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Exploring Ujjayi (Victorious Breath) and Nadi Sodhnaha (Alternate Nostril Breath)

January 14th, 2014

This week we will explore Ujjayi breath, and Nadhi Sodhnaha.  Two breathing techniques that any beginner yoga practitioner can learn and practice on their own.

Ujjayi translates to victorious breath.  It is an audible breath, sounding like the waves of the ocean.  The breath is concentrated at the back of the throat as you inhale and exhale. Ujjayi soothes the nervous system and calms the mind, while relaxing the psyche. Practiced traditionally it is a heating breath.

Find a comfortable seat; hold your right hand in front of your face, palm facing you.  Now exhale saying “haaaaa” like you are fogging up a mirror (your palm being the mirror), the mouth is open.  You can begin to feel the presence of the breath at the back of the throat here.  Next imagine that you are inhaling, “haaaaa” as if you were fogging up a mirror at the back of the throat.  Now practice “fogging up the mirror” with the mouth closed.  You should feel the breath circulating at the back of the throat and also hear the waves of your breath as you inhale and exhale.

As I am writing this, I am going through the motions and my five-year-old son is doing it with me, he has just mastered Ujjayi!! It’s as easy as that.

Ujjayi can be practiced with almost all asanas.  Let go of the technique for restorative yoga and also when entering into savasana or meditation, allowing the breath to be natural.

Nadi Sodahna or alternate nostril breath is a powerful tool to have in your yoga practice. Nadi translates to channel, and sodahna to purification.  Nadis are energy channels in the body.  It is believed that we have over 70,000 nadis in the body, the most being concentrated around the spine, or the sushumna.  The two main channels the ida (left channel) and the pingala (right channel) circle the spine, the sushumna.  Nadi sodahna balances the energies of the ida and the pingala.  Alternate nostril breath purifies the body and stills the mind.  It is most effective for centering at the beginning of your practice or to prepare for meditation.

Find a comfortable seat; curl your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky of your right hand in to your palm, allowing the index finger and thumb to extend out.  Place the index finger (of your right hand) over your right nostril, inhaling through the left nostril.  At the top of your inhale, seal off the left nostril with your thumb, opening the right nostril and exhaling through the right side.  Inhale through the right side, at the top of the inhale; seal off the right nostril with your index finger exhale left. Repeat.

Play with these breathing tools, get to know them, and come back to them.  When you find yourself getting frustrated or overwhelmed, remember alternate nostril breath.  If you’ve got a lot to going on and feel stress taking over, come back to ujjayi.

The quickest and most effective way to control the mind is with the breath.  It is more powerful than most people are aware.  When the breath is steady the mind is steady.  Take advantage of this resource that supports and fuels your body day in and day out.  By bringing consciousness to the breath we allow it to support and fuel the steadiness of the mind.  When the mind is steady, in the moments of stillness, we are able to create space between the day-to-day stresses of our lives and the part of ourselves that rests in clarity and ease.  We are able to rest in the sweet place of remembering and are able to connect to our most authentic selves.

 

 

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It’s All About the Breath Baby

December 31st, 2013

The breath is our most valuable asset in our yoga practice and in our lives.  All day long we are being breathed, without any real consciousness, or thought.  So why should we bring more awareness to the way we breathe?

From a physiological standpoint breathing fuels our body to function.  Deep belly breathing is giving your body the most fuel and releasing the most “exhaust” possible.  The body functions on oxygen and carbon dioxide, when we breathe from the belly we are allowing more oxygen to be taken in and more carbon dioxide to be released.  Our bodies are happy and balanced.

When we breath shallowly, (chest breathing), we are not allowing the maximum intake and outtake of air.  We’ve all probably heard the analogy that life is a journey, and our body the vehicle through which we travel, let’s look at it a little more literally, involving shallow breathing.  If your body is the vehicle and you are shallow breathing, it’s as if you are blocking the fuel input and output to your vehicle.  This requires all of the “parts” (organs, organ systems, muscles, etc.) to work harder just to function at a normal level.  It is no wonder that so many people suffer from fatigue, lack of energy, and overall lack of zest for life.  Our bodies are struggling to keep up with the lack of fuel we are providing them daily, with each shallow breath in and shallow breath out.

We also have to consider breathing and the nervous system. When we breathe shallowly, and/or rapidly, or hold the breath we engage the sympathetic nervous system, our “fight or flight” response.  This is an amazing function of our nervous system, pumping adrenaline through our body and elevating the heart rate, it was and is ultimately intended to be a tool for survival.

The dilemma is that most of us are so overworked, overstressed, under-rested, and under-breathed, that our sympathetic nervous systems are getting called into action for very simple events and happenings that don’t really require the body mind to sound the alarm.  Running late, stuck in traffic, practicing a difficult yoga pose, or having a difficult conversation are all instances where we may breathe shallowly and/or rapidly, and/or hold the breath.  Although frustrating, a giant pain in the arse, and sometimes challenging, these instances should not send the body into fight or flight mode.

Even, deep belly breathing is essential to maintaining a healthy nervous system.  Deep belly breathing engages the para-sympathetic nervous system, our “relax and restore” response.  All body functions slip into a healthy, balanced, and supportive relationship with each other, ensuring relaxation and restoration in the body mind.

From a holistic point of view, a lot of our health concerns these days are caused by stress; depression, insomnia, and anxiety issues to name a few. I would say even most of our unhealthy vices and habits stem from stress, like over-eating, drinking excessively, and smoking.  Most of us are guilty of not breathing deeply and not receiving enough support (through the breath). Perhaps we are looking to fill a void from an external source, one that may not serve our highest self when we could fill ourselves from the infinite well of creativity, love, and peace that deep belly breathing facilitates.

I am not a doctor, just a humble yogi, exploring my breath, and body on the mat and off.  I am both the scientist and the lab rat when it comes to my views and experiences.  I challenge you to be aware of how you breathe.  Are you breathing through the nose or mouth? From the belly or chest? Is your breath steady or choppy? Do you hold your breath when you are scared, or frustrated?  Get the information, then start experimenting and see the very real shifts that may start to happen.  It’s profound.

The breath is our most valuable asset to create and maintain balance in the body and in the mind. We can begin to change the way we deal with the stresses of our lives by changing the way we breathe.  We can begin to change the way our bodies function by changing the way we breathe.  We can begin to change the overall quality of our lives by changing the way we breathe.  We can begin to be full from the inside, drawing on ourselves as the source for energy that fuels our creativity, passion and shining.  Once we realize the power that the breath holds, the power that ultimately we hold, the possibilities are limitless.

 

Breathe in, breathe out, repeat, enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Compassion Experiment, 3 Tools to Change the World by Loving Yourself

December 19th, 2013

I originally started writing this article several months ago. Things in my life were shifting, and my eyes were being opened to my very dark and dirty habits and tendencies.  I was beginning to notice how quickly I would judge other people and how readily available my stories were when things weren’t going my way.  I noticed that I even when donning my yogini stretchy pants, I was harboring feelings of judgment and discontent towards others, in yoga circles and out of yoga circles.

I have been practicing yoga for about eleven years now, and I am at a point in my life where I not only want to have a practice, but I also want to fully embody my yoga practice.  Meaning I am beginning to call myself on my own bullshit.  I want to own my bullshit, accept it from a place of understanding, find the root of it, and work on creating a better space for myself. I want to walk the yogi-toed walk.

Things started to get hairy for me.  I started writing “this” article, (which is now completely transformed) and begin to explore even the idea of writing about compassion and getting to the heart of the matter.  I realized that before I wrote this piece, I should first develop a practice in compassion, and observe what shifts, if any, began to occur in my life.

To do this I explored on my own the difference between judgment and discernment.  Discernment in my words is being able to notice something that doesn’t jive with you, and from a place of awareness and compassion being able to say, that’s not for me. Just because you accept something doesn’t mean you condone it. It’s witnessing things in life that may seem off to you, but not letting allowing them to have a negative energetic effect for yourself or harboring negativity towards another. It is creating space for you and for others to be who we are, faults and all.  When practicing discernment, you drop the blame game, you drop the stories, and you begin to cultivate compassion, towards yourself and towards others.

I also talked with several like-minded women about judgment, what it looks like, feels like, and even how it tastes.  All of these conversations lead to compassion, our ability to feel the pain that we share with others.

The last thing I did for myself before embarking on my Compassion Experiment was have a sit down with my teacher.  It’s called a private yoga session, but it’s more like yoga therapy.  Working one on one I was able to really get to the root of my judgments, and the underlying theme of it all, was, compassion towards myself.

When you are judging a person or a situation, there’s a part of yourself that you are judging as well.  When we project negativity towards others it is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. Which brings up some very important and necessary questions.  If I am judging you, projecting negativity in the form of jealousy, envy, anger, or even hate, what is the root of these emotions?  Do I desire something more from life?  Am I holding onto stories from my past and claiming them as who I am when really, I could simply say I don’t need these anymore.  Are my reactions to present day situations a result of the facts, what’s really going on in front of me, or am I reacting out of habit, from an unresolved, unaddressed instance that has left a scar somewhere, be it psychic, emotional, or even physical? Can I be aware that the lack of understanding and kindness I am witnessing is related to how I view myself?

As my experiment continued I noticed that the person I was judging the most was myself. I began the practice of vichara, exploring our stuff and getting to the root.  I began to explore my samskaras, mental, physical, and emotional impressions that I have.  All of this work lead me to the same root, compassion and love, directed to me, from me.  I wasn’t holding a loving space for myself. The judgments and general lack of empathy I was experiencing boiled down to me not being kind and empathetic towards myself. On top of that, as a yogi and as a teacher, the guilt and shame that I was harboring towards myself about the thoughts was suffocating.  If you can’t look upon and treat yourself with the same love and forgiveness that you hold for your children, how can you honestly project that into the world?

The Compassion Experiment:

First and foremost; be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the tenderness that you have for your children. If you don’t have kids, then your pets, or your siblings. When I begin to get reactive and my stories are louder than my breath, I have literally started saying to myself, “It’s okay Kim, it’s okay honey, I love you.” The first couple of times I did this, I cried, like have to pull over on the side of the road, snotty, not-pretty, soul wrenching sobs. It was cleansing.  It was healing. Like raindrops to the newest buds of spring, my tears started a new growth and life within me.  I allowed myself to have a sincere heartbreak, for myself. I became aware of how deeply I need to hear that, from me. I began to embrace a new understanding about who I am, and the necessity of owning that I am deserving of the same love, compassion, and kindness that I extend others.

Second, ask yourself, “What is the most loving, kind thing I can do for myself in this moment?”  This seems like such a natural and organic way to live and interact in the world, but it was foreign to me.  Once I started this examination I realized that a lot of my motivation was to please people, which oftentimes conflicted with what I needed in my life to create balance and fulfillment.  I began to learn to say no.  Healthy boundaries create more freedom in your life. By saying no to others you are in turn saying yes to yourself.

Third, an article I read while researching compassion pointed me towards the practice of swaddling your negative emotions, just like you would a baby, with love and compassion.  Allowing yourself the space to say, I honor this fear, anger, and/or insecurity, to wrap it up in love, and then ask yourself if you are ready to let it go.  If you are, then say thank you for the lesson, but I don’t need you any longer.  If not, then simply hold the space for yourself lovingly, without judgment, guilt, or shame.  Love all of yourself.

I am a mother and a yoga teacher.  In both of these sub-cultures I have begun to notice a lot of backlash, towards other mothers and yogini’s. There is an underlying need to compete, compare and judge.  Moms bash each other for their choice in feeding, cloth diapers or standard, co-sleeping or not, stay at home versus work away from home.  Yoginis judge each other about the type of yoga we practice, the clothes we wear while practicing, our weight, our ability or inability to do a handstand in the middle of the room and our choice in diet.

This all makes me very sad.  Underneath the judgments, criticisms, and gossip is a general lack of worthiness and self-love.   How can you fully receive and give love to and from others if you do not have that love for yourself? Any judgment I have of another person is in truth a judgment that I hold against myself. The way we treat people in our lives’ is directly related to the inner dialogue we have going on with ourselves. Our cutting each other down, our gossiping, our inability to experience joy for each others accomplishments and victories is not just stopping our personal growth, but impedes the overall cultural and emotional growth of these two kulas.

We all share this heartbreak, for ourselves, for the ups and downs that come with this life, and ultimately for each other. Instead of judging a mom at the playground who is being short with her child, step back and acknowledge that at some point in our parenting, we have also lost our temper. Just like me, this woman is having a bad day, just like me, she is feeling overwhelmed. Create the space for connection, compassion and love, even if it’s just energetic.  And maybe even walk over and introduce yourself, and see what happens. Being a mom is the most rewarding and often the most emotionally exhausting job.  Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone in your struggles lightens the load and allows some space for reflection and recollection of your own energy.

Yoginis, my beautiful soul sisters, my empowered like-minded warrior goddesses, we all just need to stop the bullshit.  I will be very honest and say that I was neck deep in my own. Not even drowning, but enjoying the delusion that it provided.

We are all doing our own work, the process might be different, the clothes might be different, the food we eat may be different, but we are all in this together. It’s tough work, it’s real, nitty gritty, get in touch with God kind of work! This sangha, this community of ours could change the world!!!  If we allowed ourselves to fully support, honor, and cherish each other along every step of the journey we could begin to shape the history and cultural evolution of our society.  An old Chinese proverb goes something like, “When Western women wake, mountains move.”  We were born for times like these!!!  Let’s get out of each others way, out of our own way, and bridge this gap of disunity. Let’s support each other in the collaborative fierceness than we can embody!

The work continues with me.  I am still working on getting to the root.   When I feel myself becoming reactive I try to stop, breath, and look at the facts.  Then I explore what’s going on beneath the surface, beneath my stories.  I am starting to see shifts in my life, I am starting to be forgiving and loving towards myself, to honor that everything is a part of my journey and as a result, I am slowly beginning to embody my practice. The path is love, understanding, and compassion.

The root of the word compassion is compass, my invitation is turn that compass towards yourself first, and then let the overflow of love and understanding you have for yourself flow out into the world until you can no longer tell the difference in who is the giver and who is the receiver.  The light in me honors the bright shining light in you, the same light that we all share, and that connects us all, Namaste.

 

I would like to acknowledge and say thank you to my teacher, Mary Bruce, who’s guidance has helped me to connect to and to trust the teacher within.

 

 

 

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3 Reasons to Stay for Savasana

December 5th, 2013

Savasana translates to corpse pose.  It is the final pose of a yoga practice. In savasana the body is still, the breath flows naturally, and if you’re lucky the mind becomes quiet and there is this essence of dropping into one’s self.

Savasana can be the most challenging part of a class. We are invited to just be, cultivating effortlessness and non-doing.  This can be tough for many of us, living in this multi-tasked, fast-paced lifestyle that has become the standard of normalcy in our country. Our minds and our bodies are not used to being quiet.

The good news is that we are already making an effort to create some sort of connection, just by walking through the doors of the studio and showing up to class.

On the other hand, many of us feel like we don’t have time to do nothing for ten minutes, we just have too much to do. Coming from a self-titled savasana addict, here are some reasons to stay for savasana.

#1

Savasana is a crucial part of the practice.  It allows for the assimilation and integration of the “work” done throughout the practice.

Imagine your body is a garden.  Your asana coupled with mindful breathing is the planting of the seeds in your garden.  These seeds are powerful and potent.  They are the seeds of transformation.  They allow us to shift and transform our own energy, freeing ourselves from illusion, learned tendencies, and obstacles that may be hindering our personal growth.

Savasana is comparable to watering the seeds and giving them sunlight.  Savasana nourishes these precious seeds of transformation so that they take root and begin to grow and transform in your body on a cellular level.

Not a gardener?  Try this, your practice is equal to sitting at the computer and doing work, writing, emailing, designing, and/or researching, whatever your work is.  Savasana is comparable to saving your data.  You would never spend an hour doing work on the computer, then not save it, am I right?

#2

Savasana triggers the para-sympathetic nervous system, our rest and restore responses. Our heart rate slows and the breath becomes smooth and steady.  We are creating space for healing and deep relaxation from within.  The result of this is that we are better equipped to navigate through life off of the mat.  By allowing space for healing and rest with in ourselves, we are able to take care of our responsibilities off the mat from our overflow, not depleting ourselves energetically.  It takes about seven minutes to really settle in.  If you can, I suggest a good ten minutes at least, for an hour and fifteen minute practice.

#3

Yogas chitta vritti nirodha, yoga is the stilling of the mind.  The physical practice of asana is meant to be a pre-cursor, a “warm-up” if you will, to prepare yourself for seated meditation.

We may get glimpses of this stilling through out our asana practice, small spaces between action, where the mind is calm, the body supported, and the breath steady.  However, we are consciously focused on breath and body.  There is still a sense of “doing”.

Savasana is an invitation to let go of all trying and doing; to be completely open to doing nothing.  We are invited to unplug from the busy monkey mind, and in turn, plug into the deep well of peace, support, and knowing that is essentially our true nature.

When this connection occurs, there is a sense of clarity and contentment.

For many of us, savasana may be the first time in our lives where we feel at peace, like we are welcoming ourselves back home.  This feeling, this connection, is often what sparks an interest in developing a deeper spiritual practice.  This starts with meditation, which leads to the stilling of the mind.  The more you meditate the easier it is to connect to that stillness when life gets crazy.  It’s kind of like muscle memory, but for the soul, you tap in and connect to source, to stillness, again and again, and over time that current of support and ease is more readily available.  This allows us to act from a place that resonates with our deepest longings and is in tune with our essential nature.  Life becomes enjoyable, not just manageable.

Savasana is truly a gift to give your self.  Every one deserves ten minutes a day to be still and connect to peace.  Every person I know could use a bit more not doing and just being in their life, (myself included).  The next time savasana rolls around, grab a bolster, an eye pillow, some blankets and get comfy.  Your nervous system needs it, and you deserve it.  You may find that your perspective of savasana moves from “I don’t wannasana” to “so-awe-some-nah”.

 

If you would like to hear more from Kim, come check out her classes at Urban, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 9am, where we always have a long savasana, or visit her Facebook page, Paleoyogamom.

 

 

 

 

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Staying Grounded, Balancing Vata this Autumn

October 21st, 2013

The season of fall is governed by the Ayurvedic dosha vata.  Vata is the easiest dosha to get thrown out of balance. Vata rules the ethers and is represented by the wind.  You know when you are in a yoga class and you can hear people’s joints’ “popping”? That is excess vata. When out of balance, a person may become irritated, anxious, fearful, depressed, suffer from insomnia, and experience digestion issues, including constipation.

I was recently caught up in the winds of a vata-induced tailspin that took me very far away from my center and threw me out of balance. I have already been “gifted” with the challenges of some very deep-rooted issues with trust, feeling supported, and maintaining a steady connection to faith and joy.  When vata is out of balance in me, it exacerbates these conditions/learning opportunities, and exposes itself as irrationality, anxiety, fear, and anger.  Anger is usually characterized as a pitta “condition”, I am dominantly a “pitta person” and any imbalance I have seems to affect my pitta nature one way or the other.

Being the self -studying yogi that I am, I recognized that something I was doing, eating, the type of pranayama and asana I was practicing, something was not working.  I wish I could say that it was an instant recognition, but it was a good seven days before I had my “Aha” moment.

In my case it boiled down to not meditating.  Meditating became very hard with all of the mental stuff I had going on.  No amount of pranayama seemed to ground me, and help me to connect.  It just got “too hard”.  Yep, it got hard, I stopped for seven days, and my life suffered.  Life really sucks when it seems impossible to find joy and be grateful. To be honest, I know better, I guess this was a lesson worth repeating for me.

We can use our practice along with Ayurveda to create a sense of balance in our lives’ and to be better equipped when the seasons change, the literal seasons of the year, and the figurative seasons of change.

 

For your yoga practice:

©     Slow it down, if you are doing vinyasa, move slowly connecting to an equal ratio breath, or better yet, skip the vinyasa between poses.

©     Practice one pose at a time, not linking poses together.  Warrior A on the right side, Warrior A on the left side, etc.

©     Practice standing poses, Warriors, Triangle, Side Angle Pose, and hold them

©     Practice forward folds, standing and seated, and hold them

©     Yogi squat, or any variation of garland is incredibly grounding

©     Shoulderstand and headstand are both wonderful poses to soothe vata.

©     Bring a devotional quality to your practice.  Bhavana is the attitude of the practice when the practice is rooted in love and gratitude.

 

For your pranaymama practice:

©     Brahmari, or bumble bee breath is incredibly internalizing, and is the tool that got me back to a place where I could sit.

©     1:2 ratio breath, doubling the exhale, or holding a pause after exhalation.

 

For you meditation practice:

©     The mantra So Hum.  So Hum is the sound of the breath, translating to I Am. It is energetically grounding, guiding us out of the mind and into a place of connection.  So Hum is practiced by internally saying the mantra connected to the breath, So on the inhale, Hum on the exhale.

©     The bija sound Lam.  This is the sound associated with the root chakra, muladhara.  When using this tool simply repeat the word Lam over and over internally.  It will help to connect you to the root, therefore grounding excess vata.

 

Other practices for balancing vata:

©     Abhyanga, or self massage with sesame oil

©     Eating root vegetables

©     Eating warm liquids like soups, but also staying away from dry foods, like popcorn.

©     Tryphalla is an adaptogenic, it will balance any dosha that needs it.  It is especially good for vata because it helps to tonify and heal the digestive system, which can get put out of whack when there is a vata imbalance.  It can be found in powder form or pill form and be taken intermittently or everyday for up to six months as a pancha karma.  I take mine in powder form, 1 tsp. placed in the mouth.  Your saliva will break it down, it tastes like dirty dirt, but the after taste is somewhat sweet.  It’s a love to hate kind of thing.

 

Vata represents the wind, the ethers, and movement.  To pacify we want to ground and to connect to the strong earth energy that supports us. Tricky fickle vata likes us to believe that our challenges are bigger than us, and oftentimes manifests as creating issues and making up stories. It’s mental trickery. With the aid of yoga and Ayurveda we can become our own caretakers, prescribing ourselves with the tools and techniques to maintain optimal health and to live life fully, and more joyfully.

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featured article in “Local Answers”

October 18th, 2013

Retreat from the Hustle and Bustle of Daily Life at Urban Yoga

By Taz Loomans
YOGA 

Urban Yoga is aptly named, as it is a yoga studio in an urban setting on the first floor of a residential high-rise building in midtown Phoenix. It offers a variety of Haatha Yoga classes and workshops in a fantastic space and even has a spa . The studio has a great boutique in the lobby where you can purchase things like yoga mats, yoga clothes, and cool bags. Read more about this great yoga studio in Central Phoenix below!

A General Overview

Urban Yoga is a great place to practice yoga as they offer 13 different types of yoga classes including Foundations, All Levels Flow and Zen Yoga. Classes are either an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes long and are offered daily from as early as 6:30am to as late as 7:30pm. Rates for classes range from $15 for a drop-in to $108 a month. Urban Yoga also offers workshops for deeper yoga practice and for yoga teacher training. You can get spa services at the studio as well, such as massages, Reiki therapy and Energy Healing. Visit the boutique in the lobby of Urban Yoga, which is open during, 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after each class. The boutique offers a variety of eco-friendly, Fair Trade goods, many of which are made locally in Phoenix. Check out the variety of yoga accessories, men’s and women’s clothing and skincare products on sale at the boutique. Urban Yoga is located on 3225 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012. Classes are offered from 6:30am to 7:30pm from Monday thru Thursday. On Friday, classes are offered from 6:30am to 6:00pm. On Saturday, you can take classes from 8:00am to 4:00pm and on Sundays from 8:30am to 5:30pm.

A Review

Urban Yoga’s robust schedule of classes makes it easy for people with even the busiest schedules to catch classes during the week. And the variety of classes cater to people of all abilities, from complete beginners to yoga masters. Even within each class, teachers make sure to cater to people of various abilities. The teachers are Urban Yoga are warm and friendly, as well as expert yoga instructors. They are always gentle with their students, but can challenge those who want to be challenged. If you are new to yoga, Urban Yoga offers great beginners classes with a welcoming atmosphere. And if you’re a seasoned practitioner, you will also enjoy the rigorous classes and talented teachers at this studio. Even though Urban Yoga is in an urban setting, parking is plentiful at the covered parking structure next door. And when it’s not too sunny out, you can park at the meters on the street for free. The staff at Urban Yoga make it easy to check-in, and then you just walk in to the yoga space. The studio has blankets, blocks, straps, cushions and other accessories available in the yoga space that practitioners can use during their practice.

What Makes it Great

What makes Urban Yoga great is the beautiful space its in. The main yoga space at the studio has high concrete ceiling and concrete walls. The small amount of drywall that is in the space is painted a serene hue of green. The raw concrete finish of the space along with the warm wood floor provide a surprisingly calming backdrop that facilitates the practice of yoga. The view to the north out of the floor-to-ceiling storefront glass wall also adds to the Urban Yoga experience. The iconic Financial Center building, built in the 1950s, is directly north of the studio and provides an inspiring and beautiful view. The fantastic palo verde trees that line the studio to the north adorn and soften the view to the Financial Center, making it even more lovely. The always friendly, open and warm staff and teachers at Urban Yoga also make it a very nice place to practice yoga. You can expect to be greeted with a smile by the receptionist on staff, and then warmly greeted again, often personally, but your yoga instructor.

The Downsides

The downside to Urban Yoga, is that it can get pricey at $15 a drop-in. If you intend to do yoga more than three times a week, your best bet is to get the $108 per month autopay membership. This is the most cost-effective plan if you practice regularly. But if you plan to take classes two times a week or less, then you can check out the various packages that range from the 5 class package available for $65 to the 50 class package available for $499. But make sure to use up your class package, as it comes with an expiration date.

Urban Yoga is a fantastic place to practice yoga for residents of Central Phoenix. It is conveniently located in midtown and easy to get to, with plenty of parking. The variety and quantity of classes offered in the studio make it a good fit for people with busy schedules and with varying abilities. The beautiful main yoga space at Urban Studio makes it a particularly attractive place for yoga practitioners in the area. And the friendly staff and teachers make sure people keep coming back.

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Lots of great new arrivals from Teeki!

October 5th, 2013

These pants are super cute, and eco friendly– they are made from recycled water bottles!  They are not only super comfy, but are moisture wicking too… perfect to practice in, & wear around town 🙂
They look great with other cute stuff in our boutique !

1,020 Comments »

shop new local artists- soul roots & moonbeam jewelry!

September 13th, 2013
SOUL ROOTS APPAREL is now in the Urban Yoga Boutique. Soul Roots is a LOCAL apparel line that helps bring fresh produce to families in need, and encourages you to start by planting a seed. Each item of clothing comes with a tiny packet of seeds for you to plant  Come check out all of the new mens and womens clothing!
All Moonbeam jewelry is handmade, local, and one of a kind 🙂
1,691 Comments »

New Vintage hill-tribe yoga mat bags!

September 5th, 2013
Mix it up with vintage yoga mat bags in all different bright colors and funky patterns!
Fair trade & made from upcycled vintage hill tribe fabrics-
Perfect for any size yoga mat, even the thickest manduka 🙂

2,885 Comments »

Awesome bright, new buddha artwork!

August 23rd, 2013

 

Check out the rest of our pieces at the studio, available in different sizes & colors!

If interested in a custom, made-to order piece, please email boutique@urbanyogaphx.com

 

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Urban Fundamentals: Exploring the Foundation of Pranayama & Asana

July 2nd, 2013

Breath 101

 

For my first installment in Urban Fundamentals, I think we should explore the breath together. Seems easy enough, right? Being the breath/pranayama junkie that I am, this task got my head swimming with possible ideas to explore about the breath. How to breathe, why we breathe, and the power of the breath are just a few of the key topics that came to mind. To keep it structured I will be writing breaking this topic down into a number of installments. The first being breath basics, techniques and methods to adopt immediately in your practice.

 

Breath Basics

 

♥ Breath in and out through the nose.

In our yoga practice we breathe in through the nose and out through the nose, unless guided by your instructor to do otherwise. In yoga we are trying to maximize the breath, of prana (life force, chi, energy, I will be diving into this more next week). Inhaling through the mouth is both dry and dispersing. When we continually exhale through the mouth we are releasing the prana (energy) that we have been building throughout the practice. I have also noticed through my own practice that when inhaling through the mouth I am unable to receive my full capacity of breath, and when exhaling through the mouth I am unable to release to full capacity. We are ultimately striving for balance, in our breath, in our practice, and in our lives.

♥ Sama Vritti Breath

Sama Vritti translates to same wavelength. Basically, balanced breath. This is a very accessible technique to apply at the beginning of your practice to begin to spark a connection with yourself. It is also wonderful to use as a guide throughout your asana practice, to maintain balanced breath, in your flow, in your favorite poses (rajas), and in your least favorite poses (dveshas). When the mind gets busy, come back to sama vritti, when you begin to feel bored, come back to sama vritti, when you are feeling connected and alive, stay connected and feel sama vritti.

To begin, find a comfortable seat, grab a blanket, a block, a chair, I don’t mind if you lay down, just get comfy. For this technique we will be inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Place your right hand on your abdomen and breath in and out from the belly, you should be able to feel your abdomen rise on inhale, and fall on exhale. (This is abdominal breathing. If this is new to you, I recommend staying with this for a few days or until it gets comfortable, then move on to equal ratio breath.) Do this for a couple rounds of breath, and then release your right hand.

Now begin to equal the lengths of your inhales and exhales. When you first begin, counting the breath is a great tool to have. If you are inhaling a count of four, exhale a count of four. The breath should feel effortless; if at any point it feels forced, just lower your count. You are not going to win any medals by forcing your way through a six count. You will however, do a number on your nervous system, taking you away from a place of balance, which is ultimately what we are aiming for.

Once you begin to feel comfortable with sama vritti in seated pose, play with it in your asana, and just notice your tendencies. I’ve noticed that I hold my breath in challenging arm balances, and that exhaling is easier for me than inhaling. These are my observations, information, from myself to myself. I hold no judgment about my self from these observations, and am really just interested and curious.

As you begin to get more acquainted with your tendencies in your practice you can bring awareness to these tendencies/imbalances. When we are aware, and our open to the info-energy our bodies’ and breath provide, we can begin real transformation. By creating balance in our bodies’ and breath, we create balance in all areas of our lives.

 

**If you have any questions about asana, breath, or anything under the very big, beautiful yoga umbrella, feel free to contact Kim at paleoyogamom@gmail.com and she will do her best to get back to you. **

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