Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lift Off :-)

Yoga, life, and love are all about patience and persistence.

When you enter into the practice of Yoga come with an open heart from a place of loving kindness. As Yogi's we observe ahimsa or non-violence and that includes in our thoughts. Sometimes when we think of Yoga we imagine these incredibly challenging poses and feel defeated before we even begin.

The poses that overwhelm us are every bit as challenging as they appear and we are fortunate to have the healthy bodies, and minds that allow us to even attempt them. Arm balances and inverted poses are very strengthening, and nurturing for our bodies and deserve multiple attempts before writing them off. In fact pushing into your edges in life (the things that challenge you) actually makes you stronger and more able to handle any situation that may come your way.

If you find your nervousness sparking up or thoughts like "I'll never be able to do that" running through your mind reconnect with the moment and clear your mind by practicing some deep cleansing breaths. On exhales send those negative vibrations away and open yourself up to a new moment. Allow yourself to let go of fears and come into a place of exploration or play.

Afterall, it's just Yoga :-)

Bakasana or Crane balance pose is a beautiful asana that utilizes the strength of your core muscles, arms, and wrists. The pose is also great for opening up the hips, strengthening the inner thighs, and stretching the muscles of the upper back. The full pose is completed with straight arms directly under the shoulders, back rounds up to the ceiling, inner thighs hug the upper arms, knees outside the arm pit, with toes lifting and point back.

There are many ways to work towards embodying Crane pose. Build a foundation of strength by practicing the following poses and holding for 5-10 full deep breaths. Work gradually, repeating these basic movements, and create lasting strength in your arm balancing practice.

Building foundational strength:

1. Come into a squatting position with the ball mounts of the feet on the mat and the heels and toes together. Plant the palms down under the shoulders, spreading the fingers wide. Lean weight into the arms.

2. Bend the elbows, hug the inner thighs onto the outside of the arms. Squeeze the inner thighs into the legs. Hug the knees up to the arm pits.

3. Repeat variation #2, lean into the arms this time and on inhales lift the upper back up toward the ceiling. Back rounds upwards while you lean into your hands, hugging the legs into the arms.

4. From variation #3, feel the strength in your body and lift one toe at a time lightly stretching it back behind you. Alternate slowly, mindfully lifting one foot at a time back behind you. Keep rounding the back up to the ceiling and hugging the legs in.

Embodying the full pose:

5. From variation #3, slowly lift both toes simultaneous off the mat and extend them back behind you with bent elbows for a full Crowe pose.

6. From variation #5, gradually straighten your arms for full Crane pose.

In preparation for arm balances practice: squats like malasana, and standing postures like warrior 1 and trikonsana (triangle) to warm up and stretch the muscles of the legs.

Following arm balances do some gentle wrist rolls and wrist stretches to relieve this area.

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