Now that Spring has sprung many are looking to or have begun what we know as “Spring Cleaning.” the task is daunting as we begin, however, as we get closer to the finish line, then look at our clean space, there is a sense of accomplish and calm. A book that Cate Stillman of yogahealer.com recommends is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.
Yoga is a practice that helps to strengthen your body using slow, controlled movements, in and out of poses. When practiced properly, one of the benefits is to alleviate pain. So why would you want strain to get into a pose? That hurts! Plus it won’t be short term!
The Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is forced by many during meditation. Pushing yourself in this way can lead to a sickening “pop” in the knee, followed by years of pain and limited mobility.
The safest way to practice Padmasana and related poses is to strongly rotate your thigh outward at the hip and not go deeper into the pose when you reach the limit of your outward rotation. This means that you’ll have to stop lifting your foot when your thigh stops rotating, so you may not get your foot on the opposite thigh. (Remember the upside: happy, functional, pain-free knees.) You can use your hands or a strap to help rotate your thighbone outward. Whether using your hands, a strap, or a cloth, if your knee ends up dangling in midair, support it with a folded blanket so you do not inadvertently force it downward as you turn the thigh outward.
If you have the misfortune of hurting your inner knee in Padmasana or a related pose, the first thing to do is leave it alone. You need to rest, ice, elevate, and compress it for a few days to reduce swelling and inflammation. If the injury seems serious, seek medical attention. It’s a good idea to reintroduce knee range of motion as early as you can by gently flexing and extending the knee to the extent possible. A yoga program for recovery needs to be individualized to your needs and supervised by a qualified instructor. Promoting alignment and strength with basic standing poses is ideal. You may try Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II). If necessary, support your body with a chair to take weight off the knee. In addition, increase range of motion by doing Virasana (Hero Pose) with the pelvis supported on a prop, and eventually reintroduce outward rotating movements like Baddha Konasana (and perhaps Padmasana) using a rolled cloth behind the inner knee.
Your yoga practice should be pleasurable and healing. Be mindful and pay attention to your body so as to avoid long term injury. Namaste.
Spring is Coming and we are feeling warmer temperatures and seeing more of the sun! Let’s take a look at Sun Salutation, 12 poses that help improve strength and flexibility of the muscles and spinal column. This pose also warms up the body and tones the abdominal muscles.
STEP 1: Stand on your yoga mat and start with the Yoga Mountain Pose. Bring your palms together in prayer position. Exhale.
STEP 2: As you inhale, raise your arms overhead, keeping your palms together.
STEP 3: Exhale and then bend forward until your hands touch your feet.
STEP 4: As you inhale, step the right leg back, arch back and lift your chin.
STEP 5: Exhaling, step the left leg back into plank position. Keep your spine and legs in a straight line and support your weight on hands and feet.
STEP 6: Retaining the breath, lower your knees, your chest and then your forehead, keeping your hips up and toes curled under.
STEP 7: Inhaling, stretch forward and bend back. Keep your arms straight.
STEP 8: Exhaling, curl your toes under, press down into your heels, and lift your hips.
STEP 9: As you inhale, bring your right leg forward, with the top of the foot stretched out flat on the floor, and lift your chin.
STEP 10: Exhale and then bend forward until your hands touch your feet.
STEP 11: Inhaling, stretch your arms forward and over your head. Slowly bend backward from the waist.
STEP 12: Exhaling, gently come back to Tadasana.
B. K. S. Iyengar and yoga teachers strongly emphasize the use of props, such as blocks, blankets and eggs. Here are five ways these props and more will help to deepen your yoga practice.
1. More openness and freedom. Got short hamstrings? In many asanas, hamstrings hold some back like reins, tempting them to fight back by rounding the spine and collapsing the front body, which in turn shortens the breath. But add a folded blanket underneath the hips in seated forward bends, and the spine—and breath—can stay lengthened while entering the pose. Do this, and over time one can reduce the height of the blanket, stretching the hamstrings gradually, thus preventing injury. Too slow, you say? Not compared to healing a hamstring tear or a strained back.
2. Greater stability and strength. Daily activities—sitting, walking, reaching forward—tend to overemphasize certain muscles while neglecting others. When the muscles needed to anchor an asana aren’t strong enough, there’s a tendency to compensate by straining or struggling. For example, if the hip muscles aren’t able to stabilize the pelvis in Vrksasana (Tree Pose), we might torque the base of the spine or hyperextend the knee of the standing leg, triggering an anatomical “train wreck” as other muscles and joints follow the misalignment. Rather than reinforcing bad alignment habits in order to balance, touch a wall or hold the back of a chair, then focus on developing the muscle memory (proprioception) and strength needed for stable alignment.
3. The Best rejuvenation, ever. If you’ve ever been injured, ill, or just plain tired, you know how tempting it can be to skip daily asana practice because it “takes too much energy.” With blankets and bolsters to support poses, Restorative Yoga can give (not deplete) energy. Even something as effortless as lying back on a rolled towel or a bolster during pranayama can recharge your inner batteries.
4. Keener self-awareness. “One size fits all” is a lie when it comes to yoga pants, and it’s not true for asana, either. Proportion, bone structure, strength, flexibility, and other factors vary from person to person, but all too often, we try to match our asanas to the teacher’s because that’s the “right way.” Except that it’s not. How an asana feels, not how it looks, is a better guide. Experimenting with props can help you learn to recognize the inner cues that tell you when something doesn’t fit and why. Wonky hips in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)? Try a folded blanket under the low hip. Struggling to breathe deeply in Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)? Place the hand on a chair instead of the floor so that you can open both sides of the ribcage.
5. Sharper concentration. When a prop can free us from the distracting struggle to overcome short hamstrings or other challenges, then the mind can become fully focused. This is essential during seated meditation poses, and lifting the pelvis by sitting on a folded blanket that the back muscles won’t have to overwork to support the pose. Props can help us reach a state of awareness in many other asanas as well.