Meet Our New Prenatal Yoga Teacher Kimberly Neer

We’re excited to announce our new Prenatal class on Mondays 10:45am-12pm and Saturdays at 9am with Kim Neer!

Meet other future mamas and get your yoga on ODD style. Improve circulation, ease digestion, maintain a healthy spine, strengthen your uterus and pelvic muscles, and feel at ease throughout your pregnancy. For all stages of pregnancy – get your bump to class!

Read on to learn a little bit more about Kim and click here to sign up for class.

kim-neer

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am playful yogi who loves puppies and babies. I don’t have any babies of my own yet, but I do have a doggie named Peanut and I am mildly (maybe severely) obsessed with her! Besides practicing and teaching yoga and talking about birth and general female empowerment; I enjoy traveling, being outside, trying new foods, listening to music, and learning new things.

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How long have you been teaching prenatal yoga and where did you do your training?

I have been teaching yoga for three years, and prenatal for a year and a half. I did my training with Jessica Jennings of Ma Yoga, which is a really cool yoga community that has yoga classes all over LA.

What drew you to teaching yoga/prenatal in the first place?

I remember being quite interested in prenatal yoga when we talked about it during my 200 hour training, especially when my teachers made us practice with a rolled up blanket under our shirts so we could get an idea of what it’s like to practice with such a different body! But it wasn’t until I was teaching a regular class at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence that I decided I wanted to learn more. Many of my students there were pregnant, and I felt that I needed more tools to offer them.

What do your students gain from doing prenatal yoga?

I think the most important gain from a prenatal yoga class is the sense of community. It’s so important for new mamas to surround themselves around others going through something similar because at least from what I gather, becoming a mom is a pretty wild ride and it helps to have a good support system! I like to leave time for my students to talk to one another; who better to share stories with about how crazy it is to have a different body everyday than another woman who is also experiencing that!

Plus, many students have reported back to me that the breathing techniques they learned from yoga helped them immensely during their labor. There are also many yoga poses that useful to do during labor, such as resting in child’s pose in between contractions!

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What is your favorite pose to teach and why?

My favorite pose to teach in prenatal is probably supta baddha konasana (reclined bound angle pose) using a bolster up on blocks and a blanket to support the legs. I love teaching that one because of the reactions I get from the mamas! That pose is so supportive and comfortable, and during pregnancy, comfort can be elusive. I also really enjoy teaching poses that I call “endurance poses.” This is when we do somewhat intense poses such as wall chair or do some punching for an entire minute. I like teaching these poses timed because contractions last about a minute, so it’s helpful for mamas to start to realize just how short that is and also to practice using their breath to stay present even amidst physical intensity.

What is one ODD fun fact about you?

I have seven tattoos and four of them are matching with someone else (all good friends of mine). My mom claims that someday she will get a matching tattoo with me, which would bring me up to five matching tattoos. That makes me feel pretty loved.

prenatal yoga one down dog

#ODDLight Teacher Feature: Alexis Novak

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Each month we will be bringing a teacher into the #ODDlight and illuminating their interests, practices, and who they are. There is a real person behind those teachers and it’s their knowledge filtered through their own experiences that make them that person that pulls you into class. This month, we are featuring Alexis Novak who is also our CommUNITY Outreach/Marketing Coordinator!

Name:
Alexis Girl Novak

Nick Name:
Lex to friends, Lulu to my family

Hometown:
Proudly- Denver, Colorado

Favorite Place:
Anywhere my family is

Favorite color:
Green

What’s your sign?
Leo baby!

alexis

Most embarrassing moment?
Oh I have to pick just ONE? I would probably have to narrow it down to parallel parking in front of people on multiple occasions, and then second runner up is the fact that I just had to Google how to spell parallel.

Most empowering moment?
Taking a final LOUD exhale breath together with my first sold out class at One Down Dog. The connection of community, and the trust students have in me to guide them is pretty empowering!

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I fan girl over Drag Queens.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
Tacos are my hearts currency.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
Animal pics take up about 80% of my iphone photo library.

Share a story or anecdote with us – something magical, changing, funny, or adventurous. Something that you love to tell.
I have SO many stories. I would say that something magical that has happened in my life is, I just had the opportunity to travel to Bali! Magical is the only way to describe that place. It was eye-opening and life changing and brought me a sense of appreciation I didn’t have before. Something funny? There are frogs in Bali that have ribbet’s that sound like human farts. In Munduk, there was one outside of my room- and I turned 12 years old again when I couldn’t stop laughing EVERY TIME they would ribbet. They ribbeted for hours. I felt insane, but couldn’t get control of myself.

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When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)?
Somewhere outdoors is my hope. I love being outside. Hiking or camping is great if I can get away-but I am content just sitting in the Sun most days :)

How do you define yoga?
What a great question! I define yoga as a connection from yourself, to yourself. It’s a tool to build a sturdier bridge between mind, body, soul, and surroundings. The beautiful thing about yoga is it is whatever you need it to be on a daily basis. We all change constantly, and so does our practice! We are able to show up as raw and real as we are and it’s always enough. There aren’t very many avenues we have in life where we can be completely perfect for an extended period of time, and that’s all the yoga mat is.

Why do you teach?
Why do I teach? Because my fire can only continue to burn from being lit up by other’s fire. MY STUDENTS give me life on so many levels. Being a yoga teacher blends the perfect balance between creativity with my playlists, to the physicality and anatomy in my sequencing, and a sense of humor through connecting with all of my eclect students. I truly do wake up everyday ready to go to work happily. It’s the best!

Why do you teach? What brought you to become an instructor?
I became an instructor after falling in love with my mat. I saw what intense shifts I could create in my practice just from spending a short time flowing and breathing in class. I wanted to learn how to hold space for myself, and then hold space for others. I saw first hand how yoga could change people’s lives, and I wanted to help spread that where ever I went.

What is your favorite song to play in class?
Oh lord! I couldn’t pick just one. It really depends on the playlist. But I would say anything from the 90’s. I love all types of music from Paul Simon, to A Tribe Called Quest, to The Wutang Clan. Anything that is going to make you MOVE.

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What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
Sorry students, but plank. It’s SO POWERFUL! It is the most despised pose, but the concept of holding your own body weight up and how challenging it is really does something for me. All the muscles are involved. It’s an all or nothing pose, and I dig that.

Memorable yoga moment?
There is one specific moment I remember laying in savasana and reviewing my entire yoga journey. From beginning (2004) to present, and thinking of how every step of my life yoga has been available and positive for me. Knowing that my mat will always be there for me in good times and in bad is so comforting and empowering.

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?
Anything from Carbon38! They are a beautiful company and carry a ton of different yoga/fitness quality brands! Use code “ALEXISNOV50″ to get $50 off $200! Whoop!

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?
Lionhearted Kids non-profit in Cape Town, South Africa. A friend of mine, Lauren Pech founded Lionhearted Kids. Lionhearted Kids provides play, touch, and yoga therapy to children in the Red Cross Hospital and surrounding orphanges in South Africa. The children are our future, so I feel it is SO important to teach them coping mechanisms and tools to take care of themselves to build a positive and productive life.

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What can we share in promoting you, your business, or your projects?
I am currently running a #HotBodyChillMindChallenge which consists of participants (on social media) completing daily victories! Everyday I post a mantra, exercise, yoga pose, or goal revision for them! It has been SO MUCH FUN to watch people from all over the country participate and show up for themselves! I am also running a BODY BURST 2-day sculpt, circuit training, goal crushing workshop in the middle of July at One Down Dog. SIGN-UP and GET YOUR LIFE. All updates can be found at @AlexisGirlNovak on Instagram. Also, CABON38 digs… But see the above for the promo of that!

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Anything else?
“Listen to goo music, and let go of bad people!”

#ODDlight Teacher Feature: Arielle Miller

ODDlight-teacher-feature-arielle-miller

Each month we will be bringing a teacher into the #ODDlight and illuminating their interests, practices, and who they are. There is a real person behind those teachers and it’s their knowledge filtered through their own experiences that make them that person that pulls you into class. This month, we are featuring our favorite girl with the purple hair, Arielle Miller!

Name:
Arielle Miller, soon-to-be Cohen!

Nick Name:
Ari but once married, call me AC. Kinda like AC Slater but better because I have purple hair.

Hometown:
Oceanside, NY

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Favorite Place:
I grew up going to sleep away camp and some of my fondest memories of my childhood reside nestled within the majestic beauty of the Berkshires. Sitting on by the lake in Copake, NY at dusk.

Favorite color:
Purple, duh?

What’s your sign?
Gemini

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I am a Buti certified instructor

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2010-2011. And by Teacher of the Year, I mean for my teaching English literature to the urban children in LAUSD ☺

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Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I have classical fine arts training and was [initially] a Fashion Design major

When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)?
When I’m not at ODD you can find me teaching America’s finest urban youth at Fairfax High School in West Hollywood. You can also find me teaching indoor cycling and working out. I LOVE working out and I am not just saying that. The harder, the sweatier, the better! Aside from being a teacher to children, or a fitness instructor, one of my absolute favorite ways to spend quite moments is at home writing for my blog www.thegirlwithpurplehair.com.

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How do you define yoga?
I define yoga as an outward expression of inward reflection. Yoga is movement and movement is life. To me, yoga nourishes ones soul in any capacity in which someone is searching. Whether someone is looking for a kick-ass workout or to obtain some clarity; yoga is always there to build you up or in some cases, break you down so you can take a hard, honest look at oneself and grow.

Why do you teach? What brought you to become an instructor?
I teach yoga to heal and empower others. I teach yoga to share its gifts, joys, and empower others to look inward without fear. I teach yoga because I believe this sacred kind of magic needs to be treated with care and deserves to be upheld in the most noble of ways. I teach because without yoga, I do not know where I would be today.

Yoga found me and saved me from myself. I was depressed, very, very, very depressed and I was angry. I blamed the world for slighting me and being out to get me. I was urged to take yoga classes by my doctor and I fought it. I refused to go under the misguided perception that I’d be sitting on a dirty floor, chanting shit that meant nothing to me, and that just didn’t resonate with me. I am very Type A, always moving and I thought yoga was going to be hell on earth so NO THANK YOU.

And then one day, I just went to yoga. As simple as that, I went to yoga.

I woke up and said, “Today, I am going to try yoga.” From the minute I walked into the studio, I relished the ritual of taking off my shoes, carefully unrolling my mat, and how the yoga made me feel. There was this instantaneous deep connection with my feminism and beauty. This outward expression of moving my body made me feel strong, celebrated, and above all beautiful. Yoga made me feel like I was the only person in the room and that I was of boundless strength. As my practice started to evolve, the initial attraction of yoga’s athleticism progressed into something so much larger than myself filled with trainings, Sanskrit, and even chanting. My body yearned [and still does] for this ancient traditional practice and I was hooked. In darkness, yoga showed me the light but more importantly yoga built me up to find the light—Yoga showed me that I was the light.

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So why did I become an instructor?
I wanted to show people that by being nothing other than real and authentic you are capable of anything. I wanted to show people that while we all walk in darkness there is always light. It is my hope that through arming people with the confidence to find themselves on their mat that an ember may burn within to help them shine bright beyond the yoga room.

What is your favorite song to play in class?
I go through so many phases of favorite songs that I get hooked on and obsessed with putting them on every playlist, for every class for weeks on end. That said I typically align myself with a savasana song and stick to it for a couple of weeks, sometimes even months. Though many savor the stillness and silence of savasana, I prefer to play a meaningful and intentionally selected song.

My students know that when they hear our ‘savasana song’ that final rest and release is upon us. Since we are all familiar with our final song, it signals a total letting go and the permission to really do so. Right now, I have been super inspired by Daniela Andrande’s cover of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. It is familiar but more than that, this acoustic version is introspective and haunting, giving us the freedom to gaze inward without judgment while surrendering.

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What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
It’s so hard to pick an absolute favorite pose or sequence, but what I can say is that there are poses that I re-fall in love with over and over again. Poses that I forgot about or shied away from until one day in class, an instructor guides me through a flow or pose. I would have to say that Happy Baby is a pose that I cue in virtually every class for the simple fact that it just feel so good. For me as both an instructor and student, yoga is about challenging myself but also about digging into my physical-self and feeling sooooooo gooooooooooooddddd.

As far as discovering a pose I have forgotten or abandoned, after shying away from Upward Facing Floor Bow due to lumbar spine narrowing (aka arthritis in my L4 and L5); an instructor and friend prepped the class for it…without hesitation after years of just chilling with my knees bent I decided that I was going to reclaim this pose and I did. It has been weeks since my initial victory in this pose and I have re-introduced it into my classes to share the joys it has recently brought to my life. And for me folks, that is the essence and splendor of yoga: Just when you least expect it, or don’t think you need or want something—yoga knows what you need.

 

IMG_9611Memorable yoga moment?
One of my most memorable yoga moments was relatively early into my teaching career when I was smack in the middle of a flow in a packed class and I litearally couldn’t remember what pose came next. I drew a complete blank and couldn’t remember the flow at all! Horrified, I racked my brain for what came next as yogis are just chilling and I had ZERO clue what we had done on the other side! I was terrified and remember vividly the heat washing into my face when I finally said to the class, “So, I’ve got to be honest here guys…this has never happened to me but I completely forgot the flow!” Everyone in class laughed and together we just started again and smiled because to be human means to be imperfect.

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?
The Manduka CORK block.

I love it’s stability, texture, and density. The block is firm and keeps me grounded, supported and elevated at the same time. The texture of the cork feelingly connects me to my sense of touch. But what’s also so great about these blocks is that in the Sweat class I love that these blocks provide that little extra edge of resistance and serve as almost a weight, really taking our practice to a whole new deliciously sweaty level!

What can we share in promoting you, your business, or your projects?

Class Schedule
Insta: arielle_miller
Twitter: purplehairedgrl
FB: Arielle Miller and Fitness with Arielle
www.thegirlwithpurplehair.com (MY BLOG!!!!!)
Hashtags: #FitnesswithAC #thepaleoyogi #thegirlwithpurplehair #FitnesswithArielle

Anything else?
Stay tuned for some big shit I am going to be launching this summer, so subscribe to my blog, follow me on facebook and insta!

8 More Ways to Do Yoga at Work

I’m really excited to be leading the Yoga at Work Workshop on June 14! Many of us work in offices and have pain from sitting at a desk all day. Sore neck, tight shoulders, lower back pain, the list goes on … but we don’t have to suffer! Yoga to the rescue! There are stretches and exercises you can do in the office to help combat pain, stress and tension. I even taught my co-workers yoga poses they could do right at their desk, and then made them pose for photos too. Below are 8 more ways to do yoga at work!

 

1. Jaw Stretch 

  yoga at work j  yoga at work Shoulder Rolls   yoga at work jaw stretch

How: Close your mouth. Using your pointer and middle fingers, massage the hinge of your jaw in a circular motion moving toward your chin. You can start to release the tongue and focus on slowing down your breath. For an extra release of tension, place your hands on your lap and gently open your mouth wide. Stick your tongue out and close your mouth. Repeat 3 times, moving slowly.

Benefits: Many of us clench our jaws when we are stressed, and you might not even realize it! Tension in the jaw can also lead to headaches. Stress can lead to teeth grinding so give your jaw some love!

 

2. Wrist and Forearm Stretch 

yoga-at-work-Wrist stretch

How: Seated in your chair, extend your right arm in front of you. Place your palm away from you with your fingertips pointed towards the ceiling like your about to yell “Stop!” … but don’t yell because we’re in an office :) Intensify the stretch by placing your left hand on your fingers and flexing the hand towards your body. Roll your shoulders down your back and breath. Hold here for 5 breaths. Release and repeat on the left side.

Flip your palm to face you, fingertips point toward the ground. To intensify the stretch, gently place your opposite hand on the back of your hand, flexing your hand towards your body. Roll your shoulders down your back and breath. Hold here for 5 breaths. Release and repeat on the left side.

Benefits: Endless typing and a poor computer set up can be damaging for the wrists. Take a moment to stretch and strengthen them to prevent tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

3. The Double Chin

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How: Yes, I just called this stretch the double chin. Sit up straight in your chair. Press the back of your head directly behind you (look you made a double chin!), making sure your shoulders don’t move. Hold for a breath and release. A good visual for this exercise is to imagine standing with your back to a wall and you are holding tennis ball at the back of your head, when you press back, you are pressing the tennis ball harder into the wall. Repeat 10-15 times.

Benefits: Over the work day, the head starts to shift towards the computer screen. The neck and shoulders follow and hunch over. This exercise strengthens the neck muscles and helps realign the neck directly over the shoulders.

 

4. Shoulder Rolls

yoga at work Shoulder Rolls

How: Stand up from your desk. Inhale and raise your shoulders up to your ears, on your exhale pull your shoulders down your back. Repeat 5-8 times.

Benefits: Helps releases neck and shoulder tension and corrects posture.

 

5. Eagle Arm Stretch

yoga at work Eagle Arms

How: Sit with your feet firmly planted into the ground. Take your right arm and wrap it under your left, wrapping at your wrists if it is available or just place your hands back to back. Start with palms in front of your eyes and gently raise your elbows up so they are at shoulder height. Roll your shoulders down your back and breathe for 5-8 breaths. Release your arms and repeat on the left side, wrapping the left arm under the right.

Benefits: Open shoulder joints, creating space between the shoulder blades to release tension.

 

6. Forward Fold with Chest Expansion

yoga at work Chest Expansion

How: Stand up from your desk. Spread your feet hips width apart. Clasp your fingers behind your back. Start to fold forward while reaching your clasped hands toward the ceiling. If you have really open shoulders, try to extend your hands above your head.

Benefits: Throughout the day, your shoulders may start to creep up into your ears from stress and tension. The chest expansion stretch releases the neck and and shoulders, while the forward fold releases the lower back. The fold also gives your neck and shoulders a break from holding up your head all day!

 

7. Standing Figure Four

yoga at work Figure 4 pose

How: Stand up from your desk. Bring your hands to heart center. Ground your left foot down. Inhale your right foot up off the ground, bending at the knee. Gently place the right ankle over the left knee. Intensify the stretch by bending your left knee and sitting back. Repeat on other side.

Benefits: Sitting may seem comfortable but it’s not natural to sit at desk for 40+ hours a week. The hip flexors shorten from sitting for long periods of time. This stretch opens up the hips and can also help relieve lower back pain.

 

8. Breathing

yoga-at-work-Breathing

How: Close your eyes, place your hands on your knees palms facing down. Take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the nose. Begin to slow down your breath. Start to count the breath in and match the length on your exhale. Repeat as long as you like.

Benefits: When things are hectic, use your breath to calm you down. Breathing exercises can improve concentration while slowing down the nervous system.

 

Bonus pose! 

Take a walk! Get your blood flowing by getting up from your desk to go for a walk. Walk to get coffee, take a loop around the block, or even a stroll around the office to say “Hi!” to your co-workers. A walk will help boost your mood and leave you energized so you can tackle the rest of your day!

 


SIGN UP

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Join us for Yoga at Work with Hallie Anoff on June 14, 2-3:15 PM

We will flow and target problem areas, then practice stretches and relaxation techniques you can incorporate into your work day.
$25 advance, $35 at the door

SIGN UP HERE


 

Food as Meditation: 3 Stages to Rethink How You Eat

Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘Thank god for relationships. Without them, all we would ever talk about is food.  These days, wherever we look, we find a new blog, book or ideology proclaiming the health benefits of a new superfood, supplement or diet,  guaranteed to give you, among other things,  effortless weight loss, boundless energy, mental clarity and eternal youth. So, of course, you give it a try, and, voila, it works….. well, for a few weeks, anyway. Then, unable to sustain this radical new way of eating, you’re back to your old habits until…. the next fad diet promising, well, you know the same results as the last one.

We have bought into a reductionist, cookie-cutter mentality, believing that we can all eat the same thing and get the same results. Ayurveda, the planet’s first nature-based medical system teaches that, although some things are right for some people sometimes, nothing, no foods, fads or diets are always right for everyone. This observation is based on the premise that, each and every one of us, is completely different and totally unique.

With respect to food, the only universal truth is that we all need to eat. Period. Beyond that, we each have various likes, dislikes, preferences, aversions and what we regard as the perfect meal. Every day, however, we are faced with the same problem…having to choose.  This dilemma brings us to the topic of this blog…. Food As Meditation

First, let me explain a few concepts. Meditation is a tool for clarifying our values and creating a calm and focused mind. It is a simple, yet profound practice which, eventually, transforms our perception and, ultimately, changes our behavior.

Classically, meditation is a three stage process requiring the abilities to: 1.Choose 2. Focus and 3. Sustain.

Choose- this is the most difficult step in meditation, as in order to choose to eat certain foods, I must forgo a whole bunch of other food choices. Choice comes from the inside. It implies taking in information from the outside, filtering it through your individual experience and applying the parts that are appropriate to you depending on your goals. This considered choice implies reflection and commitment which leads to the second aspect of

Focus. When I choose freely and willingly the foods that work for me then I am more likely to stay with these choices for a long time because it feels good and it’s the right thing for me. With this as my foundation I am more likely to stay the course and

Sustain my eating plan. Why? Because I am the one choosing based on what feels right for my body. This is the ultimate meditation. Someone who takes their cues and changes their behavior based on what feels truly right for them!


This is part one of a 3-part Ayurveda series. Be sure to check back next month for more great information from Eleni and check out her intro workshop 6.25.15.

Eleni Tsikrikas is an Ayurvedic practitioner based in Silverlake. She coaches and empowers students to make  amazing food and lifestyle choices. She teaches Ayurveda Skills For Living courses and regular workshops at One down Dog Yoga.


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