Pose of the Week: Chair Pose

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Chair Pose (Utkatasana) has several benefits, including strengthening the thigh muscles, stretching and strengthening the calf muscles, working the inner thighs, gluteus muscles, hip flexors. This pose also brings fire to the belly, focus to the mind. It opens the chest and shoulders, strengthens and improves range of motion in the ankles and can increase blood circulation, especially if your arms are up over head, making the heart work to get the blood moving upward.

It’s a very rejuvenating pose, especially for the middle of the week.

Cautions include lower back pain/injuries, knee pain/injuries, ankle pain/injuries, shoulder sensitivities/injuries and neck sensitivities.

Modifications include adjusting range of motion, only sinking down slightly as back allows; only raising arms to chest level if you have shoulder sensitivities or you can cross your arms in front of the chest as well; be sure to look at the floor, about three, four feet in front of you so as not to strain the neck; keep your tailbone slightly tucked and your belly button pulled in toward the spine to ensure a straight back; use a block between the thighs to engage the inner thighs mores.

  1. Stand with feet either close together or hip-width apart. Inhale arms up and exhale as you hinge from the hips and fold forward, letting the head and neck relax as you hang like a rag doll for a moment.
  2. Plant our feet and heels firmly into the ground as you inhale, reaching your arms forward as you slowly raise your torso up while sinking your hips down. Your weight is in the heels.
  3. Your torso is at a 45 to 55 degree or so angle and your biceps should be in line with your ears, shoulders locked in, abdomen engaged with the belly button pulling in toward the spine and tailbone slightly tucked.
  4. Breathe, focusing on a spot on the floor four or so feet in front of you. Feel the slight burn in the thighs, the heart activated and the body warming up.
  5. When ready, gently press into the feet and either raise the arms and torso all the way up as you come out, then bring the arms slowly down into prayer position in front of the heart, or you can lower the arms gently as you press up into Mountain pose, palms facing forward. Breathe some more with eyes closed and feel the blood flowing through the body and take in the rejuvenation.

Enjoy ❤

~Judi~

 

Pose of the Week: Butterfly

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Butterfly Pose (or Badhakonasana) has many benefits, including giving the inner thighs, groin and even the knees a nice stretch, which helps to increase flexibility in the hips and pelvic area. This pose keeps the stomach and intestinal area nice and open, helping to aid digestion. Butterfly can also offer some relief for menstrual discomfort or menopause symptoms. It may help ease sciatica pain. During pregnancy, this pose can help open up the hips more, which could contribute to a smoother delivery.

Cautions: If you have any knee or groin injuries, you may want to use blocks, blankets or pillows under the knees/outside thighs for added support. You can also slide your feet a bit farther forward to alleviate pressure on the knees.

Also use caution or avoid this pose altogether if you have a lower back injury or herniated vertebral disc.

To get into Butterfly pose:

  1. Sit tall, with the spine erect and the legs straight out in front of you. Exhale.
  2. Inhale as you slowly bend your knees, bring the soles of the feet together and the heels in toward  your pelvis.
  3. You can either grab your feet with your hands, place them under your feet for added support or gently open up your feet slightly (as pictured above) with the hands clasping the ankles.
  4. If it feels good, gently begin flapping both legs up and down like a butterfly’s wings, staring slowly at first and gradually increasing speed while breathing normally throughout.
  5. Then begin to slow down before coming to a stop. Take a deep breath in.
  6. As you exhale, gently hinge at the hips, bending forward but keeping the chin level and the spine straight. You can also press your elbows into the thighs or gently against the knees to press them down and increase the stretch if it feels good. ALWAYS listen to your body.
  7. Continue taking long, deep breaths in and out as you enjoy the stretch.
  8. When ready, take a deep breath in as you raise the torso back up. Then exhale and release the posture, letting the legs straighten back out in front of you and relax.

 

Enjoy ❤

Namaste

~Judi~

 

Pose of the Week: Cat/Cow

Seated Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana) or traditional Cat/Cow Pose has many benefits, whether it’s done while sitting  in a chair or even in the traditional pose on hands and knees on the mat.

These benefits include improved posture and balance, more fluidity in the spine, it strengthens and stretches the spine and neck. Cat/Cow also stretches the hips, abdomen and back, helps work the brain and equilibrium with coordination and balance, and can relieve stress and calm the mind.

 

Cautions/modifications: Knee/wrist injuries or sensitivities (if doing the traditional pose – move to a chair), neck or spine injuries (you can keep the head in line with the torso as a modification for neck issues).

  1. Traditional Cat/Cow: Come to hands and knees on the mat in Table Pose, with the fingers splayed out, the hands right under the shoulders and the knees right under the hips. Head is neutral.
    – Seated Cat/Cow: Sit tall in your chair with feet flat on the floor and hands resting gently on the thighs or knees.
  2. Traditional Cat/Cow: Exhale all the air out of the lungs, then inhale while dropping the belly, looking up (heart forward) and pressing the tailbone up toward the ceiling.
    – Seated Cat/Cow: Exhale all the air out of the lungs, gently press the hands into the thighs or knees, inhale as you press the chest forward, looking up while pressing the tailbone back.
  3. Traditional Cat/Cow: As you exhale, pull the abdomen in, belly button toward the spine, drop the head down, chin to chest, curling the tailbone under and squeezing the abdomen at the end to get all the air out of the lungs (imagine a cat arching its back).
    – Seated Cat/Cow: Exhale with hands cupping the knees and begin to round out your back, pulling the belly button in toward the spine, bringing the chin to the chest and curling the tailbone under.
  4. Repeat several times or as long as feels good and then if you’d like, you can come to rest in Table or in Child’s Pose, either on the mat or if you are seated, you can come to a neutral spine, hands resting on the lap, eyes closed and feel the calming, yet rejuvenating sensations of Cat/Cow.

 

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Have You Found Your Light?

Yoga is a lightDo you think you have light inside you?  What does that mean, anyway?

It’s hard to identify, but when you see it in others, you recognize it and are even drawn to it. You wonder, how do I get what they have? 

It’s possible for absolutely all of us to experience that light-filled feeling and maintain it.

You’ve probably all experienced this light when, for example, you were so excited and elated about an event in your life that you felt like you were floating. You felt weightless, airy, happy … like you could handle almost anything.

In contrast, we know what it feels like to be around people who are negative and have heavy, dense energy. Or there are times we have felt that way ourselves. It is not pleasant to be around that or feel it within.

So, how are we able to experience that light-filled feeling in our lives that is not dependent around a happening or an external source?

Yoga and meditation, slow, mindful breathing, gentle movements, and relaxing thoughts are great avenues to take. Without external objects or situations, we are able to come to a place of peace, joy and those feelings of contentment produce that light-filled energy that you and those around you feel.

Yoga is a wonderful way to fan that internal flame. Like many things, it comes with time and practice. You become more aware of the simple pleasures in your life, learn to go with the flow, and look at yourself and others in a nonjudgmental, compassionate way.

You learn to open your heart to life and truly experience it. That, my friend, is a simple recipe for a peace and joy-filled day.

Less is more, and an eloquency in the simplicity of life.

Be well my friends.

Love,

~Judi~