Namaste Teachers Share the Best Yoga Advice They’ve Received

We asked Namaste Yoga teachers one question: what is the best advice that you’ve received regarding your yoga practice? (spoiler: we have some seriously wise teachers!).

Here’s what they said:

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Judy Rukat

When I began my teacher training with the late Larry Schultz, I had NEVER practiced yoga before and was not enjoying the training (to say the least). Yoga broke me down, humbled me and was too much for me in every way. In fact, it felt like a sort of painful death. I approached Larry with my discontent and he told me, “You are on the path to becoming a great teacher,” and GENEROUSLY gifted me my teacher training because he believed in me. That’s real yoga.

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Richard Rosen

A friend of my wife is a professional astrologer and psychic and he once gave me a free session. Though I’m not a psychic kinda guy, I went just to be polite and he told me that “as a yoga teacher I’m not working with people’s bodies as much as with their souls” this advice has stayed with me now for many years.

 

Elana Morgulis

Elana Morgulis

I think the best advice I’ve received was a simple reminder mid-pose to notice the quality of my breath. If my breath felt constricted, I could gently back off. It gave me permission to be gentle with myself, and I experienced a profound relief and freedom within. Whew, I feel good just thinking about it!

 

 

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Reba Gray

Master the practice of ahimsa (cause no injury or harm). Make that the most important thing in your yoga practice right now.”

 

 

 

 

kenbrenimanKen Breniman

The best advice I received from my teacher Darren Main, was when he said: “Ken, teach from your heart!” He really encouraged me to connect to my authentic self and through following his wisdom,  I have focused much of my on-the-mat and off-the-mat healing on connecting to Source so that I can teach what the students want/need without my  worries or doubts getting in the way.

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Annemaria Rajala

I draw constant inspiration from one of my teachers, Sam Chase. He told me that a yoga practice should “meet us where we are and help guide us toward what we desire to become.” I strive to live by this on a daily basis.

 

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Poh Teng

My favorite advice is something passed down from senior practitioners of Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation and the collective wisdom of the satsang. “The spiritual path is not easy. It is similar to climbing a mountain. On our trek towards the summit, the conditions of our journey change all the time.  Sometimes, the sun shines brightly, the weather is fine. Maybe the incline isn’t even that bad.  We experience progress during our travels and we feel pretty good about ourselves. Other times, the weather is dreadful and we cannot find shelter. Maybe the trek around the dark side of the mountain, where the sun is hidden from us, is longer and harder than anticipated. Maybe we come to an obstacle in our path that causes what appears to be set backs. (sic) In our own time, we eventually arrive at the summit where we meet each other. Keep practicing. And all is coming.”

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Julia Beauchamp

The best advice I received from a yoga teacher was about how “the inhale is a rising up and the exhale is circling down”. In this way we create an energetic loop around the spine every time we breathe. The change of direction above the head and below the tail bone are important, crucial points of transition– the moments in between when time stops and for a moment we cease to exist until the loop picks up momentum again.David Schlussel

David Schlussel

“Practice less, more often”

 

 

Domonick Wegesin

Dr. Domonick Wegesin

“Just fucking do it” from mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat- Zinn.

 

 

 

Naushon Kabat-Zinn

The best advice I have ever received is from my teacher Baba Hari Dass, who always said “Teach to Learn.”

 

 

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Rosy Schlussel

My teacher Sofia Diaz has said some things that have stuck with me for many years, here’s a couple of zingers: “Yoga is the willingness to feel what you have committed to through being alive.”

 And a little more complex & shocking, perhaps: “The difference between dragging your body around behind you like a dead dog on a leash and yoga, is the answer to the question: “Are you in love?”

 

Claudia Florian Mccaffrey

Claudia Florian-McCaffrey

The best yoga advice I’ve received from one of my teachers was to “get on my mat for just 5 minutes.” This taught me that all I needed to create a practice was a mat and my breath. After those few minutes I had the choice to stay on my mat or finish my practice and it worked! I never stayed on my mat for just 5 minutes. I got inspired to take care of myself because those five minutes felt great and I wanted to stay longer!

Tara Sullivan

Tara Sullivan

Best advice about my practice was from my teacher Sharon Gannon who said, “The best way to uplift your own life is to do all you can to uplift the lives of others.”

What is the best advice you’ve received from a yoga teacher? Please share in the comments!

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20

5 Minutes To Move: A Simple Yoga Sequence to Get You Moving

5 minutes to move is a short yoga sequence for anyone on a tight schedule who still wishes to practice daily: great for the morning or midday. TIP: Pose #3 or “swimming” is a backstroke like motion with the arms while treading the feet in a forward bend. This sequence is appropriate for most students including beginners and (as pictured!) pregnant mamas. 

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20

Meet Namaste Teacher Abby Tucker

Namaste is thrilled to have senior teacher, influencer and all around great gal Abby Tucker join our teaching faculty and bring all of her insight, knowledge and passion to our studios. We had the opportunity to ask Abby some questions about herself and her teaching and are excited to give you a glimpse into Abby.

Abby1Q: You’ve been such a solid figure in the bay area yoga community since 2002, how did teaching come in to your life and what has that journey been like for you?

AT: Wow. That’s a long time and not long at all. Here in the Bay Area, here at Namaste, there are so many long-time experienced teachers, and I feel so honored to be in their company.  Also, the yoga world since 2002 has changed so drastically. There are probably more teachers who graduated a 200-hour program in 2015 than even existed in the Bay Area in 2002, so by those standards, I guess I’ve been around awhile!  In my past life, I lived in Washington D.C. and worked in the political arena in marketing and public relations during the Clinton era. When I discovered yoga, it shook up my life a lot. I didn’t feel good about my work anymore. In 1999, we moved to San Francisco, and I left that world behind, dedicating myself full-time to my practice and then eventually to teaching.  I love teaching–it’s creative, collaborative, and allows me a space to be in service to others all at once. Not once have I been bored.

Q: Your website describes your teaching style as “yoga for the heart,”what does that means to you?

AT: It’s a way of saying, “Hey, this isn’t exercise and stretching.” Yoga for the heart, (meaning the heart of who we are at our essence) is to say that we are here doing some pretty deep work at the spiritual level and the access point into that is through this incredible body that we have.  The practice of yoga does what so many other physical activities can’t, which is to show you on the confines of your mat, exactly who you are at every level, every place you go, every person you are with.  How I approach the poses that I struggle with are going to be how I approach struggles in my life.  

The asana practice teaches us our patterns and also reveals to us by connecting our breath, body, heart and mind that at our essence–at the heart of things–we are love, peace, and joy.  But it can take a lot of excavation to remember that!  

Q: What do you hope students leave your class with?

AT: A feeling of connection–to themselves in their breath, body, mind and heart; to the deeper meaning of why they practice, the bigger picture, because without the context of meaning what is practice anyway? A deeper feeling of connection to their community and to nature.  The root word from which yoga is derived is YUG, which means “to yoke.” It’s not union, as so many people love to say. It’s taking two or more things and bringing them into deeper relationship with each other. So, I feel I’ve met my hopes for the classes I teach, when a student feels more connected to something because they practiced. I try to create a space that holds that possibility for deeper connection.

abby2Q: How do you help students to grow while also ‘honoring their own boundaries’, why do you feel that is important to modern yogis?

AT: It can be tough in the Instagram age to not get obsessed with yoga poses and trying to get “there.” We really have to understand that bodies are very very different. Frankly, so many yoga poses favor the Vata body type (Long limbs, among Vata’s attributes).  I’ve been practicing since 1998. I’ve got a solid handle on alignment, I’m strong, and I can’t do upward-facing dog for the life of me because my bones are short and thick. That’s not to say I couldn’t get into the pose, but just because I can doesn’t mean I should, because getting into it means misaligning and struggling. So, in my classes, I’m more interested in the journey of the pose and what actions, stabilizations and openings make a pose even possible. By working like that, I can have a room of 50 students of varying experience levels all working at their fullness of capacity, and everyone can walk out feeling more empowered towards a pose. The poses don’t really matter all that much.  

Q: Can you share with us a little bit about your own personal practice? What inspires you on and off the mat?

AT: My asana practice changes a lot at this point, especially as I attune myself not only to my own body and its needs, but also to the time of day, cycle of the moon, season of the year. I have different namaskars for the four primary cycles of the moon, for instance. I’m less interested in radical advanced practice than I used to be–much more interested in what is the way of practicing that is sustainable so that I can be doing this when I’m 108. Over time, I’ve also (though it changes for various reasons), honed into what my five primary poses that keep me strong and open, so that if I can only do that much, I know what is the most efficient and serving of my body’s needs.  Overall, I’m a sucker for standing poses. They create a sense of empowerment for all levels of students. And Hanumanasana never goes out of rotation in my life.

Q: You’ve said that you are a student of MahaShakti, the highest flow of life and Consciousness. Please share what that means to you and how this comes in to play in your classes?

AT: Ultimately, I’m a student and devotee of the Life Force that pulses in me, you, everything.  This is the Divine Feminine, the MahaShakti (Supreme Power of Consciousness).  So, for me, I’m always in the practice of aligning my life, my practices, my teaching to what is served by the Life Force, the Great Mother.  What serves that?  This is one reason my practice changes. What is serving the Life Force one day, might deplete it the next. My mind or will might want to practice a certain way, but if I get quiet and connect to the flow of life, then I’m more guided to what is going to enhance, not diminish me. I try to do this in my life, which, of course isn’t always easy.

In fact, sometimes “She” (the Life Force) requires you to do what is uncomfortable or to shake things up in order to stay where she is flowing for you. For instance, that’s how I ended up here at Namaste. I was moving along in my teaching, comfortable where I was, and then there was something that made me have to pause and say, “Where is the Shakti moving for me? What is going to serve my Life Force so that I can teach and serve in alignment with that?” When I ask that question, I know exactly what to do . . . even when it  requires me to step outside of the comfort zone.

Q: Any self care practices that you swear by?

AT: Oh my goodness. Self-care is the number one practice, isn’t it? Again, they change a lot based on season, etc.  The one thing that never changes is forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku), which is simply being in the woods, walking in the forest. That has rejuvenated me my whole life. Really being in nature in any way brings me back to life no matter what.  Beyond that, I do the best I can to eat clean and in season and to always make time to BE, not just do.

Q: Favorite story (so far) from your years of teaching?

AT: Hmmm. How much time have you got?

Q: Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that you’d like to share with the Namaste community?

AT: Probably my most oft-used quote in my classes comes from my teacher’s teacher, Ayer Gopala Sundarmoorthy.  He always said, “Of all the things the Universe could have chosen to become, it has chosen you. You never need to look any further than your breath to know that you are important in the world, because She will breathe you, exactly as you are–nothing to give up and nothing to acquire–until She is done.”

Check out Abby’s full teaching schedule HERE.

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20

The Perfect Yoga Sequence for Cyclists

By Hannah Franco

I seriously have the greatest grandmother ever. She’s in her 80’s and every year  (basically since it started) she has ridden her bicycle across the state… the state of Iowa.  I tried one year to go with her when I was around 17. I did my best to keep up, thinking I was pretty strong (I was on swim team and I played soccer regularly) but she still left me in the dust… I only lasted 3 days. She doesn’t seem to even notice that she’s 80 now and she still takes down 60 mile days like its nothing.  In honor of her and all the other people who don’t let anything get in the way of living fully I thought I’d pull together a top 10 poses to do pre or post cycle. This yoga sequence for cyclists is perfect before spin class, mountain biking, road cycling or even just a nice cruiser bike ride. Regardless of how you choose to exercise, yoga is a great way to prepare your muscles as well as aid in recovery!

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1. Foreword fold with hands interlaced behind back (Uttanasana)

101: Feet are hip width apart. Fold forward. Interlace your hands together behind your back and let the arms hang over your head.

Variations: Reach down and grab your ankles

Benefits: hamstrings/shoulders/ chest

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2. Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana)

101: Both legs are straight. Spine is long. Hands to the hips, shin, or floor.

Variations: Hands interlaced behind the back.

Benefits: hamstrings

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3. Pigeon / Downward dog (Kapotasana /Adomuka Svanasana)

101: hands are shoulder width apart.  Hips are up towards the sky and your spine is long. Cross your left leg over the right thigh. Flex your left foot and press the left knee out to the left. Bend in your right knee coming up on to the ball of your right foot.

Variations: Normal down dog, both feet on the floor.

Benefits: hips/ hamstring/ quad

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4. Half splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)

101: (front) Left leg is extended straight, flex your foot. Right knee and ankle are stacked.  Hands are to the hips, shin, or floor. Spine is long.

Variations: Full splits but be kind! No rushing!

Benefits: hamstrings

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5. Low lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

101: (front) Left knee and ankle are stacked. Your right leg is extended behind you and you are on the top of your right thigh not knee. Hands to your hips. Spine is long.

Variations: Reach around and grab the foot of the extended leg bringing it closer to your hip

Benefits: hip flexors/ quad

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6. Cat /Cow (Marjaryasana/ Bitilasana)

101: Knees and hips are stacked, hands and shoulders are stacked. Arch the spine up and down with the breath

Variations: Move the spine in a circle around to the right then left.

Benefits: Back

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7. Half bow pose (Dhanurasana)

101: Your right forearm supports you. Reach back for your left foot or shin with your left hand. Kick the foot in to the hand to lift the let.

Variations:  Grab both legs at the same time

Benefits: back / chest

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8. Seated twist (Matsyendrasana)

101: Your spine stays long. The bent left leg crosses over the right extended leg. Your left hand is on the ground supporting you and your right arm wraps around the left leg.  Look over to the right. Do both sides

Variations: You can tuck your extended leg up by your hip

Benefits: back/chest

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9. Seated forward fold  (Janushirshasana)

101: Your spine stays long, you don’t have to touch your toes. The left side foot touches your right inner thigh, lean forward. Do both sides

Variations: Don’t forget to do the second side!

Benefits: hips/ hamstrings

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10. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

101: feet hip width apart. Knees and ankles stacked arms by your side.

Variations: The hands can be interlaced behind your back.

Benefits: back /chest /shoulders

cycling sequence

Happy Cycling! See you in class!

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20

Alexander Technique: Discovering the Balance Between Ease and Strength

By Hannah Michahelles

I’ll start by admitting that I am a serious fan of Alexander Technique! I started studying the technique as a Freshman in college as part of my major in Theater for Social Justice. I was privileged with the opportunity to take both group and private lessons for three years (oh, how I miss you, liberal arts education!) and I found the work deeply profound and lasting.HannahMichaelles

The technique, very simply, is about learning to let go of harmful tension in your body.

Like yoga and other ‘attention through movement’ practices, it is about focusing your awareness on the body and breath, about noticing your postural habits, your patterns of holding and tensing, and learning to let them go.

It’s about finding a balance between ease and strength. It’s about learning to move through the world with a lightness, a sense of freedom. It really is as good as it sounds!

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As an actor, the work becomes a bit more specific. The technique helps you access a “neutral” body. You begin to notice your own physical idiosyncrasies and learn to let them go, to find a more neutral body onto which you can “build character.” You learn safe ways of  adding another’s physical characteristics onto your own body’s blank slate. This becomes powerful and technically precise with a deepened awareness of the body and how it moves through space.

You can take the principals of the technique with you, anywhere you go. In a car, on your bike, standing in line. The insight, the knowledge you gain about your body and how to make it feel good, stays with you. I have found this technique to be my best companion on my yoga mat. I know better what my body tends to do and where it tends to hold and overcompensate. I know better how to let that stuff go, how to move more freely, and with ease, into my practice. I know how to better protect myself from injury and repetitive strain, how to keep myself safe and self-soothe. And, most importantly, I have a deepened joy in moving and breathing and the yumminess that comes from taking really good care of myself.

Join us for our Alexander Technique Workshop in June with Tara Sullivan where we’ll learn to stop doing the habits that interfere with our innate ease and can then make conscious choices about how we want to move through life.

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20

Yoga Nidra: The Ultimate Healing and Relaxation Practice

Does life seem like it’s just rushing by? Are you left thinking, ‘I can’t keep up! My mind is racing with all I need to accomplish!’. Are you alternating between tired and wired and feeling worn out, run down and out of sorts?  Everyday we go to battle with our life and our problems. We try to fix ourselves with new clothes, new diets and new extremes causing the cycle to continue. Today, we invite you to investigate a new approach and discover Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep,” a form of deep meditation designed to bring the participant into a state of pure awareness and self-discovery. Simplified, we can achieve complete composure by relaxing, renewing, and just being. We can get in to that!

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra, loosely translated as ‘yogic sleep,’ is a reclined practice designed to bring you to a state of pure awareness and self discovery.  Described as one of the deepest forms of meditation, Yoga Nidra leads to a state of supreme stillness and insight. Through the practice we’re able to find ease and responsiveness through letting go (relaxing) and paying attention to what is here with a kind heart, something that is so unique compared to our usual response to stress.

What are the Benefits of Yoga Nidra? 

Throughout our lives we encounter a myriad of challenges. One goal of Yoga Nidra is to create a relaxed mind and in turn increase creativity, spontaneity and awareness.  When our mind is open and relaxed we are better prepared for anything that comes our way, whether it be physical illness, anxiety, loss or grief.  The practice has also been shown to improve Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Chronic pain, Chemical dependency and even PTSD in Veterans. Lastly, many practitioners find an overall increase in wellbeing and joy as this practice asks us to welcome our true selves and not try to change anything.

Get a taste of Yoga Nidra in this sample recording with Namaste instructor Ashley Sharp

If traditional sitting meditation sounds too intimidating, this may be just the practice for you, and who knows, maybe you’ll be able to channel The Little Duck in the poem below:

The Little Duck

Now we are ready to look at something pretty special.
It is a duck riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
This is some sort of duck, and he cuddles in the swells.

There is a great heaving in the Atlantic,
And he is a part of it.

He can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because he rests in the Atlantic.

Probably he doesn’t know how large the ocean is.

And neither do you.
But he realizes it.

And what does he do, I ask you. He sits down in it.
He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity – which it is.
That is religion, and the duck has it.

He has made himself a part of the boundless,
by easing himself into it just where it touches him.
I like the little duck.

He doesn’t know much.
But he has religion.

 -Donald C. Babcock

Want to go deeper into Yoga Nidra? Check out our website for upcoming workshop dates!

Featured image by Annie Internicola

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20

Over TWIRED: Change the World One Savasana at a Time

By Vickie Russell Bell

How twired are you? First things first, what is twired? Twired = tired + wired. And it’s an epidemic in our society. We are running on empty. Some of us go to bed too late, don’t get enough sleep and then run on adrenaline all day. Others don’t sleep well (due to hormones, stress, alcohol) and then wake up, and move caffeinated and wired through the day. We don’t know how to rest. No one taught us. We think that zoning out to TV, or answering emails on the couch while we down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or playing candy crush on our ipad is rest. Think again. Rest involves stopping and we don’t do that well. Some of us are so twired, we’re afraid that if we stop, we may not be able to start again (you know who you are!)

Being busy is the new addiction, and it’s actually a control mechanism that keeps us from feeling. It keeps the fear and the loneliness below the surface. Stopping to rest can be downright frightening. It might mean that we tap into a part of ourselves that we’ve denied and kept hidden for a long time. Stopping and feeling requires that we wake up.

So, how can we learn to rest? Yoga and savasana to the rescue!

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Here’s What You Do:

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Place a folded blanket under your head as a pillow and a roll under your lower thighs/knees (or put your legs up on a chair or your bed). Place your arms a little away from your sides. Let the weight of your body drop into the floor. Notice your breath. Soften something that feels tense. Do nothing but rest. Attempt to relax, and stay awake. Feel + breathe + be.

Savasana lacks ambition. Savasana is receptive. Savasana is soft and kind. Savasana is about being and not about doing. Savasana is the practice of deliberate stillness. Savasana is the antidote to twired. 15-20 minutes will radically shift your nervous system. You will feel more relaxed, more at ease, more peaceful. The more you practice the easier it becomes, and it will change your life. Your friends, family and co-workers will thank you!

Want More? Try the 30-Day Challenge: 

For the next month 30 days, do 15-20 minutes of savasana every day, once a day. Drop the twired – be more at peace – get to know yourself. I promise you won’t regret it! (Oh yeah, let me know how it goes…)

Please let us know in the comments how you feel after the exercise!

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20

The Yoga of Sound by Amber Field

Sound is vibration. Matter is vibration. Everything is sound. Everything vibrates.

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Singing and the voice are related to expressing yourself and speaking your truth. The throat is the link between the heart and the head. Therefore, you want a clear channel to allow the head and heart to come into conversation and balance with each other. The throat is connected to divine will, being in right relationship to your life’s purpose.

When you can speak, sing and sound your truth, you can move confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Singing is one of the best activities you can do for your health. By taking long exhalations, you calm down your nervous system. You also release endorphins and dopamine (happy chemicals!) and when you sing in group, you release oxytocin, which is the bonding/attachment hormone. In short, singing makes you happy! 

Chanting/toning through the chakras allow you to open up your whole body through sound. This helps bring chakras into balance and alignment. You can literally feel sound opening up your body, releasing tension and knots, helping breath and energy flow through blocked areas, and giving your body an internal massage.sing-b

Group singing is such a powerful way to come together to bring healing energy to the world. Singing spirit songs–songs of love, devotion, hope, and freedom–is such a powerful vibration to put out into the world together. I have watched how free your voice classes have transformed people’s lives, and witnessed my own transformation into a more free, confident, expressive, spontaneous, playful being. It’s infectious to be in a community of people who are freeing their voices, creativity, and spirits together.

Come free your voice and discover the yoga of sound with Amber Field in her 2-hour playful Free Your Voice workshop at Namaste Grand Lake on Saturday May 2nd from 1:30 to 3:30pm. Sing, sound, and speak your truth with more confidence and freedom! More info here.

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20

Learn Forearm Stand with Hannah Franco

I remember the elation and shock I felt when I lifted up into my first handstand! I could not believe that I was seriously on my hands with my feet off the floor. I immediately crashed back down, but the feeling was still there… the knowledge that I could. The power of advanced asana is that they are a physical reminder that we are capable of so much more, and that our power and our spirit are vast. This physical experience helps us connect with our fears, breathe deep, and move through them. It’s a moment of truth. We can take this experience any way we choose or need in that moment; we can embrace the fear and choose to feel alive.

Regardless if you make it up or not, it’s how you approach these poses that brings about a shift in perspective. Heart above the head – literally. With that in mind, let’s embrace one of my favorite inversions.

STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE. There is no question – you have to do core work to go upside down. If your belly is sleeping, you will fall right over. So how do we tackle this problem of core work? My favorite new technique is laughing – seriously, it makes it easier! What can you do to make it fun? Put your favorite song on and go for it! The other key piece is that it doesn’t need to fit in any kind of format. You can do core work while watching a movie or while waiting for the water to boil for your tea. WHATEVER.

ALIGN YOUR SHOULDERS.  A big part of this mastering forearm stand is getting your shoulders into their sockets and onto your back. As I sit here typing, I’m rolling mine back into my sockets – it’s a process. We want to cultivate strong, open, and aligned shoulders.

 SLOW DOWN. Balance never comes from rushing. The key is to feel all the subtle movements, to find that place of ease, sweetness and stillness. In all arm balances, the true flight comes when you use very little effort. Try not to muscle into it; instead, feel into it. It’s the same for your life. How many times have you tried to force something to work? When you allow it to happen, there is a much greater chance to make it stick.

 BREATHE. A good test of whether or not you should move forward is even breath. Can you keep your breath flowing? In my experience a calm breath is a calm mind, which always helps when you face a challenge.

 WARM-UP FOR PINCHA MAYURASANA: SHOULDERS

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ANAHATASANA (extended puppy pose): Come onto your hands and knees in tabletop, making sure your hips stay stacked over the knees. Walk the hands out in front of you until your arms are in one straight line from the hips. You can drop your head down to the floor for support (or use a block, your chin or, if you’re very open, your chest). Hold for 5-10 breaths.

sholder-opener-variations

SHOULDER OPENER (on mat or against wall): Lying on the floor stomach down, extend your right arm out parallel to the top of the mat, with your palm flat against the floor. Slowly rotate your body open towards the left, coming onto your side with your knees bent for stability. Take one full inhale and exhale, then go deeper. The next step is to open up the left knee towards the ceiling, placing the left foot on the floor. Then, bring both knees together towards the ceiling, and roll onto your sacrum. Do not rush. Go to the point that feels juicy and hold for 5-10 breaths then repeat on the other side.

For the standing variation, face the wall and extend your right arm out parallel to the floor, with your palm flat against the wall. Slowly rotate your body open towards the left. Take one full inhale and exhale, and then go deeper. Do not rush. Go to the point that feels juicy and hold for 5-10 breaths then switch sides.

 WARM-UP FOR PINCHA MAYURASANA: CORE

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TABLE TOP HUNDREDS: (Thank You Mr. Pilates!) Lying on your back, bring your knees up, stacked over your hips with your shins parallel to the floor. Raise your head (chin down) and shoulders up off the floor, and lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor with your fingers reaching towards your feet. Pump your arms up and down and do ten cycles of breath. Each cycle is five short in-breaths, and five short out-breaths. To make this more challenging, straighten your legs at a 45 degree angle. To make it less challenging, keep your feet on the floor and only lift your head and shoulders.

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FOREARM PLANK: Come to hands and knees, and lower down onto your forearms. If you want fire, bring a block in between your elbows and squeeze. Walk your knees back so you are in one long line from your knees to your crown. For more fire, lift up into plank, but keep squeezing the elbows together!!

PREP FOR PINCHA MAYURASANA

dolphin-dog-variations

DOLPHIN DOG: With forearms and palms on the mat, drop your forehead to the floor with your knees bent. Slowly tuck the toes under and lift your hips up into this modified down dog. The same alignment as down dog applies – keep lengthening your spine and lifting up into the hips. It’s OK to have your knees bent a little so that the spine stays straight.

To take it deeper, straighten your legs and start walking the feet in towards your arms, maybe even coming up onto your tiptoes to bring your weight over your shoulders as much as possible. Then lift your right leg towards the ceiling. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch.

forearm-stand-facing-wall-variations

PINCHA MAYURASANA (Forearm Stand) FACING THE WALL: Sit down, facing the wall with your feet touching the wall. Place your hands by your hips. This is where your hands will be for forearm stand facing the wall. Your elbows will be closer to the wall, about midway through your thighs. Now turn around to face away from the wall. Move your hands into place where you measured them, and bring your forearms down onto the floor, coming into dolphin dog with feet on the ground against the wall. If you find the need to bring your arms in closer, please do. If you feel comfortable, you can start to walk one leg up the wall, then the other. Eventually, you will bring both legs parallel to the earth, supporting your body with the wall and your forearms.

To take it deeper, start to open your right leg up towards the ceiling or maybe even splitting your legs. The next step is to start to bring your other leg away from the wall, maybe just onto your tiptoes.  Play with the balance here. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch legs.

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PINCHA MAYURASANA (Forearm Stand) FACING AWAY FROM THE WALL:  Come into dolphin dog, fingertips about five inches away from the wall. Walk your feet in towards your arms, maybe even coming up onto your tiptoes, bringing your weight over your shoulders as much as possible. Lift your right leg towards the wall, then your left. You can try kicking up towards the wall, but I would recommend steady controlled movement whenever possible. Once you are up, start to lift one leg then the other away from the wall. Hold for 5-10 breaths. The next step is to bring the other leg away from the wall, maybe just onto your tiptoes.  Play with the balance here. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch legs.

forearm-stand

PINCHA MAYURASANA (Forearm Stand) AWAY FROM THE WALL:

Key points to focus on:

•               Spiral Inward – Imagine squeezing a ball between your legs — the more they are engaged the easier it is to stay up.

•               Engage – Don’t let your ribs or belly fly out; keep them in.

•               Align – Bring your shoulder blades down onto your back.

•               Focus – Gaze can be down at the floor or out straight.

Balance – Your weight will move from fingertips to forearms. Be OK with a little bit of movement!

hand-position

ARM VARIATIONS: they can be parallel, triangular with palms together and elbows angled out, or palms together with elbows angled out.

XOXO have fun playing!

Hannah

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Naushon and I are SOSOOSOS excited to teach our advancing your practice workshop May 3RD 1:30 to 4 PM Namaste Grand Lake. I wanted to give you a little teaser!!!  One of my favorite advanced asana is forearm stand! Let me know how it goes! See you MAY 3!

0503_AdvanceYourPractice-DF

You can sign up here!

You can follow Hannah Franco on instagram @hannahfrancoyoga

Or check out her Website and blogs for more articles and insight

You can follow Naushon on instagram  @naushonyoga

Or check out her Website and blogs for more articles

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Waiting for Baby: Birth Preparation and Practicing Patience

In the Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu poses this question…
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”

In the land of on-demand everything; meals, rides, movies and even dating apps, you may ask, how can we slow down and turn on the patience switch for an easeful birth experience? For many couples the need for patience started pre-conception with fertility challenges and then is required again in the first trimester with often all-day sickness. Through these periods of patience and suffering we experience gratitude, but often again around 35-38 weeks that little monster called impatience rears its head again, creating anxiety, stress and often doubts that make us question whether or not something is wrong.

In prenatal yoga, as well as birth prep classes we learn tools to work with discomfort, whether they be contractions or just indigestion. We also learn to step back and let go of judgments, thoughts of limitation and just notice what is happening right now in the present. Through mindfulness meditation, and by intentionally bringing awareness to postures, we start to see where we are holding back, holding on, or preventing the opening that might be needed to welcome this new life into our arms.

We are all aware that our birth experience may not go as we had planned–and I’m grateful for the resources available in the hospital when an emergency arises or medical intervention becomes the best option to reduce suffering. We always hope that our babies are able to come to this planet in their own time, without prodding and provoking, unless there is a real medical concern. Sometimes interventions like Pitocin, the epidural and C-sections seem like the best option to numb the discomfort of labor and the waiting because our mind says “run from pain, cling to pleasure. A common theme in my classes is Impermanence, knowing that everything changes, including the pain of labor and once you allow yourself to be in a place you might want to bolt from, you learn that its possible to stay a little longer without defeat…maybe even feel encouraged!

 Next time you want to push away that thought or sensation, see what happens if you stay still and wait–until the mud settles–and trust that you will be guided so that the right action arises by itself.

To learn more join Elika for her upcoming ‘Prep for Birth‘ workshop on Saturday, April 18th. Register HERE.

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