Yoga + Wine – who could ask for anything more? Maybe a little chocolate…

Last night I went to a yoga workshop at Pure Yoga, The Yoga and Wine Party for the Ages — with Dave Romanelli, and it was amazing!

Dave’s adorable face and lighthearted approach to life can relax the most uptight person in the world. He brings a modern, accessible, and humorous style to the mat that shocks you, entertains you, and leaves you wanting more.

Going into the workshop I was full of anxiety from a day where I had been desperately trying to get things done, and I felt as though I was only going in circles. Dave’s class reminded me to be present. That if I stepped away from my computer for just one second and savored a moment, then I would be able to think more clearly, entertain myself, and stop taking everything so seriously.

As Dave so perfectly described it, we have all become an extension of our machines. It is hard to imagine stepping away from my computer or phone for a second, because I have a fearful feeling that I won’t be getting anything ‘done’. It is incredible how at times we can be so caught up in getting things done, that we forget life is here for us to savor.

I enjoyed Dave’s teaching style; I felt like I was able to open and expand my practice as he challenged me yet kept me laughing. I was able to smile and feel the energy flowing through me – a true experience of sukha (happiness & ease) in the poses. Dave threads stories eloquently throughout the asanas, and you can’t help but laugh out loud and have fun in whatever difficult asana you might be practicing.

The two-hour vinyasa class was energizing, calming, relaxing, and everything you would want out of a class. The addition of a wine and chocolate tasting at the end made it a truly exceptional experience. We were deliberately led through the wine and chocolate tasting with an eye to savoring the moment in each sip or bite. I noticed the wine and chocolate tasting better as I opened up to its effect on me. Dave also incorporated inspiring music and essential oils into the experience. This self-conscious stimulation of all five senses created a truly memorable experience for me and now helps me re-experience those moments more vividly than I would otherwise be able.

After class I felt as though I was back to myself; I was happy and couldn’t help but smile my entire way home on the subway, and when my boyfriend said he wanted to enjoy a bottle of red wine and cheese in bed, I was ecstatic.

I can’t make the Yoga + Chocolate workshop today so I can only drool over his book, Yeah Dave’s Guide to Livin’ the Moment: getting to ecstasy through wine, chocolate & your iPod Playlist. I hope now to develop this playful, lighthearted approach to savoring every moment and incorporate it more fully into my daily practice.

Sep26

The Liza Laird Yoga Book Club

In spirit of Yoga Month I will begin the Liza Laird Yoga Book Club. The inaugural meeting will be on September 20th at 3pm. We will gather on a monthly basis to explore topics in Eastern thought. Whether you practice yoga or are just looking for good company you will be exposed to compassionate people and explore ancient and modern texts on spirituality, philosophy, and psychology.

The first book will be Buddha by Deepak Chopra. Buddha is an inspirational story of enlightenment – a fictional look at what Buddha’s life was like. Deepak Chopra has inspired me and thousands around the world with his spiritual teachings and this book gives an opportunity to be exposed to the life of Buddha.

I look forward to you joining me for a relaxing afternoon filled with inspirational conversation. Please bring yourselves & your book! Tea, wine and Eastern treats will be served.

For more details and to RSVP email bookclub@lizalaird.com

Namaste,

Liza

Sep16

108…

Today I completed 108-sun salutations as the sun rose to support the 4 One World Charity. I am not a morning person, but I was not going to let that stop me from raising money for 4 One World and doing 108-sun salutations! So, I got myself up bright and early and by 7 am was starting the Yoga Aid Challenge at Pure Yoga on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The moment I got to Pure Yoga I put myself into child’s pose on the mat and closed my eyes; I was still waking up when I got there. The conversations around me grew louder and louder as my fellow challengers piled into the room. The practice began, and soon we were all flowing and breathing together with the same intention and path, to offer compassion to those in Africa and the charities we were raising money for.

We moved through classical Surya Namaskara A and Surya Namaskara B, but what saved me from losing patience and my rotator cuffs from being strained were the modifications to these sun salutations. Multiple teachers rotated seamlessly over the course of 2 hours and 20 minutes. I enjoyed all the different styles the teachers presented. Some were more about the rhythm, the breath, or the smile. No matter their focus each approach was refreshing and kept me motivated throughout the challenge. I think today was the most delicious savasana that I have ever had; it felt so sweet to have my body melt into the floor. During savasana one of the teachers played her guitar and sang. She had the most peaceful and beautiful voice; the last thing I had wanted was to get up from that practice.

Needless to say, after doing the challenge and teaching two classes today my body is worn out! It’s good to know that I can complete that many sun salutations, but I don’t think I will be making 108 sun salutations part of my daily practice!

If you would like to learn more or donate, go to: www.yogaaid.com/lizalaird

Namaste,

Liza

Sep12

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy

Recently I completed Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) Level 1 Training. This training has made such an impact on my life that I wanted to share some highlights.

I’ll begin with a quick explanation of PRYT. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is a combination of yoga techniques and psychology to encourage a deeper connection with the self. Therapy sessions are one-on-one, last one to two hours, and include assisted yoga postures, breath work, and non-directive dialogue. The dialogue is led entirely by the client and not influenced at all by the therapist, whose sole task is to continue to provide the client with opportunities to express her feelings at that precise moment.

Michael Lee is the founder of this healing technique, which was established in 1986 while he was a resident at Kripalu. Through his personal experience and knowledge of yoga and psychology, he was able to create a new approach to mind-body healing.

I was drawn to Phoenix Rising because of the combination of yoga and psychology and my personal experiences in yoga classes where shoulder-opening poses would cause me to cry. I couldn’t understand where the tears came from and have wanted to get to the root of the cause. However, I realized that traditional psychotherapy would not uncover the mind-body connection; Phoenix Rising takes into account the whole person and creates an environment where you can explore the emotions that are stored so deeply in your body.

My curiosity and passion then took me to Kripalu where I took the 6-day, Level 1, PRYT Training. The training was amazing, and I feel very lucky to have had two incredibly compassionate teachers. Karen Hasskarl, the teacher leading the training session, is the Co-director of Phoenix Rising. Her kindnesses, passion, joy, and knowledge makes her one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever encountered. After the weeklong training I now feel thoroughly educated on the basics of Phoenix Rising, but I remain curious and thirsty for more knowledge – that is what Level 2 and 3 trainings are for!

Mandy Sergent was assistant teaching with Karen, and we were so lucky to have her with us. Mandy is a yoga instructor, yoga therapist, and holistic health counselor. As all of the work was done in pairs it was beneficial to have her as our 6th group member, and partnering with her helped us to receive an understanding of the work with a practicing yoga therapist.

As an introvert I was pleased that the training group was small. There were only four other people so we were able to share and connect on a deeper level than we would have with a group of 20+. (You can see all the students and teachers in the photo above.) The safety and trust that I felt during the training allowed me to let my authentic self out and not worry what everyone thought of me. I felt free to burst into laughter or tears and was not embarrassed by my behavior. I often find that it is too easy to hold myself back, closely monitor all my words and actions, and try to please all those around me.

This week enabled me to see again that I can be smiling, happy, and free. I know that this is not going to be how I feel at all times, but now that I know it is possible it will be easier to keep this feeling close and not let it get away. The laughter and the overflowing happiness I felt reinforced my passion and desire to share these methods with others. I want the world to feel that same uninhibited joy that comes with releasing a well of emotions.

One morning I woke up to find myself situated in one of the yoga poses we had been practicing in the training! I also remembered moving in and out of the poses while I was sleeping and dreaming that I was having a Phoenix Rising session. Even in my sleep it was a powerful experience; I woke up refreshed, relaxed, and energized for my day.

Although my experience was a form of liberation through laughter, these sessions can be very different for everyone. The sessions can bring about fear, anger, joy, and countless other emotions across the spectrum; however, I highly recommend you try a few sessions if you are working through a difficult time or are searching for more understanding of your body and mind. (Click here to find a practitioner in your area.)

Namaste,

Liza

Aug27