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Green Studio Practices

Oct 15, 2014   //   by Brittany Dowell   //   The Blog  //  No Comments

 Green Studio Practices

For years, Yoga District has been keeping the studios eco-friendly out of concern for student and staff health as well as environmental love and respect. Check out some of the ways we’ve been keeping it green.

Wind Power and Energy Conservation
By partnering with Viridian Green, Yoga District studios (except for one location in which the landlord controls the utilities) are powered by renewable energy including wind power. The student community at Yoga District is also graciously tolerant of our efforts to reduce cooling energy expenditures by opening a window and turning on fans until the DC heat compels us to turn on the AC. In cooler seasons, we try to avoid overheating the studios, relying on vigorous warm-ups to get students sweating (exceptions of course being a few hot yoga classes on our class schedule).

Green Products
From toilet paper to handsoap, the products you use when you visit Yoga District studios are as eco-friendly as can be. This isn’t lip service though– we aren’t fooled by manufacturers using slick packaging to pretend their products are green (“greenwashed” products). Instead, we’ve done our research to ensure the products we use are truly green, cost friendly and effective. For instance, the manufacturer of the dish soap we use (Earth Friendly Ultra Liquid Dish-mate) ensures that no carcinogenic 1, 4 Dioxane is left behind in the production process, which is incredibly common in production of regular dish soaps (read more scary stuff about regular dish soap here). If the first ethical guideline in yoga is non-violence / active love (ahimsa) then the least we can do is use dish soap that won’t cause cancer! Another favorite eco product around the studios is biodegradable garbage bags made from recycled content at a facility with 100% green energy.

Keeping It Clean
With many regular household floor and surface cleaners being rather poisonous we consider it part of our duty to keep Yoga District studios clean using non-toxic options. Thankfully we’re not sacrificing any cleaning power by using natural alternatives to commercial cleaning products– anyone who has taken whiff of our rental mats cleaned with a vinegar cleaning solution knows that this is powerful stuff! It’s true that if someone adds a bit too much vinegar to the solution, your mat might smell like a pickle, but as long as the recipe is followed, the refreshing smell of tea tree oil helps to calm the vinegar’s bite. In case you want to make the vinegar and tea tree all-purpose cleaning solution for use in your home or on your mat, here’s the recipe Yoga District relies on:

– 3 tbsp eco-friendly dish soap
– 9 cups of water
– 3 cups of vinegar
– 3 Drops of 100% pure tea tree oil

Make sure you add the soap to the water first and then that mixture to the vinegar–otherwise it may curdle. This powerful and non-harming mixture is said to combat “gram-negative” bacteria and denature the proteins in viruses. It also wipes out soap residue, mineral deposits and it’s safe to use on wood and carpets–pretty handy.

If you don’t already use tea tree oil at home, you might want to try it out. It’s known as a natural antiseptic and anti-fungal treatment with antibiotic properties and infection-reducing benefits. The oil is created by heating and pressing the leaves of the narrow-leaved paperbark tree. Some of its uses include:
– Skin clearing and spot checking
Some organic cotton swabs and a few drops of tea tree oil on acne spots or blemishes can result in clearer skin for the long-term. The disinfecting and soothing properties can fight bacteria in your pores without disrupting the normal ph balance on your skin or irritating your sebaceous glands.
– Moisturizing hair follicles and combating dandruff
The moisturizing properties of tea tree oil can soothe dry hair and split ends and it can also help with dry itchy scalps that cause dandruff and flaky skin. It can also be applied to razor burn.
– Yoga mat sanitizer
Tea tree oil happens to be the ultimate yoga mat cleaning tool. Make sure you’re diluting your solution with water or vinegar like we suggest in the recipe above. Just spray your mat and wipe it down – it’s easy, doesn’t leave a residue, and it smells amazing. There’s no reason to smell toxic chemical cleaners in down dog ever again.

Recycling
Every Yoga District studio has large recycling bins and we try to ensure what ends up in those bins meets Washington DC’s recycling guidelines.

Collaborating
As a founding member of the Green Yoga Association, Yoga District tries to work with others to find ways to integrate yoga studio practices and eco-friendly practices. We feel being eco-friendly, supporting eco-friendly products and informing our students about steps they can take to be more eco-conscious are essential to the ethical precepts in yoga philosophy.

If you have any other eco-friendly practices and products, please share them with us so we can spread the word. Namaste and stay green.

Keeping the Yoga Community Healthy

Oct 15, 2014   //   by Brittany Dowell   //   The Blog  //  No Comments

 Keeping the Yoga Community Healthy

Keeping the Yoga Community Healthy

The yoga studios are a cozy refuge from this season’s the tornado warnings, rain and cold… but they are only a refuge from seasonal colds and the flu if we work together as a community to keep the spaces healthy. Yoga District takes every precaution to minimize transmission of germs to keep students, teachers and volunteers happy and healthy. Every day we are wiping down door knobs, pens, and mats with a vinegar and tea tree oil solution that acts as a non-toxic, natural disinfectant (to learn how to make the same solution at home, check out our blog post about our eco-cleaning practices).

We also ask that anyone feeling under the weather practice at home rather than risk infecting fellow yogis. To jumpstart your home practice when you’re not feeling well enough for a visit to the studio, we’ve put together a couple of immune-boosting practices you can try on your own… including a full length yoga nidra (yogic sleep) meditation recording by Jasmine.

But first, try bridge pose (pictured above). This pose is said to massage the thyroid glands, kidney and adrenals as well as help with lymphatic circulation. It can also open the chest to promote fuller breathing. The slight inversion this pose offers also can help promote circulation to the sinuses to improve circulation and clearing. For bridge, follow these steps and be sure to adjust the pose to ensure it is safe for you:

1. Lie down on your back
2. Press your arms into the floor alongside you with your palms facing down.
3. Bend your knees to firmly plant your feet hip-width apart on the floor near, but not touching, your fingertips.
4. Press into your feet and arms as you gently lift your hips into the air, ensuring your heels are either directly beneath your knees or further towards the top of your mat.
5. Roll your shoulder blades towards each other.
6. Take deep breaths, allowing the chest to expand.
7. Exhale as you lower back to the ground.

After you’ve tried out bridge a few times, check out this yoga nidra recording. Yoga nidra is a practice of deep relaxation and sense control/withdrawal. Dharma Mittra often says that “relaxation is the best antidote for impurities” so try to relax and rest deeply as you tune into this yoga nidra recording.

First Impressions from a Yoga First-Timer

Oct 3, 2014   //   by Brittany Dowell   //   The Blog  //  1 Comment

acronew First Impressions from a Yoga First Timer
First Impressions from a Yoga First-Timer

Brand new yoga students often feel anxiety about coming to a studio yoga class for the first time: being able to keep up, what to wear, whether they’ll be the only one who wobbles in balances. Read on to see how one student was welcomed to her first class and how the experience has impacted her since.

Yoga District strives to make our studios a welcoming place, where students of all ages, races, shapes, sizes, genders, and creeds can come to practice together. With a variety of styles and lots of diverse teachers, we hope everyone can find a class they’re comfortable in and that they can come to call Yoga District their studio.

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Breaking Down Yoga’s Transitional Poses: Plank, Chaturanga, Updog, Downdog

Sep 16, 2014   //   by Brittany Dowell   //   The Blog  //  No Comments

updog frenchie 300x192 Breaking Down Yogas Transitional Poses: Plank, Chaturanga, Updog, Downdog

Breaking Down Yoga’s Transitional Poses by Veronica Grant

If you go to a flow yoga class, the sequence will almost certainly include the downward-facing dog, plank, chaturanga, upward-facing dog, then back to down dog transition. Referred to as a connecting vinyasa or just vinyasa, it is an integral part of most flow classes, and it is used to warm up or reset the mind and body between sides or new sequences.

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Mindfulness in Children

Sep 1, 2014   //   by Josh   //   The Blog  //  No Comments

KidsYoga 300x168 Mindfulness in Children

Mindfulness in Children blurb by Danielle Bulgrien, article by Crystal Schelle
photo credit: Ric Dugan

We often hear about how mindfulness can help us manage the stress of our busy, over-scheduled lives. What we may not realize is how mindfulness can be as useful for children as it is for adults. Children may not always grasp the meaning behind an emotion or how to respond to something they don’t like. As a result, they may act out or they resist an experience simply because they don’t have a full understanding of why they’re upset. Finding a way to practice the thought pattern, “this is something that may be negative now, but it will pass,” could be a great way to prepare children for the obstacles they face in elementary school, high school, and into adulthood.

The following article discusses how two Maryland mothers came to the realization that mindfulness training, coupled with yoga practice, would be a great method for helping children work through difficult experiences and emotions.

Open Minds Wants to Expose Children to Mindfulness by Crystal Schelle

Prenatal Yoga: Community & Preparedness

Aug 25, 2014   //   by Josh   //   The Blog  //  No Comments

Britt 11 300x168 Prenatal Yoga: Community & Preparedness

Prenatal Yoga: Community & Preparedness by Brittany Dowell

Brittany Dowell teaches a Tuesday night Prenatal + Postnatal Yoga class, from 5:45-7:00 at the 14th St. Studio. Brittany tells the Yoga District community how she got involved in teaching prenatal yoga and why teaching this class is her favorite hour of the week. She discusses why an expectant or new mother should consider yoga as part of her preparation for and recovery from birth.

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Teaching Yoga in Service Settings: Best Practices and Common Mistakes by Jasmine Chehrazi

Aug 21, 2014   //   by Josh   //   The Blog  //  No Comments

ysc logo cropped Teaching Yoga in Service Settings: Best Practices and Common Mistakes by Jasmine Chehrazi

Yoga service teachers seek to help people in underserved communities change their own lives through yoga and mindfulness practices. Yoga service instructors must first educate themselves about the complexities and needs of each community and be willing to adapt their style and the teachings in order to suit its specific needs. It is critical that instructors approach the situation as one that’s mutually beneficial to two equal parties, rather than coming in as someone charged with “fixing” a problem. In the article linked below, Jasmine Chehrazi, founder of Yoga District and Yoga Activist, explores these and other best practices for yoga service teachers.

Teaching Yoga in Service Settings: Best Practices and Common Mistakes by Jasmine Chehrazi

Can Yoga Save a Profession? Yoga and Social Work

Jul 29, 2014   //   by Josh   //   The Blog  //  5 Comments

Cavin Elizabeth Photography Cropped Can Yoga Save a Profession? Yoga and Social Work

Can Yoga Save a Profession? by Rachel Gang

Finding a balance between personal and professional life is certainly no easy pursuit. It is often the clients, communities, or populations that serve as students that become the focus of researching the benefits of yoga and other mindfulness practices. However, when I started my Masters of Social Work classes this past year I began to wonder what professionals are doing to help themselves. Working with vulnerable populations whether it be as a teacher, social worker, nurse, case worker, or other health care professional is no walk in the park. It was my own experiences as a public school teacher and current social work student that prompted me to consider how can yoga and mindfulness practices assist fellow social workers, teachers, and other helping professionals in working with clients and communities?

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Student Feature: Meet Ivan!

Jul 10, 2014   //   by Josh   //   The Blog  //  3 Comments

Ivan Student Feature: Meet Ivan!

Ivan is only ten years-old and he’s already completed his 200-hour yoga teacher certification with Yoga District and is finishing up the requirements for a 500-hour certification. You may have seen him around Yoga District studios — he’s the quiet, self-possessed kid doing the absolutely amazing poses. Read on to learn more about our youngest yogi and all-around awesome little dude, Ivan!

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On Acroyoga

Jun 29, 2014   //   by Marian   //   The Blog  //  4 Comments

Acroyoga blends Thai Yoga Therapy, yoga, acrobatics, and other healing arts into a fun, supportive, and empowering practice. Acroyoga classes feature partner flow, flying and basing, strength training and inversions. No partner is necessary when coming to class since people pair up during class. Yoga District hosts a foundational acroyoga classes 7:45pm every Tuesday at the 14th Street studio for those newer to the practice, as well as an intermediate acroyoga class for those with more familiarity at 6:45pm Mondays at the 14th Street studio. Join us for class and read on for an informative interview one acroyoga teacher’s journey with acroyoga.

Interview with Christine S. on her acroyoga journey

Yoga District:  How’d you find out about acroyoga and what inspired you to take part in it?

Christine S.:  I found out about acroyoga by getting involved in the abundant circus community in DC.  I was inspired to take part in the practice because the excitement and community feeling was infectious.  It looked like everyone was having so much fun and working together so beautifully while gaining strength, flexibility, trust and getting to experience the world from another perspective.

YD:  It seems like it’s a partner-based activity, but also immersed in a community.  What kind of acroyoga community is present in DC, and do
you partake in it?

yogabat 200x300 On AcroyogaCS:  It is a partner-based activity, but also very rooted in the idea of building community with an attitude of play.  There are ongoing classes at studios around DC and in Bethesda.  Groups get together to “jam” on their own time, as well.  It’s also always happening at the drum circle on Sundays in Meridian Hill Park, which is where I first started to experiment with it.

YD: What are the various roles in acroyoga?  There seems to be a base and a flyer.  Could you explain these roles?

CS:  There are actually 3 roles in acroyoga:  A base is the person who supports the flyer and is often on the ground with their arms and legs reaching the sky at 90 degrees.  This person focuses on stacking their bones to achieve ease and stability while flying the flyer.  The flyer is the person who balances on the hands and feet of the base who moves through various poses, or series of poses that flow together.  The third roles is that of the spotter who makes sure the flyer is safe at all times and can also help give advice or directions to the base or flyer if their alignment is off course.

YD:  How does acroyoga differ from standard yoga?

CS:  It differs from traditional practices of yoga because it fuses a few practices together to then form acroyoga and it is done with a partner.  It combines the wisdom of yoga, the fiery excitement of partner acrobatics and the sweetness of Thai massage.  I love this combination because it opens up space to experience a feeling of connection, communication, and trust.

YD:  Do you have any favorite routines/poses?

CS:  I love washing machines which are flows that rotate you through a set of dynamic positions in a circular flow.  Here’s an example of one called Catherines Wheel.  Some of my favorite poses right now are: High hand to hand, High bird, Mermaid, Nataraj, Star and all therapeutic flying poses where I get to be inverted and let gravity lengthen and decompress my spine.

YD:  What are some health benefits?

CS:  I think the health benefits of acroyoga are endless.  The most obvious one for me is the happiness I feel while doing it and the way it decompresses my spine creating more length and ease.  It eases my mind and relieves me from stress, which can only be positive for all of my internal systems and overall well-being.  Performing inversions and backbends in acroyoga or yoga has so many health benefits. The lymphatic system is stimulated which in turn strengthens your immune system.  Being upside down is great for your cardio-vascular system because it helps improve your circulation and allows fresh blood to go to the heart.  The endocrine system is stimulated which helps regulate your hormones and metabolism.  The feeling of happiness and balance you achieve through acroyoga, which also engages the breath, soothes the the parasympathetic nervous system thus increasing the function of the immune system. Opening your heart in a backbending pose allows you to take that deep breath into each lobe of your lungs fully.

YD:  Some say that acroyoga is a healing art.  Do you agree?  If so, how is it a healing art?

CS:  I do agree that acroyoga is a powerful healing art not only for the physical body systems but for the spiritual body, as well.  It forces you to be fully present in the moment and asks you to look at the world from another perspective.  It helps you to energetically clear blockages or to bring them to your attention to be addressed.  It conditions the mind and body and roots itself deep within the ancient healing widoms of Yoga and  Thai Massage while daring you to trust in the strength of your body.  It fuses together parts of our inner and outer selves, as well as, supports us to build communities from a place of play and loving kindness.  It’s the yoga of relationship that’s undeniably beautiful to look at the way people can work together to create beautiful shapes, feats of strength and flexibility while moving as one, like a divinely choreographed dance.

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The Teachers

The diverse family of DC yoga teachers at Yoga District are dedicated to making yoga accessible to everyone through a huge variety of yoga class types, from vinyasa flow to restorative and beyond. Most Yoga District teachers are graduates of Yoga District’s nationally-attended 200 hour teacher training program. All Yoga District classes focus on coordinating breath with body movement to promote flexibility, strength, and peace of mind. We strongly believe in yoga as therapy, so catch one of our classes whenever you need a healthy dose of self-care.
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The Next Step

The Yoga District 200 and 500 hour teacher training certification programs, registered by the Yoga Alliance are unique in their emphasis on diversity of teaching styles studied, personal attention, and trauma sensitive yoga. It's no coincidence that Yoga District is regularly voted the leading studio in the nation's capital, and that most of its classes are taught by graduates of its training program. As a full time yoga school, small group trainings are led up to eight times a year by a dedicated faculty including Jasmine Chehrazi, contributor to the Harvard Karma Yoga Project teacher training, teacher training faculty at George Washington University, Yoga Alliance Standards Committee Advisory Board Member, Yoga Activist Founder, and Yoga Service Council Advisory Board Member. So take your practice and community involvement to the next level by joining a training. There's a reason why our graduates call the training "transformative."
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