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.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Gratitude For Your Body

 

There is always something to be grateful for when it comes to the body

New Meditation on Insight Timer Called Thank You Body

The Nature of the Human Body. Before dressing them, we first draw… | by  Walter Isaacson | Medium
Here are a few things mentioned in the above meditation that your body is doing right now!
  • Your lungs draw in oxygen and release carbon dioxide over 15,000 times every day!
  • Your heart beats about 100,000 times every day! 
  • Life giving oxygen is carried from the lungs and heart through hundreds of miles of blood vessels!
  • Your bones are providing structure for your body and also making blood cells deep inside the marrow
  • Your skin is the largest organ spanning on average 20 square feet and is the body's first layer of defense from the outside world 
  • Your liver has over 500 functions that it provides for the body, some of those functions are storing extra blood, clearing the blood of toxins, creating proteins, and many more.

 

Figure 2.

Leonardo Da Vinci's drawing of the heart

He examined in detail the bronchi up to their smaller ramifications, noting that each of them is accompanied by a small branch of the pulmonary artery (Figure 2A). On the basis of these observations, he hypothesized that the bronchial arteries receive freshness from the bronchi, full of air, and that the venous blood receives freshness in the lung, before returning to the heart. He studied in detail the anatomy of the coronary artery and veins, coming to the conclusion that the heart feeds itself (Figure 2B).

Originally published 
Circulation Research. 2019;124:189–191

 

 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Insight Timer Guided Practices and Courses — Calmworks®

   Leading Meditations on Insight Timer

My first meditation is up and it is a Loving Kindness meditation inspired by Stephen Levine. I have loved his book Guided Meditations, Explorations and Healings. And I have used it for years in my classes.
 
I have also been using Insight Timer for the past 8 years in my personal meditation practice and I love the multiple bell settings and the different guided meditations that they offer. It is a free app for your phone or tablet. So check out my meditation


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.