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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

Winter Yoga Mix Sequence

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Anyone else trying to get out of the house during this winter storm? Me too, me too. Looking out my Iowa window, I see rain turning to ice, and more snow coming down. It looks like I might be house ridden for another day or so. Which for me, means no studio time. Which really disturbs my practice and the balance of my body. Not only having scoliosis, but having 2-13 inch rods in my spine, this cold weather makes my back hurt even more than a normal day. The aches and pains continue while the snow comes down.

So, if you are at home, or just need a quick sequence to follow along to, here you go! Move your body around to warm up!

Start Seated. Cross legged, or legs straight, whatever you decide. Take a few long inhales and deeper exhales. Set an intention within your body of what you would like to accomplish over the next few minutes. Continue to keep that intention with you while you move your body.

On your next inhale, reach your hands to the sky, on your exhale, bring your right hand along side of you and reach up and over your body with your left hand, stretching out your left side. Hold here for a few breaths. Come back to center. Same thing, other side. Repeat two more times on each side.

Press forward into a table top position. Making sure your shoulders are over your wrists, hips are over your knees. Spine will start long, if comfortable. Hold here, focusing on the intention you set, and focusing on the inhales and exhales. Then connect with your breath with the movement of your body. Move through your cat/cow poses during your breath, moving your spine from neutral to a C-shape for (cow) and then pressing the mat away from you into a cat back spine (cat pose). After a few breaths, come back to center, spine is neutral.

Tuck you toes, lift your sit bones, and press them back, lifting into a downward dog pose. Peddle your heals out for the first few breaths. Then walk your feet to your hands and grab for opposite elbows, holding in a forward fold. Feeling the energy move from your toes to your heels. Bring your hands to your hips, and take a deep inhale, coming into a standing position.

From here, you can move through a few Sun Salutations and then finish your practice the same way you started, coming back through your cat/cow poses and back to seated to stretch out your sides.

Take care! Stay safe out there Midwest friends!

Namaste!
Kela Marie

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

You can teach an old dog new tricks…

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I was miserable, that was my life in a nutshell. I was wearing about a size 20 and my health situation was terrible. I was taking depression medication. I had joint pain everyday. I could have lived on tums and I ate to fill a void and compensate with all that was going on in my life.  I could go into specifics regarding all of this, but why? The bottom line was I was miserable.
I had learned about the Whole 30 from my oldest daughter and cousin.  I tried it for 30 days and I lost over 20 pounds, then I went right back to the way it was, I tried again and lost weight then gained it back.  I felt so good at the end I just couldn’t transfer it over.  I was talking to a friend and she told me she was going to do a Whole 100 and I said without hesitation, I am in. The very next day I started the Whole 100 but I started things a little bit backwards.  I cleaned my cupboards, I made meals as I went.  I literally fought it the first week, to find a path…. and so my journey began. I never looked back.
I am going to skip to the end, I completed the Whole 100 and lost 17.3 pounds the first month, I was a size 16 when I started to a size 8.  I had a ton of non-scale victories (those victories that don’t register on the scale) which I will share with you when we meet.  I also want you all to know that I didn’t exercise once through this.  I wanted to focus on my food then move to exercise, you are all ahead of the game…being dedicated yogis.  I continued my journey and eventually bought my first pair of size 2’s.  I float between a 4 and a 2 and I can’t wait to share all of this with you. But the size doesn’t really matter, it is how I feel every day.
Take a chance, put yourself first and change your life.
Join me in our Whole 30 Challenge starting in January…
<3
Holly

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

Different Days

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This side-by-side picture shows real life. Real life on my yoga mat. I have been doing yoga for over 10 years, and the picture on the left is a current picture of my forward fold. What does this mean? This means that every day is different on your mat. Each pose can be different. Each side of your body can be different. And that is ALL OKAY.

Let me explain the difference in the two pictures of what was happening in my life:

Left Picture:

Thursday Morning. I had just spent the last 3 days traveling from Iowa to New Mexico, in a car. That’s right – in a car. I was feeling super rough from traveling and sitting in the car for so long, plus not having my normal yoga practice or teaching schedule. Meaning, not a lot of movement that I am used to. I also was not feeling like being on my mat, but I know I needed some movement, and I really needed to see where I was at that day.

Right Picture:

Saturday Morning. 2 days after the left picture was taken. I had flown home, had some issues with flights, but made it into Chicago, and had a car ride home to the Quad Cities. I had just taught a hot class with my regular Saturday morning crew, who are all AWESOME. They lift me up each Saturday morning. Plus, I was home and felt back to a normal schedule at the studio.

Now. Let’s look at the difference. Can you see it? Take another look and really think about the pose. Look how much deeper the pose on the right is, how close my torso is to my legs. See where the crown of my head is pointing? And how high my hips are?

This just shows that each day is different. Our practice will continue to change based on our dedication and our normal life routines. Things happen. Life happens. And that is ALL OKAY.

I’ll see you on your mat.

Namaste,

Kela Marie

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.

Sunday Rainy Vibes

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It’s been a rainy week here in the Quad Cities, and it looks like we are in for even more rain for the week. Which can lead to less motivation and a funky mood. We might be able to power through it, but who really wants to go outside when it’s pouring? In this morning’s 8AM class, I asked how everyone was doing before class started. Each of them mentioned the whether and how it was affecting their mood, daily plans, and motivation. Instead of my normal routine of flowing through the sun salutations, working breath to movement through our sequence, I decided to change the class up.

We started with a few sun salutations to increase heart rate and warm our bodies up. Then we went into some hip openers (Thanks Deb for the request)! After that, I took them to the wall. Which is one of my favorite ways to help student’s get deeper within their poses by using the wall for support. I tell my students they can easily maneuver through these poses while they are at home, or even at work! They absolutely loved it! Plus, we had fun with it which was great to boost their mood for their Sunday.

One of the best ways to move through a funky mood is to make some time for your yoga practice. Whether that is at the studio or at home, you will be able to boost your mood through yoga.

Here are a few poses to try to boost your mood:

Child’s Pose

Cat/Cow Poses using Inhale/Exhale

Tree Pose

Downward Facing Dog (better yet, a headstand for an inversion!)

Upward Facing Dog

Seated Meditation

Here is a picture of me adjusting student (and yoga teacher) Deb against the wall. It may look a little different, but she LOVED it! It definitely helped open her hips a little more with the help of the wall and the weight from me.

Namaste!

Kela