Am I too old to start a yoga practice?

When we picture yoga, we often make the mistake of calling to mind images of the thin, flexible, young women plastered on magazine covers and social media feeds. This leads many people to believe the myth that you must be young to practice yoga; that yoga is somehow for some people but not for others.

This is a misleading representation of the true image and intent of yoga. Yoga is for all. In fact, the word yoga literally means ‘union.’

The truth is: yoga is a very accessible practice that nearly anyone – at any age or condition- can practice. It’s a matter of taking what you need, finding the right class and instructor fit, and using your props liberally.

Take the risk and step out of your comfort zone, knowing that this is not a competitive space. It’s okay to move at your own pace.

Because, how could anyone be too old or too young to better their life? Common benefits of yoga, and those that may be especially appealing to older yogis, include:

  • Improved posture
  • Improved circulation
  • Better detoxification of lymph fluid & waste
  • Increased joint lubrication
  • Better balance
  • Increased concentration
  • Greater flexibility
  • More sound sleep

So, for those of you who consider your age a barrier to trying yoga, it’s time to change your mind!

3 reasons to give yoga a try, despite your age

Yoga includes much more than physical movement: Yoga is about making a connection between your breath and the way your body works. It encourages playfulness. It builds community and connection to an ancient lineage, and so much more!

You can modify your practice: You can easily vary your style of practice to adapt for conditions in your body – including practicing with a chair or other form of support. You might also become more interested in the meditation and breathing practices of yoga. Find a teacher with an inviting language, rather than a competitive one.

It might make you feel younger: The benefits of a regular yoga practice strengthen not only the body but also the mind. Yoga can help you recover from injury and boost balance so you avoid falling. But it also helps you learn to breathe through stress, leading to less wear and tear on your body and mind.

Yoga can truly be a fountain of youth. As you become more connected to life, you’ll realize youthfulness has more to do with the spirit than the body. Though your practice may appear slower to others’ eyes, you’ll experience plenty of change inside. You’ll become more tolerant, mentally-flexible, focused, and respectful of your body.

Some of the greatest lessons learned through yoga are to listen to your body, progress at your own pace, and let go of judgment and criticism.

I’ll end with this: you are only as old as your thoughts.

*Any physical elements of yoga depend on your physical status. If you’re recovering from an injury or suffer from any specific conditions, you’ll want to first check in with your doctor for approval and possibly schedule a one on one private yoga session versus a group class.

10 Reasons Why we Step on our Yoga Mats

If you’re new to yoga or have never practiced before, you may be wondering: why the heck do people submit themselves to this crazy yoga practice? And if you’re a seasoned yogi, it’s always worth reminding yourself exactly why you step onto your mat each day.

Most people start practicing yoga hoping to gain a combination of flexibility, strength, and stress relief. But most yogis experience a change of heart regarding why they do yoga – most often pointing to self-compassion, spirituality, and community as the lasting benefits.

Let’s look at 10 different reasons why people do yoga, starting with the physical and moving into the deeper reasons.

1. Yoga provides better flexibility and mobility. Over time, even the stiffest muscles can stretch and lengthen. But one of yoga’s biggest strengths as an exercise form is the functional flexibility it offers to make it easier to complete everyday movements – such as kneeling, bending, or reaching.

2. It builds full-body strength. Yoga is a full-body workout. In any given class, you’ll touch on just about every muscle group in your body with both long, static holds, and fluid, dynamic movement. By supporting your own body weight and intentionally pulling each muscle up and in, you’re building functional strength right where you need it.

3. Yoga relieves stress. Yoga balances your body, mind, and nervous system, helping you relieve tension, ease your frantic mind, and steady your breath. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you into mindful awareness of the way you react to difficult situations, preparing you to respond more positively in the face of future stress. Read more about relieving anxiety through the power of the breath here: The Power of Yogic Breath to Relieve Anxiety

4. It detoxifies your body. Twisting poses and backward bends help give your body’s natural rhythms a boost. When you move in these poses, you squeeze your organs, pumping fresh blood throughout your body and removing waste from your cells.

5. Yoga reminds you to breathe. In class, you’re continually reminded to inhale deeply and exhale slowly, allowing you to notice when your breath is suffering – whether from physical exertion or emotional toil. I can’t tell you how many times this practice has helped me cool down off my mat – either by offering physical relief or preventing me from saying or doing something I would regret.

6. It helps increase concentration. I believe most of us today have concentration troubles, resulting from this digital age and the many tasks constantly tugging us in different directions. Yoga teaches you to continually observe your body, breath, and emotions. It focuses your mind on one pose at a time – often for much longer than you’d prefer! Over time, this practice can increase your ability to focus off the mat – boosting creativity and energy.

7. Yoga increases self confidence. Beginners and experts alike struggle, sweat, and fall over quite often in yoga class. But, guess what? No one is here to judge you on your performance. So, learn to laugh at yourself and keep showing up on your mat. Because, dedication to your practice will bring improvement – even if it’s not in the way you expected.

8. It helps you live in the present. If you spend much of your days planning, worrying, or regretting your actions, yoga can help you unplug and focus on what’s going on in your body and mind in this moment. Give it a try if for no other reason than setting technology aside for 75 minutes. Through breathwork and experience, you’ll learn to live in the present off your mat too.

9. It encourages playfulness. How often as adults do we get to practice new things, like balancing on our head or flipping upside down? Yoga brings you back to that child-like mind, where you explored and approached new situations with curiosity and playfulness, rather than anger and ego.

10. Finally, yoga builds community and connection to an ancient lineage. When you practice yoga, you become part of a four thousand year old tradition. You’ll discover a multitude of tools for enriching your lives – from meditation to health tips, and much more. Yoga can provide an amazing opportunity to discover new friendships, teachers, and communities. I can tell you that I’m continually inspired by the teachers and students who walk through these doors.

The truth is that yoga is not about simply changing your brain or your body. It transcends those goals and helps you connect to what you already have – and who you already are.

So, why do you practice yoga? I’d love to hear some of the reasons you step onto your mat each day!

Common Yoga Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Last week we covered seven basic, overarching ways to avoid yoga-related injuries. Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the most common body parts that yogis injure – and learn practical ways to protect yourself.

Hamstrings: One of the most common body parts that can get injured due to yoga is your hamstrings. Forcing your legs straight into any pose – whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down – can damage your hamstring muscles. This kind of injury often builds up gradually, turning into hamstring tendonitis.

How to avoid hamstring injuries: Avoid forcing your legs into any stretches and you’ll find these injuries quite easy to avoid. If hamstrings are not your most flexible body part, apply added focus on contracting the front of your body (quads and lower abs) when you fold forward to let your hamstrings feel safe letting go. Don’t use your hands to pull your body deeper into forward folds. Those of you with a lot of mobility in your hamstrings need to be cautious and focus on engaging your outer hips, as it’s possible for you to overstretch and cause injury.

Shoulders: Yoga can cause shoulder injuries as a result of improper overuse. Poses like plank, chaturanga, cobra pose, and upward facing are common culprits. I’ve also seen shoulder injuries arise due to students not listening to their bodies’ signs of fatigue. Don’t push through chaturanga when your body is screaming for a modification or a rest.

How to avoid shoulder injuries: Avoid putting heavy weight on the joint by keeping the shoulders locked into the back on the poses listed above. Be sure to hug the elbows into the side body as you lower down through chaturanga and drop your knees down if this is hard to accomplish. Nail the elbows grazing into the ribs as you lower first – then try to lower down in one line with knees lifted. In your updog and cobra poses be sure to expand into the collar bones and externally rotate the shoulders and pull them down into the back pockets.

Wrists: Much like elbow injuries, wrist pain is a result of repetitive stress. This small joint is often already aggravated by too much computer usage. Those of you with weaker upper arms and forearms are at a higher risk because you won’t be able to press your palm firmly enough into your mat to relieve the weight placed on your wrist.

How to avoid wrist injuries: Supplement your yoga practice with some basic arm exercises designed to tone and strengthen. Use dumbbells or resistance bands when you visit the gym. The stronger your arms are, the less pressure you’ll place on your wrists. Alternatively, I recommend placing your knees on the ground to modify poses, like chaturanga, while you build wrist strength.

Lower back: Among the most frequent yoga injuries, lower back pain is often caused by rounding your spine in forward folds or downward dog. Rounding and overstretching is a recipe for injury and irritation, as it causes your spine to flex the opposite way it is supposed to.

How to avoid lower back injuries: Don’t shy away from bending your knees in forward folds; this allows your back to decompress and relax. Engage your lower belly in most poses – especially chair – as core strength contributes to a strong, healthy back. Keep a small bend in your knees throughout practice and remember to tuck your pelvis under your spine.

Knees: Knee injuries are often related to a lack of flexibility, especially in poses that target your tight hips. Other times, they’re the result of your knees falling out of alignment in poses like Warrior or triangle pose.

How to avoid knee injuries: When bending your knee in a pose like Warrior 2, always check that it is tracking over your middle toe. You never want it to cave inward because it adds unnecessary strain. When your knee is straight, avoid locking your knee joint. Additionally, avoid spending long periods of time in deep hip openers until you build flexibility there.

Neck: Any time you apply pressure to your neck – such as during a headstand – you’re compressing your neck. This can lead to pain in your cervical vertebrae. Your neck is one of the scariest places to harm since it takes so long to heal properly.

How to avoid neck injuries: Never put pressure on your head in any kind of inversion – including when you prepare for full wheel. Don’t force yourself into poses that the rest of your body (shoulders, wrists, abs) isn’t prepared to support you in.

Given all the proven benefits of yoga, but also the many potential risks, what should you yogis do? My biggest advice to avoiding yoga injuries is a combination of gradually easing into each practice, noting when your body feels pain over sensation, and mixing yoga with other exercise forms to strengthen weak areas.

At Yoga Fever, it’s our mission to teach an anatomically-sound yoga practice that keeps your bodies safe and strong! If you ever start noticing pain or discomfort, let your yoga instructor know so we can help adjust you or modify your pose.

An Ayurvedic Approach to Spring

The rain is pouring down, washing away the remnants of this winter’s snow piles as I write this. Do I dare believe spring is near?!

The spring season is traditionally a time of renewal. We throw open our windows, deep clean the messes that piled up over the long winter and prepare for cleansing and new growth.

While nature blossoms beautifully in the springtime, humans often experience a much less graceful transition this time of year. We often find ourselves feeling sluggish – like a reluctant, cranky bear coming out of hibernation.

To enjoy a healthy, active spring, you need a basic understanding of Ayurveda – yoga’s sister science – especially of the kapha dosha and how to bring it into balance.

Kapha Dosha

Of the three doshas, it’s kapha that brings light, warmth, and an increased energy. When it’s in balance, you’ll feel strong, composed, and stable – with strong muscles, lubricated joints, and an affectionate, loving personality.

The spring season is sweet and gentle, one that encourages us to slow down. The softness you might notice is an attribute of the water element, while the slowness is an attribute of the earth element. When these elements combine – as they’re doing each day outside this time of year – they encourage growth and new life. Buds begin to form on the trees and flowers pop out of the soft ground. Yet, when there’s too much water and earth combining, we get thick, overwhelming mud instead.

So, too, is the case for us humans. When our kapha dosha is out of balance, we figuratively get stuck in the mud. You may notice a tendency toward lethargy. Or you might gain weight, experience excess phlegm in your lungs or sinuses, and feel a heaviness in your limbs.

The kapha dosha is aggravated by qualities that are heavy, cold, or moist, so I encourage you to invite in lightness, warmess, and dryness through the food, activities, and self-care rituals you choose to engage in.

Common signs of kapha imbalance:

  • Dullness and lethargy in the mind
  • Excess congestion
  • Oily skin
  • Swelling
  • Sluggish digestion
  • Attachment issues

It’s incredibly important to intentionally balance your kapha dosha in the springtime, because it accumulates during the winter’s cold and wet atmosphere. As each of us hibernates during the winter, we develop a winter coat of insulation that must be shed to decrease our vulnerability to allergies or head colds.

So, what’s your basic prescription for spring? Develop a rhythm or routine that helps you gradually lighten your body, mind, and emotions.

Stay tuned next time as we dive deeper into the yoga poses, nutritional habits, and sleeping patterns best suited for balancing your kapha dosha this spring.

The Power of Yogic Breath to Reduce Anxiety

Think back to the first time you stepped into a hot yoga studio. Likely, there were a lot of new experiences and sensations, but perhaps what you noticed the most was the military-like regimented breathing style of your neighbors. You probably heard loud, even breaths throughout the practice and your teacher likely aligned each movement with an inhale or an exhale.

And, maybe, you wondered “Do I have to do this too?” “Is it truly important that I listen to my teacher?” “I’m sure I can practice just as well if I breathe normally.”

If this was you, you’re certainly not alone!

But, yes, it is absolutely crucial that you practice a strong yogic breath throughout your practice. Not only does it help cool your body throughout a heated class, but it also instills a valuable habit that you can rely upon both on and off your mat.

In fact, many studies now confirm what we yoga practitioners have always found: regardless of the type of stress we’re dealing with, yoga is a powerful tool to calm our nervous systems and relieve anxiety. And the most basic component of yoga – breath control – can be practiced anywhere, by anyone.

The quickest way to a panic attack is taking short, sharp, shallow breaths with no focus on your exhale. Our breath is the gateway to our practice and the factor that most powerfully shapes our experiences – on or off the mat. It is intimately connected to our nervous system, so rapid breaths can increase our symptoms of anxiety. However, yoga increases our awareness of the need to slow and deepen our breathing.

Here are four simple ways in which you can ease your anxiety and enhance your mood by managing your breath.

1. Take inventory of how you feel. We often begin with this concept in yoga class. Teachers will ask students to rest either on their backs, seated, or in child’s pose as they take note of how their bodies, minds, and emotions feel that day. However, you can check in with yourself this way anywhere and anytime. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Inhale deep into your belly for five seconds before exhaling slowly for another five. Gradually increase the count to seven or even ten, taking special note of how feel afterward.

2. Practice sun salutations. Whether you prefer seated or standing, practice a few mini sun salutations. While you’re resting between rounds, be sure to soften your shoulders down your back and slow your breathing down. In these active poses, it’s easy to lose track of our breath – but quite simple to regain when you focus on calming and restoring it.

3. Rest in legs up the wall pose. When your anxiety manifests itself as jitters or restlessness, try taking legs up the wall pose. Since it can be done anywhere, it can be especially helpful after long stints of sitting at a desk or traveling.

4. Be mindful of what you consume. Too much caffeine, sugar, screen time, loud music, or work can contribute to an extra-anxious mind. The concept of self-care is real and valid. It’s not simply a luxury; it’s essential. Incorporate calm activities and healthy habits into your life, like a relaxing bath, a silent meditation, an outdoor walk, and a nutritious diet.

Tips for Creating Your Ideal Meditation Space

Interestingly, one of the main reasons we practice an active form of yoga is to help our bodies become capable of doing the opposite: sitting in stillness and meditation. This time of year, as we enter the busyness of holidays, parties, shopping, and cooking, I always find myself craving a quiet and meditative outlet.

As a small business owner, I know as well as anyone the challenges of finding a time and space to rest. To breathe, to think, to relax, and to unwind. I know that adding time into your daily life for stillness sounds daunting, if not downright impossible.

Yet, spending time in stillness each day provides the opportunity to pay attention to our own, individual experience. This, in turn, lets us bring intentional awareness into our daily activities. Think of your formal meditation sessions, whether in studio or at home, as the training that allow us to be more present in our own lives.

So, today I want to share some of my tips for creating a meditation space that you can call home in both the good days and the bad ones, whether you’re seeking joyful meditation or a place of solace.

Find a place that feels secure.

What I’ve found absolutely critical to successful meditation is finding a place where you feel secure enough to open your mind to this practice. Whether that’s a designated room in your house, the floor of your bathroom, a corner with a folding screen, or your yoga studio, find a place that feels sacred to you.

Add beauty into your space.

Meditation at its core is about removing the barriers and obstacles that keep our minds in a state of frenzy. So, I highly recommend that you keep your area simple and uncluttered, like our peaceful and clean space at Yoga Fever. Choose a few items that bring peace and serenity. Some great options include: a pillow, statue, artwork, mat, throw rug, curtains, or natural light.

Create a lovely aroma.

Incense, essential oils, or candles not only help you stay focused but also provide beautiful and soothing energy. In the studio, we often will waft an essential oil throughout the room during savasana. Additionally, candles offer the extra perk of providing a meditative flicker of the flame. Try our Wednesday night candlelit yoga class if you don’t yet understand the beauty and peace of this particular idea!

Soothe your soul with music.

While this piece isn’t necessary, and won’t fit everyone’s preference, I love playing soothing music during my time of meditation. Really, any style of music that brings you tranquility and peace will do. Alternatively, you could consider adding a small fountain if you’re practicing at home.

If you think about it, the spaces in our homes are often classified by the activities that we do in each of them. We have spaces for eating, cooking, sleeping, and playing. Some of us have other areas for entertaining, exercising, reading, or painting. But sometimes it’s important to have spaces in our homes that we create simply to be in them.

Perhaps we can think of our meditation space, whether in studio or at home, as simply our being room. It’s a safe, sacred retreat on bad days and a place to center ourselves each morning. I challenge you to identify some space, anywhere, that you can dedicate to meditation. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll want to return.

Why Do We Use Sanskrit in Yoga?

AUM or Om  ( Sanskrit : ॐ) is a sacred sound or vibration from which all the manifest universe emanates.

Whether you’re new or a seasoned yogi, chances are you’ve heard at least a few Sanskrit words. Sanskrit is the ancient language the first yogis spoke and the language in which many historic yoga texts were written.

At Yoga Fever we teach Sanskrit in our teacher training courses, but we also use it often throughout our classes (not ALL of our teachers use it!). I personally love teaching Sanskrit, as it connects us to the history and origins of the practice, helping students better understand where the practice came from.

More and more, people are coming to understand that there’s a deep and rich philosophy beneath yoga practice. Sanskrit is the language by which that philosophy lives, breathes, and flows.

Why Do We Use Sanskrit?

Sanskrit literally connects us to the classical form of yoga that has been orally repeated for thousands of years.

When we use Sanskrit in our classes, we help students like you not only follow our directions but also get the most out of each session. Each Sanskrit word is believed to have its own consciousness, and pronouncing the word allows you to tap into that consciousness.

Through Sanskrit students are able to understand spiritual concepts that aren’t readily available in English. No other language can translate the mystical, transcendent, and divine as effectively.

It’s important for all of us, both teachers and students, to remember to be patient. We teachers repeat certain Sanskrit pose names often throughout class, as it often takes up to seven repetitions of a word for most people to remember it. Learning a foreign language takes a long time, but understanding some of the roots and most common words is a great first step! Read on my studious yogis.

Sanskrit Crash Course

Asana– This word refers to the poses that compile the physical practice of yoga. Maybe you’ve noticed that each individual pose ends in “asana.” For example:
Sukhasana- Easy Pose (the cross-legged, sitting position usually taken at the end of class)
Balasana- Child’s Pose

Ardha– A word which means “half,” ardha is used in poses like Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon pose).

Namaste– The universal greeting, namaste is a combination of two Sanskrit words: nama, which means “bow” and te, which means “you.” It can be translated a number of different ways, but I often explain it like this: “the light within me recognizes and honors that very same light within you.”

Kona– This component means “angle,” or “corner.” Examples include Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle pose) and Trikonasana (Triangle pose). I bet you can think of more!

Supta– This component means “reclined” and is used in many poses that ask you to lie on your back, such as Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe pose).

Ujjayi– You’ll hear us refer to this yoga breathing technique as “ocean-sounding breath.” It’s practiced with a slight constriction in the back of the throat so that an audible sound can be heard.

Now that you have a basic understanding of a few Sanskrit words, come attend one of our yoga classes. You’ll be excited to discover how much of our yoga practice includes these simple components!

3 Reasons to Become a Yoga Teacher

If you’re interested in the yogic path, yoga teacher training is the best thing you can do for yourself. I know there’s usually not an ideal time to launch into this experience. But is there ever a perfect time to do anything? Nope. Sometimes you just have to lead with your heart and trust in the process.

I’m incredibly excited to launch our fifth Yoga Teacher Training Program this in September of 2019! Upon completion of our Yoga Alliance 200 hour program, you’ll deepen your practice and understanding of yoga, learn accurate body alignment and master the art of teaching yoga with confidence and authenticity. 

Besides these lessons, you’ll also learn the incredible power of self-love, confidence and body awareness. Below we have highlighted just a few of the many reasons to take the plunge.

Reason 1. You’ll Learn Self-Love: Accepting ourselves exactly as we are can be pretty darn impossible. Many of us struggle with jealousy in our friendships, families, and work settings – partly because we live in a comparative world where we can find pictures of other people’s lives at the touch of a button. Our inner judge can be a critical and demanding taskmaster, causing us to speak to ourselves with harsher words than we would ever direct toward others.

Through our teacher training program, you’ll learn to accept yourself for who you are – all flaws, insecurities, and doubts included. You’ll discover the power of a positive mentality, which will help you narrow in on the aspects that make you uniquely you! But we won’t leave it up to you to figure this out; we’ll arm you with the tools and mental strength to fight societal pressures.

Reason 2. You’ll Build Self-Confidence: Building and maintaining self-confidence is one of the toughest tasks we’re asked to do. Without self-confidence, we stay home and avoid certain events; we fail to chase our biggest dreams; we let fear conquer us. 

Our teacher training program will play an influential role in boosting or restoring your self confidence by giving you a reality check: there are some tasks and activities we’re capable of performing and others that aren’t meant to be. For example, some of my students have incredible balance, while others have immense flexibility. In the same way, we each have a variety of talents in our lives. The meditation and breathing exercises you’ll master as a yoga teacher will help you grasp the concept that our limitations are not downfalls; there are simply some things were better at than others. As you continue to grow your teaching skills, your confidence and self-awareness will intensify.

Reason 3. You’ll Gain Awareness (and Appreciation) of Your Body: It’s incredibly difficult to love our bodies as they are. In a world of highly-edited advertisements and instant social media access, it’s understandable to have a hate-filled relationship with your bodies. So, how does becoming a yoga teacher help us move past these fixations and have an appreciation of our body? The answer: give up the notion that yoga is a get-thin-quick routine and, instead, embrace the practice of yoga on a much deeper level.

Through my experience as a yoga teacher, I’ve realized that yoga helps me appreciate my body as a whole, not in segments. It focuses on strength, flexibility, balance, and breath, rather than on appearance. For example, when I do a balance pose I rely on my entire body to support me, even the parts that I dislike. All of the repetitive practice in body mindfulness you experience in teacher training will carry over into your regular, off-the-mat life, helping you proactively care for your body.

Those of you who enroll in our Yoga Teacher Training Program will spend a lot of time with myself, Shannon Austin, Owner and Operator of Yoga Fever. I am looking forward to fully supporting each trainee on their journey toward all things yoga. After the program, TeamFever works hard to keep your teaching skills going by connecting you with possible teaching positions at the studio and within the community (if you’re ready). You also receive a free unlimited membership at the studio for the duration of the program ($400 value). I am really proud of this program and cannot wait to show you the ropes.

If you’re even slightly considering signing up for Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Fever, let’s connect. I’d love to hear from you. Please call us at 616-805-3603, email us at info@www.yogafevergr.com, or stop by the studio. The time is now yoga-teacher-wanna-be. You can do it, and I are here to guide you every step of the way. 

 

XO – S

Standing Forward Fold: More than an ‘In Between’ Pose

Standing Forward Fold. It’s a pose that often brings a sigh of relief amidst a challenging sequence. Though it certainly is a calming posture, the standing forward fold should not be mistaken for an “in-between” pose, or a transitional stance with no physical or mental benefits. All forward folds whether taken from seated or standing are very introspective and will enrich your yoga practice on many levels the more you practice them.

What is a standing forward fold?

The Sanskrit word for this particular pose is Uttanasana. “Ut” = intense. “Tan” = to stretch or extend. “Asana” = pose. The result? A standing forward fold is an intense stretch or extension pose.

What are the benefits?

The standing forward fold is a calming posture that lengthens the hamstrings and activates the inner legs. It helps relieve stress and mild depression, improves digestion and reduces fatigue and anxiety. However, while this pose may look simple at first, you want to make sure you understand the basics before pushing your body too far. (By the way, this is true with all yoga poses)

We all show up to yoga class with the best intentions. We plan to stretch, strengthen and heal our bodies, minds and spirits. Unfortunately, it’s easy to find injury instead, especially when we step onto our mats with a competitive mindset. We see our neighbor with perfectly straight legs, bending all the way down to touch her toes, and we try to imitate that – often before we’re ready.

Today, we’ll outline the steps to find a solid standing forward fold. And we’ll also offer a few pieces of advice on how to avoid common mistakes in this pose.

Instructions:

Step 1: Place 2 blocks (on the highest setting) at the top of your mat and then stand in Tadasana (standing straight up – Mountain Pose). Place your hands on your hips as you exhale and bend forward from your hip joints, not from your waist – lead with your heart not your crown. As you go, lengthen your front torso and create space between the pubic bone and your legs. Bend your knees generously as you begin to see how tight the hamstrings and low back are.

Step 2: You won’t be able to touch the floor quite yet (unless you are seasoned or naturally open), that’s A-OK and quite typical as a beginner. As you fold and bend from the hips and knees, place your hands on the two blocks ‘as if’ they were the floor. Take it easy at first. It’s important to feel out each pose and ease into your body and the shapes you are creating.

Step 3: With each inhale, press into the blocks (or take hands to shins right below the knee) and straighten your arms. Begin to lift and lengthen your torso slightly to a halfway position and straighten your legs (if possible). Lifting up on the kneecaps (engaging the quads) will also help to release the hamstrings. You’re looking for a flat back and tight core. Draw your abdominals toward one another to engage the low back and navel together as one. With each exhale, let yourself fall into the forward bend. Bend your elbows and knees as you lower the torso down toward your legs. Let the head dangle here and release the tension around your shoulders. The inhale you lift half way and the exhale you fall back into the fold. We toggle between the two linking breath with movement. The half lift (inhale) neutralizes the space between the vertebrae and the fold (exhale) increases the space between the vertebrae. Try 10 rounds to get the hang of it.

Step 4: When you’re ready to come out of the pose, either roll your spine up to a standing position or take your hands to your hips and lengthen your torso forward to the half way then to a standing position. Breathe deeply the whole way whichever route you choose.

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Don’t straighten the legs in the fold if you have low back injury or pain, always keep bent knees until your back is healthy.
  • Don’t keep the weight back in the heels. Instead, shift the weight more into the arch/center of the foot, even the ball mound of the feet so the alignment is distributed evenly from ankle to knee to hip.
  • Don’t wear the shoulders up by your ears. Continually release tension and draw them into your back pockets.

The standing forward fold can be practiced as a rest between other poses, in which case you’ll often stay here for 30-60 seconds, or as a pose of its own. With time your hands will get closer and closer to the ground. Feel free to ask one of our awesome teachers for a little extra guidance before or after class. He or she can show you certain points for extra attention or practice.

Remember: Forward folds are not easy to do. It takes time and patience for the hamstrings to release the grip they have on the sit bones. With time, patience, and practice, it will happen. Until then, be proud of where you are at and meet yourself there.

So You Think You Can Teach?

5 Questions to Ask When Considering a Teacher Training Program

Whether you’ve decided you want to teach yoga or simply dig deeper into your own practice, it’s often daunting to sift between yoga styles and teaching methods to decide where to complete your teacher training. That’s why we’ve pulled together five questions to consider when selecting the best teacher training program for you.

1. Is the program Yoga Alliance Certified?

As the international governing body for yoga, the Yoga Alliance sets the standard for teacher training programs. If you hope to teach yoga at some point in your future, make sure you look for this certification – otherwise you won’t qualify for insurance. We know, insurance doesn’t feel very yogic, but this certification basically says you’ve got a stamp of approval to teach yoga.

2. What is the schedule like?

All teacher training programs start out with 200 hours. Some are immersion classes – meaning you’re cramming the entire program into two weeks. These make it quite difficult to retain the information or get enough practice before teaching. At Yoga Fever, our program is extended over 3.5 months to help ensure you have the depth of knowledge and experience needed before beginning to teach. As a bonus, this type of program is perfect for people leading busy lives with work or family commitments.

3. How does the program teach anatomy?

At first, this may not seem like the biggest deal when you’re trying to memorize all the Sanskrit names for postures or figuring out how to properly sequence. But anatomy is huge!! You must understand alignment and muscular engagement before you become a yoga guide. A solid understanding of human anatomy will enable you to bring a high level of consciousness to your teaching as well as prevent injury. Make sure the program you select has a strong focus on anatomy. Yoga Fever offers 11 modules in anatomy training in relation to yoga.

4. How does the program balance the subjects it teaches?

Each training course devotes a minimum number of hours to subjects like posture, anatomy and philosophy, but each course also emphasizes different areas and brings its own style. What matters most to you? Spiritual training, a focus on alignment, or ample time to practice teach? Pick a program that speaks your language. If you’re looking for emphasis on ALL of these things, you should definitely consider our program. We hit all the bases necessary to take your practice and your skills to the next level.

5. What are the instructors like?

Your studio instructors will be a large part of your training, from their knowledge to their personality to their years of experience teaching. Take some time to research the teachers at various studios, read reviews, and take public classes from them. Make sure you feel that the teachers are incredibly knowledgeable in the field of yoga and can guide beginners and seasoned practitioners through a safe and thorough experience.

Yoga Fever offers a 200 hr Yoga Teaching Training Program

You’ll learn about human anatomy, including posture, integrated movement and the prevention of common injuries. You’ll study philosophy, including the eight limbs, and the Sanskrit language. You’ll practice sequencing, incorporating meditation, classical yoga, vinyasa breath & movement, and the use of props. Additionally, you’ll receive unlimited yoga for the duration of the program.

Make sure to register before July 31, 2018 for a special early-bird discount. For more information about our course visit our Teacher Training Page. If you have questions, please call: (616) 805-3603 or email: admin@www.yogafevergr.com.