Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana, Revolved Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold
This wide-legged forward fold with a twist is generally calming and grounding, helps to detoxify the organs (as most twists do). It lengthens and strengthens the spine, using mild traction with the gravity of the fold, opens the shoulders, strengthens the core and stretches the hamstrings, calves, hips and lower back. Bring focus to the abductors to strengthen inner thighs while stretching hamstrings.
Be cautious and aware of the shoulder area. If you have any shoulder injury try the twist with the hand on the hip and elbow to the ceiling instead of extending the arm. Use blocks if the floor is not easily accessible.
The meaning comes from comes from six words:
•Parivrtta — revolved
• Prasarita — spread or expanded
•Pada — foot or leg
•Ut — intense
•Tan — to stretch
•Asana — pose
Don't forget to breathe!
Bhujangasana vs. Urdva Mukha Svanasana
Though very similar, in cobra your chest lifts, arms are extended but may stay bent. Hips and legs stay on the ground. In updog, the entire body is lifted, with the tops of the feet and the hands as the base, arms fully extended, with legs and arms doing most of the work. In both poses, feet are parallel, toes pointed and tops of the feet press firmly into the mat as the legs reach back. The spine lengthens, the crown of the head reaches upward, as the gaze looks forward. The chest opens and the collar bones widen and reach up. The lower abdomen lifts.
Bring attention to the low back. Be cautious of any pinching. Try to lengthen more then bend. Think of a banana, not a crispy taco! Experiment in both positions to feel the difference in muscles engaged. Now you know what's up dog!
Don't forget to breathe!
Lately I see people choosing a word of the year. One word is certainly easier than a list of resolutions! Several years ago the word “joy” kept creeping into my radar. That I craved, it, wanted more of it, wanted to readily recognize it. That word is still constantly buzzing in the background. Mulling over a word the last few days, what struck me is “abundance.”
I love the idea that one word can be concise and distilled, or can encompass a huge range of ideas and actions. I would like abundance of joy, abundance in my life, abundance is others lives. Does this mean money? No, not really for me. Do I want to be comfortable? Hell, yes. Yet there is so much more to abundance. Health, time, exercise, sunshine. Time and health to teach yoga, to give others health. An abundant breath, abundant energy, abundant heart to make room for joy! So that will be my focus for the year. Do you have a word?
Happy New Year!
Don't forget to breathe!
Besides the obvious commonality of tight hamstrings, cyclists have a litany of other areas that need attention. Low back, hip flexors, shoulders and wrists can be tense and strained after a long ride. Cyclists need leg strength, quadriceps and hamstrings most of all, but also glutes and calf muscles. Core muscles also come into play.
Yoga can target all of these areas in strength and stretching, giving special emphasis to flexibility and strength in the lower back, hamstrings and hip flexors.
Cyclists spend most of their time bent forward over the handlebars, which leads to tight hip flexors. Forward fold, utkatasana, is a good pose to stretch the hamstrings, open up the low back and relax the hip flexors. Keep knees bent a bit to take strain off the hamstrings. Reclined pigeon, or figure four, is a good choice for a hip flexor stretch. Lunge and its deeper stretch, the lizard, can get into the psoas for stretch and strength. Plank is an excellent overall core builder. Eagle arms and cow face arms will help open the shoulders.
Many yoga poses target all these areas important to cyclists, helping to balance muscle strength and stretching to prevent injury. Yoga practice is also a focus on a deep and steady breath, important in any physical activity.
Thank you Bike Therapy for hosting me to teach pre-ride yoga. Come see us in the studio for more tips
Phew. Our buildout is done. Most of our decorating is complete. We have held our first classes and I am so happy to be teaching more. Now the hard work begins. Building community. Building trust. Come in and get to know us. See this lovely space we have created. Breathe with us. Laugh with us. Create with us. Get to know us and lets us get to know you. In the spirit of community we will have open studio each week. You can ask us questions. Work on a pose. Do some zen doodles. Or just lie in a corner with legs up the wall. Come say hi and don't forget to breathe!
Close your eyes. Breathe. Focus only on your inhale and your exhale. After several breaths focus on your body. What do you feel with each breath? What can you open with each inhale? What can you ease with each exhale? Take this breath, this awareness, with you as you move into asana and as you move through your day.
This has been my mantra this week! I am letting uncertainties become labeled as problems when they are only uncertainties. What in life isn't? Yet, when our plate is full or we are questioning our decisions, we go into fetal position and want to hide. So this week I have been teaching and practicing simple abdominal breathing.
This breath exercise is to remind our body of the way we breathed deeply and easily as a child, when our whole lungs filled and moved our diaphragms down so that our stomachs expanded like a balloon when we breathed in and deflated a bit when we breathed out. Sit in a comfortable position, preferably with hips elevated on a blanket or bolster. First, “center” with both hips even, and sit with an erect, but natural spine. Relax your shoulders.Close eyes or have a soft gaze. Breath normally and just notice your breath. Does it feel deep or shallow? Where do you feel it?
This is one of those yogi-in-a-pretzel poses that some might find difficult: those with tight hips, tight psoas, knee issues or shoulder issues. So why do it? Cow Face stretches the hips, thighs, ankles, chest, triceps... just about everything!
For ease in the lower body try sitting on a folded blanket and then crossing legs with ankles tucked to the sides. Be sure knees are stacked. If there is strain on the knees, do this pose reclined, crossing the knees and holding at the ankles. You can always practice the arms separate.
For the arms, use the option of holding a strap between the hands, behind the back, one elbow lifting as the other descends, your hands walking toward each other on the strap. I like to give my lower arm and assist by reaching behind my back, grasping my wrist, helping my hand to reach up my back, then reach up with the opposite arm. Another alternative arm placement that I love is arms in eagle arms, with one wrapped over the other, palms touching. This opens up more the back and shoulder blades instead of the chest. Or simply focus on the lower body, bringing the hands to each ankle.
In any of these positions you can increase the stretch by folding forward in the pose. Don't forget to breathe!
The first warrior pose seems simple at first glance. If done with strength and extension, Warrior I is an excellent pose to find rooting in the lower body, while lifting the ribcage and torso away toward the ceiling. Warrior I can be surprisingly difficult to someone with hip or psoas issues. The “old” cue (that some teachers still use) is to the square your hips to the front of the mat. While the hips are meant to be more forward than not, I find it unnecessary to over torque the hip and put too big a strain on the psoas to get a benefit in the pose. Work where you feel a stretch, pull back if it is too much.
Modifications include keeping your hands at heart center instead of raising them overhead, going deeper or less deeper into your lunge and adding a bit of a back bend. Don't forget to breathe!