Why Raziyoga?

For the past few years, I’ve been searching for a new name for my website. I felt uncomfortable with the term yoga and I didn’t like having my name be central. I came up with some different names including: Aligned and Playful Movement The Movement Well Micromovement for a Macro Life Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better Because nothing seemed quite right, I decided to stick with RAZIYOGA until I could find something better. While I love teaching, marketing and building a brand are not my strong suits. Now I’m considering keeping RAZIYOGA for the following reasons: Razi is the first 4 letters of my last name. You can read more about the history of my whole name…

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What Am I Teaching?

“What is Yoga?” is a question that I have contemplated on and off for many years. Many people have attempted to give an authoritative answer. Today I prefer to keep this question open The question that I am more interested in asking and coming up with at least a partial answer is, “What am I teaching?” In the summer of 2019, I had a few powerful experiences that sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions about my role as a movement instructor. At moments, I felt like I didn’t have anything to share (imposter syndrome) and at other times I felt like there was so much I wanted to teach all day. I understand and accept this to…

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Why I Say “Namaste” at the End of Class But Don’t Call Myself a Yogi

I almost always end my movement classes with the word “Namaste.” About 15 years ago I briefly explored using different words or phrases. I wasn’t sure that using this salutation was culturally appropriate. From the beginning of my yoga teaching, I was aware of the fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. I came to the conclusion that saying “Namaste” was a fine way to honor my teachers and their lineages and I became comfortable with that decision. However, I have never felt comfortable calling myself a ‘Yogi.’ Terminology seems to be a hot topic these days. Perhaps it always was but these days it feels like it has more of an edge to it. I understand…

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Sweet Memories and a Delightful Pose

Tree pose - Vrksasana is a pose that’s often taught to beginners and like many beginning poses, has many facets that are further revealed with practice. Practicing this pose sometimes brings up vivid memories. My recollections are tied to different times in my life and different places I’ve lived. Below I share a few of these memories and then discuss the physical aspects of the pose. When I was a young girl I would visit my grandmother who lived in a old section of Tel-Aviv. Her two room apartment was a part of what had originally been a large villa built during the time of the British mandate of Palestine. By the 1970’s the plastered walls were peeling…

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A Few Thoughts About Recent Events

    I’ve been carefully observing how my teachers, mentors and colleagues are responding to the current political situation. A few have chosen to remain silent but most have spoken out in outrage and despair about the events of the past week. The ones that I feel most aligned with are asking themselves about how they can contribute in their role as an expert in body-centered practices to work towards positive change beyond the important work of helping individuals. I align myself with those teachers and below you will find some of their thoughts and suggestions. I personally always return to the words of Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus who is highly revered in Jewish traditions and…

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I like to believe…

I like to believe that the more we connect with our bodies, the more compassionate we become.¹ And yet, I don’t know if that’s actually true—maybe we just become more of who we already are. ² I also like to believe the words of a Jewish daily morning prayer—Elohai Neshama—whose first line translates as, “God, the soul that you have placed within me is pure. ”³ And yet, I don’t know if that is actually true – maybe a few of us are born with a skin of evil  (Star Trek reference). ⁴ ⁵ While I can’t know that what I like to believe is absolute truth, I can attempt to embody these precepts and live as if they are.…

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Don’t Always Listen: You May Save Your Hips

or

Sometimes It’s Better to Observe a Pigeon Sitting on a Coconut than to Practice Pigeon Pose

A spontaneous purchase at the airport has gotten me all riled up. I bought a paperback that made a big claim; it purported to guide one to live an awesome life.* Of course I took this with a grain of salt but a quick glance showed me that it was filled with anecdotal stories that included the author’s experience with yoga. I thought it would be fun to read on the plane. The first part of the book was enjoyable. I found myself nodding my head often as many of the author’s stories and suggestions resonated with me. As I got further into the book, I realized that it was based on a concept that seems very popular…

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Morning Terrors and Morning Blessings

Prior to my recent trip to Minnesota, I discovered that yoga was being offered at one of my favorite places in the world—Lake Harriet. Not only were there going to be classes every day of the summer but they were looking for volunteer teachers. The thought of teaching at a place I have loved since childhood felt like an amazing opportunity that filled me with joy and excitement. There was only one downside; class started at 6:30 am and ever since I stopped teaching early morning classes at Ironworks, I have found it extremely challenging to get up before dawn. The pull of yoga at the lake was strong so I decided to set aside my fear of…

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Enliven Your Hips

I just finished filming a class for my weekly Patreon service. I was about to title it, “Open Your Hips and Flow into Vashistasana” but then I caught myself. I chose the term “open” out of a longstanding habit that I picked up during my travels in modern postural yoga. ‘Open’ is often used as a synonym for ‘flexible.’ Although our ability to move our hip joints is crucial to so many movements in life: walking, sitting, dancing, I don’t think that everyone needs to develop more flexibility in their hips. In fact, I think the emphasis on ‘being open’ has caused physical, emotional and psychological damage, so I am exploring new terminology that more clearly reflects this…

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Krispy Kremes and The Elusive Obvious*: Lessons from a Health Fair

My background as both an anthropologist and a movement educator have trained my mind to see beyond the surface—to look at cultural behaviors and physical movement to explicate and understand underlying patterns. Ultimately, I see myself as someone who exposes this elusive obvious and then supports people to make choices about what to do with this knowledge. A recent experience highlighted these skills and led me to create a new term for what I see as the elusive obvious. This spring I volunteered as a Blue Zones Project Ambassador at a local health fair sponsored by a large HMO. As an ambassador, I shared information about the Power 9: nine lifestyle habits shared by the 5 communities in…

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