Sometimes when I am teaching, I feel a bit like a stand-up comedian. Depending on the mood and tone of the class, I might crack a lot of jokes, and add silly sound effects. Like a stand-up comedian, I try to poke fun at assumptions in our culture, usually those particular to the context of a yoga class.
With a sense of irony, I say things like:
“And if you can’t do crow pose, just know that you’re not as good of a person as everyone else.”
“Come out of this pose whenever you want. But you might not. Because peer pressure is real.”
When people laugh, I know I have struck a chord. The laughter denotes recognition of some sliver of truth. The truth that we still might be holding ideas about our physical abilities being equated to our moral character. Or how we have been conditioned to go along with a group, instead of listening to our individual needs.
We originally posted this article and ten tips about establishing a home practiceon our blog in 2014. These tips are still relevant now, and with our building a home practice workshop around the corner, we have been thinking about home practice a lot lately.
No matter who you are, keeping up a home yoga practice can be difficult at times. Heck, even our Yoga Teacher Trainees struggle with it sometimes! We showed our YTT’s this articleon 10 Tips and Tricks to Establishing a Regular Home Yoga practice and asked them what they thought.
In yoga asana practice there are many positions where we weight bear with the wrists in extension. Think of table pose, downward dog, plank or handstands. In all those positions the wrist joint is in what we call extension. Our wrists are also often stiff and weak from having our wrists stuck in one position for long time when using keyboards, or from other repetitive movements. If we don’t work to re-strengthen and stretch the wrists in different positions, this overuse can lead to pain or even longer-term issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
This fun Begging Dog exercise is a great way to increase range of motion and strengthen your wrists. We recommend doing repetitions of the exercise regularly throughout your day, especially when you’re working at a computer. Sound effects are optional, but encouraged. 🙂
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”
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.
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.
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”