Instructor of the Month: Denise Daneck

Why do you teach yoga?

Yoga is amazingly healing on all levels. It is a gift to share and anyone who feels called to should!  What an incredible opportunity to dissolve boundaries, connect unconditionally on a soul-level, and explore the power of collective group energy with sacred intentions! I love all of the possibilities that teaching offers.

What is your teaching history?

I began reading the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and all kinds of texts on yoga/meditation in college before developing any sort of consistent asana practice. I moved to asheville while dabbling in various spiritual practices with the intention to learn yoga and have been teaching here now for about two and a half years.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

Warrior 2! Lately I go into it and feel almost instantaneously empowered, energized, and focused.

What’s your sign? (astrological)

Sun in Virgo–Moon in Pisces

What is your most challenging pose?

Handstand in the middle of the room.  It reveals to me some limitations and work I need to do.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

About six years.

Describe yourself in three words?

Peaceful, grateful, active

What is your favorite quote?

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi

What is your favorite word?

Ethereal

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Reading now: The Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne, The Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton, and Learning to Silence the Mind by OSHO.

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

Changing Waters by Lis Addison, Nataraja by jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach, Fear of Falling by James Murray, Shyama Bolo by  Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach

What is your favorite food?

Smoothies & Green Juice!

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)

Last watched The Princess Kaguya and Still Alice

What inspires you?

Nature, conscious evolution, Light-workers & Difference-makers

Denise’s class schedule:
Friday- 4-5 AYC
Saturday- 12:15-1:45 AYC

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

 

Instructor of the Month: Rich Fabio

Why do you teach yoga?

It agrees with me.  Every other line of work I tried I wasn’t very good at.  I used to work so I could be a yogi in my off time.  Now, I see work as a contribution to society and my community. It is an extension of who I am.

What is your teaching history?

I have explored many styles and facets of yoga.  I first started teaching meditation as that was my first interest.  My body was weak so I took up asana.  I taught vinyasa flow sequences in college.  When I decided to teach yoga full time I was initially an alignment teacher and now I offer a fusion of all my past teachers and methodologies including other wisdom studies like Qigong and Kaballah in The Roots Moving Meditations.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

Kneeling One Legged Blue Moon pose as my teacher calls it.  You have to see it to know what it is.  But it is really cool and fun.

What’s your sign? (astrological)

Aries sun

What is your most challenging pose?

Dropbacks

How long have you been practicing yoga?

12 years

Describe yourself in three words:

Happy, honest, and free

What is your favorite quote?

“You already have it!” – Lee Rothstein

What is your favorite word?

Gelfling

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Vivekachudamani by Swami Dayananda, Dune by Frank Herbert, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Lama Anagarika Govinda, and The Principles of the Greater Kan and Li by Mantak Chia

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

Pure Imagination by Willy Wonka and Celebrate by Madonna

What is your favorite food?

Pizza

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)

Being There

What inspires you?

I find Chi and understanding Chi very inspiring as well as when people consciously try to be better at living their life.

Rich’s Teaching Schedule:
Fridays and Sundays 12:15-1:45pm Align and Flow

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

Yogi Tips for Spring Cleansing

Spring is the ideal season for cleansing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is related to the wood element, which tends the liver and gall bladder. These organs focus on the cleansing process: secretion and detoxification. As things get moving in nature, our bodies need to get moving too in order to avoid winter stagnation that manifests in digestive disrupts, respiratory congestion or headaches. Supporting detoxification, drainage and circulation with food choices and movement can help kick off our spring cleanse.

Food for Cleanse

Any cleansing is good cleansing. At the minimum, avoiding stimulants like coffee, sugar, alcohol, and other simple carbs help to reduce cortisol production and lessen the body’s response and “crash” pattern. This sugar roller coaster can leave one feeling heavy or fatigued. The goal of a spring cleanse is to lighten that load.

A plant-based, whole foods diet will allow your body to focus on cleansing and not converting sugar or digesting more burly foods, like meat. More intense cleanses include juice fasts and should be conducted with the support of health practitioner.

Wild foods that grow in your yard are nature’s superfoods that aid in spring detoxification. Many can be added to salads or made into a pesto like the recipe below. Some of our other favorites include: Chickweed, Dandelion, Chickory, Plantain and Watercress.

Chickweed Pesto Recipe

4 Cloves of garlic
½ cup of olive oil (extra virgin)
3 cups fresh chickweed leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
1 tbsp of lemon juice
½ cup of walnuts
Sea salt to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend well.

Herbal support during cleansing can include these plants:

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Nettles (Urtica dioica)
Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

Yoga for Detox

A spring yoga practice that focuses on compressions and twists in the abdominal region will support cleansing. Cardiovascular exercise will assist detoxification, allowing for better secretion and elimination. In addition, restorative poses can help integrate your cleanse, while providing gentle support to a rigorous fast.

Here are some cleanse-supporting poses:

Bharadvajasana I (Seated twist)
Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)
Parivritta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)
Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)

 

Yoga and the Pelvis: Beyond Mula Bandha

Let’s just admit it: on a cultural level, we are wildly dysfunctional about all things pelvis. We have near-epidemic urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, fertility and birthing challenges, progressively lower sperm counts, and a variety of pelvic pain syndromes. And we have yet to overcome our cultural judgment and outright hatred fueled by sexuality. In Yoga Land, these are all pelvic issues, from the structural to spiritual.

So, what magic does Yoga offer us to help heal these pelvic wounds?

Traditionally, Yoga is vested in our spiritual evolution and offers us tools, including asana, pranayama, and meditation, to help us along a path of becoming integrated human beings. Yoga is energetically interested in asana in order to stimulate and move prana through our subtle body’s system chakras and nadis to clear blockages standing in our way of waking up. In yogic lore, the pelvic floor is often described as a gateway to unlocking our potential for this spiritual awakening.

In subtle anatomy, the pelvis is considered the home of the apana vayu, the form of prana that most influences our “down and out” functions, including elimination and reproduction. The pelvis also houses the foundation for spiritual development in the root chakra where we find potential blockages around issues of family, belonging, worthiness, self-acceptance, and groundedness. We find an energetic connection to our limbic brain, and our primal reactions to fear. We also find mula bandha, or “root lock” which, when practiced with other bandhas, serves to help seal prana in our central shushumna nadi. As we move from the root chakra up to the sacral chakra, we find our potential blockages around issues of sexuality, creativity, fluidity, our ability to adapt to change, and our ability to connect to other human beings.

From a biomechanics perspective, a lifetime of sitting and wearing shoes (among other cultural habits), profoundly impacts the position of the pelvis, the tension in the muscles and fascia supporting the pelvis, and ultimately the function of the pelvic organs. The way we habitually sit, sleep, stand and move becomes the shape of our bodies. Since the body is brilliant in its ability to adapt to how we use it all the time, yogis must be careful not to develop an asana practice that reinforces sub-optimal movement habits, and potentially perpetuates dysfunction.

At its best, asana practice can be a mirror to help us understand our bodies’ habits of movement, and when practiced mindfully, it can be a powerful tool for structural transformation. Asana can absolutely help us along our journey toward optimal pelvic health by optimizing our structural as well as energetic habits. Since pelvic floor dysfunction is always a whole-body and whole-person issue, we must go waybeyond mula bandha to address it. The good news is, Yoga offers us tools, which can help re-pattern our habits on every level, leading to improved function of all things pelvis.

Upcoming workshop: Yoga and the Pelvis: Beyond Mula Bandha with Libby Hinsley, PT, E-RYT 500 (April 19)

 

 

“I am old- I turn 55 in April. I started practicing Yoga when I was 14. The nuns asked my parents to have me see a doctor about putting me on meds for my hyperactivity. I was in a very small private Catholic school in Coconut Grove, Florida. The doc and my parents were against medication so the school brought in a Yoga teacher- Eve Diskin, then the President of the American Society of Yoga. I spent my afternoons teaching and taking Yoga on a little white towel in my school uniform (no yoga clothes or mats back then) overlooking Biscayne Bay. I never realized how fortunate I was until many years later. So, while I did teach back then (had no idea what I was doing), I did not take a teacher training class until I came to Asheville Yoga Center in 2005.” – Rosie Mulford


Hot Yoga 101

Some Like it Hot, Some Not.

Hot yoga classes are one of the most popular styles of yoga in the U.S. today. Without debate, those that like hot yoga, really like hot yoga. Hot yoga isn’t everyone’s favorite, however. Whether it’s your thing or not, studies are showing while there are some amazing benefits to perspiring in your poses, it is important to understand how heat affects the body while exercising.

How hot is Hot?

The temperature of a hot yoga class isn’t a fixed number, it varies from studio to studio. Some studios call 85 degrees hot, while at the hottest end, Bikram classes are at 105+ degrees. Asheville Yoga Center defines our hot yoga classes as 90+ degrees. We also offer “warm yoga”, which has a thermostat reading of 80-89 degrees, because sometimes that feels more comfortable.

Hot yoga got its start from Bikram Choudary, founder of Bikram yoga. This style of yoga involves holding postures for one minute in room with 105+degrees plus 50% humidity. It took root and grew in the U.S. (Hollywood, CA), in the 1970s and is still a widely popular style today, with Bikram himself still leading classes. Ashtanga yoga was probably the next style to adapt to a hot environment, as old school ashtangis wanted to replicate the birthplace of Ashtanga yoga: southern India, where it is 90 degrees by 8 AM! This style caught on in America in the 80s. Power yoga birthed from Ashtanga, so some power yogis decided to take the heat with them, thus the growth of Hot Vinyasa (flow) yoga. And this trend grew and grew to its mega popularity today.

Benefits

Hot yoga has a variety of benefits including: deeper detoxing, increased flexibility, improved cardio, and may even help with depression. Yoga postures themselves are detoxifying for the muscles, glands and organs and sweating increases that greatly. The heat increases joint lubrication as well as safer and deeper flexibility of muscles. Your heart can achieve great cardiovascular benefits in a yoga class (hot or not), whether holding and contracting muscles in postures, or moving through a Vinyasa flow class. The heat can help stimulate your metabolism so you are burning calories outside the room as well. Sweating has been proven to boost endorphins and boost immunity. The Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical Research Program says that, “regular practice of hot yoga may regulate certain physiological functions that could contribute to the reversal of a depressed state.” In addition, those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder could get some respite from yoga as it increases blood flow to the brain, increases energy. Anecdotally, some seasonal sufferers have reported a sense of warm weather well-being while in a hot yoga class; perhaps tricking the body into thinking it is somewhere warm and sunny?

Precautions

A study by the American Council on Exercise in July 2013 found that core temperatures for both the typical and hot classes fell well below the critical zone of 104 degrees. Although study participants perceived that the hot class was more difficult, researchers concluded that the hot yoga class was not dangerous for the average exerciser.

While hot yoga offers great physical and mental benefits, some things to be mindful of are dehydration, dizziness, headache, mild nausea. If any of these symptoms occur, it is recommended to remove yourself from class and go cool down in the lobby. For dehydration-prevention: drink, drink, drink! This includes before, during and after class. Drinking coffee is not recommended as it is naturally dehydrating. To help with dizziness, try moving slower up and down, it is not imperative to keep up with the class if your head is spinning! Headaches can be caused from dehydration, detoxification or a myriad of other things. Often, exercise helps, but not always. Sometimes, exiting class is best. For nausea, try lying down, the floor is often cooler. Drink water. And perhaps exit the class as well.

While these symptoms can occur in any style yoga class, all are common results of detoxification and are intensified in a hot environment. They are usually not harmful, just uncomfortable, so ultimately it is up the student to decide what is best for them: Hot, intense, detoxifying practice? Medium, warm, detoxifying practice? Cool, gentler, detoxifying practice? Luckily, Asheville Yoga Center offers all of the above.

 

Winter Wellness with Ayurveda

Yoga and Ayurveda are considered to be sister sciences. These ancient traditions developed over a period of thousands of years and provide models for self-care and optimal well being. Ayurveda uses three “doshas”—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha— to explain an individual’s unique constitutional makeup. Each is aligned with certain elements and a time of year.

Vata is associated with winter, air, and space.  The abundance of Vata during the winter season can lead to symptoms like anxiety, dry skin, constipation, joint discomfort, and more, especially in individuals with a Vata constitution.  Living according to Ayurvedic principles allows us to balance excess Vata brought on by the winter season in order to combat stress, digestive issues, brain fog, and other patterns of disease in the body.

When Vata is high, we may experience scattered thoughts and difficulty finding a daily rhythm.  We can balance Vata during the winter season by:

  1. Have a morning ritual (daily routine or Dinacharya). Use a neti pot, do a warm sesame oil self-massage (Abhangya), meditate, or do some other contemplative morning practice.
  2. Stay warm. Dress in layers and protect yourself from the elements.
  3. Eat with intention. Try to eat at the same times each day.  Make mealtimes a ritual of reverence, mindfulness, and gratitude.
  4. Cook with warming spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, and black pepper.
  5. Stay hydrated by sipping warm water, drinking herbal teas, and eating nourishing soups and stews. Try this recipe: Potato Leek Soup with Fennel Seeds & Red Pepper
  6. Get lots of rest. Prioritize sleep and relaxing activities.  Aim to get to bed around the same time each night; before 10 p.m. is ideal.

By creating time and space in our lives for self-care practices like these, we can experience greater serenity and wholeness through the winter and throughout the year.

Want to learn more? Check out our yoga workshops or take Deepak Chopra’s online Dosha Quiz.

Teach Yoga While Attending College

Yoga is a path to find your true self and to honor that journey in your life. As you know, yoga teacher trainings can help you strengthen and deepen your yoga practice, delve into your bliss and discover your true nature. Perhaps your daily practice and yoga teacher trainings have guided you to return to a more conventional educational journey.

Teaching yoga while you attend college can serve you well in many different ways. It can help you reduce stress and maintain your focus, while earning money to support your goals.

Whether you’re undertaking a stringent medical school itinerary or paving your way into the arts through a four-year degree, your yoga teacher trainings and a yoga lifestyle will help you to:

  • Maintain focus during lectures
  • Improve your memory
  • Relieve stress
  • Help you sleep soundly
  • Remember your purpose in life
  • Pay the bills

Continue Yoga Teacher Trainings

If you’re a registered yoga teacher (RYT) attending college, you can pursue additional yoga training to both boost your credentials and enhance your class offerings without cutting into your academic schedule. Yoga schools such as the Asheville Yoga Center offer classes on weekends, in the evenings and for brief periods of time.

  • During spring break, take a weeklong children’s or senior’s certification course
  • Immerse yourself in a 3-week intensive program during summer vacation
  • Earn advanced credentials on weekends
  • Sign up for flexible weekday and evening courses

Moreover, as a yoga teacher, you can create your own schedule. Whether you offer classes though your own business or work at an established yoga studio, you have the flexibility to teach when your school and study schedules allow, a benefit not always available with other part-time jobs.

Yoga Teacher Trainings to Enhance Curriculum

Yoga is a practice that aligns very well with a number of other career paths. Another benefit of teaching while you attend college is that you can apply much of what you’ve learned to your studies.

Fields of study that are enhanced by your yoga teacher trainings include:

  • Chiropractor
  • Doctor/PA
  • Nurse/Medical Practitioner
  • Psychologist/Counselor
  • Schoolteacher/Academic
  • Nutritionist/Chef
  • Business owner/Manager

Doctors and other medical care providers turn to alternative medicine on a regular basis, particularly when they run out of options in their traditional healing methods. By entering into the healthcare field with a deep understanding of how stress affects the body — and how much relief patients can achieve through yoga, you will become a well-rounded physician.

Working in the mental health field, you can enhance your coaching and guidance skills by relying on the discipline you achieved through your own yoga teacher trainings, as well as through the daily practice you enjoy. During and after your college coursework, you’ll possess a wealth of information to share with clients seeking relief in a stressful world.

Caveats to Consider

While going to school and teaching yoga can provide a meaningful and prosperous way to fulfill your dreams, there are challenges and consequences to consider. Remember Buddha’s Five Remembrances that refer to the nature of being human and the frailty that is our reality. Prepare yourself for setbacks, failures, loss and change.

Like many people who wear many hats and take on significant responsibilities, you may find:

  • You have trouble concentrating on your studies when you are immersed in yoga practices
  • You may be too tired to stick with your yoga routines
  • It may take you longer than expected to study
  • You may question your resolve
  • You could get burnt out

While these all are common challenges that can strike any yoga teacher, students pursuing other paths may encounter contradictions and complications more than others. The call of the secular world may create an inner struggle that becomes difficult to overcome. The challenges may wear you out.

Yoga is a practice that aligns very well with a number of other career paths.

Coping for Students

Fortunately, because of the skills you gained from a registered program like those offered at the Asheville Yoga Center, you know how to cope. When pressure mounts, stop and breathe. Remember why you chose the path you’re on and what you hope to achieve.

Before you burn out, try these tips:

  • Carve out time for mini-yoga sessions
  • Practice chair yoga while you’re in long lectures
  • Reduce the number of classes you teach
  • Ask another yoga teacher to take an occasional class when you have a big test
  • Wake up 30 minutes earlier each day to meditate
  • Reduce or avoid caffeine, nicotine and other stimulating substances
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Eat warm, healthy meals
  • Carve out time to be with supportive friends

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

 

Focus & Communication —

Two Skills a Yoga Teacher Needs

In the universe of skills you need to develop during your yoga instructor training, two of the most vital are: learning how to focus and learning how to communicate effectively. Your training will teach you both skills, but first you must learn to listen. While you will learn to focus outside yourself, you also may find freedom as you focus within.


When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.

—Peace Pilgrim


Maintain Drishti

Drishti is a valuable technique for keeping your focus on reality. During yoga instructor training, you will practice developing the concentration you will need when you assume the role of teacher. In the meanwhile, maintain drishti while performing your own daily yoga routine. Your attention follows your eyes, so you must learn how to overcome the distractions of the world. In a classroom, you may have students who giggle, dress inappropriately or come to class unwashed. When you begin teaching, whether for yourself or for another, you will accrue bills and responsibilities that may lead to worry and stress. At all times, the world presses in to distract you. Even while you are immersed in yoga instructor training, you will be tempted to judge your instructors, your fellow students and the center itself. Never is it more important to develop the yoga technique called drishti.

Practice Seeing Truth

To still your racing mind, strive to eliminate distractions and see the world as it is. While training to become a yoga teacher, learn to see the world through a soft gaze that guides your focus to the inner essence of a thing. Students often struggle to force their gazes away from a thing that pulls on their attention. Instead, maintain a non-judgmental, detached gaze. When your inner peace becomes disrupted and the distractions around you scream for attention, that’s when you must find stability and balance. If you cannot tame your thoughts, focus on people and things outside yourself; when the environment beckons your attention, focus on the peace within. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali explains that too often you don’t see the world as it truly is. Instead, you become deluded with false premises and wrong perceptions. As part of yoga instructor training, you will discover how to end the confusion wrought by false illusions. Then you will see the world correctly.


Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the isness of the Now. You can’t argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer.

—Eckhart Tolle


Share the Focus

The relationships you form during your yoga instructor training serve as the basis upon which you will build your own yoga following. The relationship that exists between the student and the teacher goes beyond the physical, but this inner connection requires focus to survive in the outer world. The link that exists between the compassionate teacher and the devoted student can endure with conscious attention. In your yoga instructor training, you are but a student. When experienced teachers, such as those you’ll encounter at the Asheville Yoga Center, show you kindness and inspiration, you will naturally develop deep respect for them. Your bond will grow as you endure the challenges of an immersion learning process. The experience will leave you with a longing to lead your own classes and develop a similar bond with your students. To achieve this level of focus, listen and hear how your teachers communicate that reality.

Listen and Become Ready

In yoga instructor training, you must be able to listen to the lessons and hear the truth. Communication is a two-way street, but during your training, you must sit squarely in the receiver’s seat. If your goal is to become like your teacher, learn how to give the compassion and wisdom that you so richly receive in your program. Your role is to listen and inherit the blessings communicated to you during training. Once you have perfected the ability to focus on the kindness of your teachers, once you can intuit how they communicate with love the principles embodied in your yoga instructor training, then the relationship of teacher and student is ready to turn around. And you will inherit the role of teacher.


A person experiences life as something separated from the rest — Our task must be to free ourselves from this self-imposed prison, and through compassion, to find the reality of Oneness.

—Albert Einstein


Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide