11 years…Wow…How time flies! Especially while you’re enjoying the whole journey from start to present. I joined the Hot Yoga 4 You family 11 years ago and I have not looked back. I absolutely love the 90 and 60 minute classes. Both classes challenge us in different ways which has been phenomenal. Personally speaking, this practice and the studio has been such an addition to my life on both a physical and spiritual level. From the physical standpoint, I’ve been a professional fitness instructor for over 20 years. Needless to say, that involves countless hours of stress on my body that requires healing and injury prevention. From the very first week of starting this practice and entering the studio, I’ve never felt better and more motivated from the instructors. Each and every one of them has a unique style and brings something different to the table that I still learn from to this day. I’m thrilled with my practice and the results I’ve achieved. Improved strength and endurance, increase in lean muscle, improved respiration, are among just a few of the overall health benefits I have gained from this yoga practice. Lastly, I never thought I would live to see the day when I could do a standing split or hold “standing forehead to knee” for over a full minute! A true testament to Hot Yoga 4 You.
Over time and with consistency, the spiritual level of this yoga prevailed. I’ve learned to have a deeper appreciation for living in the present moment and having that self-discipline to get through the most challenging class. More importantly, I can take this improved concentration and focus with me outside the classroom to handle the everyday stresses of life.
Congratulations on 11 years of success! I look forward to celebrating another 11 years with you along the way!
Cobra pose begins the remarkable 4-posture spine strengthening series. The benefits of spine strengthening are many; beginning with nourishment to intervertebral discs and ending with a strong upright posture, which allows our internal organs to function with proper space and circulation for optimal health. Cobra pose is the first posture of this 4-posture series and focuses primarily on lower back health and core stabilizing muscles.
Begin by lying belly down on your mat. Lengthen the front of your throat so your chin is forward. Tuck your hands under your shoulders so your elbows are bent up toward the ceiling like flexed grasshopper legs. Make sure your arms are framing your body tight and that your hands/elbows are not placed too wide to begin.
Pull in your abdomen and lengthen your tailbone at the same time to create dynamic energy in your lower back, pelvic, and core muscles. Squeeze your legs together and press the tops of your feet firmly into the floor. Now you are braced for action!
With a full breath, lengthen the crown of your head forward and up, pulling the spine into a back-bending shape without the use of your hands. This is not a push-up! Your hands are there to frame your body and help provide the necessary spatial boundaries for spinal isolation. Remember, this pose is designed to strengthen your spine, not your arms.
Keep opening the chest as your lift your head up, and always hold on to your core strength. As a goal, we hope to back-bend enough that we are lifted all the way to the navel. Stretch your spine forward as you lift it up to ensure proper energy tone throughout the posture. Keep lengthening for 20-30 seconds and then slowly release the energy, bringing your spine out of the flexion, and your chin back to the mat.
Cobra pose is a low back and core stabilizing posture. Generally speaking, our lower spinal area (both back and front) tends to take on the most pressure from our postural imperfections and habitual body movements. Therefore, it is extremely therapeutic and helpful to stabilize this area of the body. When there is low back and core health, our spine is seated in a strong base. The flexion of the spine in the supported back-bend shape of cobra pose also restores and revitalizes flexibility. So, at its most evolved expression, cobra pose starts the process of building “pliable strength” of the spine.
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.
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.