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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tip of the Week: Airplane and Car Yoga

Going on a long road trip or airplane ride this summer? Here are some adapted postures from to help release tension from your spine, stretch your legs, increase your circulation, let go of tightness in the upper and lower back, and keep you limber...all while wearing a seat belt! They can also be used in any confined space: cars, airplane seats, buses, office cubicles…

Mountain Pose 

Close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Sit up straight. With palms facing up, rest your hands at your sides or on your legs. Push the shoulders down and feel yourself lengthening from the crown of your head.
If you wish, exhale, and tilt your head to the left to feel a stretch in your neck and trapezoid. Inhale, bring your head back to center and exhale to tilt your head to the right.

Seated Sun Salutations
(Surya Namaskara)

Inhale to bring your arms up as high as you can get them. Exhale and bring hands to prayer position. Let your arms come to your side.
Inhale, and with a straight back lean forward at the waist into a Forward Fold. Exhale to let the head and arms relax. Inhale while returning to a sitting up position and sliding your arms along your sides and into the air. Exhale to prayer position.
That is one Seated Sun Salutation. Perform as many as you feel comfortable doing.

Half Moon Pose
(Ardha Chandrasana)
Sitting straight up, inhale to bring your hands above your head and grab your right wrist. If you don’t have enough space, hold on to your right elbow and fold your arms. Exhale while leaning to the left from your rib cage.
Make sure your hips stay level and only lean as far as is comfortable for you. You should feel the stretch along your obliques. Hold here for a few breaths and then on your inhale return to center. Exhale, and lean to the other side.
Seated Cobra Pose 
Lean forward slightly from the back of your seat and stick your chest out. Place your hands on your knees. Inhale and lift the heart while raising your chin and looking at the ceiling. Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
You should feel a stretch in your chest and spine. Hold here for a few breaths. Release with an inhalation.

  Pigeon Pose

(Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Lift your right leg and place your right ankle onto your left knee. Your shin should be parallel with the dashboard. Flex the foot of your right leg to protect your knee.
Exhale as you hinge forward with a straight back. You should feel a stretch in your hips, outer thighs, and in your lower back. Breathe and try to relax in this position. Be sure to reverse sides.

Seated Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

(Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Inhale and sit up straight, shoulders away from ears. Cross your right leg over left, if you can.
Place your right arm behind you (on the headrest or outside the seat) and exhale while turning just your chest and abdomen to the right, moving your left shoulder forward and your right shoulder back. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, at a 90-degree angle and palm facing out. If your legs aren’t crossed, then place your hand, palm facing out, on the outside of your knee.
Look gently over your right shoulder and breathe. Twists are great for the abdominals and obliques, as well as the spine. Hold this position for a few breaths; expand your chest fully. Exhale to twist to the other side.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tip of the Week: Bikram Yoga is the Fountain of Youth

Bikram has always said "This is the fountain of youth". All you need to do is have one look at our studio owners and teachers Greg and Becky Airhart to see how true that statement is. With their youthful outlook on life, their fit bodies, and smooth glowing skin, you'd never guess they were parents to six kids and grandparents to 18 grandkids!

Recently a student of ours sent in a picture showing the difference Bikram Yoga has made around her eye area. Amy has only been practicing since this January, but has managed to really push herself by coming to 84 classes in that time. In just 5 months she has has already lost 40 pounds. She hasn't done anything differently except for adding Bikram Yoga to her life. She strives to practice about 5 times a week, and has found that she has a great deal more energy and sleeps much better at night. She says that Bikram Yoga has changed her life for the better in so many ways.

Amazing results that show you're "never too old, never too bad, never too late, and never too sick to start from scratch once again."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tip of the Week: Anyone With a Bigger Body Can Do Yoga

Amy Vaughn from MindBodyGreen wrote the following article called "6 Yoga Tips for Anyone With a Bigger Body". 

In the yoga biz, the standard way to gain credibility is to be an RYT-200. That means Registered Yoga Teacher with 200 hours of training. Well, I’m an FYT>200; that’s a Fat Yoga Teacher at over 200 pounds. I’m very conscious of the fact that there aren’t a lot of us. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, but that statistic is not reflected in yoga teachers or in yoga classes. I wish that were different.
The skinny (usually white) girl may be the picture of yoga that marketers want to sell us, but in real life, yoga teachers have never been anything but gracious to me. Sure, there have been a few misguided attempts at unsolicited advice (“Have you tried fasting/juicing/hot yoga/etc.?”), but I've always been welcomed with open arms.
Students, on the other hand, sometimes don’t know what to make of me. Often there's a quickly concealed look of surprise when they find out I’m the teacher. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been tempted to blurt out, “I’m genetically predisposed to obesity and I’m on a medication that causes weight gain! I go to the gym; I do my cardio! I’m a vegan, for crying in the sink!”
But I don’t. The way other people deal with being confronted by a yoga teacher who doesn’t fit the stereotype is their own baggage.
The point is this: yoga isn’t just for the thin and flexible. Anyone who’s open to it can benefit from it. It can adapt to any and every body. If you're a bigger-bodied yogi or yogini, it may help to keep the following in mind. 

1. Take it easy.
We're conditioned to think that exercise needs to be fast and hard to be worthwhile. This mindset has infiltrated yoga to the extent that the faster-paced vinyasa styles have become the mainstay. However, one of the best things you can do for your body is s … l … o … w ... d … o … w … n. Slower forms of yoga improve flexibility and strength while balancing the nervous system; plus, they flush the chemicals released by stress that cause inflammation and weight gain. If you’re just beginning, look for “gentle” classes. If you’re lucky enough to live near a studio offering Yoga for Bigger Bodies or something similar, take advantage of that! 

2. Follow your instincts.
The most important disposition you can have to keep yourself free from injury and gain all the mental benefits of yoga is to listen to your body when moving into and out of every pose. Every single body on the planet is unique. Not all postures will work for every body. Plus, there's no requirement for teacher trainings to cover the special needs of larger bodies. Listen inward just as much as you listen to the teacher. 

3. Think of your weight as a weight.
Keep in mind that if you’re in a room full of smaller people, you're doing a lot more work than them. For example, in arm balances, I’m lifting at least 50 pounds more than most other people in the room. Don’t give yourself a hard time for respecting the needs and limitations of your body. That’s the real work of yoga. 

4. Use props.
You can always use straps to make your arms longer or blocks to bring the floor up to you. In lunges, if your hands don’t reach the floor, use blocks. When the teacher guides everyone into a bind and your hands don’t reach each other, grab hold of your shirt or pants to find the twist or stretch. If getting up from the floor is tricky business, consider the ultimate prop and try a chair yoga class. In any situation you encounter, don’t hold back from being creative. Determine the intention behind the posture: is it to build strength or to stretch a certain set of muscles? Figure out a way to make it happen. (*In Bikram class, feel free to use the ballet barre at the back of the room for any of the balancing postures. If you have trouble twisting your arms in Eagle pose, just grab your opposite elbows or shoulders. Always ask a teacher before or after class about any difficulties you're having and they will happy to discuss modifications with you.)

5. Find the right teacher.
Don’t waste your time in a class that doesn’t help you feel good about yourself. Move on until you find a teacher you enjoy. Yoga should leave you feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to face the world with clarity and compassion, or at least a little more tolerance and patience. 

6. Remember why you’re there.
Yoga is first and foremost a mental practice. The postures provide an opportunity to practice staying present with our physical experience, observing and accepting ourselves in this moment exactly as we are. The process gives us the chance to exert control over our thoughts. For some of us, myself included, the hardest part can be letting go of the constant stream of negativity and self-badgering that wrecks us, taking away our confidence and any sense of ease.
The mental practice of yoga is demanding but it’s entirely worthwhile. We cannot be at peace if we're at war with our bodies. Choose peace! 

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tip of the Week: Don't Take Things Too Seriously; It's Just Yoga!

The desire to attain the perfect pose can be overwhelming to many beginners; so much so that they forget entirely to have fun during their routine. Yes, there is some strain and considerable focus required during each session – but that is not the equivalent of being constantly stressed out over whether you are doing well or not. If you find yourself constantly clenching your teeth and knitting your brows, you are probably taking things way too seriously. Not only that, but the stress you are feeling in your facial muscles is always translated to the rest of your body, making it more difficult to perform a pose. If you find yourself doing that, slightly relax the pose so that it is not as much of a burden, focus on your breathing, and do a few things to relax your facial muscles, such as:
  • Slowly closing and opening your eyes
  • Opening and closing your mouth
  • Puckering your lips and moving them around in a circular pattern 
Basically do anything you can to remind yourself of how a relaxed face should look/feel like. Try to relax your body and let it ease itself into the pose, rather than attempting to force yourself into it. Once you can do that, you’ll be able to enjoy your sessions more intensely, and you’ll also notice better progress over time. It’s a win-win whichever way you put it!