March Student Spotlight

March Student Spotlight

Robert Weimer Presses the Reset Button With His Noon Practices

Good morning, please introduce yourself, who you are on and off the mat. I think we would all love to start there.
My name  is Robert Weimer, I work here in the CBD, I’ve been practicing yoga for about two and a half years. I started in more community based yoga, not really knowing what I was doing or what to expect, I was doing it and found I liked the idea of a complicated pose and breaking it down to its component parts and trying to figure out which component parts I could do and which I needed to work on. I am fortunate enough to work a couple of blocks away so I can come practice yoga five to six days a week, typically p to seven or eight times a week. I still do some community based yoga as well.

Awesome! What do you do when you are not on the mat?
Well, I work in a law office.

I imagine you find use for your practice off the mat pretty frequently in that environment.
Yeah, my noon practice that i try and go to week days is certainly a pause button from the … the hecticness of work I guess.

What brought you to yoga initially? What made you seek out that first community class, that said “ I guess I’ll try this”?
Well I was actually talked into by a friend, another competitor I believe it was Higher Power was doing a special…

We don’t see other studios as competitors, the more yoga the better!
{laughs} Sure, well they were having a special that was with MoPho that has specials on some beer and pho, so that was what got me to do it that first time.

I like it, I’m very incentivized by food and drink as well, always a great way to draw people in. Did you find that yoga spoke more to your physical body or mental/spiritual body in the beginning?
Obviously at first I didn’t know what I was doing, but I like being put into complicated situations and I like trying to figure them out. At first it was just blasting through a class, then it became understanding what the calls and descriptions of the poses where, and then, later, building on that was understanding the different queues the instructors here giving and what exactly they were trying to emphasize or de-emphasize, and then add more layers upon layers. Lately, more me, it has been all about the breathing, making sure I am keeping, well trying to keep. A three count breath, making sure they are even, trying to match my movements to the breath I find that when I do count the breath and get it synced properly, I have a higher sense of awareness a heightened sense of proprioception, where i am in space, what quest I can give myself, what I am forgetting about. Using the exhales to strengthen and lengthen out poses and remember little things I often forget such as the location of the hips, or pulling in the belly when you are breathing or things like that. So I think for me yoga is more of a layering process, which is what I like about it, there's no end game, always the ability to add another layer and another layer, eventually I think where I would like to be would be to not have to think so much about the breath and know where I am going to be moving at all times rather than guessing or looking around, not focusing on or seeing all the things I'm not doing.

Fair enough, where do you get your yoga inspiration?
Ah, well, that is a harder question, lets see, well I do love the sense of community people often talk about in a yoga class room, there are a core group of people here at Reyn that I find really do strive for bettering their yoga practice and I feed off their energy, as they do better, as they hold a handstand or arm balance you get more inspiration and more focus as to your own practice and its kind of one of those things where even though everybody, well even though there are no cheerleaders in yoga we all act as each other encouragement and applauses so to speak.

I feel ya, one of my favorite things about yoga is there no winning
Sure

I love that you can't really be “the best at yoga” but you can always refine and grow.
Yeah, another thing I really like, in this studio in particular is that each teacher provides a slightly different class and there is nothing better than a well received class, and I think it is so interesting when you start a class and you aren’t really sure which direction its going to go but then perhaps half way though, or a quarter of the way in, it really clicks with the majority of the people in the room and you can see that it is well received. That reception is good because, it can encourage the teacher to try more, to break the sort of monotony you can find in a pure vinyasa class where they just stick to Sun As and Sun Bs, but sometimes you need to change it up, even when you may not want to {laughs}.

Definitely, we need the salutations to warm us up, and to start burning out our blockages, but as someone who has taken the 108 Sun A classes where you feel the intensity and the meditation but know you could not sustain your daily practice if it did not incorporate more variety.
Exactly

So, you are taking our upcoming teacher training…
Yes, I am, I am super excited about that, I think it is going to add some more layers to my practice and help me, understand more about the focus on the cues, like exactly what a teacher should be striving to bring to a class, what it is they are communicating that and try to understand the background, or back of the house of yoga rather than just being a passive participant on the mat.

Totally, I think passive is an unfair word to describe your practice but I do understand where you are coming from. When you started out deepening your practice did you ever think you would want to explore teacher training or did it unfold more gradually as you put the puzzle together?
I am not the type of person to do things in half measure, so if I am going to do something I am really going to do it typically, fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it. I am not a leader by birth or personality at all but I find myself being...refining and becoming better at a certain thing to a point at which I can assist others to learn those things so naturally that puts you in a slight leadership position. A better way to answer the question is that, yes,  I had an idea once I realized that yoga was closer to chess than checkers that it was something that I would want to be interested in refining and getting better at.

I love that simply, between chess and checkers, it ture so much of yoga is a mind game. Having the type of disposition , where you do not like to do things in half measure, where you like to achieve and figure out the nuances, do you find that yoga can sometimes challenge that part of your personality, to the core, in that a millimeter of change in the body can change everything, rather than large obvious gains?
Yes, it is definitely stimulating, , and you know, I think more interesting answer to that question is when i get  a new cue from a new teacher that I hadn’t thought of before, or maybe even disagree with, and trying to figure out where they are coming from with that. For example, lately it has been all about hip rotation and I am having a hard time visualizing what the hip rotation is bringing to the table, I know it is important but I just have to wait for it to click so to speak.

Totally, as someone who is loves hip work in my practice, working with people who work in a more corporate space or at a desk job, that hip opening does not click, which usually means that what you need the most. I have had lawyers brag about how long they were sitting in one place working out the details of a case. I always find it amazing, but also worry about their blood flow, it essentially becomes non existent in the lower half of the body. A teacher once told me the poses you hate the most, the ones we do not understand or resonate with are the ones we should be doing everyday, which I feel you can really agree with.
For sure, for example this last pose of the month, uttita hasta padangustasana, hand to big toe pose, I found that at first I kind of hated it, but now, I can live with it, I guess I am getting better at even though I still do not care for it, but I understand it is part of the process.

What about that pose irks you?
So, okay, I find I do not have the strength in my, abductors, to pull and pivot, I can only go so far. One thing I have found really good is I am really starting to learn about the toe lock, how to lock it {demonstrates loss lock}

Yes, having the loose lock makes it more challenging to properly engage through the foot, which can straining the hands, wrists, ankles and foot.
Yeah it does, so learning the lock and also the cue I like is to draw the shoulder back, it really opens up a lot more space. I still don't particularly enjoy it but you gotta do it.

I spent almost a year trying to do a standing split everyday as it gave me a lot of discomfort and brought out a lot of resistance, now I almost like it, it at least feel familiar and connected, and that sense of integration is the theme in yoga we tend to connect to, its what keeps us coming back to the mat, so it is  great to see other yogies working it out and living it. What type of poses to you find yourself drawn to? Maybe some that feel more accessible or more fun?
Well, I really like a lot of the poses that people don’t seem to care for, like plank great, side plank is great, bow pose,  is nice, I also like transitions and find them very important, like a jump back, and jump through, which is something we do not get a chance to do everyday in our practice but is important, and I think they are one of those things that if you don’t start trying and fail miserably, you’ll never want to do it. Then of course there are inversions and arm balances, those are great, for different reasons, I find a lot of people jump to inversions simply for the instagram worthy nature of it, but I prefer it because I think of it it as its is, like a hand stand is an inverted, upside down tadasana, which means it is so important to get your body aligned, engage the core, point your feet, and to breath, that is something a lot of people forget, to breath once they get upside down, I like doing it at the end of class because it gets all the blood back to your head which a great. With the arm balances, those are fun, they provide more strength, arm strength and shoulder strength, I like that, and they are super challenging of course.

You make a really great point  in that our inversions are simply a flipped version of familiar poses like tadasana, which is so important to our practice then translating that to the inverted versions, taking the metaphysical properties as well, being vulnerable, showing up, drawing awareness to your breath, while insanely out of sync with what typically feels normal to us is such an incredible trait to cultivate within yourself and to enjoy doing.
Sure, of course.

it is very impressive, you should give yourself some credit for the work you’re doing.
{laughs}

Do you like to share your practice with anyone, or is it more of a personal journey?
{Laughs} I tend to set up in the back of class, simply because I find  that if I do take different variations or try new things I am not distracting others, I am trying to be as least distracting to others as I can. So to answer your question more directly, I encourage people to come and do yoga, a lot of my friends who tend to be looking for some sort of workout so to speak ask me about it and I encourage them to do that, however I also realize not everyone is going to be able to devote the amount of time  and interest that I do, so its difficult to work out with someone who won't take it beyond beginner levels, dabbling. I encourage them, I wish they would, but everyone has their own goals I guess.

Thats a really cool, authentic approach. Do you ever find in your day to day off the mat, say at work or some times when things feel hectic you wish everyone would just take a few deep breaths with you?
{laughs} You know everyone has their cross to bare so to speak, everyone has their own things going on, something work for someone somethings are just completely unpalatable to others I think yoga as a universal cure all is not going to work, but I think being aware and focused, choosing to devote your attention and passion to a thing, those are all things that yoga seems to emphasize, I think that is an important emphasis for anyone with or without yoga.

20180222_080930 copy.jpg

Great insight. So which poses are you going to demonstrate for us to day and why did you choose those to highlight in your practice?
I figured one or two, maybe both. I was going to do a pincha, and an arm balance with eagle wrap legs, which is one I have just started to stick.

Awesome one where you feel strong and steady and one that shows growth!

Interview by Melanie Schatz

March Pose of the Month

March Pose of the Month

Shalabasana / Locust Pose

The pose of the month for March is shalabasana, or locust pose. It's a prone backbending posture that we practice often in class, but one that's so valuable for back health that it's worth taking the time to explore more in depth. If you spend any time in your day seated, working at a computer, driving, etc., there's a good chance your shoulders slump forward. Shalabasana helps to counter the all-too-easy slump, greatly improving our posture and how we sit, stand, and move through our lives. 

If we practice locust thinking that it should be a big backbend, we'll only feel frustrated by it. Instead, think of it as a chance to bring greater strength and integrity to the posterior chain of the body - backs of shoulders, arms, spinal muscles, glutes and hamstrings. This is an especially important focus since our vinyasa practice gives us so many chances to stretch the back of the body. We want to make sure our backs are strong as well as open. 

Breakdown

To practice the pose, start by lying on your belly, with the forehead to the floor and the arms down by your side. Turn your heels slightly apart, big toes slightly together. This will initiate an inner rotation of the legs.

 Improper vs. proper feet alignment

Improper vs. proper feet alignment

Start the pose by drawing your shoulder blades towards one another and down the back, away from your ears. This will lift the fronts of the shoulders off the ground. Then lift the head, the legs and the arms. Spinning the palms down towards the floor will help encourage the external rotation of the shoulders, keeping the chest open. Feel that your legs stay hips width distance apart, and that you're lifting and lengthening from your inner thighs, rather than clenching the outer hips to lift the legs. As you are lifting, focus on creating a sense of length through the whole body, from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes, rather than trying to lift high up off the ground. Remember this posture is about strength, rather than a huge range of motion. If you feel compression in your lower back, lower the legs a little and think of reaching them longer behind you. Also imagine your lower belly wanting to pull away from the ground (though it won't, of course), instead of getting a bigger backbend by pushing your belly into the ground. Because we're lying on our stomachs it will naturally be harder to breath into the belly. So, focus on moving your breath up into your chest, helping it to reach further forward. Make sure to keep the back of the neck long, and the legs straight. If it's uncomfortable for the fronts of the hips, place some padding under the pelvis.

 Opposite arm and leg variation

Opposite arm and leg variation

There are many variations to explore and ways to make the posture easier or harder. You can interlace your fingers behind your back, which will allow for more ease in opening the chest. You can also work opposite arm and leg, lifting the right leg and extending the left arm forward. This can help us become aware of differences in sides. If you struggle with understanding the action of inwardly rotating your thighs, try it with a block between your feet. Press your feet into the sides of the block and try to lift the block as you lift the rest of the body. Whether it lifts or not, this will turn on the inner thighs and train the body to know how it feels to lift without compressing the lower back. You can also practice it with the hands on the ground, like a modified cobra. Or for grater challenge, extend the arms overhead, or interlace fingers behind your head, pressing the back of the head into the hands. This also strengthens the neck.

 Interlaced fingers behind the neck variation

Interlaced fingers behind the neck variation

In our vinyasa practice, the fronts and tops of the shoulders get very strong - think planks, chatarungas, down dogs. Shalabasana gives us a chance to bring more strength to the back and bottom of our shoulders, so that our shoulder strength is more balanced. Try incorporating more of it in your practice this month and see if you notice a difference - perhaps in place of up dog during your transitions. 

Namaste,
Reyn Studios

February Student Spotlight

February Student Spotlight

Blair Wade's Journey to the Mat

feb_som_2.jpg

So, what brought you to yoga?
How honest can I be?!

Hahahaha as honest as you want to be!
Okay. So, I used to be a heroin addict for some years… I went to rehab, but still left feeling a little lost… Then a friend of mine recommended yoga! And just a few weeks before that I had bought a mat, so I was like ‘yes, I’m ready let’s go!’ And I’ve been coming ever since for almost two years now.

Amazing! That’s honestly not too unfamiliar of a story in the yoga community… When you can discover the high you can give yourself naturally through this practice, it’s pretty cool!
Yea. I used to paint a lot which would quiet my brain down, but I haven’t picked up a brush in years. So when I come to yoga I come seeking that stillness of mind and I feel like I’m [reminded to] think less and enjoy more, ya know?

Yea! Do you feel like you get to express some of your creativity on the mat since you no longer paint anymore? Or do you prefer the structure and guidance of surrendering into what the teacher of the class is telling you to do and how to do it?
That’s actually a great question, because in the beginning I definitely needed that guidance of somebody telling me what to do and how to do poses ‘right’, but now that I feel like I have a little bit more of a foundation. I feel like I can branch out a little bit. That’s what I love about going to so many different classes! I get something different from one [teacher] than I do from another.

How often do you practice?
Five times a week! I need to build up a better home practice, but I like to come here for the adjustments!

Hahaha I understand… So do you feel a sense of being supported by the community here?
Yes, absolutely. I think if it wasn’t for the community here I might not be so good at holding myself accountable to come practice so often! Cause while I enjoy it… some days I’m more tired and don’t want to come, but I’m so used to seeing and connecting with the people here that I still show up [even in those moments where] I may feel more tired. And I also went on a yoga retreat with Karina last summer that had a pretty big impact on my life! I made a bunch of positive changes to my life after that. . .

That’s great. I didn’t know I was supposed to be getting to know myself until I started practicing yoga more. You really do have to figure out who you are basically [in order] to live in a healthy or mindful way.
Yea, I feel like we only get so much time… and if I’m not learning something new, or trying to be better, or trying to accept where I’m at in the moment (wherever that may be), what’s the point of being here, ya know?! There’s so much negative shit going on in the world. You gotta do what you can for other people, but you also gotta do what you can for yourself.

That’s true. We’re taught that self-care is this silly thing, but there is just no way to continue providing for other people if you yourself are running dry. You have to refill the well! And [I believe] making time for yourself on the mat is a great way to do that I think.
Absolutely.

Do you feel like these lessons have permeated throughout your life off the mat?
Yea, I’ve been able to find a little more patience. You know when things aggravate me it’s nice to take a minute to breath instead of just reacting all the time and flying off the handle! And I think I’ve learned to keep finding that balance between effort and ease as well.

Yes, it’s always a balance between strengthening and the surrendering!
It’s kind of a cliche, but yoga really did change my life. I learned how to start thinking for myself a little bit more and how to start listening to my body a little bit more. So this has all been a very strengthening [process] for me. I’ve just learned a lot, and I feel like there’s always something new to learn.

That’s wonderful. Thanks for letting us feature and share your story and journey with the Reyn Community!
Yea, this wasn’t nearly as bad as what I thought! Hahahaha.

Hahahaha. Well, any last thing you want to say to anyone reading?
Enjoy having your own experience!

Interview by Melanie Schatz

February Pose of the Month

February Pose of the Month

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana I + II/
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose I + II

Liberate your pelvis, strengthen your core, and lengthen your hamstrings this month with Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose! Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana I + II is a special way to begin and/or end any one of your asana practices. You can lie it down or stand it up! In either relationship to gravity, this pose is an excellent way to activate (as well as just get a sense of) your entire body from the mounds of your big toes to the crown of your head~

May these following variations and alignment queues inspire you into having a more subtle, sensual, and holistic experience in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana I + II.

(and no fears if you think you have the tightest hamstrings in the world! by extending some patience and compassion towards yourself, this pose can be accessible to you at any point in your flexibility journey!)

Breakdown

feb_pom_1.jpg
feb_pom_2.jpg
feb_pom_1.jpg
feb_pom_4,jpg
feb_pom_5.jpg
feb_pom_6.jpg
feb_pom_7.jpg
feb_pom_3.jpg

*To Note*

Our bodies are expressions of where we’ve come from (what we’ve been through) and where we are striving to move towards; therefore, all bodies and expressions will look drastically different from one another regardless of how similarly we place our bones and engage our muscles. It is not so much about the aesthetics of the form as it is about the sensations of flow that we are attempting to cultivate within these postures. Therefore these images that proceed are not intended to create an ‘ideal’ of what your practice should or should not look like, instead these images are intentionally being used as a means to communicate abstract ideas about anatomy via a more relatable format so that you may be guided into your exploration of this posture verbally as well as visually.

Remember, these poses are not static! Keep flowing with the waves of your breath ~ And let the easeful rhythm of your inhales and exhales help balance out the efforts of your muscles that assist you in sustaining the postures.

May the process of practicing this pose be one that empowers you

Namaste,
Reyn Studios

January Pose of the Month

Camel Pose / Ustrasana

Embrace the possibilities of the New Year by opening up your heart with this January’s pose of the month, Ustrasana! Practicing Camel Pose is a sure fire way to bring more space as well as strength into your central channel of energy, your spine. By mindfully activating your musculoskeletal system with the appropriate amount of care and attention, Ustrasana may safely leave you feeling restored, renewed, and revitalized in your own body, breath, and mind.

May these following offerings of queues and modifications inspire you into a more dynamic, authentic, and holistic experience of this posture. We hope you enjoy the exploration and embrace the unknown of what’s to come with curiosity, care, and compassion!

*before practicing camel pose, make sure to thoroughly warm up the range of motion in your hip flexors (psoas and quadriceps) as well as your upper back (thoracic spine)!*

Breakdown

reyn_january_pom_1.jpg
reyn-january-pom-2.jpg
reyn-january-pose-3.jpg

Mix & match the use of props, the placement of your palms on your heels or sacrum, the position of your head, etc. to find the unique expression of this posture that makes the most sense for your body at the particular time of your practice!

We look forward to opening our hearts with you in the New Year!

Namaste,
Reyn Studios

*To Note*

Our bodies are expressions of where we’ve come from (what we’ve been through) and where we are striving to move towards; therefore, all bodies and expressions will look drastically different from one another regardless of how similarly we place our bones and engage our muscles. It is not so much about the aesthetics of the form as it is about the sensations of flow that we are attempting to cultivate within these postures. Therefore these images that proceed are not intended to create an ‘ideal’ of what your practice should or should not look like, instead these images are intentionally being used as a means to communicate abstract ideas about anatomy via a more relatable format so that you may be guided into your exploration of this posture verbally as well as visually.

January Student Spotlight

January Student Spotlight

Omar Rashid: Student of Yoga, Teacher of Youths

jan_student_spotlight_1.jpeg

When did you start practicing and why?

O: I started practicing in college [about 10 yrs ago] cause my friend Mel said, “hey take this yoga class it’s amazing” [so shoutout to Mel! We thank and love you] and I went and it totally changed my view of fitness! I also found that the practice of linking my breath to my movements created this kind of meditative aspect that I found to be really invigorating and addictive… as well as challenging! So I was immediately enticed and ended up taking that yoga class every semester until I graduated. And then after college I took a break from yoga until I moved to New Orleans and found this studio which I really like.

That’s great to hear! We’re happy to have you a part of this community. Could you expound more upon the mediative aspect of the practice that you found and still find to be so enticing?

O: Well, it’s almost like I’m high when I leave… except better! My mind can drop into this space of effortlessness that allows me to no longer continue racing from one thought to the next of ‘what do I have to do next, what do I have to do next, what do I have to do next?!’... And I know it sounds like a cliche now, but I do feel like I’m with the present after I practice.

And how does this feeling of being present inform the rest of your day that proceeds your practice?

O: Well that feeling of being present is definitely not a constant, which is why I practice... There are times when I walk out of the studio and my excessive mental chatters returns within ten minutes and then other times it lasts for a lot longer. [However] I think yoga does give me the tools to find that calm mental state for when I’m off the mat and into the world.

Have you ever used those tools in your teaching profession?

O: Yea, definitely! We all need to take a deep breath in the classroom… And for me personally, I find that the ability to observe how I’m interacting with children and giving directions is a useful tooI that I have gained through the yoga practice. It allows me to be much more intentional, less reactive, and [more capable] of giving very clear and concise directions that allow the students to then feel more confident and successful in whatever it is we’re learning… And if I am not regularly practicing [yoga] I often times do not feel grounded enough to teach [in that manner]... and I very easily slip back into old negative patterns.

jan_student_spotlight_2.jpeg

What negative patterns do you feel like are challenged in your yoga practice?

O: Well, I am so ingrained in this society that has brought me up to feel like I always need something more, ya know? I need a better job, I need more money, etc…. just always feeling like I need to progress in some very certain way comes up in my yoga practice… That kind of egotistical drive to do this pose better, and the next pose better, and the next classe better can get in the way o fully embodying just being here and recognizing that I don’t have to do anything other than just be human in this moment… Which is difficult, because I’m feeling this drive that’s been so embedded in me to be everywhere else but here. And I can understand the theory of ‘being present’ but it’s so much harder for me to practice it… But I’m always enthusiastic about showing up [to do so]. Coming here is something that I really look forward to. And I come for the yoga, but I really end up staying for the people. The sense of community here is what keeps me coming back.

Thank you for being a co-creator of this community! And for being so willing to share your perspective and have this conversation.

O: Of course.

Interview by Olivia Bowers

December Student Spotlight

December Student Spotlight

It's a dose of yoga a day for Nikki Simard

dec_student_spotlight_1.jpeg

When did you start practicing and what brought you onto your mat?

N: I started right after moving to New Orleans. It had been my “to do list” while I was living in Ireland beforehand but [yoga] wasn’t really anywhere, and so when I moved here it was like, ‘ok cool it’s accessible’! I’ve been here for seven years [and practicing] for six and a half years… I always want to dance and move and be weird- so I knew that [yoga] would feel great! The focus yoga places on balancing out your body, getting to know your body, and creating some sort of physical intelligence [while] being this very expressive and delicious thing is really attractive to me. And… I was just ready to start taking care of my body.

What about this practice keeps you so loyal and dedicated to showing up everyday?!

N: Well I do appreciate the psychological and philosophical aspects of yoga, but honestly it’s the physical aspect that attracts me the most. And then aside from being curious about the physical language of sensation, I notice that if I skip yoga for ‘x’ amount of time I really notice a difference. But if I’m practicing regularly, I feel balanced, I feel good, and I’m able to be a better person in the world. It’s my hashtag self care. It’s my sanctuary! So I make sure to try and prioritize this and come everyday.

What are some of the more challenges aspects of this practice for you?

N: Trying not to let my ego get in the way! You know, if you really want get your toe to your head or reach any kind ‘outcome’... just trying to [remember] that it’s not about that, it’s about the journey. And the practice is this kind of tangible reminder that this is a lifelong process, and it’s not just about obtaining a physical shape.

dec_student_spotlight_2.jpeg

Has your intention behind practicing yoga evolved since you began years ago?

N: Yes, I think that in the beginning I was just proving to myself that I could [even] do it! And now my intention is to carry out my [broader] intention of taking care of myself. And then when I get here, I get to sink into being present and begin the practice of observing myself.

How has yoga impacted your life outside of the studio?

N: After practice, I always feel more equanimus and compassionate towards others. I think that I used to be more quick to react and lose my temper in stressful situations, but over the years I have been able to become a little more peaceful and empathetic. I also just feel like my daily yoga practice highly informs and supports the work that I do for my job as a massage therapist!

Have you found this practice to be healing for you in any way?

N: Totally. Since I’ve been coming to this space for five years… I’ve been through so much in life. And I have had so many moments of letting things go here and crying in savasana… Or when I had been crying all day- I got to come here and feel empowered. I have had a lot of emotional healing here, because it’s my place to touch base with myself. And whether I like it or not- when I’m [on my mat] I get to face myself and go from there.

Do you have any advice for anybody who is nervous or anxious to start yoga?

N: Just try it and know that… if you want to feel good… do it! And it’s never too late to start. The time for yoga is now!

Interview by Olivia Bowers

December Pose of the Month

Bakasana / Crow Pose

As things get a little cooler and slightly more chaotic during this holiday season… keep your core warm and your mind focused by steadily practicing this month’s pose, Bakasana! Crow pose is a great way to strengthen, expand, and increase your ability to remain centered both physically and mentally. By focusing on the alignment, actions, and sensations of this pose, you will be carried into the present moment and lifted up from worrying about the past and grounded away from anticipating the future.

Hopefully these following queues for Bakasana will help you create activating intentions with greater clarity, calm, and power! So that you may access a deeper sense of space and strength within your spine, core, and arms.

Crow pose asks for your hips to be in deep flexion, your low belly to be activated, and your arms to be sturdy; therefore, practicing these postures before you enter into Bakasana will appropriately awaken and ready your body for what’s to come.

Breakdown

Soften your hips and spine into flexion by breathing deeply into your lower abdomen and lower back while in child’s pose.

reyn-december-pose-1.jpg

Awaken the muscles of your abdomen, arms, and hip flexors with these two effective core poses.

reyn-december-pose-2.jpg
reyn-december-pose-3.jpg

Cultivate steadiness of mind by meditating in Malasana before heading into your Bakasana balancing practice.

reyn-december-pose-4.jpg

Now dive into a Bakasana practice that makes the most sense for wherever your body and mind may be at during this time of your life! Remember to stay rooted in the present by activating clear intentions that will help you resist the urge to focus solely on judging the outcomes of your practice! 

Variations with Block

reyn-december-pose-5.jpg
reyn-december-pose-6.jpg

Propless Variations

reyn-december-pose-7.jpg
reyn-december-pose-8.jpg
reyn-december-pose-8.jpg

May you feel empowered to practice at your own pace and in your way this holiday season!

Best of health and harmony.

Namaste,
Reyn Studios

*To Note*

Our bodies are expressions of where we’ve come from (what we’ve been through) and where we are striving to move towards; therefore, all bodies and expressions will look drastically different from one another regardless of how similarly we place our bones and engage our muscles. It is not so much about the aesthetics of the form as it is about the sensations of flow that we are attempting to cultivate within these postures. Therefore these images that proceed are not intended to create an ‘ideal’ of what your practice should or should not look like, instead these images are intentionally being used as a means to communicate abstract ideas about anatomy via a more relatable format so that you may be guided into your exploration of this posture verbally as well as visually.

November Student Spotlight

It's a family affair for Phyllis Treigle and Erin Sheets

nov_student_spotlight_1.jpeg

When did y’all start practicing yoga asana and what inspired you to begin?

P: I started practicing about a year and a half ago, and it was because of Erin. She moved back to town after college and found this yoga studio and said, “Hey Mom wanna go to yoga with me?”. So, I did!

E: And now you still go!

P: [laughing] And now I still go to yoga! Brought here by my daughter.

E: Drug you here by your hair.. [laughing] She thought it was gonna be too hard! And I was like, “Mom, there are people of all levels and ages in class. You can do it!”

P: Well over my life I have tried to find exercise that I could commit to and it’s always been really hard. I find that I like doing things with a group more than doing things alone. I’m not really good at going to the gym everyday by myself..

E: And that’s just boring..

P: Yoga became something that I really felt like I could commit to! And it helps that we come together, but I come a lot by myself too.

E: Yea it was cool when you started going by yourself.

P: Yea it was cool! And I think what kept me coming back was that the practice was just as mental as it was physical. It really alleviates my stress by how it calms and focuses my mind.

That’s really wonderful to hear you have such a holistic experience with the practice. What about you Erin, when did you start practicing?

E: Umm I feel like a lot of young girls are pressured into having a diet and fitness routine that isn’t necessarily centered in self-love as much as it is about having to look a certain way.. And when I was in college I got into all of these different fitness regimes that were just all about aesthetic, and I could never commit myself fully to that. But when I moved back home to New Orleans and found this studio.. It really surprised me just how active yoga is. I always kind of thought of yoga as this passive kind of meditation, and I also never thought of yoga as something that I would bring into my life daily. And what really got me hooked on it was the mental and spiritual aspect of the practice. Before yoga I would think to myself “ugh, I have to go exercise today” but now I think “wow, I get to go exercise today”. I love myself, ya know.. And so I enjoy coming here because I want to set aside time to take care of myself fully.

P: And what I like about coming to Reyn is that I feel very comfortable just being who I am and doing whatever level I can do, and it’s not competitive. If the guy next to me is standing on his head I don’t feel like I need to do that and I feel like that ties into what you were saying [Erin] about needing to workout so that you can look a certain way… I feel like there’s freedom from having to hold your stomach in or [freedom from thinking] oh somebody over there looks thin…. And I don’t… it’s freeing.

E: Also the opportunity to make choices with every poses is freeing as well. And I feel like the encouragement to modify postures is something that other fitness classes never [really] provided me with, and because of that I have actually had a lot of workout induced injuries… that aspect of “pushing yourself no matter what” and the idea that if you don’t then you’re a “failure” just doesn’t work to motivate me. And it definitely doesn’t make me work “harder”...

P: That’s another thing- what is mentally “harder” is not necessarily what is physically “harder”. So that [aspect of] failing doesn’t [feel] present in my practice... This is the first time in my life where I have come to a place where I can show up, feel fit, and feel like I belong… like I can be myself… And [that] feels really good… I feel stronger!

image2 (1).jpg

That’s amazing that y’all feel supported in this space. In regards to the physical aspects of this practice (especially as women) have y’all felt that cultivating body-awareness has positively or negatively influenced your relationship with body-image?

E: Absolutely… I think that being so [preoccupied] with body-image is just such a fallacy and that’s something that people have built into yoga… making it into this industry… but I feel like the core [of the yoga practice] is that you come as you are, and although you’re doing something physical… cultivating body-awareness is totally different than cultivating bodily-judgment. Awareness brings you into the practice and judgment takes you out…

P: That’s beautiful…

E: And I’ve also realized not only how much I judge my own body but how often I go to judge others… And yoga has taught me that you can’t judge someone’s strength by what they look like… because [strength] is so much more about the level of presence that you're bringing to the practice. So [for example], an older person who is less active can have a much more fulfilling practice than a younger more athletic person. You know what I mean?

P: Yea and understanding that building that kind of physical and mental strength is something that is [accessible] to anyone at any age… because it has to do with the commitment you’re making to [continually] showing up and being present.

How has the practice of being present affected your lives off the mat?

P: I think the mindfulness you cultivate on [your] mat translates over into everyday life... I was always a person who was high strung and anxious and… yoga has been a definite game changer for the anxiety and stress.. I just feel much more calm and centered. I have had times where I have been really upset and I come to yoga and it just takes… the drama out of my stress… I’m more settled.

E: I dig that… This is gonna sound kinda dumb… but I feel like I never thought about breathing before I came to yoga! [laughing] I really don’t feel like I ever thought about it as a tool… I always just thought of it as a result [for example] if you get nervous you start breathing faster… but you can also get nervous because you start breathing faster! So coming to that realization of your emotions [being a result] of your breathing pattern really changed the way I more [healthily] relate to my emotions… And I find myself practicing uji breathing when I started to get stressed and it really helps calm me down! And finding just how accessible focusing on your breath is no matter is going on… is really amazing!

P: Yea and I think that practicing [yoga] several times a week gives me that [deeper] awareness [and connection to] to my breath.

E: And that awareness [can] carry over to your daily life… instead of making it exclusively just for when you’re on your mat.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of this practice for y’all?

E: I think for me the most challenging part is showing up… and trying not to shame myself when I don’t show up… you know? I see yoga as self-care but sometimes the self-care I need to be [engaged in] is not necessarily showing up to practice [asana] because I have had a busy and exhausting day [for instance]... and I am realizing that being okay with not showing up is in a sense me practicing yoga…

P: Absolutely… and one of the things that is great about yoga is that you are responsible for your own practice. The teachers are basically guides, but you’re responsible for whether you come or not come, whether you be present in the poses or be [distracted with] trying to show-off, ya know? You’re responsible… you’re finding your own way just alongside people who are guiding you.

E: Yea and everyone is in their own practice and on their own journey so it’s not really your place to judge people… also that [way of non-judgment] can [be] extend to the postures… not thinking that one posture is more or less than any other, you know? Mountain pose is just as significant, real, and legitimate as a handstand… they each have a specific purpose and value… and practicing handstand isn’t [inherently] better for you and healthier for you just because it’s “harder” to do..

P: Glad to hear that! [laughing]

[laughing] Yea mountain pose is actually my favorite pose!

P: Mine is pigeon!

Why?

P: It’s a just really emotional pose for me... I feel like I get to let go of a lot of baggage… in all of the poses, but particularly in pigeon.

E: Yea and I’ve been realizing that when it comes to poses I hate versus poses I like, if it has to do with a pose being good for me and what my body needs or am I just liking this pose because it’s an ego thing and I think that I can [perform] it really well… or do it better than the person next to me… [for instance] pigeon is mentally really hard for me, because I’m so imbalanced in my hips. But I realized that it’s not the pose that I hate [as much as it is] the mental frustration that arises...

P: And also it’s cool [observing how] your relationship with poses evolve over time...

And has practicing yoga together evolved y’all’s relationship as mother and daugher?

P: Absolutely.

E: Yea it’s something that we’re both learning together at the same time… where usually I feel like my mother is coming to things with more experience, but we both started yoga at the same time… so we’re equals in that way…

P: Yea and [since Erin is now] a young adult it feels like we’re just two friends, two women, doing yoga together [and that] feels special… we get to connect in a new way.

E: And she buys me coffee after! [laughing]

[laughing] Well any last words of advice y’all would give someone wanting to come here and try yoga for the first time?

E: I would say try the community classes… those are always filled with people of all different levels and ages…. And bring a friend! They’ll be able to laugh with you if you fall on your face!

P: And then eventually you’ll feel more comfortable coming alone…

E: And laughing at yourself alone!

Interview by Olivia Bowers

November Pose of the Month

November Pose of the Month

Wide-legged Standing Forward Fold / Prasarita Padottanasana

Release and let go of stagnant energy that is no longer serving you this fall ~ by diving forward into a deeper journey and understanding of this November’s pose of the month, Prasarita Padottanasana. This posture, not unlike many other inversions in yoga asana practice, helps to stimulate your internal organs, revitalize your systems of digestion and circulation, as well as increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain. In regards to the musculoskeletal system - prasarita padottanasana may aid in strengthening several joints and muscles in your body i.e. arches of your feet, your ankles, knees, quadriceps, and other hip flexors; as well as lengthen many joints and muscles in your body i.e. calves, hamstrings, groin, and one’s entire spine! And as this pose alleviates restrictions in your body, the potential for releasing restrictive patterns of thought, feeling, and perceiving arises ~ therefore allowing your entire organism to receive the holistic benefits that can come from practicing the posture and art of letting go.

Breakdown

Traditionally there are four different expressions for the arms to embody in this posture : A, B, C, and D.

forward_fold_1.png

With whichever expression of the arms that you choose to embody ~ practice breathing length  into the front of your spin with every inhalation and breathing strength and stability into the fronts of your legs with every exhalation. Notice and enjoy how these actions provide the back of your spine and legs with more space!

forward_fold_2.jpg

If your palms are unable to make contact with the ground or if the tightness in your hamstrings is restricting you from finding full length in your spine → welcome props into your practice props! Place your blocks on any height they need to be so that you can place your palms onto their support ~ and bend your knees as much as you need to so that you can extend your spine despite the restriction in your hamstrings!

forward_fold_3.jpg

Lastly if you would like to play around with transitioning out of prasarita padottanasana and into pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) ~ a block in between your palms can be super helpful in keeping your arms activated as you begin to rock your hips over shoulders and fly your fit over your hips!

forward_fold_4.jpg

Enjoy exploring these few (but not all!) ways to experience this forward fold. We hope these tips and variations are helpful and inspiring to any degree! May this posture give your body and mind the space and release they need in order to return to their natural state of wholeness, balance, and harmony ~

Namaste,
Reyn Studios

*To Note*

Our bodies are expressions of where we’ve come from (what we’ve been through) and where we are striving to move towards; therefore, all bodies and expressions will look drastically different from one another regardless of how similarly we place our bones and engage our muscles. It is not so much about the aesthetics of the form as it is about the sensations of flow that we are attempting to cultivate within these postures. Therefore these images that proceed are not intended to create an ‘ideal’ of what your practice should or should not look like, instead these images are intentionally being used as a means to communicate abstract ideas about anatomy via a more relatable format so that you may be guided into your exploration of this posture verbally as well as visually.

October Student of the Month

Conversation with October Student of the Month: Chris Anderson

ca_blog.jpg

When did you start practicing yoga and what inspired you to begin in the first place?
I started practicing yoga regularly during the last year of my masters program… so about four years ago. The reason I went was because my ex wanted to go to yoga and was embarrassed to go alone so I was just willing to tag along! I was like sure I’ll go with you and embarrass myself.. and I really did! One of my professors was in the class… which was somewhat mortifying ummm [laughing] I went initially to be supportive… but I ended up really enjoying the breathing exercises, which became my favorite part of the practice, and which was what kept me coming back.

Off of that breath note- how have you felt like this practice has transformed or influenced your relationship with or understanding of the mind/body connection?
This practice has taught me that I can manage my state of mind through breathing exercises. Focusing on my breath and trying to lengthen my breath can really calm me down and get me out of my head a little bit… For example if I’m having a bit of a fit of rage at traffic I can sit there at the light and just count the length of my inhales and exhales until the light turns, and I won’t end up screaming at anyone... [laughing] So, that’s definitely a transformation! I mean I’ve always found there to be a relationship between how I feel in my body and my state of mind but I think certainly with yoga, that’s kind of the purpose of the practice…. In yoga I think I am more consciously engaging with this idea of ‘what i’m doing with my body will have an effect on my state of mind and my emotional well being’ and that is a big part of why I come.

Do you feel like this practice of reconnecting to your breath is always accessible regardless of what state of mind or body you may be in at the time?
Yes, and that’s why I come every morning. I like to wake up and start the day on a good footing. I like to come here and get myself in the right frame of mind to go about the rest of my day, which doesn’t always last the whole day [laughing] but it always feels good to at least start at that point!

[laughing] Oh yes I can relate! What are some ways that your practice has positively shifted your behavior and mood not just on, but off of the mat?
I mean…. my blood pressure is down! Which is a good thing. Yoga can [also] have a pretty profound impact on how I view a situation. I don’t want to say it changes my world view entirely, but I do feel like it has really improved my ability to not be completely emotionally reactive to things.. and [instead] ask myself ‘why am I reacting this way?’, ‘Is this reaction going to be healthy or constructive?’... and usually I think, ‘well nothing is going to come of that [reaction] so just breath a little bit and rethink’. And in terms of work… one of the studies I was involved was introducing yoga to an elementary school as a way of trying to help address students’ stress, and so [it] has certainly bled over into my research interests… and so yea, [yoga] has had a pretty profound impact on my life. You know I can’t say that like everything in my life has changed, but I do think this practice has certainly been a force of positive change in my life in a couple of different ways. It’s allowed me to aspire to be better at engaging with my emotional state and not just giving into it. And I feel a whole lot better when i come to yoga; I feel healthier! And there’s a positive social element as well when coming to a studio and talking with the instructors and fellow practitioners. So it’s really holistically beneficial- or least that’s what yoga has been like for me.

ca_blog.png

That’s all really wonderful to hear! Would you mind sharing any challenges that you personally face in a yoga class?
Yea, I find it really challenging to focus just on myself when I’m on the mat. With there being other people in the room and a big set of mirrors on one of the walls, I can be very and easily ego-driven... I catch myself trying to look in the mirror to find out if I’m doing this pose better or worse than everyone else… So that has been a challenge for me.. But I think that yes it’s challenging, but also sort of part of the point… You’re never going to be completely free of distractions in life so part of the practice is learning how to more healthily engage with those distractions… you know acknowledge them, but don’t focus on them. But it can be frustrating for me because some days I just keep looking at the same person because I feel competitive with them or I catch myself tensing up because somebody is making a certain kind of noise that makes me mad [laughing] - but that challenge is an integral part of why I practice yoga… I’m learning to turn my focus inward.. and constantly learning how to engage more mindfully with myself in the presence of distraction.

In that vein of learning how to engage with the world more mindfully amidst the chaos and flood of distractions - how has your relationship with yoga influenced your ability to adapt to the sociopolitical transitions of 2017?
Frankly I think it probably has been a very good year for me to have been so focused on regularly practicing yoga… regardless of where someone falls on the political spectrum it certainly has been an unpleasant year for almost everyone. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for a while, but just recently I’ve begun practicing different styles like yoga nidra, meditation, etc. and i think it’s been really helpful to have those classes that teach you how to channel your focus in a different and new way… because I think all of this has really taught me how to lessen the influence that negative energy may have on myself… I think I’m better able to constructively express myself because of or when I do practice yoga.. I think it could benefit everyone. I mean not all yogis are super chill people, a lot of us are on the angrier end of the spectrum and I include myself in that [laughing]... but I think it has certainly been beneficial for me… in learning how to react less and respond more to things that trigger my aggression.Yoga helps me more mindfully engage with my feelings instead of just pushing them to the side and trying to ignore them. I have learned to express myself in a more constructive and calm manner since practicing, and hopefully I’ll continue to improve…

I have a feeling you will! And thank you so much for sharing and willing to be a part of a conversation. Any last words of wisdom or advice you’d like to give to a beginner yogi who is anxious or nervous about showing up and beginning their journey of practicing yoga?
I mean yoga really is a practice for everybody. You don’t have to be flexible, you don’t have to have good balance, lord knows I don't’! I have been practicing for years and I still really struggle with balancing poses! This isn’t about you compared to other people it really is just about you and how you feel. And sure the other people in class will look at you, but they’re really not focused on you… you know you may have this sense that everyone’s eyes are on you but they’re not focusing on you... we are all trying to focus on ourselves. It’s natural to worry about making a fool of yourself, I mean I fell flat on my face in my first yoga class and I get embarrassed easily... so if I can keep coming back to yoga after my first experience - I think pretty much anyone else can get passed whatever initial embarrassment they may feel and learn how to really enjoy this practice. You may feel perhaps a little insecure and out of place at first but pretty much any studio you go to is going have a great roster of thoughtful teachers who really want to help you, especially here! I’ve taken classes with almost all of the instructors here, and I can’t think of one class where I’ve thought I will never do that ever again... everyone has their own style and things that they like to focus on and talk about and it’s really just a matter of finding something that fits you. So if you don’t like the first class you take, go try a different one! There is no limit to the ways in which you can express yourself in yoga, so you just have to take the first step and try it.

Interview by Olivia Bowers

 

 

October Pose of the Month

October Pose of the Month

Downward Facing Dog  / Adho Muhka Svanasana

Access a deeper understanding of and appreciation for your downward facing dog with these brief but helpful tips and insights! As being one of the most frequented postures in an asana class, adho muhka svanasana has the great potential to enliven and restore your body back into integrated balance and wholeness; however, when not practiced mindfully it also has the potential to cause chronic harm and inflict injuries onto your wrists, shoulders, neck, and back. Therefore taking the time to learn about how to more efficiently place your bones and how to more effectively engage your muscles in downdog is critical for a yogi’s health! Without there typically being enough time in public classes to really (and nerdly so) break all of this anatomy down - this virtual space is here to provide you with the information that you may be looking for in order to explore more safely and receive more deeply the full range of glorious benefits that downward facing dog has to offer your body and mind.

Breakdown

When establishing structural integrity within a posture it is vital to first and foremost address the foundation of the pose. In downward facing dog your foundation is in your hands- how they are meeting the ground beneath them. The structural integrity of your entire body depends upon how you are placing and engaging the bones and muscles of your fingertips, knuckles and wrists. While on all fours allow your fingers to spread apart, let every knuckle make contact with the mat, and position your wrist creases parallel to the front edge of your mat. And now the work begins- focus on maintaining all of this foundational integrity as you lift your hips back and up into downward facing dog. As this foundational integrity becomes easier to maintain with your hips lifted, shift your focus up to the heads of your shoulders and begin mindfully activating the muscles of your arms. Notice how when you spin the biceps of your inner arms towards the front your mat and the triceps of your outer arms in towards the midline, more space arrives in between the vertebrae of your neck, more length is established in your side body, and a deeper opening occurs in your shoulders.

downward_dog_1.png

Movin on up! Bring your attention to your ribcage. Notice how when you focus on sending your chest back to your thighs, your ribcage tends to flare open and therefore dump weight into your low back as well as strain the fronts of your shoulders. Combat this harm by knitting the front and lower part of your ribcage into your belly on every exhale. Feel this action bring length back into your spine and stability back into your shoulders!

Ouch! 

downward_dog_3.jpg

Good Form

downward_dog_2.jpg

If you find that extension of your spine (let alone hyper-extension!) is challenging to cultivate in down dog, and your spine often times feels fixated in flexion while your hamstrings feel strained…

downward_dog_4.jpg

Try bending your knees substantially and experimenting with blocks! Place the blocks underneath your hands or feet and notice how extension of your spine and legs is easier to access with the assistance of the props. For example:

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 12.05.39 PM.png

There are a variety of other ways in which you can activate your body and experiment with your props in adho muhka svanasana! These are just a few offerings to get you interested and engaged in playing around with the posture more mindfully so that you may find and feel what works best for you. And once your bones and muscles feel organized enough to healthily maintain this posture for several breaths ~ go ahead and experiment with softening and clarifying your gaze back to your feet or turning your gaze inwards and closing your eyes. Then just let time pass and allow the rejuvenating benefits of this gentle inversion resonate and settle into your entire nervous system ~ happy and safe travels upside down ~

Namaste,
Reyn Studios

*to note*
our bodies are expressions of where we’ve come from (what we’ve been through) and where we are striving to move towards; therefore, all bodies and expressions will look drastically different from one another regardless of how similarly we place our bones and engage our muscles. It is not so much about the aesthetics of the form as it is about the sensations of flow that we are attempting to cultivate within these postures. Therefore these images that proceed are not intended to create an ‘ideal’ of what your practice should or should not look like, instead these images are intentionally being used as a means to communicate abstract ideas about anatomy via a more relatable format so that you may be guided into your exploration of this posture verbally as well as visually.