yogawithirena

Happy Lower Backs!

 The secret ingredient to an everyday happy lower back is open thighs - quadriceps, psoas (hip flexors), hamstrings.  If you are a runner, gardener, every day life liver then your legs are getting worked!  Muscles get tight and we lose range of motion if we don't balance out with a little lengthening and strengthening.

Any of the poses listed below are great to help relieve everyday back tension.  Give them a try after a long hike, gardening session, or just general spring cleaning.  

In the comments below, let me know which one worked best for you.  Which one do you like the best?  Which one is most effective for you?  Remember, listen to your gut instincts and modify according to your needs.  

Keep Yoga-ing!

 

Tip#1 - Hips and Thighs Don't Lie

High Lunge with Blocks

  1. Grab 3 yoga blocks (or you can hold onto the seat of a chair and grab one block).

  2. From a forward bend, your hands each on a block, step the right leg back.

  3. Slide the front two blocks back to be in line with your left ankle.

  4. Wedge the third block under your right thigh (an inch or two above the knee on the base of the thigh).

  5. It's nice to bring your left arm and block to the inside of the left leg - you made need to widen your left foot a few inches to the left to accommodate this action.

  6. Spread the back toes, soften between the shoulder blades, and lengthen from the core of your belly to the crown of your head, and from belly back through right arch.

  7. Now for the advanced part - turn the corners of your mouth up! 😊

  8. Switch legs!

 


Tip #2 - The Calf Smasher!

It really will help - once you get past the initial shock.  Breathe at least 10-20 breaths and you'll notice things get better. 

1. Roll up a sticky may (or firm blanket)

2. Wedge the jelly roll towards the back of the knees (top of the calves).

3. Sit back towards your heels (like you would for vajrasana/thunderbolt)

4. It might be a 'little' uncomfortable.

5. Breathe 10-20 breaths.

6. Slide the rolled up mat back towards the little space at the back of calves, above your heels.

7. This should feel much better!

 


Tip #3 - Ribbit

The half frog - Ardha Bhekasana. Sometimes we just can't take ourselves too seriously!  Laugh a little, live a lot,  love a ton!  and open up those thighs!

1. On your belly, bend your right leg.

2. Keep your thighs parallel and hips distance wide.

3. Right hand reaches back to hold onto the outer edge of right foot.

4. Press the foot into the hand and then draw the foot towards the outer edge of the right hip.

5. Lengthen from the belly to the crown of the head and from belly back through right knee.

6. Breathe.

7. Advanced option: turn up the corners of your mouth 😉

 


Tip #4 - Shoot for the Moon

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." Norman Vincent Peale

Modified Warrior 1

1. From a high lunge, place the heel of your back foot against a wall.

2. Keep the front leg bent to a 90 degree angle.

3. Square your hips and reach your arms for the stars!

4. Actively extend from your belly through the back leg and press that heel into the wall.

5. Lengthen from the belly up through the finger tips and breathe!

 


Tip #5 - It's Not Over Until the Pigeon Sings!

Variations on Pigeon II (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II)

Now some people like to call this the screaming pigeon.  I find that name just scares all of us!  :)  Why not sing instead of scream.  Although I have been to some very interesting concerts where you could question singing versus screaming.  

  1. It's nice to have two blocks for this one and blanket or towel for your back knee.

  2. Starting from table, your hands on the blocks, slide your left knee back, about an inch from the wall.

  3. Place the top of the left foot on the wall (make sure your toes are pointing right up to the sky).

  4. Swing your right foot forward and plant the foot flat on the floor.

  5. Walk your hands and blocks a little to the left diagonally and see if you can lower down to your elbows or blocks.  (This is going for right inner thigh and hamstring, maybe the front of the left thigh too.)

  6. Your hips will move away from the wall.

  7. Come back up to your hands and slowly walk them back, moving your hips towards the wall.

  8. Maybe you keep your hands on the blocks, maybe you bring them up to rest on your right thigh.  Or maybe if you need more stretch, reach them all the way up to the sky.

  9. For even more opening, keep the hips square, muscles engaged, and move the hips forward away from the wall moving towards a backbend.

  10. Switch sides. (Hold each side 5 - 10 breaths.)

Sing your heart out!

 

If you're back is feeling happy, then you won't want to miss these extra Happy Lower Back Yoga tips.  Just click here to see more!

with light and love,

5 Tips to Forearm Balance/Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose)

5 Tips to Forearm Balance

 

 

"Being colorful", boy that phrase can pack a wallop!  It’s not always meant as a compliment.  Yet, when I think about some of the colorful characters I’ve encountered in my life - they are the ones that seem to be most alive.  They are the people with the sparkle in their eye.  Mischief in their grins.  And adventures in their back pockets.  You know you’ll be living when you are around them.

So why is it that we avoid being colorful ourselves?  Or maybe it’s just me :)   I love colorful characters and am always drawn towards them.  They are like the peacock waving those brilliant feathers that seem to hypnotize you and draw you into their orbit.  They have developed a comfort being in their own skin - bien dans sa peau.

They know that they will not please everyone and at times might even offend by sharing their true colors and thoughts.  But the colorful characters I'm drawn to are the ones who act from the heart. The words they share come only if they are necessary and the timing is right.  They cut right to the heart of the matter - no wasting of time.  They act from the place of LOVE.

These are the wise ones who know how to step in and offer healing words and salves.  Why?  Because they know their true hearts and they can see that place of love and goodness in others.  They are the helpers in the crisis and chaos.  There is no hesitation to jump in and offer service.  Remember dear ones,  it isn’t all bravado.  There are big feelings these colorful characters must work through too.  Thing is, these bright beautiful souls are the willing ones.  Willing to show up and do the work.  They know they will fall at some point.  Then with a smile, they pick themselves back up and start again.  

I invite you.  Join me in this playful journey of learning and practicing the feathered peacock pose.  Let’s find our colorful selves my possums!  :)  (Bonus points if you know the colorful character that term of endearment comes from!)  

 

Tip #1 - Find Out What it Takes

The path to Forearm Balance (Pincha Mayurasana) is one of patience and tenacity.  We have to know that we're going to fall down on this path.  It's part of learning.  The question is, can we fall with Grace?  And with what heart feeling will we rise back up and try again?  Fall down 7, get up 8 with a smile :).  

We start at the beginning with baby dolphin pose.

  1. Using a yoga block or full tissue box is a wonderful addition.

  2. Start on your knees and lower your forearms to the floor. Elbows beneath shoulders. Hands shoulder distance wide.

  3. Place a yoga block between the hands. Thumbs up, palms gently squeeze the block, outer edge of hand roots into the floor (especially the underside of the wrists).

  4. Looking between your forearms, soften between your shoulder blades.

  5. Move your hips back a few inches and lower your head, so your ears are inline with your arms.

  6. Take a few deep breaths.


Tip #2 - Anything precious is worth the effort and the wait.

Patience and perseverance.  

This pose continues to be a challenge for me. Oddly enough I did experience a breakthrough when I was 7 months pregnant.  Big bellied, center of gravity completely shifted. I was waiting for my precious little one to arrive.  Journeys need time.  Be patient with yourself.

  1. Starting from where we ended in Tip #1.

  2. On your knees (that are hips distance wide), place your forearms on the floor (elbows beneath shoulders, palms gently squeezing a yoga block).

  3. Soften between the shoulder blades.

  4. Look between your forearms.

  5. Maintain the upper body's actions, curl the toes under, and lift your hips up and back.

  6. Root through the forearms, lengthen from the base of your heart all the way up to your sit bones.

  7. Anchor the outer hip creases back.

  8. Relax your head and neck - ears in line with upper arms.

  9. Breathe. Turn the corners of your mouth up 😉


Tip #3 - What's Wrong with Being Confident?

Pincha Mayurasana is also known as the feathered peacock pose.  And peacocks are known for strutting their stuff!  This pose requires that you tap into your confidence and self-esteem and share your beauty.  This can be unnerving for many of us to be so bold and bright.  Without the confidence we'll be too timid to try.  With too much confidence we will lack the strength to go the distance and find balance.

So with a playful heart we try to find the path of the middle.

  1. Take a belt and make a loop that is about as wide as your shoulders (or a little wider for tight shoulders) when it is folded in half.

  2. Slide one arm into the loop.

  3. With your arms behind you, slide the other arm into the loop and wiggle it up above your elbows.  

  4. Stand tall - lengthen from hips to underarms.

  5. With elbows slightly bent, draw the shoulder blades towards each other and down the back.

  6. Maintaining those actions of step 4 and 5 press the upper arms out into the belt.

  7. Keep the sides of your waistline drawing back - tummy engaged. Lengthen the tailbone towards the floor.

  8. If you can maintain all those actions, straighten your arms and lift them a little higher!

Shine bright like a diamond!


 Tip #4 - Soften and Ask For Help

A peacock feather can represent the eye of God and remind us that we are not alone in our journey. Because we have free will, it is up to us to soften, surrender, and ask for help when we need it. Remember you can always call on your angels.

  1. Set up 2 yoga blocks, shoulder distance wide. (No blocks? Try the coffee table.)

  2. Place the back of the upper arms on a block.

  3. Bring palms together as you walk your knees back.

  4. With torso parallel to the floor, gently press the upper arms down into the blocks as you soften between the shoulder blades.

  5. Lengthen from the base of the heart back to the sit bones.

  6. If your breathing is steady, fold your forearms toward your upper back and bring your hands towards the base of your skull.


Tip #5 - Rise from the Chaos

We practice and prepare ourselves for those moments off our yoga mat.  Those moments when our world is thrown into chaos and we still need to figure out how to function. What do we do when our world is turned upside down? Do we have the strength to go on? Which way is up? How do we rise from the ashes? This is where the beautiful feathered peacock pose comes in to help. Use the Dolphin push-ups to gain strength in your arms, upper back, and legs. And figure out which way is up as you are in this unusual upside down position. Discover that strength, hope, and faith that you possess deep down inside.

 

  1. Like Tip #2, start on all fours, place the elbows beneath the shoulders, this time gently interlace the fingers.

  2. Root down through the forearms (especially the under side of the wrists) and lift the hips up and back, allow your neck and head to relax.  Take 3 deep breaths.

  3. Look towards your hands and slowly lower your chin towards your hands.

  4. Lower as far as is breathable and keep the tummy engaged.  If you sag in your back or there is pain, you've gone too low. Only go to the point where you can maintain integrity in the pose.

  5. Root through the forearms and lift the hips back up .

  6. Your spine like a sewing needle goes up and down, while the shoulder blades engage - drawing towards each other and towards the hips.

 

 

Keep playing, keep trying, fall down 7, get up 8 with a smile.   

Stay tuned for our 21 Day Challenge starting April 1 - 29 Challenge (challenges will be posted on InstagramFacebook, and via the newsletter) where we will use these tips to build core strength, boost our energy, and lift our spirits!  I hope you will join me in this special journey, you are sure to see a difference in the way you feel and look at life!

Sign up here for the FREE 21 Day Yoga Challenge!

 

with love,