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Looking for a way to connect with fellow yogis and yoginis? Well, FitSugar has created Yoga Stretch and Tell - a group dedicated to sharing your yoga stories, questions, tips, and celebrations. Need an answer to a burning yoga question? Want to share a tip that helped you open your back? Do you have a secret embarrassing yoga story to reveal? Or maybe you just held handstand without falling and need to tell the world.

Vinyasa: The Link Between Poses

Posted By Jenny Sugar on Jul 18, 2007 at 9:30AM

Yoga is all about connecting your breath with your body, and vinyasas help that happen. Vinyasas link static yoga poses together, so your practice becomes more of a deliberate, fluid dance instead of just a bunch of random poses thrown together. Vinyasa is a series of 5 movements, kind of like a shortened Sun Salutation. You do a vinyasa between different poses and between the right and left sides of poses as well. Vinyasas are like the glue that holds yoga poses together.

Check out this video to see the flow of the 5 movements.

How did it get its name? To find out, read more

Tagged with: yoga, fitness

What's Up Dog? Are You Down (DOG?)

Posted By Fitness on May 19, 2007 at 2:00AM

Remember waking up on Saturday morning and watching cartoons? Well this video, while not a cartoon, is quite cartoonish. It is super cute, so beware 'cause you might just start singing this catchy song soon after watching the video.

You've got to get up to get down! Down Dog that is. Check out this adorable musical explanation of Sun Salutation A from The Ohmies (ha, get it? Om. Too cute). It's called "Up/Down Dawg."

You've got to do Up Dog, and then Down Dog. Are you down (dog)?

Move it at Home: Baron Baptiste - Journey into Power

Posted By Fitness on Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00AM

You know I'm a huge fan of Baron Baptiste and I love his LIVE DVD, Soul of Strength. He's got such incredibly positive and inspiring energy, it made me want to check out his other videos.

After making the LIVE DVDs, he went on to write a book called Journey Into Power. A year later, he made a 2-DVD video series also called Journey Into Power - Level 1 and Level 2.

These videos are filmed as he leads a group of actual yoga students through his Power Vinyasa class. These are regular people - not yoga models - so you can see how individual body types do the poses differently.

They're a great introduction to Vinyasa Yoga because throughout the entire video, he is constantly giving tips about form and technique. He also explains modifications for poses, so they're great for beginners. Advanced yoga poses are also included, so these videos are great for experienced yoginis as well.

I just love Baron's down-to-earth attitude, and his creative sequencing. If you can't make it to a class, or want to know more about body alignment and technique, the Journey into Power DVDs are the next best thing.

Strike a Yoga Pose: Handstand Trick

Posted By Fitness on Apr 12, 2007 at 7:30AM

Spring weather always reminds of how much I love doing handstands in the grass. You can really dig your fingertips into the earth to get some grip, and if you lose your balance - so what? You have a nice cushion of grass to fall on.

In the Yoga Stretch and Tell Group, one of our readers, snowdaytoday had a question about how to stay up and balanced in handstand.

Doing handstand in the middle of space, with no help can be really scary. I'm a firm believer in using the wall to lean on, but you want to do it in such a way that you can work on your balance at the same time. You don't want to rely on the wall completely for support because then you'll never achieve the strength and balance to stay up on your own.


Here's something you can practice against a wall. Want to see? Then read more

Yoga Class Etiquette

Posted By Fitness on Apr 11, 2007 at 2:00AM

Whether you're planning on going to your first yoga class or you've been to a million, there are some things every good yogini needs to know. This way, you'll be able to respect the teacher, and respect yourself as well.

  • Wear clean clothes: Some teachers assist you in postures, and you wouldn't want them to have to smell your stinky previously sweat in outfit. How embarrassing.
  • Don't be late: Show up at least 10 minutes before the class begins so you can get yourself ready and find a spot to put your mat. You need a few minutes to switch gears, release the thoughts of the day, and calm your body and mind. It's also disrespectful to the teacher and the other students when you stumble in late and disrupt class.
  • Tell the instructor of injuries: If you have any injuries or special health conditions, let the teacher know before class. That way, if you've recently had knee surgery, they'll understand why you're not bending your knee deeply in Warrior pose, and they can show you a modification. Also, if you prefer NOT being adjusted in poses, let them know in a polite way.
  • Bring your own mat: If you don't have one, you can definitely borrow or rent one from the studio. Make sure you ASK where they are, so you don't take one that is for sale by the studio. After your first few classes, it's time to purchase your own mat. That way you won't have to worry about other people's sweat, germs and bacteria making you sick.

Want to know what's the MOST IMPORTANT thing you should know? Then read more

Yoga: What's With the Om?

Posted By Fitness on Mar 8, 2007 at 8:45AM

I've been to many different yoga classes, from Kripalu to Ashtanga to Jivamukti, and they all have something in common. At the end the teacher always leads the class in chanting "Ommmm."

Om, actually pronounced "Aum," is an affirmation of the Divine Presence that is the universe and is similar to the Hebrew "Amen."

In the Hindu belief, Om is the sound that was made when the whole universe was created. Om is a "word of power," so chanting it before and after a yoga class is believed to produce a profound effect on the person chanting, and in the world.

The symbol to the right represents Om. In this Sanskrit letter the long lower curve represents the dream state, the upper curve stands for the waking state and the curve coming from the center symbolizes deep, dreamless sleep. The crescent shape stands for "maya", the veil of illusion, and the dot represents the transcendental state (beyond thinking).

When the individual spirit passes through the veil and goes beyond thinking, they are liberated from the three states, and achieve enlightenment. Whoa.

I don't necessarily think of "Om-ing" like that - that's just too transcendental for me. I like to focus on the more physical benefits, like the rhythmic pronunciation of chanting Om slows down the nervous system and calms the mind, like meditation. If the mind is relaxed, then it will help to decrease blood pressure, which will in turn improve heart health.

It is also good for relieving congestion or sinusitis. The vibrations created by chanting Om can help clear your sinuses and ward off infection.

Also, chanting Om collectively in a group gives you a wonderful sense of community.

Want to hear what Om sounds like? Then read more

Looking For a Yoga Teacher or Studio?

Posted By Fitness on Jan 31, 2007 at 2:30AM

Are you looking for a yoga teacher near you? Maybe you're moving to a new place and want to find a new studio. Do you want to try a new style of yoga? Are you looking for the perfect yoga vacation or retreat? Or maybe you're going on a business trip and want to sneak a class in?

In order to find a new yoga teacher or studio, there are a number of helpful directories you can check out:

The Yoga Site: Locate teachers internationally

Yoga Finder: Find classes, events, retreats, products, and teacher training programs

Yoga Journal: Look up teachers, studios, teacher training programs, workshops, vacations, and retreats

Yoga Centers Directory: Search for international yoga centers

Yoga Everywhere: USA teacher & studio directory

Iyenger Yoga Teacher Directory: Find an Iyengar teacher anywhere in the world

Integral Yoga Teachers Directory: Not sure how up to date this is, but it's worth checking out

Health & Yoga: Find a teacher, studio, event, or retreat anywhere in the world

Fit's Tips: Do you know of a wonderful yoga instructor, studio, or workshop you think others need to know about? Tell us all about it at Yoga Stretch and Tell - When traveling, I'm always looking for new studios to try out.

Move it at Home: David Swenson's Ashtanga Yoga: First Series

Posted By Fitness on Jan 26, 2007 at 2:00PM

David Swenson is an incredibly well-known yoga instructor and practitioner. He began practicing when he was 13 and was introduced to Ashtanga at 19 by David Williams and Nancy Gilgoff (also very well known). Plus he studied with K. Pattabhi Jois, the master of Ashtanga.

His DVD, Ashtanga Yoga: First Series, available through Amazon for $24.95, is wonderful whether you are first learning or have been practicing for years.

There's a 30 minute intro explaining the foundations of the practice. Immediately following is the complete fully guided First Series, in the traditional flowing rhythm essential to Ashtanga Yoga. Ending with a guided deep relaxation, the series is about 1 1/2 hours long.

David's delivery of the basic principles is clear and down-to-earth. It's easy to follow along, and I love that he offers modifications so all levels of yogis will be able to follow along.

I definitely recommend this video if you want to learn First Series, or if you've already fallen in love with it. It's challenging both physically and mentally, yet very rewarding.