Month: January 2015

By Alison Feller

“You have to come to yoga with me. It’s Baptiste yoga, so it’s cool yoga—really fast, athletic, intense. It’s a killer workout. Very New York-y. We don’t chant or sit on big wool blankets, and the class isn’t taught totally in Sanskrit. Oh, but we do say ohm at the beginning and end of class. Just FYI, in case that’s new to you.”
I’ve found myself saying that over and over as I bring newcomers to Lyons Den.
Yes, the Baptiste style of yoga we practice at Lyons Den is indeed what I think is pretty “cool” (even if it’s not cool inside the studio). And while we don’t do the chanting you may have experienced during other yoga practices, we do start and finish each class with a resounding ohm—or a series of three ohms, depending on the class.
And while I’m not really into the chanting like you may have experienced during other yoga practices, I am really into the fact that we start and finish each class with a resounding ohm. (Though, confession: I used to just stand there during the ohm and listen to everyone else do it. Once I joined in, though, I was hooked.)
But I’ve always wondered why we say ohm. Why is it a part of class—and is my ohm normal? So I asked Lyons Den instructors Meg McNeal and Julie Brazitis to share what you need to know about the ritual and why—if you’re new to the Den or intimidated by the ohm—you should open up and join the voices around you.

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What is the significance behind the ohm?
“We chant ohm in most yoga practices—not just Baptiste. It is the original and most powerful mantra. It’s a universal sound and vibration that we use to clear the space and centralize the energy in the room. The ohm is the beginning and the end, and everything in between. It’s a vibration that connects us all and gets everyone on the same page.” —Meg McNeal
What is the proper way to chant ohm?
“There are three parts to the ohm sound—ah, oooo, and mmmm—plus a fourth residual silence. The ah vibrates in the chest and activates the heart chakra. The oooo vibrates in the throat, and the mmmm has a nasally tone to it, which vibrates the crown chakra and the top of the head.” —Meg
Does it matter how you say ohm? Should it be pretty and sing-songy, or loud and aggressive?
“Every teacher has a very individual and unique way of leading class through ohms. Some are load and roaring, others are sweet—anything goes! As a new teacher, I play with my ohm each time. I’m always in discovery mode. My advice is to play with your ohm and have fun with it.” —Julie Brazitis
A lot of people are self-conscious about joining in on the ohm! What’s your advice to them?
Ohm-ing and all other chanting done in other yoga practices are always optional. It took me a long time to warm up to it. Now, I love it! I think it’s OK to just sit with it for a while and soak up the vibration. Eventually, as Gloria Estefan once said, the rhythm is gonna get you!” —Meg
Be honest—as a teacher, do you notice who is and isn’t ohm-ing? Does it matter to you if everyone participates or not?
“We are definitely not looking to see if you’re ohm-ing! But we can feel it, and hear it when students shy away from it. It’s normal to be a little shy about being so open and vulnerable with your voice, but there’s no right or wrong way to sound. I say let it rip, let it go, let it flow! Nobody—and I mean nobody, not even the teacher—is judging you for how you sound or how your mouth looks while you’re doing it. The bigger and bolder you ohm, the more you fill and inspire the space and students around you. Own it, and watch it inspire your practice.” —Julie

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By Alison Feller

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a big, beautiful heart-opening, back-bending pose. Camel (Ustrasana) is a pose that stretches and expands nearly every part of the body—and it feels so good! But Camel can be intimidating at first for yogis who are new to being upside-down.

Before you retreat to Child’s Pose in lieu of Camel (which we’re always fine with!), try these tips to push your fear aside, because you’re certainly not alone. While some people can easily and gently bend back into Camel, others feel dizzy or lightheaded during backbends. Lyons Den instructor Brooke Easton is a Camel pro—and these are her tips for success.

Brooke Easton, Den Instructor
Brooke Easton, Den Instructor

1. Make sure you’re warm. Camel will never be the first pose we tackle in class. But if you’re practicing at home, make sure your body is warmed up.

2. Slow down. “If you go into or out of a backbend too fast, it can cause dizziness,” Brooke says. “Camel usually comes after floor backbends like Locust and Bow.” Be careful not to launch yourself into or out of the pose too fast, since you’ve just shifted from lying on the ground to an upright kneeling position.

3. Set yourself up for success. “Align your knees at hip-distance, stacked directly under your hips. Bring your hands to your lower back with your fingers pointing up and scoop your tailbone down toward the ground. Draw the base of your shoulder blades together and, as you inhale, lift out of your low back and expand your chest toward the sky,” Brooke says.

4. Bend, not hinge. As you lift your chest toward the sky and backward, make sure you’re doing a true backbend instead of hinging at the waist with a straight back.

Brooke, in Camel Pose.
Brooke, in Camel Pose.

5. Stay aware. Don’t close your eyes!

6. Feeling OK? Go further. “Slowly reach behind you, one hand at a time, to grab your ankles,” Brooke advises. [Or grab your heels, with the toes tucked for added support!]

7. Maintain perspective. “Listen to your body,” Brooke says. “If you’re dizzy, take Child’s Pose and try again another time. Taking care of your body is much more important than one pose. There will always be another opportunity to try it.”

Still fearful? “If you have an aversion to Camel or any other pose, it may very well be the one your body needs most,” Brooke says. “The poses we avoid often have the most to teach us.”

By Alison Feller

We hear the word “detox” a lot around the start of a new year. We also hear it regularly during yoga. Surely you’ve taken one of Terri Bahr’s classes when she gets you into any number of twisting poses — prayer twist, for example — and says, “twist, twist, twist, detox!” So how exactly does a detox work its way into yoga?

Terri’s here to share! Join us this Sunday, January 11, at 1:30 PM for an active and informative two-hour Detox Workshop. You’ll learn about the best poses and vinyasa flow sequences for detoxing your body, and you’ll get a LuliTonix Black Magic charcoal lemonade (so good!) to kick off your detox. Read on to learn more about the detox process and how it can help your yoga practice and your life beyond the mat.

Black Magic, charcoal lemonade
Black Magic, charcoal lemonade

“After the stress of the holidays — and all the extra eating and drinking — the start of a new year is a great time to do a yoga detox flow on its own or in conjunction with a liquid detox or dietary modifications,” says Terri. “A detox flow flushes and cleanses the entire body and mind, increasing circulation around the liver and digestive organs to help move stagnation and enhance detoxification. It’s like pressing the restart button on your body.”

Think about how your body moves during a yoga flow: It’s pulled, pushed, twisted, and turned. “This facilitates the removal of waste products in your body, such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and lymphatic fluid,” says Terri. “Running or riding a bike won’t help reach those deep tissues and extremities in your body. With yoga, the focus is on systematically stretching and compressing every part of the body, and keeping the waste-removal departments of the body functioning.”

During the workshop, Terri will also explain the importance of breath and posture during a detox-specific flow (stop slouching as you read this, for starters), and will finish class with a “Drop the Baggage” meditation.

Call The Den at 646-490-8888 to sign up, and start 2015 the healthiest way possible!