April 16, 2016
by Robin

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here

I’ve recently come back from Yogaville for the second time in the past two months.  Yogaville (yes, there really is such a place) is a wonderful spot in the very center of Virginia where Swami Satchitanada (who became famous after blessing the opening of the Woodstock festival) re-located his ashram.  In February, I  was honored be a Faculty Assistant for the same Viniyoga teacher training I completed.  Then during the first weekend in April, I went again to assist my teacher, Gary Kraftsow, with a workshop on Yoga Therapy for Structural Conditions (or, how to ease the pain in your neck, upper back, shoulders &/or low back).

It is worth the trip to Yogaville to see the amazing LOTUS temple, shaped like a pink lotus, sitting on the banks of the James River, with the Blue Ridge mountains in the background.  The second level of the temple is a large meditation space but the first level is a wonderful museum dedicated to all religions of the world, including those that have not been founded yet.  I appreciate the Swami ‘s belief in all-inclusiveness and the fact that he celebrated the diversity of the world’s religions.  As my t-shirt reads, “Truth is One, Paths are Many”.

After  watching how Viniyoga works magic on practitioners of varying ages and situations, my recent visits to Yogaville have also made me think about how many different paths there are to yoga.  Specifically, I’ve been mulling over one popular path to yoga in the U.S. today:  Bikram or Hot Yoga.

Bikram Yoga was developed by a man named Bikram Choudhry.  A Bikram practice consists of the same 26 postures or asanas performed in the same order in a room with the temperature set to 105 degrees.  Choudhry’s idea is to replicate the temperature conditions in India, claiming that his system of yoga cures almost anything by sweating.

I do believe that there are many paths to find your own truth and I have traveled the yoga expressway for over 20 years, experiencing many different forms of yoga, including Bikram yoga and its derivation, Hot Yoga.  That said, I want to offer a few thoughts about this particular form of yoga for your consideration of your own yoga practice and general health.

  1.  This is a quote from the Bikram Yoga site:
    These studios are built in such a way that you always get the proper heating which help you practice your postures optimally. Bikram calls these studios ‘Torture Chambers’.”
  2. I’m sure when you sweat like crazy in that “torture chamber”, you feel like you’ve really purged.  Surely, there must be toxins streaming out of your pores!  Sorry,  but it’s not true.  Really, all it does is dehydrate you.  If you like to sweat, seek out a sauna or steam room, relax and drink lots of water.  In addition to dehydration in a Bikram/Hot yoga class, you also run the risk of physical injury because the super hot temperature fools the mind into thinking that the muscles are warmed up when they’re really not.
  3. Female and 50ish?  Struggling with night sweats &/or hot flashes?  An Ayurvedist would tell you that exercising in a super hot room will only exacerbate these issues.  Try your yoga practice at a regular room temp for a while and see what happens.
  4. Those with high blood pressure or heart issues are playing with fire in an over-heated room – no pun intended.  Just ask your doctor.

I’m not even going to talk about the fact that Bikram Choudhry conducts his classes in a Speedo, has been convicted of sexual misconduct, and that his other business is a Rolls Royce dealership, because one man shouldn’t taint the larger picture.  My only suggestion is to consider your goal for your yoga practice.  If your only goal is weight loss and toning, then this very physical, strenuous practice might work for you for a while.  If you are looking for more, for the real benefits of a 5000-year-old health maintenance system, then seek out authentic traditions, like Viniyoga, that are true and sustainable.

With Viniyoga, we design the practice to fit the practitioner, whatever your goal might be.   Want to know more?  Consider my special package to get your started with your own personal practice or just email me.


February 9, 2014
by Robin

Quickie #3 – Love yourself

Valentine’s Day.  Funny how a holiday that is supposed to be about love seems to be more about gifts nowadays.  Buy this, and your love will last forever:  the flowers, the candy, the jewelry…it’s inescapable.

The assumption is that the entire world is coupled up like they are ready to get on Noah’s Ark and float away to happiness.  Having been without a partner for many years, I ponder this idea at this time of year.  Why does the world assume you need to be part of a couple?  Why is the notion of love based on two?

Think about this:  you probably often tell your friends and family that you love them.  But how often do you tell yourself?  I’m not talking about a nod, a wink and “Lookin’ good!” in the mirror, but a bonafide, out loud, “I love myself!”  Try it right now.  My lovely Reiki teacher, Shafiya,  likes to complete that sentence with “deeply and completely“.

You may feel a little sheepish the first few times.  You may roll your eyes.  I did.  But try adding this little exercise to your day and see how it makes you feel.  If nothing else, it may make you laugh out loud, and that’s always a good thing.

The truth is, you have to learn to love yourself before you can fully, completely love anyone else.  So, for those romantics out there, this little self practice has the ultimate added bonus of helping with your relationships.  Cheaper than therapy.

Now, if you can’t bring yourself to shout it out loud quite yet, try this (or add this):  in a seated position (in a chair or on the floor), inhale deeply, expanding through your chest, and open your arms wide.  Exhale fully, tucking in your tummy and hug yourself.  Yeah, hug yourself.  And you can just say or think that little mantra above (“I love myself, deeply and completely!”).  Do this 4-8 times at any time of day, anywhere you feel comfortable.  Can you feel the love? 🙂

And how will I spend Valentine’s Day? I will call my favorite people and go get a little sumpin’ for myself.  Happy Valentine’s Day from me to me.  It usually takes the form of something lusciously chocolate…

Have a great day, whatever you do and whoever you’re with!


December 13, 2013
by Robin

Quickie #2 – Relax

Holidays are stressful, no doubt:  so much running here and there, so much to plan and prepare, family dinners, parties and get-togethers.

If you find yourself out of breath and having a hard time concentrating, try this short little five minute practice:

1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes (if possible).
2. Notice your breath and see if you can find one word to describe it.
3. Breathing only through your nose (if possible), count your inhale (IN) and exhale (EX).  Find a comfortable count for both IN and EX.  Let’s use 3 for IN and 4 for EX as an example.
4.  Do 2-3 rounds of breathing using a (3)-count IN and a (4)-count EX (you can use your own numbers).
5.  Now, lengthen your EX one second (5 in my example) for 2-3 rounds.
6. Lengthen your EX one more second (6) for 2-3 rounds.
7. Lengthen your EX one more second (7), if comfortable, for 2-3 rounds.
8. Open your eyes and return to normal breathing and notice your breath again.  What word would you use to describe it now?

One of the keys to relaxing, then, is lengthening your exhale.  Try it and see it helps make your holidays a little happier!


November 20, 2013
by Robin

Quickie #1 – Gratitude

This time of the year, there are messages everywhere urging us to be thankful.    For some, it is easy to fall into the holiday spirit.  For others, not so much.  The magic in gratitude is keeping it going year-round.

I’ll share a quick little practice I try to use every day.  It helps me to keep the gratitude going yearlong and keeps it simple.  You can do this when you get up, while your brush your teeth, before you go to bed:  whatever works. Try to find a time when you’ll remember to do it every day.

Close your eyes for a minute (if possible) and get quiet.  Observe your breath.  Now think of three things you are grateful for and say to yourself or out loud, “I’m grateful for _______.”  Fill in the blank with three things you are truly grateful for.  That’s it.  It can be something as small as, “I’m grateful for my funny cat.” to “I’m grateful for my good health.”  Try to avoid negative language and keep it specific to your own life.  Ultimately, this simple practice makes you see the little events in your life in a different light.  Perhaps you’ll start to see the magic in the small things that our fast-paced lifestyles often make us push aside.

Happy Holidays!


October 28, 2013
by Robin

5 Reasons to Develop a Personal Yoga Practice

When I work with clients to design a personal practice, I start with this statement:  Be honest and tell me what you will do, not what you think I want to hear.  Here’s the beauty of it:  no matter if it’s 10 minutes twice a week or an hour a day, you are still getting the benefit.  And when we find what works for you, you will want to do it; you won’t brush it off.

So, here are five reasons to develop a personal practice:

1.  You can do it in your jammies.
No need to go anywhere, comb your hair or brush your teeth.

2.  You don’t have to stress about getting there on time.
You don’t have to worry about traffic, meetings that run late or shifting appointments.  You do it on your own time.

3.  No guilt.
If you miss a day, no sweat.  You haven’t lost any punches on your punch card.

4.  You can still go to your favorite yoga class.
The group energy of a class is a really nice buzz so keep doing what makes you happy.  By practicing by yourself, however, you will give yourself a chance for the teachings of yoga to really sink in sans distraction.

5.  It’s all about YOU.
This is probably the best part.  You learn about how your body and mind work and, in the process, lift yourself into a better space.

Email me if you’d like to know more.  I’m happy to answer questions.


September 4, 2013
by Robin

Why should I do private yoga sessions?

When I tell people that I do private yoga sessions, they look dubious.  The reactions are usually either, “Sounds expensive.” or  “Sounds kinky!”  No, it’s not expensive nor kinky at all and there are multiple situations in which private sessions can really work to your benefit.

Situation One:  In the Air

Do you travel for your job?  So much so that your spouse stumbles over your name when you walk in the door?  Do you have elite frequent flyer status on more than one airline?  Then chances are, you a) don’t have time for a class and b) spend a lot of time crushed into small, uncomfortable seats.

In a private session, we will figure out how much time you can devote to a practice and when/where you will do it.  I have great adaptions for the postures so you won’t have to get down on the icky hotel room floor; they can help ease the typical low back pain associated with riding in planes, trains and automobiles.

Situation Two:  The Chauffeur

Do you have children whose schedule seems more complicated than the President’s?  Do you often feel like a professional chauffeur rather than a parent?

I can show you a practice that will fit in before, between, after and around all those events you need to shuffle.  I’ve been the chauffeur and I know what that juggling act is like.  The soothing influence of some poses and some breathing can do wonders for your attitude the next time someone says, “I left my backpack in the driveway,” right as you pull into the school parking lot.

Situation Three:  Outfit Intimidation

Are you just too shy to try a yoga class?  Intimidated by all the hype you see in the media about yoga?  And let’s not even talk about those tight pants!

If you prefer a solo act, or even a practice with a partner, I can help you develop a custom sequence.  We will talk about your specific intentions for your practice and work to tailor it to suit your needs.  No fancy equipment required and you can wear whatever you want.

Situation Four:  The Procrastinator

Do you find yourself complaining about your knee hurting so you won’t have to go for a run/walk?  Waiting for the cable guy to arrive so you won’t have to go to the gym?

Think about spending 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times a week, just for your own health.  You don’t have to have fancy equipment or clothes.  You don’t even need a mat if you don’t want to buy one.  There is so much I can teach you just sitting in a chair.

These are four good scenarios in which I find many of my clients.  They all benefit from what they learn because the practice is custom designed just for them.

The yoga I teach is called Viniyoga.  It has nothing to do with your cousin, Vinny.  Nor is it related to Vinyasa Flow.  In Sanskrit, “vini” means adaptive so it’s yoga that’s adapted specifically to you, your aches and pains and your situation in life at this moment.  I’m offering a half price special through the end of the year so that anyone who is curious can try it out.  It’s a great deal.  When you invest in yourself, what have you got to lose?


August 7, 2012
by Robin

It’s More Than a Workout

I love to encourage everybody to do yoga.  Ask my friends and family, who will roll their eyes and politely sigh.  I like to explain that yoga is more than a workout.

That can be a slippery slope when I really want people to try my classes because modern culture practically demands we be trim and fit.  Yes, there are a plethora of yoga classes geared mostly toward the physical practice of yoga that will whip you into shape.  That was my path to yoga many years ago but my teaching and practice have broadened since then.  So I respect the fact that, regardless of how you come to find it and what type you practice, it is all good in the end.

Recently, I found this post titled 5 Ways Yoga Is Not Just For Fitness  by Erica Rodefer on yogajournal.com.  It really sums up nicely what yoga can do for you:

  1. Fitness is not the goal, but often a nice added benefit.
  2. Yoga helps you find balance, in more ways than one.
  3. Yoga invites you to understand and learn more about yourself.
  4. Yoga challenges you to become a better person.
  5. Yoga can change you and your world.

Yeah, I’d like to look great in a bikini too but that list above will do just fine for me!


April 11, 2012
by Robin
1 Comment

I’m Not Flexible Enough to Do Yoga

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this: “I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible enough.”

Good news! Yoga does not require you to be flexible; it helps you become flexible, both in your body and, surprisingly, also in your mind. Despite the photos you may see in the news, yoga is not all about contortion.

Asana – the physical postures – are just a very small part of the practice of yoga. If you were to study yoga in India, you would not even begin asana practice for quite a while. You would have to work through some other areas of study first.

I once took an asana class from a man who had done his training in India. “You know,” he began the class, “it is so interesting how in America, we take bits and pieces from other cultures and make them our own.” He was referring to the fact that asana is a part of yoga but here in the United States, it defines yoga. “In India,” he continued, “I was not allowed to start an asana practice until I had completed the yamas and niyamas, one of which is celibacy.” The room went deadly quiet. “But we are not here to work on that today,” he finished with a grin.

Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago. Roughly translated from the Sanskrit, the word means “union” or “yoke”. Yoga offers a way to yoke or unite your mind, body and spirit. It helps you get to know yourself, honor your body and your stage in life and learn how to feel and do your best every day. It is one of the oldest health maintenance systems in the world.

The physical practice of yoga – the asanas – were originally designed to get out your “ya-ya’s” in order to sit for long periods of time in meditation.  Meditation is really the ultimate yogic goal because the ancient yogis believed that through mastery of the mind came transcendence. They were tackling the age-old question: Who am I and why am I here?

Do not let the thought of meditation scare you. If you are simply interested in a way to help stay flexible and healthy, you can surely use the yoga asanas to help you feel more comfortable in your own skin. The key to the practice is finding what you like and what makes you feel better.

There are many styles of yoga available in the U.S. these days. Any good yoga teacher should be able to help you adapt the practice to what you need or suggest an alternative class or style. Shop around and see what resonates with your mind, your body and your stage of life.

Want to learn more?  Contact me.

See this post published in Chesapeake Style magazine.


March 9, 2012
by Robin

Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace Trial Results Published

Viniyoga and mindfulness programs helped participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels

Does yoga reduce stress?  Aetna, a leading health insurance company, affirms that two programs – a Viniyoga program and a mindfulness meditation program – reduced stress among employees.

This is exciting news from my teacher, Gary Kraftsow, MA, E-RYT 500, Founder and Director of the American Viniyoga Institute and developer of the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program.  He says, “The AVI/Aetna collaboration represents a significant step in the integration of ancient insights into health and healing with modern evidence-based research. Hopefully this type of collaboration will lead to more widespread adoption of self-care practices that support people in their wellness and reduce the burden of stress-related disease on the health care system.”

Click here to see Gary explain the study.

The Aetna, Inc. Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace Trial, recently published in the online version of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, investigated the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program (therapeutic yoga) and Mindfulness at Work (meditation) for improvement in perceived stress level and other variables.  These programs helped participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress.

Participants in the mind-body stress reduction treatment groups showed significant improvements in perceived stress with 36 and 33 percent decreases in stress levels respectively, as compared to an 18 percent reduction for the control group as measured with the Perceived Stress Scale. Participants in the two mind-body interventions also saw significant improvements in a biological marker called heart rhythm coherence, suggesting that their bodies were better able to manage stress.

Developed and studied in a collaborative effort with Aetna, Duke Integrative Medicine, eMindful and the American Viniyoga Institute, this study contributes to the body of evidence for the use of mind-body approaches to reduce stress and improve health.

Kraftsow said that the 12-week Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program utilized yoga postures done in the Viniyoga methodology, as well as breathing techniques, guided relaxation and mental skills.

Viniyoga is distinguished from other types of yoga by the emphasis on breath as the medium for movement in postures, safe sequencing of postures, and adapting the pattern of breathing in and the form of the posture to produce specifically required effects.

Please contact me if you would like to discover the effects of what these healing practices can do.


February 29, 2012
by Robin

Just Breathe

A student recently commented to me, “I’ve been breathing all my life. Why do I need to take a class to teach me how to do it?”

Of course you’ve been breathing all your life. But you probably haven’t been very conscious of how you breathe on a daily basis or what happens to your breathing when you are ill or under stress. We take it for granted that we will continue to breath all day, every day until we take our last breath. But our breath can tell us a lot about what is going on with our bodies.

The ancient yogis said that life consists of three stages: sunrise (from birth to about 30), midday (from about 30-70) and sunset (from 70ish on). Asana (the yoga postures), pranayama (breathing) and meditation all play different roles during each stage.

In the sunrise stage, asana takes priority over pranayama and meditation and serves to “get your ya-ya’s out”, allowing the excess energy of youth to help enhance overall well being. During the midday stage, all three yoga practices have equal importance in helping to maintain the balance during the (arguably) most stressful time of life. Pranayama and meditation rise to importance during the sunset time of life as movement (asana) takes a back seat to more esoteric practices in preparation for the slower pace of life and, ultimately, death.

So unless you are under 30, pranayama (breathing) really is a critical part of your general health and worth some study.

Krishnamacharya was an Indian yoga teacher and scholar, often referred to as the “father of modern yoga”. It is widely agreed that he is responsible for the modern day phenomenon of exporting yoga to the west by training the leaders of the most popular forms of yoga today (T. K. V. Desikachar, B. K. S. Iyengar and K. Pattabi Jois) and in making the ancient Vedic texts accessible to modern students.

In his teachings, linking the breath to movement was critical in yoga asana practice. He said that otherwise, you are just doing calisthenics. So as simple and basic as breathing may sounds, it is really is at the heart of yoga.

The ultimate goal of yoga is to maintain your body in a happy and healthy state so that you can truly get to know yourself and your potential. Isn’t that worth a little study?