If you think you could use a little less stress in your life, but you have no interest yoga studios, yoga culture or calling yourself a "yogi," then Yogawalla NYC is for you. This space is all about stress-free living. No acrobatics. No mystical bullshit. Just useful, practical tools to make life easier.


Worry Wart

Are you a worry wart? Do you think it’s normal to worry constantly? Do you feel that people who don’t visibly look worried about things just don’t care and live in a lala land? Do you scream at other drivers during rush hour? Do you yell out at the subway attendant when the train is delayed (I witnessed that one a few weeks ago)? Do you yell at your spouse when someone is coming over and the house is still a mess (yeah, I’ve done that…sorry Samit!)? If so, you’re definitely not alone. I’m not here to turn you into a weirdo that never worries. But if you don’t already know that worrying incessantly can lead to lots of physical problems down the road, I’m here to tell that’s just where you might be headed.
If you’re already dealing with things like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia, frequent headaches, digestive issues, etc., then you know what I’m talking about. These things aren’t normal and for most of those of them, you should probably seek out medical attention.
But in addition to traditional medication, I would also suggest a few other techniques to the chill the F out! For this to work, you have to decide that you’re okay with worrying a little less. If not for the sake of yourself and your own health, than for the sake of your family and your wallet.
If you’ve decided you need to learn to take it down a notch, here are some steps you can take.

  1. Use the stress scale. In any given situation, ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the absolute worst thing that can happen (like a viral apocalypse that’s killed everyone and left me alone and running from rabid, mutant animals), how bad is this situation? I guarantee most situations (like being late to a meeting or whatever) won’t break a 5. This isn’t meant to say that your problem shouldn’t matter. It just means that maybe your reaction, i.e. level of stress should match the level of severity of the situation.
  2. Figure out if what you’re worrying about is a legitimate worry. We all have legitimate and illegimate worries. A legitimate worry is worrying about something actually happening. Like a loved one in the hospital. Or worrying that your kid bit another kid in daycare. Or worrying that you won’t be able to make rent this month. You get the idea. Illegitimate worries usually have to do with ideas we are projecting onto the future. It usually goes something like this: I’m very worried about X happening because if that happens than Y won’t happen and Z will happen instead and then I’ll be left dealing with the mess. The reason worries like this are illegitimate is because humans can’t predict the future. I don’t care if you heard it from an astrologer or a psychic or whatever else, you have no idea what’s actually going to happen. There are literally infinity numbers of combinations and permutations that we are incapable of predicting. So stop thinking you have some special insight into what is going to happen.

    Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you worried about a situation…did it go EXACTLY the way you thought it would? Yeah, didn’t think so.
  3. Ask yourself if you can actually do anything about the given situation. If so, go ahead, take appropriate action. If you’re running late, inform those who you’re meeting, apologize, ask to reschedule if necessary, and use your phone to figure out if there’s a faster way to get where you’re going. Fine. But if there’s not further action to be taken, then in the words of Elsa…
  4. Let it go! Get a change of scenery by going for a walk and getting a breath of fresh air. Start reading something interesting on your phone. Start taking deep breaths and counting down the length of the inhales and exhales. Listen to a song you really like. If you’re really ambitious, you can meditate. Whatever method you use, train yourself not to give importance to the worry-thoughts that aren’t real and/or you can’t do anything about. This habit will take time to get used to, but over time, it will get easier.

Flow chart as requested by a client:

Flow chart as requested by a client:

If you’ve made it all the way down to the end, then I want to say thanks for reading. But I also want to add that these tips aren’t just some generic things I tell people. These are things I’ve been practicing for YEARS and have had a tremendous impact on me. I often hear from my clients that I have a calm presence, and a) that’s because my game face is ON, but more importantly, b) I really do these things all the time. Of course, any time you try and change your habits, you win some battles and lose others. And that’s okay. As long as you win a few.

Why Me????

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine was over at my place. He was a bit tipsy, and in this state he was telling me how his doctor told him he can’t really drink anymore. He was telling me this in a way that you could tell, deep down,  that he felt really sorry for himself. Like he was asking himself the age-old question… “Why Me?”
“Why me…why did this happen to me?”…that familiar cry of self-pity mixed with desperation. I have definitely asked myself that question before. In fact, I remember asking myself this question quite a bit when I was first officially diagnosed with psoriasis.
That diagnosis was life-changing. But not at all in the way I expected. Like all situations that lead to the “Why me?” moment, finding out I had psoriasis was devastating. I didn’t know why I had developed it, or how it was triggered. My doctor honestly just handed me for an OTC lotion, told me to go micro-tanning and shooed me out of her office. My parents accused me of “catching” it, like it was some kind of venereal disease that I had gotten through reckless and wanton behavior. And the scariest thing was, I had been working with psoriasis drug brands for my job and knew that they were a really harsh variety of immunosuppressants derived from cancer treatments. I was terrified of having to go on one of those and live with a suppressed immune system for the rest of my life.
Of course, that was an overly dramatic reaction, as every “why me?” moment tends to be. But what I realized over time is that I felt that desperate self-pity not because I was scared of the future or the situation, but because I was COMPARING my situation to that of others.
“Why me?” implies that we are somehow unique, singled-out and alone. That other people aren’t going through some bullshit of their own. We perceive the situation to be unfair – as if fairness actually exists. The question implies that we, in no way, contributed to the situation (uhh..hello diet, exercises, stress, alcohol???). As if it magically happened TO us. It’s no surprise that my deeper interest in yoga originated in unraveling this very question.
It took me a long time to realize that I was not alone (about 2-3% of the world’s population has this condition not to mention other autoimmune disorders), that other people were going through much worse situations, that I had a huge hand in contributing to my flare-ups and that a condition like this was a very lucky OPPPORTUNITY to make a change in my life before things got really bad.
And so I did make some huge changes. My psoriasis set me on the path of being a much healthier person, inside and out. With a little discipline, I can manage my psoriasis with success. But most importantly I never ask myself, “Why me?”

Just Keep Going

I've been taking boxing lessons over a year now and as weird as it may sound, I consider it to be a part of my yoga practice. Sounds weird, right? As you might have guessed, I find yoga in everything and my boxing training has really elevated my yoga practice. There are a couples of reasons for this...

Firstly, boxing is movement paired with breath. Even though you are moving constantly and dying in the process (at least I am ), you still have to remember to breathe. This is something I'm terrible at BTW. There's a video of me below and my trainer, Nikki from WTF, said afterwards that she didn't think I breathed even once that whole round. #workinprogress 🤷

Secondly, boxing takes a TON of mental focus and getting other random thoughts out of your head. Those of you who work with me know that I find mantras to be useful and when I box, my mantra is "just keep going."

Which brings me to the most important lesson I've learned in boxing. That is to JUST KEEP GOING. In the beginning, when I would mess up, I would just stop and have to start again, losing momentum in the process. Nikki has since drilled it into my head that I need to keep moving. If I mess up, so what?, don't dwell. Not even for a second. Because if you do that in a fight, you're gonna get knocked out. Sounds a lot like real life, doesn't it? In the yoga world, we might call this staying present. Working in the NOW. Of course, you can always set aside time to debrief, reflect, etc. But do it when the round is over - i.e. when YOU choose, not when your mind chooses for you. If you've created that time for yourself, then you know the rest of the time, just keeping moving, don't let mistakes, hiccups, embarrassments, not knowing where to go or what to do hold you back. As long as you keep going, you won't get knocked out.

Propping Up Your Practice

Chaturanga can be an elusive pose to master. And, while doing exercises like these or these in your own time (or in a private session!) is really the best way to build up your strength, sometimes there is just no time for it. If you're someone who prefers to practice a quicker paced vinyasa style yoga and/or practice mostly in a group class setting, you can still skillfully build up your chaturanga with blocks. Here's how.

Using Props to Perfect Chaturanga

If you've been following my blog lately, you'll know I've been sharing my tips on how you can really nail down chaturanga pose. Once you've take the time to practice the perfect plank and to build up your upper body strength and your form with these three exercises, it's time to move on to perfecting your chaturanga. Here, I've included 3 moves you can try at home to help you get the next level. 

Exercise 1: Block "Abs" 

This exercise is designed to train your body to avoid dropping your hips while you continue to build upper body strength. The blocks are placed along the line of where your "six pack" would be, making sure the edge of the closest block is lined up with your hip crease. Place your hands slightly behind your shoulders, so that when you lower down, your elbows and wrists will be at 90 degrees. Lower your chest so that your shoulders are in line with your hips. Once you get comfortable and strong here, you can work on extending your legs long. 

Perform this exercise 3-4 times daily, holding about 5 breaths each time. The blocks may feel a little uncomfortable under your belly, but this exercise will train hips from falling too far down below your chest.

Exercise #2: The Hip Helper

This move builds on the previous one but takes it to the next level. In this move, you are pretty much doing chaturanga but the blocks prevent you from collapsing as you continue to build strength throughout your body and they also serve as a guide to make sure you are not lowering to far down. The aim is always to keep the shoulders, elbows and hips at the same height. Begin in plank pose on your toes with the blocks positioned as before (the lower edge lined up with your hip crease). Lower down in one line until your belly is supported by the blocks. Stay there for a few breaths. You can press yourself back up or move through a modified upward-facing dog pose. Practice one set of 10 daily until you feel ready to move on.

Exercise #3: Not-Too-Low Flow

This last exercise is for when you feel really strong in your chaturanga but are still not sure how far down to go before it's too low. If you still struggling with pausing or holding chaturanga with shoulders, elbow and hips aligned, then begin in plank pose (on your toes) with two blocks in between your hands. The bottom edge of the blocks should roughly line up with the fingers, so that when you lower down, the blocks support your shoulders. Once you lower down, hold for 5 breaths and then either lower your knees or press back up. Practice one set of 10 daily until you feel ready to try it without any blocks!

These three moves should get you geared up to try chaturanga without any support. To get better and better, try to hold chaturanga as long as you can before moving into upward-facing dog or cobra. Better yet, keep trying to press back up to plank! Still to come...supporting/modifying your chaturanga in your group class and counter poses to balance out your body.

5 Ways to the Best Massage in Savasana

Since the long weekend is coming up and many of you will be busy with family, travel, fireworks and barbeques, I thought I’d put out something light-hearted. Since I teach small groups and privates, I always give massages to students who want it at the end of class. By now, I must have given hundreds of massages and I’ve noticed a few things that can make the experience even better. So if you are looking to get the best massage possible at the end of your yoga class, here are a few things you can do.

1. Take off your jewelry – If at all possible, the massage I will start the massage from beneath the neck in that spot between the shoulder blades. I give the neck a little rub and gently pull the base of the head up to create some length in the back of the neck. I may even massage the earlobes. If you’re wearing necklaces or earrings, I would have to rub only the upper neck and skip any ear massage I may have given. If you are looking for the deepest experience possible, I would suggest you remove your jewelry before class or before savasana.

2. Keep your long hair away from your neck – The reason for this is similar to #1. If I have to spend time to move your hair to get to your neck, you may get a shorter neck massage. If in the few seconds I have to assess, I find that moving your hair might be disruptive to your relaxation, I won’t move it at all and you will get very little neck rub.

3. Take off your glasses – I always end my savasana massage by lifting the eyebrows away from the nose. If you are wearing glasses, I won’t do this because that would be awkward. Again – if you want the benefit of the whole massage, I suggest your remove your glasses.

4. Keep space behind your head – In order for me to give some upward strokes to your neck, I need space to not only squat behind your body but also pull my whole body back a little bit. That means making sure there is space behind your head, either by sliding down your mat or by turning around if there is an obstruction behind you. Making sure there is space behind your head will ensure that I will be able to leverage my body to give you a better experience.

5. Don’t try to help – Oftentimes, when I get my hands under people’s necks and shoulders, their instinct is to lift up to make it easier for me. While appreciate the sentiment, the weight of your body pressing into my hands actually gives me the ability to create better pressure for your massage. If the massage is too strong, by all means, lift your head (and in fact – stop me and tell me!). But if you like the regular amount of pressure or even desire a little more, then be sure to let your head and neck hang heavily towards the ground.

Bonus: If you are wearing a halter top or bra that presses into the base of your neck, I won’t be moving it out of the way to get to the shoulders. If you want me to rub between your shoulders, best not to wear halter-type clothing to my class and save it for one where there isn’t any massage.

Okay – I realize that was a fluff piece but I know many of you enjoy that moment at the end of our classes. So I hope you found those tips insightful. Enjoy your long weekend and we will get back to the deeper yoga, anatomy and therapeutics next week. Happy Fourth of July!

What is “Range of Motion”? 5 Things You Need to Know

Range of motion is a term that has recently gained popularity in yoga communities…and for good reason. As more and more people come to yoga to gain flexibility, it’s important for teachers and students alike to have a few basic facts to prevent overstretching and hurting ourselves.

Anatomic Position

Anatomic Position

So what is range of motion (ROM)? Range of motion is basically a measure of how flexible we are at each joint in our body from a neutral, standing position – referred to as anatomical position. From this position, movements for each joint are broken down and assigned a range that is considered normal or average. For example, if you were to lift your arm straight up, it should lift up 180° (right besides the center of your ear). For a basic ROM list for each joint, you can check out this link. However there are few things you should consider if you’re looking to gain more flexibility:

180° of Shoulder Flexion

180° of Shoulder Flexion

1. There are two types of ROM – Passive and Active. Passive range of motion is what we typically think of when we think of stretching. It’s using gravity, our body weight, props or even assistance from someone else to create the most movement we can at a joint. Active range of motion is when we use the strength of our muscles to create as much movement as we can at a joint. Active ROM is often considered to be more desirable because it means that the muscles are strong enough to lend our joints support as well as flexibility. When we focus on active ROM, we are less likely to overstretch or injure ourselves.

2. ROM can be limited by much more than just muscle tightness. There are lots of factors that limit our range of motion that have nothing to do with tight muscles. These factors include individual variances in bone structure, age, dehydration, soft tissue approximation, an injury or previous injury, arthritis, nerve damage, shortened ligaments, joint replacement and more.

3. ROM numbers are guidelines, not rules. Because of the variances in individual bodies, ROM numbers should be taken as approximations. In addition, guidelines from different sources can vary slightly. So while it’s okay to go a few degrees beyond normal ROM provided you take it slow and listen to your body.

4. When we go way beyond what is considered normal ROM, we risk losing stability. Muscles are not always the only things stretched in yoga. Oftentimes, when we go beyond our natural range of movement, we pull on our ligaments as well. Unlike muscles, ligaments have a very limited ability to stretch. They only stretch about 6% and after that they start to tear. And because they don’t have much blood supply, they often don’t come back to their original length. This means that the overstretched joints are less stable and more prone to recurring injuries in the future.

5. Increasing ROM requires good technique, consistency and time. Believe it or not, overstretching can actually prevent us from gaining flexibility. In other words, don’t go too fast too soon. Your body will respond better if you warm up your joints, go slowly, and breathe deeply. For best results, you should stretch a little bit every day, feeling no more than a mild to medium sensation. If you’re straining and your breathing becomes stressed and shallow, you’re less likely to get the results you’re looking for.

Wheel pose is way out of normal ROM for wrist flexion,  shoulder flexion and spinal extension. Poses like this need to be worked up to slowly and with caution,

Wheel pose is way out of normal ROM for wrist flexion,  shoulder flexion and spinal extension. Poses like this need to be worked up to slowly and with caution,

While flexibility allows us to perform every day tasks with ease, decrease pain through good posture and body mechanics and even helps to prevent some injuries and illnesses, it’s easy to have too much of a good thing. Many yoga positions require much more range of motion than normal, so it’s best to work slowly and with caution. Ask yourself if you’re working on a certain pose because it contributes to your overall health in your everyday life. If the answer is “no,” you may want to rethink your yoga practice.

5 Ways to Individualize Your Yoga Practice to Keep Your Shoulders Safe

Though I teach mostly private yoga classes, I love going to group classes when I have the time. The feeling of community and the energy of practicing together can feel really great. But lately, I feel more tension and soreness in my shoulders (I've been looking at a computer screen more in order to write blog posts {yay!} and I've been boxing, too). So whenever I go to a group class, I modify my practice to keep my shoulders pain-free and safe. Below are some of my tips for individualizing the practice to keep the shoulders pain-free.

1. Do a Different Arm Variation

In yoga, there are a lot of poses that require your arms to be in the overhead position. Whether you are lifting weights, working the front body a lot, have rounded shoulders or just practicing a lot of yoga, you may start to experience some discomfort, tightness or pain when you take your arms overhead. If that's the case, feel free to take a different variation like taking the arms by your sides, back behind you, interlacing your fingers behind you or even taking a bind.

shoulder - sq-43.jpg

2. Skip Those Chaturangas

Speaking of working the front body a lot, chaturangas work a lot of muscles on the front of the torso and can exaggerate rounded shoulders, thereby contributing to pain when you take your arms overhead. So if you are feeling that tightness as you lift your arms or if you feel your are developing rounded shoulders, feel free to skip the chaturangas.

3. Extend the Arms More to Balance Out All the Flexion

Like I mentioned above, in yoga we take the arms overhead (in flexion) quite a bit and over time, this can create an imbalance. You can prevent the development of shoulder pain by taking your arms back behind your whenever possible or incorporating more reverse tabletop variations. If you are skipping the chaturangas, this may be a good time to bring these into your practice.

4. Use a Wall, Chair or Any Other Prop for Support

We often use our arms for balance or weight-bearing in yoga, but when you are dealing with pain or, especially, injury it's great to make sure that we have what we need to rest our arms and not fall over. By using a wall in poses like high lunge or any transitions between standing poses, you can keep your arms rested and relaxed while still keeping your balance. Tip: ask your instructor for a chair - many studios will have them on hand.

modify rotator cuff-10.jpg

5. Outwardly (Laterally) Rotate Your Arms Before You Lift Them Up

When you take your arms up with your palms facing each other, there is a bump (the greater tubercle) on the head of the humerus (arm bone) that can bump into the acromion process (part of the scapula). By turning our palms to face up before we take the arms up overhead, we can move the greater tubercle out of the way so there is more clearance and less chance of shoudler impingement.

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how I individualize my group practice to keep my shoulders safe and pain-free. Let me know what you think of these tips by writing in the comments below.

How to "Flow" With a Shoulder Injury

If you regularly practice yoga at a studio, gym or in another group setting, then you know what a bummer it can be to go to class with a shoulder injury like a rotator cuff tear or a frozen shoulder. Most yoga classes require a lot of time bearing weight on your wrists and shoulders in poses like downward facing dog, plank pose, upward facing dog, chaturanga, etc. What you probably didn't know is that, once you've been cleared for movement from your doctor or physical therapist, there are some easy ways you can modify your practice to fit your needs until you are back to 100%.

When practicing with a shoulder injury, sun salutations (the flow) can be the most frustrating part of class. Below is a simple sequence you can do to modify the practice and still flow along with everyone else in the room. From forward fold, step back one foot - taking smaller steps to get there if needed - and drop down to one knee. Then bring the front leg to meet the back so you are standing on both kees. Exhale for a gentle camel poses, keeping your arms nuetral to avoid pain or exacerbating the injury. Inhale back to center and on your exhale, bring the very top of your head to the floor and then very slowly lifting your hips for rabbit pose. Come back to standing on your knees and close out the flow by steping one foot forward at a time until you are back in forward fold. This practice should match the pace of a regular sun salutation and similarly includes both a back bend and a forward fold. You can scroll down to see the sequence breakdown.

Got any questions, comments or ideas? Be sure to include them in the comments!

Mini-Sequence for Strengthening the Rotator Cuff

In the last post, we looked at what the rotator cuff is, what it does and how to strengthen it. In this post, I wanted to share with you a video I made that shows you how to put three of those moves together to create a mini-sequence you can practice on your own. This is also a great sequence to take into your group classes if the class is working on an arm balance but you are still working through a shoulder injury. Of course, as always, make sure you get clearance from your doctor or physical therapist before attempting any new activity. Check out the video and let me know what you think.

The Rotator Cuff: Preventing Pain & Injury

Understanding the Rotator Cuff

Rotator cuff tear in the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle.

Rotator cuff tear in the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle.

You've probably heard a lot about the rotator might even have experienced a rotator cuff injury before. But what exactly is it? Why is it important? And how can we prevent (further) injury? The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are responsible for keeping the arm (humerus bone) attached the shoulder socket (scapula). The tendons of these muscles wrap around the head of the humerus, uggin the humerus to the shoulder socket. This is a tougher job than it might seem; our arms actually have a pretty shallow connection to the shoulder sockets. This shallow connection gives our arms a lot of mobility but not a lot of stability. It's one of the reasons why shoulder injuries are among the most common types of injuries and why everyone should invest a little more time in toning these highly functional muscles.

The four muscles of the rotator cuff. The anterior view is the view from the front and posterior is from the back. 

The four muscles of the rotator cuff. The anterior view is the view from the front and posterior is from the back. 

Let's take a closer look at what these muscles are, where they are located and what they do. The rotator cuff muscles include:

  • Infraspinatus: Located on the back of the shoulder blade and arm bone, the infraspinatus is one of the largest rotator cuff muscles. This muscle outwardly (laterally) rotates the arm and horizontally abducts the arm (see below).
Horizontal Abduction

Horizontal Abduction

  • Teres Minor: Teres minor is a smaller muscle located just beneath the infraspinatus on the back of the shoulder blade and arm. It also performs similar actions (lateral rotation and horizontal abduction) as the infraspinatus.
  • Supraspinatus: This muscle is located along a groove near the top of the backside of the scapula and connects over the top of the arm bone. This muscle works to lift the arms out to the sides from a relaxed position (abduction - see below). Suprasinatus is the most commonly injured rotator cuff muscle.


  • Subscapularis: Also a large muscle, the subscapularis connects from the front side of the scapula to the front of the arm bone. It inwardly (medially) rotates and horizontally adducts the arm at the shoulder joint (see below).
Horizontal Adduction

Horizontal Adduction

5 Poses for Strengthening the Rotator Cuff

By keeping our rotator cuff muscles toned, we can reduce the chance of injury to the area. If you've ever injured a rotator cuff muscle, then you'll know that strengthening these muscles is typially part of the recovery process once the area is healed. Below are five moves you can incorporate into your yoga practice (or workout) to keep these muscles in their best working condition.

Addressing Shoulder Pain (Part 2)

Last time on the blog, we took a look at the structures of the shoulders and the most common reason why we experience shoulder pain: chronically rounded shoulders. This time, we’ll take a look at 10 yoga moves that can address rounded shoulders and eliminate the pain.

Try these poses out and let me know what you think in the comments!

Addressing Shoulder Pain (Part 1)

Lately, I’ve had so many complaints from students about shoulder aches and pains. So over the course of the next few weeks, I'm going to examine the most recurring shoulder issues I see with my students, why these issue can lead to pain and injury in the shoulders, share some ideas as to how we can prevent pain and also share some tips on how we can modify our yoga practice to accommodate injuries to the shoulder area.

Shoulder Anatomy 101

Did you know that what we think of as our “shoulders” is actually made up of 3 bones and 4 different joints? Together, these bones and joints are called the shoulder girdle or shoulder joint complex. The shoulder girdle is made up of:

  • the scapula: a.k.a the shoulder blade – which is also the bone that provides the shoulder socket
  • the humerus: a.k.a the upper arm – the part we typically think of as the round part of our shoulder
  • the clavicle: a.k.a the collarbone - the part that transfers weight from our arms to the rest of our body
Fig. A: The scapula, humerus and clavicle form the "shoulder joint complex" and move together as a unit.

Fig. A: The scapula, humerus and clavicle form the "shoulder joint complex" and move together as a unit.

You can see in the animated image above how the three bones connect to each other. The scapula lies on top of the ribs in the back and the clavicle connects to the sternum (a.k.a breastbone) in the front. When we are at rest in an upright position (sitting or standing), the shoulder blades should lie snugly on the back ribs, the upper arms should connect snugly in the shoulder sockets and the shoulders should line up with the ear canals and the hips (see image below).

 Fig. B: Optimal shoulder alignment

 Fig. B: Optimal shoulder alignment

Why the Pain?

One of the reasons we develop pain in our shoulders (and neck) can be our tendency to have rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders is when the scapulae rest more forward on the ribcage and are often tilted forward as well, causing the clavicles to also be more forward and tilted. The humerus bones (upper arms) turn inwards towards the body, and very often, the head and neck stick forward. Sometimes the shoulders are also scrunched up towards the ears. We tend to hold this position a lot when we are looking at our phones and computers but ESPECIALLY in the winter when we are bracing ourselves from the cold. We also tend to take this position when we feel vulnerable or down in some way; it’s our body’s way of instinctually protecting our vital organs – the heart and lungs. Cyclists, breast-feeding mothers, body-builders who work their chest more than their back, drivers, and large-breasted women are also likely to develop rounded shoulders.

Fig. C: The shoulder blades are tend to tilt forward and the head protrudes when we have rounded shoulders

Fig. C: The shoulder blades are tend to tilt forward and the head protrudes when we have rounded shoulders

So why do we get pain from this position? Well, when our shoulders are out of alignment, all the muscles that attach to our shoulders are out of alignment as well. There are 17 muscles that attach to each scapula alone! Many of the muscles of the shoulder joint complex pass through the narrow space under the collarbone. A large nerve bundle also passes through this area as do many blood vessels. Because of the number of muscles in the area, there are lots of bursae - little fluid filled cushions – in the area as well. When the shoulders are misaligned, it’s very easy for these structures to get compressed, inflamed, overworked or chronically shortened. It’s also harder for the muscles that keep the arm bone in place (the rotator cuff muscles) to do their job and it's harder for the collarbone to efficiently transfer weight from our arms to the rest of our body.

What Can We Do?

So how do we reshape our shoulders so that they are in optimal alignment? The key is in lengthening muscles in the front of the body, strengthening muscles in the back of the body and making sure the whole area has a healthy range of mobility. Stay tuned for the next post, where I'll recommend some specific ways in which to restore rounded shoulders to their optimal alignmet and reduce the occurance of aches and pains.

Take Your Yoga On The Road: Apps, Youtube Channels and Podcasts to Try

For many of you, the holiday season may be the time of year that you most rely on yoga practice. However, it may also be the time of year where family and travels get in the way of your usual routine. To help you avoid falling off of your yoga routine altogether - I've compiled a list of my favorite apps, video channels and podcasts that will help you get moving and meditating, no matter where you are here. Without further ado...


Try These Apps

1. DDP Yoga - This app was created by wrestler-turned-yoga-master, Diamond Dallas Page and has classes for every level, making the practice really accessible for anyone. His style is also down-to-earth, so if you aren't into the woo-woo aspects of yoga this is for you.

2. Yoga Studio - This inexpensive app offers classes of various lengths and difficulties like the DDP app, but also allows you to link poses together to create your own sequences. It also allows you to download any sequence so you can practice without the need for wifi.

3. Headspace - What I especially love about this meditation app is that it begins with some really clear videos explaining what meditation is and how it works. The app offers a 10-minutes for 10 days course that you can repeat as many times as you like in order to build up a meditation practice. It also offers some other great meditations like one for fear of flying. 

4. Insight Timer - This app has thousands of meditations and talks from a diverse range of teachers. Some of my favorites are Tara Brach and Sadhguru. 

5. Buddify - This meditation app is activity based. You simply select an activity such as traveling, walking or cooking and, voilà! - a specific meditation to help you be more present.

Watch on Youtube

1. Ekhart Yoga - Esther Ekhart is extremely knowledgable and has keen grasp of bodies of all different ranges. She provides precise and practical cues. While you can visit her website to get a subscription to full classes, her Youtube channel offers hundreds of mini-sequences, exercises yoga philosophy and anatomy videos for free. 

2. Yoga with Adriene - Adriene's Youtube channel also offers hundreds of classes and while some of them are 10-15 minutes, many of them are around 30 minutes or more. If you're looking to do a more well rounded express class, this may be the channel for you. 

3. Kino Yoga - Kino MacGregor is an incredible Ashtanga master teacher. I don't personally practice Ashtanga yoga - which takes a lot of time and patience to move forward in correctly. But I love watching her videos as a reference point for moving into more advanced poses. If you are working on something that is particularly difficult for you, her videos may offer some fresh ideas on how to get there.

4. Talking in Circles - This Youtube show by Laura Miller isn't strictly a yoga show, but she (and her circle of friends, including yoga teacher Tara Stiles) get together to talk about how they deal with some very real topics that, in a way, captures the essence of yoga. While they talk about some heavy topics that may be perfect for easing you through the holidays, her characteristically goofy/awkward personality lighten up these 10-min and under episodes. 

Listen To A Podcast

1. Meditation in the City - This podcast is based on the weekly Shambhala dharma talks given at the Shambhala Meditation Center in NYC. Shambhala comes from a Buddhist tradition and these talks are very much based in the reality of living in NYC.  The episode on family karma is especially relevant this time of year. I love downloading episodes from these talks and listening to them while on a long journey. Here's the link for iTunes and for Android.

2. Dear Sugar - If you love the book by Cheryle Strayed, you'll love this podcast in which she and Steve Almond (the original "Sugars")  take on real problems and difficulties with straight talk mixed with radical compassion. Find it on iTunes or Android.

Now that you have a pretty comprehensive list of resources to help you keep up your practice and keep your peace of mind this season, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that you can also check out my Instagram page for videos of mini sequences and my Soundcloud page for guided meditations. Happy Holidays!

6 Poses to Help You Manage the Holidays

For me, like for many people, the holidays can be a stressful time. Parties and get-togethers are a lot of fun but they can also be depleting, especially if, like me, you are spending a more than normal amount of time with family of friends. The food and drink temptations and the financial pressure only exacerbate the fatigue and energetic drain that often accompany this time of year. To help you manage your energy and emotional needs, I've put together a list of six poses that can help you get through the holidays with a little more ease and grace.

Relieving Low Back Pain: Part 3 - Strengthening the Spine

So far in Relieving Low Back Pain Part 1 and Part 2 we've covered how out-of-alignment hips and tight muscles can contribute to low back pain. In this post, I show you how to strengthen your "core" muscles so that they can help your spine stay tall and carry the weight of your body. When most people thing of their "core" muscles, they think of the six pack abs that are formed by the rectus abdominis muscle. While this muscle looks great when toned, it actually doesn't do all that much to stabalize your spine. Instead, muscles like the transverse abdominis (the corset muscle), multifidi, and the obliques are much more involved. Muscles around your entire torso (front, back and sides) work together to create spinal stability. If some are working much more than others, it can create tension, compression and/or pain in the low back. Below are some stregthening poses for the entire torso that will help to decrease compressive forces and bring balance to the area and help alleviate low back pain. As always, if you are dealing with an injury or condition, be sure to get clearance from a doctor or PT before performing any of these exercises.