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Serenity

With each stretch towards progress, we hit bumps along the way. Life is a work in progress, and we have to be flexible to get through the changes. We adapt as we navigate the ups and downs.

Life is not meant to be perfect, so that we may learn and grow as a society. We are learning now that we are all in this together, and I’m happily amazed by how resilient we are and the kindness being shown to each other in a world pandemic. Faith in humanity is being restored.

With serenity, we challenge the methods that are destructive — to the environment, to people’s psyches, and to our health and well being. And with wisdom, we accept love into our lives, no matter how much we have hurt in the past.

I love you for making the world a better, safer place to live in. Thank you to all who shepherd peace. God bless the essential workers. Sending love and wishes for good heath.

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Find Strength in Helping Others

The state of the world during this pandemic can seem frightening and endless. It can be difficult to find silver linings and hope for an unfamiliar and unknown future. But what I have found is that we are learning, as an entire humanity, that we are all in this together.

I do my best to avoid the negative and hold on to the positive, especially in the news and leadership choices. However, we can find faith by helping others — and by building our own positivity for each other.

I decided to create a YouTube channel for free yoga lessons (Yoga at Home with Joanna), with the motivation and support of people in my life that I care about. Acts of kindness, small or large, are all the same. It helps us to mature and grow as a local, national, and international community.

So today I challenge you to find your strength in helping others. Check in over the phone with your family and loved ones. Lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need. Put out positive vibes by staying home when you can. Prayer and meditation have a positive effect on you and the greater good. Taking care of yourself with self care is another way to help those around you, like the often used advice “put on your oxygen mask first, then help the person next to you.” Together we can come out of this crisis stronger than before, more resilient and less divided by our differences if we focus on what we all need deep down: love, good health, faith, gratitude, and kindness.

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Getting Personal

I’m going to get really personal here: I am afraid of the state of the world right now. There is so much uncertainty and fear spreading, as well as legitimate concerns about COVID-19. For all we see in the news and media (social media included) we have to decipher between what is real and what is not.

I believe the greater majority is filled with good people trying hard to help each other. But there is a small minority of powerful people that either sensationalize what is happening or play off of the majority’s insecurity about the “new normal” — although that is just my opinion.

I do know one thing for sure: I have seen more good and kindness come out of the woodwork than I have seen in my last two decades (and I am not that old!) and all I can hope for is that the good outweighs the bad. We can all get through this together if we try, act and do good.

I’ve started a YouTube channel to support all the people staying home in building a yoga practice. Visit here at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq54kPB2qk7v-YIG4pL2UTw/featured?disable_polymer=1

Keep informed but also maintain a discerning eye and ear to what is going on around you. Let’s protect the innocent and immunocompromised populations by staying home when we can, and using common sense with social distancing.

With lots of love and light to all!

Joanna

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Props for Yoga Practice

Props are fundamental to my personal yoga practice, as well as the classes that I teach. Props are important tools for building strength, balance, progress in asana, and so much more. Bolsters, blankets, blocks, straps — all can serve a valuable purpose in yoga practice.

While I worked daily on arm balances in the recent weeks, I made sure to prepare and strengthen my arms, legs and core with the help of my trusty blocks. Think of them as the stepping stones to reach your next levels of practice, learn about your anatomy, and strengthen the mind and body.

After careful use of props for my arm balances, I am finding progress (remember: there is no perfection in yoga!) and have a better handle on my arm balances, like bakasana (crow pose), tolasana (scales pose) and lolasana (pendant pose).

Remember, props are your friend. Embrace them and let them help you grow as a yogi.

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Breathe Balance, that’s good enough

Allow yourself to grow without the temptation of seeking perfection. A wise woman told me to not let perfect get in the way of good enough. Breathe balance into your life and you can create peace for yourself and loved ones around you. I’m finding the truth in that with each day that I practice patience and compassion in yoga.

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Warrior

I spent the day sick in bed, catching up on reading and sipping hot chamomile tea. It’s been a day of putting myself and rest first, and I am learning to be gentle with myself when I need to take a breather.

I can still be a warrior without pushing myself to the extreme. I learned that lesson with my stress fracture at the end of last year. And now I am putting what I learned into action as I mend my cold. There is definitely strength in that.

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Healing with Restorative Yoga

After running a turkey trot race on Thanksgiving morning, I injured my leg a bit (stress fracture with painful edema). It’s an injury I’ve had in the past from pushing myself too hard by running on pavement on the roads. I love the mental benefits of running outdoors, but sadly it seems that I need to stick to walking or treadmills and soft tracks. So what have I turned to as my leg rests and heals? You guessed it: restorative yoga.

Spending over a week with my leg propped up or hobbling about on my crutches led me to feel cabin-feverish. I missed my yoga practice. An anti-inflammatory (prescribed by my doctor) helped with the pain and swelling in the hip joint. But I needed the physical and mental outlet of exercise back again.

When my leg began feeling better, I slowly incorporated gentle stretching and restorative yoga poses into my day. A few books helped me focus on helpful asanas, along with my own knowledge from YTT (yoga teacher training) in the past. I’d recommend Yoga Anatomy for great visuals and instructive aids on anatomical alignment, and Yoga Sequencing for planning your practice.

Restorative poses such as supta baddha konasana (with props: bolster, strap, blanket, blocks) and legs-up-the-wall helped ease the tension in my hip. After many days of dedicated rest, I started adding a gentle yoga flow every couple of days. Learning the hard way, I discovered the importance of listening to my body when it needs rest, and restraint from pushing myself to much.

The moral of the story is: practice where you are, as you are! Yoga is not a competitive sport. It is an inward practice and self-reflection. One day, you may feel strong in certain poses; the next day, you may find that you must back-off of certain asanas. There is no judging right or wrong in yoga — there is proper alignment, however, which you can benefit from going to a class and practicing with a certified instructor. Listen to your body and be gentle with what it tells you. I certainly will be more mindful of my own.

Keep in mind, your own personal yoga practice is not a substitute for physical therapy or doctor’s orders — unless directly recommended or prescribed (or taught by a certified, specialized yoga teacher!). But it certainly can help when attention and care are paid to the injury and poses are done with proper alignments.

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Steady as she goes

I’m overwhelmed by the strong emotions felt after a well-balanced yoga practice. When I move in and out of the asana (poses) and bring the dynamic of pranayama (breath) to my movements, a beautiful thing happens at the end of the sequence. Lying in savasana — the final pose — I feel connected and grounded to the Earth. My chakras (energy centers) vibrate at a high frequency and I feel spiritually at peace with the universe.

Not voodoo or magic, but disciplined yoga practice allows me to navigate the world more gently and easily and let go of the little nuances we all struggle with through life. So, steady as she goes…

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Yoga Mats in Review

Ever wonder about the quality, eco-friendliness or affordability of yoga mats out there? With so many options, it’s hard to sort through the characteristics that are important to you — and it can be difficult to make that final decision.

Currently, I use a lululemon reversible mat with great cushioning and stickiness and an extra-large Jade Yoga mat when I’m looking for more room to practice. I recommend doing your homework and testing out different mats when making an informed decision on a mat that will provide you with what you need.

There are a lot of factors to compare when looking for the right mat for you. A great resource I found is this comprehensive guide on yoga mats from ConsumersAdvocate.org that breaks down some of the most popular options in well-researched detail. I was happy to find my current yoga mat on the list!

Whether you are looking for eco-friendly yoga mats or the best price for your budget, the right one is out there!

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Chakra 101

Chakra energy work is something I like to pay attention to and incorporate in my practice and teachings. If you aren’t already familiar with the chakras, here’s a quick and simple guide to the seven major concentrated energy centers:


Root Chakra

Located at the base of the spine, this chakra energy center represents grounding, thus the name! It is attributed to survival instincts, physical strength, and reproductive organs. Root chakra is associated with the color red and Earth element.

Sacral Chakra

Located below the lower back or naval, this chakra energy center represents independent power and metabolism. It is attributed to the emotional self, trust, and the spleen. Sacral chakra is associated with the color orange and Water element.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Situated between the chest plate (sternum) and navel, this chakra energy center represents ego, passion, and growth. It’s associated with sexual energy, adaptability to change, and adrenals. Solar plexus chakra is attributed to the color yellow and Fire element.

Heart Chakra

In the center of the chest, this chakra energy center represents love, and so the name! It’s guided by acceptance, social relationships, and the heart organ. Heart chakra has the characteristic of the color green and the Air element.

Throat Chakra

At the base of the neck, this chakra energy center accounts for communication. It’s guided by creativity, sounds and language, and the thyroids. The throat chakra is characterized as the color blue and the Ether element.

Third Eye Chakra

Between the eyebrows, this chakra energy center represents wisdom. It’s associated with intuition, awareness, and the pituitary glands. The third eye chakra is attributed to the indigo light and transcends elements.

Crown Chakra

At the top of the head or beyond, this chakra energy center represents thought. It’s attributes include spirituality, intelligence, enlightenment and the pineal organs. Crown chakra is characterized as purple/white light and transcends the elements.


Personally, I like to envision each chakras attributed colors swirling from the rooted ground to its coupled energy center and flowing out the crown of the head as white light. Play around with the energy flow! I’ll be on the lookout for resources if you want to know more…

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What teaching has taught me

I’m in the early part of my yoga teaching journey, but I’ve already learned so much. I substitute teach once or twice a week at an amazing new studio. I also have taught/volunteered yoga at a health clinic for special populations. Each class brings new challenges, rewarding moments, and lots of learning curves.

During this holiday season, I am grateful for the life I am building for myself. It’s been a year since I started my yoga teacher training. I’ve learned how to teach chair yoga, sensitive verbal cues to avoid touch, grace under pressure and so much more. Cheers to the swiftly approaching New Year.

Thank you for reading! Namaste.

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Lemonade

Lemons out of lemonade!

Sometimes life throws you curveballs, a minor setback or a major life crisis. One can seem like a mountain to one person, the other may feel like a molehill — just a minor setback. No matter the situation, keep going and persevere! You have come so far in this world, don’t give it up over a squirt of citrus — make lemonade!

Namaste.

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Self love is self care

No matter what you go through

Your pain is your pain;

No matter what you smile with

Your joy is yours.

It took me a long time to recognize the importance of self love. Finding yourself is a lifelong process, and I practice loving myself for all that I am — the good, the bad, and the idiosyncratic.

What I discover each day is that I can always strive to make a better choice or a better decision. I fall down, but I get back up; I cry one moment, but I laugh about it later.

I found self love by taking better care of myself. No matter what you practice, I invite you to work on self care. I have faith that you will find a deepening of self love in the process.

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Prana Mudra

Today I felt sick, mentally and physically exhausted.

But I rested myself to the yoga mat and practiced where I was. I found energy in the prana mudra, my breath moving in and out of each asana, and my acceptance of myself for where I was today.

I am grateful for my life, but the past can creep up, the heartache and hardships resurface, and I sometimes sense that the wonderful things of today are not deserved by me.

And so I remind myself, good, bad, or indifferent, that nothing is perfect, stationary, or forever. I bring myself back to the present. And I remember how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am today.

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My New Trifecta

I know who I want to be, who I choose to be, and who I am. I have faith that I can maintain these important moral codes for myself. I am in control of my destiny. And I love the ride of life now that I can walk confidently upon steps unwavering. Being true to myself feels good, powerful, and honest: I wish everyone finds their truth and walks down their own paths as well, finding beauty in what makes you uniquely you.

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National Yoga Month

September is a special time of year.

It begins the start of Autumn, and what better way to greet the beauty of the Fall than with National Yoga Month?

Yoga is an around-the-year practice. But there are ways to welcome the seasonal changes through our asana and breath work.

I recommend turning inward in your practice and setting intentions for what you wish to let go as the year begins it’s close. As the leaves change and float to the ground, let the thoughts and actions you wish to leave behind fall as well.

With love and light,

Joanna

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Standing Split

I like to switch up my yoga practice with new and old sequences I’ve written. Today, I grabbed an early one I wrote for Standing Split pose, or Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (in sanskrit).

Using blocks to prop myself into a deeper pose, I thought about how grateful I am to have my daily practice and to maintain mindfulness beyond the mat. There have been times when I haven’t been able to focus or bring play to the mat.

In my yoga practice, I am grateful for what I have accomplished from teacher training and beyond.

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Welcome Yogi

Thank you for visiting Joanna Yoga!

I’m Joanna, a RYT-200 certified yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance. I teach an aligned vinyasa yoga style with an emphasis on anatomy of asana poses and a yoga philosophy that welcomes everyone for accessible teaching.

Feel free to peruse the site for services, blog features, and all about Joanna Yoga with the navigation buttons below:

Namaste,
Joanna