Yoga

Cue Crazy Alphabet!  B is for BALANCE.

Hello, fellow yogis!  We are continuing to move through our alphabet of yoga cues with week.  Our next letter is B – for Balance.  Read on 🙂

There are many yoga poses that help us improve our balance.  Sometimes we balance on our feet, hands, or even our head!  Balance offers us physical benefits such as strengthening & elongating our muscles, getting to know our center of gravity and how to align ourselves, along with learning the important yoga principle of rooting down.  Mentally, balance helps us to keep our attention focused, how to stay steady in one spot for a while, and how to find an inner center that helps us both on and off the mat.

Here are a few tips to help you balance throughout your practice.  Think about how these ideas can apply off your mat as well.

  • Starting with either the feet or the hands depending on the pose, widen the fingers or toes and ground or root down into the mat.  Ground all 4 corners of the feet into the mat.  Lift all the toes at once, feeling the inner and outer edges of the ball of the foot and the heel come in contact with the mat.  Release the toes and remain focused on feeling all 4 points of contact throughout all of your standing poses.
  • Keep your gaze soft, a few feet in front of you on an object that is not moving.
  • Find your balance in poses slowly & consciously. Keep the breath calm, even, and gentle.  Try counting to 4 as you breathe into and out of the nose in every pose.  Try this breath pattern as you work or drive to remain calm too!
  • When needed, use a wall or your hands to gain stability.
  • Keep your feet drawing towards each other in poses like Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) or High Crescent Lunge to help with stability. For poses such as cat extensions, spread the fingers wide, press the pads of the fingers & the arm of the palm into the mat.  Press the hands away from the body while clawing the fingertips into the mat slightly.  Learn more about wrist engagement here: https://buddhababyyoga.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/all-about-our-wrists/

We’d love to hear what helped (or didn’t help!) or even tips we didn’t cover that you always find useful.

Until next time, yogis.  Namaste.

xo.

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Yoga

Cue Crazy!

With so many types of yoga, there are many more variations on the cues that we hear over & over in all of our classes.   Enjoy this guide that will take you through the yoga alphabet to keep your practice balanced & safe.  See which cues resonate with you and feel free to incorporate any (or all!) of them into your daily practice.

To kick us off, we will start at the beginning with the letter ‘A’ – ARMS and ALLOWING new experiences to happen.

Our arms are what help us bear weight on our hands.  Just one example would be when we move from High Plank to Chaturanga as we flow through our Vinyasa.  Press into all 10 fingers evenly, keeping all of the fingers wide on the mat.  Become aware of the upper arms – the shoulders externally rotate, along with the biceps, so that the elbows can stay hugged in towards the chest to lower down in Chaturanga Dandasana (TIP:  Make sure you can see the elbow creases (external rotation) before lowering down; this will help you hug the elbows in and create 90 degree angles with the arms).

Another cue is to ALLOW.  We must begin to open our minds and listen to our bodies throughout all of our practices (off the mat, too!).  Allow yourself to remain curious through every pose.  Step out of your comfort zone and see what your body is capable of.  If you find that you’re holding tension in an area of your body, allow yourself to soften that spot by breathing into it to create space instead and then exhaling the tension.  With each exhale, sink deeper into the pose & allow the body to surrender a little more.   Giving yourself permission to release on the mat helps us begin to let go off of our mats too.  Try it – I’d love to hear about your experiences!

 

Stay tuned for our next blog post, flowing through the yoga cue alphabet with the letter B:BALANCE.  Share your comments below if you enjoy these cues and would like me to feature a specific cue that you love or continuously try to focus on during your practice!

 

Namaste,

xo

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POSE OF THE WEEK: Learning Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Learning Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Also known as Fierce Warrior, this pose increases stamina

If I am being honest, Warrior II is not one of my favorite poses.  I have trouble holding my hips straight while tracking my knee over my pinky toe.  All the more reason that I need to work on this pose!!  I am sure to incorporate Warrior II in every one of my classes so that my students build the stamina and strength that they need to build upon this standing pose in the future.

Let’s begin!  Start in Downward Dog.  Lift your right leg to the sky.  Bend the right knee and hug the knee into your chest, then drop your right foot down between your hands.  Pivot on the back foot 90 degrees and ground down through the pink toe edge of the back foot.  While slightly bending in the front leg, inhale and cartwheel the arms open into a T (one arm in front of you, one arm behind you).  Your hips will be turned towards the long edge of your mat as you shift your gaze over the front middle finger.  To engage your shoulders, flip the palms up and draw the shoulder blades together.  Keep that engagement and flip the palms back down towards your mat.  Don’t lean the torso over the front thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the hips. Tuck the tailbone slightly and bring the belly button to the spine.  Glance down at your front knee and make sure you’re not sickling inward.  You want to see your big toe and make sure your knee is pointing towards the pinky toe edge of the front foot.  Inhale the gaze back up to center and breathe in this pose for at least 10 breaths.  To switch sides, cartwheel the hands over the front foot, planting the hands and stepping back to downward dog. Lift the left leg to the sky and begin setting up for Virabhadrasana II on the left side.

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Contraindications and Cautions

  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck problems: Don’t turn your head to look over the front hand; continue to look straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly.

Modifications and Props

If you have difficulty supporting yourself in this pose, position a metal folding chair outside your left leg, with the front edge of the chair seat facing you. As you bend the left knee to come into the pose, slide the front edge of the seat under your left thigh (taller students may need to build up the height of the chair seat with a thickly folded blanket). Repeat with the right leg bent.

Benefits

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Increases stamina
  • Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
  • Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica

 

I’d love to see and hear about your journey in Warrior II!

Namaste,

xo