Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Be Safe. Protect Your Joints. Mountain Pose. Lead with Your Hips. Breathe!

Be safe.  How many times have you either heard or have spoken those words?  If you pay attention to your body and listen to it, you will never confuse intensity with pain, discomfort with repetitive stress injury, or positive breathing with negative holding of the breath.  Trust your instincts, not your competitive nature.

Protect your joints.  I have been learning all about load-bearing walls this past week with our new construction and have even used the term with a class yesterday.  So, if you are like me and do not understand the building process, no problem.  
Just remember knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, ankles, wrists are all joints.  When you lock them out or hyper-extend them, you are sending an invitation to trouble, pain,and injury.  A joint is a load bearing wall, and that is where you will hear me cue you to keep your knees soft as you forward fold or not allow your shoulders to sink lower than your elbows in "Chaturanga."

Mountain pose is your blueprint.  Heels under sit bones.  Shoulders back and down.  Lift your chin to be parallel to the floor and pull it back into your natural cervical curve alignment.  Feet straight forward as you line up your knees with your second and third toe and pinky toes parallel with the sides of the mat. Chest follows your hip bones (ASIS - anterior superior iliac spine).  Core strong as your tailbone lengthens.
  • Balance poses use Mountain pose.
  • Warrior I and III use Mountain pose.
  • Lunge pose uses Mountain pose.
  • Twists start with Mountain pose as you lengthen on the inhale before you exhale and move.
  • Savasana or Final Relaxation pose uses Mountain pose on the back.
Lead with your hips as you forward fold and contract your abdominals as you exhale.
Do not round your spine unless your abdominals are contracted, and it is the last part of a forward fold.  Tall spine, inhale; engage abs and fold, exhale.  The fold is active then passive and only rounds (if at all) after the effort is over.  
Sage Rountree says, "In any forward-folding motion, the fold or break point must happen from the hips-the entire pelvis angles forward, so that the back remains a long, integral unit."  
Back issue people are always one knee folded, and one knee straight (or one leg).

Breathe.  If you are not breathing, you are not doing yoga.  Exhale to the same count or longer than you inhale.

Can't get to the class?  Use this workout...

Incorporate these 15 yoga movements and example poses into your run, your saddle time on the bike, your walk, or your workout.  
  1. Flexion and extension (cow/cat)*
  2. Side body long (half moon reach)*
  3. Twist with caution and props (seated, standing, or supine twist - thread the needle)*
  4. Balance (tree or eagle)
  5. Quad strength (chair)
  6. Arm strength (crane)
  7. Hamstring flexibility (triangle with upper arm reaching)
  8. Back strength (locust with wide legs or strap around thighs)
  9. Core strength (dolphin plank - yes, lift your thighs as you lengthen your tailbone to your heels)
  10. Inner thigh strength (twisted triangle)
  11. Hip opening (warrior two)
  12. Quad stretch (kneeling lunge with back foot in hand; knee on blanket)
  13. Shoulder stretch (clock face pose at the wall)
  14. Back health (use bridge pose with a block under sacrum)
  15. Relax, refresh, and rejuvenate (reclined cobbler's pose with small bolster, strap, blocks)
*Six movements of the spine are necessary for every day back health.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nature Walks Soothe the Soul!

Have you ever just felt all frustrated, closed up, and confined?  Try going outside for a nature walk with contemplation and meditation.  You will be amazed at how much better you will feel.  This morning I went on a run with my daughter.  She is the mother of three precious children, a busy working mom, and a wonderful person. Sometimes we forget how precious the moments that we spend with our children truly are.  I have seen so many moms and daughters or dads and sons practice yoga together.  It is so exciting to see the togetherness yoga builds.  My advice?  Put up the technology and just go outside with your kids.  Just "be!" Do yoga, go for a run, take a nature walk, or just sit outside.  "For one minute walk outside, stand there in silence, look up at the sky, and contemplate how amazing life is."

Riding the Wave with Breathe, Release, Feel, Witness, Allow

My son, Jeff, surfing the waves in California "Riding the Wave requires a lot of energy and can make us fill depleted.  Refill y...