Gua Sha Facial Massage

This week in our adventure with wellness off the mat we are exploring the wonderful world of gua sha facial massage. I added this to my bedtime routine for the past week and really enjoy winding down my day this way, it is a nice relaxing way to end the day before tucking myself in for the night. I’m curious to see the results, if any, after a month or so of regular use. In the video below I demo how to use the gua sha on the face and neck. Some important things to remember, start with clean skin, make sure the gua sha is clean, oil the skin to help the gua sha slide smoothly along the face without tugging, go slow – make this something you enjoy rather than something to just get done, and be sure to clean the gua sha after each use. Look for either a jade or rose quartz gua sha massage tool in the shape that works best for you.

Some benefits to making this part of your regular routine are easing tension in the muscles of the face, boosting blood circulation, brightening the complexion, and encouraging lymphatic drainage to banish bloat. All this adds up to more youthful and radiant skin and lets be honest who doesn’t want that!

DIY Facial Serum

Taking wellness off the mat, today we are making a super simple and quick face serum that is just amazing for the skin…I’ve been using this basic blend for a decade and personally I think my skin looks better now than it did when I started!

For easy reference the recipe we used is as follows:

DIY Face Serum

  • 9 drops Lavender
  • 9 drops Frankincense Frereana
  • 9 drops Copaiba
  • splash of Vitamin E oil
  • top off with carrier oil of choice – in the video I used Grapeseed Oil

The reason I have chosen each of these oils is for their amazing skin benefits! Let’s start with the lavender….I mean who doesn’t love lavender, its calming and relaxing properties make for a great addition to this blend and more important it is great for our skin by helping to sooth alterations in the skins integrity like those from sun exposure or minor burns. Next up frankincense, there are a few different types of this oil and this one specifically, the frankincense frereana, is great for the skin. In my own blend I use one of Plant Therapy’s synergy blends that combines four types of frankincense into one, it is called Fantastic Franks, you can use either or when making your own. Whichever you choose we have this in the blend for its amazing skin rejuvenating properties, it helps smooth the appearance of wrinkles, scars, dry and damaged skin and it can help promote natural healing of a wound or cut….this is part of what takes this from just your face to my own magic potion for all things skin! Last but not least copaiba; this oil acts as a booster just making the whole blend better, it’s also great for tightening the skin and evening the skin tone.

This serum makes a great basic blend to take care of our skin and keep it healthy and looking its best. There are plenty of other oils that are wonderful for the skin so feel free to tweak this recipe for your own needs by adding other oils or switching up the carrier oil you use.

The other big component of this blend is the carrier oil, when I started making this years ago I picked grapeseed oil because it is great for sensitive skin and I was dealing with a lot of skin issues and adult acne at the time. There are lots of options for carrier oils and I will share a few other options with you below, you know what they say…”if it aint broke dont fix it”…so I have never changed my carrier oil. I can honestly say my skin is in way better shape today at 35 than it was at 25 when I started learning how to take care of myself. Feel free to use your oil of choice when mixing this up, here are some other common oils:

  • Apricot Kernel Oil – good for all skin types, rich and nourishing, little scent and absorbs quickly into the skin.
  • Coconut Oil – this is used to create a barrier on the skin, not a great oil for this purpose. Also anytime we use coconut oil with essential oils to make blends like for rollerballs, we are using fractionated coconut oil, the liquid form, not the solid kind – this we can use for lotions or balms – something we want as more of a solid. Just keep in mind there are two styles of this.
  • Jojoba Oil – this oil closely resembles the sebum of the skin and is rich in Vitamin E, it promotes a glowing complexion.
  • Safflower Oil – another oil that is easily absorbed and is popular choice for moisturizing cosmetics.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – known for its ability to soften and recondition the skin, rich in proteins and Vitamin D, and considered extremely nourishing.
  • Avocado Oil – this is typically added in small amounts to other oils in order to enrich protein and vitamin content.
  • Grapeseed Oil – this is preferred oil for its light and satin like finish, has some astringent qualities and is great for oily, acne prone skin.
  • Rosehip Seed Oil – great for helping treat dry, irritated or weathered skin, also good for scars and stretch marks, not good for acne prone skin.
  • Sesame Oil – rich in many vitamins and minerals, an excellent emollient, best when diluted with other carrier oils as part of a massage oil.

My oils of choice come from Plant Therapy, I did a ton of research when I started using oils and this was the company I chose and I haven’t looked back! Great company, great products, awesome prices, free and fast shipping, and their site has amazing info on how to use oils safely. I love them so much I even signed on as an affiliate to help spread the word about their incredible products….click here to shop for great products while also helping support me to provide this useful content for you.

October 2020 Pose of the Month

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Half Moon Pose or in Sanskrit: Ardha Chandrasana

As we continue our yoga journey together this month we will focus on half moon pose…. balance poses to me mean having fun with your practice…we will inevitably fall or wobble and being able to laugh at yourself and just come back to the pose is key…this is true both on and off the mat! And remember to listen to your body, you can practice modified versions of this on days you feel you need something different, switching things up also keeps things interesting and varies how you are using your body.

The goal you set this month is to have fun…to allow yourself to be silly and laugh, and maybe along the way you find some added stability in this pose. Take a day 1 photo so you can get a good look at where your body really is in this pose, we need that birds eye view to really see where we are in space and where we need to work on things to improve our alignment in the posture, my day one photo is above…. Commit to practicing this pose in some variation each day for the entire month, grab another photo maybe in the middle and again at the end to compare, you can share your photos or not, entirely up to you! You can also keep a journal with your practice and take a moment after each time you hit the mat to jot down what comes up, was today little easier, or maybe a little more challenging, did you not want to spend time today but you did it anyway, could be as simple as just a few words.

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….don’t forget to join the Facebook Group if you want to catch these classes live!

Week 2 – Pitfalls and Modifications

As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.

Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)

It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we cant do it. This is one of the great benefits of deep diving into a new pose like this each month.

In this weeks mini practice (see the video below) we go over several modifications that you can practice throughout the month. First up you can stay a little closer to the ground and practice with one knee down this will allow you to take some of the balance out and work on the strength and alignment in the pose. Some other options we went over are using the wall to help, line up the standing foot parallel to the wall and press your back against the wall as you come into the pose, this will help show us where we are in space, often the chest tends to collapse forward a bit in the pose and really we want the back flat against the wall….roll the top shoulder back as the bottom shoulder rolls under opening the chest to the side. Another way to use the wall is to press the sole of your raised foot against the wall once you come into the pose, similar to keeping the knee on the ground this will help add some stability while you work on alignment and strength. Lastly don’t forget to grab a block or something else to help balance on and bring the ground a little closer while working on the standing version.

Check out this weeks mini practice to see some of these variations in action…..

Week 3 – Why Should I?

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

Since October both begins and ends with a full moon I thought this was the perfect month to make half moon pose our pose of the month. Balance postures come with so many benefits plus they are fun! For me balance postures can lighten up your practice a bit, let them be fun, let them be silly, laugh at yourself when you fall and come back into it. In yoga and in life we fall off our path and then come back to it, over and over again.

Some of the benefits specific to half moon pose are:

  • Strengthen lower body – improve strength and mobility in the lower body from feet to glutes.
  • Reduce sciatica pain – if you’ve dealt with this you know how awful it can (been there!!) any kind of pain is no fun but this can really knock you out, practicing this posture regululary can soothe the irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve and reduce the pain you’re in.
  • Improved coordination and balance – balance is so important, especially as we age….improving our balance is key to helping prevent falls. Not only does this posture help keep our bodies balanced but also our minds helping to improve concentration and create a calm and steady mind.
  • Improves digestion – health starts from the inside out and improved digestion is to key to a healthy body and mind, this pose helps keep digestion working at its peak.

Check out our week 3 mini practice below to continue your month long journey with this posture!

Week 4 – The Challenge Doesn’t End Here

Just because the month is winding down doesn’t mean our practice ends here, there is always room for more growth and expansion as we continue to move through our practice. We looked at several variations throughout the month to help us work on building strength and balance in this posture. Today we added more to the mix to continue to challenge us as we grow in our practice. Something I love about yoga is that it is never over we constantly evolve and grow each time we show up to the mat.

To add to our challenge in this week’s mini class we explored some ways to expand on half moon pose. The first add on we looked at is reaching back and grabbing the foot while in half moon. You can also explore this option from the floor in modified half moon when the knee is down taking some of the balance out of the equation. When you grab the foot you want to kick into the hand creating a bit of a back bend. The second option we worked on today is revolved half moon. To execute this variation we are switching the hands, so normally with right foot forward we have the right hand down and left up and the torso is open to the left, in revolved half moon with right foot forward we have left hand down, right hand up and torso open to the right.

See these new options in action in this week’s mini class below. See everyone again next week for a bonus practice together before kicking off the November challenge.

September 2020 Pose of the Month

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Sun Salutation or the Sanskrit: Surya Namaskar

As we continue our yoga journey together this month we will focus on sun salutations….don’t let this scare you away if jumping around your mat is outside your practice, we will go over lots of variations to make this accessible for everyone, in week 1 we will look at 4 options, including one using a chair, so that you can find the version that works for you. Also feel free to shake it up during the month and choose the version that works for your body each day, even if you are working on the jumps there may be some days where you just need to take it a little easier, always honor what your body is asking for. You will notice more enjoyment and progress from your practice if you learn to listen to your body instead of always pushing it to the limit.

The goal you set this month is up to you, maybe you want to work up to more rounds, or maybe you want to improve one particular variation, or maybe your goal is to challenge yourself to try a more difficult variation by the end of the month. Instead of taking a photo this month try taking a video of yourself doing one round of the variation you choose so you can see if and where things need work. My goal is 10 rounds a day of Sun A with the jumps and chaturanga, upper body strength has always been where I lack so looking forward to working on this throughout the month. Each Friday in our practice together we will do 5 rounds of whichever variation you choose, I will demo the modified sun A during that practice with you. Here is my week 1 video to compare back to at the end of the month….

So now what are we doing all month? Ok so here is the plan for the challenge….

Day 1 – Take a video of yourself in the pose, (that is mine ^^ up there) you can share or not, totally up to you, but this will help you get a visual of yourself in the posture so you can see what the shapes look like in your body and where you might need to adjust it. Remember we have a hard time really knowing where we are in space so the video lets you have the view of the teacher, and now we can start to dissect the pose and find the best version of this shape in your body. After you’ve practiced the pose, and checked out your video, jot down your goals for the pose along with anything else that comes up, was it hard/easy, did you love/hate it, no rules here just a quick jot of whatever comes up.

Everyday for the rest of the month commit to practicing this pose. The good news is sun salutations can be a full yoga practice, be sure to give yourself a little warm up and stretch, remember to be nice to the body and to listen. Commit to a number of rounds to practice each day maybe it is 1, 5, or 10 any amount is fine as long as you stay consistent with your practice. Allow for a moment of pause before jumping back into your day – think mini savasana – settle the body – and that’s it!! Now pat yourself on the back for committing to your practice today! I encourage you to take the time to jot a note everyday and track your journey but that may not work for you, and that’s ok, make this your journey.

In the week one video I show four different options of variations you can choose from during the month, you can pick just one, or mix them up depending on the day and the goals you set for yourself this month.

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….don’t forget to join the Facebook Group if you want to catch these classes live!

Week 2 – Why Should I?

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

A little different than our past months, this month rather than practicing a single posture, we are working on a set of postures commonly known as Sun Salutations. So many versions of sun salutations exist, in week one we looked at 4 different versions for you to practice, however feel free to incorporate any version you feel drawn to. This month is really about accountability and showing up each day to our mats, sun salutations are a great way to get a full practice in without having to think about how to put a home practice together.

Sun Salutations are a series of poses linked together to form a flow traditionally practiced at sunrise to worship the sun as the name may suggest. They are commonly used as part of class warm ups, as a complete yoga practice, or intertwined into yoga routines in many vinyasa classes. Whether you know it or not you have likely done many versions of these during yoga classes. Linking breath to movement sun salutations really help us develop the connection of mind – body – breath that our physical asana practice is all about.

There are many benefits associated with Sun Salutations:

  • Increased energy and circulation. Linking breath to movement increases circulation to all parts of the body.
  • Strengthens muscles and improved flexibility. These poses focus on many different areas of the body and the continuous movements helps relieve stiffness and improve range of motion.
  • Boosts metabolism. The constant movement, especially if done in the morning, can help boost metabolism and burn more fat than practicing isolated poses.
  • Calms the mind. Sun Salutations become a moving meditation taking you out of your head and helping to relieve anxiety and stress and bringing you into the present moment.
  • Improved stamina. A regular practice of several rounds can become a great cardio workout in addition to the other benefits above, and completion of the rounds will leave you feeling great. If you ever try your hand at 108 rounds it will definitely show you what you are capable of in both body and mind!

Check out our week 2 mini practice below…pick your variation, go at your own pace, and join me for 5 rounds together…see you on the mat!

Week 3 – Pitfalls and Modifications

As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.

Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)

It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we cant do it. This is true for sun salutations just as much as in single poses…

In week 1 we went over several variations making sun salutations accessible for every body at every level. Sun salutations can be practiced seated in chair, using a chair to assist you, with or without down dog, and with or without jumps…no matter where you are in your practice, and even where you are each day you can find the variation that works for you.

Together each week we are practicing a modified version of Sun Salutation A, let’s take it pose by pose and talk about some of the things we want to watch out for and keep in mind as we move through the flow.

  • Mountain Pose or Tadasana – active body here mountains are strong and so are you
  • Upward salute or Urdhva Hastasana – lift the gaze and the arms toward to sun
  • Forward fold or Uttanasana – keep a bend in the knee if needed – this can be helpful if you have tight hamstrings and can also help lengthen the spine as you fold; keep a flat back and think more about heart to knee than head to knee – this can help keep us from rounding at the low back; use blocks to bring the ground closer if you can’t touch your toes or the ground.
  • Half-lift or Ardha Uttanasana – flat back, don’t press back on the knees with the hands, keep hands above or below the knees or on blocks, engage the core to support the upper body.
  • Step back low lunge to plank (dandasana) – in the modified version we are practicing together we step back moving through low lunge to plank you can hold plank for a breath or drop right to the knees to help support the upper body in this pose if needed; after a breath we all take the knees-chest-chin variation instead of low plank or Chaturanga Dandasana, the knees-chest-chin modification helps maintain control of the upper body while building strength to work up to Chaturanga Dandasana.
  • Cobra or bhujanga – take the baby version if deep backbends are not in your practice, keep the elbows close to the rib cage pointing back, tops of the feet on the floor.
  • Downward facing dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana – as we press back to down dog move through table top pausing on the knees for a moment to assist you once there hold for 5 breaths; keep a bend in the knees if more comfortable on the legs and low back, remember its ok if the heels don’t touch the mat – press down toward the earth touching or not. From down dog, we lift the same leg that was forward in low lunge when we started and step through back to low lunge – if this is too challenging you can step forward to the top of the mat returning to forward fold.
  • Low lunge – step back foot up to forward fold – half lift – and finally upward salute – repeat stepping back with the opposite foot completing one full round, to end hands come to prayer at the heart.

Follow along in the video below for our week three mini practice for five rounds of the above variation – or take any variation that works for you.

Week 4 – The Challenge Doesn’t End Here

Just because our month is coming to a close doesn’t mean we have to give up on our selected pose. Especially with sun salutations…these make a great daily practice and would be a wonderful addition to your home routine. The motivation for choosing sun salutations this month was the fall equinox and the tradition of doing 108 sun salutations on the equinox, so I thought it would be nice to talk about the why behind that tradition and tell you a little about my experience participating in that tradition. 108 sun salutations is not just practiced on the fall equinox, but typically practiced for each change of season: the spring and fall equinox; and the winter and summer solstice; and also for the new year. Even if you don’t practice these daily, maybe you can join in on the tradition of 108 to mark the change of season.

So we know when we practice 108, but not why, so let’s talk about some of the reasons why 108 is important and why we choose to go after 108 sun salutations to mark certain events in our lives.

  • The number 108 is significant in many circles and traditions like yoga, astronomy and more. For instance in yoga there are 108 Upanishads and 108 Tantras; in the sister since of ayurveda there are 108 sacred points on the body; malas have 108 beads which are used to count during meditation; in numerology 108 equals 9 and symbolizes universal love and awakening; in astronomy the distance between the sun and earth is about 108 times the sun’s diameter. These are just a few examples of the significance of 108 throughout history.
  • We have already talked about the physical benefits of doing sun salutations, now just multiply that by 108, we are creating some serious heat in the body and moving some serious energy, you will finish this practice feeling alive!
  • When we embark on something as intense as 108 sun salutations we learn a lot about ourselves and about surrender, there is no way to complete this without surrendering to ourselves, our mind will have us questioning why we are doing this and at a certain point the flow takes over and we just surrender to the movements, I found myself even moving through many rounds with my eyes closed just allowing it to happen, we tap into a deeper part of ourselves and learn along the way.
  • As we move through 108, or whatever number we complete – remember to always listen to your body as you go, we learn a lot along the way, we learn: we are stronger than we think, whether you finish 5 – 50 – or all 108, you will learn that you are capable of way more than you know; you are not your thoughts! we get stuck in negative energy and negative thought patterns and this moving meditation will help break up both; you can shift your entire outlook, by the end of the practice you may notice a boost in your confidence and feeling like you can take on anything; you will end the practice feeling energized – complete round 108 with a smile and give yourself a pat on the back for all you’ve accomplished!

This year for the fall equinox I took on the practice of 108 for the third time, each time is a new experience and each time has taught me new lessons. It is a vulnerable feeling to step onto your mat knowing what you are about to take on, can you move through all 108, are you really capable of such a feat, even if you’ve done it before each time is new and stands alone. At the start of each round I repeated the words to myself – I am showing up! Showing up for me, for the process, for life, for the good and bad and everything in between…and I met each child’s pose between the rounds telling myself – I am a badass! I faced my fears and doubts and pushed through each round to that sweet child’s pose, round two is without a doubt the most challenging, our body starts to get a little tired and our mind says its ok to skip one, just pause for a moment there are 108, its ok to miss one or just slow down a little, and I pushed past telling my body to keep going, separating out that voice from the truth, knowing that I had more in the tank and I wasn’t done yet, and then suddenly its the end of round 3 and then the end of round 4 and you are smiling as you move through number 108 feeling such a sense of satisfaction and joy. (I just want to point out that it is important to know your body and to listen to it, if you need a break take a break there is no harm in stopping when our body needs it, but if we are just listening to that voice that always tells us no we can push past that voice.)

Have you taken on the challenge of 108? Drop a comment below I would love to hear about it!

Don’t let the end of month be the end of your practice, even if you don’t take on 108 you can practice one of the many variations of sun salutations everyday! Below is our last practice together for the month, but you can come back to it any time!

August 2020 Pose of the Month

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Camel pose or as it is know in Sanskrit: Ustrasana

As we continue our yoga journey together this month we will focus on backbends….even if a full version of camel pose is out of your reach right now spending the month focusing on opening up the heart and the back will benefit your daily life as well as your practice. Many of us spend countless hours bent over our phones and computers each day which is really negatively impacting our posture and actually causing neck and back issues for many of us. These types of poses are going to help counter the effects and help fight that rounding in the back that none of us want as we age.

Although the full version of this pose can be rather intense for some there are so many variations leading up to the full version…making it more accessible to anyone at any level. Yoga is always adaptable to ANY body meaning everyone can find benefit to time spent on their mat. That being said if you have major neck or back injuries you might want to avoid this posture (only you know your body)…you can stick with a backbend you already know feels good in your body and work on that pose during the month along with us to reach the same benefits in a way that honors and respects your body.

So now what are we doing all month? Ok so here is the plan for the challenge….

Day 1 – Take a photo of yourself in the pose, (that is mine ^^ up there) you can share or not, totally up to you, but this will help you get a visual of yourself in the posture so you can see what the shape looks like in your body and where you might need to adjust it. Remember we have a hard time really knowing where we are in space so the photo lets you have the view of the teacher, and now we can start to dissect the pose and find the best version of this shape in your body. After you’ve practiced the pose, and checked out your photo, jot down your goals for the pose along with anything else that comes up, was it hard/easy, did you love/hate it, no rules here just a quick jot of whatever comes up.

Everyday for the rest of the month commit to practicing this pose. It doesn’t need to be a full yoga practice, just give yourself a little warm up and stretch, remember to be nice to the body and to listen. Then for the pose of the month (or POTM for short) allow yourself a few breaths to settle in and find the shape, once you come to stillness hold the pose for 5 slow, even, deep breaths. Come down and allow for a moment of pause before jumping up – think mini savasana – settle the body – and that’s it!! Now pat yourself on the back for committing to your practice today! I encourage you to take the time to jot a note everyday and track your journey but that may not work for you, and that’s ok, make this your journey.

In the week one video I give some suggestions of how to warm up and cool down….to prep the body for this posture…a few rounds of cat/cow followed by a nice shoulder opener will help prep the back, spend some time in cobra or sphinx followed by a couple rounds of bridge pose to get the body ready for your POTM…follow it up with a few breaths in hero pose, add a twist and if you have time always let yourself enjoy some savasana!

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….don’t forget to join the Facebook Group if you want to catch these classes live!

Week 2 – Why Should I?

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

As I mentioned last week we tend to spend a lot of our time hunched…over our phones, our computers, the steering wheel while we drive around, all these activities contribute to poor posture and that dreaded hunchback none of us want as we age. Enter backbends! By practicing backbends in yoga we can help counter the effects of these bad habits and improve our posture and help prevent that rounding in the shoulders. This improves our physical appearance as we stand a little taller but also opens up the chest improving our ability to breathe, when those shoulders cave in they are also closing the chest making it much more difficult to fill the lungs with air and supply our bodies with that life giving prana.

More specifically, when we are practicing camel pose we are stretching the whole front of the body while simultaneously strengthening the spine, thus improving our posture ^ like we mentioned above. Other benefits are: stimulating the nerves in the spine; helping to alleviate lower back pain; creating more flexibility in the spine; opening the chest and heart chakra; improving breathing; helping to regulate the thyroid (when dropping the head back and stretching the front of the throat); and massaging the internal organs.

I have definitely noticed a huge difference in my posture thanks to my yoga practice, not to TMI but I think having big boobs at a young age really intensified my poor posture, in an attempt to hide them I rounded at the shoulders and rarely stood up tall which only lead to back pain and other issues at a very young age. These days I catch myself in the mirror standing tall and love what I see, not only is this improved posture good for the body but it’s also reflective of new confidence and a willingness to be seen in the world and no longer trying to hide away or be small. Yoga has given me these things and that is why I chose to teach and share my love of the practice with all of you. What changes have you noticed since you added yoga to your life?

Check out our week 2 mini practice for a dose of gratitude and heart opening…

Week 3 – Pitfalls and Modifications

As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.

Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)

It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we cant do it. For camel pose this month here are some things to keep in mind…

Some reasons you may want to avoid this posture are: migraines, serious back/neck injuries, insomnia, or blood pressure issues. We want to explore the body and its limits in our practice but we always want to do so safely…only you can make that decision because only you are in your body.

If going for the full version of this posture is too much for you keeping the hands instead on the low back for support is a great option. Not only does this modification make the pose more accessible but it also helps avoid some of the common misalignment issues we can fall into in this posture. One of the key things to remember in this pose is keeping the hips stacked over the knees – when we use the hands on the low back to support us we are also pressing the hips forward to keep that alignment. As we continue to practice the modified version we are also building that muscle memory and strength in the legs and front body so that it will be easier to keep that alignment down the road if/when we attempt to go further and are no longer using the hands as a support for the low back. This is also a great way to warm up to the full version when you are practicing…go for a few rounds of the modified version to prep the body for the full version.

A good test for your ability to hold a pose is your breath – if you can’t breathe in the posture you should back off or hold off on that pose until building the strength/flexibility for it. Keeping in mind the difference between our tendency to hold the breath and actually having a strain on the breath. Often when we are holding the body in a shape we tend to also hold the breath – this we can change by switching our focus back to the breath. If, however, the breath is strained and we are struggling – the solution here is to change the posture to accommodate the breath. If you try moving too far into the backbend and find that the breath becomes strained you want to back off a little, or maybe stick with the modified version instead of pushing for a fuller expression until you are able to breathe comfortably for at least 20 or 30 seconds in the pose.

Another common issue in this pose is compression in the lower back and collapsing of the chest. We want to focus on lengthening through the spine and creating the bend along the entire back not just folding from one spot to avoid that compression in the low back. Remember to roll the shoulders back and lift through the chest opening the heart towards the sky rather than letter the chest collapse – if you are going for the full version of the posture maybe try adding blocks to bring the ground closer if you are struggling to keep the chest lifted while also reaching the feet, you can also come up on the toes bringing the heels closer if you don’t have blocks.

Check out our week 3 mini practice below, after a quick warm up we worked on the modified version using the hands to support the low back and then we create some fluid movement in the pose reaching back with one hand at a time to help work up to the full version of the posture. See you next week!

Week 4 – Variety is the spice of life

One of the things I love most about yoga is that it is for ANY body. Where there is a will there is a way, and a pose can always be modified to work for you. When we think of modifications or variations of a pose we often think first of making a pose easier or more accessible, and that is part of it, but as our practice advances and grows we can also use variations to challenge us and take our practice further.

Throughout the month we have look at several different modifications that help us practice the pose safely, focusing on building strength and keeping proper alignment in the pose. By looking back at each week’s video you can see we worked on a few different levels of the pose: every week we started with our first execution of the pose in the modified version supporting the low back, this is a great place to start and you can also recreate this same bend from standing and sneak a little movement in at any point in your day, great stretch if you find yourself hunched over the computer all day for work, aim to keep that same stacking in the legs and let the bend happen along the spine; in week 3 we added a little movement to the pose taking back one arm at a time and finding a flow with the breath, this is a great variation as you are working up to full camel and also a great way to shake up your practice; this week I mentioned using the wall as a guide to keep the legs and hips in line as you work on full camel from the modified version – facing the wall keep your legs against the wall as you drop back with the upper body. The pose doesn’t have to end because the month does you can continue to use these tools in your personal practice and revisit this posture as often as you like.

Like I mentioned above sometimes we add additional variations to keep pushing ourselves even beyond the “full” version of a posture. In my progress photos I shared my practice towards floating camel, I am not there yet, but this is a great challenge if you feel comfortable reaching the feet in the regular pose. Other variations include deepening the full version by changing hand positions from the feet to the legs; bending up one leg for a raised toe camel; or even camel split – if splits are in your practice.

I love that we are never done with yoga, our bodies and our practice are ever evolving and there are always going to be new boundaries to play with as we continue our journey on the mat.

Here is our week 4 mini class to help guide your home practice…see you in September!

Here is my final side by side shot, on the left is my week one photo and on the right is week 4 camel and floating camel, I have definitely noticed an improvement in the openness of my shoulders and upper back, an area that is typically very tight for me, and I think my alignment has improved a little…what changes have you noticed throughout the month? I am going to keep working on floating camel, I am now determined to get all the way up and stay without crashing…what you can’t see in this photo is that 2 seconds later I was on the ground lol

July 2020 Pose of the Month

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Boat pose or as it is know in Sanskrit: Navasana

As we continue working our way through some foundational postures this month we will focus on building core strength….this is going to seriously benefit your WHOLE practice…core is super important in yoga. Especially if you want to keep challenging yourself with more and more difficult postures like inversions and arm balances, building up your core strength is key for these more advanced poses.

I chose boat pose for this month since there are so many variations…making it super accessible to anyone at any level. Yoga is always adaptable to ANY body meaning everyone can find benefit to time spent on their mat. Beginner or old pro there is a version of this posture that will challenge you.

So now what are we doing all month? Ok so here is the plan for the challenge….

Day 1 – Take a photo of yourself in the pose, (that is mine ^^ up there) you can share or not, totally up to you, but this will help you get a visual of yourself in the posture so you can see what the shape looks like in your body and where you might need to adjust it. Remember we have a hard time really knowing where we are in space so the photo lets you have the view of the teacher, and now we can start to dissect the pose and find the best version of this shape in your body. After you’ve practiced the pose, and checked out your photo, jot down your goals for the pose along with anything else that comes up, was it hard/easy, did you love/hate it, no rules here just a quick jot of whatever comes up.

Everyday for the rest of the month commit to practicing this pose. It doesn’t need to be a full yoga practice, just give yourself a little warm up and stretch, remember to be nice to the body and to listen. Then for the pose of the month (or POTM for short) allow yourself a few breaths to settle in and find the shape, once you come to stillness hold the pose for 5 slow, even, deep breaths. Come down and allow for a moment of pause before jumping up – think mini savasana – settle the body – and that’s it!! Now pat yourself on the back for committing to your practice today! I encourage you to take the time to jot a note everyday and track your journey but that may not work for you, and that’s ok, make this your journey.

In the week one video I give some suggestions of how to warm up and cool down….to prep the body for this posture a few rounds of cat/cow followed by a few sun salutations (modified or full version) will build some heat and get the muscles ready to go for your POTM…follow it up with a few breaths in bound angle or baddha konasana…if you have time always let yourself enjoy some savasana time!

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….don’t forget to join the Facebook Group if you want to catch these classes live!

Week 2 – Why Should I?

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

Core strength is at…well the core..of our yoga practice…building these muscles will help us advance our practice as well as help keep our bodies healthy and working throughout life. Boat pose has tons of variations making it accessible to everyone as a great core builder. The other physical benefits we gain while practicing this posture help the lower back and gets the body ready for more advanced postures like arm balances and inversions.

The benefits of this pose go far beyond just strength building. Internally this pose is helping us with digestion, and activates our kidneys and thyroid. Mentally it helps us improve our focus, relieve stress and improves our relationship with our breath.

What have you noticed in your body so far practicing this posture? Today in our mini class we practiced plank pose which is also another great core builder and looked at some other variations to keep our practice interesting.

Week 3 – Pitfalls and Modifications

As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.

Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)

It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we cant do it. For boat pose this month here are some things to keep in mind…

  • Rounding the upper back/collapsing the chest – Taking photos or practicing in front of a mirror will be helpful in this pose, we may not even realize some of our misalignments until we have a birds eye view of our body in the pose….when the upper back is rounding or the chest is collapsing we want to engage the core and plug those shoulders back…think tadasana (mountain pose) pull those shoulder blades together letting the heart shine forward. Try using a strap here or placing the feet against a wall to help you focus on the upper bodies alignment.
  • Rounding the lower back – When the core isn’t fully engaged the belly gets loose and you end up kind of sticking your butt out putting too much stress on the low back to keep you in the pose. We want to engage the core and lengthen the spine to find that nice flat back in this posture. Practicing other core strengthening poses like planks, or the first modification of just lifting the legs will help us develop the strength we need to maintain this posture.

Check out this weeks video to see some of the modifications that will help you as you work on this posture…..

Week 4 – Variety is the spice of life

One of the things I love most about yoga is that it is for ANY body. Where there is a will there is a way, and a pose can always be modified to work for you. When we think of modifications or variations of a pose we often think first of making a pose easier or more accessible, and that is part of it, but as our practice advances and grows we can also use variations to challenge us and take our practice further.

Throughout the month we have look at several different modifications that help us practice the pose safely, focusing on building strength and keeping proper alignment in the pose. By looking back at each week’s video you can see we worked on a few different levels of the pose: starting with just legs and building the muscles in the lower core, modifications with bent legs and the arms holding the legs and arms outstretched, straight legs; as well as some variations using props: like a strap around the feet, holding the toes with straight legs (yogi toe lock), a block between the shins to work that alignment in the legs, and even propping the feet up against a wall to help with the balance in the posture. All these variations help keep our practice interesting and work on building different muscle groups that will aid us in this pose and beyond in our practice.

But like I mentioned sometimes we add additional variations to keep pushing ourselves even beyond the “full” version of a posture. Boat pose is no exception and there are definitely a few ways to continue challenging ourselves as we progress on our yoga journey. We can create some movement by playing with the legs and moving from full (straight legs) to half (bent legs) to low (legs hover) – this will really work that core!! We can add some twisting to the pose, bent legs or straight keeping the proper alignment in the legs while twisting through the upper body will create some heat! And remember that block between the legs we talked about that being great for finding proper alignment but by squeezing that block we are also working the core a little more — double benefit!

We have a bonus 5th Friday this month so next week in our mini class we will practice some of these added challenges and then we get a week off before we kick start the August challenge.

Week 5 Bonus Mini Practice – Lets get twisty!

June 2020 Pose of the Month

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Tree Pose or as you may better know it: Vrksasana

For the first month we focused on a major strength building pose, so this month I wanted to switch it up a bit and play around with some balance. I LOVE balance postures, in fact I find myself standing in some version of tree pose quite often when I am standing still, like maybe in line somewhere for instance. You may not feel the same way about balance postures which is really all the more reason to practice them!!

There are many versions of this posture and a lot of different ways you can approach the month long challenge of working with it daily. Most importantly have fun! This is a great pose to help with strength and balance in the legs, and to help you find a more centered, steady, and grounded self both on and off the mat.

So now what are we doing all month? Ok so here is the plan for the challenge….

Day 1 – Take a photo of yourself in the pose, (that is mine ^^ up there) you can share or not, totally up to you, but this will help you get a visual of yourself in the posture so you can see what the shape looks like in your body and where you might need to adjust it. Remember we have a hard time really knowing where we are in space so the photo lets you have the view of the teacher, and now we can start to dissect the pose and find the best version of this shape in your body. After you’ve practiced the pose, and checked out your photo, jot down your goals for the pose along with anything else that comes up, was it hard/easy, did you love/hate it, no rules here just a quick jot of whatever comes up. For this pose there are a lot of different things you can work on throughout the month by doing different variations of the posture.

Everyday for the rest of the month commit to practicing this pose. It doesn’t need to be a full yoga practice, just give yourself a little warm up and stretch, remember to be nice to the body and to listen. Then for the pose of the month (or POTM for short) allow yourself a few breaths to settle in and find the shape, once you come to stillness hold the pose for 5 slow, even, deep breaths. Come down and allow for a moment of pause before jumping up – think mini savasana – settle the body – and that’s it!! Now pat yourself on the back for committing to your practice today! I encourage you to take the time to jot a note everyday and track your journey but that may not work for you, and that’s ok, make this your journey.

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….

Week 1 Mini Practice

Week 2 – Why should I?

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

Tree Pose is one of those poses anyone can do, with lots of variations this balance posture can work for everyone! My most important advice for balance postures is to have fun with them, yes we are going to fall out, and wobble around, and lose our focus – that is why we practice after all. So if there is one thing you make sure you do every time make it a smile, it’s impossible not to have fun with it if we have a smile on our face.

Aside from having fun and helping to create a mood of playfulness, tree pose has a lot of other really wonderful benefits for the body.

  • FIND STRENGTH – this pose helps to build strength from the bottom up…we are working the feet, the ankles, the legs, core and the spine. Building and toning these muscles will help us in daily life and in the rest of our practice.
  • IMPROVE POSTURE – standing tall in tree pose on the mat will have you standing taller in life off the mat. This pose is a surefire way to improve your posture, coordination, and balance on and off the mat….something that is super important as we move through life, maintaining balance can mean maintaining independence as we age.
  • RELIEVE STRESS – when we practice this posture it takes focus and concentration, by bringing our attention to this task other stresses can fade away. As we become more stable and patient trees you may find yourself more and more like a tree off the mat as well.

After a week of practicing have you noticed any changes or improvements in your own practice. I’ve noticed this week that I often find myself in reclined tree pose when I am laying down to fall asleep each night, not surprising to find myself there in sleep, since I often find myself standing in tree pose randomly during the day as well.

Here is the video for the week 2 mini practice, or you can join the Facebook group to catch the live mini class each Friday at 8 am!

Week 3 – Pitfalls and Modifications

As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.

Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)

When it comes to Tree Pose there are a few things we want to be really mindful of while we practice.

  • My number 1 is to watch the knee!! Our knees are designed to bend not push side-to-side, if our foot is resting against the standing leg’s knee we are putting side-to-side pressure on that knee which is going to really anger that joint and cause us issues and injury down the line. I find that often we end up with our foot here when we are pushing for something the body doesn’t want, try lowing the foot to the calf until you build strength and flexibility to move the foot higher onto the thigh safely above the knee.
  • Even weight distribution. This pose is all about finding balance on the standing leg, this takes a lot strength in the foot and the ankle, you may notice when you practice this posture the standing foot doing a few different things – maybe your gripping the mat with the toes trying to hold on, or maybe you are leaning back into the heel of the foot more, that ankle may feel unsteady and cause you a little wobble. Play around with really grounding through that foot, pressing into all four corners, taking the kickstand variation where the heel rests against the ankle and the toes stay on the ground can help you play around with the standing foot without the more difficult balance aspect of the pose. As you continue to practice you will build the strength in the feet and legs to help you stay firmly rooted to the earth.
  • No core engagement. When we engage the core it helps us keep the spine long and protects our lower back. Especially as we add the arms and maybe reach for the sky we can lose that alignment in the upper body, if we neglect the core the chest may reach forward with the arms, dumping into the low back and causing our weight to shift and disrupt our balance. The core is key in yoga to help keep the alignment in the spine that allows us to flow through our practice safely and providing the most benefit for the body. Just like Tadasana or mountain pose work your way up the body finding alignment and engagement from the toes to the crown as you grow your tree and send your arms to the sky!

Here is the video from our week 3 mini practice, we get to tree pose at the end, but today I offered some variations to sun salutations as well in honor of the solstice tomorrow.

Week 4 – Variety is the spice of life

One of the things I love most about yoga is that it is for ANY body. Where there is a will there is a way, and a pose can always be modified to work for you. When we think of modifications or variations of a pose we often think first of making a pose easier or more accessible, and that is part of it, but as our practice advances and grows we can also use variations to challenge us and take our practice further.

We have already talked about some variations in tree pose as we’ve moved throughout the month. We have taken reclined tree pose in our warm ups, removing the balance aspect and allowing the body to feel the shape. We also talked about 3 leg variations, placing the heel on the ankle, the foot on the calf, or the foot on the upper thigh, and a few different arm placements, hands on the hips, prayer at the heart, or growing our tree and reaching for the sky. These are the same variations we see most often in our classes.

Today in our mini class we added a few more options for ways to continue to challenge us as our practice continues to develop. We talked about bringing in a chair to help aid in balancing, if you are moving from heel on the ankle to foot on the calf you can help make this more accessible by using a chair to help support the lifted leg. To challenge the core we added a side bend to our tree, shifting the body out of a straight line adds a whole new level of balance! Another leg variation is half lotus, rather than pressing the lifted foot against the standing leg it comes to rest on the front of the thigh. We ended today with another arm variation – eagle arms, I know for me as soon as those elbows enter my line of site I start to wobble if not fall out completely – all part of the fun of balance poses though! Check out the video below to see these variations in action.

We have a few more days before the month is over, head on over to the Facebook Group and share your progress, maybe pics from the start and end of the month if you took them, or anything else you learned along the way.

May 2020 Pose of the Month

Adho Muhka Svanasana or as you may better know it: Downward Facing Dog

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Adho Muhka Svanasana or as you may better know it: Downward Facing Dog

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Me on day 1

I wanted to start with this pose because it is so often included and under-cued in classes, used often as a transitional pose it is one we tend to move through and forgo instruction on. It is also an easy pose to develop bad habits in that will set you up for difficulty and maybe even injury down the line. I always had wrist pain in this pose – for like a decade – until a teacher offered the cue of setting your pointer finger parallel instead of your middle finger – like magic no more wrist pain – because now my wrists were actually straight, and my arms, and so on throughout the body. If our foundation is off it has a ripple effect and alters everything built on top.

So now what are we doing all month? Ok so here is the plan for the challenge….

Day 1 – Take a photo of yourself in the pose, (that is mine ^^ up there) you can share or not, totally up to you, but this will help you get a visual of yourself in the posture so you can see what the shape looks like in your body and where you might need to adjust it. Remember we have a hard time really knowing where we are in space so the photo lets you have the view of the teacher, and now we can start to dissect the pose and find the best version of this shape in your body. After you’ve practiced the pose, and checked out your photo, jot down your goals for the pose along with anything else that comes up, was it hard/easy, did you love/hate it, did you notice you need a pedicure, no rules here just a quick jot of whatever comes up.

Everyday for the rest of the month commit to practicing this pose. It doesn’t need to be a full yoga practice, just give yourself a little warm up and stretch, remember to be nice to the body and to listen. Then for the pose of the month (or POTM for short) allow yourself a few breaths to settle in and find the shape, once you come to stillness hold the pose for 5 slow, even, deep breaths. Come down and allow for a moment of pause before jumping up – think mini savasana – settle the body – and that’s it!! Now pat yourself on the back for committing to your practice today! I encourage you to take the time to jot a note everyday and track your journey but that may not work for you, and that’s ok, make this your journey.

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is a little video of what my mini daily practice is going to look like along with some cues for the pose….

Week 2 – Why should I?

Welcome to day 8 of our challenge everyone! Even if your practice hasn’t been perfect so far, actually especially if your practice hasn’t been perfect so far, take a moment and thank yourself for all your hard work! Head over to the Facebook group to join me for a mini class where we chat about what the hands are up to in the pose.

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

Down Dog is working the WHOLE body, this is why its great and also why most people hate it at first. No lie this pose is HARD! If the pose is working the whole body then that means we need to be paying attention to the whole body, fingers to toes everything is working, no wonder this pose is so hard right….and then teachers have the nerve to say “down dog is a resting pose”…. insert major eye roll here right!! While you may or may not ever think of this pose as a resting pose, there are plenty of other reasons to find a love for it in your practice…..

  • WORKS THE WHOLE BODY – I mean what better reason do you need…if a sweat session is what brings you to the mat adding this pose to your practice is getting the full body all in one. Taking it a step further, by working the whole body this is one of those poses that will help us in so many other areas of our practice. The strength we build here translates to virtually every other pose and will help to ease transitions and help to create flows in our practice.
  • LESS SCARY INVERSION – When we first come to the practice the idea of being upside down might be exhilarating or terrifying. Either way, as you are building up to headstands and handstands down dog is a great way to get the benefits of inversions without the same risk of injury or fear factor. Spending time upside down is a great way to quite literally get a new perspective on things. Inversions are also great for stress relief, increasing circulation to the brain, and calming the nervous system….among other things.
  • BEAT THE HUMP – We are building tons of arm and upper body strength in this posture. We are also helping to reverse rounding in the shoulders and a caving of the chest that is so common today. When we spend all day hunched over our computers and our cellphones we create a rounded shape in the upper body. This pose opens the chest and draws the shoulders back reversing that humpback we all want to avoid as we age.

These are some great reasons and a good start to the list of benefits….but I also encourage you to notice what benefits you find specific to your body and your practice. Did you notice an improvement maybe off the mat and it made you think of your practice, how is the posture evolving for you as you practice each day, how is it showing up in other ways on the mat, do you notice a change in other poses, etc., there are no wrong answers here.

Join me in the group for more tips and tricks and check ins as the month continues. See you next week!