Are Private Clients needy?

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I have a private client that was attending an event downtown recently and she was seated at a table with a local yoga teacher. During their conversation my client mentioned she did yoga but had a private teacher. The person she was talking to said she did not take private clients because private clients were ‘just too needy’……. Hummmm well my knee jerk reaction is “what a jerk!” but that’s not very Yogi like is it. So I thought about it for a minute and I know that each of us has our talents and the gifts we were born with. And I’ guessing that her gift is something other than working with private clients. It does take a specific skill set to be successful at working one on one.

But I think it’s her perception of private clients as being needy that I took the most exception too. It is way off base……They aren’t needy but they are in need. They need the specialized training that a private yoga teacher has. If you had a heart problem you wouldn’t go to a General Practice Doctor you’d go to a Cardiologist. If you need help with your teeth you see a dentist. If you are training for an Iron Man event you don’t go to your local gym and hire just any Trainer you hire someone who specializes in coaching athletes.

And the people who go to a dentist, cardiologist or hire a coach aren’t considered needy. But they do have a need.


And just as not all yoga teachers are gifted as private teachers, private yoga isn’t for every student. Most of you will never have that ‘need’. But don’t assume that because someone is hiring a private yoga teacher that they are needy and just want a lot of attention. All of my clients have very specific needs, such as pain reduction, mobility issues, illness or injury recovery to getting ready for a marathon or Iron Man (and many others). But whatever your reason it should be looked at as part of your self-care regime. Just like getting a massage, seeing a chiropractor or having your teeth cleaned it’s all part of what you do to keep yourself health and well.

You keep doing what you need to do to be healthy and well!


Om Shanti


Because breathing matters

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A recent conversation with a yoga student went something like this…..

My Client: “…But the problem is when I slow my breath down the movement gets slower too”

Me: “Hows that a problem?”

Client: “Well, it’s not really yoga if I go too slow. I am supposed to move fast to get anywhere, right?”

Me: “Where are you trying to go? What are you trying to achieve? Yoga can be so slow you don’t move at all, and that might be a more restorative practise, Yoga can be fast paced, jumping, hoping, one breath/one movement. And it looks like it’s moving fast right? But it only looks like that on the outside.

Yoga no matter how fast it looks on the outside  should still feel slow and subtle on the inside. Sometimes when you move fast or without control, no matter what you’re doing, you can create tension in the body, clenched jaws, tight tummies, your fingers clutching at the mat and that translates into tense breathing. So even if your yoga is fast paced, keep the breath smooth and easy, (it’s all about the Sukha baby). Try and find that balance within yourself of Effort and Ease and then on the inside you become very still, even while moving.
That’s balance….. That’s Yoga!

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Yoga as Medicine

This is a great way to start a series of articles I will be writing on Yoga & Exercise as medicine. One of the biggest hurdles we yogi’s have is getting people  to understand what Yoga Therapists actually do and how beneficial yoga can be.  And the key is getting Insurance companies to endorse yoga the same way it does other complementary care modalities such as massage therapy and chiropractic care. Well it looks like the insurance companies will have to sit up and take notice now, listen as  Mark Bertolini, chairman and CEO at Aetna Ins talks about using Yoga as a means to over come pain when conventional medicine wasn’t working. Please read this article & watch the video and pass it on to all the CEO’s and esp to the corporate wellness directors out there. Lets get the word out about the importance of Yoga and in bringing Yoga to the work place.

Here is a quick link to the video interview


And here is the full article.

Oh Shanti


there’s more than one way to skin a pigeon….

I appreciate everyone reading my blog about pigeon pose, but a dear friend sent me a message on FB and asked about the position of the foot and some other folks texted & emailed similar questions. So I took some pictures  last night showing the different foot positions in pigeon.

The main question was “is the foot supposed to be flexed if it’s tucked under?”…. and well, no it’s not. If it’s tucked under then you can’t flex it, and if it’s tucked under then you dont need to. 

Getting your position right  (right for you that is) in pigeon has several factors that affect it, how tight or open are your hips? What level of toque are your knees able to take? And hows your core strength?

As you come into Pigeon (we are on the Left side) you want to bring the Left knee forward BUT angled out towards the Left hand. Not dead center of your hands. By taking the knee on an angle your Left foot usually ends up somewhere under the RIGHT thigh. Now assess the pose from here before you go any further…. hows your hip? Is it pretty close to the mat? High up in the air or somewhere in between? Also begin to have a conversation with your knee. Because you can, very slowly and in stages, take the left shin forward, as if someday that shin will be parallel to the front edge of the mat. As the knee creeps forward over time (weeks, months, years perhaps) that’s when you begin to flex the foot. As the knee makes it way forward there is more torque and flexing the foot protects that knee.

So here are the pic’s, neither is wrong, it just shows the example of when you need to flex the foot.



 notice the knee slightly angled and the foot under the thigh








on this one the knee is further out and forward, notice the foot



**and yea we need new carpet or maybe I should just vacuum…nahhh

Om Shanti


Yoga therapy. So, whats that all about.

As I begin another series of trainings in yoga therapy I have people asking me ‘what is yoga therapy’ or ‘what does a yoga therapist do’.

In the west when we think of yoga, we think of it primarily as a physical practice, as exercise. But yoga is a multi-dimensional practice, and along with its sister science, Ayurveda medicine, has been used as medical treatment and prevention for thousands of years. Yoga therapy has many applications such as managing high blood pressure, coping with the effects of cancer treatments, or treating mental and emotional disorders like depression or anxiety. It is especially helpful for treatments of musculoskeletal issues like low back pain, knee and shoulder issues, just to name a few. In an article for Gaiam Life Janice Gates, then president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists stated “Yoga therapy is very much about the whole person. It is complementary to physical therapy, but we take into account that back pain may be related to an emotional element, or it may be from lifestyle, some pattern that is not serving them, physical movement patterns or other patterns.”

Yoga therapy integrates traditional yogic concepts and techniques, with western medicine and modern psychology to become a complementary health & wellness practice. The Yoga Therapist creates a safe place for healing and growth to happen, by combining these elements and treating their client as a whole person, not just a disease.

Yoga therapy has been making inroads into the healthcare industry for quite some time; the ideas, concepts and deeper understanding of all that yoga has to offer are slowly making their way into main stream medical offices. Many doctors are now recommending yoga therapy to their patients primarily as a way to combat the effects of stress. But there is so much more that yoga therapy can do and while physicians are now beginning to understand how yoga therapy can complement modern medicine many doctors recommendations stop at stress relief. Maybe they don’t know how yoga works or perhaps they don’t have any personal experience with yoga, but without the information about how yoga works and how to best prescribe it they will simply continue to tell their patients to “go do yoga”. Since most patients won’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) seek yoga on their own, doctors need a resource, someone they can refer their patients to, someone with the knowledge of the right poses, or what breathing and meditation techniques would work for them. The yoga therapist can bridge the gap as  the patient begins to transition from dis-ease to a life more functional.


Surely everyone knows how great yoga is for stress reduction, isn’t that a ‘given’ anymore? But yoga is also beneficial for people getting back to the business of life after major surgery, illness or injury. And yoga is for everyone; young children are being taught yoga & meditation in schools to help them study and elderly residents in nursing homes do yoga in chairs to help alleviate the effects of aging and to help them stay active. Yoga is for people looking to slow down the aging process but also the injured athlete wanting to get back in the game. Yoga therapies are for the obese client and those battling eating disorders; for someone healing from trauma to another person making their way back from addictions.

Yoga therapy offers holistic healthcare solutions for everyone.

If you think yoga is just about stretching or being flexible you limit what yoga can do, how yoga can help you.  Yoga contributes to your overall health and well-being in so many ways. Yoga teaches healthier breathing habits that help the body with superior oxygenation providing many benefits on a cellular level, giving you bright, healthy, youthful skin; increased energy; reduced mental and physical fatigue; increase mental clarity and yoga gives your body’s immune system a big boost. All that healthy breathing combined with the yoga postures can benefit your metabolism without the stress that hard cardio workouts can put on the body. And some studies are now showing that ‘less is more’ when it comes to heart health and exercise. Beyond the physical benefits, yoga contributes to a sense of well-being and self-awareness. Yoga can enliven our senses, helps us be aware of the world around us and allows us to move through that world in a way that serves us on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Modern medicine simply does not address all of those components.

Yoga therapy concepts are an important component of preventative medicine too. If we expect to age well, to live productive lives, to remain active in our communities then we need to add yoga to our lives to allow us to get healthy, be healthy and to remain healthy. As yoga therapy continues to grow into the medical fields, yoga therapists will have the responsibility help physicians understand the benefits of prescribing yoga to their patients. We need to work together, physicians and yoga therapists, along with other complimentary and holistic treatments to empower people to live healthy lives.

At its heart yoga is about living life without fear. Whether that fear manifests as physical pain, emotional turmoil or mental distress, Yoga therapy is another tool that you can use to live healthy and well.

Roger Cole demonstrating an adjustment for the SI joint on yours truly, at a recent training event.

Great workshop with Roger Cole or ‘You want me to do ‘what’ with a chair?

  ….Salamba Sarvangasana supported Shoulderstand

I had a fantastic weekend! What about you? I am in another Yoga training (yea I know that’s hard to believe) for yoga therapy and this weekend we had the privilege of studying with Roger Cole, those of you outside of the Yoga world, you tilt your head and say ‘who’, while we yogis clap our hands and go ‘Ohhhh, cool’. Roger is one of the preeminent yoga teachers on the planet. He is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher and has been teaching since about 1980. If you read his bio, you think that he might be stuffy or very academic, at the very least a whole hellova lot smarter than me. But he was nothing of the sort, ok he is smarter than me (dude has a Phd for heaven’s sake) but his teaching style was very down to earth he didnt talk down to anyone or making you feel stupid. He was precise and to the point and didnt waste anytime. And he never hesitated to answer anyones question. He was a gracious teacher.

He is a Yoga Rock star! And getting to learn from him was amazing; my head is still swimming from all the great information. But better still was getting to learn hands-on Iyengar techniques.

….supported Viparita Karani on 4 long fold blankets…..

Training this weekend with Roger, my fellow students and several other well-known Iyengar teachers, reignited my love of Iyengar yoga. Years ago when I started taking yoga classes and then began studying yoga, the Iyengar style with its precision and its attention to alignment, taught in a way that makes yoga so accessible to everyone, was the one that I was always drawn to. And Iyengar yoga therapeutic applications are almost endless. Iyengar yoga was the basis for all my early trainings. But over the years as I grew as a teacher, and my students changed too, I studied many other kinds of yoga and created a blend of styles that seems to work best for my students and clients. But this weekend it became clear that Iyengar Yoga will always be my base. It is the yoga style I most gravitate towards. And having the opportunity to study with Roger reaffirmed my commitment to the direction that my life is going. If you have a love of anatomy or teach or train in Iyengar Yoga then you must make it a point to study with Roger Cole. You will not be disappointed.

Om Shanti


Roger demonstrating an adjustment for the SI joint, yea that’s me. And yea, it felt really good.

A special Thank You to Missi, my friend and fellow yogi for takeing these pictures.