This post was written by QSY director,Leena Miller Cressman. She was rolling out her feet on Yoga Tune Up self-massage balls as she wrote this post! And she’s found rolling especially helpful to keep her hips and lower back comfortable during her pregnancy.
Do you remember what it felt like to do you first hip stretch in a yoga class? For many of us, the hips are an area of hidden chronic tension and tightness. The first time we move the hips in new ranges of motion, like a deep squat or a pigeon pose, we are astonished at how much sensation and even discomfort can be there. While releasing tension in the hips can feel amazing, and can help give relief to low back pain and even knee pain, some folks also find that stretching and releasing the muscles around the hips can also release interesting emotions.
Thanks to Shakira, we all know that the hips don’t lie. When we do stretches, corrective exercises and self-massage for the hips, we reveal poor postural habits and realize the effects of the hours each day many of us spend sitting. We also sometimes reveal old emotions- such as frustration, sadness, or even bubbly joy- that didn’t have a chance to release at some point in our lives. The wonderful thing about releasing these old emotions through the body and our limbic nervous system (what is sometimes called the “reptilian brain”), is that often we can simply notice and let the old feelings go, and often we don’t need to do much else. It’s a wonderful opportunity to practice being present, and letting the emotions move through us, without needing to judge them, even tell a story about them.Continue reading “Hips Don’t Lie: Yoga Tune up for the Hips”
This post was written by Leslie Stockman. Leslie is a graduate of QSY’s 2015 Yoga Teacher Training, and she’s also a supply teacher with the WRDSB. She loves walking in her minimal shoes, is an avid rock climber, and has recently fallen madly in slacklining. In addition to admiring her beautiful chalkboard art around QSY, you can find Leslie on the QSY course schedule this fall teaching Intro to Yoga Courses.
“We all inquire into Yoga,” states the first line of Matthew Remski’s threads of yoga, his self-described remix of the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, an ancient and foundational Yoga philosophy text. A more classical translation by Chip Harntranft reads, “Now, the teachings of Yoga.”
Seems important right? If we’re about to go into a huge spiel about Yoga, you better open with a zinger. Either one works, I’m ready to listen up in both cases. When I talk to myself about my practice, I flip Remski’s remix to read, “Yoga calls to us all.” But that immediately leads me to the follow up: why does it do so? Sometimes I ask my students, “What brings you to yoga today?” Even the intake waivers at Queen Street Yoga ask new students which of following is their main reason for practicing: increase flexibility/strength, stress/anxiety/depression relief community/family, pre-natal or post-natal support, spirituality, compliment another physical regimen, or other.
During our sessions with Remski, he challenged us yoga teacher-trainees to consider two major drives that underlie each of our personal practices and modern postural yoga (MPY) as a whole: the transcendental drive (to go beyond the body to the greater realm of the spirit) and therapeutic drive (to nurture the body). Check out Remski’s WAWADIA project update post for a background summary. And if Yoga calls to me, is it so I can transcend my body, or so I can nurture it?Continue reading “Why I’ll Never Do the Splits – And That’s OK.”
Have you been missing QSY teacher Emma while she’s away on sabbatical? Catch her in this helpful video with several different versions of one of her favorite restorative yoga poses.
“Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose” (Viparita Karani) is a great way to cool down your body, gently stretch your hamstrings, relax your legs, reduce swelling in the feet, and calm your nervous system. In this video, Emma shows a number of variations, with and without props, to help you find a way to make this pose super comfortable for yourself at home or at the studio.
I am sure you can relate to the great feeling you get when someone suggests you sigh in class and the room shares this big beautiful ahhhh moment. Maybe not everyone joins the first time but by that second or third time more people join and it really sounds positively delightful. But why is it okay to sigh in the studio but when you are out in the world everyone seems to think there is something wrong.
This post was written by QSY director, Leena Miller Cressman.
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we’re not exactly big fans of headstands with the weight on the head around QSY. You can read more about our yoga-world famous post (or was it infamous?) here on our blog and here in Yoga International.
(If you want to know why I joke that it was infamous, check out the comments section on the Yoga International post… good times! My favorite is the commenter “Nico”, who repeatedly refers to me as “Ms. Don’t Do That”. Thanks, Nico, I love the new nickname! All things considered, compared to much of the internet, it’s a pretty tame comments section.)
So while we choose not to practice and teach headstand (and shoulderstand) at QSY because of safety concerns for the issues that might arise from weight bearing on the neck, we do love our handstands and variations of headstand where the shape of the pose is similar but no actual weight is placed on the head (making it a headless headstand). Continue reading “Yoga Tips from QSY- Headless Headstand”
Here’s a quick video with Leena on a great way to stretch your toes and bring some more mobility to the joints for your feet.
Each foot and ankle has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments! One quarter of all bones in the human body are in the feet. This means our feet are exquisitely designed for weight-bearing and movement, and they are the foundation for whole body alignment and healthy movement patterns. Unfortunately, due lack of movement and poor footwear choices many folks have lost healthy mobility in their feet and have related pain in the ankles, knees, hips, and back.Continue reading “Free Your Feet”
The hip flexors (the group of muscles that bring your leg towards your torso) often have decreased range of motion from all the sitting we do. Simultaneously, your lower back, bum and core muscles get weak from sitting and slumping. This quick video with Leena demonstrates an effective way to gently stretch and regain range of motion in the hip flexors, and emphasizes important actions to engage the core and keep your lower back safe and well aligned. Building the muscles in the back (ie your butt and hamstrings) will also often help correct imbalances around the hips and pelvis that cause the hip flexors to feel “tight”. Couple this stretch with a few sets of well-aligned squats to build your glutes, and also lots of walking with arms swinging and a full stride.
By Tara Kachroo, Certified Yoga Tune Up® Instructor
Many of you know that shoulder and neck pain (and the tension headaches that they lead to) can be debilitating. But even if you aren’t suffering pain, the effects of poor posture can be insidious.
You might be familiar with the TED talk in which the scientist Amy Cuddy discusses the link between physical posture and emotional state. Her conclusion was that assuming a “power posture” (for example, upright, chest thrusted out or arms raised), can have a significant and positive impact on behavior and state of mind. Even just two minutes can result in better results in a stressful job interview. Click here for a link to this video.
But what if posture is restricted by pain? Or the ability to assume a power posture is limited by range of movement in one’s shoulders?
A low squat is a basic natural movement that’s great for your hips, knees, and ankles. If you watch an average toddler, they squat often with total ease and beautiful alignment. However, due to the amount of chair/couch/car sitting we do, many people have lost the mobility to properly squat. This video with QSY Director Leena shows a simple modification to help you get more comfortable in a low squat, and eventually you can reduce the support over time as you regain mobility. See if you can incorporate this position throughout your day- send a few emails, answer a phone call, chop some veggies, weed your garden, play with a kid or pet… all possible from a squat!
Movement is vital to life and is a cornerstone to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Movement prevents joint stiffness, improves circulation and increases energy levels. Staying active also releases positive endorphins which helps with discomfort, especially towards the end of the third trimester. A focused exercise and stretching routine will help build an awareness and confidence in your body and its ability to adapt to the physical and emotional changes during this exciting time.
Aches and pains are normal as your baby grows and can vary from trimester to trimester. Taking even 15 minutes out of your day for some basic movements can make all the difference throughout pregnancy and into your labour experience. Here is a basic movement sequence that I have offered to plenty of pregnant clients that is safe for all trimesters and can be modified to your fitness level. Continue reading “Movement, Massage and Healthy Pregnancy”