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What is Restorative Yoga?

By Yoga AsanaNo Comments

Restorative yoga is a style of yoga that involves holding the yoga poses for a longer period of time, the use of yoga props, and the goal to create an environment where you can replenish and recuperate.

So many of us need to allow our bodies to recover, but we don’t always give ourselves the space and time to do so. Restorative yoga provides the tools to slow down and create the space where rest can happen. When your body is at rest, it can heal.

This style of yoga is fairly new and modern compared to other styles. It originated from the yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar, who was one of the yoga teachers who began using a lot of props to support the practice. It’s a style of yoga that can also be practiced by almost everyone.

Benefits of Restorative Yoga:

  • Lowers anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Increases energy
  • Releases tension
  • Relieves stress
  • Boosts your body’s recovery process
  • Helps overcome depression
  • Calms your nervous system
  • Eases muscle tension
  • Improves digestion

How restorative yoga works:

The restorative yoga practice activates something called the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that helps your body relax. Once this system is activated, your body can enter a state of rest. This is the state that allows your body to hit the brakes and begin its recovery.

In a restorative yoga class, you can expect to use some yoga props to help support you in each pose and you will also hold the poses much longer than you do in other styles of yoga. This helps bring your body into relaxation. When your body is in a relaxed state, your heart rate and breathing may slow down, your mind can become more calm, and your muscles will have a chance to recover.

Restorative Yoga and Anatomy

Almost everyone can practice restorative yoga because of its focus on prop use and modifications. This practice can be modified for almost every body and every need. It supports the individual’s anatomy and focuses on bringing each person to their specific place of comfort.

The anatomy of restorative yoga is really the honoring of your own anatomy and your own body’s requirements. It honors the concept that what may work for one person may not work for someone else. One of the goals of this practice is to help each person understand what they need to help their body heal.

How it Differs from Yin Yoga

Restorative yoga originates from B.K.S. Iyengar and was created to help people recover from injuries and other health issues. Props are used to help your body feel fully supported and there may be some passive stretching. One goal is to help your muscles release.

Yin yoga originates from Paul Greeley and incorporates some Traditional Chinese Medicine principles. There aren’t as many props used in yin and the poses will bring you into more of an active stretch to reach the deeper tissues. This practice focuses more on releasing the connective tissue as opposed to the muscles.

Read this article for more information:

The difference between yin yoga + restorative yoga

Who can practice and what to expect in a restorative yoga class:

As mentioned earlier, almost anyone can practice restorative yoga. This is because it caters to finding the most comfortable setup for each individual person. It’s meant to be slow and relaxing, so don’t feel awkward or shy asking your teacher to help you adjust the poses. Whether you’re injured, working with an illness, or brand new to yoga in general, you can practice this style of yoga.

In a restorative class, expect to hold poses for a while and to also move gently in all directions. This means that almost your whole body will benefit from the practice. You’ll experience a deeper rest than you normally experience in other classes and your body will release tension.

Some Restorative Yoga Poses We Love!

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

Supported Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

How to:

  1. Begin by having two blankets, one bolster, and one eye pillow ready.
  2. Place one blanket where your head will go.
  3. Place one bolster with one blanket on top of it where your feet will go.
  4. Have your eye pillow close to your mat so you can reach for it when you need it.
  5. Lie down on your back and bring the blanket down to the lower part of your head, right above your neck. This should support your chin lining up with your chest. If your chin is sticking up towards the ceiling too much, simply make your blanket thicker by folding it again.
  6. Bring the soles of your feet together and place them on top of the stacked blanket and bolster.
  7. As you close your eyes, bring your eye pillow over them and extend your arms with your palms flipped up.
  8. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

Supported Wide Legged Forward Fold

Supported Wide Legged Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)

How to:

  1. Begin by having four blankets and one bolster ready.
  2. Roll two of the blankets up along their long edges and place them off to the side.
  3. Fold another blanket up on its longer edge and sit at the edge of it.
  4. Widen your legs and place your bolster in front of you.
  5. Fold up a blanket and place it on top of the bolster.
  6. Slip the rolled blankets that you’ve set aside beneath your knees and release your head onto the bolster and blanket stack.
  7. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

Supported Child’s Pose (Bālāsana)

How to:

  1. Begin by having one bolster and one block near.
  2. Set the block on its middle height.
  3. Place the tip of the bolster on top of the block.
  4. Come to your hands and knees facing the bolster and release your seat towards your feet and your cheek to one side on the bolster.
  5. Bring your hands forward and around the block.
  6. Hold for 5-10 minutes and then switch whichever cheek is on the bolster and hold again for another 5-10 minutes.

Restorative YTT & More!

Practice with our Restorative YTT instructor, Joanne Silver in the Energy Restoring Practice above. To enroll in a Restorative Online Yoga Teacher Training, click here: Restorative Yoga YTT

Weekly Class Theme: Brahmacharya

By Yoga Classes, Yoga TeachersNo Comments

Our next stop through the Yamas is Brahmacharya. Remember, the Yamas are considered jewels by which to live in order to experience life through a yogic lens (because what better way)! Brahmacharya is literally translated to “walking with God,” and is more commonly known as living with non-greed or non-excess. This Yama asks us to consider in every moment the sacredness of life and to be aware of when we are going from “enough to excess.”

Most of us may be able to relate to the feeling of eating too much, drinking too much, or sleeping too much to the point that it takes away from our ability to be fully present or content. It’s not that we shouldn’t indulge ourselves…that’s quite the contrary! But it’s the overindulgence that has us overlooking and taking for granted the pleasures of life and life itself.

Brahmacharya asks us to examine our lives in all aspects – work, play, material possessions, relationships, even our spiritual practices – and to notice when we are overdoing it. Subsequently, we are invited to create balance and rhythm in our lives between the doing and non-doing to experience a productive, yet utterly fulfilling life.

Peak Pose: Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)

If you ask me, all arm balances should have the teachings of Brahmacharya highlighted. Forearm stand (same with handstand), while we are upside down is an arm balance as opposed to being in the inversion family. It’s easy to get swept up in the “doing” of this pose…trying and trying followed by failing and frustration. I am picturing some of my students trying to get into the pose and eventually when they do muscle their way into it, the look on their face is of pure stress and strain. My personal journey to forearm stand has taken years and I’ve realized it doesn’t end when you are able to “get into the pose.” It requires us to check our ego at the door and approach it with patience, compassion, and non-excess…for overdoing it can surely put us in harm’s way physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Supporting Pose 1: Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Sphinx pose seems like an obvious choice to get the forearms on the ground to receive feedback from the surface below. It is fairly accessible and can teach the positions and actions of the hands and forearms before balancing the entire body on them.

How to:

  1. Lie on your belly with your legs fully extended and the front of the pelvis and tops of your feet pressing down into the ground.
  2. Bring your forearms to the floor parallel with one another (and the edges of your mat) and your elbows beneath your shoulders.
  3. Press your palms and forearms firmly into the ground as you energetically drag your arms back. The arms should not actually move, but the result should be the shoulder blades drawing back and down and it should feel like the collarbones are spreading.
  4. Keep the back of the neck lengthened.
  5. To incorporate this in a seamless way, you can replace cobra with sphinx pose during your warm up portion of class.

Supporting Pose 2: Triangle with Arm Overhead (Utthita Trikonasana)

Triangle helps to teach the practitioner about strong, clear and straight legs which is necessary for forearm stand. Taking the arm over the ear resembles the arm and upper back position for the peak pose.

How to:

  1. From Warrior II, straighten your legs and lift your kneecaps.
  2. Bend at your right hip and bring your right hand down to a block (or shin or ground) on the outside of your leg. Keep the arm straight.
  3. Take your left arm up to the ceiling and then over your head so the upper arm is alongside your ear.
  4. Ensure the front of your rib cage is in check by pulling the front ribs in and filling out the lower back.
  5. Press the crown of the head towards the front of the room to lengthen the neck and then either keep the gaze towards the side wall or turn the gaze to the sky.

Supporting Pose 3: Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Full wheel has multiple components which contribute wonderfully to the learning of forearm stand. Arm position, upper back action, pelvis and leg action are all ways in which full wheel helps the practitioner to prepare the body for pincha mayurasana. Depending on the level of students, you might consider doing a double peak class or doing this only if you have ample time to adequately teach/practice both.

How to:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of the feet planted on the floor with the heels under your knees.
  2. Reach your arms straight up to the sky and then bend your arms to bring the palms to the floor beneath your shoulders with the fingers facing the heels of your feet.
  3. Press your hands and feet into the ground as you lift the rest of your body away from the floor. You can either come to half-wheel (crown of the head planted to the ground) or right into full wheel as pictured.
  4. Firm the back of your pelvis towards the sky and firm the upper back in to move your chest towards the back of the room and the head between your arms.
  5. To exit, bend your elbows and slowly tuck your chin to lay down the back of your head, the upper back, middle back, and lower back.

And finally… Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)

How to:

  1. Come to sphinx pose as described in supporting pose #1.
  2. Then, enter into a forearm plank by tucking the toes, lifting the legs, pelvis, and belly off the floor.
  3. Walk the toes in towards the elbows while simultaneously piking the hips towards the sky (like in downward facing dog). Keep the legs sharp and straight while you do this.
  4. Once you feel like the hips are at the highest point that is within your capacity, lift one leg off the floor. You can consider starting by lifting your non-dominant leg as you’ll be kicking off the floor with the dominant leg.
  5. Gaze between your thumbs as you bend the bottom leg just enough to push your lower body off the floor and towards the sky. If you are against a wall, bring your top heel to the wall and then bring your bottom heel to meet it. If you are in the middle of the room, you can use the split leg position to find a pelvic position that allows you to balance upside down.
  6. Eventually, bring the legs together, flex and spread the toes, tone the thighs as you reach the balls of the feet up towards the ceiling.
  7. Pull the front ribs in and firm the sacrum in (probably could have done this a little better for the picture!), and allow the head to drop between the arms.
  8. To exit, start by lowering one leg to the floor followed by the other and land as quietly as you can manage.

Interested in learning more about forearm stand? We have a course for that. 🙂

Sources: The Yamas + Niyamas by Deborah Adele

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

How Restorative Yoga Can Help You During The Holiday Season

By Yoga AsanaNo Comments

For some people, the holiday season brings a ton of excitement, anticipation, and overall joy for the upcoming gatherings, celebrations, and visits with friends and family. For others, it’s definitely a time that can bring up anxiety, overwhelm, and sometimes even a little sadness. I tend to move between both of these extremes because I love the holidays, but I also find myself saying yes to too many obligations, worrying about making everyone happy, and sometimes missing the people I can’t be with.

My yoga practice has helped me navigate extreme emotions in my life and it’s also been what’s stopped me from having a meltdown at work or snapping at the people I love. Through yoga and meditation, I’ve been able to really find that place between action and reaction, so I can take a breath and respond in a much calmer way. Restorative yoga, on the other hand, has been what’s totally saved me during the holidays.

Restorative yoga has a ton of benefits when practiced on a regular basis, but I really need it when life gets a little more hectic, when emotions are high, and when I’m just generally spread out way too thin. This holiday season, I’m relying on restorative yoga to get me through the situations I can’t avoid and the extreme feelings that I tend to feel. It’s my number one helper for the holidays and I’m so excited to share how it can help you out too!

Restorative yoga is like a big hug for your nervous system

It calms your mind and gives your body a chance to release certain anxieties, so it’s incredibly soothing for your mind and body. The soothing effect that it has on your nervous system is something that’s needed anytime tension gets a little high or stress sneaks its way into your life. During the holidays, you may be dealing with tons of phone calls from family members or added stress at work. This is the perfect time to find your yoga mat and unwind.

When your nervous system is regulated and working the way it should, your body creates the space that can facilitate energy conservation. This means that you will naturally know what deserves your attention and what doesn’t. Your ability to make decisions from a calm place is elevated and you won’t feel like you’re doing a million things at once. You’ll be way more rested and feel more refreshed as you navigate important decisions and make holiday plans.

Speaking of rest, restorative yoga helps you sleep

Your body has something really intricate called the parasympathetic nervous system. When this network of nerves is activated, your heart rate and breathing will slow down and your body will enter a state of total relaxation. Restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so if you’ve had a long, stressful day, rolling out your yoga mat before bed can be a great way to unwind from any stressors you’ve experienced.

The holidays tend to bring up a lot of extra attention to detail, deep talks, memories that are either really sad or incredibly happy, and a ton of other things that can keep you staring at your bedroom walls all night. By incorporating this practice into your routine a few nights a week, you’ll digest the events of your day better and you’ll bring your mind to a place of ease. This will increase the quality of your sleep and you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to face a new day.

Since you’ll be sleeping better, you’ll have more energy.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re experiencing high quality sleep, you’ll wake up with a lot more energy. You can’t replace hours of sleep with cups of coffee, so when you bring your body to a place of ease and relaxation, it will reset and recharge the way it’s meant to. In fact, even if you have a few restless nights, you can replace your afternoon coffee with five minutes in a restorative pose.

A few minutes in your restorative practice will tell your body that it’s time to chill out and rest. Once your body experiences this state of rest, you’ll feel much more energized and your mind will be a lot more clear. Remember, you can’t replace a good night’s sleep with restorative yoga, but you can use it as a helper for those days when you need that little pick me up.

Your digestion will improve

If you’ve been going to one too many holiday parties or gatherings, you might be indulging in some things that aren’t part of your daily routine. Maybe you’re eating later or eating a little more. Maybe you’re eating foods that you normally don’t eat. Whatever it is, your body will thank you if you stick with your restorative yoga practice.

Restorative yoga aids in digestion, so the more consistent you are with coming to your mat, the better you’ll digest the things that probably need a little more assistance. The holidays are a great time to try new things and indulge a little bit, but you want to make sure you take care of yourself afterwards!

Restorative yoga may help you handle stress, anxiety, and holiday sadness

As exciting as the holidays may be for some people, they can also be a frantic and sad time for others. Practicing restorative yoga is a powerful form of self care because it brings your body to a place that can facilitate healing. Think about how you feel when you come home from somewhere and you’re tired or stressed or sad. You might go right to your freezer and grab some ice cream to self-soothe, sit on your couch, and watch mindless tv or scroll through your phone.

What if you got on your yoga may and gave yourself a little time in some restorative yoga poses instead? This will give you the time to actually rest and reset from whatever you came home from. You’ll give yourself some time to digest what happened during the day and figure out what healthy and fulfilling choices you need to feel better. When you take care of your beautiful body and mind, you will be more in tune with what it needs to find balance and feel well. This is such an empowering tool to have with you as you navigate the holidays.

You’ll be more kind to yourself

Have you ever been upset with yourself because you wanted to accomplish so much but didn’t get through half of your to-do list? This can happen when events and responsibilities pile on and you want to be everywhere at once. Practicing some restorative yoga poses will help you cultivate gratitude for your work, love for your body, and patience with yourself. Once you slow things down, you’ll be more open to kindness and more receptive to self love.

Once you’re more kind and loving towards yourself, you’ll also find yourself being more compassionate and caring to the people in your life. This is so important as the stress of the holidays begins to creep up and responsibilities pile on. Almost everyone is experiencing these elevated emotions, so being kind is key.

You’ll cultivate a practice that will help you start the new year right

If you start and stick with your restorative yoga practice throughout the holidays, you’ll automatically have a healthy habit under your belt to take into the new year. Sometimes new year’s resolutions don’t always work out, so why not begin healthy habits early? Restorative yoga is a self care practice that can set the foundation for other positive habits to manifest.

If you’re interested in learning more about restorative yoga or becoming certified to teach so you can share these practices with others, be sure to check out our restorative yoga teacher training. It will provide you with the tools you need to kickstart your own practice and also safely teach others. You’ll learn about how the poses are beneficial to your body and mind and also how to sequence them together to create a full length class.

Restorative yoga is for everyone and it’s designed to meet you where you’re at and support you wherever you’re seeking support. It’s my favorite way to take care of myself during the holidays and also throughout the year. It’s what keeps me on track whenever I feel like I’m lacking self care or whenever I need a little reset. The practice is so transformational and I know that you’ll fall in love with it right away!

I hope you have a healthy, balanced, and loving holiday season and I hope that you and yours are well. I hope that these tools support you as you make your way into a new year and I hope they help you find new ways to take care of yourself and to get excited for self care, self love, and continuous kindness.

Weekly Class Theme: Asteya

By Yoga Classes, Yoga TeachersNo Comments

As we pursue our journey through the Yamas, we continuously connect with the ways in which we ought to carry ourselves in relation to our Self and the world around us. This week’s journey brings us to Asteya, or non-stealing.

Asteya is about more than just taking from others what does not belong to us. That is part of it, of course. But Asteya encompasses beyond what our definition of “stealing” might entail. This Yama asks us to examine the ways in which we might be stealing from others not just in material possessions but in terms of our present moment awareness (or lack of it), our energy and compassion towards another (or lack of it), and/or acknowledgement of someone’s thoughts or feelings (or discount of such things).

Asteya also puts us face to face in the ways in which we contribute to a messy world for future generations to deal with and the ways in which we contribute to a damaging future for ourselves. Non-stealing is all about walking this lifetime with integrity to uphold the beauty and magnificence of the world and to consistently take time to rest, reconnect, and re-align with ourselves to ultimately live with the best and highest intentions.

Pigeon on the Back

Doesn’t this pose look familiar?! Getting on the back allows the muscles in the back body to relax into the floor. This can give access to other areas of the body (in this case the focus is the hip/pelvis region) in order to do the intended work in the soft tissues.

How to:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and soles of the feet planted on the floor.
  2. Bring your right knee in towards your chest and externally rotate the leg at the hip to place your right ankle across your left thigh.
  3. Widen your right inner thigh and knee forward as you either keep the left foot planted or lift it off the ground to intensify the stretch.
  4. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed as you notice the sensations around your right leg and hip and try to release any gripping.
  5. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
  6. Your hands can come to your left hamstring, your left shin, or you can have one hand on your left leg and one hand on your right leg.

Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Wide Leg Forward Fold

Sleeping pigeon pose requires one folded leg and one straight leg. The extent to which we can fold our legs depends on the extent to which we can straighten our legs. Working on straightening the legs fully will support the peak pose when we fold one leg and place some pressure on it.

How to:

  1. From low lunge, straighten your legs and pivot to face a side wall.
  2. Ensure your second and third toes are facing the side wall and are more or less parallel to one another.
  3. Take your palms to the floor so that your hands are in line with your feet, but keep the fingers and toes facing the same direction.
  4. Lift your kneecaps up to straighten your legs and use your legs to lift the hips up and pull the crown of the head towards the floor.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

girl in tree pose with arms extended up high

Pigeon pose has one straight leg and one folded leg, which is also the case in tree pose. This posture will contribute to training the lower body about the shape of sleeping pigeon pose.

How to:

  1. From mountain pose, lift your right leg up and fold the leg by bringing your right heel towards your right sitting bone. Press the four corners of the left foot into the ground and firm the thigh muscles to make a clear and straight leg.
  2. Externally rotate your leg at the hip and use your hand to guide your right foot to the inner left groin.
  3. Firm your right buttocks forward as you widen your inner right knee towards the right side wall. See that the toes are facing the floor.
  4. Take your arms up to the sky alongside your ears.

Sleeping Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana)

How to:

  1. From downward facing dog, fold your right leg and bring your right knee towards your right wrist.
  2. Externally rotate the leg at the hip and place the right shin down on the ground with the top of the foot pressing into the floor.
  3. Lengthen your left leg towards the back of the room and press the outer ankle bone in towards the midline of your body so the foot is properly aligned.
  4. Walk your hands forward and fold over your right folded leg while keeping the hips squared to the front of the room. Notice the sensations around the hip and if there is any gripping or tension, try to be aware of it and see if you can soften.
  5. It is okay if your shin is not parallel to the top, short side of your mat. If the leg is folded properly, your shin will appear to be at more of an angle with your right knee towards the right side of the mat and your right foot towards the left side of the mat.
Girl in Camel Pose

Weekly Class Theme: Ahimsa

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

The Yamas + the Niyamas are the first two limbs of the eight-limbed path of Yoga. They are essentially guidelines, or ethical principles to live by.

In this article, we’ll explore the Yamas and how we can approach asana within this realm. Yamas, in Sanskrit, translates to restraints and represents areas to gain self-control over in regards to living in proper conduct with ourselves and others.

The Yamas, in English, are:

  1. Non-violence
  2. Truthfulness
  3. Non-stealing
  4. Non-excess
  5. Non-possessiveness

Today we’ll be looking at Ahimsa (in Sanskrit), translated to non-violence in English. Immediately when we see the word non-violence, it might be rather easy to tell yourself, “I’m not violent. I have never killed anyone or caused anyone physical harm.” But non-violence goes beyond these more physical forms of violence.

Ahimsa asks us to evaluate how we treat ourselves and how we show up in the world, as this has a direct impact on our relationships with the external world (when I say external world I mean everything outside of us, including other humans).

Demonstrating non-violence towards ourselves is not the easiest task and it is easy to go unnoticed. When was the last time you told yourself you couldn’t do something, and then proceeded to NOT do it? When was the last time you booked your schedule so heavily that you had no time for yourself? How about the last time you kept yourself in a spiral of victimization, guilt, or shame?

The truth is, we’ve all treated ourselves violently and this is not something to feel bad or ashamed about (as this would keep the violent streak going).

The first step in working towards true non-violence is becoming aware of when we are doing such things. And then once we’ve sharpened our eye of awareness, we can give ourselves the opportunity to make another choice. We can give ourselves the opportunity to do the thing that scares us, create more space for ourselves, and forgive ourselves even when we make mistakes. The way we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. The more that we can tend to our own inner peace, the more we can inspire others to do the same and feel safe within our presence.

Peak Pose: Came (Ustrasana)

I used to HATE camel and would avoid it like the plague. The reasons why I would avoid it, and why I think some other people find it not so enjoyable, is due to compression in the lower spine causing pain, light-headedness, and discomfort in the shoulders and chest causing difficulty in breathing. However, with time, patience, and compassion with practicing this posture…it has actually become one of my favorite poses – if I am prepared for it of course!

Supporting Pose 1: Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)

Bridge Pose

You might not think of putting bridge at the beginning of your asana class, but I like this pose as it establishes the firming in of the upper back (with the floor giving feedback), the sacrum moving forward (in this case up), and the outer hips compacting in to support the backbend. This would not be the very first pose I would do…I might start with some gentle twisting and perhaps a supported bridge before going into this very active posture.

How to:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and soles of the feet flat on the floor. Ensure the heels of your feet are underneath your knees.
  2. Press the backs of your shoulders into the ground to broaden your collarbones and press the back of your skull into the ground while maintaining the curve in your cervical spine.
  3. Firm your sacrum (bony plate on the posterior side of your pelvis) up towards the ceiling to lift the pelvis off the ground. Use the support of your outer hips moving in to direct the hips up. A block between the thighs is a good idea!
  4. Firm your upper back in as you walk your arms and shoulder blades towards each other under your back and on the ground.

Supporting Pose 2: Side Plank (Vasisthasana)

Side Plank

Side plank is another great posture to emphasize the support of the outer hips in lifting your body off the ground. This is an action that will greatly come in handy in camel! Side plank also gives an opportunity to press the sacrum forward, almost like you’re going in the direction of a backbend, but in this case you are working to get the hips in line with the feet and chest.

How to:

Supporting Pose 3: Warrior I

Warrior One Pose

Yet another great pose where the outer hips compact in so you can reach UP. Warrior I, like camel, requires the forward movement of the sacrum…like you are trying to move the pelvis towards a posterior tilt in order to align the spine well. The arms going up requires the shoulder blades moving towards one another on the back. Clasping the hands behind the lower back is a good option as well.

How to:

  1. Step your right foot forwards towards the top of your mat and your left foot about 3 feet behind towards the back of your mat and turned out at an angle (~45 degrees). Your feet should be widened so it’s as if your feet are on two different train tracks. Widening the feet also lends more support to the entire frame so feel free to widen the feet as much as you need!
  2. Bend the right knee to 90 degrees, or at least until the knee is over the ankle. As you press the right shin forward, press your left thigh back while keeping the hips more-or-less squared towards the front of the room.
  3. Compact the outer hips in and press your sacrum forward as you reach your arms up towards the sky.
  4. Firm your upper back in as you broaden your chest to face the ceiling.

Camel (Ustrasana)

Girl in Camel Pose

How to:

  1. Bring your shins to the ground about hip width distance apart from one another. When I say hip width, I mean at the width of your frontal hips points or in anatomy terms your anterior superior iliac spines (ASIS) – not to the widest part of your pelvis.
  2. Smooth your shins and flatten the tops of your feet to the floor. This is traditional as in Light on Yoga, you can tuck the toes if that feels better for you.
  3. Bring your hands to your lower back/pelvis region while you firm your upper back in and aim the elbows towards the back of the room.
  4. Press your sacrum forward while continuing to dig the shoulder blades into the upper back to open the front body forward and up. Imagine you are going up and over a large beach ball.
  5. If available, walk your hands down your legs to your feet so that the palms of your hands can connect with the soles of your feet. This is an anchor point for you to continue to work the backbend shape (pelvis forward and upper back in).
  6. Allow the head to eventually fall back so the throat can be open. This is if it feels okay and does not impact your breathing.
  7. To exit, return your hands to your lower back/pelvis and guide your way to a neutral spine and into vajrasana. Avoid going into a forward fold directly following the backbend. Always take yourself to neutral first and work from there.

Sources: The Yamas + Niyamas by Deborah Adele

6 Tips to Practice Mindful Eating

By Mindfulness + Meditation

Mindful eating is mindful living. It’s a practice that we do everyday to learn more about our thoughts, emotions, feelings, our actions, and reactions in order to cultivate health and contentment. And we use the same attitudes and qualities of mindfulness in how we approach food, our bodies, and our entire lives.

Mindful eating counts heavily on the connection we have with our body, such as listening to our body cues of hunger, fullness, taste and satiety, and actively using our five senses while eating: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste.

Connecting with our Body is a Natural Capacity

This is not hard as this connection with the body is an innate capacity, babies and young children do actually have that connection with their body cues of having enough. We often see babies stop drinking before finishing the amount of milk that is recommended for their age, and we also see young children leave food or ice cream on their plates and just walk away saying, “I’m full.”

Unfortunately, this natural connection weakens over time in part due to conditioning. Oftentimes as children grow up, parents tell them that they have to finish their food even if they have had enough. There is also a growing trend of families having their meals in front of the TV, or not having proper meal times, and just eating in the car between their after school activities or while doing their homework.

Eating also becomes an activity a lot of people do without much thought or attention. They don’t pay attention to what they eat or when their body is telling them to stop eating. They don’t distinguish between physical hunger and other triggers to eat.

The good news is that we can restore this ability with mindfulness practices. A consistent practice of mindfulness meditation is key to achieve this connection with our body and observe our thoughts and emotions and also identify our eating triggers and manage them. And the great new is you can start taking small steps right away that can help you eat more mindfully. Let’s take a look at some of those tips.

Here are 6 tips you can practice for mindful eating

1. Eat while justing eating

The first, and most important, thing I’d like to start with is that in order to eat mindfully, you should plan to just eat– as in eating without doing anything else aside from eating. That is without watching TV or working or driving, for example.

2. Tune inwards

Mindful eating actually begins before you are ready to eat. It starts when you first feel the urge to eat. When that feeling comes up, with your eyes closed or open, take three deep breaths and observe your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations in your body. Notice if you experience any sensations of physical hunger, and if so, rate how hungry you are.

Then notice what are you hungry for, and if there’s a particular type of food you would like to have, then ask yourself will this food nourish my body and support my health? Will this food give me pleasure?

Then if you decided to eat…

3. Use all of your senses:

  1. Sight: With the food in front of you, notice what does it look like? Pay attention to the shape, colour, size…etc
  2. Smell: Then take a moment to smell the food, paying attention to the layers of aroma as they go through your nose. Really examine the food as if you’re seeing it and smelling it for the very first time
  3. Touch, sound & taste: As you bring the food to your mouth, slow down and chew slowly with your mind focusing on the process. Be aware of the texture of the food, the sound of the food while you chew and the taste of the food as it changes while you chew. Just don’t do anything else while you’re chewing, simply chew and pay attention.

4. Chew slowly

Keep chewing while resisting the impulse to swallow, and when you decide to swallow, pay attention to how this feels in your body and to the intention of swallowing. And as you swallow feel the food moving through the throat, esophagus and resting in your stomach.

After you swallow, rest for few seconds before you take the next bite.

5. Pay attention to your thoughts, emotions and distractions

While you are eating become aware of recurring thoughts or emotions, and when you notice that your mind is wandering, investigate your distraction and gently bring your attention back to eating.

6. Keep examining your hunger, fullness, taste & satiety

While eating gently notice your hunger and satiety levels, and then give yourself permission to stop eating when your body tells you so, when you no longer enjoy the taste as much, when you’re no longer physically hungry and when your stomach feels comfortably full and your satiety feeling gives you the signal of energy and well being.

With time and consistent practice, you can practice mindful eating, without closing your eyes, and while around people and no one will notice what you are doing.

Mastering the Art of Moderation

Each day should include moderate amounts of food that brings you pleasure. Moderation allows us to live at peace with our food, knowing that eating small amounts of the less healthy food, won’t be enough to disrupt the healthy relationship.

And with time and practice, you will master the art of moderation, you can really enjoy few bites of your favorite dessert and feel satisfied with few chips or crackers for a snack.
You can attend big holiday dinners without anxiety, and you can go to parties and buffets where multiple delicious foods are there, while feeling a sense of freedom that comes from knowing that you have mastered the art of moderation and you’re not going to overdo it, it comes from knowing that you can eat smaller portions and yet feel more satisfied.

You may not be able to do all of this today or by next week or month, but if you would like to learn more about mindful eating, check out our course where you will learn the practices and the skills to make these experiences your norm. You will lose weight if that’s your intention and maintain it without feeling deprived and without missing out on everything you love about eating.

Other Applications of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating extends beyond just eating, it also includes:

  • Planning — Being mindful while you decide on what to eat: look up recipes, make your grocery list, and being mindful while you are shopping for your ingredients.
  • Preparing for meals — Pay attention while you’re preparing your meal, washing the food, chopping, mixing ingredients, and how you present your food and set up the table when eating mindfully.
  • Cleaning up — Be mindful while you clean up after you finish eating, clearing the table, storing away leftover food, composting food or garbage, and washing the dishes.

What is Mindful Eating?

By Mindfulness + Meditation

Mindful eating is a hot topic that you’re probably hearing a lot about lately and that’s especially true because of food-related health issues we currently face.

However, even though mindful eating applies to issues today, it is not a modern-day invention. Mindful eating is rooted in the Buddhist tradition and is considered a fundamental aspect of living that helps prevent unnecessary harm to one’s body and mind.

The concept of mindfulness was first introduced to the West about 40 years ago. Mindful eating is one of the mindfulness-based interventions that was developed and studied over the past 20 years with ample research supporting its benefits. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits…

Benefits of Mindful Eating:

  • Improved eating behaviors and patterns
  • Reduction in binge eating episodes and frequencies
  • Improved quality of diet
  • Increased body satisfaction and pleasure when eating
  • Improved metabolic outcomes
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Emotional balance
  • Increased self- compassion
  • Increase in positive emotional and psychological qualities
  • Improved distress tolerance
  • Increased meaning and sense of purpose

To help us understand what mindful eating is, we need to understand first what mindfulness is.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, moment-by-moment practice of developing awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. The “non-judgmental” part of the definition refers to the idea that mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and emotions without judging them, without believing that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.

The skill of mindfulness is to be able to place our attention where we wish it to go, and not where it is pulled to in the moment. And this skill can be cultivated through the consistent practice of mindfulness meditation as we sit or lie down and focus on our breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions. The skill of tuning in to the breath for example, teaches us how to tune into our signals of hunger, fullness, cravings, enjoyment and more.

How mindfulness relates to mindful eating

Practicing mindfulness brings attention the following elements, which in turn can be applied to the act of eating.

Difficult emotions – like sadness, anger, fear, boredom, loneliness, or any other emotion that might be a trigger to eat.
Mindfulness helps us develop new skills to manage discomfort and emotional pain other than food.

Challenging thoughts – self judgement, critical thoughts, self worth, body image. People tend to respond with food to such thoughts, and most often use food as punishment. With mindfulness we acknowledge our thoughts and accept them without reacting. We accept our critical thoughts with self-compassion and an open heart.

Bodily sensations – we listen to our body cues, like physical hunger, fullness, taste preferences, etc.

What is true for us at the moment – we recognize our true needs, for example, do I really need a cookie now or is what I truly need a hug or a heartfelt conversation with a friend?

Healthy eating models – we learn about nutrition information like general awareness of energy value of food, quality of food, and awareness of portion sizes that may be helpful with our food choices.

How our bodies react to food – we learn how our body reacts to different types of food, what energizes our bodies, what makes us feel sluggish, what makes us feel bloated…etc

Applying mindfulness to eating

A Black man preparing a meal at the kitchen table

So applying mindfulness to food and eating is what is called Mindful Eating. Let’s take a closer look at what it is.

Mindful Eating Involves Connecting with Your Body

Mindful eating involves connecting with your body to listen to its signals and what it’s telling you, like when to eat and when to stop eating. What would you like to eat at a given moment and when are you no longer enjoying the food that you’re eating. All of these signals can be missed if we don’t pay close attention.
With mindful eating you also learn to distinguish physical hunger signals from other triggers for wanting to eat, because its very common that we confuse for example boredom or sadness for being physically hungry.

Mindful Eating Involves Managing Your Emotions

Mindful eating involves identifying and managing your food triggers, like the situations or emotions that trigger you to eat. It also helps us to identify and manage food cravings.

Mindful Eating is Not a Diet or a Weight Loss Plan

Mindful eating is not a diet or a weight loss plan, so there’s no deprivation in mindful eating. In fact, it’s the opposite. Mindful eating acknowledges that no one can tell you what to eat and how much to eat to feel satisfied. Only YOU can tell, by tuning into your body’s signals and making the food choices that work for you personally.

In mindful eating you learn about how your body responds to certain foods and again this helps you make the choices that would be nourishing for you.

Mindful Eating is Flexible Eating

There are no restrictions in mindful eating, because your life cannot be the same every day. You will be invited to parties, potlucks, and holiday dinners. You will go on vacations and you will have events at work. In mindful eating you learn how to enjoy the food on every occasion and event.

Mindful Eating Liberates from the Diet Mentality

Mindful eating is liberating. It liberates from the diet mentality and liberates from the burden of being obsessed with weight, body image and food related thoughts. And this energy can be given to other areas in your life that are more important and nourishing.

Mindful Eating is Balanced Eating

Mindful eating is balanced eating– eating in more balance with what your body needs at any given moment and in more balance with all the other aspects of your life, family, friends, work, hobbies, and entertainment.

And it doesn’t mean that you always have to eat as a response to physical hunger. Yes, sometimes we eat for comfort, or as a response to emotions, and yes we eat something just because we like it and we want to eat it and enjoy it, yet all of this is within balance.

Mindful Eating is Not About What you Eat, it is About How you Eat

Mindful eating doesn’t mean that you always have to eat healthy food. Mindful eating includes enjoying high fat, high sugar, high salt foods, but you learn the skills to maximize the enjoyment from eating a smaller quantity and in a way that is nourishing to your body and mind.

Mindful Eating Cultivates a Healthy Relationship with Food

With mindful eating we cultivate a healthy relationship with food where we can enjoy it without the feelings of guilt and shame. We approach our experiences with food and eating with the attitudes of non-judgment, compassion, kindness, patience, acceptance and open heart.

You can start practicing mindful eating today!

Learn 6 tips to practice mindful eating in another article written by our Mindfulness teacher, Rajaa.

Savasana Pose on a yoga mat on the floor

Weekly Class Theme: Ishvara Pranidhana

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

This week’s class theme is centered around the final niyama: Ishvara Pranidhana, which translates to surrender.

It makes sense that this would be the final niyama. Each niyama has shed some light on the specific duties and observances one should use as a guideline towards self-realization. After all is said and done, after we have purified ourselves, cultivated contentment, put ourselves through the fire of transformation, opened ourselves up to deep self-study, the only thing left to do is surrender.

Now, surrender does not mean throw your hands up, come to your knees, and stop acting. It is not a way to say “FORGET IT…I GIVE UP!” This is often how I perceive people in the west to approach this concept. Rather, surrender asks us to continuously show up with integrity to do the work while simultaneously giving in to the flow of life.

Like I mentioned, often when we hear the word “surrender” it can be taken as a negative. It can be seen as a failure…like we are giving up on an opportunity or like we are not living up to some set expectation. When we are asked to surrender we are asked to let go of our “control” of life. And this can be quite uncomfortable for many people, but it is absolutely necessary if we ever wish to liberate ourselves from the worries, anxieties, and fears that occur as part of living as a human on this Earth.

Ishvara Pranidhana calls forth the feminine nature in all beings and calls for us to soften and allow the winds of life to take us as they may. And if we are open to it, we may realize that the winds are actually taking us to a better place than we ever could have imagined.

Peak Pose: Corpse Pose (Savasana)

When I think of surrender, there is no other pose that comes to mind besides Corpse Pose, or savasana. Savasana is literally preparing the body for death and is the ultimate pose to release oneself to the currents of life. It is taken following work, whether that be pranayama, meditation, or asana and brings balance to the fire we bring to said work. While savasana may look easy, practitioners know that this can be one of the hardest poses to achieve. As soon as we start to steady the body, the mind goes wild and all we want to do is fidget and move. This pose requires a calm nervous system to support a calm body and calm mind. The ideas for this sequenced class is inspired by creating a well balanced class with poses intentionally geared towards grounding.

Supporting Pose 1: Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child's Pose

If there’s any pose that I’d choose to begin a class with to immediately begin to calm the nervous system to ready oneself for full surrender, it would be child’s pose. The head is lowered, the body is close to the floor and in a contracted position, and the body is symmetrical.

How to:

  1. From a tabletop position, take the big toes together and widen the knees enough so the pelvis can sit back comfortably over the heels of the feet.
  2. Rest your forehead on the floor. If your head does not reach the ground, take a blanket or block beneath the forehead.
  3. Stretch the arms forward with the palms and forearms relaxed on the ground, or wrap the arms around the legs to reach the hands towards the feet.

Supporting Pose 2: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior Two Pose

Warrior II being one of the main standing postures can be pretty familiar and grounding. It is one of the more accessible open hip postures and has the ability to open up the body in preparation for deeper work.

How to:

  1. Facing a long edge of your mat, stand with the feet about 3 feet apart from one another with the toes parallel to each other.
  2. Reach the arms out into a “T” away from the heart with the palms facing the floor.
  3. Open up the right hip and the right toes and bend the knee to 90 degrees so that the knee is above the ankle. 90 degrees is ideal, but if the body won’t allow this right away, shorten the stance and bend the knee until the knee is over the ankle. Ensure the weight is equal in both feet.
  4. Take your gaze over the right middle finger.

Supporting Pose 3: Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

Supported Shoulder Stand

Ending the class with inversions is a great way to reverse blood flow and calm the nervous system to ready the body for final rest. Supported shoulder stand is an accessible inversion for many students compared to regular shoulder stand and headstand. Legs up the wall is another option.

How to:

  1. Lie on the ground with the knees bent and soles of the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift the hips away from the ground and place a block on the lowest setting beneath your sacrum. Your sacrum is that bony plate on the back of your pelvis that combines right and left sides.
  3. Bring your knees in towards your chest to lift the feet off the ground and then reach the feet up towards the sky. This should feel *fairly* comfortable. If it feels like your legs and core are exerting a lot of energy to keep the legs up, the block may need to be adjusted or taking legs up the wall may be a better option.
  4. Allow your arms to rest by your sides and try to relax the head and shoulders.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Savasana Pose

How to:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs and arms out at about 45 degrees.
  2. Allow your toes to fall out naturally and allow your fingers to curl naturally.
  3. Gently close the eyes as you let your breath come to its normal cadence. Allow yourself to simply rest. If it helps to concentrate on a body part or concentrate on your breathing, you can do that. But eventually the goal is to even soften concentration to let presence be present.
  4. Rest for 5-10 minutes. Comfort is key. You can place a blanket underneath your head, beneath your knees, or over your body.

Sources: The Yamas + Niyamas by Deborah Adele

Weekly Class Theme: Tapas

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

Over the past few weeks we’ve been taking a journey through the Niyamas, which can be thought of as duties or observances along one’s spiritual journey towards enlightenment. This week we are exploring tapas, otherwise known as self-discipline.

Tapas is directly translated to heat and refers to the act of putting ourselves through the fire to transform ourselves into our highest form of self. You know the quote “nothing good comes easy?” That’s tapas.

Take a moment to reflect on a challenging moment in your life…a breakup, death of a loved one, job loss, a pandemic? Whether you have gone through something in the past, or if you are currently working through something as you read this, you may be able to relate to the feeling of literally burning on the inside as you carry yourself through the fire.

The practice of tapas is not easy. It requires a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fortitude to continuously show up regardless of the outer circumstances. In terms of our Yoga practice, we certainly will not want to show up every day. It’s not always easy to arrive to the mat, meditation cushion, sacred texts, or journal when things get tough, but it’s always worth it…no matter how long the practice or “how good” you think the practice was. Because with effort, discipline, and faith…on the other side of our challenge lies a much stronger and illumined version of YOU.

Peak Pose: Boat Pose (Navasana)

Boat pose is a physically vigorous pose. For many, it requires consistent effort and practice to balance on the sit bones while straightening the legs and keeping the chest lifted. Not to mention it builds heat and requires core strength which are both appropriate in our discussion of tapas. Also, there’s an analogous meaning here with staying afloat despite any of the turbulent waves…

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

If you turn your screen upside down, downward facing dog is essentially boat pose in a different orientation. DFD gives the practitioner the firm ground to press into to learn the actions of straightening the legs, anteriorly rotating the pelvis, + firming the front ribs and upper back in which are all key alignment points in boat.

How to:

  1. Come into a high plank position with the arms and legs straight. Legs should be toned.
  2. Pike the hips up and back so there is a deep fold where the fronts of the thighs meet the pelvis. Lift the sitting bones up towards the ceiling.
  3. Firm your front ribs in, like you are filling out the lower back and firm the upper back in to broaden your chest.
  4. Press evenly through the hands and feet and allow your head to relax between your arms.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Similar to DFD, triangle teaches the practitioner appropriate actions of the legs, pelvis, and torso to serve alignment in boat pose.

How to:

  1. From warrior II, straighten out both legs and lift the inner arches of the feet to create integrity through the inner lines of the legs.
  2. Fold at the front hip (where the thigh meets the pelvis), take your torso into lateral flexion (or a side bend), and take your hand down to the ground, shin, or block. *We’re looking for the torso to be more or less parallel to the floor. The goal is not to touch the floor, especially if that puts you into poor alignment.
  3. Firm your front ribs in and firm the upper back in as you take your top arm to the sky.
  4. Your gaze can go up to your top hand or look straight ahead at the side wall you are facing.

Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana)

For this pyramid pose, we’re going to focus on the “wide” variation with the back heel lifted up to keep the hips squared and to give access to the straightness of the legs.

How to:

  1. From low lunge with your hands to the ground or blocks on either side of the front foot, straighten your legs and lift your sitting bones up (like in DFD).
  2. Press the roots of your thighs back to create a deep fold at the front of your pelvis as you draw your front hip back and back hip forward.
  3. Lift the inner arches of the feet (lifting the toes helps to lift the inner arches) to create integrity through the inner lines of the legs.
  4. Walk your hands back as you bring your nose towards your knee.

Boat Pose (Navasana)

How to:

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Take your hands to your hamstrings (back of your thighs) and gently pull to firm the upper back in (or draw the shoulder blades towards one another) and lift your chest. Be sure to pair this action with bringing the front ribs in so that you are not borrowing range from the rib cage to open the chest.
  3. Lift your shins so they are parallel to the floor. Spread your toes and lift the inner arches of the feet to create integrity through the legs.
  4. Reach your hands forward while keeping the upper back firmed in. You can choose to stay here.
  5. Straighten your legs as you reach the balls of your feet forward and up. Keep the thighs toned and breathe.

Sources: The Yamas + Niyamas by Deborah Adele

girl in crow pose on a yoga mat, knees resting on the back of the elbows

Weekly Class Theme: Svadhyaya

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

As we journey deeper and deeper into the Niyamas, it is like we are gradually unlocking pieces of wisdom guiding us closer to our true selves. To review, the niyamas are duties or observances that one engages in throughout their spiritual journey.

Svadhyaya is translated to self-study and is all about unpacking our unconscious beliefs, thoughts, values, and norms in order to connect with our divine selves. From our time in the womb to who we are now, we have been receiving and gathering input from all entities and people which surround us. This includes our parents, caregivers, family, friends, and wider social circles. This also includes our cultures, geographic locations, and environments from which we originate and/or live in.

Since we’ve been welcomed into this world it’s like we’ve been trying on and putting on different “outfits” in the form of different belief systems, opinions, and “rights vs. wrongs.” This has ultimately resulted in our current personality and who we perceive to be ourselves today.

The aim of Svadhyaya is to take off the outfits (most of which we didn’t even choose for ourselves) and to uncover the self which lies within. This self is unattached to certain beliefs, opinions, and rights vs. wrongs which allows there to be an ease when confronted with opposing views. This self is pure and does not combat others when there is a disagreement or when something doesn’t align. This self is aware that “we only know what we know” and encourages us to cultivate a beginner’s mindset in all that we do.

Once you let go of who you think you are, Svadhyaya guides you into a well of learning that never ends. Yoga equips us with the tools to handle such a never-ending well. Tools such as personal inquiry, asana practice, meditation, and study of sacred texts are all vehicles of self-study.

Svadhyaya is like the sword which everyone possesses but only few will choose to use it to cut through layers and layers of preconceived notions and established habits. It isn’t easy to partake in the task as this can release unpleasant feelings, it could cause us to question our current “identity,” and could lead us towards severing things and relationships which no longer serve us. But of course, the yogi knows what lies at the end of it all.

So now that you know you have the sword, will you choose to wield it? (I’m not sure if this is an actual quote or not, but it came to mind and felt appropriate.)

Peak Pose: Crow (Bakasana)

The immediate subset of poses which comes to mind in regards to “self-study” is the forward folding family. YES crow is also an arm balance, but it is a forward fold as many of the arm balances are. This pose puts you into a position in which to fold into yourself and balance on the hands all while trying to overcome your fear or face-planting. If you ask me, there are PLENTY of opportunities for self-study here. Not to mention, it is quite a popular pose to teach!

Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)

girl sitting in thunderbolt pose

This is a great option for you students to begin class in. The legs are folded in half, which is a necessary action for crow pose.

How to:

  1. Sit on the floor with the legs folded, shins and tops of the feet pressing into the ground, and heels of the feet beneath the sitting bones. You can sit up on a block with your feet pressing into the edges of the block or you can put a slightly rolled blanket under the tops of the feet if there is a large space there.
  2. Place your hands gently onto your lap and sit so that your spine is long with the heart over the pelvis.
  3. Ensure the head is in a neutral position.
  4. Breathe smoothly.

Side Angle Pose (Parsvottanasana)

girl in extended side angle position with the opposite hand inside the left foot

Side angle with the hand on the inside of the leg is perfect for cultivating the leg + arm connection similar to what we will experience in crow! The arms going straight apart from one another (as opposed to the top arm over the ear) gives access to straightening the arms fully.

How to:

  1. From Warrior 2, take your leading hand down to the floor on the inside of your leg with your other hand straight to the sky.
  2. Bend deeply into the front leg and think about pressing the shin towards the front of the space.
  3. Straighten your arms towards the floor and sky as you reach them away from your heart.
  4. Your gaze could be straight ahead or up to the sky.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

girl in tree pose with arms extended up high

Tree pose has a folded leg that is the same vibe which we are going for in crow pose. Part of crow pose is alignment and strength to stand on the hands, but the other part is folding the legs to lift the feet off the floor.

  1. Stand in mountain pose.
  2. Stand on the right leg to lift your left leg up and fold it in half using your hands to help.
  3. Externally rotate (or open up) the left hip to bring the knee out to the side.
  4. Connect your left foot to the inner groin of your right leg.
  5. Reach your arms straight to the sky.
  6. Return to mountain pose or flow into another pose and then repeat on the other side.

Peak Pose: Crow (Bakasana)

girl in crow pose on a yoga mat, knees resting on the back of the elbows

  1. Start in a yogi squat, or low squat, position with your feet flat, knees wide, and legs folded.
  2. Place your palms flat onto the floor a few inches ahead of your feet.
  3. Lift your heels and pelvis up and begin to pull your navel in, coming in the direction of a cat spine.
  4. Once you feel your weight move forward and support beneath your hands, fold your legs to bring the heels of your feet towards your sitting bones.
  5. Draw your big toes together and attempt to straighten your arms (even if they don’t actually fully straighten) to lift your chest away from the ground.

Sources: The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele