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Full Moon Ceremony- feel the vibes!

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Our newest addition to the Backwards Yoga workshop family have been our Full Moon Ceremonies!  This has proven to be a powerful experience for all the yogis who come & connect to their inner power over the 90 minute time together.  There is tea provided in a variety of flavors so we all have something to sip on while discussing where we’re at in our journey & empowering each other to go further.  Journaling provides deeper thought & provokes topics that we might put off rather than face.  During the Full Moon Ceremony we go through a meditative yoga flow that allows us to release built-up energy in our bodies & move forward into the month ahead.  Along with learning about different aspects of the moon cycle, we have also incorporated the gift of healing crystals!  In January our yogis were given a smokey quartz to feel more grounded & in February we celebrated new beginnings with a moonstone crystal.  In speaking with yogis after our time together, these ceremonies have proved to manifest new growth in our lives where we may not have known we had the power to create.

Interested in joining our next Full Moon Ceremony?  Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 18th at Backwards Yoga!  Please use the MindBody app or website to register ahead of time as space is very limited.

 

Namaste!

Angela

Mid-Level Yoga (is it time to level up?)

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Has your practice started to feel stale?  Maybe poses like down dog, warrior 1, plank, and folds have started to lose their momentum.  WELL, maybe its time to try leveling up with our Monday night Mid-Level class!  Each Monday, Kela leads us through a fun flow from 6:30-7:30pm in an even more open environment.  Students are encouraged to ask questions, try new things, and explore new areas of their practice.  We get more in depth with poses that may have begun to have less sensation so that you can safely deepen your postures.  Gearing the body up for more advanced backbends, inversions, hip openers, and arm balances take a lot of guidance- mid-level class is your time to get creative!  Learn what your body needs on a more individual level and gain new drills to help take your to the next level.  We hope you’ll join us for this fun one-hour class if this sounds like what you need in your practice!

 

See you on your mat.  Namaste,

Angela

Benefits of a Local Yoga Retreat

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May of 2019 will bring so much excitement as our plans come to life through the Backwards Backwoods Yoga Retreat!  A lot of thought has been put into making this a weekend filled with relaxation, learning, and FUN at the beautiful Camp Liberty.  We’ve listed below some of our FAVORITE benefits of attending a local yoga retreat:

  1. Take your yoga to the next level & learn new things- explore LOTS of yoga topics including mediation, Ashtanga yoga, Reiki healing, Full Moon Ceremony, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, and more
  2. Find a fresh perspective- take a step away from your daily routine to see things in a different way
  3. You’ll *actually* practice- this weekend will be the PERFECT way to get your yoga practice back on the priority list!
  4. Clear your mind for meditation- because its SERIOUSLY hard to make this one a priority & we totally get that!
  5. Make new friends- get to know your yoga friends better and make new ones too!  Having a group of like-minded people around you will help to take your goals to the next level
  6. Supports out community- by attending a local retreat your dollars go right back into our community!
  7. Less $$ than travel retreats- the Backwoods Yoga Retreat is cost effective and close to home
  8. Time away from the family- they WILL survive without you for a couple days while you take some time for yourself, you DESERVE it
  9. You don’t have to cook- (this might be our favorite one, and the food is going to be fabulous)
  10. Detox from electronics- put your phone down and be present again

January updates!

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January is SUCH an exciting time of year!!  New beginnings mean LOTS of new & returning yoga students, reminding each of us just how important and sacred this practice is as it works through our lives.  So many of us use this time as our only quiet space between busy times of chaos- so let’s all remember to practice mindful silence to respect our fellow yogis!

Coming up: workshops!!  Keep up with our email list & Facebook events to see what’s next that you can learn from our studio.  Utilize our space to make the most of your practice & GROW with it!  We love always challenging ourselves to learn new things, and then taking those new ideas back into our daily routine.  Remember, “A mind that has been expanded by new knowledge can never go back to its old dimensions”.
Let’s chat retreat for a moment: WHOA, this month is the last chance to get in on over $100 SAVINGS on your May 17-19th, 2019 yoga retreat.  We are so excited to bring in new teachers, topics, and give ourselves a chance to get away.  Would you like to join us but are on the fence?  TRUST US, life will go on without you having to be an active part of it for a couple days.  Give back to yourself, take time to unplug, and give yourself the chance to know what that truly feels like!  We hope this will be an awesome opportunity to build stronger connections within our yoga community as well as within ourselves as individuals- don’t miss out on your perfect opportunity to sign up!  www.backwardsyogaiowa.com/yoga-retreat/
Alright, that’s what we’ve got coming up this month!  Remember to welcome new students, be kind to yourselves, and be open to new opportunities.
Namaste friends,
Angela

Glow in the Dark Yoga FUN- Glowga

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Black lights, glowing orbs, body paint, and LOTS of laughs- Glowga 2018 was an event to be remembered!  We kicked off the evening with our kids class at 6pm.  As the kiddos arrived, they were able to use chalk body-paint for glow in the dark designs as well as play fun glow games like Twister and Tic-Tac-Toe.  The kids had so much fun flowing through partner poses, a down dog tunnel, and sun sals meant just for them!

 

Once the little ones exchanged “Namaste” to each other, there was a thunder of little feet running around underneath the disco ball & black lights.  Parents took a few final snapshots and then headed off to bundle up the kids before heading home.  By 7:30 the adult class was ready to roll with drinks in tow.  The dark room made for a playful vibe with bright colors & fun music.  We are already planning another GLOWGA event in the spring in case you missed out this time around!  Keep an eye on our facebook page (Backwards Yoga) and MindBody for future event dates!

 

Namaste,

Angela

Always Learning…

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I’ve found one of the challenges of being a yoga teacher is making sure I still have a consistent practice that is constantly learning/growing outside of what I’m instructing.  My favorite weekly treat to myself happens every Monday night from 6:30-7:30pm with Kela when I practice with my fellow yogis during our Mid-level class!  I can’t say enough good things about how amazing it is to work with people who you can learn from & grow with- and that’s what happens at the studio!

Its not uncommon to see our Backwards teachers geeking out over yoga poses between classes- which is something I didn’t think a lot of until I captured these moments on video.  The Mid-level class on this particular Monday was working on Eight-Angle pose (one of my favorites) and I was videoing after class to try and capture a good screenshot for a social media challenge.  This arm balance is challenging for me & making progress isn’t always possible without other eyes helping you from other angles.  While watching the video back I so naturally could see my dear friends/fellow teachers chiming in to answer all my questions & help me problem-solve what I had been feeling within the pose that was holding me back.  The teamwork of teachers we have is incredible, and I truly believe it provides the best possible learning experience for our students!

Whenever life gets busy & I know my practice hasn’t been as frequent, I can see that directly reflected in my teaching.  That’s around the time I hop on MindBody to get my next class scheduled & see what workshops are coming up on the website.  We’re all still learning & there’s ALWAYS more to know- that’s the beauty (and challenge) of yoga!

Namaste,

Angela

Vinyasa Variations for Back Pain

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One of those more frequent struggles I hear from yogis is how uncomfortable Up-dog pose can be for those of us with back pain.  I wanted to chat today about some different variations that can keep you comfortable during your vinyasa flow.  When it comes to back bending, we want to warm up well & never ask more than your body is willing to give.  Most of us spend the majority of the day over a desk, seated, driving, etc. and don’t always have the best posture.  During class we take ourselves out of that pattern of movement & bend the spine beyond our “normal” range, which can become limited if we don’t have a regular practice.  Up-dog pose is something we do in most every class, but today we’re going to talk about 3 tips that might make the pose more comfortable & assessable for everyone!

 

  1.  Start out with a modification:  No matter how long you’ve been practicing, try beginning each practice with Sphinx or Cobra pose rather than Up-Dog pose.  This will take some of the body weight off of the lower back, making it more comfortable to extend the upper spine.  Cobra & Sphinx poses also allow us varying degrees & smoother transitions than finding only the full extension of the arms pressing into the mat for our Up-dog.
    1. How to achieve Sphinx pose: lay on your belly with elbows on the mat directly under your shoulders.  Forearms & palms will extend out from you and help to support the weight of your body while breathing into the spine for more extension.  Imagine your hips pressing into the mat while your shoulders roll down your back- widening your collar bones & taking your gaze to the sky.
    2. How to achieve Cobra pose: start by laying on your belly & place hands on either side of your chest.  Look up to the sky & peel your upper body off the mat finding a slight backbend.  *only go as far as you’re comfortable & move slowly*
  2. Visualize your Up-dog pose differently: Ready to amplify your modifications into an Up-dog pose?  From your cobra, press into the tops of your feet, activate your legs until your knees are lifted all the way off the mat.  Visualize a string from your heart up to the sky pulling your chest through your shoulders & up towards the sky- try to pull all of your body weight upwards & take any pressure out of your lower back.  Play around with how wide your feet are as well to see if that makes a difference in how your spine feels.  Imagine the collar bones pressing away from each other & activate your whole core.
  3. BREATHE: I feel like we always say this in yoga- but its true!  During your vinyasa flow is a great time to experience the full range of your Up-dog pose as part of a bigger picture.  Follow your breath as you inhale in high plank to press forward on your toes, exhale into your Chaturanga, deeply INHALE to pull your chest up & through to Up-dog, and “ride the wave” of energy as your exhale hips up & back into your Down Dog.

 

Namaste!

Credit: www.backwardsyogaiowa.com

Yoga for Airplane Travel

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Yoga for Airplane Travel

Part 1 (Take-off):  While still on the runway or as the plane takes off can sometimes be the most stressful part of getting on a plane.  You feel trapped, confined, anxious, and maybe even irritated! All of these factors make it a great time to implement mudras (body expressions through the hands), practice our breathing, and maybe even focus on a mantra or affirmation.    

 

 

 

Mudra option 1: Dvimukham Mudra- (facilitates deep relaxation & can lower blood pressure)

How to→ 1. Hold the hands facing upward below the naval.  2. Touch the tips of the little & ring fingers to the same fingers on the opposite hand.  

  1. Rest the hands below the navel, with the forearms resting against the abdomen or onto the lap.
  2. Relax the shoulders back & down, with the spine naturally aligned.

 

 

 

 

Mudra option 2: Pala Mudra- (anxiety relief, releasing stress & muscular tension)

How to→ 1. Cup the hands & place the left hand with the palm upward four finger-widths below the naval. 2. Place the right hand with the palm downward at the level of the naval, just above the left hand, with the hands gently touching the abdomen. 3. Relax the shoulders back & down, with the elbows held slightly away from the body & the spine naturally aligned.

 

Affirmations for take-off: “Breathe.” “I am safe.” “I enjoy the freedom of traveling great distances quickly.” “I release all fear of flying & embrace the freedom of travel.”

Part 2 (In-flight): This is a great time to pull out a yoga sequence that you can do right from your seat!  The purpose of these moves is to help release any tension that has built up in your muscles, keep the mind calm, and increase circulation throughout your body.

 

In-Flight Yoga Flow

  1. Starting by closing the eyes, noticing the breath, and take 5 deep breaths
  2. Tilt the right ear towards the right shoulder & hold for three breaths (repeat on the other side)
  3. Using the breath, on your inhales lift your chin to the sky & on your exhales pull the chin all the way into the chest for 5 deep breaths
  4. Roll the shoulders up to the ears & down the spine, roll shoulders back to start & then switch to rolling them forward
  5. Bend the right arm at a 90 degree angle, pull the arm across the body & pull closer to the chest using the left arm (repeat on both sides)
  6. Work into the triceps reach fingertips on right hand up & back between the shoulder blades (can use your other hand to push it further back, repeat on both sides)
  7. Being mindful of your neighbor, find a couple gentle twists by crossing the arms (giving yourself a hug) and then rocking from side to side looking over one shoulder & then the other.  (Alternate to your other arm on top as well)
  8. Rolling through the ankles, wiggling the toes, and using tennis balls to roll the feet are a great way to keep legs awake & happy during your flight (just don’t let your tennis ball roll away!)
  9. Tennis balls can also be used under your legs, glutes, and behind shoulders/ribs to apply direct pressure & alleviate sore muscles
  10. Cat/cows while seated are another great tool to move through your whole spine
  11. Core work (if you have room!)→ From your seat, take your arms out in front of you, sit up tall, and alternate taking your knee up to touch the bottom of your arm.  Keep the posture upright- it’s easy to sink the chest forward to make contact easier! Remember- a strong core is KEY to supporting a pain-free spine!
  12. Get creative with your leg movements- Try to bring one knee at a time into the chest to get a stretch along the back side of the leg.  If you have room, bring your ankle onto your opposite leg to find a stretch through the hip- you can even lean into it!

 

Flight tips for Mindfulness:  

  • Read a book on a topic that will help you grow as a person or think in a new way!
  • Bring a serape blanket that can double as an in-flight pillow AND a “yoga mat” if you are at an airport that has a Yoga Room!  If you are so lucky, run through some Sun Salutations to increase blood flow, raise energy, relieve stress, and feel great!
  • Use this time to journal, write in a planner, make a to-do list, and enjoy being “unplugged”
  • Utilize essential oils based on your needs.  I would suggest a lavender oil or blend to find a calm strength

Part 3: Landing: You’re almost to your destination!  Take this time to visualize a smooth landing, the new places you get to explore, the progress you will make by getting work done, etc.  Come back to your breathing & utilize essential oils for emotional support. Maybe even go back to our take-off mantras! Keep your body calm by using movement (think of our cat/cows) and finding the hands into one of our mudras.

Manifestation: how I became a yoga teacher

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I was never trying to be a yoga teacher.  I was the girl who came to class and didn’t want to make eye contact with herself in the mirror.  I was the awkward one who’s hands were closer to touching her knees than her toes.  I was the one who “had no upper body strength”& “had no balance”.

 

But I was also the one who kept coming back.  I threw all of my self-doubt out the door and decided I didn’t care.  I knew I felt good after practice and that’s the feeling I was chasing.  Not some far off dream of being able to do the splits, or crow, or anything else crazy.  It didn’t take long and people started noticing my improvements.  Then it got to the point that no one knew where I had started- they just said I was “good” at yoga.  What did that even mean?

 

I heard of a teacher training program coming up at the studio.  My boyfriend and I had just bought a house a month before and I knew it wasn’t “good timing” for me to join.  And who was I to be a yoga teacher anyway? But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  I never want to be the teacher who’s students believe that their inner power is coming from an outside person.  I want my students to believe in themselves and build a practice that is meaningful to them.  I knew I was coming from a good place, and I’d getting to know this “universe” and “energy” and “vibes” through yoga.. so I thought “why not try it”.

 

I didn’t sign up for the program that day.  I didn’t have the money for it.  Like I said, we just bought a house and every ounce of money I made went towards my dream of being a musician.  So, I made a deal with this new found “universe”.  If I could make enough money between now and the time my payment was due to cover the program, I would join.  That was EXTREMELY far-fetched at the time.  I barely had any gigs coming up and I knew for a fact the money was just not there.  But I said the words out loud.  I made that solid commitment to the universe, and something amazing manifested.

 

I’d let go of the idea of “trying” to make the money needed to get into my YTT program and just let the universe know that I was ready for it.  Within 24 hours I had a couple brand new gigs lined up from people who had heard about me randomly.  I was not trying for these things, but I had continuously “thrown darts at the dartboard” and once the universe knew my intention- something stuck.  Sure enough, within the time allotted up to the day before… I made the EXACT amount of money needed to enter the teaching program.  It was an incredible fit for me- combining my love of biomechanics & teaching that came from the horse world, my love for connecting with people & making playlists from the music world, and my love of choreography, energy, and spirituality from my childhood spent in between the dance studio & church.

 

I’ll leave you with this… do not think that you are not worthy of what the universe has to offer you.  It is vastly expansive and you should tell it what it is that you want.  Say it out loud, set yourself up for success, and let it work magic within your life.  The yoga practice is a great way to set intention for your life and learn how to breathe through tough moments and enjoy the continuous breath throughout the roller coaster of the time on your mat.  Take it from the girl who stumbled into a yoga class one time, it can change your whole life if you let it.

 

Namaste, Angela

 

 

“Without grace, we are just fighting”

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“Without grace, we are just fighting”

 

I heard this quote while watching the movie “I Can Only Imagine” yesterday.  No matter how you sit on the topic of religion.. I would highly recommend going to see this movie.  It was incredibly inspiring and thought provoking.  The movie tells the story behind the song “I Can Only Imagine” which involved a man losing his dad after many years of suffering abuse within the family.  One of the main themes was forgiveness along with grace.  This quote, “without grace, we are just fighting” stayed with me long after I left the theatre.

These words stayed with me during meditation and made me reflect deeply on the relationships in my life.  We talk about in class “letting go of what no longer serves us” and I think this quote ties right in with grace as well.  If we want something to be just, then maybe it is worth the fight.  But if we are fighting knowing that we do not wish to forgive the person… then it is wasted time.  At that point it is better to let go of the situation or person and free ourselves of that burden.  Not all forgiveness ends in friendship, sometimes its just about keeping a healthy relationship with yourself.  We can’t keep punishing ourselves or another person by bringing up old wounds that will never heal, it is just best to leave them alone.

After the movie we went out to dinner at Outback and the waitress was wearing lotus flower earrings.  I cannot recall another time I’ve ever seen another person wearing lotus flower earrings… yet this powerful symbol walked right up to me as a reminder.  The lotus flower is a powerful symbol in yoga, reminding us that we too can grow out of the mud and bloom into something beautiful.  It also reminds us that muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.  Taking time today to let it be, give grace, and give forgiveness for myself as well as others.

Namaste, Angela