Get Moving with Yoga
POSTED ON January 28, 2013
Yoga Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Now that you know a little more about yoga let’s get down to the nitty gritty. It’s time to learn some basic positions. Grab your mat and let’s get started. If needed, have your yoga block, straps or any other accessories handy. (Don’t forget that you can improvise using these handy tips!)
Salutation Yoga Pose
As you move through each position, try to do so in a smooth, flowing manner. Remember to keep breathing as you work through the poses and if you feel yourself tensing up, try to relax starting with your shoulders and working your way down to your toes. You can repeat the sequence several times for optimal results.
Stand with your feet together and bring your hands together in a prayer like position in front of your chest. Take deep breaths. Raise your hands, keeping them together, as high as you can over your head until your arms are straight inhaling as you go. Lower your hands, still keeping them together and inhale as your bring them down. Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands all the way over your head or straight. Remember these are modified moves. You’ll get there.
Raised Arm Yoga Pose
This one will help improve the flexibility of your back as well as help strengthen it. Keep balance in mind when you do this exercise and don’t push yourself into falling over. Just feel the stretch. Inhale and raise the arms above the head. Extend the spine backwards arching the back from the waist and moving the hips forward. Let the eyes follow the hands while relaxing your neck and shoulders. Don’t forget to breath.
Hand to Foot Yoga Pose
Hand to Foot Pose
For this one we’re going to use one of our tools from last week. If you can reach down and touch your toes that’s great but if you’re not quite there yet use a book, foot stool, chair, or coffee table to help steady yourself. Each time you move into this position feel the stretch up the back of your legs and in your back. Think of all the oxygen you are bringing to those muscles. Doesn’t it feel good? Don’t forget to breath!
Equestrian Yoga Pose
Similar to a lunge, this position will help strengthen and stretch your hamstrings, quads, strengthen your back, and improve balance. While inhaling, put your weight on your hands. Stretch your right leg behind with your knee bent. Transfer your weight evenly between your left foot and hands. Arch your spine back while lifting your head and look up. If you have a difficult time getting into this pose just do what you can and use your tools to help you if you are not able to reach the floor.
Mountain Yoga Pose
Exhale and bring your left foot back in line with the right. Lift your hips up high like a mountain. Use your props for added balance and support. Push your heels and head down and look at your toes. Your head should be between yours arms if possible. Feel the stretch down the back of your legs and spine. Breath. Relax and allow your spine to extend toward the floor.
Lie Down Yoga Pose
With your feet together, put your knees down first and then bring your chest down to the floor. The goal is for eight parts of the body to touch the floor including two feet, two knees, two hands, the chest and the chin or forehead. Be sure your hips are slightly raised above the ground if possible. Inhale and exhale in this position.
Cobra Yoga Pose
Lower your pelvis to the floor. Inhale and stretch as you raise your head slowly up, arch your spine and neck and look up as high as you can. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down. It’s ok for your arms to be slightly bent. Feel the stretch through your abdomen and neck. Breath.
Now we’re going to work backwards. You’re going to repeat each move until you’re back in the first position.
From Cobra lower yourself back to Lie Down Pose. Inhale and exhale. Now raise your hips and walk your hands in until you are in Mountain pose. Breath. Move into Equestrian pose only this time switch feet. Next, raise your hips into Hand to Foot position again using your props for balance. Breath. Straighten up into Raised Arm and feel the stretch as you breath and relax. Finally, end back in Salutation position. Take a few deep breaths. Relax. Shake out your arms.
Remember as you move through the poses, always take your time and hold each pose for a moment or two. Allow your body to stretch, strengthen, and balance. Relax and enjoy! Yoga is a great way to release the stress from the day and to refocus your energy.
TIP: If you are new to yoga (or any new exercising) remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
Yoga – Tools and Tips to Try
POSTED ON January 21, 2013
Yoga Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Enjoying an outdoor yoga workout using a towel as my mat. Photo Credit: Marley
So now you’re interested in trying Yoga. Learning a new sport or trying a new form of exercise like yoga can be a bit daunting! Two big challenges are finding the time to workout or a class to attend and having the right equipment to maximize a yoga workout. Here are a few tips and tricks to overcome both of these obstacles.
Working Out Anywhere, Anytime . . .
It’s great to take a class or two to get started in yoga especially to help learn a few poses and breathing techniques. If you’re able to fit these into your routine, fantastic! Many classes though are offered on limited schedules and a late night at work can totally throw off any best intentions.
With schedules like Chris and I keep, there is not enough room in a suitcase to bring equipment with us when we travel so we often get creative and look around us for things to use in our hotel rooms or any location we find ourselves in.
Don’t let a gym’s schedule, a missed class or being away from home sabotage your routine. With a few simple tools, you can get a yoga workout in anywhere, anytime.
Mats, Blocks, Straps and more . . .
In an ideal world, we’d all be able to run down to the local sporting goods store, drop a few hundred dollars and have the top of the line yoga equipment to try this new sport. In reality, most people are in survival mode and even splurging on a gym membership or yoga class can be a big sacrifice.
Using a simple towel as an exercise mat and a shoebox as a yoga block to squeeze in a yoga workout at home. Photo Credit: Marley
Believe it or not, Chris knows what it’s like to feel the “financial pinch” (Chris lived out of his car at one point, and I…well, I won’t even get into it in this blog). We always try to be prudent with our finances and we do invest in quality equipment as we can. But even more importantly, we’ve gotten really resourceful in finding things around us to use as workout equipment so we can maximize any workout time we can get in our crazy schedules.
While a gym or yoga class typically provide the equipment to use during a class, we discovered these yoga essentials that can actually be created from household items, allowing you to make up a missed class after a late night at work, workout from home at anytime, or workout when traveling.
1. Yoga Mat – We have a couple of options here. You can use a folded up blanket or a beach towel, or if you’re on a hard slick surface – like tile or hard wood flooring – you can pick up a rubber mat intended to go under your rugs to keep them from slipping. It offers a little bit of padding for your back and bottom as well as a non-slick surface.
2. Support Blocks – Blocks can help you get into poses and maintain appropriate posture when you can’t quite reach the floor. If you’re just starting out you can use a chair or the back of your sofa as a support. As your flexibility increases, try using good sturdy books (like that unused dusty hotel room phonebook that the internet has made obsolete) or shoe boxes. You can even pick up a few old paperbacks and duct tape them together for the perfect size.
Working out with Chris’ T-Shirt! Photo Credit: Marley
3. Yoga Strap – The use of a yoga straps help lend artificial length to your arms or legs to bring you into a full pose. For example, you would wrap the strap around the feet if you can’t touch your toes in standing forward bend or hold the strap in both hands behind the back for certain shoulder stretches. Once again, you don’t need anything special to enjoy the benefits of a yoga strap. Use a jump rope, the belt from an old bath robe or coat, panty hose, or any sturdy fabric cut into strips. I use Chris’ t-shirts :).
4. Meditation Pillow – Funky pillows with peace signs and flowers might be your style, but for this frugal mama, I use a good ol’ sleeping pillow for bottom-resting and meditation. To incorporate your own style, buy a fun pillowcase!
5. Yoga DVD – While there are some incredible exercise DVD’s out there, you don’t have to buy one of these to get proper in-home yoga training. Get online and check out the loads of instructional videos on YouTube. Not only are these videos free, but this also allows you to find an instructor that fits you best. This is also a great solution if you find yourself stuck in a hotel room!
By getting creative and looking for inexpensive solutions to use in working out, you can eliminate excuses and also be ready to overcome any challenges to your schedule so that you can stay on track. Yoga is a great form of exercise that can be done virtually anywhere with a little ingenuity and desire!
Yoga Is For Everyone (Yes, Even You!)
POSTED ON January 14, 2013
Yoga Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
A while back Chris and I posted some pictures of us doing yoga on our Facebook pages. We received a lot of comments and emails about it. Most of you said you would love to do yoga but couldn’t at your current fitness level or size. Well I’m here to tell you that, as members of the Powell Pack (which you are), the word “can’t” is no longer part of your vocabulary. Yoga is for everyone, no matter your shape or size! You want to try yoga? Let’s do it!
First things first. Yoga is not simply stretching and getting all tied up in weird poses (although I must admit it can be entertaining to watch Chris), there is purpose and reason to each pose. There are many styles of yoga and each focuses on something different so there is sure to be one style that will pique your interest and you’ll try something new.
Yoga is great for your physical and emotional health. It helps strengthen your body, increases flexibility, reduces stress, and adds some fun variety to your regular workout routine.
One of my favorite styles of Yoga is Vinyasa. This is a great form of yoga for those just starting out as well as seasoned yoga fans. Vinyasa means “connection between movement and breath”. I practice Vinyasa because I enjoy the constant moving and breathing. It flows from one pose into the next and offers tons of variety.
Another popular style of yoga, especially for beginners, is Hatha (Ha=sun tha=moon). Hatha yoga is very popular in western cultures and focuses on the link between mind, body, and spirit.
Next week we’ll focus on the tools of the trade. I’ll show you how you can use some simple household items as props to help you do the poses no matter what physical shape you’re in right now.
In the meantime, check out some Yoga studios in your area that offer Vinyasa or Hatha style yoga classes. Look up a few YouTube videos to become familiar with some of the terms and poses used in Vinyasa yoga.
Until next time, Namaste! (Wondering how to pronounce this? Try the audible pronunciation feature on Dictionary.com and you’ll fit right in with fellow yogis!) Go to Part 2.