I have teamed with Lisa K. Beach, Ph.D. to create a series of Women’s health courses blending nutrition and yoga. Our first course for pregnancy has just been completed. Our next course will be geared toward postpartum health and fitness. We are really excited to be launching this program, called ‘Glow’. I Will be posting more about this exciting series soon. Find our first course here
As soon as we started seeing SUP (stand up paddle boarding) become all the rage in America, we saw SUP yoga. There is something about bringing yoga to the ocean that makes sense to people, that speaks to the yearning to have more connection with the earth. One of my first surf lessons was taught by a yoga instructor who communicated all I needed to know in terms of yoga poses. Paddling out in Bhujangasana, popping up through upward facing dog, and landing in chair pose. So I suppose it makes perfect sense to bring our salutations to the sun and our warrior poses to a floating board on the sea.
SUP has its origins in Hawaii. Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton has been revolutionizing the surf world in Hawaii for years. I remember his invention of the foil board, which allowed him to actually float above the surface of the water. Without the friction he could go faster.
Well, he has been busy inventing again and this time teaming up with yoga’s hottest couple, Dice Iida Klein and Briohny Smyth. Looks like they are introducing the Ocean yoga Board through Laird’s FreeMotion Fitness. See there press kit here.
I want this board.
This picture is from Yoga with Briohny on Facebook.
Of course I can’t do this pose off of said board, but being able to one day do it on the ocean? Sounds like motivation to me.
Right now I am bringing my pregnant self to the ocean for some yoga and inversion fun.
Once baby yogi is out in the next week, I am going to be out looking for an Ocean Yoga Board. If anyone gets some experience with one, I would love to hear about it.
“The Cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea.”
- Isak Dinesen
Too good not to share…
Back bends seem to be really polarizing in class. Some people love them and drop back with ease while others feel scared, rigid, and closed in when attempting back bends. I think there is an element of working through fear in our back bends. It requires an openness in the front of the body that we often avoid in daily life. We have to work through feelings of fear as we fully expose the front of the body or take the head back.
When I haven’t been practicing deeper back bends for a while I forget how amazing it can feel afterwards. I can feel a brightness in my mood and length through my whole spine. I did some deeper back bends this week, with a lot of focus on lengthening the spine, and am reminded just how integral a part of the practice they are.
I found this video as well which has some inspiring poses in it. The ever-underwear clad and terrific Briohny Smyth shows us how it’s done. She reminds us to create length in the lumbar spine, use core engagement, and find space for our back bend in the middle/upper back. If you are afraid of back bends, maybe try them at home in your smalls
This Saturday April 10 is the next global event to stop human trafficking and spread awareness. Around the world people will get on their yoga mats and join in 108 sun salutations. Monies raised go to the Indian anti-trafficking organization, Odanadi Seva Trust.
If you want to get involved check their website to find a list of venues participating in the event.
I will be getting involved here at Camyoga. So if you are around Cambridge, UK. Stop by!
“Stira Sukham Asanam”. The pose is steady and comfortable. These few words from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali have been a large influencing factor in how yoga asana is experienced. As a student and as a teacher we seek to find the balance of effort and ease in a pose, the balance of strength and softness. Asana specifically means the seat, or seated postures, so the asanas as a whole can be thought of as a way to prepare for sitting in meditation. I liked the way one teacher explained asana as to, “sit in the seat of the self”.
Being able to sit comfortably for meditation requires a certain steadiness in the body and openness in the hips. When the body can sit in this way the spine naturally aligns and the ability to breathe deeply is enhanced. The head gets to rest comfortably over the neck and spine. The mind can feel clear and alive.
But for all of our efforts in the west to make sitting in chairs comfortable, we have totally lost the plot. We haven’t made sitting comfortable, we have weakened the very muscles needed to support the body in order to sit. We have stiffened the muscles and joints. And thanks to computers (which I happen to be sitting in front of as I type), our heads are craning forward and the neck is uncomfortable, the shoulders sloping, the chest collapsing. ouch!
The easier we make sitting, the harder it actually becomes.
I think this phenomenon translates into many areas. I recently read a great book called, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. He investigates the ultra runners who can run 100 mile races over trails and mountains. His interest began with a simple question, “why does my foot hurt?” he was experiencing, like so many people, countless injuries from running. His intrigue led him to find tribes of people who run with hardly any injuries, and hardly any shoes.
His argument, which is highly compelling, is that running injuries began with the invention of the running shoe in the 70′s (thank you, Nike). The over cushioned heel allows for a heel strike as you run, a completely new concept for running. Before that, the natural way to run would be a mid to forefoot strike.
If the name doesn’t just say it all. This is the over cushioned super heel of the Nike running shoe. It quite possibly spurned a whole generation of running injuries by teaching us all to heel strike. Not only that but these shoes weaken the muscles and the structures of the foot so that over time your foot has lost the ability to do what it was designed to do. Run.
Stira Sukham Asanam.
The pose is firm and comfortable. Not just comfortable. A feeling of ease comes from strength and foundation. It doesn’t really work the other way around.
When we experience discomfort we strengthen and grow. That is how the body works. We have to challenge the muscles, tissues, and bones to some extent to build their strength. The mind has to be challenged to stay sharp as we age.
This was going around facebook earlier in the week and it really rings true:
I will leave you with a video for fun. Cell phones: The prime example of making life “easier” gone wrong. Communication at your fingertips…blessing or curse?
It has taken me a little while to set some 2012 resolutions. But then it struck me in my first week back teaching. I want to help my students learn to fly, at least in the yoga sense.
Why? Because it feels so good. It is empowering when you start to do things you didn’t know how to do or even more, didn’t think you could.
I want to help people get that up lifted feeling.
A dash of physics, a little practice (ok, a lot of practice), and the ability to pick yourself up when you fall.
Need a little inspiration? Check out this Equinox video of LA yogini, Briohny Smyth. Holy moly, I hope you like underwear.
“Yoga is the resolution of opposition” -Maty Ezraty
Opposition including Roots and Rebounds Yoga is made up of opposition. To lengthen something you must pull it in two directions. In our asanas we focus on rooting down into the floor through our hands and feet and then rebounding away in the other direction creating length and strength. There is also an opposing muscular action in the arms during arm balancing poses. We look for muscular counter actions to stabilize us and give us a locked in feeling. While the upper arms externally rotate away from the ears the forearms are rolling inwards. This helps give us a strong downdog and handstand. Another opposite is the balance of apana and prana in the body. Apana is a downward energy and prana is an upward energy. We must have these in equal measure to feel both grounded and light.
Bone stacking When we use bone stacking in our favor, the muscles don’t have to do all the work. We can be supported by the alignment of our bones and joints. In some of our arm balances we will look at this bone stacking as a fulcrum whereby we look to shift our center of mass.
Shifting your center of mass The center of mass is somewhere around your hips and pelvis. In all the arm balances, inversions, and jumping we are really working with shifting this center of mass (your hips, pelvis, ‘tail’), until we find a point of balance. This leads me to…
Dude where’s my core?Yes, the ever elusive core. The “core” consists of deep abdominal muscles (the transverse abdominals), the obliques (the sides of waist), rectus abdominals (your 6 pack abs), and the pelvic floor. If we think of the core not only as our midsection but also the trunk of the body than we can include muscle groups here like the lats, traps, serratus anterior and so on. The core is our power center. If we use opposition, roots and rebounds, stack the bones, and shift the center of mass, then our last stabilizing factor for flight is to use the core. In yoga this is often called using the bandhas (inner body locks), engaging the deep abdominals in the low belly and lifting the pelvic floor. These bandhas also play a role in creating prana in the body, that upward flow of energy. All of these things lead to lift-off.
“Yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory” – Pattabhi Jois
Holidays are wonderful; some time off of work, maybe a trip or vacation, lots of family, and lots of food. It also means you could quite possibly find yourself out of your regular routine or away from your yoga studio, and all when you need yoga more than ever.
Here are some ways to bring the yoga to you when you can’t get to class
1. Online video classes:
There are loads of audio and video podcasts on iTunes these days. Yoga Journal and Core Power Yoga are just a couple that you will find. Here is a a YogaJournal podcast featuring Kathryn Budig on building core strength:
4. Roll out your mat and flow your own way! Home practice can also be a good opportunity for unedited creativity.
So these holidays, Keep calm and do yoga even if you can’t get to class.
In a holiday cookie rut? I found these cute yoga pose cookie cutters by the Kitchen Yogi. They could be dressed like gingerbread yogis, pulling all your favorite moves.
Laughter. It’s good for the soul.