Yoga Playlist…or Music for Studying

Like I mentioned in my last post I have been teaching Yoga for some time now. When I first started teaching I was coached in the art of playing a CD that sounds like drums, running water, chanting…and other strange noises. I actually had to teach to SigEp a  fraternity at JMU and managed to have the luck of sticking in one of the most awkward sensual sounding CDs of all time.

Okay before I continue, just FYI when you Google the word awkward in images…the most ridiculous things pop up…

(ADD moment) Back to my point…

It wasn’t until recently I decided to experiment with music. I create playlists for Spin and Zumba so why not yoga?…As an instructor unless you are teaching under the constraints of Les Mills or similar certifications–the power is in your hands. Obviously the goal is to make it the best experience possible for the participants so I decided I would start to create playlists for yoga and get feedback at the end. IT WAS INCREDIBLE.  So many students came up to me asking for the songs in the playlist…and loving the change and difference it made within the class.


So I have decided to write down my playlist for all to see. This is good music to relax to as well as do yoga on your own time if you’d like….or you can come to my class Tuesday’s at 11am 😉


1.) Question by the Old 97s

2.) On My Mind by Donavon Frankenreiter

3.) Are You Lonesome Tonight? By Elvis Presley

4.) The Fear You Won’t Fall by Joshua Radin

5.) I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

6.) Stay with You by John Legend

7.) Can’t Help Falling in Love by Ingrid Michaelson (this might be one of my faves)

8.) In these Arms by The Swell Season

9.) Skinny Love by Birdy

10.) Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

11.) When You’re Smiling by Louis Armstrong

12.) Have a Little Faith in Me by Josh Hiatt

13.) Tears and Rain by James Blunt

14.) Beautiful Day by U2

15.) Sittin by the dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

16.) I’ll be Seeing You by Billie Holiday

17.) Your Song by Ellie Goulding

18.) I will follow you into the dark by Death Cab for Cutie

19.) Imagine by John Lennon



I am almost positive you can find all of these songs on itunes!  Hope you enjoy it!

Also, I hope after reading this you decide to step outside of the box as an instructor and not conform to what you have always taught. There is a need for constant progress in the fitness industry and I encourage you to be the catalyst sparking change!





Yoga Virgin?

I have been teaching yoga for nearly three years now and each time someone asks me about it I say “well…it changed my life.”

WHOA. Bold statement right there.

But it’s the truth. Yoga is more than flexibility and strength. It welcomes you into the present and encourages you to control your breathing, your mind, and your body.

I used to feel that Yoga wasn’t a sufficient workout–I would have chosen a boot camp style class that kicked my booty any day until I gave yoga a chance. A chance does not mean one or two attempts from one instructor with some preconceived notion of what to expect. Try to go into the studio with an open mind and open heart to relish what yoga may bring you. Maybe it’s an hour of your day to just relax. Maybe you start to sleep better, think more clearly, become more flexible and gain the power to refocus yourself at any given time. Yoga teaches you to control your breath–it is called the ujjayi (oo-j-eye) breath which translates to conqueror breath. I like to say once you conquer your breath you can conquer all, because this is the initiation of having control over your mind.

Today, yoga has in fact become very commercialized. There are 32487234 different styles, books, retreats, classes etc. So it can seem a little overwhelming getting to know which is which, or which one is right for you.

I have incorporated several different types of yoga into my practice so I can provide some information about different types. The ones I teach are based on YogaFit protocol which is a national certification–Power, Vinyasa (flow) and Gentle.

Break it down, so we can yoga it up!

1.) IYENGAR YOGA: Created by the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar–has roots that are based on science and emphasize integrating the mind body connection via perfect alignment. Instructors should use hands on corrections to achieve the purpose of the class. Iyengar believed that the physical alignment automatically aligned the spiritual.

2.) ASHTANGA YOGA: The literal translation of Ashtanga means 8 limbs based on the following:

Yama [moral codes]
Niyama [self-purification and study]
Asana [posture]
Pranayama [breath control]
Pratyahara [sense control]
Dharana [concentration]
Dhyana [meditation]
Samadhi [absorption into the Universal] (Scott 14-17)

This is a popular style of yoga that connects breath with the asanas (poses).

3.) HATHA (Strong) YOGA: This term applies to various practices with the central focus of self realization through controlling the relationship between the body, mind and spirit. Basically defines yoga styles as a group and does not have a central core approach but does usually mean “strong poses.” However, if a studio offers this class, inquire with the instructor of their teaching style.

4.) VINYASA YOGA: The term Vinyasa translates to ” breath-synchronized movement.” Vinyasa styles flow through the practice and allow the breath to serve as the guide changing into different asanas. Therefore breathing is a concentration to this practice while maintaining a natural flow.

5.) BIKRAM YOGA: aka HOT yoga. I recommend trying this style out. Usually the studio is heated to feel like a sauna and you sweat through an hour to hour and half of yoga. The heat serves as a catalyst to get you into the poses a lot deeper than without it. The only thing to be cautious about here is reaching too far into a pose and actually hurting your muscles. This has been referred to as the modern approach to yoga and has taken storm in the west.

6.)KUNDALINI YOGA: Aka the Yoga of Awareness uses chanting and breathing exercises regarded as pranayama in addition to the poses to gain the fulfillment of the practice. It is believed that kundalini energy is inherent to our bodies however we need to gain awareness and control to be able to use it.

7.) KASHMIRI YOGA: This practice is not very different than Vinyasa or Ashtanga but rather focuses minimally on technique. There is little to no form to get hold of. This is more of a means to allow the body to be what is naturally and not altering it in anyway.

8.) POWER YOGA: This comes from a more westernized approach to Ashtanga.  It is the cardio version of yoga and will definitely make you sweat and your muscles sore. I would recommend being a seasoned yogi with Vinyasa style in order to prepare for the effects that power yoga brings. There is very little time for pause in this style. You are constantly flowing and doing a number of sun salutations throughout the practice.

9.) VINIYOGA YOGA: Also referred to as a gentle yoga teaching. Students are encouraged to follow postures in accordance natural movement for an individual’s body and situation. Thus, it is posture rather than form that holds more importance.

10.) INTEGRAL YOGA: Also a form of gentle style yoga. However as the name mentions this form of yoga incorporates a number of styles into the practice. The different branches are listed below.  The point is for the student to reach self-realization through incorporating poses, chanting and breath.

  • Raja Yoga – the path of concentration and meditation
  • Japa Yoga– the attunement through repetition or chanting mantra (sacred sound vibrations) to the inner significance of the divine vibration.
  • Hatha Yoga – the implementation of physical postures
    (asanas) and breathing practices to purify and strengthen body and mind.
  • Karma Yoga – The performance of work as selfless service without attachment to the resultant gain that helps bring the Karma Yogi to becoming a conscious instrument of Divine Will.
  • Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion to God, a spiritual teacher or incarnation of the Divine that uses this role model to transcend the personality and become a Divine instrument.
  • Jnana Yoga – the use of the intellect and the practice of self analysis and enquiry, so that attachments to mundane existence are released into freedom, freedom, realised through the Higher Self



My favorite Meditation, home.

Savasana, in corpse pose, final relaxation…


The benefits of Final Relaxation have been described as insurmountable. This, my friends, is the most important part of your yoga practice. In a right state of mediation only a few minutes can relax your body so well giving you the feeling of sleeping for hours. Enjoy this time and try to really work on clearing your mind of all the bothersome thoughts we have throughout the day. Eventually you will find that with practice you can learn to control your mind instead of it controlling you. Good luck and namaste!

Begin lying down legs extended, feet dangling to either side, hands resting by side or on tummy. Closing our eyes just sinking further into our mats, allowing our bodies to grow heavy. Slowing and steading our breath inhaling deeply with that nose and exhaling with that nose welcoming our Ujjayi breath, understanding how we can control this.


Allowing our minds to focus ourselves and imagining you are on a beach somewhere warm and tropical. Lying on the powdery white sand, allowing the sun to kiss your forehead, chest, belly and feet warming your whole body. Maybe you are smiling at the sounds of the people around you, your closest friends and family. The sound of their laughter fills you with joy.

You feel a brisk but nice breeze grazing over your skin and hair. The sounds of the waves crashing against the shore are rhythmically relaxing your body.

In this moment. It is only you. Your breath. Your body on this beautiful beach. No worries. No stress. Just living in the present.

(Spoken slowly)

Feeling your body sink in the powdery sand with each exhalation. Allowing the muscles on the bottoms of the feet to soften, relaxing the ankles and the heels, feeling the calves as they melt into the sand.  Softening behind the knees.  Allowing the quads and hamstrings to grow heavier. Relaxing the fingers and wrists, slowly noticing the arms growing heavier and heavier. Releasing the tension we often store in our lower back. Walking up the spine one vertebra at a time allowing the back muscles to sink into the sand. Feeling the upper back growing heavier and heavier. Relaxing the jaw, maybe allowing the mouth to hang open just slightly. Softening the muscles around the eyes…and clearing the mind in final relaxation.

Namaste* my friends. Feel free to incorporate this into the end of your classes or practice!

Can you tell I’m a florida girl? Love the beach!

The couple that works out together, stays together?

Well I am no relationship psychologist. Haha. I’m sure the thought of ME giving relationship advice comes as a funny joke to some of my friends reading this. My life is more like:

While listening to the soundtrack of Beyonce:


But with love in the air, or the wine (however it works these days)…and Valentine’s day just around the corner I wanted to give some of my advice that has worked in the past for myself and friends.


Workout together.


Sounds simple right?

…it is!

First of all endorphins are the best things ever. They make you happy, excited and naturally in a better mood which is perfect when you are around that someone special. Now, I’m not saying  set 6 am alarms and wake up and go running early mornings but I tell you what, those led to some good mornings and even better memories in my relationships. If you two are competitive people maybe strive to get involved with a co-ed team for basketball or soccer. Motivate each other to go to the gym and plan workouts that you both enjoy. Ladies, if you love to take Yoga try introducing it to your friends. I’ve had several participants bring in their boyfriends to my classes and they even continue to come once they realize the benefits of the practice.


Guys? Your girlfriend might be scared to go into the testosterone ridden weight room at the gym but introduce her to some exercises with the right amount of weight (try 8lbs-10lbs) and work on muscle endurance. Be not afraid, it is almost impossible for girls to look “bulky” without taking some sort of supplements or lifting extremely heavy weights.


In turn, this will help you both become healthier and happier. I love to go on runs outside in the park, hike together, racquetball, snowboard, or spin. Don’t be afraid to try something new and you might find that it actually brings you two together.

Fitness + Love = forever…corny but don’t hate on it.


NAMASTE World Champs, FoxNews Article×90&ns=friendlyComm

Yoga: How the New York Giants prepare for the Super Bowl

Written By 

Published February 03, 2012

  • Eli Manning

    New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) stretches during practice for the NFL Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis February 2, 2012. The New York Giants will play the New England Patriots on February 5. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

How does a professional football team prepare for the Super Bowl?  Aside from typical running, throwing and strength training drills, the championship-bound New York Giants also reap the athletic benefits of season-long yoga sessions.

Gwen Lawrence, celebrity yoga coach and spokesperson for Gaiam TV, has been teaching yoga for 22 years and working with the New York Giants for 11 years.

“The Giants were my first professional team,” Lawrence said, who specializes in different forms of yoga, including Iyengar, Hatha, and Ashtanga Vinyasa, to engage the entire body and mind.

Lawrence, who also works with the New York Knicks, Rangers and members of the Yankees, said she works with the Giants twice a week during pre-season to get the players in shape and prepare their bodies for the upcoming year.

“These are pretty active, high intensity classes,” Lawrence said.  “We do a lot of long, deep holds, some vinyasa.”

Vinyasa yoga, or “power yoga,” focuses on the alignment of movement and breath.  Each of the yoga poses are connected in flowing movements from one to the next.

During the season, however, Lawrence said, her approach with the team changes.

“In-season, I come in on Mondays and do post-game restorative work with the players,” she said.  “I can’t just go in there and kick their butts and expect full-body participation.”

The routine can change week-to-week, according to Lawrence, depending on how the players are feeling and which areas – such as their legs or their backs – are giving them problems.

“You also have to take into account the different positions,” Lawrence said.  “An offensive lineman is obviously different than a receiver – the demands on their bodies are different – but there are basic moves that benefit any position.”

Among these moves, Lawrence’s post-game favorites include pigeon poses, frog poses and hero poses.

The pigeon pose is a hip stretch that is done by bringing one knee forward and bending the leg in front of the body on the floor, while stretching the other leg out behind you.  Your arms can be placed on the ground beside your or held above your head.

“It’s a really deep hip opener that keeps your hips open and flexible,” Lawrence said.  “It also reduces strain and stress on vulnerable knees.

The frog pose, meanwhile, is done by lying face down, spreading your knees out on both sides and balancing on your heels, like a frog.  Extend your arms, one at a time, out on the floor in front of you.  The position opens the groin area and provides a slight back bend.

Finally, the hero pose is done by kneeling on the floor, with your thighs touching, perpendicular to the floor.  Set your feet apart slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor and your big toes angled slightly inward.

“It’s kneeling, keeping the quads open, and the ankles flexible and strong,” Lawrence said.

All three of the moves, she said, are meant to improve flexibility, strength and prevent injuries.  “My philosophy is, strength plus flexibility equals power on the field.  Doing these moves not only keeps players less injury prone – because a tight, rigid body is more likely to crack and break – but they also translate into power.

“Think of it this way,” Lawrence explained.  “You have a bow and arrow, and the bow string is strong and unbreakable, but if it’s too tight, you can only pull it back an inch and the arrow flops down on the ground.  But when the string is flexible, you can pull it far back, and the arrow has more power.”

“When joints are open, strong and flexible like this, they can create more power with less effort on the field.  That way, they can stay on the field longer and win the game in the end.”

But physical toughness isn’t the only important benefit the players derive from yoga training, according to Lawrence.

“We’re working on mental toughness, too,” she said.  “Sometimes you have players with pre-game anxiety, and the breathing techniques they learn in yoga can help them cope.”

Lawrence described how she helped a former Super Bowl champ deal with a medical condition while playing the game.

“One of the players I worked with – Amani Toomer [who played for the New York Giants the last time they won the Super Bowl in 2008] – he had asthma, and I taught him specific breathing techniques to help with that.”

The best aspect of practicing yoga with the players, Lawrence said, is that the moves aren’t solely meant for Super Bowl contenders.

“I work with regular people and hear their problems; and I’ve worked with athletes for so long, I understand theirs as well – and honestly, it’s very similar,” Lawrence said.  “I have my athletes, but I also have my soccer moms and other people, and they love it.  It works well into their lives – and this goes across the board.  It’s not just an athlete thing.”


Hello world!

This is my first time blogging so as you can imagine I am still in the learning process. My goal with this blog is to post fitness activities, recipes, encouragement etc. A place open for discussions and free from all competition and judgement.  The title of this post is Namaste which you will find is one of my favorite words. It means the light within me honors and respects the light within you. In India they use this word as a salutation (beats your average hello!) At the end of every Yoga class I teach we bow our heads and speak this word as an end to our practice. It is a Sanskrit word, I added the symbol below. So as we make this online fitness journey together I hope not only your body but your mind is prepared to begin or continue to lead a life of balance and purpose.  Let our goal be health and happiness for all.