Tag Archives: health

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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Confessions: Hippie Dippie Things I Love

My salt candle

I love my Himalayan salt crystal candle holder. This candle holder works like an air purifier, emitting negative ions that fight against positively charged particles that cause us to feel stuffy and sluggish. It can help reduce allergens and also removes excess moisture from the air. Each one is different, and they look really beautiful. Throw a bee’s wax candle in there and you’ve got a beautiful living air cleaner! I got mine from friends over at Salt Room Yoga.hippiedippie-6

Juicing/kombucha/coconut water

I practice hot yoga daily, and would totally be that girl who asks if you ‘want to grab a coconut water after class.’ Kombucha is full of probiotics and amazing when you want something fizzy. We have a citrus juicer and Breville juice fountain in our kitchen, and use them regularly. Seattlites check out my favorite juice company in the world, Strawberry Moon Juice.

Krishna Das

The longer I do yoga, the more I get into kirtan and other new age music (this IS a confessions post!). I really think KD has an amazing voice, as does Enya(Yeah, I said it!) and other artists of that genre. I’ve taken to playing KD’s song Baba Hanuman at the end of my class most days, just because I love the vibration and good vibe it sets.

DIY homemade beauty products

I make my own shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, bath salts, exfoliating scrubs, room freshener, and soon my own dish soap. I just get fed up with all the yucky stuff in beauty products nowadays, so I decided to make my own so I can have full control of what goes on my body. All of my beauty products are completely edible and less than 4 ingredients. hippiedippie-5

On the left are some essential oils which I also love, but probably don’t merit their own category.

Hemp Products

On the far left you can see my beloved hemp hand scrub, and that’s just the beginning of my love for hemp products. I always have hemp seeds on hand, they are a high protein seed containing all nine of the essential amino acids. It also has high amounts of fatty acids and fiber as well as containing vitamin E and trace minerals. It has a balanced ratio of omega 3 to 6 fats at around a three to one ratio. They are also more easily digested than flax seeds.

Hemp seed oil is delicious on salads and hemp milk in my favorite for hot chocolate. Because hemp is one of the strongest and most abundant crops to grow, that makes it a more sustainable option that many other types of fabric. It’s also a very strong fiber, even our first american flag was sewn from hemp fabric!

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Herbal tinctures

Herbs are so powerful! My very favorites are Kava Kava, which naturally gives you an ‘it’s all good’ feeling, and Skullcap, which calms your nerves and quiets a chattering mind. The ‘Detox’ tincture with burdock, fennel, and dandelion was gifted to me when I went on my cleanse to help my liver clean my blood more efficiently. I even began making my own tinctures in the last couple months. That’s pretty hippie dippie, eh?hippiedippie-3

Ethically sourced foods

Organic, grass-fed, local, cage-free, fair trade, GMO free, all of that crap. When you do yoga, you really start to be keenly aware of how you’re fueling your body and get freaked out by all the alien ingredients in food nowadays. Farmer’s markets are my gig, which is pretty hippie dippie, but local is really important to me because I like to know the money stays in my own region instead of going to some distant corporation.

Thanks to a slew of netflix documentaries I’ve watched recently, ethical treatment and the diet of animals is VERY important to me. When we buy eggs or cream at the farmer’s market, I always ask- “Are you nice to your cows?” or “Are your chickens happy?” It was a particularly disturbing scene in the documentary Vegucated that sparked this. A woman in the documentary called up a farm that claimed to be organic/grassfed/ethical only to get some startling information about the treatment of their animals.

My cats

It’s not the mere fact that I love my cats that makes it hippie dippie, but maybe the extent of how much I love them and believe they love me too. Which is a lot. I hope they also hold some value for me other than the required duties of a pet owner that make our lives run smoother. I know they don’t understand my words when I say ‘I love you,’ but I believe that they feel it.

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Sushi Monster & Oliver

Yoga cat. Yes, I know I'm hyperextending my elbows.

Yoga cat. Yes, I know I’m hyperextending my elbows.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I’ve been making fun of myself about lately.

Time to ‘fess up! What are your hippie dippie loves?

 

 

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The Science of Body Language


I just watched this fascinating TED Talk about body language. This is all about how ‘power poses,’ and how they effect how we see ourselves and how others see us. We are simple beings, when we feel confident we puff up our chest(not unlike primates) and stand tall. Our bodies reflect how expansive we feel, and our bold presence is known to others. When we feel insecure and hesitant we collapse our chest and make ourselves small, often slouching and curling up. We do this all subconsciously, proving the yogic principle that the mind drastically effects the body.

But what if we reverse this? If we made a shape with our body, would it effect the way we think? The studies in this TED Talk demonstrate just that, showing that it can be applied to situations like job interviews, first dates, presentations, etc. This also shows the science behind tricking your mind into a higher level of testosterone, the power hormone, and a lower level of cortisol, the stress hormone. More power and less reaction to stress make us confident and grounded.

These are just a couple of things social psychologist Amy Cuddy examines in this talk, and I recommend watching until the end to see it all come full circle.

Check back this week for a yoga sequence of power poses!

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Good morning yogis!

I finally got to watch this episode of MTV’s Made featuring Baron Baptiste! I thought it was really cool how they got some yoga on there at last! This gave me such a warm and fuzzy moment.

Click to watch the full episode! Baron comes in at around 25 minutes

Click to watch the full episode! Baron comes in at around 25 minutes

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s a brief-ish synopsis:

The subject of this episode, Derek, aspires to be ‘made’ into a boxer. His father was Smokin’ Joe Frazier, so as you can imagine those are some pretty big shoes (or gloves?) to fill.MTV set him up with a professional boxing coach and a personal trainer that worked with him daily for over a month! He was getting stronger and losing weight, but his boxing was not improving because his father’s death was still too fresh and painful for him. He didn’t have the confidence and drive to fulfill his goal because he was still dealing with his father’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. So MTV brought in Baron. And as usual, yoga came to the rescue! This is where things turned around. Baron spent just three days with Derek, teaching him power yoga and talking through what he had not faced that was holding him back. One of the ‘yes!’ moments(at 29:30) came when he did an assisted wheel pose(baron’s favorite) when he was literally saying, “no way, no way I’m doing that.” Love it! I also have to give Derek major props for really emotionally opening up, especially in front of millions of people. He really exposed a vulnerable part of his past which I know attributed to his healing.

After that, everything started to fall into place. He began winning matches and began feeling lighter all areas of his life.

I just love seeing yoga transform people’s lives!

Yoga on MADE

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Imagine Yoga: Flow in the Glow of Chihuly

Thanks to Lululemon Athletica Pacific Place for this free event that drew a line of over 300 yogis around the block!

Sanga, kula, samajam, graama… It’s no wonder there are so many sanskrit words for community. There’s something about the energy of a full room of people moving and breathing in sync with one another that draws people from miles away!

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The Glasshouse

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My view from savasana

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Flowing in a different light

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Shaking it out!

This was a fun event, I can’t wait to see what the Seattle yoga community has in store for summer!

Namaste!

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Ayurveda Cleanse: The Exciting Conclusion!

I made it! 5 days of Ayurveda cleansing complete! Okay maybe not extremely exciting, but my cleanse week has taught me a couple of things:

Simplicity is key. Don’t over think your food choices. Obsessing about everything you eat will just give you more anxiety surrounding food. The nice thing about cleansing is eliminating a couple decisions from your day. When you start to over-complicate your diet, that’s when you start over or under eating and digestion gets messed up. Find a few meals that you like and can have on a daily basis. It will be more cost efficient and make you feel better in the long run.

I don’t need as much food as I think I do. I ate 1 cup of kitchari for each meal. A cup of kitchari has about 300 calories, totaling 900 calories a day give or take a couple hundred calories of coconut oil.

I run better on raw foods. During my cleanse, I didn’t feel so great during yoga. When I’m following a raw food diet, I feel flexible and strong, but eating kitchari was making me feel tired and stiff in my practice. I know that it’s a different story for every body, but this was my experience.

It’s nice to restart. It felt wonderful to break the not-so-great diet habits I had developed. After my cleanse I felt like I had pressed the restart button and could start from page 1 with my diet choices. Eating a mono-diet has made me appreciate so much the different flavors and textures of food, I can savor and have gratitude for each bite.

Enjoy your food! It is one of the great pleasures in life. Sitting down to a family dinner, baking cookies for a loved one, sipping lemonade on the front porch…

Habits I will hold on to:

Tongue scraping. It just makes so much sense to me. White icky stuff on your tongue? Scrape it off!

The media diet. Waking up and not immediately staring at my email inbox was one of the things that made this week great. I am making a commitment to leave my cell phone alone until I walk out the door.

Warm water. Warm water with lemon made me feel bright and energized. That stays.

To your health!

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Ayurveda Cleanse Day 2: Detoxing with Pranayama

An Update:

Thank goodness the headache is gone today. Unfortunately I’m having some sinus pressure, I remember that happening during my juice cleanse too but I’ve never heard anyone else mention that symptom. It faded mid morning and all went back to normal. I devoured my first two servings of kitchari already today and in between had smalls cups of carrot lime juice and kale cucumber lime juice with a dash of apple. No pure parsley shots today but the juice definitely clears that foggy brain feeling.

Yoga went well again, sweating is always nice although my body doesn’t feel as flexible or strong as when I’m on a raw food diet. I will admit I just had double servings of kitchari…this batch was so good and I was hungry! The no water with meals thing is tough for me too! Apparently water during meals dilutes the digestive enzymes and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients.

Tomorrow night I think I’ll treat myself to a more gourmet version with veggies and whatever my personal chef boyfriend concocts. Namaste!

Detox Tip #1: 

I’ve been reading about the detoxifying effects of pranayama.

Deep breathing, where you fill your belly and expand your diaphragm downwards, is one of the most powerful exercise you can do to activate your lymph system which helps to detoxify your body. Your lymph system is what gets the garbage out. Practice 10 deep slow breaths counting 4 seconds in, 8 seconds hold and 8 seconds out.

According to the ‘Tao of Breathing’ up to 70% of our body’s waste products are eliminated via our lungs and the rest through the urine, skin and feces. When the efficiency of our lungs is reduced due to poor breathing less oxygen is available to our cells, it slows down the flow of blood which carries wastes from the kidneys and lungs. Our lymphatic system which fights off viral and bacterial invaders is weakened along with a slower digestive process.It’s all about the breath!

Deep_Breathing

just in case you forgot how to breathe

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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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Alexander the Great Meets a Yogi

The Yogi

The Yogi

“When Alexander the Great was busy conquering the world far and wide, he came at last to India.

When he was about to return to his country, he remembered that his
people had asked him to bring to them an Indian yogi. They had heard
a lot about yogis and were very desirous of seeing one, meeting him,
hearing him speak and receiving his blessings. Alexander was told
that the yogis dwelt in the forest.

In quest of a yogi he went to a forest. Sure enough, he found one
sitting underneath a tree, in deep meditation. He waited patiently
until the yogi opened his eyes. They shone with a strange, mystic
light.

Reverently, Alexander requested the yogi to accompany him to Greece,
saying.

“I will give you everything you need or ask for. But, pray, do come
with me. My people would love to meet you!”

The yogi quietly answered, “I need nothing, I am happy where I am.”

This was the first time that anyone had turned down Alexander’s
request. He could not control himself. He flew into a rage.

And unsheathing his sword, he thundered, “Do you know who is
speaking to you? I am the great king Alexander. If you will not listen to me. I shall
kill you- cut you into pieces!”

Unperturbed, the yogi answered. “You cannot kill me. You can only
kill my body. And the body is but a garment I have worn. I am not
the body. I am that which dwells within the body.”

The yogi continued, “You say you are a king. May I tell you, who you
are? You are a slave of my slave!”

Stunned. Alexander asked. “How am I a slave of your slave?”

In a voice tender with compassion, the yogi explained. “I have
mastered anger. Anger is my slave. See, how easily you gave way to anger. You are a
slave of anger, and, therefore, a slave of my slave!”

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This delightful story reminds me to never become a slave to my negative emotions, and most of all my temper. Pain and difficulty will always try to spark a reaction from you, but it’s up to you to respond as an ‘Alexander,’ or a ‘Yogi.’ The more we stoke the fires of anger, sadness, and struggle in our lives the more power we give them. In this case, Alexander may not have seen his anger as a weakness, but the yogi shed light on the strong influence that it had over Alexander’s life. As yogis, our practice is a bulletproof armor to stop the external forces that persuade us to define ourselves by these negative emotions. And that is truly powerful.

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Book Review: Bodies by Susie Orbach

I recently finished the book ‘Bodies.’ The writer Susie Orbach offers a unique perspective, one of a psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, and social critic. She describes different scenarios throughout the book from the common to the most extreme. Surprisingly, her writing doesn’t feel like a feminist disgusted with the body-image standards of today. She simply makes the point that our bodies are being shaped by forces beyond our control and these forces are destructive. It is difficult to pick our way through the paradoxes of the body. It’s hard to make sense of a world where some women are in burkas, while others are in tube tops. A world where some starve themselves for vanity, and others simply starve.

Throughout the book she uses examples of patients she has treated with various difficulties concerning their bodies. She gives examples of how feelings of bodily discontentment can be passed down from mother to child, generation to generation. In contrast she describes babies with the right amount of love and attention as “absorbing the will to live.” The storytelling was my favorite part, her vast experience in psychotherapy is fascinating.

GEMS:

“We are accustomed to thinking of our bodies as just existing; propelled to grow by reasonable nutrition and our genetic inheritance…Our bodies are a lot more than an executed blueprint given by our DNA.”

“The complex intertwined cocktail of physical engagement is what creates our personal idiosyncratic and unique body.”

If you get a chance to read this – let me know what you think.

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