Tag Archives: yoga

Stressed? Try Lateral Flexion

Have you ever felt tight in your chest? Like you just could not breath? In the winter months I sometimes feel stuffy because of the dry air caused by the heater running and because of the constant threat of flu, colds and other upper respiratory illnesses. Also, winter tends to cause things like school closures, which causes little ones to be stuck inside at home, which causes a tiny bit of anxiety for moms, which causes the chest to tighten. A great pose to help alleviate this tightness, whatever its cause, is Lateral Flexion.

Flowing with your breath

To begin, start from a standing, seated or kneeling position. Contract your abs and take your naval to your spine, creating some space between your hip bones and your rib cage. Lift through your sternum as you inhale. The Chin stays parallel to floor and the crown of head is up toward the sky. You exhale quietly out of you nose. On your next inhale reach both hands up so that your wrists stay directly over your shoulder.  Shoulders remain relaxed and down. If this is too taxing on the shoulders put a small bend in your elbows reaching up as far you can. On your next exhale, lower the left hand toward the ground.

Options

  • Place the left hand lightly on your hip, floor or chair to stabilize the spine
  • Actively press through the left hand (opposite) creating dynamic tension in chest
  • If standing pressing through same foot as lifted arm (right) for a stretch

On an inhale both hands come up. On an exhale you repeat on the other side.

Benefits

This pose is design to stretch the belly, obliques, shoulders and armpits. It may help with:

  • Mild anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Backache
  • Indigestion

As with any pose listen to your body and ask your doctor before trying any new exercise. Avoid raising your arm if you have shoulder or neck injuries.

Never compromise your breath. Happy 2018!

Gratitude

Although everyone else is probably going with the same theme, gratitude is important and can never be understated. So, November’s life blog focuses on gratitude.

Gratitude according to vocabulary.com means, “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.”

While considering gifts this holiday season, consider giving something for which OTHERS would be truly grateful. Living in such a blessed country should offer us plenty of opportunities to do this. I usually give consumables (Moon Pies, chocolate, etc.). People love them AND I can give them the same thing year after year.

Here are two options for you to consider this holiday season. You can purchase these for yourself or for a friend.

Yoga Party:

If you are looking for a fun party for your friends, your office, or sports team for the holidays, we can have a Yoga Party. I come to you* and provide a one-hour yoga session tailored to your group for just $10 per person with a minimum of 3 people. This is a great way to give a gift to all your friends and enjoy it for yourself, too!

AromaTouch Technique:

AromaTouch** is a clinical approach to the application of essential oils. I come to you* and apply specific essential oils on your back and feet using a technique that promotes relaxation and revitalization. Right now, AromaTouch is $50 per session. Add your hands to the session for only $5. Feel free to contact me to discuss specific oils and to schedule a time.

Please contact me with any questions or comments.

 

*Within a 10-mile radius of Grayson, GA. Y’all know I don’t get out much, but if you’re outside that radius, give me a call or email, and we’ll work something out.

**Disclaimer: AromaTouch is not a massage. I will not be manipulating any muscles.

Other articles about gratitude

10 way to become more grateful

a non-cheesy guide to gratefulness – Ted BLOG

What is YOGA?

YOGA is a life philosophy to help one be the best self that he/she can be.

You be you!

According to Merriam Webster, yoga is a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga  but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being

Although western culture tends to look at Yoga solely as physical postures (or asanas) designed to gain fitness, asanas are only a small part of the philosophy of yoga. There are 8 limbs of yoga. Put in everyday terms they include:

  • Social ethics or restraints placed by society
  • Internal ethics (doing the right thing because it is right rather than because it is forced by others)
  • Postures – Asanas or physical practice
  • Breath control
  • Withdrawal of the senses
  • Meditation with focus aids
  • Meditation requiring minimal effort
  • Absorption, bliss, consciousness, Arriving

What yoga is NOT

A religion

Although you will find a prevalence of yoga in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, yoga, per se, is not a religion. As with anything, it is what you make it. Personally, I have found that no matter the religious preference yoga can strengthen your spiritual being. Look again at the eight bullets above. In the practicing of Christian faith, one could utilize meditation to realize a deeper, more meaningful mindset of the knowledge of scripture by meditating on them.

A quick fix

There is no such thing! It is amazing how quickly one can become unhealthy, but becoming healthy takes time and conscious dedicated work. There is no magic pill.

A Social Club

This is about your individual journey. Along the way I pray you meet other awesome people, but yoga is about you!

You may feel uncomfortable at first in a yoga class, especially if you don’t know what to expect. They may be chanting, or you may literally have your backside in the air. Not all variations will be for you, but don’t give up on it right away. Try to embrace it and give it an honest effort before you move on.

Above all else, Yoga is about discovering yourself. I love sharing the journey as well as listening to your stories. Please feel free to share! Use the comments section below or email me anytime.

 

Waterfall Pose

School has started or is about to, so let’s take advantage of it by starting a routine and restoring ourselves. No one can pour from an empty cup. Some benefits of the Pose of the Month, Waterfall A.k.a. Legs Up the Wall Pose, include:

  • Regulating blood flow
  • Relieving swollen ankles and varicose veins
  • Improving digestion
  • Restoring tired feet or legs
  • Stretching the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs
  • Relieving mild backache
  • Providing migraine and headache relief, especially when done with a bandage wrapped tightly around the forehead and back of the skull
  • Calming anxiety
  • Relieving symptoms of mild depression and insomnia

This pose is easy to do, and you can stay in in for as long as you are comfortable (all day) or have the time. 5-15 mins is generally recommended. As with all poses start slow and work up to longer periods of time. If you feel any discomfort gently come out of the pose and readjust.

Getting into the Pose

Lie on the floor near a wall and practice deep, steady breathing. On an exhale swing your legs up onto the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it. If you have any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching the wall. Rest your head on the mat or floor, keeping your spine straight, and bend your knees a little so your kneecaps are not hyperextending.

There are many variations to this pose. Make it your own by placing a yoga block or folded blankets on the ground beneath your back. When positioning your support, you must consider its height and its distance from the wall. Be honest with yourself to avoid straining any muscles! If you are not very flexible, your support should be lower to the ground and farther from the wall. If you are flexible, keep your support higher and closer to the wall. Your sitting bones do not need to be against the wall, but rather “dripping” down into the space between the wall and your support. Keep a gentle arc in your torso from the pubis bone to the top of the shoulders.

If your neck feels strained, place a small, rolled-up towel under it. Cover your eyes and keep your them closed as you soften and release. Rest your arms out to your sides. Open your shoulder blades away from the spine, relaxing your hands and wrists. Keep your legs held vertically in place, but only partially flexed.

Release the weight of your belly toward the back of the pelvis, deeply into the torso. Soften the eyes and turn them down towards your heart. To come out of this restorative pose, roll onto your side for a few breaths before sitting upright with your back against the wall, then slowly rising to your feet.

If you do not have wall space don’t worry. You can use a chair or several bolsters to gentle place your feet in an elevated position.

How Do You Feel?

As always, I love to hear your feedback. Please take notice of you and let me know all about it. Happy restoring!

 

The Summit by James Baxter

For July’s blog I asked my husband, James, to share a few thoughts. This wonderful piece is what he gave me. Enjoy!

Summit

What do you do when you are coasting comfortably through life and your path leads you to the base of a mountain? Do you sit down and try to find a way to avoid the mountain? Do you turn around and go back? Sometimes you have to look up, take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other and just climb.

American Middle Class Cushiness

I’m going to generalize the plight of the American middle class. We live a cushy life. We intentionally avoid discomfort at great cost. If you don’t believe me, check your power bill this month.

We complain about things like:

  • It sure is hot in the gym today. I wish they’d turn on the a/c!
  • They moved my TV show to a different time slot!
  • Why isn’t my wifi connecting!?!
  • That grandma is driving exactly the speed limit in the left lane!

Do you see the similarity? You have a gym. You have a TV. You have wifi. You have a car on a navigable road (and somebody apparently has a grandma). Before we whine too loudly, we need to realize we have it easy.

The Mountain

There are basically three types of mountains we face in life.

  • The real problems: You are diagnosed with cancer. Your spouse dies. These mountains rise up as obstacles to your happy life. You have no choice but to climb. These can be the most difficult and treacherous climbs, and nobody has a map showing you how to get to the top. Sometimes the only way is to put your head down and survive one step at a time.

 

  • The accomplishments: Some mountains involve an incentive at the top. We tackle the mountain with the desire to achieve some goal – a promotion, a degree, a trophy, etc. These can be challenging, but we tend to be motivated to keep moving because the work will return tangible rewards.

 

  • The ones that are just there: These are the ones we wimpy Americans have trained ourselves to avoid. They are there in the distance. We see them every day, and we run from them. We even warn other people why they shouldn’t approach them. Eventually we forget they’re there. There is no payoff at the top – no external reward and no perfect view. There is no reason we have to climb them.

 

I had an epiphany when we visited Stone Mountain recently with the kids. We climbed the mountain trail with intentions of visiting the building at the top – except it was closed when we got there! My son said, “We climbed this mountain for nothing?!” He was apparently oblivious to the amazing views, but his real-time commentary gave me a “light bulb” moment. The end isn’t always the reward, but the journey can be worth it. You learn something about the people climbing the mountain with you (even if it’s just that they’re willing to spend time putting themselves through misery with you), you learn something about yourself (you can make it to the top), and you get stronger. Sometimes you should climb a mountain just because it’s there.

 

Summit

I want you to challenge yourself this week. Spend time learning a language. Volunteer a day’s work to somebody who needs help. Sacrifice something cushy to give extra to your favorite charity. Dig deep and go to the well during a workout. Find your mountain and climb. When you summit, you might find, like my son, you just need to open your eyes. The view is awesome. Stop making excuses and get there.

Hero’s Pose

For many of us June means summer swim league. According to The Race Club the kick is the most undertrained swim skill. The pace of your kick determines your swimming speed. I chose Hero’s pose for this month’s blog to help our swimmers with ankle flexibility and mobility.

TAKE YOUR MARK

  • As with all poses, if this is painful in any way, stop because it shouldn’t be.
  • Kneel on your mat with your knees together and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Separate your feet slightly wider than hip width. If the pose is too intense or if the floor is too hard on the top of your feet or your knees, you can try kneeling on a thin blanket. Keep the top of your feet flat on the floor and your big toes angled in toward each other. Press down evenly across the top of both feet.
  • Bend your knees a bit, lean forward, and place your hands on your calves. Pull your calf muscles back away from your knees and roll them out. Lower your buttocks and sit on the floor. Sit down between your feet, resting weight equally across both “sit” bones. Keep your heels and shins alongside your hips and upper thighs, with your feet directly in line with your shins. Do not let your feet splay open and do not let them turn inward. If you feel any knee discomfort come out of the pose and try a block or bolster under your “sits” bones.
  • The inner sides of your calves should touch your outer thighs. Sit in this posture for up to 5 minutes, adjusting the duration depending on how it feels for you.
  • To come out of the pose, lower your arms toward your mat placing your hands on the floor, and lift your buttocks. Raise one knee at a time, sliding each foot forward to straighten your leg into a Staff Position.

For an added side body stretch extend your arms straight in front of you. Bring your palms together and interlock your fingers. Now, turn your palms forward (away from you), inhale, and raise your arms overhead. Use this extension along your arms to lengthen your sides upward. Hold for up to 60 seconds. Lower your arms, change the interlacing of your fingers, and repeat.

BUZZER

 For increased sensation in the ankles, try to lift your knees off the ground, balancing yourself so that all of your weight is on the tops of your feet. If you are physically unable to do this, lean backward slightly and support yourself with your arms behind you and your fingertips facing your feet. Stay in this position for 30 seconds. Build up to one minute, and eventually you should be comfortable in this position for minutes at a time with no pain. Again though, this should never be painful so do not “push” yourself through pain.

THE KICK

According to Yoga Journal, this pose is similar to the way swimmers use the ankles as the foundation of movement while propelling the body forward with a kick. The top of the foot should hit the water, as if in Hero Pose, at 180 degrees. The more ankle mobility a swimmer has, the faster that swimmer can move through the water. If your swimmers are as competitive as mine, I know that’s all the reason they need to try this pose!

Happy Swimming!

As always I would Love to hear from you. Email me or use the comments below.

Sunflowers

With Spring approaching, I chose to break down sunflower pose. This is a great pose for gently opening your hips and shoulders during your​ warm-up.

Starting in Mountain Pose, step back to face the long side of your mat. Your feet should be wider than your hips – as wide as is comfortable to you. Turn out your hips and toes into about a 45°angle. On an inhale lift your arms up to the sky. As you exhale bend your knees such that your knees track over your toes pushing your knees toward your small baby toe. As you hinge from your hips, keep your spine long and reach your arms toward the floor in a sweeping motion. On the next inhale straighten your legs and sweep your arms up and back to the starting position. Continue to move with your breath as you do your sunflowers.

I would love to know your favorite pose or flower. Post it in the comments or email me here.

 

Hello Jan 2017

Many of you made New Year’s resolution. If you read my last blog, Goodbye 2016!, you know that I do not personally make New Year resolutions, but I set goals throughout the year. However, I wanted to encourage you all to attain your goals by addressing a topic that I frequently get asked about.

FADS

Yes, the fitness industry is an industry. Businesses do want to make money. Here are some questions that can help you decide which fitness plan or program is right for you and which ones are just passing fads.

  1. What do I need in a facility or program? BALANCE SERIES #3: BALANCING YOUR WORKOUT discusses this in detail.
  2. What is the purpose of a move or pose? Not every move is for everybody. Sometimes you can change a movement or do a totally different pose to work the same targeted area. Sometimes you need to avoid certain target areas (see the next point).
  3. Is it safe? For me this is the key. It is not safe for someone who has never done yoga to try a headstand in their first yoga class. ON that note… Saunas are great! Yoga is great! But Hot Yoga is not necessary. In any yoga class, you should perform a warm up to build heat in your own body. If you’re already hot, you can overextend yourself and cause injury. It becomes more difficult for you to be aware or your own body and any limitations you might have when you have external factors also acting on your body. For example, you can become dehydrated without realizing it. IF you are 20 something or younger these may not be concerns for you. You rock your own workout! Another example is Cross-fit. Just like Hot Yoga, Cross Fit is great if you have developed the stabilizing muscles to perform the exercises (and to perform them in high intensity bursts). But it is not worth injury! Not only will you potentially have medical bills, but you’ll also a gym membership that you can’t use and a goal you can no longer meet.

I’m not trying to be a downer. Fads or intense exercise programs in themselves are not necessarily bad. They get you moving and can help you get through tough life decisions. There is no right or wrong just an awareness of your own body. That awareness concept extends to any physical activity . What motivates you and why? That connection of the mind, body and spirit.  I hope this helps you on your journey. I would love to hear from you either in the comments below or via email.

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