Tag Archives: yoga breathing

What Does It Mean To Step Into The Heart?

20 May

love in a baby's eyesI’ve just launched this new eCourse. I’ll be telling you more about the why behind it in an upcoming post, suffice it to say that it became necessary for me to do it.

It’s focuses on one of the clearest and most tangible manifestations of the Divine within us: the breath.

Breathe freely and connect

If we wanted to force ourselves to stop breathing by holding our breath, we just couldn’t do it. There would come a point when we would again ‘be breathed.’ As powerful as this force is within us it’s also easily manipulated by those around us and greatly influenced by our physical and emotional habits.

I’d like to share with you the following article that I wrote for Elephant Journal just a little while back. I re-read it and I realized that within this article is the primary reason why our breathing patterns are so easily influenced by outside forces

I’ve been mentoring a brand spanking new yoga teacher. She’s been practicing yoga for four years and teaching for one. Today she asked me some pretty powerful questions: Do you believe in God? How do you teach yoga to students that don’t believe in God. Talk about having to earn my mentoring badge!

When stepping into this sort of conversation whether it be one on one, or in a classroom setting you have to get clear about who you are, and by that I mean, what do you value? What has meaning to you? What is your Truth?

I do believe in God. I do believe in a Supreme intelligence. I do believe in the Divine. I do believe that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. I do believe in Love.

Do all those phrases/definitions equal ‘God’?


When I began to practice yoga I had a very one dimensional experience of God. I’m a Latin American cradle Catholic and as such my primary experience with spirit and prayer revolved around Sunday Mass and fervent prayers to the Trinity, the Holy Family, Angels and Saints primarily invoked when my life had slightly gone awry.

Although I went to mass on Sundays and had a pretty strong commitment to prayer and a deep fascination with studying Mystics and Saints, my spiritual life was split: a time for study and prayer and the rest of my life 😉 At the time my experience of faith in my every day life was satisfactory, although upon looking back, detached and a bit stale.

It was in yoga classes that I began to hear the phrase “the Divine”. I was a bit shocked by it, as these were sacred words being spoken in mundane situations, at least from my perspective. The Divine, divinity, concocted to me something grand and untouchable that you only really talk about or hear about in church. My experience of the term was very individual and not at all inclusive, and I sorta liked it that way.

As my passion for asana classes grew and my teachers mentioned the Divine (mind you not all teachers mention the Divine), I simply let the word slide away, choosing to not commit attention to this ‘lay’ definition, and maintained a separation between the earthly experience of my body and the realm of the spirit and/or soul. I simply kept showing up to class and my teachers kept offering up teachings which invited me to go deeper. This going deeper was not about asana, although at first that was the only thing that I could do, but about finally choosing to cultivate the Divine in the every day. This undertaking was risky. It required sensitivity, softness, openness and most of all courage, the courage to step inside my own heart, my own Divine heart. This journey as much as it was sweet, and calming was also just as agitating, as the stakes had now gone up. I now had chosen to see the Sacred in the ordinary, thus making each and every one of my choices ever more meaningful. This also meant that not only would I have to take responsibility and be accountable for my faith and my honest participation within Catholicism but also studying, asking questions and cultivating a more meaningful conversation within my Self and God. This included a clear recognition of the purity of my body, breath, words, thoughts, and actions as the embodiment of Auspiciousness.

It was in this discovery that I recognized that my job was to aspire to my own deepest experience. I saw the gift of my life as a blessing, not a problem to be solved. I began to see God, Spirit, Goodness all around me, particularly as it was manifested in the quietness of my heart sprinkled throughout the day. In asana classes I uncovered the tools necessary to begin to fertilize the seeds of Grace that were always present within. My narrow and sterile vision of spirituality, prayer, and the Divine had distilled itself so much within my heart that it had become rich and tasty and thus I was able to see it reflected all around me. The more meaning I brought to my every day life, the more sacred I made the every day, the closer I felt to God, the world and those around me.

I shared with the sweet young teacher, you may not want to define the Divine as God. You may not want to bring any aspect of your spiritual religious life to an asana class, and that’s perfectly fine. What I do offer to you is for you to continue to deepen and refine the questions. You, deepen the conversation with yourself and grow your experiences on the mat, off the mat and within your own individual religious/spiritual practices. How can your yoga help you evolve to a better place and enrich your life and that of those around you? How can your yoga help you to be a better human being?

That is the Divine.

Like I mention in the article, it’s not easy to step into the Heart – and stay there. It’s not easy to pause, be quiet, truly listen…and attune…to your breath. Even though it may not be easy, it certainly is the simplest and most efficient way to enhance and revitalize your health.

If you are ready to do it, I’d like to invite you to join me so we can get started together.

Reclaim Your Health. Start By Breathing!


Ep. 79 Nourish the Culture of Your Body: A 90 min Level 2-3 Yoga Class

17 May

Copyright 2007 Alan D. Coogan, All Rights Reserved

It’s when we are about to loose something that we hold dear that we choose to step in fully to do something about it. Why is that? Why must we wait until the situation is dire before choosing to fully engage in our lives, our relationships, our environment, our bodies, our hearts, etc?

Move back into the culture of your body, cultivate it and grow it.

This was the theme of this week’s episode. Inspired by a conversation from one of my favorite podcasts Speaking of Faith . It was regarding manuscripts and the “monastic library that rescues manuscripts from across the centuries and across the world. And there are worlds in this place — on palm leaf and papyrus, in microfilm and pixels — stories of ordinary life as well as the rise and fall of civilizations….In their lives as in this work, the relevance of ancient manuscripts to people of the present and the cultural cargo of the past itself are revealed in a new light.” – Krista Tippet

I don’t have a particular affinity for manuscripts themselves, in fact I haven’t ever really thought about them, but after listening to this episode they were revealed to me as yet another expression of the sacred in the every day, and how there are so many many treasures that often times we overlook within our every day lives


The treasure that I speak about in class specifically is the treasure of our bodies, and the way that we loose sight of the beauty of it’s culture until it begins to unravel.

Step into the challenge of Truth and get Healthy

Keeping on this same topic, I am launching an in depth 3 part eCourse. I’ve had requests from the online yoga community, from my Pittsburgh yoga community AND from my own desire to create this. It employs empowering simple practices that you can incorporate toward your optimal health and wellness.

Everything You Need You Already Have
Learn How to Recognize, Cultivate and Sustain a Healthful Lifestyle: A Three Part Heart eMmersion

The first stage is all about turning inward and BREATHING! I’d loooove to have you join in. Space is VERY limited. I am only accepting 3-5 participants each time that I offer the program in order to make sure that I can truly serve you and your commitment. Learn all about it by clicking on the following link! It begins June 6th and goes until July 3rd.

Stage 1: Start By Breathing

Gifts for Elsie’s Yoga Class Podcast listeners!

Two awesome little presents for my online kula members!

One of them is a special coupon code from my newest show sponsor Prancing Leopard Organics. I’m THRILLED that they are giving this to you guys! The coupon code is mentioned on the podcast as I really want to honor those of you that have been my loyal students so listen up 🙂 So awesome!

The second is a FREE DOWNLOAD from the magnificent Donna De Lory. I am so honored that I get a chance to share the track Sanctuary with you guys from her latest album of the same name 🙂 Just click on the link below and snag away 😀

DOWNLOAD Sanctuary

It’s a beautiful track. I’m sure that you will enjoy it 🙂 If you are interested in more you are more than welcome to sign up for Donna’s mailing list HERE

Please feel free to join the community over at the Elsie’s Yoga Kula FB Page 🙂 plus, remember that I have a fancy pants yoga iPhone/iPod Touch Podcast app that rocks! If you buy the app you won’t even have to download the Sanctuary MP3 as you can simply download it straight from the app itself, plus, get the Prancing Leopard coupon code right away. How fun is that? It’s only $3.99 and it absolutely supports my endeavors to serve you more fully 😀

This week’s online yoga class is a Level 2-3 Class!!!


Wow! Long time coming no? Yes, finally a more advanced yoga class 🙂 I’ve finally grown my Pittsburgh Yoga Anusara community enough with the basics that I can now start to play a little more 😉 I hope you enjoy the class and the sequence!

This class was originally recorded at Yoga Matrika in Point Breeze on Monday evening May 10, 2010

The yoga posture sequence

Downward Facing Dog

Straight legged Lunge into Straight Leg

straight legged lungeparsvottanasana variation

Plank hold (bending elbows one inch)

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Uttanasana/Ardha Uttanasana x 3

uttanasanaardha uttanasana


Surya Namaskar A (Slow)

tadasanaurdhva hastasanauttanasana ardha uttanasana plank pose chattarunga dandasana cobradownward facing doguttanasana ardha uttanasanaurdhva hastasanatadasana

Sun Salutation A x 7 (Fast)

tadasanaurdhva hastasanauttanasana ardha uttanasana plank pose chattarunga dandasana cobradownward facing doguttanasana ardha uttanasanaurdhva hastasanatadasana



Crescent Pose/Crescent Pose Twist

Pavrita Parsvakonasana

Chattarunga Dandasana

chattarunga dandasana

Salabasana with arms interlaced behind the back

Crescent Pose/ Pavrita Parsvakonasana

Pavrita Parsvakonasana


plank pose chattarunga dandasana cobradownward facing dog


vashistasana prepvashistasana

Swaying Tree/Warrior III/Pavrita Ardha Chandrasana


Downward Facing Dog

Vrksasana in Vashistasana I variation

side plank yoga pose variation with tree pose

Vrksasana in Plank

Plank pose in yoga with Tree pose legs

Vrksasana in Chattarunga

Vrksasana in Cobra

Cobra pose variation with Tree pose legs in yoga

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Child’s Pose

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Prep 1

Pigeon Prep

Pigeon with Thigh Stretch

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana with a thigh stretch

Downward Facing Dog

Uttanasana/Ardha Uttanasana

uttanasanaardha uttanasana

Urdhva Dhanurasana x 2

urdhva dhanurasana

Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana




Agni Stambasana

Agni Stambasana

Easy Supine Twist

Episode 51: Approaching With Reverence to Catch Breath, Level 1 90 Min Yoga Class

9 Sep

Every Person is Precious (This I Believe Essay)


Elsie Escobar's Facebook profile

John in San Diego

The Sequence:

Hands and Knees/Downward Facing Dog

downward facing dog

High Lunge/straightening the front leg

straight legged lunge parsvottanasana variation

Uttanasana/Ardha Uttanasana x3

uttanasanaardha uttanasana

Half Sun Salutations x 3

Surya Namaskar

Crescent Pose

crescent pose

Surya Namaskar x 2

Lunge Twist

lunge twist backbend 2lunge twist backbend


child’s pose

Demo L Pose at the Wall with Daniel

L pose at the wall prep 1 (Hillary)L pose at the wall prep 2 (Hillary)L pose at the wallone-legged-l-pose-at-the-wall.jpg

L Pose at the Wall x 2


parsvakonasana prepParvakonasana with forearm on thigh

Prasarita Padotanasana

prasarita padotanasana

Parvakonasana (yep, again)

Parvakonasana with forearm on thigh

Parva Prasarita Padotanasana (torso to the side)

prasarita padotanasana


tree pose

Deep Lunge (choose your variation)

Deep Lunge with back knee on the floor deep lunge with forearms on the floordeep Lunge with Chattarunga Arms front view


Pigeon Prep

Ardha Bhekasana

Ardha Bhekasana

Lunge with thigh stretch

Lunge with thigh stretch

Setu Bandha x 2

setubandha stage 1setubandha robot armssetubandha

Eka Pada Setu Bandha

Eka Pada Setu Bandha

Ardha Matsyendrasana

ardha matsyendrasana sideardha matsyendrasana

Sukhasana Forward Fold