All Posts from November, 2009

Short and Sweet

November 27th, 2009 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

There are so many things to be thankful for and for those of us at Bernal Yoga, this space is definitely one of those things.

The other morning, in light of the day of thanks to come, KT had committed the class to asanas in which we opened our hearts, letting the love and gratitude both come in and shine out. As she said it, “peeling the layers back around the chest and the heart.” Physically, we did this through a series of backbends, standing poses using the wall, and shoulder stretches, all of which felt expansive and freeing. Again, she reminded to “steady yourself with your breath.” This, of course, applies on and off the mat.

She also spoke of the importance of trusting just where you are with a pose. Quoting from the sutras, she

At the end of class, KT suggested we thank thsoe around us and thanking ourselves for putting the effort into yoga, into bettering ourselves and thereby bettering the community. She celebrated the ancient practice of yoga and the subtle power it has to make us aware of our minds and bodies and thereby shift. Bernal Yoga, with its light filled room, its warm atmosphere, its welcoming attitude and its community feel, is an ideal place to learn this practice.

Pumpin’ it Jivamukti Style

November 23rd, 2009 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The room was warm and filled to the brim last night at Emily Dillof’s Jivamukti class. This was the second time I had been and I am addicted. She really gets us going with her calm demeanor, as she traverses bodies and sweat, adjusting, reminding, calling out new positions, encouraging us to hold on for one more breath and showing us how we can go deeper.

Emily was once a family lawyer in Arizona and she found herself so stressed by her work, both physically and mentally, that she turned to yoga. Her life was changed. She left her work, became a yoga teacher and moved to San Francisco. She commands the room with a quiet strength that I sometimes imagine was born from her years of practice as a lawyer. She seems to have really found her groove in this practice and she invites us to do the same, find our place in it, breathe into it, and own it on our mats.

For the past couple of weeks, Emily has been lifting from the yoga sutras, sharing information about the importance of being compassionate with others. She reminds us how compassion has a ripple effect and kindness to one means kindness to many.

Emily also reminds us to work hard, moving through asanas at a quick pace, holding plank, dipping down for chatarunga, and later, deftly moving into triangle, warrior two and then warrior three. In each moment, we are using the breath to deepen a pose, like say, bind when doing revolved side angle pose (aka Parivrtta Parsvakonasana!).  By the time we get to Shavasana, we feel we’ve earned it.

Along with her calm and clear voice, Emily plays music that gets us excited to move. With the dim lights, the candles, the music, the breath, the heart beating and the mind calming with movement, it makes for a very liberating class. And that’s no surpise, Jivamukti is sanscrit for “living liberated” and when we walk out of Emily’s Sunday night class we feel a little freer than when we came in.

Compressed Evolution

November 17th, 2009 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

On Monday morning, KT Steadman really showed her dedication to her students. She thought she had fully recovered from her cold and, as luck would have it, she woke up that morning with a raspy voice. She was feeling well but her voice was husky and mixed with her accent, it was even more exciting to listen to her move us through asanas.

Having taken Emily Dillof’s fast paced, butt kicking Jivamukti class on Sunday night (more on that later), it was interesting to observe what holding a pose can do. And holding a pose is precisely what we do with KT. She often says, the pose begins when we want to come out of it. And in holding poses for a bit longer, we learn a new thing every time. The slightest movement will change where we feel the pose and with each second, and each breath, we can go deeper and learn more. So as we’re doing standing splits, and feeling the burn in our inner thigh and shin, we can open more, and start feeling it in our hips. Every moment it changes, like life!

On this Monday morning, KT had just come back from the Greenfest and was stimulated by one of the speakers there. Reflecting on something she had heard over the weekend, she said how, “yoga holds this mirror and as we look into the mirror, it turns into a window, and then into a door,” meaning the closer we look at ourselves, through the practice of yoga, the more of a chance we have to use the obstacles of holding a pose as an opportunity to grow.

Moving through poses, KT reminded us to breathe, “we listen to, are guided by and use the pattern of the breath” sharing something so real and true which is that, “we come into this life with just so many breaths and the idea is to try and make them last.”

And try we do on these amazing mornings at Bernal Yoga.

Yoga with Brianna Taylor

November 14th, 2009 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

One of the wondrous things about yoga is that there are many channels by which to access it. One is through movement, the other is through breath and this morning, in class with Brianna Taylor, students were reminded of a third: chanting.

Acknowledging that life is, at times, a series of obstacles, Brianna lead us through a chant about the wonderful Hindi God Ganesh, who has an elephant head and rides a mouse. Most commonly understood as the God who helps us overcome obstacles, Brianna suggested that yoga presents obstacles as opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us saying that, “Yoga is a practice out of compassion for ourselves,” and therefore a chance to, “bring that compassion and love into the world.”

The chant woke up our bodies, awakened our hearts and was a lovely way to step into movement.

Moving through a series of traditional vinyasas, Brianna’s sense of dance could be felt as we literally flowed from one asana to another in fluid transitions. Tadasana, forward fold, lunge, warrior one, side angle, reverse warrior, triangle, standing splits, back to warrior one, lunge, plank, chatarunga, upward facing dog, downward facing dog (I think that’s it!).

With each transition, we were reminded to breathe, and watching Brianna move, maybe even dance. Her subtle hand movements added a certain refined flair to the asanas that were reminiscent of a flamenco dancer.

There’s a certain playfulness with which Brianna seems to greet the world and that playfulness is infectious. This morning, as we were about to begin our vinyasa, our hands rising into the air, she said something we can all remind ourselves of throughout the day,

“Open up to this great light and bring it into yourself.”

Morning Yoga with KT Steadman

November 12th, 2009 | By Shelley Eades in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Submitted by Tania Ketenjian:

You know you’re dedicated to yoga when you find yourself walking out your door before sunrise to practice. And that is precisely what a growing group of practitioners are doing early mornings at Bernal Yoga. They are hitting the mat and stretching their boundaries in the healing and nearly sacred space that is Bernal Yoga.

Teacher KT Steadman leads us through asanas on Monday and Wednesday mornings and, as one student in class said today, she’s not joking around. While that is true, you wouldn’t know it from her open and jovial attitude. “The vinyasa offers a chance to invoke grace,” and it is with grace that KT guides us.

It’s also with humor. KT is from Brixton, south London, and she has maintained her accent even after living in the States for twenty years. “Stretchin’, movin’, breathin’” are common words, and the “g” is always silent.
Another silence is the lack of music in class, no cool playlists. KT believes that breath is music enough and it’s true! There are moments in class, whether we are in extended side angle pose or in the midst of bridge (like we were today), when we are breathing in unison, and sharing our breaths with each other. I never seem to wish for music and since I can hear others breathing, I am reminded to do the same.

There’s a core group that comes every morning and new faces continue to grow. KT always makes a point of remembering our names and just by looking, she will let us know whether we need to open our shoulders more in downward facing dog, push our knee back in warrior two or turn our pinky fingers in during crescent.
It’s very special to start your day with 1 hour and fifteen minutes of yoga and Bernal is one of very few places in the city that offers this time slot. It’s no wonder that people are getting wind of it. So for the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you nuggets from various classes…So, today’s nugget?

“Use the pattern of the breath towards a more mindful view of your day.”