I watched this video yesterday morning and thought to myself:
1) Her transition choices are so lovely, I'd like to try them...
2) I wish I had a spine that flexible, maybe I ought to work on that...
3) How could I add hip openers to this sequence.
4) This is a lovely practice. I'm glad she shared.
What were your thoughts??? Leave a line in the comment section below!
It seems like everyone is doing yoga. It has gained so much popularity over the last ten years that yoga studios now litter the country far and wide. While this is a good thing, it can be intimidating for those who have not yet dipped their toe in the coconut water.
Here are a few things every beginning student should know.
1) What happens in yoga. You may be coming to class to stretch and strengthen your body, and you will, but you’ll do other things too.
Yoga is not just a work out. It is a way to connect your body, heart and mind so that you can gain total health. Your primary tool in making these connections will be the breath. Plan on hearing a lot of discussion of the breath and listen to it carefully. That thing so many of us take for granted can be a lifeline to improved mood, physical health, and self acceptance.
Health is not just about your body, and yoga will help all the parts of you to become healthy. It will do this by making you aware of your own thoughts, fears and strengths and by helping you feel supported in a group of like minded individuals. It’s kind of like therapy, philosophy and the health club all rolled into one. Considering that, the $16.00 to $25.00 you pay per class is a great deal.
2) What “namaste” means. Very simply it means; the light/divinity in me sees and honors the light/divinity within you.
Pronounced “Nah Mah Stay,” this is a Sanskrit word, as are all the traditional names for yoga poses. (If you hear a teacher say a word you don’t know other than namaste, it is likely a pose name. Don’t sweat it, just glance around at the other students in the class to see what they are doing or ask your teacher what it means.)
Don’t be afraid of saying namaste. By uttering it you are not pledging allegiance to a cult or negating your own religious beliefs. You are simply doing what the word says you are doing; honoring your fellow yogis and recognizing your human connection.
3) What “om” means. Om is said to represent and echo the first vibration of creation, and as such, encompasses all things, signifying the yogic philosophy, which is that we are all one.
Traditionally pronounced “Ow Ooh Um”, or Aum, it’s symbolized by a distinctive shape which resembles a backwards 3 with a tail trailing off the back, and a slash and dot overhead. You might see this symbol tattooed on your teacher, painted on a studio wall or embossed upon your neighbor’s yoga mat.
Like namaste, if you intone this word, as people often do at the beginning or end of yoga classes, you are not making some pact with the devil or otherwise compromising any personal beliefs—but you are strengthening your connection with the universe through sound.
Think of “om” as a universal one word love song.
4) What you are supposed to do during savasana. Savasana or resting pose, the last pose of every yoga class, literally translates from Sanskrit to mean “corpse pose.” It is called this because it is the symbolic death of your practice, meaning everything that happened in your class is now in the past and should therefore be released.
The only thing that should matter to yogis is the present moment. Keeping yourself in the present moment is believed to keep you in reality, as opposed to reflecting on past events which are no longer occurring, or projecting future events which have not yet occurred. The more we live in the moment, the less fear and anxiety we experience.
Savasana is a great place to practice doing nothing, while you train your mind to be still.
Practically speaking, just lay down and allow your whole body to relax. Gently close your eyes. Observe any thoughts that enter your mind and then let them float away. If you are having a hard time letting go, focus on the rhythm of your breath.
The more you practice savasana, the more natural it becomes. It won’t be long before you’re craving it like chocolate ice cream. (Which of course would be projecting into the future, but hey, you’re not enlightened yet.)
Also, in truth, savasana is a moment to find complete relaxation so that you are more able to meditate after your asana practice.
5) What kind of people you will meet. In general, incredibly friendly ones.
There are exceptions to this of course, but overall, be prepared to discover the nicest bunch of men and women ever. One of the main reasons I love yoga is because of the sort of person it attracts. Open minded, kind-hearted, and bold, yoga people may seem stand offish when you first walk in the room, but that’s just because they’re in the zone. They will smile and help you at the slightest provocation, especially teachers, and you should never be afraid of reaching out.
A huge part of yoga is learning and teaching compassion for yourself and others, and yogis will take every opportunity to practice it. If you run into one or two yogis who don’t, that’s your chance to start working on yourself.
Realize that we are all fighting secret battles, smile and move on.
Yoga, though an ancient tradition surrounded with mystique, can be practiced by everyone. The common refrain that we teachers hear, “I could never do yoga! I’m not flexible!” is the bane of our existence. Truly, if you can breathe, you can practice. Start slow, find a beginners class, a restorative class or a gentle flow, ask questions, go as often as you can and expect great things.
Yoga will give you gifts you didn’t know you were looking for. You don’t have to take my word for it—just take a deep breath and dive in.
~ Courtesy of The Elephant Journal
Even Mick Jagger got his shoulder stand on ;)
It's finally feeling like fall here in Sedona, Arizona and so I'm putting the tomatoes in my garden to good use while I still have them. This super simple and yummy tomato basil soup is helping Mike and I stay cozy and nourished :
Roast at 450 a big baking dish worth of organic heirloom and cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and a roughly chopped onion, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake until caramelized, about 30 min. Cook down roasted tomato yumminess on stove on medium heat with favorite broth, then blend with fresh basil and dash of cream.
I woke up this morning and looked around my room and thought, "Today is going to be a lovely day". With that intention I decided to take my own advice from yesterday and so I asked Mike to join me in a 15 minute Sun Salutations practice in my yoga room. That 15 minutes turned into about 15 rounds and it felt so great. Mike then went to juice some fruit and vegetables for our breakfast and I sat in meditation for 46 minutes. 46 minutes because then it would be an even number on my alarm clock ;)
During meditation I managed to dodge the usual bombardment of distractions that arise during most attempts at meditation... the mental to-do list checking, the rising feeling of sadness due to the death and loss of my mom, the need to itch my face or adjust my ankles. It wasn't easy, especially during the last 10 minutes. I didn't achieve intergalactic oneness in that one sitting, but I did manage to open my eyes to a whole new world and outlook.
This morning’s attempt at self-realization, love, and compassion got me to thinking. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I did this every single day? If I made an effort to slow down, breathe, become present for just 15 minutes a day? If I did, maybe it wouldjust be 15 minutes.... but maybe, sometimes, it might turn into 90 minutes like it did this morning. Either way, won't the results be magnificent??? And what results I did receive today! Mike and I took our dogs for a hike and then talked to each other about our life, future and love for each other. We unpacked our things, met our new neighbors, accomplished the pending check list and so much more. So many wonderful things resulted from us attempting to spend just 15 minutes with each other in yoga... in union.
How did you spend your morning yogis? Did you practice your sun salutation? Share in the comment section! I'd love to hear from you.
~ Ashley Cruz
Unfortunately, there aren't any hot yoga classes in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, so yesterday was my first hot yoga class since May. It's interesting how I felt walking in. I actually felt nervous! I hadn't had a strong practice in a long while and so I felt sort of, "bent out of shape" pun totally intended :). I wondered how my body would react to deep stretching and how my breath would be as well. I kind of hoped that my body would become super flexible like it usually did after a short break from yoga. Boy was I wrong!
I immediately noticed in my first cobra pose how tight the lower portion of my back and body was. I couldn't come up into the full cobra! I mean, it was really, really tight! It's during this realization that I had the option to react in one of two ways. I could become discouraged and angry with myself. Or, I could be more gentle with myself, more patient and understanding. I chose to feel awed by this condition of mine and I made an extra effort to be gentle to myself.... I knew that over time it would change. My body would become limber again. My back wouldn't ache. It's important to tell yourself this when you practice. That someday your body will become more limber, more healthy, pain free. Maybe it won't be in that first yoga class in your life or in my case, the last 6 months, but it will happen! Don't feel discouraged! Life is a journey and every second of it is sacred!
During my practice I couldn't help thinking about what I could learn from this and how I could apply it to the classes I offer to my yoga students. This whole experience was very humbling. What I mean is that when I'm teaching and practicing every single day while I am here in Sedona, my body becomes so limber and calm that over time I kind of forget what it feels like to do yoga for the first time, or to be tight in any part of my body. Experiencing a tight lower back and hamstrings once again reminded me of the whole emotional, mental, and physical roller-coaster that we all experience in our first class.
It's so very important to stretch our bodies on a daily basis. Apparently there is no excuse. I told myself over the past six months that work didn't allow me the time to do a daily sun salutations practice. That I was too tired. That I had too much to do. That sitting in lotus or stretching in the office was enough. Well... it wasn't haha. Honestly, I could have spared 15 minutes each morning to do the sun salutations. I could have spared 15 minutes mid-day or in the evening as well. If I had done so my body wouldn't ache now and I'd probably feel better about myself. This is a lesson learned and I hope to never forget it. After yesterday's practice I already feel lighter and more energized. I feel healthy and more vibrant.
My intention is to remember this humbling feeling I have from yesterday's practice and to treat my body like a temple, all of the time. Not just six months out of the year. This body of mine is my vehicle for transforming my life. I need it to be healthy and vibrant and strong, all of the time! And so do you! You are a special gift in the world. Treat yourself like the treasure you are and love your body and soul every morning by practicing the sun salutations. Even if it's just for 15 minutes.
The benefits of the sun salutations are immense. Our body posture can be an indicator of how we are feeling. We sit with our backs straight when we are alert; we slouch when we are tired, and so on. As we bring awareness into our bodies, we tend to change postures so we can get more comfortable. In turn, as we change postures it results in a spontaneous shift in our awareness. This feedback loop between body awareness and body positioning is part of the practice of yoga.
Yoga can revitalize your mind as well as your body. In general, yoga includes two of the major components of balanced fitness: flexibility and strength. If you add Sun Salutations to the mix, you incorporate the third major component of balanced fitness: cardiovascular conditioning.
Sun Salutations, known in Sanskrit as Surya Namaskar (pronounced Sir-yah- Namah-skar), are a series of movements that flow with the breath. They help strengthen the heart, improve circulation, and lengthen and strengthen all major muscles in the body. Sun Salutations have been described as the most complete exercise available.
Radiate Your Essential Self
Even if you do not have time to work out on a regular basis, performing Sun Salutations every day will bring vitality and aliveness into your life. The twelve poses included in the Sun Salutation series are designed to awaken the connection between the sun and your agni, or inner fire. As you kindle your inner fire, you can radiate your innate love and happiness out into the world.
As we perform Sun Salutations to celebrate the sun, we also celebrate life in general as well as our inner life and our connection with the universe. We celebrate life because the poses in the Sun Salutation series represent the full experience of life, with all its highs and lows, and beginnings and endings. We celebrate our inner life because we are ultimately beings of light, like the sun, and performing Sun Salutations rejoices in this aspect of our being. We celebrate our connection with the universe because the sun is the source of all life on this planet.
My request of you.... Give the sun salutations a shot every morning for the next 10 days. The following Sun Salutation sequence will increase your level of energy, nurture your connection with mind-body-spirit, and enhance your liveliness. If you have any questions about the poses please ask! And please share your experiences in the comment section! You're inspiring and I'd love to hear from you. Blessings to you on your journey ♥ ~ Ashley Cruz
"Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."
-- Khalil Gibran
I sit at a desk from May until Mid October. My hours are typically from 7 to 7. Although I am still sitting in lotus or double pigeon and that works wonders on my hips, I can't help but feel a slight ache in my spine and shoulders if I don't take a moment to stretch, walk, or breathe deeply.
While writing this blog entry I am literally doing the following poses. Not only do I feel more awake and attentive, but my breathing has become deep and full and my posture more erect. How do you feel after doing them? :)
Have a wonderful day at work yogis!
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley