Ebb & Flow

5 Magic Steps for a Yoga Sequence

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1.  Centering

Bringing the practice inward in the room and in the body-towards the heart. Ex: teacher in the middle of the room, hands at heart center, jumping to the middle of the mat.

2. Sun Salutation

This is found in vinyasa and bikyasa, it is a warm up for the body and establishes the poses necessary for the rest of practice.

3. Standing

These poses focus on balance on one and two legs. They are held in vinyasa flow for an additional amount of work.

4. Group on the floor in all directions

In Bikyasa during floor work, we are conscious to counteract the stretch if we perform a camel by following it with camel. During final wind release we are sure to hold the knee out to the left and right side of the body after bridge and plow to be sure it is stretched in all directions.  (This could also be a form of encouraging centering-by stretching outwards from the center.)

5. Savasana 

So essential to have savasana! After all of that hard work, it is helpful to let your body digest what it has done and to spend time meditating what you have learned from your practice and how you will use that information to better your practice in the future.

 

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My first yoga class…ever

It was so fun! What a wonderful group of students Megan and I had. Several of them were brand new and they were oh-so-patient with us. I apologize for my little verbal farts (“put your wrist to your elbow…?”)

Other than that I would’ve focused more on making the transitions smooth. There were some technical difficulties with the iPod but those were very minor. Remembering how to get into savasana and seated position for a water break seems minor, but that really makes a big difference. Other than that, the flows were so much fun! Thank you to my classmates who were my rockstar models, I was able to watch them and give good verbal cues as to left and right hands and legs.

Each class you’ll make little mistakes and learn from them. Here are my number one tips for new teachers….

1. Make your playlist longer than expected (have a back up opening and sun salutation just in case!

2. Learn the transitions, love the transitions, know the transitions, trust me.

3. Relax and talk to your students, don’t just stare at them as they walk in, it’s good to be familiar with your voice.

4. Make sure technology works and that you are all comfortable with how it works.

5. Don’t stress, have fun, laugh and make fun of yourself if you can.

6. It is hot in there! Be prepared.

7. Don’t keep saying, “The hard part is over.” I did, it’s a nervous tick, you lose trust and will receive many-a-groans hehe

Relax. You’ll do great. just step up and do it 😀

Daily Minimum-Introduction to Ashtanga

At first glance at Sun Salutation A and B I thought, in comparison to Bikyasa- it will be easy! No memorizing multiple sequences. I was surprised by the work your body and brain had to put into the movements. My first chaturanga closely resembled a face plant.

(When I practiced later at home, it had improved but my dog still ran over and licked my face to make sure I was ok.)

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It’s definitely going to be a transition for me, going from Bikyasa to Vinyasa, but so far I love it. I like the freedom, the with music and body movement and I can play too. I like the option of being able to do the action with the class versus giving verbal cues. I do think that having that skill so necessary for Bikyasa, is beneficial for teaching Vinyasa.

I’m excited to play with the different flows we’ve learned and creating something fun to practice 😀

Ice Cream for breakfast

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I had to share this one, the best soft serve I have ever had, with only 4 ingredients

1 cup frozen bananas

1/2 cup almond milk

1 spoonful almond butter

1 spoonful cocoa or cacao

Blend until smooth (add a little more almond milk if it gets stuck.

Yum…just yum. you’ll be running around with this one asking others to try it.

Sutras

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Just a brief snap shot of yoga

Patanjali is the writer of the yoga sutras. They were believed to be written 1700 years ago and contain 195 sutras. These sutras are intertwined with many Indian philosophical systems including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

I find hatha yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar very fascinating. The use of blocks and bolsters and straps allow the new practitioner to attain poses and learn where they can progress if they continue their practice. Also….the best class I have ever attended was an advanced yoga class in college where we learned how to use bolsters. The entire class went silent and I don’t remember where the hour went because I was so entirely relaxed. I even forgot about the noisy metal heater behind me. Iyengar yoga is based on Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga.

1. Yama: there are 5 yamas outlining ethical standards of how you conduct yourself

2. Niyama: there are 5 outlining self discipline

3. Asana: the body is the temple of the spirit, asanas are what is also known as poses which develop concentration

4.Pranayama: the breath

5.Pratyahara: withdrawal from the outside world and developing inner strength

6.Dharana: recognizing internal distractions

7.Dhyana: being entirely aware with uninterrupted concentration

8.Samadahi: peace

Yoga Room

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To me a yoga room is a safe space. It is well lit with lamps and takes advantage of natural sunlight using windows. For hot yoga, the fans regulate the temperature of the room to create the most comfort for your practice. Wood floor is best, as it is easier to clean for a hot class and does not absorb the smell like a carpet floor would These are the physical attributes of the room that contribute to a great practice.

The feeling of the room is entirely up to the teacher. It should be a place where you recognize you are safe. If you are the teacher and you use harsh words, or make someone uncomfortable, you have altered the feeling of the room and it is very difficult to regain the trust of your students. As a teacher it should be your goal to create comfort, be mindful of others and their comfort levels. It takes a lot of trust just to come to a studio! “I’m in my pajamas (or bathing suit) I’m gonna move my body all around you all-strangers in this hot room…sorry if I sweat on you.” It’s scary at first. As a teacher recognize those fears of yourself and your students and use your voice, cues and sometimes gentle assistance to let them know, “I’m hear for you, don’t be scared, I’m just so happy you are here. We are all in this together.”

I’ve been in a room where the teacher got upset and the whole room’s shoulders went up to their ears. An extreme case but it sticks in my memory.

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I’ve also walked into a teacher training and had a teacher welcome me with a smile and ask me to join and greet me with a hug. I was so embarrassed walking in, but she made me feel so comfortable and happy to be there.

Be mindful of your words, gentle with others trust and practice your own meditation, so that others may practice theirs. Remember humor is good, and always appreciated in class. Just a little smile to lighten up on the load of a difficult practice.

Kitchen Play

Play with your fruits and veggies. Here’s some fun recipes to try this week.

Greek yogurt and blueberry quinoa parfaits in a ball jar

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 Pumpkin peanut butter and apples

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Cute Thanksgiving Veggie Turkey

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Handheld Cucumber Salad “sandwich”

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Salad in a ball jar :]

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Whipped Peachy Keen Quinoa

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Yurrmz

Yoga Transformation

A beautiful story to inspire all. Arthur changed his life through yoga and by never giving up.

What is your yoga challenge?

Do you find yourself feeling like you need to look or act a certain way?

Do you feel as though there is not enough time in the day to practice?

Do you spend too many hours thinking “I should be doing” then you do doing?

We all face these challenges. It is important to be aware of our inner voice, but not let it guide our emotions and our actions. Recognize that the inward monologue is not nearly as important as the world around you and the 2 feet beneath you. You can choose to step out of your fears and do. You do not have to hide in your “I shouldn’t or I should’ve or shoulds.”

Walk out of your history today and if you feel like doing yoga in the park or smiling at a stranger because it just feels right-then by-golly do it! Don’t let your fears  become you.

Go with the Flow

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Flow 1: 

Downward Dog

Inhale R leg up- bend your knee-opens the hip

Look up flex your foot- R leg to your R thumb-back foot flat

Inhale warrior 1-look up

Exhale warrior2

Look at right palm-R palm up

Inhale over into Reverse warrior-back arm slides down the leg

Glide back to warrior 2

Turn to the back wall, elbow meets the knee

Inhale L arm straight up-look up

R hand meets ground on the outside of the foot

Upper arm to ear-palm facing the ground

Look down-L arm down

Raise onto back toes

Inhale R arm up-look up

Wrap-pull shoulders square to the side wall

Look down

R hand on the inside of R foot

Walk your hands forward-elbows down-lizard

Head down- you may drop the left knee and point toe-breathe

Back knee up-back foot flat

Inhale L arm up-look up

Wrap or bind

Shoulders parallel to side wall

Come into lunge-heel pops up-chest up-Hands at heart center

L elbow meets R thigh

elbows one line-stay here or inhale R arm up-L arm extends to the floor

Wrap or Bind

Look down drop hands to floor-R foot back

High to low

Exhale body down

Inhale up dog

Exhale downward facing dog

L leg straight up bend the knee open the hip….

(Repeat on the other side)

Flow 2: 

Inhale R leg up point the toe

Look up at R thumb-step it through to R thumb-back foot flat

Inhale warrior1

Exhale glide into warrior2

Look at R knee-Turn you toes in and turn to the side of the room

Feet parallel

Stretch arms out-shoulders down-chin up

Exhale swan dive

Grab your heels-elbows bend

Eyes on floor-inhale pull-exhale pull

legs straight, open your feet more, eventually your head will touch the floor, pull and pull

inhale arms out to a T

Come all the way up

Exhale warrior 2

Look at floor-hands to floor

High push up

R hand beneath you-stack the legs

Inhale upper arm to ear

maybe lifting the top leg-toe pointed

Hold it

Look down hands down high plank

Hold here or 5 military push ups

4-3-2-1

To your flow exhale lower

Inhale up dog

exhale down dog

(Repeat on L side) L leg up, point the toe

Flow 3: 

Meet in Downward dog

Inhale R leg up point the toe-bend the knee-open the hip

Look up flex the foot- R foot forward to R thumb-back foot flat

Inhale warrior 1 look up

Exhale glide into warrior 2

Eyes on R knee-R leg straight

Exhale into triangle

Stretch up-stretch forward R arm comes down meet floor or ankle -L arm goes high

Look up reach up

Exhale wrap

shoulders parallel to side wall

Look down-hands to the mat- step back foot forward to make a small teepee

R arm up look up-wrap

Look down-arms fly back into airplane

Body weight forward-L leg up point the toe

Hands at heart center

Half moon-R  hand down-L arm up

Rotate you are between 2 walls- flex L foot

Airplane arms up palms down

Hands at heart

Twisting half moon

L arm down R arm up

Point the toes

Look down hands to mat legs back

High to low

Exhale body down

Inhale up dog

Exhale downward facing dog

Inhale L leg  up point the toe-bend your knee-open the hip…

(Repeat on L side)

Flow 4:

R leg up point the toe

Look up

R knee come to R wrist for pigeon

L knee down-point back toe-R foot in line with L knee

Inhale head up-slide L leg back-look at the mirror hips square

Hands push into floor chest up

Exhale look in the mirror

Lifft back leg and stack your legs over the front-or sit with ankles crossed

Inhale arms up

Exhale body forward-walk fingers head down relaxed

Head up-cross ankles

Hug your knees into chest

Arms in front of you Roll over feet-palms to mat as you jump or step into high push up

Hold bring your body forward on your tippy toes

Exhale body down

Inhale up dog

Exhale down dog

Inhale L leg up point the toe… (Repeat on L side)

Exit flows with inhale half lift

exhale forward fold

Inhale rise up

Exhale hands at heart center for tree prep

Mirror Effect

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If you have ever opened your eyes big and giggled at a baby, it is likely you have seen the gesture returned with chubby cheeks and a giggly little wiggle. Mirror neurons are how we are able to learn from watching others. Mirror neurons are located in the premotor cortex. When we observe someone moving or performing a particular actions, we observe and create motor circuits to perform similar actions.

Bikyasa yoga does not use mirror neurons directly. The teacher is giving commands and cues to change the movement of the class. There are many, especially those that are new to the class, that will watch others and perform the movement as they see around the classroom. This is why many studios encourage new students to place their mats at the back of the class. This is not punishment, it’s to allow new students to copy those that have been practicing for a long time and have developed their postures. Muscle memory will come with repetition, mirror neurons respond to what they see instantaneously.

Mirror neurons may benefit in my training if I observe good examples of posture and movement and bring that to my own practice. Studying and learning new words and cues that I find helpful will take practice and research on my part. From my class this morning I learned that I really liked the teacher’s cues for High to Low push up.

Inhale body forward

Exhale lower body-elbows in-low push up

Inhale toes point-shoulders down-chin up- up dog

Exhale-roll over toes-hips up to downward dog

after the first round you can simplify it to even fewer cues