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 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. :)

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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 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

Yoga seems to be having a very big moment right now. It seems to be cropping up all over the place these days. I have been doing yoga on and off for the last 15 years or so. But it wasn't until the last couple of years that I truly began to understand and appreciate all that yoga has to offer. Because of my deep respect and appreciation of yoga I could not be happier that so many people are now discovering yoga too! I have some concerns though about this widespread pop culture embracing of yoga. While I do think that wherever one starts their journey with yoga is a good starting point, I am concerned that popular culture may be stripping away some of the deeper elements of yoga that make it such an amazing body and mind experience. My hope is for everyone who is discovering yoga now that they are able to come to fully appreciate all that it has to offer, and hopefully at a faster rate than I did myself! :)

My other concern with the widespread popularity of yoga is safety issues. I guess you can take the nurse out of the hospital but can't take the nurse out of the girl...er...something like that. ;) Fortunately for all of today's new practitioners there is an abundance of knowledge available on the subject and right at our fingertips via the internet! No longer does one have to go to a studio for proper instruction; but through careful selection, a knowledgeable yoga teacher can be found online. Nothing wrong with going to a studio either if that is your cup of tea and you have access to one.

My favorite teacher is Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. This kind, gentle, quirky and funny soul hails from Austin, Texas. She teaches in a way that makes yoga accessible to anyone. You can find her videos on her YouTube channel here or via her Yoga with Adriene website. She offers so many high quality and informative yoga videos for free. She has also began creating special yoga programs and offers those classes for a price through her website. I have bought all there of her programs to date: Reboot, Empower and Rise. I think highly of these programs that she has created. One of the great things about Adriene and her producer Chris is that they put the same care and consideration into their free videos as they do for their pay videos. They are two very awesome people!

On Adriene's YouTube channel, she has a wide variety of videos. She has one selection of videos which she calls "Foundations of Yoga". I have done a few of these videos and they are short videos that breakdown one pose at a time and give instruction based on that one pose. I have been meaning to go back to these Foundation videos and work my way through them, taking the time to attend to my own foundation of yoga. However, there always seemed to be something that got in the way of this plan. That is until recently.

I have some ongoing joint issues due to being very hypermobile in most of my joints. This causes some issues with pain and such, and causes injuries from time to time. One such injury occurred at the beginning of October. Initially it required me to go on light duty at work but then as it became evident that my recovery with physical therapy was going to be far slower than expected, it was decided that I needed to go out on medical leave to protect myself, my patients and my employer. My physical therapy revolves around careful movement of the injured areas and rebuilding muscle around those areas to support those joints. My weight lifting restrictions have finally been increased from 5 lbs to 10-15 lbs. Yay, me!

In addition to doing my PT exercises I was given to do at home in between appointments, I have decided to slowly and gently add yoga back into my routine. What better time could there be to take my yoga slow and focus on doing each pose correctly? Yoga is so beneficial for building muscle and strength by using one's own bodyweight. And with the movement, bloodflow is increased to the area being moved which helps the body heal the damage. Also, yoga relieves stress and helps me sleep better too; and by doing so, this helps my body heal too. So many benefits! But no matter how good it is for me I still have to use care and caution with my practice so that I do not injure myself, just like new yoga practitioners need to do.

This is where the Foundation of Yoga comes in. I decided this is the perfect time to work on building my yoga foundation. With that end in mind, I have created a calendar for the month of November utilizing Adriene's Foundation videos, as well as her breathing videos. I arranged the videos in an order of sequence that makes sense to me as a progression of advancing. There will be poses that I won't be able to do with my injury or that a new practitioner may not be ready to try. And that's okay! Adriene is the biggest proponent of modifying, listening to our bodies, and "Find(ing) what feels good."

So if you are nursing an injury like myself, new to yoga, been away from your mat for a while, or just want to focus on your foundation too, please join me this month and build your yoga foundation with me and others from the Yoga with Adriene community. Post your progress and/or pictures on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #ywanovemberchallenge. Look for other YWA community members using this hashtag too and be motivated to continue this journey all month! In addition to this Foundation challenge, I will be following along with YWA's newest program RISE, a morning yoga routine which is kicking off today for 21 days! I am excited about incorporating both of these challenges into my life this month and strengthening my body and mind.

I will be posting full updates with pictures on this website of my own practice and will be posting a picture or two daily on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page was well too. Follow me there, share your own journey and we will keep each other going.

Pic of Novemeber Yoga Calendar