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Oct 31st

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog Pose

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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (OORD-vah MOO-kah shvon-AHS-anna) – Upward Facing Dog Pose

In Downward Facing dog we ground down and turn inward, while in Upward Facing Dog we turn up, lift and open the heart. As well as being a powerful heart opener, it is a backbend, and when performed in a gentle way as all backbends should be, it will create space and warmth within the heart center as well as release through the back. This pose can be done alone holding for a few breaths or as a pose in a vinyasa sequence after chaturanga and before downward facing dog.

Benefits (from yogajournal.com)

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the spine, arms, wrists
  • Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
  • Firms the buttocks
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica
  • Therapeutic for asthma

(more…)

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Oct 13th

Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh)

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Crescent Lunge or Anjaneyasana is a dynamic standing pose that energizes and utilizes major muscle groups in the body. It strengthens and stretches both upper and lower body, all while creating balance and awareness. This pose can be met with great enthusiasm as it can meet anyone at any level in their practice (yes, even those with sciatica pain!). For beginners this pose can be gentle with the support of the opposite knee on the earth with a mild backbend incorporated if wanted and for advanced students the knee can be lifted, deep backbend met or twist/binds added.

Benefits (from gaia.com)
  • Strengthens your quadriceps and gluteus muscles
  • Stretches the hips
  • Relieves sciatica pain
  • Expands and opens the chest, lungs and shoulders
  • Engages and tones thighs
  • Prepares the body for childbirth by creating more room in the pelvis
Directions
  • Start in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
  • On exhalation step right foot through and place inside right palm. Line up right ankle up with right knee and lower left knee to the earth keeping it behind the hips. Toes can stay curled under for stability or lower to the top of the foot to the earth.
  • On inhalation raise torso and sweep arms up and over your head with palms facing each other. Relax shoulders down and away from the ears allowing the shoulder blades to roll down the back. On the next exhale allow the hips to relax forward and down until you feel a nice stretch in the front of the left leg.
  • Slightly tuck the tailbone, lengthening your back muscles and engaging the core. Start to draw you thumbs back (even hooking thumbs if you’d like), lift through the heart and shift gaze up for a little backbend.
  • Stay here with the supported leg down or curl toes under if they weren’t already, lift the left knee and lengthen leg for Full Crescent Lunge.
  • To come out of pose frame the right foot with palms and step back to Downward Facing Dog and repeat with the left leg forward.
Variations
  • Palms can touch when raised overhead or palms come to the sides for a “V” shape.
  • Add a twist by bringing hands to heart center and twisting to the right first or place left palm to the inside of the right foot on the earth or a block and twist open to the right.
  • For advanced students you can add a bind by coming to a twist to the right, allowing the left forearm to press into the outer right thigh, right arm comes behind you and clasp hands together between the legs (use a strap or scarf to build to full bind).
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Jun 1st

Utthita Tadasana – Five-Pointed Star Pose

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Five-Pointed Star Pose is an active, invigorating yoga pose that energizes the body and improves posture, bringing balance in all areas of your life. Its open stance feels expansive, and it is often considered to be a pose that brings joy and allows the heart to shine! Practicing this pose on a regular basis will bring poise, strength, and equanimity to your everyday routine! You can practice Star Pose anytime you need an extra burst of openness and joy!

Directions

1.Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) at the top of your mat with your arms at your sides. Bring your hands to rest comfortably on your hips.

2. Turn to the right and step your feet wide apart. Turn your toes out slightly, so they point to the corners of your mat.

3. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height with your palms facing forward. Your feet and wrists should be about the same distance apart; adjust your stance if needed.

4. Press down through your heels and straighten your legs fully, but do not lock or hyperextend your knees. Ground your feet firmly into the earth, pressing evenly across all four corners of both feet.

5. Tuck in your tailbone slightly, but don’t round your lower back. Lift the back of your thighs, but release your buttocks.

6. Bring your pelvis to its neutral position. Do not let your front hip bones point down or up. Instead, point them straight forward. Draw your belly in slightly.

7. As you inhale, elongate through your torso. Exhale and release your shoulder blades away from your head.

8. Spread your fingers and reach out strongly through your fingertips.

9. Broaden across your collarbones.

10. Elongate your neck. Your ears, shoulders, and hips should all be in one line.

11. Keep your breath smooth and even. With each exhalation, feel your body elongating in all directions: Up, down, left, right, forward, and backward. Softly gaze forward toward the horizon. Hold the pose for up to one minute, and then release your arms to your sides and step your feet back together at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose.

Benefits

– stretches and lengthens the body in all directions at once
– improve posture and reduce back and shoulder pain
– strengthens the legs, ankles, abdomen, and back
– reduce the effects of sciatica and flat feet
– improves circulation and respiration
– relieve stress and improve concentration

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May 5th

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana – Dolphin Pose

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Dolphin Pose – Variation with Leg Lift – Peacock Pose *No cats were harmed during photoshoot*

If you lift weights, play sports, draw, work on a computer, play guitar, or play video games, you might be familiar with sore wrists. Additionally, women who are pregnant often get carpal tunnel syndrome, and Dolphin Pose can be a useful modification to their regular pre-natal yoga practice!

Practicing Dolphin Pose can be a great way to warm, strengthen, and stretch your whole body. It’s also a great modification for those with wrist troubles in Downward Facing Dog. It adds variety and fun to your practice, while challenging your muscles and inspiring your mind. Vary your practice with Dolphin Pose and you might discover joy and freedom in movement, just like those friendly creatures of the sea!

Directions

1. Do not practice Dolphin Pose if you have a recent or current shoulder, back, arm, or neck injury. Also avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure, or infections of the eye or inner ear.

2. Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips.

3. Lower your elbows to the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your forearms parallel to each other and to the side edges of your mat. Distribute your weight evenly across both forearms.

4. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling. Keep your knees bent as you lengthen your spine and broaden across your shoulder blades.

5. Then, gently begin to straighten your legs. Bring your torso and legs into the shape of an “A.” Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body. If your upper back begins to round, bend your knees again until your spine is straight.

6. Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.

7. Hold for 5-25 breaths.

8. To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to the floor. Press back into Child’s Pose and relax.

Benefits
– Relief from headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and mild depression
– Improved memory and concentration
– Relief from stress and anxiety
– Improved digestion
– Relief from back pain
– Prevention of osteoporosis
– Relief from sinusitis, asthma, flat feet, and menstrual discomfort

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Mar 31st

Paripurna Navasana – Boat Pose

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Paripurna Navasana (nah-VAHS-uh-nuh)

Strengthen your core and cultivate resilience. Boat Pose is accessible to most since there are variations to keep hands and toes/feet on the earth. Overtime and with a little resilience to not give up on the pose, you can have a beautiful boat that you can melt into with ease.

Directions
1. Begin seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hands resting beside your hips.
2. Keeping your spine straight, lean back slightly and lift your feet, bringing your shins parallel to the floor.
3. Draw in your low back, lift your chest, and lengthen the front of your torso. Then, extend your arms forward, in line with your shoulders with your palms facing each other.
4. Balance on your sit bones, keeping your spine straight. Take care not to let your lower back sag or chest collapse.
5. Lengthen the front of your torso from your pubic bone to the top of your sternum.
6. With an exhalation, straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle from the ground, bringing your body into a “V” shape.
7. Keep your breath easy, steady, and smooth. Focus your awareness within. Soften your eyes and your face. Gaze at your toes.
8. Spread your shoulder blades wide and reach out through your fingers, actively engaging your hands.
9. Stay in the pose for five breaths. To release the pose, exhale as you lower your legs and hands to the floor.

Benefits (from yogajournal.com)
Strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines
Helps relieve stress
Improves digestion

Variations
Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)- Recline back, bringing your hands and toes closer to the floor as you continue to draw your belly in and up while you build core strength
To go deeper, add a flow by extending your legs straight out while your shoulders lower back and then hug your knees into your chest and repeat.

Modifications
Bend the knees, can hold the outside of the legs lightly
Bend the knees, toes to floor

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