yoga

How to Book a Private Yoga Class

private yoga Tampa

Sometime people tell me that yoga is hard for them. It’s got me thinking… is yoga hard or is it hard to show up to public studio classes and overcome judgement?

Everyone’s experience is different and where some people thrive in larger public class settings, others may struggle. And that’s totally okay!

That’s why I recommend private yoga classes!

Private classes come with a judgement-free zone and with a teacher that’s entire attention is on YOU and your wellbeing.


Private classes with Lotus Heart mindfulness

I offer mindful yoga OR mindful meditation for 1-2 people in your home/apartment/recreation center in the South Tampa area.

I also offer private session that are designed 50|50, one part mindful yoga and another part mindful meditation. We start the class with 30 minutes of gentle, mindful yoga, and conclude with a 30 minute meditation.

Classes designed to fit your needs and multi-class passes are available at a discount.


How to Book

Booking a private yoga and/or meditation class with me is super easy!

  1. Set your intention or goals for your yoga sessions. Some people book private classes with me because they have never been to a yoga class before, and are embarrassed to go to a group class. Some book with me because they have body limitations, and attending a studio class is too challenging. Others want to gain flexibility or strength…or have a super-challenging schedule.

  2. Review my private yoga classes and choose which class best suits your needs. I can put together a class just for you, depending on what YOUR experience and intentions are. I think that making yoga convenient is really important.

    1. Are you located locally, in the Tampa Bay area? If so, would you like to be in my private studio setting or would you like me to come to you, in the comfort of your home? I’ve met people at their offices, or even at the beach!

    2. If you’re not local, you might benefit from remote mindfulness meditation classes. Especially if you have a busy or tight schedule because online meditation classes can be held anywhere from your office to your bedroom to a hotel in Peru! View all of my mindfulness meditation classes for more information.

  3. Schedule your appointment! Take a look at your calendar and determine when the perfect time would be for you and I to meet for our private class. I believe that making yoga convenient is really important so I work a class into YOUR schedule.

    1. Sign up for regular classes. I recommend that students sign up for at least four weeks of sessions at a time. This is because consistency is key to adopting healthy habits. Plus, I have multi-class passes available at a discount!

    2. Consider bringing a friend or partner. My classes cater to one to two people at a time. So if you’re taking steps to wellness with a friend or partner, this could be a great opportunity to grow together!

  4. Do your homework. I can get you started on a home practice if you are interested. I make an easy-to-follow practice you can do on your own…until we meet again!

Hopefully this answers some questions you might have had about booking a private class! Feel free to contact me with any extra questions (or leave a question in the comments below!)

Mindful Yoga for Trauma Survivors

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month. Yoga and meditation can be really helpful for survivors of trauma. It has helped me immensely. Here are a couple of practices that I have found very grounding.

A few things first, though…

First, yoga and meditation are not a panacea for survivors. Finding a great therapist, AND finding a yoga teacher that has trauma-sensitivity training can both both be important for your healing journey.

Secondly, what helps me, might be different from what helps you. Sometimes an active yoga practice is called for, sometimes, being still is the best.

Thirdly. I love this book by Kristin Neff, Ph.D called Self-Compassion, The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. I think it should be required reading.

Breath awareness:

yogic breath awareness for trauma

Finding a comfortable space where you can take some time to pay attention to your breath can be healing. I use a breath awareness practice daily to help me connect with my body.

Here’s how:

If you can prop yourself up on an angle, (like the student in this photo) with a bolster or pillow, and some yoga blocks or books…or even the arm of your couch if that feels ok for you. Or, find a comfortable seated position…on the floor, on a chair.

The key here, is doing what feels ok for you.

Keeping your eyes open is ok. Closing your eyes is ok.

Place your hands on your heart and belly, or wherever is comfortable for you.

Begin by paying attention to how your breath feels in your body. Really pay attention. What is it like? Noticing the quality of your breath. Maybe feeling your ribs expanding and contracting. Maybe feeling your belly inflating and deflating.

It’s really normal for thoughts to distract you from your breath. Be kind to yourself, and bring your awareness back to your breath.

If you begin to feel panic, or feel uncomfortable, that’s totally ok. You can stop any time.

Keep paying attention to your breath for as long as you feel comfortable.

Legs Up the Wall Pose (viparita karani)

viparita karani for trauma

Very often, trauma survivors spend lots of time in the flight-fight-or freeze state. It’s a heightened state for our central nervous systems, and can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.

This pose is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of the flight/fight/freeze). It’s one of my personal favorites.

How to:

It’s a little awkward for many to get into this pose, but I recommend first, grabbing a pillow or yoga bolster (or even a folded towel) to have close by.

Sit with your hips near the wall, and swing your legs around and up. Sometimes you need to scooch (technical term..haha) your hips closer to the wall using your arms. I did say it could be awkward, right?!

Be mindful of tight hamstrings. If straightening your legs feels bad, then you can move your hips away from the wall until it is comfortable. Bending the knees is fine, too.

Eyes open or closed. Your choice.

Once your legs are up, you can place a bolster under the hips (like in the photo)….or not. Whatever feels right for you.

I like to take a deep deep breath in, and let out a big sigh when I am in this pose. I sometimes do that a few times, and try to soften any tense muscles that I feel.

Stay in this pose as long as you wish. To get out of the pose, bend the knees, and roll to one side. Get up slowly.

Here is a link to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Why I practice

private yoga instructor in Tampa

I have been practicing yoga for 18 years, and meditating for 8 years…I’ve gone in waves of being super diligent in my practice…to completely blowing it off. And, I can ABSOLUTELY tell when I’ve been blowing it off. It’s when I’m NOT practicing that I REALLY understand the reasons why I practice…because the benefits are present when I am being present, and practicing daily.

Here are 3 BIG reasons why I practice:

  1. Less anxiety. This is my absolute #1 reason for both meditation and yoga practice….but ESPECIALLY meditation. I suffered with anxiety for YEARS without even knowing it…until I started meditating. I realized that with a daily meditation practice, the anxiety that has been a constant in my life isn’t there in the way that it used to be. The constant buzz of nerves I felt in my belly (for YEARS without realizing it) goes away when I practice. I now can actually FEEL the anxiety coming on, and have the opportunity to respond to it in a different way…which has absolutely changed my life (I know, I KNOW…this sounds pretty dramatic, but it has been truly life altering!!)

  2. Greater strength. Another biggie. The physical strength that comes from my yoga practice isn’t even as important as the INNER STRENGTH that comes from both yoga and meditation. My practice leaves me feeling empowered.

  3. More self-compassion. So, with yoga I’ve learned over the years to be ok with falling out of tree pose, or my tumultuous relationship with shoulderstand. Truly, I’m ok with it…some days I nail the poses, and some days I don’t. With meditation, I’m ok with the monkey mind…and I can see when my super-judgmental thoughts creep in about it. The biggest benefits come from paying attention without judgement. I think this is why, when I’m not on the mat, or meditation bench, that I’ve gotten so much better with self-compassion.

Does any of this ring true for you? Why do you practice? I’d love to know! Leave your comments below!

5 ways to teach a better yoga class.

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I just got home from taking what I would consider a terrible yoga class. It was bad on so many different levels. I KNOW, I know, we aren't supposed to be judgmental....but it got me thinking about what I would have told my teacher today, had she asked for input. This doesn't come from a place of ego...there's no "my teaching style is better than yours"....promise! This ultimately comes from a place of concern for the safety of the students in the  yoga class that I took today.

SO, here is some unsolicited advice for my yoga teacher today (which may or may not include a mini-rant about the importance of savasana)...and hopefully it can help you teach your class with a little more awareness and sensitivity to those taking your class.

  1. Open your eyes. Not figuratively, LITERALLY. Literally open your eyes and look at the class. Are they able to do the simple warm-ups? Do they seem extra stiff? Are they young and fit? Super bendy? Or older and less flexible? My teacher today had her eyes closed...a LOT...and when they were open, she was fully engaged in her own practice at the front of the mat. How do your students look when they are in the poses? Are they getting close to blowing out a knee? Can you give them a verbal adjustment to help avoid a knee-blow-out-situation? You have to open your eyes to see.

  2. Teach people not poses. It's almost a cliché among teachers, isn't it!! It starts with that "open your eyes" step in #1. Look at your students!! And THEN determine what you are going to teach...that might mean that your super-challenging class needs to be thrown out the window. Teaching Ardha Chandra Chapasana (sugar-cane pose) to a group of mostly 55+ women who can't hold Ardha Chandrasana (half moon), AND who can BARELY do a lunge with ease is NOT a great idea. This is what my instructor did today. Yes, I was impressed that she could go smoothly from one balance pose to the next..but her students were frustrated, and more seriously, had an increased risk of injury because they were ATTEMPTING those poses with little to no instruction, and absolutely no modifications.

  3. Be logical in your sequencing. Work up to your challenging poses. Working toward Bakasana (crane)? Make sure you do plenty of core so that it helps your students learn how to use their abs in a way that will increase their chance of success in this pose. If you don't have a peak-pose, think about the progression of poses...You learned this stuff in teacher training, I hope. My teacher today had the following poses SPRINKLED in her class: ustrasana (camel), matsyasana (fish), baddha parsvakonasana (bound side-angle), virabhadrasana 3 (warrior 3), supta virasana (reclining hero), ardha chandra chapasana (sugar cane pose) and bakasana (crane). There was no logic to her sequencing...ESPECIALLY considering her class' abilities. There should be no sprinkling of challenging poses in a yoga class.

  4. Watch what you say. Please can we stop the yoga-speak? Don't just say something because it sounds "yogic". Take the phrase "let it go". When you say "let it go" what do you mean? What do you want us to let go? I think it would be more beneficial to cue our breath or alignment than to tell us to "let go" in Virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2). That happened in a class this week. Soften through the shoulders? Sure! Unclench our jaws? Absolutely! Not just a generic "let it go" please. Today we were told to "inhale love...and let it go". I'm not so sure that I wanted to let go of love today. But...maybe it motivated me to do this post...I'm feeling extra snarky.

  5. Let your class savasana. Come ON teachers...you KNOW this is important, don't you?! Then shut the hell up while I'm trying to savasana, and give me more than 2 minutes. Seriously! Guide me to relaxation, and then let it be quiet...or, as quiet as it can be...I can relax to the sound of weightlifters slamming their giant weights to the floor upstairs MUCH more than I can with you reading some passage from a book you like.

yoga for your wedding day

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You've gone out to get your drink on with your girlfriends...What's next?!...Schedule a detoxifying yoga class after your night of debauchery! More and more brides are seeing the value of yoga for calming their nerves before their big day. It's a fun thing to do with your very favorite people! AND, it will help you de-stress, feel confident, and present for your special day!

Here are some ideas to make your pre-wedding yoga class extra special:

  1. Buy matching/personalized yoga mats for your bridesmaids! Try ClaireBella, My Custom Yoga Mat, CafePress, or Your Yoga Mat.
  2. If a personalized mat is too steep for your budget, make some lavender eye pillows! Here's a great tutorial on Make It Do. Or, check out Etsy...they have a ton of different ones to choose from...I love these from Pacha Mama Body Care....or these (with removable covers...a plus!) from Heather Shawn.
  3. Ask your yoga teacher to have a heart-centered class. Open up your heart...and the hearts of your bridesmaids...
  4. Request a special reading...chances are, your instructor will have special quotes or words of inspiration that will be perfectly fitting.
  5. Turn the event into a brunch with your girlfriends...or a spa day...endless possibilities!

speak the same language.

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One of the highlights of our trip to Morocco was visiting a school, and getting to spontaneously teach the kids a little yoga! SUCH fun! Our family stayed in Tighdouine, a tiny town in the middle of the Atlas Mountains, and a friend of our guide, Hamid, was a teacher at a school in Talatast, about 20 minutes drive away from Tighdouine (over a river & some seriously bumpy roads):

school_sign

The kids were attending an after-school program..they were kids who wanted to be there, we were told...who wanted a bit more education. This is not a touristy town...they might get a few people through who are hiking through the mountains, but most of the kids don't see strangers too often...so, our family was definitely a different sight to see.

The kids spoke primarily Amazigh (Berber), and then possibly Arabic, and maybe a tiny bit of French. They sang us songs (kids singing ALWAYS brings a tear to my eyes...does this happen to anyone else?!), the teacher told us about the school, and wrote our names in Amazigh on the chalkboard.

Our family names written in Amazigh!

Our family names written in Amazigh!

They had questions...and we were thankful for interpreters! First, they wanted to know what kind of jobs we all had...and I thought for SURE they were going to ask my daughter about her hot-pink hair...but they all wanted to know more about yoga.

I know how to say hello and thank you in Arabic. I can count in French, and I don't know a drop of Amazigh...I was worried at first about not speaking the same language. But really...they just copied the moves that I made. They had no worries about doing the pose "right"...they know how to breathe, and could watch me demonstrate. The kids were so open to learning, and excited to try something new, it was absolutely heartlifting!

We were speaking the same language...that of yoga!

the sound of the universe.

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Aum is often called the “sound of the universe”. People can get a little freaked out about chanting OM (or AUM) their first few times. I was. It just seemed weird at first...but the more I practiced, the more I loved the vibration...ESPECIALLY with a big group of people.

The infographic above is a detail of the symbol for AUM, and provides a little deeper meaning about it....but for beginners, here's what's up:

The AUM chant is actually 4 sounds: 1. A...sounds like "aaahhh". The vibration begins in your chest.... 2. U...sounds like the o in "home". You will feel this resonating in your throat. Go ahead, make the sound, and put your hand over your throat. It vibrates! (this isn't ALL just hippie-dippie stuff!) 3. M...sounds like "mmmm". This sound that can be felt in your head. 4. Silence. take a moment after chanting to feel the vibration, and listen to the stillness.

Benefits: The vibration that resonates in your body when you chant has both physical and physiological benefits! It can bring a sense of calm and focus, it can decrease blood pressure, increase relaxation, and the vibration can give a little massage to your chest, throat and head.

Still don't want to chant? Then don't! As a yoga teacher, I've chanted many times in a room of new students not wanting to! Here's a little secret...even if you don't chant, you still reap the vibrational benefits from the others who are chanting. It's all good.

Do you regularly chant in your yoga class, or at home in your personal practice?

boys in the front.

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How a well meaning high school yoga teacher can perpetuate gender stereotypes.

I'm proud to be raising a feminist daughter. Not sure how it happened, really...but I'd like to think I played some role in my 18 year old's awareness of gender bias, and desire to make things right in the world. She is in the process of working with her high school administrators to update the dress code during her senior year there. Equality works it's way into her circle of friends, too...She has friends of different ethnicities (even in our very homogeneous suburb), different interests, different sexual orientations...it's a pretty great group of kids that she hangs out with! Yep. I'm a proud mama. But enough about me and my kid, here's what's going on in her yoga class:

Her high school offers yoga as an option for PE...which, as a yoga teacher, former studio owner, and lover of all things yoga, I think is fantastic! Sweet, right?!

I was pretty surprised when she told me that the handful of boys in the class are made to practice in the front of the class. The reason? Well, you've probably guessed it...so the boys won't check out the girls' butts during their class, and make the girls uncomfortable.

My daughter and I both believe that this is wrong...and I'm so glad she brought it to my attention! I wonder how often this happens in other yoga classes for teens?!

What's so wrong with keeping boys in the front, you ask?!! Well...

1. The notion that boys can't control their impulses around girls is preposterous...and that it's the GIRL'S behavior that disrupts the learning environment is ridiculous. When it's assumed that boys can't control themselves , it becomes a girl's responsibility to keep from showing her butt (or cleavage, arms, legs, etc. etc.). This in turnpromotes "rape culture"...by taking any blame from the boy, and puttingit on the girl.This can become a HUGE problem down the road. Studies show that college aged women have a high risk for being victims of sexual assault. I firmly believe that allowing boys to believe at a young age that they aren't responsible for their actions can contribute to justifications by them before/during/after an assault. It's the "she was dressed like a slut and was asking for it" mentality that is so prevalent in our culture. This same type of thing happens with the dress codes in school...the notion that girls need to be covered because boys can't control their lustful desires when they see a bare shoulder...it distracts from the learning environment. Humph. 

2. Why should boys automatically be guilty, and girls innocent? Boys aren't the only teens with raging hormones.Until they commit an offense, shouldn't boysbe allowed to practice yoga where they feel most comfortable?

3. Who's to say that girls aren't checking other girls out...or, that boys aren't checking each other out! Should it be ok to pretend that LGBT teens don't exist? That this is only a boy-girl issue? I think not.

Sure, a high school yoga teacher might have some eyes wandering during class. However, it's the teacher's responsibility to keep an eye out for her students...both for safety in the asana, as well as making sure that more of the students' attention is on his or her own practice, and not on the person practicing on the next mat. These 1950's-era gender stereotypes should not have a place in a yoga classroom. Sexual advances in yoga class of any kind should not be tolerated (at any age!) and should have consequences when they happen in a high school class, but boys should not be punished in advance for something they didn't do.

Fortunately, her yoga teacher was incredibly understanding when my daughter talked to her about it. She hadn't considered the message it sends to the students...and when she spoke to the school administration about it, she found that it is school policy to have the boys in front. REALLY! So, I'm proud to say, that my daughter was able to have the administration change their policy, and now boys and girls are assigned their places in yoga class alphabetically. Hurrah!!

Yoga is a practice of turning our attention inward, and has SUCH a great benefit to teens...I hope they all can now find peace on their mats.

savasana.

Ok...this is a little sassy, I know...but It's SO important...don't skip savasana!!

Here's the big deal about savasana:

  • calms the nervous system
  • quiets your mind
  • releases stress
  • gives your tissues & cells a bit of time to repair
  • can help with headache, fatigue and insomnia
  • reduces blood pressure

See. So, next time you think about rolling up your mat and taking off...I think you should reconsider!