1301 Lafayette Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

10329 Illinois Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46814

Phone: 260-627-YOGA (9642)

dani@pranayogaschool.com View Events View Class Schedule

Our Blog

Yin yoga: The Misunderstood Step-Child of Hatha Yoga by Haley Sonnigsen

July 13th, 2017

Although its teachings are based on ancient Daoist practices, the practice of yin yoga is relatively new-we’re still exploring our relationship with yin in the modern yoga community amongst of forefront of adjectives like hot, power, and vinyasa.

Yin, by definition and by nature, is a passive practice, and often gets dismissed as “too easy” without further investigation. But yet, those that open themselves to the concept of stillness find that yin is quite the opposite.

Yin is slow, quiet, and still and this is where lies the challenge. It becomes a practice of “active un-doing.” We learn to sit and experience the sensations that arise, both physical and mental, without moving away from them. We learn to define and discriminate what it is we are feeling, creating a deeper knowledge of the self, and honing our awareness skills. We learn to feel on a visceral level.

Structurally, we deepen our awareness inward as well. The yin sequence is designed to place deep, sustained pressure on the marma points (or more traditionally referred to as acupressure points) that works to relieve blockages in the nadis and sen lines by increasing the flow of prana. In modern science, this is synonymous with removing waste, or toxins, from the connective tissues in the body by increasing circulation to the joints, ligaments, and fascia. It increases mobility and flexibility, mainly by nourishing the connective tissues, preventing rigidity and dryness, dubbing it “the fountain of youth” and can help to prevent injury. From an Ayurvedic perspective, because of its cooling, grounding effect on the body and mind, yin is an ideal practice in times of increased pitta. The summer season, stress, aggravation, menstruation and menopause can all increase pitta in the body.

In Daosist tradition, nothing is completely yin (passive) or yang (active.) One may be dominant, but both must be present to achieve balance. Yin yoga, even in small doses, grounds us in our modern, over-stimulated society, compliments our vinyasa flow or heated practices and helps prevent injury, but with patience, can create peace in mind, body, and soul.

The Biggest Mistake in Weightloss by Maddie Vonderau

January 18th, 2017

The biggest mistake I find most people make when trying to lose weight, get better, or just adapt a healthier lifestyle is they make it stressful. Not intentionally of course, but they go all in, all or nothing. This abrupt change is really stressful. Suddenly you’re not eating bread, wheat, gluten, dairy, meat, or whatever or maybe all of it but everywhere you look, everyone around you is eating it. And worst of all, you don’t know the fundamentals of eating this way; you don’t know what to buy; you don’t know what to cook or how to cook it; you don’t know how to eat out or at a party or at work without feeling so deprived.  You literally don’t know how to live without this and you’re left in a state of torment, defeat, stress and even anxiety.

It’s like when you first started yoga (or basketball or insert your hobby here). Imagine walking into your first class and expecting to do crane (bakasana), headstand (sirsasana), and hand stand (adho mukha vrksasana). You get moving in class and realize you can’t even do a proper chaturanga push up, let alone stand on your forearms, head, or hands. These are unrealistic expectations for the majority of people. The same goes with making changes in the way we eat.

What we should do is go into our first class and just see where we are, take an assessment. Usually we realize, we didn’t know how to sit or stand properly. Heck, we didn’t even know how to breathe properly! But with practice and awareness and a really good teacher, we begin to learn and make corrections. We begin to feel better. We get encouraged and invigorated by our practice. We begin to learn new and more challenging postures.  We learn to focus on ourselves, not to compare ourselves to others, to be gentle, yet strong, listen to our bodies and respond in kindness. Then months or years down the road, we’ve build enough strength and skill that “magically” our feet are floating off the ground up into that headstand.

When we decide to lose weight or eat better or heal ourselves, we should take this same approach for REAL, LASTING, LIFE-CHANGING results. This doesn’t mean we can’t jump in, but it does mean we need to give ourselves lots of grace, lots of room for mistakes and failures, and learn to persevere and love ourselves anyway.  This is how I teach my clients, we begin to build skills based off where they are RIGHT NOW and sometimes we may even need to take a step backwards, because they’re trying to do bakasana when they can’t even do chaturanga (metaphor obviously). We need to have a really strong foundation. The same goes for eating well.

If you want REAL, LASTING, LIFE-CHANGING results, check your foundation, decide what the best next step is, make sure your listening to your body, know the TRUTH about food, and get a really good teacher or a really good community or both. Maybe you could even join me for my workshop and get all the above, go deeper into these topics and begin to build your happiest, healthiest self.

Cheers to your health,



Join Maddi Vonderau, Integrative Wellness Coach

for a

Yoga and Weightless 5 week Series beginning January 21st

Saturdays from 2-3:30

Downtown Location 1301 Lafayette Street. Parking Lot Available.

Sign up here


Inhale, Ignite and Meet our New Managing Director, Firekeeper Haley Sonnigsen

June 13th, 2016

As Julia Haller,  moves forward into Director of Admissions at The Pranayoga Institute and working more in depth with the PranaYoga Foundation we are happy to announce Haley Sonnigsen as our Directing Manager. She will be stepping into the role of orchestrating all of the behind the scenes fire keeping our community requires to carry out our mission.

Haley is an senior Sattva Vinyasa teacher, who has been working as director of our kids and prenatal programs, which have grown exponentially since her envolment with them.

This is an organic move forward in growth and expansion for both of these powerful women and our entire School. We will be able to hold space and healing on a greater scale, in all departments. The three pillars that make up our yoga center are Service, Community, and Action as expressed in our 3 bodies,

  1. The Pranayoga Foundation: Our 501c3 Non-Profit that offers yoga to people suffering through cancer, trauma and chronic illness.
  2. Group Classes, Elevating Community Events and Yoga Series
  3.  PranaYoga Training Institute-Accredited by International Association of Yoga Therapy

Thank you for being a part of the tribe and please welcome these lovely ladies as well as the rest of the firekeeping staff and teachers that make us who we are!

“We are we and we are one.” wellness community
Love All Ways,

Get to know Haley and the mission she will hold for our community.

haley lotus
I first came to PranaYoga as a new student , and almost immediately felt an organic bond with the space and the teachers. I continued to practice, thriving on the clarity and balance I had rediscovered. I chose to further my path, completing the 200 HR Foundations program, the 300 HR Sattva Vinyasa program, the 85 HR PranaMommas Prenatal/Postnatal program, as well as continuing education through Lamaze and Childbirth International as an educator and doula, empowering me to reach a broad spectrum of students and discover a multidimensional approach to teaching. For the past two years, I’ve served as Prana’s Director of Prenatal and Postnatal Services, building community outreach to mothers and families through our in house programs.

haley headI am thrilled to step into the role of Prana’s Directing Manager, and continue to support a community that I love and has supported me in so many ways. Working in a space with powerful, dynamic women, inspires me every day to honor the paths that generations of women have paved before us, passing the torch to not only raise families, but to step into leadership roles that improve our communities. I will lead our staff in a way that is humble, honest, and most of all, empowering, encouraging our staff and teachers to show up with full hearts and clear heads to hold space for each one of our students and meet them where they are. Let’s all grow and thrive together.

Taming the “Monkey Mind” through journaling and Mindfulness

June 1st, 2016

i-J8t8bSh-XLEnjoy this monthly mindfulness post from Dave Johnson, PhD, RN, LMFT.

A few years back, I was involved in a near miss auto accident that I will never forget. I was driving my Fiat near downtown when a large stray dog ran out in front of my car. A young man in a Hummer was coming toward me a bit fast and decided to avoid the dog by switching to my lane. (Did I mention he was bigger than me … and going fast?) Fortunately, I noticed what he was doing and instinctively took my car to the sidewalk to avoid a head-on collision. What I didn’t notice in my peripheral vision was a young mother out walking her baby in a stroller on that same sidewalk. Thankfully, she was not distracted and, upon seeing my car approaching, she instinctively pushed the stroller and baby into a bush. We all paused. We all made eye contact. We were all safe, including the darn dog!

As I recounted my tense tale to my wife, friends, colleagues and attendees at my Stress Relief Mindful Meditation class at the Center for Healthy Living (as well as anyone else who would listen), I noticed that the stress response was similar to the day of the event. My heart would beat a bit faster, I felt anxious and stirred up emotionally, and I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude that no one was hurt. The pictures were vivid in my head – the exact location where the incident took place, the eyes of the on-coming driver, and of course the anxious, resilient, ever-present mother and her baby.

Often, stress events in our lives don’t end in such a positive outcome. And when we relive the pain over and over again we activate stress hormones that continue to impact our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Processing our feelings with a kind, compassionate friend, counselor, minister or family member can be helpful, but sometimes we just can’t break out of this ruminating state. We can’t stop thinking about the traumatizing event(s) of our lives. And so, as a therapist, I often talk about the “monkey mind” of stress, whereby we become entangled, swinging from branch to branch in our brain. It feels challenging just to sleep, eat, work or engage in life to the fullest because of the painful thoughts and pictures we encounter deep within our thinking and overthinking mind.

In addition to counseling and encouraging a mindfulness-based meditation practice for relieving stress, I often encourage folks to write in a journal to help them cope with life events. Journaling is an intentional pause to reflect on insights and life lessons through writing. This process is a way of sorting through and making a bit more concrete those thoughts or behaviors which can be elusive, confusing, emotionally overwhelming or a trigger for going on autopilot (stuck in the monkey mind). When we connect the journal with mindfulness, this multi-sensory writing experience illuminates and makes more tangible life’s transforming experiences (pain, loss, grief, fear, love, joy, gratitude, serendipity, serenity, etc.) and assists in promoting more intentional presence in everyday living.

We sometimes use journaling to process our pain but often journaling can enhance our health by connecting insights of life’s lessons along the way.

Here are my tips for getting started with the journaling process.

Ensure privacy. A journal is for your eyes only. Be sure to keep it somewhere safe, away from those who you don’t wish to have see it.

Flow write. If you are uncertain about what to write, consider just getting the pen moving across your page.

Don’t judge it. Sometimes writing about our thinking and overthinking brain can help us after we write by putting those worries and thoughts on a “shelf” and giving us a rest.

Consider the environment. Sometimes a calm, safe space with a candle, incense or music playing is nice. Sometimes a park bench or a church pew is great. The main thing is to write and for many of us, just get started.
Date your entries. You will want to review your writing sometime in the future and knowing when you wrote these thoughts may be of interest to you.

It doesn’t need to be daily. You don’t want to create a compulsive habit. Save your writing for times when life is stressful or when you have life lessons you don’t want to forget. Last year I think I personally only journaled three times. The year before that, I journaled almost weekly.
Journal gratitude. Be sure to occasionally review your life and all the folks and aspects that you are grateful for. These entries help us to heighten our awareness of life. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
Consider color. Try using colored pens, pencils or markers. Especially when you re-read what you wrote sometime in the future and a question, insight or emotion evokes. Jot them down in the margin.

Relax. Take a deep breath. Pray, meditate or find yourself just noticing using all of your senses (touch, taste, smell, etc).

Hot Vs Heated Yoga

May 7th, 2016

Unknown-2The Hot yoga craze is the one of the millennium, as exercising in saunas and plastic sweat suits of the 90s, was the myth to rapid weight loss and detoxification. Healthy weight loss happens when we change our diet to a mainly plant-based diet, losing 2-3 lbs per week. Detoxification comes from our ability to eliminate…that’s right, to poop. Forget the extreme heat and take a squat!

When we place ourselves in extreme temperatures during our movement practices, especially a faster flowing vinyasa class, we actually inhibit our ability for our internal organs to work properly. We decrease our ability to eliminate over time by burning out our healthy tissues and organs, and possibly damaging our kidneys and liver, according to the study of ayurveda.

Moderately heated classes, moderate begin 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit(as in our heated and some Sattva Vinyasa classes), can facilitate beginner students in relaxing chronically contracted muscles and help them relax into the warmth of their body. At Pranayoga we use infared heating technology so that the heat is more of an internal heat, similar to the heat generated by intermediate and advanced practitioners.

I will never forget the time I walked into the mysore room, after the intermediate practitioners were finishing up with Richard Freeman, and the room felt like a hot yoga room.(The Ashtanga yoga method is not traditionally practiced in a hot room for a reason.) I realized this was from their intense tapas-heat generating concentraion, breath, and bandhas. Bandhas are energetic, naturally occurring phenomena that happen as the yoga students master breathing practices and the breath-linking movement method that is yoga. Bandhas help to seal in the prana, also known as life force or chi.  This is the goal of all asana methods(yoga postures) when aimed at balance and supreme health. When we leak prana, we leak our valuable life force and feel depleted and exhausted.

Being a training institute for Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda, our mission is to help people increase vitality through their yoga practices and lifestyle choices. We take this into all areas of our institute, even with our classes that reflect popular yoga trends, such as aerial and heated yoga. We teach these methods in a holistic and sustainable way that will create homeostasis in the body for every Body!

Yoga asana is a daily practice developed to invigorate us and ignite us into being and serving our families as householders and life purpose of seekers, not to drain us.

Excessive sweating causes a loss of prana, rather than toxins; can cause migraines and issues in the kidneys and water organs as well as create more of the addictive mental quality that many of us come to yoga to balance out. These are signs that your body is not finding vigor, vitality, and balance through your yoga practice.

The science of sweating reveals that we do not sweat out toxins. Sweat is mostly water and minerals that your body needs like electrolytes, calcium, and sodium. Sweat is vital fluid and like all of our systems requires homeostasis and balance.

Yoga means balance, and was developed to balance the nervous system, which is why it has been recommended by physicians and is now begin used in the form of yoga therapy. Our western society however has taken obsession with the vanity of yoga postures and deepening our beliefs, of “not____enough.  Yoga and Ayurveda were not meant to be practiced in vanity, they were meant to bring about great healing. Most westerners are in need of nourishment more than detox anyways, as my teacher, David Frawely says, we are already over-worked, exhausted, and deeply emotionally fatigued.

Is hot yoga just another one of our addictions, in popular yoga culture? I certainly felt it after the first hot yoga class I took.

I loved the sensual feeling of my knees dripping sweat, watching my body become more toned as I stared at myself in the mirror in front of me, and the challenge of trying to breathe in the hot and humid room took a great amount of control with my past of having asthma…and I loved it.  After class I felt like I was in a fog, rather than more clear, had a slight headache(like a hangover) and couldn’t stop thinking about when I could return!(Thankfully I had practiced mindfulness enough to be aware that this was the addictive part of my personality and personal vanity and “not enough_______” coming through.)

Recently I took a hot yoga class(more static Bikram style-not vinyasa flow) and I had the experience of using mind body and breathing methods to keep my body temperature from rising, the same way an intermediate yogin can raise their body temperature in practice, but if you are over-sweating in any class, this is your body saying–slow down.

Over-sweating is a sign that your body is actually depleting your detox organs..which include your liver and kidneys.

Our management and advanced teaching graduates have been trained in the study of ayurveda, the philosophy of wellness for individual body types. They can recommend classes
that meet you and your body constitution where you are. Regardless of what you are looking for in mind body wellness, pranayoga can help you find a method and practice that serves you, for a long time.

Centering our services around Ayruveda wellness and holistic yoga, allows us to flow with the seasons and so the classroom temperatures of our classes will vary seasonally. Think of local farm to table dining. We provide you optimal nourishment, all year round, for the rest of your life.

Practice Daily. Not to Hard. Uncover Deep Peace. 

For more on this Hot Yoga Science. Check out this great podcast, by yogini friend and fellow entrepreneur, Sandy Gross here.

Article by:

Dani McGuire(Vani)

Founder of Pranayoga Institute/Foundation, Yoga Therapist, Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, Birth-Life-Death Doula.

Find our more at sattvavinaysa.com

Student SpotLight with Ryan Replogle

October 15th, 2015

P.Y. When did you first start yoga and what inspired you to come to your firstclass?

R.R. I began practicing Yoga in June of last year by taking Erin Erb’s Yoga 101 class. I highly recommend it! I have a shoulder injury, and wanted to try a lower-impact activity. More importantly, though, a few people who I trust and are very close to me are serious yogis and recommended I try it.
P.Y. How do you feel now that you are coming to regular yoga classes? How is this different than how you felt before you began coming?

R.R. I have discovered more positive physical and mental benefits through yoga than I could have hoped for. The major reduction to my stress and anxiety levels was the most unexpected effect I noticed. I feel much more balanced. Sometimes I think to myself,

“So this is what it feels like not to be stressed out all the time!” That’s a great feeling!Ryan SOM

P.Y. What yoga posture is your favorite and why?

R.R. This is a hard question, but Warrior II is one that I really enjoy. There is something that just feels really good about coming into, and out of that pose.

P.Y. Would you recommend yoga class to someone else? What would you say?

R.R. Of course I would recommend it!

It sounds counterintuitive but I think the people who think they need yoga the least might in fact need it the most. I have more patience, energy, confidence, clarity, strength, and compassion. I’ve gotten to know some really great people in the studio, and learning yoga has opened me up to an entire international community who share in this wonderful practice.

Ryan Pose

P.Y. What Pranayoga class is your favorite and why?

R.R. I really enjoy the heated classes because I like to sweat.

P.Y. What would you say to someone who felt compelled to begin yoga?

R.R. Just start going. You’re probably over-thinking things.


Thank you for inspiring us Ryan! It has been a joy having you practice in our community!


14 Days of Healing. Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse.

September 2nd, 2015

Join our Ayurvedic Wellness team Dani Vani McGuire and Janice Schmidt, March 14th-March 24th.

Lose excess weight, sleep better, and break the habits by joining our community cleanse!

How do you know you are in need of a cleanse?

  • You may feel tired and heavy all day even though you’ve eaten well and slept well
  • Lack motivation and ‘zest’ for life
  • Constipation, the blues, or aches and pains
  • Extra weight=Extra waste

Come re-ignite your Healthy intentions and feel the loving support of community, as you step into the most vibrant you!!

Our Ancestors healed themselves by relying on intention, plants, and rituals, but mostly living in harmony with the changing seasons. Spring and Fall are the perfect time to embark on a healing cleanse and studies show that having a support team creates much higher rates of success.

What you will receive to prepare and support your 14 days of Healing Spring Cleanse:

  • Ayurvedic Consult (In person or via Skype) to discover your imbalances and determine what the best daily practices are to help you find balance, and to troubleshoot obstacles that could come up during your cleanse. This is the most important part to ensure this program is tailored to you.
  • Online Yoga for Your Type-Short daily practice for home practice (video will be emailed)
  • Seasonal Cleansing Manual and “About Ayurveda” Info Packet
  • Food List for Your Current State
  • Seasonal Orientation and Dinacharya (Daily Self-Care) Information Session
  • 7-day supply of cleansing kitchari, herbs, oil, and detox tea (additional herbs may be recommended during consult)
  • 10-day freshly-pressed juice supply from our sister company, *Jai Juice* (Inlcudes 5 Green Juices & 5 Awake Juices)
  • Private Facebook Group
  • Daily Emails including tips, recipes, and inspiration by Dani McGuire.
  • Shirodhara scalp massage treatment from our Ayurvedic Spa (Aboite location) Clinic. http://pranayogaschool.com/healing-arts/ayurvedic-spa.php
  • Infrared Sauna Treatments (Aboite location)
  • Re-integration plan
    2 weeks unlimited Yoga (current membership will be put on hold)

Big Heart to Beyond Yoga!

August 20th, 2015

If you have taken the time to look around our boutique you will see we are big fans of Beyond Yoga, and here is why!

Beyond Yoga Prayer

All Beyond Yoga items have been American-Made in the lovely city of Los Angeles, since 2005. Every employee is hired from the local areas, supporting the local economy, in an effort to keep the carbon footprint small. Beyond Yoga believes in the simple, yet challenging core practice of just being YOU.  It is challenging to really appreciate who you genuinely are, and to live an authentic life. Be reminded of that authentic lifestyle every time you slip into your beyond yoga gear!

Originator Jodi Buber Brufsky believes this line supports and inspires “women to live passionate, authentic lives, loving who they are inside and out”. Not only does the message of BY stand apart from other yoga-inspired apparel, but their line is so versatile that you can easily walk right out of yoga and into “the real world” without feeling out of place. BY designs their clothing for ALL body types with flattering, simple style, and with sizes ranging from XXS to XXL, made for every body.

Beyond Yoga Goddess

As Pranayoga’s Boutique Manager, I have had the opportunity to try many of these brands, and Beyond Yoga is one of my favorites because of the texture, quality, durability, and hand-crafted care that goes into their products.  I just love it!  The way we feel in our clothing is so important. Beyond Yoga is so very, VERY soft; So soft that for me, it brings up nostalgic memories of holding my blanket as a child. Silly right? It is just THAT comfortable.

The fabrics are also thick and durable. You’ll have no worries of a student catching the “Full Monte”, and no need to get a new pair every six months like “cheaper”  leggings. Many of us, including myself, find a cheap alternative to buying yoga pants, but the problem with cheaper yoga pants is that they don’t always last or give you the full coverage in happy baby pose!

Also, it’s great to be able to walk out of a yoga class, throw on a cover up, and not look like I forgot to get dressed this morning.

Your BY is made to last. I’ve had a pair for two years and they still look brand new, which makes them a great value! Not only are you buying American-Made, but these pants will last, and they feel great!

This is why we really give Beyond Yoga a big heart-for the comfortable, soft support that works even for students recovering from recent breast cancer surgery. We want clothing that makes us look great, sure, but more importantly we want clothing that makes us FEEL great!

“Due to my recent breast cancer surgery, I found it difficult to wear a sports bra that didn’t smash my breast or irritate the scar under my arm with the removal of my lymph nodes. I was advised by Dani, to try Beyond Yoga. Their products are soft, breathable, and comfortable. I decided to to give them a try. Prana did not have my size, so I went online and purchased the bras at Beyond Yoga’s website. I received the bras, tried them on, and the fit was great! They were very comfortable. I wore one and did a Yoga class. After pulling and tugging on every bra I owned due to the discomfort, I was so happy when I wore this bra because I never once pulled or tugged on the bra! I was totally supported and forgot I even had a sports bra on. The cut and design kept my breast separate, supported, and didn’t irritate my incision. I was so happy with the bras and will be buying more in the future to replace my existing sports bras.”-Denese, Fort Wayne

Enjoy the new Beyond Yoga at either PranaYoga Boutique. Mention this article and get a 10% discount on your BY!

Written by Chelsea Vona, Boutique and Art Manager. Edited by Dani McGuire


Dan Hamblin Student Spot-LIGHT

July 9th, 2015

Dan shares his yoga story and journey through pranayoga.

dan 1

Photos by Ashley LeTourneau


Dan began his yoga journey on July 3, 2012, when he took his first class from his daughter Carrie’s yoga instructor in Knoxville, Tennessee. At his request, she surveyed the yoga venues in Fort Wayne and choose pranayoga. My first class, according to my checking accounts online, was on July 29, 2012. My wife Karen died on May 5, 2012. For as much as a year before then, I had been practicing yoga from CD’s, first from Charles and Lisa Matkin Healing YOGA CD’s, which I didn’t care for that much, then from Sarah Ivanhoe CD’s that I preferred.

Live yoga classes appealed to me because of the other people and teachers that could see what I was doing wrong.

Right now, taking classes at pranayoga is the best social thing I do for myself. It quiets my soul and puts me among people I love.

Before this, I was getting this from a few relatives and close friends, but from nothing social – not from church or swimming or the bicycle club I belong to.

P.Y. What yoga posture is your favorite and why?

Tadasana is my favorite yoga posture, because it makes me stand up straight, not withstanding my inherited scoliosis. Back when Pranayoga was located on Pearl Street, I remember showing Mary Newell how flat my feet were.  I was sitting just inside the door, putting on my socks and shoes after a class. Since then and to my surprise, I’ve developed arches just like normal people have! I am grateful.


P.Y. Would you recommend yoga class to someone else? What would you say?

I recommend pranayoga to any who ask me what I have been doing. I recommended it to my stepdaughter Elizabeth who took one class, then opted for Pilates, because work friends were taking it. She has however, taken your prenatal classes this summer, one of which Dani taught. As for what do I say.. I say, “It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself since Karen died.”

P.Y. In what ways does yoga add to your life?

I like this question. I think of myself as a semi-retired, energy economist who writes occasional conference papers to be able to travel to the sightseeing venues. I am just finishing one now. I thought it might be the last, but I realized there should be a next to move my residential demographics’ application of topology to a next level. I enjoy doing it but it leaves me mentally exhausted, sometimes with headaches.

It makes me feel like a social recluse, which I do not want to be.

Yoga is the best, totally different, other thing that I do.

P.Y. What would you say to someone who felt compelled to begin yoga?

I am unsure what you mean by “compelled.” I recall Robert Duvall’s character recommending it for Peter Finch’s (compulsive) character in Network.

P.Y. What Classes do you prefer to attend?

There are not any classes that I haven’t liked. Yoga 201 was one of my favorites because Dani “places” our bodies in the correct positions. I have a balance disorder, but following the placements we learned in 201, helps me keep from falling. I plan to take it again, for a third time!



Nurturing Hands. The Yoga of Mom and Baby

July 5th, 2015

The postpartum period is a time of monumental transitions. It is an adjustment period for both baby and parents to become integrated into the new rhythms of life as a family. Some even refer to the first few months postpartum as “the fourth trimester,” when mom and baby experience physical, emotional, and hormonal shifts.

Many cultures observe the first 40 days postpartum as a sacred time for mom and baby. Taking the time to relax and bond together encourages long-term health and wellness. Traditions vary, but the amazing art of infant massage stands the test of time with modern science proving its many benefits. Touch, after all, is the first language communicated between mother and baby.

Documented benefits of infant massage include:

-Improved weight gain, as it improves nutrient absorption

-Improved neurological development

-Lower stress hormones

-Improved immune function

Think about the concept of rhythm, ritual, and repetition that we learn during preparation for childbirth. These three things can be beneficial when applied to newborn care as well, when used in a nurturing way, nourishing the nervous system, keeping baby grounded during times of stress, and building trust. Listening to the rhythmic “swish” of the oil warming in mom’s hands can, over time, almost immediately relax baby. Making a ritual of massage by dimming the lights in a warm room after bath time, or whenever works best for your family, is reassuring to baby. The repetition, over time, can even further increase the benefits.

Babies actually carry a lot of tension in their tiny, growing bodies. Massage and gentle, yoga-like movements help them to release some of this tension, increasing digestion, and improving sleep. It can be incredibly healing for premature babies, those suffering from colic, and those with special needs. The best part is, it’s easy, and really, the only extra cost is a quality, organic oil to use. A little goes a long way, and for a small baby, one bottle can last a long time.

baby massage 

What you need:

-Mild, organic food-quality oil like safflower, sesame, or coconut for warmer climates. Ayurvedic wisdom tells us that massaging baby with oil is extremely nourishing to new babies, and helps them transition into our big world. As it is absorbed through the skin and enters the blood stream, use the best quality oil you can find, never mineral oil that is often marketed as “baby oil”.

-Towels to nestle baby into while massaging to help them feel secure and warm. This also protects floors or sheets from any “accidents”.

-Warm, comfortable space. Turn off the television, keep any music soft and soothing, and lower the lights. Touch can be very stimulating to baby, so all other distractions kept to a minimum help baby enjoy her massage without being overstimulated.

-Extra diaper and wipes nearby, as well as clothes or a sleeper to dress baby afterwards.

 What to do:

-Calm yourself first. Take a few moments to breathe deeply and relax any tension in your own body first.

-Ask permission. Of course, your baby is not going to give you a verbal yes or no, but asking their permission before massage teaches a powerful lesson of respect for their bodies beginning in their first days.

-Start with legs and feet. Young babies explore their world through tiny kicks, and establishing the connection here first, helps them feel secure.

-Establish eye contact and a relaxed face. This is very important for neurological development.

-Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes, especially initially, babies will fuss or kick through their massage. Sometimes this is because they are actively relieving tension, but sometimes they can become tired or overstimulated. You can always stop and try again tomorrow.

-Give firm pressure, but be gentle. Light, “tickly” touches can be irritating to baby. Gentle, firm pressure is reassuring.

-Avoid head, but do stroke face and ears.

-Consult a trusted resource. Some areas have trained baby massage teachers, but there are also some wonderful books on the subject. “Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents” by Vimala McClure, and “Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby” by Margo Shapiro Bachman are a couple of my favorites.

IMG_0210Contributor Haley Sonnigsen, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga Teacher,   and RYT-200 is dedicated to preserving woman’s right to a healthy and empowering birthing experience based on her innate ability to give birth. Every woman deserves to have a loving, nurturing, and supported birth environment based on her own needs and desires. Haley weaves ancient, yogic traditions with modern, scientific evidence to ensure
each woman is supported with both tools and practical information to support her in motherhood.
“Because women have always been the guardians of life’s wholesome practices, when we strengthen our health and spiritual power, we also strengthen the health and wisdom of the men, children, and communities around us.” –Bri. Maya Tiwari
Teaching: All Levels, Prenatal, and Mommy and Me Yoga.