David Sick & celebrate12!

David Sick has been practicing yoga at Evergreen for three years. He is a Professor of Greek & Roman Studies at Rhodes College. He regularly attends the Monday evening Men’s Class.

David.SwastikasanaHere, David describes his experiences with yoga and life. You’ll see how he practices and works on the pose called Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).

“As an academic, I spend a lot of time in my head analyzing thoughts and ideas, and traditionally—especially in the West—we tend to separate the mind from the body, as if the two were almost enemies.

What I like about yoga, and particularly about the Iyengar method, is the focus on the cooperation of mind and body.  The discipline of the asanas is a form of meditation, and that meditation releases the mind from other troublesome thoughts.

And as a bonus, the practice is good for my physical health as well!  I can’t say I’m completely out of my head while at the sessions at Evergreen, but I’m working at it.  Did you know that śvan- ‘dog’ from adho mukha śvānāsana is related to canis in Latin and κύων in Greek?  See, that’s what I mean, not completely out of my head!”  — David Sick

Below, David demonstrates a few of the ways he has been working on Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana):

David.Trikonasana

Above, he warms up with Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana) to strengthen and stretch the hips and legs.

David.Ardha Uttanasana

Above, David practices an introductory pose leading to Dog Pose. This pose makes Dog Pose come more easily. Tightness in the backs of the legs and shoulders make this a challenge to many men. David works with it well, and has become more flexible over time.

See how he presses his hands into the wall with his fingers spreading.

Here, David turns his hands out to get the proper shoulder stretch. Now the hands are ready to be weight-bearing when he lifts his hips up.

David.AMS

Once you’ve learned a pose, it’s important to keep challenging yourself to improve and refine the poses! Practicing poses in different ways helps you isolate muscles that need stretching, firming and strengthened. In Downward Facing Dog, you learn how to use your arms and legs in order to lengthen your spine and trunk.

Here are some ways to practice, so that the pose continues to improve:

David.AMS.kneesbent

David bends his legs here — helping him to feel more extension in his spine. He also is able to work on the muscles of his upper back — which contributes to better posture when he walks, sits, stands and goes about his daily activities.

David.AMS.ropes

Our rope wall provides traction and supports the stretch of this pose. He loops the rope around his hips and hangs. He still uses his arm strength, but the hands/arms are bearing less of the weight. He can feel the spinal extension and work on flattening his palms.

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Jaime Flowers & celebrate12!

Jaime Flowers is one of 12 students sharing their yoga experiences in honor of Evergreen Yoga’s 12th birthday. I hope these stories energize you to keep growing, trying new things, and watching what happens.

Happy reading!

Jaime Flowers

Jaime.Siddhasana

Q&A with Jaime:

How long have you been doing yoga?
Since 2003

How long have you been coming to Evergreen?
Since 2009 or 2010

Why did you start yoga?
For self care in a non-aggressive fashion

What is your favorite pose?
Viparita Kirani variations right now. Favorite poses change from year to year.

What else would you like to share about yourself?
I’m 42. I’m a pharmacist. I enjoy attending ballet performances, international travel and attending music concerts with my husband, Tim.

I’m married to Tim Flowers and we have pug and a pug mix, Nicolas and Zoe.

Jaime and I had a great afternoon taking pictures and talking yoga!
She regularly attends the Saturday morning Level 2 class, where we work on inversions.

Here, she practices Ropes Sirsasana. The ropes make it possible to invert without bearing weight on the upper body, and can release the neck and back. There are many of the benefits of the other inversions in this ropes version.

Hanging out on ropes
Jaime’s standing pose below, Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) demands focus and concentration in order to balance. She demonstrates this pose at the wall, even though she can do it well in the center of the room. The wall enables her to work a little harder on the actions in the pose that create stability.

When she focuses on strength in the standing leg and extension of the top leg, her focus becomes fixed on the strength of feet and legs so she gets to work on something other trying not to fall down! The top arm acts like a polestar to bring a sense of direction, buoyancy and lightness in this standing pose.

Jaime.ArdhaChandrasana

Here is a restorative version of Supta Virasana.

Using supports like bolsters, etc. helps bring a sense of quiet and stillness in many poses. This pose can also be done in a more active way with fewer props. It stretches the front thighs and pelvis to prepare for backbends like the one below.

It’s an antidote to sitting all day. With regular practice, the pose brings flexibility to the feet and the ankles, and can be invaluable for runners, cyclists as well “sitters.”

Supta Virasana is a good warm-up for other poses — like backbends. Working on poses in a sequence, you can build pose-by-pose up to a “final” pose toward the end of your sequence that day.

Resting version of Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)

Resting version of Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)

Jaime’s backbends keep improving — and as you can see her Ustrasana (below) is beautiful!

 

Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

 

For inspiration, take a look at the other 4 student profiles and view even more photos on Leah’s Blog here

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Jaime Flowers & celebrate12!

Jaime Flowers is one of 12 students who are sharing their yoga stories with you as part of our birthday celebration. We hope the stories will energize you to keep growing in your yoga practice, to try new things, and see what happens. Without further ado, here’s Jaime:

Jaime Flowers

Jaime.SiddhasanaHow long have you been doing yoga? 
Since 2003

How long have you been coming to Evergreen?
Since 2009 or 2010

Why did you start yoga?
For self care in a non-aggressive fashion

What is your favorite pose?
Viparita Kirani variations right now. Favorite poses change from year to year.

What else would you like to share about yourself?
I’m 42. I’m a pharmacist. I enjoy attending ballet performances, international travel and attending music concerts with my husband, Tim.

I’m married to Tim Flowers and we have pug and a pug mix, Nicolas and Zoe.

Jaime and I had a great afternoon taking pictures and talking about yoga.

Jaime.RopesSirsasanaShe regularly attends the Saturday morning Level 2 class, where we work on inversions. One example of an inversion that released the back involves the rope wall. Here, Jaime practices Baddha Konasana in Ropes Sirsasana.

Jaime.ArdhaChandrasana

Ardha Chandrasana is a beginning standing poses that involves focus and concentration in order to balance. Jaime demonstrates this pose at the wall. Using the wall enables you to work harder on the actions in the pose that create stability — building strength in the standing leg and turning the pelvis in order to bring flexibility to the hip. The top arm acts like a polestar to bring direction, buoyancy and lightness in this standing pose.

Jaime.SuptaVirasana.resting

The pose above shows a restorative version of Supta Virasana where props enable you to let go and relax into the pose. Using supports like bolsters, etc. helps bring a sense of quiet and stillness in many poses. Supta Virasana can also be done in a more active way with fewer props.

Jaime.UstrasanaIt stretches the front thighs and pelvis to prepare for backbends (including Ustrasana which Jaime demonstrates above). This pose also brings flexibility to the feet and the ankles, so poses like Lotus Pose and Bhekasana (Frog Pose) come more easily. This pose can be invaluable to people who sit all day at work. You can see it stretches the front body. It is also useful to athletes who run and cycle.

Supta Virasana stretches the front thighs and pelvis to prepare for backbends (including Ustrasana which Jaime demonstrates here at right).

Both poses bring flexibility to the feet and the ankles. Practicing the poses in a sequence, you can warm up with each poses so the next one in the sequence becomes better and you can lead toward a “final” pose. Both Supta Virasana and Ustrasana bring more flexibility in the feet and ankles, which make poses like Lotus Pose and Bhekasana (Frog Pose) come more easily. Both Supta Virasana and Ustrasana stretch the front side of the body. They can be invaluable to people who sit all day at work. It is also useful to athletes who run and cycle. Jaime has been working on opening the quads, front of hips and chest…which is one reason why her backbends are improving — and as you can see her Ustrasana is beautiful!

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Angie Wallick and celebrate12!

Welcome to our online birthday party called celebrate12!

Angie.BharadvajasanaAngie Wallick is one of 12 students who are sharing their yoga stories with you as part of our celebration. We hope the stories will energize you to keep growing in your yoga practice, to try new things, and see what happens. Without further ado, here’s Angie:

I have to admit, I was quite the yoga skeptic at first.

I just couldn’t grasp how this could be an effective “workout” and honestly, I thought it was rather pointless to sit on a mat and breathe. How boring! I did a few random yoga classes with friends from a groupon and a “free first class” here and there, but never liked it enough to go back.

Angie.UPHPA trusted friend recommended Evergreen Yoga Center during a time when it was critical for me to learn awareness of my mind and body.  Some people are naturally intuitive about what they need emotionally and physically, while others need guidance on how to grow into an intuitive being.  So, with a gentle nudge I compromised in trying yoga one more time.  I suppose the hope was to either grow my awareness or to simply listen to the wise people around me and see what happens.  In February 2014, I opened up my mat at Evergreen Yoga.

At first glance of the studio, I wondered why there were no mirrors and why do we use blankets? Are we going to take a nap?  I really don’t have time for that!  I was particularly interested in what could come of the ropes…..what kind of yoga is this?

There have been many twists and turns throughout my yoga journey, but I do distinctly remember a strange discomfort in Savasansa.  During my first year, I often had had Leah place different weighted sandbags and bolsters over me when I was in Savasana which helped with my discomfort of being still. I felt more grounded, and was able to relax.

Leah showed me this picture of Mr. Iyengar which led me to more questions than answers.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.34.52 PMThis picture makes my sandbags look like more like pillows!

I worked to accept myself where I was and to understand what I needed at that time.

I was grateful for being more grounded than ever before although still feeling pretty uncomfortable in my own body. This type of relaxation and grounding enabled me to slow me down and increase my awareness of the effects of my practice.  This was the point in which I knew that yoga was an important part of my self-care.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.47.11 PMOver time, I have come to understand that our “props” (what we use to support our poses at the yoga studio or the supports I choose to have in life) are there to help me meet myself where I am — without judgment. My props give me the confidence to get quiet enough to know when to move forward or when to simply just be.

Having no mirrors in the studio (which by the way, am a big fan of) helped minimize my distraction. I became less focused on the external, and learned to trust my inner being.

Angie.UrdhvaDhanurasanaI want to share part of Sutra 1.2 from The Essence of Yoga by Bernard Bouanchaud. This Sutra resonates with me as to why I continue to practice:

–Yoga is the ability to direct and focus mental activity.–

Yoga consists of keeping the mind quiet and wakeful so that one is totally present to what one is doing.  Thoughts no longer rush forth of themselves in all directions, but are fully controlled and directed.

I’m thankful for my upcoming 5th year of yoga practice and all the ups and downs that have come with my learning.  I continue to learn more about each pose that we practice. I discover new ways to use props and understand what things in life throw me off balance.  I have a lot of energy in my yoga practice, but I now know that stillness tastes equally as satisfying.

Angie.AMVrkI am currently on faculty at The University of Memphis and co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group where I practice as a Certified Eating Disorder Dietitian.  I have the privilege of helping people heal their relationship with food just as yoga has healed my relationship with bringing awareness to both my mind and body.

I regularly attend the Barefoot Bootcamp and the Saturday Level 2 class so I hope to see you around the studio. You might find me bringing friends to class, as I love to share yoga with others who are curious or craving for stillness just like I was.

So if you find yourself reading this blog post, or more importantly, attending classes, consider yourself in good hands at Evergreen Yoga Center.

Once I opened up my mat, I’ve never looked back.

Namaste

Angie

Restorative Yoga

I’ve gotten some questions about restorative yoga, and I thought you might have some too, so here goes….

What is Restorative Yoga?
Technically, by it’s very nature, all yoga should be restoring. As in, practicing yoga restores your connection to yourself and the divinity within. However, not all yoga has this effect on people. It all depends on how you practice.

Yoga is experiential. It’s a verb and a noun. Yoga is a practice (you do something), and it is also a state of being (you experience something). So you just have to try it.

 

Is it relaxing?
This question is hard to answer. There are some poses where bolsters/blankets and other props are placed to support you while you completely let go and relax.

Some “restorative” yoga practices have a carefully constructed sequence of poses that start with a certain amount of physical activity and intensity, requiring clear focus and concentration. Then, with each pose comes a little more mental quiet until the end where your mind is drawn completely inward as you rest in Savasana.

It’s important to know that restorative yoga is not “sleepy” or “massage-like” — at least the way I teach it.

 

Is restorative yoga appropriate for any level student?
As with any kind of specific type of practice, it depends. The sequence can be designed specifically for people with absolutely no experience, people who are dealing with a specific concern (like healing from illness or balancing hormones, etc.). Or it can be designed for those with more experience with poses like Headstand, Full Arm Balance, longer holdings of certain standing poses. A long Shoulderstand is probably not going to create a peaceful and quiet mind if you are a beginner. And a 5-minute holding of Headstand is definitely not appropriate if you haven’t already been practicing. If you are new to yoga or new to Iyengar Yoga, you should check with a teacher before you come to a restorative class. You want to set yourself up to have a good experience.

 

What if I come to a restorative class and there are poses I haven’t learned yet?
Don’t worry. Iyengar Yoga teachers are skilled at working with people of all levels of experience. We know how to meet you where you are, and guide you. We can give you alternatives for those poses. You need to let the teacher know if there is something new for you.

Still, if you are a newer student and unsure, ask the teacher. Especially if you are brand-new to yoga or brand-new to Iyengar Yoga.

 

Why does everyone talk about loving restorative yoga so much?
Of course, when we love something we want to let other people know about it!

There is a lot to love about practicing the poses in a way that leads from a scattered mind to a very quiet state. However, not everyone will like restorative yoga. (Not everyone loves almond milk, but some people want only cow’s milk). Yoga practice is experiential, so the only way is to try it).
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about restorative yoga!