Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hello Sunshine

What better way to start the morning than with a quick and energizing Sun Salutation?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Partner Yoga with Kids

Are you looking for a great way to introduce yoga to your kids. Try these fun poses for a bonding experience.

For the teeniest yogis try babywearing yoga.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baby Wearing Yoga

This 10 minute sequence is designed with mom and baby in mind. Promote bonding while engaging in an energizing yoga sequence. Once you are comfortable and familiar with the sequence try practicing without audio for an even more relaxing experience.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

*Please note that I am not an aromatherapist. Please consult an aromatherapist or doctor prior to using any oils for treatment. Please also do your research knowing that certain oils are not good for certain populations such as pregnant/nursing mothers or children. Many oils cannot be directly applied to the skin without first being diluted and oils should generally not be ingested.

I have long had an interest in the benefits of aromatherapy. I have used lavender oil for years to aid in headache relief and relaxation. However my interest in essential oils and their vast uses was piqued further with my study of Ayurveda during my yoga training.

Ayurveda is defined as being “the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. Within Ayurveda, there are an abundance of practices, methods, and ideologies designed to promote and/or restore health. One such area is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy uses a variety of essential oils and extracts from a multitude of aromatic plants to induce desired effects.

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy describes aromatherapy as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy uses essential oils which are derived from plants in a process which includes some sort of distillation. The purity or grade of the oil will determine what its intended use will be.

The ways in which essential oils can be used are nearly immeasurable. They can be used for simple matters such as household cleaning and dispersing pleasing aromas, or they can offer relief from common ailments including cold sores, headaches, chronic pain, insect bites, and sunburn. Essential oils can also be used to make natural alternatives to insect repellent, lotions, perfumes, hair conditioners etc. Aromatherapy has the ability to aid in relaxation, reduce stress, invigorate, and even enhance your experience with meditation and Asana.

Aromatherapy can have some sort of application for just about every ailment including…

Asthma: Ginger and Tumeric for their anti-inflammatory qualities.
Diabetes: Ginseng and Cinnamon.
Insomnia: Lavender, Passion Flower, and Lemon Balm.
Menopause: Evening Primrose.

I purchase my oils from Edens Garden. They recommend their Four Thieves blend to enhance the immune system when fighting a cold or flu; Basil, Rosemary, and Sage for menstrual cramps; and Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Lavender as a fever reducer.

Yoga Journal recommends using various oils to induce a desired mood or emotional effect. For focus and center they recommend Frankincense, Lavender, and Rosemary. Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint, and Pine are useful for energizing; and Cedar, Orange, Rose and Sandalwood can induce calm. Using essential oils during yoga practice can often enhance the effects of Asana and deepen your practice.

Scent alone is a powerful force. The olfactory nerve is useful far beyond deciphering pleasant verses unpleasant aromas. Primitively speaking our sense of smell is key to survival (even it does just mean not eating the week old Chinese food left in your fridge based on smell alone.) While aromatic oils require a high volume of plant extract to reach a desired potency and maximum effect, by simply rubbing a leaf of peppermint between the hands, or smelling a bouquet of lavender makes one instantly aware of the aromatic qualities that such plants possess.

“Balance is key to Ayurveda & Doshas. Aromatherapy can be helpful to anyone suffering from balance disorders, due to the fact that your sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any other sense, when you sniff an aroma it sends the message to the brain, thereby influencing emotions & modifying both conscious & unconscious thought” (

Emotionally speaking, essential oils have the ability to alter or enhance moods and spark emotion. “When you smell essential oils, they are carried directly to the area of your brain that influences your emotions, memories, desires and creativity” ( This can be especially helpful for people experiencing depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. In addition to more holistic practices such as regular exercise, healthy diet, and acupuncture, aromatherapy applications that utilize Chamomile and Lavender have proven to be effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. (Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall M.D.)

In general, we tend to have a strong emotional attachment or memory recall to certain scents which would possibly explain the reason I insisted on only wearing vanilla body lotion during high school because Cosmopolitan Magazine told me it would remind men of their mother and draw them to a deeper emotional attachment to me.... anyway I digress

 In addition to the aromas themselves, essential oils can also be of benefit in a topical application.  (it is important to note that care and caution must be used when applying oils directly to the skin. Many cannot be placed directly on the skin without a carrier oil or being diluted) When applied topically “the oil’s tiny molecules enter your pores and make their way into your bloodstream to travel through the body’s entire circulatory system including your lymph” (

Each individual has a specific Dosha or combination of Doshas. The various Dosha’s are Vata which is comprised of air and ether (space), Pitta which is comprised of fire and water, and Kapha which is comprised of water and earth. When aromatherapy techniques are applied to an individual’s specific Dosha, they can aid in keeping one in balance or rebalancing an unbalanced individual. describes common hindrances that individuals of the varying Dosha's may experience. They describe Vata types as being generally low in energy and having issues with sound sleep. Pitta types are described as being medium in energy with a tendency towards negative emotions such as jealousy, stress, and being short-tempered. Kapha types are said to be of high energy and typically resistant to disease and ailment but have the tendency to become stubborn and lazy when out of balance.

Listed below are essential oils that can be helpful in balancing each specific Dosha (

Vata: amber, angelica, anise, basil, bergamot, camphor, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, coriander, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, jasmine, jatamansi, lavender, lemongrass, myrrh, neroli, patchouli, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, sweet orange, tangerine, thyme, vanilla, vetiver, ylang ylang.

Pitta: birch, brahmi, chamomile, champa, clary sage, coriander, fennel, geranium, jasmine, jatamansi, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, myrtle, neroli, peppermint, petitgrain, rose, sandalwood, spearmint, tangerine, tea tree, vanilla, wintergreen, yarrow, ylang ylang.

Kapha: angelica, anise, basil, bay, bergamot, birch, camphor, cardamom, cedarwood, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, fir, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, marjoram, neroli, myrrh, myrtle, petitgrain, peppermint, rose, rosemary, sage, sweet orange, tea tree, wintergreen, yarrow.

One thing is for sure, with a booming pharmaceutical industry rampant with synthetic and chemically engineered drug options that oftentimes cause more harm than good, it is certainly comforting to know that more homeopathic and holistic approaches are readily available for treating some of the most common ailments and conditions. 

Happy sniffing!

Can I do Yoga?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a yoga instructor is "Are you sure I can do yoga?"

Concerns range from things like I'm not flexible to I'm not sure. it might be against my religion...

It is natural to be nervous, cautious, or even fearful of things that we don't understand or don't know much about. Despite having originated over 5,000 years ago, yoga is still very new to a great number of people.

So can you do yoga?

The short answer is yes! Absolutely! 

Yoga is for everyone and every body. Regardless of physical ability, flexibility, level of fitness, age, or religious affiliation, yoga is for you. A recent study estimated that over 20 million people in the United States alone are practicing yoga to some degree.

Your yoga practice can be as unique as you are. Whether your goal is to find inner peace, ease anxiety or depression, gain strength and muscle, or increase flexibility, yoga can help.

The benefits of yoga go beyond general physical fitness. Regular yoga practice has been shown to reduce instances of heart disease and other medical conditions. Many individuals who have long suffered from anxiety and depression have found profound relief. Soldiers returning from war have found yoga to help with PTSD. Children with hyper activity issues and problems with focus and attention have been found to perform better in school when introduced to yoga. Athletes have reported an increase in flexibility and range of motion. Personally I have found relief from painful symptoms associated with endometriosis. Yoga can teach compassion to oneself and to others and  leads to an overall increase in general well being,

Family classes are a great way for children and family/caregivers to bond.
Chair classes are phenomenal for elderly with limited mobility.

For every individual there is a class or style to suit your unique needs.

Yoga is not a religion and will not go against or conflict in any way with your personal religious affiliation. While many people do associate a spiritual attribute to their practice, you certainly don't have to have any sort of spiritual or religious affiliation to practice or benefit from practicing yoga. It is more of a lifestyle or guide to healthy living. While most people are familiar with the Asana, or physical poses of yoga, there are actually 8 limbs (Ashtanga) which we will touch on in later posts.

Whoever you are and wherever you are in your yoga journey, I invite you to try something new and see what yoga can do for you!