40 Days of Yoga

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If you have taken a class over the past month there’s a good chance you were practicing with Charles Harris in the room. He is a personal trainer and has committed to doing 40 consecutive days of yoga. We were so inspired by his dedication to practice and his passion for helping people find the best version of themselves that we just had to ask him to share his experience on the blog!

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? What inspired you to become personal trainer?

I  was born and raised in Baltimore Md! I decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer because I grew up enjoying athletics and always have had a deep desire to help people become better.

When and how were you first introduced to yoga?

One of my clients shared her experience with Charm City Yoga over a year ago and I came to check it out!!! I fell in love with hot yoga after taking Edith’s (Brotman)  class! I became hooked on the feeling of being liberated.

How has yoga changed your fitness regimen? How has yoga helped with your personal training?

Weight training has always been a great outlet for me for more than 35 years. I feel so good after a great workout but hot yoga gives me a different kind of feeling! It gives me the mental and spiritual freedom that I longed for. Its challenging and liberating at the same time. I now realize that the breath is everything and I have now incorporated that more with myself and clients.

What is your favorite yoga pose?

My favorite pose is the tripod head stand! I have never ever done a headstand in my life until last year. Its so empowering.

What have you learned from practicing yoga for 40 days in a row? Will you continue on to 50, 60, 70?

I have learned that my yoga practice is a representation of my life. I am learning so much about myself. I have always been a go getter and I always  muscled my way through life. Yoga has taught me just the opposite. The more I let go the better my life is become. So many good things are happening in my life. My life has become totally stress-free. My mind and body has become so free of stress. I don’t stress on much of anything anymore. I have a new outlook on life. After this 40 day journey I will continue to practice everyday I can. Its a part of who I am now.

Have you ever considered becoming a yoga teacher?

I do have an interest in becoming an instructor. I want the opportunity to share this life changing experience with others! Hot yoga works!!

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Ashtanga For Everyone

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We are super excited to have Aimee Echo with us next weekend for an Ashtanga workshop. We caught up with Aimee to ask her a few questions as to why this workshop is beneficial no matter what your background in yoga is; student or teacher!

1. What other style(s) of yoga have you practiced before working in the ashtanga method?
Ashtanga Yoga was the first and only method I have practiced. I was very blessed to find wonderful, traditional and very gifted teachers Noah Williams and Kimberly “Kiki” Flynn and learned Mysore style right from the start. I had no idea it would completely transform my life!
2. In what ways do you think a vinyasa students’ practice can benefit from this workshop?
Fundamentally, the Ashtanga Yoga system is the granddaddy of all vinyasa based yoga practice so in that way we are all part of the same family. The traditional sequences and techniques which we will explore in depth are really intelligently designed. It is always good for any student or even teacher of vinyasa to connect with this lineage and strengthen their foundation.
3. What about vinyasa teachers? How do you think they can hone their craft through this weekend workshop?
Like I mentioned before, as a vinyasa teacher it’s always great to connect with this old method even if it’s just to get a different perspective and work on the fundamentals. I do my best to teach what I have been taught as I have been taught. I have received many great “nuggets of wisdom” from my teachers and my personal experience with yoga and I have made it my duty to pass those “nuggets” on :)
4. Why is ashtanga yoga for everyone?
Ashtanga yoga is traditionally taught one on one, teacher to student. This method has come to be known as Mysore-style. The teacher gives the practice, tailored individually for the student, based on what the student needs in the moment. We are all always changing- that is life’s one guarantee! This practice can grow, shift and change with you as you grow, shift and change. Although it has a reputation for being a physical sometimes advanced practice,  it is really the best place for absolute beginners and especially those with physical limitations to start.

5 Ways That Acupuncture Supports Your Yoga Practice:

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We asked Marina Gan about how acupuncture can be beneficial to a yoga practice. This is what she had to say:

-Acupuncture helps to remove blockages in your energy, allowing it to circulate more freely. This will give you more space to work with in your body and more mobility in your postures.

– Acupuncture helps you to be a better observer of your body. As a result you are able to work into your postures more mindfully and deepen your practice.

– Acupuncture helps calm the mind and ground your energy, which supports the very foundation of your yoga practice; being present.

– Acupuncture helps you to shed what is no longer serving and experience greater lightness. You can then bring this lightness into your practice and cultivate greater joy and gratitude.

– Practicing yoga keeps you agile and free at the level of structure. This prepares you to more deeply receive these benefits of acupuncture, which works by moving energy that runs along structure.

Marina is offering a workshop on September 14th that will be offering a gentle ear acupuncture treatment at the end! Click here to enroll!!!

An Interview With Zoe Mai From The Sanskrit Institue

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We are super excited for the Introduction to Sanskrit Workshop this weekend. Zoe Mai from the American Sanskrit Institie was kind enough to answer a few of our questions related to Sanskrit and what it means to your yoga practice.
What is your favorite Sanskrit word?
Taijasa it means brilliance. It is my favorite word because the grammatical formation of the word exemplifies everything I love about the language. It was the word that gave me my first insight into how truly profound the Sanskrit language is.
Why do you think it is important for students of yoga to know sanskrit?
All traditional yoga philosophy has been recorded in Sanskrit texts.  To really study and understand  these texts deeply, the study of Sanskrit is essential. Even if a student has little interest in studying texts, the language is so refined that understanding and practicing proper pronunciation when chanting or saying the asana names can have powerful impact. The Sanskrit language was refined over thousands of years. The perfect resonance of Sanskrit sounds when pronounced in the the proper mouth position can alter the vibrational quality of the practitioner. When a group of people chant the Sanskrit texts together, the resonance can raise the vibrational quality of all participants and the space in which they practice. Even the simple act of chanting the Sanskrit alphabet can raise the vibrational quality of an individual and the space around them. I have integrated Sanskrit into all aspect of my small Ashtanga school. It has been amazing to watch the transformation of all areas of  yoga practice as a result.
How has Sanskrit connected you with your yoga practice?
The ASI Yoga Learning Model has turned my study of Sanskrit into a yoga practice in and of itself.  Sanskrit is the language of yoga and I have found it intimately related to all aspects of yoga. The grammar of the language itself is seems to be a perfect reflection of yoga philosophy. It is the matrix that provides the underlying commonality across all  yoga philosophies, which were first expressed in Sanskrit. For me Sanskrit is the fabric of yoga it is the root of my practices – both meditation and asana.
When were you first introduced to Sanskrit?
I was introduced to Sanskrit in my first teacher training. I found it very challenging. I could see it was an important part of the Yoga tradition, so I continued to try learn the language to no avail. I tried to study privately with several university professors and a number of lay teachers before giving up entirely. Finally, during my second visit to Mysore India, I tried to study with the teacher at the Yoga Shala. It was more difficult than ever.
My study partner recommended that I  contact Vyaas Houston at the American Sanskrit Institute (ASI) when I returned home. I did and the rest is history. I took the Introductory Sanskrit Level I weekend and was absolutely blown away by the Yoga Learning Model that Vyaas had developed. It not only made learning Sanskrit possible, it made it a deep Yogic practice accessible to anyone – Even Me! I began studying with Vyaas regularly and now love nothing more than sharing the Sanskrit Level I weekend with others.

“Just the Middle Me” by Kim Manfredi

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 9.55.07 AM   Life is marvelous sober. How can I say with love and care that drugs and alcohol mixed with yoga is not yoga? I have noticed a proliferation of drinking and pot smoking in relation to the yoga practice. Mixing intoxication with the practice, especially as yoga teachers, will do a disservice to yourself and your students. It denies what yoga is about. Life is wonderful straight. My teachers have always reminded me that yoga is about the truth, about reality as it is. When we begin to celebrate our yoga experiences with beer and pot what are we teaching? What are we sharing? One of my favorite stories from Yogananda is about his guru’s teachings on the effect of being high in relation to the practice. He says it makes us suitable only to help the animals. What he meant is that when we get intoxicated to relax and connect with others, we never learn to open that part of ourselves without the drug. When we become addicted to intoxicants to relax, we find it difficult to deal with other people while sober. We end up in the forest where there are no troublesome people only animals. We want to help ourselves and other people. Patanjali says that some herbs can open the door to recognize the self but after the door is open, we must come back to the truth of what is, the sober reality of who we are. This is where the work begins. The physical effects of drinking and smoking are detrimental; the effects on the mind are slow but surely as debilitating. I am asking that you live in moderation. As yogis we live as wholesome examples, not too high, not too low, just the middle me.  

Stephanie Weikert: Make Peace With Stress

A wonderful part of our community, Stephanie Weikert is offering her Make Peace With Stress workshop next weekend at Charm City Yoga Columbia. Stephanie answered a couple questions for us about the workshop!

 

What is Make Peace with Stress?
MPWS is a signature-system that guides you through the transformational process of shifting your relationship with stress.

 

We know stress is a physical and mental reaction, that can be beneficial in life or death circumstances. Modern chronic stress is this physical and mental reaction, however it’s mostly a reaction of resistance to what is happening, not to actual life or death. Many of us experience this stress a lot.

 

Here’s the good news:
Studies show that the way you view this reaction in your body and in your mind directly influences it’s effect on you.

 

And here’s the really good news:
If we shift our view from thinking stress is bad, to being open to the insights of our body and mind’s reaction, we can change stress’ effect from unhealthy and depleting to helpful and supportive and joyful… Really!

 

How does this system apply to the practice of physical postures?

 

The challenge of postures becomes the equivalent of a stressor and when physical demands are met with mindfulness and steady breathing, the nervous system responds differently than the typical fight-or-flight response of chronic stress.It maintains activation while keeping an underlying sense of calm.

 

As you learn to hold these postures with a calm mind, focusing on the breath, they become a training in how to remain calm in stressful situations.

 

If you can practice both steadiness and ease in the midst of a challenging posture, you’re not just training your mind, you’re enabling your nervous system to imprint that response and therefore allow you to return to it during everyday stress.

 

Have any other questions? Email Stephannie: stephannie@makepeacewithstress.com.

 

Martha McAlpine: 3 Questions About Yoga Fest

Charm City Yoga Fest is right around the corner and we spent a little time with Martha McAlpine to find out what she will be teaching at the three day event!
1. What you will be teaching at CCY Farm Fest?
I’ll be teaching an hour of kundalini on Saturday morning at 10:30. Kundalini is a practice everyone can do. It is a bit of a change from the vinyasa style of the signature CCY classes. Rather than making and holding poses, we do kriyas which are gestures that are maintained for between one and three minutes. The purpose is to develop both strength of body and strength of mind. The gestures are simple and available to beginners as well as seasoned practitioners. As the sequence of the class builds there is a sense of energy and ability that is matched with a deep sense of calm. Just like hatha yoga, kundalini prepares us for meditation and freedom from the fluctuations of the mind.
2. What are you looking forward to at CCY Farm Fest?
I can’t wait to hear Dharma Mittra’s teachings, Kim’s morning practice, Jess’s rave, Camille’s yin practice, Mimi’s bodukon… Can you tell I’m excited for the festival?!
3. The opportunity to spend a weekend with the CCY community is such a treat; what is your favorite part about our community?
As much as I respect and enjoy our teachers, I look forward to sweating it out with all the amazing students and participants on our mats. I get to be a student with my students and that is the best part of the community for me.
See you there!
If you haven’t purchase your tickets to Charm City Yoga Fest don’t wait!

Allison Korycki: 3 Questions About Yoga Fest!

This week we asked, the one and only, Allison Korycki three questions about Charm City Yoga Fest. She will be one of teachers teaching alongside Dharma Mittra!
1. What you will be teaching at CCY Farm Fest?
I can’t wait to teach Yoga and Hoop Fitness at CCYoga Fest!  I’ve taught this playshop at Floyd Yoga Jam, Evolve Yoga & Music Festival, HempFest and others, so I’m really excited to teach at a festival in my own backyard!  This session will teach you how to hoop around your waist, neck and legs, and also how to do simple hooping tricks on your hands that look amazing when strung together much like a vinyasa flow.  Hooping is a fun outdoor activity for backyard BBQs, pool parties, and summer concerts.  It’s also a fun way to burn calories, trim your waistline, tone your arms and leg muscles, and move mindfully.
2. What are you looking forward to at CCY Farm Fest?
 At this particular festy, I’m most looking forward to doing yoga in the sunshine with all my friends!  It’s so hard to get your friends together to take a trip to Yoga Journal Conference or go to Kripalu.  This is so close by that everyone can go!  It’s going to be great to have a healthy, spiritually fulfilling weekend with my besties.  I’m also pumped for Telesma!  Their music taps into my primal instincts and evokes a tribal dancing in your being that is unstoppable.  They are one of my favorite bands to hoop to.

3. The opportunity to spend a weekend with the CCY community is such a treat; what is your favorite part about our community?
 My favorite part about our CCY sangha is that all of our teachers are unique.  There’s no one way our teachers look or teach.  We all come from different backgrounds, professions, and cultures, so all parts of my being are tended to with each class I take at CCY.  This festival will highlight each teacher’s passion and gifts, and I look forward to being there for each one.   
If you haven’t purchase your tcikets to Charm City Yoga Fest don’t wait!

Gabrielle Sulc’s 5 Tips on How to Practice with a Master Teacher

 Sri Dharma Mittra’s presence at Charm City Yoga Fest (August 22-24 in Monkton, MD) is an amazing opportunity and honor to our yoga community.  During the last five years, I have had the privilege and fortune to learn from Sir Dharma and during this time have taken his 500hr and 800hr teacher training courses.  The following are some things I’ve learned from my personal experience and from teachings I’ve received from Sri Dharma himself.

 1.     Respect the Teachings: 

Do what the teacher says (unless it doesn’t feel OK.) Some of the postures Dharma Mittra (and other teachers from other linages) teachers are not done in the same way as other styles of yoga.  For example, Dharma’s downward facing dog.  Even though it’s natural for me now to do Dharma’s style of down dog, when I’m in an Ashtanga class or Vinyasa class or any class other than Dharma’s I do the down dog and all the postures how they are prescribed.  Don’t assume the way you have been taught is “right” or “wrong”; it’s just different.   This goes for any class with any teacher- even if it’s the teacher’s first day.  Good students are receptive to all ways and forms.
 
2.     Copy the Teacher:


Sri Dharma tells many stories of his guru and how he learned from his guru by copying him.  Sit how the teacher sits, put your hands in the same way as the teacher during mediation & breathing, watch and copy how the teacher moves into yoga postures, ect.  Eventually you will gain the teacher’s steadiness and insight.
 
3.     Don’t Move… until the Teacher says so:


This takes discipline.  Unless you are in pain, stay in the pose without moving until the teacher says to move- even if you have been in Warrior II for more than 10 breaths.  Also, resist the urge to do other variations unless the teacher offers them.  If you practice under these guidelines you will soon gain mental and physical strength.
 
4.     Be Receptive:


If you are not sure about the knowledge being imparted by the teacher, do not doubt- instead be receptive to the possibility and then over time check it out for yourself. Be willing to accept that even if something doesn’t make sense or connect with you, doesn’t mean it’s false or won’t be a good fit for someone else.  
 
5.     Remove your Expectations:


It is common for us to expect something miraculous from a “famous” and/or well respected teacher- especially if you are searching for something.   These expectations often lead to disappointment.  Being in the presence of a renowned teacher or guru is an honor.  The wisdom they have cannot be imparted or received during one class.   The first class is a starting point, and then keep going until there is nothing else to learn.
 

I’m fairly confident that if you can follow these guidelines in your routine yoga classes you will be amazed at your progress in all aspects of your practice.   Namaste.

Sarah Cook: 3 Questions On Yoga Fest

Sarah Cook is one of the fantastic Charm City Yoga Teachers teaching at Charm City Yoga Fest. We caught up with her to ask a couple questions about the festival

1. What you will be teaching at CCY Farm Fest?
I will be teaching Vinyasa Yoga.

2. What are you looking forward to at CCY Farm Fest?
I’m looking forward to combining some of my favorite things: yoga, sunshine, camping and Jon and Gay’s (owners of BaltimOrganic) amazing farm!

3. The opportunity to spend a weekend with the CCY community is such a treat; what is your favorite part about our community?
My favorite part about our community is that it’s made up of not just devoted, fantastic yogis, but the people are salt of the earth. It doesn’t get any better than this.


If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? Get them here now!