Support Nathan Whitehorne

Dear Friends, Darci’s husband, Nathan, was in a nearly-fatal car accident on Thursday, April 10th. He has made remarkable progress over the weekend considering the extent of his injuries. Many have been in touch to ask how they can support Nathan and his family. The amazing team at 4 Paws Academy have set up a number of options:

The 4 Paws Academy team will be hosting a dog wash to raise money to support Nathan’s care and have some good, clean fun. Join them on Saturday, May 10th at the 4 Paws Day School to have your dog washed and towel dried for a $20 donation!! Rain date is Saturday, May 24th. Spread the word!

They have several events in the works, such as a 4 Paws Work Weekend, that we will need help organizing. If you can donate your time, skill, or materials to help spruce up 4 Paws with some simple maintenance tasks to ready for Nathan’s return, please contact Brian at

Also, if you are a business owner or are affiliated with a business that would like to donate a basket for an upcoming basket raffle (details to follow), please contact Nicole at or Danielle at

Please feel free to contact us here or the 4 Paws Academy team at for more information.

Many thanks for your support.



Yoga ,Your Neck, and Robert Frost.

Has your yoga practice ever left you with a sore and tight neck? Have you ever left class feeling relaxed and renewed everywhere except above the shoulders? While yoga does help to improve posture and restore mobility to the spine, without proper attention to movement patterns and alignment, it can also create a stiff and sore neck. Here are a few common fixes to keep your neck happy. The Path of Least Resistance. When it comes to movement, our body is very efficient. Left to its own device, movement from point A to point B will be along the path that offers the least resistance and uses the least amount of energy. So, if one area is tight or weak, the next in the chain will take over. This is actually a wise feature. We have a preservation of motion; if one region can’t move the way it is supposed to, another will do the job. Being the most mobile region in our spine, the neck is often the path of least resistance. “Home Base” We all know what our neck is supposed to look like, right? Ears over shoulders, gentle inward curve, chin basically parallel to the floor, and shoulder blades pulled down and in. I call this alignment “home base’. It is not the position we keep our neck in all day but it is the alignment we start from and come back to with movement. The key is helping our brain to understand where that “home base” is because often our brain and our muscles and joints don’t communicate effectively. I am sure many of you have experienced this in class. You are instructed to straighten your knee in a pose, so you do and are sure that your knee is straight. Then the instructor comes around and gently straightens your knee. What? You are bewildered because you were sure your knee was straight. This is an example of how your muscles/joints can feed our brain misinformation about position and the same thing can happen with your neck alignment. So, in your practice and in your day, experience neutral alignment often. Use a mirror, ask your yoga instructor to check your alignment, or arrange your workspace to promote this position. The more you use neutral as your “home base”, the more effective the communication will be between your neck and your brain. Twisting Poses. Twisting poses provide an excellent example of how the neck can become the path of least resistance. The neck has the most rotation, or twist, of all the regions in the spine and in our effort to achieve a big twist the neck will sacrifice alignment to rotate even more. I imagine if the neck was talking to the rest of a tight spine it would be saying, “don’t worry, if you can’t get there, I will do it!” So when we twist in Marichyasana III for example, we over rotate the neck and leave the chest and rib cage behind. Focus on keeping the chin in line with the breastbone. Whether you are performing just an upper back twist or a full multi-segmental rotation, be sure you have maximized the rotation you are going to get from other areas before you add anymore rotation to the neck and when you do, be sure you start that rotation from your “home base”. Reaching Overhead. It is important for your shoulder blades to move when you reach overhead. Your shoulder stability and strength depend on it. The challenge here is getting that motion from the right place. When there is weakness in the muscles that move the shoulder blades or restrictions in the shoulders, in the body’s usual fashion, other muscles will get the job done. Unfortunately, those muscles also connect to the neck. So, when you are reaching overhead let those shoulder blades move with the arms AND keep some space between your neck and shoulders. As you reach overhead in poses like Warrior I, lengthen from the pinky side of your arm as if you reaching right out of your armpit. When you are reaching overhead while bearing weight onto your arms, such as with  Downward Facing Dog, let the shoulder blades move on the rib cage and press your hands into the floor like you are “pushing the floor away”. This will help to activate the muscles that move the shoulder blades without creating compression in the neck. Seated Forward Bends. Seated forward bends, such as Upvista Konasana, or Baddha Konasana also illustrate how the mobility in the neck will compensate for the lack of mobility elsewhere. There is a tendency when in these forward bends to “reach” forward even further with our chin, drawing the head forward and adding upper neck hyperextension. Restrictions in the thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and hips contribute to this movement pattern. So, when you sit in these poses, rock forward onto the sit bones, open the chest by moving the shoulder blades in and down, and as you forward bend hinge from the hip creases and let your neck be in “home base” alignment. Ask your yoga instructor to keep an eye on your neck alignment during class. The goal is to leave your yoga class feeling better than when you walked in! Pay attention to your movement and chose a path that may not be the easiest but keeps your neck, and the rest of your spine, happy. How does Robert Frost fit into all of this? I will finish with the last verse from my favorite poem The Road Not Taken: I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost.

Happy Holidays!

What a wonderful year this has been and I am so grateful for all of my yoga students.

Since there are no classes this week here is a sequence to practice at home!

A few notes:

1. This class is broken up into four sections. Maybe you are short on time? Just do the first two and practice the others later!

2. Props needed: blanket, strap and two blocks.  No blocks at home? No worries.  Place a chair in front of you for the lunge pose and at your side for triangle pose and the half kneeling hamstring stretch (when your blocks move back with you like “stilts” for your hands)

3. The final video was cut short right at the end.  I finish with sidelying rotation to the right, just add the sidelying rotation to the left and then move into savasana.

4.  As usual, STOP if you experience pain.

5. Have fun!




Anatomy of a Yoga Practice

Join Therapydia Rutland for this special workshop. This is a 3 -hour workshop that combines functional anatomy, experiential anatomy, and a slow- flow yoga practice. With a special focus on the structural and functional anatomy of the shoulder complex, this workshop is perfect for yoga instructors or any practitioner hoping to deepen their knowledge of what is happening under the skin when performing asana. We will begin with an overview of shoulder anatomy, focusing on how this multi-joint complex moves in rhythm to create the most mobile joint in the body and how this mobility can lead to injury in a yoga practice. This will be a multi-media, interactive discussion. There will be a slow-flow yoga practice devoted to experiential anatomy and improved kinesthetic awareness of your shoulder’s mobility, stability, and its links to core stability.

Date: November 9, 2013.
Time: Noon – 3:00p.m.
Cost of the workshop is $50.
Please call us at 802-772-7801 to register.

Practicing at Home

The most challenging part of a yoga practice isn’t a headstand or an arm balance, it is carving out the time to spend on the mat.  We pack our days so tightly there isn’t much wiggle room to stop and breathe.  As important as it is to attend yoga class, it is equally as important to develop a home practice.

It is the process of practicing at home that is important, not the outcome.  Improved strength and flexibility are fabulous, but the real significance of a home practice is the commitment that you make to spend time learning about yourself.  In yogic philosophy it is called Swadhyaya, or self –study.  Swadhyaya really is about committing to the process of paying attention to you.

With this in mind, avoid setting expectations about how long you will be on the mat and how often you will practice.  Set yourself up for success. A home practice does not have to be a “class” at home.  You don’t have to practice for an hour and half to reap the benefits of yoga, you can improve your flexibility and strength with just 15 minutes of practice!  Maybe some days you simply unroll the mat and do a few cat and camels, maybe some days you unroll the mat and just sit.  Other days you might do a more scripted practice.  Just remember it is about the journey, not the destination.

You don’t even have to practice every day, research shows a few times a week is beneficial.

Now, you are on your mat, what do you do next?

Deciding which poses to practice can be intimidating.   One of the most frequent reasons my students tell me for not practicing at home is because they are afraid they might hurt themselves by performing a pose incorrectly.  This is understandable.  There is a lot in the media about how yoga can hurt you.  As long as you check your ego at the door and you really pay attention to the sensations in your body, you will be fine. Gentle to moderate stretching is good, gentle to moderate exertion is good and pain is bad!

If you have attended my class more than once, you know there are several poses that I teach almost every week.  There is a reason for this repetition.  First of all, the poses are important.  They call for lengthening and stabilizing in all the right places.  They prepare you for a deeper practice and “undo” the restrictions caused by many of our daily postures.  The repetition also reinforces movement patterns so you feel more confident practicing those poses at home.

But, if you have never attended my class or simply don’t remember those foundational poses, here are a few to begin with.

Supta Eka Padangustasana


Long and Kneeling Lunge

Extended Child’s Pose

Reclined Twist