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Which Yoga Style is Right for You?

It’s nearing the end of summer, which is a perfect time to check in with your body to see how you feel. Maybe you feel a little squishy from all the summer ice cream calories and you want to finally try yoga! Horray! But where do you start?

The best place to start is Google! Or any search engine of your choice really. But seriously, Google will help you. Because seeing all those yoga signs everywhere can be intimidating if you have never done yoga. And getting bored in your practice because you do the same sequence day after day can be limiting. Google will tell you where to go. When I google the phrase “different types of yoga”, 21 million results pop up. If you are able to get through 1 or 2 of those you may learn a few things. But I’ll make it shorter, clearer, and more to the point for you.

The Ultimate Different Forms of Yoga List in No Particular Order:

vinyasa1. Vinyasa – This phrase is everywhere. Vinyasa means “to place in certain way”, roughly. But American Yoga has really taken this to mean Flow Yoga. Breath to movement. Most vinyasa classes incorporate moving 1 breath to 1 movement with some longer holding postures. The goal is to sweat, but learn some postures, and get a workout in an hour. Lots of these classes are heated, so make sure you check the description of each class if that does not suit you. It is a great place to start if you are new to yoga and like aerobic like exercise, ie. you like kick-boxing classes, spin classes or boot camp.

rope 22. Iyengar – Iyengar was a person who developed this style of yoga. BKS Iyengar developed this style to make yoga accessible to both young and old practitioners, and those who are injured. Lots of props – belts, ropes, blankets, blocks, and bolsters- are used to facilitate proper alignment in each posture. Postures are held for much longer, and each week a different set of types of postures are performed. Week 1 – standing postures; week 2 – forward bending; week 3 – back bends; and week 4 – restorative.  Anyone with an injury should start here and everyone should practice Iyengar to better their postural alignment and physical practices elsewhere in life.

3. Hatha – Hatha really is any type of yoga, however lots of American classes offer it as a style itself. Usually this is slow-paced, some standing postures, and more seating and supine postures. Less strenuous and demanding than some other types and good place to start if you are new to yoga, really tired, or really tight!

ashtanga series4. Ashtanga – Developed by the late Sri Pattabhi Jois and carried on by his grandson Sharath in Mysore, India. This style of yoga is a set sequence of postures performed 6 days a week, in the morning. Yogi’ advance over their lifespan through up to 6 different series. There is lots of attention to the bandhas in the body which can be so difficult to control. There are many studios that offer intro classes and improv classes that allow you to explore Ashtanga without doing the entire full Primary series or Second series. This type of practice is really for those who want to gain the experience of deep athletic yoga. It’s a difficult practice, and takes up to 3 hours to complete. Many practitioners practice infrequently or practice this style and a different style to make the series more accessible, as it is really demanding on the body. Not great for injuries, although (as an injured individual) it is attainable to practice, but it takes time, and you must be the patient with your body. There is definitely a spiritual element to this practice that comes with time and patience as well.

bikram yoga5. Bikram – Is a misogynist (from what my fellow yoga friends who have practiced from him directly have said) and developed this short style of yoga (26 postures) to be done in an incredible amount of heat. Not recommended for people sensitive to heat but can be a good place to start a yoga practice if you like to really “sweat it out.” I will note that lots of yogi’s start here and as they develop a taste for more postures move to a heated vinyasa class. I do not typically recommend this style because I find it incredibly contradictory. In yoga, you are supposed to generate your own body heat by moving and breathing. While heated vinyasa classes can be quite delightful for tight bodies in cold weather, Bikram is just too damn hot!

yin yoga6. Yin Yoga – If Hatha and Iyengar had a baby it would be yin yoga. Yin yoga typically involves the most restorative postures with prop aid performed on your back. Good for individuals who are new to yoga, and limited in mobility, or if you just need a lighter practice day.

12-basic-postures2 siv7. Sivananda – Developed by the late Vishnudevananda Sarawati, this type of yoga involves a warm-up of sun salutes followed by rest. Then you rise and perform a single posture, and then rest again! Repeat for 12 postures and you have Sivananda. It’s a great practice if you really like a good warm up and rest. I recommend checking it out and getting a taste for a different style, because not many people practice it, but it can be pretty invigorating and spiritual.

kundalini 8. Kundalini – Involves trying to awaken the the body through breath and circular movements (which is what kundalini translates to). Lots of meditation, breath work, mantra’s, and chakras are involved with the postures. It can be very spiritually awakening and invigorating, but don’t expect a lot of sweat. Still you will be rather warm after a session. Definitely for individuals who want to awaken a deeper meaning with yoga and gain insight into the higher self.

aerial yoga9. Aerial Yoga – Take a silk dancer’s silk and make a hammock out of it and you have what you need for aerial yoga. Feels amazing, can be challenging, after all you are hanging in a silk hammock. Great for injuries or people wanting to explore flying without really flying! You can really deepen certain poses using these awesome silks!

acroyoga10. Acro Yoga – Fly with partners instead of silks with acro yoga!  This type of yoga involves partners, but you typically do not need to bring a partner in order to practice. Expect a warm up of a few sun salutations followed by practice time. Typically there are spotters so the base and flyer are safe to play. There are lots of meetups so check out your city’s local acro yoga facebook page for free play times! You need a lot of strength and a good foundation of postures to be ready for Acro.

prenatal yoga11. Prenatal – Yoga for expecting moms … but if you accidentally walk into a class, feel free to take it! I’ve had a student walk in to a prenatal class I taught and she enjoyed it still because it is very restorative. Lots of long holds in supportive postures for mom and baby and expect some talk about the baby, after all it is a prenatal class.

restorative yoga12. Restorative – Lots of postures utilizing props to allow part of the body to relax while the rest of the body gets a stretch. Similar to yin, apart of Iyengar in the final week. Expect long holds and emphasis on breathing and stillness. Because you are still for a long time.

viniyoga13. Viniyoga – Developed by Gary Kraftsow, this form of yoga is individualized to the practitioner with an emphasis on function over the form of the posture, proper breathing, repetition, and adaptation. Great for injured individuals and great for injury prevention. Also just great for learning how to adapt postures for your own body!

anusara14. Anusara – John Friend developed this style with an Iyengar influence and Hindu teachings. The school’s ideology is “grounded in a Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness.”. The practice is broadly broken up into the 3 A’s – Attitude, Alignment, and Action. There is a lot of spirituality emphasis and expect to learn about the body’s energy loops. There are no set routines, practice is designed to progressively sequence poses which encourages students of all levels to advance in their practice.. The founder did leave his foundation after a scandal in 2012 made accusations of Friend being involved in a Wiccan coven and sexual relations with his students. kripalu

15. Kripalu – A three-part practice of knowing, accepting, and learning from your body. Expect a deeply spiritual practice with breath work, some postures, and lots of meditation. Good for those who want more spirituality from their practice.

jivamukti16. Jivamukti – Developed by Sharron Gannon and David Life. There are not many places you can get this practice, founded in NYC. I recommend flying to New York and spending some time there and get the feel for this one! Lots of celebs like to practice at the Jivamukti studio so expect to see a few (I saw both Anne Hathaway and Heather Graham). Classes offer meditation, chanting, and postures. Each class is usually a different theme, and expect some scripture reading. Good for those who want to delve into a deeper, spiritual practice while getting a good yoga workout.

svaroopa17. Svaroopa – This style of yoga is a healing style of yoga that uses a variety of unique poses to create a deep release of tension throughout the body. Excellent for injuries or tightness and release from stress. Don’t expect strength from this practice, it is entirely meant to make you more flexible. Lots of props are used, and expect to get each posture easily.

edward clark tripsischore18. Tripsichore – Developed by Edward Clark, this method began as a dance narrative and evolved to incorporate yoga. You can google some amazing narratives of Edward doing some crazy partner like yoga (think acro) with a hint of modern dance thrown in. Expect challenging sequences that get progressively more difficult. Great for dancers and acro yogis.

cuchira yogance19. Yogance – Cuchira developed this form of yoga as a fusion of dance with yoga. Expect challenging sequences moving the body in all sorts of ways. Great for dancers, not so good for injuries. But look at how fancy she gets!

So now that you know all the styles (and I am sure there are more being created right now) get out there and try some yoga!  I practice more than 1 type of yoga, so there is no “correct” type. You can take multiple forms of yoga and learn new ways to deepen your practice.


Quick Yoga Break – How to Get in that 10 Minutes

You can see from the infrequency of my posts that I have been busy. Very busy. I’m studying for finals as I finish up year 1 of law school, AND I am busy training clients, teaching yoga, and managing a law firm. Phew, life can be exhausting! BUT I always make time for my practice. This is difficult because having very little time and/or having complete burn-out can really make you NOT want to get yoga (or any physical activity for that matter) in.  But that is also when you need yoga the most. Here are a few pointers, really just 5 poses, for those days you just don’t think you can do anything, but really need to do something.

Step 1: PRANAYAMA- BREATHE!

Iyengar, yoga, yoga meditation,

Iyengar shows us how it is done!

It seems so simple, but yet we forget to do it. Find a comfortable seat, if you have tight hips, use a pillow, block or blankets so you can sit with a straight spine. Bring your hands to your knees and close your eyes. Let everything go. Forget about the past, the future and just focus on the present moment: your breath. Inhale slowly, deeply and fill the lungs up. Open the mouth and sigh it all out. It’s ok to make sound! Repeat as many times as you need to find your center and breathe in and out through the nose slow, long, and deep.

Forward Facing Hero Pose-Adho Mukha Virasana (you know it as child’s pose)

adho mukha virasana, childs pose,  forward virasana   Supportive child's pose, child's pose, Iyengar child's pose

This posture is great for the spine, the nervous system, the shoulder girdle and the hips. Bring the feet to touch, knees out wide and sit your hips toward your heels. Walk your hands out in front of you and rest your head on the mat. Options for tighter individuals: roll a blanket under your knees and rest head on a blanket. I like to gently rock the head from side to side to massage the forehead and calm the mind. Are you still breathing? You should be! Breathe slow, long, and deep.

Backbend Over the Block

backbend over block, Iyengar

Most of us have very sedentary jobs and that means tight hips and rounded shoulders with kyphotic spines. To correct this travesty, backbend over the block is necessary! Grab a block and place it in between the shoulders in the upper Thoracic region of the spine. With straight legs pressing into the wall, slowly lower yourself down over the block on whichever level you like and relax the arms out like a T. If your head is uncomfortable, place a second block under the head, or a pillow/blanket, whatever is appropriate.

Half Pigeon 

Half Pigeon Posture

This is everyone’s favorite posture. It’s one of the ones that enables you to really let go and release. Start on hand and knees and take the right leg forward as you slide the left leg back. Your right leg is bent at whatever angle you need, usually the ankle is near left hip bone. The left leg is rotating internally towards the earth and the foot is in line with the hip bone. You are trying to get the hips even in space, so you have to send the left hip toward the earth while you drag the right hip back. If you are tight, stack blankets under the right hip. I like to place a block or blanket under the forehead so the neck can be in a neutral position. Stay as long as you like and then switch sides. To deepen, remove blankets and work the front foot more parallel to the top of the mat.

Viparita Karani – Legs Up the Wall

viparita karani, legs up the wall

Everyone likes this pose too, unless you have really tight hamstrings, then you need to be further from the wall. I like to wrap the strap around the thigh so they can release. This pose is great for any anxiety and it helps put the ribcage into the ideal position for pranayama. If you do no other inversion, do this pose. Place a bolster or a few blankets folded into rectangles by the wall. Sit facing away from the wall and roll to your back while you bring the legs up the wall. You may have to adjust a bit to get the hips in line with the shoulders but starting sitting close to the wall will help you get really close to the wall. Close the eyes and find your breath.

That’s all. Do these and I promise you will feel better. You will feel restored and able to continue through that hectic schedule!


12 Postures to Revitalize Your Workday

Every time I teach yoga I have to incorporate postures to counteract what the majority of people do all day: sit! Forward-head posture, rounded shoulders, tight hips, tight low backs and weak abdominals all contribute to unhappy bodies in dire need of realignment. There are lots of different postures and exercises you can do to strengthen the body and relax overworked muscles, but those take time most people do not have in the middle of the day.  There are some easy, quick postures to really help with the turmoil of sitting all day. Here are my top 12 postures you can do in under 5 minutes during your day at work:

1. Knees to Chest neutralize the spine and give the low back a little break with this posture knees to chest

2. Single Knee to Chest – give the lower digestion some movement

yoga, single knee to chest, health

3. Supine Twist –  move the spine and internal organs

supine twist, yoga, health

4. Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose) – stretch the hamstrings to relieve low back tension

supta Padangusthasana, yoga, leg stretches

5. Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose) – increase hip flexibility, relieve sciatica and develop length strength

supta Padangusthasana, yoga, leg stretches

6. Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose) – stretch the IT band, hip alignment

yoga, leg stretches, hip opening

7. Supine Figure 4 – open the hips, specifically the piriformis

figure 4 stretch, hip opening, yoga

8. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose) – open the hips a little more, align the spine, relax the neck

happy baby pose, yoga, hip stretches

9. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose Kneeling) – open the shoulders and chest muscles, scapula alignment

cow face pose, shoulder openers

10. Shoulder Opener 1 – open the shoulders, chest and neck

shoulder opener, yoga, stretches

11. Shoulder Opener 2 – more opening of the shoulders and chest to counteract computer work

arms over head stretch, yoga, stretching

12. Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero’s Pose) – calm the mind, let the neck muscles relax, open the hips, relax the low back

adho mukha virasana, heros pose, yoga, stretching

Spend as much time as you like in each posture and don’t forget to do both sides! Feel free to print this blog out to take to work to remind yourself to take a break in the middle of your busy day and encourage better posture!


Healthy Traveling Tips to Las Vegas!

Yes, you can successfully travel healthy in Sin City! I thought it was going to be more challenging a task than it was. First thing I did when I found out I was going to visit Las Vegas for a few days was get on Google. I looked at a map of Vegas, looked at the location of where I was going to stay and searched for words like “healthy”, “organic”, “natural”, “yoga”, and “local”. I came up with some very good results!

Healthy Eating in Las Vegas

Unfortunately, your options are quite limited but there are still some great restaurants you can go to and if nothing else, there is a Whole Foods right off the strip. There is a really cute local grocery store on East Sahara called Rainbow’s End and they have an excellent vegan cafe section. As soon as I got to Las Vegas I stocked up on snacks there. I had the raw zucchini pesto pasta and vegan tomato soup and it was all very satisfying and tasty. There is also a raw food cafe right by TruFusion that I stopped in after yoga called Go Raw Cafe.  I had quite the filling half portion size Vegi-Cotti, gluten-free raw “tortillas” filled with a nutty pesto veggie concoction and served with a side of zucchini “pasta”. The only thing about eating raw, is that it is cold, and raw garlic can be a little intense. Other than that, it fills you up, tastes delicious and helps clean your body out!

For warmer meals, I ate some delicious Indian food at Mint Indian Bistro on Flamango. I was so excited to be able to eat an appetizer other than a salad. They grind chick peas into flour to make a spiced for many types of fillings and deep fry. I tried the fresh veggie Pakoda and was blown away. I also tried the Famous Organic Tantric Tandoori, chicken that is. This was also very good but could have used a sauce. Their Masala chai tea is also very nice. Other meals included a couple of trips to the Whole Foods, and a decent experience at a Thai restaurant called Komol. I was not able to get into their sister restaurant across the street, Lotus of Siam which I hear is better. Both are very vegetarian friendly. I had Vegetarian Panang curry and it was just a little too rich for my taste buds. The fresh rolls were good though.

Getting Active in Las Vegas

There is a lot of fun activities to do in Vegas. I wanted to mostly yoga. I found Sherry Goldstein’s Yoga Sanctuary pleasant enough. The night I arrived, I took a very nice Vinyasa Flow. The class was very small, which I never mind because it usually means closer attention by the instructor. I think the instructor might have been a little too intimidated to give me adjustments though! The drop in rates are pricey and there is no teacher/student discount for people from different states, which I don’t think is that fair. The next day, I tried out TruFusion Yoga which I liked much better. I got a day pass for roughly the same price as I paid for one class at the other yoga studio. I was able to take as many classes as I wanted to. I took the Z Flow 75 from this awesome instructor Zeeky Vincent with a very diverse yoga background.  His class was a little more challenging, to my liking, and he was eager to assist me in advanced postures. Later that day, I took the TruHot Pilates with Jenny Kim who gave another kick-ass workout. I was sore from my abs to my ass for the next few days! This studio also offers kettlebell, ropes, TRX, boxing, circuits and sculpt classes. If I had more time, and will power, I would have gone to more classes there!

There are lots of spas, massage therapists, and skin care professionals if you really want to pamper yourself. If I had more time I would have indulged in further activities! But, alas, I have more to look forward to the next time I make it out to the not-necessarily-sinful City!


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Why It Is Important To Take Time For Oneself

relaxation, personal training san diegoMost of us spend our days consumed with work and people who demand our concentration. We rarely afford ourselves the proper nurture and care that we so easily give out to others. Yet this “me time” is important for our own growth and development. More and more studies are proving that taking time for oneself is beneficial.

One Harvard study finds that alone time actually improves one’s memory, while another study on athletes found that they perform better with proper down time, ie. relaxation. An associate professor at Bucknell University found that not only is alone time important to collect one’s thoughts, but that not enough students are doing so. If students get into a pattern of not having down-time, this pattern is only likely to repeat post graduation. And I see so much of this happening all over the place. Too much work, too busy of social lives, too many obligations to really give the body time to rest from all of the mayhem.

So how do we learn to take time for ourselves? It takes some real mindfulness and ability to say “no” more often than you would like to as well as to put away digital devices more often than you would like to. Here are some tips to improve your success and ultimately your own happiness:

  1. Schedule your ‘me’ time. In order to get into a routine, you have to make time for yourself and treat it just like any other appointment.
  2. Say ‘no’ to group lunch outings more and spend some quality time decompressing. You may find you have more energy to complete your work day.
  3. Schedule yourself stretching breaks at work. If you are living in San Diego, working full-time you get 2 ten minute breaks per day. Use these! Put your phone away and move your body more, you’ll maintain posture, increase digestion and keep the body happy for longer.
  4. Learn to meditate. You start by closing your eyes and focusing solely on your breath and your body. Over time you find that you can focus for longer periods of time resulting in meditation.
  5. Get that massage, pedicure, acupuncture or spa appointment! Treat the body well and it will treat you well!
  6. Get your sleep. Yes sleep is also your alone time.
  7. Get out and see nature. Take in the beauty of this world.
  8. Sit down with a good book in an epsom salt bath.

I try to do all of the above to increase my productivity and lower my stress level. So relax and enjoy!


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BEST Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Nutrition

I realize it has been well over a month since my last post, and I do apologize. I have been swamped with friends getting married (multiple weddings) and I started law school part-time. But I am finally back in action!

This post focuses on the fads behind pre and post workout nutrition. There is a lot of bad information out there in the world, and gyms love to promote certain brands for nutrition. I call these brands “crap.” Because most of them are just that.

I remember a time as a trainer, years ago, buying pounds of low-carb protein drink mixes to fuel my workouts. All the guys would keep their own favorite flavor in the break room and convinced me that it was all healthy. Now I know better. Those protein mixes have so many ingredients that the body is probably not even breaking it down in the correct manner. The low-carb part really means that some artificial sweetener is replacing what would be the sugar. Artificial sweeteners are poison to the body and lead to nerve cell damage and tumors. Unfortunately I was apart of a gym that did not educate its staff properly and personal trainers were telling clients to use these toxic protein mixes.

All that the companies claim on their labels is one giant lie and a scam. Much like those Take Shape For Life or Slim Fast meals. The prepackaged meals shipped to your home? Garbage.

Before You Workout

Our bodies really do not need anything extra before a workout. As long as you are eating by my Rules to Eat By you will be fine. All you need to survive are vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, essentials oils and some meats (if you eat it) every 3-4 hours you will survive your workout.

Most people have it all wrong when it comes to fueling before and after workouts.  What should you really eat before a workout? Nothing. Yes nothing. You have just been told by mostly advertising that you should always have something to eat. But what the companies making all the “pre-workout energy bars” are forgetting to mention is that your body does not digest these things. That is correct. When you eat that power bar 30 minutes before your workout you are doing your body more harm than good.

Ashtanga Yogi’s are the only athletic individuals who seem to not eat Maty Ezraty, Yogabefore practicing. This enables the body to actually use muscles in the abdominal region, and allows the energy to stop flowing down and out of the body, but rather work its way up and out of the crown. Any yogi will attest that when they eat or drink too much before a practice, they do not practice as well as they would have otherwise.

Medical science also finds this to be true. It takes the body roughly 5 hours to digest the complexity of foods like protein bars prior to a workout. There are just too many ingredients to try to break down. In addition, as soon as the body starts to work out, the brain shuts down the bodily systems that aren’t as necessary as the muscular system. The heart has to pump more blood to your muscles, and pumps less to your digestive and excretory systems. That is usually why you don’t have to go to the bathroom during a workout. The body stops digesting your food and it just sits in your belly. Taking up valuable space and creating more strain to the body.

That is why most Ashtanga yogis practice yoga in the morning. Just after you go to the bathroom, you practice. You clear the bodies of excess waste and can have more control of your physical body and all your muscles. You also have great awareness for your body because you are just awake and have not cluttered the mind with too many worries. But that is for another blog. The point is to have a light body to do proper movements with.

So If you work out in the afternoon, try not to eat for about 3 hours prior to practice. Even though I always say eat every 3 hours, your metabolism will not slow down if you replace food with exercise and eat within 30 minutes after. That leaves your body only without food for maybe 4.5 hours which is still safe.

apple, pre workoutIf you find yourself starving before your workout, you can eat a piece of fruit. It’s the easiest and quickest for the body to digest and will not leave you feeling too full to engage the abdominals during practice, or to breathe as deeply as you need to.

After You Workout

juice maker, healthy, workout 30 minutes after is key. Even if you workout far from where you have food waiting for you, have some fresh-squeezed organic juice to replenish you. This will allow your body to begin to recover quicker. Fruits are the easiest to digest and only take about an hour to process. Leaving you time to eat your healthy dinner of organic-local-chicken with kale-cauliflower ‘rice’ when you get home.

Enjoy your food. Allow the body to relax post workout and with that comes slow, mindful eating. Be aware of what you put into your body. If you are working out, you are trying to rid yourself of dangerous toxins, so try not to put them back in your body when you finish that workout. That means you have to eliminate the fried, processed and inhumane foods out in the world.

If you feel the need to add in some protein somewhere, try to get organic grass-fed whey protein powder (plain no additives) or pea protein powder.

In summary, try not to eat before you workout. Always drink something natural (ie. fresh-pressed juice) within 30 minutes post workout, and take your time eating your meal 1 hour after that. Be mindful about what you put into your body.


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My First Yoga Journal Conference Experience

sydney cohen, yoga journal conference, san diegoYes you read that right, my FIRST Yoga Journal Conference! My knowledge of this conference is solely based on the advertising.  No one talks about it. No one in my yoga communities mentions it. This could be because Yoga Journal Magazine does have some questionable articles, not too many scientific articles, and way too much emphasis on Vinyasa over all the other forms of yoga. But regardless, as soon as I saw Maty Eztray on the list of Yogis presenting, I knew I had to go.

Maty Ezraty is one of what I like to call the “Original Six”. When you Google “Ashtanga Yoga”, the first video you see is “Primary Series Ashtanga With Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.” Eztray it one of the only 2 women demonstrating Primary Series alongside San Diego’s own Tim Miller of the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Carlsbad. Eztray has been around for years, and has achieved yoga fame on her own, outside of being known for that awesome purplMaty Ezraty, Yogae full body leotard in the 1993 Yoga Works Productions video. Ezraty founded Yoga Works in 1987, when I was 2. Ezraty went on to study with Geeta Iyengar. Her exposure to both Ashtanga and Iyengar practices is why I really wanted to take a class with her.

Ezraty was amazing. I took a class on strengthening the low back, since I have a low back injury, and learned so much. Eztray is this tiny little woman with a dynamic and magnetic personality. She did not even need to mic herself in the giant room, where we all were against the walls. She was funny, enthusiastic, hands-on and deep. She really wanted every student to understand how to hold each posture.

Shiva Rea, Vinyasa, Vinyasa FlowBesides Ezraty, I was able to take a full day workshop with Shiva Rea, learned how to twist my entire spine with Aadil Palkhivala, and discover the pathway to enlightenment with Dharma Mittra. Rea was inspiring in how she taught Vinyasa. I really enjoyed her and her class, but wished she herself gave more hands on experience. She had 2 helpers who gave the great adjustments. Rea also gave good instruction and description for tradition teachings of Surya Namascar and Chandra Namascar. She taught interesting flows with Mandala Namascar and Chakra Namascar. I appreciated her views on movement and felt very uplifted, though rather exhausted, after class.

dharma mittra, yogaMittra was a soft-spoken, happy man. He devoted half of the entire practice to discussion. I was looking forward to taking a class with him since I visited his studio when I was in New York a few years ago. I am not a Vegan, but do strive to attain a low meat, high vegetable diet using sustainable and humane meats. Mittra made it clear that one must be Vegan to attain enlightenment and that “eating animals is unevolved.” I did not disagree with him at all and he was very persuasive, stating that we look for things to give us happiness. One of those is food, and most of us eat meat. We don’t like to give up our meat because we equate it to our happiness. Profound yes, but can I really give up meat? I can’t process tofu well, or grains, so most of my caloric intake comes from oils, nuts and seeds and meat. I definitely understand the point of giving it up, and would love to see enlightenment.

Aadil PalkhilvalaBut of all the presenters, Palkhilvala spoke to me the most. The enlightened disciple of B.K.S. Iyengar just had so much to share. We did not even have the time to delve into 0.005% of his knowledge. He knew everything. Ayurveda (was a holistic doctor), Iyengar (studied one-on-one with Iyengar for hours a day starting at the age of 7), his website says he is a lawyer, he was awarded Advanced Teacher Certificate at 22, and he founded Purna Yoga. So we all wanted to pick his brain. It was my smallest class and I was shocked.

This guy seemed to know everything. yoga, he says, is “your connection to your spirit.” He said we all need to bring more spirit into the world and be less connected to our ego. He reminded us that there are only 3 important relationships: our self; others and the world as a whole. Palkhilvala informed us that asana practice is not important. He said “it is necessary, but not important.” Compared it to brushing the teeth, and explained how we don’t compete with each other while brushing our teeth, so we shouldn’t during asana. He also said to look for the good in everything, because our perception is our reality. If we look for the good in everything, we get bliss. And then he quoted Sri Aurobindo, “Bliss is the secret stuff of all that lives, Even pain and grief are garbs of world-delight.”

I learned way too much for my brain to absorb in such a compact setting. I cannot wait to continue to learn more but I am ready for some time with my own thoughts to let it all just sink in.