Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga : A Comparative




I have to admit, I didn’t know what Yin Yoga was when I first heard it. My friend Janine had been practicing for years and I remember thinking it sounded like a restorative class.  I respected the idea of restoration but I never prioritized the practice amidst my daily mysore Ashtanga yoga discipline . As the years when on and my spiritual practice evolved alongside my physical one, I reintroduced myself to Yin Yoga from a new,more receptive and softer place.  I was changed and completely blown away.  I fell head over heels in love with this practice that is so much more than what can be explained using language.  Though Yin and Restorative yoga are both inherently restorative practices, through fully engaging with the practice, I teased off some key differences between the two that I have found through my own practice.

Restorative Yoga is about restoring the overworked and dynamic muscles in addition to engaging in complete pratyahara or sense withdrawal.  In restorative yoga, the student supports the body in postures held for 10 plus minutes at a time, with no distraction from the senses, thus allowing for complete and utter surrender.  There is no “doing” in restorative yoga, it is completely passive which supports the body’s natural ability to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and recover.

Yin Yoga is also restorative, however the tissues restored are the connective tissue - the ligaments, joints and tendons. As the stabilizers of the body, these are the tissues that support the muscle’s ability to function at its highest capacity.  In a yin class, the passive postures, sequenced to restore and nourish the body’s subtle energetic channels housed within these connective tissues are held for 3 - 5 minutes with a focused attention.  The awareness is actively engaged with the sense body from a receptive and curious perspective, inviting in sensation and meeting its deepest physical edges.  The invitation is to apply mindfulness practices such as a concentrated breath and resourcing awareness to more neutral sensations while in the postures.  

Restorative yoga is best practiced in the evening as a support to wind down.  Also great at the end of a vigorous flow class, restorative postures can give the muscles a much needed break and allow the breath to circulate evenly for a more efficient recovery. Yin Yoga, on the other hand  is best practiced in the morning. Even though it is passive, the connective tissues respond best to the postures when they are cold and not test warmed up.  Definitely include both restorative and yin yoga into your practice repertoire and your body will thank you



My Yin Yoga Classes at Sangha Yoga Shala

Tuesday | 10am

Thursday | 7pm


Caring for your creative energy: learning to nurture and respect the subtle feminine energy.

How can we harness our creative energy in a way where it can be transformed into a tangible contribution?  I struggle with this question constantly.  It’s a natural feeling, the wanting, the uncertainty, the fear around wondering if it will ever happen or if we even have the energy at all.  But the deeper truth is that we are creativity.  Humans are a product of creation and therefore ARE creation. It is boundless and sourced within us.  


  1. Believing it’s in abundance - Intention and faith are the cornerstones of creativity and cultivating fulfillment.  

  2. Recognizing the fear and anxiety around the idea of creativity as opportunities to cultivate its potential

  3. Turn towards these emotions with a loving and patient attention - rather than becoming hostile around these emotions, recognize them as unpleasant yet allow them to remain in your presence without shaming or blaming. If you notice, shaming or blaming is occurring, turn towards that and practice the same kind attention

  4. Cultivate stillness and let the energy flow and properly marinate - it is skillful to allow the energy to live inside for a time.  Resist the urge to externalize as the energy begins to heighten and alchemize

  5. Apply inquiry and curiosity to the flow.  Is there a specific emotion that continues to arise? Can you name and drop into the body, and notice where it lives? Can you develop an intimate attention and relationship with the physical without abandoning or judging?  

  6. Once you become familiar with this sensation and it becomes less aversive to your awareness, you can begin to inquire deeper into its root, perhaps the first time you felt this physical sensation.  

  7. Often these roots are deeply protected and can take many weeks and months to uncover, but once uncovered with a friendliness, care and patience, we can begin to nurture them with a new mature awareness, thus providing the perfect fertilizer for our creativity to grow



Ayurveda Tips for The Holidays

Ayurveda is the science of life.  As such, life is always changing, shifting, and transforming around and through us.  As we employ Ayurveda as a means to further discover ourselves, we can utilize its innate intelligence to guide and nurture us in navigating the temperature of our individual and communal worlds.

This is the time of year, as holidays roll around, that we can find ourselves out of balance.  It’s a motley crew of reasons, including the weather, the food we eat, the schedules, the anxiety, the enthusiasm and even the conversations. Yes, Ayurveda includes all of these things and therefore can adjust for them as well.

Enjoy this quick guide to Ayurveda for Holidays - How to show up as your most balanced self all season long:

  1. Stay warm and hydrated - Fall and early winter are vata seasons and these properties of air and and wind can influence our ability to stay grounded.  The qualities of air and wind are very quick and light, found energetically at parties, meals and even in some conversations.  Think about that energy of being pulled in a million directions or a loud and fast paced conversation that  perhaps you weren’t quite ready for.  It’s important during this time of high social and energetic enthusiasm to remain committed to this simple act of self care.  Staying warm physically through clothing, food and drink  gives us a leg up when the vata appears in ways we didn’t prepare for, and helps to support a grounded and open and genuinely engaged presence even in the most stressful of situations

  2. Limit Spicy Foods / Alcohol -   Nothing stokes a Pitta like going home for the holidays.  The brain and the belly are inextricably linked. When the mind is active and in overdrive producing thoughts laced with anxiety and overwhelm, the belly immediately gears up, often producing acidic enzymes creating a hot and spicy internal environment to say the least.  An unfortunate bi product of this very common occurance is a sharp tongue and short reaction times.  By limiting spicy foods and moderating alcohol intake, and including warm, sweet and savory tastes instead, we can support a calmer mind / body with which to respond to anything and anyone that comes our way.

  3. Watch portion sizes and meal times - You will be amazed at how holiday depression can be combatted with simple portion control and regular eating habits.  The Kapha / earth element, can be felt strongly during this time of year in the form of lethargy, fatigue and laziness. Interestingly enough, a simple vata and pitta infusion of rhythm and consistency can help. Even if a whole meal isnt possible, stoking the metabolism on a regular basis with light snacks supports hormone balance and mental stability - empowering us with powerful ammo for those epic holiday meal times.

  4. Engage in a Spiritual Practice - At the end of the day, we are all spiritual beings, seeking to connect, love, and experience the depth of our human capabilities.  The holidays are an amazing time to practice these aspirations with others and grow ourselves in ways unavailable to us the rest of the year. The opportunity for practice lives in each and every holiday party, family and community dinner, and uncomfortable conversation with a family member or co-worker. Our commitment to our personal practice ensures we nurture the connection to ourselves and our intentions, freeing the energy up to engage, participate and share with the deep knowing that we are safe and loved.

Alana is an RD with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU in addition to being certified as a specialist in Ayurveda. She offers one on one consultations at her studio Sangha Yoga Shala in Williamsburg, BK or via Skype






The Deeper Truth | A Manifesto

I was watching a movie the other day in which one of the characters said to another – “you have had a life, but you haven’t lived”. I found this statement to be so true and so relevant.  It’s easy to get caught up in the blame and regret of the unlived life, but the truth is, “living” is one of the hardest things to do.  It seems counterintuitive,  we “live” everyday.  We wake up, take a shower, go to our job, talk to friends, eat, shop, read,  have sex, exercise, meditate etc.., but what is really happening here? Isn’t there more than what we consume and produce  that makes a human life valuable? And an even deeper question is, is it the inherent lack of interest as a society in a different quality of experience? 

Is our life worth more than the sum results of our “doing”?

I believe as a culture, we are evolving towards this aspiration of self actualization, interconnectedness, de- personalization and the importance of self love and generosity.  Finally people are beginning to give validity to the individual experience and understand how much stronger a community is when the people in it are in mature relationship with themselves first. What I mean by this is, truly turning towards the direct experience of what is happening to you and feeling it, without first blaming, shaming, projecting, or  judging someone else for the feelings that are inside at the present moment.

As a child, I felt this pull towards purposeful personal expression, accountability and tolerance.  I don’t know where it came from – an ayurvedic astrologer that I see once a year told me back in 2008 that I was a buddhist monk in my past life – so there is that.  But, if regression therapy isn’t your thing, we can say that perhaps I was just tuning into something bigger that has guided me throughout life.

I wish I could say it was easy.  I wish I could say, I found my truth and it led me to the land of the living enlightened, but this is in fact so far from it.  I spent so many years hiding in the most creative ways. I held on to deep rooted values and beliefs even though my outer world expressed the opposite.  I continued to feel small, misunderstood and short of making the impact that I felt was available in my heart.

I shied away from romantic relationships and anything that made me feel too much. Fiercely independent, I had a hard time living in the intimacy of connection.  When I was a teenager, even as a talented and well respected singer, I would turn and face a wall when performing for small crowds, because I didn’t feel worthy of  being great. I didn’t feel that my contribution was good, or big enough to be seen.  In fact, I felt in the most vulnerable place in my soul that sharing in my most natural way, truly expressing without censorship, curation or permission would make me a bad person.  It would make me selfish, a show off, trying to hard, too much – and I would be exiled into loneliness, rejection and humiliation. This is the truth I lived with for 34 years of my life. This is way I lived.

The reality is that this isn’t just my limited belief.  This framing of life is mirrored through many conservative and  dogmatic cultures, including more primitive generations of human beings fearful of “others” as a threat to their mere survival. These beliefs are continually reinforced in the schools, and social circles I participated in as a teenager and young adult. I experienced so much pain as a result of this universal consciousness. I was criticized, bullied by my peers in regards to my physical appearance, and eventually self-inflicted harm and interpersonal conflict.

The interpersonal conflict is still an ongoing practice and the one most prevalent as an adult woman navigating these rapidly changing times, especially when there are such strong and deep rooted beliefs and values around the community and its obligations from the individual.  These values are in fact the opposite of the self expressed, personal development, self love paradigm as a means to serve at the highest potential for humanity,  that I believe the world is fastly moving towards.  This remains extremely challenging and sad, and I implored sophisticated measures, for many years, to get around feeling it.  But I have reached the end. There is no more back road that leads to anywhere but more suffering,  and I have finally thrown the white flag.

I am still unsure how to navigate this chasm in beliefs, when the interests are so different and yet we are still so interconnected.  I so badly want to be able to have an inclusive relationship with all communities, one where I don’t feel like I have to reject anything and isolate in order to be truly free and expressive, because I know that is not where it leads.

In my heart I know there is a higher path, I know there is a way in which we can stop expecting the other to change, stop personalizing each other’s actions as though it reflects upon us.  The rub is this – the conflict and the feelings on both sides are real, but they are not the deeper truth.

So how can we evolve? The answer lies in our willingness to connect to ourselves.

I have had many incidents over the years where with the arising of difficult emotions, I abandoned myself with unhealthy dissociation behaviors. I spent years  getting trapped in a cycle of  choosing  men who are unavailable, over a decade of binging and purging, and engaging in friendships with people who are apathetic and contentious rather than encouraging and supportive of my creative pursuits, reinforcing my insecurities and defensiveness.  I so badly wanted to be seen and loved for who I am, and that was the underlying desire.

However,  it was me who was keeping myself invisible, because what I deeply wanted to feel was right there in the response to the suffering I was ignoring.  I was subconsciously choosing to not be seen.  I wasn’t attending with kindness to my own emotions that were right there, taking long term residence in my body and long forgotten.  In turn I had these great expectations on others to validate me, sacrifice their own expression of direct experience and offer me accolades so that I would feel understood, worthy and valued. Of course this is unrealistic and only served to reinforce my insecurities and fears.  In the end, I am responsible… but not to blame. Forgiveness.

This insight has been incredibly freeing for me in my relationships, yet remains to be a challenge in the face of antiquated societal constructs such as the role and expectation of a woman’s contribution to society and a certain linear conformity which represent these patterns.  After many years, I have begun opening myself to self-expression and sharing myself without censorship, something that leaves me feeling very vulnerable.  I often receive feedback from more conservative communities that my creative choices in expression are harmful, disappointing, and potentially dangerous to my future and reputation. When I share that I am not ashamed, I don’t feel there is controversy,  and there is value to my contribution even if it does not please everybody, I have heard responses such as – ‘ so what about the people that say they value it,  what about all the people that don’t?’  ‘Shouldn’t you think about the people that don’t share your same ideology and how your actions make them feel?’   There is really nothing to say. I deeply believe it is in service of the greater good to be transparent, authentic,  and empower people to expand their perspectives in a non-harming, non-violent way.

And even though I don’t believe these labels and lines of inquiry to be based in a deeper truth, all the fears I suppressed, years of proving through consumption of degrees, founding and operating a valued community yoga studio, living in a comfortable apartment and collecting material possessions, I still struggle with feeling safe, truly being myself, and sharing my unique gifts and creativity.  Even after all the years of collecting knowledge, practicing and teaching yoga and meditation, producing in the way we are taught to, my worst fears of feeling judged, abandoned, exploited, criticized, shamed and unwanted have been made conscious.

And as I continue to undress from all the layers I wore to keep me hidden, I am feeling that hit of self-consciousness, rejection, paralyzing fear of isolation, and judgement that I touched into and ran away from over and over again as a young child, teenager and young adult. But I am staying with it this time because I feel the power living in my transparency rooted in a sincere contribution, in my courage to show up authentically without restraint, hopefully empowering others to know and feel it is safe to do the same, and there is a community and a full successful life waiting to be realized.

As an adult woman, I am stepping into my agency and answering the call that rang all those years ago that as a young girl I didn’t have the tools to live in.  I am holding the space for my own vulnerability and feelings,  giving them permission to abide and be responsibly visible through my creativity  without feeling shame or exploited.  I am releasing the notion that  my value is in the hands of other people’s approval, that receiving help to realize my aspirations make my efforts less than valuable, and I am reaffirming my commitment that accepting others and being accepted is an opportunity for a deeper intimacy and understanding.

I am extending value and gentleness  to my disappointments and sadness in the face of being viewed as selfish.  I am valuing my expression as a human over the unverified truth and belief that my sincere, pure based actions will do harm to others if I am not always pleasing to them.  I am extending space and love to the fear that I will be estranged, isolated and unsafe by living true to the voice of my soul. And I give value to the real but untrue belief that continues to live in the consciousness of others with compassion.

This is my contribution. This is my sincere interest.  Today I begin living.


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