Anatomy of the breath

lungs

Artist: Camilla Sitarama Carlow

I’m finally back home in Barcelona, re-connecting with the special people whose presence in my life I am truly grateful for. And even though you may find it strange, you are one of those people. I’m serious! I really missed posting every week while I was out of the counrty. I have been positively surprised and inspired by the engaging conversations and interactions I have had with you all. They really make my day, so thank you.

This year, during the 3 months of yoga practice one of the things I’ve noticed was how my breath continues to change thanks to yoga. My breathing normally is short and really irregular. Sometimes I even catch myself not breathing when I’m typing away on the computer. I don’t like it. I’ve also noticed that my breathing is not good in moments of stress and that it contributes to feelings of anxiety and overload. The good new is that with yoga my breathing is becoming more regular, slower and deeper. On an emotional level I feel calmer, and less agitated, less in a hurry to get to what’s next. It’s awesome.

Yoga teaches us to place our awareness on the breath at all times, and little by little the breath refines itself. There are years of personal history, story lines and beliefs  that affect the way I breathe and these usually prevent a smooth, fluid breath. By placing my attention on the breath in my practice, I have built up the ability to be present now and not give too much importance to my thoughts. In this way, I have witnessed a deeper layer emerge that is richer and a lot more interesting than the stories rolling around in my head. One of my favorite Downton Abbey characters, the Dowager, says: “All this endless thinking. It’s very overrated!” I agree.

One day, during practice, my teacher gave us this instruction: “feel the breath from inside the breath.” (This is not a precise quote, just what I remember). I took it to mean: stop trying to inhale as if it’s something I do, instead be the inhale. Watch it rise and fall. Surrender to each breath completely. When I apply this instruction to my breath everything changes, my body, my breath, the room, the sounds.. it’s like I’m witnessing them for the first time. Even though this experience lasts only a few moments, it’s a little gift born from of yoga. And it’s priceless.


Anatomy Of The Breath

This weekend I’ll be co-teaching an anatomy workshop with Marta Puig in ZonaIoga, Sabadell.

In this first class – which is part of of a 3-session series – I will introduce some of the basic principals of anatomy and how these apply to you yoga practice. You will learn about the tissues of the body and explores them in class.

The next workshop is about the anatomy of the breath while the last one explores how the diaphragm and psoas relates to our core muscles.

Following each anatomy class, Marta will guide a delicious yoga practice so we can  put all that we’ve learned into practice. I can’t imagine a better way to spend Saturday morning, can you?

The series of workshops starts this Saturday may 9th and goes from 11:30 am to 2 pm. Please RSVP in advance. Have a great week!

PS: Do you have questions about anatomy? Well, I have answers. You can send me your questions here.

Anatomy & Yoga with Marta and Julia

yoga anatomy with Julia Zatta

If you follow this blog you already know how much I adore Marta Puig and her restorative classes. Marta is a great teacher who is particularly skilled in sequencing, articulation and effective use of props. Plus, I adore her BackMitra yoga prop, it makes every class delicious.

We are both excited to announce that we are collaborating on a series of workshops on yoga anatomy and alignment based asana practice all in one. We believe all yogis can benefit from learning anatomy: it helps to get in touch with the body and improves your yoga skills. Our goal is to offer a fun and dynamic approach to yoga anatomy. 

Here’s why you should come:

  • Two teachers means double the experience
  • Anatomy theory and Yoga asana practice all in one class
  • Visual presentation + take home material
  • Personalized instruction applicable to your level of practice
  • Inspiration for your asana practice

What is included in each class?

Anatomy class with Julia

  • Visual presentation
  • Printed material and resources
  • Partner exercises and explorations

Yoga asana with Marta 

  • Skillfully crafted sequence revolving around the central theme of the class.
  • Use of yoga props including my favorite: the BackMitra!!

What will I learn?

Class 1: Intro to anatomy

We will discuss the different tissues that make up the different layers of the body paying special attention to fascia = connective tissue.

Class 2: The breath

Breath is crucial to yoga: it is through breathing that we extend our vital energy (prana) and focus our minds inward. But how should we breathe, and why? You’ll find out here!

Class 3: Core strength

A strong and dynamic core is vital to a sustainable and enjoyable yoga practice. It also has great benefits off the mat. You will learn all about how to cultivate core strength and why this is important.

Save the date:

May 9th, May 30th and June 20th, from 11:30am to 2pm @ Zona Ioga, Sabadell. (Plaza San Roc 8, Entresol 1ª)

Special offer!

Sign up by April 17th, 2015 and save 15€ on your enrollment fee. Email me for details.

PS: If you’re interested in studying anatomy in depth, check out my Anatomy Study Group, next course begins in May. 

Yoga Anatomy with Marta and Julia

Anatomia y Yoga

If you follow this blog you know how much I appreciate Marta Puig and her work with the BackMitra. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain.

I met Marta last year when she signed up to my applied anatomy tutorials. She had just moved back home to Sabadell after living in Mexico for a number of years. During her time abroad, Marta fell in love with yoga. She explored various styles and eventually trained with a number of teachers. She also changed the course of her professional career to become a full-time yoga teacher and studio owner.

Among the people she studied with in Mexico, Brigitte Longueville stands out. Brigitte has been practicing yoga for over 20 years and runs her own yoga school in Mexico City. In recent years, as a result of her apprentiship in Gert van Leeuwen’s Critical Alignment Therapy Technique, Brigitte designed an amazing yoga prop called the BackMitra. This prop is to be used in therapeutic / restorative yoga classes which Brigitte trains teachers to do.

I feel extremely lucky to have met Marta and to have been introduced to her work with the BackMitra. It is good stuff! And it is because of this very special contribution to the yoga practice that I’ve teamed up with Marta to offer a 3-part workshop combining experiential anatomy and yoga. Yum!

Marta and I believe that anyone can benefit from knowing anatomy. Understanding some basic concepts will bring you deeper into your body and your practice. You will also gain a greater understanding of the effects the movements you perform have both in your yoga practice and in your life. 

Our 3-part workshops are designed with beginners in mind. Each class revolves around a set theme: I will start off each class by breaking down a few essential anatomical concepts in an easy-to-undertand manner that is aplicable to your practice. Then, Marta will lead a guided yoga class to explore and integrate the new information on your mat. We sincerely hope this workshop will be of value to your practice and your life.

Each class lasts 2 and a half hours and will take place at Zona Ioga in Sabadell. If you have any questions or would like to reserve your spot, please contact me.

I hope to see you in class!

Recap of Last Saturday’s BackMitra® Event

marta puig en centre cos

Last Saturday’s BackMitra event had a great turnout, even though the weather outside was rainy and gray, we filled up Centre Cos. I love to bring together people I know from different environments and connecting in person. I got to spend time with people I haven’t seen in ages as well as new ones. It was a nice get together.

The BackMitra®, Wow!

I’ve been wanting to try it out ever since Marta told me about it’s amazing benefits. Mitra means “friend” and it’s certainly become my friend. My bAck, and especially my shoulders, love the BAckMitra. It’s a rigid foam rectangle that you lay on as you perform slow movements with your arms and legs.The practice that you do with it is restaurative, gentle and nice.

Marta is an eccelent guide. Her level of professionalism and experience shows in her rythm and timing as well as in her clear explaination of the excercises. I also praticulary liked her Mexican accent (she lived in Mexico for a number of years and picked up the accent) becasue they add extra sweetness to ehr instructions, like for example “relaja las manitas.” (“Relax your little hands,” awww!).

marta puig

We started off by laying down on the mitra with our spine right on top of it. Marta invited us to let go of tensions in our back ans shoulders by focusing on our breath. Afterwards, we made some slow movements with our arms to stretch the muscles between our shoulder blades. The best part of all was when I removed the bacnMitra from underneath my back and lay down on the floor. I could feel my shoulder blades nice and wide, my back flat on the ground. It was amazing!

In this video you will learn how to position the mitra under your spine and how to use your breathing just like we did in class. If you purchased a backmitra on saturday this video is perfect to preactice at home.

I personally loved the experience and the results. I felt thatI could release deeptension in my bahck and especially right between my shoulderblades. Today I returned to my regular practice and could feel my shoulder more open, especially in backbends and heart opening poses. It feels as if my arms were longer and my chest were broader.

The other yogis loved it too. A few of us purchased several, for ourselves, our oyuga students and friends. The excercises you do with this prop are accesible to anyone, that is why they also make such great gifts. (Speaking of gifts, next week’s post is all about gift ideas for yogis 🙂 ).

Links

Here you’ll find a set of 3 easy excercises to practice with the BackMitra. And here is a link to a video guided classes that are very easy to follow. My friend Gloria and I tried out all 3 of them and liked them a lot. They’re so easy to follow and the benefits are immediately noticeable. Enjoy your home practice!!

Immersion in Yoga and Anatomy 2014

It’s funny how even though you may have seen some anatomy images upteenth times, when it comes to relating t to a human body it all changes. Where are those rhomboid muscles located, exactly? and how large is the lower end of the trapezius muscle? A great way to put it all together is to draw the muscles directly onto the body of another person. This is what we did last friday in the yoga and anatomy immersion that I co-teach with Claudio San Martin. 

inmersión de anatomía aplicada

The topic of this particular class was shoulder opening postures in yoga. We studied the different muscles that make up the shoulder girdle as well as their actions in different asanas. Then I suggested we play a game: divide into teams and draw the muscles on one of our team-mates. It was really fun! First we painted the deltoids, rhomboids and  traps on our models, then we compared the shape and size of the muscles from person to person. 

anatomía aplicada con Julia Zatta

We even discovered that with our muscles painted on we look and feel stronger 😉 What do you think?

This coming friday will be our last class of the immersion; the hours and weeks have flown by. Thank you so much Claudio  for bringing me along on this journey and thank you to all of you who have participated!! You’re an amazing group and your energy has been wonderful: open, fun and dedicated to learning. See you all soon!!

inmersión con claudio

Weekend Recap: October Yoga and Rolfing Retreat

I just returned from leading a Yoga and Rolfing retreat in Vilafranca del Penedés. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t be happier. The best part were the people that came together to form this amazing group. We all felt completely at ease with one another. It was a pleasure to spend time together, share space and practice yoga. To top it off, the weather was spectacular and we spent lots of time outdoors. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I think these photos speak for themselves. 

Perfect Location

Cal Pau Cruset is the perfect place to get away from the city. It’s beautiful, peaceful and just an hour by train from Barcelona.

masia Cal Pau Cruset en Vilafranca

Yoga

I lead three yoga classes during the retreat. It was a luxury to practice in such a beautiful yoga room surrounded by palm trees and the amazing view of the vineyards. 

Yoga en Vilafranca del Penedés

Yoga en Vilafranca

The best part of the practice: savasana followed by a delicious breakfast!

Time off

retiro de yoga y rolfing en vilafranca

As you can see, we made the most of our time off: swimming, sunbathing, walking,..

paseando por vilafranca del penedés

Rolfing

taller de concienciación corporal

On Saturday I lead a Rolfing Movement workshop. We worked in pairs to bring awareness and suppleness to the joints in our shoulders, neck and spine. We felt incredibly loose and relaxed afterward! 

Conclusion: lets do it again next year!

retiro de yoga en cal pau cruset