Monthly Archives: May 2011

Can You Really Lose Weight with Yoga?

It’s a question that comes up a lot. It’s a personal interest, and unavoidable in our crazysexyvisual yoga world. But how does yoga fit in, exactly?

With this in mind, the timing was perfect for this past Wednesday’s “Learning Lunch” with two of the finest ladies and yoga teachers I know. We get together periodically for lunch and giggles, oftentimes serious, sometimes not, but always candid and interested talk about a specific topic that’s been coming up in our travels through the yoga teaching world.

Wednesday’s Topic: Yoga, Weight Loss and Body Image.

We started out exploring yoga and body issues, and our role as a teacher. We acknowledged that weight issues persist and they’re showing up for our students regularly.

As the conversation grew, a specific question popped up:

Do you feel comfortable telling a student that yoga can lead to weight loss?

Me: Yes. Them: No

Oooh, now the conversation is getting interesting!

To explain, in my opinion yoga does not directly lead to weight loss. The yogic middle man is the “mind/body” connection. A sound mind/body connection allows you to FEEL your body, feel what it needs, and feel what it doesn’t. If you can quiet down, listen and feel your body from the inside out you can experience the effects of eating an extra helping at breakfast, taking a mid-day nap, or a child’s pose instead of an extra vinyasa, for example. All these things can be appropriate, or not, depending on what your body is asking for at any moment, on any particular day.

You won’t always get it right. Your body’s needs are not always easily understood by our loud, often confused minds. Therefore, you might sleep when you should have done laps at the pool. Or vice versa. But that’s information too–what does getting it wrong feel like? Are you lethargic? Groggy? Or perhaps hyperactive?

But get this–you can also feel the effects of getting it right. Like when you show up to yoga class after sitting in a desk chair all day. You’re mentally tired and physically zapped, heavy. Remember that feeling of the first downdog of class, the re-awakening of your body, the sudden rush of eneregy you didn’t have just 15 minutes ago on the cramped subway ride that got you there? That’s YOU feeling YOU, you feeling your body and delivering to your body just what it wants and needs.

Keep on practicing yoga to strengthen the mind/body connection. When you feel what you need, you’ll be more inclined to treat your body well. And in turn, your body will respond well, become healthier. You’ll lose extra weight that shouldn’t be there. You’ll keep it off because you create a new rhythm for eating and physical activity that feels good.

Now, I can’t promise you’ll lose 20 pounds. I can’t predict how your body will change. No one can. And even if this does happen, it wont necessarily be fast. Much like any loving relationship, the mind/body connection takes patience, compassion, and hard work. There will be lover’s quarrels. Then you’ll make up. Ultimately, you’ll fall ecstatically in love with your body over and over again, no matter what the scale says!

And just in case you were wondering…..

Wednesday’s Menu:

Main: Salad w/ lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado. With a yummy dressing that I couldn’t identify but would have drank plain.

Side: Thick fresh whole wheat bread. Goat cheese.

Beverage: Sparkling water with Mango Puree. We’re fancy.

Dessert: Fallen chocolate soufle. And fruit tartlettes. One dessert is never enough.

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Want to Make an Impact? Talk!

Do you want to make an impact? Do you want to have a positive effect on people? If you have a voice, you can change the world.

First, you’ve got to believe that your voice has value. Believe that your story has value. In your heart, believe that YOU have value. I know that may seem like a tall order. And it’s not always apparent when you’re indeed connecting with people. But remember, just by going through the normal, silly, messy business of living your life, you’re helping others. Simply put: Your discoveries shorten the learning curve for others. But only if you’re talking about them.

I know this because I get paid to talk during class, and no one (usually) talks back. But after class, however, people talk A LOT. Granted, some stories of discovery fly over my head, while others aren’t quite applicable to my life at the time. But often enough, I find myself thinking of something a student has said that gives me a solution to a problem I’m trying to solve, or a new perspective, or hope.

Talk! You’ll make an impact, I promise.

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Love Letter to the Yoga Students

Dearest Yoga Students,

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but we need to talk. I’ve been evaluating our relationship and I want you to know that I’m ready to ratchet it up a notch. We started out innocently. It was all very informal, like we were just going through the moves. But as we continue with this, I find that you lift me energetically, help me to press reset. I love hearing my own voice with you, and your attention makes me feel bold. When you’re listening, I feel wise. When confusion or fear is weighing me down, I remember your confidence in me. And I feel better. I want to give you everything you want, dear students. I want to make you feel good.

What a pleasure to be able to know you. So thank you, you shiny wonderful people you, thank you students. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yours Truly,

Daniella

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In the “In” Crowd

I was at the Yoga Journal Conference. There were classes, talks, and workshops, all happening back to back at the NY Hilton. And I didn’t go to a single one. Instead, I hung around the all-day all-public all-free YJ Marketplace.

I wasn’t trying to be anti-social, or avoid anyone or any thing. The Conference just wasn’t on my radar till it was too late. Truth is, it was my first YJ Conference and I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what classes to choose, what to wear, or who to go with. New social things are scary!

So when my dear friend and yoga writer extraordinare Joelle Hann invited me to tear her away from the windowless yoga party for lunch on Saturday afternoon, I was thrilled! I now had a buddy, a reason to be there, a proper invitation (well, sort of).

I showed up early enough on Saturday to carefully and anonymously check out every table, vendor (love Larabar’s new ‘blueberry muffin’ flavor), and brand of yoga pant. I was thoroughly enjoying my newness and my undercover knowledge of the players and the language, all while wearing street clothes and sipping a can of cherry coke zero (don’t judge, it’s delicious). I was getting into a groove when who do I run into?–Sadie Nardini! Teacher, friend, mentor, and all around yoga conference pro. I suddenly felt a lot more comfortable. Once I refocused my eyeballs, I could see that every few faces was a familiar one. And not because they’re famous, because they’re friends. True friends, people with whom I’ve shared experiences, personal stories, deep emotions. Seems I had it all wrong—this was my kind of party, after all!

Does the fear of not being in the “In” crowd EVER go away?! I’m so glad I moved through my own insecurity and got a few bits of chocolate samples to show for it.

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Best Conditions for Intuition

Intuition comes naturally. It arrives in a flash with the right people, in the right setting, under the proper conditions. Everything has to be just right for the arrival of that special moment when you know exactly what to do, what to say.

A student commented on my dharma talk recently. To anyone overhearing our conversation, this would have been a normal exchange for yoga teacher and yoga student. But wait, WHAT dharma talk?! You mean those words I said right before we slipped into savasana, when I just closed my eyes and opened my mouth? You’re referring to THAT?!

I’d been teaching a room full of sweet, receptive yoga students. We’d created a supportive box to play in. And at the time, I felt I was just adding to the conversation, dropping a nugget into a vast body of wisdom. But apparently those conditions allowed me to meet my students exactly where they were.

You are intuitive. Assume it, believe it. The thing I’m most interested in: what conditions must be present for your intuition to kick in? When have you been your most naturally brilliant, instinctive, intuitive?

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Are you overprotective of your heart?

Love is in the air! It’s the season of exposed shoulders, outdoor cocktails, shiny pedicures and sweaty yoga classes. It’s a sultry time. Does that mean we can just sit back and relax?

I think not. Now is the time to be brave with your heart.

I often talk about being “kind to your own sweet heart”. It’s a good idea to be kind to your heart, take care of it like a little child, to acknowledge the hard work, stretching, and contorting of your emotional center every day. Yes, we must be kind to our own sweet hearts.

However, there’s no need to be overprotective of your own heart. What would happen if you allowed your heart to be risky, gutsy, BOLD?? I dare you to give your heart the space to expand to find new levels of love. Go on, JUMP! You can risk it, you can trust your own sweet heart to be more powerful and capable than you’ve ever imagined.

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Filed under Inside Your Friendships, Inside Your Love Life

Mixtape!

This week, my very own yoga mixtape was featured on YogaCityNYC’s Newsletter, in the “Teacher’s Corner”! Its packed with great songs: some classical and dramatic, some silly and boppidy.

Its especially wild to be recognized in this way because when I first started out, I preferred to teach with no music at all–total silence. NOT because I don’t love music, but because I love it too much. It was just too distracting to teach over music that I adore with every vibration of my body. Talk about sensory overload! Over time, its become far more manageable to play DJ, keep the flow going, and get a little dance move in here or there.

BIG THANK YOU to my dear student, friend and NEW teacher Claire Donato, who recommended me for this section. Students like Claire make me a more thoughtful, creative teacher.

Happy Weekend, and get moving!

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Pass the Torch, Keep the Fire Burning

This past week has been a professionally emotional one for me.

I’ve passed along two time slots at the beautiful Bend and Bloom studio in Park Slope: Tues 3:30 and Wed 9:15. I’d been teaching these slots for a total of 8 months, holding the space for the studio owner while she was away on maternity leave. During this time a whole cast of characters have passed through—a wonderful, curious, happy, bizarre, silly, beautiful, hilarious crew. I’ve gained friendships, professional contacts and more warm fuzzy feelings that I can describe here. And magically, we’ve built community.

It has been difficult to teach with an end in sight and challenge myself practice non-grasping. Yeesh, I could have met these students week after week for years to come!!

Now, with a sweet and heavy heart, I’m working on paths to continue and EXPAND the community we’ve created! Here’s a hint of what I’ve got planned! Stay tuned for more info in the Daniellaviva Yoga Newsletter to come…..

1. PARTY PARTY PARTY!!!! You deserve it, ladies and gentleman!! I’ve heard far too many stories of success, new love, new education, new digs, and overall ROCKING OUT-NESS of life to deny you the recognition you deserve. This is for everyone that has used this deep winter to prepare for the blazing NOW of spring. This is for YOU! Bring yourself and your best cheerleaders. I’m thinking early June….

2. VIDEOS: Yoga is too good to stay within the 4 walls of the yoga studio. I’m working on long videos, short little videos, interviews, breakdown of poses, intricate explanation of kooky transitions, and an opportunity to show Aunt Roz in Boca Raton how you’ve been spending your “me-time”. Soon to be posted here on the Daniellaviva Yoga website and all over the interwebs far and wide.

3. CONTINUING EDUCATION: WHO practices yoga? Writers, scientists, healers, therapists, teachers, musicians, nerds, athletes, parents, lovers, LEADERS. What does yoga mean to you in the context of YOUR successful life? Let’s get talking—via video, written word, public discussions.

Have a beautiful weekend. See you soon!!

via Daniellaviva Yoga – blog – Pass the Torch, Keep the Fire Burning.

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Lookin’ Good!

Just one more week till May! Makes me think of sandals and exposed shoulders and spray tans.

Yoga is a lot of things: a lifestyle, a spiritual practice, a way to connect to your deepest self, and understand the connection among ourselves and all other beings. Its a lot.

It’s also an incredible way to sweat, tone, and strengthen the body. It will keep you feeling healthy and LOOKING FANTASTIC! There’s no shame in feeling great in your body, and feeling great because you LOVE your body.

Extra bikini-prep ab routine anyone?

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Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung (finally!) and there’s new light shed on our old, dusty things. Physical things, household things, energetic things–you name it, we’ve got ’em, and they’re old. And dusty.

There’s no way around it. Its time to deal with Spring Cleaning.

Well, today I had my bi-monthly acupuncture appointment with the brilliant Christine Nichols. And boy did she give me a Spring Cleaning, but good! The treatment was an energetic detox to eliminate settled and stagnant “evil chi”. Eeek. Christine quickly assured me that everyone’s got some, and the chi isn’t bad, per se, it just settled in my body that way. (How very Jessica Rabbit.) Already, I feel SO relaxed and optimistic about everything that’s beginning to bloom in my life. Now if only I could stick some needles in my overflowing bookshelf and full sink of dirty dishes, we’d have something.

What’s Spring Cleaning for you?

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