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Yoga Poses

Developing The Foundation Of Your Yoga Practice With Tadasana

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

There are how-to instructions written on every yoga pose conceivable, whether in books, on the Internet, or in magazines. On social media, yogis of all body types and capabilities are making a name for themselves by offering yoga instruction in bite size segments with pictorial or video demonstration. Because information on nearly every pose in existence can be found online, I ask myself, what unique insight can I offer my readers that will positively benefit their practice? In submission, I humbly offer you the practice of Tadasana, the most basic, fundamental, and primary yoga pose. Tadasana is the one pose that I come back to everyday, every practice, and in every class I teach. While there are many poses that seem more dynamic, intense, and challenging, it is Tadasana that offers the most engagement and opportunity for introspection.

My daily practice begins with classical Surya Namaskar, which is repetitive cycle of twelve poses that both begins and ends in Tadasana. Because the engagement of Tadasana sets the foundational tone of the practice, its importance cannot be overstated. The form and focus of Tadasana is energetically mirrored within the varying poses of Surya Namaskar, from Downward Facing Dog to Plank Pose, and parallels positions like Hasta Tadasana, Extended Mountain Pose, and Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose. Beyond Surya Namaskar, Tadasana creates the base for all standing poses, particularly ones involving balance, like Vrikshasana, Tree Pose, and Svarga Dvijasana, Bird of Paradise Pose. Further, Tadasana’s stable form gives rise to backbends such as Ustrasana, Camel Pose, and Shalabhasana, Locust Pose. Seated, the energy of Tadasana informs Dandasana, Staff Pose, Paschimotonasana, Seated Forward Fold, Purvottanasana, East Pose, and inversions such as Sarvangasana, Shoulder Stand, and Shirshasana, Headstand.

Though there are multitudes of ways to set up Mountain Pose, such as standing with the feet hip’s distance apart with the palms facing forward, or with the hands together in Namaste’, my preferred way to align Mountain Pose is austere: feet together, big toes touching, arms at the side, palms facing inward. To begin, stand at the front of the mat and bring big toes together until they are firmly touching. To many, this first point of connection seems minor. However, pressing the big toes together is akin to connecting two live electrical wires—when they touch, energy flows. With the big toes pressing together, spread the remaining toes apart, and ground them back down to the floor. Making slight movements, balance the body’s weight evenly between the toes to the heels, and from the inside arches to the outside edges of the feet. Stand with balanced weight on both the right and left foot, weight distributed squarely across the front, back, inside, and outside of each.

Once the feet are in place, engage Tadasana by moving upwards in the body. Activate the calf muscles, straighten the knee joints, and contract the quadriceps firmly. Tighten the hamstring muscles, squeeze the inner thighs together, tuck the tailbone inwards, and engage the gluts. Lift the sternum upwards, roll the shoulders back and down, and straighten the elbows. With the palms facing the thighs, firmly reach the fingertips downwards as if they could touch the floor. Squeeze the armpits closed, and make the arms rigid, tight, and tense. Deeply engage the abdominal muscles, and activate the erector muscles of the spine. Draw the shoulder blades together and down towards the mid-back, and activate the muscles across the chest. Engage the whole body from the feet to the head.

Now, close your eyes. Keeping the whole body engaged, breathe. Take full ujjayi breaths and scan the body once more, beginning at the big toes, and all the way up again, engaging the whole body with awareness and breath. Keeping the body engaged, relax the neck, jaw, face, brow, and scalp. Sense the duality of the engaged, firm, tight, tense, activated body, paired with breath awareness and a purposeful softening of the face. The practice of Tadasana provides an introspective experience aligned with the true purpose of yoga. Physically, the yogi is activated and engaged in the manifest world. Internally, the yogi is calm, focused, and relaxed. In this way, Tadasana embodies the essence of a yogi.

Another term used for Tadasana is Samasthiti, a conjunction of two Sanskrit words: sama, meaning unmovable, stable, and sthiti, meaning standing still, steady. Therefore, Tadasana is a pose wherein the body is firm and unyielding, steadfast as a mountain. This is the energetic attitude of yogic lifestyle, one that is unwavering in practice, focus, and inner stillness. On a physical level, the entire pantheon of yoga asana is incepted from Tadasana. Aided with awareness and breath, Tadasana not only translates into all the shapes and forms made on the mat, but also into day-to-day living in terms of posture, gait, and body awareness. This lifestyle application goes further in terms of consistency, motivation, ambition, will power, and personal fulfillment. Both on the mat and off, Tadasana deepens self-awareness, highlights the capability of the body, fine tunes mental concentration, and promotes purposeful relaxation. In this way, the daily practice of Tadasana sets the foundation for spiritual awareness within a material world.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Yoga Poses To Boost Your Productivity

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It’s no secret that yoga has so many benefits from building strength and flexibility to finding calm and stillness of the mind – but did you know it can also help to boost productivity? Although most associate yoga with relaxation, the practice is also nourishing for the central nervous system and can help boost energy and motivation.

The next time you are needing an increase in productivity, take a moment to pause and try one of these five poses instead of going for that second (or third) cup of coffee. You’ll be glad you did!

1. Easy pose (Sukhasana)

 

Sometimes with a lack of productivity all you need is to reduce distraction and get still by centering yourself. Easy pose is the perfect way to accomplish this.

To get into the pose you simply come to a seated cross legged position. You can allow your hands to rest wherever feels most comfortable for your shoulders. There is also the option to take a mudra, which is a hand gesture used to facilitate the flow of energy in the subtle body. Gyan mudra, known to promote concentration, is taken by bringing your thumb and index finger to touch.

Once you arrive in your easy pose take about 5 to 10 slow even breaths to help you center and realign. Afterwards you will notice a sense grounding, more ease, and, hopefully, increased concentration for productivity.

2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

One of the benefits of mild inversions, like Downward Facing Dog, is its energizing qualities. Whenever your heart is placed over your head the brain is supplied with more oxygen as blood flows which increases concentration and mental function.

To get into the pose, start in a table top position on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes and lift your hips creating a shape of an upside down “V”. Feet are about hip distance apart or wider and you will press firmly into all points of your hands especially between your middle finger and thumb. Lengthen your spine by lifting your tailbone towards the sky and gently press your belly towards your thighs taking the gaze between the feet.

Find about 5 breaths in this posture and experiencing the benefits of “resetting” the nervous system.

3. Tree pose (Vrksasana)

Challenging your balance is one sure way to boost productivity. Whenever your center of gravity is confronted you are forced to tune your drishti, or focal point, in order to be successful.

Find Tree pose by balancing on one leg, opening the hip of the opposite leg and either placing the foot at your ankle as a kickstand, at the shin, or above the knee.

Make this pose more difficult by reaching the arms towards the sky overhead or closing the eyes. By shifting your balance you are forced to check in and make adjustments through your body in order to stay lifted. Regular practice of this pose can improve concentration, balance, and coordination.

4. Camel pose (Ustrasana)


Heart opening or back-bending postures like Camel pose help to quiet all of the chatter in the mind. Some consider this pose to be quite challenging as you are vulnerably opening a part of your body that is often shielded and protected, your heart.

Beginning in a kneeling position on your knees, bring your hands to your low back with fingers pointed down as if you were going to slide them into your back pockets. Slowly shift the hips forward as you draw the elbows and shoulder blades towards one another creating an opening through your thoracic spine. Slowly work towards the fullest variation by bringing your hands to the back of the heels as you continue to shift your hips forwards.

Camel requires a great deal of concentration and focus on the breath which is sure to increase productivity as well as help with your posture if you are sitting at a desk all day.

5. Mountain pose (Tadasana)


As a pose that seems pretty simple and straight forward, Mountain pose offers great benefits of improving concentration and focus in order to be more productive.

Beginning in a standing position with your arms at your side, roll your shoulder blades down the spine and bring your hands to face forward. Notice the grounding through all points of your feet, perhaps lifting up the toes and rooting them back down. Activate your quadricep muscles in your thighs by slightly lifting the knee caps, and hug your belly button up and in towards your spine.

For an extra boost, bring your hands to your hips in order to bring yourself into a power position and take a few grounding breaths to build confidence.

Standing proudly and with intention can surely ignite your focus in order to be more productive.

 

Vanessa was first introduced to yoga in July 2013. Beginning as an outlet during a stressful time in her life, yoga ultimately turned into a consistent practice for her on the quest for total wellness. She started self-teaching
in the comfort of her own home for 3 years before deciding to participate in group classes at a local studio. Falling in love with the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of yoga,
Vanessa decided to enroll in yoga teacher training in spring of 2017 in order
to share the art with those around her.

 


Currently residing in the DMV, she is a Yoga Alliance 200-hr registered yoga teacher and a certified Usui
Reiki Practictioner. She believes in order to live a life with intention we must take priority in caring for our mind, body, and spirit first.

 

8 Beach Yoga Poses

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8 Yoga Poses for the Beach

Needless to say, the restorative and relaxing effects of yoga compliment the scenic and serene atmosphere of the beach. Working in Catalina Island during the summer inspired me to embark on my yoga practice while expanding my knowledge about the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. You can always use a towel or yoga mat to support your postures or simply embrace the imperfect, sandy foundation beneath you. Sand can be especially beneficial for practicing challenging and balancing poses because it provides a soft cushion for your body if you happen to fall out of a pose. The beauty of sand is that it conforms to your body; you can create small mounds to support your knees or flatten it out entirely to support your forearms during inversions. Let’s not forget the fresh, salty breeze and the sound of ocean waves complimenting your beautiful flow. I’m eager to share some excellent asanas for your next seaside practice which will make you fall in love with yoga all over again.

1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This pose is very popular in yoga sequences, especially in vinyasa yoga. The benefits of Downward Facing Dog include stretching the hamstrings, calves, shoulders and hands while strengthening the legs and arms. It also makes your feel energized and helps calm the brain which makes it an ideal pose to relieve stress. This classic yoga pose can be practiced pretty much anywhere however, practicing it on the sand can allow your body to sink even deeper into it. Begin in tabletop position with your knees stacked directly under your hips and your wrists stacked under your shoulders. Exhale while tucking your toes and lifting your knees off the sand. Spread your fingers and press your hands down in front of you while straightening your back as much as possible. Gently bend your knees, one at a time, working your way into your own version of Downward Facing Dog. Bring your gaze towards your feet while aligning your hand with your spine creating a straight line. Take a few deep breaths and when you’re ready to exit the pose, gently lower your knees back onto the sand into tabletop position and release into Child’s Pose.

2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

I don’t know about you but something about being by the ocean provides peacefulness and balance to my body and soul; why not practice a pose that embodies that? Benefits of this pose include stretching the thighs, core and shoulders while strengthening the spine, thighs and calves. Tree Pose is a great way to ground yourself and focus on your breathing while improving your balance. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana); inhale while lifting your arms towards the sky and exhale, bringing your hands by your heart. Choose a focal point to provide balance and slowly lift your right foot off the sand and place it on your left ankle. Taking your time, lift your right foot further until it reaches the side of your left knee. Take a few deep breaths here and whenever you’re ready. return to Mountain Pose; repeat this pose on the opposite side.

3. Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)


This might seem like an odd pose to practice on the beach but the combination of an inverted posture and a serene, ocean atmosphere will undoubtedly relax you to the core. Be cautious when practicing a shoulder stand because it is definitely e a more advanced pose. The benefits of this pose include relieving stress and depression, strengthening the glutes, arms, core, legs and arms as well as improving digestion. To get into this pose, start by laying down on your mat (or the sand) and bring your knees towards your face. Bring your hands to your hips to support your lower body and lift your hips and legs towards the sky while trying to keep them straight. Take a few deep breaths; to exit the pose, slowly lower your hips and legs to the ground. You can also choose to stay in a shoulder stand in order to transition to the next posture. The best part? Even if you happen to lose your balance during this asana, the sand provides a soft cushion to avoid injuries.

4. Plow Pose (Halasana)


This pose is excellent at reducing back pain and stress, calming the mind and stretching the spine and shoulders. To get into this pose, simply begin in a shoulder stand and slowly bring your extended legs back towards your head until your toes touch the mat behind your head. Remember to bring your chin away from your sternum and keep your hands on your lower back for additional support or release them onto the mat and stretch them behind you. This pose can be held for a few minutes; when you feel ready to exit, bring your hands to your lower back again and exhale while slowly lowering your legs down towards. This a a great pose for the beach because it encourages deep relaxation and stress relief.

5. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)


Take a deep breath and say goodbye to any tension. Being by laying on your stomach with your arms extend by your sides with your palms up. Take a deep exhale and reach for your heels with your hands while bending your knees. Hold onto your feet while trying to lift your thighs slightly off the mat and gaze forward. Keep i mind that it might be harder to breathe in this posture but make sure to keep breathing steadily. Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds and release your legs and arms towards the mat while taking a deep exhale. The benefits of this pose include improving your posture, strengthening the back muscles and stretching your thighs, core, chest, throat and hips.

6. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)


This pose is wonderful at lengthening the hip flexors, preparing the body for backbend poses as well as opening the hip joint and reducing stress and anxiety. Begin in seated position with your feet tucked under your glutes. Extend your right leg back on the mat while keeping your left leg bent in front of you. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale, release your body onto your front leg and extend your arms on the mat in front of you. Try to bring your forehand to touch the mat and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, allowing your body to sink even deeper into the pose with every exhale. To exit the asana, slowly walk your hands back up towards your torso and return to seated position.

7. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)


Now, let’s take a moment to sit still and breathe. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed, your spine straight and your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, trying to hold your inhale for a few seconds before exhaling. Try to eliminate any stressful or negative thoughts while bringing your entire focus o your breath. While continuing to breathe deeply, bring your attention to the sound of the ocean waves crashing endlessly against the shore, one by one. Inhale the fresh, salty breeze and feel your body sinking heavily into the sand.Let go of any fear or stress about what will happen tomorrow or the day after because all that is guaranteed is this moment, sitting cross legged on the sand in front of the vast ocean that covers our beautiful planet. In this moment, you are blessed and all you can do is immerse yourself in gratitude. You can attempt the Ujjayi breath which is often referred to as the “oceanic breath” and it is used to synchronize your breathing with the asana. This wonderful technique will enhance your yoga practice as well as increase the oxygen in your blood, relieve tension, detoxify your body and mind as well as help to increase your mind-body awareness. The Ujjayi breath consists of breathing through your nose, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly through your nose. To practice, open your mouth and exhale making a “ha” sound. Noe, try this with your mouth closed but maintain the intensity of your exhalations. Every time your exhale, it should sound like ocean waves and this technique is ideal to practice while you’re in easy pose, during hatha yoga or simply when you’re stressed or frustrated.

8. Corpse Pose (Savansana)


This posture will help you relax even more after getting out of Easy pose. Lay down on your mat or the sand with your legs extended in front of you and your arms by your sides with your palms facing up towards the sky. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath once again but this time, don’t force deep inhalations or exhalations; instead, breathe naturally and simply bring your attention to your breathe. Allow the soothing sounds around you to increase your sense of mindfulness and purpose. The benefits of this asana are endless, a few of which are body awareness, stress reduction, better sleep quality and deep mind relaxation. This asana can be held for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour and it might just end up in a wonderful nap in the sun.

What are you waiting for? Head to the beach and take some time to indulge in these asanas; you deserve that time to gain perspective and awareness. Take the time to leave any stress that you might be experiencing behind and relax yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. The past has already happened and the future is uncertain so all that really matters is this present moment, right here, right now. Submerge yourself in an abundance of spiritual awareness, gratitude and bliss.

Let’s ride your wave, together.

Namaste.

 


Stella Versteeg was exposed to yoga early in life from her father – traveling to India to practice yoga with her family. Living in ashrams and being surrounded by the beautiful and intricate Indian culture, from a young age, Stella was able appreciate and learn about the origin of yoga as well as meditation. Stella received her 200 HR yoga training from YogaRenew in 2018. She currently runs a blog, Ride Your Wave Yoga, which shares yoga tips, poses, nutrition, travel and mindfulness. Her goal is to spread honesty, love and awareness about a yogic lifestyle through her blog posts as well as create a supportive, inspired community. She aspires to share as much information as possible about the wonderful lifestyle that yoga has to offer and continuously evolve in her personal own practice.

 

5 Yoga Poses For Inner Strength

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Confidence and inner strength are such powerful tools in achieving productivity, success, and happiness. Yoga is a wonderful way to develop and nurture your sense of inner strength. because it is not just a physically strengthening and revitalizing practice but it’s also a sign of positivity, love, and self-care towards yourself. Taking the time from your busy routine to still your mind and breath as well as focus on your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being builds your sense of self-worth. As you progress in your practice, you will learn that yoga is physically challenging and the stronger you get on the outside, the stronger you will feel on the inside. Being able to persist in your practice with patience, understanding and forgiveness will nurture your sense of inner strength over time. Take time to practice this yoga sequence to eliminate feelings of self-doubt and reveal your inner peace and strength!

1. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)


The image of a warrior is illustrated by strength, courage, persistence, and confidence which is exactly what the Warrior asanas exude. The rich symbolism of the Warrior asanas refers to the underlying story of the Hindu warrior, Virabhadra. Warrior I is a beautiful posture that will empower you and activate your inner warrior by improving your strength and flexibility. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and gently step your feet a few feet apart from each other. Reach both of your arms up towards the sky with your palms touching while bringing your gaze up towards your hands. Next, slightly turn your left foot to the right so that your toes are pointing to the left of your body. Gently rotate your torso to the right and bend your right knee while making sure that your knee does not pass your toes. Hold this asana for 30 seconds-1 minute while focusing on your breath and channeling feelings of confidence and strength. Slowly release back to Tadasana and repeat this posture on the other side.

2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Transitioning into Warrior II will combine balance with core strength as well as ultimate focus. After Warrior I, return to Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and bring your left foot a few feet back on the mat while bending your right knee into a lunge without your knees passing your toes. Extend both of your arms by your sides so that they are parallel to the mat aligning straight with your legs and bring your gaze forward. Make sure that your torso is twisted to your left and draw your shoulder blades down your back. Take several deep breaths here while pressing down with your feet and engaging your core. This asana is beneficial for your entire body because it strengthens your shoulders, arms, and legs as well as improves your balance and stability. Warrior II will improve your ability to concentrate and focus with more clarity while building your physical and spiritual strength.

3. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)


Return once again to Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and take a moment to bring your focus back to your breath. Warrior III requires significant balance and focus which are best achieved when your mind is not wandering. The benefits of this empowering asana include improved coordination, stability, and balance, strengthening of the legs and core as well as a deep stretch of the upper body. Take a deep inhale, reach your arms up towards the sky and on your exhale, slowly lift your left leg off the mat while lowering your torso forward. Allow your arms to lead your torso until it is parallel with the mat and so that your body creates a “T” shape. Flex your left foot and press firmly with your right foot, spreading your toes if that helps to maintain your balance. Hold this asana for several breaths while focusing on finding your center of gravity. To ease out of this asana, slowly return to Mountain Pose and bring your hands to your heart in prayer position.

4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

The grounding essence of standing asanas foster feelings of confidence and strength. This particular asana relies on balance, stability, and firmness while encouraging a confident demeanor. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), another simple yet empowering asana and as you inhale, reach your arms above your head with your palms touching each other. At the same time, ground your left foot and slowly lift your right foot so that it is hugging your left ankle. As you find your center of gravity, steadily slide your right foot up your left leg until it reaches your shin or the side of your knee. As you exhale, focus on your balance and imagine your body grounded into the mat like a tree deeply rooted in the soil. Stand tall and proud in this asana as you embrace your inner and outer strength. Hold this asana for several breaths and return to Mountain Pose.

5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)


This asana is often called the “seat of power”, “fierce pose” or “lightning bolt pose” which all embody the asana’s empowering and strengthening properties. Chair Pose involves strength and perseverance because your body will immediately feel challenged when entering this asana. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, reach your arms up towards the sky while slowly bending your knees and squatting down as if you are sitting in a chair. Press firmly through your heels and try to bring your focus to how your body is feeling; if your thighs are aching, try to meditate on this sensation. Find your balance here and remember not to resist this asana even if your body wants to ease out of it right away. After several breaths, return to Mountain Pose and bring your focus back to your breath. If you wish, reach your toes with your arms and twist from side to side in a Forward Fold to relax your arms and stretch your hamstrings. Persisting through Chair Pose provides all of the physical benefits of this asana such as strengthening the legs and back, stretching the chest and shoulders as well as a stronger sense of self and confidence.

These empowering asanas incorporate strength, balance, and confidence to eliminate feelings of self-doubt and promote a sense of self-worth. Everyone experiences moments of uncertainty however, your yoga practice can be a powerful tool in changing the way you see yourself and accumulating inner strength. Next time you feel overwhelmed, grant yourself permission to take time out of your day and find your inner strength on the mat.

 

Stella Versteeg was exposed to yoga early in life from her father – traveling to India to practice yoga with her family. Living in ashrams and being surrounded by the beautiful and intricate Indian culture, from a young age, Stella was able appreciate and learn about the origin of yoga as well as meditation. Stella received her 200 HR yoga training from YogaRenew in 2018. She currently runs a blog, Ride Your Wave Yoga, which shares yoga tips, poses, nutrition, travel and mindfulness. Her goal is to spread honesty, love and awareness about a yogic lifestyle through her blog posts as well as create a supportive, inspired community. She aspires to share as much information as possible about the wonderful lifestyle that yoga has to offer and continuously evolve in her personal own practice.

 

5 Yoga Poses For A Strong Core

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Abs; we all have them. We are all born with abdominal muscles in order to hold our organs in place and keep our body balanced. So, where exactly are they hiding? The truth is, most people can’t see their abs because they are covered by a layer of fat. The yoga poses below will strengthen your core and slim down your waistline while improving your posture. A strong core is important for a confident, upright posture as well as overall balance and stability. Also, remember: 20% of abs are made through exercise and 80% through diet. It’s always good to exercise your core and it will definitely help you gain definition in your abs and you’ll see the best results if you drink lots of water, eat clean natural foods, lower your sugar intake and stay stress-free! Incorporate the following asanas in your daily practice in order to improve your posture and strengthen your core.

1. Plank Pose – Phalakasana

(Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute)

You’re not the only one if you have a love-hate relationship with this pose. Planks are often used as a warm-up exercise for various types of exercise but it is also an important part of yoga. This is an amazing posture to strengthen the arms, core, spine and wrists. Start out with 20-30 seconds daily and ultimately aim to hold your plank for 1 minute or more. The stronger you get, the longer you’ll be able to hold the pose and slowly but surely, your core will tighten and gain definition.

Begin in Downward Facing Dog and allow your torso to move forward until it is parallel to the mat and your shoulders are positioned over your wrists. Press evenly into the mat through your fingers and spread your shoulders blades away from your spine while engaging your core. Important tip: don’t forget to breathe! This might seem obvious but when our body is under strain, we tend to hold our breath or take short breaths. Deep inhale, deep exhale; so you can receive the full benefits of phalakasana!

2. Dolphin Plank Pose – Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana

(Hold for 1 minute)

Another plank pose? That’s right. This pose is excellent because it takes pressure off of your wrists due to the fact that your forearms are supporting you instead of your hands. This pose is also ideal if you are preparing to attempt a forearm stand; it will strengthen your forearms and shoulders while conditioning your body to support its weight on your forearms. This asana increases bone density, it strengthens the core, arms and chest and it improves posture. However, consider avoiding this pose if you have a shoulder, arm, back or neck injury. Begin in table top position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly bring your forearms down with your hands pressing into the mat and make sure your forearms are still shoulder width apart. Consider using a yoga strap in order to keep your arms the correct width apart from each other. Step your feet back and make sure that your torso is positioned parallel to the mat. Important: make sure your backside isn’t sticking up into the air and your back isn’t arched. Try to keep your back straight and parallel to the mat. Engage your core and push your shoulders away from your neck to avoid hunching. Hold this pose for as long as you can, aiming for 1 minute. You can do this!

3. Side Plank Pose – Vasisthasana

(Hold for 30 seconds each side)

Yes, yes… another plank pose. However this one is great for your obliques which are your side abdominal muscles. Practice this pose daily to get those defined lines on the sides of your abdomen, you know you want ‘em! All jokes aside, the benefits of this pose are multiple; it strengthens the core, arms and legs, it improves balance and it stretches the back of the legs. To enter this pose, begin in Downward Facing Dog; slowly twist your body and stack your right foot onto your left foot so that you are balancing your weight on your left foot and your left hand. Lift your right arm towards the sky or as a modification, rest it on your hip. Engage your core and make sure to press into the mat with the fingers of your left hand as it is supporting your entire upper body and torso. Try to hold this pose for around 30 seconds and switch sides.

4. Boat Pose – Navasana

(Hold for 1 minute)

This pose is fantastic for balance, enhancing digestion, relieving stress and of course, strengthening your core, spine and hip flexors. Plus, it’s fun! Begin in a seated position on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Using your core, bend your knees and slightly lift your legs off of the mat keeping your thighs at about a 45 degree angle to the mat. Lean back slightly trying to keep your spine as straight as possible. The more you lean back, the more you will feel your core strengthening. Extend both of your arms by your legs making sure they are parallel to the mat. Hold this pose for 1 minute if possible or to add movement to the pose and a more intense workout, you can “row your boat”! To add this Russian Twist modification, simply bring your hands in prayer position by your heart and tap them by your side on the mat alternating sides, while twisting your torso. Hold this pose for 1 minute or if you choose to add the Russian Twist modification, try to complete 15 reps on each side.

5. Balancing Table Crunches Variation – Dandayamana Bharmanasana

(Hold for 30 seconds on each side)

Last but surely not least, this pose is great for improving coordination and focus, balance and core strength. Begin in tabletop position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale while extending your right arm straight in front of you and simultaneously, extending your left leg. The idea is to make sure your arm and leg are aligned with your spine and create a straight line. You can hold this pose for 30 seconds on each side or for the optional crunches variation, simply bring your right elbow into your chest while bringing your left knee into your chest and then extend them both at the same time; that’s one crunch. Repeat this motion for 30 seconds and move onto the other side. To exit the pose, return your leg and arm back towards your body and from tabletop position, exhale and rest in Child’s Pose.

These 5 asanas are excellent for strengthening your core, correcting posture and improving balance. Try to incorporate them in your daily yoga practice, preferably at the beginning as a warm-up; over time, you will notice that your abs will gain definition and your strong core will allow you to progress in yoga and attempt more advanced poses. These poses have helped me get stronger in order to master a headstand and forearm stand. Be patient and listen to your body; if you feel as if you are putting too much strain on yourself, don’t hesitate to rest in Child’s pose and breathe. In yoga, it’s all about taking pleasure in the journey itself instead of the destination. Immerse yourself in your own unique, beautiful flow.

 

Stella Versteeg was exposed to yoga early in life from her father – traveling to India to practice yoga with her family. Living in ashrams and being surrounded by the beautiful and intricate Indian culture, from a young age, Stella was able appreciate and learn about the origin of yoga as well as meditation. Stella received her 200 HR yoga training from YogaRenew in 2018. She currently runs a blog, Ride Your Wave Yoga, which shares yoga tips, poses, nutrition, travel and mindfulness. Her goal is to spread honesty, love and awareness about a yogic lifestyle through her blog posts as well as create a supportive, inspired community. She aspires to share as much information as possible about the wonderful lifestyle that yoga has to offer and continuously evolve in her personal own practice.

 

Yoga Poses For Better Sleep

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments


Ah, to get a restful nights sleep! For many of us, a full 8 hours of sleep is something we only dream about during whatever REM sleep we are able to get.

A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, many of our daily stresses are interfering with natural sleep patterns and causing our sleep to be interrupted and shortened.

If you are looking for a holistic and natural approach to bettering the quality of your sleep, yoga postures and breathing exercises might be the solution. Also, make sure to consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about a yoga pose or a breathing exercise. Always enter a pose slowly to ensure there is no pain or tension. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your intuition and back out of it.

1. Cat and Cow Pose

A great set of complementary poses that will release your spine and incorporate your breath. Start on your hands and knees. Inhale into Cow pose by bringing the crown of your head and tailbone up toward the ceiling, hollowing out your lower back. For cat pose, exhale as you tilt the crown of the head and tailbone down to the ground, arching your spine into a C-curve and pulling the shoulder blades apart. Flow between these two poses as long as you’d like, moving with the pattern of your inhales and exhales and feeling like you’re putting space between every vertebrae and loosening up your spine. To slow down and control your breath, try to match the length of each inhale and exhale with the length of each pose, with a momentary pause between cycles.

2. Child’s Pose

From hands and knees, sink your hips back to your heels and settle your chest between your thighs. Your big toes should touch one another and your knees are as far apart as they need to be in order to help you settle comfortably and be able to breathe deeply. With your forehead resting on the ground or a blanket, walk your fingertips out in front of you and stretch through the arms. You can also roll your forehead from side to side on the ground to give yourself a mini face massage.

This is a great time to slow down your breathing and allow the exhales to soften your body down, releasing any tension in the shoulders and back.

3. Legs Up the Wall

Transitioning onto your back, position yourself so your tailbone (lowest part of your back) is leaning against the base of a wall, or another flat, tall surface. The headboard of your bed might even work!

Extend your legs straight up the wall. If you can, bring your tailbone closer to the base of the wall, perhaps even to the point where your glutes and upper hamstrings are touching it. This pose can be a great gentle hamstring stretch if you can keep the legs straight.

This pose helps drain lymph and lactic acid from the legs, which helps prevent injury and decrease the symptoms of fatigue and soreness if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Allow the looseness that you brought into your back with the previous postures help you feel more comfortable in this pose. Place a pillow under your head for additional support and feel free to either place your hands on your chest and belly, or stretch them out to a ‘T’ shape.

4. Supine Spinal Twist

Transitioning away from the wall, bring both knees into your chest and rock side to side or take big circles with your knees. When you’re ready, bring your arms out into a ‘T’ with your hands in line with your shoulders and let your knees fall over to one side. You can keep both knees bent, straighten the top leg, or choose to straighten both legs. If you’re not feeling as much of the twist as you’d like, try to adjust your hips further over to the middle of your space so that your back is in one straight line —this may intensify the stretch in the lower back. If you’d like a neck stretch as well, turn your head to the side opposite your knees. After a few breaths, switch sides.

When you’re ready to get in bed for the night, the right breathing exercises could be beneficial to relax your body, mind, and even help you doze off.

Pranayama For Sleep

Pranayama or breathwork is another great way to promote better z’s. Here are three simple breathwork practices you can try to help you sleep before bed.

1. Meditative Breath

For a short meditation, sit up in bed with your back straight and your head tucked slightly forward. Progressively begin to lengthen your breaths. For the first exhale, count to one. Then count to two, then three, all the way up to five. After your fifth exhale, held for a count of five, start over again at one. By keeping this pattern you allow your mind to remain focused on your breath instead of anything swirling through your mind in the evening.

2. Diaphragmatic Breath

With one hand on your lower belly and the other on your chest, take five deep breaths, inhaling for a count of three, then exhaling for a count of three. Clear your mind by focusing on the way your hands rise and fall according to your inhales and exhales.

3. Visualizing Breath

As you inhale, envision the air traveling into your nose, through your entire body, and back out again. Imagine it traveling through all your muscles, all the way to your toes and fingers, before it comes back out again during your exhale.

Focusing on your breathing activates your parasympathetic system, (also known as the rest and digest system) encouraging it to calm down, relax, and lower your heart rate in preparation for sleep.

 

 

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. Morgan also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice. Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, Morgan can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need.

 

 

5 Restorative Holiday Yoga Poses For Stress

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

The holidays are meant to be time of slowing down and for spending time with loved ones. But sometimes the holidays can be a time of great stress for us. We find ourselves constantly rushing from task to task, multi-tasking, and checking off our endless shopping lists. What we fail to realize is that life is short and if we keep going in a stressed fashion – this season of connecting with ourselves and others will pass us by. We may find ourselves regretting not taking the time to just slow down and enjoy the moment. To help you get into the spirit of the holidays with no stress, we’ve created a restorative holiday sequence that you can do easily at home anytime.

By intentionally releasing the burden of stress and tension, it allows us to come to our natural state of being; of relaxation and joy. It also helps us to connect more deeply with the present moment and others around us. By taking this time for inner peace and stillness, we can find ourselves becoming more patient, calm, as well as loving towards ourselves and our loved ones.

To Begin

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Be sure to clear your space so its clutter free to relax your mind. Set some quiet music and maybe even some candles to further set the mood for peace.

To start your restorative holiday flow, come into a simple seated Easy Pose on your mat. Begin with a counting breath pranayama practice. To do this, take a big inhale in slowly for a count of 3, hold the breath briefly for a second or two, and then exhale out slowly for a count of 3. You can slowly work up to inhaling and exhaling for a count of 4 seconds or even 5 seconds depending on your preference. Elongating your inhalations and exhalations in this way helps to induce relaxation and slow down your central nervous system.

Restorative Holiday Mini Yoga Flow

1. Child Pose

Allow yourself to let go and release tension in your body in Child pose. As you sink towards the mat and rest here, breath here for several minutes. With every exhale, feel any stress leaving your body. With every inhale, feel yourself filling up with peace.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels as you reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Take several long deep breaths here and stay here for up to a minute if needed.

2. Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog, is an inversion pose, where we allow blood to flow to our head elevating our mood. Inversions also energetically brings ourselves into a different perspective; as we are looking at the world from an upside down perspective. This analogy can relate to stressful situations in our lives. By taking time to see a situation from a new perspective, we can start to focus on the more positive things about that situation. For example, during the holidays, we can re-frame our perspective to a more positive one, by focusing on spending time with loved ones, giving to others, beautiful family traditions, and peace.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and press your palms into the mat as you begin to lift and reach your tailbone up towards the sky. Broaden through your collarbones and look down towards your ankles or the mat in between your palms. You can keep your knees bent here or work on extending them straight to stretch your calves, hamstrings, and ankles. Stay here for several breaths, for up to a minute.

3. Bound Angle


The hips are an area where we tend to store alot of tension in our bodies. Allow yourself to melt into this pose by releasing into this stretch and holding for up to a minute.

To do this pose, begin in an Easy pose. Bring the soles of your feet together as you allow your knees to gently fall open onto the mat. Keep length in your spine as you hinge forward at the hips and lean in towards your feet. Keep your neck soft here and breath into your hips. You can use a blanket or blocks under your knees to elevate them for support if your hips are tight. You can also sit on blanket or bolster to relieve tension from your knees and hips.

4. Supine Twist

Relax your body and mind with this deep twist and hip opener. As you release into Supine Twist pose, close your eyes and stay here for up to a minute on each side. Allow your mind to be quiet and revel in this moment of peace you have created for yourself.

To do this pose, begin by lying down on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Allow your knees to softly fall over to your left side and extend your arms out to a ‘T’. Option to bring your head to gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

5. Savasana

One of the most important poses in yoga, Savasana is a great way to just let go and release. Use props such as a blanket, eye pillow, or aromatherapy, to enhance your Savasana experience. Stay here for as long as you need – you could do Savasana for just 5 minutes or even up to 30 minutes if you feel you really need the release and quiet. It’s your practice so always feel free to tweak however you prefer.

To do Savasana, come down onto your back and relax your arms and legs out comfortably. Allow the palms to gently open up towards the sky. Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face. Let your breath be soft and natural as you just allow yourself to release and enjoy the moment.

Ending Your Restorative Holiday Practice

End your practice in Easy Pose with your hands over your heart. Ground down through your sitbones and elongate the spine up towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your body and face. As in you inhale, breath in ‘Peace’ and as you exhale imagine breathing out the word ‘Love’. Feel that peace and love radiating out into the world. Repeat for several minutes.

A Yoga Sequence For Inspiring Gratitude

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Thanksgiving is a time of appreciating things in our lives and for cultivating more gratitude. To help you get into the spirit of gratitude and giving this season, we’ve created a gratitude mini yoga flow that you can do at home.

It can be easy to forget all the blessings we have in our lives when we face challenges or obstacles. Gratitude is a simple and easy practice that anyone can start today to begin leading a more positive life. The simplest way to cultivate more gratitude is to take a few minutes each day or sit in meditation while you think of things you are grateful for each day. Cultivating the daily practice of gratitude in our lives can improve our relationships, make us more compassionate, and ultimately more happy. It creates a space for our lives where we can allow positive and transformative growth to occur. Gratitude can also improve our health by boosting our immunity, improve our sleep, and lower blood pressure.

To sequence a home gratitude yoga flow, focus on calming and grounding poses that help you get in touch with the energy of gratitude. Some poses you could consider are poses where your arms are stretched outwards – to symbolize the outreaching of giving to someone else. Poses you could include are Mountain with arms reaching upwards, Chair, Warrior 1, Balancing Table, or Warrior 3. Some grounding poses you could include in your mini sequence are Child, Plow, Standing Forward Fold, Happy Baby, and Supine Twist.

To Begin

Start your gratitude flow by coming into a simple seated Easy Pose. Begin to take in deep slow breaths in and out; focusing on elongating your exhalations and your inhalations. Next bring your hands to your heart center and bring your awareness to the movement of breath around your heart center or heart chakra area. Continue to breath deeply here. Bring to mind 5 – 10 things or people you are grateful for. Allow that energy of love and appreciation to fill your body, heart, and soul. Stay here for several moments and allow yourself to bask in this beautiful feeling of gratitude in your heart.

 

Gratitude Mini Sequence

1. Child Pose

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Child Pose

Allow yourself to release and let go in Child pose. As you ground down and surrender towards the mat, imagine as though your hands are outreaching out to receive more things to be grateful for in your life.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels as you reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Take several long deep breaths here.

2. Seated Forward Fold

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Seated Forward Fold Pose

Seated Forward Fold helps us to relax our mind and bodies. As you do this pose, focus on surrendering into gratitude for the things in your life that you appreciate. Feel the grounding of the earth beneath your sitbones as you root them into the ground and feel appreciation for the earth supporting you.

To do Seated Forward Fold, begin in Staff pose. Root down evenly through your sitbones. Begin to slowly hinge forward at the your hips, working to keep your spine lengthened. Reach your hands towards your ankles, shins, feet, or toes. Allow your neck to be relaxed here and feel yourself melt into this stretch.

3. Warrior 1

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Warrior 1

As you come into Warrior 1 pose, allow your arms to reach up towards the sky as if you are receiving more things to be grateful for in your life. You can also imagine as if your arms are outreaching to give to someone else

To do this pose, begin in Mountain pose. Step your feet apart several feet and pivot your back foot in about 45 degrees and bend your front knee to 90 degrees with your toes pointing forward. Keep your front knee stacked over your front ankle. Lengthen up through your ribs and point your tailbone down towards the mat as your lengthen your arms up towards the sky. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

4. Warrior 3

Gratitude Thanksgiving Yoga Flow Sequence Warrior 3

Warrior 3 is a grounding and energizing pose. When in this pose, again imagine the outreaching of your arms forward are reaching to give to another person. Allow the feeling of giving to fill your heart. Feel the earth beneath your grounded foot supporting you.

To do this pose, begin in Mountain pose. Root down into one foot and leg as you reach the opposite leg behind you. Engage your core and reach your arms out in front of you. Imagine as if you are creating a straight line with your extended leg, torso, and arms. Relax your head as you gaze down or towards your fingers. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

5. Tree Pose 

Gratitude Yoga Flow Thanksgiving Tree Pose 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ground down through your standing foot and reach your arms upwards. Imagine the opening of your arms as if they are tree branches opening up to the sky and earth around you, ready to receive all the good and blessings in your life.

To do this pose, ground down through one foot and engage your standing leg. Lift the opposite foot and allow it to rest on your ankle, shin, or upper thigh. Engage your core and keep your gaze soft and focused in front of you. Option to bring your hands to heart center in prayer here or come into a full Tree expression with your arms reaching up towards the sky.

6. Supine Twist

Gratitude Yoga Flow Sequence Supine Twist

Stretch and detoxify your body and mind with this deep twist. As you melt into Supine Twist pose, allow yourself to linger here for a few breaths longer than usual. Allow your mind to relax and your heart area to fully open as you express your gratitude for your life.

To do this pose, begin by lying down on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Allow your knees to softly fall over to your left side and extend your arms out to a ‘T’. Option to bring your head to gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.

 

Ending Your Gratitude Flow Practice

End your practice in Easy Pose with your hands over your heart. Ground down through your sitbones and elongate the spine up towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your body and face. As in you inhale, breath in ‘Thank You’ and as you exhale imagine breathing out the word ‘Joy’. Feel that joy radiating out into the world. Repeat for several minutes.

5 Yoga Poses For Lower Back Pain

By Yoga, Yoga PosesNo Comments

Yoga enthusiasts swear by their poses to maintain feeling open, strong, and stable in their bodies. But utilizing yoga to feel good in your body and relieve pain doesn’t necessarily require a regular practice. Once you learn what areas of your body need be to refreshed and renewed, you just have to find the right postures.

In this article we will dive into a few poses that are great to help relieve lower back pain. If you experience lower back pain you’re not alone – an estimated 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. Back pain can affect people of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly. The below yoga poses can be done at home with limited props and don’t require any previous yoga experience.

Its important to understand that back pain is not a universal experience and that those experiencing severe pain should seek insight from a professional physician, or physical therapist before attempting any poses that could potentially create further damage. As always, its important to focus on how a posture feels, and not on how it looks.

1. Child Pose

Child Pose Yoga Poses Lower Back Pain Relief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child pose is a relaxing way to elongate your spine and relieve stress. Even though your mind might be resting, this pose offers an active stretch that helps elongate your entire back. To try it, start in a table top position (on all fours) and then begin to push your hips back so that your seat ends up on, or close to, your feet. Reach your hands forward to add length to the sides of your torso and let your forehead rest on the floor or a blanket. If your seat doesn’t reach your feet, you can fold another blanket over your heels for some extra support.

Stay in the pose for 5-10 breaths, allowing yourself to become heavier and softening towards the floor with each breath out. This is a great pose to practice before bed or even first thing in the morning to help center yourself for the day and stretch out your back after sleeping.

2. Cat and Cow Pose

Cat Pose Yoga Poses Lower Back Pain Relief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cow Pose Yoga Poses Lower Back Pain Relief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat and Cow are poses that provide both a rounding and an arch of your back, and they flow nicely from one to the other. This set of poses is perfect for an achy or sore back and will loosen your spine while also warming up the trunk of your body for any additional movement or workout.

Starting in all-fours position, move into Cow by letting your belly drop down, your tailbone lift, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your chest and head forward. Stay for the inhale. When ready to exhale, slowly round your spine up by pressing into your hands and release your neck so your gaze drops to your navel. Pause for a few seconds and then move back and forth from Cat to Cow. This helps position your spine into a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.

Repeat 7-10 times, flowing smoothly from Cat into Cow, and Cow back into Cat.

3. Standing Forward Bend

Standing Forward Fold Yoga Poses For Lower Back Pain Relief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Standing Forward Bend, its important to note that in some instances of back injury this can hurt the back further. You should have flexibility in the hamstrings while attempting this pose – if there isn’t a good stretch coming from the hamstrings, or if the hamstrings are tight – you could create further injury to the lower back. You should also do your best to keep the spine lengthened and more straightened than rounded.

A standing forward bend stretches the hamstrings and lower back muscles while providing a release for tight, tense shoulders as well.

Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees soft, not locked. On your exhale, fold at your hips – not the waist – and bend forward toward the floor. Don’t worry if your hands can’t reach all the way to the floor at first; just stop wherever your hamstrings feel a comfortable stretch. The neck should be relaxed with the top of the head facing the mat, and both neck and head in line with the spine to prevent injury. You can keep a soft bend in your knees to prevent any strain in the low back – bending forward with straightened legs together can compress the spine. If you have yoga blocks, place them under your hands for additional support. Stay for 3-5 cycles of breath and repeat as needed.

To exit the pose, bring your hands to your hips, bend the knees a bit and press yourself up to stand, but move slowly. Stand tall for 30 seconds and breathe fully into your belly and chest.

4. Supine Twist

Supine Twist Yoga Poses For Lower Back Pain Relief

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinal twists can be the most dangerous for those with back injuries – however the easiest on the spine would be a supine twist. A gentle twist offers tension relief for the entire back, as well as the neck. Allowing gravity to help release the back also makes this pose ultra relaxing for the rest of your muscles and your mind.

Lay on your back and bring your arms to a T-shape or cactus shape on the floor. Allow your knees to come up and in towards your chest and then slowly lower both knees to the left until they come down to the floor. Keep your head neutral or feel free to look in the opposite direction of the bent knees. Your knees might have a little space between them – if so, grab a blanket or towel and pad up the space so that your legs feel supported. Try to keep your upper chest broad and allow gravity to keep your shoulders heavy to the floor. Inhale to find some length and use your exhale to allow the twist to deepen. 7-10 cycles of breath will bring a nice physical release as well as a mental one! To switch sides, pull your knees back to your chest, and repeat on the right side. (Hint: don’t try this after a big meal.)

5. Sphinx Pose
Sphinx Yoga Poses For Lower Back Relief

 

 

 

 

 

 

This backbend is a great pose to strengthen the back and also stimulate the natural curves of the spine, which we sometimes lose from sitting for too long. When we sit a lot, the lower back tends to move into a more flattened shape, which can cause pain and discomfort over time. Sphinx pose promotes the natural curvature of the lower back which aids in overall spine health.

Lay on your stomach with feet hip-width apart, and bring your elbows to the floor and rest them under your shoulders. If there is too much pressure on your lower back, bring your elbows slightly forward. If you would like a deeper or more intense bend, place a block under each elbow. Hold this pose for several breaths, feeling yourself get longer with your inhales and allowing the hips and legs to heavy on your exhale. To exit the pose, lower yourself onto the floor, turn one cheek to the side and gently allow your hips to rock side to side.

These are just a few poses to help your back feel healthy and spacious. Always take it slow and ease into postures in a safe way for your body. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your intuition and exit the pose.

 


Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. Morgan also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice. Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, Morgan can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need.

 

5 Yoga Poses For Core Strength

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments

Core focused sequences are often a favorite among yoga students because of the universal desire to have a flat and toned tummy. But strengthening the core has many health benefits too. The core is a central part in our body that helps to stabilize us and keep us balanced in our yoga practice. The teaching cue, ‘activate the core’ is used in virtually every balance pose. Keeping the core strong is also a good way to improve your yoga practice because it will help with your alignment and prevent injuries to your lower back. Strengthening the core also helps us in poses such as Chatarunga because it takes pressure off our shoulders and wrists.

Read on to learn 5 core focused yoga poses you can incorporate into your practice today!

1. Balancing Table

Balancing Table is a great core and balancing pose. Repeat up to 20 times for each side to activate your core.

To begin, start in a table top position. Engage the core to keep you balanced. Extend your left leg back, flexing the toes down. At the same time, extend the right arm forward. Keep a straight line through the arm, spine, and back extended leg. Hold for a breath before switching to the opposite leg and arm.

2. Boat

Boat is another good core focused pose that also helps us to improve our balance. Try to challenge yourself by holding this pose for longer periods of time – anywhere between 20 to 40 seconds or longer depending on your strength level.

Begin in a seated position with your knees bent in front of you. Engage your core muscles and begin to tilt back slightly. Grab on to the backs of your thighs and begin to lift the legs up so that the shins become close to being parallel to the mat. For beginners, keep your hands on the back of your thighs or on the mat behind you. To advance the pose, you can try to bring your arms directly in front of you so that they are parallel to the mat.

3. Side Plank

Side Plank helps us to strengthen our side obliques, another important part of our core. Try to stay in Side Plank for 20 seconds on each side or longer.

Begin in plank pose. Lift your left arm up towards the sky. Stack the feet or place the left foot directly in front of the right foot. If this is too much for you, come down on the right knee. Stack the shoulders and keep the neck in line with your head. Engage the core muscles and pull your obliques up towards the sky. Hold and switch sides.

4. Dolphin

Dolphin helps to strengthen our core and also our upper backs. Aim to hold this pose for 30 seconds or longer. Repeat several times.

Begin in a table top position. Lower your forearms to the mat so that they become flat and parallel to each other. Option to bring palms face down on the mat or clasp them together. Engage the core and the quads. Tuck the toes and begin to peel the hips up towards the ceiling, reaching up through the tailbone. Straighten the legs and press the heels towards the ground. Keep the spine long and broaden across the shoulder blades.

5. Plank

Plank isn’t known as a yoga pose but it is the beginning of the common Chaturanga pose. It is a great way to strengthen not only the core, but also our legs, upper back, and shoulders. Challenge yourself to stay in Plank for 30 seconds to a full minute at a time.

Start in a table top position with shoulders directly over the wrists. Extend your legs out straight so that you come up on the balls of your feet. Engage the quads and core muscles. Option to come down onto your forearms, if this is too much for your wrists. Keep the neck soft and the spine elongated.