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Q: What is Reiki?

A: The word Reiki can be broken down into two Japanese words, Rei and Ki. 

Rei can be defined as the Higher Intelligence that guides and directs all creation. 

It is that which tells the grass to grow, the tree to flower, the monarch to migrate. 

There is, in everything, a perfect divinity that unites all creation.

Ki is vital life force energy. It is the fuel. When Ki is high, we feel strong and healthy. When Ki is low, we are more likely to get sick and we feel tired and weak. Ki is also known as Chi, or Prana. The Practice of Pranayama utilizes various breathing techniques to increase Ki. Ki in also increased through sleep, sunshine, food, meditation and experiencing joy and love.

Reiki is the practice of learning how to center oneself in order to unite with ones Higher Intelligence and, as a result increase the flow of Ki.  This is done by allowing an experienced practitioner to assist you, or by practicing on yourself.

Q: What brought you to the study of Reiki?

A: I believe that this human life is a playground for soul growth. We come here in order to experience separation from Source. In this separation we find the Ego. We create all sorts of definitions for what we are supposed to be based on limiting beliefs. Sometimes the separation from our true selves is so intense that the vital life force energy suffers tremendously. We become unwell or injured, or we numb ourselves to this reality through addiction or distraction. 

In my case, this separation led to an injury intense enough to place me in physical therapy for 4 months. For the first month, I could barely walk. There were many things contributing to the intense emotional stress I was experiencing, but what it all boiled down to was fear. I was blessed at the time to have a neighbor who was a Reiki Master as well as a Massage Therapist. Under her treatment and tutelage, I was able to face the underlying mental and emotional issues that had led to my injury. 

I am always amazed at how intelligent the body is. Within separation, we experience emotions that we inevitably store somewhere in the body. The body, and its functions, are a beautiful and fascinating mirror of our spiritual selves.

Q: How has Reiki changed your life on and off the mat?

A: I continue to improve upon the skill of discernment all the time! Reiki assists me in determining what my body may be trying to tell me about what is going on in my life. I am so grateful for each and every experience. I learn from every ache and pain and I can translate that knowledge to my healing practice in order to serve others on their journey as well. 

Q: How is Reiki used in healing?

A: How Reiki is used in healing will vary from person to person depending on where there is a need. There is always a laying on or hovering of the hands, in which the practitioner can feel and gently allow for energy flow through her intention. There is always loving kindness and compassion. A Reiki healing can vary from simply a deep sense of relaxation to an intense emotional release.

Q: Describe the Reiki attunement and training process.

A: Preferably one has had some experience with Reiki prior to training and receiving an attunement, although it is not necessary. In training, you will learn techniques for sensing subtle energy, practice pranyama to increase Ki, participate in guided meditations and discuss the chakra system. We will have a brief overview of the history of Reiki and discuss how Reiki can be used for self healing as well as healing others. 

The attunement process lasts about 10 minutes, and is done seated with eyes closed. The receiver may feel bodily sensation or emotional release, just as in a regular Reiki session. One of my students described it as “coming home to home she didn't know, or forgot, she had.”

Q: Describe how you integrate Reiki into the teaching and practice of yoga.

A: In a group setting, I encourage students to observe their subtle energy and bring awareness to the messages the body is sending. This is the beginning. If a student has received Reiki training, I will encourage them to deepen their practice by channeling the energy in various ways. Reiki is an amazing practice to bring into savasana. In our training, we will practice some of these techniques.

Q: Who do you think will benefit most from this training and why?

A: Anyone and everyone, but most especially those who are committed to practice.

QUpon completion of the workshop, how might students use Reiki on and off the mat?

Reiki is a powerful tool for living your life in the most authentic way. When we are living authentically, we are centered, joyful, grateful and overflowing with love of life, toward ourselves and others. Use Reiki to transform your life as well as the lives of those around you to rise to love and above. Continue your practice diligently and with deepest gratitude.

Whatever your profession, your light will shine brighter the more you practice!

QWhat will the weekend retreat look like? What can people expect?

As with most things, what you get out of the workshop will depend on what you put into it. We will sink deep into meditation, practice pranayama, move our bodies, share stories, dive into discussion, journal, eat, laugh, maybe cry. You will learn how to use the Reiki symbols in various ways, with skills for gently emerging into the practice of Reiki

 

 

 

 

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal

Q. How did GongLab come about? 

A. A winding series of events lead up to what we are doing now. The backstory is that Ollie Seay and I are longtime collaborators. We co-founded a performing arts troupe in 1992 called Jellyeye Drum Theatre. As directors of this troupe, our interest was in creating a hybrid form - a percussive language that could also convey a narrative in gesture and motion. The work was experiential so it's a bit difficult to describe. It involved complexly choreographed, interlocking drumming performed on a set of custom designed rolling drums. Our objective was to create a swirling mandala of simultaneous sound and movement that would be a visceral, cathartic experience for the viewer. Needless to say, a 15+ year investigation into that sort of primal material will lead you into some pretty Archetypal territory. A few years before the group disbanded, Ollie and I were researching an eclectic blend of subjects related to the earliest roots of theatre: ceremonial instruments, dreams, myths and folktale, ritual and trance states at which point we became very interested in the psychoacoustic properties of bells, bowls, metallaphones, and gongs. Looking back on it now, hearing an Earth Gong for the first time was definitely a course-altering experience.   

Q. Tell us about your name?

A. We bought the Earth Gong around 2003 or so. Of course, with a background in percussion we were familiar with all sorts of gongs, but we had never heard an instrument that was capable of creating such an extraordinary range of sound and textures - planets spinning, ocean waves crashing, meteors hurtling through space, rainstorms raging, celestial choirs, monks chanting - sounds that took you miles under the Earth's surface and sounds that launched you into revolving galaxies. I learned that this instrument was also being used in therapeutic settings. It's tuned to the transit of the Earth as it travels around the Sun and that same frequency also happens to be the harmonic signature attributed to the seed sound OM. The gong has a certain type of frequency that is able to penetrate the body, clear energetic channels, and encourage meditative states as brainwaves are driven into Alpha and Theta states.

Around the same time we purchased the gong, I was reading everything I could find about Milton Erickson. I had a practice of researching and sampling just about every healing modality out there because my own brain chemistry has veered toward the depressive ever since the onset of puberty. Milton Erickson is considered to be the father of medical hypnosis. He was stricken with polio at an early age and spent his entire childhood paralyzed with only his hearing and sight intact. He became an acute observer of his environment and the sub-verbal communication of the people around him. I was fascinated by him because it was said that his genius and instinct in working with the unconscious was so extraordinary that when he became a therapist later in life, somehow in the process of telling a client a story, for example, a story about his tomato plant seedlings, he was able to rewire whatever the client's presenting issues were - phobias, neuroses, illness, depression, whatever the case. I was also familiar with Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi "teaching tales." These were stories that were crafted in such a way that they held codes for levels of growth in the consciousness of the listener. You know, the kind of story a Master tells his student and then this narrative gets down in there in the wiring and forms a map to spiritual truths the student is in the process of understanding.  

Since we had spent years working in the arena of theatre, a discipline that involves sound and story, I wondered what kind of experience might be created with the use of "healing" sound and "healing" story. As Jellyeye was disbanding, "Gong Lab" was the name Ollie and I used to designate this emerging area of interest. As we moved further along the path, GongLab became a nomadic "laboratory" for both of our creative pursuits as well as our own inner work and development. It became the container in which we were distilling a mix of diverse but related trainings and teachings. Our interest in ritual and ceremony lead us to Lama Lobsang Palden who is a TIbetan Buddhist Lama, a gifted healer and our long time mentor in sound healing. Ollie had been a math major when he was in college at University of Chicago. Subjects like contemplative geometry, quantum theory, string theory, people like Robert Lawlor, Kepler, Fibonacci, and Pythagoras - all of these held significant keys for him. The appreciation of their writings and explorations along with his interest in Buddhism and esoteric teachings expanded to an interest and training in energetic work, Reiki, Vortex Healing, etc. - all of it very complimentary to working with the gong. I pursued a Yoga Certification, following which my interest in story, symbol and the psyche put me on a path of completing a Clinical Training in Jungian Psychotherapy. As it happened, at the time of my training there seemed to be a growing interest in Shamanism among the analysts. It might seem odd at first, but there is a very natural overlap there, in that, from both a Jungian and Shamanic perspective, consciousness is not in the heart and brain, the heart and brain are IN consciousness. As humans, we regard ourselves as conscious and everything else out there as unconscious, when from the larger perspective we are embedded in a sea of percolating consciousness but we are just too unconscious to see it. I feel extremely fortunate to have studied with a few analysts on this trajectory. Being able to understand these Earth-based traditions through a Jungian lens has been an invaluable experience, and integrating the insights gleaned from these teachings has been an essential phase in the laboratory of our exploration. That understanding contributed layers of meaning and resonance to working with the Earth Gong - a sound that essentially calls us back into participation with this larger Whole, back into connection with Mother Earth and, symbolically, the qualities of the Divine Feminine. I guess that's a long way of explaining that the "Lab" part of GongLab is an umbrella for this particular mix of material we are exploring through our work. Sound healing is one component in that mix.  

Q. What kinds of sounds are used in sound healing sessions? 

A. An Earth Gong,  a smaller Javanese nipple gong I like to call a Water Gong or Naga Gong because of it's liquid rippling sound and the beautiful Nagas (serpentine creatures with crowns) carved into it's wooden stand. You'll hear a heartbeat drum, shakers, Himalayan Bowls, bells, chimes, tingshaws, a Korean gong called a Jing which is elementally related to the wind, and the sound of my voice, guiding you through a brief relaxation and visualization at the beginning then returning to sing mantra in the later part of the experience. 

Q. What is the connection between Sound Healing and Meditation?

A. As I mentioned earlier, the frequencies of the gong have the ability to drive brainwaves into meditative states so unlike meditation it’s not something you'll need to actively focus on doing, particularly, unless you have a practice that you'd like to implement during the session. Then, by all means experiment with that if you'd like. 

Typically, people will find themselves drifting in and out of states of drowsiness, imagery, short intervals of sleep perhaps.  In addition, this experience will be more of a full body sensation than meditation. It has some similarities to something like a deep acupuncture session where you can feel the channels opening up, expanding and releasing as a dreamy state is induced. On the other hand, because the sound is palpably moving through the body, I'd say it's much more of a vibratory experience and in that way unique unto itself. Because you're moving through a landscape of sounds and textures it can also be a very visual experience for many people - a sense of traveling, and a sense of time bending and shifting. 

Q. What are some of the beneficial aspects of sound healing sessions?

A. The sound is doing the work of opening up the channels through which the Prana or life force flows through the body. I like to augment the work that the gong is doing by talking you through a very purposeful intention setting / candle lighting ceremony at the outset, followed by a guided relaxation as you move into the landscape of sound. This helps the body access the process that the sound waves are initiating at deeper levels. There are a lot of reasons why we accumulate blockages in the free flow of this life force in the body. The mental structures we wall ourselves up in, physical pain and, more and more I think, the pace and culture of this time we are living in is such that it actually encourages us to live in our heads, in a concept. As humans we are embedded in these larger fields of prana and vibration. The session works like a transfusion of sorts. Picture a stagnant lake that was formed by a great river being dammed up.  When the locks are open, the lake has access to these larger life-giving streams of energy and the stagnant muck can be cleared away. In the same way, the sound pressure waves travel through the connective tissues that form a network through all systems of the body down to a cellular level. The multi-tonal frequencies initiate the release of holding patterns that often manifest as fear, fatigue, or depression and can result in illness.

Q. Tell us the best way to prepare for the experience?

A.  My first suggestion would be to wear loose comfortable clothing. I think it's also probably best to have a buffer of about 60-90 minutes since your last meal. Since the event will begin at 7pm, shortly after the dinner hour, I will highlight the fact that the gong sound initiates recalibration in the body and as a result it tends to amplify what's in the system as the body is trying to reset itself. This might mean if you've had a heavy meal or a couple of drinks you may fall asleep pretty quickly. If you are over caffeinated, it's possible that your experience may be one of heightened restlessness. In any case, you'll definitely want to remember to have an empty bladder before lying down in order to avoid being distracted and uncomfortable. 

On the other side of the equation, although it's not necessary, a lovely walk in nature, a hot bath, meditation, breath work, yoga, or some other form of exercise earlier in the day could prepare the body for an even deeper experience of openness and well being.

Q. What should people bring? 

A. Participants will be laying down for most of the experience. Sometimes yoga studios have enough mats and blankets to go around in which case one should just bring a pillow for the head. Many people show up with Ikea bags filled with their blankets and pillows along with a mat or sleeping bag to lie on. It's a womb-like experience that can be nicely augmented by a sense of safety and comfort, so you are invited to make yourself feel soothed and insulated with a favorite blanket, eye pillow, etc. - whatever feels right for you. Since we are sharing a space together and many people have allergies, it's best to make sure whatever you are bringing into the studio is free of pet hair, strong perfumes and detergents and such. 

 

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal

If you're ready to dive deeper into the Ashtanga Full Primary Series, there's no better way to start than with this weeklong intensive.  

Kristin McCoy, Kristina Reese, and Kelsey Bourgeois will guide you through to your next level in this challenging and strengthening series. 

Enjoy an extensive breakdown of each posture and transition of the Primary Series with opportunities to refine alignment, be assisted, and, for yoga teachers, practice assisting.  There will be led sessions, Mysore-style sessions, and an overview of the history and philosophical background of Ashtanga Yoga. 

Some experience with Ashtanga Yoga recommended or advanced practice in another style of yoga.

This intensive qualifies as 40 CEs for RYTs.  There will also be a "Practice Only Option" for past participants of the Ashtanga Intensive Workshop involving attendance at the Mysore and led sessions.

Here's What People Are Saying About This Intensive:

"I have taken many workshops in my yoga practice, but the Ashtanga Weeklong Intensive workshop was the most beneficial and rewarding to my practice. The knowledgable teachers here at Amara were able to break down each posture so I could understand and have the ability to do all my postures with the correct form. Their compassion and understanding is undeniable." 
"I attended the Ashtanga Primary Series Intensive to enhance my Ashtanga practice. Since Ashtanga is so fast-paced, it is difficult to understand everything without Mysore-styled practices or other personal instruction. Plus, it makes you realize what a daily practice would feel like. Come days 2 & 3, I wasn't sure if my body could handle it. But by the end, you realize how quickly you adapt. It gets you in the zone and makes you feel the healing properties of the primary series. Its helps deepen your personal yoga practice and is an amazing credential for teachers, regardless if your specialty is Ashtanga or not." 

Register now
 

Watch Kristin and Kristina's previews of the Ashtanga Intensive on YouTube

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AuthorDebra Domal

We hope your new year is off to a wonderful start. We've been pleased to welcome so many new Amara yogis to the studio.  And speaking of new, we're starting off 2016 will a new class schedule, exciting art and yoga workshops and a comprehensive series of continuing education offerings for yoga teachers. 

  • Explore the chakras with coloring, meditation and more with Color by Chakras with Kristina Reese, starting on 1/23/16.
  • Say goodbye to the winter blahs with Christine Janak's Winter Warmer Workshop on 1/31/16. 

  • Yogassage and Restoration: A Partner Workshop, on 2/14/16, with Katie Williams, makes the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

  • Attn:  Yoga Teachers:  Save on our 40-hour training by enrolling in all five sessions by Monday, 1/18. 

Check out our event schedule, get more details or register now.  

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AuthorDebra Domal

Alexia Bauer will be holding Ashtanga workshops all day this Saturday, August 29th. Currently teaching at Moksha in Chicago, she is an experienced teacher with a passion to inspire her students. To sign up for the workshop, click here 

Learn a little more about her below! See you all on Saturday. 

1. Has your personal practice always been Ashtanga? What drew you to this style of practice?

When I first learned about yoga, I learned from someone that practiced Hatha and was very into Forrest Yoga at the time, so that's what she taught me. I didn't know there was anything else out there and I thought what I learned was "yoga" and that was it! Once I moved to Chicago from Guatemala, I discovered the range of yoga styles out there. When I heard about Ashtanga, someone mentioned that the style was like "gymnastics" and I thought I would hate it because I wanted my practice to be more about the philosophical and spiritual aspects and not just a vigorous physical practice. When I was in teacher training at Moksha, there was a picture of Kino MacGregor announcing a workshop in what seem to me a crazy posture at the time. I couldn't stop looking at it: she seemed strong, flexible, and peaceful. I took the workshop without knowing it was Ashtanga, I just wanted to learned how to do what she was doing. During her Led Primary Series, I couldn't stop thinking, "this woman is a genius! how did she come up with this class, everything makes so much sense and I feel great." A couple days later I learned that she was an Ashtanga teacher and that was the Primary Series and she didn't make it up. I never stopped practicing it after that.

I think what drew me to it was that even though you do the same postures every time, there is always a new challenge, and always something to work on. You have to face your fears and insecurities in many different ways, learning how to work with them and find acceptance. I love the order of the sequence, and the system allowed me to see a lot of progress in my physical practice from the very beginning. I love the fact that I don't have to make up a sequence of my own and that helps me be more focused.

2. I’ve read that Kino MacGregor was an incredible influence for you. What about her teachings and practice inspired you?

Kino was the first teacher I studied Ashtanga yoga with. She has a way of making the physical practice seem accessible and even when it feels difficult, she is very good at breaking things down so you can always find a way of making things work for your body or limitations. At the same time, she knows a lot about yoga philosophy. I had never heard a teacher talk about some of the scriptures the way she does; somehow I could think about applying the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the practice to my physical practice and my daily life, and I was very inspired by that. Plus, she makes everything look beautiful so who wouldn't be inspired by that! ;)

3. What prompted you to decide to study under Sharath Jois in Mysore, India? 

If you are an Ashtanga practitioner, you will hear all about Mysore and Sharath from other teachers, students, and books. I wanted to meet the person holding the lineage and experience practicing under his guidance.

4. You currently teach in Chicago, IL at the Moksha Yoga Center, how long have you taught there? 

I have taught at Moksha for 7 years now.

5. What do you wish to pass on to your students? 

To me, yoga has been the tool I use to live more consciously. I have learned a lot about my life, my patterns of thought and behavior, the way I react to situations, and how I behave with others and in the world. I think that's the beginning of living a better life because I know where to start working to bring something good to what's around me. I would like to contribute and participate in the world, in stead of only leaving my "garbage" when I leave. If I can share this method and it helps others to get something useful out of it in order to make their lives more healthy (in any way), so they can also participate in the world in a good way, that's what I wish to pass on to the students. 

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AuthorDebra Domal
 

1. What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification?

  I made the decision quite early on when I started my own practice, that I wanted to learn how to teach Yoga. It was never even a question for me, I knew this was what I wanted. I fell in love with it, how it helped me in so many aspects of my body, mind and spirit! I wanted to share that with others, and help them to discover how Yoga can improve their way of life.

2. What surprised you the most about this program?

  How wonderful it is to be a part of a Yoga community! It wasn't something I was really aware of, and I so enjoyed meeting new people, becoming friends and feeling welcomed by some really great people.

3. What have you learned about yourself?

I've learned what I really can be capable of. I was pushed mentally, emotionally and physically, all while feeling safe and supported. I've learned new ways to work through things, as well as recognizing root causes of my reactions towards different situations.

4. What’s the most impactful piece you have taken away from this program?

  Each day during and after training has been a reminder that I am capable of teaching, That I have knowledge now I can impart to others. To own that and have confidence in it!

5. Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

  I've already started teaching private lessons, and group lessons in home. A great teaching opportunity has also come from a local gym that I'm really excited about. I hope to eventually open a Yoga studio, and become a community builder for my area.

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AuthorDebra Domal
 

1. What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification?

I was inspired to get my certification to deepen my personal practice and in hopes of sharing my love of yoga with others.

2. What surprised you the most about this program?

What surprised me the most about this program was the amount of information we covered in just 5 short weeks and the amount of knowledge I received.

3. What have you learned about yourself?

I have learned not to sell myself short! I can accomplish things I never thought possible if I set my

mind to it.

4. What’s the most impactful piece you have taken away from this program?

The most impactful piece of the program for me was the relationships I built. Meeting new people and learning all the ways yoga has impacted their lives was very inspiring.

5. Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

With my Yoga Alliance 200 hour certification, I am teaching classes in Arthur beginning on August.

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AuthorDebra Domal
 

What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification?

I was inspired to get my certification because I wanted to immerse myself and deepen my own personal practice.   

What surprised you the most about this program?

I was surprised at the connections I made during this program.  I grew so close to all of the other trainees and made life long friendships. 

What have you learned about yourself?

I learned so much about myself during this training.  In addition to strengthening my asana practice I also found confidence in myself and my abilities.  

What’s the most impactful piece you have taken away from this program?

This training has helped me find a more authentic version of myself.  

Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

With my Yoga Alliance 200 hr certification I am going to teach class and continue to work on my personal practice.  

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AuthorDebra Domal

Amara was your first yoga studio, and now you have experienced many different studios both as a student and teacher. Can you talk a little bit about the L.A. yoga scene?

The L.A. yoga scene is abundant. There's every type of yoga for every type of yogi. Most studios have vastly different teachers (some have been teaching for more than 20 years) and classes, which makes if fun to explore. I feel very grateful to be apart of it! From high-end gyms to small homes that have been turned into studios, every place has something special to offer. It's funny how each area of the city has its own yoga community- the west side is typically fast paced, advanced, and hot. The central city is a bit of everything and the east side (where I live) tends to be a tad slower than the west but just as advanced taking time to dive deep with correct alignment of poses. While there is competition with so many studios and so many teachers, I do feel a sense of positivity and support throughout the yoga community to rise up the vibrations and shine light to all. 

Tell us about your teaching schedule in L.A. Has it been easy to get new teaching jobs? What do you think has given you an edge to help you land jobs?

I teach about 15 classes a week at 7 locations through 3 different associations, teaching 2-3 classes a day. The hardest part was finding my first teaching gig with a catch 22 of not having any experience teaching yoga in a big city, so it was hard for people to let me in. My mentor, Kia Miller (a very well known yoga teacher in the western world) had me sub her classes at YogaWorks before I got a class of my own- it felt as if I was thrown to the wolves (those fast paced advanced west side yogis) but I think she knew I just needed a little push in the right direction to ground my feet deeply as I started my journey into the Los Angeles Yoga scene. Once I landed my first gig all doors opened up. The most positive influence would definitely be my connections with others and my communication to what my goals and aspirations are. From there I would get referred to studios, audition by teaching a 30 minute mock class to the owners or managers (after subbing for Kia everything else felt like a piece of cake), and then would get offered classes. My schedule is constantly fluctuating which I like because I'm ultimately working with others to find what times, locations, and studios feel right for me so everyone can be the happiest they can be. 

We loved your yoga scene in True Blood, which you choreographed and appeared in. Was it intimidating to train actors to do yoga? How did you keep from laughing at the teacher?

That was fun! I wasn't intimidated by the actors and actresses, they were great to work with (although some of them have never really done yoga before)- they caught on fast as it was like a script they had to memorize just with their bodies. I was slightly intimidated by the director who was a very powerful woman that knew exactly what she wanted. I think the fun part was actually working with the director on where the camera would be (slowly flying above us) connected to the script of the 'guru' to find perfect the tempo of the class mixed with the level of the camera (standing vs./ on all 4's) all the while connecting to what the 'guru' was actually saying through his script. I went into that thinking I was only going to choreograph, and when they asked if I wanted to be in the mix I couldn't say no. I definitely laughed internally at the script, the guru, and the scene in general but after doing that scene a good 50 times to get the best take it felt like a sequence I’ve done for years. I've also been thinking about teaching actors and actresses more and more (I think the connection to the body, mind and spirit is quite important for those in that world) and I look forward to doing more of it.

Tell us a little bit about what you have been up to recently with the Wanderlust folks and other things.

I've been very excited about this next stage of my yoga career. Wanderlust is opening a studio in Los Angeles this month and I will take the Wanderlust Teacher Training in October, which emphasizes on advanced creative sequencing. I've been taking lots of classes from teachers out of this program recently and have fallen in love with the style. I recently assisted a yoga retreat at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur led by Kia Miller (my mentor) and Schuyler Grant (who is the co-founder of Wanderlust). I'm hoping that after this TT the doors will open to potentially teach at the Wanderlust studio here in LA with the opportunities of teaching at the Wanderlust festivals in the years to come. This new Wanderlust studio will be more than just a yoga studio- it will be a community center with a mixture of yoga, meditation, music, conscious food and drinks, lectures, and other special events. It's a place for people to come together and be together for longer periods of time than just taking a class and leaving. I whole-heartedly love this idea and can't wait to be a part of it. 

Your style is Kundalini-inspired. Can you describe that a little bit?

Although I don't have any classic teacher training in Kundalini, I've been studying for 5 years under my mentor Kia Miller who is known for her ability to translate the subtle teachings of Kundalini in a highly accessible way. I do plan on taking a Kundalini Teacher training in the future and hope to gain more knowledge to share with others in this field. I like to add pranayama, meditation, mantra and specific asanas that help awaken the Kundalini, lifting the energy from the root chakra to the crown. I often add this into my hatha and vinyasa flow classes finding balance in the practice from the gross to subtle body. 

You completed your 500-hour training with Kia Miller through YogaWorks. What were some of the main things you learned that you could share with us?

The main thing I learned through my teacher trainings with Kia is that being a yoga teacher is all about sharing your own practice with others. The most important thing then is your own practice. It's easy to lose yourself in your teachings and forget about yourself as you are constantly giving to others. She kept reiterating the importance of a daily sadhana, some kind of daily meditation possibly through mantra, pranayama, or a small asana practice to help shift into your own spiritual practice. The best is to do this in the early morning to start your day before all the hustle and bustle of the day arrives. Other keys of teaching I’ve learned are to teach to the students in the class, not just teaching the class. In other terms, you can plan a whole class out but once you get there you have to assess the scene looking at bodies asking about injuries, past experiences with yoga, etc., then adjust your plan accordingly to make sure everyone will be benefiting from your information your sharing. This is one of the hardest parts of being a teacher but also one of the most fun parts- it forces you to be absolutely present in the moment and makes the class more personal as you connect with the individuals there. 

Your upcoming workshop is about Creative Sequencing. Explain sequencing a little bit and what inspired this workshop subject. What can people expect? Is it just for yoga teachers or can anyone benefit?

Every yoga class I take in LA inspires my teachings. As I said earlier, I've fallen in love with creative sequencing specifically through teachers that have been trained through wanderlust, but really every teacher that provides a new transition, emphasis, and or link of poses. I feel that creative sequencing forces the student to be in the moment, as they have to stay alert to see what the next movement will be. As a full time yoga teacher for the last two years I've seen so many injuries caused by repetition of poses through misalignment. Think about how many times we move through our classic vinyasa of chaturanga, up dog, to down dog. That's a lot on our wrists, elbows and shoulders. While that is an amazing way to keep the heart rate up and generate heat to keep the muscles warm as we dive deeper that's not the only way to keep the tempo and heat going. I've noticed that my specific body resonates with less classic vinyasas and more intelligent sequencing towards our 'peak pose'. Sequencing is like any other story. There's a beginning, middle, and an end. You first find your peak pose (might be the most advanced pose of the practice, in this case lets say upward facing bow pose) which will guide you into your theme of the class (shoulder opening), finding an emphasis on actions with that through poses as we roll the shoulder blades back, down and into the chest, structurally opening the heart and strengthening the back body, while possibly adding an emotional and or connection to the chakras (ahimsa, non violence, love and the heart charkra). Now we have the content, after that we can explore possibilities of linking poses together instead of the classic surya a, b, or c, maybe you use child’s pose or table top position, maybe down dog or plank without chaturanga as the equal standing pose (tadasana, and/ or samastitihi). There’s a world of possibilities and this workshop will touch base on those possibilities to ignite our own creativity through sequencing. We well work through a creative class together, then talk it over, and make some of our own with mock sequences feeling it in our bodies and sharing our thoughts and experiences with others. Everyone can benefit from this class especially if you're interested in gaining and intelligent at home practice. I do recommend some kind of experience and practice with yoga, as there will be a lot of movements and information given. I hope to see you there! 

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal

This installment of our YTT Spotlight focuses on our new graduate, Lana Thai. Her gentle and peaceful style of teaching brings calmness to her students. Come experience it for yourself this Sunday from 6-7pm. As always, our YTT Debut classes are free and suitable for new and experienced yogis alike. Read on to explore Lana's thoughts on her yoga teacher training journey.

1. What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification?

 I decided to get my yoga certification to not only deepen my understanding of yoga physically and spiritually, but also to explore a future career path in helping others experience the beautiful transformation in their lives the way that yoga has helped transform mine.

2. What surprised you the most about this program?

The incredible depth of knowledge that each of the incredible instructors shared in detail with us went above and beyond what I had imagined for this training.

3. What have you learned about yourself?

Being able to learn all of the information while balancing my life has really taught me a lot more self-discipline and has showed me that transformation is possible in just five weeks as long as I was brave enough to take on that journey and allowed myself to open up to others. 

4. What’s the most impactful piece you have taken away from this program?

Perhaps the most impactful piece I have taken away is that yoga is beyond just the asanas and physical benefits. Yoga can have an impact in every moment of life and with practice, we can learn to accept all of what life has to offer us. 

5. Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

I would love to start teaching and share these pearls of wisdom, whether that’s through community classes or private individual or small group sessions. With this wonderful foundation, I hope to continue my education in yoga and somewhere along the lines, integrate yoga into my future career. 

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AuthorDebra Domal

Are you up for the Sunrise Yoga Challenge?

The Sunrise Yoga Challenge is coming up at the end of July and I’d love to have you join me!

You may be asking yourself, besides the getting up early, what is this challenge going to be exactly? So, I wanted to share a little overview of the workshop. Each morning we will flow through a sequence of yoga postures (asanas), followed by some breath work (pranayama) to help balance and center your day. I’ll also be sharing tips and tricks on the how and why of establishing YOUR morning practice.

I’ve crafted two unique sequences to help get your morning going:                                                                                             Rise & Energize is a lively practice for when you roll out of bed ready to take on the day (who knows, maybe even skip the coffee??).                                                                                                                                                                                                      In contrast, Flow & Glow is perfect if you prefer a slower start and may not be raring to go right away. I’ll alternate teaching the sequences each day so you can feel out what works for you. No matter your mood, both sequences will surely help set your day in the right direction!

Week One will focus on the Why—diving in to the mental and physical benefits of morning yoga.

Week Two will focus on the How—helping establish a routine that really works for you.

Set your alarms and join me for either one or both weeks of the Sunrise Yoga Challenge!

Still nervous if this is right for you? Let’s chat about it! Catch me at the studio or feel free to send an email my way.

Namaste.                                                                                                                                                                                                               - Kristina

 

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AuthorDebra Domal

Crystal will be teaching this Friday from 7-8pm. Don't forget that YTT debut classes are free! She is a wonderful teacher and always creates a safe atmosphere for her students. She will be moving to Colorado early July so take advantage of the opportunity to take a class from her!

1.     What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification?

I started to really explore yoga at a very transitional time in my life. Having been diagnosed with PTSD in 2006 after my time in the military and two herniated discs in my back and neck in 2010, I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2013 and decided I needed to be better to myself. Living in constant pain is not only hard on my body, but definitely my emotional and spiritual well-being. I decided to try yoga and the journey has been the best decision in my life. Along my journey, I have gained self-love which then turns into love for others. This is the reason I decided to get my certification. I want to share the experience of yoga with others and allow them the opportunity to experience their own transformations in a new and different way.

2. What have you learned about yourself?

Because this is an intensive 5 week program, my body has been tested further than I thought possible. When all around me has fallen, I still have my inner being to rely on. While I may not feel physically strong, I have learned to tap into my spiritual being and allow myself to be cared for by the universe, the unspoken gifts. The best gift I have received during this training has been an elderly couple that I walk by daily with my dog. While they do not know me, they smile and wave to me and share their love in that way. Their kindness has been my strength on a few very trying days.

3. Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

I am moving to Colorado next week and will create opportunities to share my love of yoga. Because I invest so much energy into each student I encounter, I would love to work with individuals or small groups. With my background in and love for team sports, I will actively pursue finding a space in the collegiate/professional sports arena. My mantra for 2015 is, “I am open”. 

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal
 

Our last YTT debut class of the Fall 2014/Spring2015 cohort has arrived! We can't believe how fast time flies. Rachel will be teaching her debut class May 30 from 6-7pm. 

1. What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification?

Yoga has been such a beautiful part of my life the last seven years, and I wanted to learn more about this practice because I truly find all aspects of yoga to be incredibly fascinating- the history, the language, the philosophy, the postures, the anatomy, all of it!  And further, for the last couple years, I’ve consistently been approached by friends and family asking me to teach them yoga, so I decided I wanted to dive into this experience and learn how to teach.

2. What surprised you the most about this program?

The depth of knowledge that is possessed by my teachers- they really are incredible

 3. What have you learned about yourself?

Generally, that I can capable of handling a lot more than I ever believed I could!  But more specifically, I discovered in me a deep desire to learn about the human body and how it moves, how everything works together, and what the role of yoga is in creating the space to move and settle into different situations with ease and a sense of purpose within the body and mind.

 4. What’s the most impactful piece you have taken away from this program?

I think what has impacted me the most is this idea that yoga can look so many different ways—you don’t have to practice two hours of asana and an hour of meditation and pranayama every morning to be a yogi and live a lifestyle that is rooted in compassion, non-harming, and self-care.  Yoga can be what you need it to be and that may [and probably will!] look many different ways as you go through different times during your life, and even from day to day.  We are all so busy and it can be really challenging to take time to take care of our bodies, but through this program I developed this ability to start listening to my body and noticing what my body needs to feel really good.  We all deserve that—feeling safe, loved, and nourished in our bodies.  

 5. Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

 Firstly, I am so excited to further my education in yoga, specifically I want to focus on anatomy and yoga as a supplementary therapy for physical pain, prenatal yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and trauma-sensitive yoga.  But also…I want to teach yoga!  I love teaching.  Yoga is my passion and I would be thrilled to be a part of someone’s journey and to be able to share my passion with others. 

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal
 

Here is the dictionary definition of stress: (n) “pressure or tension exerted on a material object.”

 The first thing that usually comes to mind when we hear the word ‘stress’ is that it is something bad. Stress bad, yoga good, right? Instead, for a moment, let’s understand stress simply for what it is – pressure, tension, a material, physical, physiological reaction to outside factors. The brain signals to the body to release chemicals that activate the sympathetic nervous system, creating an inflammatory response that brings us into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Our heart rate, respiratory rate, blood sugar levels and blood pressure all increase. Our blood vessels and muscles constrict. We go on high alert.

A little bit of stress can motivate us to finish a task, meet a deadline, study for final exams, escape a wild tiger. But when we carry stress in our bodies for days on end, weeks, a lifetime, it settles into our very tissues, organs, and even DNA. It is a known fact that chronic stress leads to illness.

Yoga, and especially a restorative and/or meditative practice, gives us time and space to inquire, within our own bodies, about where and how we hold stress, where and why we might literally be encountering resistance in our lives. There are the usual trouble spots – the neck, the jaw, those dang knots under the shoulder blades – and then there are other places – hamstrings, hips, low back, solar plexus. Through asana and pranyam, we can use the breath to explore our inner landscapes, attending to and nourishing the areas of the body where we experience stress, letting go of patterns that no longer serve us, moving away from the grips of the past.

Your greatest teacher is often your own body. Stress is an inevitable part of life, but how you respond to it, what you choose to learn from it, is where the practice of yoga can be an incredibly powerful tool.

 Amara is offering a complimentary (free!) event for members on May 9th, 6:00-7:30 pm, on the topic of using yoga for stress relief. We will practice asana, restorative poses, pranyama, and guided meditation. This class is appropriate for all levels. Space will be limited to 25 students.   

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal
 

1. What inspired you to make the decision to get your certification? 

I first came to yoga two years ago for several reasons, one being to enhance my own level of self-care.  I currently work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the PTSD clinic at the Danville Veteran's Administration.  I have seen my physical, mental, and spiritual health improve through developing a personal yoga practice, and I was inspired to share yoga with Veterans as an additional path to healing the physical, mental, and spiritual wounds of PTSD.

2. What surprised you the most about this program? 

I was most surprised at the incredible depth of learning we were offered in teacher training.  Our instructors not only provided guidance on learning and improving physical practice, but also on the importance of pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, spirituality, and yoga's rich and diverse history.  I was also surprised at the many ways in which teacher training challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and explore both my strengths and insecurities.

3. What have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that I am always improving, always learning, and always a work in progress. To stop striving for perfection and be kinder to myself. :)

4. What’s the most impactful piece you have taken away from this program? 

To continue exploring things that terrify me, because growth can only be obtained through taking a stepping forward.   I was also inspired by the sense of acceptance and community formed through the experience of yoga teacher training.  Yoga is absolutely for everyone!  I hope to spread that same sense of acceptance and community to the Veteran community.

5. Any plans on how you might like to use your Yoga Alliance 200hr certification?

My hope is to begin teaching trauma-focused yoga classes in my current work at the VA.  I would also like to continue working to develop yoga programming for Veterans in the Champaign-Urbana community.

Posted
AuthorDebra Domal