Revisit Your Practice.
The news, suggestions, information, exercises and other items in this list are intended for informational purposes only. Not all exercise is suitable for everyone. To reduce the risk of injury, please consult your Doctor before engaging in any physical and/or therapeutic exercise program. Nothing is intended to be a substitute for professional medical care.
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Guided Tadasana: AUDIO [/audio
Click here the link to my YouTube videos, where you’ll find 19 videos demonstrating different asanas, some of them modified to be done with a chair or a block or along the wall, to cater to the different needs of my students.
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #1(of 9) Summer 2020
Topic this week and next week: Bone Health “Strength” Part 1
A full yoga class including the 10 Asanas recommended by Dr. Loren Fishman.
Circles with legs together: from tight n’ tiny, to wide and open, to in and out.
Reaching Up legs/arms with flex/ext + circles of wrist and ankles
Head Lifts with arms in cactus: 12x straight forward.
Followed by 6x Chin Lifts forward and then turning to one side 6x R, 6x L your option either with the head straight or chin in or just do both as they address different muscles.
Can you see the corresponding elbow when you turn the head, how far can you turn?
Cat n Cow to Balancing Cat/Ruddy Goose R/L (still point of a balance/lift the leg without lifting the hip/challenge with movement and reach back if you so desire)
Heart Lift 10x palms down/chin holding a piece of fruit (size: plum and don’t let it drop)
Rest on cheek with forearms making a pillow. Breath, feel and then switch cheeks.
After a few breaths ask yourself, what is the difference and why did I choose one side over the other?
Do I always turn to the same side?
Is the turn less and weaker on the other side, maybe less comfortable?
Do I have an imbalance?
1/2 Cobra (also considered Prone Backbend)
Keeping your shoulders back and the sides of you body long. Don’t overuse the arms. If you arrive in the pose and find your shoulders around your ears and your chest collapsed, come down and start over. This pose is about expanding fro the inside and supporting yourself with the muscles of your spine, more than the muscles of your arms.
Lift head/shoulder/heart area (if possible) with hands on the mat in the vicinity of the shoulders, while holding the lift slightly lift the hands off the mat-hold, return the hands to the mat and then lower the head +.
These are 4 separate movements, do not combine them as we are building strength.
Forearms on the mat with the hands forward of the shoulders.
Hands wide off the sides of the mat.
Continuing the lift from 1/2 Cobra until the arms are 3/4’s straight, keep a good bend in the elbows. Do not let the legs lift, engage the core to protect the back and do not let the upper traps (remember the pictures) make the shoulders earrings. Keep the shoulders pulling down and the entire shoulder girdle plus to the hands as close to the body and engaged as possible.
Do what you can and only go as far as you meet the criteria of using the proper muscles to do the work, using repetition slowly, less is often more. Build up the strength as this asana will lead to Up-Dog.
Yogi Snack #1 free flowing Vinyasa (with the Breath)
ex: Childs Pose to Up-dog-Down-dog to Plank to Down-Dog etc.
Keep the hands and feet in the same place during this Vinyasa and don’t expect the Child’s Pose/Puppy to be the same length as usual, think of it as just a lengthening of the back and counter pose.
If your lower back is an issue be mindful of the Up-Dog and maybe option for just Plank in the flow.
Wide Forward Fold
Following can be done as a flow, Vinyasa (with the Breath):
Side Angle Pose
Seated Twist R/L
FF (forward folds various: straight legs with block, single bent R/L, wide)
Bridge -Spine Backbend
These words and advice, in many forms, keep reappearing throughout the ages.
From Pantanjali or Anais Nin, numerous Positive Psychologist and Neuroscientists (through brain mapping) have proven that all meaning is self-generated.
This Universal Truth, is for us to remember and practice every day of our lives, even though it never allows one to blame another or anything outside of oneself for how we may feel.
The following three quotes are from Marcus Aurelius:
1. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
2. “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”
3. “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your
estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #4(of4) June 2020
Begin in Crocodile while we are waiting for everyone to join (and/or Morning Wake-Up Stretch)
To the Mat Prone:
Balancing Cat R/L -find your still point and then use your extremity for challenging the balance
Leg Lifts x12 R/L working with various degrees of difficulty always remembering not to arch the back
Stiletto High Heel Push as if you were putting your foot in a 5’stiletto high heels and pushing towards the ceiling without letting the ankle bend, at the same time pulling back on the thigh of the same extended leg while the straight leg on the mat is pushing down with a flexed and engaged foot. Hold while engaging back and pushing up for numerous breaths and then see how different that leg feels when you lay it down next to the other leg on the mat.
Neck Testing, Stretches, Stamina & Strength Building
The following exercises isolates the Sternocleidomastroid (SCM) muscles. These muscles rotate the head and flex the neck. They are commonly weak, due to the stress that accumulates in their neighboring muscle, the trapezius.
Test for Weakened Muscles:
Test the lateral rotators by lying supine and lifting your head not more than six inches, then rotating it to test the comparative strength of each side of the neck. The weaker side may tremble when you attempt to hold it still, and/or your chin may lift in an exaggerated fashion. These are signs of a weakness in the SCM on the elevated side of the neck.
Realignment and Stamina Building:
Once the position is achieved, hold your head up while it is turned to the side, Keep your shoulder blades back and down, with your arms at your sides. Hold the position as motionless as possible, while taking full deep breaths extending from your chest to your lower abdomen. After a few moments, muscle stamina will be exhausted and you will need to exert sheer willpower to hold your head up. Once this point is reached, you will likely experience trembling. Only hold as long as this doesn’t occur. Release, relax and continue.
Repeat as above and add…..
Begin to take deeper breaths for three more rounds, then slowly lower your head to center position, and relax, with full breathing, for several moments. Gently roll your head from side to side 3 times. Retest both neck rotators.
The goal is to bring muscle tone into a greater balance on both sides. This is often accompanied by a spontaneous realignment of the vertebral column-without the normal cracking sounds associated with a chiropractic neck adjustment. The improved muscle tone gently slides the vertebrae back into alignment.
General Strength Building Movements:
Prep: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet close to hips. Place your arms in external shoulder rotation, elbows directly out from shoulders and at right angles. Draw your shoulder blades together and down toward your pelvis to contract your middle and lower trapezius muscle.
1. Exhale and lift your head up, tucking your chin down toward your collarbone. Inhale as you lower your head. Relax all facial and neck muscles completely before you repeat. Repeat the motion gently, stopping when you feel fatigue and shaking. Optimal strength is 12 repetitions.
2. Turn your head to the left. Keeping your arms on the floor, exhale as you lift your head and watch your left elbow. Inhale as you lower your head. Optimal strength is 6 repetitions. Repeat the motions for your right side.
When the optimal level is reached, you may perform the more complex series.
3. Combine the motions, exhaling while lifting your head to center. Keeping your head lifted, rotate to the right, then again to center. Repeat the movement to the left, back to center, and lower slowly while gazing down at your breastbone. Optimum is six slow repetitions.
Warrior I with various arm positions with the intention on the inhale to come into the Warrior position and engage the arms by engaging the entire Shoulder Girdle. Always squeezing the shoulder blades together and down with strong arm positioning while in a full Warrior I. Exhales and releasing arms and straightening the front leg.
1. Taking the arms half way out (balancing arms but not airplane) to the sides and partially up to the shoulders, turn the palms out with arms slightly behind the body on a strong inhale going into Warrior I. Exhale release the arms down and straighten the front leg. x 3 R/L Warrior
2. Elbows at the waist with fist pulling back to the waist as they face up on a strong inhale into Warrior I. Sliding the forearms forward but touching the body as the elbows stop at the waist as the hands open/facing the ceiling on the exhale. x 3 R/L Warrior
3. Cactus arms strong on the inhale to releasing the hands down on the exhale with arms still in the basic cactus position but fingers pointing downwards on the exhale. x 3 R/L Warrior
Arms down at sides to overhead for full Warrior I.
Butterfly and Clock R/L (full details in the #57 Weekly Review at “Revisit, Research, Reflect” under News on my homepage)
Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #3(of4) June 2020
Begin in Crocodile while we are waiting for everyone to join (and/or Morning Wake-Up Stretch)
Join me for my daily routine after waking up but not really wanting to leave my bed.
Fully Body Lying Side Stretch/Banana Stretch R/L
Hip Loosener/Sliding and Gliding -see details in previous WR
Morning Wake-Up Stretch
Tight Little Circle to Small Circles to Larger Circles moving with the breath/Switch Directions to Double Apanasana/In-Out with the Breath
Legs Straight Up to the Ceiling/Arms also: Flex/Extend plus Circles R/L
Sciatica Stretch R/L with Crossover/Release to R/L/Pull Into the Chest and Breath through the movement. This is a strong Piriformis (Sciatica) stretch so go slow, the breath is very important so don’t hold your breath.
Happy Baby to Cobblers Pose to Wide Open Legs -using the strap for these asanas can be advantageous for a deeper stretch and more relaxed torso during the stretch, keeping the head on the mat.
10-20 Forward Fold and Half-UP
25+ Push Ups on the Bed -or go to the mat for the Yogi Push-Ups
10+ Breath of Joy
That completes my AM practice before beginning my day!
To the Mat:
Prone Position on all 4’s
Balancing Cat R/L -find your still point and then use your extremity for challenging the balance
Legs up the wall. Various movements…….similar to the floor work we did last week but without the twisting. Using the block between the knees for a basic Knee 101 slide of the heels, looking for a misalignment in strength of the thighs if they have a tendency to pull out or in, double slide and then single to cross over or wide opening.
…..ending with a push up to a partial shoulder stand, not for everyone but the very beginning, which involves strong leg work, can be done by most.
“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. this state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad? -Eckhart Tolle
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #2(of4) June 2020
Begin in Crocodile while we are waiting for everyone to join.
Class begins in Childs’ Pose stretching and releasing with a little wiggle.
-walking the hands/arms slowly to the right, remain in the breath and then go to the left
Prone Position on all 4’s
-looking over the right shoulder for the right foot and then reverse to the left, slowly repeat with the breath in sync
Thread the Needle R/L
Knee to Nose x6 each R/L
Balancing Cat R/L
Gate (using a block as an extension of the hand/arm)
-various Spinal Twists R/L
Starting in Staff Pose/Dandasana to simple twist to half-twist to cross over twist with/wo forward bend legs together and wide angle.
–Leg Lifts x12 each R/L
–Bridge beginning with pelvis tilts/circles and full rolling bridge, ending with steeple arms or the isometric push down from shoulders to finger tips. Always counter with Windshield Wipers.
-Mountain Pose with Forward Folds and Half-UP -using a chair, shins, or floor
-guided visualizaation meditation “The Tibetan Sunset”.
Try to go to the beach one evening this week and enjoy this meditation in person.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself and no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of it’s dream. -Paula Coelho author of “The Alchemist”
Next week I would like to do some work using the wall, both standing and supine with legs up the wall. Please look around your space and see how you can utilize the room more efficiently, maybe you need to move something light or even an object on the wall.
OM MANI PADME HUM
On the meaning of OM MANI PADME HUM by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet:
The jewel is in the lotus or praise to the jewel in the lotus.
He says: It is very good to recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast.
It is repeated over and over again to invoke the loving and unconditional qualities of compassion.
Link to individual meaning of each word and syllable:
The following is the link to the mouth tape which I have been using during the last few nights. It works and I will continue using it:
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #1(of4) June 2020
In some classes we started with a Fully Body Lying Side Stretch:
1. In Supine reaching the arms overhead and grasping the right wrist with the left hand.
2. As you stretch to the left keep the entire body in contact with the mat do not lift legs or shoulders bringing the right arm in contact with the right ear.
3. At the same time of the arms/upper body stretch also reach with right leg longer and stronger.
4. Hold and breath through the stretch.
5. Repeat on the other side.
Hip Loosener/Sliding and Gliding
(I have added this to my morning yoga in bed before morning wake-up stretch-its very flowing sliding the feet and arms on the sheets and not a sticky mat)
1. In Supine with the legs extended and your arms by your side.
2. On the Inhale, drawing your knees up as you slide your heels along the mat (do not lift).
3. On the Pause, after the inhale, let the knees gently fall open allowing the hips to relax.
4. At the same time on the Inhale take the arms up over the head until you can touch the floor, stretch strongly.
5. As you begin the Exhale and the feet slide down in Cobblers pose until they are in the beginning position with the inside of the feet next to each other and the toes facing the ceiling, legs together.
6. During this Exhale the arms slide in Angels Wings back to where they started.
7. Repeat, flow and enjoy noticing that you can easily lengthen the exhale a little longer that the inhale if you are stressed or just equal the breath.
Small Circles to Larger Circles
-first knees together/tight and tiny circles, then opening into larger circles, big toes touching, going in both directions.
Bridge (see DVD’s or website)
We then worked with ‘Stepple Arms’ and how we can on a daily practice by either standing, kneeling or sitting, work on opening and releasing the shoulders in order to interlace the hands behind the back, bringing the arms towards each other and eventually away from the body.
This final position of the arms is what is achieved in Bridge when we work the shoulders back and lift the mid section of the upper back so the upper body is actually resting on the tips of the shoulders.
This takes work over a period of time, slowly and carefully on a repeated basis.
Otherwise use the isometric push down of the bent arms to help raise and open the chest in this back bend asana.
Lying Spinal Twist/Windshield Wipers
-with either feet on the mat (together or wide) or lifted with knees either into chest or over the hips, releasing side to side keeping the shoulders on the floor, arms in airplane.
Go slowly and build, always keeping the core engaged with each movement.
1. Supine with bent knees.
2. Place the right ankle on the left thigh above the knee (the contact point is either above or below the ankle bone depending upon how difficult you want this pose to be) with the right hand on the right knee and asking that knee to help the right hip to open.
3. Next step is to take both hands and interlace them around the left thigh and bring both legs towards the body. Keeping the right leg at bay with the right arm. You can also include the shins in the wrap. If it is not possible to reach around the thigh you can use a small hand towel to extend the length of the arms.
4. Optional, extending the left leg to a straight position, going very slow and addressing any limits which will arise due to tight hamstrings.
5. Keep the buttocks on the mat and feel the stretch to and from the buttocks.
6. Switch sides.
Cat n’ Cow
Balancing Cat R/L with a challenge by moving an extremity.
Childs Pose to Up-Dog -a flow with the breath at least 6x
Childs Pose to Down-Dog -a flow with the breath at least 6x
Boat -alternative or full
Sitting Spinal Twist R/L
Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
-Henry David Thoreau
An experience from one of my teachers, the change in this word happened accidentally by ‘spell check’ when he was sending a message.
The United States is presently a tinder box -but instead the message read TENDER BOX.
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #4(of4) May 2020
Put every effort into organizing your life, but remember that the ultimate organizer is NATURE!
JOINT FREEING SERIES – ENERGY FREEING PRACTICE (Pavamuktasana)
Pavanmuktasana = Pawana means namely air, wind or the vital breath Mukta = free Asana = “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed”
The version I have chosen to teach is from Mukunda Stiles (Structural Yoga Therapy – the book and charts which showed you in class) ) which does not just concentrate on the digestive benefits of the series but works on expelling the stagnant air of the body joints.
Moving each joint gently and systematically through its full and natural range of motion representing all the basic motions of the body, beginning with the feet and finishing with the hands. I have added toes and fingers which we have covered in class
This series is also demonstrated and explained of my DVD #1, which is available for $10.00 at the studio.
The best part is that one can perform this regardless of any age, taking into consideration some adaptations, depending upon bodily restrictions.
“PUSH ALL THE RIGHT BUTTONS” for focusing and stress reduction…turn the volume down (your stress level) and push the button (instant calm – being your thoughts which you create repeating in your mind)
Go to Crocodile (See WR #1 for details) breath long and slow and be present.
Sphinx Forearm Plank
5.10.15….120 seconds (eventually 2 minutes) holding and working as you build strength.
1. Begin with arms in proper position, head high and chest open, engage and expand shoulder
2. Push down from finger tips to elbows and engage upper arms while also pushing the forearms as if you are trying to spread them apart but they should not.
3. Engage and lift the belly button area and above, continuing with the public bone, upper thighs and continue to the knees.
4. Push the heels away from the body with the toes curled under.
5. Holding the core in alignment with the hips/slight tuck of the tailbone, so the lower back does not fall towards the mat, rather level or above slightly especial if you have any back issues.
We are working here to strengthen the core so it can better support the lower back. You should be able to feel the difference if you sag at the belly or engage and life, the back will let you know
Langhana Asana Series – What does Langhana mean?
Langhana is a Sanskrit word that means “to fast,” “to reduce” or “to diminish back to its cause.”
In the traditional Indian medical practice known as Ayurveda, langhana is used to describe dieting, fasting and weight-reducing therapy in general, but includes related treatments that reduce various types of heaviness in the body and mind.
Movement on the Exhale only. Whenever Inhale is mentioned the intention is lengthening the body.
These movements are done slowly, mainly on the exhale as they will also address the balance (on the inhale during lengthening) as a slow flow, each series to be repeated 6-10x and of course on both sides when applicable.
Always being mindful to go slowly and moving only on the exhale.
#1. Standing in Mountain Pose
Inhale (lengthening the torso by gently reaching with the crown of the head)
On the exhale -turn the palms up and slowly raise them overhead, let the fingers touch.
On the exhale -turn the palms down and return to Mountain Pose.
#2. Forward Fold from Mountain Pose
Standing either facing a chair (optional) or having a chair next to the body if needed for balance.
On the exhale – bring the arms forward and up over head
On the exhale -slightly bending the knees, hinge forward from the hips to a forward fold, arms following body straight forward to the chair, legs or floor.
Inhale -remain with the head down.
On the exhale -slowly return the arms overhead (be mindful to engage core as you come up so as not to put unnecessary pressure on the back, if you feel it in your back possibly you are not engaging enough or the knees are not slightly bent or try taking the arms out to the sides and then overhead)
On the exhale – return the arms to Mountain Pose.
#3 Warrior I
Standing either facing a chair (optional) or having a chair next to the body if needed for balance.
Place your feet in a proper Warrior I.
Beginning with front leg straight and arms at your sides.
On the Exhale – bring the arms forward and up over head as you bend the front knee to WarriorI
On the Exhale -return to original position
#4 Warrior II
Stand facing the chair on the side of your mat (just in case you need it for balance).
Open the legs wide (working towards being as wide as your wrists with out stretched arms).
Turn the right foot to the front of your mat and the left heel slightly towards the back of your mat.
Shoulders facing the chair but hips slightly angled towards the right of the chair.
Begin in Warrior II on the Inhale and be still.
On the Exhale -take the arms overhead (if the shoulders are an issue you can take the arms down instead of up), straighten the knee and turn the head to look towards the chair.
On the Exhale -return to Warrior II by bending the knee, reaching out both arms and turning the head looking to the middle finger of your right hand.
The above mentioned Langana Asanas can be repeated 6-10x and some call for both Right/Left versions.
The emphasis in a langhana practice is on exhaling and holding poses. As well as slowing the
heart rate, breathing and metabolism, relaxing the nervous system, and calming the mind.
If you are mindful during this practiced you will see that you are also using many muscles
throughout the body both on movement and especially on holding.
Compassionate Consumption Meditation
(The interconnectedness with others, an analytical meditation without guilt or ‘shoulds’’ inferred in any way.)
Savasana 5-10 minutes
“Structural Yoga Therapy” -adapting to the individual by Mukunda Stiles
-the book seems to be temporarily out of stock but a used edition(beginning at $11.) is available with some searching
Link to the Charts
The 8 Charts which I showed in the folder did not cost $50. when I bought them 20 years ago ($12.50) but they may also be found as used and they are in the book.
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #3(of4) May 2020
The theme this week is Lower Body Strength Building.
We began class this week with a Seated/Supine Guided Breath Meditation.
After a few of our Attunement movements with the legs and arms we proceeded to…
The following Asana were approached with the effort of each being held for 30 seconds.
Of course, always beginning with just 5 seconds and with practice extending the time as one becomes stronger.
Important: All of these Asana have alternative and adaptive versions to use when needed or necessary. Look for your edges but do not cross over, pain is never gain so don’t go there. A slow, steady, strength increasing practice is what we are looking for in these classes. Meeting each student where they are at the moment. Please check out my DVD’s and this website for more details on these Asana.
standing sideways on the mat so I could read your positioning
preferably against the wall so you can work on the form and not be worried about balance which can come later
x12 -ending with a FF and a personal hand massage of the backs of the thighs (hamstrings)
Warrior III/Virahhadrasana III
We worked on a slow prep positioning to this full asana with just the arms overhead and you reaching back with one leg, toes curled under but touching the floor adding a straight body tilt forward, keeping the torso, legs and arms in a straight line only slanted. Eventually taking this to a full Warrior III, possibly with hands on the wall in the beginning to support balance.
Down Dog/Adha Mukha Svanasana
either on the wall/ chair or directly on the mat
Sphinx Plank/Instead of Sit Ups and working to a 2min. hold
Version with knees on the floor and feet up crossed at ankles.
long and low as much as possible, working on balance at the same time whether you are using the chair or not
The following can be a part of this series:
Locust/Salabhasana and Bridge/Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Pranayama: Bees Breath/Bhramari -we did the low-medium pitch and the medium-high pitch.
Guided 5 Finger Peaceful Interlude, ending with a Smile.
1. Touching your thumb to your index finger, travel back to a time when you felt a ‘healthy exhaustion’ after physical exertion. Feel it again, be at peace and smile.
2. Touching your thumb to your middle finger, travel back in time to a ‘loving exchange’ with someone special.
Feel it again, appreciate, be at peace and smile.
3. Touching your thumb to your ring finger, travel back to a time when you felt a ‘most caring gesture’ you have received. Take this time to truly accept this gift again, be at peace and smile.
4. Touching your thumb to your little finger, travel back to a time to the ‘most magnificent place’ that you have ever seen. Take a moment to absorb all the beauty that surround you in this place. Feel it again, be at peace and smile.
Thank You and Namaste! RoxAnn
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #2(of4) May 2020
Most classes we started either in Crocodile focusing on the breath/details at the end of WR#1
The Three-Part Breath (Physical)
– not to be confused with the version which explores ratio counting and retention.
Yogic breathing helps calm the nerves, cleanses the circulatory system, nourishes the abdominal organs, and improves digestion; it also helps us feel more grounded and relaxed in the body.
The three-part breath asks us to create a wave-like motion from the pelvis to the upper chest: inhaling into the belly, drawing the same breath up through the expanding rib cage, and still farther up into the chest.
Lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent.
Place your hands on your belly (your middle fingers can touch at the navel-there are options). Exhale completely, drawing the belly inward.
Then inhale, letting the breath touch the front, sides, and back of your belly.
When you’re ready, exhale completely.
Next, place your palms on your rib cage so that your fingers no longer touch.
Allow the ribs to gently widen as you inhale. Sense how you are opening the front, sides, and back of the ribs.
As you exhale, you’ll feel the fingers move toward each other.
Now, place one palm on the center of your upper chest, and breathe into that hand.
Expand from your chest up to the collarbones.
When you’re done practicing a few rounds, take a moment to notice any changes.
Become aware of your side body.
How well is the air broadening the ribs?
In class this week I shared three questions which I ask myself every morning when I wake up.
These questions are listed below and I am asking you to answer them, if you don’t mind sharing for my eyes only, and send me a return email to email@example.com.
1.What is the smallest thing you can be grateful for today?
2. What’s something (or someone) else to be grateful for? Think about a person or pet, what feelings arise in you for them?
3. As we are sequestered at home (most of us)…what’s something positive about that situation?
Even the worse conditions can have a silver lining, if we want!
What’s a bright spot about your situation, right now?
I would truly love to hear from you!
This week in class we reviewed:
Child’s Pose with a little something new: drumming of the fingers and flexed wrists with finger tips pointing down onto the mat.
Feeling the shoulders spread and open, this is also a neck stretch and strengthening action.
Don’t expect to keep the forehead on the mat, you may need to use a block under your forehead, this will change with practice.
Balancing Cat to Gate (see details at the end of this review)
Dolphin/Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
Begin on all fours in table pose, keeping the shoulders broad, widen through your collarbones. Lengthen your tailbone away from the pelvis and press it towards the sitting bones. Forearms on the mat, elbows under the shoulders but not as wide, hands interlaced (pinky pulled in). Gazing back at your feet, on an exhale draw the head back through the arms so you can feel the stretch along the sides of the body. On the Inhale bring the head/torso forward as far as possible with the forehead/nose leading the way to the hands and possible over the hands towards the floor (don’t go so far forward that you can’t get back). Breath and continue doing 3 sets of 6 Dolphins. This is considered one alternative version.
Another new quick version which I have personally been experimenting with and like:
Standing next to the bed, place your elbows are the edge of the mattress with all the above arm and hand placement the same. Walk the feet back (you may be on your toes or heels on the floor depending upon how difficult you want the work). Continue as explained. This can be a quickie when you don’t want to get down on the mat and yet still want to work the shoulder girdle and upper arms.
Continue as in the alternative but lift the knees off the mat and walk the feet slightly forward but be mindful that the legs stay straight, do not lock the knees. The foot placement will depend on the tightness of your hamstrings.
Continue the movement but do not expect to go as far forward or back as you did with the knees on the mat. Be patient, move slowly, less is more.
If in any of these version your buttocks comes down as if you were in a plank you are doing another asana, a perfectly good option but addressing more the whole body and not the shoulder girdle which is the work of Dolphin.
The Warrior Flow/Virabhadrasana
Linking a series of poses together with your breath, and focusing on also how you move in and out of the poses (static and dynamic) will help improve your agility.
Begin with Warrior III, this sets up your distance from the wall(chair, bed etc). Hinging at the hip cradle, arms straight and RIGHT leg lifted to line up with the body, if possible.
Reach the right leg/foot back and down on your mat (back toes facing approx. 1pm on a clock-knee lined up with the toes) sweeping both arms up to Warrior I. Every aspect of the body is facing forward.
Continue into Warrior II by bringing the right arm back and down to shoulder height as you turn the hips slightly/shoulders completely, keeping the head facing forward, knee still bent, arms in airplane and now you are in Warrior II.
Continue sweeping the right arm back down and forward to add the left arm as it passes until they are both overhead and the body is completely facing the wall again for Warrior I. Hips and shoulders have followed the arm. You are back into Warrior I and now you can spring forward to Warrior III.
Continue to Warrior I, than II, back to I and then III to I etc. Go with the flow!
Please work on the difference between Warrior I & II and the placement of the hips/shoulders etc. Only the front foot/knee/leg remains constant, knee stacked over the ankle and you are always looking forward.
Switch and repeat on the other side. This time with the left leg back and toes pointing to 11pm. Front toes are always at high noon.
With the left leg back the left arm goes back down and forward in the transition from I to II.
To practice both Warriors you can go to my website and look under Essential Asanas, YouTube Videos or find the details on the DVD’s.
Also practice the Static to Dynamic movement which is especially beneficial for creating better bone density. We have often done this in class which only asks to go in and out of both Warrior I & II, bending/straightening the knee, arms up and down, head turning on II, the movement flowing with the breath and finding your rhythm.
“There are no rules about leaping into the new because no one has been there before.”
by Zorina (Loni’s Mother)
Misc: “Shut your Mouth & Change your Life.” by Patrick Mc Keown
(Listen to him on Ted Talks/YouTube etc. plus various books, considered an expert in breathing for your health.)
President of Buteyko Professionals International.
He is also a member of the Management Board and the Advisory Faculty of the International Academy of Breathing & Health.
Educated at Trinity College in Dublin, before completing his clinical training in the Buteyko Breathing Method at the Buteyko Clinic, Moscow, Russia. This training was accredited by Professor Konstantin Buteyko.
Thank You and Namaste!
As a society we are very aware and developed in our front body. We greet and explore the world with our face, front of the torso and pelvis, hands, and feet. In contrast, many of my students have told me that they experience their side body—the area from the hips up to the armpits—as a place that feels numb, dense, or heavy. Unless we get an ache in the back body, it’s often forgotten about as well—out of sight, out of mind.
One beauty of yoga, which means “union,” is that it diminishes an emphasis on one part of the body and asks us to spread our interest and respect everywhere.
Parighasana (Gate Pose) energizes and lightens the side body and invites the breath to become truly three-dimensional.
In Sanskrit parigha means “the bar used for shutting a gate.” In Parighasana the body resembles moving through that cross beam.
The asana stretches the intercostal muscles that connect the ribs. When these muscles are tight, which commonly happens when we cough and sneeze repeatedly or have poor posture, the rib cage’s movement is
restricted, and so is respiration. Elongating the intercostal muscles improves breathing; consequently, Parighasana helps respiratory problems usually associated with asthma, allergies, colds, and flu.
Let’s see how Parighasana helps to widen our breath and our awareness of the side body.
Surveying the Threshold
To take gate pose, stand on your knees. If you are working on a hard floor, you might consider padding your knees with a mat or blanket. Stretch your right leg out to the right back corner of your mat, with the heel of the foot on the floor and the toes stretching towards the body. Have the foot as flat on the floor as possible. Make sure the right leg is straight, with the knee facing the same direction as the toes and ankle in line with your right hip. Place the left knee directly below the left hip.
Stretch both arms out to the sides, palms facing downward. In the front body, reach from your sternum through the chest muscles, lengthening along the biceps all the way into your thumbs. Be careful not to poke your rib cage forward. Feel the back body extend from the thoracic spine into the pinkies. Inhale and feel some lightness in the side body; exhale and bend at the waist, dropping the left palm down to the floor under the shoulder usually slightly off the edge of your mat. Pick up the left foot and pivot it off the mat. See how you have created an angle from right toes to left hand.
Once you are feeling steady you can lift the right foot a few inches or more off the floor, possibly in line with the hip, hold and work on your balance. For more advanced work you can reach back with the right hand and grab the right ankle and feel a possible life of the torso as you bring the leg into a bow situation.
Then lower the right leg and stretching the left arm up towards the ceiling (seesaw the arms), palm reaching. As you reach the right arm towards and on to the extended right leg. Keeping the body in a straight plane, do not bend forward if that happens you may have gone too far in your reach with the right hand.
Each time you inhale, grow a little longer through the spine into the crown of your head, reaching into all the fingers of the left hand. With each exhalation gently deepen your side stretch, allowing the right hand to move down the right leg toward the ankle and the left palm to stretch away from the left hip.
Now that you are in the pose, you can refine it. Instead of closing down the face and belly toward the floor, press your right thumb into the inner right leg to help you twist the body open. Feel the right hip and the back right ribs move forward as the heart opens.
Try not to have the left arm block your sight; rather stretch it past your ear and overhead. Breathe into the left rib cage, feeling the intercostal muscles expand. Know that you are also providing a nourishing stretch to the liver.
When you feel ready to come out of Parighasana, use the inhalation to lift your right arm straight up toward the ceiling, draw your spine back to vertical, and reach your left hand back down to the mat.
When you do the pose on your second side, you will not only stretch the other side of your body and intercostals, you will also provide an opening to the stomach and spleen.
Side bending can feel very different on the two sides, especially for people who have scoliosis. Ribs, muscles, and organs constricted from everyday posture will receive a welcome elongation in Gate Pose. Just be sure not to go deeper than you can comfortably breathe or move.
After doing the pose once or twice, sit on a folded blanket or bolster to take several three-part breaths.
Have you awakened your side body?
Can you feel how your intercostal muscles help to lift the ribs as you inhale and then draw the ribs down as you exhale?
One definition The Random House Dictionary gives for “gate” is “any means of access or entrance.”
Practicing Gate Pose grants us access to improved breathing and a greater movement of prana, the universal life-force energy, throughout the body.
With the side body awakened, our experience of wholeness and vitality increases.
Zoom Live Interactive Yoga Class with RoxAnn #1(of4) May 2020
Having already done Morning Wake Up Stretch (details in a PDF on my website) and Legs up on the Chair or the Wall before joining the call!
Lets BREATHE together through the nose with the mouth closed: Ratio: 3-4-5 (if that is too long use 2-2-4)
Inhale – Retain – Exhale is one breath, now make two good breaths and then cough!
This is a breathing exercise that can be done often, work on the ratio which is best for you. There are a few versions in the yogi world and another one (Dirgha Pranayama) is explained in WR#41 in the archives.
Crocodile (Makarasana) with deep breathing (see details below with timing and alternatives)
A very important asana, especially now.
The information is collected from various sources so it thoroughly covers the possibilities, benefits, the how’s and why’s. Take a few minutes and give it a read and feel free to pass it to others. This asana goes back for me, to my teacher training 20 years ago.
Heart Lifts/Front Lying Boat Pose (Supta Navasana ) lengthen and lift x6/R/L/both
symetrical/a-symetrical + lift all with arms back/to the sides/overhead,
To Child’s Pose (Balasana), to Cat n Cow (Marjarasana) -x6 breaths, to Balancing Cat-R/L hold each for 6 breaths, return to Childs Pose (find on my website and DVD’s)
Yogi Snack/Short n’ Sweet:
From Childs Pose to Up-Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) to Down-Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to Plank/that difficult space between and continue….repeating, adding or deleting according to what flows for you in the moment and depending upon your wrist etc. The is the only cardio work in this lesson, so it is up to you what you need and want.
The individual asana are on my website and DVD’s,
Coming up to Standing: Mountain Pose/Tadasana – scan the body from toes to fingertips
(find on my website and DVD’s or listen to the Guided Tadasana at the beginning of this review)
Forward Fold to 1/2 Up (Uttanasana) starting with the chair and eventually finding the floor. (find details in WR #41 plus on my website + DVD’s)
The Cloud Salutation Flow
2 Versions/Wall and Freestanding/Lifting entire leg or heels only/eyes open or closed. Stay present
(see details in WR#75)
Sumo Squats using the Door
As if you were going to sit in a chair.
Keeping body from hip to head straight as you straddle the edge of a door with legs wide being mindful when you squat that the knees stay over the ankles and point in the same direction as the toes. Come down to a thigh position of the thighs being parallel to the floor with arms extended straight and holding on to both door knobs/handles. Leaving back with all your weight back. Make sure you can trust the door as it is holding your weight which then takes pressure off the knees if done correctly. This is the safest squat for the knees if the position is proper. We will repeat this next week in all classes.
Wall Push-Ups -a short version mostly for women, next week we will go down to the mat and do another version. I would suggest approx. 15 x2rounds, every other day at least.
Savasana -you are on your own for this one but we say in the yogi culture that this is the hardest and most important asana of any class, go for it!
The real voyage of discovery consists not i seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust
Physically, it’s not a difficult posture; it is taught and practiced as a relaxation pose, and it is one of the best postures for working with diaphragmatic breathing.
In fact, relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing are the salient features of the crocodile pose, and though subtle, these are extremely powerful techniques in the practice of yoga, as well as in managing our emotions and health in daily life.
1. Stretch out on the floor face down.
2. Relax and spread the extended legs about shoulder-width apart with the toes either turned out/in and heels turned in the opposite direction.
3. Fold your arms, place your hands on the opposite elbows, and draw the elbows in so the shoulders and upper chest are slightly off the floor.
4. Release your head and rest the forehead on the forearms.
5. or Cross the arms, bringing the hands to the opposite shoulders, and cradle the head in the crook of the elbows.
In either of these versions, the abdomen rests fully on the floor, the upper chest is slightly elevated, and the weight of the upper torso rests on the abdomen and lower rib cage. Close your eyes, and relax the face, shoulders, abdomen, pelvis, legs, and feet.
Not everyone will be comfortable in Makarasana, especially for the 5 to 10 or more minutes prescribed for breath training, so you can modify it as necessary without losing the essential elements.
If drawing the elbows under the shoulders to elevate the chest strains the neck or upper spine, try extending the upper arms further from the torso to reduce the strain in the back or neck.
If the shoulders are also uncomfortable, uncross the arms and rest your chin on the floor with the arms overhead and slightly to the side, elbows bent and hands one on top of the other or lightly touching.
Rest the upper chest on a thin cushion or folded blanket or towel. This is easier on the shoulders and neck and lets you breathe freely and easily through the nose (the chin hangs over the support).
Relax in whatever version of the pose you have chosen, and notice where your attention goes. Most likely you’ll find that your awareness is drawn to the movement in the mid-torso and to the process of breathing.
Bringing the arms overhead restricts the movement of the chest, which guides the breath lower into the torso. And because the abdomen is resting on the floor with the weight of the torso pressing down on it, you’ll feel the breath pressing the belly against the floor, gently expanding the lower back and flaring the lower ribs (especially the floating ribs) out to the side.
This is the hallmark of diaphragmatic breathing and it is especially evident in the full version of the posture with the chest off the floor.
How? & Why?
The diaphragm is the main muscle responsible for respiration. It attaches to the lumbar vertebrae (lower back), the tip of the breastbone, and the ribs, and separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.
When for a variety of reasons the diaphragm is not used properly, dysfunctional breathing patterns and a host of ills result. Lest you have any doubt about the virtues of diaphragmatic breathing, its correlation with the harmonious functioning of the nervous system and the relaxation response has been discussed at length in the modern literature on yoga.
However, poor and inefficient breathing habits are often so deeply ingrained that it is difficult to deliberately breathe properly, let alone when we are not thinking about it.
The crocodile posture facilitates diaphragmatic breathing by immobilizing the chest (because the arms are overhead), and allows you to relax the abdomen and back (because you are lying on the floor). And because the abdomen is pressed into the floor, the breath does not drop into the lower belly.
Constrained by the floor and by the tautness in the chest and upper back, the breath fills in the lower back and sides at the waist. This breathing into the contained torso creates heat, which the Gheranda Samhita (an ancient classic text of Hatha Yoga) tells us is the effect of makarasana. The posture is also calming and deeply rejuvenating.
Relaxation and Makarasana
Makarasana is a particularly effective relaxation pose, partly because diaphragmatic breathing facilitates relaxation, and partly because the release of tension is directed into the lower back and mid-torso where the diaphragm attaches.
These tension-prone areas are affected by bad breathing habits, bad posture, and weak or tight muscles all up and down the spine and in the pelvis. And because the breath mirrors the state of mind, tension in the diaphragm may reflect distorted and dysfunctional states of tension that linger in the musculature long after the original stimulus is gone.
The lower back is also tension-prone, partly because it is affected by the diaphragm and breathing patterns, but also because of its weight-bearing and energy-transmitting role in connecting the pelvis and the chest.
And because the lower back is controlled by the second chakra (the realm of the makara), many emotional tensions settle into that region as well as into the diaphragm. When the lower back becomes the focus of stiffness, aches, and pains, the makara is not happy. Makarasana may appease her.
An Unbeatable Combination
Other relaxation poses don’t make diaphragmatic breathing quite so easy, and other postures favoring diaphragmatic breathing are not as relaxing and can therefore reinforce tension in the lower back and abdomen.
There is no pose better than crocodile pose for the combination of diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation, which are prerequisites for the higher practices of yoga, including meditation.
For this reason, makarasana is a good pose at the beginning of an asana session, between postures where a rest is appreciated (particularly after the cobra and bow poses), and on its own in the middle of the day—say for a few minutes before lunch, and/or a few minutes after work or before supper, or even before bed to ensure healthy relaxed sleep.
You may find it useful right after waking up, especially if you wake up anxious, congested, after unpleasant dreams, or otherwise ill at ease. The first thing in the morning, makarasana establishes proper breathing and a centered state of mind from which you go on either to other breathing practices or meditation or to the beginning of your day otherwise.
Practicing makarasana 10 minutes a day, or better yet, 10 minutes twice a day, will bring much-needed relaxation and help establish the habit of diaphragmatic breathing.
These are palliatives for emotional turmoil and vehicles for weathering the stresses of life with clarity and equilibrium.
Grabbing hold of the reins of the breath to skillfully guide and direct the body to use this heat for becoming the fire of self-transformation—a fabulous feat for a simple but fabulous posture.
Thank You and Namaste!