Last updated 3 months ago
Here we are, beginning the floor series! Wind-removing pose benefits the digestive tract, hence the tongue and cheek translation “wind-removing pose.” Yup, you guessed it! This pose helps to clear blockages and/or stagnant energy in and around the ascending, descending, and transverse sections of the colon. This has many therapeutic and energetic benefits for both mind and body.
Lie on your back and bring your two legs together as one to start from alignment. Bend your right knee into your chest, interlace all 10 fingers and hold your leg below the knee (on top of the leg/shin). Begin to pull the right knee and leg into the right side of your abdomen and chest. Attempt to reach your right knee to your right shoulder. Be sure to keep both shoulders on the mat and avoid rolling to one side or another. You may feel a little pressure in your hip joint as your press and flex deeply into this important joint. Continue to energize the rest of your body by stretching your opposite leg long from the body, helping to stabilize your pelvis and upper body in the stretch. Breathe deeply during this stretch. Hold for 20 seconds, and then switch sides.
After stretching each side, individually, bring both legs into a deep bend against the chest. Wrap your arms around the knees, giving yourself a big bear hug. Try your best to grab on to opposite elbows. If you can’t grab your elbows, grab as high as you can to maintain a deep squeeze of your thighs against your belly. Keep your head on the floor, chin tucked slightly to lengthen the spine while the thighs press into the abdomen. Slowly release.
As stated above, this pose helps to clear blockages and enhance energy in the digestive tract. When we bend the right knee in, we are attempting to stimulate the ascending colon. When we bend the left knee in, we target the descending colon, and finally, with both knees in, we bring the focus to the transverse, or connecting part of the colon. This pose is so important on many levels, but as far as the internal body is concerned, the digestive tract is responsible for housing up to 70% of the body’s energy. When we are sluggish in our digestion, we feel sluggish in our lives. When we have healthy-moving , digestive energy, we feel light and energized in our lives. Ontop of this, our immune system sits around our colon, so the less inflamed and stagnant we are in our digestion, the more our immune system can function optimally, keeping up happy and healthy and free of illness. And last but certainly not least, from a philosophical perspective, getting in touch and “cleaning shop” in our gut can help to give rise to an increase in “gut instincts” as intuition develops.
Last updated 4 months ago
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.
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.
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.
Last updated 5 months 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:
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
Low fat Greek yogurt
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
4 cups kale, removed from stem and rinsed
2 tsp. coconut oil
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tbsp. tahini
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
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!
Last updated 5 months ago
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.
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.
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.
Last updated 6 months ago
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.
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.
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.