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Cool Off Breath by Breath with Sitali Pranayama

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Ugh, this heat. Sure, it’s the (smallish) price we may have to pay for lovely weather most of the year, but wen the temperature lingers around 100 degrees it’s hard not to feel at least a little cranky and uncomfortable.

If that’s you right now, stop what you are doing and try this!

Sitali Pranayama is a cooling breath practice that cools and calms your body. It does require the genetic ability to roll your tongue up like it’s a taco. If you were not blessed with that very useful ability, no worries, you can get the same benefits by pursing your lips like you are drinking out a straw and lightly pressing the tip of your tongue against your teeth.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit up comfortably as you would at the start or end of a yoga class in a comfortable seated position such as cross legged.
  2. Take a few deep breaths in your nose and out your mouth to ground and prepare.
  3. Roll your tongue up and stick the end of it out your pursed lips (or do thing with your mouth pretending you are drinking out of a straw, making the lips into an “o” shape, tip of tongue to teeth).
  4. Inhale this way through the tongue with the mouth open. The air entering the mouth will feel cool.
  5. Exhale out the nose with the mouth closed.
  6. Repeat several times, savoring the cooling affect.
  7. Go about the rest of your day feeling a bit cooler, calmer, and collected.

If you still feel cranky after that, try practicing in front of a mirror, the face you are making will probably make you laugh.

ODDlight Teacher Feature: Molly O’Neill

ODDLight Teacher Feature One Down Dog Molly O'Neill

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, get to know Molly O’Neill, queen of alignment and lover of animals!

Name:
Molly O’Neill

Nick Name:
Used to be Mo…but nobody except my mom calls me that anymore

ODDLight Teacher Feature One Down Dog Molly O'Neill

Hometown:
Redding, CA

Favorite Place:
Anywhere with trees and water. I particularly love Whiskeytown Lake in Redding.

Favorite color:
Blue

What’s your sign?
Virgo. Very Virgo.

Most embarrassing moment?
I don’t want to go into detail, but it involves teaching an early-morning yoga class with a very upset tummy.

Most empowering moment?
The whole last year has been empowering. I moved back to California to pursue teaching yoga on a larger scale than I felt like I could accomplish in Philadelphia, and although it’s been seriously hard work, my decision has been reinforced and rewarded in ways I never imagined.

ODDLight Teacher Feature One Down Dog Molly O'Neill

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I’ve always been obsessed with unicorns. When I was a kid I had a banner in my room (made on a dot-matrix printer) that read “Molly, Princess of Unicorns.” I’ve got a corner of my room completely decorated in unicorn art and figurines, and one tattooed on my shin.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I studied Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, and I still work for them seasonally as a teaching assistant for an online Modern and Contemporary American Poetry class.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I went vegetarian at 13, when my aunt served lamb for Thanksgiving Dinner.

ODDLight Teacher Feature One Down Dog Molly O'Neill

Share a story or anecdote with us – something magical, changing, funny, or adventurous.
Four months ago, my father passed away. He had been struggling for six-plus years with Parkinson’s Disease, and in his last months was not able to move unassisted, speak clearly or even open his eyes. Watching my handsome, healthy, active father’s life drain away was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. A week before he passed, I found out he had pneumonia and immediately dropped everything to go be with him in Northern California. And immediately, my ODD family rallied to cover classes, gather donations, send sweet messages, sign up to walk my dogs, and provide a few days’ worth of meals. It was so unexpected, so kind, and so revealing about the type of studio we’ve got here. Every one of those teachers and desk staff would give you the Spiritual Gangster off his/her back – and most of the students would too. There is real love here, real community, and I am so grateful to have discovered it.

ODDLight Teacher Feature One Down Dog Molly O'Neill

When you aren’t at the studio, where can you be found?
Preferably outdoors, hiking or swimming. I also love cooking and going out to eat with my boyfriend and friends.

How do you define yoga?
Yoga for me is about awareness. It means observing how you feel in your body, how your mind functions, how your nervous system reacts, your interactions with other people. It’s about understanding the interconnectedness of all beings and moving through life with love and kindness.

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Why do you teach?
I teach for those “Aha” moments. When you see something click in your students, when their face lights up, whether it’s in a pose or in some other aspect of their lives…that’s the best I can ever hope for as a teacher.

What brought you to become an instructor?
Yoga was becoming a progressively larger part of my life, and I wanted to learn more about it. I took my first teacher training primarily to advance my own practice. But I was so inspired by my teacher, Joan Hyman, that I wanted to share what I learned with others. Yoga helped me rebuild my self-esteem and leave a toxic relationship, it taught me how to form healthy relationships in all areas of my life, it made me want to take care of my body and my home and my loved ones…and I wanted other people to find that.

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What is your favorite song to play in class?
I like a lot of different music, and it depends on the style of the class. But I’ve been really digging Leon Bridges’ “River” lately.

What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
I love Utthita Trikonasana, Extended Triangle Pose. It’s so seemingly simple but it’s so complex, and its shape allows you to really feel the energy moving through your limbs when it “clicks.” That’s why I love alignment so much; it helps you to open up those energetic pathways and it just feels amazing.

Memorable yoga moment?
Just a couple of months ago, I was playing with piking into handstand with straight legs from Downward-Facing Dog. It was something that had always felt super unattainable, so I hadn’t even tried it in over a year. But the next thing I knew, I was vertical! It was such a cool feeling and such a surprise, and it taught me a lot about the hidden potential in my own body. Those kinds of lessons are totally translatable off the mat – you never know what you can do until you try – and that’s the best part.

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What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?
I don’t like to wear any jewelry or fussy clothing when I practice. I keep it as minimal as possible so I can focus on how my body feels and moves. I do always keep two blocks and a blanket handy! I love to use wood blocks; they feel so stable under my hands.

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?
I love Farm Sanctuary! They rescue farm animals and give them great lives. And I’m all about adopting and fostering animals, especially pit bulls (I have two of them). No-Kill Los Angeles is doing great work to improve the odds for homeless pets in LA.

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Connect with Molly
Check Molly out on twitter @mollyoneillyoga and on Spotify. Love Molly’s classes? She’s also available for one on one sessions as well as corporate classes!

Join her for the Aversion to Inversions Workshop on September 29th, 1-4pm.

AVERSION TO INVERSION: arm balance & inversion workshop with Molly O'Neill