You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Level 2’ category.

expand theme: growing our hearts in the face of disaster

heart quality: willingness

action: inner/outer spiral

purpose: chit

pinnacle: bound parsvkonasana/EPK prep

Honoured and excited to teach a more advanced class. It’s always great to come into Leena’s classes and work with her students because she has cultivated strong studentship. Easy to teach you because you and she have created such a strong foundation.

Because you are a more advanced class, I want to share with you the founding verse of Anusara as our theme today: Shaktinipata anusarena shisyo nugraham arhati Translation: By entering the current of Divine Shakti’s descent into the heart, the true disciple becomes capable of receiving Grace.

Divine Shakti = power

Descent into the heart = already happening

True disciple = openness, willingness

Capable of receiving Grace = recognizing the flow of the universe as grace, in all its myriad dark and difficult forms

Our work: enter the current that is already flowing into our hearts, willingness and openness to recognizing and dancing with grace of universe. This week we are faced with a difficult to reconcile event – earthquake in Japan. Hard to see how this can be “grace”. I feel helpless to even look at the newspaper because I know I will get emotional. I don’t know how to reconcile this kind of suffering. I’m not there yet in my understanding, in my experience. So what I want to offer is the opportunity to try this out. To test, to stretch into this idea that if we align with the flow that is mainlining into our hearts, if we have the willingness to look, to explore, then we will receive the grace, we will recognize it.

The closest thing that I can see as grace is that, when I open myself to difficult information about the world, I have an opportunity to grow my heart. It trembles, it shakes, it hurts, it threatens to close. But if I am aware of it, if I stay close to my practice, to my purpose, then it grows.

Centreing: Open to flow, current of breath. Always already there, waiting to be noticed. The breath flows into us, a current of power, of Shakti. Enter the current of your breath. Everything changes when we do this. Enter the current of your breath and watch your mindbody respond.


Downward dog

DD>fire hydrant>utt>tadasana

SN – SLL>parsvatonasana>half moon
SN – hip opener>triangle (top arm forward)>parsvakonasana
SN – full stretch > gentle twist > mod vasi (foot in front)

SN – silver surfer > parsvatonasana > half moon


Parsvakonasana with bind    *strap if needed

Child’s pose with active arms


EPK prep

pigeon *with thigh stretch if wanted
janu sir * back leg in virasana, reach under grab ankle
marichyasana * with strap



Action: shins-in(steadfastness), thighs-out/widening (humility/surrender/yield)

Personalize: walking in the woods this morning, in the natural environment the trees don’t just throw the leaves in the trash when they are no longer necessary… rather they release them gracefully when it is time, and they fall to the earth to compost and fertilize the tree and the forest. It’s a slow humble process of letting go of what’s no longer serving them and that returns to the earth to be used anew. Nothing in nature is waste.


Contextualize: when people notice something that’s no longer serving us- old thoughts, old patterns of speaking or acting- we tend to judge ourselves for it, use it to put ourselves down and diminish ourselves. But the invitation of awareness is to retire these old patterns and defenses humbly and honorably, without judgment for the past- in fact maybe that pattern was useful at one point in time.


Humility comes from the Latin root “humus”, which means earth or soil. In the Jewish faith, one way to “rekosher” a utensil is to thrust it into the earth. The earth cleanses and sanctifies. Our focus today will be on opening and rooting the pelvis in order to connect with this energy of the earth and to release what’s no longer serving us so that we have more space to truly connect to the highest in us.


Set thighs and lengthen tailbone. Close eyes.


Universalize: Cultivating humility means acknowledging our earthiness. We acknowledge that we are matter as well as spirit. We honor our tender mortality. We acknowledge our limitations, material and spiritual. Take a deep breath and exhale with a sigh releasing anything that blocks you from being here right now. We cherish the moment. We cherish the seemingly-small gifts of the universe, of embodiment: the touch of the earth. The warmth of the sun. A smile. The smell of the fall leaves composing and returning to the earth.


  • Root chakra governs the energy lower pelvis and the legs. Connection to our earth, to steadiness and security in our lives. Symbolized by square- stable structure- four corners of the feet.
  • letting go of what’s no longer serving us takes discipline, awareness and steady effort. Lift your toes and root through the four corners of your feet. Firm our outer shins into the midline. But this letting go also takes grace- allowing things to move in their course.
  • Shins-in- imagine that you’ve build heavy heart mounds around legs that are keeping them stable and rooted, now widen thighs back yielding the thigh bones back into their root in the pelvis.
  • Deepen the breath into the pelvis- widening and creating a flow through the energetic channels that allow you to release what is no longer serving you.
  • “Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. We have caused a lot of damage to the Earth. Now it is time for us to take good care of her. We bring our peace and calm to the surface of the Earth and share the lesson of love. We walk in that spirit.” – thich nhat han

Flow – Oct 24, 25, 27

Child’s pose- In this first pose, think of your life like a tree, with trunk and branches and leaves. Some leaves green, others turning brilliant red or orange, others brown. There are certain aspects, patterns, thoughts that are maybe turning a bit brown- Leaves that are ready to drop gracefully to the ground. Just pick one specific leaf, something that your ready to surrender with grace and humility. Hips surrender to heels. In this way we create meaning throughout our practice. Each pose is an opportunity to take part in our own growth and transformation.

Table pose- shins steady, thighs back, tail lengths down without eliminating low back curve

Dog pose

Tadasana – explain root chakra. Four corners of feet



Tadasana with block- pez dispenser

  • dog with block
  • plank with block
  • Chaturanga

low lunges- hug shin to front arm, widen thighs back

(planks in between)

hip opener dog

low lunges with hand on inner thigh

warrior 2

warrior 2> parsvo

parsvo with friend- shins-in and thigh out, then you scoop tail bone

parsvo other side on your own


Pigeon (demo strong shins to keep low back clear)

Holy hamstring

Dandasana – Breathing- long exhales

Janu Sirsasana

Parivrtta Upavistha

Child’s pose

Jakarta Parivartansana



Expand Oct 26

Child’s pose- In this first pose, think of your life like a tree, with trunk and branches and leaves. Some leaves green, others turning brilliant red or orange, others brown. There are certain aspects, patterns, thoughts that are maybe turning a bit brown- Leaves that are ready to drop gracefully to the ground. Just pick one specific leaf, something that your ready to surrender with grace and humility. Hips surrender to heels. In this way we create meaning throughout our practice. Doing yoga poses isn’t inherently transformation, without meaning they’re just forms, just like any other exercise regime. But in Anusara see the physical the material as inherently spiritual- each pose is an opportunity to take part in our own growth and transformation on all levels.


Table pose- shins steady, thighs back, tail lengths down without eliminating low back curve> Dog pose

Tadasana – explain root chakra. Four corners of feet

Utkatasana > Lunges> Plank> chat> cobra

low lunges- hug shin to front arm, widen thighs back> twist

(planks in between)

twisted dog> hip opener dog

low lunges with hand on inner thigh


warrior 2

warrior 2> parsvo

parsvo with friend- shins-in and thigh out, then you scoop tail bone

parsvo other side on your own


Pigeon (demo strong shins to keep low back clear)> quad stretch

Trikonasana > Ardha Chandrasana > chapasana


Supta Virasana (modification with block and elbows down)


Holy hamstring/ hanuman


Dandasana – Breathing- long exhales

Janu Sirsasana > Parivrtta Janu

Eka Pada Virasana> Krounchasana > Surya Yantrasana

Parsva Upavistha Konasana

Child’s pose

Jakarta Parivartansana









Class 7 (or alt class 6)

Theme: started session by talking about how yoga brings us into balance- body and mind… Worked on standing balancing poses. Now work on more subtle balance of pelvis to bring back into balance

Heart Qual: stability/freedom, steadfastness/yielding

Action: IS*/OS

Define/explain: grounding femur, pubic bone, hamstrings, psoas

Poses: parsvott, supta padang, viprita Karani,


Warm ups:

–       Sun breath, side stretches (review root down to rise!)

–       Knee to chest and out to side

–       Dolphin push ups

–       Dog leg lifts and step through- review cheats

–       SN- normal x 2


–       IS/OS with block, explain psoas and lumbar curves

–       Prasarita Padottanasana w/blocks

–       Vira 2> Parsvakonasana

–       Trikonasana

–       Parsvott at wall

–       shoulder opener at wall

–       Supta padang at wall



  • Viparita karani
  • Breathing (alt nostril)
  • Savasana



Yoga For Performers Class 2

Heart Quality: Fullness and Expressiveness

Action: IBB (side body long, head of the arm bone back)

Pinnacle: Ardha Chandrasana

Theme: Adding brightness to our creative work – Being aware of the importance of our attitude and intention

focus:  – review Setting the Foundation, Moving with the Breath

vocab: -head of AB, review IFM, SB, BTM, COH, kidneys

Attitude changes everything – not just a trite slogan but a testable truth! Today we are going to be focusing on attitude, looking at the way our energetic attitude can transform our practice of yoga and our creative work. In Anusara Yoga, attitude or intention is the most important aspect of the practice – it’s what gives the movement meaning. It gives us a reason to keep doing it, aside from just fitness. We learn the poses and then through our attitude and intention we learn about ourselves.

The action we are going to work on today is called Inner Body Bright, which I love, and it it is an attitudinal shift as well as having physical characteristics. It’s the first thing we do in a pose, we brighten from the inside and we remember our intention. And we carry that through the whole pose. And as we learn what that feels like in our yoga poses, we can begin to bring that brightness, that sensitivity and awareness into our everyday lives, into our creative work.

So today I want you to connect to a specific area of your life that you want to add an attitudinal brightness to. Maybe it’s a specific creative project you’re working on. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s an area of your life, like your relationship to your body, your job, maybe it’s a challenge – you could be feeling a lack of creativity or inspiration. Whatever it is, choose something specific, and really connect to it. And through the class, we are going to focus on adding brightness to your poses and to that specific area of your life. We’re not trying to figure anything out with our intention, or fix anything, we’re just trying to be more aware and approach those areas with a softer, lighter attitude.

Centreing: Soften your skin and feel yourself release down into your seat. Take a few moments to connect with your breath – the gateway to the present moment. Remember your intention from last week – what are you hoping for from the session? Softening into that, connect to a specific area of your life that you want to add some brightness, some luminosity to. It could be part of your creative work or another part of your life. When you have the area clear in your mind, rest around it. Return your focus to the breath and start to breath into it. We are not trying to fix anything, we are just changing our approach.


Warmups            7:10

  • sun breaths and folding (tadasana to uttanasana)
  • utt shoulder stretch>DD>dolphin
  • DD – fire hydrant
  • SN – straight leg lunge, full stretch
  • SN – crescent lunge>runners stretch, gentle twist

Teaching Action            7:25

  • IBB demo

Gather around. Today the action is IBB, physical components of that are lengthening from waist to armpits, the heart lifts and the head of the armbones pin back. It’s also an attitudinal shift – we energetically soften and open, we make more space in our body to approach the pose.

Biomechanical as well as attitudinal – keeps us safe in every pose.

Try in tadasana – contrast.

  • See the contrast in plank (Demonstrate – sagging, crunching in back vs. inner body lifting, integrity)  Now everyone try that standing, pretend you are in plank, let body sag, now, (instruct actions of IBB) feel the difference.

Standing Poses            7:30

  • Vira 1 with thumbs hooked, really get experience of IBB
  • Utkatasana > prayer twist
  • SN – prayer twist lunge>DD>side plank>prayer twist lunge
  • Parsvakonasana>Trikonasana
  • Trikonasana with partner (one hand on hip rooting, one hand on top of head, extending out – really focus on action of lengthening out of waist, fullness of torso, extending through head)
  • Tree
  • Pigeon Prep
  • Trikonasana > Ardha Chandrasana

Cooling            7:50

  • Upavista Konasana
  • Ardha Matseyendrasana
  • Setu Bandha
  • Thread the Needle
  • Upavista Konasana

Savasana            8:05

Yoga For Performers Class 1

Heart Quality: Receptivity

Action: STF, OTG

Theme: Returning to the breath, opening to inspiration

I want to begin by comparing the practice of yoga to the process of rehearsing for a performance, either as a dancer, actor or musician. At the beginning we learn the outer form, and through the rehearsal period we add layers of precision and articulation as our skills and awareness builds. Today we will learn the outer forms of the poses, like learning the initial form of a song, lines or blocking. Throughout the session we will add pieces each week that will allow us to become more precise and articulate. We will layer these on top of the outer form. So today is about learning our lines, learning the song.

But in order to connect this to creativity and the artistic process, to move away from just stretching or just working out, we are going to be very clear on our attitude, or intention. Wherever we are in the stage of learning something, we can always be clear in our intention. So I want to take a moment here for you to contemplate your intention for coming to this class. What are you hoping for?

So we’ll take a moment here to centre, to close our eyes and drop into your intention for coming here. Maybe you don’t know what that is yet. Maybe it’s really clear for you. What are you hoping for? Why are you taking this class? And even wider for that, What is your intention as an artist?

As you hold your individual intention for coming, I want to set a group intention for today, of the quality of receptivity. How can we cultivate this quality in our practice today, in order to move towards fulfilling our own intentions?


7:10 -cat/cow>knee to chest>opp arm and leg>hip circles

-sun breaths (connect to breath/intention)

-forward folding (tad>utt)

-dolphin>dolphin pushups


-utt>straight leg lunge>DD>step forward (both sides)

-utt>gentle twist>DD>step forward (both sides)

Teach action

7:25 -moving with breath, let breath initiate movement (sun breaths)

-filling front back and sides of torso with breath (breathing in tadasana)

-in yoga we learn to pay attention to the breath, important because it is the gateway to creativity. The breath brings us into the present, opens us up. As you watch your breathing, notice your skin softening, your awareness clearing.

-Inspire: to breathe in God or spirit (IN-SPIRE). We are looking for inspiration – the first place we can turn to is the breath.

Standing poses

7:30 -Crescent moon, dancing moon

-crescent lunge (both sides)

-wide legged forward fold>extended side angle>triangle

-runners stretch>quad stretch>DD>side plank>DD>step up

-pigeon prep

-lying down thigh stretch (ardha bhek)

-X pose three ways


7:50 -seated twist (ardha matsey)

-bridge (setu bandha)

-windshield wipers (jathara pari)

-thread the needle

-supta padang

8:03            -SAVASANA

Tara Judelle:

Actions: head and shoulders lift back (fearless). heart softens forward (innocence). head and shoulders moving onto back (scapula on back) allows the heart to soften. takes courage to open heart.

warm ups had lots with uttanasasna and shoulder stuff and some twisting

warrior 2> tirko> ardha chandra> chapasana> parsvottansana

inverted L- lengthen arms bones, melt heart (fearless, innocent)

pincha on wall

pincha balancing

funky pincha (80 % of weight on forearm side) turn other hand out.

kick up-“intelligent legs”

pause, soften, go to the same innocence as tadasasna

wonder of a kid

intelligence of body.

from Betsy

Theme – drawing into your power to make life affirming choices. Drawing in to trust your guidance, you can figure it out and you’re being supported. Extend and share it generously, shine out.

You are a unique manifestation of consciousness. You are powerful to make choices, shine out be authentic.

Action- Kloop and OE

KL- buoyant in back body, use power in front body to connect with universal. Use individual to serve universal

Back body represents- bigger energy, kula, that what we cannot see, support

Table- wrists in front of shoulders if any wrist/shoulder problems.

One legged dog- take both thighs back, seat femur, without lifting foot

Slouch exercise- partner slouch like a teenager. Assistant press down on shoulders- imagine this is a stressor, align and press again.

–       great to use for first class- don’t teach KL- explain this is optimal blueprint, powerful yet at ease at once. This is goal of yoga, this is why we align in yoga.

–       inhale into your back body to remember you’re connected to a bigger energy

–       DFD- fire hydrant (or in table for beginners), full kidneys

–       Pigeon

–       Utkatasana and fists> vira 3

–       Side note- erving dardick looks at heart rates and those in best shape can go up and down easily, trains parasympathetic nervous system- make waves in classes

–       Standing hip opener at the wall, one leg high, wrap

Limiting factors for arm balancing:

–       hip flexibility- can’t get leg high enough on arms

–       eka hasta bhujasana- leg over shoulder pumps to get lubed up! Float kidneys back

–       assist- hold arm under leg so it can’t slip, and then hold toes with other hand

–       other option- wrap strap around arm

–       asa vakrasana – crocked in 8 places pose- leg over shoulder, opt arms straight or chatt arms

–       bakasana- like a bird puffing to lift off a branch, draw little toe back (shins in)

–       helper- 2 blocks lifts the floor, good esp if ppl have short arms. Lean over to engage abs and activate kidney loop.

–       Back body philosophy- hidden/universal, breath into back body, lift heart- KL and SP pulsation.

–       Titibasana- if they can do upavista well

More on Themes:

–       they take practice!

–       Keep it simple in the beginning, stick with one heart qual not pulsation.

–       Integrity, compassion, love, trust, sensitivity, joy, worthiness

–       Theme is an explanation of the heart quality- gives meaning to it.

–       What’s my message, what am I trying to offer? Sometimes have to get on back for it to become clear as you practice. Embody it! 

Theme- going to the moon. Kennedy set vision- wasn’t technology yet, but he had a vision. Based on trusting that they could figure it out. As teachers for us to embody this trust that we can figure it out is critical right now- we’re at a place in the economy and environment. We can go choose to go somewhere new.

Heart qual- trust- open your heart to trust your own inner guidance

PP- Urdva D

Action- Shoulder loop- bottom tips in expands the heart- opens the thorasic spine

Oh how wonderful – side bodies naturally lengthen and shoulders go back

Bow your head honouring your inner guidance

–       arms to sides- wrists slightly forwarded- shoulders hug in- tip should blades into your trusting heart

–       mixed level- keep defining terms – like humerus

–       twisted sun breaths

–       interlace- side stretch, 2nd favorite side

*first 15 minutes them with action, not lots of technical stuff. Get people moving and knowing the feelings.

DFD leg lifts

Cobra- head of armbone to back of the body (define that clearly for students)

–       teach students to isometrically sweet hands to feet


–       partner standing cobra (very close, only do in comfortable classes) – resist with forearms, sweep forearms down, reach your trusting heart up, shoulders go towards ears as our sidebodies get long.

–       Same cobra on smooth floor- tricepts talking! – show how if hands under shoulders you slide back- if you couldn’t slide on the floor all that pressure goes to your low back.

–       Width of hands- wrists under elbows, makes correct action easier. Hands forward is more advanced puts pressure in the lower back.

Dolphin Dog

–       for beginners huge stretch in shoulder, don’t hold long, then 2 wks later teacher DFD it will feel easier

SN- 90 angle butt stretch with elbows on floor

OTG take the breath into the back body- trusting in the bigger energy to support you as your open.

Lunge twist- 2nd take hand wider and go into backbend

Chatturanga- 3 blankets halfed lengthwise

Belly down hips on blanket, chatt prep arms 90, core that has to lift

Skull loop crucial for empowering core

Baby chat on elbows – not sagasana.

Fire butt up- firm but bouncy, not gripped

–       lower from plank to blankets

  • takes three weeks to notice improvement in strength, except hams, they take more

anjaney- knee bent

passive chest opener, 1-2 blankets. If shoulder problem put elbows on blanket too.

-then activate arms 90 up- sleep walk, plug in, then bring over head

-urdva arms, hug HAB in

Shoulder opener w block, elbows in to midline, arm pits hollow, take block up and back till elbows over shoulders


Cobra on blanket with partner holding calves, cobra 2 with hands back

Danurasana with blanket and partner hold heels, can even sit on heels and hold shoulders- bring shoulders forward and up

Setu banda- set feet, roll inner thighs in, heels draw to TB, get hips up and tb in.

Urdva D- stop with weight on upper back, plug shoulders in. bottom tips of SB into heart, stretch up from the heart.

Come out- touch down to top of head first, then tuck chin and come down.

UD options:

–       lift the floor up with blanets  or firm bolster- have had on bolster, start with natural arch in back. Turn hands out

–       head needs to slide in when it goes to floor- not using quads, pull heels to butt.

–       Don’t push feet into floor, puts all the weight in the arm, just drag heels and slide the head.

Twist on back, move hips over 10 inches. Knees to l take hand to hip, lengthen SB and pin SBLS back to floor.

Pinnacle Pose (PP)- ardha chandrasana chapasana

Heart quality: joy

Theme (pulsation)- Joyfully accepting where you are and eagerly looking forward to what’s next on your path. “you don’t ever arrive- always growing and learning and changing. Love yourself where you are, in all  your imperfections. Equally love where you are as where you’re going.

Actions: ME and OE

Table- wave cat and dog tail (last mvmt is head)

–       kneed to forehead- opens and strengthens students for stepping into lunges

–       pointer- toe on floor first, then first and kneed together


dog alignment- on straight leg back from table.

–       One leg up- focus on lifting from belly of hamstring. Preps for kicking up to handstand. Learn to level and square hips- its not about swinging the leg high, but staying aligned!

–       Partner- hand on belly of hamstring- sweep up from there. Lead from where the pressure is. 2nd, hands on ASIS to keep them level (only with comfortable group- adv)

SN- lunges, high lunges, humble warrior

–       Shine your joyful heart forward

Inversion – optional


–       Tadasana on the floor, take arms over head and set head of armbone

–       Set pelvis- inner thighs down, lengthen lumber curve

–       Both legs down, then one lifts to 90 x4

–       Both legs up, then lower one, 4x

–       Both legs up, cross in the middle, the lower the cross is harder

Q: flat back in when working on abs?

–       NO, strengthen while lengthening psoas when we keep the lumbar curve.

–       When flat back just abs and thigh bones push out of sockets.

–       Having thighs pushed forwards relates to anxiety in nervous system (ie backbends push thighs forward, excite nervous system. After 911 in NYC everyone had tights pushed forwards).

–       Psoas- runs from inner thigh up diagonally to the front of the lumbar vertebra. Very emotionally responsive muscle. Need to keep natural curve and stabilize pelvis to put it in correct position.

–       Key to UPAs strengthen as we lengthen muscles.

–       Therapeutics- do more ME- when muscle injured it pulls away from bone. ME first, then lengthen

–       If you don’t the muscle heals away from the bone in shortened position. Must get muscle to engage on bone first

Tree- hug in, dristi 6ft

Parsva- press back thigh back, front buttock under. Quick IS instruction- inner thighs back. OS- tone glutes


–       turn back foot in for beginners, around 1-2 start teaching with foot straight. Mixed level go to individuals and have them switch it

–       if student can’t straighten leg- widen legs creates more organic> increases stretch

–       if shorten stance and put on block less stretch in ham.

–       More inner spiral, start with hand on side take hips back to line up hams then scoop

–       If you’re on 2+ blocks put student in parsvo till they open more

(Level 1- three standing poses is good)

Shoulder opener with partner- get a rest

Gomukasana standing

–       head of arm bone back, elbow forward

–       internal rotation of top arm, triceps to nose

–       kidney loop- fill into back of waist

–       if you’re over stretch the armpit puffs- look for wrinkle in armpit  * stabilize the hyper mobile!

Reverse namaste

Parsvo with arms on back, work balance work

Table- take outer form of  chapasana- first cross, then same side. Option belt

Ardha chandrasana

–       beginners, draw in after step forward and keep leg bent till you’re stable

–       look down, turn head slowly after looking- eyes and head separate

–       equal extension of top and bottom leg- balanced energy

Ardha Chandrachapasana

–       if its hard to grab knee take knee in first

Savasana- let your awareness move into the spaciousness of your heart