Saturday, March 11, 2017

Vparita Karani - Legs Up the Wall

I truly believe yoga can be for everyone and every body so I want to start a series of blog posts that can help you activate each yoga asana (poses) in a way that's accessible and meaningful for you. My favorite part of my Yoga Teacher Training was learning modifications for each pose and gaining a deeper understanding of what each pose can bring to your life.

I am hopeful this series will help when you attend a class or practice along with a video at home so you can understand what each pose does for your body and make the proper adjustments that still allow you to get the most out of each pose. I will also share easy ways to modify your poses with what you have at home so you don't have to go out and buy expensive yoga props until you're ready to make that investment (or at all).

The first pose I want to help you understand is a favorite of mine. It's easy and one that most people will be able to safely and easily practice. Even if you think you're too busy to practice yoga you can always start with just this pose at the end of your day and work up to a full practice.

Sanskrit Name: Vparita Karani
AKA: Legs Up the Wall

Why you should practice Legs Up the Wall:
  • Calms the mind
  • Tones and strengthens abdominal organs, lungs, upper body, and core
  • Improves concentration, focus, balance, spinal alignment, and digestion
Who should NOT practice Legs Up the Wall:
  • Those with back or neck injury, headache/migraine issues, high blood pressure, heart conditions, menstruating or pregnant women, detached retina, or those with a history of or at risk of stroke
  • Women who are menstruating or pregnant should not practice inverted postures, back bends, or vigorous standing postures. Pregnant women should not practice twists or abdominal compressing postures. Other special cautions may apply to individuals with specific health conditions.
  • This does not mean people with these conditions can never practice Legs Up the Wall. If you want to try this pose you should speak with your physician or mental health provider to ensure being in this pose won't aggravate any existing conditions. You may be able to practice it with modifications or for shorter lengths of time. If you feel discomfort or are unsure, consult your physician first.

Activating asana tips:
  • Practice Legs Up the Wall at the end of your practice when you are preparing to cool down
  • If you don't have time for a full practice spend a few minutes before going to bed relaxing in this pose
  • You can listen to a meditation or take time to focus on your breath while you let your body have a few minutes of restorative peace
  • You can let your arms extend out beside you with your palms facing up or if that feels too open and exposed you can place your hands over your stomach or chest and feel the movement of your breath
What other tips or information would you like to see out of these posts? Are there certain poses you'd like to see me break down or show modifications for? What else is confusing about yoga or prevents you from practicing? Share your tips or what you love about Legs Up the Wall after you try it!

Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. Consult your doctor/mental health provider prior to participating in this or any other form of exercise. To reduce the risk of injury never force or strain during practice. If you experience pain or discomfort during exercises, stop, and immediately consult your doctor.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Developing My Personal Practice

As I work through the requirements for my Yoga Teacher Training I have the opportunity to dive into my own practice. I have tried some free flow practicing where I just do whatever feels right at the time and sometimes that is all I can fit into my day with kids and work. Other days I can squeeze in a Bodhi Yoga online class where I can practice what I have been studying. I have access to free yoga videos on TV so I've been trying a few of those out in the early mornings when only Russell and I are up. The nice thing about those is I can try other styles of yoga and different teachers so I can experience what else is out there.

Through the last few weeks of practicing I have learned that if you've tried yoga and didn't like it it's totally possible you either tried a style, class, studio, or a teacher that wasn't a good fit for you. When I'm in shape I can keep up with pretty much any yoga class but that doesn't mean I want to. I have found I prefer a slower practice with time within poses so I can settle in and know I'm not going to move too quickly, potentially injuring myself. I'm currently not in the best shape so having time between poses makes it possible for me to practice without worrying I'll throw out my back.

My recommendation is if you haven't loved yoga in the past, give it another shot! Try a different style, find a new studio, check out a different class, or find a different teacher because yoga can be for every body and everybody. You just have to find what works for you.

The other thing I have learned is to make time for yoga. I have stressed about finding blocks of time to practice but I found that I can squeeze some yoga in first thing in the morning. Russell has a crazy habit of getting up between 5-5:30 most days while Kira tends to sleep until about 6-6:30. This gives me a good hour of time where I can fit in a practice while Russell plays games or watches videos on his tablet. The fun thing is Russell often will see what I'm doing and come over to do the poses with me. Sometimes he gets in the way and tries to down dog right under my down dog but honestly I've realized I'd rather he dabble in some yoga with me instead of having a completely serene uninterrupted practice. My hope is that as he gets older and sees me doing more yoga he can practice with me and hopefully learn to regulate his emotions and his health for the long term. Plus it's CUTE when he tries to figure out how to do stacked log or cobbler pose. I'll try to snap a pic one of these mornings if he'll let me. It's adorable!

How do you fit a yoga practice into your day? I know for some people it's as easy as prioritizing it and going but when you start adding things like work, a partner, kids, other life commitments it can get crazy. Oh to be back in the days when I thought I was busy! HA HA HA! Share your secrets for fitting in yoga or exercise in your life.