Cue Crazy Alphabet!  B is for BALANCE.

Hello, fellow yogis!  We are continuing to move through our alphabet of yoga cues with week.  Our next letter is B – for Balance.  Read on 🙂

There are many yoga poses that help us improve our balance.  Sometimes we balance on our feet, hands, or even our head!  Balance offers us physical benefits such as strengthening & elongating our muscles, getting to know our center of gravity and how to align ourselves, along with learning the important yoga principle of rooting down.  Mentally, balance helps us to keep our attention focused, how to stay steady in one spot for a while, and how to find an inner center that helps us both on and off the mat.

Here are a few tips to help you balance throughout your practice.  Think about how these ideas can apply off your mat as well.

  • Starting with either the feet or the hands depending on the pose, widen the fingers or toes and ground or root down into the mat.  Ground all 4 corners of the feet into the mat.  Lift all the toes at once, feeling the inner and outer edges of the ball of the foot and the heel come in contact with the mat.  Release the toes and remain focused on feeling all 4 points of contact throughout all of your standing poses.
  • Keep your gaze soft, a few feet in front of you on an object that is not moving.
  • Find your balance in poses slowly & consciously. Keep the breath calm, even, and gentle.  Try counting to 4 as you breathe into and out of the nose in every pose.  Try this breath pattern as you work or drive to remain calm too!
  • When needed, use a wall or your hands to gain stability.
  • Keep your feet drawing towards each other in poses like Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) or High Crescent Lunge to help with stability. For poses such as cat extensions, spread the fingers wide, press the pads of the fingers & the arm of the palm into the mat.  Press the hands away from the body while clawing the fingertips into the mat slightly.  Learn more about wrist engagement here:

We’d love to hear what helped (or didn’t help!) or even tips we didn’t cover that you always find useful.

Until next time, yogis.  Namaste.



Cue Crazy!

With so many types of yoga, there are many more variations on the cues that we hear over & over in all of our classes.   Enjoy this guide that will take you through the yoga alphabet to keep your practice balanced & safe.  See which cues resonate with you and feel free to incorporate any (or all!) of them into your daily practice.

To kick us off, we will start at the beginning with the letter ‘A’ – ARMS and ALLOWING new experiences to happen.

Our arms are what help us bear weight on our hands.  Just one example would be when we move from High Plank to Chaturanga as we flow through our Vinyasa.  Press into all 10 fingers evenly, keeping all of the fingers wide on the mat.  Become aware of the upper arms – the shoulders externally rotate, along with the biceps, so that the elbows can stay hugged in towards the chest to lower down in Chaturanga Dandasana (TIP:  Make sure you can see the elbow creases (external rotation) before lowering down; this will help you hug the elbows in and create 90 degree angles with the arms).

Another cue is to ALLOW.  We must begin to open our minds and listen to our bodies throughout all of our practices (off the mat, too!).  Allow yourself to remain curious through every pose.  Step out of your comfort zone and see what your body is capable of.  If you find that you’re holding tension in an area of your body, allow yourself to soften that spot by breathing into it to create space instead and then exhaling the tension.  With each exhale, sink deeper into the pose & allow the body to surrender a little more.   Giving yourself permission to release on the mat helps us begin to let go off of our mats too.  Try it – I’d love to hear about your experiences!


Stay tuned for our next blog post, flowing through the yoga cue alphabet with the letter B:BALANCE.  Share your comments below if you enjoy these cues and would like me to feature a specific cue that you love or continuously try to focus on during your practice!





POSE OF THE WEEK: Learning Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Learning Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Also known as Fierce Warrior, this pose increases stamina

If I am being honest, Warrior II is not one of my favorite poses.  I have trouble holding my hips straight while tracking my knee over my pinky toe.  All the more reason that I need to work on this pose!!  I am sure to incorporate Warrior II in every one of my classes so that my students build the stamina and strength that they need to build upon this standing pose in the future.

Let’s begin!  Start in Downward Dog.  Lift your right leg to the sky.  Bend the right knee and hug the knee into your chest, then drop your right foot down between your hands.  Pivot on the back foot 90 degrees and ground down through the pink toe edge of the back foot.  While slightly bending in the front leg, inhale and cartwheel the arms open into a T (one arm in front of you, one arm behind you).  Your hips will be turned towards the long edge of your mat as you shift your gaze over the front middle finger.  To engage your shoulders, flip the palms up and draw the shoulder blades together.  Keep that engagement and flip the palms back down towards your mat.  Don’t lean the torso over the front thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the hips. Tuck the tailbone slightly and bring the belly button to the spine.  Glance down at your front knee and make sure you’re not sickling inward.  You want to see your big toe and make sure your knee is pointing towards the pinky toe edge of the front foot.  Inhale the gaze back up to center and breathe in this pose for at least 10 breaths.  To switch sides, cartwheel the hands over the front foot, planting the hands and stepping back to downward dog. Lift the left leg to the sky and begin setting up for Virabhadrasana II on the left side.

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Contraindications and Cautions

  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck problems: Don’t turn your head to look over the front hand; continue to look straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly.

Modifications and Props

If you have difficulty supporting yourself in this pose, position a metal folding chair outside your left leg, with the front edge of the chair seat facing you. As you bend the left knee to come into the pose, slide the front edge of the seat under your left thigh (taller students may need to build up the height of the chair seat with a thickly folded blanket). Repeat with the right leg bent.


  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Increases stamina
  • Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
  • Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica


I’d love to see and hear about your journey in Warrior II!




All about our wrists!

How to prevent injury and flow with ease


Beginners are often surprised at how much weight their wrists must bear in a yoga practice – especially throughout each downward facing dog and chaturanga.  As a teacher, I spend a lot of time emphasizing the positioning of the feet in standing poses.  Just like the feet, the hands affect our balance and allow us to extend our roots into the mat and earth.  Our wrists are just as important as a strong core and grounded feet.  Hand positioning is key in order to avoid injury and gain upper-body strength.


Let’s bring our awareness to the feet and think about they keep up grounded.  They connect our bodies to the earth and support us while standing.  Now let’s think about our wrists.  Just as our feet are the foundation of all poses, our hands keep us balanced and allow us to group our roots into our mats.  Before we begin a practice, let’s start by rolling the wrists in one direction, 10 times.  Pause after 10 reps and roll them in the opposite direction, 10 times.  Then move on to flexion and extension, which is shown in the video here:  Next, come into table top pose (hands + knees pose).  Make sure the shoulder is over the top of the heel of the hand.  Begin to engage all 10 fingertips as you spread each finger apart equally.  Focus on pressing the pads + knuckles of the fingers down into the mat.  Bring awareness into the base of the fingertips and feel where the mat connects from the bottom of the pinky finger to the bottom of the thumb, creating an arc along the top of the palm.  The center of your palm should feel weightless and light, maybe slightly lifted.  Keep the hands on the mat and begin to lift the forearms, elbows, and shoulders out of the wrist and come up onto the fingers.  Your fingers should be flat on the mat as the palm completely lifts.  Do 10 rounds of these lifts.  Come back to table pose.  Engage the hand and fingertips as we discussed above.  Now tuck the toes and lift the hips towards the sky, coming into downward facing dog.  Check in with the hands – did you lose the engagement as you came into down dog?  Become aware of the wrists as you flow through your next practice.

For today, let’s focus on our wrists and alignment in downward facing dog!  Downward dog teaches you to appreciate alignment, and thus prepares you for doing inversions, backbends, and forward bends.

Pose Benefits:

  • Opens and strengthens the shoulders and upper body
  • Stretches the hamstrings and calves
  • Tones the legs


  • High or low blood pressure
  • Acid reflux
  • Hiatal hernia
  • History of stroke
  • Serious shoulder injury

While you’re in downward dog, align the wrists:

  • Spread all 10 fingers wide, keeping the space even between each finger.
  • Gently claw into the mat with each of the fingertips. Your fingertips will turn white!
  • Engage the “arc” along the top of the palm/bottom of the fingertips.
  • Feel the center and base of the palm become light; maybe lift slightly.
  • Use the hands to press away from the body in order to keep the engagement.

Now keep this wrist alignment while you correct your form in downward dog:

  • Your hands are placed shoulder distance apart
  • Breathe into the space between your shoulder blades – think of how the spine rounds in Cat Pose. Don’t collapse into your shoulders/armpits.
  • Engage your quads and press them back
  • Lengthen the legs and reach the heels down towards the floor
  • Think about bringing the belly button to the spine, creating a natural curve in your low back
  • Lower the head so that your ears are between your biceps, without collapsing into the shoulders/armpits.

Bring your attention back to the wrists now.  Did you lose the engagement or remain stable?  Use downward dog as your peak pose throughout the week to strengthen those tiny wrist muscles!





My Favorite Yoga Playlist! 

If you’re anything like me, music touches my soul and makes me move.  I listen to every lyric and belt out all of the words.  Is it any surprise that music would also play an integral part of all of my yoga classes?  Enjoy this rhythmical treat for your ears and soul!

You can also find my playlist on Spotify! Here:

1901 ~ Birdy

Basique ~ Little People

Midnight ~ Coldplay

American ~Lana Del Rey

Only Love ~ Ben Howard

Back in the World ~ David Gray

Resolution ~ Matt Corby

Nirvana ~ Sam Smith

Bloodflood ~ alt – J

Slow and Steady ~ Of Monsters and Men

Moon ~ Little People

Teardrop -~ Massive Attack

Babylon ~ David Gray

Under the Same Sun ~ Ben Howard

Breathe ~ Angels & Airwaves

Into the Wild ~ LP

Gracious ~Ben Howard

Latch – Acoustic ~Sam Smith

Clarity ~ John Mayer

Crash into Me ~ Dave Matthews Band

A World Alone ~ Lorde

Up In Flames ~ Coldplay

Let Go ~ Frou Frou

Wheel ~ John Mayer

Oh God ~ Citizens & Saints

Everything ~ Lifehouse

Au Revoir ~ OneRepublic

Passenger Seat ~ Death Cab for Cutie





How Do We Start “Letting it all go?”

How do we start “letting it all go?”  We hear it all the time in our classes.  “Breathe in and exhale everything that no longer serves you.  “Begin to clear your mind.”  What exactly isn’t serving me?  How do I know what to let go of?  How am I supposed to think about all of these things while focusing on letting go?  Whoa.  I thought I was supposed to feel relaxed right now?!

Our life is a series of peaks and valleys.  The ups and downs are felt daily and can sometimes zap our energy.  If this is the case, it could be time for a change!  Start by shifting your way of thinking – focus less on dwelling on the feeling of the ups and downs, and more on staying connected to ourselves.  This may feel like a challenge at first, especially if we tend to shy away from change.  Change can be fascinating – we begin to grow when we step outside our comfort zone.  Maybe we don’t take a full step out of that zone…yet!  Maybe we inch our toes out of the box that contains all the normalcy.  Inch your way towards feeling free.

Ahh.  Freedom.  Makes you feel like you can breathe freely!  Take a deep inhale through your nose, counting to 4.  Exhale out the mouth, counting to 6.

Breath.  Something we can control.  We can control what goes on inside our bodies.  During times of change, what remains constant?  Our breath.  During our yoga practice, our body ebbs and flows.  Throughout our time practicing on the mat, we embrace the flowing movements, breathing through each change.  Some of the asanas are more challenging, but we keep breathing through them.  Some of our obstacles in life are difficult and demanding, but we can keep one thing constant – our breath – and flow through them too.  When we are stable and strong, like our breath, we begin to notice that tough times become more bearable.  We start letting go of our fear of change, letting go of the feelings that hold us back and letting go of any thoughts that have a negative impact on our well-being.

Trust in yourself to know that you can ride the waves of life with a feeling of contentment, just like the waves of a flowing asana practice.  You have everything you need within you to overcome new challenges with grace.





Celebrate the Summer Solstice!

Happy Summer, Yoga Fam!  Summer solstice and International Yoga Day fell on the same day this year – super exciting and magical!  Leap into summer by meditating on how we throve off of the energy radiated by the sun.  Try the following sequence along with 5 rounds of each Surya Namaskar A & B (Half-sun salutation and full-sun salutation) to feel the warmth envelope your body & soul.  Maybe give meditation a try in combination with a sequence to deepen your connection with the sun, too!  If you are meditating, stand in Tadasana (Mountain) while facing the sun, or stay in ajaneyasana (low lunge) or Malasana (Garland; yogi squat).  Meditate for as little as 1 minute of as long as 30 minutes.  Bring your hands to heart center for several breaths to close meditation.

By the time you’ve finished, you’ll feel the energy of your inner sun radiating from your heart space.  Salute the sun (& yourself!)




Yoga for Healing

Welcome, followers !  All yogi/yoginis know about the main health benefits of practicing; mainly, reducing stress, stretching & strengthening all areas of our bodies, aligning our chakras (another blog post on this later) for starters.  Yoga is also known for easing the effects of trauma in our lives.  Many of us don’t live on or near a peaceful area, a park, or even a quiet backyard.  We might be used to the fast-paced city life, the loud noises, struggling with mental health issues, or reliving childhood trauma that continue to flood our minds.  Mental health (& trauma, for our purposes) go hand in hand with yoga.  When someone is consumed by trauma they may feel like they are constantly in fight or flight mode – they can’t calm down or relax, their breath is fast-paced, their mind is working in overdrive.  Everything around them may be so chaotic and there is never a way to find time for peace and quiet.


Yoga has been proven to reduce all of the effects that trauma has on one’s body.  Specifically, anger subsides, medication is needed and/or requested less often, self-esteem increases, and individual’s developed skills that could be used in stressful situations.  Being included in a yoga class also develops a sense of belonging, being accepted as you are, and gives students a strong sense of support even as they struggle which build trust.  Yoga is the perfect mind-body connection that addresses the effects of trauma.  During a yoga practice, breathing becomes regulated, calming the parasympathetic nervous system, while remaining present in our bodies counteract some of the dissociative effects of trauma. Of course a strong physical yoga practice improves overall health as well.


Depending on the type of trauma one has endured, the student can arrive to yoga feeling powerless.  Yoga is more about listening to your body, looking inside yourself to find out what your body and mind thrive on, and reflecting how our environment impacts our lives.  We all have the power to bring stillness into our daily lives.  During a traumatic experience, people may not be able to control the situation around them.  However, during a yoga practice, students have a choice in every movement they take.  They have the power to say ‘yes, I want a challenge,’ or ‘no, I don’t feel comfortable trying a headstand today’ or maybe the student doesn’t want to be physically adjusted in class by the instructor.  Yoga helps the student take control of their life again, to help them feel normalcy .  Even if  an individual has been struck by trauma, we can always take a step back and find stillness within the chaos.




What I Love This Month (well, and every month)

The Essentials of Essential Oils

Essential oils don’t just smell good.  They have uses ranging from easing headaches and colds, to yoga mat cleaners and numerous household uses.  First, a little background!  Essential oils contain compounds used by plants to prevent bugs from eating them and bacteria from growing on them.  Essential oils are highly concentrated amounts of plant extracts that have the ability to help humans repel pests, fight off infection, and many physical & mental benefits.  It takes pounds of plants to make only a couple of ounces of oil, so don’t have sticker shock when you see the price tag on a bottle of oil.  You don’t need a large amount of oil to reap the benefits.  A couple ways to tap into the therapeutic effects of an essential oil is massaging it into your skin, inhale it from the bottle, diffuse it throughout a room or drop it into a bath.

Curious about making your own ‘recipes’ using essential oils?? I’ve included some of my favorite recipes in addition to the health benefits of the essential oils within the ingredient list.  Keep 2 things in mind when experimenting with these blends.  First, store your blends in a dark or tinted glass bottle.  This will ensure your oils remain their freshest and most potent.  Second, if you need to use a plastic bottle, make sure it is BPA free so that your solutions don’t become contaminated with the toxin.  Enjoy!

Health Concern: Headaches


  • 6 drops lavender
  • 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil (AKA carrier oil.  Fractionated means that the oil does not leave your skin feeling wet/slippery; the oil sinks into your skin quickly, mixes quickly with other oils (like essential oils!) and feels more like water on your skin than a thick, cloudy oil you may cook with).

Put a small dab under your nose.  Inhale slowly and deeply.

Health Effects of lavender: 

  • soothes
  • calms
  • relaxes


Health Concern: Sore Muscles


  • 3 drops frankincense
  • 3 drops helichrysum
  • 3 drops rosemary
  • 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil

Combine all ingredients in a dark, glass bottle or a roller bottle.  Keep this blend in your yoga bag to apply to sore muscles after your class.

Health Effects of essential oils:

  • Frankincense
    • reduces appearances of blemishes
    • rejuvenates skin
    • promotes relaxation and balances mood
  • Rosemary
    • Supports healthy respiratory function
    • healthy digestion
    • reduce tension and fatigue
  • Helichrysum
    • Reduce appearance of wrinkles
    • promotes healthy complexion
    • soothing effect on the mind & body
    • promote healthy metabolism


Health Concern: Stress Relief


  • 18 drops bergamont
  • 1/2 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil
  • 2 ounces sea salt

Combine ingredients and add mixture to a bath while you relax for 15 minutes or more.

Health Effects of bergamont:

  • Calming and soothing aroma
  • purifies skin


Household Applications

Yoga Mat Spray!


  • 48 drops tea tree oil
  • 48 drops lavender oil
  • 48 drops oregano
  • 4 ounces water

Combine ingredients in a dark, glass bottle and spray before or after each class.  Wipe clean with a dry towel.  Enjoy the scent of the oils the next time you practice!  NOTE:  Not all yoga mats are the same.  Spray a small amount of the mixture on a corner of your mat to ensure that no damage ensues.

Health Benefits of Oils

  • Oregano and tea tree oil: Antibacterial and antifungal
  • lavender: soothing


Household Multi-Purpose Cleaner


  • 2 teaspoons lemon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon tea tree oil
  • 50/50 blend of water and white vinegar

Combine ingredients in a dark, glass bottle and use to clean various surfaces in your home.  Wipe clean with a dry towel.

Health Benefits of Oils:

  • Lemon:
    • antiseptic
    • elevates mood
    • soothes sore throat (add 1 drop to your tea!)
    • neutralizes odor
    • removes adhesives or greasy substances from fabric
  • Tea tree:
    • antimicrobial agent

I hope you give all of these recipes a try!  If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Here are some links to view/purchase the oils and products I’ve mentioned above.

Amber, glass spray bottles:

doTERRA Essential Oils:

Amber roller bottles





My ‘Why’

As some of you know, I began yoga in college.  On and off since then I have had a steady practice.  What you may not know is why I chose yoga and why I connect with so many of its teachings.  After my first college yoga class, I felt more relaxed.  I felt calm.  I felt like I had tapped into another version of myself and wanted to delve deeper into learning about why and how I had that experience.

Trust me, yoga didn’t transform me into a zen goddess….immediately, anyway :).  With anything else, yoga is a practice.  Some people practice drawing, running, playing an instrument.  I take time to fit in yoga.  What really pushed me into trying yoga as a form of relaxation was a series of traumatic experiences that changed my life.

In 2011, I was coming home from a hockey game on a busy highway.  A car merged from the from right lane to the far left lane, across 4 lanes of traffic and slammed on the brakes.  A 12 car pile-up ensued because of it.  I was car number 6; hit twice in the rear while I was completed stopped by 2 cars going 60+ mph.  The firemen that pulled me out of the car wouldn’t let me look at the damage to my car, just told me that I was safe now.  After I was released from the hospital, I was introduced to anxiety.

In 2012, I ended a long-term, committed relationship and found myself at rock bottom.  I had lost myself and who I thought I was.  I hadn’t really ever been alone with myself.  The first couple months trying to get back to feeling like myself was daunting.  Enter: depression.  My anxiety got the best of me.  I found that I couldn’t get back into the same hobbies that gave me pleasure years ago.  With a lot of self-healing and shifting my focus inward, I started realizing what I needed to change to put myself on a healthier, stable path.  I was what mattered most.  Learning to love myself again was the most difficult, yet rewarding battle that I’ve ever endured.

Three years later, my life took another downward spiral.  In 2015 and 2016 my close family and friends of my family were plagued with illness.  In March 2015, my life changed yet again.  My grandmother was admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment.  Little did I know that she would never leave the hospital to come back home.  I was with her until she passed on and I cherish the last moments I had with her.  For 3 days, I never left her side.  Losing a loved one is never easy.  Helplessly standing by your loved one’s side as she is taken away from you is gut-wrenching.  Welcome back, anxiety & depression.  This time, it felt like it sucked the life out of me.   I felt completely numb and I sank uncontrollably deeper into misery.

Nine months later, January 2016.  I unexpectedly lost my first rescue animal, Kira.  Kira was by my side since I brought her home in 2011.  She was with me through the end of my relationship, moving houses 3 times, my absolute worst moments, and the death of my grandmother.  Kira was my rock; the most stable, loving thing that was in my life at the time.  When Kira’s time came to cross the rainbow bridge, I was at home getting ready for work.  As I went to walk out the door, I found her lifeless in the living room.  She had no signs of illness, no health issues.  She was riped from my world and there was no way I could have helped prevent this tragic moment.  I still hurt thinking about how she helped me through my toughest times and there was no way for me to help her when she needed me the most.  I felt as though I had lost a child.

Enter yoga!

As this point in 2016, I had already been doing yoga consistently for close to a year.  My yoga practice taught me that like a lotus flower, I could once again bloom out of the mud.  I may struggle, I may feel discouraged at times, but I know a tough day does not mean a terrible life.  Through yoga, I began being grateful for my struggles.  How else was I expected to grow and learn?  Working towards my goals meant that eventually I would succeed – both on and off my mat.  For example, my goal is to master Bakasana – crow pose- but I am not there yet.  I condition myself so that one day, full expression Bakasana will be in my daily practice.  Being mindful on my mat, focusing on listening to my body, and being completely present had influenced my personal life before I knew it.  I began being OK with there I was in my life, even with the struggles.  I stopped judging myself.  Instead of questioning why I wasn’t where I thought I’d be at this point of my life, I started saying that I was in this spot for a reason.  Would I become stagnant in this spot in life forever?  No.  I strive for better.  I set intentions for myself and believe I can grasp any goal I have, even if it takes twice the time I thought it would.

I am present, mindful, patient, and consistent.  My next commitment is to control my anxiety and depression without needing medication.  Like yoga, this goal is a practice and a process.  I will succeed when the time is right.  When that day arrives, I will be grateful.  For me, yoga is life.  It is how I work, on and off my mat.

Yoga truly has changed and saved me.