Monthly Archives: June 2012

Smooth Side Up

I just had to share my smoothie concoction today as it is supermely delicious & nutritious! The ginger kombucha gives it a terrific kick. Give it a shot & beat the summer heat.

1 banana

1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

1 handful of fresh spinach

Some raw sunflower seeds

2 tablespoonfuls of vanilla greek yogurt

1/4 of a bottle of Gingerberry Kombucha

More Sweet, Less Bitter.

“Talking about our problems is the greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.”
~ Rita Schiano

I read this this morning while perusing Facebook, and it really resonated with me. It got me thinking about how often I will focus on the negative aspects of things first and ultimately, get to the joyous positive side of the story.

My sweet mom and dad.

Case in point, I just took a wonderful trip with my entire family to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Upon our arrival, it was torrentially raining, so much so that our plane could not land at it’s intended destination. We landed elsewhere and all was fine & dandy – we got our rental car, got to the condo safely after a trip to the grocery store to load up on supplies. Life was wet, but certainly great!

During our stay, my son Max contracted Scarlet Fever & had a few days of running a temperature and not feeling his best, but he was a complete trooper and enjoyed himself none the less.

There was no complaining by anyone at the time. We were all happy to be together, eating well, and enjoying the beach & pool despite the clouds.

When I returned to Knoxville, I got lots of questions about how my trip was. Looking back, I am realizing that I always said how wonderful & relaxing it was, but I was sure to inject my explanation with some of the problems we encountered. WHY?! Who cares about that? Does it make me feel better about having a well deserved break and time to honor the family my parents so lovingly created? Does it make my story somehow more interesting to have some drama to share? Or is it that I have an addiction to talking about my problems?

This is something I am going to pay much closer to attention to, and I invite you to do the same. Find the positive things to talk about. I’m not suggesting sugar coating everything or denying those times when you truly need to talk about your problems, but leave out the bitter when you can & savor the sweet.

Sweet sunset over Orange Beach, AL.

Friday Fix

Summer is a time for parties. Party goers can be a rowdy bunch, so it could be wise to engage your guests in an activity. No, I’m not talking drinking games, silly! I’m talking good, clean yoga party tricks. Try the The World Famous “Chair Demo” Party Trick at your next get together to amaze and astound!

Learn more with Leslie Kaminoff, Yoga Educator, and author of international best-seller “Yoga Anatomy.”
http://yogaanatomy.net

Beachy Keen Yoga

Leveraging your strengths is made easier at the beach.

If you are planning a beach trip this summer, the sand can be your ally. So much so, in fact, that you may want to consider setting up a small beach replica at home (maybe your kid’s sandbox will suffice). I had a lot of fun this week in Orange Beach, AL celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary – go Jo & Bert! In between building sand castles and lounging about, I squeezed in a yoga pose here and there on the beach.

The sand offers a unique opportunity to lower your heel and raise the ball of your foot. Yes, I know you are typically instructed to evenly distribute weight on the outer and inner balls of the feet and outer and inner heels, but this technique can allow you to feel the foundational quality of the back leg and better understand the DOINK!

Here’s how I played with this idea:

1} Find some semi soft sand to settle your feet into (not too wet & soft, you’ll need some stability).

Foot rooting into the sand.

2} Take a stance for Triangle pose (Trikoanasa) with the balls of both higher than the heels.


3} Move into the posture (remember to Doink!) without using your arms at first. Feel your triceps and your low front ribs move back to open your chest and get a nice rotation through the thoracic spine.


4} Express yourself! Move your arms into expression as if they were the sails of a ship catching the ocean breeze!


5} Play with the posture a bit & try reaching your arm over your ear and letting your gaze move down to release the neck. The extension on your Quadratus Lumborum will be more so than on dry land, so be sure to be mindful.


6} Go with the flow and ease into Crescent to feel a wonderful opening in your right hip flexors.


7} On your exhales, straighten your right leg for a mind and hip altering psoas stretch.


8} End the sequence in Warrior II. Make sure you do not dump into your hip creases. Use the leverage of the being so well rooted to open through each hip. Your foot position will heighten this sensation. Rinse (in the ocean) and repeat (on the other side)!


9} Now that our hips are spacious, let’s give our shoulders some love with a pose a student of mine dubbed “Sunscreen Pose” because it helped her to be able to apply sunscreen all over her back. Yoga at work! If you cant clasp your hands like this, use your beach towel as a connector. Beach towel at work!


10} Over time – maybe not on this vacation, you need time to lounge for goodness sake! – try to clasp the fingers at your upper back between your shoulder blades. Make sure your raised elbow arm is rolled in toward your face, and your low front ribs are reaching back towards your lowered elbow arm. Feel how being so rooted in your feet allows your shoulders to relax & cooperate.


11} The big finale! Try doing Tree pose with your arms in Gomukhasana. Not an easy task as I quickly found out. The sand might work against you here in terms of balance, and that is where your laid back beach attitude will come in handy. Have a good laugh at being less than steady, so when you do find your balance you can bask in the joy of it all.

Travel can give us a much needed break and a refreshing change of scenery, but it can also give us a pain in the neck, hips and lower back, so do yourself a favor and try some of these yoga postures so you can feel great and truly relax.

Even a little bit of yoga changes everything.


If doing yoga in the sand isn’t your cup of tea, then try one of Sadie Nardini’s classes from her show, Rock Your Yoga, on veria.com:

Yoga for Weight Loss 30 Minute Flow

Yoga for Weight Loss 20 Minute Flow

Yoga for Beginners 10 Minute Flow

Friday Fix

Happy Friday! Guest video blogger, Leslie Kaminoff, continues his exploration of the knees. This time he offers his insight on the relationships, boundaries and space as they relate to the knee joint. You won’t need to see a shrink for this relationship issue, but you might need to see your local yoga expert.

Learn more with Leslie Kaminoff, Yoga Educator, and author of international best-seller “Yoga Anatomy.”
http://yogaanatomy.net

Friday Fix

TGIYAF! Thank Goodness It’s Yoga Anatomy Friday!
Ok, that was a stretch (pun intended).

Leslie Kaminoff does it again with this guest blog post –
Should you lock the knee in yoga?

I’ve been exploring organization around the knee in my practice lately due to the stellar instruction I received from Alison West. Her suggestion was that we slightly bend the knee when standing & resist the shins forward so that we could organize around the knee (above & below) and protect it, in addition to staying in communication with the feet. Leslie also offers a great anatomical explanation that has helped me tremendously.

Fast-forward about 40 or 50 years, there you are hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, rocking a Warrior III and running around the park with your grandchildren.

It can happen.

Learn more with Leslie Kaminoff, Yoga Educator, and author of international best-seller “Yoga Anatomy.”
http://yogaanatomy.net

Words from the Wise

“Pain doesn’t mean the system has gone haywire. It means that the system is working. It’s sending you a message that you can’t afford to ignore anymore. So the question you need to ask yourself is, “What’s bugging me? What is really going on here?” And often this enquiry works in a really rapid manner. The pain (can be) gone instantly.” – Leslie Kaminoff

I ignored painful sensations in my practice, and…. I ended up injured – big surprise! I pulled both my hamstring tendons in the earlier years of my now 12 year practice – ouch! – due to poor alignment in a vigorous vinyasa practice. It took me years to recover mostly because I kept re-injuring myself due to over use as I wasn’t wise enough to recognize that I could fix the problem with some simple anatomical & alignment based changes. My system worked perfectly, but I was rejecting the fact the I had an injury to contend with! Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, folks.

I did what I thought was best for a long time before finding great teachers like Ana Forrest, Leslie Kaminoff and Sadie Nardini who helped me to revaluate my practice and understand the importance of learning anatomy, working from my core (a opposed to extremities), and being extremely mindful. This has worked very well for me, and I have learned to manage my movement so that I don’t tend toward re-injury (which is quite easy to do with this particular injury).

On a recent trip to NYC, I  had the great pleasure of practicing with Alison West, director of Yoga Union in NYC. She had a brilliant method for bringing awareness to how you use the gluteal fold in postures. You basically use yoga straps as tourniquets around the tops of your thighs so that you engage the quads with more efficiency and press the gluteal fold back into the strap so there is engagement at the sitting bones rather than a spreading apart which can lead to tendon tears.

Allow me to demonstrate….

1} Hold the strap in the middle to make each side even. Place the middle of the strap over the top of your thigh at the hip crease and press firmly down on each side


2} Cross the strap segments under the gluteal fold and pull up on each side tightly.


3} Tie the strap – tightly (it will feel uncomfortably tight) and tie into a bow knot (like you do on shoes, so it is easy to release).


4} Repeat on the other leg.


5} Yes, it gives you a total shelf butt, but you can sing “I like big butts and I can not lie” softly to yourself to lighten things up!


6} This method can be applied to a variety of postures, but I will use Virabhadrasana III as the example (as Alison did in class). On the standing leg, try to tighten the tourniquet by engaging the quads. On the lifted leg, press the gluteal fold up into the tourniquet.


6} From these two points of engagement, you should be more able to level the hips and find more support for the thoracic spine (lift low front ribs up).

Of course, at a certain point – like before your feet turn blue! – it’ll be time to release what binds you (literally & figuratively). The really great thing about this technique is that you will still experience the sensation of the tourniquet being around your leg long after it is gone which changes the way you move.

Anyone can do a yoga pose. And that’s fine. But turns out, there are ways of practicing that keep you accountable, so when your body sends you message that you can’t afford to ignore anymore, you pay attention.

Your connective tissues will thank you later.


I found a few good blog posts on the subject:

Five-minute yoga challenge: Strap up and rotate your thighs in triangle pose

Five Minute Yoga Challenge: Use a strap around your hip crease to free your groins

Five minute yoga challenge: strap your thigh bones and explore a forward bend

Intermediate Practice: Balancing the Hip and Buttock Creases

Great Glutes!

The next in my anatomy based workshops series…

The Gripping Truth: Glutes Workshop
Sunday, June 24, 2012
1:00- 3:00pm
$30 per student

Register.

To grip or not to grip? That is the question! We’ll explore that topic & more…

– Learn the anatomy of the hips & buttocks.

– Discover how to best make use of these muscle groups to benefit your practice & improve your alignment.

– Finesse finding your equilibrium in standing balances, backbends & inversions.