introducing… ask a yogi!

lululemon: ask a yogi
ask a yogi

Do you ever get struck with a question for your yoga teacher in the middle of a yoga class? Some of you may ask your instructor after class (or during, if it's appropriate). Some of you will hit up Google with your burning questions. And for the rest of you, we introduce... Ask a Yogi!

what is 'ask a yogi'?

Ask a Yogi will be a recurring feature on featuring yoga instructors from communities all over the world. They'll be sharing their knowledge, education, and years of experience to answer all of your yoga-related questions.

meet our first yogi: danielle!

Danielle Nagel completed her Yoga Alliance teacher training certificate under the guidance of certified teachers in Ashtanga, Anusara and Iyengar. Originally from Los Angeles, she now teaches Vinyasa Flow and Power classes in Vancouver at YYoga and Semperviva studios. Her classes are creative and challenging and she invites her fellow yogis to have fun as they focus on their breath.

what now?

Leave your yoga-related question for Danielle as a comment below. She will answer a handful of questions in a follow-up post a few weeks from now. Ask away and stay tuned for the follow up!

**Update: Questions for Danielle have now closed and are being answered via blog posts. Our next yogi(s) to answer questions will be posted soon!**

read more related posts:


Danielle – I’m trying to build up shoulder and arm strength and flexibility for inversions, side plank etc. Any advice on the best way to do that? (practice, practice, practice??) Do you incorporate resistance training with weights into your workouts?


Comment by Christy — March 18, 2010 @ 8:02 am

Hi Danielle,

Somewhere along my practice I have picked up a bad habit…. I started yoga because I had tight hamstrings, within a summer of doing yoga I could have a long flat back with a forward fold with palms on the floor. I have been practicing for 6 years now and my hamstrings have progressively gotten tighter, and tighter and tighter. I cannot figure what movement is causing this, but now my body feels wildly out of balance… my hip flexors want to do EVERYTHING. Even with drastic modifications I literally cannot feel my hammys. Nothing. I have not been able to feel massage, rolfing, or sensation in my yoga practice. It is to the point where I cannot straighten my legs while standing, or in any other position. I have exhausted all local resources and ever other resource I can think of. Any thoughts?


Comment by Sam — March 18, 2010 @ 8:14 am

Hi Danielle,

I’ve been doing yoga for 1-2 years now but I still lack the upper body strength. For instance, I can’t do a proper shoulder stand, or a bridge, or crow. Appreciate our help!


Comment by Cathy — March 18, 2010 @ 9:36 am

Hi Danielle,

Do you have any recommendations for people who are interested in getting into yoga?

Comment by Caroline — March 18, 2010 @ 9:40 am

I’m setting a goal to be able to do the Scorpion pose. I’m wondering what poses can work me up to that? What muscles must I work out on to gain that strength to hold that pose?

Comment by Sarah — March 18, 2010 @ 10:32 am

Hi Danielle!

Thanks for taking on this challenge. I started Moksha yoga recently after running for several years; I kept on re-injuring myself. If I am doing yoga everyday is that a total workout or should I be incorporating other exercises into my routine?

Your input is greatly appreciated,

Comment by Brittany — March 18, 2010 @ 10:53 am

greetings danielle,

might you suggest some asana to help with the issue of vertigo, i have a client who suffers from vertigo from time to time…would like to offer him some yoga related relief. or can you point me in the right direction where i might look…

danae :)

Comment by danae — March 18, 2010 @ 11:24 am

hi Danielle!
At the end of most classes, we do plow pose or shoulder stand. For some reason plow and shoulder stand give me an INSTANT headache. Any reason why?


Comment by Kelly — March 18, 2010 @ 11:51 am

Hi Danielle!

Do you have any specific suggestions for loosening up shoulders and arms? Although it’s gotten better in the last 7 months or so that I’ve been practicing yoga, I still have a hard time with poses that involve having my arms behind my back. And oddly, it’s the front of my right arm in particular that will just not loosen up. Any advice??


Comment by Heather — March 18, 2010 @ 11:59 am

Hi Danielle!

I have been doing Bikrams for the last 5 months, and I can not do the camel pose yet!!, any suggestions?


Comment by Mary — March 18, 2010 @ 4:07 pm


I was wondering what to do if my head starts to hurt duing headstand.I know it sounds stupid, but it prevents me from practicing the pose and I really want to master it.

Also, any advice for someone who cannot afford such expensive yoga clothing?
Thanks so much!

Comment by Bianca King — March 18, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

Hi Danielle! I have a slight bit of scoliosis, which affects the centre of my back and I find that the “flatback” position in yoga really really hurts my back. I was wondering if maybe I’m doing this incorrectly or if this is common with people that have back problems. I was wondering if you could tell me the correct way to do a flatback and what the flatback position does for the body. I also teach Pilates now (I’m a new instructor) and I really really like to use the downward dog pose, I read this actually relaxes the shoulders and brings blood to the head. I find this pose gives me a headache (this may be the blood to the head), is there a proper way of explaining how to do the downward dog to the class? What are the key points to mention on this move. Thank you!!


Comment by Theresa — March 18, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

Hi Danielle,

I’m a runner and in need of a good yoga class to improve flexibility, prevent injury, and just relax. I don’t need it to be really high energy or cardiovascular, but slower and “centering”. But I also don’t want it to be really meditative where there’s not much action. What yoga styles would you recommend? There’s so many, it’s confusing!!


Comment by Sabrina — March 18, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

Hi Danielle,

I have been working on jumping through to sitting from downward facing dog, and cannot seem to get my legs through gracefully, or even at all! Is this a question of jumping higher or tightening the bandhas? Do you have any techniques you could suggest for jumping through?


Comment by Nicole — March 19, 2010 @ 5:57 am


I am a runner who started doing yoga to loosen up my hamstrings and for the most part it worked, but when i practice yoga, I feel like my right IT band gets irritated. Do you think it is a technique problem, or do you have tips for how to help this?


Comment by Kristin — March 19, 2010 @ 8:27 am

Hi Danielle,
I recently started doing yoga 3-5 days a week (january) before that it was more like 1-2 days. I have definatly noticed some of the positive results…and some negatives…I am also a runner. the last 3 weeks I have been unable to run because my knee hurts. I was a long distance runner (half marathons) but now I can’t run for 30 minutes. Could increased frequency to Yoga class be responsible? Should I avoid any poses in particular or do more of another?


Comment by katie — March 19, 2010 @ 8:28 am

I want to start taking yoga but do not know where to begin. Is there a type of yoga that is recommended for beginners that are getting back into working out. (I just started running again) Thanks!!

Comment by lara — March 19, 2010 @ 8:32 am

I’ve been into hot/bikram yoga for a few years now. I use to go 3 to 4 times a week. I was absolutely addicted! I’ve since scaled back to 2 or 3 times a month. I’m hoping to ramp that back up to weekly and eventually a few times a week; like when I first started. I was wondering if it’s ever ‘unhealthy’ or too much to go to hot/bikgram yoga a couple times a week? Is it bad for your body to be in the class environment, sweat as much as you do, etc. that often?

Andrea S

Comment by Andrea — March 19, 2010 @ 8:33 am

Any suggestions where to find yoga pants in petite length but not capris?

Comment by Debbie — March 19, 2010 @ 8:34 am

Hi Danielle,

I am a marathon runner who has been sidelined for 9 months with two disc herniations in my L4/L5. One is hitting a nerve root so I have sciatica down my left side. As a result, I’ve been unable to do any physical activity in 9 months, have gained 15 pounds, and have zero progress on pain even though I do physio, chiro, and massage weekly.

I am looking into alternative therapies to help me get back on my feet and a number of people have suggested yoga. I’ve done yoga minimally in the past as cross-training but I’d like to hear now about the therapeutic benefits of yoga and if you think there is a way that I could ease myself into it to the benefit of my back health.

Thanks so much!

Comment by Kim — March 19, 2010 @ 8:58 am

Hi Danielle,
I was wondering why Camel pose makes me feel nauseous. Especially at bikram, but really in any yoga format. I have been told that it could be because it is a very vulnerable position when your heart is exposed. Is this true??

Comment by Lindsey Graham — March 19, 2010 @ 9:50 am

I have taken pilates 9yrs. My friends asked me to go to Jamaica on a yoga retreat. Will I be able keep up with my yoga friends or pick up the poses if I decide to attend?

Comment by Kelly G. — March 19, 2010 @ 10:03 am


I realize this question has been asked a few times but it is a huge problem for me and it seems like a lot of people who like to run and practice yoga as well!

I have been a runner for years and just started yoga a few times a month about a year ago. I’ve noticed that practicing yoga irritates my IT band and gives me pain in my knees, and it makes my hamstrings tighter and ends up causing more damage.

Can you give runners some tips on practicing safe yoga to avoid knee pain/injuries? Is there something we are all doing wrong to hurt ourselves further? Is there a type of yoga to avoid, or stretches we should focus on?

Comment by Amber — March 19, 2010 @ 10:53 am

Hey Danielle,

Sam and Carrie are wondering, how do you put your legs so far up your arms and push yourself off the ground? We want to learn this move!!

C & S

Comment by Carrie and Sam — March 19, 2010 @ 11:42 am

hi danielle,
im a ski racer and i was wondering if there were any other good yoga poses to help me unwind and stretch after a long day of training besides the previous post by lululemon.
thanks much,

Comment by JJ — March 19, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

hi danielle~
I am a stay at home Mom who has practiced yoga in the past, but looking for a good Yoga DVD to use at home. I am looking for an intermediate level. do you have any suggestions?


Comment by kelly — March 20, 2010 @ 3:49 am

hi danielle,
I saw some people in my yoga class do a certain pose during the experimenting time that im not sure is good for you or not. The lied on their back with their arms on the floor and then slowly lifted there entire body up into the air keeping there arms flat in front in them, making a 90 degree angle by keeping their shoulders and head on the floor but keeping the body straight up. Im wondering if this would be good for you becasue i would think it would hurt your spine. Also what is a good way to stretch so that i can get into a split..eventually.

Thanks so much! Sarah

Comment by sarah — March 20, 2010 @ 6:22 am

I broke my left big toe 6 months ago and it seemed to be healing fine. Now I’m taking 3 bikram yoga classes/wk and the toe hurts again. Latest xray shows bone hasn’t completely healed, but it’s positioned perfectly. Doctor suggested that the tendon is still inflamed. Other than stopping yoga, is there a toe splint or another way to protect the toe? …never knew how important big toes are for balance before this happened. Thanks, DE

Comment by Denise — March 20, 2010 @ 7:04 am

any advice on mastering half moon pose? I’ve been practicing yoga for several years and cannot seem to master stacking one hip on top of the other. I do not struggle with balance for the most part, so I’m wondering if this is a strength issue?

Comment by Caitlin — March 20, 2010 @ 7:38 am

I am asking for help!
I have been feeling back pain, especially my lower back. Is there a yoga pose or exercise that can help sooth this tension, if there is, I really would like to know!

Thank you,


Comment by Andrea De Ocampo — March 20, 2010 @ 10:30 am

Hi Danielle,
I have been practicing yoga for 3 years and teaching it for the last year and I still can’t keep a long spine in forward bends. I know I have tight hamstrings but can’t seem to loosen them up much with all the stretching I do. Any other tips to help with flexibility in that area?

Comment by Brian — March 21, 2010 @ 8:41 am

Hi Danielle,

I am a distance runner, and am currently training for a half marathon in June. At the moment, I am running two to three times a week, with a longer run on weekends and shorter runs mid-week. I enjoy yoga and am wondering, when is the ideal time for me to take a class in between runs? What can I do to ensure that I can receive maximum benefit on my runs from yoga?


Comment by Eric Buchegger — March 21, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

why does my left hip doesnt open like my right hip?

Comment by Anny — March 22, 2010 @ 6:53 am

I am in the intermediate stage and was wondering what pose would be good for “getting rid” of the “muffin top” I am doing planks, banana boat, and others but it wont go away. I also go to to Hot Yoga as well, just a little advice would be awesome>


Comment by Tamara — March 22, 2010 @ 7:01 am

I’ve been practicing yoga for years, and I was wondering what poses are off limits during pregnancy? I know there are some obvious ones, like inversions and anything involving being flat on your stomach. Thanks so much!

Comment by Danielle — March 22, 2010 @ 7:20 am

I have taken yoga- very easy poses. I don’t know a lot about the different types. I am looking for a type of yoga that burns calories and builds strength and flexibility. I am a runner and a tennis player, so anything that complements those activities would be great.

Comment by Tasha — March 22, 2010 @ 7:25 am

Hi Danielle!
I have been practicing hot vinyasa/power yoga for almost 2 years. I am not only addicted but I noticed that my strength and flexibility significantly improved.
I tried bikram 5 times and I did not like it at all (love the heat though). Ok, my specific question is this:
in power yoga we are not supposed to lock the knee when doing balances, however, bikram instructors told me (in a very aggressive way) to lock my knee. I am wondering which are the advantages and disadvantages of locking your knee.
I would also like to know your thoughts about question #5 by Sarah (scorpion pose).
Thank you so much!

Comment by Cecilia — March 22, 2010 @ 8:10 am

Hi Danielle,

My knees have always had a tendency to hyper-extend when I straighten them. When I am practicing any yoga, especially Bikram, it is painful to do many of the poses. I try to not straighten them as much, but all my focus goes into keeping my knees ‘a little less straight’ and engaging the muscles that I can’t get the poses down. It’s incredibly frustrating!
Any suggestions??
Thank you!

Comment by Dani — March 22, 2010 @ 9:39 am

Hi Danielle,

I wonder what poses you suggests to prepare for handstand and headstand? I also feel very scared to do this poses, what can I do to feel more safe?

Thank you :)

Comment by Christine — March 22, 2010 @ 9:44 am

Hi Danielle,
over the past year and a half I have been enjoying and getting into yoga. My mom has mentioned an interest, however whe does not have access to a gym or studio. I’ve taken bad yoga classes and seen bad yoga dvd’s, do you have any favorites or suggestions? Something fun for a beginner that works on flexibility and toning? Thanks!!

Comment by Cortney — March 22, 2010 @ 9:50 am


I dont teach at a studio but I teach at gyms. A lot of the students come in right after working out and get cramps when they do certain poses. What do I tell them to do? (I am thinking like … up dog, with their toes).

On a similar note, I have had two separate people come up to me and say they get a cramp or something funny going on in the crease of their hip when they go into half moon. an older gentleman tries to go in and gets about halfway there and immediately backs out. a younger female also came up to me after class and complained about the same thing.

whats up with the yoga cramping??!

Comment by Niki — March 22, 2010 @ 10:01 am


I am EXTREMELY tight through my Achilles and knees and cannot get my heels anywhere close to the ground during all forward bends/stretches. Do you have any recommendations for gaining more flexibility, as I am unable to achieve it through yoga and Pilates at present?



Comment by Catherine — March 22, 2010 @ 11:08 am

Hey Danielle,
First off I just want to say thank you so much for doing this, answering all of our questions. Secondly, I have two questions to ask you:

a. What is your all-time favorite pose?
b. Can you think of a good stretch to strengthen and tone the calves?

Comment by Caroline — March 22, 2010 @ 1:57 pm


I have 2 questions, probably both related i just don’t know it yet.
I have really low arches on my feet particularily my right foot. going barefoot in yoga really aggravates this because theres no support especially in balancing poses. any foot stratches that can improve this?
Second, my legs reuse to go straight, lying down, sitting up and standing up. The pain is coming from the backs of my knees, its been this way since i was a kid. I’ve been doing yoga consistently for over a year now with no improvment. Am I doing something wrong?


Comment by Vanessa — March 22, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

Hi Danielle,

Any tips on how to get into full lotus position comfortably? I can get into it on one side but I’m told that for it to be done properly, both knees have to touch the ground. One of my knees is almost there.

I’m also wondering what is “good” pain (i.e. what I should feel in this pose)? I’m sure I would be able to get into full lotus eventually but I think I often push myself harder than I should. What should feel what in this pose? I’m guessing any tension around the knee area is bad.


Comment by Robyn — March 22, 2010 @ 6:20 pm


Thank you very much for taking the time to answer all of our yoga questions!!
i have a couple questions i am hoping you can help me out,
i am fairly new to yoga – Since there are a lot of different kinds of yoga, I am unsure where to start and the difference between them – i am looking for something to help lose weight, tone and regain flexibilty(i am an ex-dancer and lost a lot of my flexibilty when i stoped training), also i have noticed my toe/arch of my foot tends to cramp up during classes – any ideas on how to prevent this?

Thanks again and i hope you are enjoying working with LULU

Comment by D — March 22, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

Hi Danielle!

I was wondering what is the best thing to eat before a power class. And how long before class it is safe to eat.

Thanks so much,


Comment by Jodi — March 22, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

Hi Danielle,

I would just like to say that really enjoy your power classes. I have recently accomplished my first headstand (shirshasana) and it felt great. I am wondering what the benefits of this pose is?

Also, are you teaching at Flow (on Burrard) any more?


Comment by Frannie — March 23, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

Hello Danielle,

I am very interested in yoga but don’t know where to begin. How should I start?


Comment by Emma — March 24, 2010 @ 6:19 am

Hello Danielle,

I am wondering if there are other techniques to keep down the chatter in my head while doing yoga. I do concentrate on my breath but sometimes the “peanut gallery” refuses to be quiet. Any ideas would be helpful.

Thanks – Daniel

Comment by Daniel — March 24, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

Hi Danielle,

I am wondering if you would recommend any yoga books or yoga movies. I am a beginner so I need help or maybe if you could just describe some poses because i have no idea where to start.

Thanks! Amy

Comment by Amy — March 26, 2010 @ 11:22 am

I’ve been doing yoga for just over a year and I want to learn to do the headstand – can you recommend poses that will help me build up strength so eventually I will be able to do the full pose?

Thanks! Dana

Comment by Dana — March 26, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

When stretching out in a forward bend (mostly when sitting on the ground with legs in front of me) my ‘first point of resistance’ is behind my knees. Often I can’t feel a stretch in my calves and in particular my hamstrings.

I don’t want to hurt my kness but I want to feel that stretch suggestions? <3 thanks!

Comment by Jenna — March 27, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

Hi Danielle,

I’ve been wanting to get into yoga for awhile now but am still a little unsure about it. I don’t exercise as often as I should, and since summer’s rolling around, I want to tone my midsection and have firm abs, versus the flab that’s sitting around it now. Would yoga be able to help me with this?

Thanks, Tiffanie

Comment by Tiffanie — March 28, 2010 @ 11:57 am

hi yogi :)
Um,I have a yoga mat yoga clothes and I just really want to find out how to yoga at my house because I never know where to look for yoga poses and how to do yoga. Except on my Wii but do you have any tips on dvds or websites I could follow?? That would help me with my yoga training a lot
Thanks so much, Catherine

Comment by Catherine — March 29, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

I have tennis elbow in the lateral part of left arm and was wondering if there is an alternate way to do locust pose? I find it somewhat painful to have to tuck my left elbow in all the way like that. Thanks!

Comment by Sara — March 31, 2010 @ 12:53 pm


I had the opportunity to attend a number of your classes at YYoga Yaletown in February and thought you were a fantastic teacher! Super excited to see you on Lululemon’s website and if you are ever in Ottawa, please come teach a class here!!! You are wonderful :)

Comment by Emily — April 5, 2010 @ 10:03 am

Hi Danielle,

Last July I was diagnosed with severe tendonitis in both wrists/forearms, partially due to having hypermobility in my wrist joints, but also because of playing 4 hours of piano a day for several months. It has been a slow healing process, but it has also meant that I had to completely cut out my yoga practice. Do you have any suggestions on how I could continue my practice without aggravating my tendonitis?
Thanks for your help!!


Comment by Colleen — April 11, 2010 @ 1:40 am

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