Overjoyed to take a huge group of Land Yoga students to one of Sharath’s classes here in NYC!
lululemon Lincoln Square: March Studio of the Month!
Studio owner Lara of Land Yoga has been chosen to be lululemon Lincoln Square’s newest ambassador and to celebrate we’re featured as the studio of the month! Every Sunday in March you can catch either Lara or I teaching a FREE Sunday Salutations class at the 1928 Broadway location (near 64th street). Class starts at 9:30am sharp – and they fill up so get there early! Last week there were over 35 yogis in the store for my class.
I was also asked by the nice folks down there to be a ‘new product model’ for their February 26th newsletter (which also happens to be my birthday, fun surprise:)) which went out to over 19,000 people on their mailing list. Check out the newsletter, visit the store for some new yoga gear, and come join me for one of my FREE classes, schedule is on my Teaching Schedule page!
Inspiration, Motivation, Action
On my way to India…
I’m inspired every day, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say. But even amidst the inspiration, it’s easy to get caught up in the mentality of New York life…the excuses of inaction roll off the tongue easily: I’m too busy. I’m so tired. I’m broke. There’s not enough time.
Where is that magic moment when inspiration becomes action?
For me, sometimes it takes just a little extra-ordinary moment to push inspiration towards motivation and finally action. This month was certainly packed full of those little something extra moments. I was able to take a few workshops that seemed perfectly timed to motivate some positive action before my third trip to India.
Early in the month I enrolled in an anatomy workshop at my home studio, Land Yoga. Noah McKenna was in the US (visiting from Mysore, Inida, where he lives) and we were lucky to have him give a short weekend workshop on how anatomy and asana yoga blend together and inform each other. I’ve taken anatomy before, but I was really inspired by the way he blended yogic philosophy and practice with practical anatomy ideas. Asana in the Human Form, as his classes were collectively called, took us through the body: symmetry, posture, the skeleton, muscles, connective tissue and the nervous system (to name a few places we explored), and constantly connected back to the ways that asanas fit into the broader experience of what yoga is. I left the weekend with a refreshed sense of some fundamental ideas on anatomy, but more importantly, with a serious inspiration to continue to treat my personal physical yoga practice with a deep awareness.
Two weeks later, right on the heels of the anatomy workshop, I made a trek from NYC out to Montclair New Jersey for a weekend workshop with Kino MacGreggor at Ashtanga Yoga Montclair. A lovely friend I met in Mysore, Deb Williams, organized the workshop, and it was a nice chance to reconnect with her and see her shala (which, sidenote, reminds me so much of the first shala, Urban Ashtanga, in Orlando Florida where I learned the practice). The fall leaves were beginning to show autumn color in the quiet town, and it was a definite pace-change from the constant busy rumble of the city. Kino was…well…just like her YouTube videos, which is to say: positive, informative and extremely well spoken. She was also tough. In addition to Led Full Primary Series and Mysore style classes, we spend time on headstands, Intermediate Series and twists. The Intermediate session was wonderful, because it was a chance to work on some of the postures I’ve most recently started to tackle. But I most enjoyed the headstanding workshop. Closing postures, where sirsasana is practiced in Ashtanga, are often a time I personally find myself rushing. In the class we prepared and took an extended hold in the posture, over three minutes, which is the minimum time the Hatha Yoga Pradipika recommends you stay in the pose to reap benefits. A simple encouragement like that inspired me to start making more time in my day for closing postures, and I’ve been holding headstand longer since. And it feels amazing.
So as the month comes to a close and I look ahead to November, with some more subtle awareness in my practice and more time spent upside-down, I can say that I’m finally ready to start thinking about trekking across the globe this Sunday to study for five weeks in Mysore.
Journeying to India each year has become sort of a second new year for me, a time to take a look at my personal resolutions and motivate the inspiration I experience throughout the year into action. Staying in Mysore is like one long extraordinary moment of inspiration that can really impact my actions for the rest of the year.
So my intention for this journey is just this: to allow the simple experience to inspire and motivate me, and take action to more fully live my wonderful life.
I can’t wait to share some of my experiences with you! This year in addition to studying asana with Sharat at the KPJAYI Shala and continuing my chanting and Sanskrit classes with Lakshmish, I’ll hopefully be taking some more anatomy with Noah, and beginning studying the Yoga Sutras with a highly recommended teacher.
Stay tuned for weekly blog updates here on my site and daily photos on both Instagram (@danaelyseyoga) and on Facebook (on my page Dana Tarasavage Yoga & Pilates).
A special thank you to my amazing student Paula, without whom this trip really would not have been possible!
Yogi in Residence: Hotel California Recap!
I’m just returning to New York from San Francisco where for the past two weeks I’ve been running the first Yogi in Residence yoga class program at the Hotel California. It’s been an amazing and inspiring experience exploring a new city and teaching a new batch of yoga students from all over the world!
I flew in on a Saturday evening and took a cab to the hotel. Although I’d been warned about San Francisco’s unusual summer weather, the foggy, cool city surprised me! I bundled up and met my yoga student from New York, Paula. She was there to share a late dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, which happens to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country, Millennium. Besides being vegetarian, which automatically gets a restaurant points in my book, Millennium has an absolutely delicious, creative menu. I had sweet corn cake, eggplant bruchetta, pistachio-stuffed dates and a glass of wine from their extensive organic selection. Needless to say I slept well that night!
I woke up the next morning in a cozy yellow Hotel California room. After breakfast I went up to the mezzanine level to see my yoga room! The hotel is a beautiful, older building with mahogany details, gilded mirrors and leather club chairs. My yoga room was to be one of the two open rooms on the mezzanine level. The first is a cheery yellow with windows along one wall and an open doorway and then second is red with golden mirrors and a smaller window. After a little experimenting, we decided to use the red room, which was a bit more private with a very warm, strong energy.
Classes started that morning and ran every day for the next two weeks. I welcomed yoga students into the warm, red, mirrored room who ranged from hotel employees to guests, locals to backpackers, college students and expats visiting San Francisco from around the world.
Most of my time was spent on the beginner’s level class, teaching foundations for a focused, meditative asana practice.
One night before class I was in the studio room getting ready when an Indian woman popped her head in to chat. She was visiting from Mumbi and was so happy to see yoga classes offered at her hotel! It really warmed my heart when she told me that even after severe flight delays, jetlag and trying to figure out a strange country, seeing yoga made her feel as if she were right at home. It’s little moments like this that make me long for another visit to India…
About halfway through the two weeks, we headed over to the local Grant Ave lululemon where I’d been invited to do a demonstration in their window to help promote classes. I got set up in some of their new fall gear, hopped on a mat and flowed through an Ashtanga demonstration. I always love doing lululemon demos. The store employees are just some of the most positive, enthusiastic people I’ve ever met! I know I can walk into any store and get a smile.
The most exciting thing for me as my time as yogi in residence was to be in such a yoga-friendly hotel, and how quickly a positive community can start to build. This world is full of lovely, inspiring, warm people if you open your life to them.
See you soon San Francisco…Namaste!
lulu Photo Memories…
From my March 9th Free Class at lululemon! Love them 🙂
FREE Class! This Saturday at lululemon 75th Street!
Join me this Saturday March 9th, for a FREE Open Level Ashtanga class at lululemon athletica’s 75th Street and Broadway location. Land Yoga is proud to be their March Studio of the Month and offer traditional Ashtanga classes every Saturday as part of the Namaste at Nine community program.
Can’t wait to see you all there!
Adventures in Parisian Yoga: Episode 3
Rasa Yoga Rive Gauche & Be Yoga
Adventures in Parisian Yoga: Episode 2
Mysore Yoga Paris
I’m finally setting (and sometimes even obeying) my alarm again. I’m trying to get up 7:30am as opposed to sleeping in our haven of a bed till 10:30 with Michael (who deserves that, btw- he doesn’t get home till midnight and after dinner and organizing his thoughts, often doesn’t sleep till 3).
So I’ve finally been able to enjoy a morning Mysore practice here in Paris. One notable difference I’ve seen between NYC and Paris is that here mornings don’t start quite as early. Teachers are at shalas in the US and elsewhere often by 4:30 or 5am (or 1am if you ask Sharath) to practice and then begin teaching by 6. Here the earliest Mysore program I’ve seen is 6:45…Which is fine, by the way, with me!
After India this time around, morning practice is getting a little easier. A little. I’m up early in NY by 5:30am to teach Pilates or yoga, but I normally prefer to practice in the afternoon. My body feels more awake, less painful, less shaky and more ready to find some stillness.
But these days, being on the mat in the morning is fairly enjoyable. I might just be turning into a morning practice person! How’d that happen?!
Anyway, I dedicated a week (last week 9.17-9.21) to exploring this particular shala after getting a few recommendations. Mysore Yoga Paris is located on the right, north bank, along the canal St Martin in the 10th district. From my house it’s a 12-minute velo ride past the quiet water and quaint bridges of the canal to reach the shala.
The practice space is located in Paris’ Shambala meditation center, a perfectly zen atmosphere that’s got palpably calm, sacred vibes going on. It’s adorned with dozens of tea light candles.
Kia Nadermier is the owner and main teacher, and she’s just lovely. From what I can gather, she’s Swedish, but we speak English in the shala. She’s kind and attentive with all of her students, and her adjustments are really top notch. She’s also a professional photographer, and on the website you can see some portraits of the yoga students she’s done over the past year.
I’ve been having some (normal) back pain, and she’s very helpful in offering advice on how to avoid it and work with the postures, instead of letting them work against you.
The shala is a large room and There are several white Indian cloths (like the men wear as skirts in India, called lungis) in the back that we cover ourselves with for rest after practice. I bought an eye pillow (a frivolous thing I’d never considered until I saw this one and am now quite enjoying it!) and rest after practice is really sublime here in the morning.
There’s a glow about the space and the people at Mysore Yoga Paris. I’m thinking I’ll continue to go back for regular practice, though next week I’m going to check out a few other shalas. I’d really recommend this place for anyone in Paris or visiting that’s looking for a peaceful atmosphere and a very kind, attentive teacher.
Adventures in Parisian Yoga: Episode 1
Ashtanga Yoga Paris, Samasthiti & Make Me Yoga
I arrived in Paris two weeks ago, only to leave again for a few days in Switzerland with Michael’s grandmother. When we finally got back to our apartment, I was feeling a little sick. Let’s just call it the too-much-cheese-chocolate-and-travel syndrome. :/
Last week I was finally feeling almost back to normal and was ready to start exploring the yoga scene in Paris. I’ve gotten a few recommendations from friends, colleagues and fellow ashtangis about where to practice in Paris, but there are quite a few places, so I’ve decided to explore little by little. Yoga is even more expensive here than in New York, so before I buy an unlimited month or delve into a place, I want to try around.
My first stop was Ashtanga Yoga Paris, which happenes to be about a two minute walk from our apartment! I attended the mixed Mysore and Ashtanga Level 1 class, taught by Agatha. The studio, I found out from one of the owners, Linda, has recently moved to a new location. It really is a lovely place, tucked into a courtyard between buildings. The walls of the lobby space are a deep, rich turquoise. The main practice room, the Krishnamacharya Room, is bright, with a ceiling full of skylights and walls tastefully adorned with black and white photos of teachers.
A class was just finishing as we waited to enter the room, and once in the room Agatha asked those of us doing our own Mysore practice to go to the front of the room while she led the class of semi-beginners behind us. There were probably five of us doing self practice, and more than ten in the led class.
She’s a very talented teacher, and I liked hearing her soft French instructions peppered with Sanskrit. I was a little distracted being in a mixed Mysore and led class, but the language barrier helped me tune that out. I wonder how the experience is for those who understand French..? I’ve never been in a class like that, but it’s certainly an interesting concept, and definitely a good use of time for students wanting an evening Mysore program. Kudos to her for leading a class and giving individual attention to the rest of us!
She gave me a few wonderful, strong Mariychasana adjustments (though only on one side so I felt rather unbalanced). When I got to backbends she encouraged me keep my feet much more parallel that I had them, which I tried with varying degrees of success. Then instead of holding my waist in drop-backs, she helped me keep my feet parallel by pressing in and down on my thighs, which felt pretty lovely.
The biggest surprise was when I stood up she asked if I’d be doing handstand! Sure I thought, why not? I told her that I don’t practice that, but I’d give it a go! Though I’ve never heard of that and it’s certainly not traditional, I suppose it must be a way to begin practicing for tick-tocks, which come sometime after second series. Her adjustment was great, and there I was, doing a handstand in Mysore class.
I liked the studio, the atmosphere and the students. Agatha is a smart, busy teacher! I will certainly go back, especially since it’s so close to our place. I’d also like to try the morning Mysore classes with the owners, Linda and Gerald.
Next I checked out Samasthiti Studio, also pretty close to our apartment. It’s located right near La Bastille, so I hopped on a velib bike for the 10 minute ride to take an evening Mysore class. In true Dana fashion, I was really early, and happened to meet a fellow student while waiting for the door to be unlocked who had been in Mysore the same time as me! Small Ashtanga world.
This studio is a simple one room space. The practice area is a nice size and takes up most of the space, and in the back there’s a small changing area and place for shoes and bags. I met the owner Caroline, who was actually practicing with us while a young man named Eric taught.
This class was a self-led Mysore style, however, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the completely non-traditional sequence of postures my fellow students were practicing…!
Full disclosure: I got distracted. I know that I should have been focusing solely on myself, but my dristhi began to wander as soon as I saw full splits between standing postures, a warrior three thrown in after parshvotanasana, and an out of order mix of primary, intermediate and third series poses! It was really quite remarkable.
I must say that despite my confusion over why they were doing what they were, all the students were practicing earnestly, calmly, quietly, and breathing beautifully. I guess they’ve just been taught an adapted, non-traditional series of poses…!
Eric, the teacher, was kind and attentive. He was a little insistent with some alignment details and often uneven with adjustments, but he clearly cares and knows quite a lot about what he teaches. He did think I should keep going after my last pose, which I kindly declined to do.
Drop backs were again a new technique (for me) that I quite liked, where he used his whole forearm to support either side of my spine as I went down, and simply pressed into my thighs as I stood up. When he suggested hand stand (I guess it’s a thing ), I this time declined.
I liked the studio, the location, and the teacher, but I’m not sure I will go back to practice there. It’s a bit too distracting to be amongst people doing such completely non-traditional things…I totally love that they are! I just think I’d be better served going there for a vinyasa flow class if I’m feeling creative.
My next stop was Make Me Yoga, which is literally right across the street from my apartment. I didn’t notice it at first, but as Michael and I were taking a walk the other evening, there it was! It’s got a great location, and a good class schedule. They have only led classes, no Mysore program, but I figured it was worth a visit since it’s so crazily convenient.
I dropped into the 8:30pm led “Ashtanga Vinyasa” class and was very impressed at my use of French.
“Bon soir! C’est ma premiere fois ici. Je voudrais prendre le classe d’Ashtanga.”
The instructor, Laetita, was kind when I explained that I’m an American yoga practitioner and speak limited French. I told her (in French again – points for me!) I’d love to just follow along and listen to the class in French.
There were six of us in the cute little space, and the others were mostly beginners. It was a very slow, basics-type class, which was nice for me to practice physically, clear my mind mentally and hear teaching in French. We practiced meditation, discussed bhandas, and moved through surya namaskaras and the 6 fundamental standing poses before sitting for a bridge pose and then rest.
Laetita was perfect. She made sure I understood a few words after class that might help me teach in French one day, and she gave me gentle suggestions as adjustments, not hard ones. I was more focused in this class, so my drishti wasn’t wandering to the other students! It’s a perfectly cute, kind studio, but not exactly what I want from a class. I think I will definitely go back…you can’t beat the location.
I still have the morning Mysore programs to check out. That’s where I think I will find my perfect Paris fit and I’m really excited. I want to check out Mysore Yoga Paris and Rasa Yoga…but I need to change my sleeping schedule around a bit to accommodate that…right now I’m staying up late, practicing at home in the evening or at one of these places for a night class and sleeping in late in the morning!
More to come from the Paris Yoga Scene…