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 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 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.