Monday, November 9, 2015


Just as a runner does not do a marathon, he or she spends hours, days, months and years training in order to run (do) marathons. Dancers don’t just wake up one day and perform complex choreography with ease, they practice daily for weeks, months and years.  
This is why, as a yoga teacher, I get weary of hearing “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do yoga”. I am weary because I couldn’t do 98% of what I do now when I started, either! I did not get to where I am now by magic; I wasn’t at all flexible when I started, my posture was poor, and my core and many other muscles were weak. Fortunately, I have had great teachers and attended many helpful workshops and training. I have been to classes ranging from horrible to excellent.  
Mostly, I work hard at it every day with my mind as focused as possible every moment of the practice.  And when I find a good teacher,  I stay with him or her so that they know me and know what is hard for me. (Because I try to avoid what is hard. Yup, I do this too!)
The other reason yoga teachers get tired of hearing “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do yoga” is that we know it is not true.   We see people practice yoga who let nothing stand in their way. Personally, I have practiced yoga with a person missing an arm, another person dealing with multiple sclerosis, and people recovering from cancer treatments and surgeries.
The main reason I am weary of hearing this (and I suppose most other teachers are also) is because it is a self-fulfilling-prophecy.  It keeps you from starting and inhibits progress when you do start.  
If you have ever tried to teach a kid to swim or ride a bike you know exactly what I am talking about. All those attempts when they didn’t believe they could do it didn’t bring success! Yet once they start to believe even slightly “maybe I can do this”, the attempts become successful.   This isn’t just true for kids!!!   It is true for adults as well.  I and my yoga friends often talk about why we struggle with certain poses, for example I was (still am) frightened of arm balances and handstand poses. I know the problem is in my mind – my thinking “I can’t do this” or fear “what if I fall, and get hurt”. Intellectually I know this is ridiculous because I can do these with a spotter or teacher standing next to and supporting me, and I have fallen and not gotten hurt.  It might be ten or one hundred more attempts before I believe I can do it and/ or get past fear enough to actually succeed. 

So keep trying, keep practicing, there is no finish line.

All the best, Christina

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pure Sound

The Power of Pure Sound.
Chanting, sounding Om, Singing bowls, Gongs, Toning, flutes and Sound Healing. What is this stuff all about? I don’t know the how of it; I know there is something very real and wonderful going on. I am no authority on this subject, but I will share from my own experience. Then you will know why there is chanting and OM as part of  yoga Classes, and sometimes live gongs, singing bowls, flutes or with harmonic sound healing.
We all know the pure joy and satisfaction of listening to, singing playing a favorite song, sometimes over and over. We all know how some songs help us cry when our hearts feel broken. This is emotions for certain, yet perhaps more. There are studies showing the benefit of music for the elderly, for persons with depression and even heart conditions.  I do dance/music exercise with elderly people in assisted living many times as well.  Recently I was fortunate to hear Robert Tree Cody play native flute for these elderly people, we were outside under the New Mexico blue sky. They had done the breathing exercises which we always close class with. When flute music began, the healing effect was obvious, so different than when someone hears a “grand old song” they love. As they listened, a profound peacefulness settled over everyone. I saw their faces become more relaxed and felt something changing. I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt it and others there felt it. There were more smiles and eye contact between the elderly people and also with the staff that cares for them.
The experience of pure sound and Harmonic Sound is more than emotional. I know it resonates with-in our whole being, our consciousness.  Yoga includes chanting as part of Kundalini yoga and at Kirtans.  Many cultures have mystic practices involving sound, music singing or chanting.  In Tunisia I heard singing one night, a special singing called “Singing the heart/throat” hearing it from a distance and then up close it had an effect on me I have never been able to explain, I didn’t know the language enough for there to be any understanding of the words, it wasn’t like anything music-wise I normally enjoyed, but I could have listened to it all night, and will never forget it. This was over15 years ago.
 Pure sound began to be very interesting to me,  after my first one hour, silent, group meditation; we did 11 minutes of Om sounding afterward. There was a merging and amplification of everyone’s “energy”; I don’t know what else to call it- it was not simple emotion : there was a palpable raising or shift in everyone, I talked with others who had the same experience, and one person described it as “all the cells of their body were vibrating at a higher frequency”! That described it! We talked about the sound helping raise our consciousness.  
Shortly after that I went to a sound healing event in Santé Fe, (Renee S. Lebeau, who studied with Tom Kenyon, (There is a wonderful documentary film about him, I recently saw).  The sound/music was amazing. The next event, I asked Renee if there was space to dance or do yoga in the back of the room.  I wanted to explore movement with this live pure sound. She said we could make that an option. That night she was collaborating with two others, there was a wooden flute. I listened and did yoga breathing and then began to move.  I did a combination of yoga and dance spontaneously, my mind was totally quite – void of thought, I moved in expanded ways and did yoga poses I thought were out-of my-reach and did them with amazing ease.  I experienced direct effect of the sound on my physical body, movement in the fascia and tissue deep within the body.  Whenever the flute was played, I felt as if I had wings and my shoulders became very flexible, again I did poses beyond my usual range with ease.
I was contacted to do Yoga to the sound of Gongs recently, and said yes! to complete strangers!!!  (Who turned out to be wonderful, kind and true sound healing artists). It was awesome to teach with the gongs, halo, singing bowls and Michelle's voice and share this experience.  I also participated in doing a healing circle, where healers did Reiki, and other types of healing, on massage tables, placed around the gongs. The energy, sound vibrations, harmonies amplified the healing effects. I am so glad to know they are coming back in October. 

The Gong Temple's photo of their gongs, halo and singing bowls....

Please share your thoughts and experiences with sound healing; toning, chanting, singing bowls gongs- I would love to hear more about people’s experiences and practices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Walking; the most under-rated exercise.

 I was fortunate to grow up in a small town where we walked: to friends, to the park to play, ice skate, for concerts or picnics on the grass.  I also walked several blocks to school, a good thing for many reasons, such as; focusing the eyes on sights at various distances, (great for vestibular functioning & eyesight) enjoying nature, trees, the sky,  fresh air, and using systems of muscular integration to propel the body forward and remain balanced.
Humans were meant to walk. Walking is one way our body resets it's natural alignment.  It is weight bearing exercise, and it calms the mind. Walking is natural movement that involves moving all of your muscles and tissue, increasing metabolism, lubricating the joints, increasing blood flow and oxygen to all the cells of the body, nourishing our physical being. It energizes the body, as well as relaxes the mind: walking can even be a meditation Walking can also be calming for the emotions, through appreciating beauty, nature, fresh air, sunshine, rain, seeing the people of your neighborhood; all this can lift your spirits.

Even if you are very “active” if you are not walking regularly, you may not be resetting the body in an important natural way.  

In the past, (and for many people of the world, still today), our bodies were the primary tool of sustenance and survival, we used them with care and awareness.  Sedentary wasn’t an option.  Now, the many conveniences of modern life: cars, furniture, sit-toilets, TV, computers, cell phones, are not helping our health, in fact, they are making people less mobile, less flexible, less connected and less aware.  

It is a challenge to maintain healthy, activity habits in modern western culture. Creating time and following through with exercise, may mean letting some things go, in order to make time to nurture personal health and peace of mind.  Notice how your thoughts, self-talk, beliefs, activity and lifestyle affect starting and continuing your walking regularly. Notice who are your allies for healthy Living. Having work-out/walking buddies/partners increases success; who could be your buddy?   
Most of the people on the planet would be astounded to observe how very little walking a modern person, in many cities in the USA does.  The bits of walking are mostly to and from a car.   In a time and society where poor diets, excess weight, obesity and sedentary lifestyle are creating disease.

 More than once recently I listened to conversations between young people (early-mid 20’s) talking about shockingly numerous ailments, medications ,and procedures, which hadn't brought relief.  More than one said "I wish I was in shape to exercise".  I wondered if they knew a walking program was a possibility.

 I work with older people (70’s up to 102 years old) some who don’t spend any time talking about ailments and medicine; because they are busy living the life they have left and most of them don't have as many "ailments" as these young people!  These elder people have a sense of purpose and commitment to life which is strong: a contributing factor to a healthier life and aging process.

It is with-in your power to change this whole paradigm of sedentary lifestyle for yourself. Starting with a good daily walk, 30-45 minutes; it is sound, healthy, preventative medicine.  It is that simple. (I didn’t say easy- breaking habits, starting new habits isn’t easy) Yet, who knows, after this is a habit, you might find yourself doing yoga, maybe even dance, or taking a long hike, running a marathon, doing a triathlon, but for now, keep it simple.  
Namaste, Christina




Sunday, March 15, 2015

100 reasons to get out in Nature.

  1. Fresh air
  2. Sunshine
  3. Exercise
  4. Enjoy the beauty of trees
  5. Enjoy the beauty of terrain
  6. Enjoy the beauty of the sky
  7. Enjoy the beauty of clouds
  8. Enjoy the beauty of stars
  9. Enjoy the moon
  10. Enjoy the moonlight world
  11. Focus your eyes at different distances
  12. Enjoy the beauty of plants
  13. Remember the cycle of life
  14. Enjoy the beauty of creatures 
  15. Enjoy the beauty of birds
  16. Experience the environment
  17. Enjoy the beauty of breezes, wind
  18. Relax
  19. Get creative inspiration
  20. Enjoy the sense of smell
  21. Enjoy the sense of touch
  22. Eat, food tastes better outside.
  23. Get away from screens
  24. Get away from phones
  25. Get away from traffic
  26. Great way to get away from day to day routines
  27. Possibility for adventure is high.
  28. Remembering how change is a part of life
  29. See something new
  30. See something old
  31. Hear your own intuition
  32. Enjoy quiet
  33. Enjoy the sounds of birds
  34. Experience temperatures
  35. Experience rain
  36. Experience snow
  37. Feast your eyes on colors
  38. Feast your eyes on textures
  39. Feast you eyes on patterns
  40. Explore
  41. Play
  42. Enjoy sunrises
  43. Enjoy sunsets
  44. Release emotions
  45. Enjoy the beauty of flowers
  46. Enjoy the smells of flowers and plants
  47. See life all around you
  48. Experience phenomena of the sky- rainbows, northern lights, shooting stars.
  49. Experience stillness or storms
  50. 50 to 100 enjoy all 50 things by sharing them in the company of friends!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yoga for Central nervous system health, heart health and overall vitality


There is some  information about the brain that you may not be aware of that is important. First of all the Central Nervous System is the brain and the Spinal cord. Second the brain changes throughout our life, the term for this being- neuroplasticity. Third, we build new neural Pathways throughout our lives and we can actively affect this process!       In recent research I came across the work of Dr. Roger Sperry, (Nobel Prize Recipient for Brain Research)   -let's focus on these two points-


  • “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine” Dr. Roger Sperry

  • “Additionally, Dr. Roger Sperry demonstrated that 90% of the brain’s energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity. Only 10% has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing.” 


Movement of the spine brings better brain health! These are reasons posture and optimal body Mechanics (particularly spinal alignment) is essential to health and vitality- healthy nutrition for the brain and energy output of the brain!

 There is a saying in Chinese culture- :You will live as long as you can arch your back". This makes good sense when you understand the relationship of nourishment and stimulation to the brain.  

Think about this in relation to the Asanas (poses) in yoga, all of which are strengthening and/or stretching the muscles along and within the spine to some degree.  “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine”  Balance poses in Yoga, where you challenge yourself to balance on one foot or one foot one hand etc…90% of the brain’s energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity.
Meditation, Ideally Yoga is moving meditation; quieting the mind. narrowing the focus, controlling the thoughts, and therefore giving the mind a rest or at least the focus (economy) necessary to build new neural pathways. The longer I do yoga the less separation there seems to be of mind/body/brain/heart/energy.  Through continued practice over time all of this becomes integrated and a natural understanding, knowing/ intelligence develops over time.  The brain is throughout the body and the body has it's own intelligence. This is far more than gaining muscle development and knowing the names and mechanics of postures (asanas). It is building new neural pathways, gaining control over the mind and body, it is training the intuition so that eventually the yoga practice begins to be naturalistic, and organic;y evolving. In other words you train till you can practice with mindfulness but very little "thinking". 
This is also why Shavasana, is so important, you are resting the brain as well as the body, “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine” giving the spine time to restore and reset.  Shavasana using blankets and bolsters are often better for people who are injured or elderly or need to improve posture.  In meditation and some restorative yoga this is also true. Conversely, this is not so true the way many of us “relax” seated in chairs that foster poor alignment, watching TV or movies, drinking alcohol, etc… none of this is even approaching the healthy relaxation needed for restoring health of mind and body.

Another aspect of the brain is Neuroplasticity

- in this article How Training Changes the Structure of the Brain, Dan Peterson states;   "On the most basic level, learning a new skill or improving a skill involves changes in the brain.  There are a few different ways that our brains adapt to picking up new skills and changing environmental conditions.  The first involves a rewiring of the networks of neurons in the brain.  Each skill or action that an athlete performs involves the activation of neural pathways."

Knowing the brain is very plastic and that each repetition in practice affects the brain brings light on the importance of “mindful daily practice” to ensure that the pathways being laid down in the brain are reinforced with the right neural connections.  This processes being optimum when the mind is quiet.
~ “Do not allow past experiences to be imprinted on your mind. Perform asanas each time with fresh mind and with a fresh approach. If you re repeating what you did before, you are living in the memory, so you are living in the past. ” ~The light on life, B.K.S Iyengar Having a distracted mind, or careless practice isn’t just wasting your time, it can actually be steps backwards from attaining new skill, depth and understanding.This clarifies the abilities of an experienced yogi (daily practice over years) to perform yoga postures as compared to persons who do yoga at 1 or 2 classes a week.

 The other aspect of brain health has to do with the quiet mind. 

Research around the brain activity patterns of experts has been done by Brad Hatfield at the University of Maryland.  His research around expert marksmen... "has shown that their brains are, in fact, ‘quieter’ and more economical than the brains of novices.  In effect, they tune everything else out so thoroughly that only the most essential  brain areas associated with the task are turned on and working.   Novices, on the other hand, exhibited not only more brain activity, but  activity that suggested communication between areas of the brain associated with motor control and areas associated with conscious, cognitive thought and analysis.  Several studies on athletes and clutch performance of skilled tasks have associated a certain type of quiet, focused brain state with successful performance.  In effect, a quiet brain is an expert brain."

Conversely  "It has been theorized that high stakes cause athletes to overthink and become self-conscious about their movements, which in turn causes them to revert back to the rigid movement patterns of a less-experienced performer.  This has been observed in disciplines from rock-climbers to weightlifters to piano players.  The mind can get in the way of the body smoothly carrying out what it  already knows how to do." Dan Peterson

There is also a relationship to the quiet mind and the metabolic/systolic heart rhythms-   

At the Institute of Heart Math  research shows "positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms and improve balance in the nervous system and conversely: disharmony in the nervous system leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs..
The heart  a  complex,  "processing center with its own functional "brain" that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life." ~Institute of Heart Math 

Monday, October 20, 2014


 I_AM VITALITY!  is a Process that includes:
    •   One, 4 hour Workshop
    •   Pre & post, individual consultations, 
    •   a series of Six classes (1hr 45min.)                                Total of 15.5 hours

The small class size and 7 week, 15.5 hour commitment, guarantees progress that will be life changing. You will be moving  more and in healthful, energizing ways.
The Individual consultation the week before workshop is to evaluate your current posture and use of body mechanics to give you a clear picture of  your individual starting point and set some realistic goals. The 2nd consultation (last week or week following) is to see your progress and re-define your goals. This has proven to be one of the most helpful aspects of I AM Vitality!
The initial workshop focuses on posture and body mechanics, for optimal health benefits as you move in your day-to-day activities;  re-training the body so that you're not wearing-it-down throughout your day, excises for the body's core muscles, gaining awareness of engagement vs. tension throughout the body. This process includes hands-on adjustments for deeper understanding. The day will end with a Guided, deep, relaxation.

The weekly classes (6 weeks)  Practice moving mindfully. You will be moving correctly and moving more! You will be creating good movement/exercise habits.  These subsequent classes will incorporate dance and yoga to improve cardio-vascular health, strength, flexibility and body awareness. I will be leading you in simple yet vigorous Dance, Pilates core work, and yoga.
 Each session will end with guided deep relaxation,  which is refreshing, rejuvenating and highly beneficial in this fast-paced multi-tasking world!
    The Asana(physical posture/poses of yoga) are only the tip of the iceberg, and in the beginning, it doesn't matter if you can touch your toes or not!  It is the mindful sustained effort that will help the body be in it's current best state and make steady gains.
How wonderful is that!  So please, don't think you have to already be flexible, athletic, slim or anything else to begin. You Are ready for this!
   This is an excellent process for persons at any age or fitness level, persons feeling stuck at their current level of movement, or needing motivation to get moving.  
~There are no refunds! your Investment is $325.oo for entire I AM Vitality process. Watch for early-bird special rate for those who subscribe to website.   This is a valuable investment in your health and vitality ~ 
Participants must pre-register and pre-pay $160.00 for the I AM Vitality process Paying balance before initial 4 hour workshop. 
"I am passionate about teaching this synthesis of decades of study and teaching in multiple disciplines and methods including; Three traditions of Yoga, Dance, The Alexander Technique, Authentic Movement, Pilates, and The Franklin method."
~ Christina
 Please contact me,  if interested in the  I AM Vitality Process
Outside of the Alb. NM area- I will come to you! If you have a group of 10 -12.