6 Ways to Celebrate Spring to Create a Strong Foundation

The monster I kill every day is the monster of realism. The monster who attacks me every day is destruction. Out of the duel comes the transformation. I turn destruction into creation over and over again.

– Anaïs Nin – 

Hello, fellow friends on the path,

 

The theme for the week is creation; in the LIVE class Saturday, I’ll share a bit about Brahma, the Creator of the Universe. 

It seems counterintuitive, but how we create ultimately depends on what we can let go of or destroy. Transformation requires the polarity presented in creation and destruction; we cannot manifest new ideas or experiences without making space first

To create, we need to establish a strong foundation for what we want to will into the world, be it a physical experience or a mental construct. As we move through March (in like a lion and out like a lamb), I’d love for you to examine your strength and how it contributes to your lifestyle in what you hope to create in the coming months. 
 

Questions for you to consider:
▴ Where do you feel strongest in your body? Why do you think this is?
▴ Where do you feel strongest in your life? Why do you think this is?
▴ Who in your life brings out your strength?
▴ What actions enhance your strength, and what actions deplete it? 

To create, we must have a strong foundation to stand upon, which is why the class’s focus this week is using the wall to build strength and stability. If you’re joining us at 9AM PST, have some space cleared at a wall for practice.

Join me SATURDAY, MARCH 13th, at 9AM PST 
for a dynamic practice that uses the wall to build strength and stability
Create a Strong Foundation

Here’s the info on the class:
 

Create a Strong Foundation

Brahma is known as the creator of the universe. He brought forth all that we see in the material world. All that is tangible is attributed to Brahma. 

Join Clara for a 60-minute practice using the wall to help strengthen the base of our poses. We will be moving through a standard vinyasa sequence, using the wall as our guide to getting stronger in our practice. There will be no peak pose. 

Props you’ll need: 2 Blocks. 

SPOTIFY MUSIC PLAYLIST

6 Ways to Celebrate Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox takes place on Saturday, March 20th, with the invitation to shift with the seasons as the days get longer and lighter. Equinox is when the sun and moon are at equal points; it marks a transition into a new phase as we perceive changes in our environment. Trees blossom, flowers push up from the dark earth, birds return from migration, and wildlife is more abundant. It’s a time of renewal and a season to celebrate rebirth, be it physical or metaphysical. 
Ostara is the Pagan festival for Spring Equinox when Germanic Goddess Eostre is worshipped. Eostre is the Goddess of Spring and Dawn. For centuries, people have recognized Spring Equinox with festivals and feasts, gathering as a community to mark the transition from darkness to light. Easter, which occurs Sunday, April 4th, is named for Eostre; the naming originates in the late seventh and early eighth century from British Monk Venerable Bede’s writings.
We may not be able to gather for festivals and feasts at this time, but we can still observe the rebirth and richness of life and create rituals to salute spring.

Here are the 6 ways to celebrate spring equinox at home:

1 . Feng shui your living space.
 

Declutter your home to shift the energy as we transition seasons. Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice to balance the Chi (energy) of the living space. The goal is to create harmony in the physical realm to influence the more subtle realms of living. 


General guidelines to feng shui include:

  • The commanding positions of furniture

  • Adding vertical lines and shapes

  • Maximizing light and space

  • Minimizing clutter and obstacles

  • Adding plants and aspects of nature


Check out this blog post for more feng shui tips.

2. Wake up 30-minutes earlier.

 

As the days get longer and temperatures increase in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re treated with the opportunity to make the most of our time. Waking early creates space to be productive and indulge in the leisure of doing what you love. It’s time to leave the slower-paced yin of winter and shift into a more solar-powered spring.

The Quick Class Before Work playlist provides 20-40 minutes yoga classes that get you sweaty and fired up for your workday.

3. Tend to your garden.

 

Spring equinox symbolizes new beginnings; it’s the time of fertility when the land ripens with nature and wildlife, signifying a transition and new life. Where winter invites us to slow down and become more introspective, spring asks us to tend to consider the seeds to plant and tend to our garden—be it physical or spiritual. 

 

Here are 5 easy veggies to seed that thrive in cooler climates: 

  1. Broccoli 🥦 

  2. Kale 🌞

  3. Lettuce 🥬

  4. Radish 🌼

  5. Snow peas 🌱

 

If you have a green thumb (or want one) now is the time to start considering what you want to plant if you want a pre-summer harvest!

4. Refresh your daily diet. 

Springtime is one of the best times to do a detox or a cleanse. Ayurveda Therapist and Yoga Teacher Maria Garre advised on the benefits of a cleanse during the equinox. 

One way to create good Agni is to cleanse; you want to cleanse to get rid of ama twice a year in the fall and the spring. You cleanse and detox when the sun and moon are balanced. You don’t cleanse during other times of the year; you want to cleanse closest to the equinoxes. During detox, you’re purging the physical and also the mental ama. Mental fear comes out during a detox. It can be very emotional and well as physical. 

We all accumulate ama throughout the year. Fall is a great time to clear and spring; spring is a time to celebrate renewal. Cleanses are a time to reset our mind, body, and spirit.” – Ayurveda Therapist, Maria Garre. 

For more on how to better digestion and work with your constitution, listen to this podcast with Maria Garre

For diet recommendations, check out the nutrition guides on Practice with Clara (PittaKaphaVata), and the practices to balance the elements in the Ayurveda Collection

5. Reconnect with your community. 

 

Springtime bestows gifts of light and warmth, which means we may gradually spend more time outdoors. Activities such as hiking, walking, running, and exploring nature with family and friends are a few activities to reestablish connections with the community that reduce screentime. 


If you’re feeling skittish toward in-person events, there’s an increasing amount of virtual classes, workshops, and retreats to participate and gather with like-minded individuals. 

Practice with Clara hosts a LIVE class every Saturday at 9am PST where yogis worldwide gather for myth, mantra, and a vinyasa yoga practice. 

6. Join us for a Spring Equinox Weekend Retreat!

This self-led retreat is free for all members of Practice with Clara and boasts a weekend of yoga, recipes, and activities themed for the spring equinox.

 

The weekend includes 3 LIVE classes for you to attend, in addition to on-demand classes you may do at your leisure.

 

The LIVE classes include:

  • Opening Ceremony & Meditation

  • Vinyasa practice with Live Q&A 

  • Closing Ceremony & Meditation

See the Spring Equinox Retreat Playlist.

See the full schedule, and don’t forget to mark the date on your calendars!

❀ Invite your friends, family, and coworkers ❀


With open-level classes and various activities unrelated to yoga, you don’t need to be a yoga practitioner to enjoy the retreat’s festivities. 

Living your yoga every day doesn’t necessarily mean making it to your yoga mat—which is one of the tenents we hope to convey at Practice with Clara. 

New members receive 7-days free to PWC on-demand & LIVE class content. 

Did you know...

Learn how to get into peak poses and prevent injuries on Clara’s YouTube Channel.

Why Is Doing Yoga Alone At Home So Hard For Me?

yoga at home

Do you struggle with committing to a fitness routine? 

Do you lack the inspiration to make it to your mat each day but know you feel better when you create space and time to exercise?

Do you have the best intentions when it comes to wellness but lack the motivation to meet them consistently? 

Do you struggle with responsibility and yearn for someone or something to hold you accountable to your fitness goals?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you’re not alone!

Sustaining any program takes patience, passion, and perseverance.

There will be days you want to hit snooze and take the day off, but if you plan your practices ahead of time, you have a better chance of instilling healthy boundaries to support your short and long-term goals. 

Commitment to home yoga practice starts by planning how often, what time of day, and where and with who you take a class. Preparing for each day will help you stay motivated, inspired, and accountable to a home yoga practice

 

Reason’s you may lack commitment,

(and excuses you may have already told yourself)

 

🏠 I don’t have space. 

💻 I find technology distracting.

📣 My kids/roommates are too noisy.

🦮 I prefer being told what to do.

🧠  I can’t focus my mind—I want to snack/stop/use the washroom.

😖 I feel frustrated guiding myself through a session.

🗝 I don’t know how proper alignment looks or feels in my body. 

 

Here's how to commit to a home yoga practice

In the details below, we promise to guide you through the how-to’s to set up an online home yoga studio

The Practice with Clara Program holds you accountable, provides motivation and support within a community, and offers dynamic and inspiring content to elevate your mental and physical health.

We do the planning and preparation, so you can focus on your performance and wellness aspirations.

The Objective of a Home Yoga Practice

(& what we hope to provide)

At Practice with Clara, we give YOU the tools to embody and enrich your home yoga practice with our online studio. 
 

Our goal is to: 

✺ Teach you how to move, breathe and BE in your body.

 

✺ Empower you to decide and choose classes for yourself, based on how you feel.

 

✺ Inspire you to dance and play in your body with purpose and intention. 

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Get invites to free yoga challenges, virtual retreats, the class of the day, & much more! 

Before you initiate a daily at-home yoga practice, ask yourself:

 

▴ What physical changes do I hope to see?

▴ What mental/emotional changes do I hope to feel?

▴ What support will I need through this process? 

▴ Where will I create the space and time for my practice?

▴ How will the rest of my life change to accommodate a daily practice?

▴ How will I hold myself accountable?

▴ How will I track my progress?

New to yoga— here’s where to start

If you’re just starting a yoga practice, this series is for you!

New to Yoga Program

We created a program designed for new yogis and those recovering from injury. This program is done over two weeks and features Hatha, restorative, slow flow, and vinyasa yoga sequences.

The best way to learn anything new is through repetition.

WEEK 1

The first week we’ll start a bit slower with hatha yoga, which is known for being a bit more gentle and easier to follow.

WEEK 2

The second week we’re introducing vinyasa yoga, which is known for being a bit more fast-paced.

Remember that you can rest whenever you need to in a child’s pose or sit and watch the class. There’s no pressure to do anything or everything that is being offered.

How Practice with Clara Holds You Accountable

Staying motivated and inspired to show up for the practice is more sustainable (and fun!) when we do it together as a community.

We’ve created a system to hold each other accountable to show up for daily practice.

The PWC Program for Accountability:

✺ We share the Class of the Day playlist every month on the PWC Apps. This playlist comes with a downloadable calendar AND journaling booklet for you to track your progress and reflect on how you’re feeling and progressing through your month of yoga. 
✺ We post the class of the day every day to the community Facebook Group for members to interact with and share how they feel that day.
 

Here’s how you show up:

1. Type YES In the class of the day post comments in the FB Group.
2. Type YES In the class of the day comments in the PWC App. 
 
This method fosters responsibility to our intentions and wellness goals by sharing progress with the community. 

6 Benefits to Developing a Home Yoga Practice

 

1. Do yoga on your schedule. 

Cultivating a home practice with an online yoga studio means you get to choose where, when, and how you show up to your mat. Take a class in the early morning, on your lunch break, while the kids are at school, or right before bed; it’s never been earlier to curate a schedule that suits your needs based on what you need to get done in a day. 

2. Create a space that suits you.

Creating a space to do your practice is key to committing to your daily yoga practice. Setting up a specific area in your home to do your routine makes it easier to remove all distractions and separate the time you’ve committed to your health. Simplify the process by doing the same thing each time. Turn off all notifications, light a candle, dim the lighting; do the things that signify it’s time for your yoga practice so you can shift from the day’s activities and focus on YOU for that time. 

3. Tailor the classes to serve your wellness goals.

Group fitness is great for maintaining a consistent practice and boosting your health, but if you have specific goals in mind for your wellness program, selecting the courses that serve your individual needs and aspirations will help you succeed. Online yoga empowers you to choose the courses and collections based on what you want to do for your body and mind. Set your goal, and select the courses that will guide you in that direction. 

4. Explore new poses and practices.

Choosing from classes that explore and expand on postures you’ve never done before is a feature of online yoga that you have control over. In group yoga classes, you may not have time with the teacher to discuss a specific pose, the proper alignment, or breathing technique to benefit the practice. Online yoga provides the experience for you to search, learn, and practice the poses and pranayamas that are new to you or that you hope to develop.

5. Move out of your comfort zone!

Try the postures and pranayamas that you may not feel comfortable doing in a studio. At-home yoga practice supports your practice by giving you the space to do the things you may not do in public, so try the breathing techniques and poses that make you uncomfortable and get out of your comfort zone!

6. Appreciate solitude. 

At its core, yoga is about connecting to the self, exploring the body’s sensations, and observing the mind’s thoughts. As we develop our practice, yoga asks the practitioner to move beyond the superficial layers of the self and world to consider how we contribute to our communities. Sitting in solitude may bring up some of the more significant questions about who we are and how we want to appear in the world.

How-to guides to align in your practice

Choose from a selection of quick tutorials that demonstrate proper alignment and breathing techniques.

Ujjayi Breath in Vinyasa Yoga

With how-to videos on, modifications, and specifications on, but not limited to:
  • Downward dog
  • Plank pose
  • Crow pose
  • Chaturanga 
  • Knee sensitivity
  • Skull-shining breath
  • Block tutorial
  • Forward folds
  • Resting postures
  • Meditation postures

Creative, Balanced, and Dynamic Vinyasa Yoga

With courses that accommodate various levels, styles, and intensities

Accessibility drives the content created for Practice with Clara; the sequences and styles of yoga presented offer a wide-range of classes for you to choose from based on where you are at in your wellness goals.

Explore the Class Levels on Practice with Clara

⭐️  Open Level: Classes for yogis of all and any level, from beginners and those who are new to the practice to those who’ve been practicing for 10+ years. 

⚡️  Intermediate/Advanced: Classes for yogis who have a regular daily practice for at least 1.5 years and have a rudimentary understanding of the asanas and pranayamas. 

🔥  Advanced: Classes for yogis who have a regular daily practice for at least 3+ years and are well-versed in the poses and pranayamas to follow along in a faster-paced class.

**These are guidelines. Explore the different levels and see what works for you. The biggest thing to remember is to listen to your body. With the advanced classes, I’m teaching those who know the names and shapes of the poses. I focus less on anatomical cues and more on subtle/energetic cues. ** 

Select Your Class-Based on the Featured Collections

The Body Focus Collection focuses on a specific area to strengthen and lengthen the muscles as you progress toward a peak pose or flow.

Featured in this playlist:

  • Hip openers
  • Twists
  • Backbends
  • Arm balances
  • Leg balances
  • Inversions

Try this vinyasa class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

In the Anxiety & Stress Collection, choose from a range of classes depending on how you feel; some need to shake and move to clear anxious energy, while others need to be still, move slow, and ground.

One of the greatest gifts of yoga is how you can change your state of mind and body in a short period. These classes were designed to help relieve stress and calm the nervous system.

In this playlist, you’ll find:
  • Mantra
  • Meditation
  • Hatha
  • Slow Flow Vinyasa
  • Restorative
  • Yin

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

A Quick Class Before Work offers 20-45 minutes yoga classes for you to do before starting your workday—or on your lunch break.  
Choose from various styles to get your blood pumping and break a sweat to energize your body and mind.
In this playlist, you’ll find classes with:
  • Core
  • Slow Flow
  • Vinyasa
  • Hatha
If you need an even shorter class to get you through the day, try the Quick Fix Yoga Collection with <20-minute classes!

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

In the Alternative Yoga Collection, choose from various collections based on the esoterics of yoga; these courses were designed around the chakras, elements, and Ayurveda.

Explore esoteric themes in these yoga playlists designed to treat the subtle body and provoke a more thoughtful practice through the exploration of philosophical concepts.

In this playlist, you’ll find:
  • Mantra
  • Meditation
  • Hatha
  • Slow Flow Vinyasa
  • Restorative
  • Yin

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

The Get Strong Collection is designed for you to develop strength in body and mind, with classes that challenge your mental and physical discipline.

Creative sequencing with playful, fun, and dynamic transitions will keep you guessing where the classes are headed as you build toward a peak pose or flow.

Challenge yourself in body and mind by targeting the major muscle groups of the body and developing the strength to persevere through longer vinyasa sequences.

Featured in this playlist:
  • Backbending
  • Arm balancing
  • Inversions
  • Core strengthening
  • Leg balancing

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

Explore the New Releases playlist for new on-demand classes.

See what current members have to say:

Benefits of daily yoga practice:

 

⦿ Lengthen and strengthen muscles and connective tissues. 

⦿ Improve range of motion and rotation.

⦿ Support spinal health, circulation, digestion, respiration, assimilation, and elimination.

⦿ Improve physical and mental wellbeing.

⦿ Enhance attention and refine focus.

⦿ Stabilize physical body as well as emotional fluctuations.

Join the community, all new members receive 7-days FREE!

Choose from a variety of classes:

  • Vinyasa
  • Hatha 
  • Restorative/Yin
  • Meditation & Mantra
  • Prenatal
  • Slow Flow

&

Weekly LIVE classes and a LIVE Q&A with Clara and hundreds of yogis worldwide!

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Get invites to free yoga challenges, virtual retreats, the class of the day, & much more! 

Are you looking for more opportunities to practice yoga? 

See the History of Our 30-Day Yoga Challenges 

Take a look at the past 30-day yoga challenges and discover more reasons to join us. 

Read the history of the 30-day challenges with the past partnerships, themes, interviews with professionals, and more. 

Join an Upcoming 30-Day Yoga Challenge

See when the next 30-day yoga challenge is hosted to join the LIVE yoga & meditation classes and connect with thousands of practitioners worldwide.

Check out the events page to learn more. 

Morning Yoga to Strengthen and Energize Your Routine

morning yoga

Energize your body & mind with morning yoga

Starting the day with a short movement or pranayama practice energizes the body and sets a positive tone for the rest of your morning. 

The number oneeason to practice in the morning instead of later in the day is simple: we have more energy, clarity, and focus when we wake up. We’re better able to put our total effort and attention on our physical and mental wellbeing before the responsibilities and tasks of the day enter our psyche. 
If you lack energy and don’t feel in the mood for a vigorous morning yoga practice, cultivating the habit of waking up and spending 10-20 minutes doing Hatha postures or pranayama (breathing) techniques will support a more sustainable practice of making it to your yoga mat every day—no matter what occurred the day before. 

If you’re ready to MOVE and flow when you wake up:

Get your day started with a short and fiery practice.  

Morning Quickie

Start the day with this short class that has a bit of everything so that you are prepared for whatever the day asks of you. 

Expect sun salutes, core activation, hamstring & quadricep opening, twists, and ending with a guided meditation.

Five Benefits of a Morning Yoga Practice:

 

  1. The release of positive endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine have the power to shift your mental and physical state. The power of the yoga practice is in alchemy; we have the ability to shift how we feel and perceive ourselves and the world around us. The feel-good endorphins released have a positive impact on our bodies and minds, so that we may navigate the day with a more upbeat and productive mindset.

  2. Boosts blood and oxygen circulation through the body to improve the function of the organs. As we move and breathe through specific postures, no matter how quickly or slowly we shift from pose-to-pose, we provide our organs with an internal massage to enhance their function. The movement of fluids through the body, such as blood and lymph, cleanses the body of toxins to support immunity.

  3. Yoga and pranayama shift the body’s energetic state. As we’ve mentioned through the release of hormones and circulation, you’ll feel refreshed and energized and less likely to reach for a second or third cup of coffee. 

  4. Regular exercise reduces and regulates the amount of adrenaline and cortisol released in the body. Adrenaline and cortisol are known as stress hormones and helped us evolve as humans. Without these hormones, we wouldn’t have the capacity to fight or flee if in danger. Exercise is one way we place positive stressors on the body. 

  5. Physical activity fatigues the body so that we might get better rest. When we release excess energy, we have a better chance of falling asleep and getting proper rest. Over-excitement, angst, and nervousness represent an abundance of energy that may be balanced with physical activities like yoga.

The Best Morning Yoga Poses and Pranayamas

Do these yoga poses and pranayamas (breathing techniques) in the morning to stimulate the corresponding organs and hormone release to energize your day. 

1. Backbends

Backbends stimulate the adrenals. The adrenal glands are associated with the body’s fight or flight response and produce hormones that regulate metabolism, blood pressure, and the immune system. Due to the arch of the spine when we perform backbends in yoga, this may increase the force around the adrenals and stimulate the release of additional adrenaline into the body’s system. Too much adrenaline keeps us feeling awake and alert. 

Backbending is also very energizing due to the increased blood flow throughout the body, so if you do backbends in the evening, you want to be mindful of how close it is to bedtime. If you do backbends in the evening practice, add a longer cooldown to allow the body time to settle and ground. 

The other reason to do backbends in the morning is to open the shoulders and chest. Especially for those who work at desks, drive, or rock children all day, opening the chest in the morning to stretch all the muscles across the front of the chest feels excellent. 

Examples of backbends to boost the adrenals:

  1. Bow Pose
  2. Dancers Pose
  3. Wheel Pose

2. Twists

Twisting stimulates blood flow around the muscles of the abdomen. B.K.S. Iyengar referred to twists as the squeeze-and-soak action as the twist creates an intra-abdominal compression. When the twist is released, the digestive organs receive blood rich in oxygen and nutrients. Twisting to the left compresses the descending colon, which pushes everything in the direction to relieve digestive stress. 

Twists enhance the mobility of the spine. As we age, the muscles surrounding the spine become stiff and sticky, which leads to a decreased range of motion and discomfort in the surrounding areas. Twisting creates length between each vertebra to lengthen the spine and space between the bones. While core exercises create strength and stability, twisting creates length and improves range of motion. 

Examples of twists to stimulate the digestive system:

  1. Side Crow
  2. Revolved Triangle
  3. Revolved Halfmoon

3. Kapalbhati Breathing 

Kapalbhati is very stimulating and excitatory; it generates heat, enhances circulation and digestion, and improves liver and kidneys’ function. Kapalabhati translates from Sanskrit as Kapal, meaning the forehead, and Bhati, meaning light or knowledge. This pranayama brings lightness and clarity to the mind and frontal cortex of the brain. 

This pranayama style involves sharp, active exhales through the nose to stimulate the clearing of the lungs by clearing the stagnant air that collects around the sides of the lung cavity. The sharp exhale pulls the stale air in toward the center of the lungs and pushes it out. Energetically, we’re drawing the air upwards to revitalize the mind and body. The inhale is passive, and as kapalabhati breath is performed, the abdomen repeatedly contracts on the exhale and releases on the inhale. This pranayama is best done on an empty stomach during the earlier part of the day as its excitatory and stimulates the digestive fire.

Benefits include:

  • Enhanced mental focus and clarity
  • Clearing of the lungs and nasal passages
  • Excitatory to stimulate blood flow and boost circulation
  • Tones the abdomen and lower organs
  • Sharpens senses and concentration
  • Balances nervous system
  • Stimulates the digestive fire and appetite 
  • Purifies the nadis (energy channels) of the body through prana (breath)

 

Do kapalabhati with Clara: 

  1. Learn how to do kapalabhati
  2. River of Prana
  3. Ignite

 

If you need a hot-minute to breathe and slowly receive the day:

Embrace body and breathe through simple postures.

We Are Energy

Wake up and treat the energy body through various yoga pranayama, circular movements for the joints, and breathwork from Chien Lung.

The subtle body, also known as the energy body, lives below the skin where Prana flows. Prana is the life force, or energy according to Ayurveda, which we work with primarily through the breath.

Featured pranayamas in this class include Boa’s Breath, White Leopard, Brahmari, and Bastrika Breath to strengthen your body’s Prana. 

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Receive invites to free yoga challenges, virtual retreats, the class of the day, & much more! 

Short, Energizing, and Inspiring Sequences

The Morning Yoga Series treats you to <30-minute yoga classes

Explore the Class Levels on Practice with Clara

⭐️  Open Level: Classes for yogis of all and any level, from beginners and those who are new to the practice to those who’ve been practicing for 10+ years. 

⚡️  Intermediate/Advanced: Classes for yogis who have a regular daily practice for at least 1.5 years and have a rudimentary understanding of the asanas and pranayamas. 

🔥  Advanced: Classes for yogis who have a regular daily practice for at least 3+ years and are well-versed in the poses and pranayamas to follow along in a faster-paced class.

**These are guidelines. Explore the different levels and see what works for you. The biggest thing to remember is to listen to your body. With the advanced classes, I’m teaching those who know the names and shapes of the poses. I focus less on anatomical cues and more on subtle/energetic cues. ** 

⭐️ Open Level

Shakti Flow offers a dynamic and flowing vinyasa yoga sequence to energize the body through movement and breath. 

A sequence for play, self-exploration, and honoring the creative process, join Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga for a Shakti-themed vinyasa flow.

 

Try this vinyasa class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

⚡️ Intermediate/Advanced

In Arise & Illuminate, greet the sun with several styles of Sun Salutations. 

This vinyasa yoga class opens with a reading of John O’Donahue to ease you into the practice with a meditative prayer.

A smooth and straightforward sequence to start your day, you’ll connect to your rhythm of breath as you cycle through several variations of Sun Salutations. A seated spinal twist to wring out the spine, inner thigh, groin, and hamstring stretching from the floor and a passive inversion with legs up the wall in Viparita Karani (dead bug pose) complete the class. 

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

🔥 Advanced

In this short and spicy vinyasa yoga class, Spice It Up, you’ll get your heart pumping and blood flowing to build heat and burn off any excess energy and tension. 

This class opens with shaking!

Shaking is therapeutic in that it moves all the stuff we’re holding onto in our bodies. You may feel lighter and warmer.

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

▷ Try the Morning Yoga playlist on practice with Clara. 

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Receive invites to free yoga challenges, virtual retreats, the class of the day, & much more! 

See what current members have to say:

Benefits of daily yoga practice:

⦿ Lengthen and strengthen muscles and connective tissues. 

⦿ Improve range of motion and rotation.

⦿ Support spinal health, circulation, digestion, respiration, assimilation, and elimination.

⦿ Improve physical and mental wellbeing.

⦿ Enhance attention and refine focus.

⦿ Stabilize physical body as well as emotional fluctuations.  

Choose from a variety of classes:

  • Vinyasa
  • Hatha 
  • Restorative/Yin
  • Meditation & Mantra
  • Prenatal
  • Slow Flow

&

Weekly LIVE classes and a LIVE Q&A with Clara and hundreds of yogis worldwide!

Are you looking for more opportunities to practice yoga? 

See the History of Our 30-Day Yoga Challenges 

Take a look at the past 30-day yoga challenges and discover more reasons to join us. 

Read the history of the 30-day challenges with the past partnerships, themes, interviews with professionals, and more. 

Join an Upcoming 30-Day Yoga Challenge

See when the next 30-day yoga challenge is hosted to join the LIVE yoga & meditation classes and connect with thousands of practitioners worldwide.

Check out the events page to learn more. 

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Receive invites to free yoga challenges, virtual retreats, the class of the day, & much more! 

The Practice with Clara Method to Decrease Low Back Pain

yoga for the low back

Support a healthy spine with yoga for the low back

Unlike fitness and workout routines, yoga aims to supplement your lifestyle by strengthening and lengthening the muscles and connective tissues to enhance your overall mobility.

How we move depends on how we take care of ourselves; we all have a signature style of movement that’s influenced by various external factors including but not limited to activity level, diet, location, relationships, work, and habitual patterns. 

Spinal health and mobility is a crucial component to how we move and breathe as we age. Wear and tear on the body are inevitable, especially if we partake in extreme activities or perform the same habitual routines with our bodies repeatedly. Examples of habitual routines include sitting at an office desk, carrying your child on a hip, cycling to and from work, lifting heavy objects, carrying serving trays, and so on. 
These active habits create imbalances in the body. We remedy imbalances in the body through intentional exercises such as strengthening and stretching. 

Back strengthening AND lengthening exercises support spinal mobility; a healthy spine = a healthy body!

The Practice with Clara Method to Decrease Low Back Pain

Decrease low back pain with three simple steps: stretch, strengthen, rest & recover.

Layering these three unique practices into your workout routine will lessen the chance of injury and keep your spine strong and supple. 

1.

Stretch and lengthen the muscles around the spine. 

Lengthening the muscles around the low back creates space around the sacrum and spinal column. More space means enhanced mobility, so we feel supple as well as supported in our low back. 

Tight hips and gluteal muscles may affect the low back as these are the muscles that attach around the sacrum and lower spine. When muscles are tight, they shorten and contract; this may cause the body to become imbalanced as the muscles pull against the connective tissues and bones. 

For example, if we have tight hip flexors (aka, the psoas), we may experience lower back and hip pain. The psoas is located deep within the core and attach to the spine and hip. By stretching the hips, we create length and space to avoid tension and pain. 

Here are the main muscle groups to stretch to ensure space and length in the low back:
  1. Hips – rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscle.
  2. Buttock –  gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. 
  3. Side body – quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, tensor fascia latae.

2.

Strengthen the muscles around the spine to support the low back. 

Supporting the low back means strengthening the muscles along the spine. Stronger core and back muscles stabilize the pelvis and hips to decrease the risk of injury. The core and back muscles become weak when we sit for long periods—and we are more of a ‘sits’ culture now than ever before!

Strengthening the low back body and core muscle groups benefits athletes or individuals who train in other areas, such as runners and cyclists who depend on a stable core to support the activity. 

For example, a cyclist who sits on a bike for many hours must maintain proper posture in the upper and lower back and shoulders to avoid injury. A strong core and associated stabilizing muscle groups are necessary to maintain proper posture for the ride’s total duration. 

Here are the main muscle groups to provide strength and support in the low back:
  1. Core – traverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae.
  2. Back – lats, rhomboids, trapezius, erectors. 

3.

Recover and rest; give your body time to recuperate. 

Any well-trained athlete will tell you that days off are vital to your overall health and progression. In the yoga practice, the most important pose is savasana; during rest, the body shifts from an active to a passive state where cellular regeneration is possible. 

The longer the savasana, the better! And similar restful practices such as meditation, yoga Nidra, and body scan work to heal the mind and body during recovery. 

Ways Meditation Prepares the Mind and Body for Recovery: 

  1. Meditation works with the vagal tone, which is the activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects to the body’s primary organs, including the stomach, liver, heart, lungs, and brain, and is responsible for controlling the heart rate. By breathing deeply, we influence the vagus nerve and slow down the heart rate. A slower heart rate calms the body’s vital processes, including the busyness of the mind.
  2. Theta waves, which are the brainwaves associated with healing and the powers of the subconscious, are released during meditation, dreaming, and deep sleep. When theta waves are more active during meditation, it’s possible that the mind and body experience rejuvenation and growth. Theta waves help prevent burnout and healing from mental and physical stressors and are the source of our more creative and intuitive processes. 
  3. The release of feel-good hormones, serotonin, and dopamine, during meditation, may help with managing anxiety and intense emotions. The lessening of the stress hormone cortisol reduces tension and angst.
  4. Meditation boosts the immune system by decreasing the stressors on the body. When we hit the burnt-out zone, our immune system takes the hit and causes the body to become inflamed as a means to protect itself. Stress causes the body to stay in fight or flight mode, which takes its toll on the mind and body. Meditation shifts the body from fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system, into rest and digest, which is a function of the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s in rest and digest mode that we can recover and restore to a more balanced state. 
  5. The muscles relax when we meditate. Deeper breathing and stillness slow the body’s processes down, so we might passively release any tension we’re holding in the body or mind. Where yoga actively stretches to release the muscles, meditation creates space for muscles to soften and relax.

Yoga for the Low Back

On Practice with Clara, you choose from a selection of classes that vary in style, length, and level. We take care of the planning and preparation, so all you have to do is set up your yoga mat and select the class that suits what you need on any given day. 

Take these three classes to create space, strengthen, and restore:

1. Back Release

Back Release creates space in the hips and side waist to create space in the lower back.

A quick grounding floor sequence to create space in the lower back and calm the nervous system.
The whole class is on the back doing various hip and side waist openers, ending with a seated pranayama (breath work) and neck rolls.

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

2. Core Flow

Strengthen the core stabilizers to support the low back in Core Flow.

Based on Forrest Yoga’s core sequences, this short class was designed to build heat and to create core activation. If you’re practicing inversions on your own, this short flow is recommended to do prior to going upside down.
Also recommended before a vinyasa practice to bring more awareness into your core for stabilization. 

Try this class on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

3. Ocean Meditation

 

A short meditation inspired by the wind, waves, and sea; Ocean Meditation has a calming effect to calm the nervous system. 

Recovery and rest are essential aspects of healing, so take a moment to be still and breathe into your body. 

Try this meditation on Practice with Clara, new members get 7-days FREE!

Repeat these classes or build your own sequence to lengthen, strengthen, and restore the muscles of the low back.  With hundreds of classes to choose from on Practice with Clara, you have the freedom to choose from Hatha, Slow Flow, Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, and Meditation courses. 

▷ Try the Yoga For Low Back Pain playlist on practice with Clara. 

Practice with Clara provides on-demand content with yoga and meditation classes. 

We also host weekly LIVE classes where members worldwide come together to practice. 

If you have a peak pose you want to try, or questions on alignment, injury, and recovery, we host a LIVE Q&A after the weekend LIVE class for students to talk to Clara! 

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New members get 7-days FREE!

Receive invites to free yoga challenges, virtual retreats, the class of the day, & much more! 

See what current members have to say:

The Myth of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is a natural, recurrent issue in most human beings.

No matter how old you are or what you do, everyone experiences some sort of low back pain. 

It’s a myth that you will never experience low back pain if you are healthy and active.

Pain in the low back may indicate an imbalance, or it may be a strain from activity. 

It’s important to listen to your body; don’t ever compare yourself to others when it comes to your health.

No two bodies are the same; no two people move and breathe in the same rhythm. 
Assess how you feel, observe your body’s sensations, and consult a physician or trainer who’s well-versed in the body and how to treat injury. 

Benefits of daily yoga practice:

⦿ Lengthen and strengthen muscles and connective tissues. 

⦿ Improve range of motion and rotation.

⦿ Support spinal health, circulation, digestion, respiration, assimilation, and elimination.

⦿ Improve physical and mental wellbeing.

⦿ Enhance attention and refine focus.

⦿ Stabilize physical body as well as emotional fluctuations.  

Join the community, all new members receive 7-days FREE!

Choose from a variety of classes:

  • Vinyasa
  • Hatha 
  • Restorative/Yin
  • Meditation & Mantra
  • Prenatal
  • Slow Flow

&

Weekly LIVE classes and a LIVE Q&A with Clara and hundreds of yogis worldwide!

Are you looking for more opportunities to practice yoga? 

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Take a look at the past 30-day yoga challenges and discover more reasons to join us. 

Read the history of the 30-day challenges with the past partnerships, themes, interviews with professionals, and more. 

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See when the next 30-day yoga challenge is hosted to join the LIVE yoga & meditation classes and connect with thousands of practitioners worldwide.

Check out the events page to learn more. 

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Purification Through Air: The Power of Pranayama

Air is soft, spacious, and all-pervading. Air gives us life, it has no boundaries or limitations, and travels beyond what the naked eye can see. Air reminds us of our inner expansiveness, our ability to grow beyond what we think we’re capable of, and represents a lofty intelligence spoken from the heart. Subtle, vulnerable, and asking nothing in return, air creates an environment of belonging by accepting all beings. 

Air is one of the five elements in the body that we discover in the natural world. Each of the elements rely on each other and require balance to restore harmony: fire needs air to thrive as water needs earth to provide a container. The air we breathe also feeds the plants and soil. When we breathe air into our body, cells are revitalized through the deliverance of fresh oxygen to the lungs, blood, organs, and tissues. Energetically, air is a purifier to cleanse the mind and body of hyper-active or static states of energy.

In a previous #PracticeWithClara podcast, Clara shared tips and tools to understand the subtle body, which is profoundly affected by how we breathe. The breath is key to understanding the relationship between the mind and body, as well as our relationship with ourselves and the rest of the world. A teacher of meditation and yoga for over a decade, Clara’s classes on the Practice With Clara Site are peppered with pranayama techniques to open the inner body and develop a stronger connection to the life force within. 

This article captures the symbolic quality of air in our everyday lives and the importance of recognizing the elements in our day-to-day interactions. It also shares a few of the powerful pranayama practices and kundalini kriyas to purify the mind and body to create spaciousness within so you might interact with more compassion and calm. 

Air as Giving and Sustaining Life

Just like we need air to keep our bodies alive, we need compassion to stay connected to each other and the natural environment. Without air, our organs, brain, cells, and tissues die. Without love, we lack the bond of belonging. Air is essential to our physical survival as love is essential to our emotional survival. 

We’re connected to nature and all species through the action of breathing, inhaling and exhaling to sustain and give life to each other. We’ve a reciprocal relationship with nature based on the process of inspiration and respiration: trees absorb air and take in the carbon dioxide, then, with help from the sun, oxygen is released back into the atmosphere. 

Air is symbolic of our relationship to all that is around us, animals and plants, and the people in our communities. Our love has no boundaries, no limitations, like the air we breathe. Separation, judgement, and rejection of others and our love is as unnatural as stopping the flow of breath in the body. We cannot function without the flow of life moving through us, be it air or compassion. 

Air and Anahata Chakra

Our heart center is how we connect to others and live with a sense of lightness and compassion. In a previous post on Anahata Chakra, I shared practices and techniques to bring awareness to the heart space. Air is the element for Anahata. Each of the chakras are associated with an element to tap into the energies of the natural world that are reflected within the body. When we’re out of alignment in our physical body, this affects our mental and emotional states. Practices for the heart to open the shoulders, lengthen the side waist, and strengthen the back body, provide a sense of spaciousness inside that’s reflected in our interactions with others. When we feel space and lightness within, we’re better equipped to interact with these qualities and ways that inspire compassion and love. 

The Power of Pranayama

The fourth limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Pranayama is the mastery of breath-control and recognition of the relationship between the breath, body, and mind. Prana means life force. Pranayama is control or constriction of life force. It’s the energetic current created in the body we control by bringing awareness to the breath. Focused pranayama brings a state of calm to the body and mind, influencing the body’s central nervous system to have an effect on the hormones released, thereby shifting our emotions and how we feel. 

The body is made up of energy lines called nadis, which affect the body’s subtle energy. There are three main nadis in the body: sushumna, ida and pingala. Sushumna is the central channel that travels from the base of the spine to the crown of the head and the source for each of the seven chakras. Ida is the channel that travels along the left side of the body, and pingala is the channel that travels along the right side of the body. The aim of pranayama is to understand the flow of breath by gaining awareness of how the breath lights up the nadis, shifts our subtle energy, and overall transforms how we think and feel. Pranayama is the key to inner transformation and one of the most accessible tools for yoga alchemy. 

Moving Meditation for Purification

In this short Moving Meditation class with Clara, you’ll move through a variety of kriyas to purify the mind and body, pranayama to open and expand the lungs, and meditation to relieve stress and connect to silence. Pranayama and kriyas have the power to shift our energy, from feeling anxious to grounded or stagnant to uplifted, these breathing techniques have the power to transform. 

4-Part Breathing

Benefits
This pranayama provides a sense of grounding and creates stillness in the body and mind. Great to practice if you have high-energy and want to calm down.
4-part breath is also known as Sama Vritti. In Sanskrit, sama means ‘equal’ and vritti means ‘flow’. This technique balances the breath by breathing in/out and retaining the breath to calm the heart-rate and nervous system.

How To
Inhale for the count of four
Hold at the top for the count of four
Exhale for the count of four
Hold at the bottom for the count of four

Repeat several cycles and then sit in meditation to be in how you feel. 

Kundalini Mudra 

Benefits
A clearing technique to purge excess energy by sharply exhaling through the mouth. This technique keeps the energy moving and high. Great to practice if you want to stay elevated and awake but still purge any excess stress or tension. 

How To
Inhale sharply through the nose and make a fist with your hands
Exhale sharply through the mouth and sparkle out your fingers

Repeat several cycles speeding up or slowing down as necessary. 

Sufi Grinds

Benefits
This moving meditation relieves tension in the low back and brings flexion/extension to the spine. Sufi Grinds draws the energy upwards from the root of the spine to the crown of the head. Great to balance any nervous energy and clear away static energy.

How To 
Inhale through the nose and arch the spine as you lean forward
Exhale through the nose and round the back as you shift backward

Stay seated and draw circles with your body by rotating the torso. Create larger and smaller circles and imagine drawing energy upwards from the pelvis to the crown of the head. Root down at the seat to feel grounded as you move. 

Lions Breath

Benefits
Lion’s Breath connects you to your inner child, creating a space for play to rid the body of amassed stress. It relieves tension, improves circulation, and opens the front of the chest, neck, and throat. 

How To
Exhale sharply out the mouth and stick out your tongue with your fingers anchored on the ground. Add a growl or any sounds, including laughter, as you exhale.

Air: A Reminder to Keep Things Moving

The flow of life is all around us. Nature reminds us that stagnation is not possible. The seasons express the cycles of change we move through and undergo. From the sunflower seed to the strike of thunder, we’re surrounded by signs that capture the eternal connection of creation and destruction. 

Our bodies provide a tangible contact with the world and a means to connect to others as we establish relationships, build community, and feel the flow of love that arises as a result. When we feel the pulse of life in our bodies by bringing awareness to the breath and engaging in physical activity, we break-up any stagnant and/or stuck energy and release anxieties that threaten to dismantle our connection with the universe and inherent love. 

In the new class this week, Keep It Moving, the idea is to move with the flow of your breath, create rhythm with your body, and connect to the environment around you. 

Keep It Moving

Keep It Moving 

Keep it moving with Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga in this air-inspired yoga class that stimulates and frees the body with quick and subtle movement. As you move, focus on the ujjayi breath and ask yourself: how does this movement feel and how does my breath correspond? The element air is associated with curiosity, intuition, motion, light, and quick-wittedness; keep this in-mind as you breathe.

* Learn more about Clara’s 300 hour yoga teacher training OR 200 hour yoga teacher training courses. * Interested in more classes from #PracticeWIthClara, check out our vinyasa flow yoga, online yoga classes, or try out the 30 day yoga challenge.

New members receive 7-days free.

Expression and Yoga Alchemy through Vishuddha Chakra

How we feel is directly correlated to our thoughts and modes of self-expression. The words we choose shape our attitude, preserve culture and keep traditions alive that may or may not serve, and bond us to cycles of suffering when we fail to see our participation in shaping the future. Creating habits that express how we feel in ways that promote health, longevity, and sustainability, rid our environments- and the world- of the disease that ensues due to miscommunications. 

Describing how we feel requires patience and practice; it is no easy task to express our vulnerabilities and fears with the world. Sharing our innermost desires requires courage and the ability to be honest, concise, and compassionate in how we speak to others and ourselves. This is a lifelong process of sitting in how we feel, reflecting on the thoughts that arise, and deciding how we wish to transform our ideas into material products through actions or words. 

Yoga is an alchemical process of acknowledging our emotions and shifting how we feel. An asana practice moves the energy in the body while pranayama, mantra, and meditation targets the subtle body to create new neural pathways in the brain.The nadis are channels of pranic/energy in the subtle body. The main nadi of the body is sushumna which runs from the base of the spine to the crown. There are seven main chakras along the spine that have both physical and metaphysical properties. The chakras represent energy points that correspond to a specific organ in the body in addition to the physical, emotional, psychological, and emotional states. The earliest mention of the chakra system is from the Vedas between 1500 and 500 BCE. The word “chakra” is a word in Sanskrit that translates to ‘wheel’ or disks that have the ability to transform the body’s subtle energy. 

On the #PracticeWithClara podcast this week, Clara and I discussed Vishuddha, the fifth chakra, in how it relates  to expression and communication. This article shares highlights from our talk and classes that stimulate the throat chakra.

Yoga Alchemy: Vishuddha Chakra

Located at the pit of the throat, Vishuddha translates to ‘purifyer’ in Sanskrit and represents our ability to express, speak, communicate, voice opinions, and bring our authentic vision and values to the world. Sound, space, and truth influence the fifth chakra. 

Voice & Authenticity

The discovery of an inner power and purpose is associated with Vishuddha. Connecting to the lower chakras relates to the creative feminine realm (Shakti) and the physical properties to amass the strength and focus for our desires. The upper chakras relate to the intellectual masculine realm (Shiva) and the ethereal properties to manifest and give birth to ideas. Vishuddha chakra represents voicing our dreams and aspirations. It’s where we find the ability to vocalize our purpose and bring our inner dialogues out into the world for others to witness. 

The throat chakra is where we develop the confidence and free will to express our authenticity, bridging the gap between our creative second chakra and the all-seeing awareness of the sixth chakra at the third eye. 

Truth & Purification

The Eightfold Path of Buddhists provides an outline of practices to lead to the release of suffering. Right speech is one of eight precepts for practice to develop the connection of the body-mind. It includes abstaining from lying, divisive and abusive speech, and idle chatter. Developing right speech would be speaking only that which you know to be true and beneficial to others. Becoming aware of how gossip, assumption, judgement, prejudice, and fear shades our language and completely shifts the dynamic of the receiver is part of honouring right speech.

As you cultivate a practice for right speech, you might ask yourself:
Is this statement true? Will this statement bring the other person some benefit? What is my intention in what I am about to say? Are these words my own, or am I speaking through a layer of social/cultural conditioning? 

The purification process through Vishuddha occurs when we acknowledge how we feel and vocalize our truth. Discovering this truth is an individual process and often requires space for inner reflection through meditation. Our mind-body connection is one of the powers of yoga as we become better at sitting with how we feel and developing skills in language to communicate with the world. 

Words & Communication

The language we choose creates our reality. Selecting the correct words to describe ourselves and our actions influences who we become and how we see ourselves in the world. Replacing words we choose that are negative or debasing and replacing them with words that are positive and uplifting influences our mood, reaction to the world, and how we proceed. Observing the words we choose and their origin may give us insight into whether or not the language we’ve learned shares our current vision and values. Clear and effective communication includes expressing our thoughts and how we feel without the assumptions, fears, or judgements of others’ influence over our speech.

Sound and the Power of Mantra

Mantras are a repeated word or phrase that aid in meditation and a powerful tool to tap into the energy of the throat chakra. Chanting mantra is a way to evolve communication and expression, deepen listening skills, and refine sensitivities of the subtle body. When we chant mantra, the sound currents and vibration interact with our brainwaves and the body’s energy field. We activate the electric impulses in our brain that control our thoughts and hormone secretion. Emotions are generated from the process of the brain’s electrical impulses activating the release of hormones into the body. Repeating mantra subconsciously redirects the brain’s electrical impulses to induce a state of calm and rewire the brain to assist in improving our attitude and habitual beliefs. 

Mantra is a Sanskrit word from man, meaning mind, and tra, meaning instrument. The purpose of mantra is to release the mind from unconscious thought patterns that trigger the release of hormones and influence our emotional state. The repetition of mantra out loud may induce a state of meditation where the sound waves and vibration releases stuck and/or stagnant energies, purging the unconscious thoughts and emotions that don’t serve and cause disease. Chanting synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, bringing more oxygen to the brain, reducing the heart-rate and blood pressure. On a metaphysical level, the vibration of sound through mantra brings us to a positive frequency that aligns with the natural environment. New neural pathways of the brain are created through mantra to amplify our ability to bring our truth to the physical world, manifest our desires and acknowledge our prayers.

Each of the chakras are associated with a bija seed sound to bring the focus said area and direct our energy. The bija mantra for the throat is Ham. Chanting this mantra over and over encourages healing and transformation related to the themes associated with Vishuddha, such as expression. 

Vishuddha Chakra Playlist

Reveal your inner truth and practice evolving your language so you might effectively communicate how you feel and what you need from your relationships to others (and yourself!). In the 5th Chakra Playlist, anchor your practice and discover your voice as you join Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga to chant mantra. 

expression-throat-chakra
Connect to Your Voice

Connect to Your Voice

Connect to your voice and an inner vulnerability in this smooth movement and meditation class with Clara. Featuring the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga, this class targets the throat chakra, Vishuddha. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your throat as you meditate, move, breath, and chant together.

Saraswati Mantra

Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of creativity, speech, wisdom, knowledge and learning. We chant to her when we are embarking on a new creative project for inspiration OR when we are studying for an exam OR when we want to find the right words to express how we feel.

Saraswati Mantra
expression-ganesha-mantra
Ganesha Mantra

Ganesha Mantra

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and the placer of obstacles on our path that we need to examine. He is beloved in the yoga community. Yoga is about removing obstacles both seen and unseen so that we can connect to our inner wisdom/light. Chanting to Ganesha is another kriya (purification) practice to clear our own paths.

New this week: 

Go With The Flow

Create stability and spaciousness in a Prana Flow inspired sequence designed especially for pregnant mama’s. This Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga class create’s length and strength in the side body to keep you moving through your second trimester.

expression-go-with-the-flow
Go With The Flow

Expression through Intentional Language and Silence

Sitting Vipassana for 10-days and honoring the silence and meditation required introduced me to the power of words and influence of language in the world. This process made me more aware of the power of words, the magic in speaking truth and voicing fears and desires. I became more attune to the process of bringing the inner, invisible realities and dialogues I created out into the material realm where others could bear witness to what felt, thought, or wished to actualize. Vipassana gave me a space to reflect on how I could be more intentional through my words. Intentional language requires that we sit with how we feel, make space to reflect, and decide how we wish to communicate, be it verbal or non-verbal. Silence is just as powerful a tool in self-expression. 

Non-verbal forms of expression may be preferred to communicating how we feel and venting emotion. Dancing our anger, painting our sadness, singing our angst; physical activity and art are therapeutic forms of purging excess emotion and expressing truths that are difficult to vocalize.

Rejoice in the Unstruck: Vulnerability of the Heart

The heart invites one to discover its mystery, loving wildly and unabashedly, surging forth with desire and promise regardless of paralleled demands of the mind. Without limitation, the heart reaches out into the world and reveals goodness, a sweetness, capable in all beings. Compassion resides in the heart and when left unexamined may become a space where sorrow blossoms and spreads. Tending to the heart is expressed in the tenderness and care we give ourselves and extend outwardly to others and to the world around us. Seeking the truths of the heart is to examine our inner longing and vulnerability, the tools and practices that bring us back to the deep seat of quiet within ourselves. Our vulnerabilities may be subject to exploitation via anger when we lack the awareness or direction in how to proceed. Asking for help, looking to communities for support, and exposing vulnerabilities might be successful in leading one to a path where shedding fear and witnessing desire is finally possible. To get stuck in a cycle of fear, lack of commitment, or loss of perspective, is part of the process in unearthing the courageous heart. 

Clara and I discussed the unstruck heart on the #practicewithclara podcast where we explored the heart’s capacity to expose vulnerability, establish truth, and ultimately, enhance the spread of compassion unto ourselves and others. The heart is a symbol of spiritual transformation where love and receptivity become the tools for inner alchemy. In this article, I’ve provided heart-opening practices and a

The Unstruck Heart: Anahata Chakra

The epicentre of the human body, the heart represents our spiritual evolution and ability to transcend the physical realm. The fourth chakra, Anahata is the middle of the seven chakras positioned along the spine and located at the centre point of the chest where the heart resides. The heart is where spirit and matter collide, bridging the gap between thought and action and delivering our deepest desires to the material realm as we unearth and respond to our inner truths. Anahata translates from Sanskrit to English as the unstruck, expressing this idea of a space that is pure, fresh, unhurt, and clean. Free of grief and past sorrows, we become free to accept and explore the many ways to give and receive love. 

The element that expresses Anahata chakra is air, which represents spirit, lightness, spaciousness, and equanimity. Air for the yogi, relates to one’s vitality. The Prana, or breath, is the lifeforce contained within and how our life force is created and sustained. Our breath is the initial way we link the ethereal realm with the physical realm through the energetic exchange in breathing. The practitioner who develops and controls the breath through pranayama techniques may attain higher states of awareness and consciousness. In yoga, we focus on the breath to nourish the body, settle the mind, and stimulate the nadis-energy lines, including the chakras along the spine. The evolution of our bodies and minds rely on breath, from bringing oxygen to the lungs to removing toxins, releasing emotion and purging negative energy, the breath is the gateway to addressing the subtle body and crucial factor in maintaining wellness. 

The sacred space of the heart leads us toward the power and immanence of love, the importance of establishing relationships with others and ourselves, and the means to heal old wounds and traumas. We are drawn to love, relationships, and a desire to let go and heal, and yet it requires a deep commitment to a practice that helps us address our vulnerability, fears, and pain. Working with the heart chakra asks that you delve deep into your own inner truth and address what you need. Examples of some insights that might surface include: asking for help and expressing humility; letting go of a relationship that no longer serves; receiving past pain in order to heal the wound and move forwards with more integrity. 

Our hearts may be our guides in providing access to a deeper intuition that’s felt. You cannot rush, rationalize, or dissect the desires or the lessons of the heart. The heart’s compassion and innate knowledge surpasses any judgements imposed by the mind, but together, the wisdom of the heart and the focus of the mind may deliver the devotee to a place where healing is possible, connection is intensified, and a deep understanding of the yearning we all share in accepting ourselves and each other is made possible. 

Space Within: A Mantra for Peace

A practice, purpose, teacher, or guide may assist you in your development of the heart chakra, in listening to its wisdom and honouring your inner truth. The heart’s freedom and play surges forward when we embody what it means to be human and take responsibility for our own happiness. A happiness that’s achieved when we heal, accept and receive all that is coming, and strive for balance. Happiness within is quickly transformed to happiness without, extending to all corners of our environments and those around us. When we’ve compassion for ourselves only then may we extend our compassion to others. It starts inside and moves outward as we gain clarity, confidence, and recognize our contribution to our evolving reality. 

Light up your heart chakra with a mantra for peace to all beings and elements in the universe: Join Clara and her 300-hour YTT students for call and response before diving in together in this mantra for peace

Open Your Courageous Heart: The Anahata Playlist

A curated collection of heart-opening practices, the Anahata Playlist invites the practitioner to feel and express beauty within the body through dynamic movement and breath. Open your heart, strengthen your back, visualize a lotus symbol at your heart centre, and dedicate your practice to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty. 

heart-wide-open
Heart Wide Open

Heart Wide Open

Move your body to feel and connect to what’s inside, this backbending-focused yoga class opens the hamstrings and chest, and strengthens the back and deep core muscles. Flow through a series of lunges, balancing postures, and twists, before taking a variation of camel-pose from a low lunge.

A Neat Bow

A faster-paced vinyasa practice to open the front and lateral/side body while preparing you to explore bow pose, camel pose, and wheel pose. Clara guides a dynamic sequence to build heat and strength before back-bending, before cooling down with hip-openers and twists.

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A Neat Bow
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Know Thyself

Know Thyself

Explore the movement of your spine in a fluid vinyasa sequence that targets the side waist, strengthens the mid back, and inner thighs. This class is simple, short, and smooth, with opening for the heart space and shoulders as your enhance the flexion and extension of the spine. 

Beauty Within and Without

Discover your natural fluidity and balance in this Prana Flow inspired class with Clara. A practice dedicated to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty, you’ll start seated for a brief meditation and mudra for beauty. Enjoy a smooth and slow flow with fun transitions as you explore leg balancing poses to build strength and stability.

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Beauty Within & Without

Discover the Devotion of the Heart

Practices of the heart require a deep devotion in heart, body, and mind. When we commit to ourselves and choose to move from the sacred space of the heart, we step into our inner truth. Honouring and moving from the heart takes time. It may take years to recognize our fears, vulnerabilities, and sorrows. It may take years to shift these energies into courage, resilience, and positive forms of self-expression. Be patient and cultivate a practice for devotion to stand firm in what you feel and believe is true. Devote yourself fully to this transformation. Dedicate yourself to this process of revealing your courageous heart and fostering relationships with others that feed this process. 

Learn how to access deeper emotions in this post: Moving With and Managing Emotion
Transform fear into courage in this post: Explore Your Strength and Tools for Transformation



Strength in Body and Mind: Tools for Transformation

Clara Practicing

The universe throws events our way to challenge our capacity to persevere and evolve. When we choose to confront our pains, the transformative process we undergo can reveal a courage and compassion that prevails in spite of obstacles and conflicts. Strength comes from a deep space within. Whenever we feel the pressures of the world on our shoulders, we may call upon our inner strength to triumph and endure. Evolution requires that we examine the ways to grow past our individual and collective limitations, that we harness our energy to create a better future for the next generation. To do this, we rely on our mental, physical, and emotional strengths to persist through such times of lack, loss, and uncertainty. 

In a previous discussion in one of the #PracticeWithClara Podcasts, Clara shared some of her growing pains as a new yoga teacher as she transitioned from teaching in New York City to Vancouver, BC. In the process, Clara accepted the challenges she faced and further developed her skills as a teacher. In order to thrive, strength in body and mind are required. The relationship between the body and mind affects how we interact and associate with our environment. Succumbing to fear that grips us when we’re uncomfortable, unsure, or insecure, is to give-in to the body’s immediate physiological response to stress, initiated by the onset of the stress hormone, cortisol. 

To counter the fear and shift the body’s prime response, focusing on and developing a practice for strength may assist in shifting the mindset and attitude to one that’s more receptive to change. Clara’s advice to new yoga teachers is to keep showing up and practice, for we have the capacity to transform new actions into mastered skills through consistency and repetition over time. Mistakes may be a great teacher if reflected upon and perhaps present a way to grow past initial limitations and fears.

In this article are tools to cultivate courage to persevere through difficult times, with courses in meditation, mantra, and yoga that develop strength in body and mind.

Call Upon the Strength of Durga Maa

Durga is the Warrior Goddess and protector of the universe. As an incarnate form of the feminine energy Shakti, she appears to battle the evils of the world. The Mother goddess, Durga means fortress or a protected place. To call upon Durga is to enter the fortress; a stronghold where mankind is protected from evil forces including selfishness, greed, hatred, arrogance, anger, prejudice, and jealousy. Durga wears red to symbolize action, and rides astride a tiger or lion carrying various weaponry in her eight hands. 

Durga’s Origin Story:

Durga was summoned by the Gods who were unable to slay the evil demon who threatened to destroy the world. Mahishasura, the evil buffalo demon, received a great gift from the God Brahma, who said that the demon could never be killed by man or God. Mahishasura conquered the world and was poised to claim the heavens when the Gods called upon the feminine divine forces in the world- Shakti- for the legend did not say anything of the evil buffalo demon being triumphed over by the Goddess. Durga arrives as an incarnate form of Shakti, blazing forward and piercing Mahishasura with her trident, one of the many weapons she brandishes in her

Harness the power of Durga:
Durga Flow (60-mins)

This strong vinyasa practice leads a strong leg and core-centric class, with balancing poses to challenge and test your stability.

Durga Mantra (10-mins)

Chant to Durga and connect to inner courage and discipline.

Durga Meditation (5-mins)

Focus on your courageous heart and inner strength.

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Durga Flow

“Durga’s transformative power carries a conviction that comes from deep inside the body, and with it often comes a sense of ‘Now!’–meaning the time is now. When that knowing is strong enough, it is followed by an action. You will willingly put your body and your speech on the line to change the situation–whether it is an internal or external one”.

– Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti

Get Strong Classes & Playlists ⚡️ 🎧

Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. 

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we feel sensations of fear, potentially causing depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound effect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the neurotransmitters and hormones released. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, may create resilience in body and mind. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and invite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and allowing a positive energy to guide the way. 

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Stand On Your Hands
Stand on Your Hands
Handstand Play

A short vinyasa flow sequence that gets your blood flowing and heat building right off the gates!

Handstand play and preparation from downward dog progresses to a fiery flow of twists, upper back strengthening, and backbends. 

A Welcomed Season
Standing Backbends & Balancing

Connect to your body with this fluid vinyasa practice inspired by a poem by Hafiz. 

This vinyasa flow sequence includes a little bit of everything, with twists, hip openers, inversions, backbends and standing leg balances. This class features standing backbends and a focus on the process versus a peak pose.

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A Welcomed Season
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Taking Flight with Flying Pigeon Pose
Take Flight:
Flying Pigeon (Galavasana)

Get fired up with a series of arm balances and inversion play in a sequence that builds towards a peak pose.

Including deep hip openers, twists, and handstands, you’ll build toward flying pigeon pose in a sequence designed to test your stability and strength. 

An Offering 
Prep for Tripod Headstand 

A slower paced vinyasa practice with an emphasis on mandala/circular shapes. Open the inner leg line and strengthening the back of the pelvis as you prepare for tripod headstand. 

**If you’re dealing with any neck/shoulders issues, refrain from doing the peak pose.**

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An Offering with Tripod Headstand
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Unfurl Your Peacocks Tail
Unfurl Your Peacock’s Tail
Pincha Mayurasana Practice 

Join Clara in a vinyasa practice focused on Pincha Mayurasana, feathered peacock pose. Regardless of whether or not you get the peak pose, all the shoulder and back body opening is beneficial. Along with core cultivation work based off Forrest Yoga, you’ll finish your practice feeling stronger.

Peacocks represent patience, kindness and luck in Indian thought. With inversions, the more patience and kindness you practice with your body, the lighter you can become!

Resilience in Body and Mind

When we strengthen our body we also strengthen the mind. Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. Confronting your discomfort and moving toward the places where you feel physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged may develop virtues such as patience, humility, and courage. 

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we’re feeling sensations of fear and causes depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound affect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the body’s neurotransmitters and hormone release. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, will ultimately create resilience in the body and mind. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and excite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and defining the energy that will guide you along the way.