30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 19

DAY 19. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued….

ADMO MUKHA SVANASANA (down-facing dog)
The aptly named down-facing dog posture really does resemble a dog stretching. It is an energizing and refreshing pose that develops great strength and freedom of movement in your upper body. If you are a beginner; you may at first find the posture tough on the wrists. Take as many rests as you need, but try to persevere – the results can be dramatic.

downward-facing-dog-step11. Begin on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, fingers spread with the middle fingers pointing forward. Tuck your toes underneath you and lift your hips high in the air. Your feet should be hip-width apart, your knees bent and your heels off the ground. Pull your shoulder blades back toward your waist. Keep your armpits open. Take a few breaths.

down facing dog 22. Pull your lower abdominals up towards your spine. Tilt your tailbone to the ceiling and press your pubic bone back towards your legs. Press firmly down through your hands and, on an out-breath, pull up your thigh muscles and straighten your legs – don’t let your lower back curve. Stretch your heels down to the floor, relax your neck, and look at the tip of your nose. Take at least five breaths.

Here is a video with additional tips on how to achieve a wonderful down-facing dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CspsyVQ3PY

Day 19 challenge:
This posture feels so good, but it’s definitely a posture that looks easier than it is. We still have to keep our knees bent slightly when we do it. It’s a work in progress. One breath at a time! Where do you feel the stretch? How comfortable are you in this pose?  Share with us in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 18

Today we have a special guest blog.

Vriksasana (Tree Pose)

Guest blog by Katia Grodecki, yoga teacher and creative director, Dharma Wanderlust

Vriksasana, tree pose, is a beautiful, powerful balance pose that allows us to find strength within by rooting down into the earth, activating the root charka, muladhara. Tree pose also gives us an opportunity to cultivate a strong focus in our yoga practice and translate it into our daily lives, by focusing our gaze on one steady point, without allowing our attention to waver.

1. Come into the pose by lifting all ten toes, spreading them to the best of your ability, and pressing them back down into the yoga mat. Feel the feet rooting down firmly into the mat. Breathe into the sensation as you stand taller, lifting the pelvic floor (the mula bandha, our connection to the earth energy) and the lower belly (uddiyana bandha). Lift the breastbone toward the ceiling as you soften the shoulders away from one another, feeling expansion through the upper back.

2. Find one steady point at which to gaze, a couple of feet in front of you, on the floor. Inhale to prepare. Exhale, pick up your right foot and externally rotate the right hip. Keep the hips level.

3. Inhale and find a spot on which to rest your right food – on the floor beside your left ankle, on the left shin below the knee, or on the inner left thigh, above the knee.

First image

4. Exhale and either keep the right hand on the wall beside you, bringing the left hand to your heart, or bring both hands together at the heart centre. Keep the shoulders relaxed. Continue to root the left food firmly down into the matt as you squeeze the left leg and the right foot toward one another. Continue to lift through the bandhas.

5. Continue to breathe and if you wish to challenge your balance, take your gaze up toward the wall in front of you, or perhaps even toward the ceiling. Feel free to also extend both arms up, spinning the pinkie fingers in toward the midline as you bring the heads of the arm bones up, back and away from the ears, and then gently soften the shoulders.

Second image

If you wish to challenge your focus here, notice what happens as you allow your attention to waver away from the present moment. Continue to keep the muscles and your attention active, and return back into the graceful presence of your practice.

6. Stay in the pose for 5-8 full, even breaths. To come out, bring the hands to your hips and slowly release the right foot down to the matt. Move the hips from side to side and stand evenly on both feet to find your balance once again.

7. Repeat on the other side.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6QkNetOhOU

Day 18 challenge:
Thank you to Katia for the wonderful guest blog post today. The tree pose is actually more difficult than it looks but it feels great when you are in posture and focused on the moment. Every time we do it, we feel a bit more rooted and stable. Was your balance tested at all? Where did you rest your foot? Share with us in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1
st.

Namaste

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 17

DAY 17. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued…

VIRABHADRASANA (warrior poses)
These two bold and dynamic postures are names after Virabhadra, a warrior of Indian mythology. Both postures work strongly on the connection between the hips, pelvis and lower back, the seats of the lowest chakras. They tone and strengthen the thigh muscles and harness energy and strength which are directed wherever they are needed in the body or mind.

First Variation (Warrior 1):
1. Stand with your feet parallel and approximately 135 cm (4 ½ ft) apart. Turn your left leg out by 90 degrees and slightly turn in the toes of your right foot. Swing your hips round to face your left leg and, on an in-breath, lift your arms over your head.

warrior 12. Stabilize your pelvis and pull up your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles to give support to your spine. Drop your tailbone toward the floor and press your back heel and the outer edge of your foot into the ground. Keeping your arms straight, bring your palms together and, on an out-breath, bend your left knee in a deep lunge so that it is directly over your ankle. Look up and lift your chest. Breathe. Repeat on the other side of your body.

*If you cannot keep your arms straight with your palms together, let them be shoulder-wide apart. If your back heel comes off the ground, slip a block underneath it and press down.

Second Variation (Warrior 2):
1. Stand with your feet about 135 cm (4 ½ ft) apart. Turn your left leg out by 90 degrees and slightly turn in the toes of your right foot. On an in-breath lift your arms to shoulder height and lengthen your torso. Pull up your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles.

*You can make a dynamic sequence of these two steps. Breathe out and go into step two, breathe in and go back into step one. Repeat this a few times and listen to the quality of your breath as you do so.

warrior_II_yoga_pose_fit_woman_by_the_sea2. On an out-breath, turn your head to gaze along the middle finger of your left hand. Bend your left knee in a deep lunge. Breathe. Repeat on the other side of your body.
Both variations can hurt your knees if you do them incorrectly. Make sure your knee always faces the same direction as your foot – don’t let it collapse inward. Lift the thighs in step 1 of both variations. When you go into a deep lunge, keep your front knee directly above your ankle, your shin perpendicular and your thigh parallel to the floor.

Here is a video that shows warrior 1 and warrior 2… and, if you are feeling up to it, it will also show you warrior 3 which is not described in this blog.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCReePaPF50

Day 17 challenge:
We love the warrior poses. A great stretch for your legs but also a great workout! Try doing a dynamic sequence to get even more out of the posture. Which warrior pose is your favorite? Warrior 1 or warrior 2? Share with us in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

 

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 16

DAY 16. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued….

PARSVAKONASANA (extended angle pose)
Regular practice of this posture brings flexibility and strength to the spine and legs, and improves digestion, elimination, breathing and an awareness of body alignment. If you find the triangle tough on your lower back, you may find this posture easier. Consider the way the side of the body opens up – let the heart centre be free. Feel rooted into the ground at your back and heel and enjoy the expansiveness of the pose with confidence.
steps-parsvakonasana1. Stand with your feet parallel and approximately 120 – 150 cm (4-5 ft) apart. Turn your left leg out by 90 degrees and slightly turn in the toes of your right foot. On an in-breath lift our arms to shoulder height. On an out-breath bend your left knee and go into a deep lunge. Your knee should be directly over your ankle, making your shin vertical.

*If your hips are tight, you may find that your left knee slides forward. If so, gently pull back into line. This will encourage your hips to open.

parsvakonasana2. On an out-breath extend your upper body to the left (don’t fold forward). Place your left hand on the floor or on a block behind your foot. Extend your right arm over your head. Look up at your right palm. .Repeat on the other side.

*Instead of putting your hand on the ground, you can place your elbow on your thigh. This modification may be easier if you are a beginner.

Day 16 challenge:
Our 6th posture today is the extended angle pose. It feels wonderful and is a perfect addition to the postures we’ve earned already. There are a few alternatives you can try. Find what is most comfortable for you. Have you practiced your yoga every day with us? How do you feel? Share with us in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

 

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 15

DAY 15. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued….

PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA (hands-to-feet pose)
The Sanskrit name of this posture is translated as spread (prasarita) foot (pada) stretched (uttan) posture (asana). The pose provides a deep and invigorating stretch for the legs, stimulates the digestive system and helps to clear the mind, as well as focusing your attention on the alignment of your feet, ankles and hips. The key in doing this posture lies in bending from the hip socket rather than the waist. Try to visualize this movement before you do it.

prasarita-padottanasana-with-border1. Stand with your feet parallel and approximately 135 cm (4 ½ ft) apart. Breathe in, pull up your thighs and kneecaps and raise your arms in the air. Fold forward at your hip joints keeping your knees and thigh muscles strongly lifted. Bring your hands to your feet and clasp the backs of your ankles or use your index and middle fingers to clasp your big toes – whichever is easier. Breathe in and lengthen your torso, keeping your legs straight and you neck in line with your spine. Pull up your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles for support. Open your chest wide. Breathe evenly.

*If you find this posture difficult, are stiff or have a back injury, do it, with your hands on the fronts of your thighs and your knees slightly bent. Keep your spine in a straight line.

2. On an out-breath rotate a little further forward at the hips (even by a few degrees), keeping your spine and legs straight. Direct your breath into the area of the stretch. Lift your elbowa up toward the ceiling and ease your chest down toward the floor. Do not bend your knees.

*If you find this posture easy, do it with your legs a little closer together and aim to gently lower the crown of your head to the floor in between your feet.

Always remember that there is nothing wrong with starting off with an amended version of the pose, for example, as seen below, using a block to help elevate your upper body.
sleep_268_04_PrasaritaWatch this video for more helpful tips. This shows an advanced version of this pose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIj5QOhUhhQ

Day 15 challenge:
It’s amazing; we now have learned 5 postures. This one is challenging for us. Settle in, breathe through the posture and come back to let us know how it felt and which version you practiced. Share with us in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

 

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 14

DAY 14. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued….

PARAVOTTANASANA (revolved side stretch/ reverse triangle)

This gives your hamstrings a powerful stretch and builds an awareness of the relationship between your lower back and your legs, and the way in which muscles in the front of your body can support your back. Revolved side stretch is a humbling posture for most of us – we cannot usually do it as well as we think we should!

1. Stand with your feet 90 – 120 cm (3 – 4 ft) apart. Turn your left foot out by 90 degrees and turn in your right foot. On an in-breath, swing your hips round to face over your left leg. Release your tailbone towards the floor and lift your lower abdominals so that your pelvis sits vertically on top of your legs. Lift and straighten your knees and thighs. Breathe in and raise your arms above your head.

2. On an out-breath softly fold forward from your hip sockets and place your hands ontwists-2 your shin, ankle or the floor – wherever is comfortable. Keep your knees straight and your hips parallel. Lengthen your spine and check that your neck and head are aligned. lift your ribs away from your hips. Breathe. Repeat on the other side.

*If your hamstrings are tight, fold forward 45 degrees instead of 90. Put your hands on your thighs. You can also use blocks to help raise you.
The aim of this posture is the correct alignment of your legs, pelvis and torso. Visualize your kidneys as a pair of weighing scales on your back, keeping you level. Don’t twist your torso.

Watch this video for more helpful tips. This shows an extended posture with one of your arms stretched out towards the sky rather than both arms down by your feet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgirXsKdVwI 

Day 14 challenge:
We have learned 4 postures already! Let’s practice them all starting with our mountain pose. Are you feeling a change in the way you breathe into the poses you’ve been doing for a few days now? How does this new posture feel? We are using blocks to hold us up a bit…for now. What about you? Share in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

 

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 13

DAY 13. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued….

TRIKONASANA (triangle)
This posture has a strong geometric quality – its Sanskrit name is translated as three (tn) angle (kana) posture (asana). In fact, several triangles are formed by the position of the arms, legs and torso. Triangle helps to align the hips, legs and torso and to develop strength, flexibility and stamina. One of the challenges of the pose is to breathe evenly and steadily. To keep the posture strong but light, try visualizing a huge bird floating on a current of air with its wings outstretched.
trikona_asana_1

1. Stand with your feet 90 – 120 cm (3 – 4 ft) apart. Breathe in. Raise your arms to shoulder height, palms facing down. Lift your thighs and knee caps, broaden your chest and lengthen your neck.
Young Asian woman in Triangle Pose yoga  position
2. Turn your left leg out from the hip socket so that your foot is at 90 degrees to your body. Turn the toes of your right foot in slightly. On an out-breath, fold deeply into your left hip socket. Lengthen your body to the left. Put your left hand on your shin or ankle. Raise your right arm. Look forward or up at your hand. Repeat on the other side.

*Don’t let your body fold forward in step. Imagine that you are sandwiched between two walls.

You can use a block (or books) to keep you up higher if you aren’t able to reach your foot.

Watch this video for more helpful tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPW2V4OYOMo

Day 13 challenge:
We’ve now added a 3rd pose to our posture arsenal. Let us know how this one feels. Is your balance tested in this posture?  We know ours is! Share in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

 

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 12

DAY 12. (read to the end for your challenge today)

Postures continued….

UTTANASANA (standing forward bend)
Forward bends stimulate the spine, aid digestion and elimination and help to remove toxins from the body. This pose aligns the legs and hips, stretches the hamstrings and tones your whole system by inverting the upper body. Try to fold forward relaxing your torso rather than pushing down to reach your toes. If you have a stiff back, take the pose gently and pay attention to your breath.
upwardHandStretchstandingForwardBend
First variation:
1. Stand in the first variation of mountain pose. Lift your arms over your head on an in-breath. Keep your palms apart and facing each other. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
2. On an out-breath, fold forward from your hips (not your waist) and relax your upper body towards the floor. Direct your breath into your upper back to help it open and relax. Place your hands by your feet, fingers pointing backward or place them behind your legs. Look towards the tip of you r nose. To come out of the pose, lengthen your abdominal muscles and hinge back up at your hips.
*While in the posture, focus on releasing tension from your tongue and jaw and the sides of your feet.

Second variation:
Uttanasana: Standing forward bendIf you cannot place your hands on the floor, fold forward as in step 2, but bend you knees a little. They should point forward and be directly above your feet. Grasp your elbows with your hands, or let your hands rest on your leg for extra support.

Day 12 challenge:
Today, try doing both the mountain pose from yesterday, and adding the standing forward bend to your yoga posture practice. Which variation of the standing forward bend feels best for you? Share in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

 

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 11

DAY 11. (read to the end for your challenge today)

The postures….

The practice of yoga postures (asana) brings balance, equilibrium and good health to the body. It is a gentle but powerful way of working out not just muscles, tendons and joints, but internal organs too. The postures we will be looking at over the next 10 – 15 days improve digestion, elimination and breathing, and they tone, detoxify and strengthen the body’s systems.

You may already be familiar with the postures we will be looking at from attending yoga classes. They will help you to get into a routine of self-practice sessions. As you practice the postures, your body will yield and resist in different ways. The postures may feel different every day – sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. Don’t worry; this is yoga at work and a way of tuning in to or connecting with your inner self.

TADASANA (Mountain Pose)
Mountain pose promotes calm, stillness and an awareness of your “centre”. It embodies a key aspect of asana practice in that it teaches you to stand firm without mental or physical wavering. The pose forms the starting point for other poses, and it grounds the mind and body in preparation for more complex poses.

First variation:
tadasana
Stand with your feet parallel and slightly apart. Spread the soles evenly and let them feel rooted into the earth. Softly, lift the entire front of your body and let the back of your body release toward the floor. Extend your fingers gently downward. Keep your head level and your gaze steady. Stand tall. Stay here for 4 – 8 breaths.
*Let yourself feel connected to the earth – the solid, physical reality of being. Don’t rush through this posture.

 

Second variation:
yoga_namaste_ART
Stand with your feet together, pressing your big toe joints firmly into the ground. Lift your inner ankles, kneecaps and thighs. Find your centre of balance and bring your hands together in the middle of your chest. Release any tension from your neck and shoulders and, when you feel balanced, gently close your eyes. Stay here for a few breaths.

Day 11 challenge:
Time for you to begin your practice. Try one or both variations. Take the time to breathe through the postures. How does it feel? Share in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Namaste

30 days of yoga with hipS-sister – DAY 10

DAY 10. (read to the end for your challenge today)
Overcoming problems
yoga_three_panelStarting self-practice isn’t always easy, but once you have developed the confidence to make the transition from yoga in a class to yoga at home, you have passed a major milestone. Everybody will come across some difficulties in their yoga practice, but as you work though them, they form part of your learning experience. It can be helpful to be aware of some of the common problems you might encounter during self-practice.

1. Feelings of Ambition
Once you have begun to master the postures in your self-practice, beware of excessive pride or ambition in performing them. It is the process of practicing, rather than the attainment of a “perfect” pose, which is important. In yoga it is important to cultivate the ability to do things without undue attachment to the end results.

2. Self-criticism
Yoga does require detailed self-analysis, but this is very different from demoralizing self-criticism. It is common to feel you are not making progress fast enough, practicing long enough or regularly enough, or simply that you are not “very” good at the postures. This is inverted ambition. Remember, yoga is not about success or failure, but about personal development.

3. Powerful emotions
Our mind and our bodies are so intimately related that it is possible for emotions to be diverted from the mind and stored physically in the body. This is a useful coping mechanism in the short term, but over a long period of time it can become debilitating. Yoga helps to free stored emotions by opening channels that connect the mind and spirit with the physical body. You may experience dramatic emotions during or after performing postures or breathing exercise. Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself temporarily tearful, angry, frightened or even gloriously happy. This marks the letting go of emotions that may have been building up over a lifetime.

4. Pain and discomfort
Generally speaking, it is not good to be in pain. Joint pain or any sharp pain that makes you wince and pull away from a posture is usually a signal to stop. The cause may be emotional or physical – as we discussed, the two are closely related. If you experience pain, be careful and exit the posture slowly. You should modify your practice accordingly.
Very common, but less worrying, is muscular discomfort that occurs when you deepen into a posture. This should be embraced and moved with rather than resisted. The working loose of muscular tension is ultimately a healing process.

5. Technique
Finally, try to exist “in the moment” during your self-practice. Don’t distract yourself by wishing your body was different or by remembering how it used to be. It is only by understanding your current experience that you can hope to progress. This is santosa (contentment) – try to practice it in all areas of life.

Day 10 challenge:
Let us know if you’ve ever experiences any of the problems mentioned in this blog (which ones) and if not, which ones you anticipate may be trickier for you. Share in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.

Tomorrow, we start looking at postures!

Namaste