your strategy, and eventually succeed is life changing. It helps us develop a mental toughness we can't gain otherwise. Not giving up and being willing to alter our approach teaches us that we can accomplish our goals. The effort is necessary for success.

Addressing yoga arm balances and injury

Injuries are quite the teacher. It's the rare adult who's never had even a minor injury to contend with. Some injuries happen because of accidents. And others happen when we push ourselves too far or ignore what our bodies are warning us against. So how can someone with an injury still benefit from arm balances?

Postures are shapes. We contort our bodies constantly. Let's take a look at Crow Pose. You can do the shape of the pose laying on your back and receive lots of benefits and information. It can also be done perching on a block or lifting only one foot to feel the strengthing actions necessary as we develop our muscle memory.

The most important thing is to let injuries heal. We have to learn from them and take a different approach to our practice to protect an injured area. Prioritizing our health and keeping ourselves safe is the choice we need to make to be able to continue to practice.

Reasons students crave arm balances

Obviously, not everyone cares about yoga arm balances. Lots of people do yoga for stress relief, restoration, and to stretch and move their bodies. Plenty of students don't have arm balances and inversions as a part of their practice and they're so good with that. But for those who do care, it's important to know the reasons beyond the benefits stated above.

  • Ego. You saw that coming. But we don't need to always demonize our egos. Everyone has one and our egos can help motivate us to try new things and desire goal obtainment. Yoga arm balances are challenging, dynamic, and difficult postures. The ability to pull them off feels good. That's really okay.
  • The need to challenge ourselves. It is a need for many of us. We want to see what we're capable of. Arm balances and inversions represent a challenge. They help us face our fears. They give us a sense of power over our bodies and control.
  • The feeling we take with us after our practice. Trying new things has long-lasting effects. Being exposed to poses we've never tried is exciting and opens our minds to the vastness of a yoga practice. Overcoming obstacles is vital. And knowing we can do it is key.

The most important takeaway is knowing what we value and why. If this is a practice that's important to you, stick with it. Seek out instructors who are experienced in teaching arm balances and be willing to change your approach. Remember the quote, "Practice and all is coming." ~Sri K Pattabhi Jois

 


yoga symbols meaning|yogi surprise

Yoga Symbols and Why They Compel Us So Very Much

What's the first thing you think when you see someone wearing a t-shirt featuring an OM?

"That human digs yoga."

"They are probably an open-minded sort."

"I'm going to ask her where she practices yoga."

"Am I OMing correctly?"

Essentially, yoga symbols have meaning to us because we feel a deep and profound love for yoga and want to express it

Symbols have always been a potent way to announce devotion, support, and reverence. They tell the world an important piece of our identity and values.

  • Religious people often wear a piece of jewelry announcing their membership, such as a cross or Star of David.
  • The yin/yang symbol holds strong meaning in Taoism and represents the pursuit of balance and wholeness. It also stands for the beginning point for change.
  • In Native American culture, the bull skull is symbolic of offering protection from the natural elements. It also stands for strength, courage, and leadership.

yoga symbols reasons|yogi surprise

Yoga symbols have grown wildly popular. If you actively observe this, you'll find them everywhere from jewelry, clothing, tattoos, pillows, paintings and sculptures, hell, even nail polish decals.

The Om is probably the most recognizable and popular. I decided to count the number of Om yoga symbols I saw on one given day. On that day, I taught 3 yoga classes, visited Whole Foods, pumped gas, walked a friend's dog, and met someone for coffee. With that day in mind, here is a breakdown of the number of Om yoga symbols I observed:

  • 11 Om tattoos (visible) on arms, lower backs, legs, and one on a neck.
  • 2 manicures featuring an Om sign.
  • 19 tanks/tee-shirts/sweat-shirts/leggings with the Om symbol!
  • 28 (!!) items for sale including pillows, clothing, skin-care, sculptures, paintings, and even an oil diffuser in the shape of an Om.

Of all the yoga symbols, Om speaks to people on a different frequency. It says that yoga is a prevailing force and focus in my life and I consider my yoga practice as representing the way I live.

Other beloved yoga symbols include the lotus flower. Its resilience and ability to spread beauty and light even in the most unlikely of places is empowering. The Hamsa symbol is also heavily represented in the yoga world for its protective powers. Mala beads are everywhere. Often referred to as 'yoga bling' mala bead necklaces and bracelets are both gorgeous and useful for meditation and as touchstones for our practice.

Wearable yoga symbols to shout with pride and passion who we are so the whole world will know will always be a powerful way to speak without words. Wear them loudly and spread your positive messages of love, strength, and passion to others.

 


Kundalini yoga benefits|yogi surprise

3 Mind Blowing Kundalini Yoga Benefits: Scratching the Surface of this Miraculous Practice

I was a skeptic. I'd heard all about how magical and transformative Kundalini yoga is, but somehow never felt compelled to give it a go.

Since I'm a writer and believe in writing from experience, I decided to finally take a Kundalini class.

It knocked me sideways and shocked my system. I have never left a yoga class or any other experience with such a lightness and giddy sense I'd stumbled into something that would irrevocably change my whole perspective on how I cope with and experience life.

Kundalini yoga really is that deep

And now I get why people often have trouble explaining Kundalini yoga. How do you find the words to label something that touches you on levels you've never quite located before? I'm very new at this, so perhaps the effects don't land quite so intensely after a while. Although, talking to others after class leads me to believe I'm not alone in my excitement. They too are thrilled they've found this practice and want to share it with as many other people as they can compel to try it.

Kundalini yoga basics

First, a brief primer about Kundalini, or 'The Yoga of Awareness'. There are no strict dogmas or philosophies. The goal of the Kundalini yoga practice is to help each individual reach their higher self and to connect on a deeper level. There's lots of room for interpretation and creativity in the delivery of a Kundalini yoga class. There are mantras, chanting, mudras, kriyas (Sanskrit for 'effort' or 'action' kriyas are a meditation technique of energy and breath control), asanas, and meditations to uplift us and encourage self-awareness and a stronger sense of connection to self and the world around us.

Kundalini yoga was brought to the U.S. by Yogi Bhajan in the late 60's. A basic Kundalini yoga class is typically structured by beginning with chanting, breath work, and gentle movement. The middle phase is more dynamic asana and breathing techniques. The last portion of the class is meditation and rest.

Sounds pretty fab, does it not? Attending a Kundalini yoga practice with others heightens the experience, as any class does. But chanting, mantras, mudras, and involved kriyas that aim to harmonize our energy systems have a powerful accumulative effect that's very different from other asana practices. Incorporating Kundalini into your home practice might be the very best way to get yourself to practice even more.

Kundalini is a Sanskrit word that translates into 'coiled snake'. The idea is to wake up dormant energy sources within and get them talking to one another and working together.

Kundalini yoga coiled snake|yogi surprise

There are numerous reasons Kundalini yoga is growing in popularity

Let's focus on just a few of the emotional benefits of this practice. Yes, we all want our central nervous system to function well. Of course, we care deeply about digestion and that everything works well there. This practice is credited with so much good and looking at all the ways it can benefit our health is both amazing and overwhelming.

We've come to grips with the fact that our emotional health is suffering. We know we need more effective ways for feeling as balanced and grateful as we possibly can find. Kundalini is focused on enlightenment and the obtainment of spiritual awakening. Here are just a few ways that plays into your happiness and contentment:

  • Calming energy goes hand in hand with a deeper understanding of ourselves. When we take on our truths and treat them with love and respect versus judgment and criticism, we can relax into who we truly are and connect with our dharma.
  • Effort pays off. When we try something new, we let go of old stories and they diminish in power. But this requires new ideas, practices, and an open mind. Removing obstacles creates new roads and clearer paths towards understanding and wisdom. Kundalini yoga is a very different type of yoga practice. Willingness to make room for a practice that encourages more emotional and spiritual work will bring you different gifts than those you receive from a more rigorous practice, such as Vinyasa yoga.
  • Meditation works. I promise. It works for everyone and you can move and chant while you meditate. It doesn't have to look one way. Many yoga practices don't prioritize meditation and the other practices that connect us to our more subtle bodies the way Kundalini yoga does.

The innumerable new experiences awaiting us beckons. You have everything to gain. Scratch the surface with us and share what you learn!

 


yoga music inspiration|yogi surprise

Yoga Music That Will Move You in All the Ways (Song Suggestions Included)

How does one define yoga music?

In my humble opinion, 'one' does not. Yoga music is any music you want to practice to. At home, you have every option. If you love Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and have even been known to rock it out to Led Zepplin, super duper, crank it up. If it gets you on your mat and helps you harmonize your breath, then it's most def yoga music.

When sequencing music for a yoga class, it's a little more important to consider the tastes of many. I've threatened to teach a class entirely to a Beastie Boys soundtrack, but as of yet, it's just a threat. Choose the music you love that's conducive to movement without being distracting. The music has to arch just as a class does. If you begin your classes with gentle poses and you're moving slowly, the music needs to reflect this, obvi. When you're working towards a more dynamic phase, it's helpful if the music is a bit more upbeat with a faster tempo.

Creating yoga music playlists is an art form enjoyed by many

But that doesn't mean it's simple. I always wind up putting a clunker on the first time around and have to tweak and refine it. It takes time and patience and you don't want to hear the exact same songs in every single class. I've long been a gigantic fan of Thievery Corporation, and they're on almost every single playlist from 2010-17. But it turns out a whole lotta yoga teachers really dig them too. You'll hear them frequently in Vinyasa flow classes. Keep it fresh so it's not a distraction. The idea is to add to the class experience.

If you're looking for some yoga music suggestions, that's terrific news because I have tons. You just might maybe find your latest favorite song to practice and teach with. Music lends itself so hardcore to finding liberation and creativity on your mat. Find your earbuds and get ready to be moved.

  • Horsetown in Vain by Kid Loco. It's eerie, sensual, and will inspire you to discovered uncharted territory on your mat. This is yoga music at it's finest. Put it either at the beginning or end of your playlist if you're using it for a class.
  • You Better by Grenda. This song wasn't a punch in the gut. It wasn't a love tap. It was a wake-up call. The very first note mesmerizes and it doesn't let go. Depending on the type of flow you want, you can put it almost anywhere on a playlist. Maybe it's not a savasana song, but it's a song to rever and it's very yoga-conducive.
  • Nectar Drop by DJ Drez. Such a cool, chill song. But it won't put you to sleep chill. It's definitely a movement song and you'll have a really good time exploring your practice with this one.
  • Ritual Union by Little Dragon. Damn this song is fun. It's catchy and so easy to move to. Put it in the middle when you're really getting into the groove of your practice.
  • Brain by Banks. I love this woman. I love this song. You will feel things, maybe even uncomfortable things. But that's what yoga music does. It gets us out of our comfort zones sometimes too. It can go at the beginning of a playlist if you plan to start with a bit more intensity. But it might be best placed right before you're going to start winding things down.
  • Writing Poems by Ludovico Einaudi. To me, this is one of the most perfect savasana songs in the universe. It's gorgeous, dreamy, and will encourage peaceful feelings. You'll also probably want to play it on repeat for a while.

Enjoy your exploration into the vast world of yoga music. Please add any suggestions you have in the comments too.

 


vinyasa yoga benefits|yogi surprise

Why Vinyasa Yoga is the One for Me

I tried Bikram yoga first. I liked how I felt after, but hated every second of it during the practice. I knew that exploring other styles was an imperative part of my investigation into the overwhelming world of yoga. Next was Ashtanga yoga. I gave it a go, really tried to fall in love. I fell in like, but we were not meant to be life partners. And then, I walked into my first vinyasa yoga class. Oh my.

Vinyasa yoga is my true love

Every single thing about vinyasa yoga spoke seductive, loving truths. I had a seasoned, dynamic, and creative teacher. That really helps, obviously. She wove a technicolor tapestry of flows that seamlessly connected. Feeling that sense of yoga being a dance with intelligent sequencing and enchanting music that made my breath feel as if it were singing along. The excitement I felt floating out of that class was a thrill I still carry to this day. And I know it will never go away.

Because the lure of variety beckons, I'll stray from vinyasa yoga, but I always come back

Shiny and new is enticing. Watching an advanced Ashtanga practitioner will take your breath away. When seemingly impossible feats of the body are performed inches away from you, it's intoxicating to believe that perhaps one day you too could attempt and achieve such intricately executed postures. I used to joke that I'd feel like I was 'pretty rad' at yoga once I could nap with my legs behind my head. Yeah, that's not happening ever. And since we are always changing, my goals for asana have changed in what I find to be exciting and offer value. Ashtanga offers a set sequence but also includes degrees of variety once you get past the primary series and move on to second and third series where you might just maybe land with your leg comfortably behind your head.

vinyasa yoga advanced poses|yogi approved

Actually, Ashtanga is a form of vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa yoga simply means one posture linked to another via breath. It's a very loose, general definition that allows for so much interpretation and deviation. Definitely my kinda of yoga.

I've even tried Goat Yoga

I'm simply saying I'm an open-minded kind of woman. I'll give almost anything a go. Goat yoga wasn't baaaad (I'm so sorry). No, novelty is nice and being with baby animals of any kind (possibly even baby alligators) is sweet and will pull at your heartstrings. There wasn't a ton of actual vinyasa yoga going on, but no big, we had fun.

I've also practiced Hatha, Vin Yoga, Kundalini, Barkan Method, Baptist Yoga, Iyengar, and Jivamukti. You'll discover some merits and benefits from any established school of yoga. It all depends on what your priorities are. The biggest reason vinyasa yoga is so special to me is its lack of rigidity and focus on variety and creativity.

The trend has been towards hot vinyasa flow classes, which means the temperature will be anywhere from 80-105 degrees. Typically, the name of the class will indicate if it's a heated vinyasa flow class. If not, most likely you'll be enjoying the class at room temperature.

It really boils down to personality

Before finding vinyasa yoga, I had to focus on the gifts each different practice offers. And I still do even though my daily practice is vinyasa flow. Try every style there is. Hell, you might even make up your own one day. Depending on your needs, goals, vibe, and disposition, more likely than not a specific style will speak louder and more clearly to you than any other. You can't know without trying as many schools as possible. Experiment with as open of a mind and heart as you can bring to the practice and let your style emerge with a gentle but very obvious announcement heralding its arrival as the one for you.