Yoga Workhop with Kino: Twists, Handstands & Ashtanga Yoga!

A few weeks ago, I spent an entire weekend attending a workshop with Kino Macgregor. And it.was.amazing! I learned so much in such a small amount of time, and I am still trying to absorb it all. It was my first time ever taking an Ashtanga class, and I ended up loving it! It was tough, not just physically but also mentally, which is right up my alley. I think one of the things I felt that was missing from my Yoga teacher training, and even just taking yoga classes in general, is the correct alignment and anatomy of the body while doing poses. I am ALL about details, and Ashtanga is amazing for learning them. I felt like such a newb, as my original thought on this type of practice was that it is too rigid and boring. Fortunately, perceptions and beliefs are always subject to change 🙂

Note: for those who don’t know what Ashtanga yoga is, below is a description found on the Ashtanga Yoga Columbus website:

The Ashtanga system is designed to purify the body, promote proper functioning of the digestive system, build strength, and restore range of motion to the body. The method of practice taught in Ashtanga Yoga relies on linking postures with deep, even breathing and steady gazing with the eyes. The system of linking the breath with movement is known as vinyasa and encourages the blood to circulate properly allowing the removal of unwanted toxins. The gazing point helps to facilitate a state of meditation, having a profound effect on the steadiness of the mind.

Yoga on High hosted Kino MacGregor, which they do every year. There was a series of classes: 1 on Friday, 2 on Saturday, and 2 on Sunday.

Friday night, we learned all about Sun Salutation A… I could not believe how much detail went into the movement and positioning of the arms, shoulders, hips, stomach, etc. I felt like I needed to take an entire course on how to do this beginning yoga sequence!

Saturday morning, I took my first Primary Series Class… and it By the time I came back from the afternoon break, I didn’t think I could even lift my arms!

Saturday afternoon was all about handstands. I always love taking handstand workshops, as I eventually want to put on my own (hopefully by the end of the year.. stay tuned ;)). With barely any arm strength left, I was able to make it through this workshop with a lot more understanding of body positioning while upside down. And, I even got to snap a pic with Kino herself – she really is awesome!

Kino MacGregor & Nina Elise Handstand

Kino MacGregor & Nina Elise Handstand

Sunday morning I had to teach MY yoga class, so I unfortunately missed the Mysore class. But, also a relief, because I could barely move my body after Saturday’s classes.

The Sunday afternoon class was all about twists – how to move your body to actually get into a twisted pose, and how to go deeper. So. Much. Information. It was AMAZING. I even designed my yoga class the week after around twists – that’s how much I learned! I didn’t realize it, but I don’t really do much twisting poses in my own practice… So learning new poses and being able to actually do them after being walked through the steps to do it – awesome.

After taking the weekend workshop, I have been dying to take another Ashtanga class. Not because I want to teach it – I love my power vinyasa flow classes! – but because I want to learn how to properly move my body and do the poses correctly. I would sit through a 2 hour class every day just to learn more about the anatomy of the body & detailed descriptions of how to get into poses!

Anyways -since my schedule has been so busy at work, I have been trying to take a Mysore Ashtanga class for beginners – and I finally got the chance to go the other day. I went to Ashtanga Yoga Columbus – a studio fully dedicated to the traditional Ashtanga practice. The studio is small – only 1 room, tucked away on the second floor with a few other businesses. It is perfect for a Mysore practice, where students come in for their self-practice and can be helped as needed. There were 2 instructors that walked around, helping the new students as well as veterans. I felt very comfortable, and the instructors were great at explaining the poses. I never felt judged, or like I was doing anything incorrect – it was a big, open space, and everyone was just doing their own thing.

The first half of the sequence was broken down in parts, so whenever I finished, an instructor would come over and show me the next set of poses I needed to do. I spent an hour practicing, and it was the perfect amount of time. Unfortunately, My work schedule has been a bit crazy (60-70 hours a week, can I get a nap??), so it’s almost impossible to get there when you work at 7 am until 9 pm at night… buuuut, I am trying to learn more of the the Ashtanga primary series before my next class so I don’t have to rely on the instructors.

So for those who have never done Ashtanga Yoga before, I recommend heading out to Ashtanga Yoga Columbus and taking a beginner Mysore class – it is a great workout, and very meditative since you are focusing on your breath the entire time (5 breaths per pose!). Very different from the heated power flows that I normally do – no heat, its just holding a series of poses, and it can take 1-2 hours to complete the practice. A little more rigid, but definitely worth a try! Has anyone else tried Ashtanga yoga? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear!

Traveling Yogi Essentials

Hi all! With my trip quickly approaching, I have been packing and planning like a madwoman. I decided to check in 1 small bag + bring 1 carry on, trying to keep my packing as light as possible. One of the worst things about traveling is having to minimize the crap that you bring, but also good practice for learning to survive on a few essential items.

With that being said, I created a list of items that any yogi needs while traveling – whether it be for a trip to the arctic or while sitting on a sunny beach in the Caribbean 🙂

Lavender & Peppermint Oil 

  • Lavender oil is like the swiss army knife of nature. It helps with sunburns, bug bites, cuts, anything skin related, sleep problems… etc. It is my go-to for relaxing, especially for long flights & helping to fall asleep in new places.
  • Peppermint oil is a stomach lifesaver – nausea, indigestion, stomach aches… And not only that, I use this for headaches & my sinuses (have you ever tried smelling peppermint with a stuffy nose? Opens up those airways within seconds!)l. I carry this in my purse at all times – my friends always end up using it when they aren’t feeling well!

Protein Bars & Snacks I am the worlds worst eater – I snack. A LOT. Because of my snacking “problem,” I have tried pretty much every single on-the-go food ever to be created by man. Since my schedule is usually packed from 6 in the morning until 11 at night every day, I always need to have something on hand when I am on the go. You can find any snack with protein, chocolate, or peanut butter in it stashed away in my car, my purse, or my desk at work at all times! A few of my favorite snacks are RX Bars, Kind Strong! Bars, Picky Bars (amazing for post-workout), and chocolate cacao nibs from trader joes.

Electrolyte Drink Mix When I travel, I find its hard to drink a lot of water. Not just because I forget, but also because who doesn’t like to get the occasional airport drink?! It’s easy to get dehydrated – airport travel fatigue is no joke! I’ve tried Nuun Tablets in the past, but my all-time favorite is Mestrength Electrolyte Drink Mix. It doesn’t have any extra ingredients in it + uses stevia as a sweetener. It also has creatine in it, which is amazing for drinking pre- and post-workout. I am banking on these to keep me hydrated doing 2 Yoga classes a day in the Belize heat!

Baby Wipes These are essential for ANY traveler – the perfect all-purpose body cleaner for those on the go! I use these to clean my face, wipe down my body (hello – no access to a shower while traveling all day=uncomfortably sitting in your own sweat/grime/dirt), cleaning hands, unexpected spills… total lifesaver. Any brand will work – I normally just grab some from my local CVS or meijer. Aquaphor I first found out about aquaphor when I got my first tattoo. Fast forward 9 years, 2 more tattoos, dry skin, and some seriously chapped lips and I am still using this stuff. All you need is a tiny travel-sized bottle – it lasts forever! I carry one with me at all times.

Yoga Mat* Every Yogi needs a mat to bring with them on their travels! Unfortunately, most mats are super bulky and difficult to carry around. Insert: Yoga mat created specifically for the traveling Yogi! B Yoga has designed the PERFECT mat to travel with… It’s super thin, non-slip, and light enough to carry around without being too heavy. I am planning on taking this on the plane with me so that I can do some pop-up yoga in the airports 🙂

There are a lot more things I pack, but these items are what I take with me on my carry-on. What does everyone else take as a travel essential? I’d love to hear what you take on your trips!

*B Yoga provided me with a travellers mat to use while traveling to my teacher training in Belize.

Yoga Photo Shoot + 1st time teaching Yoga!

This past week, I teamed up with G10 Photography, a local photographer in Columbus, to do a mini yoga photo shoot. I really love being able to try new things, and the whole experience was very cool!

One thing you should know about me is that I am a total nerd – I prepare and organize everything in my life, down to typing up notes and writing out my entire weeks agenda 1-2 weeks ahead of time. Since I am still fairly new to this whole yoga photography thing, I planned everything beforehand: picking out poses I wanted to do/try, different outfits to wear, etc. I even had my friend come with me to help out/direct me, because sometimes it’s hard knowing what I actually look like in the poses I’m doing!

After I arrived, I changed and stretched a LOT, so I was ready to go after about a half hour. I honestly don’t know how fit models do it – I was exhausted near the end from holding all of the poses, and am so glad I brought water and a snack to eat! We spent a total of about 2 hours in his studio – below are a few of my favorite shots!

Pincha Mayurasana  Hollowback Forearm Stand

Bakasana - Crow with reverse hands

This entire past week has been crazy – between running the quarter marathon on Saturday, I’ve also been packing for my trip and cramming in last minute study sessions with my required yoga reading list. Lot’s of late nights – up until 12:30 am studying, only to get up at 5:30 am for 7 mile runs + yoga classes 1-3 nights a week. Working 50 hours a week, fitting in guitar lessons, book club and seeing friends & family, I feel like I haven’t slept in years. But i LOVE it. I wouldn’t trade this craziness for anything in the world!

Anyways – back to yoga.. You know how I said I was total nerd and prepared for everything? Well, I take notes when reading my yoga books, and have even typed up the entire Baptiste Power Yoga flow so I can clearly see everything laid out in front of me. I learn best when engaged in all types of learning styles – visual, hearing, hands on.. Reading notes & asking my yoga teachers a lot of questions after class are 2 ways I’ve been learning the past few months, but I haven’t been able to actually TEACH. And teaching a yoga class – with me as the only student – isn’t exactly the same as teaching someone else how to do yoga ?

I wanted to start practicing teaching a little bit in order to become more familiar with the Baptiste Power flow sequence, and fortunately for me, I have a lot of willing friends to volunteer as students! This past Thursday, I taught my first Yoga “class” – and by class, I mean my friend came over and I led her through a 50 minute power yoga flow. I was a little nervous and had to look at my notes a few times, but I did it… and loved it! (I found a Playlist made by Yoga Girl on Spotify and it was perfect!)

Actually teaching someone is very different than doing it alone – trying to find the right words to say, how to say it, knowing the correct pose names, the different sequences… it was nerve-wracking, and almost a little uncomfortable. I think about how awesome all of my yoga teachers are, and how they always have the most profound or touching things to say during their class. Having an impact on someone, even if it is just for 50 minutes, can change their thinking, their mood, their day… It’s such a beautiful thing. Every teacher is different, and I think with practice, it will get easier and easier to become more comfortable in teaching and finding my own voice.

For all you Yoga teachers (or any teacher!) out there – how did you learn to teach? What were the most challenging things when getting your YTT certification? The most fun or satisfying? I would love to hear from you!

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