Nourishing your body before and after hot yoga

Nourishing Your Body Before and After Hot Yoga

As you know, yoga involves movement, twisting, and turning. The last thing you want when you’re busy flowing through a new sequence is to experience a stomachache, bloating or gas (EEK!). But it’s really hard to fuel our bodies correctly. Sometimes we accidentally eat gassy veggies before class and other times we forget to drink an adequate amount of water.

As yoga instructors, many of our students ask what to eat, when to eat, and how to hydrate properly in order to enjoy a successful yoga workout.

We think this is a great question and hope we can show you some simple tricks to staying healthy and energized throughout your yoga practice. Especially in the heat of summer (hello 95 degrees, Grand Rapids – we feel you!), it can be tough to keep our body full of the nutrients we need to make it through intense work outs and hot yoga classes. So let’s use this summer season to practice being intentional about what we put in our bodies before and after yoga class.

Why is this so important? Glad you asked. When you have the right amount of food and water in your body, you’re able to build and tone your muscles. But when you fail to do so, your body finds itself in “preservation” mode, too busy trying to provide basic energy and unable to create new muscle.

6 Tips for Nourishing Your Body the Right Way

Time It Right: So, when’s the best time to eat before yoga class? Ideally, we ask you not to eat 2 hours prior to yoga. However,  it doesn’t hurt to load up on a 200-300 calorie healthy snack an hour or so before class. This will keep your stomach from rumbling obnoxiously while also providing enough time for digestion.

TIP! Bring some apple slices and peanut butter with you to work so you can munch on them before heading to class or grab an orange. Oranges are 87% water content and are loaded with vitamin C. They’re perfect for adding some quick hydration. 

Avoid Fatty Foods: You probably already know this one, but before any workout, you should stay away from fatty or greasy foods (Duh). Focus instead on foods with fast-acting carbohydrates or lean protein. Your body can use this energy immediately to provide the boost you need.

TIP! Carrots and hummus is a light, easy snack that will give you the energy and nutrients you need. Save the tofu burger & fries for a once-in-a-while thing (and not before you hit class). Although I must admit, I am a bit of a french fry addict!! I do stick to eating them after class (pinky swear).

Bring an Eco-Friendly Water Bottle: At Yoga Fever, we strongly encourage you to bring an environmentally friendly water bottle to each and every class. We also sell Essentia H2O with electrolytes at the studio in the event you forgot to pack one along. Bring water into the studio with you and remember to drink it whenever necessary (even during the class). We won’t always remind you to hydrate so be conscious of your intake before, during and after.

TIP! When your instructor offers the opportunity to skip chaturanga and go straight to a downward dog, use the extra time to hydrate if needed. Listen to your body – it’ll tell you when the time is right.

Snack Smart before AM Class: It’s hard enough to drag your sleepy a** to an early morning yoga class (we get it), let alone trying to throw in eating properly before the crack of dawn. We recommend eating as lightly as possible before class, then consuming a solid breakfast afterward.

TIP! For your sunrise yoga session, opt for half a cup of oatmeal, half an avocado, or a small handful of avocados. A cup of tea works well, also.

Befriend your Blender: Oh how I heart my blender!! Some of the best pre-workout snacks are healthy, protein smoothies. These fruit and veggie-filled drinks are all the rage these days, so it won’t take you long to google a recipe you like. If you head to yoga straight from school or work, mix it up in the morning and keep it in the fridge during the day.

TIP! Hydration is super important before yoga, so try adding ingredients like green tea, oranges, pineapple, or mango. The antioxidants will also prevent muscle soreness.

Hydrate and Replenish: The first thing you’ll want to do after rolling up your mat is to drink some H20 and maybe even add some electrolytes to your water. Electrolytes help you replenish the much-needed nutrients, sodium and minerals your body lost during your sweat sesh. We keep Emergen-C electrolytes at the studio for our staff to sip on between classes. You can purchase it at Costco or any local pharmacy. Whatever you do, just be mindful to keep your water bottle near you for at least an hour after class, although your body may crave extra water for the rest of the day.

TIP! You can also add in some other, naturally-hydrating drinks like fruit juice or coconut water. Even foods like cucumber, watermelon, and pineapple (all chilled) are a great post-hot yoga treat.

Remember, these are only suggestions. There are certainly additional food items you can add to the list. And it’s important to note that everyone’s body is different. Listen to yours to decipher which foods it can digest well and which are better left for an off-day. And after hot yoga, stock up on your lean protein by eating yogurt, drinking low-fat milk, or snacking on turkey and hardboiled eggs. We’ve also heard chocolate milk is a great way to rehydrate after extra muscle building (who knew?).

Most importantly, remember that these tips are designed to help you focus on your practice. We want our yogis to be fully invested in each hot yoga session, not worried about becoming dehydrated or depleting their adrenals.

STAY HYDRATED GRAND RAPIDS.

How to choose the right mat for hot yoga

How to Choose the Right Mat for Hot Yoga 

Yoga mats are a game changer when it comes to a sticky, sweaty yoga practice. Recently, I was far from my yoga home and decided to test out another hot studio. However, I did not have my favorite mat with me as I was out of town. I figured no big deal, I’ll just rent one. The studio in and of itself was fabulous. It hit most of the checks on my “list” as to what makes a great hot space.

  1. Beautiful and clean studio and lounge
  2. Adequate space to flow and breathe
  3. A yoga teacher who was clear, creative, and enthusiastic
  4. Knowledge of alignment and body mechanics
  5. The heat was seriously on point

But one major thing missed the mark: their rental yoga mats did NOT provide appropriate grip and safety. This completely changed my practice from stellar to super disappointing.

I suppose I’ve been blessed to practice on great mats in my hot yoga practice, which has led me to take for granted the superior traction that’s necessary to have an out of body hot yoga experience. So when I tried practicing on a lesser quality mat, I was unbelievably distracted by the possibility of my downward dog being split in two from my slippery hands and feet! Let’s just say: that hot yoga experience was not my usual “you’re Wonder Woman” experience.

If you’re going to practice hot yoga, and feel like a superhero the entire time, invest in a yoga mat and/or towel that is intentionally designed to manage intense heat and sweat. Otherwise, you’re only cheating yourself because your practice will be so distracted from holding on for dear life, that you won’t be enjoying the practice (which is clearly the point).

A couple tips: Just because it has a famous brand name, doesn’t mean it’s the best for hot yoga. And resist the urge to buy a yoga mat from your local pharmacy, home goods store, or supermarket.

So, what should you look for in a hot yoga mat? 

Consider the Thickness– The weight of your yoga mat has a lot to do with how comfortable it will be. Too thin and your knee may experience pain during low lunge; too thick, you may feel a weakened connection to the floor – making you more wobbly in balancing poses.

Standard yoga mats are about ⅛ inch thick, which is a great option for hot yoga. If you know you have sensitive knees, go thicker so your yoga experience isn’t uncomfortable. If you’re always on the go, try a wafer-thin mat that you can fold up and fit in a suitcase.

Go for the Grip– There’s nothing worse than slipping and sliding around on your yoga mat during an intense, hot class. This is the exact opposite of what the practice is supposed to be doing for you. We want to take ourselves out of the world of frustration and become one with the experience at hand, not over effort to stay in place. When you shop for your perfect mat, be sure to check the material. You’re looking for a closed cell mat or one with a microfiber towel on the top and rubber base. This will keep you grounded while also absorbing your sweat. Make sure the mat description says it is used for ‘hot yoga’ and if it doesn’t do the trick (after the break in period), return it or send it back.

Don’t Skimp on the Cost– Though I’m all about saving money when possible, a high quality yoga mat is worth the splurge – especially when you’re committing to a consistent hot yoga practice. If you choose the cheapest option, it will not hold your dog and will quickly become a slip and slide. Keep the inexpensive mats for the traditional yoga room or your at home practice, not the hot space. In the hot space, it will absolutely deem useless as the minute you sweat, all grip is lost.

Choose Support- At the end of the day, your yoga mat is your safety net and your right hand man. You carry it everywhere, it rides shotgun in your car, and you shed a lot of negative energy on it. It will always catch you when you fall (unless you bought it at CVS). Choose one wisely, one that supports you 100% through every down dog and every life changing experience.

If you have any questions at all, let’s talk! Seriously, email me, call me, or stop into the studio. We sell some amazing sweaty yoga mat options from Lululemon that will 100% hold you in place.  Always choose a local business to purchase corporate goods, as they make a commission on that wholesale. Happy sweating!

Think you can teach yoga?

Think You Can Teach Yoga? Get Certified.

5 Questions to Ask When Considering a Yoga 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 yoga teacher 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 yoga teacher training 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 yoga 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 yoga teacher training 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.

YogaFever 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@yoagfevergr.com

 

Dp I have to be flexible to practice yoga

Do I have to be flexible to practice yoga?

This week, I’m starting a series on common yoga myths. Ask any yoga teacher, and they’ll easily share a handful of questions or excuses they often hear as to why new students think yoga isn’t right for them.

Perhaps the most common one is the belief that you have to be flexible before ever setting foot on a yoga mat.

And I really can’t blame you for thinking this! Take a look at any Instagram account or magazine cover and you’ll see yogis bent into ridiculously perfect poses.

Enough.

Thinking you have to be flexible to try yoga is like saying you have to be in shape to go to the gym or know how to cook to take a cooking class. The truth is, practicing yoga regularly will help you become more flexible over time.

But it’s called practice for a reason. You have to start somewhere!

I simply ask that you give it a try, commit to a regular practice (2-3 times per week to start), and stay patient. Also, take the following pieces of advice to heart.

Tips for building flexibility through yoga

Befriend your props: Props – including straps, blocks, and blankets – are not just for beginners. Smart yogis use them on any given day for a number of reasons. One is to bring the ground closer to you to release strain on your hamstrings. A second is they allow you to rest in restorative poses to tone down the intensity of certain shapes. Make it a habit to grab props before each and every class.

Develop a stretching routine: Everyone has certain body parts that are far tighter than others. Maybe it’s your hamstrings, hips, shoulders, or neck. To avoid common yoga injuries as you build flexibility and strength, identify which body parts are your weaknesses. Then target those daily with a small handful of stretches. Learn to identify the difference between sensation and pain.

Breathe through your muscles: Even and sustained breathing brings oxygen into your muscles. I’ve found that many new yogis notice the loud, even breaths of their neighbors throughout class and wonder “Do I have to do this too?” Yes, absolutely! A strong breath practice not only keeps you energized throughout class but also sends oxygen into the places you need it most.

Feel the heat: While you can certainly practice yoga anywhere, the reason we crank the heat in our studio is that it loosens your muscles, making it easier to build flexibility without causing injury. This means two things. One, don’t push too far in a heated space, as your muscles might be deceiving you. Two, accept the fact that you won’t feel quite as flexible in a colder space as you do in our studio.

Very few yoga students walk into their first class wildly flexible. But that’s okay because flexibility isn’t the main goal of yoga anyway. Yoga helps you practice mindfulness, live in the present, and increase your self-confidence.

Flexibility is certainly a perk of steady yoga practice, but it shouldn’t be a fear that keeps you away from ever stepping onto your mat.

7 tips for avoiding common yoga injuries

7 Tips for Avoiding Common Yoga Injuries

Many yogis love the practice because it reduces the tightness in their necks, loosens their lower backs, and releases tension in their hips. But, like any kind of sport or activity, injuries can – and do – happen in yoga.

Some injuries occur due to overuse and inaccurate alignment on repeat. Others come about from thinking you’re more flexible than you really are. And sometimes, they’re a complete slip, accident, or fluke.

Thankfully, I have seven pieces of advice to help you avoid common yoga injuries. Because the most important thing to Yoga Fever instructors is keeping you safe and your body healthy.

1. Know the difference between sensation and pain

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: leave your ego at the door. Do NOT compare your flexibility, your strength, or your body in general to that of your neighbor. Everyone’s body is different, which means that the “perfect pose” may not be possible for you – right now, or ever. That’s okay. We’re here to guide you toward your best possible expression. But if anything ever starts feeling uncomfortable, please listen to your body and back off.

2. Get the green light from your doc if you have any pre-existing injuries

If you’re new to yoga and have any pre-existing injuries, please talk to your doctor or physical therapist for guidance first. While we instructors are trained in anatomy and are skilled in helping students avoid new injuries, we don’t know what aches and pains you might be dealing with already. Discuss which postures or movements might be risky based on your current or ongoing limitations.

3. Chat with your instructor before or after class

That being said, we also want to hear from you – about existing injuries or any new pains you’re noticing. When we know what’s going on with your body, we can help cue modifications to help you avoid doing more injury to yourself. While we try our best to move around the studio and help students right during class, we can’t always make it to everyone. We warmly welcome you to chat with us before or after class, so we can help you protect your body.

4. Gently stretch tight areas

Stretching and other dynamic movements should always be done mindfully and gently. Take your time loosening tight areas – especially during the beginning of class or when you’re practicing outside of our heated studio. It’s natural to feel some resistance, but you should be able to tell the difference between that and pain. Overstretching will only ever set you back by worsening existing injuries or leading to muscle tears.

5. Regular strength training

If you know you’re weaker in certain parts of your body – say, glutes or hamstrings – try to build strength there gradually. This helps you reduce putting too much pressure on other body parts as they try to compensate. Focus on regular cardiovascular or resistance-training exercises several times per week to build up the strength you need to stay safe in the yoga studio.

6. Use props for support

You know those blocks and straps at the back of our yoga studio? Yes, we really do want you to grab one of each for every class. Blocks can easily bring your mat closer to you if you don’t reach the floor in a certain bend or twist. They relieve pressure on your precious hamstrings. A rolled-up blanket or towel placed under your knee or hip is another great way to protect vulnerable parts of your body. Props are not something to be ashamed of. In fact, some of the strongest yogis are those who rely on their props to support them when they need it.

7. Consider trying various styles of yoga

Beyond the physical injuries, you might immediately think of, certain vigorous styles are not meant for beginners. Ease your way into the yoga practice by attending some of our gentle yoga, warm (not as hot) classes or even our yin yoga classes, which move at a slower pace. Learn the foundations of yoga from our experienced teachers, and read up on how to prepare your body for the Power Vinyasa Classes. Choose the appropriate class for your skill level and work your way up.

Next week, we’ll dive deeper into some of the most common yoga injuries, teaching you practical ways to avoid falling victim to them yourself.

In the meantime, I hope you take these tips to heart. It’s easy to forget that the ancient practice is about so much more than contorting your body into unique, impressive physical shapes. But at the end of the day, no one wants to lose out on days or weeks of yoga practice because they’re nursing an injury that could have been avoidable.

what is Ayurveda?

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.

Avoiding yoga induced injuries

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

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 chatarunga

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.

How to express gratitude everyday

How to Express Gratitude Everyday

How can we cultivate gratitude everyday?

The practice of gratitude improves health and happiness, builds a positive outlook, and doesn’t cost a thing. Even in the stressful, unclear times of our lives, we all have something to be thankful for. And if we choose to live as if everything is a gift, we live with deep appreciation and gratitude.

So as I prepare for Thanksgiving this year, I’m reflecting on 9 simply ways we can cultivate gratitude in our daily lives – on or off the mat.

On the Mat:

Set Grateful Intentions– I’ve written before about the importance of setting intentions for your yoga practice. And while these can vary tremendously, why not try setting one related to gratefulness for a few weeks? Make your goal throughout your practice be to appreciate every moment – every drop of sweat dripping down your body, every muscle stretching, and every deep breath that moves through you.

Meditate Daily– The practice of meditation can take many forms, but the goal is always the same: to quiet our busy minds and help us find some internal peace. While it can be tough to settle into a time of stillness, this is where you’ll find the ability to reflect on the people, places, and things in your life that serve you. If you’re religious, prayerful meditation is a great way to honor the aspects of your life that bring you joy.

Count Your Blessings, Not Your Breaths– This one is nearly impossible to do throughout an entire yoga session, but why not try it during one long pose – half pigeon, anyone? Instead of spending your time wishing you could leave the pose, try thinking of one thing you’re grateful for with each round of breath.

Never Skip Savasana– I don’t know about you, but I find it quite easy to be grateful when I move into savasana at the end of class. The intensity and heat are finally over and my tired muscles can melt into corpse pose. Whether in the studio or in your personal practice, always ensure you make time to spend 5-10 minutes in this final, resting pose.

Off the Mat:

Move Your Body– Yeah, yeah. You know this one, right? But there’s a difference between exercising just to lose weight and exercising because you love and want to honor your body. Find whatever method you enjoy and do it! Whether that’s yoga, long walks, biking, swimming, kayaking, running, or lifting weights, take time to appreciate and respect your body’s need for movement.

Read– Ditch your screens, crack open a physical book, and get lost in it. Allow yourself to absorb new ideas, learn about different cultures, or discover inspirational quotes and poetry. I promise you’ll experience gratefulness for a world outside your own.

Write It Down– This tip is simple, yet extremely effective. Find the time of day that suits you and jot down three things each day that bring you joy. Sometimes your entries will be short and sweet, while others may include great detail. See if you notice a pattern of the people or things that you’re thankful for, and find ways to incorporate them into your daily life.

Self-Care– Show your whole being – body, mind, and soul- some gratitude by starting some self-care habits. Create a skin-care routine or fuel your body with wholesome nutrients. Get a massage or take daily walks to clear your mind.

Give Back– Once you have begun this journey toward thankfulness, it’s time to give back. Maybe you choose to donate to a favorite charity or volunteer with a cause near to your heart. Or perhaps it’s simply by teaching a loved one how to live gratefully every single day.