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Practice

yoga is about practice, not perfection. learn more about the practice of yoga – on and off the mat! stay tuned for videos, tips, pics, ideas and philosophy.

Rocktober Halloween Themed Class with Bobbi in Silverlake

Rocktober Halloween Yoga Class One Down Dog

Join Bobbi on Halloween for ROCKTOBER – October 31st, from 4-5:30pm at One Down Dog Silverlake location.

A playful yoga flow that will open you up for exploring a few arm balances and of course, spending some time dancing it out to the best rock jams from classic, to punk, to grunge and some current faves. This class will be fun and challenging yet accessible for all levels. There will be spooky sweet treats!

$10 donation – A portion of the class fee will be donated to UNICEF’s Save The Children Foundation for those displaced in Syria. Any additional donations collected will go directly to UNICEF.

“Hallieween” Themed Class at ODD Eagle Rock!

One-down-dog-hallie-Halloween

Don’t Be A Scaredy Cat! Join Our Halloween Themed Flow Class in Eagle Rock!

Pump(kin) up your practice! Join me for a special 75 minute Hallieween Halloween themed Flow class! Get in the spirit with Halloween inspired yoga poses (cat pose, corpse, there are so many!) tunes and a costume contest!

The yogi with the best costume will win a free class!

Breathable and moveable costumes are encouraged, dressing up is not mandatory. Plus, we will have treats after class so stick around!

We may have outgrown trick-or-treating, but we can still have fun and celebrate Halloween! All levels are welcome, including ghosts, zombies and witches.

See you on the mat!

12 Tips for New Yoga Teachers from Clara Roberts-Oss

clara roberts oss one down dog

Clara Roberts-Oss, international yoga teacher extraordinaire, is coming to ODD for an entire weekend of trainings! Friday’s session is open to all levels and will explore chakras and mantras. Saturday’s session is geared specifically toward advanced practitioners and teachers focusing on advanced poses. Sunday’s sessions is for teachers only and will dive into backbends and inversions.

Interested in furthering your practice and/or teaching skills? Sign up before they sell out – only 10 spaces left!


Clara has had years of experience as a teacher and yogi. Over the years she’s learned a lot! She’s graciously shared with us 12 tips for new yoga teachers.

1) Keep it simple. 
Keep everything you do while you teach as simple as possible, your sequence, your language, your music. You are learning a new language, learn the nouns, verbs and such before you jump into conversational yoga. You will appear more confident with your students and they are more likely to trust you.

1a) Speak Slowly.
Speak even slower than you think you should. New teachers are excited about sharing what they’ve learned and that excitement tends to make them nervous and that nervousness tends to speed up the cuing, the breathing and soon enough people are moving so quickly there’s no way they can be breathing with integration. Breathe with your students, speak painfully slow—usually that makes you speak normally, versus very quickly. Schylar Grant offered using a metronome at home to practice speaking slowly. Carolyn Budgell recommends recording your voice and listening to it. I recommend taping your foot quietly or using the beats in the song to give you a sense of timing. The important thing is, be conscious of your speaking speed, it is a large part of what creates the Bhavana (mood) of the class.

2) Have patience and compassion towards yourself. 
The first few years are hard. You are going to make mistakes and people are going to give you attitude. Try not to be hard on yourself or your students. Learn from your mistakes and trust in the process and know that it gets easier.

3) Get off your mat as soon as possible. 
As a new teacher, it’s fine to practice the sequence with your students but ween yourself off the mat as soon as possible. You are more useful to your students if you’re watching them. This is why I encourage new teachers to have simple sequences, so that they don’t need to be doing it with the class in order to remember it. Elaborate sequences may seem cool but does it ultimately serve the students if their teachers are paying more attention to remembering the sequence than watching them?

4) Own the space.
Be loving yet hold your ground. This is your classroom, be confident in the choices you make with lighting, temperature, music. This one was especially hard for me to learn. I started teaching very young. Older women liked to give me hard time by complaining about the music, the temperature and talking in class. They were some of my greatest teachers. They taught me how to stand my ground, believe in my choices as a teacher or change them if need be. Which leads me to…

5) Your students can be your greatest teachers.
Observe who triggers you in class. They are usually either echoing something about yourself that you don’t like or are not proud of. For me, those women where echoing my own feelings of self worth. Who was I to teach people? What did I have to offer? Observe what arises with those students and silently thank them for the lesson. Try and stay compassionate towards them and yourself while in the room. Then work with the triggers by meditating or talking to a therapist/friend about it.

6) Develop a consistent home practice.
This is going to feed you, especially during times of stagnation in your teaching. Your home practice is not a time when you’re developing your class sequences, I like to think of it as my upkeep. I do the poses and pranayama that my body really needs for the day. It doesn’t look like a vinyasa practice, it’s more therapeutic. It changes daily depending upon what I need and how I’m doing.

7) If you do nothing else in your own time, MEDITATE.
This was a game changer for me. I was initiated into a few years back into Neelakantha Meditation practice and had to pledge to sit 20 min every day for a year and it hooked me. This will feed you as a human and a teacher on many levels. You will be able to access compassion, strength and remain grounded in most situations. Please start today! Start by sitting for just 10 min daily and begin to increase it when you feel ready.

8) Practice the sequence in your own body prior to teaching it.
You should know how the sequence feels before you share it. If you make it up on the spot, you are more likely to forget it. I tell new teachers to teach the same sequence for a week or two so that they can focus on watching their students instead of remembering the sequence.

9) Practice different styles of Yoga
There is so much to be learned from different lineages of Yoga. It’s important to experience other ways of moving and to remember what it’s like being new at something. I find it helps me understand my students more. Two of my most influential teachers, Shiva Rea and Constantine Darling, incorporate different lineages into their teaching, giving me as the practitioner, a richer experience.

10) Create a Teacher’s Practice.
This was another game changer for me. When I moved to Vancouver eight years ago, I was invited to a teacher’s practice. I had never seen that before. We sat around in a circle and co-taught (round robin style). We picked a peak pose and created the flow together. It was an informal space where we asked each other questions, gave each other feedback on our asanas and execution. I grew as a teacher like I never had prior. It also builds a stronger kula/community amongst teachers which fed our student kula exponentially. Invite any and all teachers, no matter what style or what studio they’re from, there is always something to learn.

11) Don’t stop being a student.
Take other people’s classes. Attend teacher trainings. Continue to learn. We are students first and foremost. I look at teaching as a way of sharing things that excite me. Continue to feed yourself so you can continue to share.

and my last one for today….

12) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
As my father says so beautifully, We are all bozos on this bus. I try to think of myself as a facilitator. I am here to facilitate my students journey into themselves. I try and create a space that is safe for them to explore their inner landscapes. Teaching is not about me, it’s about them. It’s an important one to remember. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how cool your sequence is, whether a ton of people told you how great you are or if your playlist worked. Instead ask yourself, did people leave feeling more connected to themselves, more quiet, more introspective? To me that’s the sign of a good class. And if it didn’t happen, so be it. I’ll try again next time.

Clara Roberts-Oss One Down Dog Yoga Silverlake Workshop

Cool Off Breath by Breath with Sitali Pranayama

kim-pitali-pranayama

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.

How Yoga Can Help Prepare Your Pelvis for Labor

catcow pose prenatal yoga

When you are pregnant, it seems like there is a never ending to-do list of things to get ready for baby; suddenly you find yourself spending many evenings lost in an internet hole researching something you never thought about before such as the most life-like nipple for a bottle, or some kind of weird mobile made in Sweden (where all the babies are happiest, right?). And then there’s the nursery, all the childbirth and infant care classes, and of course, picking out a name for your tiny human. It can be overwhelming!

Preparing the pelvis, a part of the body which plays a pretty integral role in childbirth, isn’t always found on those to-do lists. Yet, preparing your pelvis is pretty important in getting your baby in an optimal position for birth (more than just head down) as well as crucial for aiding in alleviating pelvic pain during pregnancy and labor.

If you are anything like me before I started learning about all this stuff, you may not have the most intimate relationship with the structure of your pelvis. Let’s take a look at a picture:

pelvisThe pelvis is made up of three bones, the two on the sides and the triangular like bone wedged in the middle called the sacrum, a bone you probably hear your yoga teachers mentioning a lot in class. There are also three joints, the two sacroiliac joints (often referred to as SI, you may hear someone complain of SI pain, that means there is most likely an imbalance or misalignment with their sacroiliac joints) and the pubis symphisis, the joint at the front of the pelvis where the two halves meet. The harmony and alignment of these bones and joints is essential for pelvic health.

There are also many ligaments in the pelvis which work to help support the structure by connecting it to muscles. The ligaments with the most important job during pregnancy of course are those that attach the uterus to the pelvis. The Broad ligament holds the uterus from the back, attaching it to the sacrum and the two Round ligaments hold the uterus from the front, attaching to the pubis.

During labor, the bones in the pelvis will shift naturally to make room for baby, and throughout your pregnancy the ligaments are relaxed due to hormones, mainly relaxin. Great, so what do you need to prepare for if the body naturally opens up?

Well, if the bones and ligaments are misaligned before labor begins, the ligaments can pull on the uterus, leaving it imbalanced. Even though the uterus is connected to the pelvis, it still can move. An imbalance in the uterus can affect baby’s ability to move into an optimal position for birth, as well as even cause the birth canal to narrow, and guess what that most likely means: more pain.

In general, in the body, imbalance = discomfort and sometimes misalignments can lead to injury. Much of the time when a woman is experiencing pelvic pain during pregnancy or labor, it is because of a misalignment in the pelvic joints, ligaments, or bones. Luckily, there are ways to combat this, and prepare the pelvis.

Yoga is one helpful tool. Yoga is not the magic cure all for imbalances in the body, but it can certainly help!

Yoga poses to help align and prepare the pelvis

Cat and Cow

Pelvic tilts help soften and stretch the overworked pelvic joints as well as help to release strain from low back muscles. We do these a lot in prenatal yoga classes, they feel good! Practicing cat and cow or just pelvic tilts in general is also a great way to encourage your baby into a good birthing position by encouraging the little one’s heaviest parts, the back and back of the head, towards mama’s belly. You may hear these poses being recommended to help turn babies who are in a posterior position (face up) or breech (feet or butt first).

Hip openers

You certainly want to encourage hip mobility during pregnancy, and that will help to keep that natural openness, as well as stretch the psoas and help release pelvic ligaments that may be overly tight or even slightly torqued. However, do be aware that you are already naturally more open due to relaxin (hormones as mentioned earlier) and that being too open or over stretching can certainly cause imbalance in the pelvis as well, i.e. pain, so be sure to engage your muscles during hip openers, especially the abductors (outer hips). To do this, think about drawing the outer hips inwards, like someone put their hands on the fleshy part of your hips and are gently hugging in. It is also important to engage the core (especially lower abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles). A helpful visualization to find that engagement is to imagine you are zipping up a tight pair of jeans, and the low belly goes up and in.

Hip openers that may feel good to you during pregnancy include standing poses such as warrior II, side angle pose (no need to go to your deepest side bend here) and goddess or temple pose (a wide leg squat). Malasana (yogi squat) is also great, using support under the pelvis may feel most balancing and supportive (you can use blocks or a bolster, or books or pillows work too) and easier to access muscle engagement.

Pigeon can also be nice, but do use support under your hips if necessary, and if you are suffering from SI pain, this pose is contraindicated since it can only deepen the imbalance if not practiced correctly. If in doubt, just ask a yoga teacher if you are doing the pose correctly!

Agnistambhasana, or double pigeon is also a good hip opener to practice. If you are going to fold forward, try sitting up on a blanket or two to encourage your pelvis to tilt forward which will keep the lower back muscles from straining and causing pain.

Pelvic floor training (aka Kegels)

It is likely that if you are pregnant, at least one person has told you that you should be doing kegels (contracting and releasing the pelvic floor), and this is certainly true. Pregnancy and labor can weaken and stretch pelvic floor muscles, and you certainly need then to push, as well as to stabilize the core. The pelvic floor makes up the bottom (the floor) of your core. I once read somewhere that pregnant women should be doing around 200 kegels a day. This might seem a little crazy, but it illustrates the importance of strengthening the pelvic floor. In yoga, this is called mula bandha, and is an action that is helpful to find core engagement in arm balances and many other poses. To do this, imagine your pelvic floor is an elevator, and as you inhale, try to relax. As you exhale, feel the elevator lifting, (or, think of the action of trying not to pee), inhale again and relax, but this time not quite fully. And then continue up to 200. Just kidding, you do not have to do 200, just as many as you can is good enough.

Besides yoga, bodywork can be helpful for finding pelvic balance and preparing for labor, as well as just being very aware of your posture as you stand, sit, and walk around, avoiding slumping. Practicing breathing into your diaphragm is great to.

To sum it up, in case this got too technical for you: a happy, balanced pelvis = less pain and discomfort and aids baby in doing their job which is getting into the best position for getting them out here. Balance is both support and open. Gotta have both. That’s why it’s called balance!


kim neer prenatal yoga teacher at One Down Dog Yoga in SilverlakeKim Neer is the newest addition to the One Down Dog team, teaching prenatal yoga classes on Mondays at 10:45a and Saturdays at 9am.

Check out our interview with Kim to learn a little more about her and check out her Prenatal 101 post for answers to frequently asked questions.

 

 

prenatal yoga one down dog