Posts by Yogi Alana Ramirez

Forrest Yoga: Take Two

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 By:
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Like many of the finer things in life– beer, wine, oysters, dark comedy, etc. yoga can be an acquired taste. Personally, I fell in love with yoga as soon as I stepped foot on a mat, but for others I know this not to be the case. Many of my friends and even my fiancé have had to do it several times until realizing they enjoy it.

I’ve had a similar experience with acquring a taste for Forrest Yoga. The first time I tried Forrest Yoga I didn’t care for it. I felt like it was a class that moved too slow, and my body didn’t enjoy being in postures for more than 4 breaths. I didn’t understand the purpose of it, or the intention behind it.

Several months later I tried Forrest Yoga again at Sanctuary Yoga. I came only because I knew that I would enjoy any class taught by Sanctuary Yoga’s lovely instructor Jenny Lim, and because it was a convenient time. What I learned from my second Forrest Yoga class is that many of the postures in a Forrest Yoga class are included and adapted specifically for modern socitety. In the west, and especially in modern times, many of us suffer from a weak core, tight shoulders, neck pain and shallow breathing. Forrest yoga takes care of all of these ailments, with a practice that starts off with pranayama to warm your insides before moving.

In my most recent Forrest yoga class at Sanctuary Yoga I experienced lots of core work,  breath work and poses that induced shoulder opening. After several seated postures that included no small amount of twisting we moved into some sun salutations. In a few standing postures we even utilized the wall to create shoulder opening, which I had never experienced before. My favorite part of class was a standing pose that created a great release on both sides of my neck. The pace of the class helped me go more deeply into certain postures than I usually do, which was extremely beneficial.

Learning that Ana Forrest had modern society in mind when she adapted several of her yoga sequences, helped me appreciate it and enjoy it even more. The slow pace of the class made me grateful for the  strength I was recieving, and my sore body the next day helped solidify my choice to try it again soon. It’s interesting how knowing the intention behind a posture or type of yoga helps to create greater appreciation and fullfillment!

forrest yoga

Ana Forrest, creator of Forrest Yoga

 

Mindful Holiday Shopping: Yoga Gift Cards

Posted on: November 25th, 2015 By:
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With the arrival of Thanksgiving comes the imminent consideration of holiday shopping. Nearly every year, I look for ways to be more mindful in shopping for relatives, loved ones and myself. Some years I opt to be crafty and make homemade beauty products, other years I give pictures and letters of gratitude. It’s difficult to come up with fresh ideas every year, avoiding the typical run to Target or the mall on Black Friday for holiday shopping.

This year, I thought it would be special to give the gift of experience to my family members and loved ones. This idea came to me when I realized that Sanctuary Yoga was now offering yoga gift cards for sale, just in time for the holidays. The wonderful thing about giving the gift of experiences, such as yoga gift cards, is that they are a gift that keeps on giving. When I purchase a 10 class pass for a friend’s holiday present, I know she will be able to have multiple opportunities to experience the peace and cleansing that yoga offers.

Another plus is that yoga gift cards purchased for classes at Sanctuary Yoga directly support the youth of the Amala Foundation. This year, the Amala Foundation is raising funds for their first ever international Global Youth Peace Summit that is taking place in Kenya. Two of the Amala Foundation’s most dedicated community members Yvonne and Espoir, whom fled violence from their home in Africa in 2007, will directly benefit from your yoga gift card purchase. If just 12 members of our community purchase a $120 dollar gift card, Espoir and Yvonne will be sponsored in full to return to Africa for the Global Youth Peace Summit. It’s difficult to turn down purchasing a gift that benefits multiple members of our community in such a positive way.

For more information and to purchase yoga gift cards click here!

yoga gift cards unnamed (1)

 

Meditation Inspiration

Posted on: November 7th, 2015 By:
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In a yoga class I took recently, one of the lovely instructors of Sanctuary yoga led my fellow yogis and I through a “body scan” in preparation for savasana. If you’ve never performed a body scan on yourself, trust me, it’s a lot more satisfying than it sounds. Preforming a body scan merely means you are internally focusing on giving attention to different parts of your body, starting from the crown of your head, down to your toes. Scanning the body this way, you are giving consideration to parts of your body you may otherwise overlook.

What’s satisfying about this self body scan, is that as you move your attention through each and every body part, you have an opportunity to send your breath to that particular body part, tell it to relax, and give up effort. When you’re finished with the body scan the result is a very relaxed, light and content feeling. This is one of my favorite forms of meditation, and I was grateful to be reminded of it in my yoga class recently–it was inspiring.

I love hearing about my fellow yogi’s meditation practices and being inspired by them as well. If you’re like me, you may get bored doing the same meditation routine over and over. This is why I wanted to share my favorite forms of medation, in hopes that it may inspire.

meditation
Color
One of the simplest ways to meditate is you use color imagery. As you focus on your breath with your eyes closed you may begin to imagine the color yellow surrounding you and filling your body with every breath. Notice how the color makes you feel both energetically and emotionally. You can repeat this exerscise with different colors, noticing how warmer colors like yellow and red make you feel, and how cooler colors such as blue make you feel. Other than being highly relaxing, this form of meditation can help you to learn a lot about yourself.

Guided Meditation
If you feel that you need more guidance in your meditation, why not embrace it? Not all meditation need be you and your breath alone. There are many thought provoking and wonderful guided mediations out in the world for use. One of my favorite guided meditations is by the great spiritual teacher, Ram Dass. He has several guided meditaitons that you can find in his books, and one if my favorites is in his book tititled Grist for the Mill. If you flip to chapter 8 in Grist for the Mill, he guides you through imagery of your inner radiant being.

Transporting to your favorite place
This form of meditation is simple. Where is your favorite place, geographically, that you have ever traveled? Close your eyes and transport yourself there. Imagine the textures, sounds and sensations that you would experience there. Sometimes, when I’m meditating I will transport myself to my favorite little beach in Costa Rica. I picture the sand under my body, I feel the heat of the sun on my face, the ocean breeze on my body, and the sounds of the waves in the distance. You can get as detailed or be as simple as you want with this practice. The great thing about it, is that you get to spend how ever long you choose in your favorite place.

What are your favorite forms of meditation? Obviously, the possibilities are endless. It doesn’t matter the technique you use for meditation, just so long as you are being authentic and open when you do it.

With love and light,
Alana

Removing Internal Barriers with Yoga

Posted on: October 29th, 2015 By:
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Recently I took a wonderful Yoga and Meditation class at Sanctuary Yoga with Jeremy Devens. The class was grounding, amusing and very restorative. At some point during the class Jeremy mentioned a quote, by the ever insightful philosopher Rumi, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

To me, this idea that we have put up internal “barriers” against something as natural as love, hit home. I started thinking about what barriers I may have put up towards love in my own life and how I can remove them. It also occurred to me that, sometimes when we are going through the process of removing these unconsciously built barriers to love, it can be painful.

Yoga has always been a great resource for me, to self-inquire into where I’m putting up barriers in my life that I don’t need to, and where I am resisting the natural flow of my life. Yoga has also been a great resource for me to learn how to remove resistance to love where love already exists. Sometimes this mental breakthrough can happen in savasana at the end of a class, and sometimes it can happen right smack in the middle of a yoga flow.

It’s a powerful feeling to be able to finally discover that what you need most is already inside of you, which is what I believe Rumi wanted us to gain. The silence, the self-inquiry and the “letting go” aspects of yoga make it a great path towards this self-discovery. While some may think that yoga is all bliss and smiling upward-dogs, the reality is that sometimes it is also painful and emotional when we are working through the various barriers in our lives and towards self-discovery. Where are you resisting the natural flow of life? Where are you putting up barriers against love? Questions like these are important to ask yourself from time to time, and yoga is a great vessel to help you find the answers.

love and light,

Alana

The Great Balance in Life and Yoga

Posted on: October 20th, 2015 By:
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In a recent issue of Yoga Journal, our lovely Austin, Texas was mentioned as one of “America’s top yoga towns”. Among other cities like Seattle, San Francisco and New York, Austin ranked number 5 out of 10 featured cities. What I enjoyed about the feature on Austin, written by Kelly Mickle, was that it highlighted the “work hard, play hard” vibe that is so alive in our yoga town.

Because the idea of the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle is all about balance, it got me thinking of the importance of balance in our everyday lives. We strive for balance in all aspects of our lives including work, relationships, nutrition, etc. For me, one of the biggest areas of balance I strive for is in socializing and connecting with others while also taking my alone time when I need it.

Of course, balance is just as important in our yoga practice. What’s great about choosing to take your yoga practice to Sanctuary Yoga is that while you’re doing something healthy and nourishing for yourself, you are also doing something healthy for the community by supporting the Amala Foundation with the proceeds of your class purchase. It’s an ideal way to balance receiving with giving. Similarly, at Sanctuary Yoga you can choose to take a heat-building Vinyasa class or you can choose to take a free morning Kundalini class. These offerings can perfectly balance the need for an energizing practice with the need for a grounding yoga practice.

Where are you striving for balance in your life? Wherever it is, yoga can likely help you find it, and especially a yoga practice at the Sanctuary Yoga space.

with love and light,

Alana

End Your Day With Restorative Yoga

Posted on: October 8th, 2015 By:
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Pro-tip: if you want to feel extremely fulfilled this week, pursue your choice of an evening work-out followed by a candle-lit restorative yoga class at Sanctuary Yoga.

restorative yoga

I have been terrible at decisions lately. Last night I knew my body and mind needed an al fresco run, but I was having the mid-week blues and knew I HAD to take a restorative yoga class, so what was I to choose? I decided to do both, and let me tell you, my body was happy afterwards. On most days, Sanctuary Yoga offers a 9:15-10:15pm restorative yoga class, making it convenient to get more done with your evening before making it to class. You can spend your early evening working out and building heat in your body, getting prana flowing, and then cool down with a relaxing restorative yoga class afterwards. From my experience, it was a beatiful balance to challenge my body through a run outside, take a break, and then treat myself to a whole hour of unwinding through restorative yoga poses.

If you are unfamiliar with restorative yoga, it’s merely a sequence or flow of postures using yoga props and modifications to make them more relaxing and effortless. In any given class you will probably use blocks, a blanket and bolster. Generally, poses are held for a longer time in order to fully enjoy the benefits of each posture. Are you already fantasizing about a 10 minute child’s pose? You should be, because restorative yoga will provide that, and more delectable asanas that everyone’s body craves before a full savasana.

I recommend giving your mind, body, and spirit some love this week, and enjoying a heat-building work-out followed by a restorative yoga class at the Sanctuary Yoga studio. You won’t regret it.

with love and light,
Alana

Community Based Vinyasa Yoga

Posted on: September 29th, 2015 By:
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vinyasa yoga

After a long spring and summer hiatus, I rejoined Sanctuary Yoga this past week. I am beyond grateful to have found such an all around beautiful environment to practice yoga and share community in. This past week I was able to attend two vinyasa yoga classes at 10:30 am. While both classes were very different, they both reminded me of what I had been missing in my yoga practice lately–a sense of community.

When I was a beginning yogi, foreign to vinyasa yoga, I remember feeling intimidated when, at the beginning of a class, a teacher would ask us to introduce ourselves to our group of fellow students and briefly state what was going on in our body or mind that particular day. In those moments, I was anxious that I either had too little to share with my classmates, or too much going on in my life to share. I also remember being in awe of how self-aware my fellow yogis were.

Slowly, with time and trust, I got used to this act of sharing at the start of a practice, whether it was a restorative, hatha flow, or vinyasa yoga class. I noticed that going through this sharing process made me feel like I actually belonged in a class, and that I wasn’t merely a body on a mat taking up space in the studio. It was a refreshing feeling to actually be heard without a trace of judgement. However, as I started to branch out to various yoga studios around Austin, I noticed that many teachers didn’t take the time to start their yoga classes with this ritual of sharing anymore. Were the classes too big? Too rushed? I don’t know, but I did know that something was missing from my yoga practice.

Fast forward through years of growth and change in Austin, and I have finally, once again, found a studio that allows space for this type of sharing at the beginning of a yoga class. As I sat on my mat during my vinyasa yoga classes this week, I enjoyed staying fully present to listen to my fellow yogis share their injuries, intentions or what was ailing them in that moment. Going through this process in the Sanctuary space was refreshing; listening to my fellow yogis reminded me not only of how diverse we all are as human beings, but also of how at any given time, we are all going through something significant.

Even further, I realized that hearing others share tidbits of their current experiences helps us to see the humanity in them, which in turn helps us feel that we are part of a community of like-minded individuals. The fact that the teachers of Sanctuary Yoga make it a point to allow space for everyone to have their voice heard in a class, even if only a brief few words, makes it a completely sacred space to practice yoga in. In this day and age, where thousands of people unroll their yoga mats in studious around Austin on a daily basis, finding a sacred space can be a rarity.

Perhaps it’s the intimately sized yoga classes or the weekly events held by both Sactuary Yoga and the Amala Foundation (have you heard about the weekend yoga hikes?). Perhaps it’s hearing the voices of my fellow students. One way or the other, attending my vinyasa yoga classes recently at Sanctuary Yoga has definitely made me feel part of a wonderful community again.

with love and light,

Alana