Category Archives: Asana

#TuesdayTips: Viparita Karani Mudra

20160504_203018Viparita Karani Mudra, or legs up the wall pose, is a deeply restorative asana meant to be held for long periods of time (5 to 20 minutes).

Inverting the body is beneficial to the body’s physical systems – aiding the circulatory, respiratory, and lymphatic systems, and allowing deep relaxation of the muscles in the legs. It is also beneficial for the nervous system – allowing the mind to relax deeply.

Even when the body is in a shape meant to be relaxing, the mind sometimes resists and struggles to remain active. If you find it hard to quiet the mind in this (or really any) asana, here are some tips to try:

  • If you’re feeling spacey or scattered, allow yourself to focus on the points where the body is making contact with the floor. Allow yourself to feel grounded and fully supported by the floor below you. Anytime the mind wanders, come back to this feeling of grounding.
  • If you’re feeling agitated, angry, or unhappy, focus on the flow of the breath. Imagine breathing in through the soles of the feet into the heart center and out in the opposite direction. Allow the breath to flow over you like a waterfall, washing away any tension.
  • If you’re feeling stuck or your mind keeps revisiting past events, focus on opening the heart center with each breath. The heart is the seat of balance, wisdom, and peace. Allow yourself to return to the peaceful present by coming back to the heart anytime the mind gets caught up in thoughts.

Enjoy a little rejuvenation whenever you can!

In peace and light,

Debra

#ThrowBackThursday: Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone

photoThink yoga can only be done in a studio setting? Yoga can be done anywhere, including in the middle of a fashion mall concourse (pictured here).

I tend to be a very introverted person and at first was hesitant to practice where non-yoga practitioners could see me. This picture was taken not too very long after my ex and I first split, and I was both feeling lost and re-discovering my independence. It helped to be surrounded by supportive friends. Learning to push past my comfort zone helped me re-claim my strength.

I encourage you to look for places to practice that are outside the normal studio setting (like the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, where I just happen to teach on Mondays and Thursdays). It can give you a new perspective on your practice and yourself.

 

Peace and love,

Debra

#WellnessWednesday: Reclining Butterfly

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a sequence that included reclining butterfly. You’ll find this pose not just in yin and restorative classes, but in other hatha class as well.

How to do it: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor and bring the inside edges of your feet together. Bring the soles of the feet to come together while opening the knees wide. If your knees don’t rest on the floor, used blankets, yoga blocks or some other support to support the legs so that your muscles can relax. Turning your palms up helps roll the shoulders and collarbones open.

Benefits:

  • Increases blood circulation to the organs in the lower abdomen
  • Stretches the inner thighs and groins if the feet are close to the body; opens the connective tissue of the hip joint if the feet are farther away
  • Increases range of external rotation in the hips
  • Calms the nervous system

 

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Peace and love,

Debra

#WellnessWednesday: Easy Resting Pose

Last week, I shared a sequence that included easy resting pose. Easy resting pose, sometimes called constructive rest, is exactly what it name says: a simple shape that allows deep rest for the mind and the body.

How to do it: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, allowing the knees to fall toward each other. Let your hands rest comfortably on your rib cage. Support your head with a folded blanket. Set a timer for the amount of time you would like to practice. Soften the low back and the hips. Direct your breath to anywhere you feel tension. Then allow yourself to just be.

Benefits: This pose relaxes the whole body and releases tension in the iliopsoas muscle.

Peace and love,

Debra

World Snake Day

July 16 is World Snake Day. While snakes may seem a bit scary, they play a vital role in our ecosystem. Indiana, where I live, has 33 native species of snakes, four of which are venomous. If you’re afraid of snakes, learning about them can help dispel your fears or at least teach you how to avoid them. If you love snakes, celebrate them by doing a little cobra pose.

Cobra Pose

Getting into it

  • Lying on your stomach, bring your hands under elbows (or under your shoulders for less intensity) and hug your elbows in to your sides.
  • Engage the legs so that all toes are gently pressed into the floor; the feet will stay on the floor in this pose. Engage the abdomen. Lengthen the spine and, on an inhale, begin to lift the head, neck, and shoulders as one unit.
  • Press into the hands without straightening the arms all the way and keep your neck in neutral.

Benefits

  • Helps reestablish the natural curve of the lumbar region
  • Helps relieve lower back pain and stiffness
  • Tones the spine

Happy yoga-ing!

Debra

Paul Bunyan Day

June 28 is Paul Bunyan Day, a day to celebrate American folklore and the legendary giant lumberjack in particular. You can celebrate a number of ways including:

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Whatever you do, have a little fun with your day!

Debra

 

National Canoe Day

National Canoe Day is June 26th. Sounds like a perfect day to work on boat pose, or navasana! Boat is a great way to work on both your abs and back muscles. To do boat, you sit on your mat and tilt back until you can pick your feet up of the floor. Most traditionally, boat is done with the legs extended, arms parallel to the floor, and back long. There are number of ways to modify the pose to make it a bit more accessible as well as amp it up a bit.

  • To make it a bit easier, keep the shins parallel to the floor and either hold behind the knees or extend the arms along the floor.
  • For a bit more challenge, take the shoulders and feet closer to the floor, either holding or raising and lowering the shoulders with the breath.
  • For variation, reach the arms forward and practice twisting from side to side
  • You can really do almost any variation that comes to mind as long as you keep the back long and your breath moving.

Anchors away!

IDebra

Global Running Day

June 7 is Global Running Day. Whether you’re a newby or an experienced runner, yoga can be a great cross-training activity to aid in recovery and improve performance. Yin poses like dragon and frog can be great for deeply opening the hips. Another pose that can be great and gets into the hips at a different angle is cat tail pose.

Cat Tail (suggested hold time 3-5 minutes)

Contraindications

  • Go gently with lower back issues

Getting into the Pose:

  • From seated, twist to the right and lean onto the right elbow. Bring top leg forward and to the side. Bend the right (lower leg) and take foot with the opposite hand. Pull the hand toward the buttocks while pushing the foot away.
  • Can also start from lying down.

Modifications

  • (Easiest) Stay propped up on elbow.
  • (Intermediate) Extended bottom arm straight out from shoulder above the head.
  • (Fullest) Recline so that both shoulders are on the floor, making it a reclining twist

Benefits:

  • Good counterpose for forward bends
  • Mildly compresses lower back
  • Opens quads and upper thighs

Meridians & Organs Affected:

  • Stomach and spleen
  • Urinary and kidney (more with deeper twists)
  • Gall bladder (if twisting rib cage)

Joints Affected:

  • Lumbar, sacrum
  • Ribs (if twisting)

Chakras Affected:

  • First (muladhara)
  • Second (svadhistana)
  • Third (anahata)

Coming Out:

  • Release foot and roll onto front

Counterposes

  • Hug knees into chest
  • Child’s pose

Enjoy the day!

Debra

 

Revenge of the Fifth

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Illustrations by Rob Ozborne

Yesterday we celebrated the light, and today we embrace the dark side. The poses:

Have fun today!

Debra

 

 

May the Fourth

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Illustrations by Rob Ozborne

Introduce your inner geek to your inner yogi with this fun Star Wars-inspired yoga as drawn by Rob Ozborne.

The poses:

Celebrate the light and May the Fourth be with you,

Debra

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