Fall Equinox Sequence for Balance

Happy Equinox. The transition between summer and autumn can be the most challenging time to maintain balance. As we head in to the final quarter of the year, it’s a great time to slow down, check in with your goals and intentions for the year, and nurture your well-being.

This week I have put together a little practice for you to stay healthy and grounded. I know you can’t always make it to class, but you if can find 10-30 minutes in your day to come to your yoga mat I am confident you will be able to maintain vibrant health as we transition to the darker half of the year.

 

Use this as a springboard for practice by either practicing the whole sequence or portions of it as time allows.


childspose Balasana / Child’s Pose

Come to your mat and take 5-10 breaths in child’s pose to prepare for your practice.

dog Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog

Ground your hands and stretch long through all the limbs of your body, including your spine. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.

uttanasana Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend

Step forward into standing forward bend. Engage the muscles of your legs and lift your belly.  Let gravity release your spine, neck, and head toward the floor. Take 5-10 long deep breaths.

crescent Indudalasana / Standing Crescent

Stand up with an inhalation and stretch your arms overhead. Catch hold of your right wrist and exhale side bend to your left. Take a few breaths here then inhale to center and repeat on the second side.

utkatasana Utkatasana /  Chair Pose

Sit back into Utkatasana/Chair pose. Widen your sitting bones, ground your heels, and lift your lower belly while lengthening up through your spine. Breath evenly.

plank Phalankasana / Plank Pose

Step back to plank pose and hold for a few breaths toning all the muscles in your body. Resist lowering down as you bend your elbows and lower to the earth.

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Bhujangasana / Cobra Pose

Lift your spine into a little backbend. Move each part of your spine from the lowest part up. Don’t let your head move faster than everything else.

Stretch back to downward dog for a few breaths then step forward into Uttanasana.

CRW_0277 Vrksasana / Tree Pose

Stand balancing on one leg with the other foot pressing against the inner standing leg. Stretch your arms up or keep them in prayer.

Challenge your balance by looking to the right and back to center. Then to the left and back to center.

Can you hold this pose for 60 seconds?

v2 Virabhadrasana Two / Warrior Two

Step back into warrior two for 5 breaths. Straighten the front leg to move into the next pose, Trikonasana.

trikonasana Trikonasana / Triangle Pose

From warrior two straighten the front leg and take your hand to a block or the floor.

Repeat the two standing poses on the second side.

 v3prep Warrior Three Preparation

 From Uttanasana stretch your right leg behind you. Square your hips and stretch your legs straight and strong. Use blocks to touch the floor if you can’t reach.

Move directly into the next pose, half moon.

ardhachandrasana Ardha Chandrasana / Half Moon Pose

From warrior 3 prep open your top hip and your top arm for half moon pose. Make sure to keep your standing foot steady and the hip wrapping underneath you. Lengthen in all directions.

dolphin Dolphin Pose

Put your elbows on the floor and clasp your hands. Reach the outer edges of your lower arms and hands into the floor. Press your chest toward your thighs. Keep your knees bent if you need to.

This pose is a great way to open your chest and upper back.

malasanaforward Malasana / Squat

If your heels come up place a rolled up mat or blanket underneath them. Keep your arches lifted and your knees and your toes pointing in the same direction.

navasana Navasana / Boat Pose

Find the support of all of your muscles while balancing in this pose. You can use your fingertips on the floor or work with bent knees while you are learning.

supinechilds Ananda Balasana / Supine Child’s Pose

Lay on your back and hug your knees in as wide as your torso. Keep a curve in your lumbar spine.

apana Apanasana / Wind Relieving Pose

Draw one leg in deeper and straighten the opposite leg. Hold up to 60 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

suptap Supta Padangusthasana A / Leg Stretch

You can practice this one either directly from the above pose or after. Simply straighten the leg and hold the back of your thigh. It is extra grounding to have your bottom foot pushing against the wall.

Hold 60-90 seconds.

bridge Setu Bandhasana / Bridge Pose

Lift your hips up to stretch the front of your pelvis and thighs. Ground your heels, engage your hamstrings, and gently tone your glutes. Breath into your open chest.

viparitakarani Viparita Karani / Legs Up Posture

Let your legs rest against the wall. You can place a block, bolster, or blanket under your sacrum at any height or don’t use a height at all.

Stay here for 8-10 minutes.

savasana Savasana / Corpse Pose

Lay back and give yourself permission to relax
completely. Stay 5-10 minutes.

DSCN1626.JPG Pranayama / Breathwork

Sit comfortably and practice with Sama Vritti or equal breath.

Inhale for 4 counts.
Hold at the top for 4 counts.
Exhale for 4 counts.
Hold empty for 4 counts.

Like a square repeat for several rounds.

15 Things You Can Do To Make Earth Day EVERYDAY

  1. Turn off the water while brushing you teeth, shaving, or another time-consuming task.
  2. Bring your own grocery bags to shop for food and other items.
  3. Ditch plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups.
  4. Choose to buy items with little or no packaging.
  5. Reduce the amount of take out food you consume. Even one less meal per week makes a difference in the trash you make.
  6. Refill containers of laundry soap, dish soap, etc at a place like Rainbow Grocery or Green 11.
  7. If you live where there is a place that carries bulk, commit to filling bottles rather than buying new. In the Bay Area you can get cooking oils, vinegars, syrup, honey, nut butters, dry foods, and much more.
  8. Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  9. Bring your own cutlery instead of using disposable.
  10. Buy local and close to home whenever possible to reduce your carbon footprint.
  11. Switch all of your bills and statements paperless and pay your bills online.
  12. Compost your food scraps.
  13. Recycle paper and packaging.
  14. Make your own cleaning supplies. Vinegar, tea tree oil, baking soda are great cleaners.
  15. If you drive bundle your errands and carpool whenever possible.

Please share your additional ideas in the comments below. Thank you!

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Radiant Wellness Speaker Series

Four Keys To Living Better In Your Body
with Stacey Rosenberg

I recently spoke with my friend Patricia Becker on her speaker series, Radiant Wellness for Men and Women Who Want to Feel Better and Develop New Habits. It was the first time I have talked about one of my new passions – the respiratory diaphragm. And it was so much fun!

The diaphragm, your primary breathing muscle, has a powerful impact on your health and well-being. Click the play button below to listen to my talk for FREE. Find out how this muscle and your ability to breathe efficiently impacts your posture and your ability to relax. You will learn tools and techniques you can use instantly to release tightness, breath better, and relax.

If you are interested in the whole series you can purchase all 13 talks here. Don’t forget to let her know I sent you!

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Four Keys to Well-Being

In teaching yoga my goal is to help you to to be your best self. That means educating you about your body, helping you to listen more deeply, and empowering you to make choices for your body and your life that are healing and promote well-being.

This is achieved through some basic physical things that all my classes, workshops, and other programming are planned around. Here are four things that I have come to believe are the most important to your health and what I hope you gain from your regular yoga practice:

1. Better, more effective breathing.
Breath is life. Many of us live with dis-functional breathing patterns because of tight muscles, poor posture, and stress. Releasing the muscles of respiration and creating better breathing habits are crucial to the body’s overall health.

2. The ability to shift from states of stress to states of relaxation.
There is no doubt that life is busy. But how effective is your ability to turn off the switch? Being able to down regulate your nervous system to a rest and recovery state is a key to quality sleep and improved health. It also reduces anxiety, improves concentration, slows the aging process, and much more.

3. Improved posture
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Your posture follows you into everything you do. Most people don’t pay much attention to how they are standing, sitting, waiting in line, sleeping etc. But your form impacts how you breathe and is a baseline for all of your movement. ​ Bringing mindfulness to your posture and learning to hold yourself in a more beneficial position affects all aspects of your life.

4. More efficient movement patterns.
Conscious movement is the fastest way to get out of pain. Restricted range of motion (ROM) is usually caused by weakness, instability, and tight muscles. Learning to move with good biomechanics results in less pain, more range of motion, and improved performance in everything you do such as carrying your child, playing a sport or an instrument, or practicing yoga.

How would you rate your ability in each of these four areas?  Join me for any of my offerings to expand these capacities and live more vibrantly.

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The Yoga of Life – Five Steps to Being In the Flow

Do you believe that everything you do is infused with the energy you do it with? If you are frantic and stressed in your life then your life will be frantic and stressful. If you are peaceful and calm you will have more peace and ease in your life. This DOES NOT mean that difficult things won’t happen to you or that you won’t be challenged. But, there is evidence that your internal state determines your external state.

Yoga holds the potential for you to approach everything in your life with peace and calm in your heart. The physical practice on the mat is just the beginning. There is more to learning how to confront fear and step past limitation besides doing a fancy arm balance, a graceful backbend, or a crazy contortion.

Do your efforts on the mat support you in your open eyed Sadhana – that thing we call life? Especially when things get tough? The physical practice has the capacity to wake up your body and increase your awareness. But what you do with that awareness is up to you. How do you act/react when discomfort arises, when things don’t go your way, or when you get bad news? This is the real proof of yoga. It takes practice to sit with things like emotional pain, physical discomfort, uncertainty… These are the most difficult asanas in life.

Finding the opportunity in the face of a challenge is a high yoga. It is possible to use our difficulties to cultivate mental strength, emotional balance, and spiritual fortitude for your life off the mat. That sounds great right, but how? Being present with what is, relaxing and accepting it, and allowing it to shift you are all like building a muscle, increasing flexibility, or trying to nail a posture. It takes practice.

At Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health  a process called BRFWA is taught to practice being in the flow of what is happening. These five steps will help you develop a relationship with yourself and with your life. After all you cannot choose, force, or control what happens to you only how you respond to it.

Breathe. Take several breaths inhaling into your belly and exhaling slowly until the breath is extinguished. This turns on your parasympathetic nervous system.

Relax. Scan your body to find where you are holding tension. Invite it to release by bringing the breath there and softening. Increase tension in the places that are most challenging to let go of and then soften. The contrast often helps.

Feel. This is an emotional body scan. Notice feelings, sensations, and be present with the experience without trying to change it, ignore it, or stuff it down. Let yourself feel fully.

Watch. Be the witness of the experience. Observe it, create spaciousness around it, and offer it compassion.

Allow. Continue to be present with the experience and cultivate acceptance. Relax into what is.

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You may find that you will need to go back to step one and start again. Some situations you will move through quickly while others may take some time. Keep this tool with you and use it faithfully. Let me know how it goes.

* For more explanation on BRFWA read here, here, and here!

52 Weeks To Greener Living

Be A Conscious Consumer

I believe with great passion that we vote every time we spent a dollar. Unfortunately most companies are not committed to the sustainability of our planet or to the health and well-being of the population who is buying their products. The market is driven by the dollar, if we all made choices with the environment in mind, companies would be forced to change.

It’s overwhelming to think about all at once. Start by considering where you keep your money. Are you in a big, national or international bank, or a at local credit union? Where you keep your money is the foundation of how you engage as a consumer.

Then, think about the basic products you use every single day: toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, trash bags… Once a week, choose one product and look for  a comparable local, sustainable, organic product you can switch to. At the end of the year 80% of what you consume every day will be replaced with a greener version.

Inspired by Joshua Scott Onysko, Pangea Organics Founder

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Relief From Standing

It’s been fun making the Yoga Anywhere! Take Five and Stretch Videos and I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve  been hearing from you. I am so glad the videos are helpful!

Some of you have reached out and said that you stand all day, and asked what you can do to ease the discomfort and pain that results.  This week’s post is for you. If you’re a teacher, retail worker, doctor, nurse, waitresses, cashiers or other stander, here are some tips for you!

A few of the consequences of standing at your job all day are; sore feet, varicose veins, stiff lower back, locking the knee joint, and just like our seated friends, stiff neck and shoulders.

Here are some ways you can relieve these symptoms.

1. When you get home each evening take your shoes off and don’t wear them around the house. After removing your shoes use your hands to give yourself a foot massage bringing circulation back to your feet.

2. Give your feet and legs a rest by putting your legs up the wall. Here’s how! While you are there point and flex your feet and roll your ankles in circles in both directions, then rest for at least 10 minutes. In addition to being rejuvenating and boosting to your immune system, this posture is wonderful relief to tired legs and helps to combat varicose veins.

3. Invest in a pair of YogaToes® toe stretchers! I bought these 14 years ago when I was on my feet all day as a schoolteacher and I still love them! They may not be comfortable at first but work up to wearing them for an hour each day. Not only does it feel like having a foot massage but these funny looking things will prevent and even reduce bunions. I don’t profit from your purchase, these are just something I really believe in.

4. Stretch your thighs with a standing quad stretch and use this supine yoga sequence to open your hamstrings and hips. Both will free your lower back.

5. Sit in Virasana (kneeling on your knees) with a rolled up yoga mat or blanket  between your thighs and calves. Start in the knee joint and gradually move the roll back towards the ankles. Sit in the juicy spots longer! Opening your knee joint and giving it traction allows circulation. As you move the roll down you mash your calves and hamstrings releasing tightness in these muscles. This posture is especially important if you wear heels and/or hyperextend your knees.

6. Invest in a foam roller and roll out all sides of your legs. You can also lay over it both parallel and perpendicular to your spine to open the front chest.

Other Tips:

• Change your posture often.
• Notice if you tend to stand thrusting one hip forward or to the side. Practice being aware of standing evenly on both feet. If that is not realistic for  you switch sides often and teach yourself not to favor one leg.
• Be aware of your knee joint and avoid hyperextending or locking your knees.
• Make sure your core is engaged to support your lower back. When I say core, I mean your lower abs and deeper postural muscles which are your funcional support. HERE are a few ways to increase support and stability there.
• Invest in a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes. Thank goddess they make fashionable comfort these days! I often put pair of SuperFeet in my shoes.
• Avoid standing on hard surfaces. Ask your company to buy a rug or a rubber mat or cushion for you to stand on.
• Use the Yoga Anywhere! videos stretch your neck and shoulders while standing up.

YogaToes

 

 

Take Charge of Your Health. Take Charge of Your Life.

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Get Upside Down

You do yoga to improve your health and to live a more vibrant life.  Inverted postures, or poses where your head is below your heart, have tremendous effects on your health and well being. The benefits are almost too numerous to mention but here is a great list to start!

1. Improves Circulation: Inversions give your heart a break while increasing the circulation of blood back to your heart. Freshly oxygenated blood makes its way to the brain, lungs, and the sensory organs as well as the extremities removing waste along the way, boosting the immune system, and regulating blood pressure.

2. Calms your mind and relieves stress: After just a few moments in an inverted posture, muscle tension decreases and the body, mind, and the nervous system begins to calm down. You move out of the “fight or flight” response and activate the parasympathetic system into a calmer more coherent place.

3. Strengthens your core stabilizing muscles: The muscles necessary to support you in an inversion are your deep postural muscles.  Moving in and out of unsupported inverted postures as well as holding them for periods of time helps to strengthen these deep stabilizers which will now better support you even when you are upright.

4. Improves balance: Balance is improved both by the core strength that is cultivated and by the stimulation of the vestibular system in the inner ear.

5. Helps concentration and mental focus: Inversions bring oxygen to the brain which consumes 25% of the body’s oxygen. Maintaining an inverted pose is meditative and calming. When the brain is nourished and calmed your creativity is enhanced and your ability focus improves.

6. Fountain of youth: Inversions are said to be anti-aging by reversing the pull of gravity. In addition to all the other benefits inversions help to maintain the health of your spine. By preserving the natural curves of the spine and keeping space for the discs to stay hydrated, you will maintain your height as you age. (It is common for adults to shrink up to 2 inches due to thinning discs.)

7. Shifts your perspective: Turning upside down literally and metaphorically gives you a different outlook on life and challenging situations.  Inversions help you learn to see and approach things from other points of view.

8. Builds confidence: When you can kick up to a handstand or even balance in an inversion anywhere, anytime, change and other life situations seem less scary.

9. Inversions are FUN: Let the inner child come out and  play! Inversions boost your energy on a gloomy day and lighten your heart in a challenging situation.

I’m so excited I want to keep sharing the benefits with you! In addition to everything above, inversions reduce pain in sore and fatigued muscles, make space for the internal organs to function properly, open the diaphragm for improved breathing, reduce allergies, insomnia, digestive issues, depression, anxiety, and PMS!  They help to strengthen bones, make your skin glow, and improve your energy levels. WOW!

Make sure to get upside down every day! Remember, child’s pose, downward dog, standing forward bend, and legs up the wall are all inverted postures.

Also practice handstand, dolphin pose, and  forearm stand. Take the time to  learn to safely perform headstand and shoulder stand from a knowledgeable teacher. I’m teaching a workshop mini-series so you can learn these poses safely and effectively,  Please join me!

SEE INVERTED POSE PHOTOS HERE!

If you have health concerns, please check with a professional before trying these!

 

 

Yoga Invites You to Find Your Own Path

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