Practice Tips

  • Bring in the Spring: 10 Tips to Shift into the Season

    Today marks the official dawn of spring! Sure, it may not feel very spring-like. It snowed in North Carolina last week, and I know it's still cold in a lot of places. Winter is sometimes slow to release her chilly grip. Even still, I know spring is upon us. The sun feels a bit warmer when it touches my skin. The days are brighter. The energy is up! Yes, yogis, spring is here. Even if it hasn’t made itself totally obvious yet.

    Since we are seasonally shifting, it’s important to make some minor lifestyle changes. It’s time to let go of your wintery ways and change in accordance with the season to stay balanced and happy!

    Spring is a season of warmth, moisture, and softness. The heat from the sun is now awakening the vibrancy and beauty of all life that was lying dormant during winter (including yourself, perhaps). Even so, this season can be problematic for some. Spring is also a season of colds, sinus congestion, and allergies. To avoid these typical spring occurrences, it’s important to emphasize internal spring cleaning.

    Spring Guidelines:

    1. Eat a lighter diet.
    2. Take on some sort of cleansing program. Kitchari cleanses are a really nourishing way to cleanse while still getting plenty of food.
    3. Start to wake up earlier. Rise with the sun!
    4. Declutter and rearrange your space to best support yourself in this season. What do you use, what do you need each day? What can be donated, sold, or put away until it gets cold out again?
    5. Say goodbye to all napping unless you're sick or pregnant. I'm serious. Napping causes stagnation.
    6. As it really begins to heat up, take measures to keep cool. Practice cooling forms of yoga, such as yin yoga. (Sort by style and find all of our online yin yoga classes). Practice cooling forward folds. Take a refreshing dip.
    7. Take time to appreciate the reawakening of nature. Take nature walks. Go on a long hike. Take your laptop or tablet outside and practice yoga outdoors. Observe all the new life emerging. New sprouts. New blooms and blossoms. New, vibrant energy. Embrace it all!
    8. Since there will be a lot of action going on outside, set aside time for introspective activities, such as meditation or writing. We offer an awesome collection of online meditation classes. Please check them out! Reserve time for stillness.
    9. Do some emotional housekeeping and cleaning. How are you feeling? Are you holding on to anything you should be releasing? Are you happy? Self-reflect.
    10. Practice detoxifying, renewing yoga classes. Think twists, twists, and more twists. To find all of our twisting online yoga flows, sort by Focus.

    Spring these balancing tips into action. Be full of the joys of spring.

  • 10 Things to Let Go of in 2018 (& Always)

    New Years Intentions, Resolutions, Goals are well and good, but they can get to be a bit overwhelming. Right?

    This year, I reviewed my list of New Years Resolutions from the past few years and found a lot of...

    I'll do more of this…

    And more of that...

    More. More. More. More. More.

    While I’m cool with the idea of more, I’m also cool with the idea of less, because less is more. AND I am enough.

    As a striving Yogini I'm one of my prevailing practices is in non-attachment and creating a fairly simple life. I don’t really want a lot of stuff lurking around - physically and mentally. After perusing my list, I felt quite overwhelmed with all of the additional stuff. So, to counter that overwhelm-tion I asked myself:

    What can I do without this year? Both in my yoga practice and life?

    What can I do to lighten my load - to create space for all of this new?

    I listed the following.

    1. Fear

    “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” - John Lennon

    Face fear head on in 2018. Don’t pull back.

    Home Practice Recommendation: Join Laura Amazzone & Christi Christensen  for "Kali: Let Go of Fear and Own Your Power" , a vinyasa flow, mantra and meditation practice  that can be used to transform difficult emotions, such as fear, and tap into your power.  (67 mins.)

    2. Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas

    “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.” - Kurt Vonnegut

    What’s done is done. You can’t go back. The present is now, be here.

    3. Toxic Relationships

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” - Mark Twain

    Enough with people that make you feel blah. Choose people that elevate you - people that make you better.

    Home Practice Recommendation: Turn to Ashley Turner’s online yoga video - a Cord Cutting Meditation - to help you release relationships or people in your life that have been toxic or unhealthy.

    4. Expectation

    “To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn

    Do not expect things to pan out just so. They rarely do. Hey, sometimes they pan out even better!

    Home Practice Recommendation: Check out Rolf Gates’ Vinyasa yoga video "Letting Go of Wanting and Not Wanting. Practice coming into the moment, letting go of wanting and not wanting, and being with the rise and fall of your breath in this challenging online yoga class. (93 mins.)

    5. Regrets

    "Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future." - Sivananda

    Do not burden your soul with things you cannot change. Resolve, instead, to be better next time. That’s all you can do.

    6. Excuses

    “I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any excuse.” - Florence Nightingale

    If you want to see things get done in 2018, stop making/accepting lame excuses. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    7. Yester-years

    “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” - Henry David Thoreau

    It’s tempting to meander down memory lane. Sure, it can be fun - even beneficial - to reflect, but don’t stay back there too long. Be present. Don’t miss out on all the beauty and opportunity right in front of you!

    Home Practice Recommendation: Love your past, create your future and find contentment in the present moment with  "Santosha: Heart Opening Yoga" with Dana Damara. (51 mins)

    9. Fantasies of Perfection

    “I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it's drama, it's the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.” - Nicolas Cage

    Strive for progress; not perfection. Perfect is an illusion anyways. And if it were real, it’d be boring as hell.

    10. Negative Thoughts

    “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

    Happiness comes from shifting your perception of world. When things get messy in 2018, will you give up and catastrophize the situation? Or, will you take the happy road, and realize that all things - bad and good - happen for a reason?

    Home Practice Recommendation: Join Jeanne Heileman for "Lift up out of Your Bootstraps"  an online yoga class for those days when you are feeling thick, heavy and stuck seeing things from a negative point of view. This class is sequenced to helped you access more lightness and energy in your body. Be warned, you may end up smiling by the end of this practice! (64 mins).

    ***

    Dismiss the stuff that’s been holding you back.

    Lessen your load and lighten your spirit.

    Create space for your new intentions to manifest in 2018.

    What will you do less of in 2018? Please share!

     

    Edited post, original post written by Tessa Johnson

  • How to Build a Safe L Pose by Sigrid Matthews

    yoga poses

    Alignment, alignment, alignment!

    Sometimes, don’t you just wish your teacher would shut up and let you go with the flow, literally? There is nothing like moving on the breath, flowing gracefully from one pose to the next, not staying too long anywhere - almost like dancing to great rock and roll in your bedroom.

    Yes, I’ve been there too and taught many a fun, sweaty, flow yoga class where everyone was grooving to tunes and meditating on their higher self. There is nothing wrong with this, but over the years of repetition and moving your body around unconsciously, you are at a higher risk for injuries, particularly in the shoulders.

    One of the most common complaints and recurring site of injuries in yoga these days is the tearing of the rotator cuff. It’s giving yoga a bad reputation and some are going so far as to say that yoga can wreck your body! Luckily, many of us know how many stories of healing the body are attributed to yoga. However you may want to consider fine tuning your practice to lessen the risk of injury in yoga poses like chaturanga dandasana, plank, vashistasana, handstand, and even, upward facing dog.

    L pose is a fantastic way to get the strengthening benefits of the above poses with a lot less risk.

    One of the main reasons people get hurt flowing from chaturanga to cobra or up dog is that they allow the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) to protract or “drop” forward in the shoulder socket. This protraction can also be accompanied with scapular protraction, but many students simply “pull” their shoulder blades back (retraction) without addressing the real issue of the forward upper arm bone. In fact, the shoulder blades can be somewhat neutral in plank. When you cleanly bend your arms, stopping just before the chest is lower than the elbows and keeping the front of the chest open, the shoulder blades will move towards one another as much as needed (you don’t need to do more). Keep the front of the shoulders open as you transition into upward facing dog.

    Okay, so problem solved. Well, as people do cycle after cycle of vinyasa they tend to get tired and sloppy and that’s when you see the pose beginning to break down. Rather than doing 100s of chaturangas to develop strength and tone, challenge yourself by working L pose for up to a minute at a time.

    ***

    To start working your L pose, tune into Sigrid's Focused Flow yoga video. Build confidence and self-esteem and receive all of the benefits of a full handstand as you practice this safe inversion utilizing the wall. This online yoga class is taught progressively for safety with all of the prep poses creating spinal alignment, posture, and deep core integrity. (15 mins.)

    yoga online

  • How Much Do You Yin Your Yang? by Sigrid Matthews

    yin yoga

    If yoga is supposed to be a balancing or joining of opposites, a good question to pose (pun intended) is: How much of a strong practice do I need? How strong do I need to be? Of course, you can reverse the question: How much of a soft or surrendered practice do I need? How flexible do I need to be? It’s important to evaluate this every once in a while, especially if you’ve been feeling agitated, overwhelmed, stressed, achy, tired, or anxious.

    I recently had a mentoring meeting with a younger teacher who is really starting to take off. We spoke about how building a career (in anything) can lead us into a very masculine/yang place and we can forget the feminine aspect of our work and how we relate to others (this goes for both men and women).

    We get very good at making lists, setting appointments, and writing emails. She wondered why it might be harder to find the feminine and I said, “because it’s elusive, mysterious, and it calls for ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’” The unconscious feminine aspect was coined by Jung as “anima” and the masculine unconscious as “animus.” Our yoga practice can help us cultivate the “being-ness” physically and we can let that carry over to our emotional and mental states.

    When we get quiet and tune into the feminine side we may get inner promptings, ideas, and encouragement to shift or change or take action. The male unconscious takes direction from the inner female and then executes those inner decisions outwardly in the world. When we only practice vigorous, active, and intense yoga, we can over-stimulate and lose sight and insight of the surrender and softer side of yoga.

    Remember Patanjali’s famous sutra 2.46: Sthira Sukam Asanam. Many teachers translate this to mean steady and sweet, steadfast and good space, balance of effort and surrender. And while we aim for this yin and yang dynamic in every pose and every practice, it may be helpful to pull back completely and devote ourselves to a completely soft, surrendered, and restorative practice.

    Above all, yoga philosophy always teaches us to release the victim and become self-reliant and recognize what might cause future suffering and make adjustments now to avoid pain later on. It’s empowering to practice in a soft, quiet way where you can navigate what’s going on in the body, mind, and heart. For example:

    • Learning simple poses that bring overall ease and better functioning of the healing and immune system.
    • Self-massage techniques to aid in detoxification and elimination.
    • Soothing breath work to encourage a meditative state and the rest and digest response of the parasympathetic nervous system.

    All of this helps us to remember that sometimes it’s okay to let go of the game plan and go with the flow, surrendering to what is right now from a place of strength and tranquility. Take some time exploring active/intentional surrender to create quiet confidence of inner knowing, and the radiance of a person who takes care and time for themselves.

    I bow to the light in you! Shanti.

    To tap into your yin-ness, try Sigrid's online yoga class: Focused Flow Yoga for Digestion, Detoxification, and Insomnia. This yin style restorative practice is wonderful after a hard work out or at the end of the day before bedtime. As a shorter, soothing online yoga sequence, this beginner yoga video combines deeper held yoga poses with some key self-acupressure points to balance the gall bladder, kidney, liver, and spleen meridians to restore harmony in the body. (25 mins.)

    yin yoga

    Image courtesy of www.offthebluemat.com

  • Strike A Pose: Bow Pose with Jeanne Heileman

    dhanurasana

    “Bow Pose...it’s like many things: misunderstood."

    Resembling an archer's bow (with the torso and legs the body of the bow and the arms the string), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) is an intermediate backbend in the practice.

    A lot of not-so-good things tend to come up physically in this pose. Knee pain, sway back, belly suffocation...

    But this is only because, as Jeanne says, the pose is misunderstood. Once you get aligned, you’ll realize it isn’t so bad. In fact, it can feel super yummy. Plus, the pose comes with too many benefits to just up and ignore it:

    • Stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, and throat, and deep hip flexors (psoas)
    • Strengthens the back muscles
    • Improves posture
    • Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck
    • Relieves constipation, respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety, menstrual discomfort

    To increase your Bow awareness and receive the Bow benefits, tune into Jean’s online yoga demo. In this free online yoga video, Jeanne will take you through three different therapeutic alignment tips that will address the common problems associated with this misunderstood backbend. This online yoga video is great education for yoga teachers who want to help their students practice a pain-free bow pose.

    Try this and have a happy, open heart!

    bow pose

    Find more of Jeanne’s helpful online yoga tips + full-length online yoga classes on YogaVibes!

    Image courtesy of www.picstopin.com

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