No More Banana Back!

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In today’s blog post I’d like to give you a visual and verbal understanding of a very common condition amongst yoga practitioners in various postures that involve extending the hip joint.

Banana back is a funny way of describing what can happen for yoga practitioners who are super flexible, but not necessarily strong, or just don’t have a keen awareness of this area. 

As always, we want to do our best to balance the two qualities of strength and flexibility. Any time we do a movement that requires engaging the muscles that extend the hip, depending on our level of flexibility in the low back or lumbar spine area, there is a possibility that we may be creating the extension from our back and not our actual hip muscles. 

This matters for a couple of reasons:

  • Our hip extending muscles tend to be weak due to our modern lifestyles. Muscles on the front of the body tend to be short and tight from hours of sitting; muscles on the back of the body tend to be overstretched and weak for similar reasons.

  • This muscle group tends to be weaker in men than women for physiological reasons.

  • Lumbar spinal issues tend to be the most common, due to many of the reasons above. There is a transition point in the spine in this area (there are several similar ones throughout the spine) that tends to be more vulnerable to misuse.

So what’s the solution? Using the muscles that were meant to do the thing to do the thing! And attention to detail of course.

I’m sure there’s a name for this pose but I’ll be darned if I can find it! If you know it, let me know!

I’m sure there’s a name for this pose but I’ll be darned if I can find it! If you know it, let me know!

In the picture above you’ll see a well supported version of this balancing pose that asks us to resist the pull of gravity when we lift the leg in particular. Some specific things to note:

  • I’m not lifting the leg higher than my hip. This isn’t about range of motion. It’s about a well supported lumbar spine and a strengthening action of contraction in the glutes and hamstrings.

  • My low back is in a natural curve, rather than an over accentuated one. The amount of curvature will vary across the bodies of different practitioners but for me, this is pretty good.

  • This may be harder to see in a picture, but everything that touches the earth is pressing DOWN fairly strongly. Engagement with the earth helps awaken core support.

Contrast this with the picture below. 

Ouch!

Ouch!

I hope you can see the difference. For me I could definitely FEEL the difference! Having brought some attention to this detail of my own practice for some time now, doing this movement without the core engagement, lifting my leg way too high and letting my ribs flare toward the ground instead of up towards the sky made this pose feel AWFUL on my low back and my other joints that were bearing weight. 

When I work in this posture in this way, there’s a sense of connection that isn’t there otherwise. My body feels like one cohesive whole, rather than a bunch of parts doing something but not necessarily working together.

I hope you found this explanation helpful! Let me know in the comments. :-)

What is Chaturanga, Why Should You Care and How to Get There (someday)

📸 credit  @ginahouse

📸 credit @ginahouse

What is Chaturanga? 🤔

I realized recently in class that some of you have been wondering what this mysterious Sanskrit word means for some time!

Chaturanga translates to four limbed staff pose and is the posture you see pictured here. You’ll often find this posture in the sequence of poses called “a vinyasa” that goes - down dog, plank, chaturanga, up dog, down dog.

Why should you care about this pose?

This pose gets a lot of attention in the yoga world because it can be so difficult to perform well. The high number of repetitions you’ll find of this pose in a typical vinyasa yoga class and the fast speed at which they’re performed can also can invite sloppiness and therefore repetitive stress injury over time. However, if done well this posture can be very beneficial for modern bodies in many ways.

This posture and the strength you’ve gained when you’re able to do it well are also a prerequisite for postures such as arm balances and some inversions. Find confidence here and you’re more likely to have confidence in those poses as well.

As with any yoga posture (or with anything worth doing really), attention to the technical details allow for greater understanding and discernment in their execution. That translates to more safety, more ease, more knowing of yourself and your body… in short, more yoga (i.e. union). And isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway?

How do you get there?

One way you can get yourself ready for doing a good healthy Chaturanga is by doing some fairly simple mini pushups with the knees down.

I know. I should put a trigger warning on the word pushup.

But it really isn’t that bad. As with any yoga movement, YOU get to decide how intense (or not) this one is.

The key things to remember are that you want to make sure your elbows HUG IN toward your ribs strongly (very different from the way most of us were taught to do pushups in the past) and that your elbows point BACK toward your hips as you bend them.

Some other important details - don’t let the head drop forward and don’t let the low ribs flare out. In other words, make sure your core is working to support your spine so you don’t get overly curved in your low back.

Here’s a video to help you visualize this strengthening movement:

Careful repetition with attention to the details, like so many things, is key to building the strength you’ll need for a good Chaturanga.

I hope that helps start to make this pose more accessible for you. Stay tuned for a workshop all about this pose next month and in the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment with any questions you have!

P.S. Check out our YouTube channel! We’re starting to add more content over there about yoga, meditation, mantra and more each week!

Self Regulation: The Key to a Happy Life?

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Life is messy. But if you’re reading this, you’ve probably been around long enough to know that. 

In the yoga and spiritual community there’s often a notion that if you just think positively and align your chakras just so and make your full moon intentions, while drinking your green juice at the stroke of 6am after three hours of meditation everything will be just fine.

And that’s all good stuff, but the universe can also from time to time look at all that, laugh and say,

“Oh yeah? How about THIS!”

What do you do in that moment?

You probably already know.

  • Scream.

  • Cry.

  • Throw a fit or an object.

  • Give up.

  • Curse a blue streak to the point where you don’t call your Mom for a week because you’re pretty sure she’ll know about your behavior even if you live several states apart.

  • Become a giant ball of stress that moves through the world like hurricane, demolishing everything in its path.

Don’t worry. Me too.

I think a lot of people are attracted to yoga because they think they will learn how to NOT be that person in those moments. I’m here to tell you, after a reasonable amount of time and practice, that notion is false.

I’m still that person. Ask my husband about the last time the printer didn’t work while I was working on a deadline to get something done.

But here’s what IS different:

  • Those moments are farther apart. 

  • The little things that used to set me off all the time have lost their ability to do so. 

  • And in the times when I do turn into that hurricane that I mentioned above, my recovery time is a little better.

All of that is due to my yoga practice and the tools of self-regulation that are inherent to the practice. 

Self regulation is hard to define on its own, so we might define it by the feelings it generates. When we are self-regulated we feel grounded, centered, and present in the moment. On the flip side, when one is dis-regulated there is a general lack of control over one’s emotional state and/or behavior.  We are reactive rather than responsive, impulsive rather than thought out. 

Hence that streak of blue language referenced above. * ahem *

So what are the tools of yoga that help us achieve self regulation? Here are a couple of my favorites:

Notice your surroundings - what do you see around you? What colors, textures or patterns do you see? If you’re in a familiar place, can you find some detail that you may have missed before?

Grounding - feel your connection to the earth. Whatever is touching the ground is your foundation and your connection to stable, calm energy. Feel the quality of that connection.

Breath - learning to slow and control your breathing activates the rest and digest response. A single deep breath can start to turn down the flood gates of all those chemicals and hormones that have you feeling like you’re ready to fight a grizzly bear (Pro tip: you are really no match for an actual grizzly bear. Take a deep breath and know what to do should you be the type of person that might be out in grizzly country. Just saying.).

These are wonderful ways to help you self regulate. But here is the main key:

You must practice them when it/life/things are EASY so you remember them when it/life/things are HARD.

Without practice, you can know the best tools, but you won’t be able to use them when you need them most.

We’ll be working with these tools all this month in my public classes. I hope you’ll join me for practice.

Hiking and Yoga Reflections

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Have you really looked at our logo for our Yoga and Hiking series? If you look closely you’ll see that what appears to be the air pathways in the lungs are actually upside-down trees! I purposely had this created (thanks Laurie!) to reflect a vision I had while driving back from one of my own hikes one day.

We talk about it in yoga all the time - the idea that we’re all one, all connected, all part of a bigger whole. I think we often think about other people in that context, but we don’t often think about all the other living beings that surround us.

As I looked at the trees around me on this drive home, I suddenly noticed how much their underlying structure - the trunk, limbs and branches - looked exactly like the illustrations we often see of human lung tissue and the pathways the air travels through in order for us to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. It then wasn’t a big leap for me to consider how that without these trees and their ability to photosynthesize, that life-giving oxygen I breathe would not be nearly so readily available. And if we take it one step further, the carbon dioxide I exhale feeds the trees and gives them the raw materials for their own life sustaining needs. And so the cycle continues.

It’s this kind of realization of our connectedness to nature and each other that I hoped our Yoga and Hiking Series would allow people to start to experience. Over the course of our 9 week series we had such a wonderful time taking in so many beautiful spaces within a 30 minute drive from the studio in Milford. We made new friends, took the time to really notice our surroundings and our own bodies, were inspired by the beautiful words of many great writers and poets (thank you Iris for your beautiful readings!) and saw pieces of Mother Nature that we may not have noticed without the awareness we cultivated through our yoga practice.

Thank you to everyone that joined us over the course of the summer! If you haven’t heard, we’re cooking up some ideas for continuing these experiences through the fall and into the winter, so stay tuned for more!

Here are a few pictures from some of our outings.

Focus on the Good

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I was talking with a friend the other day and she was lamenting how every time she seems to set a new habit for herself, or tried to begin to find better balance in her life, she either falls back into an old habit after some time or gives herself permission to take a break because of some other circumstance (like it being summer). Sound familiar? It sure did to me! It can really make you feel defeated sometimes. But here’s another way of thinking about this common problem.

You may have heard the old myth (or even given it a test run for yourself) that you can form a new habit in 21 days. If you’ve ever tried it you may also have noticed that it might not have really stuck after that time. While our brains are amazing in their ability to adapt, it may not be that simple.

Our brains also have a negativity bias. This basically means that are brains have evolved to be extra vigilant for negative interactions, thoughts, experiences and situations. They evolved this way because it was a skill that allowed us to not only survive as a species, but to pass on our genes. So we are much more likely to remember the things that we “failed” at, rather than what we actually accomplished. (See the wonderful book Buddha’s Brain for more on this phenomenon.)

So what’s a girl to do?!?

Focus on the good and just start over.

We have to train our minds to notice the good things. How good you feel at the end of a yoga class versus the fact that you didn’t make it to class last week. The habit that you did start and managed to maintain for several weeks before life got crazy and threw you off. If we can recognize what is possible and what we have accomplished it will be much easier to let go of whatever negative thoughts or stories we’ve told ourselves and just start again.

So if you’ve found that the busyness of summer has thrown you off some good habit or way of being, or you’ve simply let it go because it is a time of year to take a break, remember it’s all about balance. Remember that you are capable, you can be successful and just like in a meditation practice, you can just start again.

Press Pause

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Routines are good. They keep us steady in our day to day lives. They ensure our clothes are clean, our bodies are clean, we’re fed regularly, the people we’re responsible for caring for are cared for and we get enough sleep. But every now and then, breaking with routine and doing something different can have a profound effect on how we see our routines and might help us do something better or different in an important way. And now just might be the perfect time.

When’s the last time you got out of your routine? Have you even thought about how may routines you have in your life?! Some examples might be:

  • The way you drive to work every day

  • Your daily hygiene

  • Your exercise program

  • Your food regimen

  • The type of meditation practice you do

  • How you relate to the important people in your life

  • What you do when you first wake up in the morning

Any of these could be a good thing to have in your life. Routines often keep us grounded. They can help steady us through the inevitable ups and downs of life. They can help us maintain our health and sanity. 

But what if there’s something you want to change? What if there’s a pattern in your life that just doesn’t seem to be serving you? Or is actually doing you or your relationships harm?

That’s where a shake up might come in handy. Maybe it’s time to press the pause button on that routine and step outside the day to day so you can see the world (and yourself) differently.


Maybe you’ve been on a weight-loss journey and you’ve been at a plateau for a time. You had been steadily making progress but you seem to have stalled. This can be SO frustrating. But what if you changed up your exercise routine a bit? What if you got outside and did some hiking instead of your usual weightlifting routine? Or went for a swim instead of running on a treadmill? You might find that you A) find another form of exercise you really like and B) jumpstart your weight-loss by changing how you use your body. 

Maybe this has nothing to do with loosing weight but with your exercise regiment itself. Changing up your activities might help you build strength and flexibility or cardiovascular fitness in a way that wasn’t happening with your other routine. You might even find a different activity becomes a great compliment to your usual forms of movement (hiking and yoga anyone?! ;-) ).

What if you wanted to change your relationship with someone close to you. Often our reactions to the people around us can fall into routines too. These can be some of the hardest to break because they are SO ingrained in us and are often so tied to our emotions. We might (if we’re lucky) even have the awareness to see it happening in the moment, but feel completely unable to change the response because we are so caught in the reactivity of the moment. 

Maybe it’s time for a vacation. Believe me, I don’t say those words lightly. I know full well how difficult this can be for reasons that can range from financial investment to work responsibilities or lack of paid vacation to the simple coordination with the rest of the family and all THEIR similar situations. However, you really can’t put a price tag on the time to reconnect with the people you love.

But we’re just talking about breaking out of your routine here. So maybe it’s just an overnight camping trip to that campground down the road (NH State parks have an amazing array of close and far away sites for as little as $23.00/night depending on the type of amenities you require) or an AirBnB a short drive away (some of the most interesting and memorable “vacations” I’ve had have been right here in NH in someone else’s backyard!). Maybe you just take the day off and go to the beach and turn off your cell phone for the day.

Maybe you do one of these things all by yourself. You might be surprised how liberating that can be and how much it may make you realize you value the people closest to you. 

These are just a few ideas to help you shake things up a bit in your life. Which one will you try?!

Yoga & Hiking: Complementary Practices for Health and Wellbeing

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I’ve been spending more time hiking in the last couple of years. It doesn’t hurt that I live in this amazing state that has so many beautiful trails to travel and discover. It’s become an important part of my weekly routine and a great complement to my yoga practice. That’s part of the reason Iris and I want to share some yoga and hiking with all of you this summer. If you join us for one of our Yoga and Hiking events or more, here are 5 benefits you might discover.

Legs up the Sign last Summer on Mt. Katahdin. My first 4K footer turned into a 5K footer. Whoops!

Legs up the Sign last Summer on Mt. Katahdin. My first 4K footer turned into a 5K footer. Whoops!

1. Cardio - At Forever Yoga, we tend to focus on yoga not only as physical movement, but a wholistic practice that includes the mind, body and spirit. That’s not to say you won’t find some physically challenging classes here. However, most yoga classes you’ll find here and at other studios and gyms don’t really qualify as cardiovascular exercise.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic exercise as "any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature." While it may seem like yoga would fit the bill here, especially the vinyasa style that we mostly teach and practice at Forever Yoga, a typical yoga class just isn’t going to raise your heart rate enough and sustain that elevated rate long enough to really qualify. Hiking on the other hand can do just that and if you’re carrying a pack with any weight in it (did you know one liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds?!) you’re definitely going to be keeping your heart rate up for a longer period of time. Balance this with a yoga practice and you’re on your way to a more well rounded fitness routine.

2. Time to disconnect from devices - Technology rules our lives more than ever these days and it’s influencing our health. It’s messing with our sleep patterns, causing physical issues like “text neck”, and may even be causing mental health issues in some people. While you’ll definitely see me using my cell phone to take pictures and even navigate to some degree, being out of cell phone range for a little while can be an amazing way to refresh our tired minds. While our 75 minute yoga class can be a great small break (provided you actually turn the phone and even the watch off), even a day hike can give us a greater opportunity to experience this relief from the everyday pings.

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3. Mindfulness practice - When we aren’t able to respond to every text message right away we create a space and an opportunity to bring ourselves more to the present moment and practice mindfulness. There’s so much to discover out there if you’re paying attention! I can’t tell you how many times I nearly walked by something small like a red eft or a snail but since I was actually in the moment outside I got to see the finer details. If I’m hiking with other people, we get to talk and interact (even if it’s between gasping breaths) in a way that is seemingly so rare these days. What a great way to take what we’re practicing on our yoga mats for 75 minutes off the mat and into our experiences with others for a longer period of time!

4. Letting go of watching the clock - Your yoga class is going to begin and end at a certain predictable time. 99.9% of the things we do in our daily lives are like this and we need that structure in our lives. However, every now and then, to be able to do something without a definite ending time, especially when it’s something we enjoy, can be *so* liberating. I’ll often go out on a hike and tell my husband if I’m not back by dark, that’s the time to worry. I purposely don’t put too definite an end on this time I’m spending with Mother Nature and myself. There is something really freeing about that. If it’s a great day and the weather is amazing and my body feels good I can go for hours. If the bugs are swarming and I forgot to bring enough food and my feet hurt I can go home. There’s a freedom there we don’t often get in our daily lives. It can help us tune back into a more natural rhythm and relieve stress in a way that’s hard to describe.

5. Change of scenery - We all live with a variety of stressors in our lives. Some of these are welcome and others might be more than we’d ever wish for. Sustaining ourselves physically and mentally over the long haul of life requires times to refresh, get a new perspective and look at the world differently. You’re probably going to have a yoga class that you go to on a regular basis at the same location with mostly the same people, but that class will be different in some way every time and that’s a really good micro break. Similarly, hiking can be a good micro break as well. Even if you walk the same trail every day *something* will be different. Being able to notice that change and recognize it can relax your mind and relieve stress in a way similar to your yoga class

These are just a few of the benefits you might find on one of our hiking and yoga classes this summer. I’m sure you’ll find even more reasons once you’re out there. I hope you’ll join us for one or more of these hikes and experience everything that yoga and hiking combined can offer! Sign up for one or more of these classes over on our Schedule page. We’ll see you on the trail!

Pause and reflect

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Today I thought I’d share a bit of my personal story and why the Gayatri mantra and mantra practice means so much to me. 

If you’ve read my bio or known me for any length of time you may know that 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with a spinal tumor in my neck. The tumor was discovered completely accidentally (although I’ve come to believe that there are no accidents, only grace). I was under the care of a chiropractor for low back pain who decided it was time to get an MRI. I still have no idea to this day why he ordered low back AND neck films but that decision was what lead to the discovery. 

I remember walking into his office for my next appointment, medical books strewn around the room while he gave me the news. I was prepared to hear something about my bones or discs, nothing like this. I still remember asking with disbelief as the news sunk in, “Are you telling me I have cancer?!” And his reply being less than sure. 

After seeing a surgical specialist two days later I learned my tumor was rare. They’re usually found in the brain, not the spinal column. My tumor was still quite small, only 1cm x 1cm and while I was completely asymptomatic (hence a great deal of the surprise I think), the films showed the the position of my spinal cord was already being affected.  

The tumor was positioned between my 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. It was inside the sac around the spinal cord that holds the spinal fluid. To remove it, the back of those two vertebrae would need to be removed and the sac opened. The sac would then be closed with a “biological glue” as it was explained to me, but the bones would not be replaced. 

Surgery was necessary, unavoidable and would certainly be delicate.

I eventually made my way to the spine center at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in NYC where I met with a doctor who had done hundreds of these procedures and turned out to be the number two surgeon in the country for my condition. A surgery date was set and all that was left to do was pre-op paperwork and exams and a lot of waiting. 

To say I was terrified would be the understatement of the century. I did feel I was in good hands with my surgical team, but this was unlike anything I had ever imagined. 

Let me tell you about the other coincidences along the way. 

I happened to find a yoga studio to call home a month before my diagnosis. It was the studio where I would eventually do my first yoga teacher training. 

The surgeon I eventually had do the surgery started taking my insurance just 6 weeks before I saw him for the first time. 

No accidents, only grace.

The nurse that coordinated my intake and all the things that needed to happen before the surgery was amazing. I asked her one day if there was someone I could talk to who had been through something like this. She found someone who I did eventually speak to who put some of my fears at ease. Her case had been far more severe and she was living a normal life. I had good hope that my result should be no different. 

The waiting was the worst. I’m not the most patient person. I certainly wasn’t then. I really needed to DO something. My doctor had said the condition I was in when I went into surgery would be the condition I would be in after my recovery.

I started going to more yoga classes. And my teacher introduced me to mantra and chanting and the idea of a daily mantra practice. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Something I could do each day to calm my mind and my fears. Something to make me feel better while I bounced between wanting it all to be over and not wanting it to happen at all.

So I got a mala and started a practice. Somewhere along the way, the idea of the 40 day sadhana crossed my path. That also seemed like a good idea. So I went to a calendar and started counting out 40 days from the day I had started.

The 40th day just happened to be the day before my surgery. 

No accidents, only grace.

The mantra I chose was the short form of the Gayatri mantra, the mantra we are practicing in classes all this month. I didn’t know at the time, but that mantra is said to be a “master mantra” and to bring in spiritual light. I firmly believe it helped save my life.

My “street cred” as I like to call it.

My “street cred” as I like to call it.

The day of the surgery eventually came. My mother and fiancé (now husband) went to the hospital with me. I still believe on that day they had the hardest job; waiting for me to be done. I was in surgery for over 4 hours, ICU/recovery for several more and didn’t get moved to a room until late in the day. I spent 5 days in the hospital, the first two flat on my back, unable to sit up higher than a 10 degree angle to be sure I wasn’t leaking spinal fluid. I remember thinking during those days that the invention of the catheter was pretty darn amazing. 

My recovery was long but I did recover. I went on to start my first yoga teacher training that fall. I got married the following year. I’ve had all the amazing ups and downs that life has to offer in the past 10 years. I’ve been given a second chance. I’m grateful for every next breath. And I do my best to live a life that reflects the amazing opportunity to live that I’ve been given. 

Mostly, I look back and I’m amazed at the transformation this event brought about in me. I’m a better person, a stronger person and a person with a very different set of values than I was before this happened for me. While I wouldn’t ask for it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Have you cried in a yoga class? You're not alone!

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Every once in a while a student will break down and cry during a yoga class. Depending on my relationship with the student and how much they’ve shared with me about what’s happening in their lives, I may go over to them and give them a reassuring pat on the back, offer them a tissue or just leave them alone. If this has happened to you in a class and you’ve found it surprising, (I mean, most of us come to yoga because it makes us feel better on most days) let me tell you a little story about what happened to me one day and why this is perfectly normal.

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This is Simba. She (yes she, long story) was the first pet I ever had that was really and truly mine. I picked her out of the shelter myself when I was in grad school (the second time, another long story) in CT and had finally moved into an apartment that allowed cats. I could not WAIT to finally have a pet that was more than a goldfish at that point in my life. I’d been in school for a long time and finding housing that allowed anything more than a fish had been nearly impossible to afford. But FINALLY, the time had come!

Simba saw me through a lot of transitions in my life and was always by my side. The bad breakup with the longtime college boyfriend. The transition from music school to library school and being a freelance musician. My first “real job” as a librarian in NYC. My eventual meeting and marriage to my husband. We moved 4 times, between 2 states in the 8 years we had together.

And then one horrible night I came home to find that over the course of a few hours between when the pet sitter had last seen her and when I arrived she had become quite ill. I rushed her to the vet in the aftermath of a snowstorm but it was too late. She had a previously undetected tumor and was bleeding internally. I had to say goodbye.

I was, as you might imagine, beside myself with grief at loosing my dear friend. I had completed my yoga teacher training at this point so I knew what could happen. I didn’t go to class for two weeks. I just wasn’t ready.

Finally, I walked back into the studio. My teacher knew what had happened so she knew what to expect. And sure enough, the moment she put us into pigeon for the first time there it was. Sobbing like Niagara Falls. She gave me a pat on the back, a tissue and let me cry. And I knew I could do that and not one person in the class would even notice much less judge me for doing so.

So why did it happen? I can’t point you to a specific text, but it’s well known in the yoga world that emotions are stored in our bodies. Especially the ones that we haven’t quite dealt with yet. So when we finally start to bring movement to these places and loosen the physical tension, the emotional tension might just come pouring out.

And this isn’t unique to grief. Anger, jealousy, sadness, fear… anything you can experience can settle in the tissues of your body, just waiting to be released someday. It can come at the most unexpected times too.

But before you run for the hills and never take another yoga class again, let me assure you, this release that comes is a good thing. It can help us move on. It can help us resolve the unresolved. It can help us finally feel the thing that we haven’t been able to feel so that we can let it go and live a happier life. It’s actually a gift.

While we each have our unique human experience, these strong emotions are not unique to us. If you’re afraid that your fellow students or your teacher will think less of you let me tell you right now, I think you are brave! You survived everything that’s come to you to get to this moment. And if you come to my studio and you suddenly need to cry in a class don’t you worry. I’ll bring the tissues and no one else will probably even notice. And if they do, they will be sending you love and compassion because they’ve been through some stuff too and they know how it feels.

So go get back on your mat and let (to quote Tosha Silver) whatever needs to come, come and whatever needs to go, go. We’ve got your back.

Stomach making noise during class? It's a GOOD THING!

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Have you had this happen to you? Your teacher brings you into a nice restful Shavasana at the end of class and just as the class starts to fall silent your stomach starts to make a noise SO LOUD you are sure someone in the next town over could hear it??! You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last! So let’s talk about why this is actually a REALLY GOOD THING.

In the scenario above you may be totally embarrassed and thinking “Everyone is trying to rest and I’m over here making all this noise I can’t control. GEEZ!”. Maybe you even throw your hands over the seeming source of the sound or grab a prop to try and muffle it. I’ve seen it happen more than once. But here’s the thing, you should actually be celebrating this sound. It means that your digestive system is working well!

A quick google search shows that about 74% of Americans deal with some form of digestive distress every day. That’s an insanely high number! Causes may vary, but one of the great things about a consistent yoga practice is that it can also help to bring more ease to your digestion.

Just as the muscles in your shoulders may feel less tense and more relaxed after your practice, there are muscles along the digestive tract that can hold tension too. Many of these muscles are involuntary muscles. You can’t control them just by thinking about them. You can’t say “hey muscles along the 3rd meter of the intestines, contract NOW!” to move your food along. So how can yoga help?

The muscles along the digestive tract are controlled in part by the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is often referred to as the “rest and digest” system for a reason. When this system is working well, digestive functions will happen more efficiently. So that feeling of relaxation and ease you find at the end of a great yoga practice is actually helping this system to relax where needed and function more optimally, thereby allowing digestion to work better.

Which means things might move along a bit better. Which might mean some sounds of movement, like that big gurgle you had during Shavasana, might happen as well. And that’s a really good thing given the statistic above!

So the next time your tummy makes some noise during your yoga class, just smile! You’re on your way to better digestion! And that can only make your mind, body and spirit feel that much better.