April Grace is a certified yoga instructor who teaches classical Hatha Yoga to people of all ages and abilities in Los Angeles, CA.

She specializes in personalizing a yoga practice to specific needs. Whether it be strengthening a weak area of the body, increasing flexibility, or learning to relax the critical mind and open up to the creative self, April will design a practice specific to your needs while emphasizing proper alignment and safety.

April brings a calming but playful energy to the mat and encourages her students to find and listen to their own inner guru.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prince's definition of masculinity and a prayer for redefining the term alpha



The more I read about Prince, the more I discover what a gift he was to the evolution of our species. I know when Lao Tzu said "know the masculine but keep to the feminine," he was talking about Prince.  Prince gave permission to men to develop a masculinity that wasn't about bullying, dominating, or any kind of hierarchy.  His genius was in enlightening humanity to embrace the power of their own sexuality with out any kind of shame.  He was for raising humanity up and his music was filled with the kind of joy that speaks right to the heart of the matter.   He demonstrated a beautiful balance of feminine and masculine energy in his artistry and his persona.  The world is hungry for a new definition of the "Alpha Male" one that empowers men to get in touch with vulnerability, sensitivity, intuition and receptivity.

For the past 2 years I have had the joy of coaching boys volleyball here in Santa Monica and while I love the courage that they show and the work ethic that they demonstrate. I have seen first hand the destructive nature of the idea of alpha male hierarchy.  The boy's fear of looking weak inhibit them from being coached and inhibit them from opening to the support of one another.  They put each other down and joke about sexuality. They fear failure way more than the girls that I coach and in a few cases I see a reluctance to take coaching from a woman.  It is hard to overcome the male ego when the idea of being a 'man' in society has been muddled with idea of power, dominance, and strength. The Mask You Live In is a wonderful documentary that discusses the harm we are doing to young boys by perpetuating unrealistic arbitrary rules about manhood.  A myth that being a man is all about not showing emotion or weakness. When in fact, it is from passivity and quiet receptivity that our deepest intuitive, creative power resides!



If we hope to have just a sliver of the amount of alpha power that inspires Prince's greatness, we will all have to get in touch with the balance between active and passive energy. The dance between Shiva and Shakti in yoga terms. The balance of yin and yang energy in Chinese medicine.  The mix of blue and pink that produce purple, Prince's Purple Rein!  Now that is a power that is worth supporting. Below is a passage about balancing the male and female energy from Shakti Gawain's Living in the Light.

Accessing the Male & the Female Within

  
Each of us has male and female energies within us. I believe that one of the most important challenges we have in this world is to develop these energies fully, so they can interact in harmony with each other.
Some people have resistance to the words female and male, because in our culture we have so many preconceived ideas about what those words mean. If it’s more comfortable for you, substitute the words yin and yang,active and receptivedynamic and magnetic, or any other words that appeal to you.

The Masculine and Feminine Aspects of Our Being

Our female communicates to us through our intuition — those inner promptings, gut feelings, or images that come from a deep place within us. If we don’t pay conscious attention to her in our waking life, she attempts to reach us through our dreams, our emotions, and our physical body. She is the source of higher wisdom within us, and if we learn to listen carefully to her, moment by moment, she will guide us perfectly.
The male aspect is action — our ability to do things in the physical world — to think, to speak, to move our bodies. Again, whether you are a man or a woman, your masculine energy is your ability to act. The feminine receives the universal creative energy and the masculine expresses it in the world through action — thus, we have the creative process.
For example, an artist might awaken with an inspired idea for a painting (an image communicated from his female) and immediately go into his studio, pick up his brush, and begin painting (action taken by his male).
A mother might feel sudden concern for her child (a warning from her inner female), and run into the other room and pull the child away from a hot stove (action taken by her male).
A businessperson might have an impulse to contact a certain associate (guidance from his or her female), make a call (action taken by his or her male), and put together a new deal.

Integrating Your Female and Male Energies

Having your female and male energies fully developed and integrated will allow you to live a harmonious and creative life. To fully integrate the inner male and female, you need to put the female in the guiding position. This is her natural function. She is your intuition, the door to your higher intelligence.
Remember now that I am talking about an internal process in each of us. Sometimes people externalize this idea and think I’m saying that men should let women tell them what to do! What I’m actually saying is that weeach need to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.
I often imagine my male as standing behind my female — supporting, protecting, and “backing her up.” For a man, the image might be reversed — you might see your female as within or behind you, guiding, empowering, nurturing, and supporting you. When these two energies are thus in harmony and working together, it’s an incredible feeling: a strong, open, creative channel, with power, wisdom, peace, and love flowing through.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Aparigraha and Gratitude


Aparigraha is an ancient Sanskrit word that means non-possessiveness. A word that seems so vital for thanksgiving and so important for our current times.

The yoga practice begins with 5 rules, dictating things not to do.
Ahimsa: do no harm
Satya: do not lie
Asteya: do not steal
Bramacharya: do not be excessive
Aparigraha: do not be possessive

The last one is literally translated as do not grasp tightly. In other words don't be greedy.  I find this to be the gateway to the understanding and practice of gratitude.  We must be grateful for what we have, knowing that it could be taken away at anytime. We must share what we have been given.

When we hoard our resources, our land, our talents, or energies, we drop into a feeling of not having enough and not trusting that life must flow.  In yogic philosophy it is believed that all illness and unease comes from stagnation.  So practice letting go, sharing fully, trusting and knowing that there is and will be enough. There is plenty to go around. So give thanks for what you have and hold it loosely so that it maybe shared with humanity. It is only in giving that we really receive.

And now a message from our sponsor:
You are enough!
You don't need anything else.
There is enough to share.
You are enough!

Those of you that are in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving. I will be teaching a thanksgiving class at 9:00 am at Ganesha Haus Yoga Lounge, followed by a Gratitude Council at 10:15.  Would love to see you there!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rise and Shine Yoga

I recently started teaching a Rise and Shine Yoga Class at 7am at Ganesha Haus Yoga Lounge in Brentwood.   So for those that need a little help to get out of bed and get on the mat.

Here are 10 reasons to practice yoga in the morning

1.  It feels wonderful to greet the morning with a Sun Salute! It is said that the best time of day is morning simply because your stomach is empty from sleeping and your body is needing to move and stretch.

2. You will be more focused and energized when you leave your mat. You will notice you are more alert for work or school.   Your mind will be more organized from the mindfulness practice of yoga. You will have great moment to moment awareness of what needs to be done next.

3. Your metabolism will get a quick boost. Working out in the morning helps to elevate your metabolic rate all day, especially if you are doing Pranayama (breath control) that strengthens the lungs. The cardiovascular system will experience  EPOC excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which increases the amount of calories burned for the rest of the day.

4. You will be less likely to skip your practice. Studies show that those who are most consistent maintaining exercise routines are those that work out in the morning.

5. It makes time for other priorities in the evening.  One of my favorite yoga quotes is 'Yoga doesn't take time it gives time.' This is true in regards to how efficient you will be when you get to work.  Also when you get home you will more likely feel 100% present for your family or whatever events you plan in the evening.

6. You won't have as many distractions. In the morning your mind is usually free from distracting thoughts and thus you can focus more exclusively on your body's sensations and needs.  You can listen more closely to what your heart is yearning for through out the practice.  The day will begin on your terms, not your bosses' agenda or your email alerts, or anything else that is constantly stealing your attention.

7. Your mood will improve.  The ultimate goal of yoga is bliss.  Starting your day off with yoga is sure to lift your spirits.

8.  You can accomplish nothing else the rest of the day and still feel accomplished.  Nothing more enjoyable than working hard and following it with completely guilt -free relaxation. If you can let the rest of the day be influenced by the sweet surrender of savasana, lucky you!

9. Your skin will naturally glow.  Sweating is so good for the skin.   Going upside down in poses like down dog, handstand, forward folds, and various other postures is great for combating gravities effects on the skin.

10. You will be hungry for breakfast and even better, feel more inclined to eat healthier.  When you take time to get  the mind and body on the same page you will notice that you will crave healthier foods that nourish you fully.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yoga Collective Give Away



Exciting things are happening for April Grace Yoga!   Today begins a contest to give away 2 one year long subscriptions to The Yoga Collective’s Online Classes. I have found online classes in my own practice are a great way to keep disciplined and dedicated.  They are especially great on those days when you are unmotivated, uninspired, or just feeling lazy.   You know yoga is exactly what you need but the idea of leading yourself through a practice is overwhelming.  I also think they are a great way to get you back to going to class when you have had a break from regular practice.   Sometimes you just don’t want to be seen but you want the structure of a class. The Yoga Collective online community allows you to take a class right in the privacy of your own home. They have classes with a variety of lengths from 5 minutes to 60 minutes with a variety of styles and teachers.   So there is something for everyone.  It is so easy to use and convenient.


I have been lucky enough to practice in their beautiful studio in Venice. So if you are in the area you should definitely check them out.  But for those that are not in Venice,  The Yoga Collective offers a 15 day free trial of their online classes or you could win the yoga subscription give away!  

So here is how the contest will work. Post in the comments below your favorite yoga pose.  Then  friend my Facebook profile April Grace Yoga and post your favorite pose there as well.  The winner will be selected randomly and announced on the new moon April 18, 2015.    So you could be work out for free all year long with The Yoga Collective!  You can follow them on Twitter or Instagram for inspiring photos and yoga advice. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Women's Month insight from Taryn Hughes



Taryn Hughes sent this inspirational peice to me from her workshops in Berlin. She is an incredible writer, teacher, and yogi. When I opened my inbox to find this I realized it was just the perfect post for March

When we gather, truths come out. It's a shame to let those discoveries stay hidden from the community at large. When I hear themes or when a group nods in unison and says "that's so true" I am going to tap out the message to you. Maybe it will help you and your girlfriends, Aunties, Moms, Grandmas and other women in your life.   Insights from the last Soulful Tea in Berlin:
We spent a lot of time connecting over different questions, such as "Where do you feel truth in your body?" and "What feeds your soul?" Then I posed the question "What is the greatest gift you have to share with the world?" It could be anything. ***(((((think of your answer now))))))******

Nearly all 10 women said some version of empathy, intuitiveness, seeing and understanding the other person or accepting others. Out of all the possibilities in the world (and these women have some serious other talents as well) nearly all of us thought that was our greatest strength.

Curious - was it the same for you?

Then women began to speak about how often they hide this gift. It's their greatest gift and also their hidden gift? "Why hide?" I asked. Because it can be "dangerous." Oooooo, now it's getting juicy. "Why does it feel that way?" Because of history, because of patriarchy, because if we can see the truth, then we may speak the truth and that would cause a lot of problems for a lot of people who are not living with honor. Ah. Exhale. Let that sink in.

After hearing many of these women bowing out or planning to bow out of corporate life to craft their own creative, integral, meaningful life I mentioned that this is the modern day women's rebellion. We are all revolting, quietly in our little corners of the universe. There is a movement of what I will name "rebelesses," humming beneath the surface of society. We all choose love over money. People over profit. Caring over hurting. Many women are opting out of the game. Which bring us to the opportunity to create a new paradigm.

2 years ago I wrote an article for Levo League http://TarynHughes.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=22b3d53dd7f63d4244880b15a&id=cd4714057a&e=fcbe6d6474 on women in leadership. I truly believe that women and members of any minority group bring a lot of gifts to the table can shift the way business is run in the world - whether it's your own business or not. "Your position on the outside may well have offered you the gift of clarity and the ability to see..."

Whether you choose to lean in or opt out, know that you are all part of a silent and loving wave of transformative revolution that is spanning the globe.


Taryn HughesTaryn Hughes is dedicated to the development and advancement of women. Merging gender specific yoga with women’s rights in a historical, legal and societal context, she offers women a contemporary approach to healing. Find out more about Taryn at her website. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Corral Canyon

A couple years ago Shiva Rea introduced me to this beautiful hidden gem in Malibu called Corral Canyon during her prenatal yoga training.   It is a great place in Los Angeles to bring your mat, your journal and invite in some wonderful self reflection.  The rocks that surround this area make a great spot for meditating.   Here is a link to find out how to drive and hike there.
http://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/corralcanyon.htm



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Freebies

With summer coming, it is easy to long for more money for trips, classes, and retreats.  However, there are all sorts of resources that are free on the web and around Los Angeles to take advantage of.  So I thought I would put together a list of freebies online and around town that will fill your soul up without emptying your wallet. Many of these you are able to enjoy right in the comfort of your own home.

LIBERATION YOGA is having a free health day today from 1- 4pm!  This is what inspired my blog post today. They also give you your first class for free so if you have never been to this magical studio check it out. http://liberationyoga.com

YOGAGLO offers free classes at their studio in Santa Monica with teachers like Jo Tastula, Felicia Tomasko, Annie Carpenter, Noah Maze and many more it is an incredible deal. Their Business Model is for  online classes, so if you don't live in LA then for 18 dollars a month you can watch at home unlimited amount (which is a pretty good deal).  First 2 weeks online are free as a trial. http://www.yogaglo.com/

YOGATODAY.COM offers one free yoga class every week online.  Or you can become a member and get all their classes for 9.99 a month. http://yogatoday.com/

LA YOGA magazine is free all year long.  Pick one up at any yoga studio near you.  It is filled with wonderful articles on yoga and aryuveda.  Their online portion has a wonderful calendar of retreats and workshops that one could empty their wallet with.  http://www.layogamagazine.com/content/index.php

SPIRITUALITY & PRACTICE is a wonderful website with a free eNewsletter as well as Spiritual Practices to take part in.  Their whole website is filled with incredible resources, reviews and eCourses all from a spiritual perspective.   If you want to take a retreat in the comfort of your own home, this website is the place.  Some free and some for a small fee but all incredibly inspiring. http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/

SOUNDSTRUE.COM offers free podcasts of spiritual teachers being interviewed like Sean Corne, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Caroline Myss to name just a few. http://www.soundstrue.com/podcast/?cat=9#bottom

MOVING INTO STILLNESS has audio archives of Erich Schiffman's opening discussions that begin all of his Yoga Classes.  Wonderfully inspiring to listen to before a meditation or yoga session at home. Its like being right there in his class http://web.mac.com/erichyog/ERICHYOG/HOME.html

SAHAJAYOGA offers free meditation classes all over Los Angeles.
http://www.sahajayogala.org/

ULTIMATEPILATESWORKOUTS.COM offers a ton of free pilates classes that you can stream from their website. This is a great addition to a home yoga practice, especially for targeting important core muscles. http://ultimatepilatesworkouts.com/

LULULEMON stores offers a free yoga classes every week featuring different teachers all over USA. http://www.lululemon.com/giftofyoga

AMMA is the renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader known for her wonderful spiritual hugs.  She will be coming to Los Angeles June 14 and June 15 offering free public programs at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport.  www.amma.org

KANDEE THE MAKE UP ARTIST is one of my favorite people online. She gives free tutorials on skin care and makeup online. Very beautiful inside and out. She makes herself up to look like all different characters from film and it is so entertaining to watch. http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=kandeejohnson#g/u  Or visit her blog at http://kandeethemakeupartist.blogspot.com

THIS AMERICAN LIFE is an National Public Radio show which you can listen to for free online and I have spent hours listening to the many stories that they have on their shows.   They have free archives of incredible entertaining, inspiring stories.  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives

EVOLUTION PHYSICAL THERAPY is where I teach yoga and they offer the first yoga class for free.  So come on down Monday, Wednesday, or Friday 7:00 am - 8:15am for my morning class  or 12:10 pm -1:00 pm for Anne Israel's Lunch Time Class. http://www.evolution-pt.com/contact-us.html

If you know of any other free or cheap resources that I missed please feel free to leave that information in the comments to share the wealth!