Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Yoga Wellness

Auyrvedic/Yoga Health Wisdom
For Fall
Autumn is characterized by the qualities of dryness and wind according to Auyrvedic medicine, a system of wellness in accordance to the Seasons that dates back to the origins of Yoga and Thai Yoga Massage.
In this system, the body naturally stays in balance if we change our yoga/diet and lifestyles to reflect the change in Season
Yoga Practice
Ground your practice ( and the quality of Air or Vata) with longer held standing postures to strengthen and support upcoming winter sports.
Create Heat Internally. More Sun Salutations, and Inversions done with the external heat turned up slightly to create intensity. It's good to create some part of your Fall practice that is almost aerobic or gets your heart rate up, as much as important to ground yourself with long holds, twists and longer svasana.
Longer meditation and pranayama focus ( try your best to sit for 15- 20 minutes a day. Upon rising is best or just before bed)
Pranayama focus is Kapalibathi Breath or Skull Shinning Breath. Again for heat, detox, and calorie burn.
Food Practice
We all have different food intake needs, so stick with what works best for you. However, if you are experimenting with an Ayurveda/Yogic lifestyle, take a hint from Mother Nature. Include dark leafy greens, root veggies, lean red meat (if you eat meat) beans, legumes, and qinioa. Certain Ayurveda "types" will be attracted to eat a load of sugar or Carbs, resist this! It will make you slothful, add extra weight, lower your immunity and to much growth of yeast bacteria. If you stick to heavy proteins, root veggs, red wine, and leafy greens, you will continue to be healthy and lean all winter.
Local Honey. Honey, among it's other amazing qualities, is a natural antiseptic and healing agent. Dark, raw , local honey is rich in calcium, copper, zinc and iron.
Wellness Practice
Get your beauty sleep!! After a playful summer, take Nature's cue, and begin to hunker down, store sleep and energy.
Wake early (6:30am...do your best) and sleep early to restore and rest.
Neti Pot- a nasal cleansing system that clears out your nasal passages with a slightly salty warm water ( more detail on my Lionheart Yoga Training Facebook Page)
Love your self up....with a warming oil. Sesame, light olive. After a hot shower, rub all over body, let soak, then rub off excess with a towel. This sends a message of comfort to your brain and helps lube the skin from a dry and windy season.
Oil your nose. Yes, you heard me. Lube that sucker up with the same body oil, to keep passages moist and disease free.
Sauna. Steam as often as you can.
Smile. Tell yourself and someone else you love them. Hang out with friends, in community where a lot of laughter is created. The good feelings and hugs will ward off winter blues, you will create joy, and you'll look better smiling too!
Honey Lemon Dressing
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons local honey
2 tablespoons xtra virgin olive oil
To make dressing, combine the lemon juice and honey in a bowl. whisk vigorously, and add oil slowly.
You can add sesame seeds for a little crunch or Cayenne pepper (high in Vita C) for a jolt

Thursday, September 15, 2011

hard core yoga

Yoga is Hard Core!

Most people associate yoga with flexibility and mental relaxation training, but rarely make the connection that Yoga Asana (poses) are great abdominal strength training too!

If you need a break from “crunches”, take a little journey with me as I explore two powerful “hard core” poses from the yoga asana sequence.

Plank Pose and Dolphin Plank are two very powerful strengtheners for both the abdominal core and hip flexors. Plank has the added benefit of strengthening the chest, arms, back and triceps, which traditional sit up don’t do. Keeping your torso strong will help prevent a sore back, and helps you move your limbs with more grace and awareness away from the spinal medium.

The strength training from Plank will also help for more challenging yoga poses like Head and Handstand for the advanced practitioner, and if you are an athlete, a strong core translates in to explosive power and injury prevention and quicker recovery.

Let’s Do This


To begin, find Down Dog on your mat, and make sure your fingers are spread wide and you have a strong connection between the floor and the power moving up your arms, lifting the shoulder blades up your back.

Plank is, moving the shoulders forward from Down Dog, so your shoulders and elbows are in a direct line above your wrists, and your body is straight out behind you like a board.

To prevent “sagging” in the hips, tighten your kneecaps, activate your inner thighs and push “away” from the floor with your feet and hands. Your hips should be about level to shoulders.

Since the breath (prana) in yoga is so very important, as you hold this pose for 5-10 breath cycles, fill out your rib cage with new oxygen like a balloon. This newly oxygenated blood with give you energy and focus to hold the pose.

Dolphin Plank:

Dolphin Plank is similar to Plank with your forearms on the floor instead of hands. This is great if you have wrist issues or shoulder injury.

Start on hands and knees, in Cat/Cow, and lay your forearms on the floor, palms facing down, fingers wide, and elbows and wrists as wide as your shoulders. From there push back off the floor to either a Down Dog Dolphin or walk your feet back behind you so you are straight like a board, same as Plank.

For more intensity in both poses, join feet together and lift one foot at a time off the floor and hold up for the 5-breath cycle. Then switch. To strengthen Glute Medias, lift the foot, keep the toes pointing down, and open the leg out an inch or two. SLOWLY!!

To modify, set knees on floor and press belly button actively up toward spine so you won’t sag in belly.

As always, all Yoga Asana and other similar movement disciplines are best under the guidance of a certified instructor or coach.

Please come to one of my SAC classes, and I’ll show you this and a whole lot more!

Monday/Wed. from 6-7pm

You can always email me through my website, if you have more questions about yoga and wellness.


Thank you!!

Tonja Hall

PS…. incase you didn’t know, Tonja is one of the senior yoga instructors at Seattle Athletic Club, conducts classes for the Seattle Sounders, FC and has conducted classes for the Seattle Seahawks, Rat City Roller Girls, and members of the Luna Cycling Teams. She is also a Lululemon Ambassador, and has taught yoga internationally in Thailand, Vietnam and Croatia. She is looking forward to her up coming trip to Oaxaca, Mex. to teach and practice her Spanish skills. She is a certified Thai Yoga practitioner and mixes a wonderful blend of Thai Yoga and passive yoga stretching for a total body feel good tune up, in her private practice. She is ever grateful for the lessons her students teach her daily, and always curious about way to make yoga accessible for all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Sports

In Spring Training, one of the most common muscle groups of complaint are hamstrings and hips. I suggest adding longer held 'down dog" pose, pigeon pose, and laying on your back with knees into chest, hands behind knees or "happy baby" pose. All of these poses focus on 'lengthening' your posterior chain, and creating flexibility around the hip joints and pelvic region. Longer held poses will begin to create the flexibility that you are looking for. Hold each pose for at least a minute, and BREATHE!

Lionheart Yoga Training
Spring Workshops:

Seattle Athletic Club
April 4th 6-8pm
$15 for members
(non members pay additional $15 day use fee)

Kick start your Spring Sports Training Program with a yoga training session with Lionheart Yoga Training !!!

Individual Training
from $70 an hour
Team Training
from $150
Sports Stretching Session
from $70

Thank you so much for your support!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Meditation and Pranayama

Embrace, 2011.jpg

This month, I want to talk a little about Meditation and Pranayama. These are not Yoga Poses, but the root of the practice. The juice and foundation. Meditation is a practice of stilling the constant chatter and pounding in the mind, and Pranayama are the breath control practices of yoga that help with the stilling of the mind.

Notice I say "practice", as Meditation certainly doesn't come to me or most of us naturally! A few years ago, a friend said, "Tonja, you got the poses down. Now, what you need to do is stop moving and sit your butt down and listen to your intuition."

For me, sitting still for even 5 minutes is a wrestling match, but when I finally set my butt down and settle into stillness, it is truely an amazing practice of transforming my crazy busy mind into , clear , focused, sharpness.

Meditation for beginners. First start by doing 10 minutes yoga warm up or light stretches. Then prop your sit bones up on pillows or yoga blocks until you feel comfortable to sit for at least 10 minutes. Here's the thing. Silence, no music, no waterfalls, just you and your wonderful breath. It's hard...you can do this. Focus first on just the act of breathing, feel the richness of breath, the physicality of the miracle of the respiaratory system. Sit tall, but not rigid, and drop your chin half way toward your chest. Once you begin to settle, start with a Mantra (repetitive words or sound, who's purpose is to calm the mind) The mantra I work with right now is "YES" on the inhale, and "Thank you" on the exhale...over and over again repeating this simple gratitude practice. It doesn't matter what you are "YESSING" and THANKING....it is signaling the sub conscious mind in the Alpha state, to imprint Gratitude on your most cellular level.

The Pranayama practice I love to begin with is Ujjaii Pranayama. In your "seat" press the tongue behind the front teeth, which drops and lengthens your palette and creates space around the nasal and throat passages. Slightly close the glottal muscles, back of throat, to sound like a soft snore. If you like to deepen this, count to 4-6 on the inhale, HOLD the breath in as you lift your belly up 2 counts, relax all muscle effort , and exhale slowly.

Pretty soon, a figgety 5 minutes of Meditation/Pranayama has turned into 20 minutes that you don't want to end.

There are many techniques for quieting the mind, I'm sharing some that work for me. All the Greats use Meditation to tap into their inspiration. Russel Simmons, of Def Jam Recordings and Rush Management, has just written "Supper Rich" where he explains how yoga and meditation has helped him become not only a tremendously successful business man, but more open and loving in his life. It's an excellent book.

As always, as your teacher about any yoga technique, and they can point you in a direction that they've gone. Try it, and you'll go in the right direction to find the style that's right for you.

On a personal note, I'm showing my new paintings this Thursday, March 3rd at SOHO coffee, 20th and Yesler, 6-9pm--- help me celebrate creativity and Spring!!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Let's do the TWIST!

Let’s Do the TWIST!!

Ardha- Half

Matsyendra- Lord of the Fishes

Twist Benefits: DeTox’s liver and kidneys, relief for stiff upper back, neck and shoulders, energizes the spine, stimulates digestive fires, and some relief for sciatic discomfort.

You know that feeling when you stand up and stretch after a long period of sitting? Ahhh…you can almost feel it! That’s what twisting feels like for your back and internal organs. Monday yoga practices at the SAC, I have been dedicating to the concept of detoxing the body from toxins. Twisting is one of the best ways to use your yoga practice as a tool to feel healthy from the inside, out.

Twist it UP! To start, grab a blanket and fold it firmly under your sit bones, there by elevating your hips, and tilting your pelvic bone forward for more flexible ease in the hips.

Bend one knee, then; step the other foot over the top of the “bent knee” leg. If you have supper tight hips, you can modify by stepping the foot near the ankle.

Exhale as you lengthen the spine and twist the torso towards the bent knee-as if you are wringing out a dishtowel. Keep lifting up through the spine and avoid collapsing the chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute for max twisting benefits.

Counter twist by lying on your back for Bridge Pose or Happy Baby.

There are many variations of twisting poses in a yoga practice, and as you continue deepening your yoga practice, you'll discover the ones that feel best for you.

Yoga Wisdom:

I have started adding a little “aside” to this column I am calling “yoga wisdom” that will include advice from a yogic perspective for a variety of common topics. The winter months of rain and lack of sunlight in the Northwest often causes the “winter blues” for lot’s of folks, including myself. One idea is to amp up your practice, by either adding some heat or taking a “hot vinyasa” class, and to focus on twisting, upside down poses and back bends. One piece of advice I’ve been hearing from a few different sources is go to a Tanning Salon! In combination with the oral usage of St. John’s Wort, popular herbal mild anti depressant, and Vita D, the tanning bed provides warmth, UV rays; necessary to “trick” the body into thinking it has had sun. Please use caution, as the wrong tanning and length of time on the bed can ruin your skin. But in small doses, is very beneficial. I’m going tanning this week!!!