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passion for practice continued from page 53

Greeff teaches Forrest Yoga and listens to Ana Forrest's podcasts. But she's also a big fan of Alanna Kaivalya, a Jivamukti master teacher in New York who offers free and subscription podcast classes (visit Other high-quality yoga podcasts are available through iTunes, iHanuman (, and

DVDs can also be a potent cure for burnout, says Yoga Journal contributing editor Richard Rosen. "There are a few that I watch over and over for their beauty, approach, and for new ideas about how you can practice," he says. "They really have the potential to spark enthusiasm for the practice." (See "DVDs to Inspire," for some of Rosen's favorites.)

Style makeover

It can be said without (much) irony that any fallow period is an opportunity for self-reflection. Yoga values this process: Svadhyaya, or self-study, is a niyama (observance), one of the eight limbs of classical yoga. You can practice svadhyaya by exploring different styles ofyoga, says Shannon Paige Schneider, the founder of om time studios in Denver and Boulder. "Make a list of all the styles available to you, and go and take those classes in a systematic way," she advises. Try one new style every few weeks, and note after each what you liked and what you didn't like.

"If you usually practice an alignment-based style, you might like learning to flow in your practice. If you do vinyasa, you might find real power standing still in an Iyengar class. And people who take a restorative class are always amazed that you can lie down and let the yoga do the work," Paige Schneider says.

Feeling stuck in your practice is a sign that you are craving something, she adds. "When you take a different class, you get an instant fresh perspective—you are being asked to use your body in new ways. It's an opportunity to learn a tremendous amount about yourself."

The experience doesn't have to be all good in order to benefit you, either. "What you don't like is as important as what you do like," Paige Schneider says.

"You might take a hot yoga class and dislike it. Then you would know that you need something more cooling and soothing. Sparks of wisdom come from good experiences and bad ones."

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Ali MacGraw-Yoga Mind & Body featuring Erich Schiffmann

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: Yoga for Inflexible People I by Judi Rice

Iyengar Yoga with Gabriella

I by Gabriella Giubilaro

River Flow I by Tias Little *

Universal Theory of Yoga Level 1 with Andrey Lappa

Insight Yoga with Sarah Powers Inner Body Flow I by Angela Farmer * Duncan Wong Yogic Arts: Source Power Shadow Yoga with Shandor Remete * Sun Salute Expanded with Mary Paffard *

Tripsichore Yoga I by Edward Clark * Yoga for Beginners I by Barbara Benagh Gravity and Grace with Peter Sterios

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In private

Sometimes the best way to climb off a practice plateau is to go deeper by taking a private lesson.

"When you are feeling stuck, you'd do much better to spend your money on a private session than on a five-class pass," says om time's Paige Schneider. Maybe you're feeling frustrated by a pose. Maybe you're ready to progress in your practice but don't know how. Maybe you need help developing new sequencing that gets you fired up about yoga again.

Private classes give you an opportunity to ask questions you never get to in a class setting. "You can be in a room with a yoga teacher every day with 40 other students for years and never realize you drop the inner thigh in Lunge," Paige Schneider says. "In a private, the teacher will make sure you master the action, and you might realize that keeping your inner thigh lifted is the key to transforming all your standing poses."

Private lessons can be expensive; prices range from $50 to $250 for one hour. Consider it an investment in your yoga future.

Before you book your appointment, make sure you've got the right teacher. Paige Schneider recommends asking three questions—and looking for excitement in the answers: Do you give many private lessons? Do you like to give private lessons? Do you have the time to give private lessons? "These are more important than How much does it cost?" she says.

Follow your leader

It's a fundamental tenet of yoga that the answers to all our questions—including How do I shake off these doldrums?—can be found within. The problem is, it takes practice to recognize the questions we need to ask and also to hear the answers. Paradoxically, as we learn self-guidance, most of us benefit from the guidance of a wise teacher—a guru, if you will.

"A real guru can see what the student needs and offer the practices at the right time," says Yogiraj Alan Finger, the co-creator (with his father, Kavi Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger) of Ishta Yoga. "Serious students should seek out a teacher who can help them understand how it all works—how asana affects the gunas, doshas, chakras, and the subtle body When you have that depth of understanding, you will never become bored with the poses. You'll never not want to do it."

They say that the teacher will appear when the student is ready. Still, it doesn't hurt to give fate a hand. So go looking, in books, on videos, across the Web. Look in classes, workshops, and conferences. When you find a teacher whose work resonates with you, do whatever it takes to learn everything you can from him.

You can choose a period of time, say a year, to commit to one teacher, and just do it, if for no other reason than this: You might just transform your life. *

Hillari Dowdle, a former Yoga Journal editor, writes in Knoxsville, Tennessee.

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grow your love continued from page 66 attitude. The trick,when it feels like too much effort, is to find more ease. To help couples with this, Feldman and his wife help their clients discover "love rituals"— small gestures practiced up to three times a day for two to three minutes at a time— so they can reconnect with the partner as a source of pleasure rather than pain. One couple they counseled had virtually stopped having sex. The Feldmans asked them each to name one nice thing they'd like every day from the other. The idea was for each partner to acknowledge and grant the other's request.

The man wanted a hug with eye contact and a phrase like "I love you" when he left in the morning and came back at night. As a harried working mom, the woman requested that her husband help pick up around the house for a few minutes a couple of times a day. They put these "rituals" into action for six months. When the Feldmans saw them next, the couple reported that they were intimate again. "We were kind of dumbfounded; they seemed like such small things," Feldman says. But they mattered because these things say, 'I care about you.'" And sometimes, in addition to a laborious struggle to resolve big issues, these relatively ease-filled moments rebuild the foundation of a crumbling relationship.

Such rituals can build up reserves of love, in the same way yogic practices refill your stores of compassion and gratitude. "When you meditate for five minutes a day, you build up your peace bank account. When you do love rituals as a couple, you build up your connection bank account, your love account." So small rituals can help prevent blowups. "Most people are working with a deficit of feelings of love, generosity, and connection with their partner," says Feldman. "So when a new situation comes around, they have nothing to draw on. If you're regularly meditating and building that up, even if it's little by little, you can draw on that and it's actually a huge prevention."

Most of us are reassured knowing that it might not take hours of talking, listening, and sharing to keep a relationship vital and fun—at least not all the time. "If you create connection, you'll need less process," Feldman says. "You start to see the other as a source of pleasure rather than frustration, and as someone on your side rather than someone you have to fight against."

start with yourself

Yoga helps you communicate with your partner and connect more deeply, but it's equally important that yoga brings you into a deep relationship with yourself. "Because the practices help you to be fully present in your body," says Alejandra Siroka, "it's so much easier to be fully present with your partner through whatever is coming up in the moment." Her husband, Matthew, concurs: "When you're able to recognize and be loving and compassionate toward yourself—which the practice helps you do—you're able to recognize the essential humanity and connectedness with other people."

Alejandra says that when she and Matthew have that momentary "I see you" exchange on their yoga mats, it reminds her of when they decided to open their hearts to each other. "I reconnect to that moment," she says. "We glance at each other and have a little smile. And the little smile is mostly in my heart, saying 'Wow, this is you, and I really want to keep opening my heart to you.'"

This kind of heart opening and love can flow from the couple to the world. "The special love you have for your mate starts to spread out all over the place, and your self-centeredness decreases a little," says Riley, the Chicago artist. "The need for that mate is lessened, but the love is stronger." Kramer emphasizes that the process of intimate relating can also tether us more deeply to the Divine, to our core, and to each other. "It's out of that connection that we move," Kramer says, "that we change each other, that we become more aware of who we are in the stream of things."

Valerie Reiss is the holistic living editor at She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her website,

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Easing Your Stress With Yoga

Easing Your Stress With Yoga

Have You Ever Wanted To Achieve A State Of Total Relaxation But Never Believed That Yoga Was For You? Has the stress of daily life made you tense, uptight and too wound up to be able to think clearly? If so, then you are not alone. 40 of Americans feel that their lives are too stressful and over 60 of Americans say that they find themselves in situations where they feel lost at least once a week.

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