Ashtanga Yoga Cincinnati

Demystifying Sun Salutations

Yes sun worshiping is real and it is actually very logical, as well as being an ancient practice. In yoga you hear about Sun Salutations, or the Sankrit term, Surya Namaskar. Surya is sun. Nama means to bow to or adore. We stand at the front of our mat with our hands together at our hearts center in the same position as we typically start and end our practice with namaste mudra, which translates into the divine light in me honors and sees the divine light within you. So, as we move through the Sun Salutations we take our arms up toward the heavens and then we bow forward turning our awareness inward and committing to our health and to our higher awareness. With each movement we aspire to gain wisdom and knowledge and to become the best versions of ourselves. It really is a prayer in motion.

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

There are 12 postures within a Sun Salutation, which is also symbolic because there are 12 Sanskrit terms for the word sun. Moving through these 12 postures in consecutive sequence in repetition warms & energizes the  body. Sun Salutations engage the core, stretch the hamstrings and loosen the shoulders. They improve circulation, massage internal organs and promote overall health. So you can use sun salutations as an excellent warm up, or start to your yoga or workout session. Or when you are short on time and energy, it can be used as your minimum daily go to for giving you a total body workout. 

Sun Salutations can be beautifully adapted for your personal needs and can even be done from a chair.  When practiced at a slower pace they provide a calming grounding effect, and when practiced at a faster pace they provide a good cardiovascular workout and can provide weight loss. 

Why start the day day with Sun Salutations? Yoga was developed over 5000 years ago by ancient Sages in India who believed each part of the body was linked to some part of the natural world. The solar plexus (located behind the belly button) is said to be connected to the sun and associated with our emotional well being and intuition. We practice Sun Salutations first thing in the morning to clear our minds, gain calmness for the day ahead and to heighten our intuition. 

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Lets face it, we all love a little sunshine. It feels good and makes us happy. The sun grows our fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also creates light, and as we know that light helps us conquer our fears, so salute the sun. Practice Sun Salutations each day and feel yourself growing stronger, your light illuminating brighter and the warmth glowing within you. Make time for this important practice every single day. It only takes 15-20 minutes to do a proper 3-5 Sun Salutations A and Sun Salutations B sequence and you will greatly appreciate the many benefits that you will discover through this practice. 

Sun Salutation A:

Inhale taking your arms up

Exhale bowing forward

inhale halfway up straight spine

exhale hands to earth, step back to plank and lower yoga push up

inhale upward dog

exhale downward dog (hold 3-5 breaths)

       ~work to get your heals toward the earth 

       ~relax your ears between your arms

        ~let all the busy thoughts of the day and week go as you breathe in through your nose & out through your nose

Inhale look to your thumbs

Exhale to the front of the mat 

Repeat 3 to 5 times

Sun Salutation B:

Inhale sweep arms down and up as you come into chair pose 

Exhale forward fold straightening legs

Inhale halfway up, look to horizon

Exhale hands to earth and hop back to Chaturanga (yoga push up)

Inhale heart to the sky

Exhale hips up and back to down dog 

Inhale right foot to right thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog

Inhale Left Foot to Left Thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog stay here and re connect with your breath

Relax your neck & shoulders

Consider scissoring your heels, pressing one heel at a time to the earth and lifting the opposite heel

Inhale look to your thumbs

exhale hop to the front of your mat

Repeat 3-5 times

Wishing you all an inspiring start to your week!

Shine On,

Libby

P.S. If you have questions about how to get started in your practice, how to modify postures or if you would like personal, private or corporate lessons, please contact me via email: libby@yogafitboutique.com. I would be happy to travel and I always love to connect. Namaste!  

Open Your Heart to Tap into Endless Energy

We have an endless supply of energy that is constantly regenerating within us. This source energy is at our core center, the heart, and is always available.  It has been called many things in many cultures including Shakti in Yoga, and Chi in Chinese medicine. Some consider it closely linked to the Chakras if you have studied those, but we will save that for a different conversation. 

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We are busy people. We live in a world where busy is overly glorified. Every thought we create expells great energy. Each thought you remember takes a great amount of your energy. Controlling your thoughts, holding your thoughts... it is no wonder we are tired and drained. However, if we tap into our source energy, we have the power within to regenerate and restore ourselves. We have our own battery source, if you will, to recharge!  

The Key in fact is simple. Open your heart! You are only limited by your own choices. Open your heart and open your mind and your energy will flow free and limitless. The most important part of your life is your energy, your prana. Depression is a blockage of energy. When we clear that space by CHOOSING to be positive, the energy is free to flow. Obstacles are mearly an opportunity for growth. We have the power to spin any negative into a positive. If we CHOOSE to open that energy channel, open up that flow, amazing results will come. Constantly open up, grow, spiral upward and feel the energy grow from within! Suddenly you will attract an abundance of all your desires as a result of this energy. This is The Law of Attraction.  

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Happy Friday Everyone! Sending you all great energy as it is bubbling out from me and I cannot contain it so I am sharing the love with all of you!

Dreamily,

Libby 

The Dirty Little Secrets of Yoga and Why MEN Need It

There is a stigma that yoga is for girls, skinny flexible ones at that.  But, men need yoga just as much and actually yoga was originally practiced solely by men. Yoga provides better flexibility (something that many men struggle with), improves preformance in other sports and reduces the risk of injury.  

According to Men's Fitness Magazine and US News, yoga...

1. Improves digestion and reduces food cravings. 

2. Boost creativity and brain functioning, as well as focus.

3. Increases the quality and the quantity of sexual intimacy (yes, a great little secret).

4. Improves your quality of sleep.

5. Produces a natural high (another great secret) by causing your pituitary gland to release oxytocin, which is also known at the "love" or "cuddle hormone." 

Over my many years of teaching yoga, I have had a handful of men in my classes. Some were pleasantly shocked at how much they enjoyed the experience since they had never practiced yoga before and were hesitant to first get started. While my experienced guys knew exactly what they were in for and were pleased, as well.  In an effort to break down the dirty little secrets of yoga and the walls that seem to prevent men from coming to class, I decided to reach out to a variety of male friends worldwide and interview them.

 

Frits Johanson, Professional Dancer from Norway

Frits began his yoga journey because it was a large part of his kung fu training.  "To me the asana part of yoga is the part that comes most naturally, partly because it is very easy to combine with other types of training like my gymnastics and dancing. There are unlimited numbers of asanas and variations that I can work on and toward, keeping the practice challenging. The more I learned about focus, body alignment and positioning, and the connection between mental and physical, the more I could notice it helping with other trainings, as well.  In short, the asanas are a great way to keep both strong and flexible alone or in combination with other sports."

 

John Fortin (www.supdog.ca), Professional Skier & Yoga Instructor from Canada

John started his yoga practice to compliment his training for other sports, but specifically for Ironman competition. He felt the physical benefits of the yoga practice immediately. Practicing yoga allowed him to shift to a new elevated level of performance. "The bigger benefit was the mental aspect of my practice. Within a short time I was able to shift frustrating or difficult moments in my training into opportunities to grow. My mind accepted the challenge in a way that allowed me to continue to push myself to new levels." 

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As an instructor, I have heard many stories from my male friends of how they fully believe that they can benefit from yoga. Doctors who stand all day tell me they know that yoga can strengthen their legs and relieve backaches. People who drive all day tell me they know that yoga would relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. And people with high intensity or high stress jobs tell me they know that they need yoga, and yet something prevents them from coming to class. It is the fear of the unknown and many excuses (yes, you all know who you are).

So here is my personal advice on what you need to know for your first class:

1. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell him or her that it is your first class and let them know if you have any injuries or special requests.

2. Bring a hand towel. Yes, you might actually sweat in yoga ;)

3. Do not eat a heavy meal before class.

4. Wear normal workout clothes. I prefer dry wicking myself. 

5. LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR! This is a biggie for men especially.  Yoga is very individual. Please do not compare yourself to or feel that you need to compete with anyone else. Do not push yourself too hard, especially on day one.  Allow the flexibility to progress with each  practice. Injuries occur when people try to compete rather than listen to their own bodies, 

Teaching at Lululemon Athletica at the Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio, where there are complimentary classes each Sunday morning!

If you would rather hear it directly from a male stand point, here is advice from Frits and John:

1. Find a style of yoga that works for you. There are many different ones with different focuses.  Perhaps you want something gentle and relaxing? Or, maybe you prefer a style that is more athletic. The great news is that yoga offers something for everyone. 

2. Go to a class. Learn on your own through books and videos. Just get started! To really get that "yoga feeling," I would strongly recommend going to a class. Classes have a special energy that is motivating and the personal instruction of a certified yoga teacher will help you safely get started and grow in your practice. Later you can dive in deeper by reading and exploring other aspects of yoga on your own.

3. Try it out with a friend. Like many new activities, taking the first step to get started can be the hardest part. Having a friend with you to hold you accountable can be a great help, especially the first few times.  And... you won't have to worry about being the only guy there if that is a concern!

4. Don't think about what you can't do. Saying I'm not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying I can't read well enough to learn to read. It is not a good reason to not get started.  

5. Find the parts that work for you! For many people, joining a yoga class that starts off with 15 minutes of chanting can be a bit off-putting. If you want to do yoga to get in shape and become flexible, then find the class that suites you. But, I do recommend exploring the meditative and spiritual parts of yoga, as well.  They might give you more than you think.

6. Get to class early and find a spot at the back where you can observe other students and how they are posing while you are learning.

7. Lastly, give it a try! Yoga is a great thing to work into your life! It has given me a lot, both physically and mentally. I recommend it for everybody no matter what shape they are in or where they are in life. It is something you can do for the rest of your life. 

I have to say that Fritz and John shared some fantastic advice! I truly hope that you guys have found the inspiration in this post to get you started on your yoga journey. Grab a buddy, register for a class, and join us on the mat! 

Yours truly,

Libby

P.S. - Stay tuned for my next blog about the fitness instructors at Breakthrough MSP (the fitness gym that is home to my yoga new studio) and learn how they can help you recover from injuries and setbacks to get you back into the activities you love! Also check out my Top Ten Reasons to Do Yoga if you haven't already.

P.S. P.S. - John also offers SUP-Surf-Yoga retreats in Nicaragua. If you are interested in SUP or SUP Yoga locally, I would be happy to take you out one on one or in organized small groups.

 

 

 

 

Live the Life You Love.... Do you LOVE your Job?

Do you wake up every morning excited to hop out of bed and start your day? If so then you are likely doing what you love.  If not, then it might be time to explore a change. What if I told you you could listen to your favorite music, light relaxing candles, exercise and meditate all day in a job with very little to no stress? Well, it IS possible and the answer is Yoga Teacher Training! Become a yoga teacher and not only help others relieve stress and tension, but you too will benefit! I tell you from my heart it is the BEST JOB EVER!!!!!!

My next training session begins October 28th. We will meet approximately one weekend per month. I am very flexible, within reason, if you need to miss a session I will work with you. My training program is different than most other programs for multiple reasons. I designed it because I loved my training under one of the best Rocket Yogi's out there, Amber Gean at Yoga Ah. However, once I began teaching I realized that Rocket Yoga, even though I loved it, does not fit the needs of the general population. So I had to learn quite a bit on my own. I said "yes" to every teaching opportunity that came my way when I finished my training and was soon teaching 27 classes a week at various studios throughout Cincinnati. I learned what worked and what did not work. I designed my training program to encompass all that I learned in my training, and all that I learned on my own so that you will have all the knowledge that I now have after thousands of teaching hours.

You will learn the history and philosophy of yoga, as well as how to teach Ashtanga Yoga, Rocket Yoga, Hatha Yoga, restorative Jaba Yoga, Yin Yoga, Thai Yoga and how to teach to people with injuries and disabilities (yoga truly is for everyone and its growing popularity in the USA is a very positive trend). I will equip you with the tools and the knowledge for you to be able to confidently teach the style that feels right to you, and for you to work with whatever might come up in a given class. You will learn modifications, alignment, anatomy, history, adjustments, body composition anaylsis, weight loss plans, nutrition... This is really so much more than yoga training. It is a wellness program for whole life living. You will be prepared and ready to teach by the end of the program.

My Teacher Training course is dynamic in that we will start with a group circle and a short information session. Then we will always practice together. Following practice we will have another circle where we go over interesting and informative subjects such as philosophy and Sanskrit. Then we get up and move again focusing on alignment, adjustments, or the topic of the day. You are never just lectured to for 8 hours. It flows easily and quickly and is very fun! This experience is truly life changing and you will build lasting friendships and bonds (please read Wendy Riker's and Ben Brynjulfson's stories from my past blogs to get student perspectives on my Teacher Training program).  

In addition to all that you will learn, Teacher Training increases your personal strength, your agility, your flexibility of body and mind and your confidence on and off the mat. It will also enhance public speaking skills, reduce stress, improve sleep and improve your posture.  The benefits are endless! 

You can decide if you want to make teaching a full time or a part time career. It has beautiful flexibility and pays roughly $15-75 an hour. I know that is a broad span, but it is indeed true. My program also has a strong a business module where you will learn how to maximize your earning potential.  

Sign up now for the early bird special to save hundreds of dollars! There are only have 8 spots remaining. I cap the amount of students to assure that you get quality attention and personalized instruction. I will work with you and I have payment options, so please do not be overwhelmed with the tuition fees. Your investment in yourself through Teacher Training returns to you in many ways when you begin teaching. Both in terms of the money that you will earn as a Yoga Alliance certified instructor, in the personal growth that you will undergo, and also with the satisfaction that you will receive from helping other people improve their lives through yoga. 

Live the life you love, love the life you live,

Libby McAvoy

PS - Call me at 513-237-5330, or write to me via my contact form to reserve your space before this class fills up.  As I mentioned earlier, I only conduct Teacher Training two times a year, and enrollment is limited to 8 students to assure that you get a high level of personal instruction.  My "Early Bird Special" will also save you a significant amount of money if you enroll now.  

*Teacher Training will be held at Breakthrough Fitness (not far from my former location). They are in the process of creating a space just for us!