Be My Sweaty Valentine

Do you want to show appreciation to a family member, friend or other loved one this holiday? If so, ask them to ‘Be My Sweaty Valentine.’

On February 14th all Open Door yoga classes* will welcome buy-one get-one visits for you and your Valentine. Simply bring a new student to class with you on Valentine’s Day and we will comp their first practice. What better way to say ‘I love you’ than with an introduction to a healthy practice.

All guests must be accompanied by a current student.
Offer good February 14, 2016 only.
*Kettle bell classes not included in promotion.

Focus through the Summer

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The ERV unit that now sits behind Open Door. This is a huge ventilator that keeps you oxygenated as you work hard in poses.

Focus through the Summer:
Why Open Door is the perfect studio to continue your Hot Yoga practice despite summer heat.

After 8 years of running Open Door and a combined 12 years of being involved in running a yoga studio, I can say one thing with complete confidence: the weather is probably the single biggest factor that effects the practice patterns of studio members. If the weather is bad: dedication is high, enthusiasm is out the door! If the weather is nice: Yoga? I think I’ll do savasana in my pool lounger, thank you.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of outdoor living…soaking up every moment I can get in the sun. Bike rides, gardens, hammocks, beaches, hiking, boating, napping. In fact, when we renovated our ancient house, one of the first things we did was tear down a shaky back deck and add a screened-in porch which is now the biggest room in our house. We often end up living most of the summer out there.  But, I have also learned that if I don’t maintain at least a minimum practice regime, my body has a hard time coping with all the other activities. Sleep and relaxation get harder, digestion suffers and I end up spending more time sitting in a chair than staying active.
I have also seen this in the student population at Open Door over the last 8 years. Those of you who take the summer off usually come back with a sheepish grin and achey joints once the weather turns. And for many of us students…coming back from a break can be a huge mental hurdle because we KNOW that it will not be physically easy after months out of a regular practice. I KNOW you KNOW what I’m talking about:)
I have thought hard about how to encourage folks to keep up some sort of practice without feeling the pressure of the hot room when a lot of folks are already sweating more than usual due to the changing season.
When we expanded Open Door, this struggle was a large influence in the way the heating was set up. Did you know that Open Door is one of a just a handful of Hot Studios on the east cost that uses actual fresh outside oxygen when ventilating the room? Most studios simply recycle the air in the hot room, decreasing the oxygen levels and creating that “hard to breath” feeling as the humidity rises beyond necessity. This makes it very hard to recover post practice and can often leave folks depleted for days! Yoga should make you feel alive, energized and ready for life! Unless, of course it’s the end of your day…then go home and rest!
Other than the ventilation issue, I was very determined to make sure that folks could experience a heated class in different intensity levels because it had become very clear to me over the years that some folks really needed higher temps and some didn’t. Plus, having less intense heat is great for certain health conditions like auto-immune and thyroid issues. With a few exceptions, I do not think it’s beneficial for folks to be so challenged by the heat that surviving class is the main focus versus having enough energy and breathing capacity to work hard in the poses. Otherwise, a sauna or steam room seems more practical 🙂
So…to get to my point about practicing in the summer. If you are one of those folks who typically disappear in the summer, I want to issue an optional challenge: come to just ONE class a week. Just one. Any class. Restorative, unheated flows, silent Hot 60…what ever seems appealing. It doesn’t need to be difficult to do to be effective. And, the more appealing it seems to your inner summer yogi, the more likely you are to show up. And, then search around for outdoor classes in the area. YogaFest often holds them downtown for special occasions and there are various MeetUp groups dedicated to free or cheap classes held in locations in the area.
As far as making your beloved Hot Practice functional for the summer, here are some practical tips that may be just what you need to keep it up.
1) Hydrate! Summer brings lots of sweating and fun drinks. My habit is to keep a glass at my kitchen and bathroom sinks. Every time I am at the sink for some reason, I throw back a glass of water…it’s maybe 8 ounces. But, it adds up. And hydrating over a period of time is more effective than chugging a bunch of water at once.
2). Watch your electrolyte input. Your sweat is mostly salt and it’s the loss of electrolytes that tends to make you feel bad when you are dehydrated. There are all sorts of products to help replace electrolytes, but my favorite is good quality sea salt. I add it almost every meal I make…try dark sea salt or himyalayan pink salt…they tend to include other essential electrolytes and minerals.
3) Try some unheated classes. Most of us who love Hot Yoga tend to pass up more gentle or restorative practices, but I am here to tell you that doing some yoga that seems the opposite of your preference will only add to your preferred practice. Stay open minded and remember that maintaining a practice is about trying things multiple times in order to learn as much as you can about them. Adding restorative yoga or an unheated flow class could make your beloved Hot practice 100 times more effective.
4) Come early! Our early morning classes have a small but very regular following. These folks have discovered the beauty of yoga before sunrise! Is it easy? No way, you have to get your butt out of bed! But, it is so worth it. You walk in to the world by8am all stretched, squeezed and twisted to perfection. And the energy levels and sleep benefits are amazing.

And, just to give you even more support in maintaining your practice through the summer, we are having a big sale on ALL class passes during the Memorial Day Weekend, May 21st-May 25th. Use the promo code “SummerYoga” and get 20% off all passes!

Take it easy my friends, work hard when you need to and rest just as often. See you this summer!

New Blog Post

Dandayamana Danurasana

Standing Bow Pose

This is a standing, one legged twisted back bend where each joint in the body is doing almost every motion it can. Possibly the only joint movement not included is spine flexion (spine rounding). The main function or reason behind doing a movement like this, in my opinion, is to get better at walking or running. See the previous blog post in my teacher training blog if you wanna know more about my reasoning behind this idea. The opposing motion in the hip/shoulder joints, as well the rotation through the mid spine are all motions that must happen when you walk/run. Of course, this posture takes them way beyond what’s needed to walk or run effectively, so please don’t emphasize depth while working this pose. The act of exegeration is a strong teaching tool because the body often compensates in very sneaky ways. If one motion, like twisting for example, is difficult for your body, it can be because you are “too” good at another motion that can hide your lack of rotation. The body is brilliant at adapting. But, sometimes this bites us in the metaphorical ass in the long run. Short term solutions are often very expensive in the hard to see future. SO, the dynamic, or HOW you are using the whole body, is the star of the show. If you can grab your foot behind you and tip forward a bit while rotating enough to feel one side of your body get a little shorter than the other, you are doing great! That’s all the ROM you really need to have a functional body. Don’t be fooled by those folks doing fancy pretty things on beaches. Most likely they were born with that ROM and should be doing some loaded strength work instead of standing splits! Focus your efforts on creating enough contact with the entire standing foot to allow yourself to push against the floor. Think of your foot as spreading forward and towards the big toe. Use that push against the floor to float the standing hip back and to the outside. You could call this “loading the posterior hip”. Then, use that hip action to float the tail, the back of the heart and back of the skull. When I use the word float, I am referring to a sense of lift and lightness. If you don’t feel that yet, that’s okay. Keep repeating and maybe adjust the weight distribution on your standing foot until you feel it happen in the hip. When you emphasize the downward push against the floor with your standing foot, think of the opposing upward action as going along the curve in the knee joint (to what ever degree that is) and out the back of the standing hip. Notice if you are letting the force “leak” out the back of the knee. Once you can feel the upward float or release from the downward push, start to actively lift the toes of the leg you are holding on to. No need to kick. Kicking will make your quads (the front of your upper leg) work way more than they need to and can start to have a naughty influence on the front of that hip bone, causing excess forward tipping of the pelvis and pressurizing the lower back or SI joints. Yuck. If you feel the need to kick the leg in order to move it or keep it up, it’s a sign that you are not as plugged into the standing leg as you can be. Go back to that standing foot and repeat the cycle. As you are creating the upward float through the lifting leg and back body, allow those actions to gently draw the mid spine into a twist. Don’t force this action. With time and patience it will become a natural effect of the work you are doing from the hips down. Plus, it has to happen to a degree just to grab that lifting ankle. Also, it’s SO OKAY to allow the standing leg to soften forward. This isn’t a collapse or a weakening. Well, unless it is. Then you will feel your whole body mass deflate and feel heavy. Think of taking the back of the knee slowly forward until you can root powerfully into the back of the standing leg hip. It’s a shifting of space and curves. And hence a strong example of how ALL POSES are just a way to physically express a relationship of space in the body. It’s not so much how high that top leg goes, but how it is working with the bottom leg, the breath moving in/out and so on throughout the body.

While this seems like a lot to do, it’s just the basics of the big movements and broad intentions when doing this posture. There are all sorts of fun things to play with in regards to working deep tissue and superficial tissues. How to take advantage of the strong intrinsic connection between the glutes and the latissimus dorsi. And, well. That will be the next blog post.

Have fun playing with finding the dynamic within the pose. When you can relax into the big picture rather than striving towards a final finished pose that looks a certain way, you are on your way to using this posture as the tool it was designed to be, rather than a performance goal.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! I would love to know what you think.


Fernandez Bay Village

Just saw this great video about Fernandez Bay Village. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like down there, here is an excellent example of life on the Bay…minus the yoga classes, of course. […]

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