Tag Archives: bikram yoga

headstands for beginners

Śīrṣāsana or Headstand for Beginners

Headstand pose or Śīrṣāsana has some of the greatest benefits of any yoga asana.

Headstands energize the body sending blood and nutrients to the brain, improve digestion aiding in the movement of food through the ileocecal valve (ascending colon), and  stimulate lymphatic cleansing and drainage.   All these benefits come from the effects of gravity acting in the opposite way it normally does against the body.

Mastering a headstand increases body awareness and should be a confidence boost and adrenaline rush as it is a major physical accomplishment!  Headstands are very non-intuitive.  We spend out entire lives walking on our feet so half the battle with a headstand is mental, but once you get over that mental battle, there is a simple step by step process to doing a headstand.

Here are a couple Headstand for beginners tips to make this posture a little more manageable.

There are 2 main ways to do a headstand.

fixmyasana headstandd head cradleHead Cradle – Pike Up

Arguably the harder of the two as it’s harder to press through ones elbows than hands, this option is also easier on the head because you can use your hands for support.

  1. Cradle hands together on the ground and place your head into your palms so that your hairline is in the center of your hands.
  2. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, walk on your toes towards your face as far as possible.
  3. When you can’t walk and further, suck your stomach in tightening the core as your press your elbows into the floor.  You should feel toes begin to rise off the floor.  (This would be the point where you can kick up to the wall if you would like, but always go through the first couple steps to build core strength so you can progress to piking up!)
  4. Floint (to floint means to flex your foot as you point your toes…we don’t want pointed toes in yoga) your toes to keep energy driving up and to keep your legs fully contracted so they don’t become dead weight.
  5. Once you reach headstand position, the work isn’t over.  Go back to your breath.  With every exhale suck your stomach in even more and with every inhale feel your body lengthening up towards the sky.  Keep flointing your toes, pressing your elbows into the floor, and core nice and contracted throughout the posture.

If you’ve tried kicking up a couple times and are having success, but still can’t pike up, work to tuck up.

  1. Still walk your feet into your head as close as possible.
  2. Bend your knees and tuck them into your stomach, keeping them as close to your body as possible.
  3. Straighten one leg at a time moving slowly and staying with your breath.

fixmyasana tripodTripod Headstand – Straddle Up

Tripod headstand was the first headstand I did and arguably easier because you can straddle up which requires less core strength.

It is much easier in Tripod headstand to hurt your head or neck though so make sure you are absorbing as much weight as possible in your hands by pressing firmly into the floor.

  1. Legs about 4-5 feet apart, swan dive forward leading with your chest so you elongate your spine, place your head between your feet and your hands about 6 inches in front of your face, shoulder width apart.
  2. Rock up onto your tippy toes as much as possible, flointing your toes to drive energy up.
  3. Bring your legs together and then continue to grow stronger in your posture with each breath.  With every exhale suck your stomach in even more and with every inhale feel your body lengthening up towards the sky.  Keep flointing your toes, pressing your elbows into the floor, and core nice and contracted throughout the posture.

In tripod headstand it’s important to keep pressing your elbows in toward each other to better engage your shoulder girdle and build should strength so you can progress to handstand!

Things to Think About

  • Know what your legs are doing.  A major factor for stability comes from the legs.  If your legs are loosey goosey, it will be much harder to stay balanced.
  • Keep your core engaged.  All inversions involve core strength.  Don’t be surprised if it takes a couple times to find your balance.  There is a whole new form of body awareness that is required to being upside down.
  • Your head shouldn’t be absorbing the bulk of your weight.  If you head is hurting you need to press harder through your elbows in head cradle or hands in tripod.  The more you press through your hands or elbows, the more shoulder strength you build which will help you progress to handstand!
  • Have fun.  Part of the FUN and learning is falling down.  Enjoy the process of learning a new skill and listen to how your body reacts to it each step of the way and you always have that behavioral health tub chairs to go back to when youre done with the session.

If you ever have any questions on a posture, feel free to message me at cjdought@gmail.com, or post your asana to instagram and tag @Courtn3yjulia #fixmyasana for corrections from a yoga instructor.

 

Yoga for athletes

Yoga For Athletes: 6 Reasons Why You Should Do Yoga to Enhance your Athletic Preformance


Yoga for athletes

One of my favorite viral images was this one to the right that started getting passed around about a year ago.

“I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible enough.”-The Many Athletes out there not doing yoga.

Athletes can do amazing physical feats but it’s so funny how often they shy away from the things that don’t come easy to them.

Many athletes snub their nose at yoga before they even try saying it’s too easy and not a good enough workout.

Sam says, that the irony in that is the ones who do try a class don’t continue because they can’t twist into a pretzel like the girl in the front row.

Most athletes are used to being naturally good at something.  Yes an athlete then works very hard to improve those natural skills, but it’s funny how quickly they quit something that doesn’t come naturally easy.

Very quickly major professional athletes are beginning to catch on yoga for athletes.

As an athlete if you can let go of your ego, you too will find that yoga can do amazing things to improve your athletic performance.

6 Reasons Why Yoga Will Improve Your Athletic Performance:

yoga for athletes

Evan Longoria

1: Flexibility

Most athletes have tight hips, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, feet the list goes on and on.  Some athletes take the time after a workout to do a regeneration session using foam rollers and/or trigger point massage therapy, but these sessions are usually hurried through so one can get home and get a good meal.

A yoga class sets aside time specifically to stretch.  A hot yoga class provides the heat necessary to prime your muscles for stretching helping increase flexibility even more.

As athletes know flexibility is important for proper range of motion, increased muscle recovery time, and injury prevention.  At least one yoga class a week provides time specifically for these benefits.

yoga for athletes

Pada Hastasana

2:  Isometric Strength Training without Breaking Down the Body

In order to actually improve your ability to do many yoga postures, you are  actually preforming an isomeric muscle contraction.

Take Pada Hastasana (Hands to feet Pose) for example you use your biceps, quadriceps,  latissimus dorsi, and abdominal strength to open up tight hamstrings.

While doing this posture, not only do you strengthen the muscles you are using, open up and stretch your tight hamstrings, but you also train the body to be able to use multiple muscle groups at once while relaxing other muscles groups gaining more body awareness a very important aspect of elite athletic performance.

Yoga not only increases your muscular strength and awareness, but it does it in a low impact way.  Many athletes don’t actually hurt themselves on the field, but rather in their training.  Yoga provides a low-impact cross training that will help an athlete get stronger without further breaking their body down.

Yoga for athletes

Standing Bow combines Balance with using your strong glutes and quads to open up hamstrings. A posture an athlete can quickly become better in when they focus their energy correctly.

3: Balance

Many yoga postures incorporate balance, improving ones ability to be stable on one leg.

The more stable you are on 1 leg, the better you will be on 2.

All sports involve balance in some way, yet many take the time in practice to improve it.

Working on your balance in a yoga class will give you an upper edge on the sports field. Here are some other practices that may help you work on your mental and physical balance.

4: Injury Prevention

We’ve already mentioned that yoga is good for increasing flexibility which also leads to decreased probability of tearing muscles.

Yoga can also help prevent common sports injuries such as torn ACLs, Minicuses, Rotator Cuffs, ankle strains and sprains.

When you do yoga, you learn to recruit the smaller supportive muscles that you don’t activate when doing tradition strength training.  These supportive muscles not only make you stronger, but also are the ones that will help protect your joints while your power muscles are performing athletic movements.

Russell Wilson

If it’s good enough for the 8-1 Seakhawks it might be good for you!

5: Focus and Concentration

It isn’t any secret that the more you focus on any particular task, the better the performance.

When you take a test, the teacher provides a quiet environment.  This isn’t the case when you’re on the field.  There are fans, coaches, and opponents creating constant distraction, yet few sports team take the time to train their athletes to focus.

Focus is a key component to yoga.  Not only will the focus learned in yoga help you have more body awareness and control improving balance and injury prevention, but it will also make your reflexes quicker allowing you to be one step a head of your opponent.

yoga for athletes

Most athletes quickly transition to shallow breathing as soon as their heart rate increases. Yoga trains you to use your full lung!

6: Breath

The first step of any yoga posture is breath.  A good instructor will tell you if you can not maintain normal breathing (long slow inhales and long slow exhales) you aren’t actually getting the benefit of the posture.

Controlled breathing reassures the brain that you are in control.  It also decreases circulating carbon dioxide a trigger that causes your heart rate to increase.  Controlled breathing naturally allows your heart rate  to decrease allowing you to actually work harder.

Yoga trains you to be comfortable maintaining normal breathing.

When you take longer inhales, you actually breathe into the deeper bronchial branches of the lung allow more surface area for your blood stream to take up oxygen (fuel for your muscles).  Your working muscles then utilize that fuel turning it into carbon dioxide.  When you take a longer slower exhale you are able to get all the metabolic waste out allowing a larger percentage of oxygenated air to get in with your next breath.

The physical presence of more oxygen to fuel your muscles with the mental perception that you aren’t working as hard when you heart rate decreases allows you to have a larger work output than you would otherwise.

Over time as you develop this skill in the yoga room, it transfers over to any other endeavors that increase your heart rate making you much more efficient at breathing and providing the oxygen your muscles need to function. If you are planning to workout at home with a recumbent bike, these are the things to consider when choosing a recumbent bike.

Now that I’ve convinced you need yoga as an Athlete, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Go in with an open mind.  If you think yoga is a waste of time, it will be for you.
  • Breath.  The first step of every posture is normal breathing.  If you can’t maintain long slow inhalations and long slow exhalations your body isn’t relaxed and you won’t be able to get the full benefits of the posture.
  • Take it easy, Leave the win or lose mentality at the door.  As long as you are trying your best and breathing you will get benefits.  The first law of yoga is non-violence and that starts with yourself.  If you are forcing yourself into a posture you are liking to tear a muscle causing injury…the exact opposite of what you’re looking to achieve.
  • Enjoy the relaxation.  Don’t fight it.  Relaxation is built into yoga to help clear and focus the mind.
  • Make yoga a regular routine.  Treat your yoga practice the way you would treat any other aspect of your training.  If you don’t do it regularly you won’t get the benefits.
  • Listen.  Don’t take corrections from a teacher negatively.  Teachers are meant to help you.  If a teacher tells you to relax you probably aren’t following the first 2 bullet points.  This is often the case when athletes first start yoga.
  • Smile as you practice.  It makes the experience better.
fitness lessons

Fitness Lessons You Can Learn from a Traveling Bikram Yoga Instructor/Personal Trainer

I’ve officially been in the road now for over a week now.  So far my quest to maintain a healthy fit lifestyle is working out pretty well.

I’ve gone on some awesome runs.

I’ve run around the Marina with views of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.

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I’ve run along rolling hills of vineyards in Napa.

IMG_20130824_102939_551 (2)

I ran the famous Dipsea trail among giant Redwoods in Muir woods.

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I’ve also made time to practice at some awesome Bikram Yoga studios.

IMG_20130822_135237

 

I sweated along side the colorful Frankenstein cartons at the funky door studio on Polk Street in San Francisco

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I sweat out my “pour” decisions in my college town studio in Davis.

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I received some excellent, disciplined instruction on a beautiful cork floor in Napa.

 

 

From the sweat and steps I’ve also learned a few fitness lessons and those are what I want to share with you today.

 

Fitness Lessons Learned:

Lesson #1: The more you workout the more you can enjoy your travels.

As most of my clients always report, with travel comes the temptation to eat out frequently, try local foods and treats, (which unfortunately never seem to be on the diet plan!) and to drink an abundance of alcohol.

Now if I was on vacation, I would gladly rationalize that I deserve a break from my normally fit and healthy life, however, since travel has now become a lifestyle I have to make sure I earn the luxury of gluttony.

The same goes for anyone else who travels a lot for work or pleasure. If you keep yourself disciplined to get your exercise in first thing, you buy yourself budge room to enjoy a treat our two in the evening. Make sure to consume supplements such as lgd 4033 daily cause even if you manage to skip food after your exercise the supplements protein and other minerals will still help develop your body while also providing your energy to perform other tasks.

daily Lesson #2: Drink water.

My favorite type of water bottle is my hydro flask. It will keep water cold for days even in a hot Bikram Torture Chamber!

My favorite type of water bottle is my hydro flask. It will keep water cold for days even in a hot Bikram Torture Chamber!

Making sure you stay hydrated is very important to maintaining fit lifestyle on the road.

Travel in general makes you dehydrated.  The first step to making sure you stay ahead on the hydration curve is to bring an empty water bottle through security and then fill it up before you get on the plane, it would be great if you could also bring h2 tablets along with it.

Most people mistake thirst for hunger making it very likely to binge eat at meals if you aren’t drinking enough water.  Before ordering food or an alcoholic drink order a glass of water and down it every time before you eat.  A glass or two of water will make you feel full sooner.

Finally make sure your alcohol:water ratio stays in favor of water. (See above where I mention being a sweaty out “pour” decisions on my mat in Davis. Aka lying in the fetal position counting down postures until class is over.)

Not only does being dehydrated make your workout less effective, but it also makes it harder to stick to lesson number one: get your exercise in!  If you are hung over there is a much larger chance you will skip your workout the next day.

Lesson #3 When in doubt eat at a Mexican restaurant.

20130828_113146When eating out, it can become very hard to stick to your diet ratios. The good news is you can find a Mexican restaurant almost anywhere you go.

Obviously there are plenty of restaurants where you can eat lean, but every menu is different.  Mexican restaurants are nice because every single one should have a burrito on the menu.  As long as you unwrap the burrito and eat around the tortilla you should be able to find a good meal full of protein, veggies, and beans.   (Just be careful of the tortilla chips before the meal!)

Lesson #4: Carry Deodorant

The bad news about squeezing workouts into your travel is often times you really do have to squeeze it in.  Make sure you that bring some deodorant to avoid the post workout sweat that tends to come no matter how cold of a shower you take!

Lesson #5:  Don’t Underestimate the Calorie Burning Potential of Walking

Product DetailsThe final lesson I would like to touch on is the caloric burn potential of just walking.  If you are in a foreign city, the chances are you probably don’t have a car.  Rather than spending money on a taxi see if you can walk somewhere.  Not only will you see more traveling by foot, but you will also burn calories without even trying.  Every mile traveled by foot is an extra beer you can enjoy at dinner or a cookie you can eat guilt free.

A heavy day of walking around a city can burn just as many calories if not more than a short morning workout and if you do both then you have even more room to give into culinary temptation.  If you are going to be traveling a lot, I highly suggest investing in a fitbit.

Today rather than driving to yoga, I walked the 2.4 miles.  It only took me 35 min each way, my fitbit showed me I accumulated 13,000 steps, and bought myself an extra 400 calorie deficit.  (That’s 3 beers!)

The point of these lessons is it isn’t too hard to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle on the go.  If you stick to a workout plan and are conscious about balancing out your physical activity with what you put in your mouth being healthy doesn’t have to be a sacrifice.

What are your favorite activities to do on the go?

What are your go to meal options when you travel?

30 day challenge

4 Reasons You Should Do A 30 Day Challenge

30 day challenge

Spring has finally arrived–which means summer is just around the corner. It is time to up the workout ante!

Challenge yourself to complete a 30 Day Challenge.

Your challenge can be whatever you want.

  • You can do the 30 Day Squat Challenge which should only take 2-5 minutes out of your day.
  • You can challenge yourself to run or walk a mile or more 30 days in a row.
  • You can do a yoga challenge, committing 60-90min a day to yourself.
  • You can Crossfit 30 days in a row.

Whatever sort of challenge you decide to do, here are 4 reasons you should do a 30 Day Challenge.

1.  You do have the time.  Find somewhere during your day to take a break for yourself.  If there isn’t space in the middle of your day, tack it to the beginning or the end.  You can always wake up 10 minutes earlier, or skip the hour (or more) of television you watch each night.  You’ll start to realize when you set aside time to focus on yourself, you’ll be able to  preform your other tasks and obligations more efficiently and more effectively.

2.  You will have set a new goal.  Broadcast this goal!  Let others know what you are doing!  They might do it with you!  The more the merrier.  It’s harder to break a commitment when others know you have one.

3.  You’ll push your boundaries.  It is easy to find an excuse to back out of our workouts when we are tired.  When you push through fatigue, your body is forced to rebuild itself back up stronger.  Your brain often fatigues before your body.  Teach the brain how strong you can be!  You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can improve in an activity when you work on it each day for a month!

4.  You can eat more food!  Obviously if your goal involves losing weight, you shouldn’t completely offset your exercise with extra food.  However, if you do a 30 Day Bikram Challenge, or push yourself to run 3-5 miles every day for the month of May, you will find you need to fuel your body better for this endeavor. Your body’s cravings can teach you what vitamins and minerals you’re lacking in. Once you’ve identified the vitamins you need it’s just a matter of visiting LuckyVitamin or going to your local Walgreens. The cleaner you keep your system and the more you ask of it, the more it can accurately tell you what you need. You will probably find your body actually craves lean meats and veggies! You will learn the food you eat is fuel for your hard working body!

Give it a try!

Push yourself!

See what you can do!

If you decide to hop in on the 30 day challenge,  talk about what you are doing below!

The more of us that join in the more support we have!

 

 

sitting in bikram yoga

To Sit or Not to Sit? What Sitting in Bikram Yoga Says About You

sitting in bikram yoga

Every day your practice is different.

Ok, you are no longer a beginner to this yoga thing.

Or, maybe you are, but you struggle every day to continue pushing through every posture.  

My question to you is, “Why are you struggling?”

The second you begin to struggle, you are forgetting the first step of every posture, which is normal breathing.  Yes, this breathing rate might be faster, but you should never feel like you can’t breathe.

Sitting in Bikram Yoga can actually deepen your practice.

“Bikram says to to ‘kill you self”” 

  • Killing your “self” means to kill the ego telling you to have the best posture.
  • Killing your “self” means you don’t care if you are the only one sitting.  Your body needs the break today.
  • Killing your “self” means to avoid reaching for the security blanket of your water.  Do you really need it?  (If you do, you should have drank more water before you came.  I know–it’s not always easy.  I reach for my water bottle too, but it’s always my goal not to!)
  • Killing your “self” means accepting the body you brought today.  You may be getting sick. You may not have drank enough water.  You may have drunk too much wine the night before.  Whatever the reason, listen to your body.
  • Killing your “self” means you can look into your own eyes for 90 minutes.  You spend the rest of your life trying to live up to the expectations and demands of others.  Take the time in yoga to see what you need.

Part of learning to kill the self is learning to focus only on yourself.

I realize it can be tempting to sneak a peak at the girl in front’s standing bow, to grab some water, to make faces to your friend.  (And there are days where this is part of my practice, but it isn’t what my practice should be.)

This is not being present.  There is so much going on within your own body that you are missing when you focus on anything other than yourself in the mirror.  In fact, you may be struggling because of your lack of focus.  Days when I am actually able to stay fully present I find that I work harder than I have ever worked, have a larger pool of sweat on my mat than normal, and yet I find I was able to keep my heart rate lower and a smile on my face.  

I am relaxed while also killing myself and my self!

 

Next time you start to feel uncomfortable in class, don’t reach for water.  Don’t wipe your sweat.  Don’t look to your feet.  Don’t make a face to friend asking if it’s hotter than normal.  If fact, don’t even ask yourself that question.  It doesn’t matter.  What you should do instead is look to yourself for answers.

sitting in bikram yoga

  • Stare into your own eyes.
  • Take a long slow inhale.
  • Take a longer slower exhale.
  • Give yourself a smile.  It’s hard to have negative or anxious thoughts with a smile on your face.
  • Repeat this process as much as you need.

Some days you may have to take it to the floor from here, but still work to look into your own eyes.

Part of the practice and part of the yoga is getting in touch and accepting yourself.  Your body.  Your thoughts.  Your actions.  Your Present.

Today’s present and practice might be harder than yesterdays   You don’t know what tomorrows will bring, but today you will get more out of your practice remaining calm.

 

eagle pose garurasana

4 Tips to Improving Your Eagle Pose Garurasana

eagle pose garurasana

Eagle Pose Garurasana is the first twist in the bikram yoga series.

By the time you get to this pose, you should be sweating!

In Eagle Pose Garurasana you cut off blood flow to the right side of the body and then the left.  It is the first time in class that you begin to to transfer, move, and use the oxygenated blood that you have been working so hard to create.

For most, the first couple times you try this posture it often feels impossible.

Here are 4 tips to twisting yourself into a knot and making yourself the shortest person in the room:

  1. Step One in this pose is to twist your arms.  Once you bring your right arm under the left, focus on getting your hands together next.  I know it might feel like it might never happen, but the more you visualize it happening the sooner it will!
  2. Then work for the foot wrap.  Focus on pointing your toe back towards the calf you want it to tuck under.  The twist initiates at the toe.  Once you get the tuck, however, work to relax your foot as much as possible.
  3. Breath!  Once again the posture starts with your breath.  Maintain normal breathing as you set the posture up.  Normal breathing means to take long slow inhales and long slow exhales.  Once you get into the posture, work on sitting down more with your exhales  and arching your upper body back more with your inhales.
  4. Make sure you sit down as low as possible to start the posture.  Arch back as much as possible.  Then work to keep the body weight in your heel.  

Muscles Contracting:

  • Hamstrings
  • latissimus dorsi
  • abdominals
  • rhomboids
  • Ankle Stabilizers

Stretches: 

  • Opens up the 12 major joints of the body: heels, ankles, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
  • Lengthens and stretches the leg muscles, most specifically the glutes and IT band.
  • The posterior muscles of the rotator cuff specifically the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor muscles.

Compresses:

  • Ankle Joint, Knee Joint, Hip Joint, Elbow Joint, and Wrist joint breaking down scar tissue.  

Stimulates:

  • Reproductive system and sex organs.
  • Kidneys
  • Lymphatic System
  • Central Nervous system
  • Immune System

Bikram says Eagle Pose Garurasana Benefits us by:

  • Improves flexibilities in the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists.
  • Eagle Pose supplies fresh blood to the reproductive system and sex organs, plus the kidneys, which increases sexual vitality and helps clear up reproductive problems.
  • Improves the function of the lymphatic system
  • Improves concentration and balance
  • Energizes the entire body completing the Bikram warm up by flushing blood from one side of the body to the other.
  • Stimulates better immune system function
  • Improves mobility of hip joints and balance
  • Strengthens the legs and calves
  • Good for improving varicose veins
  • Flushes out the kidneys improving the filtration of minerals such as calcium and sodium.
  • Good for Stress Reduction
padahastasana or hands to feet pose

4 Tips to Improving your Padahastasana or Hands to Feet Pose

padahastasana or hands to feet pose

Padahastasana or Hands to Feet pose is one of my favorite postures!

It is the first time in class your shoulders get a break, if you don’t have proper posture, we suggest to check this review!

By the time I am coming up arms and head together from Hands to Feet pose, I feel like I have finally awakened for my day.  My muscles feel exponentially looser and I feel as if my spine has lengthened a foot!

I was going through the posture correctors 2018 and came to a conclusion that Padahastasana had helped me unlock the secret to yoga:  Use your own strength to stretch your body.  It’s really no secret my instructors said it and now I say it all the time, “Pulling is the object of stretching!”  This posture, however, was the first posture where I actually found this to be true.

I used to and still have very tight hamstrings, but I do have to say that the muscle enhancement pills also helped out.  Every class that I am able to lock my knees makes me so happy.

Here are 4 tips to lock you knees, Lock Your Knees, LOCK YOUR KNEES!:

  1. Make sure to glue your body to your legs and get your elbows as close as possible to each other behind the calf muscles.  After you can grab your heels, your next goal is to touch your face to your shins–not to lock your knees
  2. Use your Breath:  Like every yoga pose, you want to maintain normal breathing in this posture.  With your inhales, pull harder on your heels.  With your exhales, roll forward weight in your heels and lift your hips up to the ceiling.
  3. Use your Quadriceps muscles:  The quadriceps is the hamstrings’ antagonistic muscle.  Your hamstrings bend your knee and your quadriceps extend the knee.  If you want to “Lock your knee” (or extend it)   You have to use your quadriceps.  The more you work to constantly and consistently contract your quadriceps, the more your hamstrings will be forced to slowly open up and stretch.  ****Using on your strength won’t pull muscles.  Make sure to never bounce into a posture.  Then you are using strength and momentum.  This combo can pull muscles.
  4. Imagine your Head Moving Down your Shins:  Once you can lock your knees, the goal then becomes to lengthen your spine.  Imagine your head sliding down towards your toes.  To do this, you will need to continue pulling with your biceps.  Then try to depress and retract your shoulder blades so you can use your back strength to open up your upper spine.

Muscles Contracting:

  • Biceps
  • Quadriceps
  • latissimus dorsi
  • rhomboids

Stretches: 

  • Spine
  • hamstrings
  • hips
  • glutes
  • Erector Spinae
  • trapezius

Compresses:

  • Large intestine
  • Small intestine
  • Abdomen

Stimulates:

  • Digestive System
  • Heart
  • Nervous System
  • Brain

Bikram says Padahastasana or Hands to Feet Pose Benefits us by:

  • Improves digestion
  • Stretches out the the wrists.  Helping with Carpel tunnel and arthritis, using Kidney Atlas.
  • Opens and Stretches the Hamstrings
  • Stretches the spine.
  • Improves Sciatica
  • Awakens you, sending blood to the brain.
  • Stimulates the nervous system
  • Tones the abdomen
why try yoga

Why Try Yoga? Yoga Can Challenge and Benefit Anyone!

Most people equate yoga with a stretching class.why try yoga

Seeing the stereotypical tall and slender woman walking with her yoga mat might not necessarily get your butt to a yoga class.

Seeing a husband and wife come to class with their high school football star son on Saturday might stir some curiosity.

Seeing the neighbor down the street lose 20lbs might get you to walk through the door and try it at least once!

why try yoga

On Monday I wrote about Yoga being good for athletes.  While all this is true, think about how those same benefits could affect you in your normal life.  Maybe you don’t make quick change of directions on a soccer field, but you still carry your lunch, labtop, to-go coffee mug, and briefcase to the car every morning while talking on your cell phone.  Some mornings it might even be rainy or even worse icy.  As we age situations like this begin to get worse and worse.  Strengthening your body through yoga, will give you the strength and balance to better handle these situations that are part of normal living.

Why Try Yoga you ask.  You should try Yoga to tackle and conquer your daily tasks!

If you have been hesitant to give yoga a try, check out the video below for reasons why yoga might be a better workout than you think:

 

So give it a try.  I recommend Bikram.  I challenge you to make it through a class and still tell me yoga isn’t a good enough workout.  For those who fear the hot room, remember it’s also not as scary as you think.  If an 80 year old woman can take class you can too!  It might just be the yoga that keeps those 80 year olds going!

 

What’s yoga posture challenges you the most?  It is probably the one you need.  Tell me which one you hate below and why.  I’ll let you know why you might need it!

half moon pose

6 Tips to Improving your Half Moon Pose

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

A major component to yoga is opening up the body.  Half Moon Pose Begins this process.

Half Moon Pose uses opposing muscle groups to open up and stretch the front, back, right side, and left side of the body.

Half Moon Pose is an energizing pose that prepares you for class!  It uses almost every muscle in your body continuing to warm up the body stimulating the sweat you started to form in Breathing to continue!  Here are some keys to improving your Half Moon so you can begin “natural human traction” sooner rather than later!

  1. half moon pose

    This is an old picture. I’ve since learned if I squeeze my feet together my knees stay in one line

    Squeeze Your Feet Together:  Right from the beginning think of squeezing your feet together and keeping your body weight in your heels.  This will help you tone your inner thighs.

  2. Breathe:  As always, the number one focus in every pose in normal breathing.  Think about slowly inflating your lungs like a balloon, lifting your rib cage up towards the ceiling as you keep your body in one line.
  3. Smile:  Set your intention for a relaxed class.  If you can maintain a smile you will be more likely to maintain normal breathing.  When you maintain normal breathing your body will open up more than if you are tense, forcing yourself to push further.
  4. Use your grip:  When you first start, the hardest part will be holding your hands over your head.  Focus on SQUEEZING your hands together like you are juicing a lemon on top of your head.  It will help your strength improve sooner.  It will also help you lengthen and open up.
  5. Use Your Right Hand to Pull the Left:  When you bend to the right side, think about pulling the left arm further to right using the right hand.  Then think about pointing to the back right hand corner of the room as you come down further to push, push, and push.
  6. Focus on Your Hips:  Once you reach alignment, only focus on moving your hips further out past your toes.  If you think about bending more at the waist you will hunch, round, or bend.  By focusing on moving your hips further out past your feet, you continue to lengthen and open up the body.  This will make the opposite side compress more.

Opens:

  • Shoulders
  • Hips
  • Chest

half moon poseStretches:

  • Obliques
  • Outer Thighs Specically the IT Band
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Deltoid
  • Trapezius

 

Muscles Contracting:

  • Improves and strengthens every muscle in the central part of the body.
  • Especially the Abdomen.

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 Bikram says Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) Benefits us by:

  • Preventing, reducing, and/or eliminating back pain and with the help of a KratomCountry Pain Relief Center.
  • Energizes you for class!
  • Helps rid the body of abdominal fat, toning your abs and obliques.
  • Tones your waistline, hips, abdomen, booty, and thighs (even those inner thighs!)
  • Stretches spinal nerves and abdominal organs improving the working of the bowels
  • Increases the flexibility of the spine
  • Alleviating anxiety and helping reduce stress
  • Works all the major muscles groups including the Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves, Biceps, Triceps, and lats!
  • Exercising the colon, pancreas, kidneys, muscular, skeletal, respiratory and glandular systems
  • Firming and trimming waistline, hips, abdomen, buttocks and thighs.
  • Increases flexibility of the spine; correcting bad posture, promoting proper kidney function, improving the health liver and spleen, reducing dyspepsia and constipation.
yoga for athletes

Yoga for Athletes: Don’t be the Dumb Jock

Yoga for athletes

Remember the dumb jock Kevin in Daria? He may not have been so dumb if he did yoga!

We have all heard the term dumb jock.

A dumb jock is a meat head, muscle head, fine tuned athletic machine but not necessarily someone you think uses their brain.

This is actually the furthest from the truth.  Athletes actually use their brain for every movement they perform.  Every physical task requires a complex system of neural pathways to make that action happen.  Think about what it takes to get to this page:

Just to get to this post,

  • Your brain had to signal to your right arm to move the mouse.
  • Then you must create the precise pressure against the mouse to scroll to the address bar.
  • To type the URL your brain had to send separate signals to each finger for every letter you typed.

This is obviously not ground breaking, but think about how simple that task is.  Those are the simplified steps to reaching the end result of reading this post but it still required 3 steps.

Now think about something as complicated as doing a layup, a simple move in basketball.

  • You have to send hundreds of signals to the lower body to coordinate running and jumping while moving towards a target.
  • Another 100+ signals are sent to your hands to dribble the ball, pick it up, use strength in your finger tips to palm the ball, and, finally, precise muscle control to send the ball in the right direction towards the hoop.
  • While both sets of signals occur there are also 100s of signals activating your shoulders to move, bringing your arm over your head so your fingers have a line of trajectory into the basket.

….I could go on and on about the amount of neural conductivity it takes to do one action, but I think you get the point.  Any movement of the body requires an intense amount of brain power.  As we perfect a skill, most of this happens subconsciously.  However, if you can learn to have finer control over these movements you ultimately become a more skilled athlete.

This is where yoga for athletes comes in.  Yoga helps better tune mind-body connection.  In other words, yoga enhances the way you create motion.

With yoga you can train yourself to become more aware of the physical actions you perform.

yoga for athletes

Tony may be a strong football player, but he could be stronger when he learns to lock his knee and transfer his body weight into the ball of his foot!

Think about the pose Dandayamana Janushirasana.

The first step of this pose is learning to “lock your knee.”

Locking your knee doesn’t mean have a straight leg.  It means contracting every single muscle fiber in your standing leg for 60 seconds so that you can stay stable while still controlling and moving other parks of your body.

Even the strongest athletes struggle with this pose when they first start yoga.  They will argue they aren’t flexible enough to do the pose, but what they don’t understand is that they are doing the pose wrong before they ever get started.

The purpose of the pose isn’t to kick your leg out and touch your forehead to you knee.   The purpose is to have the strength to keep every fiber in your quadriceps contracted.  It takes hundreds to thousands of attempts to train your body to do this.  After many attempts of trying, you would be more stable if you could just make the smaller muscles that make up your toes apply pressure to the ground.  That is the first step.  Then you begin to strengthen those muscles because you have become aware of them.

When you become aware of the “smaller fine motor control muscles” you start to realize how much they can help you in your sport.

  • A soccer player will begin to feel the push off to change direction all the way through their little pinky toe, allowing them to cut sharper and faster!
  • The basketball player will no longer just jump  up for a layup, but extend through their big toe fully contracting their calf muscle more than before adding inches to their vertical!
  • The volleyball player will not only know they need to snap their hand on their follow through hitting a volleyball, but begin to feel their brachioradialis, flexor carpi radialis, and flexor carpr ulnaris contract.

Yoga isn’t just about stretching tight muscles athletes use over and over.  Yoga can be a medium to develop finer control over your body, making you a better athlete in your sport.  Yoga will train your mind body connection.

The athlete you strive to be isn’t such a dumb jock after all!