Posts Tagged ‘pranayam’

Teacher Feature • Interview With Adriana

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Interview With Adriana
from 4/10

How did you get into yoga?

I got a job working at a yoga studio, at the front desk. Before that I had done yoga on and off, though I was mostly in dance. Because I had experience working at a dance studio and for non-profit organizations, I got the job working at the yoga studio even though I didn’t have much experience in yoga.

One of the perks of working there was that I could take yoga classes, and of course I was encouraged to take classes. I was at a point in my life where I really needed the practice, the inward practice. I was really shifting. I was a little bit of a party girl. So I kept doing yoga, and the more I kept practicing the more I was interested in the philosophy behind the practice. There were a lot of books available, so I started reading books and doing more practice and reading and reading.

I was doing that for maybe a year, and then they had a yoga teacher training program at the studio. I told them I wanted to do the course, not necessarily because I wanted to be a teacher, but because I was so interested in the practice. By the end of the training I was asked if I wanted to teach classes, and I did. I was already teaching belly dance classes, so it made sense to do that. But I still never felt like I was ready to teach yoga — I still felt very much like a student myself.

And then one of my teachers, who followed a path called Himalayan Yoga, was going to an ashram in Rishikesh India to do a 40-day silent retreat, and asked me if I wanted to go. So I went to India with her after my teacher training. This was intense, three months of ashram life and the daily practice of yoga.

What do you feel like you got from that experience?

I don’t think you have to go to India, of course, to study yoga, to follow this path, and develop spiritually, but it was really nice to be at the birthplace of yoga and in an eastern part of the world in general. I had been to Thailand, too, and there’s a different quality of being there. Even though there’s so much chaos, there’s more of a sense of peace.

It was nice to be in an environment where you could really focus on your practice. Everyday, we would wake up at 5:00 in the morning and do meditation and yoga practice. And in India, when you say “yoga,” it means the spiritual practice, it doesn’t mean the physical practice. Here when you say “yoga” to someone, they think of the asanas, the postures.

So we would do maybe five to ten poses in a class, but each pose was held a really long time and there was always a relaxation, and the focus was always more meditative and spiritual. That’s the goal, there’s no other goal. The reason why you do practice is to concentrate and to bring yourself into a place where you can sit in meditation for long periods of time, keep this temple healthy and functioning, keep the nadis open and the energy flowing, and that’s it.

Do you feel like that changed your own practice and how you were teaching?

Definitely. Although I already had a sense of that approach even before, from my reading. Before I went to India I read The Autobiography of a Yogi, and I’m really glad I did because it hyped me up to go there, to read about Yogananda’s life, which to me was very inspiring. And when I came back to Toronto, I started going to the Self-Realization Fellowship, the SRF, which Yogananda started when he came to the West. I started reading more of his specific teachings and that was it for me, I knew that I was going to follow his path.

I started looking for an ashram, because SRF didn’t have an ashram. You could go to the headquarters in Los Angeles and become a monk but I didn’t necessarily want to become a monk, but I was looking for a place that was based around Yogananda’s teachings where I could go and immerse myself in them. And I found Ananda, Church of Self-Realization in Northern California, so I went there for three months and studied.

While I was there I took initiation into the Kriya path and was starting to prepare to get Kriya initiation, which I got a year later at Portland Ananda. Kriya is a pranayam technique that’s given to advanced yogis — even though I don’t think of myself as an advanced yogi. But you have to be on the path, you have to be practicing and you have to want to make this part of your life. Pranayam means life-force, and there are certain exercises to control the life force in the spine, so you can dissolve the seeds of karmas and develop spiritually.

How would you describe your yoga classes now?

For me, yoga is a spiritual practice. It’s got great physical benefits to it, and if some people are into doing yoga because they want to feel physically better, that’s great. But I feel like in my class, I want them to leave with that feeling that they’re not just doing a physical practice, that there’s something more to it. That they came to find out that they’re more than just this physical body, and to have more introspection with that.

So I try to bring that into my classes — through how I teach the postures, and that the postures come alive because there’s this life-force moving through your body, and that’s the reason why you’re able to move into these postures. And through the breath, of course, through meditation practices, and through savasana, relaxation techniques.

How did you get into belly dancing?

I was a natural dancer — dancing was something I always loved to do. When I was in my mid-teens I was doing different forms of dance classes, and they were fun but they didn’t capture me. And then I saw this picture of a belly dancer in the Yellow Pages. She was wearing a two-piece costume and it was very exotic-looking, and there was something about the picture that seemed familiar to me and yet new and exciting. I thought, I don’t even know what it is but I want to do it.

So I went to the class that was advertised and I loved it instantly. I did that for maybe about a year, and then I found a flyer for this other teacher and I was ready to leave the first teacher. I went to Yasmina’s class and from the moment I walked in, I felt that whatever I thought I had learned before was nothing compared to her style of teaching and her knowledge.

She was very much a spiritual person — she was a Buddhist, and had been a Wiccan before that. So her reasons for going into belly dancing were very spiritual and very sacred, and her desire was to have belly dancing seen as a true art form. Before that it was seen as more of a cabaret act done in nightclubs. She wanted to elevate the art. She had a ballet background and she had envisioned this whole dance company with really well-trained dancers and choreography and dance productions and live music.

I came in at the beginning of that, when her small troupe was just doing little shows here and there, so I kind of grew up with Arabesque and with Yasmina’s vision. And she did it — she got the well-trained dancers and live music and we did major productions and toured across Canada and did shows in the U.S.

I danced with Arabesque for about ten years, and by the time I was ready to end my career with Arabesque and move here, I was in a place where I was ready to settle down. I had met Karl and we were loosely thinking about having a family and I was ready to move to the West coast and get into more of an inner life. At that point too I had my own artistic endeavors and wanted to explore being an artistic director and choreographing, which I had done for myself but not for an actual troupe setting.

What about pre-natal belly dance?

By the time I left Toronto, I was doing more workshop-type events at wedding showers and baby showers. I would go to someone’s home, someone who was pregnant or who was going to get married, and do a one-hour workshop and perform. And I thought, from knowing the background of belly dancing, How perfect! Traditionally, it was a fertility dance, and women did these movements to prepare for birth, and also as a celebration and dedication to a goddess. It’s a really feminine dance.

I really enjoyed it, so my intention when I came here was to do more of that rather than a regular type of show at a nightclub. And then I got pregnant, and everything changed again really quickly. We ended up moving to Bend, Oregon, so I stopped the little troupe I had started and stopped teaching classes and went to Bend to have my baby.

Then I got really interested in pre-natal belly dancing. When we came back to Portland I had been looking for a place to teach, and I approached Vittoria and I became her apprentice for pre-natal.

What are the benefits of belly dance for pregnant women?

Many of the movements in belly dancing stem from the navel area and they help to open and strengthen the hips. It conditions all the muscles necessary for pregnancy and birth — the pelvic floor, the thighs, the hips, the belly. And there are a lot of movements that help to move through contractions, these undulating movements. There are certain movements they call the birth dance, actually, and a lot of women will naturally do these while they’re in labor and it’s nice to know, before you go into labor, what these movements are and how to use them through the contractions. And then after you have a baby, it’s perfect, because it’s low-impact exercise to help you get back into shape.

And also there’s a creative element to it, and it’s a beautiful way for women to embrace the fact that their belly is growing bigger. Late in my pregnancy I felt awkward or I felt clumsy, I didn’t feel feminine with my huge belly. So belly dancing is a nice way to feel graceful and feel feminine still, even at your largest point.

Pregnant women could go to a regular belly dance class, but I know for myself that pregnant women like to be among the company of other pregnant women. And in my classes I’m very specific with the movements. I have knowledge of certain movements that aren’t suitable for pregnant women, and I target the movements that are very beneficial and that they can do daily, and for any trimester.

Do you bring yoga and belly dance together?

When I started with belly dancing I was a performer and I loved performing and I loved sharing that with people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when I started doing yoga, doing more of an inward practice, I started bringing that element more into my dance. I started feeling like, these movements are for me and I’m doing them for my own spiritual practice, and also to share with others, but it’s very intimate as well.

So I try to bring that element into it, when I teach belly dance. To feel like, there’s no goal in mind when you’re belly dancing. It should feel good, and if it doesn’t feel good, you shouldn’t do it. If you have this goal in mind that you want to be a famous belly dancer or something, it could happen, and that’s a great goal to have, but enjoy the process, just like in yoga.

The other way around — even though hatha yoga is meant to balance the masculine and feminine principles, to me yoga could still be very masculine in its presentation, very linear. And with doing belly dancing for so long, I tend to bring more fluidity to the practice.

That’s why I like to call my classes “flow” classes — even though they’re not necessarily vinyasa flow classes, there’s still this flow movement I like to bring into the way I teach yoga. And in the way I practice now too, not to be so strict. Especially in the pre-natal yoga, there’s this totally feminine quality to it, the round movements, undulating and flowing.

News from OmBase – January 28th Edition

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

OmBase Studio

We have so many exciting events happening at Om Base in February!

New Class! Kundalini Yoga

Alana Weintraub Please welcome Alana Weintraub, who will be teaching a Kundalini Yoga class on Fridays, 9:30-11 am, starting Jan 30.

Alana began practicing yoga fifteen years ago as a young teenager, and during college, heard the spiritual call to become a yoga teacher while attending her first of five Kundalini Yoga retreats.  She received Kundalini Yoga teaching certification at the Omega Institute in upstate NY, furthered her teacher training by studying Radiant Child Yoga with Shakta Kaur, and has been teaching to adults and children in Portland since 2006.  In addition to sharing her passion for yoga, she is currently training to be a Waldorf Teacher.

Kundalini yoga classes are a unique and dynamic blend of postures, pranayam (breathwork), mantra, music and meditation, which allow you to deeply experience relaxation, self-healing and elevation.  Stimulating all of your body’s physical and energetic systems, Kundalini yoga revitalizes, de-stresses, and heightens your creative potential. Mixed levels.

Alana will also be teaching our kids and teens yoga classes & workshops, coming up in March….Let us know if you are interested in that!

Yin is in!  …..  3 week series with Todd

Yin Yoga is a term coined by Sarah Powers and popularized most notably by Paul Grilley. Basically, it is an approach to using yoga to counter some of what the Taoist believe tends to happen with many of us as we age, namely that from the waist down we tend to get tighter and tighter, and from the waist up we tend to grow weaker…

The yin approach utilizes long, supported, postures, that you simply relax into… when the muscles are relaxed, then the myofascial tissue surrounding them can begin to stretch and also strengthen. The postures are designed to help you move each joint in its full range of motion through its natural range… this is done through gentle but persistent compression of the joints as one hangs out in, and melts into a stretch, so most of the practice is on the floor, and most of it is passive.

Yin Yoga is ideal as a complementary practice for students that practice a more ‘yang’ style yoga, as well as for athletes that don’t stretch as much as they would like to. It’s beneficial for those people that think yoga isn’t for them as they are “too tight”, or inflexible. Also, for those that have chronic back pain, and other aches and pains.

I found that this practice yields surprising results if it is practiced more frequently, but regularly…so this yin series will be offered periodically, between immersion offerings, three days a week, for an hour each session“.  ~ Todd

2/2- 2/20  Mon/Wed & Fri 7:15-8:15 pm
Pre-registration & $30 deposit required

$108-133 sliding scale

More about Todd’s yoga journey here:

AM Yoga Immersion with Todd

Todd will be teaching another AM Yoga Immersion this month. Sign up either by emailing us at Om Base, or reading more on immersions HERE.

2/2-2/20 Mon/Wed/Fri  6:30-8 am
Pre-registration/$30 deposit required.
Cost: $135-180 sliding scale

Writing and Yoga: Into the Heart….workshop with Emily & Todd

Emily TrinkausIn an atmosphere of acceptance and support, we will practice yoga, meditation and writing to drop more deeply into our hearts and then give voice to what we find. As we get in touch with our heart’s desires and wisdom, we uncover a more authentic and liberating expression of our creativity. Join us on this Leo Moon in experiencing the power and joy of heart-centered yoga and writing!

All are welcome – no previous yoga or writing experience is required.

Emily Trinkaus is a writer and astrologer with nearly a decade of experience facilitating workshops.  She founded Portland Women Writers and writes for and other astrology websites. See to learn more about her work.

She’s also just been asked (and has accepted!) to be the in-house astrologer at Om Base! Please consult with her for your personal astrological reading through her website.

Sun 2/8, 1-6 pm
Pre-registration & $30 deposit required.
$75-110 sliding scale

Valentine’s Yoga….for couples & friends with Elizabeth & Todd

Join Elizabeth and Todd for a fun, loving class on Valentine’s weekend!

Explore supporting yourself and supporting another, allowing yourself to be supported.  What do these feel like? Where do they converge? This is a skill and an awareness that will serve you well as we move into this year of change……

Sun 2/15,  1-3 pm
Pre-registration & $30 deposit required.
Cost: $50-70 sliding scale/couple

Community Breathe!

Margaret TownsendMargaret is leading another Community Breathe!

Bringing our breath back to our lives means we have the ability to live with more energy, to calm and balance the nervous system in the moment, to have a health promoting, stress relieving ‘tool’, and to know that our breath is a comforting companion that allows us to willingly meet whatever life brings to us.

Margaret Townsend is a certified breathing facilitator with over 20 years experience using various holistic practices to assist others in stress management and self-awareness. For more information please see her website

Sun 2/15,  4-6 pm
Pre-registration & payment required

Community Acupuncture….after yoga

Joseph GoldfedderJoseph Goldfedder will be giving a short intro about acupuncture after Todd’s yoga class on Sun Feb 22. After that he will be offering acupuncture as you lie on your yoga mat.

Community Acupuncture’s goal is to make acupuncture more affordable and accessible by offering it in a communal setting for a sliding scale ranging $15- 35 a treatment. The idea to combine Yoga and Acupuncture together is to enhance the effects of  both practices.  By integrating the mind and body we enable our bodies a greater healing potential.  Acupuncture assists us by in tapping into our energy reserves, increase our energy flow as well as promoting sense of well being.  Our bodies do the rest.

Joseph Goldfedder, L.Ac., completed his Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in New Mexico in 2006.  He initially moved to Portland to co-found Brooklyn Community Acupuncture. In his practice he believes in the integration of art and medicine, creativity and spirit.

Sun 2/22 11:45-12:45 pm
pre-registration/payment to hold your space

Cost: $15-$35 sliding scale

It is right after Todd’s class, so it is suggested (but not required) to attend his class first to receive the extra bliss.

Also this month…

SUN 2/22 at 6:30-8:30 pm
· Shamanic Sound Healing with Dagmar
$25 prior, $30 at the door
(Pre-registration/payment for the $25 option)

Explore the healing power of sound. Through the sound of her voice, Shamanic tools and instruments such as drums, rattles and singing bowls, rituals unfold that awaken your heart’s intelligence and serve as a gateway to transformation and awareness.

SUN 2/22 at 2-3:30 pm
· Discover YogaFree!
A free yoga class for new students to Om Base

FRI 2/27  at 7-9:30 pm
· Yin Yoga + Sound Healing with Jay, Tom & Jen
$25 prior, $30 at the door
(Pre-registration/payment for the $25 option)

An evening of total relaxation and healing resonance… Tom and Jen will bring their orchestra of healing chimes, singing bowls, and didgeridoos and play while we ease into an hour and a half of Yin Yoga followed by an hour-long sound healing in savasana.


For all events, workshops and class series:  To make it consistent for everyone (students and facilitators alike), please pre-pay/bring a deposit when you sign up for an event (deposit if the event cost is above $30).

A check is always preferred (mailed/dropped off to Om Base).  If you choose to call in your credit card # and for some reason you have to cancel, there will be a $5 charge.

Your payment or deposit will hold your spot. If you need to cancel, please notify Om Base 24 hr in advance for a full reimbursement.

We will have a full policy on our new website (in the works).
Thank you!

Hannah Says Hi…..


Hannah was trying to tell me I was spending too much time on the computer, so she decided to take matters into her own….belly and sit on it…..

She says hi to all of you and really wishes she could make a round of one of the classes and get a few squeezes….