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Our Musings

Be Regal: Great Posture Rules

Leslee   |   November 11, 2014

Good posture rocks – and you will too when you stand tall – confident, strong, even regal. Here’s how:

Make it a goal to have people comment on your “great posture”.  Walk like a Queen. Yes, A QUEEN!

From this point forward, whenever you are walking (around the office, the store, even in your home), walk *REGALLY*. Imagine wearing a jeweled crown. (Really!)Feel the height of the crown on your head and push up against it gently without lifting your chin.Smile (even wave) benevolently at all you survey.

As you practice your royal images and feelings, notice how your posture begins to improve spontaneously. Just this simple activity frees your muscles and bones to seek a more erect and balanced carriage.

Yes, you may feel silly or self conscious at first, but don’t worry what others think….you are on a mission to benefit in several great and powerful ways:

– sustainable relief – or prevention – of back pain and neck strain
– clarity in thought and confidence (stand tall and confidence and mood elevate; slouch, and confidence and mood are impaired.)
– greater productivity and even energy in the body due to the nervous system working more efficiently

queen

On the yoga mat, it is Tadasana or Mountain Pose.
step 1 and step 9

Here’s to your newfound REGAL posture – on and off the yoga mat.

 

 




Twists and Treats

Jennifer   |   November 2, 2014

treat

Warning. Don’t watch the movie Fed Up before Halloween. Sugar will be scarier than any haunted house there after.

This year we only saw three groups of trick or treaters come to our door Halloween night leaving an enormous amount of candy home to temp and taunt. I am a firm believer in not having in the house that which will seduce me and my family to over indulge. We have our share of “junk” food but in a Trader Joes kind of way. You can always find organic (non-GMO) corn chips, non-GMO popcorn, a candy store glass container filled with dark chocolate chips and chocolate covered frozen bananas in our cupboards and freezer. To me these are treats that I don’t have to feel bad about enjoying regularly.

Still, come Sunday, after halloween nibbles here and there, a little wine with dinner and birthday cake to celebrate the patriarch of the family, I was not feeling too great. Darn that evil sugar!

We have choices after we overindulge. One is to self-judge and punish. One is to accept and move forward toward health with compassion. The media tends to help us toward self-hatered, self-criticism and comparison. Through yoga we begin to listen to our self talk and can chose compassion and acceptance instead.

I love to practice yoga twists on Sundays. It is usually on a weekend when I indulge more and it is a great way to clean my mental and physical slate to begin a new week. Twists have a number of benefits—they help restore our spines natural range of motion, they help lengthen the space between vertebrae giving us instant energy, they help aid in digestion by stimulating our organs (including our organs of elimination) which can increase our metabolism and twists are believed to allow fresh blood flow upon the untwist which BKS Iyengar said helps the organs detoxify.

Start your week feeling great both physically and mentally by twisting and releasing that which we don’t need to make ready for a new week and a fresh start.

For more information on twists and some poses to incorporate in your practice, check out these websites:

 Ekhartyoga

Shape

Yoganonymous




the power of your breath

Leslee   |   October 26, 2014

Use the power of your breath in conjunction with this mantra — and you will OWN your intentions, your desires, your life’s purpose.

Mantra:
(repeated as you inhale) i am strong, i am powerful, i am prepared.
(repeated as you exhale) i am ready for what may come.

Download this image and use it, refer to it, print it, do it.

MY mantra - power




Your 5-10 Minute Yoga Practice

Leslee   |   October 19, 2014

I lovingly call this  5-10 minute yoga practice a “commercial break yoga” – short, dedicated spurts of movement and breathing…!
So, no excuses! Get on the mat even just for 5-10 minutes!
Breathe mindfully.
Focus on each movement.
Do them in this order.
Listen to your body – stretch to resistance but never pain.
Smile.
Repeat.

#1: COW / CAT (or spinal waves)

Promotes fluidity in the spine. Sync movement with breath cycles.

1. Hands stacked under shoulders with fingers spread wide. Knees directly under hips.
2. With slow inhale, drive chest toward “window” of your arms and lift tailbone to ceiling.
3. With slow exhale, move to lift the spine upward, pushing the floor away. Relax back of neck and tuck tailbone.
4. Move with your breath – always inhaling into cow and exhaling into the cat.
5. Take your time, making observations about hips, shoulders, side body, neck and of course, spine.

 

#2: DOWN DOG (explore bent knee modification)

Strengthens shoulders, arms, and wrists. Lengthens tight hamstrings.

1. From cat / cow (knees directly below hips; hands a few inches in front of shoulders), press down evenly through the four corners of both hands, spread fingers evenly.
2. Tuck toes, on an exhale, lift knees away from ground, keeping them slightly bent (or very bent – see pic above and #7 below.)
3. Gently lift sit bones toward ceiling.
4. Slowly lengthen legs, moving into your hips.
5. Move your awareness to your shoulders – firm shoulder blades and broaden them away from each other.
6. Notice which side or part of body feels tighter and breathe into that side.
7. MODIFICATION: Keep knees bent to release low back and if you have particularly tight hamstrings.
8. Hold for at least 10 breaths and work up to holding for 2 minutes.

#3: THREAD THE NEEDLE

Superb outer hip opener.

1. Lay onto back, with knees bent and thighs parallel and hip-distance apart.
2. Cross left ankle over right thigh, making sure that anklebone clears thigh. Actively flex front foot by pulling toes back (this is so the center of foot will line up with your kneecap rather than curving into a sickle shape, which can stress the ligaments of the ankle and knee.)
3. Maintaining this alignment, pull right knee in toward chest, thread left arm through the triangle between legs and interlace fingers around the back of right leg or right shin (not back of knee). If you can hold in front of your shin without lifting your shoulders off the floor or rounding the upper back, do so; otherwise, keep hands clasped around hamstring or use a strap.(Goal is to avoid creating tension in the neck and shoulders as you open the hips, so choose a position that keeps your upper body relaxed.)
4.  As you draw right leg in (making sure to aim it toward right shoulder and not the center of chest), simultaneously press your left knee away from you.
5. Hold for 10 breaths or longer; switch sides.

 

#4: BRIDGE – variation with leg crossed

A beginning backbend that strengthens legs and hips, massages the spine, and opens the heart. Counterbalances compressed chest.

1. Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat, parallel to each other and hip distance apart, 10 to 12 inches from pelvis. Ankles directly under knees.
2. Rest hands near hips with palms up, helping to open front of shoulders and collarbones.
3. Rock gently to roll and slip shoulder blades under, tucking toward hips, creating space between ears and shoulders.
4. Push up through feet to bring hips off floor.
5. Clasp hands underneath helping to ground shoulders and roll open chest. Clasped hands continue to push toward ankles while engaging legs; continue to open chest in backbend.
6. Do NOT tuck chin, but rather keep throat open and bring front ribs toward face.
7. VARIATION as in picture above – cross right ankle over left knee and lift hips off floor.
8. Hold for five breaths. Release to floor and rest. Repeat 2 times.

#5: STRAIGHT LEG RECLINED TWIST

Break the lateral plane of everything we do. Regain some range of motion in the spine and “detox” or “squeeze + soak” the organs. Also a nice outer hip release.

1. Lie flat on back. Arms out to side.
2. Bring left leg straight out to left side. Stack right leg on top of left leg, keeping both straight.
3. Play with how ‘high’ you bring the feet toward the left hand. (The higher the legs go, the higher the twist goes up your spine. Adjust as is comfortable for you and where you feel you need a deeper stretch. Proceed with caution and LISTEN to your body – it will be different on any given day.)
4. Look over to right hand. Try to keep right shoulder grounded into floor/mat.
5. Relax and release into the twist – let go for up to five breaths. Switch sides.

There you have it! Keep it up – regularity is key. Make time (only 5-10 minutes of yoga) – you’ll be glad you did.
In love and wellness, Leslee




Make Time to Take Time

Jennifer   |   October 13, 2014

It’s time to stop and make time to slow down. I recently attended a master yoga class with a teacher that is known for vinyasa (flow) yoga. To my surprise, he taught a 3 hour YIN class. In YIN yoga, you hold poses for a long period of time. We held poses for 3 minutes. This was not fun. He warned us that this would not be fun and here is why. We live in a world where busy is norm—where being over programmed and a workaholic is a badge of honor. We are busy people and we gravitate to busy activities (even busy yoga) which take us away from our thoughts (a good thing) but also takes us away from our feelings (not such a good thing). We choose activities that push or pound and abuse our selves in countless ways to avoid the quiet. With YIN yoga you stay put and breathe and what surfaces is all the junk that we keep down deep by filling our lives up to the hilt. In YIN yoga, when discomfort sets in, we stay still and allow the truth to fill us up and then with breath we let it go. The process might not be blissful but the serenity that follows cannot be found in our lives otherwise when hiding and avoiding is our go to.

According to Forbes magazine, only 25% of Americans take their paid vacation. Not making time to take time off results in stress and burn out, illness and depression. While leisure time and rest decreases stress, reduces the risk of heart attacks in both men and women, builds physical and mental resiliency and increases work performance. It requires a bit of faith and courage to jump into the unstructured time and the stillness needed to rejuvenate, but it is well worth the effort.

Studies too have shown that being in nature anywhere between five to twenty minutes will provide increased health benefits such as an improved attention span, an increase in serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter), an increase in vitamin D, improved sleep, and an increased feeling of vitality. Our overly busy lives often prevent us from smelling the flowers, taking in the sunset and finding gratitude for that which we have in life—getting outdoors and away from our electronics restores a needed balance.

If taking time off is foreign to your way of being, there are many weekend getaways that offer a way to ease into vacation mode—combining physical activities with the outdoors, great food and wine, spa treatments and connection with yourself and others. You have to make time to take time but doing so will bring you a sense of renewal and wellbeing, increased contentment and the chance to release that which is not beneficial to your self while making the space necessary to allow for greater possibility in your life.

JH