Week 171: Tear Your Yoga Mat Apart
This isn't something I regularly do BUT this week I joined an exercise challenge. When it comes to my exercise I am a creature of habit. I like what I do and just do it. Yet, when a colleague of mine sent out notice of a 30 day fitness challenge, I had to join.
You see, this lovely colleague is the creator of moveBALL and the transFORM 30-day Fitness Challenge. Early last year, she graciously gave me the challenge kit and I've loved what she has created.
So what does that mean to my yoga routine (and the rest of my exercise routine)? Well, I had to get creative with time and just fit it all in. And you know, this first week has turned out just fine!
After my new (read: intense) routine this week, I was happy to settle on the yoga mat without out my moveBALL. It was actually weird not to have my new orange medicine ball friend in tow!
I thoroughly enjoyed my 25 minute practice with Adriene. As always, I found something new about yoga to ponder.
Sphinx pose, otherwise known as Salamba Bhujangasana.
I sometimes feel like sphinx pose plays second fiddle to cobra pose on many occasions. Both back bends, I typically find asana sequences include baby cobra when maybe sphinx could work equally as well.
It too is a chest opener and a pose that challenges and strengthens the back. Simply, the only difference (from what I can tell) from sphinx to cobra pose is the use of the forearms instead of the hands for support.
Yet with a simple cue this week from Adriene, I found a whole new respect to the sphinx pose that I have never realized before.
Tear your yoga mat in half from right to left.
When I tried it - whoa - it was an amazing lift to my chest and it intensified the backbend.
Thinking back to all the times I’ve done sphinx pose, knowing THAT cue would have made all of my poses much better!
It is surprising to me how one simple sentence can take a yoga asana from “blah” to “ya”!
A new found respect to sphinx pose this week! As I am 171 weeks in to my journey, it is my first (and not last) post about sphinx.
Please also wish me luck with the rest of my challenge! My yoga is on the priority list but it also has some competing demands over the next 23 days!
Week 170: That Little Voice
I was looking for a challenge. Most of my yoga practice has been 60 minutes or less lately so in my infinite wisdom, I opted for the 80 minute class this week.
Whoa - was I blown away!
My yoga endurance has declined. Likely around the 60 minute mark, I was pooped. But I persevered for my favourite part, corpse pose or savasana!
As with many sessions on the mat, I was asked to set an intention from the start. I’ve been feeling a bit jammed up lately and needed my body to be a little less robotic and a little more free. Thus, fluidity was my choice.
Note: read whatever you’d like into my choice of intentions. I admit it probably reflects other dimensions of myself as well. I need more fluidity in my thoughts and emotions lately too! Not just in my physical body.
Interestingly enough, the teacher Tracey Noseworthy, talked about where she works, Jala Yoga and how it means water. The visual movement of water aligned perfectly with what I wanted from this practice.
As I began with a new teacher again this week, I was anticipating a vigorous session. I basked in the introduction as Tracey encouraged a practice of Sukha, “happiness, ease and joy”. Was I ready for what lay ahead?
Well, sort of.
This practice pushed my limits as I alluded to already. The start was faster paced than I’ve been use to lately. My breath was too long for each pose, so I had to adapt. As I quickened my breath, I began to feel heat but was regularly reminded to smile during practice!
I fell into the pace and started to move in to many poses. The sequencing of the poses was unique and different. Not similar to any of the “regular” routines I was use to on the mat. The variety was so welcomed. I can’t speak more highly of this practice sequence. So much to write about but I've chosen only one pose to focus on this week.
I love fashion.
There I said it.
If I could spend copious amounts of money on clothes on a regular basis, I would. It is very difficult for me to window shop without purchasing something. Yet, a part of me hates wastefulness and excess so that little voice often talks me out of making many purchases.
Fashion. In my opinion, some is workable, feasible and down right cute. But other fashion sometimes just doesn’t work.
Now, you are thinking. What is she talking about? This is a yoga blog not a fashion blog. But hold tight…it will come together soon.
Skinny jeans have been in style for 5+ years and well, I was late on the uptake. Initially thinking, “ugh…those look awful” then coming around to “well, maybe they look good on those model type bodies". To now, “what the heck, I’m going to wear them”…circa 2013. But I’ve always wondered if this was the right fashion choice for me.
Case in point…this week.
After a long run on Wednesday, I sported one of my favourite pairs of skinny (purple) jeans. Not thinking anything of it, I felt comfortable in the morning. As the day progressed, however, my body started to cramp up. And lifting a 27 pound weight/child out of a car seat was pant splitting. Not literally thank heavens!
Moving in a restricted pair of pants while battling tight hamstrings was a disaster waiting to happen. No - I didn’t have a wardrobe malfunction but instead my back took the beating. By the time the kiddos were down for their nap, I quickly disrobed from my purple corseting pants and dawned my comfy yoga pants.
And most certainly leaped (as much as I could move) onto my yoga mat.
Give me a practice to stretch out my hamstrings and breathe out the tightness!
Thank goodness for doyogawithme.com’s deep release for hips and hamstrings (I’ve done it before and knew its miraculous work!) because it was just what my body needed!
Even one of the first poses, seated crossed legged position was difficult. Say what?
I appreciated the simply forward fold over the right leg while crossed legged. I’m not convinced my body would have allowed for a straight leg seated forward fold if I tried. The added opposite pressure on the left knee acted almost like a bind that I so greatly needed.
Needless to say, yoga saved me from my fashion mishap!
It got me to thinking though, about my back body and the possible tight fascial lines from my calf to hamstring to back that could be causing me such trouble. Alas, I jumped on Google to take a peek.
I was blown away with the Google images abound and content to be read. I think I am on to something…
More to learn about fascia, how yoga is the so-needed releasing agent that I need, and how to stay away from skinny jeans especially after long runs,
Week 168: Traveler's Woes
Jet setting off to Barcelona Spain last week, it became very clear what air travel can do to the body. Tight spaces, sitting for extended periods of time and well, dehydration play havoc on the muscles, joints and overall feeling of well-being.
uAs much as I tried to do some yoga in the airport, I was met with curious and inquiring eyes. I can only imagine what was running through my fellow passengers heads when I stood in a single leg quadriceps stretch or when I was watching out the window towards our plane in a calf stretch.
Even after only my first flight, I was eager to fold down into a downward facing down but held back as there was no suitable space to do so.
Alas, my yoga had to wait until home.
Although my entire body felt the discomforts of the flight, it was my neck and shoulders that seem to take the most beating. The primary culprit was the awkward positions my head took when trying to catch some ZZZs on the overnight flight.
So when yoga was on my schedule this week, I was sure to scope out a shoulder and neck focused practice. In past experience, it is not a common sequence so it took some searching.
Do Yoga With Me, didn't disappoint with A Deep Release Shoulders and Neck session with Daivd Procyshyn.
David led a mostly sitting session of upper body poses. He included some of my favourites (reverse table top) and not so favourite (lateral neck stretch) poses. Typically I find that my shoulder and neck flexibility has declined since removing swimming from my weekly routine. Many of the poses challenged me yet it was reassuring that with practice, I found space in my shoulder girdle.
The most powerful take away from the session (and not just increased range of motion) was the repetition. We continually went back to one pose particularly.
Extended puppy pose (Uttana Shishosana).
With each successive attempt at the pose, it became clear that the work I'd been doing during the class has been helping. I began to have a real ease in my shoulders as my torso crept closer to the floor.
Repetition of the same pose throughout the practice was an excellent tool to include. I can say I've never thought of doing that before. It demonstrated progress and by the end of the session, I had clear evidence of flexibility (and less pain) to show for it.
Picking up shoulder hints and tricks on my way. Thank goodness for traveling woes,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.