Jenny Otto chants the Devi Mata — a song celebrating the Divine Mother, Creator and Nurturer of the Universe.
"... But it's not the only unique spin on the age-old practice. Jenny Otto of Body Balance Yoga in Annapolis has been offering motorcycle yoga to interested bikers for several months. She has a free pamphlet on the subject, which she put together this winter. The six-page guide avoids the term "yoga" so as not to drive away reluctant riders... Otto is a longtime yoga instructor. She's been riding motorcycles since 2009, and one of the first things she noticed was how sore some people were after rides. She wanted to help them. "I've been on a mission to teach other motorcyclists to take care of their bodies," said Otto, who has been a yoga instructor since 1990. Her pamphlet, Ride Relaxed. Ride Smart. Ride Safe. features photographs of various stretches with explanations. Lunges as well as poses such as triangle, chair and figure-4 are outlined. Otto also discusses proper riding posture. (Anyone who wants a pamphlet should contact her at her studio). Otto encourages motorcyclists to stretch for a couple minutes any time they get off their bikes. People typically don't feel the effects of a long ride until well after they're finished. Otto hands out pamphlets when she can, and has given a talk and demonstration at a Laurel Harley-Davidson dealership."I don't care if (riders) ever come to a yoga class," she said. "If they take that pamphlet and just do it, my job's done."
"Though Golden Heart Yoga opened its doors just five years ago, it has quickly established itself as the premiere yoga studio in the Annapolis area, winning Best of Annapolis from What's Up? Magazine three years in a row for best yoga and meditation center. Owner Jenny Otto, who, after 27 years of study, is known to be one of the most skilled yoga teachers in the area (and was one of the first certified Anusara teachers in the country), is nationally recognized for her in-depth understanding of therapeutics and anatomy (even dissecting human cadavers to further her knowledge of body structure) and has trained with yoga masters, osteopaths, chiropractors, and Rolfers (who manipulate the body's connective tissues to release stress). Where other yoga studios are sometimes thinly veiled aerobics classes, Otto aims to introduce the art and science of yoga. "We are more old school in our approach," says Otto. "I consider the style of what we do as more authentic. We are the only ones in Annapolis who explore the poses and break them down."
— "Our feet are like steering wheels of the legs," says Jenny Otto, senior certified Anusara yoga teacher and owner/director of Golden Heart Yoga in Annapolis, Maryland. (from 2004-2009) "What happens to the feet affects the knees, hips, and, ultimately, the whole spine. Everything starts from the ground up." And Otto knows: She not only healed her painful heel spurs through yoga but also built up the arches of her flat feet.
— The purpose of the feet is the same in every pose, says Otto. “You can’t create extension without equal and opposite force of gravity,” she says. "It’s a basic law of physics: There must be grounding to create a lift in gravity."
— "They guide our knees and hips, acting as an anchor to earth," says Otto. As we press down through the four corners, the arches, which comprise sling muscles (tibialis anterior and fibularis longus), help draw energy up and into the body and communicate with the pelvis and lower-back muscles. When you use your feet correctly and distribute your weight evenly, the rest of your body responds energetically. If your weight is unevenly distributed, you’ll compensate somewhere else, inevitably causing strain and tension in your body.
"Yoga found me. I was Executive Director of the Body Bank, an exercise studio dedicated to class fitness, and yoga was one of the programs I inherited when I was hired. I had a bad cycling injury that prevented me from teaching and taking the regular classes so I crawled into the yoga class since I could not do anything else. I hated every minute of it, as I was really tight from running marathons, 10Ks, and cycling half-century rides. I knew deep down it was good for me but it was so painful."
"I had an experience at a personal training conference with an extraordinary woman that was a sports psychologist, Diana McNab. She led us through an exercise after meditation for us to write down our thoughts, feeling or interests according to the question. One of the questions was 'What would you do if you had more time that will benefit your growth?' Much to my surprise, I wrote down yoga. That really freaked me out because I hated it, but as I said, knew deep down it was good for me. I decided from that moment on I would work to become a yoga teacher. That was 1989."
"Helping others to embody who they are and learning how to live without pain. I love figuring out the right combinations of how to get people into poses. I love dissecting what is actually happening biomechanically."
"I am very creative and enjoy creating my own poses and variations thereof to benefit the health and well-being of every student. My teaching is practical, authentic and fun. I have been told many times I am a teachers’ teacher. I still hear from people that have taken trainings and workshops with me that say they still use techniques I have taught them in their classes."
"Listen to your body, and if you feel what is being offered is not a good idea, don’t do it. Ask for assistance or modification. The teacher does not live in your body and cannot possibly know what you are feeling or going through. Do not turn your power over to anybody."
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