It’s red carpet season out in Hollywood with award shows like the Golden Globes and the Oscars, and in true red carpet spirit, The Daily Downward Dog studio is rolling out its red yoga mats and finest yoga wear in support of the second annual YOGAR awards.

What are the YOGARS, you ask? Just a fun little way to recognize the best of the 2011 cool yoga experiences and to send out some loving kindness to the yoga asanas and people that have brought so much goodness to our lives.

Each year on the eve of the Oscar nominations, I try to imagine what it must feel like to get that call at 5:30 AM PT from your publicist letting you know that you’ve been nominated for an Oscar. It has to be a major rush, and I’m sure each of the 2011 YOGAR nominees has got to be thrilled!

This year we’ve added some new categories, and everyone is welcome to join in the YOGAR fun by voting and adding their very own nominations. I won’t delay the suspense any longer; here, my yogi friends, are the 2011 YOGAR nominees…

Drum roll!

Best Asana

Ustrasana (Camel Pose): In need of a little heart opener mashed-up with an awesome back bend? Camel pose had the ability to make us laugh and cry and at times made us downright dizzy, but this asana dug deep and pulled off an amazing heart-opening performance. It’s one of those asanas that yogis either love or hate, so with a great deal of controversy, Ustrasana is bringing some much needed drama to the 2011 Best Asana race.


Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2): Forget about the acting performance of Sigourney Weaver in Alien, or Ryan Reynolds in the Green Lantern. Yeah, those were some kick-ass performances, but if you want to channel your inner fierce yogini goddess or kick-ass yogi warrior, just find your way into Virabhadrasana II, and it’s gonna deliver a star-worthy performance.


Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog or AMS): Last year, Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand) pulled off a major upset and won Best Asana hands and head down over the highly decorated downward facing dog. I guess you could say adho mukha svanasana is a bit like Meryl Streep; it just always seems to win. I mean, face it: Have you ever been to a class where you didn’t do a few downward dogs? AMS is multi-faceted in its roles, moving with ease from the place we go to get the body stretched and prepared for practice to a delightful place of rest. This year, AMS really stepped up the game and is once again a huge contender to walk off the yoga mat clutching yet another more-than-well-deserved YOGAR.

Best Yoga Victory

I was fortunate to have many yoga victories this year. I got the head a little closer to the knees in paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) and the head a lot closer to the floor in prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend). One of the things I love about yoga is that, in essence, each time I come to the mat, there is always the opportunity for a victory, and this past year, there were two that really stand out. I would love to hear about yours, so nominate one or several!

SirsasanaII (Tri-pod headstand): This past summer, in a major coup, I pulled off my very first (unassisted) inversion and was more than just a little giddy about it. It felt so empowering to know that my core was strong enough to pull up those legs.

Fully present savasana:  I got really good at turning off the monkey mind this past year and had many repeat performances of fully present savasanas. All I can say is aaaaaahhhhhh…


Best Supporting Asana

Plank Pose: They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in yoga, it takes a lot of plank poses to build up the necessary arm and core strength to get to some of those more challenging asanas. Plank pose never gets the recognition it deserves, and this year it’s getting a major shout out with a nod in the Best Supporting Asana field.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Despite its rock solid performance each and every year, tadasana has been snubbed many times in this category. We are so proud to pay homage to the master and forerunner of so many asanas. Ain’t no mountain high enough

Yoca Class Child's Pose

Balasana (Child’s Pose): Just like AMS, balasana is a Best Supporting Asana spoiler and usually walks away with the YOGAR hardware each and every year. We’ll see if tadasana or plank can give this kid a run for the money this year.

Best Musical Score

Take a listen and then cast your vote – or let me know about a yoga class playlist that you created that really rocked!

A Lovely Yoga Day – Join me in a sing-a-long with The Daily Downward Dog’s yoga song parody of the classic Bill Withers’ “A Lovely Day.” This song is a sure-fire yoga class playlist pleaser.

Navigating New Musical Horizons – The YOGAR voting committee likes it when someone goes outside of the normal genre, and this playlist definitely fits the bill. As I waivered on what kind of music to use in my yoga classes this year, I took a real departure, and this playlist features music with no lyrics and is a little bit heavier on the spiritual side. The YOGAR committee responded with a enthusiastic thumbs up.

I Just Want to Light You UpYou can’t go wrong with a playlist that mashes up Pink, Shawn Mullins, the New Radicals, and Ray LaMontagne. Lots of cool messages were weaved into these songs, my favorite being “You Get What You Give.”

Best Set Location aka Destination Yoga Event

No, I didn’t travel to any of the cool yoga festivals or destination retreats in 2011, but that doesn’t mean that a girl can’t dream. I am going to make it to one of the festivals or Yoga Journal conferences this year, so help me out and tell me which ones you went to, or which ones you think are best. If you had to recommend only one event/yoga destination for me to attend, what would it be?

Wanderlust Festivals (Vermont/Squaw Valley/Colorado)

Yoga Journal Conferences (New York/San Diego/Colorado)

India/Bali/Costa Rica/Jamaica, etc.  There are just too many yoga destinations and retreats to list here, so I want to hear from you. Fuel my wanderlust for travel and yoga by telling me who you would nominate and vote for.

Best Cool Yoga Experience

The year of 2011 is going to be hard to top, as I attended workshops with the likes of Rodney Yee, Max Strom, Kathryn Budig, and Cora Wen. I find it incredibly cool that I live in an area that brings so many yogalicious yoga teachers in for workshops, and quite frankly, there are so many that I can’t even make them all. Here’s my list of my favorite cool yoga experiences:

My Close Encounter with Rodney Yee at Yoga High in Columbus, Ohio.

My Close Encounter with Max Strom at Yoga Bliss in Rocky River, Ohio

Learning how to Aim True with Kathryn Budig

Living my dream and teaching beach yoga on the shores of Lake Erie all summer long!

Sharing some hot yoga and yoga philosophy with Delicious Dylan of the Weinermobile

Best Director

I have attended so many amazing yoga classes this year that I can’t even begin to whittle down the list to just a handful. Again, I feel truly blessed that I live in an area with such a strong yoga community and so many awesome yoga studios and teachers.

I think the best award that any yoga instructor can get is a kind word expressing how much you enjoyed their class or letting them know how they have helped you on your yoga journey. In this coming year, please take the time and show your “Best Directors” some love and gratitude.

Best Seva

For the last YOGARs, I asked readers to help me out by nominating their favorite seva artist. If you are not familiar with seva, it is the spiritual practice of selfless service and the desire to uplift and assist people, giving help and compassion to others with no thought of what is to gain or what is to be lost by doing so. The practice of seva becomes a path to self-realization, which is the essence of yoga.

Last year, I was introduced to Sean Corn and her organization, Off the Mat and Into the World. I also had the honor of working with Girls With Sole and am super excited to attend teacher training with Street Yoga this coming March. Help me out again this year; share the love and spread the word about an organization or person that is a shining example of seva.


Help Me Live My Dream

I have to admit: ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed about winning an Oscar. In actuality, it’s a pretty crazy dream being that I never pursued acting professionally. I guess it’s more of a fantasy.

Well now, I have a chance to win an award, and I’m asking for your help. If you live in Ohio and have attended one of my beach yoga classes (and liked it), please nominate The Daily Downward Dog Beach Yoga at Firefly Beach in the Reader’s Choice Awards. Deadline for nominations is January 27. Even if you don’t nominate DDD Beach Yoga, please nominate a local yoga studio so that we can spread the word about the great places to practice yoga in and around Sandusky and Huron County.


Cast Your Vote TODAY!

The red yoga mats have been unrolled, and I’m opening up the YOGARS for additional nominations and votes, so please leave a comment below and nominate or vote for any of the categories above. Heck, if you have a cool category that I’ve missed, go ahead and bring it – I’m open to sharing the YOGAR love.

The YOGARS will be presented on Monday, February 27.

2010 YOGAR Winners

Purple Music Note Image:  Billy Frank Alexander