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Yoga Poses + Sequences

Keep Your Shoulders Happy + Healthy

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Keep Your Shoulders Happy + Healthy

I am on a mission to keep your shoulders in tip-top shape. I know far too many yogis and athletes with shoulder issues. As a baby yogi (think pre-teaching days), I injured both shoulders from poor form. Let me help you avoid doing the same.

Instructions for setting a strong shoulder girdle:

  1. Draw your arms into their sockets.
  2. Press into your hands.
  3. Hug your forearms together.
  4. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.

Shoulder tips for your flow:

  1. From plank, shift your heart forward an inch. Lower into chaturanga (crocodile) by bending your elbows and keeping the rest of your body tight. This will stop your chest and pelvis from sagging. Drop your chest 2-3 inches keeping your shoulder heads above your elbows. This transition utilizes the power from your muscles rather than dumping into your shoulder sockets.
  2. Break the habit of scooping your chest when moving from crocodile to up dog.  Instead, when hovering in crocodile, flip to the tops of your feet then push straight up to up dog.

There you have it! Simple tips to keep your shoulders happy + healthy. Test them out. LMK what you think. xx

Cheers to your shoulders and mine, 

Jody

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Release Upper-Back Tension

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Release Upper-Back Tension

 

Your upper back needs fine tuning to keep tension at bay. Typical daily activities like typing, reading, driving or cooking cause you to round forward. Let's counterbalance this. Here's a super quick sequence to get the job done.

 

1. Start in Table. Stack shoulders/wrists and hips/knees.

2. Move into Extended Puppy by  walking your hands out as you slowly drop your chest. Push your hips back while drawing your arms into their sockets. You can place your forehead down or take the option of resting your chin on the mat. You'll get a fantastic stretch in the lats and along the spine with this pose. 

3. For Hare, start in Child's Pose. Grab your calves or heels. Then round through your upper back and place the top of your head on the mat (little pressure in the neck, please). This is a great way to access your rhomboids between your shoulder blades.

4. Thread the Needle starts from Table. Open your left arm toward the ceiling. Then thread it underneath you, placing your left temple and shoulder on the ground. Reach your right arm straight in front of you. Press both arms into the ground and draw your shoulder heads away from your ears. The stretch will wrap shoulder-to-shoulder across your back. Repeat on the other side.

That's it! Short and sweet. This is one of my go-to sequences in the morning to get my upper back primed for the day. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

In Happiness + Health, Jody

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7 Poses To Warm Up

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7 Poses To Warm Up

Looking for a simple warming sequence to start your day or practice? I've got you covered. I use this flow in most of my classes. Feel free to add on by including your favorite standing pose at the end and repeat on both sides. You've just created your own personal practice. Yay, you!

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*Back* to Basics

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*Back* to Basics

Back to Basics :: Just Be Balanced
Back to Basics :: Just Be Balanced

Here is a recovery sequence for your back. It's perfect post workout to improve your range of motion and get you feeling mobile along your spine. Breathe deeply for 1-3 minutes in each pose. Enjoy!

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Go-to-pose :: Lateral Lower Leg

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Go-to-pose :: Lateral Lower Leg

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The key to finding the stretch in the lateral lower leg in a wide-leg forward fold is to press into the outer edges of the feet. Arms can rest on a chair or table in front of you for comfort. Stay here for 1-3 minutes.

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5 Tips to Rock Your Plank

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5 Tips to Rock Your Plank

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Do you have plank problems? Not to worry, it happens. It takes practice to get a strong and beautiful plank that feels amazing. To be clear, planks were not my fave while I was building strength and healing shoulder pain. After gaining strength, healing my shoulders, and working on technique, it's now a pose that makes me feel like a rockstar. While you don't have to take on that perspective just yet, let's work on your technique. Plank problems I tend to see are creepy shoulders/no neck, winged shoulder blades, saggy pelvis, high hips, and lazy legs.

Fix Creepy Shoulders/No Neck

Stack shoulders and wrists. Press strongly into the four corners of your palm and grip through your fingertips. Draw your shoulder heads away from your earlobes and pin them there. Then reach your heart forward as you gaze six inches out in front of you. Now you have a long, regal neck.

Fix Winged Shoulder Blades

Stack your hands, wrists, and shoulders. Reach your heart forward. Activate your serratus anterior (muscles along the ribcage) by drawing your wrists toward the back of the mat. This action will help your scapula slide down your back and lay flat.

Saggy Pelvis Fix

Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels as you draw your pubic bone toward your navel. This action helps to lengthen, or fill out, your low back spine. Draw your low belly toward your spine to turn on those abdominals and avoid the saggy pelvis. Tip: While standing, rest one hand on your low back as you reach the tailbone down and draw the pubic bone up. Notice how the low back fills slightly. This is the same action you want in planks + chairs!

Fix High Hips

Try dropping your hips so that your shoulders, hips, and heels are in one strong line. If there is too much strain on the wrists, shoulders, or core, simply drop your knees to the ground and use the 'saggy pelvis fix' to create a strong line from your shoulders, hips, and knees. This is a smart option to take as you strengthen areas that had been talking to you.

Fix Lazy Legs

With your shoulders and hips set, squeeze your thighs like you're trying to hold a small ball in place. Lift your kneecaps to activate your quads and send that energy out your heels. Now you have active legs.

Once you have all of this in place and you feel strong, give that rockstar attitude a practice run. Smiling always helps. ;)

In Health + Happiness, Jody

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5 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine

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5 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine

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Mornings in my house are blissfully simple. We all get up when our bodies gently nudge us out of bed. Our voices are calm and sweet as we ready ourselves for the day. Breakfast is joyful as we praise each other on our kindness and table manners. Then my husband kisses me on the cheek, I wake from a dream, and my real morning begins. In all honesty, mornings can really be challenging. After much trial and error, I have carved out routines that make me feel proactive and empowered.

Monitor your thoughts

Imagine you just had a wonderful night sleep. As you begin to stir from slumber, wham! Your first thought pounces and it sets the stage for your morning, noon, and night. I hadn't even considered what type of thoughts first entered my brain until Louise Hay wrote about it. I realized my thoughts sounded like, "Ugh! Not yet!" Or, "I'm still tired." And then they would progress to the things I didn't want to do that day. No wonder so many of us are not morning people!

A simple shift is all it took to be diligent in making my first thoughts positive. My go-to thought is, "I love my bed." Let's be honest, it's just a different way of saying, not yet. It's a simple practice to set yourself up for being proactive with your thoughts, and in turn your mood.

Juice up your joints

I am a side sleeper for the most part. When I wake, my spine is stiff from lack of movement. Here are my go-to poses to get the synovial fluids flowing in my spine. Photos by KME Photography. :)

 

Find your focus

I have both the The Five-Minute Journal hard copy and app and I love them! The practice is easy. You write three things you're grateful for, three things that would make your day great, and your mantra (or desired feeling) for the day. It helps me get clear on what is at the top of my priority list. At the end of the day, I sum up three amazing things that happened, and what could have made the day better. Talk about a clarity meter.

Get in the zone

For me, meditation organizes all of my energy. I like to sit facing the sun so I can feel its rays on my skin. Then I close my eyes and note how the pulse of energy feels in my body. At first, it is kind of jumpy. It starts to calm as I deepen my breath and bring my attention behind the middle of my forehead. With a focused internal gaze, I notice the colors and patterns that the sunlight creates behind my eyelids. My brow and jaw start to soften, and in turn the rest of my body follows suit. I will sit 1-15 minutes. It depends on the day. Sometimes it is easy peasy. Othertimes it is ridiculously hard. If I stick with it until my mental movies have paused, I feel grounded and refreshed afterward.

Grab the techniques that speak to you. Create morning routines that give you power, rather than deplete it. No need to wait! Now is the time.

In Health + Happiness, Jody

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Unwind Your Hips + Spine

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Unwind Your Hips + Spine

It doesn't matter if you are a hard-core athlete or a fan of the couch, pigeon pose is a favorite of many. The beauty of the basic pose is that you can get a great stretch around the hip.

Getting into Pigeon

Begin in down dog. Bend your right knee as you slide it to the outside of your right wrist. If you are tight in the outer hips your shin will be at a diagonal; press the top of the foot into the ground to stabilize your knee. With increasing hip mobility, your shin will become more parallel with the front of the mat; keep your knee safe in this variation by flexing your foot . Be mindful to stay off the right hip. Check that your back leg is going straight back from the sit bone.

Contract + Release

I like to contract my leg muscles or "hug my knees toward one another" for three breaths, then release and relax into a deeper stretch for three breaths (or longer). You can do this 1-3 times while working with your breath.

Twisting Pigeon

If your front knee feels good (no pinching sensations) and it is appropriate for your back, consider twisting your pigeon. Moving slowing, twist toward the front leg from the low ribs and higher. Use the obliques to move into the twist rather than your arms. This can be done upright or from your forearms. Add in a bind to open up your shoulder.

Couch Potato Pigeon

Yep, you read that right. :) Stand behind your couch (or counter) and bring your shin on top of it. Keep your foot flexed and engage your leg muscles to draw the knee down. Consider sliding the outer hip of the lifted leg back to neutralize your hips. Breathe and continue on with your show.

I hope you find a version that your body loves. Cheers to more space in your hips and spine!

In Happiness + Health, Jody

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The Downside of Yoga in a Studio + the Simple Solution

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The Downside of Yoga in a Studio + the Simple Solution

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We all agree that we feel awesome after yoga. Unfortunately, we get in a mindset that we have to be in a studio, for 60+ minutes, and wearing stretchy pants. In order to make yoga a real part of your everyday life you need the mental re-frame that it can be done anytime, anywhere, and for mere moments. Yoga mini moments include: taking a luxurious breath to regain focus (and because it feels good, maybe a couple more), pigeon pose at your desk, balancing poses at the park with your kids, or watching the sky. The list is endless.

When + Where I Do Yoga

  1. In the shower.
  2. At a concert.
  3. In restaurants.
  4. On the couch.
  5. At my desk.
  6. In bed.
  7. Against a wall.
  8. In an airplane.
  9. At the park.
  10. During happy/sad/exciting/dull moments.
  11. On a swing.
  12. Eating.
  13. With my loved ones.
  14. With those I struggle to like.
  15. On a paddle board.
  16. Riding a bike.
  17. While running.
  18. Getting a massage.

It's all about breathing, moving, and being mindful. Show + tell time. When and where do you do yoga? Share your yoga mini moments on my Facebook page.  Don't wait for life to be fun and playful. Make it fun and playful.

Your Yoga Instigator,

Jody

 

 

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