New Year – Let’s Dedicate!

A new year is always a good time to restart. It’s often a time of renewal, recommitment, and rededication. Many of us make resolutions to start working out more, eating healthier, maybe even drinking less alcohol. All these are great! It’s always great to dedicate yourself to YOU!

My resolution is simple. New year, same me. I am dedicating 2019 to ME!

One way I’m doing this is renewing my dedication to yoga. I am continuing my intention to practice yoga on a daily basis. That can be quite a daunting task. Most of the time when I wake up, I don’t want to get on the mat. I want to stay in bed and be lazy…especially on the weekends. I often need motivation to participate in a daily practice. That’s where YouTube and my favorite YouTube Yogi comes in.

Every January Adriene from Yoga with Adriene puts out a month long practice to rejuvenate a daily yoga practice. This year, it’s called Dedicate. What a perfect name for 2019??

Some of the videos are long, some aren’t. So far I’ve been able to find time to do all of them. I have to say, this has been a great way for me to keep myself accountable. After 20+ days, it will once again become a habit.

I wish you all the best of luck keeping your resolutions this year. I know I will do my best to keep mine. Here’s to another year, another 365 pages to fill in the book of life!

 

 

 

Yoga for Travel

When we travel, whether its domestic or international, often we feel fatigued and our bodies just want to rest. While rest is important, it is also important to move the body a little so that you can stretch out stiff areas and flex out tight muscles.

On long flights, its important to get up an move around. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of doing a full yoga routine, especially on a 10 hour flight overseas. Here are a few things you can do in small areas, on the plane or off, to help you reduce stiffness and hopefully help alleviate fatigue.

  1. Walking meditation (up and down aisles of the airplane)
  2. Forward Fold/Standing wide legged forward fold
  3. Standing cat/cow
  4. Standing side stretches
  5. Malasana squat
  6. Crescent lunges
  7. Standing upper body twists

When you land at your destination, here are some yoga moves you can do to help reduce fatigue so that you can get right to the fun!

  1. Sun salutation A
  2. Standing side stretches
  3. Warrior series
  4. Chair pose
  5. Boat pose
  6. Headstand/handstand
  7. Supine twist

Hopefully these help you as much as they have helped me in my travels! Enjoy the holiday season and happy new year!

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Yoga for Kids – A revisit

About a year ago, I wrote a post about how yoga can benefit kids (Yoga for Kids). I have since taken formal trainings in kids yoga and have gained a greater appreciation for the impact that yoga and meditation can have on kids.

Through my Next Generation Yoga teacher training, I have learned that yoga can have so many more benefits for children, including:

  • Assist in body development and flexibility
  • Improve concentration, body awareness, and balance
  • Improve self-image
  • Increase levels of self-esteem and confidence
  • Learn tools for coping with stress and frustration
  • Learn different modes of expression and creativity

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This training really taught me to teach from my heart. When teaching yoga, or anything really, be true to your own heart and what you are passionate about. Kids will see that passion.

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Also know that kids won’t enjoy everything. Yoga may not be for them, like many other things.

New Year – Opportunity to Restart

Another new year, another new year’s resolution…right?

Maybe not so much! We don’t have to wait until the new year to restart our dedication to our yoga practice. Each day is a new day and a new opportunity to restart your daily yoga practice.

This year, I began the new year with a 30 day yoga journey created by Yoga with Adriene! Each year a new year’s restart is offered up, allowing us all to start the new year on a new track. It’s important to note, however, that we are not restricted to January to start a new year. Adriene offers monthly calendars on her website, allowing each month to become a restart.

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So get out there – find the calendar for you and restart your life! You’ll only have yourself to thank.

Pose Breakdown: Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

Natarajasana, translated to dancer or lord of the dance pose, is a beautiful and challenging pose. Usually incorporated towards the end of a yoga flow, this pose is a great way to stretch out the body, focus the mind, and really challenge your sense of balance. It is a fun pose to play with, attempting to bring the back leg higher or reach the front arm further. Dancer pose is also a great pose for kids. It gives them a fun, challenging pose to try out.

Steps to get into pose:

  • Start in tadasana (mountain pose)
  • Shift weight to right leg/foot
  • Bend left after at the elbow bringing it out to the left side
  • Slowly bend left leg at the knee, bringing left foot into the left hand
  • Lift right arm straight up towards the sky
  • Holding the inside of the left foot, slowly kick the leg out behind out
  • While kicking the left leg out, slowly hinge at the hips reaching right arm ahead of you
  • Repeat steps for opposite leg

 

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Benefits:

  • Stretches the shoulders and chest
  • Stretches the thighs, groins, and abdomen
  • Strengthens the legs and ankles
  • Improves balance

 

 

 

Yoga as Pain Treatment

Opioids are all over the news these days. Whether talking about them in an addiction context or as a form of pain treatment, medications are constantly being discussed and debated. Should we be using opioids for pain? What is the risk of addiction? How can we stop addiction from happening? Are there alternatives to drugs for pain?

While I’m not a medical physician, I have a great deal of personal experience with pain and know for a fact that yoga has helped me not only deal with the pain, but even alleviate it.

The first step, for me, was becoming aware of the pain and exactly where it was located. Simply taking a deep breath and focusing on where I was feeling the pain, what kind of pain it was, and determining whether I had to deal with it or if I could live with it. From there, I found yoga poses that targeted that specific spot, for me it was the lower back. After a few months, I noticed my pain steadily decrease. After a few more months, I even noticed I rarely felt the pain at all.

It takes some time and effort, but yoga does work. Recent studies and articles have shown that yoga can not only supplement a tradition pain treatment regimen which involved medications, but in some cases it can actually replace that regimen.

For specific poses, see a previous post: Yoga for Chronic Pain

*Please see a medical physician before starting any regimen for pain treatment.

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Pose Breakdown: Badha Konasana (Cobbler Pose)

Towards the end of a yoga sequence, relaxation poses are incorporated to help the body start to cool down, allowing the muscles to begin to let go of any tension caused by some of the more active poses. Badha Konasana (literally meaning “bound angle pose) is a relaxation pose often incorporated towards the end of yoga sequences. This pose is most often called cobbler pose or butterfly pose.

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Pose Breakdown:
-Begin seated with your legs straight out on the mat or ground, keeping your back straight.
-Bend your knees and slowly drop your knees out to the sides, like a book, bringing the soles of your feet to touch.
-Take both hands and wrap them around the feet.
-Sit straight and tall, focusing on the posture and breath. You can also slowing pull your upper body towards the feet, incorporating a forward fold.
Modification:
-Supta Badha Konasana is a modification where you are laying on your back with your legs/feet in the same position.
-Start laying on your back with both legs straight out in front of you.
-Follow the same directions with the legs as seated badha konasana.
-Take your feet further forward, away from your body, to ease any discomfort in your knees or hips. Using support items, such as blocks or blankets, under the knees can also assist with discomfort.
-Take one hand to the chest and one to the belly.
-Lay still, focusing on the breath.
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Benefits:
-Relieves menstrual cramps.
-Reduces symptoms of depression.
-Improve energy levels.
-Reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Enjoy this wonderfully relaxing posture!

Satya – Finding Your Truth

Satya is the Sanskrit word for truth. Truth is often seen as a binary, black and white issue. A truth is a truth and a lie is a lie…right? Well, people have different truths. Truth can be very subjective, specific to the individual. What is true for me isn’t true for everyone. Yoga philosophy teaches us that truth is when our thoughts, words, and actions are all in harmony. Gandhi equates this to true happiness. Yoga also teaches us that with truth, no harm is done.

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Using these principles in considering what is true and what is not, we can move from judging others towards acceptance. By accepting that all truths are different, one can live a more free life. Without the burden of judgment, we can detach ourselves from having to be perfect, from having to project our own truth onto others.

This is applicable to yoga as we often find ourselves judging and criticizing others on their yoga practice based on where we are in ours. Going to a studio can be daunting, as we may feel judged and compare ourselves to others. You may not be able to get into that headstand or handstand, you may have trouble with the warrior series. It’s okay…that’s your truth. Don’t judge your truth, your practice based on where others are at. Don’t feel like a failure if you use props. Props can be a great addition to an already established practice.

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Ultimately your practice is your own, your truth is your own. By trying to focus on that and not what others are doing, you will be happier and more free in life.

Happy practicing!

Pose Breakdown: Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

A pose that is great for strengthening the muscles that support the knee is anjaneyasana or low lunge/crescent lunge. This pose is often incorporated into the sun salutation series or is done before a warrior series.

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Adjustments and modification are available. For example, the back knee can be raised or lowered to the mat, depending on the strength in your knee and leg. The hands can be raised, reaching towards the back (as shown in the picture) or they can be pressed together at the heart. Twists are also available in this pose to add some deeper stretches for the back.

This pose is great is you want to release tension in your hips. It is also good for stretching the hamstrings, quads and groin. This pose can also help build mental focus. Holding this pose helps focus not on thoughts but on the physical nature of the pose.

When going into this pose, be sure to align your knees and ankles, keeping them stacked. Your heart should be open, reaching forward and your arms can be raised, reaching back. Breath deeply in and out, embracing the pose and all that comes with it.

Wanderlust 108 Festival

It’s that time of year again, festivals of all kinds are popping up on our social media news feeds. From music festivals, yoga festivals, and everything in between, the spring and summer months are full of activity!

I recently got to participate in one of the Wanderlust 108 festivals in San Francisco. It was my first experience with a single day festival, yoga or otherwise. I had heard many things about these Wanderlust 108 festivals…good and bad. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, to be honest…but I figured I’d give it a chance! Being open to possibility, that’s one of the best lessons yoga taught me.

The first part of this “mindfulness triathlon” was a 5K run/walk. Now I won’t lie, I planned on walking the whole thing. I’m not a runner, I never really was. I’ve done 5K runs before, but I quickly found out running is not for me. I never really enjoyed it, I never hit that point in my runs where I felt the glory of the run. I’m okay with that. Considering it had been over six years since my last 5K, I am very proud to say I ran just about 1/3 of the 5K! Big Day!!! I completely attribute it to herd mentality…people were running so I did too.

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The second portion of the triathlon was the yoga session. I was most excited about this. Little did I know, it would be the longest yoga class ever…or at least it felt that way. Overall, it was a great class. It worked out my muscles and helped me become aware of certain weaknesses I didn’t know I had, specifically in my thigh muscles. In the end, we really earned that savasana!

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Finally, we got to the meditation. It was a beautifully led mindfulness meditation, really embracing the idea of being here now. I really enjoyed it, even though I dozed off a bit throughout. That’s okay, I accept myself for who I am!

In the end, I really enjoyed the Wanderlust 108 event. I will definitely attend future events, maybe even one of their multi-day festivals!

Fall dates and tickets were just dropped. For more info and to buy tickets, check out their website: Wanderlust

May the Fourth Be With You!