Since 2016, I’ve fallen in love with cYoga and what it has brought to my personal practice, teaching abilities, and life. It’s something I am more than happy to share and talk about all the time.
And for many of you who are not familiar with this style, here’s a breakdown as to what it is, how it transformed my practice and teaching, and why I choose it again and again.
what is cyoga?
The sequencing is methodical and doesn’t use any vinyasas, Sun As or Bs to warm up the body.
Yes, you heard me right: no vinyasas, Sun As or Sun Bs. Ever.
There’s a purpose for every pose and where it is placed in the sequence – starting from centering to seated poses, core stabilizing, standing poses, peak poses, inversions, and unwinding, all the way to Savasana.
Everything makes sense.
Although majority of the poses that Carmen goes after might seem incredibly intimidating and out of this world (see photos below), it doesn’t matter what level you are at to practice cYoga. All it requires is trying hard and working on a variation that best suits you at that moment. Oh how the benefits will be felt and you’ll be one step closer to achieving these poses.
It is about getting your body to become familiar with a certain shape and position to continue towards progress.
As for the ‘c’, people are always asking me what it stands for in cYoga and to be honest, I don’t even quite know.
The ‘c’ stands for different layers to the style: for Carmen (the founder), Chicago (where it originated from), or ‘see’ as in your seeing your practice. Sort of a mystery.
How CYOGA completely changed my practice
I was never considered to be flexible, even up until a few years ago. Growing up, I was only into high impact sports such as basketball, tennis, and weightlifting. Rarely, did I ever stretch and was far from touching my toes.
When I first started practicing yoga, it was a real struggle (and it still is but in a different way, it is a continuous practice).
I started off with Bikram and then to Hatha, Vinyasa, Power Vinyasa, and Ashtanga Vinyasa. My body was opening up but I would either get frustrated, injured, or bored with these styles.
My favorite example I like to share: several times when I would take a Power Vinyasa class and the teacher would say, “Now come into Bird of Paradise on the inhale for 2 breaths,” all after only doing a few Sun As and Bs to get our bodies going…
I wouldn’t even have enough fucking time to get into the bind around one leg and then have to stand up, balance on one foot, before coming out of it.
Not inspiring whatsoever because my body was not prepared to get into such a big pose.
I was tired of encountering the same sequences again with the constant vinyasas and chatturangas while barely feeling any results. My back was still aching from doing any sort of backbend, my hips were still extremely tight, and my mind was restless from moving pose to pose on only one breath.
I felt like I was playing catch up constantly, even with having gone through a 200-hr yoga teacher training. I thought I had a better grasp at this yoga thing.
But in the summer of 2016, everything changed about my yoga practice.
I saw that Carmen was doing workshops in the Bay Area and I was intrigued. Although I could see on Instagram that she had a beautiful practice and her explanations of the poses were in-depth, I had to experience the real thing and see if it was legit.
And it was legit as fuck.
From the teaching approach with cueing and modifications offered for all levels, I was instantly hooked.
You didn’t have to be an advanced practitioner because there was always some aspect of each pose for all of us to work on.
I got into backbends, hip openers, inversions, arm balances, and a combination of all of it that no teacher has ever guided me properly through. And at the end of the weekend, besides some muscles soreness – no pain.
I signed up for the cYoga teacher training immediately. And after 3.5 weeks, my outlook on my practice soared and I haven’t looked back since.
I went in and came out a completely different practitioner. A different person.
One of the many highlights of the training was getting into Padmasana aka Lotus pose for the first time ever in my life while in a Headstand, with the help of Carmen.
Truth: I never thought that I would be able to get into that specific pose EVER in my life. Nope, not this lifetime. Because even doing Half Lotus was painful.
During that same practice, it was also the first and only time I ever cried during Savasana. The cathartic release from all the years of pent up tension, frustration, and insecurity that I had about myself. And if you want to see more proof of my progress, check out my #AYearofYoga posts from the last two years on Instagram.
I began to believe and trust in myself more and it became my mission to show others that they can do it too.
How cyoga completely changed my teaching
I completed my first teacher training in Vinyasa Flow back in 2013. It laid out a pretty good foundation in terms of philosophy, anatomy, sequencing and adjustments.
However, it did not prepare me to be the teacher I wanted to be.
Side note: one of my biggest fears is public speaking. My anxiety goes way out the roof, a ball of pressure builds up in my chest and words get all jumbled up that I can barely speak.
And as a yoga teacher, this is not a good look.
I would resort to copying other teachers with their cueing, dharmas that they were discussing about, and overall energy they were conveying.
However, I didn’t feel authentic at all, trying to be the hippy, zen, chakra aligning teacher I’ve encountered one too many times. People could feel it too.
That just isn’t me.
Rewind back to that first workshop I had with Carmen and Moises: it was also the very first time I ever heard a yoga teacher say,
“It’s ok to fall on your ass. Just fall on your ass!”
I was shocked, looking around the room and thinking, “did she really just say ass…in a yoga class?!?!”
And from that moment on up to present day, I knew that I could be me and not try to be anyone else. Because the right kind of people will gravitate towards you for who you are, like I did with Carmen, for the vibe, energy, and light you have to share.
I finally found my voice as a teacher. I’m still constantly refining and improving on my delivery to make this practice attainable for everyone.
Why I choose cyoga
1) Every single sequence is always so unique.
I’ve done the 200 hour teach training, taken over 20+ workshops, and done several intensives with Carmen and Moises since I first started practicing with them. And I swear, it is a unique experience every single time. Each sequence is different and it always keeps me guessing. I’m more focused and present than any style of practice I’ve come across, not just flowing from one pose to another because I know what’s coming.
2) The adjustments and their theory behind it are some of the best I’ve encountered, ever.
This is exactly why I decided to do my second round of yoga teacher training with cYoga. My first workshop with Carmen, Moises gave me one of the most supportive adjustments that took me real deep into Revolved Half Moon pose. I’ve never been adjusted like that ever and it was eye opening: I wanted to be able to serve my students the way he did with me during that class. And I still look forward to all his adjustments at every class.
3) The founders really care about their practitioners.
Carmen and Moises are some of the most caring people I know about their students, no matter the condition or level of practice they are at. I’ve seen proof where Carmen has helped a practitioner get into her first forearm balance ever because no other teacher would do so due to the student’s body size. I’ve experienced Moises constantly finding better ways of adjusting in a certain pose that is accessible for the student and teacher. They are constantly working towards enhancing the yoga experience for everyone, taking you one step closer to another level to explore.
4) Their approach isn’t one all, done all.
These two are always trying to unlock everyone’s potential based on the student’s own terms. Whether it is going after one of Carmen’s Scorpion variation or Moises’s guided meditations, they provide the space for others to be courageous and vulnerable. I’ve never felt as if they see it as one and done, my way or the highway on their teaching approach.
Pro tip: ask them questions because they love them!
Where to take a cyoga class
You can take classes via Carmen’s Vimeo channel. This is one of my favorite ways when I’m looking for a cYoga session. There are also monthly challenges she does on Instagram so follow her at @cyogalife for more inspiration. And to find a workshop in your city or country, you can find her traveling schedule here.
Looking for a certified cYoga instructor in the Greater Los Angeles area to teach you a private or at your studio, look no further than here. Feel free to reach out to me, I’d love to set something up so we can get cYoga to you!