COOL WAYS TO USE PROPS

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I’m sure you’ve heard the quote “the only thing you can count on is change.” Well, this holiday season is most likely bringing about some major changes in your life. Keep looking for the silver linings…I’m sure you’ve found some already.

This week I have a 38-minute floor class for you. You may want 2 blocks and a strap, but you don’t NEED them. I’ve mentioned this before, but heading into winter if you’d like some props at home for your practice, you can always go to the Shop tab on my website for links to my favorites.

I do this sequence twice a week after I do a 20-minute spin class or a 3-mile walk. I’ll guide you through the sequence two times. The first time is the “warm up” and the second time we go deeper. Always listen to your body and if these are poses you don’t normally practice, progressively work up to them. You’ll end the sequence with Camel Pose, Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance), Handstand work, and neck stretches. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS 38 MINUTES!! Note that I did not add music because I want you to be able to listen to your breath as you practice this sequence with full presence. Click here to go to my website to take the class now!

One inspiring cue:

Set yourself up in Triangle according to the picture above, with the strap around the outside of one foot and looped around the opposite upper thigh. Once you are set in the pose, press strongly through the ball of the big toe and lift the inner heel, both on the FRONT foot.

Note: getting the band just how you like it may take a little practice…but it’s worth it! When you lean into the strap as you come into Triangle, you want it to be taut so you feel the upper body lengthen with ease.

Why?
People have a tendency to roll to the inside or outside of the foot depending on their strengths or weaknesses. By practicing these two actions together (pressing through the ball of the foot and lifting the inner heel), you help balance out the weight in the foot and also keep the knee joint in proper alignment (these actions can prevent the kneecap from falling in). I heard this cue in an Iyengar class I took in California and I absolutely love it! It immediately gives me more strength in my front leg.

Couple this cue with the strap variation and you may get your most stable and expansive Triangle yet! If you still need a strap, blocks, or any other props for your home practice, you can always find my recommendations on my website under the “Shop” tab!!

Did you check out last week’s Groove and Flow Block Class yet? Click here or on the image below for the video – grab two blocks or firm pillows before you begin (the images below give you a preview of how we’ll be using the blocks)!

One inspiring tip:

You can double up on props for your Triangle and add in the use of a wall with the strap! Set yourself up in the strap as described above and then inch your back heel to the wall. Press your heel into the wall as you lean into your taut strap for more space and free breath!

One inspiring song:

“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles

One inspiring quote:

“And I said to my body, softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.'”
– Nayyirah Waheed

This week you’ll find prop variations for poses embedded into the class flow. Some people think using props makes poses easier, but the truth is props make poses feel more delicious and allow us to BREATHE space more effectively into the body.

As the weather gets a little colder, you will most likely be practicing inside more. Connect with me on your mat this week as I guide you through a FLOW AND GROOVE class. You’ll need two blocks (look closely at the image below for a preview of how we’re going to use blocks in this week’s class). If you don’t have blocks, you can use a small, firm pillow. Class will begin with decompression breathing and build into a strong flow. Click here or on the image below to go to this week’s video** on my website.

**Please consider making a donation when you take any of the free recorded yoga classes on my website. I spend a good chunk of time making them perfect for you, and any contribution would be so appreciated! You can always donate on my Yoga Classes web page to the right of (computer) or below (phone) the class recording links. Thank you in advance!!

In case you missed last week’s unique way to release your neck with a strap, or the Favorite Find with 8 great ways to use props in your practice, click here to go to my website.

This is most likely an emotional month for you. Take advantage and use the power of your breath as a reminder that you have the choice to respond from a place of calm rather than react from a place of fear.

One inspiring cue:

Set yourself up according to the picture above, with the strap made into a large loop and placed around the back of your head and the top/fleshy part of your foot. Begin with your ankle flexed, then begin to gently press your foot into the strap as if you were going to point your toes.

For me, the further away my foot is from my face, the better the stretch in my neck feels. You may have to play around a little with where you place the strap on your head. Once in the stretch, fully relax the neck and breathe.

Why?
According to Doug Keller, author of Yoga as Therapy, the suboccipital muscles (deep neck muscles) are released when we practice the action of chin to chest. Many of us hold tension in our upper back and neck, so with the help of a strap, we are able to let our arms relax and the muscles in the neck and back fully release.
This week’s Favorite Find is an article that will show you 8 different yoga poses with ways to use props to deepen them. Some of these variations were new to me and are very cool! 

One inspiring tip:

 

Doug also says that we can get a further release and realignment of the spine by strengthening the small neck and back muscles with gentle resistance. It is generally recommended that when an area of the body feels tight, you should both strengthen and stretch the area.

To do this, set up for the cue above with tension on the strap, then press your head gently back into the strap. You should feel your neck and upper back muscles engage. If you don’t have a strap, you can find similar resistance by placing your hands behind your head where the strap would be with your elbows pointed out. Place both feet on the ground with your knees bent, and create the same pressing action described above with your head into your hands.

One more tip…stand against a wall with your neck in a neutral position. Next, give yourself a little bit of a double chin and gently press the back of your head into the wall. Do you feel some release/relief in your neck?

One inspiring song:

“Unnamed Road” by Fake Blonde, Finnstagram

 

One inspiring quote:

“Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this, and you will go a long way in getting along with people.”
– Arthur Foreman

Chaturanga - Quick and Easy Variations

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