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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

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.