Calming your mind – Dealing With Constantly Thinking

Hmm… I probably could have picked a better title for this. Thinking is good, but it’s also bad. Thinking about things can help you sort those things out, come to a better understanding, or just to learn more. But when it comes time to relax and not think anymore, our brains seem to love to take this “down time” as an opportunity to run rampant. In today’s post, we explore how to deal with having trouble clearing our minds during out practice. You can probably also apply this to trying to fall asleep at night too or any other situation. Voilà!

Like any aspect of Yoga, clearing your mind is something that needs to be worked on. If you stop practicing, you may even find that you’ve reverted to having an overly cluttered mind when it isn’t beneficial to you. I absolutely struggle with this, I stop doing yoga, and my hamstrings tighten up, my injuries act up, and my mind starts racing! You have to go back through the process of getting back into Yoga. (Check out my video on getting back on the mat!) This process also means we’re back to loosening the hamstrings, working out the stiffness and kinks, and clearing our minds!

Some people just have lists of things to do, and being busy isn’t bad. However, if it starts bogging down your mind and taking up so much space that you can’t relax, maybe it’s time to find a solution. I’m not going to tell you that you need to cut back. I’ve known people who thrive on busy lives, where every minute is scheduled! It might be something to consider, but it isn’t necessarily your only option.
What I will suggest though, is to create a “To Do” list, or even a worry list. It may help to write down things that need to be done, or what is on your mind that you need to work on. This way, you can go into your practice knowing that you have it safely written down and don’t have to worry about forgetting in class. This is only a before class fix though. Unless you use Yoga for brainstorming, I don’t suggest getting into the habit of stopping your practice to write. (If it’s super important, what can you do though?)

It’s also important to remember that there is nothing wrong with random thoughts floating through your head when you’re trying to relax. You see them, they’re there, then let them go. Don’t fret over trying to get it out of your head, just come back to yourself. Smile it off, take a deep breath, and let go.

Letting go isn’t so easy though, this is a large reason why some may struggle with stationary, seated meditation. This is also why most types of meditation are done by focusing on something. If you aren’t practicing seated meditation, and are just struggling with thoughts in your Downward Facing Dog, a lot of these types can still help you.
While in a pose, you can concentrate on that pose, think about where your fingers are, what they are doing. Think about your toes, calves, legs, spine, ribs, head, and your body as a whole. By the time you’ve done all this, there’s a good chance you’re moving onto the next move. A lot of Yoga is about being in the moment, so it’s fine if you’re thinking, so long as it’s in the moment.

If you’re in a pose where your body scan has checked out, and you’re still waiting (probably savasana), concentrate on your breaths and making them longer and deeper. you can do counted breaths (i.e. 4 count inhale, 1 count pause, 4 count exhale. We’ll talk about counted breathing another time.) On top of giving you something to think about, breathing exercises help to calm your mind and nervous system!

Other “meditative” options could be repeating a mantra out loud or in your head, focusing on an object, or even music. While some people may tell you that music isn’t good for meditation, you should do what you find helps. I recommend staying away from music with lyrics, but I have been known to cheat.

Yoga for a Busy Day – 10 Minute Practice

With the holidays upon us, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in stress. In the United States, it’s Thanksgiving week! It can be nice to have family and friends around, but do you still have time to do your practice? Or maybe you just need a short break from everything! Well throw that turkey in the oven, go hide in the bathroom, and check out this routine! You won’t need much space or time to do this, and let the stress will melt away.

Note: If you’ve been  standing all day and your feet just need a break, you can do this in a chair! (Or if you’re hiding in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet lid?) just keep your feet planted on the ground about hip width apart, if you can, sit straight without your back leaning on a backrest.

Yoga for a Busy Day 

Tadasana: We’re going to start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with your feet about hip width apart and keep your feet parallel. Try not to lock your knees. Roll your shoulders back and stand nice and tall, but keep your chest relaxed down. If you already stand with good posture, this is likely similar to how you would normally stand. Let your hands hang loose at your sides. (Stay tuned for next week’s talk on proper alignment and Tadasana.) This is your moment to breath, smile, and reconnect with your body.

Shoulder rolls: You can bring your fingertips to the tops of your shoulders with your elbows pointing out, or you can relax your arms down by your side. Make slow and gentle circles with your shoulders one direction, then the other.

Neck rolls: If your fingertips are on your shoulders, relax your arms down by your sides now. Draw big circles with your nose one direction, then the other. Avoid throwing your head back very far; it may help to think about trying to keep your neck movements gentle. Return to neutral then look left and right, then up and down.

Clasp hands above head: Bring your arms and hands up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing. Interlace your fingers, and turn your palms out. Raise your hands up and overhead. If this is a strain on your shoulders, you can add a slight bend to your elbows, or come out of this slightly. Release your fingers and let them float down your sides. If you’d like, interlace your fingers the opposite way and doing it again! For most people, interlacing your fingers the opposite way will feel very strange.

Side stretch: This pose will be different depending on if you’re standing or sitting. You are welcome to try to do this similar to the standing variation if you’re sitting. Let me know if it works for you!
Standing: (This is called Half Moon in Bikram Yoga.) Like the previous pose, bring your hands up in front of you, shoulder height, palms facing. This time, fully clasp your hands, so your fingers will be interlaced, and your palms will be touching. Keep your index fingers extending, kind of like they’re a steeple. Bring your arms up and overhead. Really ground your feet in this pose, your legs really need to support you. Lean your upper body to the right, keep your chest, head, and pelvis facing straight forward. Come out of it slowly, then lean to the left!
Seated: This would likely be best like the other seated side stretches we’ve done. Plant your right hand on the right side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. With your left palmed turned out at your side, bring it up and over head from the side and lean to the right. Push into your right hand to come out, then switch sides!

Forward fold: From standing, swan dive down into a forward fold. Let your knees bend deeply and relax here for a second. Straighten your knees, and lift into a flat back position. You can place your hands on your thighs, shins, or ankles depending on where is comfortable and where you can reach. Relax forward, bend your knees. Come back up into that flat back once more. Now relax forward and when you’re ready, inhale as you slowly roll up keeping your knees soft or with a gentle bend. As you’re coming back into a straight standing position, sweep your arms up and overhead. bring your palms down, and lower your hands to your heart (thumbs to sternum). You will now be in a prayer position.

Relaxation: If you want to get down on the floor and do some Savasana, you can. This is also a good opportunity to add in anything else you would like to this practice. Since my goal is to keep this practice simple and short, I’m going to suggest, keeping your hands in that prayer pose or relaxing your hands along your side and come back into the same pose we began with and close your eyes. Take this moment to relax and breath. If you did this practice standing, you can now choose to sit as well.

Now go forth and conquer the world!
Namaste

Discouragement – Getting Back on the Mat!

We all have those days/weeks/months/years. For some reason, you just aren’t feeling it. I’ve compiled some tips and tricks to help ward off those periods, and to help get you back on the mat (or back into exercise at all actually).

And, for my friends who prefer to read, I have it typed out below! It’s in list form for your convenience. Or maybe you want both!

#1: Find a Pose to Work Toward
While some instructors might feel that setting a goal like reaching a certain pose may make you ignore the other parts of yoga, if you do your practices safely and well balanced, there’s nothing wrong with it. Pick a pose that you think would be fun to do. A lot of people like poses like Dancer’s Pose, but it could be something like Bow Pose, Pidgeon, Eagle, or even perfecting your Downward Facing Dog.

#2: Create a Routine
This is a bit more  on the prevention side of things, rather than getting you back on the mat. Pick days you want to do your practice. It could be on the weekends, on Mondays, everyday, whenever. I suggest you also pick a specific time. If you break that routine, it’ll feel so weird. Plus humans tend to love routines!

#3: Switch it up!
Maybe it’s time to try a new routine, instructor, type of yoga, etc. Are you feeling bored or stale in your practice? It’s probably time to change it up. Who knows, you might even find something you like WAY more, or maybe you’ll rekindle your love for your original practice.

#4: Don’t get down on Yourself
Try not to compare yourself to others. I always point out that even if two people look like they are doing the pose exactly the same, there will always be nuances between them. They may be experiencing the poses differently. We also all have different limits. There are poses my injury makes it impossible for me to do, and for some, they simply can’t push their bodies any father. It’s all normal. It’s all okay.

#5: Start a Journal
If you write in a journal about your yoga practice every day, that can help you track your progress. If you feel like you aren’t going anywhere, this gives you the opportunity to look back and see that you really have made progress! You can write whatever you’d like in it too. Your struggles, achievements, goals, improvements, notes about your practice, doodles, inspirational quotes, Anything. This can also be part of a daily journal you may already keep, though I find it is easier to write immediately after practicing, there’s nothing wrong with just adding it to an already existing journal that you may keep in the morning or night!
My dance teacher introduced me to this, and it really does make a difference! It also can help new information stick better.

#6: Do Something Else Altogether
Maybe it’s time to do something different. Go for a run, walk, swim, play with a pet. So long as a different option is available to you and your body, why not?

#7: Take a day off
Don’t do anything. Who says you can’t just take a day off? If you really need it, then do nothing today. From just a personal lazy day, to serious depression, we all need a break sometimes.

#8: Do an “Easy” Practice
Do a Tree Pose in the kitchen while you wait for your water to boil, or roll out your mat and just do 2 or 3 stretches. If you can, it’s really important to try to move a little everyday. Plus it could always turn into a full practice! (Just be careful if you’re waiting for your water to boil…)

#9: Do Bed Yoga
Not feeling like getting out of bed? You can still do yoga in bed! Whether you’re feeling lazy, sick, depressed, it’s too early, it’s bedtime, whatever. There are simple poses you can do in bed! You could even make a full bed routine.

Here’s to the off days! We all get them!
Namaste!

Core Yoga – A Basic Core Practice

Today’s routine is all about the core, which is more than just your abs. If you are looking for a 6-pack though, I got you. We’ll start with a little stretching to warm up our muscles and get our spine moving, then we’ll move onto the real meat of the practice, and finally wind down and end it all with some nice savasana.

As always, I have the routine typed out for you below! This time it’s the same routine as in the video with the addition of 1 pose, so you’re getting a 20 minute practice! And, per usual, I recommend reading the practice before you do it so it’s easier to just flow through! If you feel tired, you can always take a break, enter a child’s pose, or lay on your back with your knees in your chest, or anything else that feels yummy to you! Enjoy!
(You may notice some of the poses are the same as the previous practice.)

Basic Core Yoga

Seated side stretch: I find it’s easiest to do this pose sitting in a cross-legged position. If that’s totally not for you, you can also kneel. You may need to place your hand on a block if you kneel. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip (this is the hand you would place on a block if you are kneeling). Your fingers should point out to your right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. Remember to switch sides!

Seated twist: With your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. Your leg will be bent and completely on the ground, sort of like you’re sitting cross legged. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm, to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch!

Cat Pose: This post is done from all fours, let the tops of your feet rest on the ground, and your palms should be firmly planted shoulder width apart on your mat. Inhale as you engage your abs, tuck your pelvis, and round your back, like a cat arching it’s back. As you exhale, release your pelvis and let it tilt the opposite way, arch your back, and look straight-ish forward. Alternate these a few times. If you’d like, return to neutral flat back, then “wag your tail” back and forth. Pretty much, lean your butt from one side to the other. This can feel really nice! If your wrists don’t like being bent, you can also do this on your fists! (Most poses in this routine with your hands like that, you can substitute with fists.)

Leg/Arm Balance (Leg/Arm lifts): This pose is done from a table top position, like the previous pose. Really think about your abs with this pose. They should be doing a lot of work. Your glutes, arms, back, sides, shoulders, everything! This is a very active pose for your whole body, so keep that structural integrity in your body as you do this. In this pose we lift one arm and the opposite leg usually, however, you can also life just your legs, just your arms, or the same leg and arm (try it! It’s pretty hard, but it’s fun!) I usually lift my leg first, I focus on tightening my core, and pulling those muscles in, then lift up my leg and send it straight out to the back, kind of like I’m pointing with my entire leg to the wall behind me. Then I slowly lift the other arm, so I would lift my right leg and left arm. If your knees are digging into the floor too much, throw a blanket under your knees, or use two yoga mats. That should help. Switch sides! I do 2 on each side and hold them for a few seconds in the video.
Challenge: Hold it for more than a few seconds! 30 seconds, 1 minute. The longer you hold it, the more your body is working! 

Plank/Chatturanga (Optional – Side plank): For the basic plank position, you have 3 options with your arms and 2 with your legs here: You can keep your knees bend and on the mat, I recommend then keeping your feet off the mat if you can, or you can stay on your toes with your knees straight. Each of these arm positions also has slightly different benefits too, so maybe you want to try our each one!
Option 1: Straight arms. Your arms would be extended straight in front of you, like you are in a table to position.
Option 2: Rest on your elbows, with your forearms flat on the mat going straight out in front of you!
Option 3: Chatturanga arms! Start like in the first option, but you will lower yourself down so that your elbows are bending back. You want your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. This can be a very hard pose though, so don’t be afraid to back out, or do it on your knees. This one you can’t really do on your fists though. I suppose you could, so if you really like doing it like that go for it, but if you can, try doing it with your palms open and flat on the ground.
The side plank can be done from the first two options. You can always push up from Chatturanga into option 1 though, so don’t think you’ve committed to not trying out side planks. You really just move all your weight and roll over to your side and support your body using your right hand and foot. Don’t for get to do it on both sides!

Let Lifts/Circles: Here is your bonus pose! You get to lie flat on your back. I would keep your hands in toward your body, some even say put your hands palms down under your bottom. Squeeze your legs together and lift them straight up, so that they come up about 90 degrees from your body (if you don’t have that range of motion, this can be SUPER hard, but still worth it so long as you don’t feel pain.) While your legs are at that 90 degree angle, keep your feet flexed, once you start moving them around, you can point your toes, but always keep your feet active. No floppy feet. Lower your legs half way and hold it. If you can, draw large and small circles both directions with your toes. Drop your legs all the way down with 1 or 2 inches between your legs and the ground. More circles! Bring them up most of the way, but not completely. Circles!! And back to 90 degrees with your feet flexed, bend your knees and bring them into your chest. Give your legs a big hug. You can repeat this sequence as you see fit.

Reclined twist: Since we’ve just done a bunch of work, how about we take a break and enjoy a twist? Lie on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the ground about hip width apart. Relax here a moment. When you’re ready, let your knees relax over to your right side. You can place a blanket, block, books, etc. under your knees for support if they don’t come all the way to the ground. I like to place my right hand on top of my legs to help coax them down. Send your left arm straight out to the side, as if you were making a T with your arms (you can make a T with your arms too if you want.) When you bring your knees back up, your core should be doing a little work. Switch to the left side!

Boat: I’m a big fan of getting in one last little work out before we completely relax. If you feel like this is too much and you want to skip this, you can! Sit up with your knees bent and your feet in front of you. Focus on trying to keep your back straight, before you start this pose, you may want to place your hands on your shins and pull yourself forward a bit to really help encourage that straight back. Not arching, just straight.  Release your hands. bring your arms up straight forward out of your shoulders, with your hands shoulder width apart. Rock back slightly so that your feet come off the ground. Then lift up your shins and feel so they’re parallel with the floor. Keep those toes pointed.
From here you have a few options. You can bring your fingertips together and rotate your upper body to the left and right so that your elbows alternately rock toward the floor, or you can straighten your legs, and try to create a 90 degree angle between your torso and legs. If you have tight hamstrings, like me, you’ll find that even if you have the ab strength, this full extension can be hard, but you can still try it out! To come out, bend your knees generously, and rock forward so that your toes, then entire foot, rests on the ground.

Down Dog: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up! (For those who may not know, your sit bones are those two pointy bones in your bottom. There’s one in each cheek!)

Cobra: You get to lie on your belly now! Nothing fancy, just lie down on your belly first. Don’t tuck your toes. Now place your hands on either side of your chest palms down. Your elbows will stick up in the air. I like to start with “baby” cobras. It’s a muscular version, as opposed to pushing into your hands to lift your chest. Really press the top of your feet into the ground, engage your quads, glutes, and core. Lift your head and chest up from the ground. To check if you’re doing your baby cobra right, try lifting your hands off the ground! Relax back down. You can do another of those, or, with the same muscles in mind, lift up nice and high by pushing into your hands into the ground.

Child’s Pose: From Cobra, push up through a table top position, and continue sending your sit bones back. Set your bottom down on your heals. Your body should be leaning forward with your stomach resting on your thighs. If you can’t reach the ground, you can place pillow or block under your forehead. Send your hands out straight forward with your hands planted on the mat. You can keep your hands straight, or relax them on either side of your body.

Savasana: Flip onto your back, let your feet flop out (now you can have floppy feet) and let your fingers naturally curl. Now is the perfect time to do a little check in with your body. See how you’re feeling, if anything is hurting, etc. This is also the time to add in any other poses you might want to do before Savasana. Let your body feel heavy and take some nice long deep breaths. You deserve this.

Namaste

Picking Your Practice – Figure Out What Practice is Right for You

I find that since there can be so many options for exercise, and more options within the different types, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with options. If you really boil it down to a few questions about yourself, it isn’t too hard to figure out what would be good for you!

Check out the video if you’d like to hear me talk about it, but for those of you who prefer reading, I’ll type it below.

I suppose I was lucky that I knew what I would like, so half the battle was over for me right there. I enjoy Yoga, dancing, running, and swimming. As you may know, I have an injury though, which I also had to take into account when picking. Most forms of dance were out, and running was out. I also get cold easily, so forget swimming 90% of the year.

I was left with Yoga! (And a few types of dance, but that’s not what we’re talking about.)

In the video I talked about dancers and swimmers. Many people believe that dancers are naturally good at Yoga, but that is not always the case. Many dancers will have a tendency to hyper extend their knees and arch their backs too far in certain poses. These are the same tendencies that end up injuring many dancers actually. They aren’t strong enough for how flexible they are. This could be a thing on it’s own, but to put it shortly, your joints are not being stabilized by your muscles anymore.
Swimmers, however, are a different story. They are both flexible and strong. I imagine that isn’t the first group of people someone would think about being good at Yoga, I know I wouldn’t, but it’s true. The strength and flexibility they gain from swimming translates really well to Yoga.

My point: Don’t think you’ve got it just because you’re flexible or strong. Yoga will push you on both fronts.

I say this to encourage people who may feel they are naturally flexible and can just work on being bendy, to consider a balance. As well as people who may be extremely strong, to consider stretching. Being overly stiff and lacking a good range of motion in your joints can be just as detrimental.

Alright, now that you’re thinking about working on things you may not have thought to. Let’s tackle those questions I was telling you about!

#1: What do you need to work on?
So are you bendy and not strong? Are you super stiff? This question goes beyond these characteristics as well though! Do you want an injury to heal? Want to feel calmer? What is it that you want to work on in your life that exercise could help you with?

#2: What are the benefits you are looking for?
This could mean you aren’t trying to work on anything. It could also mean there are more benefits that you feel like you need. It could even be as simple as making friends and finding a community you belong to. Most sports/exercise/etc. have a community built around them, and the people love sharing their experiences! You may have to try a few different classes, and a few different places, since each places draws different people, but there are friendly groups wanting to laugh and have a good time, or be serious and quiet. Whatever you’re looking for, it is out there!
That being said, this could also be the same answer as #1.

#3: Why are you doing X anyway?
This is kind of an easy way to combine the top to questions into one, but maybe you’ve already started trying something out, so why did you start doing that? Is that a good reason? If you’re in a Yoga class to check people out, that’s probably a terrible idea. Maybe it isn’t for you.
Maybe you joined that spin class because you have a lot of friends in it. That’s great, and if you are enjoying the class, that’s even better! There’s nothing wrong with joining something because you like the people.

#4: What are your limitation? 
This would generally mean injuries, but for some people it could be anything else. A chronic illness, if you are missing a limb, if you have PTSD. What might limit you in your practice. Keep in mind, these are things that you may be able to work through. So don’t think of it as a stopping point all the time, but perhaps a current limitation. There are Yoga classes out there prepared to teach someone who is missing a limb even, but many teacher may not know what to do, so you may need to do more research. There are options though! While a teacher may want to help you, you also need to consider if they are doing the right things for your body, so definitely talk to instructors about your limitations and how they can help.

Those are the best questions I could think of to at least help you get started on finding a practice. I actually only listed 3 in the video, so if you’re reading this: Yay! A bonus one!
Once you answer these, start considering exercises. You may be able to eliminate a ton of exercises right off the bat. You can also do multiple different things. You could switch off with multiple types of Yoga, do Yoga and swimming or running, Yoga and weight-lifting, running and weight-lifting. The possibilities are endless. It’s a good thing though! Don’t feel overwhelmed, it just means you get to pick the perfect practice for you.

Namaste!

The Basic Total Body Practice

This is the first routine I’m sharing! As I stated in the video, this is actually an abbreviated version of a full routine I’ve done before. This routine is about 25 minutes long, but the full one can take a whole hour! I might as well give you the full routine, since you have the abbreviated on in the video above. You can play with this one as you see fit! I recommend reading it first, so you know what to expect and can use it more as a guide. This is a long one typed out! Enjoy!

Anything suggested in this should also be done with any limitations in mind. If what you are doing hurts, modify it or ask of alternate options. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself. We all have our limits!

The 1 Hour Total Body Practice:

Sukhasana and Breathing: Started in a seated position, I like crossed legs like Sukhasana, but kneeling like in virasana is acceptable as well. We want to start out really comfortable. Take some time to breath deeply. Sit up nice and tall. If you struggle to keep your back straight, sit on the end of a blanket, or even a block.

Neck + Shoulder rolls: From here, alternately drop your right ear to your right shoulder, and your left ear to your left shoulder. These should be gentle drops though! We just want to loosen up the neck a little bit. After that, make big circles with your nose by dropping your chin to your chest, rolling your left ear to your left shoulder, bringing your head up slightly (without throwing the head way back), roll right ear to right shoulder, then back to chin to chest. These should also be gentle. When you’ve done them one direction, switch directions and do the same amount both ways!

Side stretch: I find this works best in a cross legged position, so if it is available to you, sit cross legged. It is still possible to do this kneeling though if cross legged is totally out for you. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip. Your fingers should point out to your right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. If you are kneeling, you could place your hand on a block. Remember to switch sides!

Badda Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): Still sitting on the ground, if you’re kneeling you have to switch to sitting on your bottom for this one, bring the soles of your feet together in front of you. For some people your feet may be 6-12 inches in front of you, and your knees might be way in the air! Don’t worry, you can always place a blanket, books, blocks, bolsters, etc. under your knees to help support them so you can relax. If it is available to you, lean forward, first with a straight back, then relax and round the back gently. Maybe rest your elbows, or even forehead, on the ground in front of you.

Dandasana: 
Extend both your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your feet flexed in this pose. Your legs should feel like they’re doing a little bit of work. Try to sit up with a straight back, you could sit on the edge of a blanket for this one. Bring your palms straight in front of you at shoulder high, and shoulder width apart. Interlace your fingers and turn your palms out. Raise your arms up so your hands are above your head. If your shoulders don’t like this, you can add a slight bend to your elbows. This post can be hard if you have tight hamstrings.

Cat Posture: 
This post is done from all fours, let the tops of your feet rest on the ground, and your palms should be firmly planted shoulder width apart on your mat. Inhale as you engage your abs, tuck your pelvis, and round your back, like a cat arching it’s back. As you exhale, release your pelvis and let it tilt the opposite way, arch your back, and look straight forward. Alternate these a few times. If you’d like, return to neutral flat back, then “wag your tail” back and forth. Pretty much, lean your butt from one side to the other. This can feel really nice!

Table Top Posture (Alt Arms and Legs lifted): From a flat back table top position like we used in Cat, engage your abs and lift your right leg and left arm. Switch and lift your left leg and right arm. You can also do this one leg and one arm at a time, or, if you’d really like a challenge, lift the leg and arm of the same side, so right arm and right leg.

Downward facing dog: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up! (For those who may not know, your sit bones are those two pointy bones in your bottom. There’s one in each cheek!)

Lunge/calf stretch: This one has a lot of ways to get into it, so experiment and find what works for you! I like to raise my right leg super high (three legged dog), then swing it down and forward to my right hand, and place my foot on the ground there. For some people it’s easier to drop your knees and scoot your foot forward. Drop your left knee on the ground, and release your left toes and rest on the top of that foot. Your right knee should not be in front of your right ankle. Your ankle should be at about a 90 degree angle, maybe a wider angle if you have ankle issues or discomfort. You should be getting a nice stretch in the front of your left hip. Walk your hands back, straighten that right leg, and rock onto your right heel to get a nice hamstring stretch. I recommend placing your hands on blocks or something to help be a bit more comfortable if you have tight hamstrings like I do. Switch sides! You can do this by going back to a lunge, lifting your back knee and sending your right foot back and repeating the entrance from downward facing dog, or if that is not available to you, you can scoot that right foot back and come into a table top position and then scoot that left foot forward.

Uttanasana (Forward Fold): From a lunge, step your back foot up to your front foot so that you’re in a nice forward fold. You can even keep your knees bent if you’d like to just dangle relaxed. Straighten up your legs and raise into a flat back bend. I find it helps to come up farther than you think you need too, then sink back down trying to keep your back flat. Relax forward into the forward fold again, then inhale as you slowly roll up. You can take your time here.

Warrior II: Turn to face the long edge of your mat, then step your feet nice and wide. Some people like to put their arms out straight on either side and have their ankles line up with their wrists. I find that I always need a wider stance than that, and I’ve seen people with narrower stances, so feel free to try it, but keep that in mind. Turn your right toes to the right short edge of your mat, then bend your right knee and send your arms straight out of your shoulders. Your pelvis and shoulders should face the long edge of your mat to the best of your ability in this pose. Look out past your right finger tips. “Look to the future” as one of my instructors would say. Check that your right knee isn’t going past your right ankle. You can switch sides here, or continue with the next 2 poses, then switch and do it on the other side. I prefer the second option.

Extended side-angle: If your right toes are toward the right edge of your mat in Warrior II, bend your right elbow flip your left palm up, and lean to the right. Set your right arm on your thigh, then send that left arm up and over. You can turn to look forward. This should be kind of like the seated side stretch we did at the beginning, only you are now standing! Keep those legs strong and check those knee and ankle alignments. It is the same drill for the other side. To get out, simple bring your body up and return to Warrior II. From here you can continue to the next pose, or get out of Warrior II by straightening your bent knee and and relaxing your arms.

Trikonasana (Extended Triangle): From Warrior II, straighten your bent right knee and keep those arms out long. Hinge at the hips toward the right, so kind of like your upper body is sliding to the right. if you can, rest your right hand on your right leg (not your knee though) or maybe even place your right hand on a block or the floor! To come up, you can pull your body up, or bend that right need and come up to Warrior II. I find you’re less likely to strain yourself by coming up through Warrior II.

Downward Facing Dog: You know the drill for this one! From the previous pose, bring your legs together, turn to face the short edge of your mat, and dive down into forward fold, then step back into Downward Facing Dog.

Child’s Pose: 
From Downward Facing Dog, drop your knees, release your toes, and come onto the tops of your feet. Set your bottom down on your heals, lean your body forward and relax your head on the ground. If you can’t reach the ground, you can place pillow or block under your forehead. Send your hands out straight forward with your hands planted on the mat. You can keep your hands straight, or relax them on either side of your body.

Cobra: 
You get to lie on your belly now! Nothing fancy, just lie down on your belly first. Don’t tuck your toes. Now place your hands on either side of your chest palms down. Your elbows will stick up in the air. I like to start with “baby” cobras. It’s a muscular version, as opposed to pushing into your hands to lift your chest. Really press the top of your feet into the ground, engage your quads, glutes, and core. Lift your head and chest up from the ground. To check if you’re doing your baby cobra right, try lifting your hands off the ground! Relax back down. You can do another of those, or, with the same muscles in mind, lift up nice and high by pushing into your hands into the ground.

Locust: Lie flat face down on the ground with your hands beside your body. Think about those quads and glutes again! Really engage them and squeeze! You’ll be using your core too, so your back and abs should be doing work. Lift your head, chest, arms, and legs up! If this is a bit hard, you could just lift up your head, chest, and arms.

Seated twist: Now we’re going to sit on the ground again, with your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. your leg will be flat on the ground. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. You might look like a 3D pretzel. (Kind of.) Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm, to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch

Bridge Pose: On your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly planted. You’re going to be really using your abs and legs for this one. Push into your feet and slowly peel your spine up off the ground. Really push your legs into the ground, your legs pushing into the ground should be what’s really keeping your body in the air, not a ton of core strength.

Thread the needle: 
From your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, left your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh. This is a pretty common position for some people to sit. You may feel a stretch here on the outside of your right hip. If it is available to you, send your right hand in the gap created by your right leg, between your legs, and your left hand on the outside. Clasp them behind your left thigh. I recommend keeping your feet flexed in this pose to protect your knees. And switch side!

Wind-relieving pose: 
This is the same starting position as the previous two. Lift your right foot off the ground, and bring it into your right chest. You can wrap your arms around your right shin, back of your right thigh, or use a strap in either place. People who are stiff or curvier may prefer to use a strap, but maybe not! Send your left leg out straight on the ground. This is a nice relaxing pose. You can turn this into a twist by sending that bent right knee over to rest on the ground to your left. I love twists, especially this one! Don’t forget to (you guessed it) switch sides!

Savasana: Send your feet out, lay flat on your back, let your feet flop to the side, your hands relax and fingers naturally curl. Let your body feel heavy. You earned this!

I love this practice. You can even throw a Sun Salutation in the beginning if you’d like. That adds just a little element of cardio in.

Wheph, that took a while to type out! Worth it!

Namaste!

Welcome to the YogicAmnesiac

Welcome to my blog! In this video I’ll give you the main run down, but if you don’t feel like watching a video, keeps scrolling and I’ve typed out a similar introduction too! So in this video, and in the post, I’m going to talk about why I chose the name “YogicAmnesiac”, goals for the channel, my goals as an instructor, and how the channel, and blog, will work.

I chose the name YogicAmensiac because I, of course, wanted to incorporate “Yoga” into the channel title.
Secondly, it is also a bit of a play on my name. If you say “I am Nisha”, it almost sounds like “amnesia”. I also thought that “amnesiac” was a good way to remind ourselves to forget everything around us for a bit when we start a practice for the day. You know, to allow yourself to just forget it and relax a little, even if you still want a work out. Even if you aren’t looking for spiritual enlightenment, it is still important to have a few moments to ourselves to forget anything going on during the day!

My goal is to work with people to make them feel better. I would really like to work in helping those facing any obstacles from a bad day, to depression and anxiety, and even physical injuries and limitations. I’d really like to help people overcome PTSD one day as well. Really though, no matter who you are or what your life is, I welcome you to join us! Even if your life is totally perfect and you’re super happy, then we can still hop on the mat together and do a little exercise. I would love to create a super diverse community, so everyone is welcome to join!

I want this channel to really be a place where people can feel comfortable and safe in their experiences. I’d like for anyone, from any background, to be able to join in. We plan on creating a bunch of different routines targeting different lifestyles, but even if it doesn’t seem applicable to you, you can always try it out! Maybe it won’t be for you, or maybe it will. You may also learn something useful from different routines!

I’d really like to create an ultimate “Yoga Catalog”; a place where there are routines for everyone, and each pose and aspect of yoga is explained and easily accessible. If you all show interest, I am even willing to delve into aspects of yoga that may not be emphasized in the practices posted, so that if you choose to incorporate it into your own practice, you have the option to. That would mostly be spiritual things, but I am happy to explain anything, or direct you to resources which may help!

Pretty much, we’re going to be uploading 2 videos a week, which means two posts a week too. We may make a few tweaks here and there as to what kind of video goes up when, but our goal is 1 video Tuesday, and 1 video Thursday. Each upload will vary, but you can expect a full practice routine at least once every two weeks, though we make them a once a week occurrence.
I’ll try to type out the routines on here too, or offer alternative versions of the routine if you want a longer practice here as well!

Namaste!