Tag Archives: Practice Yoga

Why Do My Wrists Hurt in Downward-Facing Dog?

There could be several reasons why your wrists are not feeling so hot in Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), but more than likely, it comes down to weight distribution and team work.
Downward-Dog-733x440
When you’re newer to the practice, Downward-Facing Dog looks like a pose where you are holding yourself up with your arms only. Actually, there’s more to it than that.

When all the players—your legs, hips, back, arms, and shoulders—actively participate, there is actually minimal amount of weight on your wrists in this pose, and it can actually feel like a place where you can hang out comfortably for several breaths.

Resting Pose? Really?

In the early years of my practice, I found it particularly annoying that many of my teachers would call Downward-Facing Dog a restful pose. I would feel anything but rested in the pose.

My shoulders tensed, my arms shook with effort, and my wrists ached almost every time I moved to it from Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) or Cobra (Bhujangasana). Down Dog was a crappy place for me to be, but since it was a popular pose I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid it.

So I practiced more and listened to teachers’ takes on how to align in the pose, so I could feel it out on my own. I knew there had to be a way this pose would be comfortable.

Let There Be Light for Your Dog!

Truth be told, I’m still working to find my most strengthening and vibrant Downward-Facing Dog, but I’ve come a long way from the discomfort of my early years. And there are a few tricks I’ve learned and been taught to help ease the pressure off the wrists in this pose.

Try these out on the mat next time, and may your Down Dogs feel light and happy!

1. Shift the weight off the wrists toward the legs.

You can take weight off your wrists by bending your knees generously and pressing your hips further back until your hands feel a little lighter. It’ll look like you’re crouching. Keep the weight shifting towards your legs as you lift your butt up and gradually straighten the legs, without locking the knees.

Your heels don’t have to be flat against the mat, but do try to keep the front of your pelvis tilted forward and tailbone moving away from the top of the spine to elongate your back (big plus!).

2. Ground the pose by firming the legs.

Your heels should be directly behind the widest part of your foot so that you do not see them when you gaze between your legs. Hug your shins in toward each other as though you were trying to squeeze a block between them. This will encourage a slight inward rotation through the legs.

Firm your outer thighs in a slight external rotation and lift your knee caps upward as you press your quadriceps back. Don’t lock your knees! It’ll feel as though someone is gripping you by the hips and pulling back.

3. Create space for your chest and shoulders by firming the outer arms.

Firming the outer arms and wrapping your triceps toward the floor (i.e. external rotation) creates room for your front body and shoulders. It will feel like you’re trying to screw the cap off of jar, counterclockwise, but your hands will stay grounded on the floor.

This helps broaden your collarbones and reduce tension around the shoulders. Let you ears line up with your arms.

4. Energize your upper body by activating your hands.

Engaging your hands, even your fingertips and the bases of your fingers, works to energize your upper body. Imagine your hands like suction cups as you try to distribute the weight evenly throughout. Ground the thumbs and index fingers.

Your hands should be rooted but not completely flat against the floor, so the center of your palm can lift; this engages what some of my teachers call Hasta Bandha, or a hand lock.

by Zainab Zakari
http://www.doyouyoga.com/why-do-my-wrists-hurt-in-downward-facing-dog/

 

Please follow and like us:

Breathing through what Life throws

When life throws things at you, what do you do? Do you relax into the drama or resist, knowing this only makes it worse?

The choice doesn’t always seem like a choice, but it is. My first reaction used to be resistance. I would freak out, scream, cry, or panic. I’ve even been guilty of throwing a plate of food across the room. But now, I’ve learned to hit my mat. When I bring myself to my mat I can hear my breath and feel my body, and automatically my mind slows and I feel a swecropPhoto.phpet release. For me when stuff happens, this is how I’ve learned to cope. My old way to react – shutting down or just holding it in until I exploded days, weeks, or months later just wasn’t productive. So when the “shit hit the fan” most recently I witnessed the amazing impact of yoga on my life.

Five months ago, I stepped off the ledge and opened Inspire Yoga. I was excited, scared, and anxious about this journey, but ready for the challenge. And boy has it been a challenge! In five short months I have learned more about business ownership and myself than I could ever imagine.

I made it through the challenge of construction, from picking out floors to heaters to finding people to help get the job done. I trusted that the people I hired to do the work knew what they were doing. Apparently people will tell you anything you want to hear to get your $$$.

Yes I have a big “S” on my forehead.

Just as our community was gelling and I sensed that people were getting to know our brand and name, the SHIT HIT the fan, BIG TIME! I was informed that “Inspire Yoga” would have to change our name as we were in violation of another studio’s trademark. What happened? How did I react? First with lots of resistance, denial, tears, and then that resistance relaxed into acceptance. I hit my mat, breathed and released what was no longer serving me once again, resistance. As the resistance melted I could once again see possibility. It was totally out of my control and fighting it didn’t serve anyone. And now, with our new name “EMPOWER YOGA” I am ready to move forward with a smile on my face.Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and let go of what we cannot control. Relax into the resistance to see a new possibility. As my teacher Baron Baptiste says, “What’s possible now?”

Stay in the pose, the pose doesn’t begin till you want out. So I tell myself just one more breath, okay one more breath I can do this. This is the same feeling that comes up for me when things happens. Can I just breathe? Yes, no, yes, yes I can. As I tell my students, and myself “try easy” relax into the pose. This doesn’t mean it is easy, and doesn’t mean you aren’t sweating buckets and cursing in your head, but you are still breathing and you are not fighting. You don’t run away, you breathe through the resistance, you relax with what is.

Power Yoga is often confused with kick your own asana. Yes, it does do this, but it has also taught me that I can breathe through anything life throws at me. It has empowered me to follow my dreams, to not give up when things get rough. It’s given me the permission to fall on my face and get back up again, again and again. I can relax into the resistance and come out of it stronger than I was before.

It has taught me that anything is possible. Every pose each day is different and as you let go of the fight you find new breakthroughs. You discover you can stand on your hands lightly, you can surrender in pigeon, and you can re-brand your business if that is what the day brings. Through yoga I have not just watched my body transform but I have slowly noticed my life transform. I have learned to let go of the fight and be light, to breathe, and through this I believe I am ready to take on what is thrown my way. Yoga is my saving grace; it constantly brings me back to my breath, back to myself.

By Rachel Goldberg
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/breathing-through-difficult-times-practice-yoga

 

Please follow and like us:

5 Benefits of Regular Headstand Practice

How Inversions Help Balance the Physical and Subtle Bodies

Known as the king of Asanas (yoga postures), the headstand may at first seem intimidating to the new practitioner. However, the benefits of this posture to one’s mind, body, and spirit are plenty. In an environment where we are either sitting down or standing for most of the day, our circulation tends to become sluggish. This often results in our heart overworking to pump adequate blood to the upper body. Normally, our heart works against the pull of gravity. Inversions lessen the strain on the heart and allow an abundant supply of oxygen-rich blood to reach the head and brain.

Here are 5 of the many benefits of regular practice of headstand:

1. Inversions reverse the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines. Performing this posture increases digestive fire and body heat. The intestines are cleansed while releasing clogged blood in the colon.

2. By inverting, the flow of blood reverses in the body and stimulates the nervous system. Headstands stimulate and provide refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. The hypothalamus gland links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. These glands are vital to our wellbeing and are considered the master glands that regulate all other glands in the body (thyroid, pineal, and adrenals). Performing headstand helps to dissolves stress, sadness, depression, and lethargy. The cleaner your adrenal glands are, the more optimal they will function. This will help you to adapt to stress better.

3.  Performing headstand rejuvenates the lower body such as the legs, pelvis, and lower torso. While in headstand, de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily from the extremities to the heart. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built up water in the legs, relieving the confining sensation of edema (swelling).

4.  By performing headstand, you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body. The lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response.  As lymph moves through the body, it gathers toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity. By inverting, lymph travels more easily into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.

5.  The improvement of cognitive abilities such as concentration, memory, and processing can be attributed to a regular headstand practice. The posture helps us overcome fear (of falling!) and develop concentration – see how long you can hold the posture if your mind wanders. This pose requires a still mind.  Headstands also strengthen deep core muscles. To be able to hold this posture, the practitioner must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

When done correctly, headstands help the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress. It positively affects the four major systems in the body: cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine. Although I recommend learning headstand from a qualified teacher, its multifaceted benefits should not be ignored. Headstands should not be performed if you have neck injuries, unusually high blood pressure, ear or eye problems, or if a woman is on her monthly cycle.

By Mihir Ganud
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/benefits-tips-headstand-asana-pose-yoga-practice#

 

 

Please follow and like us:

What is Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini Yoga is a science that opens your heart and expands your awareness of consciousness. Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the West in 1968. He said that “Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity, and that it’s the art to experience Infinity in the finite.”

Kundalini comes from the Sanskrit word Kundal, which means coil or spiral. Kundalini is an energy that exists within every human at the base of the spine, which is often in a dormant state. Many describe Kundalini as the coil of the hair of the Beloved. The Beloved is God, Spirit, the Universe- whatever you want to call it. The Kundalini is that piece of God, Spirit, and the Universal Intelligence within us. Kundalini is more commonly known in Western cultures as Holy Spirit. It is the primal life force that animates all life—the evolutionary force behind all living matter.

Now that we have a better understanding of what Kundalini is, let’s talk about yoga! Yoga means union, and comes from the Sanskrit word, Yog- which means to unite. Yoga is how we unite with all of who we are and with higher consciousness. Yoga is about self-acceptance and is a practice that includes; pranayama (breathing exercises), asana (physical postures or maneuvers), meditation and deep relaxation. Through the practice of Yoga, we begin to calm the fluctuations of the mind, to open the heart and to unite with the ultimate loving power with us.

Kundalini means “the curl of the hair of the beloved” and yoga is union. Kundalini Yoga is therefore uniting and awakening the God, Spirit, or Higher Consciousness within us.

Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is known as one of the most comprehensive of yoga traditions, joining meditation, mantra, physical exercises and breathing techniques; It is the Raj or the King Yoga.

In any class Kundalini Yoga classes, you can expect to find six major components:

1. Tuning-in with the Adi Mantra – Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

2. Pranayama and / or warm-ups (ex. cat/cow, spinal flex)

3. Kriya (yoga set)

4. Deep relaxation or savasana

5. Meditation

6. Close with the blessing song, “May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You” and a long Sat Nam (which means truth is my identity)

Kundalini Yoga works on the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and puts them under the domain of the will, which is the tool of the soul. This technology balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, expands lung capacity, and purifies the blood.

Science tells us that everything is made of energy and it has been known for thousands of years that there are intense energy focal points in the body called Chakras. Kundalini Yoga moves energy up the chakras from the lower triangle 1st, 2nd and 3rd chakras to the highest chakras. When the 4th heart chakra is awakened, we begin to move from “me” to “we” and experience union and shift into the higher triangle, the 5th throat chakra where we communicate our wisdom, the 6th third eye chakra where we access our inner vision, and the 7th crown chakra where we experience the oneness and wisdom of the Creator. Kundalini Yoga is also called the Yoga of Awareness- it opens your heart and gives you a powerful experience of your soul.

Kundalini Yoga gifts you with an experience of your truth, or Sat Nam which begins to permeate into every aspect of your life. “It is not meditation that stops the mind. It is the surrender of the mind to the soul, and the soul to Truth. It is when you prefer the word of Truth to the word of your own intellect.” – Yogi Bhajan

Kundalini Yoga works fast to give you the experience of the fruits of yoga. It is a high science designed to awaken the full potential of human consciousness in each individual and expand that awareness to our unlimited Self. This practice simply changes you from the inside out and makes you want to be a better person and live a more heart centered life.

So, when is your next kundalini class?

by  hillary faye
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/what-is-kundalini-yoga

Please follow and like us:

From Corporate Drone to Yogi

In my forty-two years I have never been a morning person. Being from Boston, I have a pretty direct yet quirky personality, and a playful sarcasm that is the root of my sense of humor.

I am a hard worker and will give two hundred percent at a given task, but I am also pretty lazy when I am home.  I am a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

My relationship with exercise has been an inconsistent journey that ranged from binging on workouts, protein shakes and weeks of detoxes to late night drinking, processed foods and surfing the internet until ungodly hours of the morning.  I have looked and felt great at different times in my life, but have also had periods of being out of shape and a little depressed.

After reading this about me, it may not surprise you to know I didn’t care for yoga the first time I tried it.  The amount of discipline required is out of my comfort zone of pausable workout DVD’s, greasy pizzas, and rich amber lagers.  Attempting to keep alignment correct, the breath steady, and my focus balanced sends my ADD and OCD completely over the edge.

It may also surprise you to learn I am a yoga teacher.

I stumbled upon the practice when I needed it most.  I was a stressed out, corporate drone living on fast food and adrenaline while chasing an ever elusive dangling carrot shaped in society’s definition of success.

The first time I tried yoga I was an uncoordinated mess that gasped for breath while my body trembled for a long sixty minutes.  My mat was saturated in sweat comprised of beer, nicotine, and a lifetime of bad decisions.  My naive ego egged me on whenever I looked around and passed judgement on all the bendy, fit, and graceful bodies that surrounded me.

“Who the hell do they think they are?” I asked ego rhetorically. “Screw them and their blissful grace.”  Yet while I bantered back and forth, calling everyone in the room unquestionable names, I secretly wanted to be like them.  I was innately aware these people were tuned in to something that couldn’t be seen.  The ‘feel’ of the yoga space was much different than that of a gym; there was an absence of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

The overwhelming positive energy was undeniable.  It was something I never experienced and I somehow knew the blissed out looks on these bendy bitches’ faces was connected to what was happening in the studio.  One didn’t need to understand what a Chakra was or be ‘metaphysical’ to feel the vibe radiating from the space.  I didn’t understand the “how” of their focus and bliss, I just wanted it. That motivated me to my second class.

I did pretty good the second time.  My initial nerves of being an “outsider” were considerably subdued and while I set up my mat in the back of the room so no one would see me fall out of balance standing in mountain pose, I had a different approach to the practice.  I wanted to absorb the sound of everyone’s breath, the instructor’s soothing tone, and more importantly, the insanely infectious peaceful energy that would soon fill the room and hug me.

We moved, breathed and put our bodies in different shapes in unison. And for the first time, I became aware I was completely present in the moment.  I wasn’t rushing to get to a meeting or running through my mind a list of things I needed to get done.  I was just “there.”

The final moments came and the instructor placed us in Savasana for final relaxation using only her words.  As we lay on the wood floor with eyes closed, bodies and minds open, the instructor gently guided us in to a meditation.  With every breath, I felt myself slip more in to relaxation, another place that had eluded me over the years.  I couldn’t tell exactly what she said during those brief minutes because the only thing that stood out was her saying it was okay for us to let go.  “Just let go.” she said, “Know that it is okay for you to just let it all go.”  And that is when I started crying.

I had no idea why, after all these years of choking down my emotions, I felt it okay in this room full of strangers to have an emotional release and sob. But it happened and felt so good.  She was right, it was okay to let it all go.  I hadn’t realized I had been holding on so tightly for so long to so many things that needed to release until she spoke those words.  In those few moments of release, I felt incredibly safe and knew I was going to be okay.

As she brought us out of meditation and class ended, I briefly obsessed over how the other people would judge me once I opened my eyes, and how I would cower out and run to my car, but for some reason those feelings melted away and I didn’t care what people thought for once in my life.  When I finally opened my eyes watching everyone gather up their mats, I realized there wasn’t judgement.  In fact, a couple of the people closest to me smiled peacefully when our eyes met as if we had an unspoken connection.

As I walked to the exit, the instructor appeared, and smiled as she placed her hand on my shoulder asking “how do you feel?”.  The only thing I could say that wouldn’t send me into another sobbing emotional release was nothing at all.  I smiled and let out a big sigh as my eyes teared up.  She squeezed my shoulder, smiled again and said “good…good” and walked away.

From that day on, I explored the roots of Yoga while trying to balance my demanding career.  I didn’t always get to class and I would just meditate or do poses in my living room, but it was that “baby step” process that brought me to where I am today.  I realized through a slow process of letting yoga in my life that slow processes are one of my processes.  I am now aware that I do it with relationships, purchases, etc.  Everything is a baby step.  If I rush, the foundation  doesn’t harden completely and the structure can potentially fail.  If I had rushed allowing yoga in to my life, I would have resented it.  But that is my process.  Everyone is different and yoga has shown me my individual processes are okay.

As yoga became more permanent, I began to let go of things I had thought defined me such as my career.  I believed I needed to climb a corporate ladder and make big bucks.  And that how I looked and who I knew were the important things.  I realized one day after a long practice that in my twenty year career I acquired a lot of things, but my search for success in the corporate world made me completely miserable and it was time to say goodbye.

Yoga has this way of taking us on a journey to the deepest regions of our self.  It helps strip away the seemingly protective layers in order to see our true, perfect nature in contrast to the stories we have been telling ourselves.  Once the layers peel off and we realize how insanely perfect we are, there is no real need in wearing societal masks any longer.

It was at the end of my career when I made the decision to teach yoga.  I want to help people learn to breathe, move, and focus.  To help them become aware of the present moment again.  Most importantly, I want others to know that it is okay to let go of all the stuff that doesn’t serve them any longer.

I am not going to lie, it is physically demanding. It challenges the constructs we create for ourselves in our minds and in the material world around, and it has no time for banter with Ego. It can be an uncoordinated mess that leaves your body trembling for what seems the longest sixty minutes of life.

But when you show up fully for your yoga practice, your yoga practice shows up fully for you.  It is not going to be an easy journey but it will definitely be worth the trip.

Even if you are not a morning person.

by  David Henault
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/practice-yoga-journey-start-begin

 

Please follow and like us: