100 Days of Yoga – Day 72 – Easy Pose with Grounded Fingers

72/100 ~ Easy Pose with Grounded Fingers (modified Sukasana) – Yogis use the term “grounding” to refer to calming down, settling in and releasing tension in the body and mind. If you’re feeling scattered and pulled in several directions at once, this is a great way to ground yourself and regroup.

Benefits: Holding this pose helps to settle the mind, calm the nervous system and adjust our attitude. Just like Sukasana (day 5), this pose helps to ground us when we feel scattered or anxious. It improves posture; stretches the hips, knees and ankles; strengthens the spine; releases tension in the shoulders; and reduces stress and fatigue.

How to: Sit on the floor in Sukasana. If you feel tightness in your low back or if your knees are lifted, sit on a folded blanket (or two) to raise the hips a few inches higher. Press into the sit bones equally and lift through the crown of the head to sit nice and tall. Keeping a tall spine, lean forward and rest all 10 fingers on the floor in front of you. Allow your gaze to be downward between your hands. Press into the fingertips, lower the shoulders from the ears and draw your heart forward. Keep your awareness on the sit bones and the tips of all 10 fingers, feeling a sense of safety and stability. Slow and deepen the breath, remaining in this pose for 3-8 breath cycles.

Mantra: “I am trust in the divine order of things.”

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.

100 Days of Yoga – Day 71 – What happens in yoga class?

If you are new to the practice of yoga, maybe you’ve become curious about what it’s like to attend a real live yoga class. And maybe you’re hesitant because you don’t know what to expect?

Sometimes the fear of the unknown can hold us back from the things that would ultimately benefit us the most.

But I get it, new stuff is scary sometimes.

Every yoga teacher, every yoga class, every yoga student is unique. Therefore, it’s impossible to tell you exactly how a yoga class will be. What I can tell you is how my yoga classes are structured, and that most yoga classes are formatted in a similar fashion. Here’s what you might expect if you attend a class under my leadership.

____________________

Arrival – Students arrive and roll out their mats. Not every facility has yoga props, but if they do, students gather their props – usually a yoga blanket, blocks and a strap. I love when my students are punctual to class. Late arrivals can be disruptive to the flow of the practice.

Centering/Grounding – Class begins with a few minutes of breathing practice that varies from week to week. I typically introduce the class theme or share a quote during this time as well. This centering piece is important to help shift the mindset from the busy outside world to the space on our mats. It’s a way to honor the practice and choose intentions for our time on the mat. Sometimes I invite my students to sit in easy pose, sometimes they rest on their backs in constructive rest pose.

  

Stretching – Some slow and gentle movements begin after the class is “centered and grounded,” allowing the body to warm up and ease into the practice. I typically lead seated forward folds, gentle side bends and twists, and almost always cat/cow stretches and child’s pose. The focus always returns to the breath – keeping it deep and steady.

   

Working – After our warm up, we stand. I always lead forward folds with lunges to open the hips, a downward dog here and there, plank pose, deeper side bends and sometimes a balancing practice like tree pose. Standing poses include tadasana, warrior poses, and goddess pose. Focus returns to the breath, over and over again.

   

Cooling down – After we work, we cool down. We come down to the floor – sometimes seated and other times resting on backs. The stretches are a little deeper than the ones we began class with. I always incorporate some stretches for the hamstrings and then some deeper twisting poses. And we breathe…

   

Surrender – Class ends with savasana – a resting pose that invites us to be still and surrender to the practice. After an hour of stretching, moving and breathing, it’s so easy to relax in this simple pose. We joke that some students actually come to yoga for savasana. {Eh-hm. You know who you are!}

   

I’ve been leading yoga classes in this space at Snedigar Recreation Center for a couple of years now, and I’m so grateful for this amazing group of kind people. Many thanks to my yoga students who attended my class and allowed us to photograph their practice. And many thanks to my daughter, Carrie, for the photos.

And that’s {kind of} what happens in a yoga class.

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.

100 Days of Yoga – Day 70 – Banana Pose

70/100 ~ Banana Pose Side Stretch (“Bananasana”) – Anytime we lift the arms up overhead, we are opening the torso and creating space in the lungs, allowing for a deeper breath. Here’s a sweet side opener that also releases the lung meridian where grief and sadness is held. Take deep breaths to create space in the body, and then unpeel yourself and notice the release.

Benefits: This pose stretches and tones the side-body; massages internal organs; opens the chest, shoulders and side-body; stretches the hips; brings flexibility to the spine; and calms the nervous system. In yin yoga, this pose releases the lung meridian and invites a sense of relief, well-being and joy.

How to: Rest on your back with legs extended and arms reaching overhead. Step your feet and legs over to the left side of the mat. Both hips should remain on the floor, so if the right hip lifts up, bring your legs back toward center until it lowers. Move your arms and upper body to the left. Both shoulders should remain on the floor, so adjust your body accordingly. Notice the gentle opening in the right side-body. If you’d like a deeper sensation, cross the right ankle over the left, and take hold of your right wrist with the left hand and gently tug. Breathe deeply, noticing the extra stretch in the right rib cage with every inhale. Hold this pose for 3-8 breath cycles. Rest at center before moving to the other side.

Mantra: “Yoga keeps me from going bananas.”

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.

100 Days of Yoga – Day 69 – Cobra Pose

69/100 ~ Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) – This is one of my favorite heart-opening poses. Traditional yoga texts teach that this pose activates our energy, increases heat in the body and destroys disease. Hold this pose with that intention, and notice how you feel more energized afterwards.

Benefits: Cobra pose relieves fatigue in the body; strengthens the spine, arms and shoulders; stretches the chest, lungs and abdomen; stimulates internal organs; opens the heart and lungs; and soothes sciatica. In yin yoga, this pose balances the kidney meridian where fear and anxiety are held.

How to: Come to the floor and rest on your belly with your hands on the mat right under your shoulders. Press the tops of your feet into the floor, and then firm your legs and buttocks. Press into your hands to lift the upper body off the floor. Draw the shoulder blades together on your back, and elbows in toward your ribs. Lift your heart forward and ease the tops of the shoulders away from your ears. Keep the back of the neck long by drawing the chin down just a little, and direct the breath deep into your belly. Be sure to keep a slight bend in your elbows and keep drawing them in to the body. Hold this pose for 2-6 breath cycles. Rest in child’s pose (day 16) when you are done.

Mantra: “Love is the answer.”

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.

100 Days of Yoga – Day 68 – Yoga Squat (Garland Pose)

68/100 ~ Garland Pose / Yoga Squat (Malasana) – Mmmmm… Here’s a nice little pose for opening the hips and relieving low back pain.

Benefits: This pose opens the hips and groin; stretches the ankles, legs and back; tones the torso; and improves digestion. Garland pose also keeps the pelvis and hip joints healthy, making it an ideal posture for prenatal yoga.

How to: Step your feet a little wider than your hips, with your toes angled slightly outward. Squat down, bringing the hands together in front of the heart and pressing your elbows to the insides of the knees. Draw the knees into the elbows and keep pressing the elbows into the knees. Relax your shoulders away from the ears and enjoy this stretch for a few breath cycles.

Modification: If your heels lift up when you squat down, try stepping your feet further apart, or create a supported version. I use a stack of two yoga blocks to rest my sit bones on. The pose may feel more welcoming this way, and you can still benefit from the stretch.

Mantra: “I keep showing up and doing my best.”

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.