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    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Family time gives us an excellent opportunity for yoga practice! Here are some tips to help:

    1. Get out and go for a walk and do some yoga poses during the holiday. You'll be a good role model for the kids and the fresh air and exercise can clear the brain and increase endorphins.

    2. If you are throwing the dinner, don't overwork yourself and then blame others by becoming short-tempered—this is controlling and selfish. See this as an opportunity to work together and delegate tasks. Teach that this is a time when the family works together. And if you are a guest, be of service.

    3. Practice non-judgment and compassion. We throw these words around a lot in yoga, but really think about them. Others have a right to do what they do and believe what they believe. Your family has feelings and a belief system just as you do and having respect towards them will gain them respect towards you. Learn to see past the things that annoy you about people and into their humanity. Practice loving them even though you don't agree. Love supersedes all boundaries.

    4. You can't control others, but you can control your reactions to them.

    5. The reason that we practice mediation is for this moment! When all of these family energies, noise, food, children, emotions, loud television, and other chaos are going on around you, stay in touch with the peace inside yourself.

    6. The most complicated thing is to do is to be who you are. We have a tendency to begin to see ourselves as we think that our family sees us, which causes resentment. Just be observant of your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts and you can break this pattern. Easier said than done, but maybe for now, just practice!

    I know everyone throws around advice for the holidays and even that can seem overwhelming. So, to keep it simple, just remember to be happy, loving, and peaceful and have all of your actions come from that place and the holiday could be one to be worth celebrating!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Finishing up the "Yoga for Shoulders" Video

    We are finally finishing up the "Yoga for Shoulders" video! It's been a long tough road, but we finally got the last footage that we need. I am really stoked to help out others with shoulder issues and I really hope that this video will help out!

    Here are some shots from Linville Gorge in North Carolina:

    This is a restorative pose to work on releasing tightness and tension in the fronts of the shoulders that can cause impingement.

    We will work on becoming more aware of the shoulder blades and work on moving them around to prevent frozen shoulder.

    Not a bad place to be working! My husband and I do all of the work on these videos ourselves--we love it, but it's also very difficult in many ways. He is amazing--he does all of the camera work (3 video cameras and 1 still) and directs too! We use all natural lighting, which is why it takes us awhile to get the right day. We also do all of our own editing and sound.

    A variation on Mountain Pose to help with better posture.

    Downward Facing Dog Pose--we will work with the mechanics of this pose for safely performing the pose for those with shoulder issues and with using your core to lift the weight out of the shoulders and wrists.

    Plank Pose--we will work on the same concepts as in Down Dog--how to use the whole body better to relieve the shoulders and wrists.

    Whew! This is Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). It is better to perform this one with knees down to work very diligently on making sure you are using your body correctly. It can exacerbate problems if done poorly, but if done mindfully it will build strength and grace in your body!

    Ahh--my shoulders feel so good and free! I have not had surgery and I have never felt better! I have made much progress with this program for my own shoulders by overcoming injuries that resulted in impingement, pain, and severe shoulder blade winging and dysfunction. I heard the same complaints from many of my friends--some who had surgery and some who didn't, so I began to want to help people get out of the shoulder pain and injury cycle. I have been teaching shoulders classes for a few years and now have put the class together for this video. I hope that everyone finds freedom and strength in their shoulders!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Kayaking, Road Cycling, and Mountain Biking...

    That is what I wish I were doing every waking hour! On the kayaking part, I almost have been! September and October is Gauley Season. This season takes place in West Virginia every year when the Army Corps of Engineers releases water out of Summersville Lake and into the Gauley River gorge below it to drop the lake in preparation for winter rains. Here is a video head cam tour of the Gauley River taken by my husband, Leland, via squirt boat, a special kind of glass boat that kicks the river up a notch.

    On the 3rd week of September, there is the biggest festival in the whitewater kayaking world there. We had a booth and had some fun! Here are some pictures from the shenanigans at Gauley Festival 2010.

    On the mountain biking part, I haven't been on my bike in months! But these ladies have been taking up the slack for me: the Minx Girls. They are some rad women from the UK, who just wrote up this Compendium for a huge cycling event over there. There are some core articles here (including one on yoga, hehehe!).

    Tis the season for road cycling events here in Appalachia as we come into one of our best seasons—the colorful mountains, cool dry air, and dry roads make for sweet rides! This is one of my favorite local events, the Tour de Tugaloo. Tucked away in the north Georgia mountains, if you are looking for a ride with something for every level and a fun vibe, put this one on your to do list. You might even win a "Yoga for Cyclists" DVD!

    See ya!

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Yoga Core Exercises for Healing and Preventing Sports Injuries

    It's not news that in order to increase your sports performance, you need to exercise your core. But if you think that this means doing a bunch of sit-ups, you need to freshen up your strategy. Core exercises should not only strengthen your core, but also teach you to use your whole body in a more functional manner. Your body is more efficient when your power emerges from your strong, stable center taking pressure off all the peripheral and much less stable joints of the body. The end result of learning to move from your core is that you will have better posture, less injuries, and more energy. The holistic viewpoint of Yoga makes it the perfect tool to teach us these lessons.

    While doing these exercises, think in terms of your body as a whole. The point of these core exercises is to re-teach your body how to move in a more efficient manner. These exercises are from the upcoming "Yoga for Shoulders: Restore and Strengthen" DVD, so the focus is on how the core relates to the shoulders.

    In all of the poses, make sure that when you engage your shoulder blades, that they move into the back and not toward each other. In the Boat Poses, think of all energy emanating from the navel and work on releasing unnecessary effort in the rest of the body:

    Half Boat Pose, Ardha Navasana:

    Begin in Supine Mountain Pose: lying on your back, feet together and flexed, arms at your sides. Lengthen your spine, relax extraneous tensions, and breathe fully. Exhale as you strongly engage the abdominals and lift the legs and torso without arching the low back or jutting the head forward. Concentrate on only using your middle: don't tense the fronts of the shoulders keeping the collarbones broad. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and then firm them onto the back. Breathe fully and relax the jaws and the face. Stay as long as you can stand it. Release back to the floor and relax fully taking deep breaths. Repeat.

    Full Boat Pose, Navasana:

    Begin sitting with your legs bent in front of you and feet flat on the floor. Lift in and up with the inner thighs, pelvic floor and navel. Lift up through the spine and the crown of the head. Broaden the collarbones and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Engage the bottom tips of your shoulder blades forward--toward your sternum.

    Using your hands on the floor next to your hips for balance, exhale and lift your feet off the floor. Keep all of the above actions going. If you need more challenge, lift your hands and straighten your arms in front of you. Draw the arm bones back in the sockets, slide the shoulder blades down the back, and engage the bottom tips of them forward. Lift up with the back body as much as with the front body. Keep the collarbones broad and breathe evenly. Relax the face and jaws.

    To go one step further, straighten the legs. Squeeze the inner thighs. Activate and spread the toes. Breathe and maintain all of the above actions.

    Release back to sitting and take some deep breaths and relax all effort. Repeat.

    The next pose stretches the front body and strengthens the often-ignored back body and the spine. A strong and flexible spine is part of a strong core:

    Locust Pose, Salabhasana:

    Lie in a prone position with your forehead on the floor, your feet about hip width, and your arms by your sides with your palms face up. Take a deep breath and release all tension. Lengthen your spine from your tailbone through the crown of your head. Broaden your collarbones, draw the shoulder blades down your back and engage the lower and inner shoulder blades into the back. Inhale as you lift your legs, torso, and arms. Keep the head in line with the spine and take your gaze up. Release tension from your face and jaws. Breathe fully. Exhale and slowly come down and release completely into the floor.

    End with Relaxation Pose, Savasana:
    Lie in a comfortable postition. Release your body into the floor completely. Stay for at least 5 minutes.

    If these poses cause any sharp pains in your body, your body is not ready, and you need an instructor to watch and correct your alignment. Listen to your body and seek guidance if you need.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Improve Your Posture and Your Performance With This Simple Yoga Exercise

    Aligned posture will bring you better health and livliness because it takes pressure off your joints and allows the blood to flow and the organs to function better giving you more energy for the fun and necessary things in life! Try this one simple and quick exercise: take a belt (or a strap, paddle, or broomstick) and hold it behind your back shoulder width with your arms straight and your palms facing your butt; stand in Mountain Pose with your weight distributed evenly between your two legs and into the base of the big toes, the pinky toes, and the center of the back of the heels; gently draw the belly in and up without disturbing your breathing; lift up through the crown of the head; broaden your collarbones, roll your shoulders open, draw your shoulder blades down your back and the inner shoulder blades forward toward your sternum; do not let the upper arm bones roll forward and down, do not let the rib cage protrude forward, and do not lock the elbows. Do this exercise as often as possible always letting the body unfold into the pose and not forcing. Smile and breathe!

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Let's Be an Angel

    Many people wonder why I am so obsessed with whitewater that I have completely dedicated my life to it. It may even look as though I live selfishly. But this is far from my intentions. Back in 1996, I almost lost my life. Just in time, I found whitewater and it drew me into the magic of the river. The river gave me my life back and began to teach me about myself and everything else--it has made me complete. The sport of whitewater is a gift to me and I want to share this gift with others. So, I have joined a team of women kayakers to help raise money for young adults with cancer so that they can go to a whitewater camp for free and feel the joy of paddling. Our team is called River Angels, and I intend to be just that. This is not a competition for me to call attention to my ego, this is a chance to show someone else the magic of the river. If you would like to donate to this cause in my name from now until June 15 2010, please visit this website: Eddyflower Vertical Challenge, and simply 1. select my name; 2. enter your info; 3. and make your donation. Thanks for helping me be a River Angel!

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Yoga for Shoulders

    We have finally started filming my next yoga video (actually YOUR next yoga video!), "Yoga for Shoulders!" We will be out filming in various spectacular outdoor settings this summer so that we can make a kick ass video that you will love to watch and do!

    Here's the scoop: A few years back during my yoga teacher training program, I sustained a shoulder injury while out whitewater kayaking. We were working on Sun Salutations at the time, and my shoulder healed up really fast. Since then, I have focused much of my yoga study on healing the shoulders. I have discovered some secrets to yoga techniques that have made a huge difference in my life, and now I want to share what I have learned. The DVD will be a step by step program to restore functional alignment and strength in the shoulders. As I make the DVD, I will post up some poses, so that hopefully you can start working on getting back in the game right away! But beware--if these poses irritate your shoulders, you need more instruction, and you should consult your yoga teacher and/or wait for the DVD.

    If you want to do this series right now, I suggest you begin your session with my previous post on breathing, We Begin With the Breath. I have included an audio version down at the bottom of that post, which will be much easier to follow.

    Also, follow these instructions in each pose: 1. lift mula bandha and uddiyana bandha (if you don't know what they are, ask your yoga teacher and/or wait for the video); 2. slide the shoulder blades down the back; 3. don't protrude the bottom rib cage; 4. keep the gaze steady; 5. avoid over-efforting from forcing into poses; 6. avoid sloppy lifeless poses by paying attention to your body and mind; 7. Relax your face! 8. Breathe Fully! There are many more instructions, of course, but just work on those for now.

    And last, but not least, end the session with at least 5 minutes of Corpse Pose.

    Here are some poses from the 4th Session in the video, "Standing Poses:"

    Urdhva Hastasana--Upward Arms Pose:

    Utkatasana--Powerful Pose:

    Virabhadrasana 1--Warrior Pose 1:

    Prasarita Padottanasana--Standing Straddle series:

    May your shoulders be free!

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Yoga and Exercise

    Because I am an athlete, I do many kinds of activities and kinds of exercise. I view my yoga practice as a tool in life to help me in all of my endeavors rather than an end in itself. And this is my message to people--yoga is a tool to help you do whatever it is that you do better and with more clarity. So I love to hear stories where people's yoga practice is helping them live a better life--in the regular every day activities kind of way, like exercising at the gym. I read this story and its awesome--how practicing yoga has helped Francesca on her road to fitness at the gym. Read her quick and inspiring story here: YogaHub Blog.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    We Begin With the Breath...

    Before attempting any yoga poses, its necessary to develop awareness of your breath and relaxed breathing. Here is a breath practice that is good for complete beginners to advanced yoga practitioners.

    To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent or straight. Completely release into the floor. Let go of any distractions and bring the mind inward to prepare for practice. Become aware of your body and of your breath.

    Release the face, the jaws, around the mouth, the forehead and between the eyes. Let the eyes become receptive. Let the ears become receptive.

    Now place your hands on your chest. Feel the chest rise and fall with the breath. Feel the collarbones as they spread apart. Feel the shoulders broaden outward. Notice the shoulder blades pressing into the floor as you breathe.

    Now feel the breath as it moves your rib cage. Feel the breath in the front of your rib cage, in the sides of the rib cage, and in the back. Let the breath fill the whole rib cage.

    Now bring your hands to your belly. Feel the belly expanding on the inhalations and falling on the exhalations. If you feel the opposite happening, you must stay with this exercise until you feel the belly expanding on the inhalations and falling on the exhalations. Do not force the breath, just let it move through your body. Release, relax.

    Now place your hands on your hib bones. As you inhale and exhale, feel how the pelvis rocks with the breath.

    Feel the breath moving through the whole body. Feel the whole body breathe. Let the body accept the breath.

    Here is the exercise in audio: Enjoy!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Be a Better Athlete Through Yoga

    Learn to move through difficult emotions during your sport by practicing moving through them in your yoga practice. If you have trouble meditating because you "cannot sit still," do it anyway-do it past your comfort zone and then you will be able to push past your comfort zone off the mat too. Set a timer and sit or lie down for that amount of time, even if its just 3 minutes--it will help you! Or if during your asana (posture) practice, you zone out and don't pay attention to what you are doing, not only will you eventually injure yourself, but you are not benefiting from your mind training that an asana practice provides. During your physical practice, when the mind wanders, bring it back to what you are doing. Then you will notice as you are about to run that rapid or push up that hill, when your mind wanders and then you get scared and feel like giving up, you can bring your mind back to what you are doing. In the moment, there is no fear.

    Here are a couple more great articles from my favorite Yoga Journal writer, Sally Kempton:
    Free Yourself
    What Are You Resisting?

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    What is yoga?

    I saw this posted on facebook, and its awesome! Its a a unique description that describes yoga very well, so I wanted to share it: Yoga Manifesto

    Thursday, February 11, 2010


    We are back from our adventures in Chile. We have many photos and stories! Here is our first trip report eloquently written by Leland Davis: River Gypsies in Chile

    More news--Jeff McIntyre of the In Between Swims Podcast found my story that I submitted to Rock Climber Girl's blog last fall and he asked me to read it for his podcast! Here is the Valentine's Day special "The Adventure Together."

    Enjoy and stay warm!