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Yoga on the Mat

Prepare For Crow Pose: Beginning Arm Balance

Prepare For Crow Pose: Beginning Arm Balance

Crow Pose

Bakasana

This pose has tremendous physical and mental benefits. A compact arm balance, crow engages your whole body. Practicing this pose will strengthen your wrists, upper back, legs, and core while increasing the flexibility of your spine. It also balances your nervous system, brings a sense of levity to your body, and clears your mind.

Be aware of holding your breath in this pose. We often hold our breath when approaching new challenges. Focus on breathing with your abdomen as you perform this balancing act and soon this habit of breathing into a challenge will show up off the mat, too!

Although this is a beginning arm balance, it is an intermediate pose. So approach this shape with patience and trust. Your wrists and shoulders serve as your foundation in this pose, and it may take some time to build the strength to support your body weight, so listen to your body. Consult your doctor before practicing this pose if you have carpal tunnel or previous shoulder injuries.  Please refrain from this pose if you are pregnant. 

Let's start warming up to take flight in crow!

Crow pose Core Strength yoga practice how to learn yoga arm balances inversions

Crow Pose on Your Back

  • Start lying on your back with your fee ton the floor and your knees pointing up in the air.
  • Press into your feet and hover your pelvis off the floor. 
  • Engage your core, reach your tailbone towards your heel, and lower your sacrum onto the floor (your low back should now be flat on the floor).
  • Enjoy a deep breath in and out.
  • Next, on an inhale, draw your knees to your chest. wrap your arms around your shins or the back of your thighs.
  • Straighten your arms into the air.  Be sure to stack your shoulder, elbows, and wrists. Flip your fingers to the wall behind you and bend your elbows to draw your hands near your ears.

Now

  • Engage your core( like a mini sit-up) to press your knees into your elbows.  Simultaneously press your elbows into your thighs.
  • Create an isometric hold by firming up all your muscles. 
  • Squeeze all your muscles and hold this shape for 5 steady breaths.
Crow modifications yoga pose learn yoga

    Block Under Feet

    • Start in a squat position on your blocks. 
    • Place your palms on your mat, shoulder-width apart. Slowly rock your weight forward into the pads of your fingers and the balls of your toes.
    • Open your knees so that they touch the back of your triceps.
    • Press your knees on to the backs of your triceps (get them as high above your elbow as is possible for you today). Which will cause your butt to lift up into the air.
    • Lean forward; press your weight evenly into your finger pads.
    • Pull your belly in and up.
    • Look 6-8 inches in front of your fingers (this will protect your neck and help prevent you from somersaulting forward).
    • Inhale: pick one foot up. Hoover it off the block. Exhale: Place it back down
    • Inhale: pick the second foot of the block. Hoover. Exhale: place it back down.
    • Notice if your elbows have splayed out. Slide your shoulder blades down your back, find a small cat in your back, and draw your elbows back toward your torso. Press your weight forward into your finger pads.

    Continue for 3-5 breaths

     

    Block Under your Head

    • Place a block at it's highest height 12 inches in front of you.
    • Come to a squatting position. Open your knees, drop your hips toward the ground, connect with your low belly for A breath in and out. 
    • Place your palms on your mat, shoulder-width apart. Slowly rock your weight forward into the pads of your fingers and the balls of your toes.
    • Open your knees so that they touch the back of your triceps.
    • Press your knees on to the backs of your triceps (get them as high above your elbow as is possible for you today). Which will cause your butt to lift up into the air.
    • Lean forward; press your weight evenly into your finger pads.
    • Pull your belly in and up.
    • Look at the block. Press into your toes and reach your forehead towards the block.
    • Inhale: use your breath to lift your belly in an up and draw your feet off the floor. Gently tap the block with your forehead. 
    • Exhale place your feet down.
    • Again, notice if your elbows have splayed out. If so, slide your shoulder blades down your back and draw your elbows back toward your torso. Press your weight forward into your finger pads.
    • Repeat for 3-5 breaths.

    Practice these three prep poses 2-3 times before this weeks live Friday Flow class. 

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    Flowing With Time: Prep For Sleeping Pigeon

    Flowing With Time: Prep For Sleeping Pigeon

    This intensity of these poses makes it both physically and mentally challenging to hold for a long time. In honor of this week's theme, flowing with time, try practicing the pose yin style, staying in it for three to five minutes and allowing gravity to slowly push you deeper. Remember to breathe to release tension as you go.

     

    Reclined pigeon eye of the needle supine pigeon hip opener yoga pose

    Eye of The Needle

    Also known as Reclined Pigeon or Supine Pigeon, this pose offers all the benefits of Sleeping Pigeon without the intensity. 

    • Start by lying on your back with your feet pressing into the floor and both knees pointing up towards the sky. Take a moment here to settle into this position. Gently reach your tailbone towards your ankles and use your breath to press your low belly into your pelvis. n
    • Stabilize your left leg by firming up your quad and the seat of your glute. Kick your right leg into the air, be sure to flex your heel and firm your right quad.
    • Externally rotate/abduct your right leg ( flex your right thigh, rotate it from thigh from the hip joint so that your flexed toes naturally point to the right corner of your mat).
    • Cross your right leg over your left knee. Relax your right thigh by releasing the gripping in your outer right hip.
    • Soften into this shape for two breathes.
    • Now, draw your arms through the opening in between your thighs. Engage your lower abdominals and capture the back of your left leg with your hands.  On an exhale, draw your left leg towards your chest.  If you want to deepen this stretch, press your right forearm into your right thigh and encourage a deeper release in the corner of your outer right hip.

    Supported half pigeon yoga block manduka hip opener yoga pose

      Supported Pigeon Pose

      Placing a block under neither your front thigh will help to square off your hips, assuring that you access the correct area of your hip.

      • Start in tabletop position. With your hips squared off to the front of the mat.
      • Place a block, at medium height, under the flesh part of your upper thigh.
      • Toe heel your right foot towards your left wrist. Press weight into your hands to take the pressure off of your front leg.
      • Lower your knee to the right so that your shin is parallel to the mat with the right leg forward.
      • Reach back through your left toes to straighten your back leg.
      • Protect your knee by gently guiding the right femur bone towards your hip and flexing your right foot.
      • Relax the back of your thigh into the support of the block while releasing the left hip bones towards your mat(work toward aligning both hip bones).
      • Take deep even breathe as you hold this pose for 5 -7 rounds.  Hold Pigeon Pose for 5  breaths. Steady and breath for 5 breaths. 
      • Reverse the steps to exit the pose. Repeat on the second side.
      Double Pigeon Hip opener yoga sequence manduka yoga block
      Double Pigeon

      This intense hip opener will deepen the stretch in your hips and groin while relieving anxiety, tension, and stress. Pay special attention to softening into each breath.

      Join me on Friday, December 28th at 7:00 am pst for a 20-minute live class culminating to Sleeping Pigeon pose!  

         

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        25 Sun Salutations Restore

        Thank you for showing up the to the #ybc108sunsalutationschallenge surprise flow this morning! This is a beautiful yoga community and I love building my practice with you.  

        This morning flow opened up a lot of space in your side waist and chest. After practicing 25 Sun Salutations, you can likely feel tightness in your shoulders, low back, and hamstrings( I know I am). 

        Here is a gentle restorative sequence to relieve any residual tension and ground you into the space you opened in your body.

                                                                                                                                            

         Lets get started...

        Come to a seated position. Relax the backs of your hands on your knees. Center yourself by noticing your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Mentally scan your body and note any spots of tension. Breathe into these spots of tension until you feel a subtle release.  Begin to warm up your belly. Take full deep inhales that expand your entire diaphragm and full exhales of equal length. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths.

         

         

        Thread the Needle

        • Start in a tabletop position( be sure to stack your joints). 
        • Spread your palms and press down into your mat with all four corners of your palms, press into your pointers and thumbs.
        • Shift weight into your right palm.  Slide your left arm under your right shoulder, place your left shoulder on the floor and rest your left cheek on the floor. 
        • Now, reach through your left fingertips, press into your right fingertips, and gently glide your rights shoulder away from your ear.
        • 5 deep breaths: with each inhale expand your belly and press your chest towards your left thumb, with each exhale relax your hips towards your heels and melt your shoulders down your back.
        • Repeat on your other side.

        Supported Bridge

        • Lie down on your back. Bring your block with you and place it at your side.
        • Draw your heels towards your glutes so that your knees point into the sky and your heels stack under your knees.
        • Reach your fingers down, along with your side and grab for your heels (this assures that your heels are in the proper alignment).
        • Grab your block, choose a height. Press your weight equally into both feet and lift your hips to a comfortable height. Slide your block under your sacrum(avoid placing the block in your low back).
        • Inhale: expand the middle of your chest. Exhale: spill all your weight on the block.
        • Chill and breathe here for 7 – 10 breaths.
        • When you are ready to move out, just reverse the actions and lay flat on your back.

         

        Savasana

        • Lie on your back (Yeah! You are already there!)
        • Optional: Place a bolster or a pillow underneath your knees to create an additional release for your back.
        • Gently tuck your tailbone towards your heels
        • Slide your shoulders away from your ears
        • Inhale: Stretch through your fingers and toes, so your full body is active. Exhale: let all your muscles relax. Melt into the floor.
        • Find stillness.
        • Zen out for 3 min( I suggest you set a timer before you lay down so that you can maintain a relaxed mind, free from the worry of time).

        When you are ready, slowly roll up to a seat and conclude your practice with a moment of reverence.

        Namaste.

         

         

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        Salute Self Care: Set Up For Crescent Lunge

        Salute Self Care: Set Up For Crescent Lunge

        This detoxifying sequence prepares your body for the healing benefits of Crescent Twist. Twisting poses create stability throughout your entire body. These three poses will lengthen and stretch your spine while toning your legs and opening your chest and shoulders. Twisting poses are especially detoxifying, making them a powerful part of any self-care routine. 

        Let's get started...

        Come to a seated position. Relax the backs of your hands on your knees. Center yourself by noticing your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Mentally scan your body and note any spots of tension. Breathe into these spots of tension until you feel a subtle release.  Begin to warm up your belly. Take full deep inhales that expand your entire diaphragm and full exhales of equal length. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths. 

        Supported Fish Pose Restorative pose heart opener

        Supported Fish Pose

        This deep back-bending pose lifts the heart to help improve your mood. Also coined the "destroyer of all disease," fish pose is a particularly apt asana to practice during flu season.

        • Start with two blocks. Place one block long-wise in the center of the mat. Make sure it is on the medium or lowest setting. Place the second block horizontally at the top of your mat (so both blocks create the letter "T").
        • Sit with your sacrum roughly 8-12 inches in front of the blocks. Aiming to lower your upper spine(between your shoulder blades). 
        • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
        • Engage your low belly to create support for your low back. Gently lower one forearm to the floor. Lower yourself down onto one forearm. Slowly lower yourself onto the block. 
        • Tilt your head back and allow the back of your head to rest gently on the ground.
        • Release your upper back into the block. Allow the block to create a supportive lift for your sternum. 
        • Extend your arms to rest down along your sides with the palms face up. 
        • 8 deep breaths: with each inhale expand your belly and press your upper back into the block, with each exhale relax your hips into the ground and melt your shoulders into the block.

        To Exit: Engage your core. Shift your knees to the right side and gently slide off the blocks into fetal pose.  Create a gentle counter stretch by drawing your forehead and knees towards each other.

        Seated twisting pose restorative yoga

        Seated Twist

        Also known as Half Lord of the Fishes, this pose is also said to increase the appetite and destroy deadly diseases.

        • Starting with your legs straight out in front of you, bend your knees to bring your right foot close to your left buttocks and your left foot flat on the floor outside your right thigh.
        • Cross your right foot to the outside of your left thigh and bring your left foot back to your right hip.
        • Place your right fingertips firmly on the floor behind you and hug your left knee into your chest.
        • On your inhales reach upward with each vertebra of your spin, on the exhales squeeze your core towards your spin and deepen the twist (from the inside out).

        Hold for 8 breaths.  Then repeat on the same side.  Practice mindfulness as you move.

        Kneeling lunge with a twist yoga pose restorative Kneeling twist pose yoga

        Kneeling Lunge w/ Twist

        • Start in a tabletop position( be sure to stack your joints).
        • Spread your palms and press down into your mat with all four corners of your palms, press into your pointers and thumbs. Press the ball mounds of your feet into the mat to lift the base of your seat(the glutes).
        • Engage your low belly. Step your foot forward in between your hands.
        • Place a block, at it's tallest height, on the outside of your right foot.
        • Squeeze your left oblique as you draw your left elbow to the top of your right thigh(Stay here if this feels like your edge. You will receive all the benefits of this pose in this shape).
        • If you are moving on, press both feet firmly into the mat as you extend your right hand down.  Press your hand into the top of the block.  
        • Scoop your belly up and in to float open your chest.
        • Place your right hand on your right hip( fingertips point down, elbow points up).
        • Now, with a firm belly and strong legs, draw your right shoulder blade down your back.
        • Perhaps reach your right fingertips to the ceiling. Reach your torso upwards as you firm your left oblique inwards, towards your spine.
        • Hold for 8 breaths. Lengthening on your inhales and twisting (from the inside out) on the exhales. Then repeat on the same side. Practice mindfulness as you move. Repeat on your other side.

        Now make your way down to your back. And enjoy a well-deserved savasana.

         

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        108 Sun Salutations: Challenge Yourself This Solstice

        108 Sun Salutations: Challenge Yourself This Solstice

        Yin/Yang

        This month we encounter the winter solstice, the darkest days of the year. The winter solstice is also a time when our yin energy, which is associated with the moon, is at its peak and our yang energy, which associated with the sun, is at its lowest point. This increased yin energy makes the solstice a quiet, reflective time for us to go inwards. But this period of heightened yin and stillness can lead to lethargy and complacency. Accordingly, it’s important to maintain balance by actively increasing our yang energy. In order to create more yang energy during this time of yin, we are introducing 108 Sun Salutations Challenge into our yoga practice. 

        Click Here to sign up for the challenge and receive tutorials to help you prepare!

        Ancient and Sacred

        108 Sun Salutations

        108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Mathematicians of Vedic culture view 108 as the number that signifies the wholeness of existence. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads. This holy number also connects the sun, moon, and Earth, as the average distance of both the sun and the moon to the Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pitas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads (Hindu spiritual texts) and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.

        This ancient practice of 108 sun salutations is traditionally performed on the equinoxes and solstices. In times of darkness, it is important that we honor the light that we do have and performing this sun salutations challenge is a great way to honor the little light that we have and create the light that we need.

        Tips for Success

        108 Sun Salutations

        Performing 108 Sun Salutations takes around an hour to complete. Here are some tips to help you get through the challenge:

          1. Lead with your intention

          2. Flow at your pace

          3. Modify when needed

          4. Take meditative breaks

          5. Stay connected to the energy of your breath

          6. Eat 2 hours before- fuel with some food but don’t practice with an overly full tummy

          7. Hydrate before, during, and after

          8. Hold onto our weekly mantra: "Live light. Spread the light. Be the Light" or repeat your own mantra

        The practice of 108 Sun Salutations aligns and warms up your whole body and it is as rich in mental and physical benefits, as it is in sacred symbolism. It provides a deep stretch along your whole body and expansion all the way through the core. Along with being an incredible way to detox, physically and mentally, completing the challenge is memorable and fulfilling. Don't miss out on this amazing ritual! Keep track, reflect, and share your sun salutations journey on social media. Also,  invite your friends to participate because every challenge is easier when done with a buddy!

        Do you have any tips or insight to help get through this challenge? If so, please share with our community in a comment below!

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        Kindship & Kindness: Acro Bird

        Kindship & Kindness: Acro Bird

        Acro Bird is all about trust, communication, and mindful movement. Take the time to check in with your partner before entering any AcroYoga pose. Agree upon a word to signify you are ready to go in and come out, for ex. I like to use the word “up” for entrances and “down” for the exits.

        Get to know the two positions:

        The base, is the Yogi on the bottom. This person focuses on pressing their back firmly into the ground to create a stable and secure base for the flyer.

        The flyer is the Yogi who is elevated. The flyers focus on building strength throughout their core to encourage balance in the pose.

        Getting into the pose:

        AcroYoga learn how to acro bird pose

        1. Begin with the base laying on the mat, and the flyer facing the base at the back of the mat.

        The base places their feet on the flyer’s hips. If the base has tight hamstrings, place a blanket under your hips to gain more range of motion for this pose. The flyer leans into the base’s feet.

                 

        2. The base should offer up their hands with their fingers pointing outwards so that the flyer can wrap their fingers in the space between the thumb and pointer of the bases hand.  

        3. Now, with the entire body engaged, the flyer should press their hips into the base's feet and begin transferring their weight. As the base, firm your core into the ground. Check in with your partner, if you are both positioned to move forward, work together, allow the flyer to stabilize themselves with the bases hands. As the base engage your core and thighs as you press into the flyer, stacking their shoulders and hips with yours to create a more solid foundation.

        4. The base actively firms their core into the ground while pressing their toes into the flyer's hips. The flyer should reach their chest forward while firming their glutes and thighs.

          

        5. Check in with your partner.  If you both feel stable, with a firm core, let go of one hand and then the next. As the flyer draw your chest forward and reach your fingertips back. To come out of Acro Bird Pose, grab each other's hand. The base slowly bends their knees to allow the flyer’s feet to connect with the mat.

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