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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tip of the Week: Avoid Your Cell Phone After Class

It's so tempting to grab your cell phone right after class. But you’ve just spent 90 minutes cleansing your body and mind, enjoy it. All day we’re attached to our electronics, computers, phones, Twitter, texts and email. Enjoy the peace of mind you’ve cultivated. Think of all the gifts you have in life, and all that you are thankful for. Let this be your goal for next class, and try not to look at your phone until you're back home.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tip of the Week for Tight Hamstrings

It doesn’t add up at first, but focusing on executing really good sit ups can really increase your hamstring flexibility. In postures like Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow you might struggle with getting past your tight legs. By focusing on the pull and stretch at the end of each sit up, you will gradually open up your hamstrings and the standing postures will become easier. Take an extra moment to get a really good stretch at the end of each sit up. Bonus tip: work really hard in Pada Hasthasana (or Hands to Feet Pose, the first stretching pose in half-moon.)  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tip of the Week: Relax Your Mouth

It's common for many of us when first starting our practice to clench our mouths and tighten our faces as we try to learn the postures. Aggressive or competitive personalities especially tend to have this habit. We can also carry a lot of tension in our jaw muscles from anxiety, stress, and anger which can result in neck and shoulder pain, headaches, tooth pain, damaged tooth enamel, and TMJ syndrome.

Relaxation is hard work, but developing a keen awareness is the first step to overcoming the harmful habit of unconscious clenching of the jaw. Unless you are chewing food, your teeth should never be touching. Try to be aware of this especially during your practice. Keep your lower jaw relaxed as if it was hanging in a sling. Relax your tongue and remove it from the roof of your mouth. Keeping your lips closed, relax your lip muscles and stop making those funny strained faces in the mirror.

You might be surprised that as you focus on relaxing your mouth and jaw, the rest of your body and mind will follow.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tip of the Week: Standing Bow Pulling Pose

  • Be sure to start with the knees touching together to ensure balance.
  • Grab the inside of your ankle with the inside of your elbow facing out.
  • Bring your opposite arm up so that your shoulder is almost touching your chin.
  • Focus on one spot in the mirror, and don't move your eyes off that spot!
  • The standing leg is your foundation. Keep the knee locked with a firm contraction of thigh. If you don't feel that you have the balance to go forward yet, stay in this position until you have a firm foundation.
  • Use your glute muscle to kick all the way up, as you bring your torso down creating a perfect counterbalance. Always remember that, “kicking and stretching are 50/50, equal, simultaneous.” When you increase the force of your kick you must also increase the energy of the arm stretching toward the mirror to maintain your balance.
  • Feel your spine arching backwards as you kick and imagine that you are getting that same "tear drop" arch in your spine as Bow Pose laying on the ground. Even though you are stretching your body forward, you are also pulling your chest upward.
  • Keep your weight toward the front of your foot, watch that the weight does not move into the heel as you initiate your kick. 
  • Bikram’s dialogue says to touch the shoulder to the chin, not chin to the shoulder. Keep your chin lifted and extend the arm forward to bring the shoulder and chin together, helping to promote the proper alignment of the shoulders.
  • Keep your hips square and parallel to the mirror, the same as if you were doing the splits on the floor. Often when people start the kick, their hips get out of alignment which causes them to tip sideways and fall.
  • Don't let your kicking knee swing out to the side. The more you squeeze inner thighs together the more you can prevent this from happening.
  • Make sure you are breathing. When you inhale, try to lengthen the body and when you exhale try to go deeper into the posture.
  • Ideally your stomach, abdomen and chest are parallel to the floor, with both shoulders in one line from the side and both legs in one line like standing split. 
  • If you fall, good! Get back in again! The more you practice, the better you will become.
  • Remember that often it is our minds that give up before our bodies do.