When I first found out about the Crestone Yoga Retreat from my Life Coach, I thought “That sounds amazing! But I don’t have the time or the funds for it. I wish I could go!” Yet, somehow my work schedule cleared and I was able to come up with the cash despite being on a single income at the time.
The road trip from Denver to Crestone (only 3.5 hours) was one of the most fun road trips of my life! I was able to carpool with other retreat participant that I had only just met and we connected deeply right away and the time flew by. As we made our ascent up the rolling foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains the views, vistas and stupas were breathtaking. The property of the Zen Center was like a secret garden with views of the valley and the Sand Dunes. The buildings (especially the Zendo) were absolutely magical!
This retreat was my first real exposure to yoga and I undoubtedly had the least experience in the group. Brittany’s heart, leadership and instruction in our twice daily classes left me wanting more! As a result, I was anxious to join the Container Collective community and continue my yoga journey upon my return to Denver. In fact, Crestone had me so hooked I completed my 200 hour RYT at CC last fall!I was able to get to know each participant authentically. We laughed together, were vulnerable together, and had an indescribable sense of community and trust. We connected so much that several of us kept in close contact after the retreat.
The food, by far, was one of the highlights of the trip for all of us. Think gourmet vegetarian for all 3 meals. It was so delicious, we were so eager to eat that many of us often showed up early for every meal.
My experience is undeniable. Crestone was an awakening and unraveling for me. It was the first time in my life that my ego was stirred, and my heart began to be my guide. You simply can’t put a price on that kind of peace and ascension.
Heidi teaches and practices at Container Collective. She works in the veterinary field in emergency and critical care. She took the 200 HR teacher training, and I asked her to share her experience with each of you. Trust me, it's worth the read.
“When I first considered teacher training, I had no idea what to expect. I felt that I was in a healthy and secure time in my life, just looking to find a new way to stay fit. Yoga was very new to me but I fell in love with the practice immediately. I looked at teacher training as an opportunity to challenge myself physically. My hesitations at the time were cost and a little fear of the unknown, but after some thought and support from friends and family, I decided to make an investment in myself and go for it.
The training was tough as expected, but I instantly improved my practice with step by step breakdowns of each pose. I discovered the importance of breath, proper and safe alignment, what I was doing correctly, where I was way off, and how to push myself. I literally learned a new healthy way to hold and move my body and it felt amazing.
Meditation taught me that like my body, my mind needs rest. I learned so much about myself just sitting quietly and noticing what came up. My mind was mostly dwelling in thoughts of the past or worries of the future, and I constantly struggled to pull myself back to the peaceful space of the present moment. As training moved forward, my mat became a sacred place for me to discover all of these things I didn't know about myself, and i learned how to take better care of me, physically and mentally.
I was not prepared for the self inquiry work within the teacher training program and didn't realize the impact this work would have on me until I was faced with a loss of a friend, and more very difficult life changing events at the beginning of the year. In a very scary time I was able to see opportunity for change and growth. I found myself working through painful feelings, instead of ignoring them and pushing them away. I found strength within myself that I didn't realize was there, and support from my amazing teammates. I watched myself, and 11 other people work through the things that hold us back, and become confident and brighter individuals who had their own style and something unique to teach the community.
I gained so much more than just being able to teach a JIP yoga class. I have built amazing friendships with a group of people, from different backgrounds who I would have never met without this training. We have a special bond with each other. We offer each other support and respect that is different from other relationships. I have grown as a individual, student, and teacher. I'm better prepared to handle day to day stress and the many challenges we all face in life. I'm showing up in life for myself and others, I'm taking chances, facing my fears, getting involved at work and in my community, and sharing my knowledge with others.
Teacher training, like yoga, is truly for everyone. Although my intention was not to become a teacher in the beginning of training, I love sharing what I have learned with others. This training reminded me of my worth, and that I wasn't living life to my fullest potential. It taught me to have a new, more positive perspective on the challenges we face in our lives and healthier ways to handle them. For these reasons, I would recommend teacher training to anyone!!"
| Ground down like EARTH
| Flow like WATER
| Build an inner FIRE
| Soften like AIR
| Create SPACE for something new
At Container Collective Yoga, you will likely hear the teachers cue students through the Baptiste Yoga Methodology of True North Alignment. These cues are the Baptiste Methodology of yoga anatomy and alignment. By simply doing the most ordinary movements this alignment creates greater depths, new edges, and different perspectives. Over time, these ordinary movements can create miracles. With consistent practice of True North Alignment you can work your way towards deeper folds, a more open back body, & a powerful posture.
True North Alignment cues address the various ways bones and muscles are activated in yoga. These cues also assist in exploring how different parts of the body can move and how those parts provide access to experience each pose in a new way! Curious what True North Alignment cues are, exactly? Check them out below & try them on for yourself.
| Feet on 12 o'clock
| Lift the 10 toes
| Spread the 10 toes
| Press the mound of each big toe down
| Press the center of each heel down
| Lift up
| Turn the inner ankles back
| Pull the leg muscles into the bones
| Pull the outer shins in
| Lift the front of the pelvis up towards the belly button
| Pull the pit of the belly into the spine
| Pull the shoulders up to your ears
| Expand out across the chest and upper back
| Pull the shoulders straight back
| Press the thoracic spine into the chest
True North Alignment affords the experience of creating & understanding the balance of effort (sthira) & ease (sukha) in mind, body, & spirit. As you move more efficiently in your yoga postures you may notice yourself feeling reinvigorated & empowered at the end of your practice. One of the most beneficial byproducts of implementing True North Alignment into your personal yoga practice is taking the methodology off the mat & into your daily life.
Whether you have taken a Heated Yoga class with us or in your own community, you have most likely been cued to breathe your “Ujjayi breath.” Ujjayi breath is considered a type of pranayama. Pranayama is a controlled breath typically used in yoga & meditation. There are several pranayama variations.
In today's blog, we are going to discuss how to begin breathing Ujjayi breath or how to deepen your existing Ujjayi breathing technique!
What does Ujjayi mean?
Ujjayi is pronounced as: oo-jai-ee. Ujjayi originates from the yogic language of Sanskrit. In the simplest manner, Ujjayi translates as “Victorious Breath.” This breath is used to become victorious or gain mastery in alignment with the asana (yoga) practice. When performed correctly, the sound of the Ujjayi breath has been compared to the sound of the ocean, desert wind, & even Darth Vader!
Why is it important to practice Ujjayi breath during yoga?
Ujjayi breath works to heat the body from the inside out. Creating internal heat using Ujjayi breath helps open & warm up the body in a more efficient & controlled manner. The breath also serves to create a meditative quality in your yoga practice. That oceanic sound of the breath is quite audible, when performed correctly, & can aid in keeping your focus on your practice as you listen to the soothing sound of your breath.
This breath also slows down the entry & exit speed of inhalations & exhalations from the body. Ujjayi is performed with a constriction of the muscles at the back of the throat. This narrows the physical passageway the breath is allowed to come in & out of. The slower speed of the Ujjayi breath develops a mental state of “tend & befriend” versus “flight, fight, or freeze.”
How do I create Ujjayi breath in my body?
We’ll begin with some practices breaths first. Our practice Ujjayi breath will work non-traditionally as the inhales will arrive through the nose & the exhales will exit through the mouth. The open mouth exhales will help create an exaggerated sound of Ujjayi breath & also create the throat constriction we are looking to develop. As you exhale, imagine you are fogging a handheld mirror or lenses on a pair of glasses. Really use your throat muscles to create an audible exhale. This action will help you understand how to constrict your throat muscles.
Now, practice the inhales and exhales through the nostrils only. You will continue to practice that throat constriction you just tried out with the open mouth exhales. With the breath only entering & exiting through the nostrils while you are constricting the muscles at the back of the throat you should be able to hear that ocean/desert wind/Darth Vader sound. This is your Ujjayi breath! Try it out, whether you’re brand new to Ujjayi breath or are ready to try on a new perspective with it. We look forward to seeing you (& hearing you!) next time you’re at the studio.
When coming out of a great yoga practice you can’t help but feel incredible. Ever wonder why? We’ve done some research and found the mental benefits of yoga, how yoga decreases pain perception, & why heated yoga leaves your body feeling oh-so-good!
Mental Benefits of Yoga
There are growing bodies of research on yoga’s many mental health benefits. Yoga is known to relieve stress, strengthen attention & concentration, & calm & center the nervous system. It has the ability to improve the symptoms of depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, and sleep disorders.
Some of our CCYOGA students have shared with us how yoga has improved their lives. Many noticed that sleep improved with a dedicated yoga practice. Another CCYOGA community member has noticed an improvement in her memory over the years through devoted yoga practice & the addition of meditation!
Pain Relief & Yoga
Yoga can prove to be an excellent pain relief tool. When most people are expecting pain it triggers the “fight-or-flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system. When yogis anticipate pain, their parasympathetic nervous system activates. This cultivates a "tend-and-befriend" response instead of "fight-or-flight." Over time, the mental practice of creating calm will help decrease the sensation of pain. As always, consult your doctor first when contemplating pain relief practices and perhaps ask your doctor how yoga could possibly aid you in your pain relief.
Heated Yoga Benefits
At CCYOGA we practice mainly Heated Yoga with the offering of Restorative Yoga (unheated) on the class schedule, too. Practicing yoga in a heated room can increase your pulse rate & metabolism. With the increase of these two the body is able to burn calories in an efficient manner. Research has shown that Heated Yoga has a higher potential to aid the body in releasing fat over other types of yoga.
Heated Yoga has a higher capacity to build muscle tone as the challenge of flowing & sweating creates a fair amount of strength. It can also improve the lymphatic system which aids in flushing the internal systems.
Heated Yoga is known to reduce muscle tension, strain, and inflammation. As you may already know, Colorado has a reputation for having a very active population! Try out Heated Yoga at CCYOGA as a great complement to the muscles soreness that can come on after a steep hike or solid bike ride.
The benefits of yoga stretch much further than the topics covered in today’s blog. If you’re curious about many more of the benefits of yoga try out one of our personal resource favorites: Yoga Journal. Happy reading & see you on your mat!
Sources cited: www.zliving.com , www.forbes.com , www.psychologytoday.com
If you are thinking of building a bamboo bike or have always been attracted to how they look, how durable the material is, or how light the bikes are - sign up for the Bamboo Bike Workshop! You will not regret it! Becky Duffy, one of our very own CCYOGA teachers, spent a weekend with CCBIKES building her first bamboo bicycle. She shares her experience with us below.
As many yoga goers may or may not know, the entire left side of the Container Collective building is dedicated to bikes. Russ Hopkins, owner of Container Collective Bikes, leads Bamboo Bike building workshops once a month. Every time I walked into the studio on the bike building weekends, I would see people busy creating their ride-able pieces of art in the bike shop. Everyone always seemed to be laughing, learning, listening to music, and just having an overall good time. When the opportunity arose, I was more than excited to create my own bike.
I was a little nervous at first since I usually spend more time on my mat than being handy with tools. Russ put me at ease by consistently providing clear, easy to follow instructions, and did so at a great pace. It was so exciting to pick out my own pieces of bamboo. I picked pieces that had some fun characteristics (bends, bumps, & colors.) One of the neatest things is that each bike that was built during the workshop was completely unique to the bike next to it due to the variety of bamboo available. By the end of our first day, everyone had picked out their bamboo pieces, cut them to fit each other, and sanded them down to create a precise fit.
The second day was dedicated to wrapping each joint, where bamboo meets bamboo, with carbon fiber and epoxy. I was encouraged to bring a friend along to help with the building process and was so glad that I did. My friend got to learn how to build a bamboo bike and I got to work more efficiently with an extra set of hands.
I am not an avid biker, so when Russ asked what kind of bike I wanted I wasn't sure how to answer it. He helped me narrow it down to three points: how many gears, where I would be riding most, and what riding style I found most comfortable.
I decided I wanted an upright comfortable riding position on a hybrid bike that I could take on dirt trails and commute in the city. As he ordered the parts, Russ provided open shop hours throughout the week where we could come and go as we pleased. One of my favorite customized features of the bike building process is that wood burning tools are provided to engrave pictures, symbols, or any other creative inspiration into the bamboo.
Every single step in the workshop was up to each individual builder to decide. This means that every decision that went into creating this ride-able piece of art was entirely up to me. How cool is that?!? No matter how hard someone tries to find my bike in a store or online they will never be able to find or duplicate it.
The Baptiste Foundation has been working to spread awareness & education surrounding yoga for youth to communities throughout the country. We, at Container Collective, were absolutely thrilled to host Karen Torrone of the Baptiste Foundation’s Unstoppable Program right here in Lakewood, CO. The program was offered for free to any individuals who already work with youth. Over the course of the weekend we learned several vital tools around sharing yoga, mindfulness, & empowering language with children & youth of all ages.
We learned & practiced yoga poses, meditation, relaxation techniques, & breath work geared towards youth. Buddy Breath (pictured above) teaches children how to create slow inhalations & exhalations to calm the mind & body. Physical & emotional connections with a partner are made through breathing deeply, pressing palms together, looking into each other's eyes, & stating an affirmation to your friend.
One of the crowd favorites was working with Partner Yoga poses. Partner Yoga poses create the perfect opportunity for youth to focus on collaboration, teamwork, spatial awareness, & perhaps--best of all--cutting loose a little & letting go of day-to-day worries.
The empowering language used in Baptiste Yoga can help kids truly understand how valuable they are within their families & communities. Participants gained knowledge on how to use this empowering language to encourage kids to take risks & also respect their personal boundaries, preferences, or how they may be feeling on any given day.
Combining energetic movement, mindful breath, compassionate thoughts and actions, & the opportunity to "be the biggest version of you" are some of the biggest takeaways youth leaders will be bringing with them into their classrooms, yoga studios, school gyms, clinics, & beyond. Thank you, Karen Torrone & the Baptiste Foundation, for sharing & spreading these invaluable tools of yoga, meditation, & mindfulness with the Lakewood, CO community youth leaders & youth!
To learn more about the Baptiste Foundation's Unstoppable Program visit their website:
If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant and are curious about how your pregnancy will shape your yoga practice - you are not alone! At the beginning of your pregnancy & before heading onto your mat (and most importantly) please consult your doctor. Below are some common questions pregnant yogis develop about their practice:
Can I practice yoga in a heated studio during my pregnancy?
At our recent Prenatal Yoga Workshop a few of the mommies shared that they’ve heard Hot Yoga can be a little tricky for pregnant women. Fortunately, at Container Collective Yoga we are a Heated Yoga studio (not Hot Yoga) and only warm our yoga studio up to 85 degrees (versus 95-103 degree heat created in other Hot Yoga studios.) Your baby is sitting in a temperature of around 98 degrees so flowing through postures at 85 degrees may feel pretty comfortable for baby & you.
Are twisting poses safe for my baby & me?
Everybody's experience through this wonderful journey is going to look and feel differently. Brittany learned to adapt her body through professional consultation, researching prenatal yoga information, and listening to her body. Twists are sometimes not recommended during the first trimester as baby is attaching properly to the womb (again, consult your doctor first.) As Brittany’s baby grew her twists became shallower in order to provide room and comfort. During the second and/or third trimester try on Chair Prayer Twist with your elbow hooked on the inside of your thigh as a prenatal modification or perform the twist vertically with arms wide open.
I’m in my first trimester & feel so tired. Will I gain the energy to return to my yoga mat?
As Britanny experienced, she was able to participate in her practice in a much more easeful way than she could in her first trimester. She felt very tired during the first trimester. If you are currently experiencing lack of energy in your pregnancy or would like to mentally prepare for that possibility there is good news! Modify, modify, modify. Instead of pushing your shifting body through a full 60 minutes yoga practice take a 20 minute Savasana at the end of the practice. Remember, 40 minutes of yoga practice is better than none at all and a little bit of nap time at the end of practice can be a real treat for a body working hard growing a tiny human. Happy pregnancy journey, yogis!
Below are two YouTube videos you can use for your prenatal home practice! Namaste, Mamas!
Happy 2018, everyone! A New Year seems to reinvigorate our goals & aspirations! Perhaps you plan to reflect on ways to bring new life to goals from 2017 or take a moment to journal on what you would like 2018 to look & feel like.
A great tool for creating clarity & focus in goal setting and in our daily lives is meditation! Research suggests that even sitting in stillness & quiet for a few minutes can provide the benefits of making wiser choices, building awareness of the present moment, & adds resilience when faced with negative emotions. Whether you are brand new to meditation or a meditation veteran with a very busy schedule there are plenty of recorded meditations online to utilize wherever you are.
At Container Collective Yoga we provide a free meditation practice with Meditation Teacher, Fran Gallaher, once a month on Wednesday evenings from 5:45-6:45 PM. Fran explains the personal rewards of meditation, the benefits of meditating in a group setting, & leads you through a guided meditation for the remainder of class.
Interested in practicing daily meditation? Join us for “40 Days to Personal Revolution!” We will gradually build and integrate our daily meditation practice (along with yoga & mindful eating) over the course of 6 weeks (1/8/18 - 2/16/18.)
For more information on “40 Days” click on the link below:
Wishing you a very Happy 2018 filled with peace, joy, & love!
I have a new private yoga student to our Lakewood, CO yoga studio. He's starting yoga in his 60s and I made this 30 minute video for him to practice to at home. I thought it might be nice for everyone in our community to have access to this gentle yoga flow if you need an at home practice for days you can't make it into the studio.