Introducing Kundalini Yoga

Have you heard of Kundalini??

We’re excited to announce an Intro to Kundalini workshop, coming to Yoga Fever on Friday, November 2 from 7:00 – 8:10 p.m.

What is Kundalini Yoga?

“The primary objective of Kundalini is to awaken the full potential of human awareness in each individual; that is, recognize our awareness, refine that awareness, and expand that awareness to our unlimited Self. Clear any inner duality, create the power to deeply listen, cultivate inner stillness, and prosper and deliver excellence in all that we do.” – Kundalini Research Institute

Yoga itself has dozens of variations in philosophy and style. Some are structured as a physical workout while others put a strong emphasis on meditation. Kundalini is a little of both – an uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices that incorporates movement, dynamic breath, meditation, and chanting of mantras. Its aim is to awaken higher consciousness in its practitioner by activating energy centers throughout the body.

In Sanskrit, the word “Kundalini” means “coiled snake.” Early Eastern religions believed that everyone possesses a divine energy at the base of the spine. It’s something we’re born with, but we each must strive to uncoil it. Through Kundalini, we turn potential energy into kinetic energy, awakening our Higher Self.

3 Practical Reasons to Try Kundalini Yoga:

Often referred to as the “yoga of awareness,” Kundalini focuses on the expansion of your sensory awareness. It is one of the most powerful and complete yoga practices you’ll encounter, as it creates an aligned relationship between the body, mind, and soul.

Building Awareness Will Expand Your Life: Kundalini yoga is designed to strengthen your intuition and willpower. As you unravel the energy within you, you’ll gain awareness and an improved presence in the world, resulting in new opportunities and experiences.

Discover the Magic Outside of Your Comfort Zone: Kundalini combines so many elements, from stretching to breath work to sound meditations. The spontaneous nature of each class will keep you light on your feet and ready for anything.

Find Your Voice and Share with the World: Kundalini yoga helps us find our voice and discover the courage to use it kindly and effectively.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of, or practiced, this form of yoga before. As always, Kundalini asks that you honor yourself, move at your own pace, and listen to your body’s needs – asking for adjustments and modifications when necessary.

You don’t want to miss this exciting workshop! Join us on Friday, November 2 from 7:00 – 8:10 p.m. for our Intro to Kundalini class. You’ll engage in a short movement practice with various Kundalini exercises, finishing with a healing sound meditation to relieve stress and anxiety.

Yoga Teaches Positive Coping Mechanisms for Managing Stress

Teenagers are barraged with many powerful life stressors, including grades and the pursuit of a college education, puberty, family issues, relationships, lack of sleep, jobs, and extra-curricular activities. It’s no surprise that the American Psychological Association (APA) named teens one of the most stressed-out age groups in the United States.

When we experience a perceived threat – whether physical or emotional – our bodies activate a “fight or flight” response. Historically, this response was triggered only occasionally in response to deadly dangers. However, these days certain chronic situations expose our bodies to extended periods of stress.

For teenagers, this stress is coming at a critical developmental stage – right when their life habits are forming. And they often don’t have the tools or experience to manage it yet.

When a person experiences chronic stress, their body attempts to build coping mechanisms. The problem is that these can be either positive and healthy coping mechanisms or negative and maladaptive coping mechanisms – such as drugs, depression, and even suicide.

What are Coping Mechanisms?

Coping mechanisms are the strategies we use in the midst of stress or trauma to help manage difficult emotions.

Healthy coping mechanisms include:

Support- seek the steadiness of a community, rather than self-isolating and internalizing your feelings

Relaxation- practice meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing techniques

Physical Activity- on the other hand, exercise serves as a natural and healthy form of stress release

Healthy Eating- for more, read our Ayurveda blog or our Nourishing Your Body blog

Negative coping mechanisms include:

Consuming too much alcohol

Smoking

Sleeping all day

Eating unhealthily

Isolation

How Does Yoga Help Us Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms?

Luckily, yoga and meditation are among the many resources that can help both teens and adults develop healthier responses to stress.

Mindfulness techniques give students the capacity to cope with stress, providing a sense of self-empowerment and helping them overcome obstacles that previously would have seemed impossible.

Yoga practice helps redirect attention, improve concentration, and increase self-control.

It reinforces teenagers’ need for independence by teaching them that feeling better is within their control.

Additional Study Results

The results of a long-term study from the University of Cincinnati showed that a regular yoga practice helps people develop long-term resilience to stress. It analyzed 125 at-risk youth over a 10-year period and discovered that the students who participated in weekly, mindful yoga programs developed significantly stronger coping skills.

A study conducted by California State University concluded that participating in yoga classes for two hours each week helped students improve their self-esteem, classroom behavior, and physical health.

An article in Forbes Magazine revealed that yoga increases student retention rates in schools by teaching healthy coping mechanisms against stress.

Many schools and community organizations have begun to implement yoga and mindfulness programs into their curriculums over the past few years. As these continue to grow, they will empower both youth and young adults to identify healthier coping mechanisms as a response to their stress. When they encounter painful emotions or trauma, they’ll have an enhanced ability to regulate their reactions.

I highly recommend that those of you who are parents to teenagers consider enrolling them in a monthly yoga membership if they’re interested. We also offer weekly, candlelit community classes for only $5, which are a great place to start learning the yoga poses and vocabulary, as well as start building a safe, welcoming support system.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda: The Sister Science to Yoga

Ayurveda is India’s ancient system of health and healing. It differs from modern medicine in that every individual is considered unique – and there is no common diet or lifestyle routine that will work for everyone.

Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas: Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. Doshas are the energy patterns that make up each individual person. This science teaches that each individual contains specific mental and physical traits that compose our constitution.

Although we’re born with all three of the doshas, they form differently in each of us, creating a unique combination that makes us exactly who we are! Generally, one dosha tends to influence us most heavily.

Characteristics of Each Dosha

VataThis represents cold, dry, and light. It is the force that controls our movement, regulates our nervous system, and oversees the elimination of waste. People with strong vata dosha are creative, quick to learn and grasp knowledge. They are excitable but tend to tire easily.

However, when this energy is out of balance, they may experience fear, anxiety, and impulses. They generally have dry skin and hair.

Pitta- This represents hot, wet, and combustive. It is the force that controls our digestion and metabolism. People with a predominance of pitta tolerate most foods, but can’t handle missing a meal. They tend to have an average body build, are good speakers, organize well, and are ambitious.

If their pitta gets out of balance, they lean toward irritability, outbursts of anger, and perfectionism. Typical physical problems include rashes, heartburn, insomnia, or dry eyes.

Kapha- This represents cold, wet, and heavy. It is the protective force that governs stability, structure, and moisture in our mind and body. Kapha types are usually affectionate, loving, and nonjudgmental. They tend toward slow speech, which reflects their deliberate thought process. They are calm and strive to maintain harmony in their relationships.

A lack of balance can lead to feelings of envy, insecurity, and depression. Their physical problems can include colds, congestion, and respiratory problems.

What are the Benefits of Ayurveda?

For all doshas, asana practice complements the positive aspect of our dosha while teaching us what we need to do to bring it into balance. For example, daily routine connects Vata types to the earth, boosting strength and stability. For Kapha individuals, it brings light and warmth to increase your energy and reduce lethargy. For strong Pitta types, it offers breath awareness to bring peace to your mind.

Are you ready to learn more? Join us on Saturday, September 22 from 12:00-3:00 p.m. for a fun, life-affirming class on Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga. Together we’ll explore how Ayurveda helps us uncover self-care and nutritional practices that honor our uniqueness. You’ll discover ways to improve your sleep, digestion, weight regulation, and natural detoxification.

All About Blocks

Let’s celebrate summer with a block party! No, not the kind with hot dogs and all your neighbors. I’m talking about yoga blocks – those funky little props that are so essential to our yoga practice.

I’ve noticed a lot of new yogis tend to shy away from using blocks, thinking the props will quickly betray them as a beginner, incapable of mastering all of the poses. They feel the whole point of yoga is to become flexible enough to do every pose without using a prop.

Don’t be ashamed if you’ve ever thought this yourself! The truth is, blocks are critical to everyone’s yoga practice, whether brand new or a yoga master. The trick is to let go of your ego-based “How does this make me look?” approach and shift toward the “How does this make my body feel?” mentality.

Why Use Yoga Blocks?

A yoga block is a brick-shaped item made of either cork, wood, or foam. You can achieve three different heights (4, 6, and 9 inches) depending on the way you flip your brick. Blocks (and other yoga props) help you enter postures safely with proper alignment, ensuring you are not only safe but also experience the benefits of the pose – even if your hamstrings are tight.

If you’re new to yoga, they help you train your body to bend, twist, and stretch. If you’re experiencing an injury, they help you modify your practice so you can continue to recover. And even if you’re perfectly healthy and have been practicing for years, there are days your body just needs a little help – and that’s okay!

1. They Bring the Ground to You– Try using blocks under your hands in forward folds to release the strain on your hamstrings as you stretch toward the ground. We’ll often encourage them in the trickier folds, like half moon and standing splits. But, if you’re a beginner, don’t be afraid to grab two to use during standing forward fold too.

2. They Build Strength– Stretching isn’t the only benefit of blocks! They can be used for strength-building exercises just as well. In the studio, we often ask students to put a block between their legs during ab exercises or wheel pose. It introduces an additional element of resistance, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your efforts.

3. They Allow You to Rest in Restorative Poses– Finally, blocks can be used to tone down the intensity of yoga poses. They support you so that you can still experience the positive effects without exerting as much effort. I love using a block for a restorative bridge pose at the beginning or end of class.

Time for a Block Party!
I honestly believe the beauty of yoga is its acceptance of students of all levels of experience, flexibility, and strength. Using blocks and other props is not something to shy away from, and I truly hope you’ll all continue to embrace their ability to help you modify, strengthen, or rest – depending on your need each time you step on your mat!

If you’re ready to learn even more about these yoga essentials, join us for our Summer Block Party! On Sunday, July 29th from 9:30-11:00am, Dean will teach an all-levels workshop exploring unique and creative ways to utilize blocks in a variety of poses. He’ll then lead us in a jam-packed vinyasa putting our props to the test. Sign up today!

Yoga and Running Go Hand-in-Hand 

I commonly hear runners praising the addition of yoga to their practice. However, many yogis often shudder when thinking about running. Maybe this is because we often hear about the dangers of running: it will ruin your joints and compromise your yoga practice. But I always wonder, why can’t yogis embrace running, as well?
I’m here to tell you that many of the skills and physical and mental strength you have built up through yoga will highly benefit your running practice too.

4 Reasons Yogis Are Prepared to Be Runners

  1. You Already Have a Strong Core- Despite what some running novices may think, the sport is not all about leg strength. It’s a full-body effort, meaning that core strength is a huge factor. Additionally, upper body strength is essential to keeping your back and shoulders from tensing up as the mileage increases.
  2. You’re Already Tuned into Your Breath- The breath awareness we yogis practice on our mats is immeasurably valuable when it comes to endurance training. The longer you run, the more important it is for your body and mind to connect, preventing you from getting distracted or quitting. If this body-mind connection sounds like the effortless calm you feel during yoga practice, that’s because it is!
  3. You’re Prepared for the Meditative Side of Running- Speaking of this body-mind connection, running is essentially a meditation. When we run, we aim to immerse ourselves in the present, eliminating unnecessary movements to find ease in the midst of a strenuous physical effort. I like to think yogis have a huge step up in this department because we’re used to adjusting our bodies to balance our muscles and limbs.
  4. You Already Know How to Rehabilitate Tight Muscles- I saved the most obvious for last. One of the most common factors that brings runners into the yoga studio is a desire to learn to stretch, twist, and rehabilitate tight muscles. For yogis making the leap into running, or for those already combining the two practices, it may be hard to give up the excitement of vinyasa and fun arm balances in favor of slower movements, but this is exactly what your body will need. Try exploring tight nooks and take your practice down a notch as you discover the ways each practice complements the other. I recommend giving Yin yoga a try!

Importance of combining two different physical/mental practices

Yoga Gives Your Competitive Side a Rest: The beauty of yoga is that it’s not a competitive sport. Sure, you may motivate yourself daily to improve and show up on the mat, but at the end of the day no one comes in first or last. Sometimes it’s nice to rest the competitive side of your brain, but other times it’s fun to enter a 5k and see how your body has improved over the course of the last few weeks or months. Yoga and running don’t live in different universes; they’re two sides of the same coin, complementing each other and filling in the gaps.
Yoga Moves Your Body on a Different Plane: Runners continually move one direction in space, whereas one of the greatest benefits of yoga is that you get to move your body along an entirely different plane. On our mats, we twist, we turn, and we invert our bodies. As anyone who has ever stepped into a yoga studio knows, you’ll discover muscles you never knew existed. While runners are some of fittest people around, many experience strength and flexibility issues, which isn’t surprising when you consider how many times they pound the ground each mile. Another reason to incorporate both practices into your weekly routine!

So, whether you’ve been combining running and yoga for years, or you’re convinced now might be the time to give it a shot, I’d love to invite you to our first Yoga Flow + Trail Run event taking place Saturday, July 14 from 9:30-11:00am at Robinette’s – Oh and PS, don’t worry about the weather, we always have a rain date scheduled!!

The movements inherent in yoga and trail running may seem tremendously different, but they share one key trait: both put you in the present moment. If you lose focus for just one moment, you could wind up face down on your mat or in the dirt. We’ll start with a 40 minute yoga flow, building the muscle strength and range of motion needed to help you dance over rocks and roots on the 2 mile trail run.

AVOIDING YOGA-INDUCED INJURIES

Doesn’t it always seem that just as you’re getting really comfortable and strong in your yoga practice, an injury comes along that knocks you off your feet and requires you to slow down? Whether it’s a strained muscle or a broken bone, the lesson is simple: time to rest and heal.

Thankfully, yoga is a form of exercise that thrives off of alterations, changes, and meeting you where you are each time you step on your mat. It offers plenty of variations for those needing to ease up, and it actually can help you prevent or recover from injuries.

When You’ve Gone Too Far

As a general rule, you should never feel pain in your joints. If you do feel pinching sensations, it’s an indication to stop and relearn your technical approach.

Muscles are a different story. Muscular soreness is an unavoidable sensation caused by any physical activity: running, biking, weight lifting, dancing. This kind of soreness is natural. But if you start feeling pain in your joints – such as in the vertebrae or shoulder joints – while attempting complex movements, it’s time to modify.

Wave your yoga instructor down and ask for a few pointers. At Yoga Fever, we do our best to help students right during class, but if we can’t answer all your questions, please grab us before or after class!

Conquering the Ego

If you are experiencing an injury, one of the hardest things to face is your own ego. You’ll begin to cringe when you have to back out of a pose or rest in child’s pose rather than following the sequence you used to easily flow through. I’ve got some blunt honesty for you: let the ego bleed itself to death. This is exactly what you’ll need to free yourself from the whiny voice in your head that thinks your value is tied to your success.

Then, you’ll be able to reframe your mind. Injury demands you to ask what your priority in yoga really is. When you can no longer do the “cool” poses, you must identify whether your motivation is finding inner peace or simply mastering advanced poses.

Injury Prevention

1. Sudden or Acute Pain– Do you know the difference between stretching within your limits and pushing beyond them? Often, we slip into the latter and our body gives a shout of pain.

What to Do: Speak up if something doesn’t feel quite right when your instructor makes an adjustment. Give yourself some compassion when you have the desire to force or contort yourself into a posture that’s just not happening today!

2. Connective Tissue Tears– Occasionally, your joint may take on too heavy of a load, such as your knees in Chair Pose or your elbows and wrists in arm balances.

What to Do: Stop what you were doing immediately before making the injury worse. You may want to take a few days off, but when you do return to your mat, remember to focus on stability rather than stretching; this way you’ll stay within your limits.

3. Repetitive Stress Injuries– Dedicated yogis occasionally experience stress injuries – like tendonitis – from repeatedly doing the same movements.

What to Do: Though you may have a favorite style of yoga, mixing things up and trying not only different yoga classes but also other forms of exercise, is a great way to shift the frequency away from overused body parts.

Last piece of advice today: give yin yoga a try. This is a new class to Yoga Fever, being held Sunday evenings from 7:30-8:30pm. From healing injured shoulders to little toes, yin yoga is the answer. It focuses on long, passive holds, stretching and nourishing your connective tissue. This is where the action is and where injuries are healed. Give it a try!

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!

Mastering Chaturanga

Ever heard your yoga teacher call out “chaturanga” and wonder if you’re doing it correctly? We feel you. Chaturanga Dandasana – or four-limbed staff pose – is the one yoga pose yogis love to hate. Most of us do it incorrectly or half-heartedly for years before finding the light!

Because this is such a physically and emotionally challenging pose, there’s a tendency to rush through it to get it over with. But a lack of attention is perhaps the biggest problem. While chaturanga can be a great way to tone your arms and core, your alignment needs to be spot on. Otherwise, you’ll risk shoulder or back injury.

The Benefits of Chaturanga:

Why do we put ourselves through this tough pose? There are several reasons why yoga instructors sprinkle chaturanga dandasana throughout their classes. Here are some of my favorite reasons for using chaturanga to transition between your yoga sequences.

  1. It makes your wrists stronger and more flexible.
  2. It builds muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
  3. It tones and stretches your core muscles.
  4. Add all of this together and it’s a great preparatory pose for arm balances and inversions

The upper-body and lower-belly strength you acquire by practicing chaturanga translates wonderfully into the power and core consciousness you need for arm balances like crow pose and side plank.

Where Most of Us Go Wrong:

It’s challenging to know when you are doing your chaturanga correctly. And since it’s a pose of repetition, it can lead to injury when performed incorrectly over and over again. Here are a couple ways even the best of us mess up our chaturangas sometimes.

  • Our hands are too close to our shoulders, causing our elbows to bend further than 90 degrees.
  • Our bodies either collapse to the ground with a saggy back or we stick our butt out toward the ceiling putting too much pressure on our shoulders.
  • Our elbows fall outward instead of hugging our core.
  • We lazily move through chaturanga, barely bending at the elbow before quickly rushing into upward dog.

How to Make Chaturanga More Accessible:

One option is to practice the pose with your knees on the floor – there’s no shame in this, friends! Closely monitor your elbow alignment. Next, recognize how deep you go as you lower yourself toward the floor, catching yourself before you begin to sag. Finally, share the strength of the pose between your upper and lower body so that your legs can ease the burden.

Still Confused?

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a novice, each of us can benefit from stripping this pose down to its basics once in a while. So, whether you know you’re doing chaturanga wrong or you’re so darn comfortable in it that you’re starting to think you could use an extra challenge, we’ve got you! Join us at Yoga Fever for our next Chaturanga Clinic on March 18th from 1-2:15pm to learn the proper alignment, explore preparatory poses, and even how to take it to the next level by hopping or floating back into it! Sign up now – your shoulders will thank you!

Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Do you wake up for work in the morning simply exhausted from tossing and turning? You’re not alone – and it could be costing you more than you think. Research shows that consistent lack of sleep can lead to associated health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and diabetes.

But a good night’s sleep is within your reach thanks to, you guessed it, yoga!

Yoga practice doesn’t always have to be an intense, blood-pumping, sweaty workout. Some of the most amazing aspects of yoga are the subtle changes you experience through focused breathing and bodily awareness. I’ve found that taking a few minutes at the end of my day for yoga and meditation are essential to unwinding and relaxing before bedtime.

So, how exactly does yoga help us sleep better?

Yoga helps us get in touch with our breath. When you slow down and hold a pose, you’ll identify different areas of your body that are tense – think: shoulders, hips, back. The longer you sit and breathe through the pose, the better your chances of releasing that tension and gradually letting go. Plus, stretching in general has a wonderful calming effect.

Yoga reduces stress. Difficult and exciting events both bring stress into our lives. Whether you’re in the middle of a demanding season at work or preparing to marry the love of your life, you’ll likely experience stress. Practicing yoga mindfulness before bed will help reduce levels of cortisol (ie: the stress hormone), reducing the amount of time you spend tossing and turning.
Yoga helps us create a routine. If you’ve ever struggled with sleeping, you’ve probably heard advice like “go to bed and wake up at the same time each day” or “don’t look at your phone before bed.” While these practices may work for some, I’ve found that yoga has the most significant impact in creating a routine that works for me. Ten minutes of gentle yoga before bed can do wonders in setting you on the right path.

Yoga helps us handle uncertainty. One of the biggest culprits of insomnia is a restless mind. Often, my body is physically exhausted, but my mind won’t zip it! I’ll stress about additions to my planner, adding activities in tight spaces, upcoming events. Adapting to a yoga-before-bed practice helps me accept where I am in each moment. And, sometimes, where I am is…awake. This acceptance that I can’t sleep actually helps me be able to relax more. It’s weird, but it really does help eliminate the anger and frustration.

Looking for a few poses to aid sleep? Here’s a sample routine:

  • Hero’s pose | Virasana – take this opportunity to lengthen your spine and open your chest. Settle into your calming breath pattern and clear your mind.
  • Cat and cow– Roll forward onto your hands and knees, flowing between these two poses for as long as you like.
  • Child’s pose | Balasana – Sink your hips back and settle your chest onto the floor. Breathe deeply through your belly and lower back.
  • Legs up the wall | Viparita karani – This helps drain acid from your legs, decreasing symptoms of fatigue and soreness. Stay here as long as you like.
  • Supine twist– This is a great back stretch, helping you relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Happy baby | Ananda balasana – Gently rock back and forth on your back to massage your spine.
  • Butterfly pose | Suptabaddhakonasana – a supported butterfly can help you relax deeply while focusing on the breath.
  • Savasana- It’s called corpse pose for a reason! Use this as the final pose before crawling into bed, closing your eyes and freeing your mind from thoughts.

Looking to put this into practice? In addition to your personal practice before bed, join us on Sunday, February 25 from 12:30-2:30pm for a special workshop on deep relaxation and mindfulness. Join Brie to learn about meditation clarification and practice, restorative yoga poses, guided yoga nidra (“yogic sleep”), and tips for staying mindful in the busyness of everyday life.

4 Key Steps to Building an Arm Balance Practice

Arm balances are everywhere these days. They pop up on Instagram and yoga studio posters as the epitome of yoga accomplishment. Yet, they’re often among the most frightening poses for students to try. The concept of flying fearlessly into wild, inverted poses plagues many yogis.

I’m here to tell you: this collection of poses is not reserved for advanced yoga practitioners. With a few tips and tricks (plus practice, practice, practice), you’ll find yourself in Crow, Hurdler, and Headstand in no time!

Benefits of Arm Balances

First off, why bother practicing arm balances in the first place? Balancing poses help us connect with the present moment. And when you add in the challenge of balancing on your arms, the amount of mental focus required increases. You’re never going to get up into a headstand if you’re thinking about the day’s to-do list. Practice arm balances if you’re in need of a strengthened mental focus.

Additionally, arm balances increase flexibility, core and shoulder strength, as well as feelings of self-confidence and courage. Plus, they offer a playful and curious way to approach our bodies!

What’s not to love? If you’re eager to give these a try, but maybe a bit scared about how to begin, read on for four tips to help you build your arm balance practice.

4 Key Steps to Building an Arm Balance Practice

Confidence- Honestly, guys building confidence is key to arm balancing. We are all a bit nervous about face planting. It happens every now and then. So what?! It’s totally okay to fall out of the pose and laugh your ass off. We all do it. The more we practice balancing on our hands, the more confidence and strength we will gain. It just takes time, practice and patience.

Strategic Weight Placement– How many times have you heard your instructor remind you not to put your weight into the heel of your hand? This is because when your weight is in the palm of your hands, there’s nothing to stop you from falling backward. Instead, strategically place your body weight between your thumb and pointer finger – pushing more into your knuckles than the heel of your hand. By moving the balance point forward like this, you instantly gain more control.

Shoulder Strength – Your shoulder blades are a critical, and often neglected, body part when moving into arm balances. You need them to support your arms, especially when you’re in a straight-arm balance. We often help students increase scapular strength by holding an engaged Plank pose, asking them to puff up between the shoulder blades – almost like a Cat Pose.

Core strength- All balance poses rely heavily on a strong core, and arm balances are no exception. To build an arm balance practice, you must learn to lock off one part of your body (example: core) so you can use that stability to launch into more complicated poses. We often encourage students to focus on their core by asking them to flex their belly during every single yoga pose of the class. Eventually, engaging the core will become second nature.

Ready to Try Arm Balances?

Are you ready to put these tips into practice? Join us at Yoga Fever for a special arm balance workshop ‘Learn to Fly with E’, hosted by our favorite flyer: Elizabeth Sanders! On January 21, from 1:00pm-2:30pm, Elizabeth will guide you from stretching and strength-building poses into full arm balances for just $18. There’s no experience required and this is not a heated event. We’ll start from where you are and work on the four tips above – prepare to amaze yourself!

Remember: so much of the fear of arm balances comes from physical limitations in our heads. Think of how easily little kids throw themselves into headstands. They don’t necessarily have the strongest core or the best technique; rather, they’re simply not scared to try something new – and maybe fall once in a while. Trust us, you owe it to yourself to try something new this month – we’ll always be there to catch you!