Five yoga poses that will help relieve your aching knees

Knee injuries are the bane of many runners, but practising a series of simple yoga poses could help you get back on track

The knee is the most common body part that breaks down in runners, and when it does, it usually causes a temporary or permanent halt in one’s running regimen. When injured, practising yoga can help you heal and avoid injury in future.

In fact, even if you do yoga only once a week, you’ll notice a big difference in your running, says Alex Mazerolle, founder of Girlvana Yoga and the co-owner of Distrikt Movement in North Vancouver, Canada. Here, she demonstrates a five-pose circuit that takes just 15 minutes to complete.

“Doing this simple circuit two to three times a week would make a world of difference to your running,” says 28-year-old Mazerolle, who is also a yoga teacher for the EA Sports app, Yogify.

Mazerolle says runners in her yoga classes often have tight hamstrings, shoulders, and hips and glutes. The feet, lower legs, knees, thighs, hips, lower back, core, and arms are all part of a kinetic chain. When one link isn’t working properly, the consequences can be felt up or down the chain – including the knee.

Christine Felstead, author of the book Yoga for Runners (2013), says runners are often reluctant to try yoga, but can gain tremendous benefits from adding yoga to their fitness regimen.

Yoga restores and improves body symmetry, alignment and balance, she says, and this prevents injuries from occurring while healing stubborn, chronic, and recurring ones. Yoga postures help align the knee joint while strengthening the arches of the feet for better shock absorption. This reduces the weight-bearing impact of running.

“Runners have a high threshold for dealing with pain and learn to live with aches and pains as part of daily living,” Felstead says. “Runners are often amazed at how many of these nagging discomforts are eliminated with yoga practice.”

Mazerolle says yoga also helps boost mental capacity, increasing focus and calming the mind, which is especially important in longer races such as the half- or full marathon. Yoga also teaches you how to breathe very deeply and encourages the expansion of the lungs.

“When running, you’ll get more oxygen in the lungs,” says Mazerolle.

She suggests performing the following circuit in the sequence shown after a run. Take five deep inhales/exhales – or more if you want – for each pose, unless indicated otherwise.

Mountain pose.

1. Mountain pose

Stand with feet a shoulder width apart, close your eyes and breathe. This pose encourages the right body alignment and puts you in an anatomically neutral position – an upright body with weight equally distributed on the feet and the head stacked over the shoulders. It’s deceptively easy but runners with a knee problem usually have trouble standing perfectly aligned.]

Chair pose
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2. Chair pose

Stand in mountain pose with your feet together. On an inhale, sweep both arms up. On an exhale, bend your knees and sink into a high squat. Gaze ahead or up to your hands. If your knee injury is very bad, prop yourself up against a wall and/or remain in a high squat. Work on bending the knees in the same alignment. For sore or stiff upper back or shoulders, place your hands on your hips. The pose works the inner and outer thighs so that ligaments in the knee are equally strengthened. A lot of runners tend to be too strong in the IT band (outer thigh). The posture will also strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes for running speed and power, and reinforce the foot and ankle muscles to aid absorption of impact when running. Sink lower to increase the intensity.

Downwards facing dog pose
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3. Downwards facing dog

Begin on all fours. Spread your fingers and slowly lift the hips up. The pose stretches out your hamstrings and calves, and builds upper body strength. A lot of people with knee problems have very tight hamstrings and calves, as well as stiff back and hips – this can cause your back to round when doing this pose, placing extra weight on your hands and shoulders. Try to keep your back flat.

Thread the needle pose
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4. Thread the needle

Lie on your back with feet on the floor and knees bent. Cross your right leg to place your right ankle just above the left knee or thigh. Reach your hands under your left thigh and pull your left knee towards your chest. Ensure your back remains flat on the floor. This pose helps to open up the IT band, hips and glutes.

Legs up the wall pose
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5. Legs up the wall

If you don’t have a wall around, just elevate your legs in mid air above the pelvis. Hold the pose for three to five minutes. This encourages blood flow down from the feet, alleviating swelling in the ankles and knees. It also promotes relaxation and sleep.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Stretching a sore point


Celebrate National Yoga Month with Free Yoga Classes!

Did you know that September is National Yoga Month? Unlike National Taco Day, this is an official holiday with lots of cool events happening in celebration (nothing against tacos, as they also deserve celebration). The video above is from a few years ago and features Yoga Month founder Johannes Fisslingers talking about the vision behind Yoga Month.

What sets National Yoga Month apart from National Taco Day, is that the Department of Health and Human Services endorses Yoga Month, and the nonprofit organization, Yoga Health Foundation, has all sorts of yoga events planned to help promote yoga for better physical and mental health. Here’s a tweet from the National Institutes of Health to kick off this month of yoga goodness:

Yoga Health Foundation has partnered with over 1,600 yoga studios in the U.S. to offer a free week of yoga to new students. You can sign up for your free week of yoga here. After you fill in your contact information, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can look up participating studios in your area and select the one where you want to take your free classes.
More Ways to Celebrate
The easiest way to celebrate National Yoga Month is to just do some yoga! Stop, drop and do your favorite pose. If you’re new to yoga, try one of these simple yoga poses for beginners to get you started. These are basic poses and yoga breathing exercises that anyone can do.

National Yoga Month is a great excuse to mix up your yoga routine a bit. Doing the same practice in the same space every day can get a bit monotonous, but making even a simple change can refresh your yoga routine. Change the venue or try a different style of yoga this month. Do you usually do yoga at home? Take a class at a studio or practice outdoors. Is vinyasa your yoga style of choice? Give kundalini yoga a try.

Adults aren’t the only ones who can celebrate National Yoga Month. Your kids might like getting in on the yoga action! Find a parent-child yoga class, or try a kid-friendly yoga video. Even toddlers can do a little bit of yoga. My two-year-old son loves practicing at home with the Cosmic Kids yoga videos. They’re free on YouTube!

Even your dog might enjoy a little yoga. Maybe that’s what she’s been trying to tell you when she interrupts your home practice to lick your face! Dog yoga might sound a little bit wackadoo, but “doga” is a thing. And it’s a fun, bonding activity that you and your dog can do together. Dogs, like humans, can get a lot out of yoga.

Yoga Health Foundation also has a database of other Yoga Month events that you can search by city or zip code. Not all of these events are free, but there are some really cool things coming up this month in the world of yoga that are worth your time and health!

Read more:

‘Yoga Joes,’ a peaceful spin on the classic toy, find fans among the military

Nicole Spector

The various health benefits of yoga have been proven for both men and women, and yet it’s commonly thought of — at least in the U.S. — as mostly a women’s fitness practice. We see more pictures of women than men on the covers of yoga-related magazines, and apparel brands have no shortage of yoga-appropriate wear designed for ladies, but not so much for guys. As a result, a lot of men never even give yoga a try.

Dan Abramson, a 31-year-old designer living in San Francisco who refers to himself as a “forever beginner” at yoga, was looking to make the discipline more dude-friendly — with a sense of humor. He created Brogamats, yoga mats and mat carriers that have a masculine edge. More recently, he came up with the idea of Yoga Joes, miniature green figurines that look just like the classic plastic toy soldiers, aka army men that are commonly sold in packs. But Abramson’s soldiers aren’t at war. They’re at yoga.

Yoga Joes: the classic green army men doing yoga
Yoga Joes
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He thought up Yoga Joes while brainstorming with his friend Paul Simmons, a standup comedian. They wanted to create something funny that guys could pass around to each other to promote yoga.


“We were thinking: dogs doing yoga? No. The Hulk doing yoga? No… And then it hit us like a ton of bricks — army men doing yoga,” Abramson told TODAY. “Their little platforms could be replaced with little green yoga mats, and the classic green army men toys were already in very similar gestural poses to yoga. For example, the ‘Warrior II’ pose was inspired by an army man throwing a grenade. Or the army man crawling through the trenches kind of resembles a ‘Cobra Pose.'”
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Yoga Joes shows army men striking a different pose
Abramson launched a Kickstarter in 2014 to start production of the “Yoga Joes,” which are made through plastic injection. The interest was strong and immediate: 2,879 backers pledged nearly $110,000 to make the project happen.
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Yoga Joes have been successful both as toys for kids and as conceptual art for adults.

RELATED: How to avoid pilling in yoga pants: 6 athletic wear questions answered

“Moms tend to like buying them as a non-violent toy, to inspire their kids to get excited about yoga,” Abramson said. “But now a lot of museum gift stores are carrying them, as a form of giftable art statuette. They just got into the [San Francisco] MoMa store, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Denver Art Museum.”

Abramson’s creations have also gotten support from members of the military — a group he didn’t expect to attract.

“There’s a humongous community of people in the military that are really into yoga — whether it be for all around physical training exercises, or to treat veterans for post-traumatic stress,” Abramson said.

Yoga Joes shows army men striking a different pose
Yoga Joes shows army men striking a different pose
The concept of Yoga Joes has evolved into something much bigger than Abramson anticipated, and has connected to him to projects he never dreamed of being associated with, such as non-profits that bring yoga to soldiers.

“I connected with a great organization called Connected Warriors, and we were able to get Yoga Joes to Afghanistan,” Abramson said. “It was so cool, because this project was designed to convince more people to try yoga, and there it was: pictures of the Yoga Joes getting soldiers to sign up for yoga class at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.”

RELATED: High school adds dress-code restrictions to yoga pants, leggings amid protest

Abramson has enjoyed making a toy traditionally associated with violence that instead delivers a message of peace and healing. He no longer seems concerned about whether Yoga Joes inspire men, specifically to partake in yoga, but whether it can inspire soldiers.

“Yoga celebrates a soldier’s most admirable qualities: discipline, focus and a desire to bring peace where there is pain.”

Hip yoga literature written by Westerners is leaving India out

Today, modern yoga—once considered the esoteric pursuit of Indian ascetics—has fans all over the world. The global yoga industry is valued at $5.7 billion, with an estimated 15 million devotees in the US alone professing to some sort of yoga practice.
But yoga isn’t important just because it helps practitioners find health, wellness or spiritual depth. Increasingly, yoga also allows people to tell new stories about themselves and how they fit in a globalising present.
In recent decades, a “yoga fiction” genre has begun to crop up in English-language bookstores. As yoga memoirs, also known as “yogoirs”, yoga chick lit, yoga comedies and yoga murder mysteriesflood the literary marketplace in the West, they change the way we think about one of India’s most popular cultural exports. These yoga fictions paradoxically make India both more and less visible in a globalising world.

Yogis were hungry for power. They were fearsome creatures on the border between the human and the supernatural.

Stories about yoga, and yogis, have a long tradition in Indian narrative, folklore and oral culture. In many accounts, the scholarDavid Gordon White shows that yogis were the classic villains of adventure tales. These fictional yogis didn’t spend too much of their time in complicated physical postures or in deep meditative breathing. Instead, they tended to be spies and soul-stealers. They worked close to kings. Yogis were hungry for power. They were fearsome creatures on the border between the human and the supernatural.
In the early 20th century, as yoga began to take the shape familiar to most of us today, influential Indian gurus who wanted to spread yoga around the world decided to start telling their own stories. Spiritual memoirs, they thought, could help them publicise their goals for a broad international audience.
Paramahansa Yogananda was one such guru. After a long period of religious training in India, Yogananda was sent to the US in the early 20th century. In 1946, he published Autobiography of a Guru, which became a hit with spiritual seekers for decades.
In this autobiography, written in English, Yogananda sought to portray the Indian identity as both timelessly spiritual and fully compatible with modernity. For instance, in passages that evoke Indian supernatural stories about yogis, Yogananda liked to call attention to the mind-reading powers of his guru.
But he suggested that these occult powers were really highly sophisticated forms of modern technology. Before the wireless had even made it to his part of India, he argued, his guru was a perfect human radio. Yoga allowed Indians, and India with them, to seem traditional, futuristic and authoritative all at once.
Fast forward to the present moment. In the 21st century, new visions of India are taking form in Western popular fiction about yoga. These new fictions include ironic memoirs, comedies of manners, self-help novels, and searing autobiographies.
Many of these writings conspicuously jettison yoga’s historic roots in South Asia. One popular American yoga murder mystery series, for instance, quite literally seeks to kill off the practice’s associations with the subcontinent. In this series, written by Diana Killian, control over a yoga empire shifts from an Indian-trained American to a heroine who can only teach yoga for dogs.
Yoga chick lit, as in the self-help fiction of Meryl Davids Landau, assures nervous beginners that they won’t have to struggle through any supposedly scary Sanskrit to gain the benefit of the practice.

Yoga allowed Indians, and India with them, to seem traditional, futuristic and authoritative all at once.

Novels like these suggest that India’s authority over yoga is now quite fragile in a Western popular imagination. Such a possibility alarms the Indian state, which has recently embarked on a major campaign to restore India as the primary cultural steward of yoga. Last December, India’s prime minister appointed the country’s first national yoga minister.
Challenging both the idealisation of India and its erasure is a new and increasingly vocal literary presence: the Indian diaspora. The late Indian American poet and essayist Reetika Vazirani, for example, poignantly showed how yoga could illuminate the difficulties of her family’s move to America. The US of Vazirani’s youth, she reveals, both exoticised and distrusted nonwhite immigrants.
Her essay, The Art of Breathing, brings to light the contradictions of globalising yoga. Why can Westerners enthusiastically embrace a cultural practice from the subcontinent, while their societies remain decidedly uncertain about actual people from India? When Vazirani hears Sanskrit mispronounced in her yoga class, it feels like violence. It reminds her of the ways in which she is disconnected from India and treated as a foreigner in her new homeland.
Through these different and competing stories of yoga, India takes on many identities. In some threads, yoga promotes an idealised India that need not choose between tradition and modernity. In others, yoga figures India as eminently dispensable—the nightmare of the Indian state.
And in yet other visions, yoga invites us to question the complex dynamics of power, racism, and even violence that shape globally circulating ideas of India. Yoga’s difficult positions, it turns out, are not just physical.The Conversation
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read theoriginal article. We welcome your comments at

Yoga has evolved

You hear or see the word yoga. What image drops into your mind?

One might be an Indian man wearing a cotton diaper around his loins, placing his limbs at angles and directions that should not be possible.

Another might be a room of young beautiful yogis who effortlessly move from standing on two feet to balancing on two hands, or moving from a sitting position with both legs in front to both legs behind their shoulders.

A third might even be a class of slowly moving arms and legs that stay in positions so long, it makes your hamstrings hurt just thinking about it.

Binding your image together are smells — patchouli, citrus, sage, basil and eucalyptus; music — new age, chimes, chanting or drums; and deities that include a monkey faced man and a god with a third eye on his forehead, a snake around his neck that wears a crescent moon on his head.

After 5,000 years, yes, those experiences can still be yours — if that’s what you’re looking for.

But yoga has come a long way since becoming popularized in the Western world within the past 100 years and there’s many myths that should be debunked if they’re keep you away from this practice.

In the Shreveport area there are six studios that offer a variety of styles of yoga. There’s also many fitness clubs, gyms and churches in the area offering forms of Hatha yoga (the physical style of yoga).

“Evolve or die,” said local yoga instructor Bryan Sullivan. “Do you think even the (Hindus) in India are practicing yoga the exact same way? I mean Pattabhi Jois (known as the founder of Ashtanga Yoga) put his spin on it; everyone has put their spin on it.”

Myth 1: Yoga is a religion

Yoga is not a religion. Yoga grew and prospered in the Hindu culture so it gets associated with the Hindu way of life, and Hindu also is not a religion. Instead, yoga is a tool — like massage, healthy eating or meditation — that can be used by anyone.

“I’m quite passionate about this (myth) as a practicing Episcopalian who prays to Jesus Christ,” said Ally Neal Ford, a master yoga teacher and instructor from Tampa, Florida. “Anyone, regardless of religion, race, station in life, or background can practice yoga.”

Ford’s teacher program is registered with Yoga Alliance, and has successfully graduated close to 200 teachers, including 60 from northwest Louisiana. Several of those students now own or teach in studios in the Shreveport area.

For some, yoga can simply be a physical practice, but for many who use the philosophical guidebook (The Sutras) as well as the breath (prana), asanas (postures) and meditation; it can become transformative.

“People develop an immense awareness of their actions, words, desires, emotions and the thoughts behind all of those things,” Ford said. “It’s with this awareness that we can make real changes that aid wellness and healing.”

It’s only natural it becomes a spiritual journey says Ford.

“People find themselves affirming their religious beliefs or praying, but to the God of their own understanding, not to some strange yoga God,” Ford said. “So in this way, yoga can be a spiritual practice that supports any religion.”

Myth 2: Yoga requires a complete lifestyle change

Of course it doesn’t, says Ford.

If all you do is participate in the physical aspect it will be a gift, and who knows may lead to other changes, Ford says.

Walter Hood, a Vietnam veteran found that to be true for him, after joining a Yin yoga class at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, he’s made the physical part of his practice part of his morning routine.

“It works the kinks out,” said Hood, who intends to never live without it. “I didn’t think it would be for me because I was exercising way more than I thought I would be in (yoga) class. But it’s not about the exercise here, it’s about learning to breathe properly and holding the poses.”

Hood suspects the word “yoga” might carry expectations with it that make people stay away.

“If the word yoga scares you, call it something else,” he said. “Say I’m going to stretching class. But do it.”

Myth 3: Yoga is about impossible poses

Although amazing photos of the anatomy rocking in Cirque du Soleil fashion can be inspiring, it’s not what all students should try to attain in their practice, says every yoga instructor. The real mantra, they say, is you are coming to reclaim balance within your own body and mind.

“Yoga meets you where you are,” said Ford, “helping to develop a relative level of flexibility that is appropriate and safe for your body.”

Yoga teachers often hear the same excuse: I’m not flexible enough.

And the answer is very apparent: That’s exactly why you should come.

Who among us hasn’t had the experience of reaching back or bending over abruptly and then feeling a sharp pain?

Keeping your joints lubed, strong and healthy with movement can often prevent a minor injury from becoming major injury.

“So if you step off a curb the wrong way, a little flexibility can make the difference between an ankle sprain or break,” Ford said.

Myth 4: Yoga is not a workout/Yoga is a workout

Depending on the style of yoga you may find either one to be a myth. The aid in stress relief is all the buzz with yoga, but some new practitioners find they are getting a lot more than they bargained for.

All styles of yoga use the breath to help maintain focus, create change and bring intention into the practice, but the more intense or faster moving styles of yoga also require a great deal of core and body strength. For example, there are about 60 chaturanga dandasanas — basically a tricep push up — in the Ashtanga primary series.

“If you find the right style, you can sweat more than you do running 6 miles in the heat,” Ford said. “And I’m from Texas, I know.”

However, many other styles can have zero stressful poses, but that’s not to say the stretching won’t make you sore if it’s new to your body.

LaShawanda Walters, a U.S. Navy veteran also has joined the Yin yoga class at the Overton Brooks VA.

Yin yoga opens connective tissues through a slow practice that typically holds poses for 3-5 minutes, says Monica Carlson, her teacher.

Carlson also guides her class through Yoga nidra, a practice in yoga known as yoga sleep, a systematic method for complete relaxation.

“I was looking for something to keep me calm and keep my anxiety down,” said Walters, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. “I feel refreshed after class.”

Myth 5: Yoga is for women

It does seem that way. Walk into any yoga class and there can be a room full of women and at best a handful of men. In fact a 2012 study by Yoga Journal found that of the 20.4 million people who practice yoga in the United States, only 18 percent of them were men.

“You’d think that would bring more men to class,” jokes Ford, who finds it kind of ironic considering the history of yoga. “As early as the 1930s, and 40s the bulk of practitioners were men!”

The tides may be turning. Sullivan, who teaches with Yoga Jai, a donation based yoga-in-the-park organization, sees more men coming to yoga class and has a theory.

“I think the P90X has changed the perception,” he said. “P90X incorporates really intense yoga into it and it’s introduced a whole new generation of men to another side of yoga.”

Also helping turn the tide is the use of yoga by many pro sports. A 2014 article in Sports Illustrated — Beyond Downward Dog: The Rise of Yoga in the NBA and Other Pro Sports highlights this trend.

Myth 6: Yoga is risk free

Nothing is risk free, all forms of physical activity should be approached thoughtfully say experts.

“Listen to your body and take it slowly,” Ford says.

And find a good teacher. Yoga Alliance is a well respected standard setting association that has a registry of over 62,300 teachers and more than 3,900 schools. You can search on their website to find experienced teachers in your area.

Myth 7: There is only one type

Paddleboard yoga — yes it’s a thing. lists 63 different styles of yoga and there are probably many more variations that vary in intensity, poses, guidelines, music (none to a lot), philosophy and location.

Yoga Jai of Shreveport provides donation based yoga in the park every Sunday weather permitting. James Osborne, one of the founders, and Bryan Sullivan and are two of the instructors.

“I do find that people come and really do get more into their internal space,” Osborne said. “They are more present with their practice. A studio can sometimes create competition.”

On the Americanization of yoga — which many dogmatic practitioners would snub — both Sullivan and Osborne, are just fine with it.

It’s really change itself that some people find uncomfortable, according to Sullivan.

“We always cling to what was ever before us, like it was always there … but it wasn’t (always there),” he said.

Ford, who taught both Osborne and Sullivan, makes it a point not to judge.

She quoted a great teacher of yoga, Sri T. Krishnamacharya who said that “in order for yoga to survive it would have to evolve to meet the changing needs of practitioners.”

“I’m sure he never imagined there might be Aerial Yoga,” Ford said. “Yoga has always been an experiential and experimental practice for each individual. If anything inspires someone to try yoga then I’m all for it. Ultimately, as people practice they’ll find the practice that is right for them and helps them to feel healthier and live more fully.”

Yogacharaya Shri K. c (Guruji) was born in 1915, and is recognized as the father of Ashtanga Yoga, a powerful practice of which many other styles are based upon.


This is a very brief history of yoga practiced in today. For more information visit

The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means “to join” or “to yoke”.

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today.

It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).

As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

The many styles of yoga

There are 63 styles of yoga featured on the website, and growing. These are some of the more well-known practices.


Hatha is a general term that encompasses many physical styles of yoga. Hatha classes are generally gentle and slow-paced, and provide a good introduction to the basic postures and principles of yoga. In the area at all the studios mentioned.

Iyengar Yoga

Often, you’ll do only a few poses while exploring the subtle actions required to master proper alignment. Poses can be modified with props, making the practice accessible to all. The primary objective is to understand the alignment and basic structure of the poses, and to gain greater physical awareness, strength, and flexibility. B.K.S. Iyengar (a student of T. Krishnamacharya) founded the style. Find out more at and In the area at Breathe Yoga.

Ashtanga yoga, (Sanskrit for “eight-limbed”)

Ashtanga is a style of yoga codified and popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois and is often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. Usually an Ashtanga practice begins with 5 Surya Namaskar A and 5 B, followed by a standing sequence. Following this the practitioner begins one of 6 series, followed by what is called the closing sequence. Ashtanga Yoga is named after the eight limbs of yoga mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

“Power yoga” and “vinyasa yoga” are generic terms that may refer to any type of vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ashtanga yoga. In the area at Explore yoga and wellness.

Vinyasa Flow

Most westerners tend to be most familiar with vinyasa flow (breath with movement). The instructor leads the class through a repetitive flow of poses, which provides a more intense workout than styles like Iyengar. Yogis may want to try a slower style, in which they can become comfortable with and perfect poses, before jumping into a vinyasa flow. In the area at all the studios.


Bikram is the best style for yogis who are looking to sweat bullets. Practiced in a heated room of about 105 degrees, an instructor guides students through a series of 26 poses that are designed to strengthen and compress the muscles. This style is designed to stretch and rinse the internal organs and increase blood circulation throughout the body. This style is great if you’re looking to see concrete progress. Because you are repeating the same 26 poses every time, it is easy to take notice when you’re flexibility and strength are improving. However, beginners should start in a more basic class before plunging into bikram. Currently no studios in Shreveport/Bossier City.

Hot yoga

Westerners often assume that bikram and “hot yoga” are the same style of yoga. However, hot yoga classes often consist moving through a vinyasa flow in a heated room. This is an intense style of yoga that provides a lot of movement, and is best for yogis with experience and strength. In the area at Explore Yoga and Wellness.

Yin Yoga

This style of yoga targets the deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body. In yin yoga you come into a pose at your edge, remain still and hold for a period of 3-5 minutes. Yin yoga is also thought to benefit the organs by removing blockages in the energy pathways of the body that flow through the connective tissues. In the area at Explore Yoga and Wellness.


Classes that are described as gentle generally guide practitioners through a slower and more passive sequence of postures. They often focus on connecting the breath with mindful movements that reduce tension and increase energy. Gentle yoga classes are particularly suited for beginners and people working with injuries. In the area at Breathe Yoga, Explore Yoga, Lotus Studio.

Niche yoga

A few yoga styles just pop out at you, these are just a few! The only one below offered in Shreveport/Bossier is Aerial Yoga. You can find out more about the many styles of yoga by visiting or and searching for styles.

Aerial yoga (anti-gravity yoga) offers authentic yoga, with the support of a soft aerial fabric hammock.

Harmonica yoga. A form of Raja Yoga (yoga for the mind and body). The best, most effective, most entertaining way to teach a group of any size to focus on their breathing…is to teach them, mindfully, to play the harmonica, says founder David Harp on Harmonica yoga’s website,

Karaoke yoga. Yes, you sing while doing yoga. Jennifer Pastiloff explains what it’s all about her website. “It’s singing your heart out and laughing and dancing and balancing and sweating and letting go of all your fears.

Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga) is a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter. Laughter yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.

Tantrum yoga. The temper tantrum serves to release steam and emotion, and is usually followed by a blissfully quiet calm. Tantrum yoga gives adults an ability to experience this release.

Wheelchair or chair yoga. Traditional poses adapted for those who are in a wheelchair.

Yoga raves. According to the not-for-profit movement’s website

“Yoga Rave is a party like none other in world, a new concept in fun where the body responds only to the stimulation of music, yoga and meditation.”

Yoga local

•Aerial Expressions

1240 Shreveport Barksdale Hwy. Suite 109

Shreveport, LA 71105


•Aspire Yoga Center

663 Jordan Street

Shreveport, Louisiana 71101


•Breathe Yoga

1935 E. 70th Street

Shreveport, LA 71105


•Lotus Studio

Marcia Sample

446 Olive Street

•Hatha Yoga / Yoga Nidra

Facebook: Down Brown Dog Yoga

•Explore Yoga and Wellness

4801 Line Ave

Pierremont Mall Shopping Center

4801 Line Ave, Shreveport, LA 71106


•Yoga Jai

Sundays 3pm.

Betty Virginia Park

Teachers who Unlock Inner Doors

Reema Moudgil
QUEEN’S ROAD: “I was never a dancer, never a gymnast, never naturally peaceful, patient or confident. I generally felt socially awkward, private, introverted, comfortable reading and studying but not talking, sharing. I never ever felt beautiful or elegant, always felt like the small girl in the corner. Then one day after many years of Yoga practice, I looked in the mirror and saw beauty. It was like suddenly I saw what other people said when they gave me a compliment. I could never let it in when they said I was pretty until I saw it myself. It was like I saw myself for the first time. Who was this girl in the mirror? It’s like all this beauty, elegance and power was right there waiting for me to discover it. I didn’t need to be anyone else, look any different. I just needed to drop down deep enough to see my true. Who are you really? Who are you at your deepest self? Today’s Yogi assignment is beauty. Look at yourself in the mirror and see your beauty. See it, own it, share it. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are exactly who you need to be,” so says the latest Facebook update from Kino MacGregor, an international Yoga teacher, author of three books, producer of six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, writer, blogger, world traveller, co-founder of Miami Life Center ( and founder of Miami Yoga Magazine (

Kino MacGregor Her dharma, she says, is to help people experience,”the limitless potential of the human spirit.” She teaches all over the world and on Kino Yoga Instagram( with over 650,000 followers and on Kino Yoga YouTube channel with over 60 million views. She is equipped with more than 15 years of experience in Ashtanga Yoga and is one of the select few to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysuru.
It all began for her when she attended her first Yoga class at 19. At 29, she received from K. Pattabhi , the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga.

I got interested in her life and work when I was initiated into Yoga by a young teacher who hopes to learn from Kino sometime next year.

For someone who has equated exercise with long walks, Jane Fonda videos, Zumba and short-lived stints at the gym, Yoga has been a revelation. If only because it has taught me to focus on the locks and keys hidden in our forgotten, neglected bodies. It has taught me that when you succeed in touching your toes by extending your back and feel dormant energy flowing through stiff limbs, softening and oxygenating them, what you get is not just an adrenal rush but an epiphany that says, “I am alive..and I live in the small of my back, in my knees, in my calves, in some mysterious founts within me that I tap only when I stretch myself physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Kino’s updates are inspiring because she is a guru who was one of us many years ago but listened to her body, heart and soul and found her authentic self and is now helping others to do the same.

What Yoga does, I have learnt, is to bring to the surface all the stuff we leave unaddressed in our hurry to get on with life. Be it a small ache in your shoulder, an anger trigger, unarticulated emotions or more, the more you get immersed in your practice, the less time you have for inauthentic experiences. You want to steer clear of negativity. You want to eat healthy. And you no longer want to be oblivious to who you really are.

Another Facebook page that really goes into the heart of such life lessons is the one managed by It is run by Ally Hamilton, a Yoga teacher, co-founder of, writer, and lover of dark chocolate and meditation. Sample one of her posts, “Sometimes we can get really caught up in someone else’s drama. There are all kinds of people in this world, and many of them are suffering in some way or another. You really have no idea about the interior world of another human being unless they choose to share it with you. There are people coming out of abuse, neglect and abandonment. People trying to overcome betrayal. People clinging and trying to control whatever and whomever they can so they don’t feel so afraid. People with personality disorders, people suffering from depression, people grasping onto their anger like a shield, people numbing out so they don’t have to feel anything at all. If you get too close, you’re going to get nailed. It’s just the nature of things. It’s possible that a person in pain has been that way for so long, it isn’t immediately obvious. Everyone has coping mechanisms, some are healthy, some are not. It takes a good long while to truly know another person. If we’re speaking romantically, it takes even longer, because you have to let the dust/lust clear before you can really see what’s there. Regardless, people will show you who they are, and/or where they are on their path if you give them enough time. Some people have walls up. Some people are angry and nasty because they’ve been hurt and disappointed so much, they can’t think of anything else to do but keep people out. You cannot negotiate with a caged animal.We can only manage our own side of the street.”

Stuff like this is both personal and universal and comes from a deep place that was once dark and soggy with pain but is now resplendent. Ally’s followers write long posts to her, asking for advice, thanking her for her wisdom. Ally grew up in NYC and in her final year at the Columbia University, began practicing Yoga. Two babies, a Yoga studio and a global following later, she was once quoted as saying, “I used to say things like, ‘everything happens for a reason,’ but I’ve seen things that are so incomprehensibly heartbreaking that I don’t try to wrap things up in neat little packages anymore. I do my best to witness what’s happening around me, and to witness the way I respond. I believe in personal accountability, and in doing the work to get right with yourself. I think the natural state of all humans is love. I’ve birthed two babies and I think we arrive full of love and curiosity and passion for life. Sometimes we learn fear and limitations and mistrust. Yoga helps us unlearn those things, heal what needs to be healed, and return to our natural state, again, LOVE.”

What I have learnt from these two women is to be unafraid and to look within without fear and doubt, own the truth and to be kinder to myself. It begins with taking care of your body. And then the nourishing glow spreads to the nerve ends of your spirit. The Yoga mat becomes a metaphor for life where you stand before a closed door or many, and then after months of fumbling, find the key to not just the door before you but many others.

17 Images That Prove Yoga Isn’t Just for Skinny White Girls

17 Images That Prove Yoga Isn’t Just for Skinny White Girls

When you think about people who practice yoga, what image do you see in your head? Usually, you’re less likely to conjure images of the Indian people who created yoga thousands of years ago, and more likely to think of rows of perfectly toned, Lulumelon-clad white women. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does discredit the many different people with their many different body types who practice yoga for their own spiritual and physical health.

“People see yoga as the thin, blonde, white girl,” Valerie S., who’s Filipino and Mexican, told Colorlines’ Miriam Zoila Perez. “I’m happy to be someone who is not of the main kind of people and show that people like me can do yoga as well.”

Source: Instagram
Initially, Valerie said, she found that yoga classes weren’t necessarily fit for larger people, but she eventually found the right teacher. “I’ve never really been that discouraged because my first teacher was pretty positive about it — you didn’t have to get the pose right, you just had to know how to move your body around,” she said. “I’ve learned that I can do [any] pose, I just have to modify it in a certain way.”

Valerie, with 48,000 fans on Instagram, isn’t the only woman of color, or larger person, to rock the yoga mat. Here’s a more inclusive spectrum of the wide variety of people who practice yoga.

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Elite runner finds balance with yoga

Elite runner finds balance with yoga
Nicky Moffat |

COMMONWEALTH Games runner Mel Panayiotou describes herself as an “accidental athlete” but there’s nothing coincidental about her yoga practice.

Ms Panayiotou surprised the elite athletics scene in October 2013 when she placed third female at the Medibank Melbourne Marathon. Running had just been “a hobby”, she said, but soon she was training to compete against the best in the world.

“It was almost an accidental qualification for me,” she said.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing the first time I ran a marathon, but I got a qualifying time.”

In 2014 she qualified for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where she placed eighth overall.

Ms Panayiotou is currently ranked first on the Australian National Marathon Rankings and if it wasn’t for a minor injury to her lower back she would have competed in the International Association of Athletics Federations world championships in Beijing at the weekend.

Yoga became a part of Ms Panayiotou’s routine after Mooloolaba-based yoga teacher Bryan Castle, of Yoga Vida, approached her last year.

“I had done yoga before but hadn’t really done it seriously,” she said. “I found it was not only a great way to relax after long running sessions but it really helped me with balance.”

She said yoga practice made her more aware of her “whole body” and what it needed.

“I find it’s great for flexibility, balance and recovery,” she said. “The mental benefits are one of the most fantastic benefits too – you feel great when you come out of it.”

A busy veterinary surgeon at Australia Zoo, Ms Panayiotou said she worked on her feet all day and trained before and after work. She said mental ability as well as physical training was crucial to balancing this juggling act.

A Mooloolaba resident, Ms Panayiotou says she is lucky to train on its beaches and practice at a local.

“I truly believe it’s a great complement to most sports,” she said. “I can definitely say it is for running – most runners really neglect that part of the sport.”

She said it was “fantastic” Yoga Vida had recently moved to a bigger space, at 177 Brisbane Rd, Mooloolaba.

Mr Castle said it was very rewarding to work with athletes such as Ms Panayiotou, who took their health and fitness so seriously.

His new yoga studio was now the biggest on the Sunshine Coast.

“I’ve got open windows, sunsets and sunrises, natural air and natural light. There’s a lovely ambience to the place,” he said.

Indigenous medicine packs a punch


There is no denying that India has an unmatched heritage of ancient systems of medicine which are a treasure-house of knowledge for both preventive and curative healthcare. This could be harnessed in achieving the goal of ‘Healthcare for All’. In the recent past, we have also seen a resurgence of interest in other forms of Indian system of medicine — ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (AYUSH) — due to their immense utility in tackling lifestyle disorders, not only in India but all across the globe.

Although India has made significant progress in the last six decades in providing healthcare, we are witnessing a significant change in the disease pattern in the country, with an increasing number of people suffering from communicable and non-communicable diseases.

India ranks somewhere at the bottom of 193 countries on various critical health parameters such as number of doctors, nurses, and beds. We need to double the number of our doctors, from 0.7 to 1.5 million, for which we need at least 600 new medical colleges. We also need to triple our nurses count and quadruple the number of paramedics. This will entail considerable investment of our scarce financial resources. Further, this demands increased focus on preventive and promotive care.

AYUSH infrastructure

With a new health policy on the anvil, we have an opportunity to mainstream the Indian system of medicine and integrate the available AYUSH infrastructure into the healthcare system. This infrastructure consists of 1,355 hospitals with 53,296-bed capacity, 22,635 dispensaries, 450 undergraduate colleges, 99 colleges with postgraduate departments, 9,493 licensed manufacturing units, and 7.18 lakh registered practitioners.

The AYUSH sector has an estimated annual turnover of around ₹120 billion and more than 8,000 licensed manufacturing units involved in the country. India, with a wealth of 6,600 medicinal plants, is the second largest exporter of AYUSH and herbal products in the world, estimated at₹22.7 billion in 2013-14. And yet, according to the recent NSSO survey, 90 per cent of the population, both rural and urban, prefers allopathy over AYUSH.

This ironical situation could be attributed to low awareness of the enormous scope of these time-tested ancient systems. There is need for greater advocacy, increased regulation as well as promotion of evidence-based research.

The government has taken a positive step by elevating the department of Indian system of medicine and homoeopathy (ISM&H) to an independent ministry, AYUSH, in November 2014. The allocation of₹50 billion to this ministry and launch of an independent ‘National AYUSH Mission’ aimed at capacity building for the sector and creation of centres of excellence will help in the promotion and mainstreaming of AYUSH. It is encouraging that the government is considering setting up a central regulatory regime for yoga, ayurveda and other traditional systens.

There is need for the creation of a separate drug controller general for the AYUSH sector. These steps will bring more business maturity, standing and much required competitiveness at the national and global levels.

We also need better clarity about the role envisaged for AYUSH doctors in the delivery of assured primary healthcare. Since they have completed a five-year course in AYUSH, they could become the most appropriate human resource to tide over the longstanding shortage of trained doctors in India.

Some State governments such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Delhi, have introduced a bridge course extending from six months to one year, for trained AYUSH practitioners, which then permits them to prescribe 47 listed drugs that are commonly used in primary health centres (PHCs). Hence, there are solutions that can be considered in order to achieve optimum utilisation of AYUSH facilities to address the enormous healthcare needs and generate employment opportunities in India.

Medical tourism

According to the FICCI-KPMG report, the inflow of medical tourists into India is likely to cross 3.2 million soon, generating a market that may cross $4 billion in 2015.

Medical tourism in India started with AYUSH. People from all across the world come to India for health-restorative cum alternative treatments through a combination of ayurveda, yoga, acupuncture, herbal massages, nature therapies, and some ancient Indian healthcare methods. There should be no doubt that medical value travel has the potential to become the next IT/ITES sector, attracting big investments and generating significant employment opportunities.

The time has come when all the stakeholders need to pool in their resources and move towards harnessing the vast potential of AYUSH.

The AYUSH industry looks forward to a regulatory regime with better clarity and a greater push from the government.

The writer is the secretary-general of FICCI

(This article was published on August 2, 2015)

Sanskrit summer camp attracts 60 intellectuals in China

A general view shows the settlements of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sertar County of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. (Reuters photo)
BEIJING: A group of 60 Chinese intellectuals have enrolled at a Buddhist Institute for a free summer camp to study Sanskrit to understand the religious and yoga texts better as the ancient Indian language is becoming popular among the new generation of Chinese in the Communist nation.

The trainees were selected from more than 300 candidates and cover a broad sphere of professions, including yoga instructors, mechanical designers, performers, hotel management and environmental protection personnel.

Their study at the Hangzhou Buddhism Institute in eastern China over the next six days will focus on reading and writing Sanskrit.

“The language has very complicated grammar. For the present tense alone, the inflection of one verb can have 72 alterations,” Li Wei, an instructor who holds a doctorate in Indology from the University of Mainz, Germany, said.

Sanskrit has gained prominence in China since Buddhist texts were brought by famous monks like famous Chinese Monk Xuan Zang after 17 year long journey to India in sixth century.

Since the several Chinese monks made their way to India, brought a number of religious and texts about ancient Indian medicine.

The Peking University has a separate department for Sanskrit where over 60 study the language. Renowned Indologist Ji Xianlin has been awarded Padma Shri for his contribution.

There is renewed interest in Sanskrit ever since yoga has become popular in recent years specially after UN designated June 21 as international yoga day. Many of the trainees in Hangzhou class have been required to work overtime beforehand to get the six days off, some used their annual vacation while others working night-shifts to save the day for study, state- run Xinhua news agency reported.

Trainee He Min, who graduated with an economics degree from Renmin University of China in Beijing and now works as a yoga practitioner in Hangzhou, says the chance was “too precious” to pass up.

“Sanskrit is a common language used by yoga practitioners across the world. Though many yoga textbooks are written in English, the postures we practice remain named in Sanskrit and the chants are also in Sanskrit,” the 39-year-old said.

Teaching herself Sanskrit for almost three years, she said she was “still a rookie” due to the lack of professional instruction.
Chinese schools began Sanskrit classes in the late 1940s. But the discipline has developed slowly due to the lack of proper textbooks and a teacher shortage.