Two posts in one day?! Wow! I’m on a roll! Another great article on yoga and a gentle reminder that we all need some help from time to time.
Hello again and 5 Reasons to Full Squat February 6, 2014
Wow, it’s been a whole year since I last posted. I have been pretty busy teaching, I joined a new yoga studio family and added classes to my schedule. Not only have I been strengthening my own yoga practice, I have also been looking for ways to improve my teaching. I’ve learned a lot about myself– I found that I do not enjoy teaching a Power Yoga sequence but I really enjoy taking a Power Yoga class. I found that I really love teaching Beginners and All Level-type classes. In those revelations, I’ve found acceptance and in turn a feeling of peace. So, yay me! I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Yoga Nation Tour here in Austin this past weekend with amazing instructors such as Sadie Nardini, Tyler McCoy and Dana Flynn. I had so much fun and was truly inspired by these passionate, beautiful yogis. I’ve also been teaching a kid’s yoga class which has brought together my love of yoga with my past experience and joy teaching children. With this renewed sense of self and wonderment, I dance into the new year!
Here is a very interesting article on the benefits of squatting. I love to add a yogi squat to my sequences but I’m often met with groans of discontent from my students whenever we move into this pose. Well, this article has given me more reason to continue to stick with this pose and teach it to my students! Squat on, fellow yogis!
Yoga For Cardiovascular Health January 7, 2013
August 19th, 2011
By Faye Martins
When it comes to exercising for a healthy heart, most people envision running, kickboxing or cycling. While these cardio activities certainly do give the heart some good exercise, new research suggests that activities such as yoga training may actually yield even greater benefits overall.
The study measured how far participants could stretch on a standard sit-and-reach test. This test was performed with the individual sitting on the floor, back pressed against the wall. With legs straight, the participants stretched their arms out and bent at the waist, stretching the arms towards the feet as far as possible. With the results of this simple test in hand, the group was then measured on more standard things like endurance, muscular strength, blood pressure, cardio respiratory fitness, aortic pressure, the speed of a pulse of blood flow and how long the pulse took to travel between certain regions such as the neck and leg.
The study found trunk flexibility to be a very good indicator of arterial stiffness in test subjects 40 years and older. Arterial stiffness is one of the key factors in the development of cardiovascular disease. The stiffness of the arteries was found to be independent of other factors such as endurance or muscle strength which were both previously considered good indicators of overall heart health.
Stretching exercises such as yoga postures, teach the arteries to be flexible in addition to the muscles, though scientists aren’t exactly sure how or why this happens. Another separate study showed that middle aged adults who began a daily stretching routine significantly improved flexibility in the carotid artery in the neck, further strengthening the validity of this new finding.
Theoretically, the relationship between flexibility of the body and flexibility of the arteries could be found in the fact that both muscles and arteries gain the ability to be flexible from collagen and elastin. If stretching exercises send signals to the body to make collagen and elastin more readily available in response to the new needs of the body as a whole, perhaps the arteries also benefit from a more ready supply of both compounds, thus making them more flexible. This is only one of many theories, and it will undoubtedly take years for scientists to identify the exact underlying cause of this phenomenon. For now, it is good enough to know that such benefits exist.
Since arterial stiffness was found to be independent of other factors such as endurance and blood pressure, a strong heart may not necessarily be a healthy heart. It’s more than just the strength of the heart muscle itself; the arteries are of great importance as well. The relationship between flexibility and arterial flexibility in the study was so strong that the doctors who conducted it recommended adding yoga practice to the recommendations for cardiovascular health.
Yoga exercises may be added to any existing cardio exercise routine such as running, biking or cycling to bring flexibility to the arteries. In addition, yoga is extremely beneficial for the entire body all by itself with no other exercises needed. A longstanding belief within the medical community was that yoga in and of itself was not adequate to promote heart health, but this is clearly not the case. Yoga alone is wonderful for the entire human body, bringing balance and health to the system as a whole.
It is an indisputable fact that those who practice yoga throughout their lives enjoy greater levels of health than their peers. Now thanks to continuing scientific research, we can more readily identify why practicing Yoga for cardiovascular health is a good idea.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Yoga vs. Weight Training September 11, 2012
I just ran across this article and thought it was interesting. Obvs I’m a bit biased here being a yoga instructor but I’m a firm believer in balance– in life, diet and exercise– so I think anything you can do to make your body the best it can be (cuz you only have one at the moment) is wonderful. I’m not much into weight training myself but I’d like to think I do my fair share of heavy lifting with my two-year old son who is a solid rock of a kid (can you say, “Lift with your legs?”) I get a lot of students who are already well-established in a fitness routine of their own such as running or weight training and want to supplement with a yoga practice. I don’t think it has to be an “either/or” situation. Mix it up, have fun and be awesome!
How To Teach Yoga: Neck and Shoulders September 3, 2012
August 28th, 2012
By Faye Martins
How often do your yoga classes emphasize releasing tension from upper stress joints? Every hatha yoga instructor training course contains vital information for proper care of the neck and shoulders. Yet, do we give our yoga students all of the tools and information needed to maintain their upper body joints?
General Information for Your Students
In today’s world there are many elements that can cause stress, especially with the state of the economy and other changes that can affect personal lives in many ways. There is a reason that people use the saying, “weight of the world on my shoulders.” Due to the fact that when we carry that “weight” it definitely affects the neck and shoulders, this area of the body needs special care.
Not only that, the neck and shoulders get a lot of use each day, injuries to these areas are among the most commonly suffered ailments. When you have a stiff neck or sore shoulders it can inhibit you from performing at your best each day. A regular scheduled hatha yoga practice can cure any stress on the neck and shoulders and also help melt away that daily stress.
When it comes to physical yoga practice there are many asanas that can be practiced at a scheduled time, but there are also many modified moves that you can do as you’re getting ready for work, at your desk, or right before bed that will help as well. Even with a busy schedule you should still try to practice at least an hour, and at least three times a week. The following are just some of the recommended asanas and modified poses to relieve neck and shoulder pain.
Modified Asanas and Warm ups
• Ear-to-Shoulder – Gently drop the ear to the shoulder at each side.
• Chin-to-Chest – Pull the chin into the chest and inhale deeply.
• Shoulder Circles – Raise the shoulders up, back and down while breathing deeply.
• Neck Roll – Inhale as you slowly roll the head forward from left to right, exhale back from right to left. Do not tilt your head back, while practicing neck rolls.
• Side Stretch – With feet hip width apart, stretch both arms to the ceiling and take turns pulling one arm gently to the side at a time.
• Open Chest – Lace your fingers behind you as you sit forward on the chair, palms facing in. Gently lift arms and place them on the top of the chair, gently press the chest forward.
• Chair Twist – Sit forward in a chair and bring both thighs to the right side. Place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand on the back/left side of the chair and stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.
Asanas for Neck and Shoulders
• Dolphin Pose
• Eagle Arms
• Forward Fold – gently turn head side to side and use gentle nodding movements during
• Downward Dog
• Cat and Cow
Teach yoga students to maintain their bodies at home. If you know your students don’t practice outside of your studio, it might be best to produce a handout that gives them tips for practicing yoga at home. One example is: 15-minute yoga training sessions. Sometimes, our students need a gentle nudge in the right direction to live the best possible life.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.
Free Report, Newsletter, Videos, Podcasts, and e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”
If you are a Yoga Teacher, studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!
10 Killer Yoga Cures April 21, 2012
By Jenna Bergen
Here’s what you probably already know about yoga: It can flatten your tummy, tone your arms, and calm your thoughts when your mind is acting like an untamed monkey. But beyond these body-and-mind makeover benefits, few people realize that specific poses may be able to cure all kinds of mental and physical aches and pains, too. To get you started, we spoke with Tara Stiles—star of the Yoga Anywhere DVD series and author of the new book Yoga Cures—to get her 10 best fixes for frustrating everyday problems. And don’t worry: You don’t have to be bubble-gum flexible or as patient as Buddha to reap the rewards. Here, our 10 favorite yoga cures for everything from hangovers and sugar cravings to sleepless nights and shin splints.
For killer car rides…try a standing side opener
“We’ve all been crammed in the car for too long, and there are some simple poses to help open up your body,” says Stiles. “Standing side opener is great because you’re bringing length back into your side and spine, a reversal of when it gets crunched in the car.”
Try it: Stand with your feet parallel, shoulders aligned with your hips. Inhale and reach your arms out and up. Grab your left wrist with your right hand. Gently pull your left arm up with your right hand. Let your torso naturally arch over to your right side. Stay here for three breaths and then work the other side, too. Looking for more relief? Try these Tips to Prevent Lower Back Pain if road trips and long days at the office are wrecking your back.
For a hangover… try an easy seated twist
“Twists are great for helping toxins move their way out of your body—and out of your life,” says Stiles.
Try it: Start seated (as shown), inhale and lift your left arm straight up. As you exhale, grab your right knee with your left hand. Press your right fingertips into the ground behind your hips. Inhale and sit up tall. Exhale and twist your torso further toward the right. Then switch your legs and repeat on the other side.
For shin splints…try hero pose
This is a very mild, gentle movement that is designed to relieve pressure on the shins, says Stiles. “The even pressure feels great for most runners.”
Try it: Stand on your knees so they are aligned under your hips. Press the tops of your feet down and into the ground. Press your thumbs into your legs, behind your knees, open your calves out to the sides and sit your hips down to the ground (if your butt doesn’t touch the ground, sit on a yoga block or a rolled up yoga mat). Hold for 10 breaths. Download this free workout to Get Fit, Firm, and Flexible Fast.
For killer cramps…try an easy forward bend with rolled up blanket
“This move is great to sooth the mind, the mood, and cramps,” says Stiles. “The gentle pressure from the blanket and your torso is really grounding and comforting, and just plain feels great.”
Try it: Roll up a blanket. Sit down with your legs straight in front of you. Place the blanket on your upper thighs. Gently fold your torso over the blanket. Stay here for 10 long, deep breaths.
For a sugar craving…try a seated meditation with arms in a “V”
“Yoga trains and reprograms the mind so it can come back to a calm and neutral state free of anxieties and cravings,” says Stiles. “This seated meditation with arms up in a V gives your body just enough to do to allow your mind to focus. Spend a few minutes in this position and you’ll be able to conquer your sugar cravings with ease.”
Try it: Starting in a comfortable seated position, raise your arms overhead into in a V shape. Relax your shoulders down your back and reach out through your fingertips. Stay and breathe here for 3 minutes. Finding the ease in staying here for several minutes will clear your mind and release loads of tension from your body.
For a case of the blues…try tree pose
“Regular yoga can help ease and reverse depression, bringing people back to their natural state of happiness and ease,” says Stiles. “Standing poses like tree have a lot to do with that. Finding balance in different ways on our feet translates into our lives. The key is being gentle and consistent.” Yoga is just one example of a natural remedy that can save you a trip to the pharmacy. Here are 10 Natural Alternatives to the 10 Most Prescribed Drugs.
Try it: Stand tall with your feet parallel and a few inches apart. Shift your weight into your left leg. Bend your right knee into your chest and hug your shin with your hands. Grab hold of your right ankle with your right hand and press your right foot into your left inner thigh. Either stay here with your hand holding your ankle for balance, or reach your arms straight up. Stay here for five long breaths. Try the same thing on your other side.
For mind-busting stress…try half-pigeon pose
“Our hips store a lot of tension from all sorts of anxieties and stresses,” says Stiles. “The energy has to go somewhere and often it winds up in our hips. Pigeon is a super-calming pose for the mind and will give you a deep tension release in the hips.”
Try it: Start in a cross legged position and then lean into your right hip and reach your left leg long behind you (as shown), keeping your right leg in front of you and bent at the knee. If your hips don’t reach the ground, sit on a pillow or a block. Turn your hips and shoulders so they both face forward. Stay here for 10 long, deep breaths. Switch legs and repeat.
For a cold or flu…try alternate nostril breathing
“This technique is known for keeping people from getting colds or the flu, as well as helping them get better faster,” says Stiles. “It’s great for clearing congestion. It also does wonders for cultivating an easy mind, so even when the flu strikes you’ll feel easy and calm while you are recovering.” Here are 11 Other Tricks to Bounce Back Fast From a Cold.
Try it: Sit up tall, however you can sit comfortably. Take your right hand and curl down your index and middle finger into your palm. Press your ring finger over your left nostril and inhale for 4 counts. Close off your right nostril with your thumb so both nostrils are closed. Hold all the air in for 4 counts. Release your ring finger and let all the air out your left nostril for 4 counts. Repeat this breathing pattern for 3 to 5 minutes.
For a blinding migraine…try headstand preparation
“Recurring migraines can be so multi-factorial and, of course, everyone is different, but yoga has been known to help,” says Stiles. “A little pressure on the head with a prep of a headstand can bring blood flow to the head… and it just does the trick! Deep breaths of course!”
Try it: Sit on your heels with your shoulders above your hips. Interlace your fingers loosely and place them on the ground. Place the top of your head on the ground so your fingers cradle the back of your head. Stay here for a few breaths to get comfortable in the position. If you are comfortable, tuck your toes and straighten your legs like you would in a down dog. Stay here for 10 breaths.
For a sleepless night…try an easy lying-down twist
“So many people have major problems getting to sleep and staying asleep,” says Stiles. “Yoga has been known to help out, big time. A simple lying down twist helps to release any tension in the spine and mind that can be getting in the way of a good night’s rest. You can even do it when you’re in bed!”
Try it: Lie down on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Twist your right leg over toward your left side. Relax your arms out to the sides. Stay here for 10 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.