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Learn How to Do Dancer Pose (Video Tutorial)

Dancer Pose is a beautiful and iconic yoga pose that will challenge both your body and mind. This powerful pose requires a special blend of balance, flexibility and strength. You’ll feel both invigorated and grounded after practicing Dancer Pose.

While in this pose, you’ll actively reach and press both forward and back. This juxtaposed movement creates tension in the body which helps to lengthen the spine, open the chest, and establish balance.
 

Dancer Pose requires balance, flexibility and strength. You’ll feel freedom and groundedness.

 
Although this pose looks graceful and beautiful in its fullest expression, you may feel anything but as you learn the pose. Falling out of the pose isn’t uncommon, even for experienced yoga practitioners.

So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing around your mat as you try to find your balance. As with all yoga postures, creating a perfect shape isn’t the goal, what matters is the process and experience.
 

 
 

Dancer Pose at a Glance

Sanskrit Name: Natarajasana
Pronunciation: nuh-tuh-raa-jaa-suh-nuh
Targets the Body: Standing backbending posture that challenges balance and concentration
Muscle Groups Involved: Ankles, Legs, Hip flexors, Front and back body core, Chest, Shoulders
Nuances: Gripping of the ankle from either inside or outside, Lifting chest up high or balancing with it parallel to ground like in Warrior 3 Pose
 
 

Here’s How to Access Dancer Pose:

  • Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) facing the front of your mat
  • Bring your left hand to your hip
  • Shift your weight into your left foot, pressing down evenly into the four corners of your foot while lifting gently through the arch
  • Once you are balanced on your left foot, bend your right leg bringing your right heel towards your glute
  • Keeping your hips square to the front of the mat, reach back with your right hand
  • Grab the inside of your right ankle or foot, with your thumb facing towards the ceiling
  • Establish your Drishti (gaze) at a fixed point in front of you about eye level
  • Find your balance here before moving on
  • Reach your left arm up towards the ceiling with your palm facing forward
  • Inhale and lengthen through your body from the heel of your left foot to the tip of your left fingers
  • With your exhale, press your right foot into your hand as you lift your foot up and back
  • Your chest will naturally lower as you lift your leg further up behind you
  • Lift up through your chest and broaden across your collarbones
  • Your right hip will lift as you come into the pose; work to keep your hips as even as possible and pointing to the front of the mat
  • Check on your standing leg to make sure you aren’t hyperextending through the knee. If you find you are, put a small bend in your left leg
  • Stabilize by grounding down through your standing leg, while lifting up with your chest and through your right leg
  • If you would like, you can move your gaze to your left fingertips
  • Take several full inhales and exhales while in the pose, find a bit more length and lift with each inhale
  • To come out of the pose, lift up your chest as you lower your right leg, gently release your foot or ankle and return to Mountain Pose

Struggling to keep your balance? These Are the 3 Pro Tips You Need to Stick Balancing Poses
 

Ready to Practice? Check Out Dancer Pose (And More Poses) In the Learning Yoga Video Series

Yoga Class

With Ashton August & Alec Vishal Rouben

Be sure to check out YA Classes’ Learning Yoga series, a comprehensive workshop-style program that breaks down over 30 of the most common, foundational yoga poses. Get started with this standing back-bending posture, Dancer Pose.
 
 

Pose Benefits:

This pose is a major body strengthener. The ankles, knees, legs and back body core are all toned during this pose. While these areas are strengthened, the front of the body, including the chest, core, shoulders and hip flexors, are stretched and lengthened.

Dancer’s Pose is a complex standing posture. In addition to the physical benefits, it helps to increase focus and concentration. With repeated practice it will help to build overall balance both on and off the mat. All of these benefits work together to build full body coordination.

Once in the pose you’ll feel a sense of freedom and openness paired with grounding and strength. With all these benefits, it’s no wonder why this pose is a common favorite asana (yoga pose).
 
 

Contraindications:

Due to the challenging nature of Dancer Pose there are a few things to be aware of before trying it. If you have a spinal, foot or ankle injury, this pose may place too much strain on those areas. Consult with your doctor before trying this pose for any of those conditions.

If you’re having any sort of inner ear or balancing challenges, this pose may not be the best choice. Stick with a simpler pose like Tree Pose until your balance feels back to normal, or try modifying with a wall or chair for support so you don’t fall.
 

 
 

How to Modify Dancer Pose:

There are several easy ways to modify this pose. If you find yourself wobbling through your foot or ankle, try stepping off your mat, particularly if you have a thick one. Standing on a hard surface will help ground and build the pose on a solid foundation.

For yoga practitioners with tight shoulders, reaching for the inside of the back foot or ankle may create discomfort. Adjust by grabbing the outside instead.

If you’re struggling to maintain balance, find a wall or chair to support you. Face the wall and place your left hand on the wall to give you something to press into. Or place a chair next to you and rest your hand on the back of the chair for support.

If reaching for your ankle places too much pressure on your shoulder, knee or lower back, then use a yoga strap/belt to assist. To get into the pose with a yoga strap:

  • Secure the yoga strap around your right ankle before finding Mountain Pose
  • As you bend your right foot towards your glute place the long end of your strap over your right shoulder for easy access
  • Instead of reaching back for your right ankle, grab the strap at any position that feels sustainable yet still gives you front body opening
  • Continue to hold onto the strap as you lift the rest of the way into Dancer’s Pose

New to Yoga? This 6-Class Beginner Yoga Basics Program Is Just for You!
 
 

Variations:

A common variation of Dancer Pose involves the height and orientation of the upper body. In this variation you hinge at the hip joint of your standing leg and lower your chest until it is parallel to the floor, like in Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III). Then as you extend into the pose your foot will come overhead.

This changes the aesthetics, but not the function or benefits of the pose. Try both variations, you may find balance easier on one than the other.
 
 

Final Information and Tips for Dancer Pose:

Dristi is so important for this pose! If your eyes start to wander, your body will too. Set a soft but determined gaze to maintain balance in this pose.

Although you might think of this as a balancing pose, it’s also a powerful backbend. Use all your backbending tools to keep your spine safe and healthy in this pose. Keep length along the entire spine to keep compression out of the lower back and use your core to support the backbend.

The pose is named after Nataraja, one of the embodiments of Shiva in Hindu mythology. Called Dancer Pose, the full translation is Lord or King of the Dance. In this form, Nataraja represents the cycle of cosmic dance that creates and destroys life and ages.

For the full story behind Nataraja read The Symbolic Story Behind How Natarajasana (Dancer Pose) Got Its Name

Like the ages created and destroyed by Nataraja, our lives are filled with patterns and cycles. Some of these are helpful, and some harmful. Dancer Pose reminds us that none are permanent and that with effort we can destroy the negative old cycles to create something new and better. The creation of something new in your life might just lead you to dance with joy!

Want to learn more yoga poses? Here is the full online Learning Yoga program on YA Classes.

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Learn How to Do Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Triangle Pose is a common standing yoga posture that is great for both beginners and the experienced yogi. Triangle Pose (aka Trikonasana) combines a deep side bend with a chest opener, and you’ll feel a sense of both length and strength while in this pose.

It might be obvious, but the shape of this yoga pose resembles a triangle and is what the pose is named after.

You’ll find this yoga pose in most styles of yoga practice, with the exception of Yin and Restorative. It’s often practiced in conjunction with Warrior Poses and is part of the Moon Salutation sequence and the Ashtanga Primary Standing Series.

Proper alignment can be a bit tricky in this yoga pose, particularly for beginners. Read on to learn all the details to safely practice this pose.
 

 
 

Pose at a Glance

Sanskrit Name: Trikonasana, or Utthita Trikonasana
Pronunciation: tree-ko-na-sana
Targets the Body: Full body posture that both opens and tones the body while improving balance
Muscle Groups Involved: Shoulders, Spine, Chest, Arms, Hip Flexors, Glutes, Groin, Hamstrings, Core
Nuances: Angle of the hips, keeping a lengthened and aligned spine
 
 

Here’s How to Access Triangle Pose:

  • Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) facing the front end of your mat
  • Leaving your right foot facing the front of the mat take a large step back with your left foot
  • Place your left foot on the mat so your toes point towards the side of the mat, at approximately a 45 degree angle from your front foot
  • Traditional alignment has the heel of the front foot in line with the arch of the back foot
  • Rotate both hips open to the side of the mat
  • Bring your arms out to shoulder height making a “T” shape
  • Engage your core muscles and lengthen your lower back to find a neutral pelvis
  • Shift your left hip towards the back of your mat while you drop your right hip slightly
  • Your hips should end at an angle with your left hip higher than your right
  • Lift through your right thigh to “plug” your fight femur securely into the hip socket
  • Gaze forward over your front hand
  • Reach forward to lengthen your spine, then hinge down reaching your right hand to either your right shin or the ground
  • If resting your right hand on your shin, be careful not to place too much pressure there which could cause you to hyperextend though the knee
  • Lift up through your left shoulder to extend the opening of your chest
  • Keeping your head in line with your spine bring your gaze up to look at your left thumb
  • Your arms should be in a long line perpendicular to the floor
  • Lengthen through both sides of your body to maintain extension through the spine
  • Engage your core muscles to maintain balance in the pose
  • Activate the left leg glutes along with the right leg psoas muscle to stabilize the pelvis
  • Press down through both feet, while lifting up through the arch and knee caps

 

Ready to Practice? Check Out Triangle Pose (And More Poses) In the Learning Yoga Video Series

Yoga Class

With Ashton August & Alec Vishal Rouben

Be sure to check out the Learning Yoga series, a comprehensive workshop-style program that breaks down over 30 of the most common, foundational yoga poses on YA Classes. Get started with this standing posture, Triangle Pose and Reverse Triangle Pose.
 
 

Triangle Pose Benefits and Important Details to Know

Triangle Pose is a powerful asana. It strengthens the lower body including the ankles, knees, legs, lower back and core. The hamstrings, groin, upper and side abdominals, shoulders, chest, and back all receive an active and powerful stretch. The rotation of the chest in this pose opens the lungs and promotes full and rhythmic breathing.
 

You’ll feel a sense of both length and strength while in Trikonasana.

 
Holding a posture with such an expansive stance challenges and builds both body awareness and balance. Additionally, the movement and strengthening the lower back may help to reduce forms of back pain by increasing circulation in this area. Many practitioners also find this yoga pose can provide a bit of relief for menstrual cramps.
 

 
 

Contraindications:

Triangle Pose is considered safe for most yogi’s, even during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, you may want to use a wall to help you find balance or use a chair to place your bottom arm on to keep from bending so far forward.

Need tips on how to practice prenatal yoga? Follow These 5 Important Tips for Practicing Prenatal Yoga

Trikonasana is not recommended if you have a spinal injury such as a herniated disc, neck injury, hamstring tear, or are experiencing any sort of groin injury or pain.
 
 

How to Modify Triangle Pose:

There are many ways to modify this yoga pose to make it more accessible. Try any of these to help as you learn this pose:

  • Shorten or widen your stance as needed to help stabilize
  • Keep your gaze down towards the front big toe to help with balance or to alleviate neck pain
  • Place the heel of your back foot against a wall and press gently into the wall to provide support
  • Place your bottom hand on one or more stacked yoga blocks and press into the hand to help with balance

 
 

Trikonasana Variations:

There are a few common variations to Triangle pose. Yogis find a bit more chest opening and stability by placing their right hand on the ground outside of their right foot instead of in front. In Ashtanga practice you lasso your big toe with your first two fingers and then gently lift up using the toe as leverage to ground you.

Another common variation, particularly in Vinyasa and Hatha style classes is Reverse Triangle Pose. To move into Reverse Triangle Pose (Viparita Trikonasana):

  • Leave the spacing of your legs as they are in Triangle Pose
  • Isometrically engage the inner thighs to help with your balance as you lift your torso up to standing
  • Flip your front palm up to the sky
  • Lean back over your left leg
  • Slide your left arm down the outside of your back leg, or wrap it behind your lower back finding a half-bind
  • Reach your right arm up overhead
  • Gaze up towards your right hand
  • Keep your spine aligned over your back leg, not leaning forward of backwards off axis
  • Lengthen through both sides of your body as you reach towards the back

 
 

Final Information and Tips to Be Aware of:

Triangle Pose is a common pose to find hyperextension through the knees, particularly in the front leg. Although you want both legs to be straight in this pose, you can keep a small micro-bend in the knees to help keep them safe. Think of keeping your legs 99% straight if you find yourself hyperextending.

Want to strengthen your knees to help prevent hyperextension and injury? Try these 10 Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Knees and Prevent Injury

Don’t worry about being able to touch the floor in this yoga pose with your bottom hand. That may or may not come with time. You don’t want to sacrifice keeping your spine straight just so you can reach the floor. Maintain extra length through the side body as you bend over to maintain your aligned spine and use props as mentioned above for support.

With practice and consistent work on alignment and opening, this pose feels wonderful and can easily become a favorite. It’s not uncommon to hear a sigh of contentment in this pose while in a yoga class, particularly after a long hold in a bent knee posture such as Warrior 2 Pose.

Trikonasana is a yoga pose that you will come back to again and again even after years of yoga practice. Spend time getting to know this yoga pose, and your yoga practice will flourish.

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Learn How to Do Warrior 2 Pose (Video Tutorial)

Warrior 2 Pose is a classic yoga posture and an essential pose to know for anyone wanting to start a yoga practice. Although this pose comes second in the Warrior series, you will likely see it in class more frequently than its counterparts, Warrior 1 Pose or Warrior 3 Pose.

Many yogi’s find Warrior 2 Pose more accessible than the other Warriors due to the open hips and its expansive nature. After a long hold in Warrior 1 Pose or Warrior 3 Pose, Warrior 2 Pose may feel a bit like a treat.

Warrior 2 Pose differs from Warrior 1 Pose primarily in the alignment of the hips, shoulders and arms, as well as the spacing of the feet. Warrior 3 Pose adds even further differences, as it is a single leg balancing posture.

You’ll find Warrior 2 Pose in a variety of yoga class styles, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Power, Iyengar, Hot, Alignment and Flow classes.

Confused about all these different types of yoga? Get clarity here.

Warrior 2 Pose is a great pose for beginners, but you’ll still find it beneficial after years of practice. There are many details that go into creating a strong and solid Warrior 2 Pose. Read on for all the information you need to safely practice this pose.
 

 
 

Warrior 2 Pose at a Glance

Sanskrit Name: Virabhadrasana 2 or Virabhadrasana B
Pronunciation: veer-ah-bah-drahs-anna two
Targets the Body: Full body posture that both builds strength and opens the body, and helps to build focus
Muscle Groups Involved: Shoulders, arms, spinal, hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings
Nuances: Tilting of the pelvis, alignment of the feet

 
 

Here’s How to Practice Warrior 2 Pose:

    • Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) facing the short end of your mat with your hands on your hips
    • Leaving your left foot where it is, take a large step back with your right foot as you open to face the side of your mat
    • Traditional alignment has the heel of your front foot in line with either the heel or arch of your back foot
    • Land with the back foot at around a 45 degree angle
    • Bend deeply into the front left leg bringing the hamstring close to parallel with the floor
    • Look down at your left knee, you want it stacked above your ankle
    • If your knee extends beyond your ankle towards your toes, then crawl your front foot forward
    • If your knee is knocking in towards the right corner of your mat, then press the outer side of your left knee open towards the left
    • Notice how your hips are aligned, you want your hip bones to be even and open to the side of the mat
    • The back hip has a tendency to hike up, drop it down in line with your left if necessary
    • Firm the back leg by pressing down into the heel, pinkie and big toe mound of the back foot while lifting through the kneecap

 

 
 

  • Extend your arms long with your palms face down
  • Actively reach your arms forward and back
  • Peek at your back arm and adjust it to line up directly over your back leg
  • Bring your gaze (drishti) forward looking beyond your outstretched hand
  • Lengthen your spine from the crown of your head to your tailbone
  • Your spine should be pointing straight up and down, not leaning forward over your front leg
  • Bring your right shoulder into alignment over your right hip if you find yourself leaning forward
  • Keep your shoulders in a natural position, not reaching up towards your ears or pressing down so much it hurts your neck
  • Release tension in your neck, jaw and hands
  • When you are ready, return to Mountain Pose and try the other side

 

Ready to Practice? Check Out Warrior 2 Pose (And More Poses) In the Learning Yoga Video Series

Yoga Class

With Ashton August & Alec Vishal Rouben

Be sure to check out YA Classes’ Learning Yoga series, a comprehensive workshop-style program that breaks down over 30 of the most common, foundational yoga poses. Get started with this standing posture, Warrior 2 Pose.
 
 

Warrior 2 Pose Benefits:

As with all the Warrior’s, this pose is full of benefits for both the body and the mind.

It’s a major body strengthener. The ankles, legs, muscles of the back, core, shoulders and arms are all strengthened from practicing Warrior 2 Pose. In addition to strengthening, the chest, shoulders and groin are all opened and safely stretched.
 

Many yogi’s find Warrior 2 Pose more accessible than the other Warriors due to the open hips and its expansive nature.

 
When you find yourself holding a Warrior 2 Pose for a long time, you may begin to feel your body shake, or your mind wander. Returning your attention to your breath or the pose at hand will help to build perseverance and focus, both physically and emotionally.

Feeling strong on the mat benefits you off the mat and helps you to face daily life challenges from a position of strength and awareness.

Contraindications / Precautions to Be Aware of:

Proceed with caution if you have a knee, neck or groin injury. This pose may place too much pressure on any of these areas.

Adjust for these injuries by decreasing the depth of the bend in the front knee, or looking to the side of the mat rather than the front. For a groin injury, you may want to avoid this pose until healed.

Pregnancy creates a lot of stress on the body and affects balance, stamina, and even the curvature of your lower spine during the third trimester. All of these will affect your experience in this pose.

Warrior 2 Pose is considered a safe pregnancy pose, so make any adjustments needed throughout your pregnancy to feel supported.
 
 

Here’s How to Modify Warrior 2 Pose:

Like all yoga poses, there is no perfect shape to make in this pose that’s universal to all yogi’s. Adjustments may be necessary to help you maintain your balance or hold this pose for more than a few breaths.

Try these options to make Warrior 2 Pose more accessible:

  • If the heel to heel alignment of the feet doesn’t feel sustainable for you, then widen your stance a bit
  • Use a chair under your front thigh to provide support for balance and stability
  • If your groin feels overstretched, then rotate your back foot in to more of a 35 degree angle
  • Press the back foot into a wall to provide additional support if you find your legs spreading apart while holding this posture

Common Misalignments in Warrior I and II + How to Fix Them
 
 

Try These Warrior 2 Variations:

In Flow and Vinyasa style classes, Warrior 2 Pose is often used as a transition pose between other postures. You may also find a variety of arm options offered, such as Eagle Arms or Cow Face Arms. One of the most common variations is Reverse Warrior Pose.

For Reverse Warrior Pose:

  • Leave your legs just as they are for Warrior 2 Pose
  • Inhale and find a bit more length in your spine
  • Exhale and reach your left arm up to the sky as you lean back towards your right leg
  • Keep your chest open to the long end of the mat as you lean
  • Your right hand can trace down your right thigh, or bring it to a half wrap by placing your forearm on your lower back
  • With each continued inhale try to lengthen your spine again, and with each exhale see if you can lean a bit more to the back
  • Even when we try not to, many times when we reach back, we decrease the bend in our front leg, so counter that by bending just a bit more in the front knee

 
 

Final Information and Tips for Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2):

With so much going on in this pose, sometimes yogi’s forget about the importance of the front and back body core for support. Doing so can create a bit of a lumbar spine backbend or compression, which may cause pain.

A few gentle tweaks will help to keep your lower spine happy in this pose.

  • To eliminate backbending, activate your front body core. Gently lift your hip points up towards your ribs while lengthening your lower back. You want to end with your sacrum in a neutral position, not flaring out behind you
  • Externally rotate your front leg, think of lifting the inseam of your pants up towards the ceiling. Internally rotate your back leg slightly, think inseam of your pants down towards the ground. This inverse motion will help to eliminate compression of the lumbar spine

Along with the great physical and mental benefits offered, there is also a nice symbolism that pairs with the pose.

Starting with Warrior 1 Pose, we stand firm in our ground with our weapons ready as we acknowledge the battle ahead. In Warrior 2 Pose, we transition to a posture that is similar to drawing a bow, and we take action in battle. In Warrior 3 Pose, we lunge forward with a final blow to the enemy.

Wondering how yoga and mental health relate? Learn How Yoga Affects Your Mental Health (According to a Holistic Psychotherapist)

Although many of us will never physically battle another in this life, we all have personal battles and challenges that we face every day. Without effort and preparation to face these struggles, we might be overcome by them.

So, as you grow in strength on the mat, let that remind you that you can also grow in strength and build any skills necessary to fight whatever battles you are facing in your life off the mat.

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Alec Vishal Rouben: YA Classes Teacher Interview

In our YA Classes Teacher Highlights, we feature one of our amazing instructors and interview them so our members and readers can get to know them. This teacher highlight is with Alec Vishal Rouben.

Alec is a lover of life and all things health, wellness, and consciousness expansion. He is widely known for his infectious and playful energy, and his beloved signpost that reads “Love Life”!

Alec Vishal Rouben shares his yoga journey:

“I studied Chinese for nine years and was on the path to being an international translator… Then yoga found me.”
 

Beyond my personal practice of yoga, my nutritional self-care regimen is non-negotiable and allows me to show up to the world with full presence and em(power)ment!

 
Ten yoga teacher trainings and a Masters in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation later, Alec is now an acclaimed yoga teacher, yoga and health mindset entrepreneur, and the co-founder of a widely popular yoga podcast.

Want to learn more about this incredible yoga instructor? Read on.
 

 
 

Get to Know Your YA Classes Teacher: Alec Vishal Rouben

We sat down with the beloved and passionate yogi Alec Vishal Rouben for a Q+A session so YA Classes members and YouAligned readers can learn more about him.
 

YA: What’s your favorite self-care practice you can’t live without?

Alec: I believe the capacity at which we take care of ourselves is directly reflective of the capacity at which we serve another. For me, beyond my personal practice of yoga, my nutritional self-care regimen is non-negotiable and allows me to show up to the world with full presence and em(power)ment!
 

YA: What’s your go-to song or music genre when you teach (or practice)?

Alec: I will ALWAYS be a Pretty Lights Fam for life kind of guy… although, it’s not my typical music to practice, yet alone teach to. When I practice, I prefer frequency tones from Spotify or an app I use called Beatfulness.

When I teach, I either teach in complete silence to cultivate greater forms of inner presence, or I use very light yin-like music from Liquid Bloom, Desert Dwellers, or ambient sounds. When not teaching or practicing, I love deep house music of every kind, and 80’s vibes!
 

YA: What’s your favorite motivational quote?

Alec: “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” – Buddha

9 Buddha Quotes to Refresh Your Perspective On Life
 

YA: What’s your favorite yoga pose? Least favorite?

Alec: My favorite pose is Pyramid Pose, Parsvottanasana (with yoga blocks). I love to hold this pose for 1-2 minutes on the highest setting on the block, slowly making my way down to the floor. (This is a more advanced practice that works for me personally.) Least fave? Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon Pose. It’s just not fully enjoyable for my body!

Alec breaks down one of the more challenging standing foundational yoga poses, Pyramid or Pasvottanasana, in our YA Classes Learning Yoga series. Grab two blocks and learn how to practice this deep deep forward fold with a wide range of benefits here.
 

YA: Where’s your favorite place in the world you’ve ever been to, and why?

Alec IndiaAlec: I LOVE Southeast Asia! I’ve been blessed to have journeyed over 18 months solo traveling across our beautiful planet by myself, teaching yoga throughout, and one of my most fave places I’ve been to was in Cambodia. Visiting Angkor Wat was a dream ever since I was in high school Art History class, and I knew I would go there!

Second favorite would be Myanmar where I did my first (and only thus far) Vipassana meditation in a small hilly area in the middle of nowhere! It was so powerful.
 

YA: What’s your most embarrassing moment, either teaching or in life?

Alec: In my first or second year of teaching (at this point I had about nine to ten classes a week), I was a (struggling) full-time yoga teacher. One of the classes I taught was at 10pm. That’s right, class STARTED at 10pm and ended at 11pm! It was a party of a class…and EVERYONE loved the half-pigeon cue towards cool down.

During Savasana, I FULL ON fell asleep. 😆😴 I honestly have no idea how long I was out, but class was supposed to end a solid five minutes earlier than I pulled the fifty students out of Savasana… ha!
 

 
 

YA: What’s your #1 piece of advice for maintaining an empowered mindset?

Alec: Take a hard look at the people that you surround yourself with.
 

We are a product of our five most people that we spend our time around.

 
Do you have mentors? Look to those who are further along a similar path that inspire you to cultivate personal em(power)ment.
 

YA: Aside from your own, what’s your favorite class or teacher on YA Classes?

Alec and AnnieAlec: Annie Dee Coyle. Check her classes out!!

Connect with your innermost and divine being through mantra chanting and mindful Hatha Yoga movements with Annie. Check out her YA Class: Bhakti Evolved Flow
 
 

Want to connect more with Alec Rouben?

Love Alec’s vibe? We do! Check out Alec’s fun, supportive, and playful content on Instagram @aleclovelifeyoga. As one of our beloved YA Classes teachers, he is also a featured teacher in our Learning Yoga program – and uses his background in Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga to specialize in teaching a foundational style of Hatha.

Alec is also the co-founder of the Yoga Revealed podcast, which illuminates the transformative power of yoga from the greatest wisdom keepers. He even did an episode with YA Classes founder and fellow teacher Ashton August!

Finally, if you are lucky enough to live in the Boulder / Denver, Colorado area, you can find in-person classes and workshops with Alec. He teaches around town, at yoga and music festivals, and online on YA Classes.
 
 

Take a Class Online With Alec Vishal Rouben

Get Grounded Get Real

Yoga Class

With Alec Vishal Rouben

Take Alec Vishal Rouben’s popular Get Grounded Get Real class on YA Classes. Through a simple and vital flow, this class will shift your frequency and help you navigate a busy day. He offers many classes on YA Classes, so be sure to check them all out!

Not yet a YA Classes member? You can try it out free for 14 days.

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Tips for Teaching Yoga: 6 Things to Prepare For

Inevitably, all yoga teachers have had this nightmare about teaching yoga: you’re beyond late for class, the music isn’t working, the Zoom students can’t hear you, or you prepared a Vinyasa class for a Restorative sub opportunity. All eyes are on you and you need to think fast.

Luckily, there are things that you can do to prepare for the hiccups or unexpected struggles of teaching – and we’ve got these tips for teaching yoga covered for you.

First, take a deep breath. Yoga has prepared you to stay present and remain in-service. And then read on for six common hiccups and the ways you can prepare for them during class.
 

 
 

Tips for Teaching Yoga – Here Are 6 Unexpected Hiccups That Show Up When You’re Teaching Yoga (And How You Can Prepare for Them):

When it comes to tips for teaching yoga, few beat the helpful suggestions of what to do when something goes wrong in class.
 

1. You’re Asked to Sub a Last Minute Class

A teacher doesn’t show up, or an emergency prevents them from teaching class and you’re asked to step in – last minute – and teach. It happens!

How to prepare:
Here comes one of the best tips for teaching yoga in general: Have a go-to sequence or class. If you work at a studio with different style classes, prepare one emergency class for every style that you can turn to in a pinch.
 

2. You Don’t Have Time Before Class to Go Over Your Plan

The studio is swamped five minutes before class, there’s technical difficulties to address before class starts, or you were stuck in traffic and unable to get to the studio early. There can be a million scenarios where you can’t prepare for class right before it begins.

How to prepare:
Pre-plan your key poses/moves ahead of time. Even if you don’t have every transition or sequence thought out, knowing where you’re heading can help you physically prepare your students on the fly.
 

3. The Bluetooth Isn’t Working

We’ve grown accustomed to bluetooth speakers and microphones. But what if it won’t connect? Or, what if it’s an older speaker that doesn’t have bluetooth compatibility?

How to prepare:
Always have your own aux cord and extra dongle (iPhone to aux cord adapter). It’s a simple and effective solution.

Bring your own equipment. Especially when working with a new studio or system, pack your own little speaker and connectors so you won’t be caught empty handed and without music.
 

4. Your Vinyasa II Class Is Full of First-Timers

The wonderful news? You’re bringing yoga to new people! The hard part? Your arm balance and inversion sequence may not be the most supportive opportunity for first-time yogis.

How to prepare:
Another one of the best tips for teaching yoga: Recognize when it’s necessary to scrap your original game plan and go a different route. Read the room. Do people look like they’re really struggling more than a healthy challenge? Or are they refusing postures altogether?

If it’s clear that many people have never done a Vinyasa before, you may have to pivot and work through common poses more thoroughly. Offer props and modifications.

When all else fails, go back to basics. Even “advanced” yoga practitioners benefit from a Warrior sequence or Tree Pose.
 

5. There Aren’t Enough Blocks/Props

You planned a class around a specific pose or sequence that requires two blocks but there’s only enough for everyone to have one? Yikes. But don’t worry, we can deal with that.

How to prepare:
Sometimes, a creative way is to partner up and share props! Let your students take turns exploring a posture and maybe even letting them support or receive feedback from each other.

Or, see if you can alter the pose to make it one-block accessible for most and offer the second block just for those who need it.

For example, when working toward Full Splits (Hanumanasana), you may have some people who stay in Half Splits with no blocks or who can use their shin for support.

You can always think a little outside of the box, too. Towels make great straps. Books and heavy water bottles can support us as much as blocks.
 

 
 

6. Someone Leaves the Room

Whether they’re going to the bathroom or they just received an important phone call, a student leaving the room can feel very unsettling. It’s important to check on them but it’s also important to stay in the room with your practicing students.

How to prepare:
When it comes to tips for teaching yoga, this one might be the most important: Have an emergency plan. If another teacher or karma person is taking your class, they are your emergency plan. Ask them to check on the person who left to make sure that they’re okay.

Alternatively, ask them to guide the class while you check on the absent student. If you don’t have another person to help you, have a go-to pose to lead the class into.

It should be a posture that they can stay in for a little while, Downward Facing Dog or Child’s Pose, for example, while you make sure that the student who left isn’t having a medical emergency.
 

BONUS: Buying Yoga Insurance

Teaching a live yoga class means that things will go differently than expected. Luckily, there are many things that we can prepare for and insurance provides peace of mind for the hiccups you can’t prepare for.

Check out slip and fall coverage, product coverage, and stolen equipment coverage – all in one plan.
 
 

The Takeaway on Tips for Teaching Yoga

No matter what, remember this: you are allowed to be human.

Take a breath and move forward as best as you can. Your students will allow for humanness and they may even appreciate it!

Protect the container and focus on providing a safe environment for people to explore their bodies and this moment. Yoga is learning how to observe and cope with the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, as yoga teachers, we practice this while teaching our classes.

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5 Forearm Stretches for Wrist and Elbow Pain Relief

No matter what you do for a living, your wrists, forearms and elbows take on quite a bit of work throughout your life. So much work that over time without doing forearm stretches, you might cultivate wrist and elbow pain.

Whether you’re typing at a desk, playing tennis, working out or taking on another task, these parts of your body get a lot of use. You may not even realize just how much until you experience wrist, elbow and forearm pain in your daily life.

Luckily, there are several forearm stretches you can do to help lessen discomfort and pain right now. Here are the top movements, as recommended by a physical therapist.
 

 
 

5 Forearm Stretches for Wrist Pain and Forearm Pain:

The following simple forearm stretches are best for improving tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition to these stretches, you might also opt to wear an elbow compression sleeve to support the joint while you work out.
 

1. Wrist Flexor Stretch

How to do it: Hold your affected arm straight out ahead at shoulder height, palm facing down. Use your other side hand to gently pull the hand and fingers of the injured arm upward, putting light pressure on the wrist of the injured arm.

What the research says: In one study, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome performed three release exercises, including wrist flexor stretches, over the course of four weeks. Results show these stretches decreased pain, especially when completed in a supine position (laying down on your back.)
 

2. Wrist Extensor Stretch

Wrist Extensor StretchHow to do it: Hold your affected arm straight out ahead of you at a 45-degree angle, palm and wrist downward. Gently push on your affected hand with your opposing hand until you feel a stretch in the top of the forearm.

What the research says: In a study of nine people with tennis elbow, participants completed wrist extensor stretches. All participants showed a significant decrease in pain.

Suffering From Elbow Tendonitis? Use This Yoga Sequence to Help Your Tennis Elbow
 

3. Bicep Stretch

Bicep StretchHow to do it: Start with fingers interlaced behind you, hands at the bottom of your spine, and then straighten your arms. Raise your arms behind you until you feel a stretch in the biceps.

What the research says: Having tight biceps can limit the range of motion of your elbow extension, which can feel uncomfortable. By stretching the bicep, you increase flexibility and mobility.
 

 
 

4. Pronator Stretch

Pronator StretchHow to do it: Start with both elbows bent at a 90-degree angle by your sides. With the wrist of your right arm facing upward, use the other hand to lightly push the thumb side of the hand downward. Repeat on the other side.

What the research says: According to the National Library of Medicine, completing exercises to strengthen and stretch the flexor muscle in the forearm, like a pronator stretch, can help symptoms of golf elbow go away sooner than if left alone.
 

5. Supinator Stretch

Supinator StretchHow to do it: Hold one arm straight out at a 45-degree angle, palm down. In a circular motion, turn your hand so your fingers point toward the side. Use your other hand to help add pressure.

What the research says: The National Library of Medicine notes the importance of active stretching for your wrist flexor muscles, like completing supinator stretches, to improve mobility in your arm and wrist.
 
 

How to Avoid Forearm Overuse Injuries

While the above forearm stretches are great for improving your condition after injuries, it’s important to take measures to avoid overusing your forearm muscles and developing forearm pain in the first place. Here’s how.
 

Always Warm Up With Forearm Stretches

Avoid starting recreational activities with tight forearms. Instead, warm up each time with dynamic stretching.
 

Take a Full Body Approach

The body is a complex system of muscles, ligaments, tendons and more. It’s best to focus on whole-body strength and conditioning rather than just certain muscles. While it’s important to build forearm strength, you should be supporting those muscles with the rest of your body, too.
 

Talk to Professionals

Whether you’ve done a certain form of exercise for years or you’re completely new to it, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of professionals to ensure you’re using the proper form. That goes for both sports and recreational activities.

And don’t let an existing painful injury get worse. Get help from a physical therapist as soon as you can for the best results.
 

Take a Break

We tend to spend a lot of our time stuck in the same positions. Whether you’re sitting at your desk in the office or doing the same repetitive motion in golf, it’s important to give the body a break and change up your posture, even if for a little while.

You might also consider using a cold therapy machine after exercise or during these rest breaks. Cryotherapy can help reduce pain and swelling in new or existing injuries.
 

Consider Ergonomics

The way you hold yourself throughout the day also has a big impact on your joints and muscles. Check in with yourself regularly while standing or sitting to make sure you’re maintaining proper posture.

Use These 7 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Posture in Just 30 Days

Considering ergonomics can also help. Make sure your desk and chair are set up so your arms are straight in front of you, your wrists are relaxed, and your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
 
 

Use These Forearm Stretches and Injury Prevention Tips for a Healthier You

Elbow, wrist, and forearm pain is no laughing matter. While the above forearm stretches can help, it’s the preventative steps you take in your daily life that really makes all the difference.

All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.
 

Add This Total-Body Strength and Conditioning Class For Ultimate Wrist and Forearm Health

Strong Body, Quiet Mind

Yoga Class

With Justin Kaliszewski

One of the best ways to prevent further injury and to support your wrist and forearm health, is by complementing the above wrist and forearm stretches with a whole-body strengthening and conditioning class. Check out this YA Class Strong Body, Quiet Mind for a fun, bold and fresh approach to your time on the mat. Always warm up, listen to your body, and, if you are working with any injury, please modify!

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Writing Prompts to Create Your Dharma Talk

The best yoga classes start with an inspiring dharma talk. A dharma talk is a short discussion before movement begins, usually while the students are checking in with their breath.

Somehow, the best teachers have dharma talks that feel personal yet speak to a greater universal truth. A personal story or a quote that happens to perfectly demonstrate taking yoga off the mat or other principle of yoga philosophy.
 

 
 

Dropping In To Create Your Dharma Talk

Week after week, as the seasons change, it may become harder to generate a dharma talk or a personal story that triggers a yogic state of mind for your students.

How the Buddhist Concept of Dharma Can End All Your Suffering

For me, the best way to get to the root of experience is by writing it down. Journaling before class planning with writing prompts (or not!) has been a vital practice for many of the most thought-out yoga classes.

Before we get started, make sure your writing place is private and comfortable.

This doesn’t have to mean it’s secluded or quiet or beautiful. It is enough that it is a place where you can be with yourself without too much interruption. This is a time to collaborate with the clearest version of YOU.
 

 
 

Dharma Talk Writing Prompts

Here are writing prompts for creating an insightful dharma talk:

  • Write about a time you felt connected to humanity as a whole
  • What color is most present in your life? Does it relate to a Chakra? Respond
  • Close your eyes and place one or both hands on your heart. Take three deep breaths. Write down the first word that comes to your mind. In what ways does this word impact your daily life?
  • Write the story of your yoga practice. How did you get here, today?
  • What was the most helpful advice you ever received?
  • What Yama or Niyama are you practicing the most? The least?
  • Flip to a random page of your favorite yoga book (or inspirational book) and read the first line of the second paragraph. Reflect on that sentence
  • Describe your day from the perspective of your hands, your feet, your shoulders, ears or any other body part
  • What does peace look like to you?
  • If you could give your yoga students one lesson, and they all “accomplish” what you’re teaching, what would you teach and why?

What Is Your Dharma? Here’s How to Find Your True Life Purpose
 
 

Create an Inspiring Yoga Class With Dharma Talks

Use these dharma talk writing prompts as many times as you like. You may discover your responses change over time.
 

Somehow, the best teachers have dharma talks that feel personal yet speak to a greater universal truth.

 
Notice, not only what makes it onto the page, but even what doesn’t make it into your entries. What we don’t say can echo on through time and grow legs of its own, transforming into a lesson for our future selves.

How do you generate new and creative dharma talks? What was the favorite one you’ve heard from a teacher? Like, share, and comment below to share your wisdom with our community.

Create Presence for Your Dharma Talk Journaling

Meditation Class

With Yogi Bryan

This guided meditation on YA Classes uses visualization to calm and center your mind; a great way to drop in and create presence before journaling and preparing for your yoga class.

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Learn Forearm Wheel Pose With This Photo Tutorial

If you love the freeing and energizing feeling that you get from Wheel Pose, and are searching for an even deeper backbend, then it might be time to try Forearm Wheel Pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana).

This advanced backbend combines flexibility, extension, and strength for one powerful pose.

Backbends are great for nourishing the spine. They increase mobility and build strength, and the stretching of the chest muscles that they offer can even improve breathing patterns. Beyond these physical benefits, backbends are invigorating. It’s like getting a natural shot of caffeine.

Forearm Wheel Pose builds on all of these benefits, but adds an extra element of challenge and requires more flexibility and extension.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana is also a great pose to visualize letting go of tension or stress. As you deepen into your backbend, visualize the weight and stress you carry on your chest and shoulders falling off you as you press into the pose.

It’s the perfect opportunity to get that sh*t off your chest!
 

 
 

Here’s How to Warm Up for Forearm Wheel Pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana)

The key to a safe and expansive Forearm Wheel Pose is adequate preparation. Targeting and warming up the spine, chest, and shoulders is imperative.

Beyond that, the quadriceps and hip flexors need to be warm and lengthened, and the front body, back body, and core need to be active and supportive.

At a minimum, your warm-up should include:

  • Puppy Pose with arms on blocks (Uttana Shishosana)
  • Three to five rounds of Sun Salutation C (Surya Namaskar C)
  • Revolved Crescent Lunge (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
  • Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
  • Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
  • Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
  • Hero’s Pose (Virasana)

 
 

Here’s Your Step-by-Step Guide to Practice Forearm Wheel Pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana):

Once you’re fully warmed up, you’re ready to jump straight into your Forearm Wheel Pose practice!
 

1. Start in a Stable Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Let’s try it:

  • Start on your back
  • Bend your knees and plant your feet on the mat
  • Align your feet and knees with your hip bones
  • The pinkie toe side of your feet should be parallel to the long edges of your mat
  • Find a natural pelvis with a lengthened spine
  • Engage Mula Bandha, or your pelvic floor muscles, to help support your pelvis and keep it in a neutral position
  • Bring your arms overhead
  • Bend your elbows and place your palms down on your mat next to your head with your fingers facing your shoulders
  • Pull your elbows toward each other so they are not flaring away from your shoulders
  • Press firmly into the ground with your hands and feet
  • Use the strength of your front body to lift up into full Wheel Pose
  • Shift your weight slightly, by pressing your chest toward the back of your mat
  • Leave your feet grounded on the mat, keeping your knees and feet in alignment
  • Once in Wheel, use your back body, glutes, and inner thighs to find stability
  • For a healthy Wheel, try to find opening across your whole spine
  • Engage your transverse abdominis muscle, your deepest core muscle that wraps around your core a bit like a corset, to keep your spine supported
  • Take a few breaths in Wheel Pose before moving on

 
Your Intelligent 7-Step Guide to Access Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) Safely
 

2. Move Onto Your Forearms

moveLet’s try it:

  • Walk your hands in a bit closer toward your feet
  • Gently and with control, bend your elbows and lower down onto the crown of your head
  • Moving one arm at a time, walk your fingers back toward your feet until your forearm is on the ground next to your head
  • Pause for a moment to make sure you are stabilized before moving your second arm into place
  • You can bring your palms together, interlace your fingers, or leave your palms face down on the mat – try all and see which feels best on your shoulders
  • Once both forearms are in place, lift the crown of your head back off the ground
  • Engage your leg muscles to support the backbend
  • Use the full circumference of your shoulders and muscles to support the chest opening
  • If you feel like you need a bit of extra room to come onto your forearms, you can lift your heels off the mat

 

3. Find Opening

openingLet’s try it:

  • Press into your feet and shift your weight to bring your shoulders in line over your elbows
  • Your shoulders, core, legs, glutes, and pelvic floor need to stay supportive and active for the duration of the pose
  • Gaze down at the ground between your elbows or at a point that is eye level behind you
  • If, at any time, you feel like you are struggling to breathe, then carefully exit the pose

 

4. Play With Variations

variation 01variation 2variation 3Let’s try it:

  • Once you are familiar and comfortable in Forearm Wheel Pose, there are several leg variations to play with
  • Lift one leg at a time and extend it toward the sky, bringing it perpendicular to the floor
  • Walk your feet out slightly, and shift your weight even further toward your chest to straighten your legs into a classic Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana
  • Lift one leg off the floor and bend deeply in your knee, pressing your foot toward your glute, then point your foot and place the top of your foot on the ground

 

5. Safely Exit the Pose

restLet’s try it:

  • To come out of the pose, lower the crown of your head back onto the mat
  • Moving one arm at a time, bring your palms back onto the mat
  • Press back up into Wheel Pose
  • Tuck your chin, and carefully lower your shoulders onto the mat
  • Roll through your spine, bringing the rest of your back onto the mat
  • Take several breaths in Constructive Rest Pose, leaving your knees bent, walk your feet out slightly wider than your hips and allow your knees to fall together

 

6. Follow Up With Core Work

coreIt’s advisable to follow deep backbends with some gentle core work. With all the opening created during a deep backbend like Forearm Wheel Pose, core work helps to make sure your spine is stabilized before moving onto anything else.

Let’s try it:

  • From Constructive Rest Pose, lift your feet off the floor until your shins are parallel to the ground
  • Your feet and knees should be hips-width apart
  • Press your hands firmly into your thighs, and your thighs back into your hands
  • Pull your belly button down toward the ground like you are trying to make a bowl with your abdomen

 
Build Serious Core Strength With These 7 Yoga Poses
 
 

Follow These 3 Tips When Practicing Forearm Wheel Pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana):

 

1. Avoid Forward Folding for a Minute

Avoid tucking your knees into your chest or doing a forward fold right away after deep backbends.

Although this used to be common in many yoga practices as a way to bring “balance” to the body, moving from one extreme to the other (deep backbending with forward folding) can create an opportunity for injury in some yogis.

Avoid this potential for injury by doing core work like what’s mentioned above before moving into a forward fold.
 

 
 

2. Find an Opening Along Your Entire Spine

With any backbend practice, you want to find an opening along the entire spine.

Your lumbar spine naturally has the most movement in flexion and extension, so work to find equal opening though your thoracic spine as well.

For a sustainable backbend practice, no part of the spine will be overloaded, and no part forgotten.

Practice This Easy 6-Pose Yoga Sequence for a Happy, Healthy Back
 

3. Activate Your Glutes

There are different and rather heated opinions about glute engagement for backbends. I fall on the side that glute engagement is helpful for poses like Wheel Pose or Forearm Wheel Pose.

The gluteus maximus is one of the largest single muscles in our body. It seems natural to use such a powerful muscle to bring support to an intense pose like Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.

The key is not to clench your glutes or use them to force yourself up further into the pose, but rather to assist and provide stability.

Think of your glutes as providing a supporting role to the pose. And as always, you know your own body best. So, if engaging your glutes causes any pinching or misalignment elsewhere in the body, then listen to what your body is telling you and respond accordingly.
 
 

Listen to Your Body When Practicing Forearm Wheel Pose (Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana)

If you try this pose and find it to be hard, that’s because it is! So make sure to keep your ego in check, and back off if it’s too much for you.

Backbending practice should be about nourishing your spine and invigorating your body, not making an impressive shape. So listen to your body.

Challenge yourself when appropriate, and back off when needed.
 
 

Ready to Give Forearm Wheel Pose a Try?

Prepare for Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana in Open Heart with Leah Sugerman on YA Classes!

Open Heart

Yoga Class

With Leah Sugerman

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7 Ways Yoga Can Help Regulate Emotions

Yoga is an amalgam of several different practices, which include physical postures (Asanas), breathing exercises (Pranayama), and meditation (Dhyana).

Yoga is unique among traditional Eastern healing arts in that it includes both physical movement and contemplative procedures. It also involves focusing or directing one’s attention. One benefit of this all-encompassing practice is that yoga can aid in emotion regulation.
 

 
 

What is Emotion Regulation?

The American Psychological Association defines emotion regulation as “the ability of an individual to modulate an emotion or set of emotions”.

Angela Wilson, LMHC, RYT-500, Kripalu faculty member, explains emotion regulation as “the ability to manage one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in such a way as to maintain adherence to one’s overall life goals and intentions”.
 
 

7 Ways Yoga Can Help Regulate Emotions:

 

1. Release Tension

Yoga is a great practice to relieve stress and tension through movement or stillness. The practice of yoga can bring up intense emotions on the mat and even bring light to your stress points, regardless of what your practice entails.

This transformative practice can give you valuable knowledge about how you hold tension in your body when you are in motion or settled into stillness.

The practice of yoga involves being in the present moment. We experience firsthand where tension may show up physically, mentally, or emotionally on the mat.

Once you become mindful of what surfaces for you on the mat, you can begin to notice and tend where you may experience tension outside of your yoga practice.

Try this YA Class restorative practice restorative practice to help you move inward and deeply relax. Make note of what surfaces for you!
 

2. Find Your Breath

Breathwork (Pranayama) teaches us to focus on something other than emotions. By focusing on the breath and breath patterns, we not only shift our focus, but become more mindful and present in the moment.

The breath is a powerful tool that allows going within self while slowing the nervous system, creating a calming effect in the body to aid in emotion regulation.

Check out this excellent YA Class on Breath Awareness that’s beneficial for anyone brand new to breathing techniques or seasoned Pranayama practitioners.
 

3. Practice Acceptance

Noticing emotions that come up in your yoga practice and acknowledging them without judgment can help you come to accept them. In her many works, Tara Brach introduces this concept as Radical Acceptance.

In practicing acceptance of what is, we come to understand that we may not necessarily need to act out the feelings and thoughts we experience (react); we only need to observe them and let go of attaching any meaning or story to them (respond).
 

 
 

4. Develop Perspective

Yoga teaches us to take the good with the bad and practice acceptance of what is. When we develop awareness around how our perspective is shaped by emotions, it is possible to tend to the underlying issues and develop a different perspective.
 

Emotion regulation is “the ability of an individual to modulate an emotion or set of emotions.”

 
It’s important to note emotions are part of the human experience. How we tend to ourselves while experiencing these emotions is key to understanding and managing them.

Shift Your Perspective On Negative Emotions – Why They May Actually Be Good For You!

 

5. Move Your Body!

Yoga teaches us that by engaging our body through movement (Asana), we regulate emotions by increasing serotonin levels, thus creating a sense of peace within ourselves.

In one study, physical and mental health benefits of yoga or physical exercise were compared. They found yoga may be as effective or better than physical exercise!

Choosing to engage in movement routinely, whether yoga or other forms of physical activities, has proven to have a plethora of benefits. This can be especially important in this digital age where many are in sedentary jobs or in remote work.

If You Have a Desk Job, Your Body Will Thank You For These 5 Desk Yoga Poses

 

6. Learn Mindful Communication

Emotions can affect how we communicate with others. If we aren’t mindful of emotions we experience, it can lead to using words or nonverbal communication unconsciously or impulsively.

Mindful communication allows your words and actions to be clear. It requires you to tune in, using the wise mind, rather than sharing only from considering facts and logic (reasonable mind) or from pure emotion (emotion mind).

The late Psychologist, Dr. Marsha Linehan, created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), one of the widely used treatment models for emotion regulation clinicians.
 

7. Practice Loving-Kindness

Through our yoga practice, we learn to treat ourselves with loving-kindness. The Loving-Kindness meditation encourages sending love to self, others, and the Universe.

One review notes “loving-kindness, also known as metta (in Pali), is derived from Buddhism and refers to a mental state of unselfish and unconditional kindness to all beings.”
 
 

Yoga Helps Us Connect and Regulate Emotions

In conclusion, yoga helps regulate emotions in various ways. Yoga is a synergistic practice of breath, mind and body.

When combined with the ethical teachings of the yamas and niyamas as taught by Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, yoga is more than practicing physical postures, but a whole-body experience.

Yoga brings us back to our center wholly to work through difficult emotions rather than let them consume us.

Did any of these ways resonate with you? Or better yet, how does yoga help you regulate emotions? Please share with us in the comments below – we love hearing from you!

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5 Foundational Yoga Cues for On and Off the Mat

Whether you are a teacher, long time practitioner or stepping onto the mat for the first time, we can all “cue” our body to make subtle adjustments that may not even be visible to others.

The time we spend on our yoga mat isn’t about making pretty shapes with our body though. Rather it’s about embodying the poses themselves and teaching us skills and tools to use for life when off the mat.

We learn these skills by being present, open, breathing intentionally and moving in a way that honors our body and the practice.

It doesn’t matter what level of experience you have – we can all do things to improve our experience while we’re practicing yoga poses. This “improving” doesn’t mean we make the pose look any better or more impressive.

Read on for our favorite foundational yoga cues that will help create a safer and sustainable practice that lasts beyond the time we spend on the mat.
 

 
 

Improve Any Pose With These 5 Foundational Yoga Cues:

If you’re ready to incorporate alignment cues that have real world applications off the mat, start here.
 

1. Find Your Breath

Thankfully, breathing is an automatic and involuntary process controlled by our brain. This allows us to live our lives and sleep at night without danger of not getting enough oxygen, or building up too much carbon dioxide.

But movement, emotions and stress can all impact the quality of our breath. At times of stress, either emotional or physical, we tend to take shallow breaths and use only a portion of our lungs capacity.

One of the core tools yoga gives us is breathwork. We start and end many yoga classes by lengthening our breath or controlling it with a specific technique.

But somehow, between the initial breathwork and the long hold in Camel Pose (Ushtrasana) we lose it. It’s not that we stop breathing completely, it just gets impaired or temporarily derailed.

Any asana (yoga pose), beginner or advanced, simple or complex, can all be improved and stabilized by intentionally breathing.

Visualize your lungs expanding like a balloon as you draw breath in, and then deflating with your exhale. Try sending breath deep into the lower lobes of your lungs using them to full capacity.

Apply this yoga cue off the mat:

Breathwork is perhaps the easiest yoga skill to apply off the mat. We can use different breathing techniques to meet our various needs. It can bring us energy to handle a hectic day, or calm us down to help us sleep at night.

We can use it to help release emotions, or to keep them at bay if needed for a more appropriate time. So find your breath, on and off the mat, and let the power of breath get you though.
 

2. Lengthen Your Spine

We spend much of our day hunched over. Between working jobs that keep us seated or sedentary, plopping in front of the television at night, or looking down at our phones to check up on the latest social media posts, we’ve trained our spine to stoop and compress.

Asana practice helps to counteract bad training and bad habits.

Whether you’re in a standing pose, balancing pose, backbending or enjoying a seated posture, it helps to lengthen the spine. You’ll want to lengthen without over straightening. Spines should have an “S” curve to them, and you want to maintain that while finding extra space.
 

We can all “cue” our body to make subtle adjustments that may not even be visible to others.

 
Starting with your tailbone and working up to the crown of your head, see if you can gently create length. I like to think about trying to grow an inch. Lengthen enough to feel nice decompression but not so much you can’t take full and complete breaths.

Apply this yoga cue off the mat:

Take note of how your spine feels, and you can apply this anytime off the mat when you need a bit of a pick-me-up or to quickly decompress from a stressful situation.
 

3. Release Shoulder Tension

Many of us store tension in our shoulders, and we may not even realize it’s happening until we start aching. It can be the culprit for headaches, stiff necks and various other maladies. Tension comes from poor postural alignment, lifestyle choices and the stress of day to day life.
 

 
 
We carry tension onto our yoga mat with us, and it’s the perfect opportunity to reverse some of the damage.

Once you’ve landed in a pose, take note of your shoulders and send them love. Are they up by your ears or are your shoulder blades squeezing together like you’re trying to get juice from a raisin?

Take a deep breath, give your shoulders a little shimmy and release tension throughout the whole shoulder girdle. Then let them land in a place that feels natural and sustainable.

For this foundational yoga cue, think about sending your shoulders home. Keep the scapula integrated along your back, and the shoulders aligned and stabilized.

There are poses where a healthy amount of shoulder tension is required, such as Handstand Pose (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) or Forearm Balance Pose (Pincha Mayurasana).

In these poses we want the shoulders to be active and working, but not pinching so much we send radiating pain up or down the spine.

Be intentional about releasing stored tension from your shoulders while in asanas, and you’ll feel even more blissed out after your yoga practice.

Apply this yoga cue off the mat:

Repeat the shoulder shimmy and release anytime you need throughout the day, and soon enough you’ll feel like you have a new set of shoulders. You may even find your resting stress level decreases along with the tension.

Hunched Over a Computer All Day? Try These 5 Stretches to Help Relieve Upper Back Pain
 

4. Find Your Foundation

There’s so much going on with our body and breath during yoga that our feet tend to get forgotten. I joke they are so far away from our brains that the signals get lost in transit along the way.

But it’s almost impossible to maintain stability in a pose without a solid foundation. And that foundation starts with the solid base of our feet.

Whenever your feet touch the mat, make it intentional.
 

It doesn’t matter what level of experience you have – we can all do things to improve our experience while we’re practicing yoga poses.

 
Press down across the ball mound of your foot, focusing on the points of contact with your big and pinkie toe. Root down to the ground through the outer heels. Then counteract that by gently lifting through arches and ankles.

The goal is not to flatten the foot into the mat, but to have stable contact with support. The downward motion provides stability and the gentle upward lift provides the support.

Like our feet, our hands get overlooked too. We think about them when balancing on them, but tend to forget about them in other poses. At times, once we move the tension out of our shoulders and back, we hold onto it in our hands and fingers.

So once you’ve landed in a pose give your fingers a little wiggle, and release the last bit of tension.

Apply this yoga cue off the mat:

The importance of having a solid foundation rings true with our time off the mat as well. It’s hard to excel and achieve goals if you don’t have a stable base to work from.

Make sure you are meeting your core needs including self-care. This way you have a solid platform to jump from to chase your ambitions.
 

5. Engage Your Core

Core engagement not only helps to protect and align the spine, but it provides for ongoing stability in many yoga poses. It also creates heat in the body. The fire and energy helps to keep our muscles warm and safe to move.

In most asanas, core engagement means a gentle pulling in and up though your belly, back, and side waist. It’s about finding and using your center for support. Envision that you’re trying to zip up a pair of jeans that’s a size too small.
 

Create a daily ritual to help tap into it, so you stay connected to your core throughout your day.

 
Everything gets pulled in towards the spine and then lengthened up just a bit to create room. Activate your core muscles to feel sufficiently supported, while leaving enough flexibility to breathe with ease. You’re looking for stability without rigidity.

For a more thorough description of the core muscles and how to activate them read “Knit My Ribs?” 6 Often Confusing Yoga Cues Explained

Apply this yoga cue off the mat:

Off the mat, if you seem to have lost your fire for life, or if life seems unstable but you can’t put a finger on why, it might be time to come back to center.

Take time and reconnect with things that give you joy, passion and energy. Try journaling to sort through the muck and help you find yourself again.

Once you’ve found your center, create a daily ritual to help tap into it, so you stay connected to your core throughout your day.
 

Bonus Foundational Yoga Cue: Smile!

This may seem overly simplistic, but adding a smile and maybe a gentle laugh when you’re struggling in a pose can help to reframe your thinking and therefore change your experience in a pose.

For me, there’s not a better example than Boat Pose (Navasana). I always grimace in boat pose and I spend my time thinking about how long I have to hold the dreadful asana rather than being present with the pose.
 

Adding a smile can redirect our energy in a positive way.

 
But if I smile, and chuckle, even if it’s a fake laugh at first, my brain gets distracted long enough I can come back to the pose with a better attitude.

One of my favorite yoga teachers used to cue, “now take the advanced version of the pose by adding a smile.” And surprisingly, it worked. Students all giggled (or rolled their eyes), but it enabled us to hold the pose for an extra five breaths with much more ease.

Apply this yoga cue off the mat:

A smile isn’t going to fix every situation, on or off our mat. And there are times when we plaster a smile on our face and we shouldn’t, such as when we need to grieve.

But sometimes, when little things come up that annoy or irritate us, or when plans get disrupted, taking a breath and adding a smile can redirect our energy in a positive way, and help us get through our current challenge.

Heard of laughter yoga? We Aren’t Joking! Here Are 3 Serious Reasons to Try Laughter Yoga
 
 

Foundational (Yoga) Cues To Improve Any Pose – On or Off the Mat

The work we do on the mat doesn’t serve the purpose of making us better at creating fun or extreme shapes with our body. It’s also not just about getting us in better shape, although that is a great benefit.

The purpose is to teach us lessons we can carry off the mat and use throughout our day and lives.

These simple, foundational yoga cues are a great example of transferable skills.

Throughout your day, when you’re feeling stressed or up against a task you’d rather not do, remember to stand tall, let go of tension, stay grounded, use your core strength and skills to get you through, find your breath and try to smile.

Those few adjustments might help your day to be not so overwhelming after all.
 

Try It Out! Apply These Foundational Yoga Cues On the Mat

Yoga Class

With Michelle Stanger

Roll out your mat and get ready to play with the alignment cues in this 30-minute YA Class Back To Basics. And don’t forget to smile!

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