Yoga

Yoga Basics Part 4: Alignment

AlignmentisKeyThere are Yoga poses that seduce, challenge, and humiliate you. Some poses will make you smile with satisfaction, while others illicit a grunt of frustration. What ever the pose, and regardless of how it makes you feel, the most important aspect of a Yoga pose is alignment.

Alignment is the combination of technical intricacies of the pose that enable you to properly position yourself into the pose without causing injury. While it might take some time for your pose to echo your teacher’s example, a picture you see a lot, or the fitness lady on the DVD, if your alignment is correct, then with practice, your body will eventually ease into the pose. Of course unless you have injuries that prevent it.

You want to make sure that every part of your body is correctly positioned. Let’s talk about some actual poses as examples.

When you get into position, mentally start at your toes and move up to the top of your head to ensure that you are properly aligned.

Alignment Checklist for Downward Facing Dog

When you get into the Downward Facing Dog position, mentally check that you are:

  • Pressing the heels of your feet towards the ground. It is the act of pressing that is important, and not that your heels actually make it to the mat.
  • Pressing your tailbone up towards the ceiling
  • Pressing your chest towards your thighs.

Also ensure that your:

  • Arms are straight
  • Head is hanging down
  • Neck is loose and not lifted
  • Gazing between your knees
  • Palms are pressed into the mat with your weight on your palm, thumb and first finger to prevent injury to your wrist
  • Fingers are spread wide

These are the technical intricacies of Downward Facing Dog that put you into proper alignment. These alignment principles prevent you from straining your neck, arching your back, and injuring your wrist. They help to lengthen and stretch your hamstring and calf muscles, strengthen your arm muscles, and loosen and strengthen your shoulder muscles.

Take your mind through that mental checklist every time you do Downward Facing Dog. Your pose might not look the way you want it to just yet, but 95% of the battle is getting the alignment correct; the rest is just practice.

Alignment Checklist for Camel Pose

When you get into Camel position, mentally check tha you are:

  • On your knees
  • Pressing your hips forward
  • Pressing your shoulders down and back
  • Lifting your face towards the ceiling
  • Not recklessly hanging your head back
  • Contracting your buttock muscles
  • Opening your chest
  • Putting your hands either on the heels of your feet or in the small of your back

When most people see Camel , they immediately try to reach their arms to their heels, even if it means that they are not up on their knees as they should be. Touching your feet is not the most important thing of the pose. The most important thing about Camel pose is that you are pressing your hips forward while you are on your knees. This stretches and opens your hips, rib cage, ab muscles, shoulders, and chest.

Yoga is a life long investment into your physical, mental, and emotional prosperity and wellness. Take your time to learn the basics, so that you maximize the results. Don’t rush through the Yoga moves. Take your time to breath, listen to your body, and focus on how you feel in each pose. Pay careful attention to the technical instructions of the pose, and do a mental check as you ease into the pose. Alignment is more important than the aesthetics of the position.

*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
www.leisurelivingblog.com

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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

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Yoga Basics Part 2: Listen to Your Body

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

Listen2URBodyWhen I have a conversation with someone who has yet to experience Yoga, their first words are about the Yoga poses. They explain that they are not flexible enough to do Yoga. Then I have to explain that (1) you practice Yoga in order to develop flexibility and (2) there is more to Yoga than just the poses. That last statement garners a puzzled look from the person. “What could be more important than the poses?” they ask.

In Part 1, we learned that Pranayama (Breathing) is the most important aspect of Yoga, and the first thing you should learn.  In this post, we discuss the second most important aspect of Yoga.

The Second Most Important Aspect of Yoga

In Yoga classes, the teachers are there to lead and teach you; however, it is up to you how far, deep, and long you go. The second most important thing to remember about Yoga is that you LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Yoga is not a competitive sport. There are so many different body types that everything doesn’t work for everyone. That is why, Yoga is solitary and you are not competing with anyone else. You cannot base what you can and cannot do on the other participants of the class, your teacher, or who you see on television.

Your body tells you what you can and cannot do. Your duty is to listen to your body, and stop when your body says STOP. Yoga teaches you to be patient with yourself and your body, to be aware of where you and your body, and to accept you and your body at this moment. Consistent Yoga practice makes your more flexible, more aware, and it soon gets easier to get into poses that were harder for you.

Respect Your Body

Don’t be rude and crude with your body. Be patient and listen. Your limbs should not be shaking. You should not be in excruciating pain. You must develop a healthy balance between knowing when to stop and knowing when you can delicately push yourself further. Your body needs more than just to mimic the poses that you see. The benefits of Yoga are working internally even when your external doesn’t look how you want it to look or do what you want it to do. What you see on the outside is the end result. Inside your organs are getting massaged, your immune system is getting stronger, your respiratory system is more robust, your heart is heartier, your spine is more durable, and you are gaining more energy.

Conclusion

Listen to, be in tune to, and respect your body. Know your limitations. Be patient with your body. Give yourself time to become comfortable. Celebrate every change, internal and external. Don’t focus on what you cannot do; instead, encourage yourself.  Be consistent in your practice and keep learning. Always let your teacher know before class if you have any injuries or ailments. Adhere to your body…it’s the only one that you have.

Yoga Basics: Part 1

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

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Yoga Basics Part 1: Breathing

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

YogaBreathing01The Most Important Aspect of Yoga

My first Yoga practice was the most beneficial practice that I’ve had. My instructor gave us a lesson on the most important things to know about Yoga. And it wasn’t the poses or the history of this ancient practice.  “The most important thing about Yoga”, she said in a calm, soothing voice, “is breath, or pranayama. You must remember to breath.” My eyes flew open, searching my instructors face to see if she was joking. She wasn’t.

Its Importance

Yoga unites your mind with your body through breath. In Yoga, you inhale (pulling in energy and nourishment) and exhale (dispensing toxins and tension) through your nose, deep and slow, which distributes circulation through out your body without excess strain on the heart. This deep breathing enhances your Cardiovascular System. Each Yoga movement is accompanied by an inhale or an exhale. When you open or unfold your body, expand your chest, raise your arms or bend backwards, you inhale, for example Cow Pose. When you fold forward, hold your head down, move downward or lower your arms, you exhale, for example Cat Pose. Yoga without participating breath defeats the purpose of your Yoga practice and is useless. You link each movement to a breath. Prana is the Sanskrit word for breath. Frequent, short breaths make the heart work harder and prevents the lungs from fully expanding. You want to breath not just in your chest but also in your stomach. Your breathing should be smooth and flowing, not forced or jagged.

Types of Yoga Breathing

  1. Deep abdominal breathing
  2. Ujjayi breathing
  3. Quiet breathing

Deep Abdominal Breathing

Deep abdominal breathing occurs purposefully and is when you inhale, through your nose, deep from within your diaphragm and exhale completely, through your nose, using your abdominal muscles to extract all of the breath from your body, to completion. Your breaths are prolonged and deliberate.

Ujjayi Breathing

With Ujjayi breathing, you can hear a whispering noise as you exhale. A sound  comes from the back of your throat. This type of breathing warms the body quickly.

Quiet or Easy Breathing

Quiet or easy breathing is normal breathing in and out through the nose. It is effortless breathing. You don’t have to control this type of breathing.

Conclusion

It is important that you do not hold your breath during your Yoga practice. Holding your breath creates tension and blocks the flow of energy from your mind to the rest of your body. You must strive to have steady, mindful breathing and to link each inhale and exhale with movement. Pay attention to your breathing while you practice. Your teacher should tell you which movements you inhale and exhale on. More than attempting to mimic the pose, you must consciously breath. Proper breathing propels your practice to the next level and helps you to more easily get into each pose.

*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

Yoga Basics: Part 2                                                             Yoga Basics Part 3

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Yoga to Relieve Shoulder, Neck, and Upper Back Stress and Pain

HELPMy girlfriend sent me an urgent SOS message this weekend: HELP, my neck and shoulders are killing me. Weather you are stressed, overworked, tense, intense, or just uptight, you can get relief from neck pain & stiffness, aching, sore shoulders, arms, and upper back. Yoga is a great way to relax, center, focus, and prepare. Yoga is a great morning routine wo warm you up and throughout the day, you can also do simple poses that loosen and stretch your muscles and limbs.

I am a writer and editor, so all day long I sit at a computer typing and reading. If I sit tense, with my shoulders hunched, intensely concentrating, and deeply thinking, I get shoulder pain. When I type a lot, my arms get fatigued. Several times during the day, I do Yoga poses and breathing to eradicate the pain associated with stress and overuse. I encourage you to do these poses during the day to loosen up your muscles and reduce pain and strain.

Calming Yoga breathing and some specific poses can help to reduce the stress that you’ve accumulated in your body. Most of us carry our stress in our shoulders and neck. I’m going to give you a series of exercises to help you alleviate shoulder and neck stress. Some of these poses you can do while sitting at your desk and in other convenient locations.

Warming Up

EasySeatedPoseMy warm up routine includes stretching and soothing my neck muscles, shoulders, and spine. To start, get into a comfortable seated position. I sit cross-legged, but if that is not comfortable for you, arrange your sitting position for your comfort. Just make sure, that your base remains strong and steady on the mat. Sit up straight, lifting your rib cage out of your waist, straighten your spine, lift your head so that your nose is pointed straight ahead. It is important that your posture is lifted. Make sure that your shoulders are down and slightly back. During all of these poses, remember to inhale and exhale, matching your breath to each movement, keep your shoulders down, and tune in to what you are feeling in your body.

Calm, focused breathing

Still your mind and think only about your intentions in this session. You want to calm, soothe, and alleviate stress and the pain it brings. Breathe in and out through your nose (not your mouth). Take a deep breath in: slowly fill the chest with air, imagining that you are pulling in joy, love, peace, and light. Deeply and completely exhale the breath: you will actually use your abdominal muscles to push the breath out, imagining that you are expelling all toxins, stress, and tension. Keep taking those breaths until you feel yourself relax.

Neck Rolls

After about three to five minutes, add head movements to your breathing:

When you inhale, lift your face to the ceiling, and when you are ready to exhale, slowly put your chin to chest. Do this movement 3 times each way for a total of 6. Don’t rush.

100_2693 100_2694

On your last exhale, with your chin to your chest,  roll your head around until your right ear is100_2692 above your red shoulders (make sure your shoulders are down and not hunched up near your ear). You will feel a stretch in your neck and as your neck is stretching, extend your left hand out to your side with your fingers tinted on the mat. Take a couple of deep breaths, and then roll your head to the left side, so that your left ear is over your left shoulder. Note: As you roll your head from side to side, roll it in the front of your body with your chin to your chest. This movement is an exhale. You can alternate back and forth from each side.

When you are ready, do an entire slow neck roll, matching your breathing to your movement. Inhale when your face and head are up and exhale when your face and head are down.

Seated stretches (back & forward)

YogaBackkStretchWith your legs folded, put your right hand on your right knee and your left hand on your left knee. Pull your shoulders forward, round your back, pull your navel into your spine, as you sit back on your tailOpenChest bone. You should feel a deep stretch in your back and shoulders.  Counter this pose by putting your hands palms to the floor behind you, push your chest and rib cage out, and lift your face to the ceiling. Continue back and forth between the two poses 3 to 6 times.

 

 

100_2697In your seated position, bend forward with your chin to chest, heading towards the floor. Reach out of100_2698 your shoulders with your arms out in front of you and stretch. To get a stretch in your shoulders, clasp your hands behind you and lift them up as much as you can.  If it is too painful for you to get your arms up, alternately, sit up, bend your arms clasping your fingers together behind your head. Stick your chest and rib cage out while you simultaneously press your shoulders back. Your scalpulas are contracted towards each other.

 

100_2696Seated Side Stretch

Sit cross-legged. Lift your left arm up to the ceiling, reaching out of your waist, and then bend your torsosidestretchleft towards the right, bringing your arm over parallel to your ear. Your right arm should be on the floor supporting you. Gaze toward the ceiling. When you sit up, inhale, and when you bend to each side, exhale.

You can also do a side stretch with your fingers linked and your arms above your head. This move is going to help your shoulders and your oblique muscles of the side.

 

Seated Twist

YogaTwistSitting with your legs folded put your left hand on your right knee. Inhale, lifting your chest and rib cage, while you put your right hand behind you, and exhale as you turn to the right as far as you can and attempt to look over your right shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and back and your right arm straight. Don’t lean on the right arm, use it to push you up. You want to remain erect. Remember to breath. Do the same thing on the other side. Not only does this move help your shoulders, but it also massages your internal organs, helping digestion, and it massages and stretches your spine.

Poses that open and increase strength and flexibility in your shoulders

Poses that open, release, and stretch your shoulder and arm area:

Seated Eagle Pose

100_2688Eagle Pose is a balancing pose; however, we are modifying the pose. Sit down100_2689 cross-legged. Bend your arms so that your hands are in front of you. Close your arms with the elbows and palms toward each other. Cross your right arm over your left arm, and put your left hand in your right hand. Take a couple of deep breaths and relax into the pose. Don’t force it. Eagle ArmsYou should feel a good stretch in your shoulders.

  

  

  

  

Cow Face Arms

CowArmThe positioning of the arms in the Cow Face position opens, stretches,cowposefront and relieves the shoulders. Only go as far as your body tells you to go, and be mindful of how your body feels in the pose. You can use a towel or band to help if you cannot get your fingers interlocked. Don’t push it. If you practice often, the pose will get easier to get into because your body will become more flexible.

 

Thread the Needle

ThreadNeedleThreading the Needle stretches and opens your shoulders. Get on yourThreadNeedle01 hands and knees. Take your right arm and curve it through the opening made by your straightened left arm and your body.

Take the right arm through until you are laying on the side of your face.

  

Cat/Cow

cowOn your hands and knees, arc your back up and tuck your tail bonecat under. Push your back up as much as possible. This is Cat. You should feel a stretch across the top of your back and shoulders and the middle of your back. For Cow, drop your stomach, stick your tail bone up, and lift your face. When you are in Cat, exhale. When you are in Cow, inhale.

  

camelCamel Pose

Camel Pose is a backbend that stretches the chest, abdomen, and quadriceps. It also improves spinal flexibility. Click here for detailed instructions about Camel Pose.

 

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Applying Yoga Principles to Daily Living

by Trina Love Abram

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

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Beat the Competition

by Trina Love Abram

GroupYogaIn Yoga, there is no competitor but you. It may take you a while to realize it, but eventually you will. It took me about six months to realize that I wasn’t competing with my fellow yogis. Many of us have competitive spirits, and there is nothing wrong with that.  That spirit has its place. It accomplishes its goal. But in Yoga, your only competitor is yourself.

Yoga is a mental exercise with physical and health benefits. Yoga teaches us to focus, to look within, to balance, and to listen. What are we listening for? Who are we listening to? We are listening to our bodies. We are listening for clues within that lead us to self-awareness and self-acceptance. When you first start Yoga, you won’t be able to bend as far as you want or to echo the poses perfectly. It takes practice, patience, and determination to listen to your body, stop when it tells you to stop, and accept your present limitations.

Every person that I speak to in Yoga class is annoyed with themselves for not being able to do something…whether it is balancingGroupYoga01 properly, properly aligning in Triangle, lunging deep enough in warrior, properly lifting in Bridge, having the stamina to get through Sun Salutations, or having strength to properly Plow. We see with our eyes, mimic with our minds, but our body needs patience.

I am a competitive person. I want everything perfect. I want to ace what ever I attempt. I hit a brick wall when I started my Yoga practice. My biggest problem is my legs. My hamstrings are tight…always, and my inner thigh muscles don’t lengthen enough. My legs shake when I stretch them too much, and that pisses me off because I see what the pose is, desire to properly get into the pose, and study the pose for perfection; however, my body has the ultimate say so in the end.

I implore you to change your thinking. Drop the competitive spirit while you are practicing Yoga. Embrace where you are at every moment in your practice. Accept your body’s limitations at the moment, and practice to get better. Invoke patience with your body. Our minds are bountiful. Our bodies are flesh. Yoga connects the mind and the body through breathing. When you reach that point where you are fine with what your body can currently do, you will accept that you can achieve what your mind sees. You will focus on what is important, which IS NOT how the person next to you is progressing.

Be in the moment. Accept where you are now, and keep at it, so that you can get to where you want to be. Also, remember that we all have different body types. Your body in the proper pose, may not look like the next persons’. Healthily compete with yourself, but first, realize where you are now, and be at peace with it.

MeditateI practice Yoga every day, and the positive changes in my body and mind elate me. It wasn’t until I bound my mind with my body through my breath and accepted and appreciated my body that I progressed into the poses and into the peace and benefits that each pose possesses.

Namaste,
Trina

 

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Writing and Yoga

author03It takes courage, discipline, and perseverence 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.

Warrior III

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

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Yoga: Some Triangles A Day Help Send Love Handles Away

by Trina Love Abram

At some point in our lives we experience the horror of realizing that the middle of our body grew appendages that we loathingly call Love Handles. It’s actually a layer of fat that accumulates around our midsection, specifically residing on our sides over the abdominal external oblique muscle. WhenI noticed that I could pinch more than an inch, I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do about them, so I ignored them…that is until I started Yoga. You cannot spot reduce, and plan to loose weight strictly or mainly on your sides. So how did I reduce these pesky handles?

Triangle Pose

My favorite Yoga pose is called Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana. It is an elegantly powerful pose that works the abdominal external oblique muscles, effectively lengthening and shaving them. Triangle Pose also strengthens your back, opens your chest and your hip joints, strengthens and lengthens your inner thigh muscles, strengthens your calves, and engages the abdominal muscles to aid in digestion. The twisting and extending that is involved also massages the spinal nerves. In Triangle, you feel balanced, energized, and focused. You are stable, secure, and powerful.

The root word trikona, means “three angle or triangle” and asana means posture in Sanskrit. Triangle Pose simultaneously energizes and relaxes you, alleviating stress. The Yoga poses all have their specialties as far as sculpting your body, encouraging you to focus and concentrate internally instead of externally, massaging and supporting certain internal organs, and reducing pain. For the Triangle Pose to be effective, you MUST do the pose correctly. You must concern yourself with proper alignment and placement of your limbs. The line of the torso from the side of your waist to the armpit must be flat, and not rounded, toward the ceiling. It is the contraction of the abdominal external oblique muscles that work to strengthen and tone your sides.

What most people don’t realize is that the back, stomach, and butt muscles work together, assisting one another. As I emphasized in Balance in Your Yoga Practice, you cannot spot reduce and just target your abdominal muscles. You must also strengthen your back and glut muscles to achieve balance.

Foundation of the Pose

The foundation of this pose is your stance. Your legs are the base and must be properly positioned and far enough apart to

Triangle Pose

support you. To figure out the proper distance that you legs should be a part: Stand lengthwise on your mat with your feet parallel and about four feet apart. “Turn your right foot out so it faces the top of your mat and align your front heel with your back heel. Then turn your back foot in about 15 to 20 degrees. Next, bend your front knee until it is directly over your heel and glance down at your front thigh; it should be nearly parallel to the floor. “

“Most beginners start with a stride that is too short, so you may need to separate your feet farther. Keeping your front knee directly over your heel, slowly inch your left foot backward. Then re-straighten your front leg and look at the distance between your feet. This is it: your unique stride for Trikonasana. If your legs and pelvis are less flexible and you can’t bring your front thigh parallel to the floor without distorting your feet or straining your legs, knees, or lower back, take a shorter stride.”

I advise you to first practice Triangle up against the wall. Leave your top hand on your hip, your lower hand on your shin. Bend at the hips instead of at the waist. This gives you the proper alignment of your hips pressed forward, your shoulder rotated up, and your chest open and lifted to the ceiling along with your head and your gaze. The wall acts as a buffer.

*To perform Triangle Pose:

  1. Lift your arms to shoulder height into a T position.
  2. Lift your chest and torso up, keeping your shoulders down and back.
  3. Step your feet straight out to each side so that your toes are parallel with the tips of your fingers. It is essential that your stance is far enough apart to support you. This is your base.
  4. Turn both of your feet forward, so that they are parallel to one another and pointed directly to the front, as your torso should be.
  5. Lift and spread your toes wide, and then place them back on the mat.
  6. Leaving the left foot pointed straight ahead, turn your your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
  7. Extend your torso to the right, and then continue bend to the right from your hip until your right arm is comfortable either above your knee, on your shin, on your ankle, or on the mat. Simultaneously, lift your left arm straight to the ceiling. Imagine that your arms are making a vertical T (in line with the tops of your shoulders).
  8. Press your hips forward, tuck your tailbone under, and rotate your left shoulder towards the ceiling. Do not stick your butt or tail bone out to achieve the position. You are defeating the purpose.
  9. Keep both sides of your waist as even as possible.
  10. Twist your chest up, effectively opening the chest and providing more flexibility in the oblique muscles.
  11. Keep your gaze straight ahead or gaze softly towards your left thumb.
  12. Inhale and exhale to cause your rib cage to move. As the weight of the rib cage shifts during breathing, you are challenged to maintain the pose in its proper form. Triangle also benefits your posture because the dynamics of the position challenge your balance and your coordination.
  13. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back (left) heel into the floor and pulling the right arm downward. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

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

Namaste,
Trina

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Sun Salutations Part 2

By Trina Love Abram

 Lastweek in Sun Salutations Part 1, I gave you a Sun Salutation series that contained base Yoga Poses. There are a variety of ways that you can customize Sun Salutation, and this week, I’m giving you a harder variation.

Sun Salutation is a Salute to the Sun. We are advised to perform this vinyasa just as the sun is rising. The Sun Salutation series is an invigorating, body warming, flow of poses that improve strength and flexibility. Do Sun Salutations right after you warm up to prepare your body for the remaining poses in your Yoga practice. The base poses in the series are: Mountain Pose, Forward Fold, Plank, Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Upward Facing Dog, and Downward Facing Dog. In Sun Salutations Part 1, we added a lunge to the base poses. The lunge is either a low lunge (gentler Yoga), which occurs with one knee on the mat, or it can be a high lunge with your knee off of the mat.

Today, we add Warrior I Pose and Chair Pose to our Sun Salutation series.

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Warrior I

Warrior I is a powerful pose that strengthens the thighs and the calves and stretches and opens the back muscles, the chest, and the shoulders. It builds, shapes, and tones the entire lower body. It tones the abdominal section and helps to prevent, reduce, and eliminate back pain. Because we are moving the entire upper body, Warrior I increases the respiratory system’s capacity. It can reduce fat around the hips and tone the ankles and knees.

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Injuries can occur if you do not  have a licensed instructor present when you do these poses, especially for the first time. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. Remember to always listen to your body. Yoga isn’t about straining or pain. Also, match your breath with the poses to get the maximum effect.

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

Chair Pose works the muscles of the thighs and reduces flat feet. It also strengthens the spine, ankles, and calves. When correctly in this pose, you stretch your shoulders and chest. Chair pose also stimulates the abdominal organs.

 To do Sun Salutation with Chair & Warrior Poses:

  1. Stand in Mountain Pose: Legs strong, spine straight, tail bone tucked,
    torso lifted, hands to your side, regal head.

    Mountain

    Mountain

  2. Inhale into Chair Pose: Bend your knees and stick your tail out as if you are sitting in a chair, attempting to make your thighs parallel with the floor. Lift your chest and torso. Make sure that your knees do not pass your toes. Most of your weight is on the heels of your feet. Engage your abdominal muscles to assist your thighs.
  3. Exhale into Forward Fold Pose: Lead with your chest as you fold toward the mat, as you straighten your legs, and sweep your arms down in an arc to rest on the back of your calves. Gaze at your toes. 
    Plank Pose

    Plank Pose

     

  4. Inhale and then Exhale into Plank Pose: Jump or step your feet back to stretch your body out. Your feet are tucked under, abdominal and glutal muscles are contracted, and arms straight and strong. Alternately, you can stay on your knees.
  5. Lower into Four-Limbed Staff Pose: As if doing a push up, lower down to the map keeping your elbows close into your sides, and hover just above the mat. 
  6. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog: Straighten your arms, and using teh strength of your arms, pull your chest forward and up. Nothing on your body touches the mat except your palms and the front side of your feet. Press your pelvis to the map without touching the mat. Keep your legs active, and tuck your tailbone under. Keep your shoulders down and back away from your ears. Look slightly upward.   
  7. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog: Tuck your toes under, push your tailbone up and back. Press your chest toward your  thighs, hang your head between strong arms, and gaze between your knees. 
    4 Limbed Staff

    4-limb staff

     

  8. Inhale and pull your right foot up between your arms into Warrior I: Pivot your left foot at a slight angle or lift on the ball of your left foot (which ever is comfortable). Lunge forward on your right leg, your knee must not go past your toes (if it does, pull your right foot up). Your eventual goal is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. After you are balanced, pull your arms up towards the ceiling, lifting your ribcage away from your pelvis, shoulders down and back. Lift your chest. Look striaght ahead. Feel powerful.
  9. Exhale back into Plank Pose: Place your hands on either side of your right foot, and pull the right foot back into Plank Pose.  
  10. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog. 
    Upward Facing Dog

    Up Dog

     

  11. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
  12. Inhale and pull your left foot up between your arms into Warrior I:
    Pivot your right foot at a slight angle or lift on the ball of your right foot (which ever is comfortable). Lunge forward on your left leg, your knee must not go past your toes (if it does, pull your right foot up). Your eventual goal is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. After you are balanced, pull your arms up towards the ceiling, lifting your ribcage away from your pelvis, shoulders down and back. Lift your chest. Look striaght ahead. Feel powerful.
  13. Exhale into Plank Pose.
  14. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog.  
  15. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog. 
    Down Dog

    Down Dog

     

  16. Inhale and walk or jump your feet to the front of the mat just behind your hands. Your knees can be slightly bent.
  17. Exhale into Chair Pose.
  18. Inhale into Mountain Pose.

Namaste,
Trina

 

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Writing and Yoga

author03When I first read this article I was floored because I am an avid writer and fanatic yogi. Yoga helps me in so many ways that it’s hard to list them all. Yoga and writing go hand-in-hand. While I’m doing my Yoga practice, I am focusing, concentrating, and centering, and this state-of-mind does not go away after my practice is complete. So when I sit down to write, my thoughts are clear, I can focus on one thought at a time, and I’m peaceful and calm. If you are a writer, embracing Yoga can only enhance your  creativity and writing. I’m going to be looking for a Yoga/Writer retreat. Jen, the author of the following article, had one last weekend.

Writing and Yoga

By Jen Grisanti

Do these two practices mix? I believe that they do. As a Career Strategist for Writers and a Story Consultant, my belief is that the stronger you are inside and the more access you have to your story, the stronger you are on the page. Writers who do the emotional and spiritual work are often stronger in their creative endeavors. Of course, there is a stereotype that the best writers have addictions to drugs and alcohol. After 17 years of working in the entertainment business, I have found the opposite to be true. The writers I enjoyed working with the most and who showed the strongest talent on the page lived normal lives and were committed to having healthy lifestyles. Writing takes courage. Clarity is an important ingredient in being able to feel free to express yourself. If you do theexercise emotional work that is needed to process the events in your life, expression becomes more accessible and strengthens your value on the page.

What is the best way to gain clarity? Yoga is one way to do this work. Doing yoga allows you to go inside yourself and be an observer of your emotions. Just as with writing, with yoga you have your days when you’re completely on and feel like you can do anything and you have your days when your balance is all off. It reflects what life is. The beauty of yoga is that the more that you do it, the better you get. This is the same with writing. The more scripts you write, the deeper you go with your craft. As you become more self aware, your confidence grows and your connection to your emotions surfaces, giving you more to draw from in your writing.

SidePlankIn one of my favorite movies, The Lives of Others, they explore the idea of loyalty in depth. Do we owe more loyalty to our significant other or to ourself? Is our love for what we do more important than the love we feel for each other? Another movie that goes to powerful emotional levels is Frost/Nixon. The film questions how we can recover when we’ve fallen from the pedestal. How do you get success back? I applaud both movies for not just exploring the surface of life but for fleshing out and dissecting the choices that we make and the repercussions that follow. It is the willingness to explore story without fear that truly connects the audience.

I encourage writers to do yoga or any other routine that gives them the time and the means to connect with their self.

As a way to support her belief, Jen had her first Writer/Yoga Retreat and one day Storywise Seminar in Oahu August 18th – 23. Although the dates passed, you can still check out her podcasts and interviews with authors at the site http://www.jengrisanticonsultancy.com, and look under Events and Seminars.

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SunSalGrupSun Salutations Part 1

This week, I want to give you a variety of Sun Salutation vinyasas. You can adapt Sun Salutations to suit your mood, energy level, or available time, and let your practice shine. This first series is from Richard Rosen at Yoga Journal.Sun Salutation is a series of postures that warms, strengthens, and aligns the entire body. It’s serves as an all-purpose yoga tool, kind of like a hammer that’s also a saw and a screwdriver, if you can imagine such a thing.

This sequence might be considered the classic one, but there are so many variations that many modern schools would dispute this. You can alter this particular Sun Salutation by playing with its pace. If you move through the sequence rapidly (by transitioning into the next pose each time you inhale or exhale), you’ll warm up fairly quickly. Start with 5 or 6 repetitions and gradually build to 12 or more or set a timer starting with 3 minutes and gradually increase to 10 or more.

Alternately, try moving slowly and deliberately, and you’ll feel how the sequence becomes a sort of moving meditation. As you practice this way, center your awareness at some point in your body (such as your third eye or your heart) and challenge yourself to keep focusing there for the duration of the practice.

Moving quickly is more stimulating, while moving slowly is more calming. Whichever way you do it, the sequence can serve as either a self-contained minipractice on days when your practice time is short or a warm-up for a longer session.

Before You Begin

WARM UP Stand in Mountain Pose with your palms pressed together in Salutation Seal. Focus for a few minutes on the inner sun at your heart, which is the microcosmic equivalent of the outer sun at the heart of our solar system. Your inner sun represents the light of consciousness, without which nothing would exist—just as our physical world wouldn’t exist without the sun. This inner sun is often compared with the embodied Self, the jivatman or “liberated being.” You might dedicate your practice to this light.

If Sun Salutations are your warm-up for a general practice, move slowly and consciously, gradually building heat. If Sun Salutations are your whole practice, do a 2- to 5-minute Downward Dog as a warm-up.

1. Mountain Pose:  Stand with your feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Stretch your arms (but not rigidly) down alongside your torso, palms turned out, shoulders released.
2. Upward Salute:  Inhale and sweep your arms overhead in wide arcs. If your shoulders are tight, keep your hands apart and gaze straight ahead. Otherwise, bring your palms together, drop your head back, and gaze up at your thumbs.
3. Standing Forward Bend:   Exhaling, release your arms in wide arcs as you fold forward. Bend your knees if you feel pressure on your lower back and support your hands on blocks if they don’t reach the floor. Release your neck so that your head hangs heavily from your upper spine. 
4. Half Standing Forward Bend:  Inhale and push your fingertips down into the floor, straighten your elbows, then lift your front torso away from your thighs. Lengthen the front of your torso as you arch evenly along the entire length of your spine.
5. High Lunge:  Exhale and step your right foot back into a lunge. Center your left knee over the heel so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor, and bring your left thigh parallel to the floor. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your right thigh up against the resistance. Inhale, reach back through your right heel. Lengthen the torso along the front of the left thigh. Look forward without strain.
6. Downward-Facing Dog Pose:  Exhale and step your left foot to Down Dog. Spread your palms and soles. Press the front of your thighs back as you press your inner hands firmly against the floor. Imagine that your torso is being stretched like a rubber band between the arms and legs.
7. Plank Pose:  Inhale and bring your torso forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Your arms will be perpendicular to the floor. Try not to let your upper back collapse between the shoulder blades: press your outer arms inward, and then—against this resistance—spread your shoulder blades apart. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your thighs up.
8. Four-Limbed Staff Pose:  Exhale as you bend your elbows and lower down to Chaturanga with your torso and legs parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders lifted up, away from the floor, and down, away from your ears. Lift the thighs away from the floor, lengthen your tailbone toward your heels, and draw the lower ribs away from the floor to avoid collapsing your lower back. Look down at the floor or slightly forward. If you can’t maintain your alignment, place your knees on the floor until you have built more strength.
9. Upward-Facing Dog Pose:Inhale, straighten your arms, and sweep your chest forward into Up Dog. Keep your legs active, firm your tailbone toward your heels, and press your front thighs upward. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead or look slightly upward.
10. Exhale back to Down Dog:  To finish the Sun Salutation, step the right foot forward into a Lunge, then inhale into Ardha Uttanasana and exhale into Uttanasana. Inhale into Urdhva Hastasana and exhale to Tadasana. Observe your body and breath. 
After You Finish

REST DEEPLY End by devoting at least 20 to 25 percent of your total practice time to Corpse Pose.

By Richard Rosen
www.yogajournal.com

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Calorie burn varies from style to style. Find out which yoga flavor fits into your weight-loss plan

Amanda Junker
Womens Health Magazine

Most traditional forms of yoga burn just a modest 200 calories or so per hour. Before you drop-kick your mat in disgust, consider intensifying your workout to lose those last few pounds. Mix in some cardio sessions or try a more intense yoga class. Below, see how various yoga styles measure up in terms of caloric burn. All numbers are estimates, based on a 140-pound woman.

Hatha yoga
The routine:Hatha yoga” traditionally refers to any physical practice of yoga. That is to say that Bikram, Iyengar,yoga-calorie-burns and kundalini are all various styles of hatha yoga. However, classes in the U.S. described simply as “hatha yoga” usually refer to a gentle form of yoga that focuses on basic postures and breathing techniques.
The burn: 175 calories per hour
Same as: A slow walk

Power yoga
The routine: It’s an Americanized version of ashtanga yoga, similar to vinyasa.
The burn: 300 calories per hour
Same as: A brisk walk

Vinyasa yoga
The routine: More intense than hatha, the poses are linked together in a fast, flowing sequence.
The burn: 445 calories per hour
Same as: An hour of moderate bike riding

Bikram and hot yoga
The routine: Bikram classes are comprised of 26 postures, each performed twice, in a studio heated to over 100 degrees.
The burn: 636 calories per hour
Same as: An hour of jogging

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Yoga Class Dos and Don’ts

100_2436

 

Here are some ways to
get more out of the yoga
classes you attend.

 

Yogajournal.com

Do Don’t
DO arrive early. Getting to class about 10 minutes early can help you settle in and align your attitude with the purpose of the class. While you’re waiting you can practice a pose, do a few stretches, or just sit or lie quietly, breathe, and get centered. DON’T eat for two or three hours before class. If you practice yoga on a full stomach, you might experience cramps, nausea, or vomiting, especially in twists, deep forward bends, and inversions. Digesting food also takes energy that can make you lethargic.
DO let your teacher know about injuries or conditions that might affect your practice. If you are injured or tired, skip poses you can’t or shouldn’t do, or try a modified version. DON’T bring pagers or cell phones to class. Leave socializing and business outside the studio, so the peace of the practice is not disturbed.
DO create an intention. To help you focus, you might find it helpful to dedicate your practice to a certain intention. This might be to become more aware and understanding, more loving and compassionate, or healthier, stronger, and more skillful. Or it might be for the benefit of a friend, a cause—or even yourself. DON’T push it. Instead of trying to go as deeply or completely into a pose as others might be able to do, do what you can without straining or injuring yourself. You’ll go farther faster if you take a loving attitude toward yourself and work from where you are, not from where you think you should be.
DO be quiet. It’s great to share a class with people you know, but it can be distracting to yourself and others to have an extended or loud conversation. DON’T enter class late or leave early; it’s disruptive to others. 
DO bring a towel or your own mat if you sweat a lot, and arrive clean and free of scents that might distract or offend others.  DON’T hold your breath when you are doing your poses. It is important to breath in and out, and match your breath to your moves.
DO pick up and neatly put away any props you use.  DON’T take classes that you don’t know about. Talk to the teacher or receptionist about where you think you are in your practice and if the class will help or hinder you. If you are a beginner, it will be frustrating to you to take an intermediate or advanced class.
DO take time afterwards to think about what you did in class, so you can retain what you learned. Review the poses you practiced, and note any instructions that particularly made sense. Even if you remember just one thing from each class, you’ll soon have a lot of information that can deepen your own personal practice.  DON’T make fun of, belittle, or berate others in the class.

=====================================================================================

Some Like It Hot: The Benefits Hot Yoga

tiffanycampbellBy Tiffany Campbell
Yoga Instructor

 

“I don’t like to sweat” is the response from those who shun the idea of Hot Yoga. However, the benefits of hot yoga far out weight the concerns. Hot yoga increases muscle flexibility, repairs muscles, stimulates weight loss, and helps the heart work more efficiently. The heat is a wonderful form of therapy and has been since man created fire.

Sweat it Out
First and foremost sweating is good for the body. Your skin is one of your largest organs and sweating is one of the best ways to relieve toxins, which can be harmful and create problems within the body systems. Also, the body was designed to sweat. We have been so condition to the air conditioning that we eliminate one of our primary functions needed for not just healthy skin but also a healthy body and mind.

What’s hot?
Hot yoga is a form of yoga more formally known as Bikram Yoga after founder Bikram Choundrey. It is also one of the most popular forms of yoga. It is defined by 2 breathing techniques and 26 postures practiced in a room heated between 95-100 degrees in order to warm the body up from the inside out.

Why heat?
Heat is a great form of therapy. Even with today’s technology you will see in most major gyms a sauna, Jacuzzi, and steam rooms. There are hot patches you can place on your body that stay in place to offer direct heat to certain areas. It is no accident that where there is heat there is an opportunity to heal the body.

Our bodies maintain a certain heat level, which is regulated by the nervous system. In hot yoga we heat the body from the inside out and in turn increase our metabolic activity. When we are heated our body responds by increasing circulation. The heat is then transferred from each cell to the fluid between cells and delivered to the surface as sweat. This is called heat loss evaporation and is the body’s key to regulating internal heat.

How we benefit from this process is wonderful because the heat-loss process stimulates and cleanses on many levels. This passive form of exercise, sweating to cool the body down, strengthens the body’s systems. The increase in blood flow strengthens the heart allowing it to work more efficiently and when that happens you lower your blood pressure.

Hot Yoga detoxifies the body and offers other benefits. With increase in circulation the body’s vital organs and glands get to move toxins, including fat-soluble toxins, out more quickly for elimination. The heat stimulates fat loss by releasing these fat-soluble toxins. Your white blood cells production is increased which boosts your immune system. Heat also speeds up the healing of connective tissue injuries and increases your flexibility.

Heat Precautions
I have heard other yogis say they do not like the heat because of the possibility of severe dehydration. However, this concern arises because many of our students don’t properly hydrate for none heated classes. It is imperative that you keep the body hydrated for any form of exercise. However, if at anytime you feel overheated or dehydrated simply kneel down on the mat and drink some water. Attendees should never feel pressure to continue if overwhelmed. I say all the time in class that yoga is not a competition.

Let it Burn
Bikram and Hot yoga
The burn: 636 calories per hour
Same as: An hour of jogging

If you are interested in Hot Yoga join me @ Sweet Water Wellness Center every Thursday @ 6:15pm. You can find us online at www.sweetwaterwellness.com or email ilovemytemple@gmail.com
 

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Balance In Your Yoga Practice
by Trina

Tree PoseYoga 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.

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

 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), as shown in the following images.

 

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

 

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

*After Bridge Pose,  do 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, which is illustrated in the image to the right.

 
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.

Namaste!
Trina

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Welcome to the Yoga section of Leisure Living (08/02/09)

About a year ago, I walked into Aerobics Yoga & More off of Hwy 78 in the Publix Shopping complex in Lilburn. What met me was a beautiful women, smiling and emanating poise, confidence, peace, and pride. As she took me on a tour of her state of the art studio, I knew I wanted to experience the surreal peace that dripped from the air in that place.

Now, I am an aspiring Yoga teacher, and avid Yogi practitioner, and a big advocate of Yoga, which is not a physical activity. Yoga is an activity of the mind that uses breath to connect your mind with your body. Yoga practices encourage you to focus, be present in this moment, and to listen to your body and accept and appreciate who you are. The beauty of Yoga is that it exercises your mind, soul, spirit, and body.

If you let it, Yoga can transform your life, luring you into peace, self-acceptance, and motivation. The asanas (poses) can help high blood pressure, infertility, depression, sinusitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and much more. Yoga provides flexibility that you can use when you turn 80 years old.

Keep checking back here because each day I’ll introduce you to a new pose or vinyasa (series of poses) that can reduce stress and add to your life. I’ll also post articles about healthy eating, exercising, and maintaining a healthy mindset. So tune in periodically!

Namaste!
Trina

3 responses to “Yoga

  1. Paula Conyers Walker

    Hi, Trina! I love this site! I’ll bookmark it before I leave it. How did you become so wise, so young? I’ve been reading for about 30 minutes, and I feel so peaceful. I’ll visit often, and I’m definitely moving foward with Yoga. Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Writing and Yoga « The Writing Land

    • Thanks Paula! I’m glad you stopped by. AYM is the Yoga Studio that is near you. There is a studio in the City of Decatur but I think that might be farther.

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