Everyday yoga inspiration

2015 Winter Yoga Tunes

A new season, another new yoga playlist.  I am a bit behind in sharing this winter playlist - but better a little late than never.  You can listen to  2014 Winter Yoga Tunes for free on Spotify.  Check out my past playlists here. Do you have a favorite song or playlist to practice yoga to?

Yoga Teacher Training 11/14

Yoga Teacher Training 11/14 | Vanilla & Velvet Worn: Wunder Under Pant *Full-On Luon, Lululemon.  Cool Racorback, Lululemon. The Matt, Lululemon. Pose: Handstand or Adho Mukha Vrikshasana (sanscrit).  adho= face. mukha = downward. vrksa = tree I was a bit ambitious thinking I could recap yoga teacher training each week while I am in training all weekend and studying/practice takes up 100% of my free time during the week.  The last weekend is here and I have missed several weeks... Hearing all of your stories about how my posts have encouraged you to take up yoga or increase your yoga practice makes me extremely happy (keep sharing!) and has made me realize I need to continue expanding out the yoga section of the blog. Which I am crazy excited about! Because as I continue learning about yoga I want to inspire and educate all of you on the benefits and how developing a practice can change your life. Shall we call it Vanilla, Velvet & Vinyasa? Something to think about... So although my teacher training class ends this Sunday, I plan to build out the blog to cover more yoga topics.  Please let me know if there are any topics you want to see, or if you have any questions about yoga.  Share in the comments section.

Yoga Teacher Training Week 4

A video posted by Gina Mueller (@gina_mueller) on

To advance in yoga you have to let go of your ego and agenda - if you stay dedicated advancement will just happen.  Yoga doesn't care how advanced you are, it cares about what kind of person you are. -- wisdom from Damian Domingo, Yoga Teacher and Thai Yoga Massage at Hotlanta Yoga, this weekend Injuries are probably the most intimidating part of being a yoga instructor.  This week we learned a lot about injuries: where common injuries happen and how to avoid injuries in class.  In the past few weeks we have broken down each asana (posture) and learned which part of the body is most easily injured from misalignment, how to see it, how to speak a student back to safety, and how to adjust it.  Knowing what to look for in my students has made me a lot more confident as a teacher and I know this is an area I will try to learn as much as possible around once teacher training is over "In yoga you can the only way you can hurt yourself is by ego & form -- Your ego is an injury machine" another beautiful quote from Damian. We also learned about twists, backbends and counter poses.  So what is a counter pose?  It is a pose that returns your spine to a neutral position and your body to center by stretching your spine in the opposite direction from a previous pose - it should never be as deep as the original pose.

Yoga Teacher Training Week 3 – 8 Limbs of Yoga

In this weeks teacher training we dug deep into the meaning of yoga and how to live a life of yoga on and off the matt.  When we hear the word "Yoga" it is often only associated with the physical practice of postures (asanas), when this is only 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga. These 8 limbs, or stages set a specific path to enlightenment and are made up of ethical codes, physical practices, breathing exercises, and mental practices.  Here is a short description for each of the 8 limbs of classical yoga: 8 limbs of yoga | Vanilla & Velvet
  1. Yama: is made of 5 restraints that control our external relationships-- Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (self control), and Aparigraha (non-clinging)
  2. Niyama: is made up of 5 observances that control our relationship with ourselves: Shauca (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (zeal for yoga), Svadyaya (self-study), and Isvara pranidhana (surrender)
  3. Asana: postures
  4. Pranayama: breath
  5. Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana: intense focus
  7. Dhyana: state of meditation
  8. Samadhi: state of oneness

I don't think it is a bad thing to begin practicing yoga just for the physical aspects --I personally started my yoga practice for the physical benefits. With the right teacher you will eventually learn the benefits of controlling your breath, and you will see how it compliments the postures. And by just showing up to your matt you will begin to practice the Yamas and Niyamas, without even knowing what they are.  Slowly the others will fall into place when and if the timing is right. My teacher pointed out a insanely beautiful Iyengar quote in one of this weeks readings - too good not to share:  “Happy is the man who knows how to distinguish the real from the unreal, the eternal from the transient and the good from the pleasant by his discrimination and wisdom. Twice blessed is he who knows true love and can love all God’s creatures. He who works selflessly for the welfare of others with love in his heart is thrice blessed. But the man who combines within his mortal frame knowledge, love and selfless service is holy and becomes a place of pilgrimage, like the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Saraswati and Jamuna. Those who meet him become calm and purified.” — B.K.S. Iyengar, from the Introduction to Light on Yoga. If you are looking for more information on the 8 limbs of yoga I recommend checking out one of these articles Get to Know the 8 Limbs of Yoga, patanjali and his eightfold path of yoga or reading the book The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.


YOGA TEACHER TRAINING WEEK 2 | vanilla & velvet This week we did a lot of “the same but different”, as my teacher likes to say when we are moving through similar postures with slight tweaks. We continued to move our way up the bodies anatomy, broke down several more postures and learned more about the history of yoga. There is so much information to absorb that it is clearer to me now than ever that you really are a yoga student for life.  As I learn new information I keep trying to remind myself to enjoy this moment of new learning’s and to be ok with not knowing everything.  We often reach to place a check mark next to one of our goals that we miss the moments in between This week we were given 2 new challenges Challenge 1: thirty minutes of home yoga practice a day + journaling. My teachers assigned us this new challenge to get us on the matt and experimenting with our own practice. I am excited to do this challenge because I would say my home practice is one of the weaker parts of my yoga practice. I find it difficult to not get distracted in my own home and to just be still. So this extra motivation is exactly what i need to make my home practice a habit. To help myself with this challenge I signed up for an account with YogaGlo. I can’t believe I didn’t have an account sooner and highly recommend it to anyone, beginner or expert. I follow several of the teachers on Instagram, like Karthryn Budig, and am very excited to start practicing with them at home. Challenge 2: Record myself in different postures and sequences. Oh boy, this one is out of my comfort zone. I’ve never spent much time in front of the camera, but I guess this is the perfect time—in my own home... alone. Let’s see how this goes and maybe one day I will share some with you. Or who knows I might love it and share lots!

Yoga Teacher Training Week 1

Yoga Teacher Training Week 1 | Vanilla & Velvet I have been receiving a lot of questions about how yoga teacher training is going.  So I am going to introduce a special weekly series for the duration of my yoga teacher training.  To keep you all updated and hopefully  inspire some of you to pursue your own practice or even your own teacher training! Yoga teacher training started this past Friday and so far my excitement for the training is trumping all other emotions. I have been trying to take  teacher training for a couple years now, but as we walk through the syllabus and dig into subjects I know that now is the right time -- each year my practice and knowledge of yoga has grown and i'm afraid if I would have taken training earlier on I would have been overwhelmed by all the content. A glimpse of yoga teacher training week 1:
  • Started each class with a 2 hour asana (posture) practice
  • Ended each day with a meditation or light practice
  • Learned about the history of yoga - with a special emphasis on the roots of Iyengar and Ashtanga and how it came to the US.
  • Broke down a handful of different poses including proper alignment, lines of energy, benefits of the posture, common injuries, adjustments, alternatives for different levels, use of props and more.
  • Began covering the basics of anatomy - learned about our bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and how they all work together
  • Lots of reading from handouts and the lovely books you see above
  • I started a yoga journal
 Favorite quote from week 1:  What is Yoga? "The yoking of all the powers of the body, mind, and soul…It means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will… it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly” Mahadev Desai describing what yoga is.

3o Day Meditation Challenge

3o Day Meditation Challenge | Vanilla & Velvet Join me in a mediation challenge for 4 minutes a day starting this Monday, September 8th for 30 days. You will receive a daily message and short guided meditation so you can practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime. All you need to do is subscribe at Mindfulness Based Achievement for their 30 day summer challenge - subscribe here. Why Meditate?
  • Decrease Anxiety & Stress
  • Improve Creativity
  • Increase Your Ability to Focus
  • Increase Self-control
  • Improve Memory
What is Mindfulness Based Achievement? a set of tools that will revolutionize your life and give you the ability to achieve your goals with ease and joy.  Lisa Abramson and Vanessa Loder, Mindfulness Based Achievement founders, strive to have an impact on woman by making meditation easily accessible.  They have a toolbox full of mindfulness techniques and are setting out to create a revolution in the way we pursue and attain our goals.