Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day!

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April 22 is Earth Day. It’s a day to take a little time to breathe deeply and notice everything around you in the physical world. The surprising beauty of nature, the wonder of the sun and the stars, the songs of birds and the buds on the trees awakening in spring. It’s easy to forget that even the man-made world originates completely in nature. Yes, even our skyscrapers and cell phones come from Earth.

Honor Earth this week by finding a place to connect to the ground beneath you. If possible, put your bare feet on grass or dirt. Then sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you. Inhale and make yourself taller by lifting the top of your head toward the sky. Feel as if the energy from your spine continues to move down through the dirt to the center of the planet. Focus on a point in the distance and soften your eyes. 

Move into Seated Wide Angle Pose (Samakonasana or “the splits.”) Spread your legs as wide as you can. Flex your toes toward the sky. Use your hands to push yourself up tall. Keep your spine long as you slide your hands along the ground and lean forward. Stretch your arms out in front or reach out to hold your ankles. Let your back curl to rest your forehead or cradle your head in your hands if it feels nice. Breathe slowly and deeply, taking in all the smells and sounds around you.

To finish, lay on your back and look at the sky. Allow everything you see and feel to fill you as you are cradled by this incredibly abundant planet.

Image: Photo of K. Mae Copham in Vail, CO by Robert Oakley

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Solid Foundations: Pyramid Pose

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Spring offers a happy reminder of impermanence. It’s a time to reflect that change is constant and the dark days of winter will pass. But even though nothing lasts forever, humans have managed to create structures that have lasted for four thousand years. These are the pyramids. Why do they stand so long? Because they are balanced. A structure that is widest at the bottom provides a sound foundation for stability. 

So too Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana) also known as Pyramid Pose. By starting with a wide, solid stance for a foundation, the pose sets up a study base from which to open the back of our body. To practice Pyramid Pose, begin in Mountain Pose with your feet shoulder width apart. Step one foot forward so your stance is wide like a pyramid. Put your arms behind your back and grab opposite elbows, then breathe in and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Breathe out and fold forward with your back long and straight. 

Experiment with arm variations like reverse prayer (hands behind you with palms together) or simply keep your arms strong by your side. For more intensity release your hands and press your fingertips down on either side of your front foot, moving your forehead toward your knee. Flex your leg muscles and breathe. Hint: To help balance, press into the big toe of your front foot and the pinky toe side of your back foot. 

From Pyramid Pose you can step forward into a forward fold, launch into Warrior 3, or back out of the pose the same way you went into it. Don’t forget to switch sides by spending an equal amount of time with your other foot in front. Namaste!

Images:Photos of K. Mae Copham by Robert Oakley, Vail, CO.Coloring page from Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big Little Coloring Book of 108 Yoga Poses colored by Miss Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. Enter our coloring contest to win prizes. Miss Michele needs some competition!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Let the Wind Blow!

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The winds of March whisk in the month of spring. Wind is the essence of movement, and movement is the key to our health. Not just the movement of our breath and muscles, or even the movement of our emotional and spiritual growth. On an even more primitive level our physical health depends upon the daily movement inside our intestines that removes toxins from our body. Whether due to diet, hurriedness, inconvenience, cultural taboos or some other reason, this movement can often be challenging for many of us.

Yoga offers many poses that can “activate our wind” and facilitate our daily bowel movements. That’s why it’s not uncommon to hear the wind blow during a yoga class! Twists are a great way to get our intestines moving. So is getting upside down in a shoulder stand or headstand. But there’s an even easier pose that anyone can do to get things moving and even to soothe a tummy ache. It’s called “Apanasana” or Knees to Chest Pose. It’s such an effective pose that it has earned the nickname “Windy Pose.”

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To practice Windy Pose, lay on your back on the floor or in your bed. Lift one leg and hug your knee to your chest while keeping your other leg extended. Breathe deeply, then switch sides. Once your body and legs start waking up, hug both knees into your chest at the same time. If you are quiet enough, you too might hear the wind blow. If you relax deeply, you’ll eventually feel the happy relief of movement as well. What a great way to start your day, fresh and new like the beginning of spring. 

Images: Photos of K. Mae Copham by Robert Oakley. Coloring page from Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big Little Coloring Book of 108 Yoga Poses colored by Miss Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. Enter our coloring contest to win prizes!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Spring Forward

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As we turn the clock forward, we might ask ourselves how we too want to move forward in our lives. How do we begin to shift and create internal change? How do we spring forward with energy, vigor and a sense of the new? How do we transform ourselves into the person we dream of being, each moment, one thought at a time?

One way is to feel change in your body through visualizing a universal symbol of transformation. How does a crawling bug suddenly one day wrap itself in a dark shell and eventually emerge as a mystical flying fairy? If a bug can change, I can change too! Butterfly / Bound Angle Pose / Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana) is a yoga pose for spring. It gently opens your hips – a place where most of us hold fearful emotions that can block our ability to transform.
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To practice Butterfly Pose, sit on the floor and clasp the soles of your feet together with your hands. Sit up tall and breathe in deeply. Breathe out and press your heels together. Notice how your knees naturally relax down. Now play with it. Incorporate movement. Softly flutter your legs like butterfly wings. This action will generate energy and blood flow in your knees and hips. Move your spine and body in time with your breath. Arch and curl your back, lift and tuck your chin, or bend and straighten your elbows. Breathe, breathe and breathe some more. Finish by bringing to mind one change you have already made for which you are grateful today. Remember, you get more of what you focus on! Namaste.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Invite Love Into Your Life

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February 14 is Valentine’s Day, a day we now associate with romantic love. But what of other kinds of love? Whether or not we are in a romantic relationship, we can use yoga to physically invite love into our life at all levels, from the macro (Universe, Earth) to the micro (breath, internal organs) and everything in between (friends, family, community.)


How do you use yoga to invite love into your life? Through taking moments throughout your day to stop, look, feel and breathe. Enhance this pause of awareness with a gentle backbend in the heart region. This can be done anywhere, anytime simply by inhaling deeply and lifting your heart area. Tilt your head back to look heavenward or support your lower back with your hands or a chair. Feel the bones in your chest begin to soften.

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Bring to mind your favorite mantra or affirmation. Simple thoughts and words such as “I am love,” “I love life” or “the Universe supports me” can help elevate our hearts and invite love into our lives on a moment-to-moment basis. Namaste!

Images: K. Mae Copham in heart-opening yoga poses such as Crescent Moon Lunge, Wild Thing, Fish Pose, Bridge Pose, Bow Pose and Camel Pose in nature, skiing in Vail, CO, and even waiting for the subway in New York, NY.  Coloring page from Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big LittleColoring Book of 108 Yoga Poses colored by Miss Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. Enter our coloring contest to win prizes!