Delight and De-stress in Dolphin Pose

For many of us, January presents an opportunity to begin again, writing a new chapter for ourselves whether it be mentally, physically, or spiritually. It is a chance to reset and renew from the hustle and bustle the holidays can bring. On a yoga level, that may mean finding poses that help promote self-care and wellness.  I recently came across Oscar Insurance, a new company providing health insurance in New York and New Jersey. The value they place on making sure their members are proactive about their health prompted me to think about how I can do the same through my yoga practice.

About fifteen years ago, I spent some time in Freemantle, Australia. One of my favorite memories is relaxing on the beach and watching the dolphins play offshore. These moments hold simplicity for me and for the dolphins I was lucky enough to share them with. I was at peace, there was no agenda and there was no place I had to be, except in that very moment. I believe it was the same for the dolphins. They seemed delighted to be in the water, showing off for all of us on land. Their movements were easy and they loved being right there.

As a result, I think one of my preferred poses to introduce to clients is Dolphin pose. This relaxing, rejuvenating pose can be the key to resetting your mind and reducing stress. Unlike other inversion poses, dolphin does not necessarily require intense flexibility and strength to achieve. Similar to Downdog pose, except your forearms are grounded on the mat, rather than your hands.

 

Why use it?

Since the heart is higher than the head in this pose, as with all inversions, it is said to relax the brain, which can also help to relieve stress. This pose restores blood back to the heart as it stretches and strengthens the spine, neck and shoulders. It also stretches the hamstrings and calves, if legs are extended and not bent. Gentle inversions, like Dolphin pose, can also help to reduce high blood pressure when practiced over time because as you invert you are actually deceiving your body into lowering your blood pressure as the pressure increases in your head and neck. Furthermore, this pose can help reduce hot flashes in women experiencing menopause as blood pressure is lowered, stabilizing energy levels. On the other hand, if you are looking to strengthen your upper body and core for my more advanced inversions, Dolphin pose is an ideal starting point.

 

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

How to get into it

From tabletop, or all fours, bring your elbows and forearms to the ground, gazing between your elbows. On an exhale breath, lift your knees away from the mat, either keeping them bent to protect your hamstrings or straighten through the back of your legs as you would in a Downdog pose. If you notice rounding in your shoulders, bend in your knees as you focus on pressing your torso back towards your thighs. Think of your chest reaching towards your toes as your head reaches down towards the mat. Do not allow your head to press down into the mat, as it could cause undue stress on your neck. Attempt to hold the pose for 5 breaths, if not longer, recognizing you build stamina over time.

 

Key tip

Dolphin pose can also be used as a wonderful modification for Downdog pose, if you are looking to protect your wrists.

 

~The divine in me salutes the divine in you, Namaste~

Favorite Thanksgiving Yoga Pose

Seated TwistWhile I don’t encourage overeating there is something about holidays, like Thanksgiving, that can leave us feeling more full than we may like. Eating and stretching may seem like they don’t go together however, certain poses can aid in speeding digestion, providing some relief.

So what is my favorite pose after a large feast?
A Seated Twist

Why?
Twisting helps to wring out the old blood from our organs, encouraging fresh blood flow as it increases circulation and stimulates digestion.

How?
As this picture suggests, you can be seated on the ground or you can sit up tall in a chair (not resting on the back of the chair). Inhale lift in your chest and as you exhale, twist gently to the left, taking your right hand to your left knee. Take your left hand back behind you and take ahold of the back of the seat. Stay here for 3-5 breaths and then repeat this on the right side.

I wish you all a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving full of family, friends, light and love.

~The divine in me salutes the divine in you~

Picture Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

Gentle Yoga: November 6th Recorded Class

Given the hectic lives we lead sometimes we find we are not always able to attend yoga practice at a specific time, on a specific day, in a specific location.  With that in mind, it can be hard to keep up your practice without the guidance of a teacher and group setting you feel comfortable being a part of.  Enter technology.  For those of you who practice with me at The EDGE, we recorded our November 6th class to ideally allow you to continue your practice at your own convenience.  Please click on the link below to listen to the audio link and download the file for your personal use:

November 6th Class

A HUGE thanks to Lee H. for taking the time to record this class and turn it into a music file for all of us to enjoy.

Previously we uploaded our class from January 14th, 2014 as well if you are interested in hearing that class as well for variety.

~The divine in me salutes the divine in you, Namaste~

2nd Annual Women’s Wellness Retreat

I am honored and excited to again be partnering with Angie Ferenc of Vermont Counseling & Trauma Services, to offer our 2nd annual Women’s Wellness Retreat on Sunday, November 2nd from 1-4:00PM at Infinity Dance Studio in Essex, VT. We will be focusing on wellness through a gentle yoga practice and guided mindfulness exercises in an effort to better be able to enjoy a peaceful holiday season.

No prior yoga experience is necessary so feel free to bring anyone looking for a quiet afternoon of self-care and stress management. Light refreshments will be served.

Fee for the retreat is $50/person.

Please contact Angie at 878-4991 ext. 22 or angieferenc@hotmail.com to secure your spot.

Reclined Pigeon Pose

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

For many of us warmer weather has us outside enjoying the sun, maybe increasing our foot mileage as walk and run.  Consider adding RECLINED PIGEON POSE into your stretching regimen to alleviate tight hips and lengthen stride.

Why use it?
Walkers and runners tend to carry tension in their backs; often due to stiffness that needs to be released in their hips. Reclined Pigeon pose stretches the hips. Looser hips relieve back pain and lengthen stride.

How to get into it
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place one ankle on your opposite thigh, use a strap or interlace your fingers and place them behind the same thigh, pulling your thigh towards your chest. As you draw your bent leg in toward you (making sure to aim it toward your same shoulder), simultaneously press your opposite knee away from you. Attempt to the hold position for 3 to 5 full breaths and then switch sides.

Key Tip
Flex your feet to deepen the stretch.

~The divine in me salutes the divine in you, Namaste~

Release Tension in your Hips to Help Alleviate Tension in your Back

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

Another great runner’s stretch: LIZARD POSE


Why use it?

Walkers and runners tend to carry tension in their backs; often due to stiffness that needs to be released in their hips. Lizard pose takes lunge pose and deepens the stretch. Looser hips relieve our back pain and lengthen stride.

How to get into it

From a lunge pose, bring both hands inside the forward foot as you inhale. Keep your palms planted on the mat with arms straight or for those with more flexibility rest your forearms on the mat. If it feels more comfortable your back knee can rest to the mat. Attempt to the hold position for 3 to 5 full breaths and then switch sides.

Key Tip

Relax your shoulders as you evenly lower your hips to the floor.

Yoga for Runners ~ Donation Class in Support of Run 4 Brad

runners montage

Photo Credit: Melissa Brott Photography

Yoga for Runners ~ Donation Class in Support of Run 4 Brad

Saturday, May 3rd at 12 Noon

The EDGE (Twin Oaks location)

**Open to the public – you do not need to be a member of The EDGE to participate!**

Join us for a 75 minute Yoga for Runners class at The EDGE (Twin Oaks location). Love to run? Heard about the benefits of stretching fatigued muscles to gain increased performance? Open to all levels this class will lead you through an energetic yoga workout, teaching you how to increase flexibility and strength specifically needed to keep a runner healthy. Learn to stay within your limits, which poses benefit a runner’s body most and how you can easily incorporate a yoga workout into your weekly running regimen.

This class will be held in support of my amazing friend Brad Berman, a truly remarkable father, husband, marathoner and inspiration to me and the many who have been lucky enough to cross paths with him.

On August 4, 2013 Brad and his family learned that he had an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) which had ruptured that morning. Prior to that day, he never knew he had an AVM. In a coma for almost a month and hospitalized for four months, Brad is now home with his family continuing his recovery and improving everyday….

Suggested donation is $15 ~ less is accepted, more is appreciated ~ all donations are tax deductible and will be used to create a lower-limb robotics clinic at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains, NY. 

For more information and to see an unforgettable video about my friend Brad’s journey to recovery please visit: www.crowdrise.com/yogaforrunners 

Please pre-register via email: niyamanotebook@gmail.com – sending along your name and briefly describe your past yoga experience, if any.