Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wheels Are In Motion

Namaste Everyone!!
I'm writing to you all with much enthusiasm this evening. It seems the wheels are finally in motion for this full-length Take Five Yoga DVD I have been trying to work out for the past few months. My good friend and amazing cameraman, Tim, and I wrapped up our latest video shoot for our next youtube vlog which will air sometime this week. Afterwards, over some good ol' down on the farm Bob Evans we discussed the specifics of a possible filming schedule. Woo-HOOOO!! We've had some unexpected set-backs, but it looks like things are really happening. We start filming the weekend of April 15th and by late June/early July you, yes you, will be able to own your very own copy of Take Five Yoga's first ever full-length instructional DVD. Ow owww... this way, no matter where you are, you can always Take Five with yours truly!
For further information on our filming schedule, be sure to visit Tim's site. Also, I do have 95% of the Asanas already prepared, however, if there are any particular body-parts you want me to focus in on (so far I have segments for quads, hamstrings, shoulders, upper/lower back and core) please let me know and I'm sure I can work it in to the final script.
Celebrate good times... this is truly the definition of good times for me.
Much love & laughter,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Latest Video w/Special Guest: Squeaky

Namaste Everyone!
My friend and camera-man, Tim, has an adorable dog named Squeaky. Since this week's vlog involves the Asanas Downward Facing Dog and Three Legged Dog we figured we should have a special guest-appearance with the li'l Squeakster. Enjoy!!
Much love,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Take Five for only FIVE BUCKS!

Namaste my wonderful Yogi-Bears!
I am so moved by the sunshine and the changing of the seasons. My name, Roshani, literally means "Ray of Light" so it's no wonder that when the sun finally graces us with those wonderful rays of light, I feel like all the Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) we do on a daily basis have completely paid off. As many of you already know, I am planning a big move this summer... Take Five Yoga will officially be moving to the birthplace of the original Buddha: Nepal!! Ow owwww!!!!! Can you tell how excited I am?
There are a million and one logistical concerns I have to take care of before my big departure. Consequently, the last official day of classes with Take Five Yoga in Ann Arbor will be Tuesday, April 19th. Obviously from now until then I want to be able to get in as many classes and spread the word about Take Five Yoga to as many people as possible... once in Nepal I will eventually host mini Yoga Treks so the more people I can connect with here, the better the experience in Nepal will be in years to come.
So, starting Friday, April 1st (and no this is not an April Fool's joke as one student already suggested) till Tuesday April 19th you are welcome to take your pick of any five classes for only FIVE BUCKS EACH! This is an insane deal... but what can I say? I'm insanely happy and want to spread the joy as much as possible! Please spread the word to as many people as you know so that we can build a little community of Yogi-Bears for the spring.
With much love, tons of laughter, big hugs and bright smiles,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My favorite four-letter word

I used to have a huge problem with profanity. One time it got so bad, I was teaching a classroom full of 12 year olds and I actually said, "Shit," fully projecting in classic Middle-School Teacher fashion. The worst part is, I didn't even notice I said it. It was only after the look of shock and the dead silence that followed the collective gasp of the 43 students that I thought, "What just happened here?" Mentally back-tracking everything I'd just said, I realized I actually said, "I read your essays regarding the graphic novel Persepolis and the shit you all submitted was amazing!"

I'm actually laughing and cringing as I type this. Fortunately for me, the Los Angeles Unified School District was facing too many other major problems when I was on staff in the academic years of 2007/2008 to even notice my blunder. Had this happened in most other schools I'm sure I would've never heard the end of it from parents. The fact of the matter is, I was so excited about the quality of work my students were submitting, I got very carried away with enthusiasm. Clearly. Regarding the use of profanity, Malcolm X once said that people only use it when they don't take the time to think about what they're saying. In my case this was obviously true. Had I just been conscious of the moment, of my audience, of the praise I was trying to convey, I'm sure I could've come up with something better. "I read the essays regarding the graphic novel Persepolis and your submissions astounded me," for example, would've probably gotten a much more favorable response.

Who would've guessed that students in inner-city South Central Los Angeles would foster the kind of environment for me to improve my jargon? Had I not cared about my students, their idealism, and the standards which they held for me, I probably would have continued carrying on in my typical profane ways. Luckily, for all of us, I really loved my students. I loved them so much I often couldn't sleep at night because worries about how one of them might be treated on days where uniforms were optional consumed me in the wee hours. Granted, I am a bit of a worry-wart, nevertheless, that very moment in classroom 206 definitely made me instantly aware of the four-letter words I would use from that day forward.

Yesterday I held a special in-house Kids Yoga class that lasted only 30 minutes and was easily the most fun I've had practicing Yoga. I asked the students to spell out their favorite "four-letter words" knowing that their concept of the expression is unlike the tainted perspective of us adults.
Y-O-G-A responded the eldest student, Age 9.
R-E-A-D responded an adorable girl with perfect curls, Age 7.
L-A-A-F giggled my youngest, Age 3.
and then came a response that honestly floored me. In all my years reading, writing, reciting, and teaching poetry, I never even realized my favorite word of all times also happens to be a four-letter word:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

MC Yogi: Be The Change You Wanna See

Namaste Everyone!
Some of my regulars often comment on the music and I'm always glad to get positive feedback. However, there is one secret I've been holding back for selfish reasons. During my personal practice I tend to listen to tracks that I never play at my studio. I like my practice to feel completely new and different and not so instructional. Unfortunately, this means that some of my all-time favorite artists are ones I never get to share with the people I actually get to practice with the most frequently. So, today, here is my big reveal:

For my private at-home practice, I've created a playlist on youtube that has several Mc Yogi videos. I discovered Mc Yogi during a Heated Power Yoga class I took in early 2010. I was in the middle of an intense sequence involving The Awkward Pose flowing into a weighted Warrior Three when I thought I was just gonna collapse and all of a sudden, Mc Yogi's voice chimed in with his song, "Be The Change." WOW!! I was hooked. It was one of those pivotal moments during my Yoga practice that kept me going and transformed my emotions from utter frustration to sheer joy.
Upon leaving the yoga studio that day, I immediately researched as much as I could about Mc Yogi. Turns out his music isn't the only thing that is inspirational. Raised in New York City group-homes during his high school years, MC Yogi was classified as an "at-risk" youth. He found solace in expressing himself through Graffiti and writing rhymes. Listening to hip hop and aspiring to one day become an emcee, he never guessed that at age 18 when he stumbled into Yoga, his life would turn around completely.

Eventually marrying Amanda Giacomini, a fellow Yoga Instructor and artist, the two have been taking the world by storm with a message of peace and love. I find their story to be spectacular! I hope you all enjoy the music as much as I do!

With much love & laughter,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Eating to Live: food log, day 1

Namaste Everyone!
I've discovered my latest love in the world of food is Almond Butter. Holy cow, (comin' from a Hindu this expression should be taken extra seriously) this stuff is delicious!

I thought Day One of my "Eat to Live" challenge would be extremely difficult. I am not addicted to much in life, but my three vices are definitely: salt, coffee and laughter... maybe not in that order... with the first two completely forbidden for this week I thought I might die. OK, so maybe not DIE, but at least I thought I might start to wilt a little. Thankfully, with the help of my favorite bakery, Ann Arbor's own, Zingerman's Bakehouse, I was able to indulge in delicious Italian Rustic bread with a generous spread of Almond Butter. Topped with slices of banana... Mmmm Mmm! I think I could eat like this everyday.
My other two meals were pretty simple as well: for breakfast I had a bowl of Greek Yogurt with a handful of raspberries and for lunch I had a bowl of whole-wheat cereal with Greek Yogurt... I know, I know, I'm so daring.
For snacks I ate one apple, one clementine and a banana (separate from the one I had with my bread).

I accidentally fell asleep in the sauna for about 45 minutes so I drank about a gallon & half of water... speaking of which... nature calls!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Memo to self: Eat to live.

Namaste Everyone!
My great friends, Jana and Ian, often joke that everyone should go on the "Roshani Diet." Another name for the same regimen, is the "See Food Diet." Basically, if you see food, you eat it. I must confess I am exactly like The Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. I eat any and everything in sight. On weekends, you can find me sprawled out on my parent's couch-- lifeless-- in a complete food coma. It's really quite a pathetic sight.

So, when my good friend, Jonathan, sent me this link, it really functioned as a great reminder of how I really should change my approach with food:

The narrator's words at the very beginning of the clip, "Distinguishing dinner from danger is an essential life skill," really ring true to me. Granted, unlike the Venezuelan boy, Orlando, I do not have to sift through leaves to find the perfect spider to roast, I do think those of us living in America are very much in danger when it comes to our eating habits. All too often we consume "foods" with no expiration dates laced with so much sugar and salt, it's no wonder Heart Disease is the leading killer of women in the United States.

In many ways I am such a foodie at heart, I truly do live to eat. This video has reminded me of the actual purpose of food. In the days to come, I invite you to join me for a week-long challenge: eat to live. Quite simply: if you absolutely don't need to consume something, (i.e sugar-based cookies/deserts/etc.) don't. Let's start this challenge on Monday, March 7th and end it Monday, March 14th.

I will be blogging my "Food Journal" and I invite you to either post your entires in the comments section or e-mail them to me:
t a k e f i v e y o g a @ g m a i l . c o m (omit spaces).

Wishing you all the best!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Very Simple: Be Happy.

1988 marked a year that would forever change the rest of my life. Nothing quite as dramatic as one may guess, nevertheless it was definitely a great shift in my shortly-lived life which at the time was merely 6 years old. Bobby McFerrin released his single, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." My dad, sister and I danced with this song on repeat for hours on end. That same year, we were living in a very homogenous harbor-town in southern England. A lot of our schoolmates were so perplexed by our obvious differences they could think of no other method to deal with their confusion than by bullying us. "Burnt sausages" was the one expression that comes to mind the most. Fortunately for me, either my age or my complete oblivion in life generally, allowed me to look past this and still befriend a handful of friends who remained so for years to come. My sister, on the other hand, was older and has always had a more instant grasp on reality than I have. She was deeply effected--understandably--by the taunts.

Enter Bobby McFerrin. His lyrics taught us an important life-lesson. In life you'll have some trouble, but when you worry you only make it double. What a genius! As an adult, while teaching English in the Czech Republic there was one class in particular that had an overall gloomy attitude. Nothing interested these 20 year old seniors who were looking to leave school and never look back. So like any teacher would, I came up with a torture tactic. The next time I was greeted by a classroom full of frowns, I would play my oldie goldie! For the next three days, we studied every line, every word, every syllable of the song. By the end of the school year, that class had the best attitude and two years later I still exchange snail-mail with many of my students.
On my Yoga mat, it's often easy for me to feel discouraged. There are so many Asanas to learn! Many involve a lot of upper-body strength which I'm still working on acquiring. Since leaving the Czech Republic I completely forgot about my secret weapon. What a wonderful surprise to see an attached Mp3 of the song on an e-mail I received the other day? Perfect timing. Now, when I practice my handstands I think I'll switch my Tibetan Incantations c.d with good ol' Bobby.
Just in case you've never heard the song, here it is:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shout Outs To Shiva Ji!

I'm not a religious person by any means. My sister often says I'm the most fickle "believer" she knows. This is probably true. Though science and mythology clashes so much it is sincerely difficult for me to stay constant in one faith, I do value the lessons learned from various deities. As a teacher and a woman, naturally, I am drawn to the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati. However, as a lifelong student and human being, I am completely hooked on the great God of Destruction/Transformation Shiva Ji.
Hindus revere Shiva as the great God of Dance (Nataraja), he is known to be a family man. The father of Ganesha (the elephant God who is Remover of all Obstacles) and Murugan (the God of War and Victory, fully equipped with six faces) he is a faithful husband to the wonderful Parvati. The Goddess of Power, Parvati is able to hold the fort down while Shiva meditates upon Mt. Kailash. His rage is apparently so intense--and quick--that it is only through dance and the patience of Parvati that is able to remain calm and collected most times.
The union between Shiva and Parvati is one I've greatly admired for quite some time now. A dynamic duo full of passionate love and contradictions, "The couple jointly symbolise at once both the power of renunciation and asceticism and the blessings of marital felicity." Tonight, in the Indian subcontinent people are celebrating Shiva Ratri in full-force. My friends and family in Nepal are gathering around to fast in honor of Shiva and eventually consume Bhang, a special treat available once a year in abundance and usually at temples like Pashupati Nath.
Here in Michigan Bhang is sadly pretty hard to come by. Not to mention it's illegal. Fortunately, Bhang-like Brownies, though illegal, are a bit easier to obtain in the greater Ann Arbor area. Some friends of mine are gathering tonight to celebrate the legacy of Shiva Ji. We will reflect on how we have destroyed and or transformed our own lives in the past year. Sharing stories about how our relationships can use some guidance from the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, we will also look to the future and see if we can make some changes for the better. Shiva was a master Yogi who sometimes meditated for years at a time. He was proudly celibate, yet a lover and devotee of his wife.

There are many reasons I adore Lord Shiva, but my main reason is he is a multi-dimensional God who contains layers and layers of wonders. The great poet Walt Whitman has a line in his poem, The Song of Myself which speaks volumes to me.
"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes."
I admire Shiva Ji with all his contradictions and multitudes. He is a God who leads a life that is very tangible for mere-mortal Yogis/Yoginis like you and I.

Jai Sam Bho!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

For the Love of Yoga!

‎"When you are in Love you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams." - Dr. Seuss

As of late, butterflies have been granted permanent shelter in my belly. Everything is fabulous when you get that feeling. Food tastes delicious, jokes produce the most raucous laughter, the air feels light and breezy, everything is perfect. Naturally, when you feel euphoria you want to spread the love. I express this affection with text messages to my nearest and dearest conveying my fondness for them and their presence in my life. Today, I sent the aforementioned Dr. Seuss quote and received some pretty harsh responses. So, like any person on cloud nine, I laughed. I laughed so hard the sides of my stomach ached and the butterflies deep down had to flutter their wings to smooth out the burning sensation.

I wasn't laughing out of insensitivity to those friends and family members who aren't in my position. I was laughing because there truly is no better medicine. The fact of the matter is, yes, there is a physical person who is held largely responsible for much of my recent giddiness. However, there is so much else out there that is worth falling in love with. Life. I am madly, deeply, insanely in love with life. Life gives birth to the most beautiful creatures! An iridescent beetle, a giggling baby, a spider scaling walls and warding off mosquitoes. Life is beautiful and it is everywhere.

Aside from life, there is also YOGA! Yoga and love, for me, go hand in hand. I am in love with love and I love Yoga. Try saying that ten times fast! On a serious note, there are scientifically proven benefits that Yoga can provide. Below is a list I've taken directly from a website that I found to be extremely helpful:

Gaining Confidence
Practising Yoga helps one lose extra weight. Feeling fit would help you feel more confident, which could make you more attractive for the persons of opposite sex. A fit person, of course, is liked by everybody, for he can usually do thins in a better way than the people who are benefit.

Lessening Tiredness
Yoga makes you feel energetic. So you are in better position to feel the stirrings of arousal. Feeling too tired after returning from office makes you less inclined towards love life. Yoga practices greatly improve sleep quality for chronic insomniacs. It is an exercise which connects the dots of love, and helps bonds to develop.

Improving Intimacy
When you are better physically, you are more aware of the happening around you. You are better equipped to reciprocate the advances of your partner. This automatically translates into better love life. Your emotional awareness gets transported to your inner room. You become more connected and sensitive to your partners.

Yoga enhances the power to feel sensual pleasures. It creates an awareness of your body and helps you feel moments in better way. You learn to feel and adjust to the smallest sensations during yoga practice. It teaches you to savor all the sensation in your body. This sensual awareness benefits you in your daily life and even accompanies in those private moments. Sensual awareness takes your mind away from the thoughts which worry you, thus helping you enjoying your love life.

Stimulation of Life
Yoga stimulates people mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically. This state increases their sense of self worth, and lessens ways of abusing bodies, like overeating, smoking and drinking. This again results in better physical and mental state, and the cycle begins.

Fall in Love with Yourselves
Thanks to Yoga, you are more aware of your body, which makes you fall in love with yourselves. This helps you get rid of negative things in life like negative self talk, draining relationship, careers without passion and purpose, tension in body, stress in the mind, and unhealthy habits and addictions. This results in better love life with the partner too.

With all these reasons and more, what's not to fall in love with?

Mad About Mastectomies!

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Less than 24 hours after publishing my latest Newsletter for the month of March I've already gotten some very colorful messages about a special I'm hosting this Friday evening.

"Mad About Mastectomies" is a topless Yoga class I'm having as a celebration of life! I have several clients who have overcome Breast Cancer by undergoing Mastectomies and these women inspire me on a daily basis. In Asheville I attended a Nude Yoga class and I left feeling not just naked, but almost exploited. I felt like everyone in the class was ranking one another... like it were a meat market and not a Yoga class. This is the exact opposite intention of Friday night's class.

People who have undergone Mastectomies might not want to participate because I, myself, have never had Breast Cancer. If that is the case, let me reassure you, there is a reason I quote Kahlil Gibran's statement about scars on a daily basis. When I was 19 years old I went through a life-changing skin-grafting procedure that left my torso looking more like a map than your typical body. I have scars that run deep like the bloodlines of my Warrior Women-kin who have battled the fight of their lives victoriously. I may not know what Breast Cancer feels like, but I understand that weekly trips to the doctor's office, constant injections, loss of appetite, lack of faith, a sense of isolation... overcoming all of these elements are worthy of a triumphant festival in recognition of a life well-lived!