Has the heat gotten to you yet? Maybe you had a stressful day, had a hard time sleeping, or feel short tempered? Can't cool off physically, emotionally, or mentally? Cool down with this supportive inversion! In Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani), your feet and legs are above your hips, which are above your heart & head. Inversions are an invaluable tool to your mental health, immunity, and general well-being.
Why? Because when you're inverted, gravity - instead of your heart - does the work to bring the blood back to the heart. This posture cools you down (mentally, physically & emotionally) because your heart slows down the heartbeat to handle the rush of blood flow. When your heart slows down, along with a calm breath, it signals your nervous system to enter "Rest & Digest" - the counterpart to your "Fight or Flight." In this state, we feel calmer, we begin to relax, which makes digestion & sleep easier,.
Check out Legs Up the Wall pose below and how you can make it comfortable for your body! Stay for 5 - 10 minutes.
Hips off the ground OR Legs won't straighten? Typically this indicates that the hamstrings are preventing the pelvis from relaxing into a neutral position. To help the hamstrings relax and get the benefits from an inversion, scoot further away from the wall (Like in the Second Picture), until your legs can straighten and you have a gentle curve in your lower back.
This month, at the studio & at home, explore how you can be your own prop. A prop is an amazing tool that can meet us where ever we are in our practice. It offers support and guidance, helps you to access your strength, and improve your mobility. With COVID, we won't be able to use any of our props at the studio, at least for the first month.
So let this month away from props, be an opportunity. May this be a chance to realize the valuable addition a prop is to your practice, while at the same time, understanding that you can be your own prop. Let your practice this month show you all of the ways you can be the support and guidance you need, that you can find new ways to access your strength, and improve your mobility, just with yourself. Adjust your practice, be curious, be creative, and grow all the more because of it!
Half Standing Forward Bend
Warrior 3 (Prep)
When we're feeling lost, we look in all sorts of directions for guidance. Sometimes we connect with something that helps, and other times we're left feeling more lost than before.
The more we engage with technology - phone, tv, computers - the more we feel it weigh on our body. When our posture suffers, the neck strains with the weight of the head, the heart closes off, and the organs get compressed. Back bends, also known as "heart openers," help to balance the affects technology has on our bodies.
Bow Pose is a great way to compliment a day of sitting in front of technology. While it can look intimidating, with the right tips, you can find a version of bow that makes you feel energetically strong and steady. Beyond increasing your energy, Bow helps to strengthen the back of your body, massages the discs in your spine so they can stay supple, and improves digestion.
Remember to be a little light hearted, and playful. If you're feeling confident in your bow pose, try rocking your bow. Tip your weight to one side, use your abdominal muscles to help rock you and stabilize you. The real trick here is using your top leg to help give you some momentum. Try to keep your legs hip width distance, don't let them splay wide.
It's easy to eat mindlessly, to sit down in front of a computer, TV, or phone, and eat a whole meal without tasting any of it. So when you sit down to dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow, make a point to taste without distraction.
Really focus on your food, its texture, flavors, colors. Practice mindful eating and truly appreciate the food that nourishes you.
Happy Wellness Wednesday Yogis! It's such a beautiful day to shine a little light on yourself. So find a quiet moment to yourself and reflect on you...
Emotions are a crucial part of our lives. It's important to process and digest our intense emotions - fear, grief, anger, resentment, jealousy - or they can become burdensome. With compassion and curiosity, reflect on the emotions that have tempted you, especially during a stormy time in your life. In a list, name the emotions you felt. Then think on ways you can process them, to lighten the burden you may be subconsciously carrying.
Pigeon Pose, a pose that students tend to either love or hate, has a lot of different variations that change the result and the feeling in the body. For instance, Pigeon is an energizing, active backbend that requires the full strength of the legs. Folded Pigeon, though, is softer, calmer, and more grounding - even while the legs stay strong. Pigeon and it's variations can be divisive because of knee or hip pain. But never fear, there are always ways to make a pose more accessible and comfortable for where your body is today.
"Heart opening" postures give us space along the front and sides of the chest - for the heart & breath to be free & easy. Because we are a society of overachievers, we often force that opening along the front of the body. More is better right? Not always. Our heart represents a physical location that tends to be tight and protected, due to stress and posture. But it's important to remember our heart is also a location for emotional connection, with ourselves and others. It's not always best to take a crowbar to it and force it to open. It can leave us feeling frayed, anxious, brittle. Sometimes all we need is a gentle coaxing to blossom. May this gentle heart opening sequence soften your heart & nourish your connection to yourself and others, while helping you feel expansive.
Sequence for Connection & Tension Release
Gently Warming Opening Sequence
Drunk Cobra - Come up onto your fingertips, with your hands wider than the mat, elbows point up. Lift the chest off the ground, maybe beginning to lift the lower ribs, but NOT the belly - that stays firmly on the ground along with your hips. Turn to look over your right shoulder, and as you do, lower your left chest and shoulder towards the ground, but not touching. Then switch sides, turn the left, and the right shoulder lowers down. Sway from side to side with your breath - inhale through center and exhale to a side, or vice versa.
Start small and identify one thing your grateful for - a conversation with a friend, a cup of tea, the smell of the summer rain. Anything that has brought light into your day.
Then, set a timer for 1 minute, and create a list of all things, big or small, that you're grateful for. When the timer is up, look back on your list and reflect on the joy that comes from everything in your life
When we grow weary, angry, frustrated, it's easy to close ourselves off, especially as a way to protect our hearts. In these times, allow your heart to remain open. This sequence physically invites the heart to be broad and expansive. As with all postures in yoga, though, it's the intention behind the pose that truly matters. In this practice, keep the intention of unconditional love present at all times, and it'll be imbued in each posture & in yourself.
Before your practice, take a few moments to connect with your breath. If so moved, you can use the following mantra before, during, or after your practice:
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (Low-ka, sam-as-tah, suk-ee-no, bhav-an-too)
It translates simply to, "may all beings, everywhere, be happy and free."
Warm Up -
Move with your breath, inhale into Down Dog and exhale to pause, inhale into plank, exhale to Up Dog, inhale into Down Dog.
Heart Opening Sequence