Rana Waxman

About Rana Waxman

Rana Waxman is a registered yoga therapist ERYT-500, with 20 years of teaching experience. Rana is a freelance writer and social media expert in addition to leading yoga workshops internationally and teaching alignment focused private and group Yoga Lessons in Hoboken and Jersey City NJ.

Group yoga classes

Group Yoga Classes in September:

group restorative yoga classes

group restorative yoga classes

This season I’m kicking the restorative yoga classes up a notch, through the use of weekly themes and focuses on different categories of asanas. 

This is primarily because I notice a prevalence of folks who either come expecting to just lay out on a bolster and sleep, or are already burnt out and tired that they should really be coming more often (preventative measures) rather than 1&1/2 hours of “curative”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good, but discipline (tapas) pays off, especially with restorative yoga, since we do not always cultivate the softer forms of practice (meditation, relaxation, pranayama). 

Also, holding any pose for any length of time is either not helpful (if you do not have the alignment or trajectory of the pose in the first instance), or helpful if you are really in tune with proper prop placement and so on. Comfort is really learned too!

Many of you come to group yoga classes when you are already tired; have lower back pain, stiff shoulders, and tight hips. We will address all these issues in weekly themes during our yoga classes where you can learn sequences and alignment skills to complement your busy life and your active yoga practices. The sequences will progress as you learn them…right?! so come to class – or just book me privately.

The first week of the month will be devoted to supine standing poses, which are great to alleviate tension in the whole body. The second will be devoted to backbends and twists, to improve posture, circulation, the third to forward bends and light inversions, which have great benefits for immunity and overall calmness, and the fourth to peaceful practices and pranayama.

Look forward to seeing you in class, 


Strengthening Your Intuition

This is a post based on a blog I wrote awhile back on how to strengthen your intuition. I was reminded today when I came across this huge ear. I do believe we hear more than we listen, and after reading the Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh, I am more than ever aware of the need to listen, inwardly and in relationships. He writes,  “There are two keys to effective and true communication. The first is deep listening. The second is loving”
strengthening your intuition and inner listening

intuition and inner listening

You can check out the full post by clicking here:
This is an excerpt:

listen inwards“The intuitive language is an internal one that defies cognitive reasoning. It’s also silent, sudden and self-confident. Your instincts just know. When you ignore them, however, they can become increasingly louder. They’re like toes being stepped on. They don’t like it and they make you scream out in agony. Still, we tend to promote self-doubt and push them away; trust isn’t immediate.

Intuition may be felt as a whisper or like a bolt of lightning, but we all have the capacity to hear it.  Sometimes following a hunch can save your life. One student I know paid attention to her hunch about her car and found out she had brake problems; her instinct prevented an accident. Another student told me it helped him earn a fortune by selling his stocks at the right time. When we listen to our inner GPS on our yoga mat, we cultivate healthy self-respect”

meditation for your muscles

meditation blog at ranawaxman.com


Meditation: For the mind and also for the muscles

Today I want to talk about using meditation for your muscles. I am preparing for my restorative yoga class, and came across an interesting article this week which focused on tight muscles and why not to actively stretch them. You can read it by clicking here; where the author says insightful things like “We have been conditioned to think of the tightness itself as the problem, thus the automatic tendency to try to stretch. But in reality, sometimes tightness is a result of the problem. In those situations, stretching is not the answer–at best it gets you nowhere, and at worst, it aggravates the problem. So the key to correcting the issue is figuring out why a muscle is tight. It might even clue you in to a problem you didn’t know you had….TIP: Not all tight muscles need to be or should be stretched;  sometimes the real problem is weakness not tightness. This needs to be considered when inflexibility persists despite consistent attempts at stretching.”

Why meditation for your muscles?

Where meditation comes in is that once your mind is calm, you get the space necessary to allow yourself to to move away fro “automatic tendency” and more towards a balanced and thoughtful approach that could include rest, postural changes or other modifications that are actually at the root of your tightness. So let’s allow our meditation to inform our muscles! See you on the mat or meditation cushion! Check out my Yoga Mind Cd for portable peace :-)

meditation ~ Rana Waxman Yoga Yoga Therapy

Breathing and the Art of Relaxation

Rana Waxman yoga

The Modern Yogini in Savasana

Breathing and the Art of Relaxation: The photo itself is full of life and energy. There is a vibrant stillness and you can almost hear the sound of the babbling brook. Your breathing is naturally going to reflect the slower pace that your eyes are taking in. If you live a stressful, city life, the concrete and hustle and bustle, sirens, cars and general noise probably affect your breath tempo and quality in quite the opposite way.

It doesn’t have to be this way if you learn how to consciously relax, how to consciously monitor and pace your breathing. That is what the art of pranayama is about. Using techniques that can effect changes to heart rate, digestion, cellular function. To disengage the mind through your breath can induce a more calm feeling throughout. You certainly will have a harder time clenching your jaw or stiffening your shoulders when you are using relaxed, and conscious breathing. This will signal the nervous system that you are safe, in ‘control’, calm and prepared.

In the restorative yoga class I often teach passive chest openers to soften the restrictions in this area, in the shoulders, and upper back. Tight muscles often reflect in a tight and short breath. There are certainly some easy and fulfilling set ups with props that can do the trick, so if you want to learn, book a private or come to class

breathing for relaxation

breathing for relaxation



Lower Back Pain Relief

lower back pain relief

lower back pain relief

Asana For Lower Back Pain Relief: One of the easiest asanas to practice, even at home, for lower back pain relief is called legs up the chair pose. This is actually a mini variation of viparita karani. It is really useful, especially for students who have difficulty, due to restrictions and tight hamstrings, in doing the classic legs up the wall variation – which I love too, as you may know.

Most people I encounter have some kind of lower back tension, and while certainly yoga has many tools to alleviate it, please know that activity is not always the answer. I teach and practice strong and alignment oriented asanas but I also incorporate restorative sequences, relaxation and breathing with myself and my students.

Legs up the chair is just that, and there are many variations. The photo above shows you quite straightforwardly that all you really need is a chair (although I have taught this to people in their homes where all they had was a sofa), and some support under the shoulders and head is quite nice, especially if you have slightly rounded shoulders and any neck discomfort. Ten minutes a day in this asana is quite soothing mentally, physically, and emotionally.

For other practices, call me or come to my restorative class here in Jersey City

Yoga For Fatigue

Yoga for Fatigue

yoga for fatigue

yoga for fatigue

Do you suffer from being tired, not getting enough rest, or just having low energy?  Here are a few reasons to do yoga for fatigue and improved energy so that you can deal with the challenges of being tired mentally, physically, emotionally.

First of all, it helps to identify whether you are mentally, physically, emotionally tired, but have energy, or, either of these with no energy. This should help you somewhat with a basic idea of how to use your yoga practice for fatigue.

Yoga can be a good way to tone and invigorate your adrenals, but if your adrenals are shot due to being overly tired or stressed, you should think of pacifying your nervous system. You can do this with forward bends, or downward dog, and use some head support if you are mentally tired.

A balanced practice can massage and stimulate your adrenal glands; backbends tend to squeeze them and rid them of stale blood, twists will rinse them with freshly oxygenated blood.

What I enjoy about restorative yoga is that it can certainly open your body but without the brain having to do so much work. Navigating alignment is work, its still you doing something. Apart from legs up the wall, which is a go-to pose, I like Matseyasana when I have been working at my desk and my neck and shoulders are congested. It can be a little stimulating, because the heart and chest open, but this affords a nice opportunity to breathe too.

create the life of your dreams

Come to class or book a private yoga lesson for more tips

yoga for fatigue

yoga for fatigue

Benefits to using yogaprops

Benefits to using yogaprops

Understanding the benefits to using yoga props will help the student access the skill of a particular pose.


Why use the yogaprops ?

While it is true not everyone has a rope wall as in Figure A, the block stack is easily obtainable for a home practice. In fact, some students may even benefit from subbing blocks for a chair. The primary reason for this is to bring the pose closer to the student rather than having the student risk misalignment and overstrain. In both these photos, the student is able to access the skill and stability in the pelvis and legs by bringing hand(s) to blocks to lift and open the chest and lengthen the spine without losing that skill. It can be harder to use props than you would think!

Revolved Triangle Pose

As you can see, in addition to the strap and blocks, the wall is used as a yogaprop in order to stabilize the back leg. Your balance and the rotation of the torso grow from the stability of the legs. She has that, and is using the strap and blocks to help initiate the twist from the back ribs.

Standing Wide Angle Pose

In the variation pictured below, the blocks are used to help extend the breastbone forward and the pubic bone back. Reaching to the floor, if this is a strain for the student, can end up tipping you backwards rather than having the legs vertical with hips above feet.

Yoga Props To Increase The Benefits

Supported Pranayama Practice

Supported Pranayama Practice

Supported Pranayama Practice can be used as an alternative to classical Savasana, and has many benefits, especially when the right props are used

Using props to support the torso in Savasana has many benefits:

  1. Especially with beginner students who tend to fall asleep during relaxation, this variation keeps students more alert than in classical Savasana
  2. Due to the elevation of the torso, it reduces nasal congestion
  3. The props help to support the shoulders and neck as well as open the chest
  4. The strategic placement of yoga props will aid students in feeling the alignment of their back ribs and the different components of breathing
  5. The support will help to roll the tops of the shoulder blades back, whereas many people suffer from the postural imbalances of rounding shoulders and forward head
  6. Improves breath awareness and helps to teach proper breathing patterns
  7. Is a lovely alternative to seated mindfulness, as the student can relax the lower body.

 How to use props in supported pranayama practice

supported reclining pose for pranayama

supported reclining pose for pranayama

In the photo above, please note that we used what we had at hand. In lieu of an eye bag, we used the student’s soft sweatshirt. We also had one yoga mat, 4 of the 3 Minute Eggs and one standard bolster. For my favorite yoga props, click here. You can make substitutions or additions as needed. I will give you the directions for what is pictured.

  1. Position your bolster parallel to the mat with 2 eggs underneath the top end.
  2. Recline over the bolster, keeping the small of your back against the bottom end of your bolster.
  3. Allow your arms to rest, here we used the eggs to alleviate the pull and meet the students needs.
  4. Allow your legs to stretch out , and separate, and relax.
  5. Breathe

yoga poses to encourage calm

yoga poses to encourage calm

Yoga poses to encourage calm enable the brain to focus, not on fighting gravity, but surrendering to it. One of the ways we achieve this is through supporting the head. A forward bend with the head supported on a block, for example, allows the brain to recover from mental fatigue, gain mental clarity, and can be held for a more extended period of time. Great benefits are reaped, such as a reduction in blood pressure, and lowered heart rate, which are all very soothing to the nervous system.

yoga poses to encourage calm

yoga poses to encourage calm

Paschimottanasana, or seated forward bend pose, is a lovely spine lengthener, assuming you can get the thoracic spine to expend. Sometimes very tight hamstrings pull the pelvis and the result is more struggle than surrender. When done comfortably though, it is a pose that benefits the digestive system, and stimulates the reproductive system, a long with producing calm. Whereas it may be hard to support the head on a block, you can always use a horizontal or vertical bolster. For those of us who cannot rest with that, sit on a blanket stack and bring a chair over to rest the head. Breathe and relax. Properly supported, a restorative forward bend can really encourage calm.

Restorative spinal twisting asanas

Restorative spinal twisting asanas are both calming and important for creating a healthy spine.

When I think of twisting, I think of opening a water bottle. You cannot just twist the cap off, something has to hold the bottom steady in order to move the lid. In restorative yoga, the same principles apply, although we are not working against gravity to maintain the fixed base.

Restorative spinal twisting asanas are calming:

The relaxation, or calming effect of the pose comes from relying on prop placement where you (uniquely) require it.

Restorative spinal twisting asanas are important for the vertebrae:

The mobility improvement to spinal joint flexibility comes from extending the thoracic spine or wringing out the spine. Much like a water bottle, the lumbar, or lower part of our body, is not intended to be torqued. In this way, we are involving opposite movements, the spine is straight,while pelvis and shoulder girdles stack up like shelves. I found the sandbag helped to relax the shoulder opposite to the legs, since it tends to roll forward.

restorative twing asanas Rana

You can see this in the bellow variation of Jathara Parivartanasana (basic stomach turn) which is a great restorative twisting asana to unwind from stress, a lot of walking, standing, or sitting. I also find it helpful to digestion.

We will explore this in class today at 4 in Jersey City!

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