Month: May 2014
In yoga, it is has been said that we tend to hold negative emotions and stress in our hips. So you are not alone if you tend to feel emotions rising up in your hip openers. Letting go and surrendering in our yoga poses is not an easy task, it requires conscious effort to allow ourselves the freedom to surrender.
It’s easy to see how surrendering would make us feel like we’re giving up or even losing something. Surrender takes on new meaning in our hip openers. In order to be the best that we can be, to clear out the clutter and excel we have to surrender to succeed. We have to let go of what is weighing us down whether that be negative emotions, stress or tension. Letting go and surrendering doesn’t mean you’re giving up it means that you are making space for the things that matter, things that are good for you.
One of our goals in yoga is to create space. Create space in our bodies and in our life. But think about it if you have all this negative energy filling up your space you have less room for the good stuff. So where to start? How do we begin releasing the negative and embracing the positive?
Here are some poses to help you do just that and BONUS, they feel lovely on your hips. Enjoy 🙂
Fire Log Pose Variation
Stretch out both legs, bring one foot in and place outside the thigh or on top of the thigh. Hold the stretch or walk your hands forward.
Always a favorite, and a great hip opener. Beginning on the left side, bring the left knee in as close to the left hand as you can, the foot will stretch toward the right hand. The leg behind you stays stretched out. Stay upright or fold forward.
Fire Log Pose
Stacking your shins like fire logs, bringing knee over ankle and ankle over knee. Stay upright or lean forward to intensify the pose.
These are all great yoga poses for releasing tightness and tension in your hips and letting go of negativity and stress. Hold each pose for 60-90 seconds and switch sides, repeating as necessary. When you’re in the pose focus on your breath and bring your attention to the tightness or tension and ask yourself “what am I holding onto?”, “what do I need to let go of in this moment?” Use these yoga poses in your regular practice or as a meditation to let go of stress, negativity and tension.
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Life happens, so when it does are you ready to seek within? These poses will have you balancing faster than a cat’s meow. You heard it here first! Things don’t stop or sit still simply because we need them too it takes our focus, drive, determination and commitment to create balance.
While taking pictures of these balancing yoga poses, I set up on a fairly busy running/biking trail. Why? Partly, because the scenery and the hill across the way was a perfect place for my tripod but also, I knew that to achieve balance here, it would truly require me to seek from within. With a highway on one side, a river with boats on the other, runner’s and biker’s passing by quickly, it was anything but quiet but it was the challenge I needed. Rather than focusing on the sounds and things going on around me, I had to tune it out. I couldn’t worry about what everybody else was or wasn’t doing. It didn’t matter. I was making a conscious effort to balance in the midst of life.
We don’t always get to choose everything that happens around us or to us. The only choice were given is how we respond. These poses help bring your focus within. They teach us to maintain our center no matter what is taking place around us.
Balancing on All 4’s
Beginning on hands and knees, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, left arm reaches out as you extend the opposite, right leg. Hold this position for 60-90 seconds and switch sides. Keep the spine long, gaze to the mat, hips even, belly button drawn to spine, shoulders back and down.
Side Knee Plank Balance
Beginning with right hand underneath shoulder and right knee under hip, lift left leg up parallel to the mat and reach left arm up the sky. This is prep for our half moon standing balance.
Side Plank Knee Plank Variation
Same pose as above except here you have the option to bind the left leg by bringing it in closer, allowing a stretch and a backbend.
Standing Splits with/without blocks
Begin in forward fold, reach one leg up behind you. It doesn’t matter how high you lift your leg. Activate both feet, the standing one by rooting down into the mat, and the lifted one by spreading the toes and lengthening the leg. Option: Use blocks to reach mat as shown in the picture above.
Warrior 3 with/without blocks
In this pose our goal is to bring the lifted leg and arms parallel to the floor. When first attempting this pose, use a block under each hand and practice lifting the back foot, eventually you may begin to lift one or both arms to reach out in front of you.
Half Moon Balance & Half Moon Balance Bind with block
This is one of my favorite yoga poses. Place a block out in front, a little to the side of whichever leg you’re balancing on first. You’re going to keep the balancing leg pointing forward. Take and lift the back leg up as in Warrior 3, except now we are going to rotate the hip open to the side. The chest also rotates and opens to the side reaching the top arm up. Don’t be afraid to bend the balancing leg. You have to feel your way into this pose. It will take some time and practice. Eventually you can begin to draw the extended leg in for a bind. Remember looking down helps with balance, looking up challenges it.
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Mantra: Feel the Waves.
Meditation: Find a busy space. Yes, you heard me right. Today our challenge is learning to balance when things get hard, when things are loud, when things in our life are anything but ideal. Close your eyes or maybe you want to leave one open. Perfectly okay here 🙂 now center on stillness, calmness and peace. How do you feel when you are calm, when you are centered, when you have peace? Take yourself to this place. Create that space in your mind, in your heart. Tune out all other activity. This will be challenging but keep practicing. Try 5 minutes a day while waiting in line, waiting in traffic, sitting with your kids.
Anyone can find their balance when things are going right when things are quiet. What we need to practice is finding balance when things fall apart, when the unexpected occurs, when sh** hits the fan. It’s happened to all of us. Life has a funny way of throwing us a curve ball from time to time. When that happens we need to be ready to hit it out of the park. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid. Your first few attempts, you may strike out and that’s okay. Keep coming back here to this space, to the busyness, to the chaos, to the crazy. Keep searching for the calm, the peace, finding your center among the chaos of everyday life. That’s what balance is about the ebbing and flowing, feeling the waves of life.
How do you find your balance in the middle of chaos? Any tried and true techniques you can share?
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Welcome to Part 3 of the Yoga Detox, Mindful Meditation. Meditation helps clear the mind and create space. It helps us to focus and reinforce positive thoughts. It has the ability to calm and center us with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s been used to lower blood pressure, improve memory, lose weight, help with depression and anxiety and the list of benefits continue to grow.
“Meditation is not passive sitting in silence. It is sitting in awareness, free from distraction, and realizing the clear understanding that arises from concentration.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Often in meditation we assume that we have to control our mind, that we have to magically make it be still and quiet. It reminds me of trying to calm a hyperactive child. The more effort you put in, the more you try to control, the more they resist. Our mind typically tends to be the same way. The more we try to control it the less control we actually have. Our thoughts swirl from one topic to the next, sometimes leaving us completely exhausted. So how do we control our mind for meditation? It’s simple. We don’t. The beauty of meditation is allowing yourself the freedom to simply let go. It’s not about forcing ourselves to be quiet for 10 minutes but it’s about giving ourselves the freedom to let go for 10 minutes.
“Meditation is the best exercise for the human mind.” Alton Howard
The beauty of meditation is that you don’t have to sit in a seated position for 10 mintues to reap the benefits. You have options 🙂
Ideas for Meditation
- Walking/Running is a great way to clear your head and focus on the present.
- Journaling and writing down your thoughts is a perfect way to center yourself.
- Listening to your favorite music and relaxing is a great way to unwind and let go.
- Reading is a great way to relax and focus.
Steps to develop a regular meditation practice
1) Commit. Make the decision to commit, set an intention to practice meditation everyday no matter what is or isn’t going on around you.
2) Schedule. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, a 10 minute break at work or at the end of the day. Set aside a specific time each day to practice.
3) Practice. Practice daily, use a timer if necessary. Don’t beat yourself up if your mind wanders or if it takes a while to get the hang of it. Even if you miss a day just begin again the following day. Like anything else it will take time and practice to become a habit.
Yoga Poses for Meditation
Hands on Heart
Comfortable seat, hands on heart. Connecting with your heart as you feel the rising and the falling of the breath being reminded of how fragile yet powerful we truly are, that we each have a greater purpose to fulfill. Our heart beats because we are meant to be here in this very moment. Sit here as you breath deeply down into the belly as you feel your heart beating and the rising and the falling of the breath. Allow yourself to connect with your body, allow yourself to feel any emotions that come up. Simply being aware.
Allow yourself to surrender in this pose. Letting go of everything that doesn’t serve you. Letting go of anything that weighs you down. Just for a moment release the heavy load that you carry. Be still and know that you are exactly where you are meant to be in your journey. Soak up the peace of this moment. Allow yourself to let go and simply be present. Forgetting everything else, even if only for a few moments. Clearing the space, clearing your heart, releasing any hurt, any negativity, anything that doesn’t resonate with you. Let it go.
Creating an intention and focus in this meditation. Do you need clarity? Do you need guidance? Whatever you need or want, bring your focus here. Now allow your mind to clear and meditate on this intention. What do you need in this moment? After focusing allow the mind to be free, let it go and follow it. See what comes up.
Mudras for Meditation
Mudras are symbolic hand gestures that you can use during meditation to set an intention or to simply help you focus. Here are three mudras that you may want to try.
Gyan Mudra– touch the index finger to the thumb. This mudra helps to clear the mind, improve alertness and enhances clarity.
Cosmic Mudra– use your dominant hand to cradle the other hand, with both palms facing up. Tips of your thumbs should be touching each other, forming a compressed oval shape together with your palms. This mudra helps to bring your attention inward and is useful to create self-awareness.
Prithvi Mudra– join the tip of your ring finger with the tip of the thumb. Extend all the other fingers and keep them relaxed. This mudra helps to ground and center us, promotes a sense of stability and increases tolerance and patience.
Meditation 1: Guided
“ Make meditation a daily practice, and it will soon turn into a habit.” Remez Sasson
I hope you enjoy the guided meditation and the techniques above. Remember it’s a daily practice, a daily effort but one that’s well worth your time and effort. Let me know which meditation is your favorite? Which one resonates with you? Questions? Send them to me.
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Mudras Yoga in Your Hands, Gertrud Hirschi
What will you find in this post? 9 essential tips for hiking Mt. LeConte, or any long distance hike and 10 essential yoga poses for stretching and recovery after your hike.
Shout out to all my brave peeps who rocked Mt. LeConte with me on Saturday in 29 degrees and snow! Derrick, Katy, Jose, Daniel, Brooke, Kristy and Amanda! I couldn’t have made it without their encouragement, support and sense of humor 🙂 Kudos to the best hiking group ever!
9 Essential Tips to Hike Mt. LeConte:
1) Prepare with shorter hikes and a backpack. Condition your body with shorter distances and extra weight.
2) Eat a good breakfast. Eat healthy carbs, proteins and fats. You will need the energy.
3) Walking sticks will be your best friend! Don’t leave home without them.
4) Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes and socks. Good support and dry feet are a must.
5) Water & Snacks. Take plenty of water, healthy snacks and a protein packed lunch to keep your energy up.
6) Toilet paper/baby wipes. For rest stops along the way. Stay hydrated even if that means peeing in the woods!
7) Appropriate clothing. Check the forecast. Do you need to layer, do you need gloves, rain gear?
8) Camera. Views are amazing! Once you climb Mt. LeConte you’ll want a picture in front of the lodge!
9) Cash for a t-shirt. A rite of passage. They should give these away but they don’t 🙂 so take cash.
10 Essential Yoga Poses for Hiking Recovery:
STANDING STRADDLE SPLITS (Stretches: Hip Adductors, Hamstrings, Lower Back & Ankles)
Pose Instructions: Stepping the feet wide and hinging from the hips, folding forward. Keep shoulders active and rolling down the back away from ears. Abs engaged. Relax head, neck and jaw. Tighten quads. Keep feet flat.
STANDING BACKBEND (Stretches: Chest, Shoulders, Hip Flexors and Abs)
Pose Instructions: Root down through your feet, slight bend in the knees. Place fists near the small of the back. Lift out of your lower back. Push hips forward and lift your chest, dropping the shoulders back and down.
STANDING CHEST EXPANSION WITH FORWARD FOLD (Stretches: Hamstrings, Chest & Shoulders)
Pose Instructions: Feet hip width apart, bend the knees as much as needed and fold forward from the hips. Engage abs and clasp hands, draw the shoulders back and down.
DANCER (Stretches: Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Quads & Shoulders)
Pose Instructions: Come into this pose like you would a quad stretch then slowly start to hinge forward and extend the leg back and reach the opposite hand forward. Try to keep the hips squared.
TRIANGLE (Stretches: Hamstrings, Hip Adductors)
Pose Instructions: Front leg is straight, relax shoulders back and down. Open up the chest. Line the rib cage over the pelvis. Engage your abs and support this pose from your core. Lengthen out through your side and waist.
PYRAMID (Stretches: Glutes, Hamstrings)
Pose Instructions: Square your hips, straighten your legs as much as possible. Both feet will point toward the front of the mat. Relax your head and neck. Hinge from the hips and fold forward.
HALF BOW (See Bow below)
BOW (Stretches: Hip Flexors, Abs, Chest & Shoulders)
Pose Instructions: On your stomach, grab one or both ankles depending on flexibility and bring them in towards your glutes. Lift your chest and legs to the sky. Flex your feet.
REVOLVED KNEE TO HEAD (Stretches: Hamstrings, Hip Adductors, Chest, Shoulders & Obliques)
Pose Instructions: Bend one knee in and stretch the other leg out. Hinge forward over the outstretched leg. Keep your abs engaged. Keep your spine lengthening. You can then take your hand and reach it up and over or place it on the back of the head.
SEATED STRADDLE SPLITS (Stretches: Hip Adductors, Hamstrings, Lower Back)
Pose Instructions: From a seated position, spread the legs and hinge forward from the hips. Engage your abs and place the hands or arms on the floor.
These yoga poses for hiking recovery should have you stretched out and recovered in no time. Also, foam rolling is a great way to assist you in relieving sore muscles. Use blocks in any of the poses above if you have trouble reaching the floor. This will help you deepen your pose and keep your spine in alignment. Let me know which pose is your favorite hip stretch! Questions? Just ask 🙂
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Okay so maybe it is, it’s everyone’s yoga class, actually. For those of you that know her music, the title is Miranda Lambert inspired. 🙂 This is a post specifically for beginner yogi’s. Would that be you? All country tunes aside, yoga has come a long way and its rapid growth continues. It’s popular mostly for yoga pants but also for its mile long list of benefits and results. Yet, there are so many people out there that haven’t tried it! So my hope is to encourage you to give it a try. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
What to expect in your first yoga class?
We will be moving up and down and all around. There’s a chance you will sweat. Depending on the yoga class you attend. Be sure and discuss your questions or concerns with the teacher beforehand and always checkout the class description before attending. Gentle yoga & meditation, no sweat, power Yoga, much sweat! You get the idea.
What to wear when you don’t have yoga pants?
What? No yoga pants! Don’t panic that’s why I’m here. Yoga pants are comfy and they let you move so they are nice, however workout pants, sweatpants, shorts will do the trick. Anything you feel comfortable in and that allows to move.
Advice for a beginner?
Arrive early, introduce yourself to the teacher, ask any questions that you may have. Let them know you are a beginner. If you have injuries, for instance you have had knee surgery, let the teacher know and they will be able to provide modifications throughout the class.
Do we chant and meditate in yoga class?
If were being honest, I’ve never been a big fan of the chanting even in my yoga trainings. I just kind of sit there and observed. Oh, but how a few years and research can change someone. 🙂 I’ve learned to never say never when it comes to pretty much everything, chanting included. While I personally haven’t included it in my classes there are some that do. I have started chanting some in my own meditation practice. It’s very soothing and research has also shown it to be beneficial especially in preventing Alzheimer’s. I will be posting more on that soon. The bottom line is to find a class that resonates with you whether that includes chanting or no chanting. It’s all good for you. It’s kind of like church there’s a yoga class for everyone.
Poses for a Beginner
Here are some poses you will probably see in your first yoga class. I’ve included pictures and a short video.
Place your feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms overhead, bend your knees, and fold forward, leading with your chest. Hinging from the hips. Bend your knees as much as you desire here. If you find that your hands do not reach the floor, place your hands on a block for support.
Downward Facing Dog
From all the all fours position, curl your toes and lift the knees up and send the hips up and back. Spread your fingers wide. Lift the heels if necessary but press them toward the mat. Draw the shoulders away from the ears.
Align the shoulders over the wrists. Draw the navel in and lengthen through the spine. Create a nice long line of energy. If you hips sink, drop the knees to the mat.
From plank propel yourself forward slightly so that your elbows align over the wrists as you lower down into a push-up. Elbows hug in towards the ribs. Shoulder blades hug the back. Again if the hips sink, drop the knees. This will keep you from compromising your low back.
Arms are straight, legs are on the mat. Imagine you have an egg beneath your low abdomen so your lifting up and opening up the chest, drawing the shoulders down.
Upward Facing Dog
In this pose your pressing the ground away from you, shoulders still back and down, heart is open and your pressing down through the tops of the feet. The legs are hovering a few inches off the mat. Practice the cobra pose until you feel strong enough to try this one. Listen to your body you will know when your ready to advance.
Vinyasa Flow-Sun Salutation
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Meditation: Think of something that you’ve been struggling with weight loss, relationships, stressful job? Write it down. Think about what it is that’s holding you back. What can you do to change your situation? What steps can you take today for a better tomorrow? Lastly, think of a friend you could talk with about it, someone that would offer support and encouragement.
Whenever doubt creeps in or you feel like giving up, you got this! In fact, write that down in ALL CAPS “YOU GOT THIS!” and look at it daily. Speak words of life into your soul not words of defeat. It’s all too easy to believe the negative, instead of embracing the positive. But let’s change that, let’s begin speaking words of life to ourselves and others.
This mantra speaks to me today for many reasons, but one of them being that I hiked Mt. LeConte on Saturday. Am I saying that to brag? A little bit, ha ha. I’m pretty proud of myself and all of my peeps! It’s a 12 mile hike, it’s tough and dangerous. One wrong move and it could be bad, very bad. It was 29 degrees and snowing at the top. My friends in the picture are the reason I made it! They are the reason I didn’t give up and turn around. They were on this journey with me, pushing me, motivating me and encouraging me. I knew at the end of the day we were all in it together helping one another one step at a time. We were all telling each other “You got this!”
Sometimes we all need a little help and encouragement. It can be the motivation we need to make it to the top of the mountain. It’s okay to need help and to ask for it from time to time. I think we forget that when we’re struggling with the everyday monotony of things it’s easy to feel like we’re alone on our journey, but were not. Everyone has the same struggles. The struggles may look differently, but we have all been there. We’ve all felt like turning around, we’ve all felt lonely; we’ve all felt like it’s just too hard and we’ve all felt like giving up. “With great struggle comes great strength, and nothing beats a hard fought victory.” So true!
So today, I want you to know you’re not alone! I want you to look your fears, your problems whatever is staring you down and confidently say “I got this.” We may not always know where the road ahead leads but we can go confidently one step at a time. Speaking life and truth into our soul and growing into our purpose and passion. YOU GOT THIS!
So tell me how your applying the mantra this week? I would love to know! Me, I’m clean eating for the next 12 weeks so I have a feeling this mantra is going to come in handy when I find myself staring at cake or cookies! I’ll just keep saying, “You got this.” 🙂
Find me on instagram @outdooryogi and tweet me @bepresent100 @outdooryogi.