Spring Sun Salutations

Spring Sun Salutations

There’s nothing like ushering in a new season by shaking off the cobwebs with a few sun salutations. The tradition of practicing sun salutations is meant to honor the sun, our source of life and light. It’s a beautiful way to warm up the body, increase the flow of prana (a.k.a. life force energy), and honor the shift from winter to spring—or any season for that matter! Sun salutations are also known as “Surya Namaskar” which translates to “sun” (surya) and “to bow to” or  “to adore” (namaskar). So what sun salutations should be practiced? Luckily, there are many variations on this ancient spiritual tradition. Today, we give you the sequence used in traditional hatha yoga sun salutations. 1.) Standing with hands at heart center (Tadasana with Anjali Mudra) Sun salutations begin and end with hands connected in front of your chest. This is a beautiful reminder that wisdom is located at the heart and only the heart can know truth. Try standing with feet parallel and either hip distance apart or together. 2.) Arms overhead (Hasta Uttanasana) Keep your shoulders soft and lengthen through arms and finger tips. Allow your palms to face one another. 3.) Standing forward Fold (Uttanasana) Knees can be bent, let your upper body relax and avoid any tension in your neck 4.) Low lunge pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) This is a great shape to add to sun salutations because it lengthens and contracts the psoas muscles, one of the main hip flexors. The way this muscle structurally connects to the body allows for important flexion and length in the lower back. Your back toe can...
Boost Your Energy With Yoga

Boost Your Energy With Yoga

We all have those mornings when it’s tough to get out of bed. When you’ve finally rolled out of from under the sheets you might feel like you need caffeine. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea, but when you start to crave it just for the caffeine buzz you have to wonder how your energy levels are doing. Here are some great tips for boosting your energy to keep you alert throughout the day. 1.) Try Breath of Fire Kundalini yogis know what’s up when it comes to breath of fire. This powerful breath technique has many physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health benefits including boosting energy. It’s the kundalini solution to a cup of coffee! It will help you feel energized and alert throughout the day. Avoid if: pregnant menstruating hernia digestive issues heart conditions eye, ear, or sinus problems high blood pressure (Try long deep breathing instead if you’re experiencing any of the above!)   2.) Practice Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) Sun Salutations are practiced for many reasons; one of the intentions is to honor the sun which gives us life so it’s no surprise that it also gives you energy. They can also help build internal heat and warm up the body to experience more freedom in static poses. So how do you practice a sun salutation? There’s no one, easy answer since most traditions have different ways to practice them. Although there’s no perfect blueprint, that can work to your advantage. Be creative, be bold, and do what feels right for you! Here are a few tips from yoga...
Restorative Yoga to Let Go of Stress

Restorative Yoga to Let Go of Stress

If you’re looking to calm your nervous system and let go of stress, look no further: restorative yoga is the practice for you. One of the best things about restorative yoga is its ability to heal, relax and renew. This powerful effect is brought about by the longer, supportive holds in each pose while being in a comfortable space. These elements, along with the meditative aspect of restorative yoga, brings about the nervous system’s relaxation response a.k.a. the parasympathetic response. Here are some restorative yoga poses for your practice to reduce stress in your life. 1.) Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) Why? Legs up the wall has so many benefits, including stress relief. As a gentle inversion it also effects the lymphatic system which has to do with your immune response. Excessive fluid drains from the lower body (feet and legs) so it soothes swollen ankles or tired knees. Ultimately, legs up the wall can calm the body to relieve stress but can also alleviate headaches, lower back pain and menstrual cramps. Tight hamstrings or low back? Some extra options to try if you’re having trouble getting comfortable: blanket under your hips bent knees   2.) Supported Twist Why? When stress is high the nervous system goes into “fight-or-flight” mode, also known as the sympathetic response. Adding this supportive twist to any restorative yoga practice feels great for your spine, but it also stimulates digestion. This is supported by the “rest and digest” (relaxation) response. Shoulders don’t feel supported or does it feel tight around your spine? try using more props underneath your shoulders or a blanket underneath your chest  ...
The Magic of Hip Openers

The Magic of Hip Openers

You may have heard the term “hip openers” in a yoga class, but what does this really mean? The idea of practicing hip openers can actually mean a lot of different things in a lot of different places. The literal hip joint is located where the femur meets the hip socket, or acetabulum, in the pelvis so naturally many of the hip openers refer to the areas near or around this joint. First we’ll breakdown where this is actually happening and what shapes to focus on so hip openers can benefit your practice. 1.) The Psoas The psoas is a deep muscles within the hip that tends to hold chronic tightness. This is often the case if you sit in a desk for most of your day but it can also become short and tight with repetitive movements like sit-ups or bicycling. A tight psoas can create an anterior (forward) tilt of the pelvis which results in a postural imbalance that will likely cause pain and limit mobility. Poses to try: Low lunge pose (Anjaneyasana) 2.) The Adductors Hip openers would not be complete without the adductors. This group of muscles acts to draw the femur (leg bone) closer to the midline. These can easily be activated if you were to actively squeeze your legs together. Stretching the adductors regularly, especially for active people, may help prevent groin strain and injury. Poses to try: Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana) Seated wide legged forward fold (Upavistha Konasana) 3.) The TFL/IT Band The TFL, or tensor fascae latae, is known as a hip abductor muscle (the opposite action of the adductors) and it...
How to Improve Your Down Dog

How to Improve Your Down Dog

Down Dog is considered one of the yoga poses that creates a solid foundation for nearly any practice. It’s one you’ve probably seen countless times in different yoga sequences. I remember going to classes and yoga teachers would say it was a “resting pose” but how people interpret this shape can be wildly different. I laughed the first time I heard that one since I found it so challenging! I had severe pain in my wrists and could barely hold it for more than a few breaths. Although it can be used for resting, it can also build strength and endurance or act as a transition in any sequence. There’s a lot more to down dog than meets the eye, but anyone can improve with a few simple tips. Here’s a few suggestions that I’ve found helpful over the years. Check Your Hands Notice how your hands are spaced and how they connect to your mat. This is really key in down dog since it’s part of the foundation of the pose and where you support your weight. Try placing your hands so your first finger and thumb line up with the outer edge of your shoulder. Then, once you’ve found that placement press down through the tip of your finger and base of your knuckle so your whole hand rests on the mat without any parts raised. There may be space, or the sensation of space at the center of your palm and that’s completely normal. How Does Your Spine Feel In down dog one of the key intentions is to maintain a lengthened spine. This is a great way to...
Yoga Poses to Practice Daily

Yoga Poses to Practice Daily

Yoga is such a unique practice that can vary day-to-day. Even if you go to the same yoga class regularly, you’ll notice that most teachers will alter what they share with students. There’s an infinite amount of yoga poses and sequences to choose from. We give you a few yoga poses that you may want to add to your daily practice. *Please note, not all of these poses are suitable for everyone. If you have any medical conditions please consult a medical doctor and a knowledgeable yoga teacher before you begin. #1: Balasana (AKA Child’s Pose) Why? It’s ability to feel grounding and nurturing makes it one of the most ideal yoga poses to practice daily! Whether you’ve had a busy day, or feel emotionally taxed, child’s pose is for YOU. It’s also great if you’re looking to gently stretch your hips, thighs and ankles.   #2: Adho Mukha Svanasana (AKA Downward Facing Dog) Why? It calms the brain and helps to relieve stress but also has many physical benefits. Down dog is one of the yoga poses that strengthens hands, wrists and legs but also releases shoulders, hamstrings, and calves while reducing compression in the spine. #3: Uttanasana (AKA Forward Fold) Why? Forward fold will help release your hamstrings while relaxing your spine. It’s a great way to release tension in your neck and feel the full benefits of a gentle inversion! It can also help relieve anxiety and fatigue. #4: Savasana (AKA corpse pose) Why? It really is the most important pose of your practice! If you choose one pose today, let it be this one. It can...
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