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    "Tadasana: Tree Pose"

    Last updated 1 month ago

     

    Benefits:

    Here we are at the final posture of our standing series. Tree Pose is designed to stabilize the body to prepare for a brief, resting meditation before beginning our floor series. Being still and upright, while breathing consciously is at the heart of all meditation practices, and we see the form training for that in Tree Pose.

     

    Technique:

    Stand with your feet touching, side by side. Shift your body over your left leg, and lift your right leg, reaching to hold your right foot. Place your right foot as high up on the left thigh/hip crease as possible, ensuring an external rotation of the right leg/hip. Continue to hold the right foot in place using your left hand. Stand strong, supporting your balance with a firm left leg.

    Place your right hand in prayer position in the center of your chest. Draw in your belly, helping to lengthen your spine against gravity. Stand tall and steady.

    Continue to draw open your right hip by encouraging the right knee and thigh to lengthen out from the torso on a diagonal angle.

    Breathe here, fully engaged and energized in your stability and strength.

    Slowly release, placing your right foot back on the ground, shift your weight and begin the left side.

     

    The Goods:

    This pose solidifies our energy and prepares our bodies for a supine meditation in savasana. Tree pose helps to root our energy and bring our mental focus back from any distractions we have given ourselves to thus far in class. It is an opportunity to become present, to reset, and to stabilize our attention. It also helps to open the hip joints while lengthening the spine. Our hip girdle is notorious for energy reserves and deposits. Because of it’s potential to store, create, and release energy, it is so important to access the hips in this deeply therapeutic approach.  As the hips realign and re-energize, our back and spine sit more comfortably in their seat (the pelvis), and therefore, the entire nervous system feels the effects of this opening and awareness. 

    Eating Right, Even When Money is Tight!

    Last updated 1 month ago

    One of the most common misconceptions is that it’s expensive to eat healthy.  This isn’t necessarily true.  Eating well can fit within anyone’s budget.  It does, however, take some advance planning.  Try some of these top suggestions for healthful eating on a budget:

    Pre-Plan!

    • Explore your inner green thumb.  Cultivate some of your own fruits, vegetables or herbs.  Ask a garden center for tips on what grows best based on your location.
    • Avoid a ravenous appetite.  If you are over hungry at your meals, you end up over eating which results in overspending.  Keep nutrient dense snacks on hand so you don’t have to made a bad investment- both financially and calorically.

    While at the Supermarket-

    • Never shop on an empty stomach!  Enjoy a nutrient dense snack about 20-30 minutes before your shopping trip.  This will help signal the brain that your stomach is full and you will be less likely to purchase out of hunger.
    • Brose the aisles.  Most cost conscious and healthy foods are found by shopping the perimeters.
    • Choose a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season at that moment.  They will be the most abundant, most nutritious and least expensive.

    For Work and Play-

    • Always pack your lunch.  While it’s practical to eat out and still be healthy, packing your lunch is a sure bet for your wallet.  Always include at least one serving of vegetables and fruit!
    • Keep your desk stocked with nutrient dense snacks such as almonds, high fiber cereal or protein bars.

    In addition to these tips, when food shopping- toss these budget friendly, nutritious items in your cart:

    • Variety of in-season fruits and vegetables
    • Whole grain breads
    • Canned beans
    • Low fat Greek yogurt
    • Eggs
    • Nuts

    While it may take some planning, eating right on a budget is definitely feasible.  Keep these tips handy when planning for the week.  Not only will your waist thank you, but also your wallet!

     

    Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad

    Ingredients:

    4 cups kale, removed from stem and rinsed

    2 tsp. coconut oil

    1 cup cooked quinoa

    1 tbsp. tahini

    1 tbsp. soy sauce

    Lemon juice

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions:

    To prepare dressing- mix together tahini, soy sauce, and lemon juice in a small bowl or cup.

    Heat coconut oil in a pan on the stove.  Add kale and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until kale begins to wilt.  Add quinoa and stir until warm.

    Mix in dressing, than transfer to plates.  Top with avocado, sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

     

     

    Standing Separate Leg Stretching, Head to Knee Pose

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Benefits:

    Standing Separate Leg Stretching Head to Knee pose culminates our work to combine many of the benefits and challenges of our standing series practice. This pose, when done correctly, challenges the practitioner to balance while dropping the head below the heart, activate deep core strength to curl the forehead to knee, all the while stretching the limbs of the arms and legs from our center.

     

    Technique:

    Begin standing with your feet and legs together, arms down at your sides. Inhale your arms overhead sideways and bring your hands together, in prayer position over your head. Take a big step out to the side with your right foot (about 3 ft. distance). Shift on both heels to square yourself off to the front of the room.

    Root your feet into the ground, and twist your left hip forward a few inches until you feel your hips straight forward and squared off. Keep your arms long by your ears, stretched to the ceiling, with your hands still in prayer position. Use your belly to engage a full breath, stretching up to the ceiling to open and lengthen the spine. Moving from the strength of your abdomen, slowly start to curl down the front side of your body, reaching your hands to floor on either side of your right foot. Separate your hands and use your fingertips to help you balance. Keep your feet flat to the floor to help stretch the legs.

    Tuck your chin to your throat and begin the journey of trying to bring your forehead to touch your front knee (right leg knee). This is the most difficult part of the pose to master, but the most important to try to achieve…each and every practice.

    To make this task a little more attainable, you can bend your front leg knee to help shorten the gap between your forehead and knee. Keep an eye on your back hip to make sure your not losing the alignment. Remember, in the perfect posture, your two hips are in one line, one not higher than the other, while your forehead is on the knee. Keep trying to bring your head to knee, exhaling deeply to find the necessary core strength contraction.

    Slowly lengthen your arms again, bringing your hands back into prayer position. Keep your hips squared forward in alignment as you slowly start to uncurl your spine, bone by bone, and come up to stand. Slowly pivot all the way around so the left leg leads, and start the other side.

     

    The Goods:

    There are so many ‘goods’ to this pose! In full expression (which is when you apply full effort and focus), you are stimulation deep, therapeutic, detoxifying action within the vital cavity of the body. We have the potential to stretch the lungs and kidneys by rounding the back body so deeply in our attempt to bring the forehead to knee. By applying effort to the deep curl, we also contract and stimulate the liver, pancreas, stomach, and spleen. Bringing the chin to the throat helps to balance and regulate our thyroid gland, all the while we work our limbs and core muscles to balance our body’s weight and parts in this very challenging pose. Remember that in yoga, practice is practice. We are not seeking perfection, but we are seeking to make our efforts as perfect as possible. This pose, particularly, exemplifies that truth. Bring the effort to your practice, and your body, mind, and spirit will unfold in ways your never imagined possible. 

     

    "Trikonasana: Triangle Pose"

    Last updated 3 months ago

    Benefits:

    Trikonasana, or triangle pose, is often referred to as the “master posture” of the standing series. By design, this pose is meant to engage every muscle of the body while flushing and toning every organ of the body, thus being a ‘masterfully crafted’ yoga posture. Most importantly, this posture helps to facilitate a stronger working relationship between the heart and the lungs; the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, respectively.

     

    Technique:

    Begin with your feet together, side by side. Breathe your arms overhead and stretch up toward the ceiling. On your exhale, take a big step out with your right foot. Simultaneously, stretch your arms out to the side from the shoulders, parallel to the floor. Be sure you step wide enough…your feet should be almost as wide as your wingspan.

    Turn your right foot out to the right, so that your front (right) leg turns out, while your back leg (left) stays parallel. Keep your torso centered and stretching tall while you bend your right leg to a 90 degree angle. In perfect form, your 90 degree bend of the right leg should leave your knee directly in line with it’s supporting ankle.

    Support this deep stance by firmly pressing your feet into the ground. Fire up your leg muscles and hold your lower belly tight as you pivot your arms.

    Bring your right elbow to touch just inside of your right knee. Stretch your left arm up to the ceiling with focused energy. Your arms will eventually make a straight line, finger-to-finger, perpendicular to the ground.

    Turn your chin towards the left shoulder. Fix your gazing point to help focus your energy and hold the pose. Think of engaging your muscles more uniformly. Sit deeper, stretch farther. Breathe deeply as you lengthen your spine in its position.

    In your deepest stretch, challenge yourself to open your heart more. Assist this intention by moving the left shoulder back an inch and sweeping the right shoulder forward, allowing the heart to widen and shine.

    Change. Slowly reverse yourself back to the center, and begin the left side.

     

    The Goods:

    Triangle pose challenges us to bring forth our “warrior” energy. Reminiscent of a “squat,” the legs sustain our body’s weight as we strengthen our reach and extension through the upper body’s position. Essentially this “tug of war” between stability of experience and freedom of expression is at play in every yoga posture. In Triangle, however, our body can really sense these two, seemingly opposite dynamics, and is challenged to find and balance both within the same body, at the same time. It is in the call of this challenge that brings forth the master within all of us. 

    "Standing Separate Leg Forward Stretching"

    Last updated 4 months ago

    Benefits:

    Here we are at the first of 3 separate leg, stretching poses. After completing the balancing series, we have effectively and efficiently warmed the muscles of the legs for a deeper, more therapeutic approach in this series. While this pose does continue to stretch and tone the greater muscles of the legs, we also start to enter into mild hip and back stretching. Primed, warmed leg muscles allow us the entry.

     

    Technique:

    Begin by standing with your feet together. Breathe your arms overhead, allowing your hands/palms to touch in an overhead prayer position. Stretch up to the ceiling with a full inhale and take a big step out, simultaneously bringing your arm out to either side of your body like wings. Keep your arms straight, strong, and at shoulder height. Your step should almost be as wide as your wingspan to start (you can always adjust it later on in the pose).

    Take another deep breath and begin to hinge forward from your hip joint. Feel free to soften your knees as you fold, and as needed throughout the pose. Once down, place your hands/fingers to the floor in front of you and give your body a few extra breaths to get used to the deep hamstring stretch.

    Grab on to your heels with all 5 fingers. Take a nice hold on your heels and use your arm strength to help fold your body in towards your legs. Eventually your head and heart will drop in a direct line under your hips, leaving your arms holding this position with elbows at a 90-degree angle.

    Once your body is sandwiched in as close to your legs as possible, it’s time to start straightening the legs to access the deepest and safest stretch for our hamstrings, hips and low back.

    When attempting to straighten the legs, keep your body sandwiched in tight, neck neutral, chest open. Use your arms to hold this position, while you press your feet down and lift your hips high. The opposing movement from feet vs. hips IS what straightens the legs (eventually). Keep your thigh muscles engaged and only straighten as much as you can keep an even, smooth breath. Remember no pose is worth anything is you lose the breathing.

    Slowly release the heels, reaching your arms back out like wings. Soften your knees, engage your abdomen and return to a standing position.

     

    The Goods:

    Standing Separate Leg Forward Stretching can help alleviate backaches, respiratory challenges, and even depression. Whenever we place our head and hearts below our pelvis, we start redirecting blood flow through the circulatory system. This allows gravitational pull and pressure to be lifted off the low back so the energy from the hips, pelvis, and back can begin to flow effortlessly. This effortless flow helps to rejuvenate intervertebral discs while reducing pelvic inflammation and hip pain. Ironically, opening up the hamstrings in a deep forward fold, actually funnels most of it’s benefits toward low back and hip health. Flushing the body’s blood in an “upside down” posture can also stimulate the brain stem, which helps to release “happy hormones.” So, those of you with lower back pain…focus on opening up your hamstrings! And those of you who may experience “the blues” every now and again, get into going upside down! There’s a reason we did these things naturally as happy, young children.

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