Checking in From Bulgaria......

Megan Lough, STUDIO B TT graduate and teacher, is currently in Bulgaria on a Fulbright Scholarship teaching English, and yoga! Below she shares some thoughts on how yoga is helping her stay present and grounded while she is so far away from home. You can catch Megan when she's in town over the holidays for two classes before she heads back to finish out the school year:  B3 - Saturday December 23rd @ 9:15am in Annville & Vinyasa Flow - Tuesday December 26th @ 5:30pm in Annville. We are so proud of you, Megan!

From Megan:

A year and a half ago, I was sitting in the lobby of Studio B during a 50-hour teacher training. Brittany was leading us through some intention setting and we were discussing the power of attraction. We were told to think big and imagine what a perfect day would be ten years from now. Then we broke down our ten-year dream into specific things we want to accomplish and what we want our lives to look like and feel like. I wrote down that I wanted to be doing some sort of international education and I wanted to mentor young girls. I wanted to feel both grounded and a sense of adventure. Well, here I am, a year and a half later sitting in a communist style flat in a town in Northwest Bulgaria writing this blog post.

 

I am exactly where I want to be and fulfilling a dream of mine - but just because this is exactly what I want to be doing, doesn’t make it easy. In fact, this is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Every day I miss home, and sometimes I’m filled with self-doubt, anxiety, and fear. But then I remember to breathe. I remember not to run from these feelings. Now more than ever, the tools I’ve gained from yoga and teacher trainings are so important to me. Yoga has taught me the importance of being self-aware and staying in the moment. This experience of mine is only temporary, and I don’t want to wish it away when times get tough. I want to feel how this experience is changing me and making me a better person.

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One of the most difficult things for me is feeling grounded and present during this experience. I know that I’m only here for ten months, and sometimes I get overwhelmed with the thought of my next step, of coming home and being with my friends and loved ones again. But I tell myself to take one day at a time. I allow myself to imagine my next step, but not get so occupied by the future that I forget to value the things that are right in front of me. I live in a beautiful town right in the middle of the mountains. Everyday I see hundreds of Bulgarian students that are (mostly) excited to see me. I get to learn about an incredibly rich culture and hear stories from locals. I get to try new foods, see new places, and I get to help students practice their English and reach their dreams.

 

One of my favorite things about my time here in Bulgaria is starting a yoga club at the school I’m teaching for.  Twice a week I meet with about ten high school aged girls. I walk them through about 40 minutes of a fun vinyasa flow, we break down different poses, we listen to music, we occasionally stop and have a quick dance party in between sequences, and we breathe and meditate. At the end of every class, I have each student silently think of one positive thing about themselves, and then we seal that with a cleansing breathe together. Last week, I accidently skipped over this part, and my students quickly reminded me and asked if we could go back and have this moment. There’s also something pretty amazing about seeing these girls sit in total peace for a few moments. I am constantly reminded that yoga really is for everybody - no matter what language you speak, what country you come from, or how old you are.

 

In a few short weeks, I’ll be coming home for Christmas. I am so excited to take a few yoga classes, be back at the studio, and see my family and friends and to stay present and in the moment. And then I’ll be back in Bulgaria doing the same thing here.

How To: Side Crow + Variations and Transitions

The focus pose for our current installment of B3 is Side Crow. Learn how to get into this pose and about it's many variations and transition possiblities.

The side crow is an arm balance that requires deep twist and total body engagement. This pose can be accessed from many different postures making it a fun transition pose. While it can be a challenging pose for many, there are a number of ways to prep for side crow. As with most other arm balances, alignment and technique play a larger role than strength, so if you think you aren't "strong" enough for this pose, think again.

Tips for Getting into Side Crow

  • Spread your fingers wide and engage through your hands, especially the mounds of the knuckles and the pads of the fingertips.
  • Don't let your shoulders dip lower than your elbows (think: chatarunga arms!)
  • Keep your core engaged and distribute your weight evenly throughout your whole body instead of dumbing into your wrists/arms.
  • When you are first learning this pose, start by lifting one foot off of the mat at a time, but avoid hopping/using momentum
  • Practice deepening your twists in poses like twisting crescent lunge and mountain climber prep (from 3 point, bringing your knee to your opposite elbow)

Video Tutorial: How to side crow

With the above tips in mind, check out this video for prepping for and getting into side crow.

 

 

 

 

Why This POse? Dead Bug Exercise

Welcome to or first edition of Why This Pose where we take a deeper look at the weird stuff we do in yoga.

Today we are talking about the Dead Bug. If you've taken a class with me lately, you've definitely experienced this exercise. 

Introduced to me by the fellas over at Strength Faction, this exercise has quickly become my favorite core exercise for my clients and myself.

what are the Benefits of the Dead Bug?

Glad you asked! The primary goal of the dead bug is to strengthen the core and improve anterior core stability all while minimizing pressure on the low back. This movement is also a great drill for realizing and correcting excessive anterior pelvic tilt. Performing this exercise on the floor not only provides stability, but feedback that you can take with you into other core movements and, well, life. 

Tips for Doing the Dead Bug Exercise Correctly

The benefits of the Dead Bug sound great, don't they? Who doesn't want stronger abs, better posture, and improved mobility? The trick is, you only get these benefits by performing the move correctly. Below are some of my tips for doing that:

  • Press your low back into the floor so hard that if you tried to shove your hand under your back, you couldn't! (not sure? try it!) If you can't perform this movement without lifting your low back off of the mat, perform the beginner version until you can.
  • Move slowly! There is no reward for rushing through this exercise. Rushing only leads to loss of control which negates the benefits. Take your time!
  • Use proper breathing techniques
    • From the starting position, take a full inhale through your nose
    • Exhale forcefully through your nose (think ujjayi breath) as you perform the movement on both sides
    • As you exhale, focus on expanding sideways and into the floor. Remember, low back down!
  • Don't let your knees move past your hips. Keep them in line.

How to do the dead bug exercise

Beginner

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling 
  • Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle, shins parallel to the floor
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Take another deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg straight out and tap your foot on the floor.
  • Keep your abs tight and don't let your lower back lift off the mat (aka don't arch).
  • Slowly return your leg to the starting position, without letting the knees move past the hips
  • Repeat with your opposite leg. Continue alternating.

Intermediate

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling 
  • Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle, shins parallel to the floor
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Take another deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg in front of you and your right arm overhead.
  • Keep your abs tight and don't let your lower back arch.
  • Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position, without letting the knees move past the hips.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. 
  • Repeat 3-5 times on both sides.

Advanced

Oh you fancy, huh? If you want to take your dead bug to the next level, then add some light weights (2-5lbs in each hand). This will help increase resistance which will in turn increase the intensity. Remember, the most important part is that you resist arching your back.

Check out my video tutorial to see it in action!

 

 

 

B3 August-September. What is B3?

Happy August Everyone! Have you heard? A new B3 sequence and playlist launched yesterday and we are excited to start sharing it with you all. Keep reading to learn more about what B3 is and what you can expect from the newest launch.

What is B3?

B3 is a system of yoga that will eventually involve 3 tiers of classes, B1, B2 and B3. We launched B3 (the class) back in June and are still working on B1 and B2. For now, lets talk about B3 (the class).

B3 is an advanced vinyasa flow, but don't let the word, "advanced" scare you. While this class gives you the opportunity to explore more advanced asanas, we always encourage you to honor your body and your "edge" by modifying and resting as needed.

A New System of Yoga

This class is different from others in that it is set to music and incorporates more creative sequencing. You can expect the same sequence & playlist for 6-8 weeks before we switch things up. Each sequence has a focus pose and theme, adding purpose and structure to your class. It also includes 2 opportunities for "yogi play time" where you can work on any pose you'd like (Yes, that includes Child's Pose : ) Our goal is to create an intentional and consistent experience balanced with possibility and exploration.

Collaboration Is Key

We really want this new class to become a collaborative effort. Give us your feedback! What would you like to see more of? less of? Are there certain songs you'd like us to incorporate? Leave out? What about a focus pose recommendation? Your input is important so please feel free to share!

An Interactive Learning Experience

B3 is intended to become an interactive learning experience for both the student and the teacher. Every new launch will be accompanied by blog posts, tutorial videos and discussions about why we are doing what we are doing and how to do those things safely and with integrity. 

A Fun Workout

Did we mention B3 is fun?  It's fun, fast-paced and a really great workout. 

B3 August - September

Our latest B3 launch is all about the twists! Twisting always feels better/more accessible during the hotter months when the body is already warm, so we are riding out that wave for sure! As summer winds down, twisting also provides an opportunity to get rid of what's no longer serving us so that we can make space for the new season ahead. We will talk about this theme more over the next few weeks.

With a class focused on twisting, it's no surprise that our focus pose is Side Crow, a pose that requires a deep twist to access. Stay tuned for a blog post and tutorial video explaining the variations and progressions of side crow.

Regarding the playlist, we understand everyone's musical tastes are different, so we've got a little bit of everything. This month's playlist features Tina Turner, Post Malone, Miranda Lambert and Kaleo, just to name a few. You can check out the full playlist on Apple Music Here

Speaking of music, is there another platform you'd like to see this on? Let us know..

That's all for now, but stay tuned throughout the month as we share more information about B3 and other happenings around the community here on the blog. As always, feel free to contact us with questions and feedback. 

Students of STUDIO B - Karen Beall, KRB Ceramics

At STUDIO B, our students are some of the coolest people around. Their professions, stories and backgrounds have inspired us to start a new series, Students of STUDIO B. Each month we will highlight a member of our community who is up to really cool things.

We are kicking off the series with Karen Beall owner of krb ceramics.

Karen and student in class "Wine Coolers"

Karen and student in class "Wine Coolers"

SB: Tell us a little about yourself and your business:

KB: I am an artist and my artwork incorporates sculptural forms derived from small, often overlooked species from the natural world. Much like a scientist, I collect and study fungi and plants to serve as sources of inspiration. At times my artwork also comments on environmental themes. I recently set up a ceramics studio in my home and after years of teaching at Lebanon Valley College I've started to teach children and adults in my own studio. I offer weekly Saturday classes for children and project-based classes for children, teens, and adults. My website--krbceramics.com--features my ceramic artwork and provides information about the classes. I also have a website--karenrichbeall.com--that features all of my artwork.

Children in Saturday morning class

Children in Saturday morning class

SB: When did you start practicing yoga at STUDIO B and what was your goal when you started? 

KB: I started practicing yoga at STUDIO B in Fall 2016 because I wanted to work towards becoming more peaceful, focused, relaxed and flexible.

SB: What is your favorite part about yoga at STUDIO B?

KB: My favorite part of Studio B is the getting to know yoga community and the teachers...and the location!

Karen’s artwork “Nature’s Recyclers”

Karen’s artwork “Nature’s Recyclers”

Karen, Thank you for participating and for being a part of the community at STUDIO B!!

P.S. You can find some of Karen's work at our Annville studio!