Tag Archives: asana

148 BackBends Challenge from My Bikram Yoga Life

Here’s an excerpt from the awesome blog My Bikram Yoga Life. I absolutely love this idea, so I began my own ‘drop back wall’ at home. Thanks Leigh for the great post and inspiration!

Full post: 148 BackBends.

In the last seven days I have done 148 backbends. Is that a lot of backbends to do in seven days? I don’t know. I just decided to see how many I was doing in a week. I know that backbending is an important part of my practice, and I was doing them at home. However, I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing as many as I could or should. Keeping track of it for a week got me doing more than I think I normally would because I was paying attention. Plus, as a Type A personality, I just like to count things and keep score on myself.

Current location of my sticky tape. Gotta start somewhere!

Backbending got really fun yesterday (for real). I got some sticky tape and put a blob of it on the wall where I was currently landing when I went backwards doing wall walks. Then I put another blob just a bit under the first to give myself something to work towards. This helped in about a 1000 different ways.

First (no, I’m not going to count to 1000), it helped me see how far down the wall I was able to walk.

Second, I could see where I was in relation to the floor. Going backwards down the wall is a bit freaky. All I see is a solid color (yellow if I am at home and blue in the studio), but I often don’t know where I am on the wall. Now I know.

Third, it gives me something to look for. This helps me push myself. Once I’m warmed up, I know the marker I should be able to hit, and now I’ll just keep going until I hit it. Then, I can see my goal just below it, and I can decide if I can try for it or not. Right now, I’ve hit my edge, but I’m hoping to push to my new marker in a day or two. Having something to look for also keeps me focused.

So what does all this backbending look like? Well, I can’t make it down to the floor just yet. For now, I leave you with a picture of my current state of being.

My idea of a good time.

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5 Ways to add shoulder opening to your hip opening poses

Two birds, one stone. Stretching both muscle groups at the same time will give you twice the benefits!

Also, it’s a good way to break any patterns or habits you may have developed in your practice. If you are a yogi that practices 3+ times a week, please don’t be afraid to break out your own remixes of the poses presented. Trust me, the teacher wants you to do what feels good and benefits you, even if it doesn’t look like what your neighbor is doing. It’s easy to go on auto pilot, especially in forward folds. I am frankly OVER yanking my hamstrings into folds 20x a class! Switch it up and give your shoulders some love in these hip openers!

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Bound high lunge. It’s not all about bound side angle pose all the time! You can do this variation with your heal up or down in a bound ‘Warrior VI’ or ‘Flying Warrior’ as some call it pose.

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Prasarita Padotanasana Cherry Picker. I love this variation, instead of just hanging down or yanking on your feet to stretch your hamstrings, this stretches your shoulders and gives you a new way to open the back body. The resistance you get when you walk your hands back behind you will make your traps and deltoids sing.

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Twisted Janu Sirsasana. I must thank my teacher Silvia Mordini for teaching me this unique variation of one legged forward fold. It’s hard to see in the photo, but this is actually a twist that you will immediately in the outer muscles of your back. Use the hand and arm not touching your foot as leverage to twist further. Further the stretch by softly bending the outstretched leg and twisting further.

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Starfish fold. This variation of Badha konasana is mostly practiced in Jivamukti classes, but this is my new favorite fold! This is a super passive fold that feels great at the end of practice, especially one heavy in back bends and heart opening.

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Bowing Balasana. This variation of child’s pose feels great in the muscles of your upper back and shoulders. To intensify, walk the elbows forward as much as possible.

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Practicing Jump Backs

I recently attended an Ashtanga class at Salt Room Yoga in Pioneer Square. The teacher, Rhonda, provided a great way to practice jump backs from sukasana/criss cross apple sauce to chaturanga dandasana. I’d always just assumed I’d build core strength in other ways to achieve a jump back, but this is really using different core muscles than you get from bicycle crunches!

  • From sukasana, easy pose, scoot your feet close to your body and squeeze your knees into your chest.
  • Place your hands a few inches in front of your hips.
  • Press into the floor, doing your best to transfer all of your weight into your hands while simultaneously using your core to squeeze your knees and ankles into your chest. Flex your feet!
  • If you’re like me, you’re not quite there yet. So a good way to build strength is to start shuffling your feet under your body as best you can and then jump back to chaturanga dandasana. When you do this, squeeze your knees together so they fit between your arms. OR if you are a little past shuffling, start by taking 2-4 hops on your feet.

When you do this little shimmy, you really feel your core working. I love when a teacher presents a way to practice something that makes something difficult seem much more accessible! Try it out and let me know about your progress!

Kitty-in-a-rolled-up-yoga-mat.

Yoga kitty says ‘have a great weekend!’ Meow!

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Asana of the week: Viparita Karani

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Viparita Karani

Supported Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani

Viparita = turned around, reversed, inverted
Karani = doing, making, action

The pose described here is a passive, supported variation of the Shoulderstand-like without the risk to your neck.

Step by step:

Getting Into Legs Up the Wall Pose:

Lie on the floor near a wall and practice deep, steady breathing. Exhale and swing your legs up onto the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it. If you have any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching it. Rest your head on the mat or floor, keeping your spine straight, and bend your knees a little so your kneecaps won’t lock.

When using support- If you have any lower back pain, support your body by placing a yoga block or folded blankets on the ground beneath your back. When positioning your support, you must consider its height and its distance from the wall. If you are not very flexible, your support should be lower to the ground and farther from the wall. If you are flexible, keep your support higher and closer to the wall. Keep a gentle arc in your torso from the pubis to the top of the shoulders.

If your neck feels strained, place a small, rolled-up towel under it.

Release the weight of your belly toward the back of the pelvis, deeply into the torso. Soften the eyes and turn them down towards your heart. After you come out of this restorative pose, be sure to lie on your side for a few breaths before sitting upright with your back against the wall, then slowly rising to your feet.

Source/Reference

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Awesome Benefits of Viparita Karani:

Reversing Gravity. The restorative nature of this posture gets blood flowing to parts of the body that need it, making it good for most any ailment including arthritis, high or low blood pressure, respiratory ailments, and menopause.

Go downtown. Alleviates menstrual cramps! For those of you lacking ovaries, this is also good for your little swimmers- it helps testicular and semen problems.

Feet. Relieves sore feet, legs, and ankles. Unlike sitting, which keeps the blood stagnant in your feet and partially cut off by your bent knees, this pose gets 100% weight off your feet to give them some relief.

Inversions calm anxiety. This is an extremely relaxing pose. No matter what’s going on, if I throw my legs up the wall and give my brain some much needed blood flow, I feel better. More benefits of inversions here.

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I prescribe this pose to everyone I know. Whether it’s headaches, sore feet and legs, anxiety, Viparita Karani is soothing and symptom free. Best of all- it gives you a time out from your day to just be.

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be part of it

“It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. Here, nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” – Crash

Everywhere in the world has a buzz, a flow, a heartbeat. Be part of it.

Have a wonderful sunday. Namaste.

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Click either picture to download

I wanted to share with you a recent addition I’ve made to my home practice. If you have an Iphone, Android, or other smartphone, you should check this out. You may recognize Pocket Yoga Builder from Starbuck’s Pick of the Week, which is where I picked up my promotional code for this cool App. Unlike other yoga apps, you can easily create sequences as it suggests appropriate poses when you are building your practice. It has a huge range of poses, from the simplest to the most advanced. I like that it’s intuitive and can be taken anywhere.

You can email your practice to friends who have the app and they can open it right from their phone. You can also email a PDF of your practice and send it to itunes. After this app came out, friends and family started requesting I build them sequences…here are my favorites:

Power Flow I – 25 min fast paced vinyasa flow

Flexibility I – 23 min restorative cocktail of hatha and vinyasa

If you have the app, feel free to email me at littlewindmillyoga@gmail.com and I can send you the iphone/ipad version of these flows!

Home practice: Pocket Yoga Builder

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Asana of the Week: Flip Your Dog!

Flippin’ the dog

I couldn’t find a specific Sanskrit name for this, but I believe it’s a variation of Camatkarasana or ‘wild thing’ pose. A beautiful heart opener and upside-down-dog. I fully intend to bring this into a full wheel some day…

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Asana of the week: plow

Hala Asana! Working on getting my back straighter

Hala-Asana

Since the past few weeks have been dominated by discussion of power moves and invigorating flows, I decided to select an asana that just feels damn good.

I love plow. I love how it’s normally towards the end of a class so you can tell you’ve crossed the desert and are almost to the promised land of savasana.

There are so many good things going on here:

Jalandhara bandha. Also known as the chin lock, which stimulates your thyroid and metabolism as you press your chin to your chest.

Spine therapy. An amazing, elongating stretch through your back and spine as gravity opens you up.

Inversion. The benefits of inversions are amazing from increased circulation to feeling sharper mentally. A post about them here!

I like to bring my hands to my toes at first, breathe and relax into it. Then I bring my arms to my sides and bind my hands behind my body; compressing my neck to my chest like crazy. A step by step guide to plow pose here.

Watch it. Women on their mentrual cycles should not do plow pose. I don’t know why, I’ve just been told this by many teachers. Anyone know why?

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