Week 3 | Fire | Yoga For The Core

Yoga for core strength
Yoga for Core Strength
Reblogged from Seattle Yoga News

This week is all about building endurance. We’ve set our base last week with core stabilization poses, now we can really work on building onto our poses.

Let’s add some fire to our practice! This week will focus on really strengthening our core through movement. Think of this as a flowing power sequence. Feel free to take a Vinyasa between each of these poses to add some heat to this sequence.

Extended Chair Pose to Airplane Arms
  1. Stand tall with your toes and knees together. Inhale as you raise your arms and as you exhale, bend your knees and sit back into Extended Chair Pose.
  2. Take a breath in your Extended Chair Pose and as you exhale, engage your pelvic muscles as you lower your upper body towards the earth and extend both arms behind you.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for 5 breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga for Core Strength

Knee to Nose Core Flow
  1. From Downward Facing Dog, extend your right leg into 3-Legged Dog. Ensure your hips and shoulders are square.
  2. Exhale and engage your pelvic muscles as you roll your body forward. As you begin to shift your shoulders over your wrists into plank, round your back and tuck your chin as bring your knee towards your nose.
  3. Inhale and extend your leg back into 3-Legged Dog.
  4. This time, exhale as you begin to shift your shoulders over your wrists into plank and draw your right knee to the outside of your right elbow, engaging the outer oblique muscles. Keep your hips lifted throughout and core engaged.
  5. Inhale and extend your leg back into 3-Legged Dog.
  6. On this final engagement, exhale as you begin to shift your shoulders over your wrists into plank and draw your right knee across your body towards the left elbow. Keep your hips lifted throughout and core engaged.
  7. Inhale and extend your leg back into 3-Legged Dog.
  8. Repeat steps 1 – 7 with the opposite leg.

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga for Core Strength

High Lunge with a Kick
  1. From your Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands with the knee directly over the ankle. Tuck your back toes under your foot and straighten your back leg into High Lunge. Ensure your hips and shoulders are square as your raise your arms above your head. Hold your pose.
  2. Exhale and begin to shift your weight onto your right foot as you kick your back left leg forward. Engage your core for balance as you extend your left leg in front of your and draw your hands towards your sides for balance.
  3. Inhale and draw the left leg back into High Lunge.
  4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 for 5 breaths.
  5. Repeat this sequence on your left side.

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga for Core Strength

 

Our 4 week progressive core sequences

This 4 week sequence is brought to you by Diana Ratana of Diana Ratana Yoga.  Diana took her first yoga class at the age of 16 and from there, she quickly fell in love with the compassion, kindness, energy, and confidence she gained from yoga. What began as a means to get fit turned into a lifelong passion. Today, she instructs at Hot Feet Fitness where she regularly uses the lessons and tools learned from practice in her day to day life and vice versa. Her mission is to teach others how to learn from yoga and put their best foot forward to gain the most from their lives as well.

Week 2 | Endure | Yoga For The Core

Yoga for Core Strength
Reblogged from Seattle Yoga News

 

This week is all about building endurance. We’ve set our base last week with core stabilization poses, now we can really work on building onto our poses.

Plank Crunches
  1. Start in high plank position: Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrists, and spread your fingers as you press down onto your knuckles and palm. Distribute the weight evenly across your hands (grounding of the 4 corners of your hand). Keep your legs straight with your toes tucked under your feet and facing forward. Imagine a long line extending from your head to your heels which keeps your abdomen, legs, and bottom engaged. Draw power in your plank and breath, take a moment to find your base.
  2. As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor to stabilize yourself, then begin to lift your right leg up and back. Draw power in your balance.
  3. As you inhale, extend your left arm up and forward, continue pressing the mat away and engaging your pelvic floor as you balance.
  4. Once you’ve found stability, exhale as you begin to round your spine while keep your core engaged. Bend your elbow and knee to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  5. On the next inhale, re-extend the limb.
  6. Repeat this sequence for 3 – 5 reps, then engage on the opposing limbs.

Yoga for Core Strength

Plank Crunches: Extended Opposite Arm and Leg

 Yoga for Core Strength

Plank Crunches: Opposite Knee to Elbow

 

Side Plank Crunches
  1. As we build onto our plank sequence, start again in high plank. Keep your pelvic floor engaged and abs flexed. As you begin to exhale, shift your weight onto your right palm and extend your left arm towards the sky. Turn your right foot onto its knifes edge as you stack the left side of the body over the right. Hips and shoulders should be stacked directly on top of one another.
  2. Extend your left forearm over your ear as you inhale. As you exhale, simultaneously bend the elbow and knee to touch. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times, then repeat on the opposite side.Yoga for Core Strength
Side Plank with Extended Arm to Front

Yoga for Core Strength


Side Plank Elbow to Knee

 

Dolphin Plank and Legs In + Out
  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your plank.
  3. As you exhale, jump your feet past hips width and hold your plank. Your feet will be wide and possibly land off the mat.
  4. On your next inhale, jump your feet back together onto your mat at hips width.
  5. Repeat for 5 – 10 breaths, keeping your core engaged throughout.
  6. Yoga for Core Strength
Dolphin Plank Pose
Eagle (Garudasana) Crunches
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and cross your left leg over your right (if you can, attempt to tuck the right foot behind the left calf).
  2. In similar fashion, cross your arms with your left arm on top of your right (if you can, attempt to have the forearms cross and palms meet).
  3. Engage pelvic muscles on your next breath in and on your exhale, bend your knees and elbows to touch. Lift your chest and engage your core as your knees and elbows meet.
  4. On your next breath in, lie back and extend your limbs back in neutral position.
  5. Repeat for 5 – 10 breaths.
Yoga for Core Strength
Supine Garudasana Arms and Legs

Yoga for Core Strength

Bring the Elbows and Knees to Touch in Supine Garudasana

This 4 week sequence is brought to you by Diana Ratana of Diana Ratana Yoga.  Diana took her first yoga class at the age of 16 and from there, she quickly fell in love with the compassion, kindness, energy, and confidence she gained from yoga. What began as a means to get fit turned into a lifelong passion. Today, she instructs at Hot Feet Fitness where she regularly uses the lessons and tools learned from practice in her day to day life and vice versa. Her mission is to teach others how to learn from yoga and put their best foot forward to gain the most from their lives as well.

Week 1 | Stabilize | Yoga For The Core

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga For The Core

Reblogged from Seattle Yoga News

Our goal for this week is to set the base for our practice. The set of poses for this week aim to stabilize and strengthen our core. Repeat this sequence daily as we build strength for our core flow sequence next week.

Cat/Cow
  1. Start in table top position, take a moment to find yourself on your mat. Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrist, hips over knees.
  2. As you inhale, press the mat away from you as you lift your chest and tailbone towards the sky. Let the belly sink towards the earth. Lift your head to look forward. You are now in Cow Pose.
  3. As you exhale, round the spine, continue pressing the mat away as you tuck the chin towards your chest and tailbone in. Keep the belly drawn in and spine curved towards the sky. You are now in Cat Pose.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times.
Yoga for Core Strength
Cow Pose
Yoga for Core Strength
Cat Pose

Cat and Cow Crunches

  1. As we build onto our cat/cow sequence, start again in table top. Extend your left arm forward in alignment with your shoulder. Extend the opposite right leg back in alignment with your hip. Keep your belly drawn as we hold in our balance for a few breaths.
  2. As you exhale, begin to curl the spin back into cat pose while simultaneously bending the elbow and drawing the knee and elbow to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs to meet back in extended table top.
  4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 for 10 breaths, being sure to sync your breath to your movements.
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 on the opposing limbs.

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga for Core Strength

Boat Pose (Navasana)
  1. Sit on your mat with your legs extended forward in a comfortable seat. Draw your belly in to protect your lower spine as you begin to lift through the top of your sternum and lean back from your seat (feel free to place your hands on your mat for support). Make sure your spine doesn’t round as you lean back. Keep the chest moving forward in Navasana.
  2. Begin to balance on the seat of your two sitting bones and tailbone as you lift your feet from your mat. Keep your belly drawn as you exhale and draw your feel to half-mast (knee level). Option to extend legs into full boat.
  3. Draw your arms to shoulders level as you hold your pose. Hold for 5 – 10 full breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

Dolphin Plank
  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your Dolphin Plank.
  3. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
  4. Option to hold plank on your knees as needed.

Yoga for Core Strength

Side Dolphin Planks
  1. From Dolphin Plank, begin to shift to the right side of your body; shifting your weight onto your right forearm and the knife’s edge of your right foot.
  2. Keep your core tight and hips lifted as you extend your left arm towards the sky.
  3. Hold the post for 5 – 10 breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
  1. Lie on your belly and forearms with your elbows bent and placed directly underneath the shoulders.
  2. As you inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor in a slight upper back backbend.
  3. Use the traction from the arms to lengthen through the belly and lower back. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

 

This 4 week sequence is brought to you by Diana Ratana of Diana Ratana Yoga.  Diana took her first yoga class at the age of 16 and from there, she quickly fell in love with the compassion, kindness, energy, and confidence she gained from yoga. What began as a means to get fit turned into a lifelong passion. Today, she instructs at Hot Feet Fitness where she regularly uses the lessons and tools learned from practice in her day to day life and vice versa. Her mission is to teach others how to learn from yoga and put their best foot forward to gain the most from their lives as well.

Use Blocks To Work On Jump Throughs

How To Use Yoga Blocks

Trying to master a jump through can be very challenging and often overwhelming.  In this post, you’ll see how to use blocks to give you a little boost in the process along with some additional modifications.  I would absolutely recommend cork blocks for this over foam as they’re much more supportive.

  1. Start with the blocks in between the hands as you lift into downward dog.  Make sure you have a solid foundation and that the blocks are nicely in place.
  2. Lift onto the toes as you begin to build energy, preparing to jump through.
  3. Bend at the knees as you lift the hips up (if you’re not quite ready to jump, you can also slide your right foot up so it’s behind your left hand, and then your left foot behind your right hand, crossing your feet just behind the blocks.  If you do this, you’ll work on lifting the feet off the ground from here and into an L-Sit which may take quite some time to get to)
  4. As you jump through you’ll cross your legs before bringing your feet all the way through to an L-Sit.

Practice this regularly and over time you’ll build enough strength and stability to jump through without the blocks.

Of course, if you don’t have yoga blocks, you can swing over to my Etsy or Amazon stores to purchase a set of the blocks used in these photos.  Check back here to find more ideas on how to use yoga blocks to improve your Asana!

Thanks to Audrey Sutton of Blissful Soul for posing for the photos!
How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

Use Blocks For Wheel Pose

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Wheel Pose – Urdhva Dhanurasana With Blocks

Full wheel is a complex yoga pose offered in so many yoga classes.  If you’ve ever tried wheel and it felt just out of reach, try this modification to help you practice going deeper.  If you have a back injury, wrist pain, high or low blood pressure or heart issues, you shouldn’t attempt Wheel.  This is a very intense backbend that will stretch the chest and shoulders.  Be sure to allow yourself a proper warm up before attempting!

Step 1: Place blocks against the wall framing your head.  Rest between the blocks and place your hands securely on the blocks.  Make sure you have a nice secure grip before moving forward.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Step 2: With your hands securely placed on the blocks begin to shift your weight into your hands as you lift your hips off of the ground.  Work towards bringing the arms as straight as possible without working to the point of pain or injury.

 

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Step 3: Practice lifting higher, allowing yourself to go a bit deeper with each breath.  This allows you to practice wheel as you work your way up to the pose without blocks.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Photographed here is Caitlin Collignon at Eka Yoga Seattle

 

 

Yoga for Your Dosha

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Yoga For Your Dosha

Ayurveda is a closely related science to yoga and often goes hand in hand.  While Ayurveda is highly complex, here’s a very simplified explanation.  Each person has a unique balance in their mind and body, or bodily constitution.  All bodies are made up of Vata, Pitta and Kapha to some degree.  What is different between each person is how much of each Dosha your constitution is made up of to be in balance.  To maintain balance you must be able to understand how the doshas are present in your body and work to remove obstacles that cause imbalance.  The first step to understanding how the 3 doshas interact within your own body is to take a Dosha test.  This will allow you to understand when a dosha is out of balance and give you the ability to take steps to correct it.

Seattle is home to a yoga studio that is committed to the practice of using Ayurveda to help students heal their bodies and find balance.  Please visit Eka Yoga Seattle for upcoming workshops and classes that are all based around your Dosha.

Now that you know what your dosha is, you can use the following short sequences in your home practice to help find balance.

Vata | Pitta | Kapha


Vata

The Vata dosha consists of the elements of air and space and is know as the mover of the doshas. Vata literally translates to “what blows”. The qualities of vata are: light, cold, rough, dry, moving, irregular, subtle, quick, imaginative, spontaneous, resilient, excited, sensitive, happy, and talkative. Those experiencing a vata imbalance are psychologically prone to: distractions, fear alienation, anxiety, delusions, worry, and hallucinations. Physically they are prone to: bloating and aches and pain in the hips, back, and joints. A balanced Vata feels: Happy, enthusiastic, flexible, creative, loving, motivated, and open

Sukhasana (Seated Pose)

Sit comfortably cross legged. If you’re finding that your spine isn’t finding enough length in the posture, sit on a rolled blanket, bolster or block. If you’re finding that your hip flexors are tight, place blocks underneath your knees for support.

Often those experiencing Vata imbalances may feel unfocused in the mind and fidgety in the body. Sukhasana is great for pacifying these imbalances because it encourages grounding.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Baddha konasana (Butterfly Pose)

Sitting, slide your heels in toward your pelvis and draw the soles of your feet to touch so that your knees splay open and your legs make a diamond shaped. If you’re finding that your spine isn’t finding enough length in the posture, sit on a rolled blanket, bolster or block. If you’re finding that your hip flexors are tight, place blocks underneath your knees for support. If just arriving to the posture is your edge, stay as you are. If you feel comfortable, wrap your hands around the edges of your feet and fold from the creases of your hips, drawing your nose to your toes. Placing a block underneath your head is a great way to make the posture restorative.

A common Vata imbalance is pain in the back and hips, Baddha Konasana is a great way to make bring length and space into both the back and inner hip flexors.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Twist)

Sitting with your legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping the feet together and the spine erect. Bend the left leg and place the heel of the left foot beside the right hip (optionally, you can keep the left leg straight). Take the right leg over the left knee. Place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you. Twist the waist, shoulders and neck in this sequence to the right and look over the right shoulder. Keep the spine erect. To add additional length into the spine, sit on a rolled blanket, bolster or block.

When there is too much Vata in the body it means their is an abundance of air and space. If it’s not moving, a common place for it to pool is in the belly. This creates bloating or issues with digestion. When this happens Ardha Matsyendrasana or any twist is a wonderful way to release that excess air.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Standing, shift your weight into one leg and begin to lift the opposite foot off of the floor. You can bring the sole of that foot to either the space right above the ankle, below the knee, or above the knee (never on the knee joint). To open through the hips, draw the lifted leg’s knee away from the midline of your body. Stand tall to ensure you aren’t sinking into the grounded leg’s hip joint. You can bring your hands into prayer at your heart center or extend them above your head. If you choose to extend your arms, keep your shoulders soft, allowing them to drop away from your ears. Repeat on the opposite side.

Vrksasana is a balancing pose and balancing postures are great for pacifying Vata because they force both the body and mind to find stillness and focus.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon)

Standing, take a large step back with your left foot so that you find yourself in a low lunge with your hands framing your right foot. Draw your left hand to your hip and shift all of your weight into your right leg, allowing your left leg to lift slightly. Engaging your core, allow your right hand to move in front of your right foot, peeling the left side of your body open – left shoulder and hip draw back and your toes should flex towards your nose. Press away from the floor with your rooted foot to ensure you aren’t sinking into the the right hip joint.  If the floor isn’t accessible for you to place your right hand hand on, bring a block underneath it. Your left hand can stay on your hip or you can extend that arm up toward the ceiling, allowing your left shoulder to stack over your right. Repeat on the opposite side.

Ardha Chandrasana is both a balancing posture and a hip opener. Balancing forces both the body and mind to find stillness and focus and the hip opener has the ability to help release any excess air that’s being held in the hip joints.

Seattle Yoga Photographer


Pitta

The Pitta Dosha consists of the elements of fire and water and is known as the metabolizer of the doshas. Pitta literally translates to ‘what cooks”. The qualities of Pitta are: hot, sharp, light, moist, slightly oily, intellectual, confident, impatient, joyous, jealous, outspoken, combative, ambitious, and brave. Those experiencing a Pitta imbalance are psychologically prone to being antisocial and overly critical, self-centered, aggressive, impatient, competitive, and easily agitated. Physically they are prone to: rashes, inflammation, boils, skin cancer, heartburn, ulcers, anemia, jaundice, and hair loss. A balanced Pitta feels: Passionate, inspired, creative, focused, perceptive, confident, intelligent

Padmasana (Half Lotus)

Bring yourself to a comfortable cross legged seat. If your hips are willing and able, you can draw one foot to the crease of the opposite hip for half lotus. From your seated posture, begin to fold over your legs onto a prop(bolster or block), keeping your hips grounded and your shoulders away from your ears. Finding a position that you can comfortably hold for 2-5 minutes. If you took half lotus, be sure to repeat with the opposite foot drawn to the crease of the opposite hip.

Because Pitta is associated with the element of fire, Pitta pacifying postures should be cooling and nurturing. Whenever we take a folded posture, such as the the one above, it’s like we’re smothering any flames that may have gotten to big in the pelvic region.
Seattle Yoga Photographer

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

Start in a comfortable seat with your legs stretched out in front of you. To add some additional length to the spine, sit on a folded blanket, bolster, or block. Place a bolster, block or both on top of your legs and carefully fold forward drawing your forehead to your prop(s).

The Pitta dosha is all about doing and doing it the best and the fastest. We need that Pitta energy to stay productive in life, but it becomes a problem when don’t know how to put out the flame and go to bed. In this posture, drawing your forehead or your third eye to your prop stimulates the pineal gland. The pineal gland produces the hormone Melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana (Supine Twist)

Laying on your back, draw both of your knees into your chest and reach your arms out to a “T” shape. Carefully, allow your stacked knees to fall to one direction. If drawing your legs all the way down to the floor is not accessible, bring a prop (blanket, bolster, block) underneath them. If your neck feels healthy, gently turn your head to bring your gaze over the opposite shoulder. Hold for 2-5 minutes. Repeat on opposite side.

Postures that aim at the small intestine, and keep the energy in the navel balanced and flowing, such as this one, balance or neutralize Pitta.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)

Seated, draw the edge of one hip to a wall and then carefully rotate so the front of your body faces the wall and your legs are able to slide up it. As your legs move up, allow your upper body to lie down onto your mat, reaching the arms away from the body or drawing one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly. Props (blankets, bolsters, blocks) can be added underneath the hips, heart, or head for added support and comfort.

When we allow our bodies the opportunity to submit or relax, we are practicing the opposite of activity, which is receptivity – Exactly what that Pitta fire needs to soothe it.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Supta Baddha Konasana (Supine Butterfly Pose)

Lying down, draw the soles of your feet to touch and your knees to open toward the edges of your mat. Your hands and arms can either roll away from the center of your body or you can draw one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly. If the hip flexors are tight, allow a block to come underneath each knee for support. If the spine needs additional support, allow a bolster to come directly underneath your spine. The bolster should start at the base of your spine. If your head is not supported by the bolster, place a block underneath your head.

Supta Baddha Konasana is particularly beneficial for the pelvic organs (ovaries, kidneys, bladder, prostate gland) in addition to stretching the groin and inner thighs. It also helps relieve symptoms of menstruation and menopause for women. During these times in women’s lives, Pitta tends to run high. During menstruation, the body is working incredibly hard to purify and a shift in hormones can cause feelings of anger and irritability or increased Pitta. During menopause, the decrease in estrogen causes our bodies to detect an increase in body temperature, causing hot flashes, causing an increase in Pitta.

Seattle Yoga Photographer


Kapha

The Kapha Dosha is the elements of earth and water and is known as the glue of the doshas. The dominant location of Kapha in our body is the upper chest and respiratory system. Kapha literally translates to “what sticks”. The qualities of Kapha are: heavy, cold, oily, sweet, steady, slow, soft, sticky, dull, smooth, calm, enduring, sympathetic, relaxed, nurturing, stable, courageous, forgiving, and loving. Those experiencing a Kapha imbalance are psychologically prone to: procrastination, lethargy, excessive sleep, and problems letting go. Physically they are prone to: poor circulation, mucus, heart disease, arthritis, swollen glands, bone spurs, and weight gain (usually in the stomach and thighs). A balanced Kapha feels:  Nurturing, loyal, compassionate, grounded, patient, content.

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

Entering into triangle pose, begin in warrior two, then straighten through your front leg and begin to reach forward through your arms as far forward as accessible. With your arms in one straight line, begin to fold into your front side. Avoid locking out your front, standing leg by gently softening your knee. Try to find length through both side bodies by rotating your chest to open to the side wall. Maintain length through your spine by drawing your hips to stack, tailbone to tuck under and lengthen through your neck.

Stimulating the side waist is a good way to prevent mandagni and increase digestion.  The side-to-side motion also offers spaciousness to the lungs, where excess mucus can build due to excess kapha. Allowing your bottom hand to remain lifted, brings you more into your core, where you will build heat and begin to move some of the stagnation of kapha.
Seattle Yoga Photographer

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

From warrior two, begin by straightening your front leg. Internally rotate your back thigh to bring your hips closer to squaring to the front of the room. Squaring through the hips and the shoulders, begin to lower your chest parallel to the earth. With a flat back and square hips you can begin to revolve through your thoracic spine, rolling your shoulder blades back to open your chest and allow your bottom hand to rest on the earth or a block.

Standing twists are one of the quickest ways to build heat in the body. Building heat is beneficial for initiating the movement and breakup of kapha in the body. This pose should be done mindfully and not held for too long. The compression in the abdomen is effective at simulating agni (digestive fire) while the opening through the chest allows kapha to find space for movement.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Full Wheel Pose)

To enter into full wheel pose, begin by laying on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the ground, hip distance apart. Bring your hands up by your ears, fingers facing back towards your toes. Begin to lift up by pressing your feet down, shins forward, hips up and chest back. If you have tight shoulders, blocks may be helpful under your hands.

Backbends stimulate circulation and the movement of energy in the chest and head. This movement creates a more balanced energy and a clearer, more active mind. Compression of the spine increases heat and opens the chest and lungs where Kapha is dominant. Weight bearing, dynamic backbends are heating (kindling agni) which creates movement, reducing kapha.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)

From tadasana, standing pose, inhale to reach your hands up and with a flat back, draw your navel in towards your spine and fold your chest towards your thighs. Rocking your weight forward to shift your hips above your ankles, continue to lift your sitting bones towards the ceiling, draw your inner thighs behind you and release your neck to draw the crown of your head down towards the earth.

In a more active standing forward fold, the effort involved in bringing the head closer to the ground can have a heating effect to the body due to added pressure. Lifting the hips over the head can offer a sensation of lightness which may be appealing to a typically heavier set kapha type. Forward folds in general, reduce fatigue, improve digestion and this standing forward fold will increase circulation into the legs, torso and head.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Begin by laying on your back with your feet stacked above your hips, finding yourself in legs up the wall pose (viparita karani). With your arms by your side, you can begin to press them into the earth to lift your hips into the air. Rolling your shoulder blades under your back, place your hands near your sacrum, elbows down, fingers up. From here try to stack your feet in line with your hips and your hips in line with your shoulders, sending all energy in an upward direction. For more access, begin by folding a blanket two or three times and lying it beneath your back, in line with your shoulders, before entering into the pose.

Inversions bring a sense of lightness in the chest and upper respiratory system, the seat of Kapha. They also bring stimulation to the central nervous system from the flow of prana to the brain. When you reverse the blood flow in the body, accumulated fluid in the ankles and legs (which can be caused by too much kapha) begin to disperse. Kapha dominant individuals also benefit from the new perspective the inversions offer on the world, getting them out of their same old routines.

Seattle Yoga Photographer

Yoga Blocks For Inversions

Yoga Blocks

Have you ever wondered how you can use yoga blocks to take your practice a bit further?  There are so many resources out there that show you how to use blocks to modify postures, and often times people think the only use for blocks is to make a posture easy.  However, there are a million different ways that you can use blocks!

 

I’ve prepared a lovely series of posts for anyone curious about using yoga blocks.  Here you’ll find ways to use blocks for certain poses, how to change common poses to advance your practice, and of course how to modify many poses to suit your body.

Today we’ll be taking a look at a few different ways to use a set of yoga blocks as you learn to practice inversions.  Before you attempt to go upside down, make sure to get an OK from your doctor and understand the many precautions about an upside down practice which include high blood pressure, headaches and neck or shoulder injury.

Pincha Mayurasana: Place the block between your hands to keep your hands in place as you lift your feet up.

Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks

 

Tripod Headstand:  I LOVE this modification!  Place several blocks (enough to support the shoulders) in two stacks.  Place your head right in between and liftoff!  Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks

 

Headstand: Place two blocks in front of you to rest your toes on.  This modification will help you get your feet off of the ground if you’re working on lifting up to headstand with straight legs.

Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks

 

Stay tuned for more ways to use your yoga blocks!  Coming up you’ll find out how to use blocks for arm balances, restorative yoga, core strength and handstands!  Get your own set of beautifully designed cork yoga blocks so you can advance your practice as well!

If you don’t already have a set of blocks for yourself, you can use the coupon code HOLIDAY for free shipping from my Etsy shop! This coupon is good on domestic shipping only when you buy 2 or more blocks. Offer is valid through the end of the New Year. Order by Monday 12/19 to allow for enough time before Christmas.

Thank you so much to Julie from Inner Sanctum Yoga, the only DuPont, WA Yoga Studio, for posing!