Mama Needs a Minute

Mama Needs a Minute is a short yoga sequence created by soon to be mama and Namaste teacher Ashley West Roberts. This short but powerful practice is aimed at taking a break throughout the day when you may feel wiped out, overwhelmed or simply in need of reprieve. Try this practice any time of day and focus on rooting down through your strong legs to get grounded in to this special time. Use props like blankets, blocks and eye pillows to help yourself find comfort in each pose and hold each pose for at least 8 breaths. You’ll feel good as new (and baby will too) when you’re done with this sequence.

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Mamas remember, your practice should support you. Practice when you feel up for it but be gentle with yourself. Practice one or all of these poses to reconnect with yourself and your baby. TIP: Use the wall in standing balances like tree pose to practice accepting support when you need it.

For more information on the full Prenatal and Postnatal offering at Namaste, including workshops and classes, please visit our website!

For another quick yoga sequence check out Ashley’s recent post 5 Minutes to Move.

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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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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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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Weekend with Noah Mazé

“Noah Mazé has been teaching yoga for a little over 20,000 hrs, making him a “master” twice-over. Time spent with Noah is full of laughter, and humorous insights into the yoga practice. His 4hr workshop on the Art of Sequencing- through group-work, lecture and 1st-hand experimentation with asanas- always came back to the question of why; what is the purpose of putting this pose before that one? Why would we as teachers teach this transition? Why teach yoga? Noah considers himself an educator, one that lit a fire within the students who attended his workshop, rather than filled their pail.” Kellyn Foxman

“Noah’s teaching voice is capable of making big, expansive ideas easy to understand. He speaks candidly about his experience and opinions and encourages us to do the same. The workshop was grounded and interactive, and I’m already drawing from his wisdom to create new classes. I left with a lot of inspiration and can’t wait to study with him again.” Sparkle Thornton

“Noah’s balance of clarity, humor and curiosity is infectious. He believes in his students.  So we smile even as we’re quaking and sweating…and that’s in tadasana!” Aviva Black

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