Pose of the Week: Lying Down Back Twist

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Lying Down Body Twist (Natrajasana)

It’s Wednesday, or as we know it “Hump Day.” This is the part of the week when, once we are passed it, it’s all downhill to the weekend. We’ve dug into Monday and Tuesday and perhaps need a bit of realignment and relaxation as we coast through the rest of our week.

This pose came to mind, as it is a gentle twist that still benefits the body and mind as much as a seated or standing twist does.

The Benefits of Lying Down Body Twist, sometimes called Supine Roll or Belly Twist, include stretching the spine as well as the quadriceps, stretching the abdomen a bit while giving a gentle squeeze or compression to the organs beneath the abdomen. Twists can also help alleviate bloating and aid in digestion, and they help promote deep relaxation in the mind and body.

Cautions for this pose would be any spinal or back injuries, or recent abdominal surgeries, recent or chronic injuries to the knees or hips.

Warm ups: Cat/Cow, windshield wiper knees (sitting on the floor with one hand on each side of you, slightly behind your hips as you lean back, bend your knees and gently drop them from side to side), standing with soft knees hula hoop hip circles, Table Pose while wagging tail slowly from side to side.

To get into Lying Down Body Twist:

  1. Lie down on your back with the arms out in T position (to the sides) palms facing down.
  2. Inhale. Engage the abdominal muscles and bring the knees up and in toward the chest.
  3. Exhale as you slowly drop the knees over to the left side of the body, trying to keep the knees as close to the left arm as possible and keep the shoulder blades flat on the floor (if the knees can’t come down all the way to the floor, you can also use blankets, a pillow or a block underneath to prop them on). You want this to be a relaxing pose, with no tension or effort, letting gravity pull your knees down to the floor.
  4. Look at the right finger tips (so your head is looking in the opposite direction as your knees).
  5. You can also close your eyes. Relax into the pose and breathe, holding the pose for about six to 10 breaths.
  6. Engage the abdomen muscles as you slowly bring the knees back up and then repeat on the opposite side.

 

Enjoy and remember, always listen to your body and be gentle with yourself.

Namaste ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pose of the Week: Warrior I

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It’s about that time of the year when we are feeling that cabin fever really start to take its toll on our minds and bodies and energy levels, as winter lingers on and we are feeling antsy for spring to finally get here.

A really great pose to start your day with and to do throughout the day and even at night when you get home from the hustle and bustle of workday is Warrior I Pose.

Warrior I Pose has several benefits, including opening the heart, increasing balance, focus and mindfulness. This pose opens the chest, lungs, strengthens the shoulders (as you raise them up), arms and thighs, ankles and the back muscles. This pose also helps to stretch the psoas muscle, the hip flexors and abdomen. It’s a very warming pose, bringing fire to the belly, increasing stamina and endurance in the lower body and core, and getting the blood flow going.

It’s also a great pose to do to stimulate digestion and bring energy to the abdominal organs. You will definitely feel a little flushed and energized after doing this pose, but also relaxed and focused.

On a mental note, Warrior I also helps with confidence building, empowerment and inner-strength.

Cautions: High blood pressure (as this activates the cardiovascular system), any conditions that affect balance, shoulder issues or neck sensitivities or prior injuries.

Modifications include keeping the feet hip width distance apart vs. in one line, bringing the feet slightly closer together to lessen the depth of the pose; and folding arms in front of the chest if should issues.

How to get into Warrior I:

  1. Stand in Mountain Pose, feet planted on the ground and take a deep inhale as you step your right foot forward into a lung, allowing the back foot to pivot slightly to the left about 15-45 degrees.
  2. As you lung forward or after you are stable in your lunge, you can gently raise your arms straight forward and up above the head, making sure the shoulders are still locked into their joints.
  3. Your back leg should be straight and the front knee should be right over the ankle (you also want to make sure you can see your big toe when you glance down).
  4. Keep your chin parallel to the floor, looking straight forward if that feels good and find one point of focus to keep your concentration on as you bring deeming into the lungs and feel the fire bring created in the body.
  5. To depend the pose, you may also look up toward the sky, creating a bit more of a back bend (if you do not have any neck sensitivities).
  6. When you are ready, inhale and step the right leg either back to meet the left or bring the left leg forward to meet the right and repeat steps 1-5 on the other leg, returning back to Mountain Pose when finished and closing the eyes, breathing and feeling the effects of the pose.

 

 

 

Pose of the Week

 

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Triangle Pose (or Trikonasana in Sandskrit) is a strengthening and empowering pose that helps energize the body and bring focus and awareness to the mind. It also opens up the heart and helps you to find beauty in that vulnerability.

It has many physical benefits, which include strengthening the legs, knees, ankles arms and chest as well as opening up the groin and hips, stretching the hamstrings and calves as well as the upper body and the spine.  Because your body is in one line when doing Triangle Pose, you are also increasing mental and physical equilibrium. The focus and breath helps to relax the mind and release anxiety, reduce stress by channeling that energy into the pose and all of its alignment aspects, and can help relieve back pain and sciatica.

Contraindications include migraines, diarrhea, low or high blood pressure, neck or back injuries. If you have high blood pressure, you could do this pose but without raising the arm over head.

Triangle pose isn’t particularly difficult, but there are a few key alignment pieces that are important to keep in mind when getting into it.

To get into Triangle Pose, stand sideways on your mat and separate your feet a comfortable distance apart (always pay attention to your body and its signals. You will know your own flexibility at this moment or on this particular day).

Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and the left foot in slightly by 15 degrees (or you can leave it straight if that feels better on your knee).

Now take a look at your right heel and check to make sure that if you drew a line from the heel to the left foot, it would intersect at the arch of the left foot. Make sure your weight is equally distributed between both feet.

Bring both arms up into a T position (but make sure the shoulders stay relaxed), with the right arm over the right leg and the left are over the left leg. Imagine your whole body is sandwiched between two windows. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, hinging from the waist, lean over the right leg, reaching the right arm as far forward as you can before bending down and placing the right hand on either your right thigh, shin, a block or the finger tips can come to the floor (depending on your level of flexibility). The left arm raise up toward the ceiling, palm facing forward.

KEY ALIGNMENT TIP: If your left shoulder is rolling forward or your left hip is rolling forward, COME UP on the right leg until you are able to have the left shoulder and hip back and in line with the rest of the body, and your pelvis and chest are wide open (again, imagine you are sandwiched between two windows if that visual helps).

You can either look to the floor, straight forward or up toward your left thumb, depending on neck sensitivities or injuries.

And of course, breathe, breathe, breathe. Release, let go. Imagine drawing in energy from the skies into your left hand and let it run through the body and release anything that doesn’t serve you into the ground beneath you.

As you come up, you can slightly bend that front knee or press sternly into both feet and gently lift out of the pose and release the arms to your sides. Repeat on the other leg.

Suggested affirmations: I am in alignment with my divine life’s purpose. I am open to all life has to offer. I am receptive to love and life. I am strong and balanced. I am open. I am that I am.

Namaste everyone ❤

 

 

The Importance of Deep Breathing

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At this very moment, as you read this, how is your breath? Is it quick and shallow? Is it deep and measured? Is your breath staggered? Is it slow and even?

In general, we tend to breathe shallowly throughout our day, using only a small percentage of our actual lung capacity. And we tend to do this especially when we are stressed out. According to this Yoga U article, this can mean our body isn’t able to optimally distribute oxygen-rich blood and can cause health issues ranging from depression to heart disease to poor sleep patterns.

Deep breathing — which includes expanding the diaphragm (the muscle membrane that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity) as you inhale slowly and exhale slowly — is something you can do anytime, anywhere and should try to do throughout the day.

It has many benefits, including helping to lower high blood pressure, trigger the parasympathetic system (which puts our bodies and minds into a calm, relaxed, balanced state), decreasing adrenaline levels, giving the kidneys a boost by breaking down salt in the blood, helping to improve poor blood circulation and increasing endorphin levels, among many others.

But one of the biggest positives of deep breathing is its ability to bring our minds to the present moment. The breath connects us to life. So coming back to the breath, filling our lungs with oxygen-enriched air and allowing it to heal us from the inside out, is such an important and truly simple practice we can incorporate into our daily lives. Like any habit, it’ll take some time, but start with baby steps, perhaps a few of these mindful, simple breathing exercises a few minutes a day and then add a few minutes more as the days progress, etc.

Also, try to get in the habit of checking your breath throughout the day, when you’re driving and in a traffic jam, when you’re thinking, when you’re listening to someone talk, when you’re concentrating or multi-tasking. Notice how often you subconsciously hold the breath and try to get in the habit of breathing deeply through every task, especially the stressful ones.

Trust me — your lungs, your heart, your brain, your blood … all the rest of your organs will thank you.

Namaste everyone ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Pose of the Week: Five Pointed Star

 

five pointed star (2)Five Pointed Star is one of my favorite poses. It is both grounding and energizing. It seems quite simple yet, when done properly, it engages several muscles throughout the body. During the wintertime especially, starting out your day with this pose can help bring energy, confidence, grounding, balance and calm to your mind and body.

Stand with your heels just a little farther than hip-width apart and toes facing outward, engage the thighs, the glutes, and take a deep breath into the lung as you pull the shoulder blades inward and life your arms up overhead and out to the sides. You can look forward, or up, slightly arching back. Imagine you are a funnel for receiving healing, nourishing energy.

Suggested affirmation: I am grateful for everything in my life in this moment. All is well in my world. I Am That I Am.