MY FIRST GUEST BLOGGER: DIANE -YOGA BLOCK GURU

My name is Diane and I’ve been a student of Cathy’s for about three years. When I practice Yoga, I love to use blocks. I consider them to be extensions of my arms.

Downward Facing Dog is one of the poses that can be hard to attain. If you have trouble getting into and maintaining Downward Facing Dog, blocks can help. You will feel your limbs stretching, abdomen going “hollow”, and mind calming down. If you only have time for one pose, Downward Facing Dog is “the one”.
Downward Facing Dog using blocks
Props = 3 blocks and a wall.
Place 2 blocks in the lowest position, against the wall. Place the third block either on its side or straight up in the center of the two and slightly more toward your feet. Think of arranging three platforms; two for hands and one for head.
Kneel down, place your hands on the blocks against the wall and press your hips up. You may need to walk your feet back a little (approx 4’ from your hands).
Keep your knees bent and heels lifted. Stretch your arms fully. With intention stretch each leg from heel to buttock and contract the thigh muscle on the front of the leg feeling it rise into the hip joint. Raise your buttocks, stretch your chest and push the sternum slightly forward to open the heart. Exhale and rest your head on the third block.
Press hands down, extend arms fully, stretch the area between your shoulder blades. To take some pressure off the wrists make sure to press firmly between your thumb and first finger.
Beginners hold this position for a few seconds. Gradually increase until you can hold for 30 seconds or more with your goal to hold the position with a calm mind for one full minute.

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Bharadvajasana – Torso Stretch Pose
This pose was always very hard for me until I discovered that the blocks can assist in sitting up tall. My tendency was to roll my hip and try to twist from the waist just to “get into” the pose. The blanket will raise the hips and with blocks to press on, you can focus on a twist that extends from the hip region up to the top of the spine. Remember, we are working/practicing yoga to improve, not to jam ourselves up.
Props – one blanket and two blocks
Start in Dandasana. Sit on a blanket so that your hips are slightly elevated. Bring your knees in (bend them) and place your feet next to your left hip. Place the left ankle on top of the arch of your right foot and lower your knees to the floor.
Place a block on the side of your hip and the other block in front of your thigh/knee area. Begin to straighten your spine as you breathe in. Exhale as you twist. Press down on the blocks, straighten your arms, and keep your chin level. Try to hold the twist for 30 seconds. Release the pose and try the other side.

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Hero Pose
The first time I saw Hero Pose, all I could think was “no way” are my knees going to allow me to do that. If stiff knees or ankles are keeping you from getting into Hero Posture try some blocks and see if you can begin to experience the benefits. Note: the first time you do this, you may need 2 blocks.
Props = 1 block, and 1 folded blanket or thick towel. Start in child’s pose, lift your torso upright and place the block under your sit bones. Place the folded blanket under your shins (at the ankles) in front of the block. Knees should be together, shins slightly out to the sides. Make sure your feet point back and toes touch the ground.
Stretch your chest outward, shoulder blades down. Using your breath, squeeze the kidney area and draw it into your body. Place your palms on your knees or thighs. Look straight ahead, close your eyes. Remain in the pose, breathing deeply and steadily for 30 seconds with a goal of 60 seconds.

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Warrior II
Props – a wall and a block
Warrior II is strengthening pose. Use a block to test if you are bending your knee enough to get your thigh bone parallel to the floor. Use the wall (press wall with your hand) to make sure your spine is staying erect and tall. I started practicing Warrior II using a chair until I was able to get my thigh and calf to create a right angle with the thigh bone parallel to the floor. As you practice this pose, your hips and groin will begin to become stronger.

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A HEARTFELT THANK YOU TO MY PARK YOGIS!

Much to my surprise, my fellow yogis attending the free Monday night Yoga sessions at Fort Washington Park, turned the tables on me when they presented me with a monetary gift to show their appreciation! I intended to do those Yoga sessions to show my appreciation and somewhat “repay” all those who have been faithfully attending my classes and coming to my retreats. A heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you!

Those intentions, however, also included a little selfishness on my part! I love doing yoga outside and I wanted to share that experience with my students. As the weeks went by, I witnessed steady attendance and realized they also enjoyed the outside practice. More amazing than that- we all shared a love for the same thing…YOGA!

It is still a mystery how, over time, a purely physical practice of postures has turned into such a deep, heart-centered practice that has influenced every part of my life. I still can’t explain the transition but know that matters of the heart cannot always be explained. Even more amazing is that I was able to spend those Yoga at the Park sessions with others who are experiencing that same transformation.

When I take a look at the pictures of one of the sessions we did at the Park focusing on the air element and heart center, I see, without a doubt, a heart transformation taking place by simply looking at the expressions on all the faces….AMAZING! See for yourself …

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SORRY WALLY, YOU CAN’T EDIT THIS POST!

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This is a picture of me and Val(aka Wally). I refuse to believe that her move to Floridia is the end of our friendship and our yoga journey together. She has been my biggest supporter over the years and an incredible friend. There is a soft spot in my heart for her and if asked to explain why she’s so special to me, I realize there are no words to describe it. It is a knowing, a feeling. In matters of the heart, words can’t provide an explanation. Our friendship never needed huge amounts of time together or a whole bunch of give and take. The energy she gives off when she’s around is clean, clear and pure. Nothing hidden or secretive and that’s the energy I want to be in the presence off.

So, it’s not goodbye, it’s “See you later”. After all, she is the “Common Sense Guru” and someone has to keep my head out of the yoga clouds!

This post is dedicated to Val so those of you who know her, let me hear from ya!

Simple Pleasures

Some of the simplest things bring about the most pleasure! Here I thought I was the only one enjoying the weekly Yoga (summer) sessions under the open sky in the Park, but I was proven wrong. My announcing the continuation of the weekly Yoga in the Park sessions through September was received with cheers, joy, and enthusiasm – simple pleasures!

Could this pleasure of this Yoga practice amongst nature arouse awareness that the same “thing” which created trees, water, birds, grass, (yes, and sometimes bugs!), etc., is what created us! We didn’t create nature and no matter how callous one becomes in this life, when you see a beautiful sunset or notice a pretty flower, you are immediately present…in the NOW. The yoga practice is geared to take and keep us in the present moment, in the NOW. Think about the times you noticed something beautiful in nature….you feel an immediate stillness and presence. Your mind has to be still to notice beauty…if it is in the past or the future, you either have or are going to miss it!

Hope you decide not to miss another opportunity to join us at the (Ft Washington) Park. Enjoy these pictures of our most recent outing…

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Still Going Strong into the Down Dog Days of Summer

We had our biggest turn out yet at the park for yoga! Only two more Monday sessions left… hope to see you! 

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Recognizing the FOREVER YOGI

 This is a picture of Greg, our “Forever Yogi” and our “Whenever, Wherever Photographer”! Take a look at these amazing pictures in the slide show below to recognize his talent for “taking the perfect shot of an opportunity when it presents itself”. Over the past year, Greg has taken many great photographs of us Yogis at various times and venues and many of them are featured on the website.

Volunteering his time and skipping poses to capture the perfect shot is just one of Greg’s attributes! He is just one of the many amazing people I have the honor of being around on a regular basis. If you meet Greg, you know right away that he is an all around “good guy”, always willing to help and to be part of the action.

Greg has been attending my classes for as long as I can remember. As his teacher, I am so proud of his dedication to and progress in his practice, watching his body respond. It doesn’t happen often that men like Greg, with a muscular physique, take my classes and stick with it!

Thank you, Greg, keep looking for that perfect moment; we certainly enjoy looking at the perfect picture!

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Moonshine Yoga at the Park

 

This picture is amazing! Once again, at the (Ft Washington) Park and on the hilltop…and yes, that is the moon in the sky!

When I look at this group picture, the first thought that comes to mind is that I am so lucky to be surrounded by all these nice people who have become my friends, not just students. Then I remember that luck has nothing to do with it…it was meant for each and every one of these people to have come into my life and I into theirs.  I know this because of my firm belief in the Law of Attraction….what you think about, you bring about.

Several years ago I began practicing positive thinking, visualizing how and what I wanted my life to look like. With dedication to this practice, which Yoga only enhanced, I raised my “energy” frequency to a higher level…more positive, less negative.  It completely makes sense to me that all these amazing, authentic and kind-hearted people surround me!  Also making sense to me is that all of the people who were around me with low “energy” frequency (negative) have slowly disappeared out of my life. I’m not lucky, I’m GRATEFUL!  The Universe provides all that we need, effortlessly, if we aline ourselves with its Laws.

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YOGA ON THE HILLTOP

Here are pictures of our last outing at Fort Washington park. We hiked up the hill to find this amazing spot! The incredible view fueled the practice which centered around balance postures. We were flying high last night and enjoying every minute! Hope to see some new faces next Monday!

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Yoga at Fort Washington Park

Had to share some pics of us yogis at the park! If you haven’t joined us yet, you now know what you’re missing…..

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Just a Suggestion

I came to the decision years ago that I was no longer interested  in “practicing ” Yoga…I was more interested in “being” Yoga. This transformation from “practicing to being ” allows me to take what I learn from my daily “practice” on the mat into my moment by moment living.  As a teacher, I’m just giving suggestions to my students while they practice, I’m not addressing  individual needs for that day…only the individual can do that. It’s not until you listen to that inner self directing  that you actually “are”  Yoga…up to that point,  you are just practicing.  My mantra for my students: DAILY HOME PRACTICE, DAILY HOME PRACTICE, DAILY HOME PRACTICE….

Lessons Learned

I learned a very important lesson about expectation from the HOB retreat. Because I was so excited and hyped up about the retreat, my expectations were too high and when you are that high, even though it’s a good high, you are still out of balance. As a result, disappointment hit me due to the weather and my own feeling that I wasn’t at my best teaching wise.

It’s like two sides of the same coin. What goes up must come down…we live in a world of opposites. Made me realize that my daily yoga practice keeps bringing me back to that neutral state again and again and only in that neutral state can creativity and effortless flow happen! Now that I’ve learned my lesson, I’m content. Especially after seeing all the smiling faces in the pictures!