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    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Arm Balances for Energy and Strength

    When spring hits, I'm usually ready to start moving my body more and building strength.  I put together this sequence of arm balances that builds upper body and core strength and can teach you how to move your body more fluidly.  Whatever your motivation is for doing arm balances, I want you to forget about it for this sequence, and instead bring your mind only into the now.  Do this sequence without grasping for an outcome.  Be in each moment paying attention to the minute details of your body.  You will find that you will build strength, gain energy, and learn to move better.

    Start this sequence with this relaxation exercise:  We Begin With the Breath

    In this sequence, engage mula bandha and uddiyana bandha while maintaining relaxed free breathing.  If you don't know what these are, find out!  When doing yoga postures, it's important to understand these concepts in order to protect your spine and actually build strength.  The best way to understand them is to find a qualified teacher to teach you or find a video or book about them and practice, practice, practice!  I teach them in my Yoga for Shoulders DVD.  

    Of course, throughout the sequence, BREATHE FULLY! Focus on fluid movement, never pushing through any pain.  Always stay within a pain free range of motion.  

    Next, do these two warm-up exercises:

    Pullovers: for directions Go Here You can read the article or scroll down the page to get step-by-step instructions.

    Mountain Pose Variation: for directions, Go Here

    Next, do some Cat/Cows with your breath to warm up your spine and wrists and then go into a Half Dog.  


    Down Dog


    Side Plank

    Back to Plank, then Side Plank to the other side and then back to Plank.  Repeat as many as you want.  Rest in Child's Pose if you need.  Go back into Down Dog and then:

    Crane Pose--this pose also needs some flexibility in the hips.  Don't force the pose, works slowly into it.  If you find you're really stiff, go into a forward bend with your knees deeply bent and hang out for awhile.  Then try to the pose again.  If your hips just won't do that, don't worry about it, just work on your hip flexibility and come back at it another day!

    Scales Pose--sit cross-legged and place your hands beside your hips.  Keep your collarbones broad and chest open, as you engage your core, push into your hands and try to lift your legs and pelvis off the floor.  Again, don't force it if your hips aren't flexible enough or if this hurts your wrists.  

    To end, do another round of Pullovers, then take at least a 5-minute Savasana, Corpse Pose: 

    Fully release!

    Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!  

    The tank I'm wearing for Plank, Side Plank, Crane, and Scales is from Soulflower

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Late Winter Hike to Shining Rock

    In February, my husband and I went on one of our favorite hikes in Pisgah:  Shining Rock.  It's a high mountain hike with beautiful vistas that ends at a gigantic piece of white quartz.  The weather was warm for February, but it was still pretty chilly way up at 5000-6000 feet.  There was still plenty of frozen water.  Enjoy our photos from one of the coolest places on Earth! 

    Yes, this is one amazing place, and I am truly grateful for the beautiful place in which I live, my good health so I can get out and enjoy it, and my dog and husband who love to adventure with me!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Playful Standing Poses Sequence

    My motto is "Relax, Breathe, Play."  As life takes its toll, we often get really uptight, take shallow breaths, and forget how to be playful.  When I get yoga students in class, they are often sooooo serious.  We are only living for such a short time, why not use it to be more playful!  It's yoga poses--it's movement, which is fun and relaxing, so lighten up and have fun!  

    So, in this series of poses, I'd like to help you invoke the relaxed and playful you.  As you move through this sequence of poses, there are only a few directions:  In each pose think: relax, breathe, and play.  There are often all of these yoga cues that you hear in class, and that I tell you in my videos, but just let those go for now.  Let go of the thinking mind.  Feel the pose in your body.  Don't worry about the shape of the pose or emulating what I am doing in the photos, just feel the pose for you.  If a pose hurts you, back out and move in a range of motion in which you can relax, breathe, and play.  

    Also, hold the poses for however long you want.  Do what feels good to you.  There are no rules!  

    Upward Arms Pose with a backbend.  Do one that feels good to you!

    Tree Pose One Side
    Balance, laugh!
    Tree Pose Other Side

    Warrior 2 Pose and flow into

    Reverse Warrior and flow into
    Flow, Breathe!
     Extended Side Angle  and flow into

    Half Moon

    Come down to Mountain Pose and repeat the sequence on the other side. 
    Warrior 1 Pose and flow into 

    Intense Side Stretch Pose and flow into

    Warrior 3 Pose--don't worry about how far you do or don't get in a pose!  The journey is the destination!

    Repeat the sequence to the other side.  Now you can continue with more yoga postures of your liking or come down into Childs Pose and then move into Corpse Pose for naptime!
    By finding a state of relaxation, of full breathing, and of playfulness, you will find freedom.

    This sequence was shot in the Waves of Freedom Pants from Soulflower on the West Fork of the Pigeon River in Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Late Fall Appalachian Hiking

    I recently went out for a hike in the mountains near my house and snapped a few photos.  I noticed that this time of year, it's hard to take interesting photographs--everything is so stark and gray.  So, I played around with some of my iphone photo apps to see what was possible.  I don't know if these are any good or not, but it sure is fun playing around!

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Take It Easy Restorative Yoga Session

    It's that time of year when things get really busy, people get on your nerves, and colds and flu start making the rounds.  When you are super busy, and your body and mind are exhausted, it's a good time for restorative yoga.  The goal is to promote rest and calmness while stimulating your lymphatic system.

    For even more benefit, practice pratyahara, sense withdrawal.  As you do each pose, concentrate on relaxing each and every part of your body and feeling your breath move through your whole body.  Become absorbed in what you are doing and feeling instead of letting anything distract you.  Unless something is an emergency, just let it be and deal with it later.  You will learn to become less reactive and begin to understand that many things that we think need our attention actually don't.  You end up saving more energy for the things in life where it is needed.

    Begin in Supported Child's Pose:

    Cat/Cow moving with the breath:

    Supported Half Down Dog:

    Supported Standing Straddle:

    Gate Pose:  

    Staff Pose:  
    Smile during your yoga practice--don't take yourself too seriously!

    Forward Fold, being sure to take it easy.  

    Twist, broaden the collarbones, be gentle: 

    Reclining Supported Twist:  


    Hump the bolster pose...JK!  This is Supported Inverted Reclining Bound Angle to gently open the hips:    

    Supported Reclining Bound Angle:  

    Supported Bridge--backs of the shoulders and all of shoulder blades on the floor:  

    Legs Up the Wall:  

    You can end in Corpse Pose or you can end after Legs Up the Wall.  If you are on your period, skip the last 2 poses.  

    Here are some other resources to get you through the holidays:

    Breathing Exercise  Be sure and check out the audio version at the bottom of the page!

    My bolster is hand made from Inner Space Yoga.  Bolsters are great to have for restorative practice!  

    My sweatshirt is from Soulflower--if you're looking for some cool gifts for yogis this year, be sure and check them out!