4 Ways To Increase Your Balance: Part 2 October 22, 2011

Before we move to step 2……I must ask how are your feet?  Have you been working on that towel scrunch?  Remember building balance is much like building a home……you need to have a strong foundation to build upon.  As you continue to gain strength, as well as mobility in your feet you’ll find that performing balance will become more accessible with each attempt.  Let’s continue with our journey.

The next key to finding and maintaining balance is leg strength.  In our modern world of convenience we spend most of our time sitting.  Wether it be at home, at work, in the car, or any other mode of transportation….. we sit!  There are also escalators, elevators, and moving sidewalks that enable us to move from one space to the next without every taking a step.  As we as age, we use our muscles less and less.  The muscles begin to decrease in size and weaken.  Our lifestyle helps that process begin faster.  But once again, with awareness and effort we can take steps to improve our wellness. 

To improve your leg strength I will share with you an effective, yet simple exercise.  You’ll need a wall, and possibly a yoga block, or a ball.  A basketball, or soccer ball will work fine.  Let’s get to work!

Leg Exercise: Wall Sit

Before you begin this exercise make sure that you’re wearing clothes that give you comfort and mobility.  Come to a place on your wall where there are no obstacles that will hinder your efforts.  Begin by standing with your back towards the wall.  Allow your back body to make full contact with the wall.  Step one leg, and then the other leg a full leg distances from the wall.  Feet and toes are facing forward.  Your torso is full supported by the wall, while your legs are extended in front of you hips distance a part.

With awareness begin to bend your knees.  Your torso will begin to slide down the wall.  As you bend the knees ensure they are facing forward…..not rolling in or out.  An excellent way to bring awareness to the knees is to line them up with your second toe of each foot.  Also stack the knees above the ankles.  If there is any strain on the knees sit higher in the pose.  With your shoulders, upper and lower back firm against the wall attempt to curl your tailbone forward to lengthen the lower back.   Draw the belly to the spine to support the back even more.   Bring your hands to heart center with the palms sealed.

Once you have found stability in this pose try to hold it for 1-3 full rounds of breath……slow inhale of 4 counts, pause, slow exhale of 4 counts, pause, repeat.   Begin with 3-5 sets of Wall Sit.  As your strength improves begin to sit deeper trying to make a 90 degree angle with the legs……ankle and knee align, as well as the knee and hip.  Increase your sets, as well as rounds of breathe.  Maybe your rounds of breath count increase from 4 to 6.  If you want to challenge yourself more place a block, or ball between your thighs and squeeze your inner thighs towards one another while still being mindful of the feet and knees facing forward. 

Each time you come to your practice begin to bring awareness more to the breath and less to the energy you may be feeling in your lower body.  This is a grand opportunity to find grace in a place of discomfort.  If you practice Wall Sit on a consistent basis you will increase you lower body strength, which will move you one step closer to your overall goal of improved balance.

Keep up the good work and check back soon for Part 3! 


To Read Part 1 Click Here

Notes From The Students October 21, 2011

Filed under: Testimonials — YouYoga @ 6:54 pm
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“I have been practicing yoga for the last 5 years with 2 other teachers.  For the last year I have been practicing in Ericka’s classes.  With her “Student Center” approach she has made the transition to her classes very enjoyable, and opened my yoga practice up for a new experience!  Ericka’s classes are enhancing for the beginner, as they are for someone who has been practicing for a while.  Thanks Ericka.”



From Your Pantry Trail Mix October 18, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — YouYoga @ 10:59 pm
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There’s really no better snack than a quick trail mix made right from your own pantry.  At our home we always keep a variety of nuts, dried fruit and wonderful, dark, chocolate chips…….those don’t always make it into the mix…..they just get snacked on alone!  But when they do make it into the mix it becomes a fantastic trio of flavors that makes for a healthy, enjoyable snack.

Almonds are believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease.  Cherries are loaded with antioxidants, and are believed to help combat the visible effects of aging.  Lastly, dark chocolate is also packed with antioxidants.  It’s believed to protect the heart, as well as lower blood pressure.  All of this in your kitchen pantry……get out of town!

Lets get to the YUM!  You’ll need the following ingredients:

1 handful of whole, unsalted almonds

1 handful of dried, unsweetened, cherries

1 handful of dark, chocolate chips

Place all ingredients into a small bowl.  This is a one serving snack, so adjust the amounts as needed.  Also, don’t be afraid to try different nuts, along with different dried fruit combinations.  Have fun in your kitchen and keep that pantry well stocked with healthy options to choose from.



Sunday Inspiration 14 October 16, 2011

“If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness.”

Les Brown


4 Ways To Increase Your Balance: Part 1 October 14, 2011

The second most common reason I hear people say they can’t take part in a yoga class is…..”I can’t balance.”  My response….. that is the second most important reason why you should begin a yoga practice.  Our ability to balance peeks at the age of 25 years, and then slowly diminishes as we age.  Signs of losing balance may not appear until around the age of 40.  My mother always told me that things begin going down hill after 25…..I guess in some ways she is right. 
The good news is we can keep pushing our way up that hill with a little knowledge and practice.  It’s most important that we work towards keeping our balance.  Having balance can translate into better posture, improved sense of self, reduced risk of falling, and maintaining independence in our later stages of life.  Keys to improving balance requires attention on 4 parts of the body:  the feet, the thighs, the core (stomach muscles), and lastly the brain.  Espouse a true belief that your balance can improve.  If you keep thinking you have bad balance…..guess what?  You’ll keep having bad balance!  What we believe usually correlates with what we experience in our lives.  It’s time to change our thinking.
I will share with you some simple exercises during this month that you can begin now to help improve your  balance.  We’ll first begin with the feet.  You will need a towel; hand-size towel will work fine, and a stable chair. Let’s get to work!
Foot Exercise: Towel Scrunch
Begin seated in your chair.  Lay the towel out flat in front of you with the short edge of your towel facing your toes.  Move forward bringing your sitting bones to the edge of the chair.  The feet face forward, while the legs make a 90 degree angle by stacking knee over ankle.  Draw the bellybutton to the spine, as you move your shoulders over hips.
Pick up your right toes while the heel of the foot maintains contact with the floor.  Try to spread the toes.  Place them on the edge of the towel, and with your toes alone; heel of foot rooted, begin to scrunch/gather the towel towards you.  Repeat the action of extending the toes to gather the towel, and contracting the toes to pull the towel towards you. 
Once you have gathered all of the towel begin the opposite action of pushing the towel away with the toes alone.  While you are working with the foot try to maintain body awareness, and don’t forget to breathe.  Once it becomes more easy to perform this exercise increase your repetitions.  Gathering the towel towards you, then pushing the towel away from you is one set.  Eventually, work your way towards 3-5 sets with each foot. 
As you perform this exercise know, and believe that you’re working your way towards better balance.  This exercise can be done every evening while you’re watching your favorite shows.  Have fun with it.  Set a goal and challenge yourself.  Get your family involved……who can scrunch the towel the fastest?  Most importantly, remember that the smallest steps lead to the greatest results. 
Check back this month for more exercises to help you improve your balance. 
  To Read Part 2 Click Here

Community Yoga For The Girl Scouts of America October 10, 2011

Filed under: YOUYOGA — YouYoga @ 1:39 pm
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This coming Sunday, October 16 at 11:30 a.m. YOUYOGA will be hosting its monthly community class.  All donations will be given to The Girls Scouts of America in honor of  Taylor Jackson.  Miss Jackson was a student at AKKA…..unfortunately her young life was taken in a house fire this month.  She was a member of the Girls Scouts, and her family requested that funds be given to the organization in memory of their daughter……YOUYOGA is happy to be a part of helping that request be fulfilled.

Such events are a reminder that life is fleeting, and there are no guarantees for the promise of another day.  So, each morning you arise have gratitude in knowing that the new day is a gift.  Be sure to do something, no matter how small, meaningful for yourself.  Remembering that when you do good for you……it’s easier to do good for others.  We hope to have your presence this Sunday, but if you’re not able to attend and still would like to contribute please feel free to leave donations at AKKA, 9653 W. 87th St., Overland Park, KS. 



Inspiration 13 October 9, 2011

“Those who cherish a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in their hearts, will one day realize it.”

James Allen