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    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?