Yoga and Shoulder Pain…it doesn’t have to be August 22, 2012
4 Ways to Increase Your Balance: Part 4 November 8, 2011
So, how has it been going? Have you been working Step 1: feet, Step 2: thighs, and Step 3: core? If you’ve been putting in the time you may already notice a difference in your balance. You’ve also proven that you’re willing to commit to a process. Building balance requires a consistent effort, and a belief that your balance will improve. Which brings us to step 4: the brain.
Our thoughts are powerful…..what we think usually becomes our truth. So, if you keep thinking you can’t balance I almost guarantee that you won’t. On the other hand if you believe balance comes easily….than eventually it will. Why are the most simple concepts so hard to accept? The next time you practice balance repeat to yourself; “I have great balance and it gets better each time I practice.”
One final tip for balance…..find your Drishti. This is the yoga term for gazing point. Find something at eye-level, or even slightly above the eyes. Look at the item and then slowly begin to let you focus drift past the item…..almost as if you where in a trance. Soften the breath and face….. quite the brain. Try to hold your balancing pose; such as Tree Pose for 1-3 full rounds of breath before coming out of the pose. Exit the pose as mindful as you entered the pose. This will help to cultivate a catalog of balance that will be easier, and easier to call upon when needed.
During the month of November I will share some poses that will let you put your efforts into action. Keep working, keep believing, and it will all come together for you.
4 Ways To Increase Your Balance: Part 3 October 27, 2011
If you’ve been practicing Wall Sit from Part 2 of 4 Ways to Increase Your Balance I feel confident that you’ve found your thighs. The burn means your waking up those muscles, and making them stronger. Now let us take that energy to the core. Building a strong core is the 3rd step for increasing your ability to balance. A strong core will also help to minimize lower back pain. Often when we think of building strength in the core we find ourselves on the floor performing those dreaded sit-ups…….it can be a challenge for most people to even get to the floor. So, grab a stable chair and we are going to work that tummy from a seated position. Let’s get to work!
Core Exercise: Seated Crunch
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!
4 Ways To Increase Your Balance: Part 1 October 14, 2011
Make The Steps You Take More Meaningful September 27, 2011
With Fall truly upon us what a wonderful time to get outside to indulge in nature’s cooler, crisp days. A walk around the park, your neighborhood, or a local lake sounds like a perfect escape at anytime of the day. Typically when people go for walks there is usually some combination of a music player, a friend to talk to, and possibly a cute doggie tagging along on their leash. This sounds like a pleasant arrangement….getting exercise, taking in the tunes, spending time with that special someone, while having your furry little buddy tagging along by your side.
However, what if you could take those 20-30 minutes and make them even more meaningful for yourself? How is this possible you might ask? Well, it’s known as walking meditation. Yes, you can meditate as you walk. In fact, such a meditation can be possible for almost anyone at anytime. It’s not necessary to have a sacred space, or a special time…you just need to bring awareness to every step you take. It is truly that simple.
During a walking meditation you have to maintain some awareness to what’s happening around you, but the goal is to move most of your awareness inward towards the actions of your body. First begin with your steps. Feel the action of the foot and ankle. Slowly move your awareness up your body towards the calves, knees, thighs, pelvis, torso, arms, shoulder, neck, head and breathe. Notice how the body moves forward; working in opposition with every extension of the legs, swing of the arms, and sway of the torso.
Then take notice of your gait, or length of steps. Are they even, or are they different? The goal is to be aware, not critical. After body awareness has been established see if you can notice any sensations happening. Maybe an article of clothing brushing against your skin, or a cool breeze working in unison with the sweat developing on your brow. Also, notice how you’re feeling. Once again, not being critical just simply taking notice. During times when I’m feeling tension, or stress with each step I repeat to myself slowly; “All things have a beginning, and an ending. Everything is, and will be alright.”
Lastly, take in the happenings around you. What do you see, hear, smell, or touch? How does that make you feel more connected to your surroundings? How does that make you feel more connected to yourself? Remember any form of walking is wonderful for your body, but a walking meditation is a simple way to unplug from the worries of the world as you take a little time to do something meaningful for yourself simply by taking each of your steps with awareness.
For more information on this topic visit: http://www.wildmind.org/walking/overview
September is Yoga Month September 6, 2011
We have flipped our calendars once again to find September, and thoughts of Autumn’s colorful leafs, cooler nights and pumpkin patches may come to mind. But did you know it’s also Yoga Month? During the month of September many studios participate in a national observance to inspire a healthy lifestyle through Yoga.
If you always wanted to take a class, try a specific studio, or maybe even try a new style of yoga this is the month to seek your adventure. Many studios will be offering free classes, and on September 30 you can take part in a global community practice known as, The Time for Yoga.
Want to learn more? Click this link: www.yogamonth.org/