Unleash Your Beast with Budokon® Yoga

I was first introduced to Budokon® Yoga back in the fall while in the early stages of my yoga teacher training program. One of my favorite teachers infused our normal sun salutations with a technique called the “rolling wave” and I was absolutely entranced by the graceful movement. I can be a complete klutz (some might say spaz) in my everyday life but when I practice Budokon® Yoga I feel like a prima ballerina. Long and lean, soft and strong.

Budokon® is all about circular transitions. You never stop as you progress from one posture to another. This constant movement means you have to be connected to your core and shoulder girdle (the muscles across your upper back and in between your shoulder blades) at all times. To practice the primary series is to be fully engaged in the muscular body, completely focused mentally and emotionally, and wholly committed to your breath work. For all you skeptics out there, believe me when I tell you I have never been stronger in my entire life.

Captivated by this movement art, I decided several months ago to pursue a Budokon® Yoga teaching certification immediately following my Vinyasa Power Yoga teacher training. Last weekend I traveled to the Utopian community of Doylestown in Bucks County, PA for a weekend of intensive training with an incredible family of yogis and martial artists. During our training I learned that in Japanese Bu means warrior, Do means way, and Kon means spirit. Thus, Budokon® literally means “the way of the warrior spirit.” This style of yoga does make you feel like an Amazon and/or ninja. Fierce and sneaky. It is also the most meditative yoga style I have experienced to date. The spinal rolling and circular transitions require complete presence. It is easy to get lost in the movement and walk out of a class feeling like you’ve just participated in a long meditation–except that your abs, glutes and shoulders will be screaming.

Color Crow prep

All classes begin with the “rolling wave”, which fires up your core and shoulder girdle and teaches your body how to smoothly transition from downward facing dog into countless other asanas without dragging your feet across the mat. It then progresses through several twisting, rolling, and balancing sections until reaching its climax: the animals. Above you can see me in preparation for a “leaping leopard,” where you spring from a deep squat turning 180 degrees around mid-air and landing back in your squat. This powerful plyometric move is just the beginning of a string of dynamic jumping feats of strength and agility. Believe you me, the animal section in no joke. If you don’t think yoga is aerobic or cardiovascular, think again. You will be panting like a panther after you make it through this section for the first few times, no exceptions no matter how fit you think you are.

I am proud to say that I survived the 10-hour training days in one piece minus a severely bruised toe, and that was from nailing my foot on the metal leg of a locker room bench–like I said before, I’m a klutz. I can’t wait to begin sharing this beautiful, strength-building practice with my students in DC. Speaking of (shamelesplug!), I will be teaching a Budokon® Flow class at STROGA every Sunday at noon beginning June 2nd. Come ride the rolling wave with me this summer and get stronger than you’ve ever been before!

Cherry Cashew Power Bites

If you’re like me and you’re always on the go, it can get hard to eat three healthy meals a day let alone snacks. Healthy eating takes planning. To help you incorporate more whole foods into your busy lifestyle  I’ve come up with an easy snack recipe that you can make on the weekend, store in the fridge and enjoy for the next 10 days.


These Cherry Cashew Power Bites are perfect for pre-workout fuel because they’re a balanced combination of fat/protein/carbs that will keep you energized but not overly full (which can detract from the task at hand). Every ingredient is a whole food that your grandma would recognize. Best of all, there’s no added sugar so you don’t run the risk of a glycemic spike and resulting crash.

If you’re not a fan of dried cherries, opt for dried mango or wild blueberries–just make sure they are unsweetened and unsulphured.



 What You’ll Need:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup  dried dark cherries (unsweetened)
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tbs lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)

How to Make Them:

1. Soak cashews for 3-4 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. Soak cherries for 20-30 minutes until slightly softened and plump.

3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a sticky dough is formed.

4. Use a teaspoon to spoon out enough to make a 1″ ball. Squeeze the dough in your palm to bring it together and roll between your palms until you get a nice ball.
5. Roll in shredded coconut to coat.

Recipe makes approximately 20 power bites. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

At approximately 110 calories per ball. I like to snack on one or two of these 30 minutes to an hour before I workout. They give me the energy my body needs to move and play but don’t weigh me down.

Yoga Playtime at Venice Beach

To any of you who read my blog on the regular, more posts are on the way. I finish my Yoga Teacher Training this weekend (hooray!) and have just concluded a two-month whirlwind of work travel that took me from Tanzania to Texas to Southern California. Needless to say, I’ve been a little behind on a lot of things. But hey, this crazy beautiful life gets busy from time to time. All the more reason to breath, move, and play!

Nothing beats playing with some yoga asanas at the beach with your family. Okay, so maybe had it been a sunny day it would’ve been a little better.

MoYoga on Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

Salamba Sirsasana, or supported headstand, like all yoga inversion postures is a great way to find both energy and calm. By flipping your world upside-down, you’re allowing for increased blood drainage from your lower extremities, as well as your lymph nodes. When you come out of the posture and into child’s pose, you’re flushing your entire body with fresh, oxygenated blood. This is an incredibly active pose and works everything from the forearms and shoulders to the abs and back muscles to your thighs and even feet.

The key to this asana is to approach it without ego and with a sense of adventure. Inversions are often scary for people, but the only way you’ll get injured is if you don’t listen to your body. In the beginning, take it slow and use a wall. Having both the support and peace-of-mind that something is there to catch you if you fall is a great way to get comfortable and kickstart this element of your practice.

Now, let’s break it down step by step…

STEP 1: Set up your yoga mat, kneeling somewhere in the bottom half. In order to find the proper spot to place your head, take your wrist joint and place it on the tip of your nose, fingertips reaching up to the sky. Wherever your middle finger lands–somewhere between your hairline and the crown of your head–is where you’ll want to set your head down. Keep in mind that from an anatomical standpoint the closer to the crown of your head you base this asana, the more neutral your spine will remain.

All Photos by Leo Matsuo

STEP 2: Place your head down on the mat in front of you, using the spot you found in step 1. Lace your fingers together and cup your head. Your forearms will frame your head and neck on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Press your inner wrists firmly into the floor.


STEP 3: Send your booty up and back, coming into down dog legs. From the side you should look like an inverted “V.” Fire up your thighs, actively lifting your kneecaps to engage your quadriceps. Walk your feet in towards your elbows, keeping your heels elevated. The closer your feet come to your elbows, the more your hips come over your shoulders; this will bring you into better alignment from the get-go, making it easier to stay solid once your legs rise up and overhead. Draw your shoulder blades in and down, flattening them against your upper back to keep your front torso lengthened.


STEP 4: Root down through your forearms, exhale and lift your feet away from the ground. There are two ways to do this: (1) by lifting one straightened leg  to the sky, then powering your other leg up to meet with the first using core and glute strength, or (2) taking both feet up at the same time by bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor (see above). I am demonstrating the second option because I find it to be a slightly easier place to start. If you chose the second option, engage your abs–drawing belly button into spine–and lift your legs straight up and overhead with control.

Either way you choose to go, avoid using momentum. If you aren’t quite ready to rise up using muscle strength (core power!), you can use a wall and add a little more kick into the process. Please heed my warning above and check your ego at the door before trying this asana.


STEP 5: Finally with your legs perpendicular to the floor, tuck your tailbone in and down. Lift up and out of your shoulders and neck by rotating your upper thighs inward, engaging your adductors and abductors. Your feet should be directly over your hips, which should be aligned over the crown of your head. Try to keep your weight evenly balanced on both forearms by continually tucking your tailbone, engaging your abs, and firing up every single muscle in your legs. It helps me to demi/Barbie-point my feet, sending energy through the balls of my big toes.


If you’re just getting started, aim to stay inverted for 10 seconds (2-3 deep breaths). You can gradually tack time onto this until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 min. To come out of it, slowly bring your legs down the same way they went up with an exhalation. Be sure not to lose the lift in your shoulder blades.

When both feet touch the floor, sit back onto your knees, bring your chest forward onto your thighs, and rest in child’s pose. You deserve it!

10-Day Cleanse: Smoothies

Here are the recipes you’ll need for breakfast, days 1 through 4 of my 10-Day Cleanse.

Blueberry Beet Smoothie w/ Ginger:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 1 and 2

To Make: Blend together 1-2 medium raw beet (cleaned with skin on, roughly chopped), 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, 1 tbs grated fresh ginger, 2 tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This energizing smoothie is bound to put some pep in your step. The blueberries boast a high concentration of antioxidants and the raw beets are full of folate, vitamin B, and fiber.

Pineapple Banana Kale Smoothie:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 3 and 4

To Make: Blend together 1 cup fresh pineapple (cubed), 1 banana, 2-3 kale leaves (chopped with stems removed), 2 tbs ground flaxseed, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This powerful smoothie is not only naturally sweet, but packed with dietary fiber, two powerful antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) that are proven to help prevent cancer, and vitamins A, K and C.

Keep in mind this is a cleanse, so while these will taste refreshing and healthy they won’t be as sweet as a typical smoothie. If you are really struggling, try adding in the optional almond milk and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or raw honey to these recipes–with the sweeteners these would also be great non-cleanse smoothies too.