Confessions of a Yogini: How to Stay on your Mat

When I started practicing yoga my main reason was to get fit.  I stumbled upon yoga while doing a Yoga/Pilates VHS.  I liked the yoga part better so I found more yoga videos to do.  Through out my eight years of practice every day I get on the mat I have a different reason, a different focus, a new reason to not get on the mat and finding the reasons that are more important to make me grateful for getting on my yoga mat.  Yes, even yoga teachers struggle sometimes.

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A few of the reasons I get on my mat:

Stress Relief

Cleansing

Self Massage

Embodiment

New Ideas for Teaching

Me Time

Medicine

Good Workout

 

 

Some days I don’t want to get on my mat, because I think it is going to be boring, the same salutations, but when I really practice asanas, and find the right alignment even in a pose I do all the time and radiate out it is amazing.

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How to Keep your Practice New:

*Get a new Yoga Video

*Go to a new studio

*Go to a class with a different teacher

*Set a more difficult pose to work for

*Get a private yoga session to see what you can focus on

*Follow me on my 31 Days of Yoga Journey on Instagram or Facebook 

I will be sharing tips for keeping a strong yoga practice, and the ups and downs of my yoga practice.

What keeps you going back to your yoga mat?  Let me know in the comments below.

Ignite Fort Collins and Yoga

Almost a month ago now, I spoke at Ignite Fort Collins on a subject that I think is very important, Anorexia.  Anorexia is sweeping across the nation in a tragic silent war taking the lives of children, teens and adults.  Anorexia is not something to be glorified, but to be stopped in its tracks, through health, empowerment and living your life’s passion.  In my talk, I dispel some myths of Anorexia while sharing my own story.  Please watch and share with someone that this could help.

On a lighter note here is the second Asana of the month:

Reverse Sitting at Your Desk Pose/ Legs up a Wall Variation

*Increases Circulation *Prevents and Reduces Varicose Veins

*Rejuvenating and Energizing *Heart and Lung Opening

This is a perfect rejuvenating pose for after work, or as a pick me up in the morning or before lunch.IMG_2747

  • Start by getting a yoga blanket or bolster and a block or pillow. (For the blanket fold 2x and then roll it up like a burrito.)
  • While sitting sideways bring your tailbone as close to the wall as possible, lay back and lift legs up. If this doesn’t feel comfortable, scoot back 4-5 inches, alow a gentle bend in the knees.
  • Place the blanket beneath the shoulder blades, allowing the heart and chest to lift up as arms drape open above the blanket with shoulders relaxed. (You can allow the head to rest on the floor or support the neck, by placing a block under the back of the head.)

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

Spring into Energy and Good Digestion

MP900227568Spring is almost here (March 20th), there have been tiny glimpses of the warming weather.  Spring is Kapha (Earth and Water) when the ice thaws and causes mud and built up pools of water draining off the streets.  Everyone has at least a little Kapha in them, the more Kapha traits you have the more Spring will affect you, causing mucous (mud), lethargy, melancholy and water retention (excess water).  All of these Kapha symptoms cause a dulling of the digestive fire because of  the excess water and earth quality.

10 days before Spring, March 10th marks daylight savings.  The increased sunlight, allows us to be more active to counteract the spring, but it can also cause a disturbance in your digestive system as well.  As the time change sets into effect, your meal time automatically becomes out of alignment, with no fault of your own, shifting forward an hour.  That means that if you normally eat at 5pm your digestive fire is now strong at 6pm.  But don’t worry your digestive fire will figure this out, but it may take up to a week.  This may feel like a sluggish digestion, or feeling your food after you eat it.

Move into Spring with ease:

Roasted Fennel Seeds– Eating this neutral spice before meals helps stoke digestive fire.  If you have more Kapha symptoms you can use dry ginger instead, to remove ama (toxins) and congestion.

Cooked greens, especially Kale- Greens are a natural source of fiber removing ama (toxins) and keeping bowels moving.

Fish Pose/MatsyasanaThis pose is great decongestant for the lungs, increasing oxygen flow and enhancing your mood.  Start laying on your back.  Place palms under sit bones or next to hips palms down.  Push through the forearms, hands and elbows as you lift your heart towards the sky, as if you were being poked with a broom between the shoulder blades.  Feel the biceps rolling outward allowing the shoulder blades to engage down the back.  (This action also activates Marma Points, (Ayurvedic pressure points) at the crease of the arm, where the shoulder and body meet, increasing lung capacity and oxygen absorption.)  Engage the legs pointing through the balls of the feet.

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Modification:  Start Sitting with legs extended.  Place palms on the floor 8-10 inches behind you, fingertips pointing towards toes.  Push down through the palms of the hands, shoulders away from the ears. Lift your heart towards the sky, as if you were being poked with a broom between the shoulder blades. Feel the biceps rolling outward allowing the shoulder blades to engage down the back.  Engage the legs pointing through the balls of the feet.

 

Want more Ayurveda right now check out this post I wrote for the Yoga Connection about Kitchari and Cleansing click here.

Are you a runner?  Check out the 31 miles in 31 day challenge and learn how you could win a FREE Yoga Coaching for Runners session. Click here.

What is the Right Yoga for Your Dosha?

Originally yoga was taught one on one, the teacher would instruct the student in what type of practice was right for their constitution to help bring balance to the mind and body allowing them to have more focus in their spiritual endeavors.  It is said that some of  those students then started offering there specific practice to everyone, thus the “styles” of yoga being named after the teacher.

With the growth in popularity of group classes it is important to know the affects they have on our bodies, and how they affect our health.  Your yoga practice will affect you in a deeper way depending on which class you go to.

Generalized yoga classes for each dosha:

  • Vata (Air and Ether) would be best to take a restorative, hatha, or slow flow class, but would be suited to a faster calss if they were able to keep their focus inside and stay with the breath, and remain grounded. Hydration is also a big key.  (Contrary to belief, Vatas would be more suited to a warm class room versus a hot one which is really to do to the dehydration factor.)
  •  Pitta (Fire and Water)would be better of  going to a restorative, hatha or medium paced vinyasa and  non-heated class.  The affects of these classes would help cool the mind and intensity of pitta.  (If you must do otherwise make sure you are hydrated, and aren’t skipping a meal to go to the class.
  • Kapha (Water and Earth)would be best off to attend an invigorating vinyasa class to bring about movement of the lymph (with that said really any class other than restorative would be enough movement.)  Heated classes are good as well to invoke sweating out toxins and excess fluid which is common for Kaphas.  If you can’t resist your restorative class try walking/biking  to class or parking farther away.

(Note: Hatha yoga taught and done properly is good for all three Doshas.)

As I said this is very generalized.  You can get more specific when it comes to what you want to get out of the class.  When Vatas are out of balance, taking a yoga class that has the same routine every class can help with structure, something Vatas sometimes lack.  When Pitta is out of balance you can go to heart opening focused classes or workshops, or set a personal intention to stay focused in their heart during class.  Kapha’s can have issues with letting go and getting stuck in their routine, and could benefit from any class that is not a part of their routine, just to change it up.  So have fun and see what works for you.  And remember any yoga class where you listen to your body is going to be way better than no yoga at all.
What yoga class makes you feel great?  Let me know in the comments below.

Summer Reading (Ayurveda Books)

Here is a list of the Ayurveda books I find myself recommending the most.  They are in no particular order and each have a brief review.  I have also found that every Ayurveda book has an intro to the Doshas, it is definitely worth the time to read this section even if you feel fairly knowledgeable about the Doshas.  It seems that everyone is written with a slightly different focus or view-point.

1.  Eat Taste Heal an Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living by Thomas Yarema, M.D., Daniel Rhoda, D.A.S., and Chef Johnny Brannigan  This book has a great intro. to Ayurveda focusing on Doshas and taste.  The rest of the book is filled with more modern recipes that have different options for different Doshas. 

There is also an online site for recipes I recommend a lot which is www.Joyfulbelly.com  

2.  Ayurveda the Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad  This book is a wonderful introduction to Ayurveda covering a wide span of topics in an easy to understand format.  Perfect for anyone wanting to know more than just the meaning of the Doshas.

3.  Balance your Hormones, Balance your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Welness through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western Science by Dr. Claudia Welch, MSOM  I feel this book should be in every womans library.  This book is clear and simple to understand and delves into a lot of topics on women’s health, and shows you that you do not have to suffer there are natural ways to work with your body to find health.

4.  Yoga and Ayurveda Self Healing and Self Realization by Dr. David Frawley  This book covers a lot of Ayurveda and Yoga information, you may want some previous knowledge on the subject before diving in or make sure to start from the beginning as the book builds on itself.  I remember trying to read this book before going to CCA. Having studied the subject for a while on my own I thought I knew a lot and that this book would be a walk in the park, it proved me wrong.  Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) is considered a Saint in India and has great knowledge of the Vedic texts and shares this in his books.  Another book that I would recommend by this Author if you are interested in the subject area is Neti: Healing Secrets of Yoga and Ayurveda.

5.  Ayurveda and Aromatherapy (The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing) by Dr. Light Miller, ND and Dr. Bryan Miller,DC  I love this book it covers some of my favorite topics all in one book: Ayurveda, Marma Points and Essential Oils.  The essential oil guide is a great reference tool sharing the effects on the Doshas and great information on the oils themselves.

All of these books are based on Ayurveda with different subject focuses I hope you find one that interests you.  I invite you to take some time out of your day and enjoy one of these great books sitting out under the shade of a tree.

Fact or Fiction…Inversions are not good for menstruating women

Is it all right to do inversions (asanas where the heart is above the head) while you are on your period?   This question seems to come up a lot, especially in yoga teacher trainings.  During my YTT the teacher said that this was more focused on intense inversions like headstand and if they were apart of your regular practice.

Now here comes the Ayurveda.  The time during menstruation is heating and it involves apana (downward movement).  Inversions are also heating and cause the reverse of apana, which is udana (upward movement).  Thus doubling the heating and vata derangement that you usually have.

Avoid headstand and intense inversions during menstruation if:

  • You have never done headstand before.
  • You are extremely Pitta/ Fire and Water person.
  • You are extremely Vata/ Air and Ether person.
  • You have difficulty during menstruation or scanty menses.

Other contraindications for headstand:

  • Back, shoulder, or neck injury
  • Headache
  • Heart condition
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy

If you don’t fall into those categories, and I’m sure many of you do, then go for it!  The reason that this may have been originally started, is that  they didn’t want PMSing people in their class;)