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 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 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. :)

RISE Day 7IMG_3710

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.

 

IMG_3711 IMG_3723

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

IMG_3725 IMG_3726

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.

IMG_3743 IMG_3747

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.

IMG_3748 IMG_3749

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. :)

IMG_3760 IMG_3754

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

IMG_3757

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.

IMG_3665

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

IMG_3671

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.

IMG_3667

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.

IMG_3672

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!!

IMG_3675

IMG_3677

IMG_3676

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!

IMG_3678

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!

IMG_3681-0

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.

IMG_3682-0

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

IMG_3683-0

IMG_3684-0

Now onto the Forward Fold.

IMG_3688-0

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

IMG_3687-0

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 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!

IMG_3559

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!

IMG_3531