Friday, September 15, 2017

Take a One-Minute Break with Cat-Cow

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It can be a sweet treat to spend an hour or more in a yoga class, but it’s not always possible in today’s busy world. For those times when you only have a minute and you need a break, remember Cat-Cow Pose. This gentle spinal flex is an effective way to awaken your back in the morning while you get your blood pumping and your breath moving. And it can be practiced any time – even while standing or seated at a desk.

Traditionally, Cat-Cow (Marjaryasana) is done on all fours. Place your hands flat on the floor under your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Breathe in as you look up and lift your tail, chest and chin. Drop your belly like a sway-back cow and make your shoulder blades kiss. Next breathe out as you push your back upward like a cat. Look back at your belly button. You can even hiss to help push out all the air. Continue breathing in and out with the movement.

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Marjaryasana is rich with variations. Try switching the breath by inhaling during cat pose and exhaling during cow pose. Gyrate your hips and shoulders in time with your breath. Breathe deeply and slowly, or as fast as you can using the breath of fire (Kapalabati.) Tuck your toes to stretch your feet; point your fingers backwards to stretch your wrists. Practice Marjaryasana in a chair, standing in line or even in bed by using the small gentle action of arching and curving the spine in time with the breath. Be playful! Love your body and it will love you back. Namaste.

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Images: Coloring pages from Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big Little Coloring Book of 108 YogaPoses colored by Miss Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. Enter our coloringcontest to win prizes. Pictures of Yoga Teddy Bear creator K. Mae Copham by Robert Oakley in Vail, CO.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Happy Labor Day!

On August 30, 2017, an amazing woman named Louise Hay passed away at the age of 90. Beginning in 1976 at the age of 50, Louise wrote revolutionary books that introduced millions to the idea of the power of the mind. The book “You Can Heal Your Life” has helped me learn to transform negative thoughts into helpful affirmations in an ongoing journey of self improvement and spiritual development.

On Labor Day, many Americans enjoy an extended weekend as we celebrate all workers’ achievements and contributions to our nation. Louise Hay’s reflections on work, success and prosperity are indispensible to anyone who wants to improve their professional life. The chapter on “Work” begins with today’s affirmation “I am deeply fulfilled by all that I do” then goes on to give the reader a mental path toward that fulfillment.

The butterfly is a universal symbol of transformation. Butterfly / Bound Angle Pose (Badhha Konasana) gently opens the hips – a place where most of us hold fearful emotions that can block our ability to enact change in our lives. To practice Butterfly Pose, sit on the floor and clasp the soles of your feet together with your hands. Your legs are spread like butterfly wings. Sit up straight and breathe in deeply. Breathe out and press your heels together. Notice how your knees naturally relax down.

Rest in peace, Louise, and thank you. Namaste.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Many Benefits of Standing Splits / One Foot Up Pose

Urdhva (Upward) Prasarita (Expanded) Eka (One) Pada (Foot) Asana (Pose) is a pose I’ve fallen in love with. It gets you upside down, challenges your balance, tightens your tummy, strengthens your legs and lower back, and opens your hips. It’s also a good way to warm up for Monkey Pose, or front-to-back style splits.

To practice Standing Splits, stand in Mountain Pose with your hands on your hips. Breathe out and fold forward like a piece of paper. Reach your arms toward the floor and lengthen your spine. Let your head hang in Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) . Put your hands on the floor or make fists and put them into your opposite elbows if it feels nice. Take at least 3 deep breaths.

Next place your hands on the floor in front of you or on either side of your feet.  Inhale and lift one leg toward the sky. Look down at the floor for balance. If you feel stable, grab your standing ankle with one or both hands. Keep reaching your leg up for 3-5 long breaths, then return to Standing Forward Fold. Repeat on the other side. Namaste.

Images: 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. Pictures of Yoga Teddy Bear creator K. Mae Copham by Robert Oakley in New Paltz, NY.