Category Archives: Yoga
Today’s YogaSculpt Class:
Runner’s Lunge bilaterally
20 Side Bends (10 each side)
20 Side Lunges (10 each side)
10 Russian Twists
9 Russian Twists
8 Russian Twists
And so on until you are down to Zero/Zed/Nada! Stop for water periodically. This is a great travel workout. Russian Twist is a sit up. Knees bent, arms behind ears, crunch up to your knee then twist your right elbow to your left knee and then left elbow to right knee. Google Burpees if you don’t know….
After you fall down and die, breathe, drink, cuss at me, here’s your yoga cool down:
Right leg Pigeon
Sleeping Pigeon, Center 5 breaths, Right 5 breaths, Left 5 breaths
Left Leg Pigeon
Sleeping Pigeon over the front, then right, then left…5 breaths each
Cat/Cow for 5 waves
Spinal Balance, bilaterally
Then, do a few more stretches/poses like Happy Baby and find your Savasana….
Posted: 24 May 2012 07:37 AM PDT
[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Nadine Fawell who blogs at Yoga with Nadine. Check it out!]
Well, I think it is anyway. There are many, many reasons I think this: I could practically write a BOOK about the psoas.
But here’s something to think about.
When we went from walking on four legs to walking on two, we had to find a way to hold our upper bodies, well, up.
In four-legged creatures, the spine is happily suspended between front and back ends. In our case, it pokes up into the air. Our back muscles and belly muscles, and most especially our buttocks muscles had to get a whole lot stronger to hold us up that way.
We developed a gluteus maximus on each side of our butt (that muscle is just called gluteus superficialis in four legged animals). Its main job?
To hold us upright by bringing our hips into extension (backbending). That’s why it’s so big. It has to be, to defy gravity.
See, in this picture:
I am bending backwards and you can see my, erm, gluteus maximus, is working, yes?
I only look so happy, though, because I know I can contract my psoas muscles in the front of my hips to oppose the action of my butt and return me to an upright position.
The psoas is a deep muscle in the front of our hips, which hooks our spines to our thighbones.
Without the psoas, whose main job is to bring the hip into flexion (i.e., thigh closer to belly), those big-ass butt muscles would make it impossible for us to use our arms the way we do now.
Imagine doing a backbend like I am in the photo, and trying to read this post. Or do anything at your computer.
That’s right, if you didn’t have a psoas (also known as a hip flexor) on each side, you wouldn’t be able to bend your leg up against gravity, and the action of your glutes, and take a step.
This shows up in yoga postures too, of course – a tight psoas would make bending backwards like I am doing in the photo really difficult.
Plus, if you couldn’t contract your psoas to lift your leg against gravity, how else would you do Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (aka Extended Hand to Big-Toe Pose)?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the first reason I think the psoas is the most important postural muscle. There are others, involving magic links and its action on the spine. But opposing our glutes and keeping us upright? Pretty important.
Beginning a yoga practice can feel a little like entering a play already in progress. You can pick up the general storyline pretty quickly, but there are some integral plot details you really need to go back for in order to get the full experience.
By the same token, there are terms used in yoga classes which are a little bit elusive to the beginner. Namastes and Ohms are easier understood, but there is a wealth of vocabulary that reflects trickier concepts. The idea of chakras is one that can be harder to grasp, especially for Westerners (or for me, at least). I’ve kind of avoided delving into the chakra question, but figured I should give it a go, since clearly, having been around for millennia, it isn’t going anywhere. Understanding chakras in the most sciency way was, of course, my goal, since this is generally what makes things tangible and come alive.
What I found in my search, however, surprised me. Of the many people I polled, from doctors to researchers and everyone in between, not many wanted to comment. Some said there was too little research, some said the question was too large to get into quickly, and some just declined to comment. Scientific literature searches didn’t reveal much.
A couple of people did volunteer to “go there.” One was Jeff Migdow, MD, who has taught yoga and headed teacher trainings at Kripalu. He first explained that chakras are typically thought of as “swirling spheres, or spinning vortices of energy. The faster they spin, the more energy is sucked into energy body.”
I told him that I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. I wanted to know how they can exist in the physical body – if you could measure them with equipment, or if they were more philosophical in nature.
Migdow suggested that while the concept of chakras is an ancient one, there are some biological links that have been suggested more recently, which may help Western minds feel a little less skeptical. One idea is that each of the chakras corresponds to a nerve plexus in the body – points where nerve bundles branch off to innervate different parts of the body. For example, the root chakra might correspond to the coccygeal plexus, the heart chakra to the heart plexus. Another theory is that the chakras correspond to the endocrine glands of the body: the crown chakra to the pituitary gland, third eye chakra to the pineal gland, the root chakra to the adrenal glands, and so on. Communication within the nerve fibers or fluctuations in the endocrine (hormone) system might correspond to the shifts in energy that some experience as chakras.
While these theories seem logical on some level, they seem to be just that – theories. In the end, I’m not sure there is much empirical Western evidence that the chakras exist physically. But I’m also not so sure that this matters much. It may be more about subtler changes or movements of other particles throughout our bodies. Even more, it may be about how we choose to conceptualize chakras for ourselves that’s the real evidence. As I discovered from researching further, their existence is, quite possibly, larger than the literal.
Stay tuned for more on chakras. In the meantime, please tell us your own thoughts: How do you conceptualize chakras? How do you feel them, experience them, and relate to them, both in class and outside of it?
Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.
Want to learn more about chakras through asana and meditation? Our seven week What the Chakra program allows you to explore the First Chakra, Second Chakra, Third Chakra, Fourth Chakra, Fifth Chakra, Sixth Chakra and Seventh Chakra in two very different ways.
I had a craptastic day yesterday – Because the past came back knocking on the door. I let it in. It has no place in my now. I wish I would have read this yesterday….df
Over the last five years, I have fallen in love with yoga and learned many lessons on the mat. There is one currently that I am being taught over and over. It has been said that you will experience something or hear a message repeatedly until you learn it. The Universe is is telling me and now in a louder voice than a whisper to LET GO.
At the end of each yoga class, the reward for working hard and to restore your energy is to lie in in Savasana or corpse pose. “Let go of anything does not serve you,” my yogi teacher, MyLinda says. The term corpse pose has always been a little erie to me, but recently it has taken on a deeper meaning or message to me and I think, “Am I going to spend a lifetime not being able to let go of certain things? Will going to my grave be the only thing that allows me to fully let go? Is that why it is emphasized in this pose to let it go?” I don’t want that to be the reason why I finally let go. So, I am now spending time daily concentrating and praying about letting go of many things that no longer serve me, that never served me — You hurt me in my past. Why did you do that? Did I deserve that? What happened to me wasn’t fair — Staying in the past robs my present time and it hurts me most. You may think that you are punishing someone else because you won’t let go. You are punishing yourself far worse.
“Letting go is letting happiness in!” -Lori Deschene
What do you need to let go? We all have something that we need to let go to make room for happiness to take up more space in our lives. With the beginning of a new season, it’s the spirtual, soulful spring cleaning we all need inside.
It may be a friend or family member who “did you wrong” in the past. Whether or not they have aplogized, letting go still plagues you. It may be someone who is not able to apologize. They have already passed or are out of your life and you will never get your apology. Let it go. It does not serve you. It may be you. You made mistakes and bad decisions that you cannot let go. You made a mistake, but you are NOT a mistake. Let it go.
Every time I write a message or lesson, I receive a note from someone who says, “Thank you. I really needed to read that.” Know that I write all of my words because of my own challenges in life. I never want to be like Oz, who hide behind a curtain and facade. I am Dorothy who wandered from home, but eventually realized that everything she ever needed was right where she began.
Let go and live the live the fulfilled life you are destined to have.
Relieve Pain with Yoga for Arthritis
[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Nathan Joynt from Gaiam TV]
Arthritis is more than occasional aches and pains. The condition is caused by inflammation of the joints and can lead to swelling, difficulty moving and severe pain. It can affect almost anyone, from children to the elderly, and may cause the simplest activities to become a challenge. Medications are often prescribed to relieve the pain and inflammation, but many health care providers now also recommend yoga for arthritis relief.
Yoga consists of a combination of gentle movements, stretches and breathing exercises. Researchers at John Hopkins University have determined that arthritis patients who regularly perform yoga are likely to experience less swelling, increased mobility and reduced pain. This is because the movements performed during yoga increase fluid around the joints.
There are a few things that arthritis sufferers should consider before beginning a yoga program. A visit to the doctor is necessary to make sure that the individual is healthy enough to perform the exercises and that other conditions won’t be exacerbated by yoga movements. It’s also important to choose a yoga class with a certified instructor, preferably one who is knowledgeable about the benefits of yoga for arthritis patients. There are also chair yoga classes that are helpful for arthritis sufferers who cannot sit on the floor.
A beginner’s yoga class is the best choice in most cases because the movements are easier to perform. Stretching, breathing exercises, or even chanting, may also be done before actual movements begin. These help the body to relax and are an integral part of many yoga routines.
A variety of gentle poses will be performed during the class. Some may be a bit difficult at first, but will become easier as muscles grow accustomed to the activity. Arthritis patients should only perform those poses that they feel comfortable with. A little soreness is to be expected after the first few classes, but any positions that cause extreme discomfort should be avoided.
While classes are essential to learning the proper yoga techniques, relief from arthritis pain is greater if the exercises are also performed on a daily basis at home. There are numerous yoga videos available, including some geared toward arthritis sufferers. Since the condition tends to flare up at particular times, such as during extremely damp or cold weather, it may be helpful to increase yoga exercises during these periods.
Here are a two gentle poses to try at home:
- Cat/cow pose: The cat/cow pose strengthens and stretches your spine. Begin on your hands and knees. For sore knees, use a towel or blanket for extra cushion. For sore wrists, make a fist rather than palms on the floor. Round your back up toward the ceiling, tuck in your glutes, and drop your head. Come back to neutral position, and then lower your stomach toward the floor creating an arch in your back. Keep your head up slightly, look straight ahead. Repeat slowly with deep breaths.
- Side stretch: The side stretch improves balance and stretches your hamstrings. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and take a big step back with one foot. Clasp your hands behind your back, bend forward at the waist and relax your head and hold for a good stretch.
Yoga seems like an unlikely remedy for those struggling with arthritis pain, but it has very real benefits. Not only does it increase relaxation, which makes everyone feel better, it helps to lessen discomfort and increase muscle strength over time. It’s a wonderful way for even those with limited mobility to get moving and find lasting relief.
- Yoga for Arthritis: The Complete Guide by Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall
- Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing by Timothy McCall
Join me for a yoga class!
For studio classes, check the schedule at http://www.namasteyogastudio.com.
Namaste Yoga Studio is located at 23606 State Road 54 in Lutz.
I also teach private sessions. For more information email me at Debbie4bz@gmail.com.
If you hit the treadmill, trail, or road most days of the week, here are some reasons you should spend some time on a yoga mat.
An Easier Time on Hills
All those standing poses like Warrior variations, Fierce, and Goddess are yoga’s version of squats and lunges. Within a few yoga classes, you’ll notice that your quads, hamstrings, and glutes feel stronger while running, which means an easier time tackling inclines, declines, and uneven terrain.
Less Huffing and Puffing
Yoga teaches you how to take full, deep breaths and to connect your breath with your movements, making oxygen use more efficient. All that deep breathing on the mat will also increase your lung capacity so you’re less likely to gasp and struggle to catch your breath while running, especially in high humidity, cold air, and when doing sprinting intervals.
For the Chance to Touch Your Toes
Most runners I know suffer from tight hips, hamstrings, and lower backs. The repetitive motion of running coupled with the fact that most runners skip out on stretching makes for inflexibility. Practicing yoga loosens those tight muscles, which not only feels good while you’re doing the poses, but will make your body feel more open while running.
Continue reading for more reasons runners should do yoga.
No More Pulled Hammies
Practicing yoga won’t guarantee the end of running injuries, but it’s a great way to lower your chances. Since yoga helps increase flexibility and suppleness, it makes pulled muscles less likely to happen. And if running is your main form of exercise, chances are your lower body is super strong, but the rest of you isn’t. This muscular imbalance can also lead to injuries, so doing yoga will enable you to strengthen the parts of your body that running doesn’t.
Goodbye Aching Muscles and Skipped Runs
Within hours after a long, arduous run, muscle soreness begins to set in, and can last for days afterward, making even simple things like walking down stairs a huge undertaking. And going for a run — forget it! Doing some postrun yoga can help prevent that soreness so you can keep up with your running routine.
I Can Do This
The mental part of a yoga practice is really challenging. When holding a difficult pose like Rotated Triangle, you can’t stop thinking, “When will this to be over?!” But you learn to welcome and breathe through the sensations that come up, no matter how uncomfortable. This is really helpful when running, especially if you’re doing long distances. Instead of thinking about how many miles you have to get through or how tired your quads feel, you focus on stepping one foot in front of the other, enjoying the moment you’re in now.
Yoga teaches you to notice subtleties of how certain muscles and even organs feel in poses, and this immediately translates to your life as a runner. It helps you pay more attention to how your foot lands on the ground, how you push off, how you connect your breath with each step, and how you hold your shoulders and swing your arms. This contributes to becoming a more efficient runner, but it also keeps you tuned into your body’s needs. If you notice a muscle tweak in your lower back, your experience on the mat will remind you to listen to your body and back off a little.
Curious? Check out our must-do yoga poses for runners.