30 Day Yoga Camp with Yoga with Adriene

I don't know about you, but now that Christmas is over I feel like the year has all but wrapped up and I am looking forward to the new year with even greater anticipation! New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are easily my favorite of all the holidays. I enjoy celebrating the past year and relish the feeling of a fresh new year. New Year's Day kind of reminds me of that classic Anne of Green Gables conversation between Anne Shirley and her teacher:

Anne Shirley: Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.

Muriel Stacey: Well, with no mistakes in it yet.

I love to remember this Anne Shirley quote with Miss Stacey's addition too. Miss Stacey reminds Anne, and us, that there will be mistakes tomorrow, and that is okay too.

My husband and I are kicking of the new year with a yoga bootcamp created by Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. This year's 30 days of yoga program is especially created to attend to the mind and soul, as well as the body. I am very excited about it! I can't think of a better way to start off a fresh new year!

The 30 day program is free and will be on YouTube on the YWA channel. In addition, Adriene will be sending out daily email updates starting January 1, 2016. Her email updates are personal notes from her and are always a lovely addition to going through the programs. I have no doubt that these updates with be encouraging, inspiring, and challenging as well.

I hope you join us on this 30 day yoga bootcamp journey! The daily emails will start on January 1st. But in true Adriene-form, the actually 30 days of yoga videos will not start until January 2nd. She gets that we are still in holiday mode on January 1st. :D

Decide to do this for yourself this year and proclaim it so that you can hold yourself accountable for sticking with this intention of spending 30 days tending to your mind, body, and soul. I would love to hear from you that you have decided to join us too!

Sign up here for the FREE 30 Day at home yoga bootcamp for your mind, body, and soul!

Update: There are so many people join the 30 Day Yoga Camp that the YWA site keeps crashing! Here is an alternate link YWA created to signup for the daily updates. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?! YOU have to join us too! :)

Tomorrow is always fresh quote

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 22 (a.k.a. Back on the Mat Again)

IMG_4327Those of you who follow me on Instagram and my Facebook page know that I had a rough last few days with a major flare up of my abdominal pain issues. Due to the pain, nausea and severe bloating, it was difficult to do much of anything. Today I finally was able to get back on my mat and it felt SO good to be back! No RISE or Foundation videos today but at least I was able to get back on the mat. This seemed like the perfect time to try one of Adriene's newer videos, "Gentle Yoga Sequence". Gentle Yoga Sequence

This practice was perfect for moving my still sore belly back into practice again. There were a few movements that put pressure on my abdomen and caused some pain. When that happened, I eased back out of those positions. This practice was all about slow and gentle moment.

This is a very gentle posture. No pulling on the neck. The hands are simply resting on the neck and gravity is pulling gently down on the arms which helps to open up the upper back.

This was another lovely stretch for opening up the upper back. After all the pain of the last few days, I was holding quite a bit of tension there.

Ahh, Puppy Posture. :) Bliss!!

Continuing with the theme of gentleness, I took the Cat-Cow Pose and Downward Facing Dog Pose nice a slow. Stretching into the tight places without pushing myself too far.

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Taking some time to work on squaring my hips with a leg stretched out behind me.

Next, some gentle twists. Only pushing as far as was comfortable for my abdomen.

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I am so grateful to Adriene for introducing me to this mantra. It is one I come back to often when I am dealing with circumstances that are frustrating me and out of my hands. Today I focused this mantra on my abdominal issues that I have. The fact that I have these issues with my GI system is out of my hands. It is a waste of energy to spend time being angry or upset that I deal with this. What is in my hands though is how I deal with it and what actions I take. So today I am embracing my GI struggles and saying "Allow, release, let go." Sending much gratitude to Adriene today for this mantra. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 18

Today it was back to RISE and the Foundation video. I think that RISE Day #6 may be my new favorite. First #3 was my favorite, then #5, now #6. :D I also joined the Yoga with Adriene site today! I am so excited about this!! In addition to the membership option, she will be continuing free videos on YouTube too!! Adriene has impacted my life in such an amazing way since I discovered her videos a year ago. Of course a membership will offer some additional bonus things for members, but ultimately I am so happy to be able to support the continual growth and outreach of Yoga with Adriene.

It is the most positive and affirming thing I have ever come across. It challenges me to grow and encourages me to love myself and others. I have met so many wonderful people through the YWA community and made some amazing friends too! In a world that is too often dark, scary and sad, this YWA community is truly a bright light of love in a harsh world. It is a safe place, a supportive place, and a respectful place. It truly is the best place on the internet. Check out her website for more about the membership.

RISE Day #6

How can you not like a video that begins with this glorious pose? ;) IMG_4270

From start to finish I love the whole feel of this practice. It stretched, strengthens, and nurtures the body in the nicest way possible. The 30 minutes just flew by so quickly!

Of course Black Cat joined me on the mat again today. :) It is so funny that she comes running now whenever she hears Adriene's voice and she stays with me on or near the mat the whole time I am practicing. I can't decided if she does it because she likes Adriene's soothing voice or because she likes that I am down on the floor at her level.

Massaging my forearms. Yoga has me more aware and grateful for my whole body, even the parts we often overlook.

This pose combines balance and stretch. It is great for stretching out the front of the thigh.

I LOVE this pose!! It opens up so many tight places in a really nice way.

Notice my extra furry head in the last picture? Yup! It's Black Cat sitting right next to me. :D

I like seeing how my back has become less hunched in forward fold. I have released so much of the tension that I was holding there at the start of the month.

It is also encouraging to notice how much high my three legged dog has gotten!

Massaging the wrist creases with the toes.

Finally developing the strength to hop up into forward fold and back into plank!

Warrior I reinforces what I am building on in Physical Therapy by drawing the shoulders back and down.

As does this. Yoga is so helpful for drawing attention to the little details we often miss, like hunching our shoulders up and forward.

On to one of my top favorite asanas, pigeon pose. This pose feels SO good on my hips!

Sitting up talk in pigeon really strengths the back muscles.

As this does too.

Renewing my intention for the day that I set at the beginning of my practice.

Foundations of Yoga Day 18

The foundation video for today was "Extended Side Angle Pose" or Utthita Parsvakonasana. Very helpful foundation video on this asana. There are several key points to this asana. After beginning in Warrior II, that lift and extension is maintained as we move into the beginning of extended side angle pose.

Using the hand to smear the ribcage up to encourage the torso to open up, not hunch down.

Next, stretch the arm out long overhead while maintaining that lift in the side body.

Or lift the arm straight up. Always keeping the shoulders down, the chest rotated up, and the knee in line with the ankle.

Here is another variation to try if it can be done without collapsing in the chest. Still maintaining that lift after smearing the chest open is important for proper alignment.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 16

NYC November 15, 2015 So, day 15 did not happen for me. Too busy running around NYC with my husband and kids. :) Then after traveling home last night, the only thing left to do was get showers and crashing into bed with our exhausted but happy bodies.

This morning when I woke up I knew I was paying for all the walking we did over the weekend. My hips had really begun to bother my on Sunday afternoon from all the walking but that was nothing compared to how they felt when I woke up this morning.. To be perfectly honest, I can't hardly walk today with hobbling. In hindsight we should have rode the subway a lot more considering my hips ache after a 12 hour work shift at the hospital. But we wanted to immerse the kids into New York so they could get a feel of the city, not only see the tourist sights. And the best way to get a feel of a place is to spend lots of time walking around. So we walked and walked and walked... ;)

Today's practice was nice and easy with lots of gentle movement to relax all the tight places. Yoga felt amazing to my aching body and although I still really ache, I know I did the best thing I could for my body today by practicing my yoga.

RISE Day 5

Starting off with some breath awareness.

I was so excited to get to do RISE day 5 again! I really enjoyed this practice the first time around and today was no different. Also, the sun was shining brightly on my mat the whole time I practiced and that felt like an extra special treat. :)

Stretching out the tight muscles.

Releasing the tightness in my back.

 

I LOVE drunk cat-cow for open up all my tight joints. It helps nearly every joint!

Heart to earth pose- another great upper back opening asana.

Lots of softly pedaling the feet during Downward Facing dog.

Very gently movements. during side body stretch- finding what feels good.

Foundations of Yoga Days 14, 15 and 16IMG_4236

After my RISE practice I caught up on the Foundation videos from the weekend and today. The first foundation video was "Sun Salutation B" or Surya Namaskara B. This builds on the Sun Salutation A and adds more strengthening to it. It is a lovely flow, made extra nice by practicing in the sunlight. :)

There were forward folds and stretches up to the sky, downward dogs that stepped through and up to warrior and chair poses.

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IMG_4240The next foundation video was "Tree Pose" or Vrksasana. This is a strength building and balancing asana. It really helps maintain the balance by picking a focal point and gazing that that while balancing in this pose. And don't forget to tuck the pelvis and tuck the tailbone down. That was a tip I never heard before practicing with Yoga with Adriene.

After Tree Pose, I moved on to the foundation video for "Triangle Pose" or Trikonasana. Adriene has some important and fine points regarding doing this pose correctly.

Preparing to enter the pose.

Angling out and down.

Triangle pose- being mindful to not collapse in my shoulders, neck or side body.

Lastly, I practiced the pranayama, "Lion's Breath" or Simhasana Pranayama. This breath may look silly but I find it to be quite invigorating and powerful feeling. Don't knock it until you try it. ;)

Taking a big breath in through my nose.

Exhaling with eyes opened and looking upward while tongue stretches downward.

 

 

 

A fun variation.

Then finishing everything off with a moment in child's pose being grateful for so many things.

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Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 14

What an amazing day today was!! We headed to New York City for the Fearless Fest hosted by the Women You Should Know organization. It was a fun event that included fitness classes and vendors tables for some interesting companies, most of which were founded by women. I'll write more about the Fearless Fest in a couple of days. For now I just want to share my yoga experience before I crash into bed after the miles and miles we walked today around the city. I have no picture of my practice today because I practiced at the yoga class at Fearless Fest. This was my first ever group yoga class. Until know I have always practiced at home on my own or with my kids or my husband joining me. I wasn't sure how I would feel about practicing in a class setting because my home practice is so meaningful and special to me. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how I was able to find my own quiet space in a class and with an event going on in the same room. I enjoyed my first yoga class experience! It was invigorating to feel all that energy in the room around me. I really loved that both my kids jumped at the opportunity to practice and asked me if they could join me. I didn't even thinking about asking  them if they wanted to join me because I thought they would feel too intimidated by the room full of women. But they both were really into it! I was so proud of them both! And they both kept at it for a 30 minute class too. Nice! Pretty cool at 7 and 10 they can already say they attended a yoga class. They got to it a lot sooner than I did. :D 

I felt well prepared for this class thanks to Adriene's amazing teaching. There were no poses that I could not do. I think that was one of the reasons I enjoyed the class. Having the confidence in understanding the poses helped me not be nervous about the practice itself, but to dive into the practice and get everything out of it that I could. I would definitely recommend working through the foundation videos before tackling a class, unless of course you live in Austin and can benefit from the live teaching version from Adriene. ;)

I can't wait to write more about this fun event and this amazing organization, Women You Should Know. But for now, it is time for sleep. It was an amazing day!

  

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 13

Today was a busy day filled with parent teacher conferences, errands, shopping for long sleeves and pants for the kids. Thank goodness it stayed warm for as long as it did because I just recently discovered that my daughter only has 1 long sleeve shirt that fits and my son's pants are all about 3 inches above his ankles! I was all set to do yoga earlier in the day but just as I was queuing up my video, my daughter stopped by and we had a really nice chat. My son was busy playing so we had a chance to talk one on one. But the time we finished catching up, my son joined us and I decided we would go ahead and go get the shopping done.

When we got home, I had lots to do still before bed. In the past, I would have skipped my exercise or yoga because I had so much to do. I would have thought I did not have time to do yoga. But today, I realized that my thinking has changed and yoga has permeated my life. I looked at all I had to do still and thought I need to do yoga first so I can do everything else. Forty-five minutes of grounding and peace from yoga and I felt ready to take on all the rest of my to-do list for the day.

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The sun was starting to drop as I got started with my practice. It was quite lovely having the late afternoon sun shining in on my practice. :)

I love the balance that is a part of this yoga practice. After doing a move that stretches out far in one direction, the next move draws in into the opposite direction. It is a reminder to me to not drive all my attention in one direction, but to attend to the opposite direction to in order to maintain balance. Definitely something to remember off the mat too.

Stretching out long...

Drawing back in.

 

Finally getting a feel for what Adriene means when she says to hop and "float" it up to the top of the mat. Progress!!

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Here were more reminders to maintain balance on the mat and off...

Stretching it out, radiating the heart forward.

Thinking about tomorrow and can't stop smiling. :)

Now draw it back to stretch the leg out.

 

 

We have a really fun day planned for tomorrow that I am SO excited about!! I could not stop smiling while I was on the mat. I'll share more about that tomorrow... ;)

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On to the Foundation videos for Day 13!

Foundations of Yoga Day 13

Today's foundation videos were "Knees, Chest and Chin Pose" or Ashtanga Namaskar and "Corpse Pose" or Savasana.

For Knees, Chest and Chin Pose I just want to encourage you to keep trying and practicing. The first several times I practiced this pose I was so frustrated that I wasn't anywhere near to what Adriene was doing. Remember, it is a journey. Yoga is not the poses but about the discoveries we make along the way.

Even my first pose of the practice was not nearly as good as the last pose of my practice. It was such a good feeling to put in the effort from repeated effort trying to master this pose to finally today moving in a way that mirrors Adriene's pose more closely.

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And the last pose...

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Then for everyone's favorite pose... ;)

Savasana

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 12

Gentle neck rolls. The kids were off school today and will be tomorrow too for parent teacher conferences. It was nice having them home today and the three of us being together, even though I spent a large portion of the morning working on a data entry project for our school's PTO (parent-teacher organization). After spending the morning deciphering handwriting so I could type names, email addresses and phone numbers, I came to really appreciate anyone who has to read people's handwriting on a regular basis. And I am determined to do better myself when filling out forms. My poor eyes! :D

I'm still taking it easy after the stiffness returned yesterday to my neck and shoulder. I also had physical therapy this afternoon, which was good, but hard too. Physical therapy gives me a deep appreciation for how the body all pulls together to support a weak point(s) and keeping going. Some of my PT moves I can move through the reps with no problem. Then other moves that target a different muscle will completely fatigue my muscle after only a few reps and with such a light weight. Fascinating!

After a full day I decided that instead of squeezing my practice in sometime during the day, I would do it this evening after we got back from the kids' Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. I am really glad I did. I lit a candle and enjoyed a peaceful practice with a few "visits" too.

RISE Day 3

Drawing circles with the knees works tightness out of the hips and lower back.

I continued on with my repeat of the RISE videos in the program today with RISE #3. Lots of careful and mindful stretching as I worked my aching joints and sore muscles.

And this opens up the whole back and the shoulders, as well as stretches the legs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I was joined by a special little guy after he finished his bath. :)

He thought this one felt especially nice> :)

Next, some Cat-Cow.

Some forward folds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then some Downward Facing Dog.

Even Black Cat joined in on the stretching. :D

After this, he ran off to get a snack before bedtime. And it was just me and the cats to finish the practice.

I think my plank is getting straighter and stronger.

Wide-legged Forward Fold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After some core tightening, it was on to a few more gentle stretches.

Foundations of Yoga Day 13

Knitting my ribcage together and tucking my tailbone down- 2 key points.

Today's foundation videos were "Chair Pose" or Utkatasana and "Breath of Fire" orKapalabhati Pranayama. Adriene had some very helpful tips for doing the Chair Pose correctly. There are all these little fine points and when they are all done correctly, the pose is powerful and supportive to the body too. Definitely check out her video before randomly sinking into a Chair Pose.

First chair pose of the video.

Last chair pose of the video.

Don't forget to take a nice stretch in the opposite direction after working one area so intensely as with the chair pose. A forward fold and a tall stretch up feel very yummy after this Chair Pose foundations video.

Stretch up tall.

Forward Fold

 

 

 

 

 

Last, I moved on to the pranayama, or breath practice for today. Don't skip these breath practices if you are tempted to. Breathing is an important element to yoga. The different breathing practices have their own unique elements to them.

Breath of Fire is fun to learn, on top of having a really cool name! Adriene begins by helping us become aware of our breathing. Then she instructs how to do the breathing. It is helpful to put the hands on the belly to feel the belly expand with the inhalation and suck in with the quick exhalation of this breath.

Inhale...

Exhale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find that I feel very calm and even after completing this breathing practice. I believe that Breath of Fire would be a nice lead up to meditation. I plan on try that before I mediate next time.

Letting go of the busyness and weight of the day.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 11

IMG_3867Soon after I woke up this morning, my neck got a pinch in it and before I knew it my neck was stiff and my shoulder was aching again, almost as bad as when I first injured it. I started getting frustrated about it because I have worked so hard in physical therapy to get myself back to normal again and back to my job as a bedside nurse. I started worrying again about my future as a bedside nurse and about if I was going to be ready to go back in a month or if it was going to take longer now.

RISE Day 11

I started off my RISE practice today with gentle neck rolls to loosen up my tight neck muscles. I did RISE Day #2 practice.

IMG_3868I moved slowly and very carefully, being mindful of the tightness in both my neck and shoulder. I incorporated a lot of movement with the poses too. There was little holding of the poses for me. I think that was helpful in getting the muscles to relax and limber up some. This is probably one of the most valuable things I have learned from Adriene. To "find freedom within the flow/form/practice" and to "find what feels good".

While it is important to do yoga poses correctly and with proper alignment to prevent injury, I am so happy I have found the freedom to listen to what my body needs and not be hung up on following along rigidly. I used to feel like if I did not do a pose exactly as the teacher showed then I might as well not even be doing it. Perfectionism is the biggest hurdle to success because we are so afraid of doing something wrong that we don't do anything at all. 

Shortly after beginning my practice, my intention for the day came to me- Be Present. Such a powerful intention. Worry about the future is not going to take away any of the problems in the future. All worry does is take away my peace today. At this point I set my intention for the day and let the worries go. This moment I have. The future is out of my hands. I will be present. I will live and enjoy today.

She heard Adriene's voice and came running downstairs to join me. :)

I love how she is stretching with me. :D

Drunk Cat-Cow variation is my best friend. So happy to have learned this move. It opens up all my stiff joints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to engage the core!

Three-legged downward dog shifting forward and kissing each elbow with the knee.

Moving on the Yogi Bicycles. Adriene instructs to keep the shins parallel to the floor. I wasn't quite parallel when I first started and look at Black Cat judging me!

There!! Is that better, Black Cat?!?

Look at that eye! She is shocked!! Shocked!!

Great move to feel the burn in the abs.

Now to stretch it out.

Stretching the hammies.

"Happy Baby" :)

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Foundation of Yoga Day 10 and Day 11

The foundations of day 10 and 11 combined nicely today as I finished catching myself up to my November calendar. I did the Yoga Tips video "Engage Your Warrior", the silent video for "Equal Standing" or Samasthiti, "Warrior I Pose" or Virabhadrasana I and "Warrior II Pose" or Virabhadrasana II.

First up, Equal Standing.

Lifting all my toes to ground down through the 4 parts of the soles of my feet.

Applying what I learned to stand tall in Tadasana with Equal Standing.

I love these Silent Videos that Adriene made when she had to rest her voice. Don't misunderstand me; I love hearing Adriene talk too. You never know what she's going to say. I frequently crack up while practicing with her videos. :)

But these Silent Videos are special too. Maybe it is my love of old movies and old black and white films. I don't know; but I do know that these videos are special. They are very short videos, only a couple minutes. Watch the videos through first so you know the cues, then hit the mat and smile while you practice. I guarantee you'll feel amazing after doing one of these special videos.

Now, on to Warrior practice!

Preparing my base to work on my Warrior pose.

Evidentially it helps to make a face while rising up. It give you more energy. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the base is secure, rise up into Warrior I. I have always loved the warrior poses for as long as I have been practicing. I love how strong and powerful I feel in these poses!

Warrior I

Then transition with a strong base into Warrior II.

Warrior II

Stretching between warrior pose practice.

Make sure you take time to stretch out between these foundation videos and even while Adriene is holding the pose still. Listen to your body and if it needs to stretch in the opposite direction to balance things out, go for it! Stretch it out then return to the pose, ready to give it your best again.

I love that at the end of the the Warrior II video Adriene says the mantra of Warrior is "I am strong!" That is exactly how these poses make me feel.

Do these poses today and feel STRONG and POWERFUL. Then show me a picture of your strong arms! :)

Be STRONG!!!!

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 10

IMG_3822I still feel 100% better today after last night's yoga practice! This was a good reminder for me to not be bound by the "should's" but listen to my body and be willing to adjust my plans. After last night's reset, it was back to RISE and Foundations practice for me today.

Rise Day 10

The last RISE practice I remember doing was RISE practice #7 on Day 7. So I decided to start at the beginning again with RISE #1 today. Remember when I wrote about Day 8 and I said I was so disconnected that I couldn't remember which RISE practice I did? Well, when I got into today's practice with RISE  #1 it hit me that this was the RISE practice I just did on Day 8. haha :D Oh well! If I don't remember doing it then it would probably be a good idea to redo it again today.

It was a lovely practice and Gracie joined me today. :)

Gentle neck rolls while petting Gracie.

This still counts as a stretch, right? ;)

Pets add another layer of goodness to yoga!

Lion's Breath!

I love how happy I look in this one. :)

Cat-cow over cat.

Peace

Foundations Days 8 and 9

Because of Plan B yesterday and getting off schedule over the weekend with my foundation videos, today I started catching up by doing the videos for Day 8 and Day 9.

For Day 8, the foundation videos were "Plank Pose" or Phalakasana, "Cobra Pose" or Bhujangasana, and "Locust Pose" or  Salabhasana.

Plank

Locust

I did not get a got shots of myself doing Cobra Pose because I was too far out go the screen and I could not hardly even see what my arms were doing. Suffice it to say that it was a good instruction video on Cobra and I feel like I learned how to do it correctly and in a way that supports and strengthens my lower back.

A much need rest after plank, cobra and locust practice.

For Day 9 I did the "Sun Salutation A" or Surya Namaskara and "Alternate Nostril Breathing" or Shodhan Pranayama.

Shining my heart forward in Runner's Lunge.

Beginning of Sun Salutation A

Forward fold

Downward dog

Upward dog

Smile. Repeat. :)

Of course there are several other poses included in the Su Salutation A practice. I LOVE Sun Salutation A! It has a wonderful flow to it. It is a nice short sequence that can be repeat a few times for a easy to remember practice for beginners. Sun Salutation A was the first practice I did on my own without following a video. So it holds a special place in my heart. It is a beautiful practice to greet the day with too. :)

I chose to include the breathing practices in with the foundation vides in my Building a Yoga Foundation calendar for November because the breath is so integral to the yoga practice. The breath has the power to elevate a practice from solely going through poses to a mind and body connected practice.

Today, I practiced the Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Getting the fingers into position.

Next, I began working through the breathing. I discovered that it is naturally easier for me to breath through my right nostril. Weird, huh?

Right nostril breathing.

Left nostril breathing.

But then after practicing breathing alternating from right to left nostril and then back again, I released that it had become easier to breath through my left nostril. As I sit here typing this the next day, it is once again harder to breath out of my left nostril. I wonder if I continued the Alternate Nostril Breathing practice regularly if it would enable me to be able to breath equally well out of both nostrils?

Now a nice big cleansing breath at the end.

...feels SO good. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another restorative practice is complete. Ahh... :)

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 9

Ah, stress. If there is one constant in life, that would be stress. Stress is just a part of life; there's no way around it. To not have any stress would mean you're dead. :) I was having one of those days. Actually, if you read my previous posts, you'd know that it all started Saturday night for me at bedtime. All day I tried to force myself to get on the mat. I tried to force myself to "snap out of it". I tried to force myself to get the things done I needed to. But I had no focus. I felt so scattered all day. For me, that is a sign of a highly stressed mind, when my mind is darting around, jumping chaotically from thought to thought, and unable to focus. It was a busy day with errands that chopped up the day too. I'm sure that did not help my focus either.

Finally, when I was at physical therapy, slowing working through my exercises with nothing else distracting me, I listened to my body and what it was telling me. I knew frustration was at the root of the funk I had been in since Saturday night. I decide then and there that I would hop on my mat as soon as I got home and practice "Yoga for When You Are Angry". I was not feeling angry but I figured that frustration was a close enough negative emotion that this practice would probably be exactly what I needed.

Yoga for When You Are Angry

IMG_3789IMG_3788IMG_3790After some extended time in Child's Pose and one Downward Facing Dog, we moved to lie flat on the back. Next, Adriene added an element that she was hesitant to add, but then went for it anyways and I am so glad that she did. She said her teacher taught this and she wanted to share it with us but felt silly doing it. She instructed and showed how to laugh out loud for 30 seconds. It's an interesting thing. I started faking laughing, just to do it; and it turned into real life like Adriene said it would. :) How funny! I would not have expected that.

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Next, I tightened up everything super tight and held it for a little before fully relaxing everything. What a therapeutic move that was! It took that frustration I had been feeling and brought it all to the surface as I tensed up and held tightly. Then as I relaxed my whole body at once, I could feel it all melt away.

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Ah, savasana. :) Compare my expression in the first reclining pose position with this last one. What a difference! And yes, I also added the "therapeutic" glass of wine to aid in my relaxation too. haha :D

After laying there a couple of minutes, I knew I wanted more. So I started a relaxing ocean sounds track on YouTube, grabbed my favorite cozy blanket and laid back down in savasana. I lay there in that meditative state for about 15 minutes. It was exactly what I needed. I got up from my mat feeling refreshed and so much lighter with all my frustrations and negative energy released and left behind.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 7

See? I really do have 2 cats! It's not just the same cat in all my pics. :) (Sorry for the dark pictures. The lighting wasn't good and I didn't realize until after I reviewed my pictures. Also, long practice = lots of pictures.)

Saturday drove home the point for me that it was time to carve out some time and space for my morning yoga ritual. It was a good day until the end of the evening when it hit me at bedtime how much I did not accomplish of the things I wanted to do.

I did not have time to do my Foundations of Yoga videos but I did do the RISE Day 7 video, albeit I did it at 6 pm not 6 am. My day was full of connections and that I do not regret. I spent the morning with my children and then interacting with the YWA community. Such a lovely group of people. :)

We spent the afternoon visiting at my parents' house with my parents and uncle before he heads back home to Florida. One of my sisters and one of my brothers were also there with their families. It was an afternoon well-spent catching up, laughing, sharing our joys and our worries. And the kids got to play with some of their cousins too.

Yogi toes!

From there I took my kids to the library as promised before it closed for the evening. It was enjoyable to watch my daughter pour over all the books trying to decided on exactly which ones she wanted to get. She reminded me of myself when I was a girl and used to agonize over which books to get, wanting to pick out just the right ones. And it was a joy to watch my son, who had been so resistant to reading, excitedly pick out his books and announcing which one he was going to read to me at bedtime.

Finally we were back home for the night. My husband had been away over night and all day. We were expecting him to come home around 6:30 so we decided to wait to eat supper until he got home. In the meantime, I decided to hop on the mat. I was finishing up the RISE practice when my husband got home and we all decided to play a game of "Clue" before the kids' bedtime.

So while I don't regret anything I did, I could have been more careful with my time management and would have been able to accomplish more of the items I needed to do too.

Always a welcomed interruption. :)

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This practice is the longest of the RISE videos, running at about 43 minutes. It took lots of elements and poses from the previous 6 days, added new poses and made one energetic and heat-building practice. I started out with a sweatshirt on and had to lose it part way through because I was sweating so much!

This practice had it all. Started with gentle movement to stretch the body and get it moving. Then lots of sun salutations, forward folds, downward dog into high lunge transitions and chaturanga practice. Then the heat really was building as we moved into warrior poses, chair pose, gate pose, tree pose, standing splits and core work. Plus all the other yummy bits with those poses and others and as we transitioned between the poses.

The core work was no joke! My core was burning at the end! My core felt tight and firm at the end of my practice.

I really enjoyed the way Adriene built up to this practice with the previous 6 days. I felt like by the time I was going through this practice that I had the rhythm and flow down. This enabled me to really flow through each pose and direct my attention to connecting my movement with my breath instead of trying to figure out what move came next. By doing the videos in order the first week, I was ready to put it all together and just flow.

 

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And then the heat started to build as the poses got more intense.

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Some "distractions". hehe :)

My yogi cat.

Answering some kid questions.

I love how yoga has put me in touch with my body and movement. I feel like I move with more grace and ease now. Sometime, like the picture below, I catch sight of myself mid-movement and am struck by how much little movements look like dancing. I love that! I wanted to be a dancer when I was a little girl and now thanks to yoga I am beginning to move more like a dancer. Maybe it's not too late to learn how to dance... :)

Dancing into gate pose.

Some of the core tightening moves.

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Next Standing Splits practice. It is not very far yet, but that's okay. It is not about the pose; it is about the journey to the pose.

Standing splits practice.

Followed by some more leg stretching. This will help further my Standing Splits.

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Finishing my practice as my husband arrives home. You can see my children in the background, excitedly waiting for him to pull into the garage. :)

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Not a bad way to finish my yoga practice. ;)

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Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 6

IMG_3664I am going to admit something. Although the RISE program was created to help us create our own morning rituals, I have not been doing the RISE practices first thing in the morning. Nor have I been waking up earlier to have that quiet practice before the start of the day. As I said a couple of days ago, it is easier for me to dive into my practice once I get the kids off to school. This is for a variety of reasons. For starters, Daylight Savings time ended here in Pennsylvania in the US on Sunday. Which means that my little buddy is now waking up extra early and if I want to wake before the rest of the family, I am going to have to go to sleep when the kids do! Well, maybe not quite, but you know what I mean. Clearly, Daylight Savings time was NOT created by a parent.

Another reason? I am still recovering from my time working night shift! I think it took about 5 days of being off night shift once I went on medical leave until I finally felt rested. Night shift is not easy, folks! I absolutely LOVE my night shift crew at the hospital but my days, or nights rather, on that shift are limited.

I do want to create a rising ritual though. So next week I will be working on crafting my ritual. This week my focus remains on getting rested and reestablishing my regular yoga practice. Don't be afraid to change things up and move into things at your own pace. There are no rules in the FWFG community.

RISE Day 6

This one got the heat going! I was ready to rest in Child's pose by the end. Whew! It is an invigorating start to the day for sure! I noticed some progress during this practice, which was quite exciting.

As I took a moment to get to quiet my mind before getting started, Gracie joined me on the mat. :)

IMG_3666 I really liked this revolving seating movement. It feels like it gets every little kink out of the spine.

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Raising up tall on the knees and then lean back slowly was part of the practice that really engaged the core.

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I felt like my side body stretch went easier today. Six days of practicing every day and I feel like my body is really starting to respond.

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I love, love, LOVE the warrior poses!! Looking forward to getting to all of them in the Foundation videos later this month. I felt that this Gentle Warrior flowed rather nicely today.

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After spending some time in Pigeon pose, we moved on to some deeper stretching. It was not that long ago that all I could do was grab my foot in this position. Today I was excited to see that I could not only hook my foot with my elbow but I could also hook my fingertips together. Yes, it was only literally my fingertips, but this is the first time I have gotten this far into this pose and I was so excited about it!!

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RISE Day 6 got me to sweating and it was so energizing too. I love that we are ending these RISE videos in Sukhasana, the Easy Pose. Most of Adriene's videos we end in Savasana, or the Corpse Pose, resting flat on our backs. But in the RISE program we have been ending in Sukhasana each day. I like ending a morning practice in this way. It gives me a chance to be still a moment and reaffirm my intention for the day; and by sitting up in Easy Pose, I feel ready at the end to RISE and greet the day!

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Foundations of Yoga Day 6

The foundations of yoga for today were "Mountain Pose" or Tadasana and "Standing Forward Fold" or Uttanasana. Two key foundation poses used very often in yoga practice. I discovered that spending more than 10 minutes working on solely the Mountain Pose is a great strengthening exercise for the legs!

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After finding my proper alignment and positioning in Mountain Pose, it was time to move on to Standing Forward Fold, which also starts in Mountain Pose. Lots of leg engagement with today's foundation videos.

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But first a visit from Black Cat before I move into Uttanasana. :)

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Now onto the Forward Fold.

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And just to see how far I can fold, I challenged myself a little further.

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I'm getting there. I can see in all my Standing Forward Fold pictures the tightness in my upper back caused by the knots in my shoulder muscles. I am hoping that as the knots let up and the tightness releases that the roundness of my upper back straightens out again. Like I said before, it's a journey.

Building a Yoga Foundation-Day 5

I wasn't sure how today was going to turn out. It ended up being a weird sort of day. I had an appointment scheduled for the afternoon to see a specialist about my joint issues. I was feeling a little unsettled about things so I chose to wear my superhero shirt. Couldn't hurt to feel like a superhero, right? Like my bff and I remind each other when feeling nervous about something, "Fake it till you make it". So I put on my superhero shirt and rolled out my mat.

Rise Day 5

So many members of the FWFG community have expressed their love for this practice and I completely agree. It was such a lovely practice. Very gentle and soothing. The shoulder shrugs felt especially nice this morning.

I thought this side body stretch was a nice variation with the leg stretched out.

It was interesting to notice that when I folded to the right side in this pose I was only partway to reaching my knee, but when I went to the left I could touch my nose to my knee. Have you noticed any differences in one side of your body compared to the other? Remember to notice without judgment. Yoga is a journey and it is all about the journey and the discoveries along the way.

Before practicing with Yoga with Adriene, I alway focused on trying to force my heels down into position in Downward Facing Dog. Now I relish in pedaling it out. Such a delicious feeling.

I loved this side body stretch that included hugging yourself. Can you tell? haha :D Seriously though, the biggest discovery for me with recording myself is seeing how happy and peaceful yoga makes me. It's nice to see that the outside reflects the inside with my yoga practice.

Foundations of Yoga Day 5

The foundation videos for today were "Cat-Cow" or Marjariasana-Bitilisana and "Victorious Breath" or Ujjayi Breath. Don't skip this this 8:49 minute video on Cat-Cow; there is so much more to the pose that just the "n" and "u" shapes. Once again, it is about how you get there.

Ah, Ujjayi Breath , chances are you have heard of this breath before. This is a nice tutorial for how to do this powerful breath. So worthwhile to learn how to breath properly in yoga so that we can marry our movement and breath together and take our practice to the next level.

My mantra for today was "Serenity". It popped right into my head. I liked it because it reminded me to remain calm and at peace in spite of the uncertainty of the upcoming doctor's appointment. I also liked it because it made me think of the "Seinfeld" episode where George's dad starts a new habit of saying "Serenity, serenity now!" when feeling frustrated. :D  haha

Little did I know in the morning when I was laughing to myself thinking about the episode that I would find myself in a similar frustrating situation after dealing with the doctor. The quest for answers in life, particularly with health questions, is rarely without frustration it would seem.

Serenity, serenity now!

Presented for my own amusement as well as for yours, I present Frank Constanza...

[embed]https://youtu.be/uC1Ri_0MlEs[/embed]

Sometimes you just have to laugh and be your own superhero.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 4

IMG_3578Good morning! It looks like it is going to be a gorgeous autumn day! After a chilly and wet start to autumn, we have been lucky to have such warm and sunny weather here in Pennsylvania in the US. Having the warm and bright sunlight stream in through the patio doors has made my yoga practice extra nice. I am soaking up as much warm sunlight as I can because I know soon the weather will grow cold, the bone-chilling rain will start and the snow will begin to fly.

But that is not today! So for now I ma going to enjoy every moment we get of this bonus late summer-like weather. :)

RISE- Day 4

Today's RISE practice started out by gently waking up the body. Adriene definitely likes to start out her day as I do by slowly easing into it. No need for craziness first thing in the morning! There is plenty of time for craziness later; the day is still young. ;)

IMG_3602 After gently waking up the body and moving it through some series of cat-cow and other poses, we moved on to Three-Legged Dog. I love the way this pose opens up the side body! I feel like this pose is able to stretch out all the little tight areas of the body that don't get stretched regularly. It feels amazing.

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From there we moved on to some other poses to stretch the side body in a seated position and poses to relax the neck.

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Now it was time for Triangle Pose. Love this pose! And the wide-legged forward fold twist that came next. Are you sensing a theme here? Basically I love any pose that stretches out those hard to reach muscles. :)

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Time for a cat break before moving on to the core wake up portion of the practice. Today it is Gracie joining me on the mat. I know she looks like Black Cat from yesterday's post but she's not. She is actually Black Cat's baby. Maybe one day I'll explain how Gracie got a normal name and Black Cat got stuck with...well, Black Cat.

Time to light the fire in the core! Makes it easier when you are imagining you are holding Simba, am I right? I will probably never be able to do this pose without thinking about Adriene. :D

Next, a variation to engage the core even more. Yay burning abs!!

And just in case the core is still asleep, let's move on to Boat pose! Guaranteed to wake up your abs and remind you later that you woke them up too!

After all that, now it is time to be still and be grateful for this practice and for this day and all it has to offer.

Foundations of Yoga0 Day 4

The foundations of yoga poses I practiced today were "Table Top Position" and "Extended Child's Pose" or Utthitta Balasana. Table Top is a pose that we come back to often in our practice. It looks like a basic pose, and in a way it is; however that does not take away from the value of this pose.

There are so many points to this pose that are important to get right. Proper positioning is important to get the most out of all the practice has to offer and to prevent injuries. Don't rush past the basics; your practice and safety depend on this.

A member of the FWFG community posted an article the other day that highlights some of the potential injures that can occur during yoga practice. Check out that article here. Don't let the article scare you; use it as a reminder to build your foundation and grow your practice safely.

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Here is an example of a way to be in Table Top Position if your wrists start to hurt. This was as great tip by Adriene and it really helps to take the pressure off the wrists until they build up more strength.

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And of course, we can't cover Table Top without a little Hovering Cat-Cow. :) This is one of those poses that most practitioners seem to either love or hate. I like the feeling of hovering so I am always excited when Adriene says we are going to do it next.

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After all that Table Top work it felt really nice to move into Extended Child's pose. This pose reminds me that yoga is an active practice. There is nothing passive about it. When in this pose, it is important to keep the shoulders pulled down and back, not hunched up around the ears. (*see above about the reason to do poses properly, even the "easy" ones.).

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And lastly, after all that work, I ended my practice by going into another Child's pose variation. This one relaxes any tension in the upper back. Perfect ending.

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Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 3

IMG_3566 My day fell apart yesterday late in the afternoon after a very difficult disagreement occurred between a close friend and me. That overshadowed the rest of my night and into this morning. After getting the kids off to school today I decided to call my friend instead of doing my RISE practice first. We talked things through until it was time for me to leave for my physical therapy. I noticed when I was at PT that the exercises were causing a burning sensation across my upper back. By the end of the PT session, it finally occurred to me that I was more than likely carrying the stress of the argument in my body, specifically in my upper back. And sure enough, when the physical therapist began working me through my range of motion after my exercises, he noted I had a knot in my upper back muscle. Stress is not without its consequences, that's for sure!

Love that she joined me on the mat today. :)

As soon as I finished PT, I head back home and rolled out my mat. I knew that before I did anything else today, I needed my yoga practice. RISE Day 3 and Foundations of Yoga Day 3 to the rescue! :)

RISE Day 3

This is my third practice in the RISE program, which actually only officially kicks off on November 5th. So it's not too late to join in the fun! Check out Adriene's website for more details about this morning ritual creating program and practice. I am only on day 3 and it is already so yummy!

It would seem others had the same experience with today's practice too, judging by the comments with the video and in the FWFG (find what feels good) community. One commenter referred to it as "fire and ice". I have to agree that it was rather chill most of the practice but ended by lighting the fire in the core.

One thing that I have noticed since recording myself practicing is that I actually smile a lot while I am practicing. I think it is just wonderful the effects that yoga has on our bodies and minds!

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The gentle stretching of RISE Day 3 was perfect for releasing the stress I was holding in my neck and back.

Rounding through the next and upper back is so effective at releasing the tension in the shoulders. I try to take breaks and dow this when I'm sitting at the computer writing.

Now for the fire lighting portion of the practice- Yogi Bicycles. I love this move! The key is to focus on all the energy of the movement out of the core and to keep the face and neck relaxed.

At the end, Adriene encouraged us to set our intention for the day. Immediately the mantra she taught use during her 30 Days of Yoga Program sprang to mind.

"Allow, release, let go."

Reclined Twist

After completing my RISE practice, I moved on to the Foundations of Yoga videos for the day. The first one was "Reclined Twist", or Supta Matsyendrasana. This is a pose that is always changing for me. I swear, some days my knees are only halfway to the ground; other days, they lay on the ground. It all just depends how tight my back and hips are that day. So if you are having one of those days where the knees seem to be so far from the ground in this twist, don't despair. Try it another day and you might just surprise yourself.

Wind-Relieving Pose

Ah, yes! Everyone's favorite pose to giggle at, "Wind-Relieving Pose" or Pawanmuktasana. :) Adriene made me laugh so much during this practice, as is evident by the smirk on my face in this picture. In all seriousness though, it is a helpful pose for aiding in soothing the digestive tract. And that's all I'm going to say about that. ;)

Yogi Cat

At the end of my practice she was still with me. Doesn't she look so peaceful? :)

:D

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 2

Let's start off today with a little Monday inspiration from one of my favorite websites, Women You Should Know. Love this!!12195787_1173420472672292_3398135186483594410_n

RISE Day 2

Today's RISE practice was Day 2 of the program. It was an invigorating start to the day. There were several poses that I had to modify to protect my neck and shoulder, but it still was a wonderful way to start the day.

I really enjoyed all the Downward Facing Dog variations. Down Dog may be one of my favorite yoga poses. I don't know why but I just love it! The Three-legged Dog variation is fun and the variation that includes bringing the bent knee up to the heart then to kiss each elbow is SO fun! Not to mention that it lights the fire in the abs! There was some more fire-lighting toward the end of the practice with Yogi Bicycles too.

Many of the YWA community, or kula, as we lovely refer to our group, :) is using this RISE program to create a morning yoga ritual that includes getting up earlier to practice their yoga before the day starts. I wanted to be one of those people; however, I realized, and came to embrace, that my morning yoga time is less rushed and more meaningful for me if I do it as soon as I get back from taking the kids to school. I love how yoga as taught me to not be so caught up by the pursuit of perfection or by being a stickler of rules. It has taught me to embrace the changes, modify as needed, and be gentle with myself.

Yoga Foundations- Day 2

Once you do this video you will know exactly what I am laughing at. :D

Today's Foundation practice was "Bound Angle Pose" or Buddha Konasana and "Reclining Bound Angle Pose" or Supta Buddha Konasana. The "Bound Angle Pose" is so nice for gently opening up tight hips and thighs. It is up to the practitioner how close to the body one's heels are; the closer to the body, the deeper the stretch. This is one of those poses that evolves and deepens over time. Don't force this pose; let the hips gently stretch open. Think "gentle like a butterfly"IMG_3526

During my physical therapy I often find myself holding tightness at the base of my neck from working my injured shoulder through the exercises. My physical therapist's assistant showed me a move that is similar to this one and has the same mechanism to it. By sitting in this position with the head bowed and the back rounded, the tension is released from the neck. This move is also really good for anyone sitting at a desk for long periods of time. IMG_3533

For "Reclining Bound Angle Pose" gravity is helpful in gently stretching the hips open. Adriene also shows how to use blocks with this pose to deepen the stretch in the back and across the shoulders. I am working on strengthening my shoulders by drawing them back and down. I think it would be really helpful for me to spend some time in this reclining position with the utilizing blocks as she showed. IMG_3534

It was a peaceful start to the day. I hope you were able to get on the mat today too. What kind of morning rituals are you creating? And how are the foundation videos going for you? Any new discoveries? I would love to hear how your practice is going. Have a great Monday! Go out there and CHASE YOUR DREAMS!

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Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 1

Today I was joined on the mat by my lovely daughter. :) We did day 1 of RISE, the Yoga with Adriene morning routine program. This new program started off nice and easy with a gentle practice that left us warmed up, stretched and energized. Beginning practice

RISE Day 1

RISE Day 1 twist

RISE day 1 garland pose Then we moved on the our Foundation videos for Day 1 on the Building a Yoga Foundation calendar. The first video was for "The Easy Pose" or Sukhasana. This pose reminded us to be aware of our posture and sit with ease, remembering to keep head over heart and heart over pelvis.

My daughter tends to slouch when sitting, as most children seem to do. She found that this pose made her back hurt by trying to maintain this correct posture. She said it felt better for her to slouch because that was what she was used to. But, she stuck with it and at the end, rewarded herself with some resting in Child's Pose.

Easy Pose

Next, we moved on the "Staff Pose" or Dandasana. This video proved to be a strengthening pose for our legs for both of us. Staff Pose seems so easy but yet there is so much to it when done correctly. I really like the way Adriene worked us through the pose. She brought out little fine points that were beneficial in bringing awareness to the whole body. Reminded me again to be grateful for my spine which does so much for me.Staff Pose It was a lovely Day 1. So nice to have my daughter practice with me too! Overall today was just lovely. Lots of quality time with my husband and kids. We pulled out old board games that we haven't played in awhile, taught the kids new games, drank hot tea and coffee, went for a beautiful afternoon walk, spent some time writing and finished the day baking cupcakes together.

Tomorrow it is back to the hustle and bustle of the week but I have a feeling it is going to be a great week! It is already off to such a good start. :)

Namaste