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Get Your Yoga On – Before You Even Get Out of Bed

We’ve all been there…it’s hard to wake up, it’s hard to get moving and you want to crawl back under the covers to sleep for 5 more minutes! Wouldn’t it be nice to give ourselves a little buffer between sleep and the rest of our day? How do we get our day going, while being kind to our bodies? Yoga – of course!

Try to incorporate the following poses into your morning – before you even get out of bed.

Savasana (Corpse Pose): Before you even start moving around, lay still and aware. Notice your breath moving in and out of your body. Notice your rib cage expanding with each inhale. Notice the rise and fall of your belly with each breath. Take 20 breaths here to just be, and to see how everything is feeling.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose): Let the soles of your feet touch as your knees splay outward, gently opening through the front of your hips. Place your left hand on your heart, and your right hand on your belly. Feel the beating of your heart, and the rise and fall of your chest and belly for 20 steady breaths.

Apanasana (Reclined Knee to Chest Pose): Draw your right knee up and toward your chest. Use your hands (on your knee or shin) to pull the knee in closer to your body. Take 10 steady breaths here. Switch legs and repeat the 10 breaths. Draw both knees into the chest for 10 more breaths.

Jathara Parivartanasana (Master Revolved Abdomen Pose): With the knees raised to your chest, stretch your arms out wide letting both shoulder blades relax on your back. As you exhale, drop the knees toward your right elbow (keeping the shoulder blades flat and knees above hip level). Take 10 breaths. On an inhale, draw the knees back to center, and as you exhale, release the knees toward your left elbow. 10 more breaths. Inhale your knees back to center. Place your hands behind your thighs and gently rock yourself up to a seat (Sukasana – Easy Pose).

Parsva Sukasana (Easy Pose with Side Bend): Inhale both arms overhead, as you exhale bring the right hand down outside your right leg and bend sideways toward your right hand. Left arm stays overhead and reaches toward the right side of your room. Stay and breath 10 full breaths, lengthening your left side body, without crunching up on your right side – think long spine). Inhale, lifting you back to center, both arms overhead. Exhale, bring the left hand down outside the left leg and side bend to the left. 10 strong steady breaths. Next inhale draws you back up tall with arms stretched overhead. Take a few more breaths here stretching up nice and tall.

Now get out of bed! Gently of course.

Use this peaceful transition from sleep to movement, and from sitting to standing, to give your body a more gentle way to wake up and start your day with some self-care and joy!

Namaste.

Brandie Patterson, RYT

5 New Year’s Resolutions for a Happier, Healthier You

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing and joyful holiday season and are feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually refueled. As you enter this new year of possibilities, I hope you take a few moments to thoughtfully consider your goals for 2018.

If you find it difficult to think of your new resolutions or are feeling discouraged about your capability to follow through with them, read on. We pulled together a list of five creative resolution categories – and we’re ready and willing to help you stay motivated this year.

Meditate- The practice of meditation truly brings out the best of you. It makes you wiser, sharpens your intellect, and boosts your energy. For us yogis, meditation will always require continual effort, for it takes work to commit to the difficult necessity of this craft. Since meditation is a cornerstone of a healthy life, incorporating it into your daily schedule is a great way to reduce stress this year. And that’s something ALL of us can relate to!

Make Time for Nature- A great first step to this intention would be committing yourself to spend more time outdoors this year. Leave the tech in your house and go for a weekly bike ride or pack a picnic and walk to your nearest park. Even this winter season, embrace your inner kiddo and go sledding or take a snowy walk to your neighborhood cafe. This unhurried time with nature provides bursts of intuition and creates head space for you to focus on your short- and long-term goals. To go even further, make it your goal to leave this earth a safe space to breathe for generations to come by planting a tree or conserving water.

Serve | Seva- Yoga philosophy encourages oneness and service, so consider a resolution based in giving back. Why not gather a group of yogis in your community and volunteer for a service project. It’s as easy as cleaning up your neighborhood, planting a community garden, or taking turns shoveling neighbors’ driveways.

Write More Often- The act of writing is one of the most creative and cathartic abilities we possess. And the great thing is, anyone can do it. Sure, you might not produce poetry or a novel anytime soon, but who’s stopping you from doing some daily journaling? Try writing down three things that bring you joy at the end of each day, or jot down interesting quotes or nuggets of info you hear during the day, followed by a few sentences of the feelings they evoked. As your thoughts pour onto paper, you’ll discover a healthy release of emotions and insecurities, helping you love yourself better and ditch that negative self-talk.

Introduce Yoga to Your Friends- Not all resolutions need to be so self-centered either. I encourage you to include your circle of friends in your plans for a happy and healthy new year. Consider how far you’ve come since you first began practicing yoga, including all the benefits it has had on your physical and mental wellness. Wouldn’t you like to spread the joy yoga brings you with your personal tribe? Take advantage of our affordable community classes to introduce a buddy to yoga or if you’re on a membership, you receive 2 free yoga passes for friends who have never been.

As you consider your resolutions for 2018, remember that they may take time to accomplish or to turn into a habit. Anyone can set a resolution, but committing to them is the real test. I suggest writing down your list of resolutions and placing it somewhere you can see them every day. Good luck yogis!

What are your resolutions this year? Please share in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

STILLNESS

Interestingly enough, one of the reasons we practice poses, or ‘asanas,’ in yoga is to help our bodies become supple enough to do the opposite: to sit in stillness and meditation. 

Take a minute to think about the last time you sat in complete stillness, without wondering what you were going to cook for dinner or how you were going to accomplish all your weekend activities. We’ve talked before on the blog about busyness and the way yoga can decrease stress, depression, and anxiety, but today I want to focus on one of the hardest components of yoga: stillness. 

Stillness is a skill. And like any skill, it takes practice. 

WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO BE STILL?

Often, we’re instructed to “relax” and sink into a resting pose. As many of us can attest, “just relaxing” is a complex request. When we stop thinking about our breath, legs, core, and post-yoga plans, all kinds of scary thoughts can creep up to the surface. Mindful stillness is so challenging, you guys – even for the most experienced yogis.  

Over time, our busy lives leave us feeling exhausted, frustrated, and out of control. Yet, being alone with our deeper thoughts can be painful – so we tend to do whatever necessary to avoid moments of stillness. We add in activities and accept additional projects at work; we watch tv or turn on music when we’re home alone. While none of these activities are wrong in themselves, refusing to grant ourselves moments of genuine rest reduces our coping skills, sense of self, and even our relationships. 

HOW CAN WE PRACTICE STILLNESS?

This is why we infuse our yoga practice with moments of rest. We use child’s pose, sukhasana (an easy seat), mountain pose, and, of course, savasana to coax our bodies into stillness. Yes, it’s great to get active, to warm up the body, and to get nice and sweaty, but it’s equally important to do the opposite: create quiet and peace within the body.

The pause we take during these poses is not about falling asleep, hanging out, or waiting for the next movement. The pause is designed to foster a full awareness of our body and the way things are right now. We witness our breath flowing through our limbs, the way our heart beats, and the changes and evolutions that our bodies and minds go through.

When we do this, we experience an emotional release – from the day, from our stress or anxieties, from difficult relationships, and any multitude of other daily circumstances.

CREATING STILLNESS OFF THE MAT

Though we often are forced into moments of stillness when we step onto our mat, we don’t always allow our bodies and minds to totally obey, still retracting to those pesky thoughts and concerns. Not only do we each have room to improve on the mat, but we also need to put this into practice in our daily lives.

I know, adding time into your daily life for stillness sounds daunting if not downright impossible. Start small, with only five minutes of focused inactivity. Maybe you set your alarm for five minutes earlier each morning and spend some time in meditation or prayer. Or block out a five minute break at work and find an empty room with no distractions. Or commit to staying off your phone in the half hour leading up to bedtime to make stillness at night easier. 

Whatever you attempt, remember that your mind will continually try to rebel – but with practice you can help quiet it. 

 

Find time for rest. You totally deserve it.

 

Simplify Your Sleeping Pigeon

Pigeon pose was actually designed to be a back bend with a ton of variations to chose from. The west decided to add the sleeping variation which can be a bit of a love/hate relationship. It’s amazing for runners, cyclists, or anyone with tight hips. But the problem is that many of us don’t understand the proper alignment of the pose, which can really compromise the safety of our knees and SI joint. 

We’ll walk you through a few ways to modify this pose to make it the restorative wonder it’s meant to be – rather than the pose you endure with clenched teeth toward the end of your practice.

First, what is Sleeping Pigeon pose and why is it so beneficial?

Yoga treats stiff hips in many ways, but the most common is through a collection of poses known as hip openers. Sleeping Pigeon pose is an extremely effective hip opener that works your front leg into an external rotation, while stretching your psoas muscle (it connects your groin to your lumbar spine) in your back leg. 

English please? It’s really, really, good for those of us who sit at a desk all day. And when you practice it consistently, you’ll notice significantly more ease in your lower body as you sit, walk, run and stand.

The problem is that many of us tend to thoughtlessly fold into Sleeping Pigeon, which dumps tons of stress onto our knees and sacrum. If you’re eager to improve upon this pose, read on yogis.

4 Tips for a More Pleasant Pigeon

Ease into the pose- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Extend your right leg behind you, then bring the knee up to replace the right hand. You want a 45 degree angle from right hip to knee. More than likely, your shin is not parallel to the front of the mat (yet). With time and patience, you may get there. The heel will be close to the body and that’s A-OK. The top of your left foot is resting on the earth behind you with the toes reaching straight back to avoid sickling of the ankle. Gently melt your hips down to the ground. You want to avoid dumping all of your weight into the right side of the body. 

You can choose to stay here or, for a more intense stretch, extend your arms and chest to the ground in front of you. To fully experience the pose, keep the spine long versus rounding.

Use core muscles to square your torso- Once you’re in the pose, be sure to keep your hips squared to the front of your mat. This isn’t a twisty pose, so do your best to keep both hips facing the front. How do you do this? Engage and activate your core muscle to shift your front hip back toward your extended leg.

Take up space- At this point, you may be able to descend a little deeper into the pose. With your hands planted firmly in front of you, try scooching your back leg further toward the back of your mat. With every inhale, back out of the fold a bit, seeing if you can gather just a smidge more length through your spine. Then you can take up even more space as you fold forward on your exhale.

Modify when needed- It’s always okay to utilize the props found in the studio! Slide a yoga block or rolled up towel under your hip (the bent one) for extra support. There’s nothing to be ashamed about – even the most flexible yogis have days where they need some added cushion to protect their bodies. 

Finally, keep in mind that Sleeping Pigeon may not be your thing. No matter how many alignment refinements you make, this just may not be the pose for you. That’s totally fine, you guys. Ask your Yoga Fever yoga instructor for some alternatives, such as sucirandhasana (thread the needle) or lying pigeon (where you’re on your back and pull your thigh toward you). It’s always okay to skip or modify a pose.

Now let’s do this.
 

Bringing Yoga to Work 

While the time spent on your yoga mat at class several days a week certainly helps strengthen and soothe your body, it’s no match for the stress and tension you put on your body during the rest of the week. Whether you sit at a desk for hours on end, run around watching your children, or work a manual labor job, work places a lot of strain on your body and mind.

Most stress is a mental pressure we force onto our physical bodies, especially in the corporate setting where people operate furiously with their minds rather than their bodies. Simply hitting the gym after work won’t fix the problem. Instead, your body and mind need to be brought together to find a sense of peace and relaxation. Yoga is a perfect tool for transforming the workplace into a less stressful, more peaceful environment.

Bringing yoga to work with you can offer so many benefits. It lowers stress levels, gives you healthy energy shots (instead of that extra cup of coffee), and boosts your creativity. Any change in body posture can change your whole mindset.

We often get the question: “But how will I find the time to squeeze yoga into my work day?” The thought of sneaking out for a lunchtime yoga class may be bizarre, especially with how much we are each asked to do on the job. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay stagnant all day.

You surely receive at least one or two breaks during your day. Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee or checking your social media feeds, spend your time wisely. There are many effective yoga moves you can do right at your desk (or in the break room, or outside) that will not only give you a mental break but also ensure your back, arms, hips, and wrists remain in working order.

Yoga Poses You Can Do at Work

Seated Crescent Moon – Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the left, taking three deep breaths. Repeat on your right side.

Why? Our side body tends to collapse when we hunch over a computer or stack of papers. This can cause neck and shoulder discomfort. This pose brings you a taller spine, clearer head, and sharper focus.

Wrist and Finger Stretches – Extend your arms to your side and draw five to ten circles inward and outward through your wrists. Then, quickly spread your fingers and close your fists, repeating five to ten times to shake off tension. Finally, stretch one arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, using your other hand for a counterstretch.

Why? Desk work causes a buildup of tension in the muscles of your fingers, hands, and wrists. You need some extra blood flow in these areas, typically every two hours.

Chair Pigeon – While seated in your chair with both feet planted on the ground, cross your right leg over your left at a 90-degree angle (creating the figure 4). Keep your foot flexed and ankle joint strong. Maintain an equal weight distribution between your sitting bones, while keeping your back straight. Take the right hand and press it into your inner knee/thigh to open your hip a little more while also helping you to extend up through your spine. Hold for 10-15 breaths before switching sides.

Why? When we cross our legs, especially one side more than the other, we create an imbalance in the hips and lower spine. This pose helps even things out.

Neck Roll – Close your eyes, letting your chin drop to your chest. Move your head slowly in a circle while keeping your shoulders loose and relaxed.

Why? At work, we often fix our gaze for minutes or hours at a time at one point. And often our computers are below eye-level, causing our necks to experience unnecessary tension. This pose helps us stretch and remember to move more often.

Breath Work (Pranayama) – At your desk you can practice breathing exercises throughout your day especially during points of high stress. Drape your eyes closed and begin to relax your body and mind while keeping your spine extended up right. Notice your natural breathing first drawing in and out of your nose. Watching a few organic breaths mindfully will zip you into the present moment. Then when ready, begin to deepen your breath, count to a beat of 5 for the inhale and a beat of 5 for the exhale. With practice you may be able to work up to a beat of 8 for both inhale and exhale. Repeat 10 times. Voila, you have relieved some much needed tension by simply slowing down your breath, having a one-pointed focus, and clearing your mind of clutter.

So the next time you feel stressed, overworked, or brain-dead, spend five minutes practicing a few of these yoga techniques. We guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling refreshed. And your bosses will appreciate the added productivity of this new form of workday self-care.

If you’re looking to bring yoga classes into your workplace with a qualified instructor, Yoga Fever offers Corporate Yoga. Our team travels to you either on your lunch break, before or after work. Whatever is convenient, we can make it work. Call the studio for pricing or email us at info@www.yogafevergr.com