Ask an Instructor – Diana Markessinis

Diana Markessinis
Diana Markessinis – Yoga instructor and fine artist

Diana Markessinis is a yoga instructor and fine artist specialising in sculpture.

ask an instructor – 10 questions

• the very first yoga class you attended?   As a small little lady with my mom we walked to an old Victorian house in our neighborhood of Wilmington Delaware. I remember the sound of the pocket door sliding shut, deep breathing, and quiet organized movement in a full room of ladies.

• what is it about yoga that inspires you?   The merging of our internal and external worlds, to explore and travel our internal world then the outside physical body world…it’s a lovely dance back and forth and eventually they merge and unite creating a one pointed focus, where all else falls away, in that peacefulness I get inspired

• what yoga item(s) could you not be without?  I suppose my blocks, but honestly if they aren’t with me, I find something else, books, buckets, a railing, whatever is available to give me more space!

• your favorite post yoga class snack?  Something juicy and refreshing like fresh veggie or fruit.

• what book would you recommend to a brand new student of yoga?  Depends on that persons interests…Donna Farhi ‘bringing yoga to life’ has a nice overview or for a deeper level ‘the body has its reasons’ by Therese Bertherat

• if you could teach a class anywhere in the world, where would it be?  On the floor of a soft forest on a sunny day.

–  type of class you like to attend when you are not the instructor?  Relaxation classes like Restoratives or Yin, as I practice this at home, but have to keep watch of the time, it’s luxurious to have someone else keeping track.

• favorite thing to do if not doing yoga?  Being outside and creating objects.

• if you weren’t a yoga instructor?  I’m an artist, my love and knowledge of yoga is to make this life fuller for myself and others.

• as a yoga instructor, what do you hope a new student takes away from your class?  To simply feel better then when they arrived. Showing up on our mat is to be a witness to whatever is happening that day, and in theory as that awareness comes through we can better serve ourselves and therefore others.

To find out more about Diana’s yoga schedule and sculpture work visit her website http://www.dianamarkessinis.com

Diana teaches a weekly Yoga Fundamentals class at Inner Space yoga studio in Santa Ana.

7 Reasons Why I’m Happy to be a Middle Aged Yogi….

Can I go get coffee instead?
As a yogi embracing the middle years there are many yoga trends I’m happy to let pass me by.  Here are 7 of them…

  • Any yoga class that has been heated to a temperature worthy of an industrial laundry.  My own body creates that heat spontaneously so why would I consider turning up the temperature…..on purpose?
  • Any yoga class that has the word ‘burn’, ‘boot’, ‘butt’ or ‘bust’ in the description.  Need I say more?
  • Any type of yoga clothing design that incorporates large cut out panels or swathes of mesh.  Worse still, not enough fabric to make a handkerchief from.

    Any yoga class that has the word ‘burn’, ‘boot’, ‘butt’ or ‘bust’ in the title.  Need I say more?

  • Any pose that involves contorting myself into the shape of a badly twisted pretzel.  I know Madonna managed to get both feet around her neck and good on her, but me?  With these hips?
  • Any yoga cleansing programs that involve a diet of foods I can’t pronounce and the need to perform four hours of acrobatic poses every day.  Just the thought of it makes me pine for a lie down…..when’s savasana?
  • Achieving a one armed handstand in the middle of the room/beach/park/any other random open space.  Didn’t happen for me at the peak of my yoga fitness so I’m happy to practice acceptance in the knowledge that it won’t happen now.
  • The trend for posting multiple yoga pose photographs to social media on a daily basis.  Can I go get a coffee instead?

How are these trends working out for you?

How to Make Yoga Stick in Your 2017 Routine

New years resolutions

How you doing with those resolutions?  Still cutting out sugar?  On track to finish that book this month?  Stopped checking your email every time the phone pings?


Admittedly, we’re only a couple of weeks in so you’re probably still doing well on your New Year resolutions but how do you keep it consistent?  How do you really make a change to your routine that stays part of your routine going forward?

Research shows that it takes around 30 days to build a habit.  That is just one month.  Committing to a daily yoga practice whether it be in a class environment or home practice helps to reinforce the yoga habit which will hopefully stick around for life!

Here are a few tips for keeping your yoga going…

  • At first, try and commit to just one class a week.  If you can’t set a regular day/time examine the class schedule and figure out the handful of classes that may work so that you can mix and match each week.
  • If you’re lucky enough to find the teacher you love to practice with early on find out where else he or she teaches.  You may be able to combine locations to better suit your own schedule.
  • If budget allows consider private one on one classes.
  • Avoid the mindset of having to attend a full, extended 90minute session of yoga every single day creating unreasonable expectations on yourself.  Work on the idea of a manageable smaller, bite size daily practice to maintain your yoga habit.
  • If the studio, gym or location doesn’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling and you don’t feel inspired, try somewhere else.  A lot of the obstacles in attending class arise from the lack of connection you feel to the teachers and the teaching environment.  If it doesn’t speak to you, go elsewhere.
  • Once you’ve attended a few classes, make a mental note of some of the poses or part of a sequence.  Even if it is only two poses or a ten minute sequences down it forms the beginnings of a home practice.
  • Avoid the mindset of having to attend a full, extended 90minute session of yoga every single day creating unreasonable expectations.
  • Consider the idea of a more manageable, bite size daily practice to maintain your yoga habit.
  • If it is impossible to get to classes during the week consider signing up for weekend workshops that interest you.
  • If you have a yoga mat, lay it out somewhere at home.  When you are about to sit in front of the TV try stepping on to the mat instead.
  • Lastly, be mindful of other habits in your life that distract your time and attention.  Sometimes, to make space for new habits we need to lose some of the old ones.  I know, easier said than done but, for example, consider how much time you spend online.  You may just discover an extra 30 minutes in your day!

Keep your resolution alive by keeping your yoga practice growing.  As described in the classic yoga text The Yoga Sutras, ‘when it is harder not to practice than to practice then yoga becomes firmly grounded and an integral part of life’.

How have you managed to keep your yoga going?

A Yoga Studio for the over 40’s

Yoga for the over 40's is a growing demographic
Yoga for the over 40’s is a growing demographic

Seniors are the largest growing segment of the US population with numbers growing year on year.  As yoga continues to gain popularity one yoga studio has embraced these changes to cater for a very specific demographic – the over 40 age group.


Yoga studios are aplenty in the US.  Plenty of choice, styles, facilities and instructors.  Some studios specialize based on class style, such as hot yoga or vinyasa yoga, or on a specific school of yoga study such as Iyengar or Bikram. This particular yoga studio specializes in yoga for the over 40’s age group.

Founded by David Webster in the Summer of 2013, Better Living Yoga in Aliso Viejo, California opened its studio doors in March 2014.

David recognized that ‘Yoga for seniors is a demographic that is not being served and it is the largest growing market’.  We are all living much longer and by 2030 older adults will account for roughly 20% of the U.S. population.

This particular studio is catering for a very specific demographic – the over 40’s.

As we age we can anticipate a whole range of conditions and ailments coming our way.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression and cancer to name but a few. Research carried out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) discovered that two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions

Not appealing, I know, however we can adapt and, in some cases, limit the effect and impact of these age related conditions using the tools we learn when practicing yoga and meditation.

‘Yoga for seniors is a demographic that is not being served and it is the largest growing market’

The primary focus for Better Living Yoga is to cater for an older community with a ‘non-competitive approach and attention to alignment & safety to help reverse and prevent chronic conditions’.  Although the target demographic is the over 40’s, all levels and ages are welcome and it’s a perfect studio to attend for students working with injuries or recovering from medical procedures and surgery.

Their schedule boasts an impressive line up of experienced yoga instructors and yoga therapists of varying yoga lineages all with extensive teaching experience.

Enjoy a healthier transition into older age by making a regular yoga practice part of your routine.

 

Restorative Yoga & Essential Oils

Essential Oil Bottles
Essential oils are a great complement to a restorative yoga practice

Look on any yoga schedule today and there is a good chance that nestled away somewhere between Hatha Level 1 and Vinyasa Flow is a Restorative yoga class.


If you haven’t experienced a restorative yoga class you can expect a very calming experience set at a relaxed pace with an opportunity to totally destress as your body surrenders into yoga props.  Sounds good, no?

‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds’ 

Restorative yoga is rapidly gaining popularity because of its ability to help manage the stress overload we experience in our day to day lives.  Combined with the use of essential oils, restorative yoga is a practice that will bring the body and mind into balance.

Props used in a restorative practice include folded and rolled blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks along with additional support from a wall or chair for some poses.  The use of multiple props arranged to suit the student’s specific physical needs enables them to hold a fully rested position for an extended period of time.

Susan Kjesbo, a certified Yoga Therapist, describes restorative yoga as ‘active relaxation where the body is supported with props to give the message to the body to let go’ and in a typical class you will be able to do just that.

A class or workshop will consist of just a handful of poses where the whole body is fully supported and each individual pose is held for several minutes.  These very relaxed physical positions initiate a response where the breath deepens and physical and mental stresses can release.

A restorative yoga practice offers great health benefits and in Susan’s experience ‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds when they walk out of class and are coming back for more’.

Susan is also passionate about the use of essential oils as a complement to a restorative yoga practice.  When oils make contact with the skin they are absorbed into the tissues affecting the body as a whole and, through our sense of smell, are linked to the part of our brains associated with emotion and memory which, in turn, can influence mood and mindset.

‘stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern life and the use of essential oils and a regular restorative yoga practice are great additions to our self care routines’,  Susan Kjesbo.

If you are just getting started with essential oils, she suggests using lavender for its calming properties.  ‘You can place a drop in your hands and breathe the scent from your hands or rub it in to the bottom of your feet’.  If you are keen to learn more about essential oils, she also recommends that students ‘find someone knowledgable to work with or use a good reference book such as Modern Essentials’ in order to get the greatest benefit.

As we try to keep up with ever more frantic and over scheduled lives so stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern living. A regular restorative yoga practice and the use of essential oils are perfect additions to our personal self care routines because, as Susan points out, ‘we all operate better from a place of centeredness rather than frenzy’.

To see Susan’s teaching schedule visit www.Susankjesbo.com

Susan’s go to brand for essential oils is doTerra.

Want more visual stuff? Take a peek at her Instagram page @therapyyogi