Tag Archives: balancing poses

Balance in Your Home Yoga Practice

Easy Pose

Easy Pose

 

Balance In Your Home Yoga Practice
by Trina
 

We tend to do more of what we like and less of what we don’t like. This practice also bleeds over into our home exercise practices, but we must learn to balance even when our instructor isn’t around to remind us or to choreograph our routine. 

Yoga teaches that balance is extremely vital to the practice and our bodies. When we inhale, our exhale should be the length of our inhale. When we work our right side, we must work the left side. Every muscle that we contract, we must lengthen or stretch. In Yoga, each pose has a counter pose to create the necessary balance. 

I want to emphasize the importance of balance in your home routine, specifically when you work your abdominal (abs) muscles. Everyone wants great abs, so people tend to do extensive abdominal exercises, especially at home, where people are enamored with sit ups and crunches. But as you strengthen your abs, you must also stretch out the ab muscle that you worked AND strengthen and loosen your lower back. The abs and the lower back work together to provide strength and stability and to support vital organs and stabilize the skeleton. 

Have you ever seen those body builders whose arms are so huge and thick that their shoulders round over? That is an example of imbalance. We are inclined to develop the muscles and body parts that we can see, the front of our body, often neglecting what we don’t see, the back of our body. 

In your home practice, I encourage you to do more than crunches and sit ups. Try some of the poses listed below that not only work your abs, but they also work your Core. When you work your abs, include poses that loosen, stretch, and strengthen your lower back too. Essentially, you want to make sure that when you work or contract a muscle, you also lengthen and stretch it, for example, after Bridge Pose (contracting the back and stretching the abs) do Plow Pose (stretching the back and contracting the abs). 

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

 

       *After Bridge Pose, do Plow Pose 

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

 

Camel Pose prepares the body for more difficult Backbend Poses. It makes the lower back flexible, while limbering the shoulders and opening the chest. Child’s Pose is an excellent counter pose to Camel

Locust Pose

Locust Pose

 

 Locust Pose strengthens the lower back muscles, while opening the chest, and encouraging good breathing. A good counter pose to Locust is to lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. 

 Bow Pose  induces flexibility in the spine, tones the abdominal muscles, and also helps to relieve backaches. Child’s Pose is a good counter pose. 

Balancing Poses, such as Tree Pose and Chair Pose, also strengthen your abs and your lower back. 

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog

 

The Sun Salutations series contracts the abs when you are in forward bends, such as Standing Forward Bend, and it lengthens the abs in back bends, such as Upward Facing Dog

Here are Core Poses that loosen, stretch, and strengthen your Core muscles

Full Boat Pose
The Hundred
Dolphin
Plank
Bridge Pose

Staff Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Upward Plank Pose 

Resources:
The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
The Yoga Journal
About.com
Althea Lawton-Thompson of Aerobics Yoga & More 

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Make sure that you have adequate instructions about how to do these poses before you do them. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. 

© 2009 KaTrina Love

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Yoga Basics Part 3: Focus, Intent, Attitude

FocusAttitudeIntentYogaIn this Yoga Basics series, we discussed how important it is to breath and listen to your body when you practice Yoga. In this article, we discuss the third most important aspect of Yoga: Focus, Intentions, & Attitude.

If you are concerned with what other people in your class are doing, you lack Focus. If you are unhappy with your current Yoga practice, then you must assess your intentions. If you are not getting the mental benefits of Yoga, check your attitude.

Focus

For most people, the Yoga Balancing Poses are their least favorite. Why? Because balancing poses require total Focus, as well as balance, control, and concentration. You must be totally in the moment, in the current pose, and Focused, to be successful. Yoga teaches us to Focus and concentrate, which is the only way that you can remember all of the correct placements of each part of your body in a specific Pose. You must Focus on you. Forget that there are other people in the class. Exorcise the images on DVDs of perfect bodies in perfect poses. To totally be who you are, where you are, in each specific pose, you must Focus. Concentrate on the instructions that your teacher gives you, how your body feels in each Pose, and on the specifics of the Pose that you’ve learned.

Intentions

What are your intentions with your Yoga practice? Is it to lose weight, to become more flexible, to exercise, to become more aware of yourself, to gain peace and calm, to eradicate depression, to treat an injury, or to become stronger? There is no wrong intention; however, you must identify your intentions. When you know what your intentions are, then you can choose the type of Yoga practice that aligns with your intentions. If you want to lose weight, then Gentle Yoga is probably not what you need to take. Bikram (Hot) and Ashtanga Yoga are faster moving, more intense Yoga practices, which are better for weight loss. If you want to stretch and relieve stress, you probably want more Gentle Yoga. Checking different Yoga Studios and classes and talking to the teachers and discussing your intentions and goals will help you to get the most out of your Yoga practice and to get started in the Yoga practice that is more beneficial to you. Visit the Studios. Research the different types of Yoga, so that your practice mirrors your intentions.

 Attitude

A positive Attitude is imperative. A negative Attitude works against you and obstructs the healing principles of Yoga. Yoga connects your mind and body, soothing your conscious, and increasing the positive functions of your body. Your mind is one of the most important organs of your body. There is a process for everything…Yoga is no different. Stay positive that you will reach your goals and reap the benefits of your Yoga practice. Every time you practice Yoga, notice the strides that you make. And you do make positive, productive, forward strides every time you practice Yoga. Your Attitude affects the mental benefits of your Yoga practice. A positive Attitude helps you to Focus and Concentrate better. It also helps you to stay mindful of the intricacies of each Pose that you are tasked with remembering and putting to practice. During every warm up session, establish your intentions and have a positive attitude.

Conclusion

Maximize the benefits of your Yoga practice by focusing inward, establishing your intentions, and having a positive attitude. Yoga is what you make it. You cannot approach Yoga with a competitive mindset, skewed intentions, and a negative attitude. If you do, you are counteracting the positive benefits of your Yoga practice. Your Yoga practice is about you. Focus on you!

Yoga Basics: Part 1
Yoga Basics: Part 2

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram
http://www.leisurelivingblog.com

Applying Yoga to Daily Living

Tree Pose

As a professional writer, my goal is to write compelling, pertinent content, that inspires, informs, and captures the interest and emotions of my readers, but when I am stressed or distracted, I fail to pen the prose that helps my readers, which stresses me out more.  The worst thing for a writer is to be unable to write or to be able to write, yet be unable to focus and pull enough concentration to write useful, effective content. The result is decreased confidence and productivity. Lately, when I sit down to write there are often so many ideas, words, situations, and problems assaulting my mind that I cannot concentrate or focus. The problems and responsibilities of the day descend upon me at the very moment that I sit down, still my mind, and conjure my creativity and innovation to write. All of that chatter, noise, and chaos shows up in my writing, and I end up being unable to use it.

In Yoga, when we perform balancing poses there is so much to think about as we attempt the pose: are our feet straight ahead, toes spread, weight evenly distributed on the foot, are our hips squared, shoulders down, tail bone tucked in, chest lifted, arms, legs, and neck in proper position, if I straighten will I lose the balance. But Yoga teaches us to harness those thoughts into one fluid motion so that our only concern is where we are in the moment, thoughts on nothing but the pose and breathing. That is the main purpose of the balancing poses, to make us focus, be present in the moment, and to control our thoughts.

One day after a very successful practice with balancing poses, I thought, what if I could bottle up this focus & concentration that I get from Yoga and let it loose while I write. And then I realized later on, as I sat in front of my computer rewriting, that I can apply that discipline to writing and other projects too. If I grab one idea, word, thought, or a single character, I can streamline my thoughts and channel them to one pertinent space.

It helped! Now, I can concentrate on one character at a time and make each scene applicable to one character, even if there are multiple characters involved. For my creative non-fiction, I take one phrase, word, or scripture, and I narrow my thoughts to one entity. If thoughts of other items arrive, I invoke  the discipline that Yoga teaches me. I simply bring my focus back to my breathing and that one item I am nurturing, which helps me to avoid distraction and continue to completion with my original thought.

 There are so many things that I learn in Yoga that I can apply to a multitude of areas in my life. I’m more disciplined, in tune, and aware. I’m learning to integrate the principles of my Yoga practice into my everyday life. And it is helping tremendously.

Namaste & Happy Writing
Trina

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

Writing and Yoga

author03Writing and Yoga

It takes courage, discipline, and perseverance to write. As I write, there is a duplicitous, imaginary critic peering over my shoulder chastising me for using the wrong grammar, not rewriting immediately, and any number of other things. We are encouraged to block out that inner critic, but to no avail. That inner critic hates that I stifle it and summon it whimsically.

Yesterday, I read an article by  Jen Grisanti entitled Writing and Yoga. When I first read this article I was floored because I am a Yoga fanatic. After I thought about it, since I’ve been practicing and teaching Yoga, I haven’t fought with my inner critic. I don’t beat the critic away with a stick to concentrate. That critic is tucked away until I summon it. And I cannot pinpoint the day that I took control over my inner critic instead of my inner critic controlling me, but I know that Yoga was an accomplice.

Tree Pose

Yoga helps me in so many ways that I cannot list them all. Yoga and writing go hand-in-hand. When I practice Yoga, I focus, concentrate, and center. Yoga is a mental exercise in self and body awareness and balance. Through breathing (prayana), the body and mind connect, and this state-of-mind does not go away after my practice is complete. Sun Salutations stimulate and warm the body (among other things) and balancing poses, such as Eagle, Warrior III, and Tree Poses, help you to balance, focus, and be in the moment. Balance is very important in Yoga. For every pose (asana) there is a counter pose. If you do something on the right, you must do it on the left too. Focusing and balancing help me to grab one thought at a time, deal with it, and move on to the next thought. I reach inside of myself and literally pull my creativity out, mentally, as I am meditating after Yoga.

So when I sit down to write, my creativity is stimulated, alive, and vibrant,100_2534 (2) coaxing confidence. I can focus on one thought at a time, I’m peaceful and calm, and my mind is lucid. I accept where I am at the moment and embrace my limitations. I am patient with myself. This focusing, balance, acceptance, and patience blankets me as I sit at my keyboard and escape into my plot, allowing my characters to live and breath through my fingers.

If you are a writer, embracing Yoga can enhance your  creativity and writing as well as your mental, physical, and emotional dexterity. I would love a Yoga/Writer retreat.

Namaste & Happy Writing,
Trina

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram