Tag Archives: Yoga

Fix how you sit! Tips from my rolfer

Yesterday I had my second rolfing session. While rolfing doesn’t feel particularly feel good like a massage, it’s totally worth it to me to go nerd out about anatomy and physiology with my brilliant ‘rolfer.’ I am amazed by her knowledge of the human body and love to pick her brain. I wanted to share with you some of the tips she gave me about sitting that will improve postural alignment and overall balance in my body.

I don’t have a tv, but I told my rolfer that I spend most of my ‘sitting time’ at home at my desk. Right off the bat she recommended that my computer screen be slightly raised so the chin is lifted as opposed to tilted down. Your keyboard should be at a level where you arms sit at a 90 degree angle, like sphinx pose. Your knees should ideally be lower than your hips and your spine erect rather than curved.

Sitting on a very soft surface(like a sofa) puts our pelvis in a posterior tilt and curves our spine, so placing a more firm prop underneath you keeps the spine straighter. It makes sense to me now why most meditation pillows are firm and filled with beads as opposed to soft and fluffy.

I have always had problems with badha konasana, sukhasana, and most sitting meditation poses (without the use of a block) because my spine wants to round and I quickly feel back pain. That being said, these changes have not been easy for me! I am on day two of making these changes at my desk, and my back feels very tired. As I was told by my rolfer, this takes time to develop muscle memory and break the habit of years of slouching.

If these changes are unrealistic, maybe just schedule a pop-up reminder on your computer reminding you to sit up straight!

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For goodness sake- do NOT sit on a ball! It’s almost impossible to sit with a straight spine on such a soft surface.

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Ganesha : The Master of New Beginnings

Happy 2014 Yogis! A time to celebrate sweet endings and exciting new beginnings.

Who is Ganesha? Ganesha is one of the celebrity gods in Hindu philosophy. He is the destroyer of vanity, selfishness, pride and is the remover of obstacles. He clears the obstacles in your life, so there is nothing stopping you between you and your ideal life. I feel Ganesh is a kindred spirit to me because he loves sweets, and he loves to dance!

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He is half boy, half elephant, and the son of Shiva and Parvati. The head of Ganesh represents the Atman (ultimate reality), while his child’s body signifies the earthly realm of human beings. In his upper right hand Ganesh holds a whip or goad, which seems harsh but helps him propel mankind forward(like cattle) remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesh’s left hand helps him capture and restrain all difficulties.

In his lower right hand is a writing tusk he broke writing the Mahabharata, one of the two major sanskrit epics. The Mala beads in his other hand represents the endless pursuit of knowledge and being a student of life. The candy he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the life, he loves sweets! The snake that runs round his waist like a belt represents energy in all forms. He travels by mouse!

On December 31st I took my last yoga class of 2013. The teacher asked us to close our eyes and consider the question, “what would you do if there were no obstacles stopping you from your ideal life?”

Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough this or that…. These are excuses we use all the time. In this time of new beginnings, let’s get really clear on our 2014 intentions by letting Ganesh demolish our obstacles and excuses and not waste another moment of 2014!

Ganesha’s Mantra. Ganesh resides in our firey root chakra, the foundation of our being, and we can ignite him by chanting his mantra or silently thinking it during meditation. “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha,” which can be loosely translated to “Yo! Time to wake up Root Chakra! Let’s get the energy of transformation moving so I can kick my obstacles’ ass and live my ideal life!”

And now for all of you auditory learners, Ganesha’s story through the immortal words of MC Yogi!

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Ahimsa

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Happy Sunday yogis, friends, friends of friends, strangers, christmas elves…

In the spirit of the holiday season, I present you with two interpretations of ahimsa.
From Patanjali’s yoga sutras:
2.35 As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility.
(ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)

ahimsa = non-violence, non-harming, non-injury
pratishthayam = having firmly established, being well grounded in
tat = that, of his or her
vaira-tyagah = give up hostilities (vaira = hostility, enmity, aggression; tyaga = abandon, give up)

Given here is Kino, the fabulous youtube celebrity of Ashtanga yoga, and Sri Swami Satchidananda, spiritual teacher. The important takeaway here is what Ahimsa means to YOU. Kino and Swami cannot use their fame to ahimsa the evil out of the world. But if we, one-by-one, commit to kindness in our daily lives, we can!

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Hello Friends!

As you can probably see, I haven’t written a post in a good long time. Little Windmill is my baby and has helped me evolve my writing style and develop my voice. It has given me the opportunity to meet many new friends and express my story. Community is a simple and powerful thing, and LW has helped me contribute to the conversation. So, why the absence? I’m glad you asked. 

The truth is, my yoga practice has been more of a source of stress for me recently than the stress reliever it should be. I’ve been suffering from chronic back pain, pain in my hamstrings, and general soreness that doesn’t seem to go away.

For this I’ve tried numerous treatments- hot baths every day, essential oils, taken 10+ days of complete rest, acupressure points, myofascial massage, and most recently rolfing. It is extremely discouraging to me because my yoga practice is not only very close to my heart, but also my livelihood. There are poses I could once easily do that are a struggle for me now, and some that just seem impossibly out of reach.

I guess you could say I’ve been feeling pretty down in the dumps about my practice lately because of this, which has less-than-inspired me to write about it. I’ve been so frustrated with the physical aspect of yoga that the spiritual element has been lost to me. In addition to this, my meditation practice has suffered, and my motivation is poor.

A big truth is, I struggle with yoga! But I know that our minds are so strongly connected to our bodies, that our practice is constantly evolving, and this is part of the process. For me, that is a gift. Yoga practice never ends. We’re never finished. We don’t reach a goal and stop. We continue on. We see where our practice takes our body, mind and spirit.

So this is me setting intention for 2014. I am committing to sharing my truth, my Satya, my dharma with you.

Namaste and thank you for your continued support and understanding!

My truth, my satya

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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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Om Shanti!

Hello yogis!

Today I am off to Europe for exciting adventures in my homeland of Iceland and then Paris! I can’t wait to practice in another hemisphere and meet yogis from around the world! I have fun posts lined up for you and lots of photos when I’m back. Om Shanti, friends!

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Raja Bhujangasana

Yoga Journal doesn’t call this a pose, but I have always liked the idea that any shape in your body that feels good or challenges you is yoga. My teacher Silvia Mordini always uses the example that making a pizza is a vinyasa.

I snapped this shot of my beautiful friend Michelle, the Graceful Yogi, who ‘graciously’ guest posted when I was away. You can read her inversion tips here, and her forearm stand tips here.

If you’re a vinyasa junkie, you’re probably doing tons of upward facing dogs and cobra poses. These help with spine mobility for sure, but reaching the toes to the head is an even deeper backbend and is just another way to improve poses like your wheels and bows. So give this rarely used pose a try, and remember it’s a life long practice!

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Notice how the curve in her spine is in the thoracic and cervical spine, not just the sacrum. Mobility in all parts of the spine is needed to do backbends safely.

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Cool show of progression in raja bhujangasana

Work every section of your spine.

Work every section of your spine.

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