Happy Hump-asana Day: Camel Pose / Ustrasana

Happy Hump-asana Day! Err…the hour-ish left of it [whoops!]. The good news: You still have time!

Today’s Hump-asana day Pose: Camel (Ustrasana)

So, begin in tadasana (mountain pose) and then make this face:

Photocredit: Allfunnyfaces.com

[teehehehee]

And then celebrate your rad body like this:

Photocredit: ICanHasCheezburger

[teehehehee]

Speaking of camels, have you ever seen a camel tongue? They are gigantic and black. I know this because a camel licked me once [I’d rather not talk about it, he didn’t even call me afterwards]. Ok, let’s get serious [sort of]. In honor of the immense gratitude I feel today, let’s explore camel pose a bit, shall we? First of all, if you have insomnia or high blood pressure, a simple hero pose will better suit you. Additionally, camel pose is not something you want to begin class with or spontaneously jump into. Once you’ve started moving and have done some preparatory poses such as bhujangasana, dhanurasana, and virasana (among others) should you consider ustrasana. After assessing how your body feels, prepare for camel (or a variation) by doing the following:

  1. Kneel on the knees with the toes tucked under. Keep the thighbones perpendicular to the floor and in line with the hip sockets. Rotate the thighbones internally and gently press the hips forward.
  2. Reach both arms up until they are shoulder height. If you’re comfortable here, lift up through the pelvic floor and lower abdomen while reaching the left fingertips forward and the right arm back toward the heels until it touches the right heel.
  3. Return to center and repeat on the other side.

If the exercise above felt manageable, proceed to the following:

  1. Tuck the toes under. Place the hands on the back of the pelvis with the fingertips pointing down.
  2. Lengthen upward through the spine and begin to bend back while keeping the head in line with the spine. Keep moving your pelvis forward, opening up the front body and bending back until the hands can rest on the heels.
  3. Stay here for five to ten deep, full breaths before returning the starting position. Open your heart. Emanate gratitude.
  4. If that felt manageable, then point the feet, pressing the ankles and shins into the floor, and repeating the posture one more time.
  5. To come out of this pose, lead with the sternum instead of the head.

*Two things to remember: tuck the pelvis under and encourage it forward even as you bend back AND lead with your heart.

[As my teacher says, always lead with your heart – on and off the mat]

If you’ve ventured into the full expression of the pose, be cautious not to strain your neck. Sarah Powers wrote a great (short) piece about Neck Placement in Ustrasana.

Is that enough for you to do in one evening? Surely you have just one more moment…..

to…

PUCKER UP!

 

Photocredit: Amazing World

MWAH and g’night, yogis! xx

Happy Hump-asana Day, fellow yogis! Get your minds out of the gutter – Hump-asana Day, traditionally known as Wednesday or “Hump Day” in lamens/working-folk tongue, is a mid-week yogi treat. Hump-asana Day features a snippet of a pose worth spending some time exploring. And since they’re ALL worth exploring, we’ll never run out of poses for Hump-asana Day – rejoice!

Will the Real Yogi(ni) Please Stand Up?

If you’ve perused the most recent issue of Yoga Journal, you noticed that in honor of Earth Day the publication’s focus this month is on promoting healthy seas and oceans. Featuring pieces on topics ranging from beach clean-up to water conservation ideas, there’s nothing overtly extraordinary about this issue, however, it struck me more than usual. Blame it on my beach baby-ness or just good timing, I was compelled to actually sit down and read the thing cover to cover [monumental. srsly]. Specifically, I was struck by Sally Kempton’s “Who Do You Think You Are?,” a piece that challenges us to relinquish our veils of self-articulated identity and awaken from the “trance” we operate within. She challenges us to ask ourselves what happens when parts of ourselves, whether material possessions or physical attributes, are “lost” – who, then, are we? Kempton uses the example of a yoga teacher who sustains an injury that affects her physical performance and a man who loses a lover. Both folks experience an identity crisis. They “lost” pieces of who they were, or who they perceived themselves to be, and felt identity-less without those things.

Discussion surrounding self-definition intrigues me, to say the least, considering a tumultuous late childhood and confusing college years. Moving 16 times before I was 18 years old, I was always the new girl, always out of place and struggling to carve out an identity niche in whatever new teenage society I found myself in. Constantly feeling like I was the only one out there with a confusing family climate [a laughable notion now!], I grasped at any definition I could find. I sought identity through men, peer groups, fashion styles, hobbies, my car [not kidding!], and whatever was there for me to grab onto. And, like the rest of us, at some point either these things were “taken” from me [“taken” because I felt that I was entitled to them] or life did that thing it does so well – things just changed. And then I asked, who am I? And I found another thing to grab onto, to identify with. The cycle repeated itself. That is, until I found yoga, which has a way of making you stare right back at yourself – naked and vulnerable…

Back to the article. Continue reading “Will the Real Yogi(ni) Please Stand Up?”

Buh-bye March, Hello April and YIOM!

This is me today:

Photocredit: Someecards.com

[psycho]

I have multiple issues with April Fool’s Day which relate directly back to getting the crap teased out of me as a child. Sparing you any grim childhood recollections, let’s talk about why we’re really here: YOGA! [and shoes, right?].

April kicks off YIOM or Yoga Inspiring Oneness Month, brainchild of Laurin from The VeganAsana, which aims to bring the yoga blogging community together to promote even more yoga [applaud here please]. We’ve committed to posting on at least three yoga-related topics per week for the entire month of April. Find YIOM participants and more details here [Bee-tee-dubs, YIOM has a rad blogroll. I am way humbled to be a part of it].

Check twitter for #YIOM and keep an eye out for this indicator of a YIOM-related post around the interweb this month:

In other news, I quit my soul-sucking big-girl job this week [yowza!] which means several things:

  1. Less Moschino, more Marshall’s;
  2. More yoga;
  3. More writing;
  4. More time to watch The Big Guy do his best Michael Cutter impression [what can I say? I’m a sucker for a guy in a suit].

Most notably in this list are #s 2 and 3: more yoga and writing. That’s right friends, the time has come and I’m breakin’ free of the 9 – 5 (plus) worked-to-the-bone-stuck-inside-a-fluorescent-lit-office lifestyle [hallelujah]. Can I get a witness? I said, CAN I GET A WITNESS?

Marvin Gaye rocks. And, did you see that dancing? That man just makes you want to move!

I digress.

So, more on the major life transition to come, along with a clothing review or two and some fun YIOM posts. For now, Happy Friday and keep on rockin’ on and off the mat [use Marvin Gaye jams at your discretion].

Love,

♥ VY

Happy Hump-asana Day Double Header: Pigeon and Eagle

Hey batta batta batta hey batta batta batta SAWING batta!

Ring a bell?

Bueller, Bueller? [Watch the clip here]

Photocredit: Yahoo Sports

Guess what, yogiloves? Tomorrow is MLB Opening Day!

[Try to contain your enthusiasm]

As a closet baseball die-hard and in honor of opening day tomorrow, today’s VY features not one but TWO Hump-asana poses, geared specifically towards baseball players [and grandmothers who occasionally indulge the tots in backyard t-ball games].

And if you’re not either a baseball player or a t-ball hustling grandma, do these poses anyway – your hips and shoulders will thank you.

Today’s Hump-asana treats: Pigeon and Eagle.

[and the crowd goes wiiiiiild!]

First up: Pigeon pose

If you know anything about batting mechanics or have an ex-boyfriend [or two…or three…err, whatevs, who’s counting?!] who played baseball, then you know that, although the movement seemingly comes from the upper body, swinging a bat (well) really comes from hip rotation. Tight hips = limited rotation = crappy swing.

Read the breakdown of Pigeon here.

Hint: Sit the hip of the bent leg on a block.

Next in the lineup: Eagle pose

[did somebody just start the wave?]

Whether pitching or hauling the ball across the diamond, range of motion in the shoulders of your throwing arm is key. Tight shoulders and back = no lasers across the backyard field. Get all wrapped up in eagle to prevent a torn labrum. The added mental bonus? Since eagle requires both flexibility and intense focus to balance, you’ll strengthen your brain-bone, too. And since baseball is such a mental game (like most sports), you’ll need that noggin’ in tip top shape!

Read the breakdown of Eagle here.

Hint: Relax the shoulders down like crazy.

[and don’t eat too many hotdogs]

Happy Hump-asana Day, fellow yogis! Get your minds out of the gutter – Hump-asana Day, traditionally known as Wednesday or “Hump Day” in lamens/working-folk tongue, is a mid-week yogi treat. Hump-asana Day features a snippet of a pose worth spending some time exploring. And since they’re ALL worth exploring, we’ll never run out of poses for Hump-asana Day – rejoice!

Signs of the [YTT] Beast

So, you’ve begun yoga teacher training. At first, you’re tired [very tired]. You juggle work/home/yoga, almost running from one venue to the next. It’s all very cerebral at first – you have a schedule, books to read, classes to attend, and things to learn for goodness sake! [exhilarating almost, especially for Type A’s]. A few weeks go by and then you lose it. You have that “I don’t think I can do this! / WHY am I doing this? / I’m very confused about my WHOLE LIFE!” breakdown. You cry. You call your mom [you’re just very confused – what is it that you want with your life?]. And just when you think you’ve completely cracked, something changes. You’re different. You wake up energized, alive, and hungry. Starving. You want the yoga – nay, you need the yoga. It’s like a fix. You have to have it. You think about it all the time and you do it all the time – in the morning, in the eve, in public, and on the internet [hello, yogaglo!]. You rock your stretch pants and Ganesha shirt, talking ayurveda and asana all day. Your diet changes. You refuse tomatoes at dinner because hello! tomatoes throw your dosha out of whack [at this point, friends and family are very confused]. Oh, and now it’s happened – it’s really happened, dear friends. You’re a YTT-Beast!

 

Photocredit: Wikia

[rawr]

Obsessed with everything yoga, you are incapable of thinking about or talking about anything else. If your behavior wasn’t such an excusable rite of passage, we could easily accuse you of being a Baby Yasshole. But it’s ok, you’re in YTT. Just reel it in a smidge once you get back into the real world [you can be a YogiBeast for life, just be a mature one].

For now, bask in your beast-ness.

[can I get another ‘rawr’ ?]

If there’s any doubt in your mind as to whether or not you wear the mark, following are a few signs you’ve entered YTT-Beast-dom:

  1. You chant. Incessantly [in your brain, out loud – all the time].
  2. You’ve memorized the class schedule of your local studio [at night before bed, visions of sugarplums MINDBODYONLINE dance in your little head].
  3. You can’t recall the last time you wore toenail polish.
  4. What’s more: You don’t care that you can’t remember the last time you wore toenail polish.
  5. You have no problem pronouncing Kombucha and ghee.
  6. Jeans feel itchy and binding [so do wool suits].
  7. You know what a Neti pot is and you know how to use it [and tell everyone how great it feels to catapult snot out of your head].
  8. Bodily functions seem to be appropriate topics for dinner conversation.
  9. Idle talk not about YOUR feelings and/or yoga is simply intolerable to you [hello, you’re in a meditative state here!]
  10. Unless it’s your mom or your significant other, you just stop picking up the phone. Period.

Alas, there are too many qualities to list. Feel free to add some of your own!

*YTT-Beast is in no way meant to categorize and/or insult. It’s just fun [VY is a self-admitted recovering YTT-Beast / definite occasional yasshole].

Happy Hump-asana Day: Tadasana / Mountain pose

Happy Hump-asana Day!

By now you’ve probably heard the news that Elizabeth Taylor died today [sigh]. Although at times recognized moreso for her series of marriages than for the diversity of her acting skills, Elizabeth Taylor played her fair share of women, from the immature but vain Amy March in “Little Women” to Cleopatra.

Phorocredit: Harper's Bazaar

Despite the variations in roles she was cast, Elizabeth Taylor’s on-screen personalities had one thing in common: beauty. In his lovely New York Times obituary published this morning, Mel Gussow (who died in 2005) wrote:

Marilyn Monroe was the sex goddess, Grace Kelly the ice queen, Audrey Hepburn the eternal gamine. Ms. Taylor was beauty incarnate.

Beauty aside, Elizabeth Taylor had her fair share of challenges. She lived very publicly through ups and downs, lovers new and old, health problems, and everything else this beautiful life gifted to her. Despite the ups and downs, Elizabeth rebounded and stood tall. And she owned uncertainty in her life, admitting she didn’t have all the answers. Questioned why she married so often, Elizabeth said simply [and frankly]: “I don’t know, honey. It sure beats the hell out of me.” Read the entire NYT article here.

So today, we salute Elizabeth Taylor, the ultimate glamour girl, not for her flawless facial features but for her beautifully flawed life. We salute her for getting knocked down and standing right back up [which, in my humble opinion, makes her even more beautiful].

Elizabeth Taylor, you were one strong, flawed, beautiful, loving, and real woman. Today is for you. Elizabeth not only stood tall emotionally but also stood tall literally. Check out one of her Cleopatra headdresses [they’re no joke!]:

Elizabeth standing tall as Cleopatra

Today’s Hump-asana Day pose: Tadasana (Mountain pose)

Although tadasana is a simple standing pose, don’t just hang around. Get sturdy – get strong. Practice tadasana by itself, without worrying about transitioning to and from a sequence. Follow suit with Elizabeth and stand tall. Check out Ralph Miller’s video for a great step-by-step on building the foundation:

Focus especially on encouraging your collar bones downward and releasing your shoulders down your back [read: no shoulder earrings]. It might seem like a confusing combination but as you press down with the shoulders and collarbone, lift your sternum up towards the sky. Lift the chin parallel with the floor and relax the face. Gaze forward and smile for Liz.

🙂

Happy Hump-asana Day, fellow yogis! Get your minds out of the gutter – Hump-asana Day, traditionally known as Wednesday or “Hump Day” in lamens/working-folk tongue, is a mid-week yogi treat. Hump-asana Day features a snippet of a pose worth spending some time exploring. And since they’re ALL worth exploring, we’ll never run out of poses for Hump-asana Day – rejoice!

Happy Hump-asana Day: Toe Crunch Asana

Hey, hey, Happy Hump-asana Day, friends! It’s a bit late in the day but we can celebrate nonetheless.

In honor of my class last night, today’s Hump-asana pose is Toe Crunch Asana (a very unofficial name!).

You know those poses you love to hate/hate to love? The ones your teacher tells you that you need the most since you’re so resistant to them? Well, toe crunch asana is one of those poses for many yogis (especially high-heel wearing ladies). So, let’s take a moment to give our piggies a little bit more attention, mmmkay?

Start on all fours, tuck your toes under, and sit back onto your heels like so:

 

PhotoCredit: Ulrika Laan

Take a few breaths here [wow!].

Now, this might be excruciating uncomfortable enough for you. You might even want to keep your butt elevated – if so, that’s fine, just make sure to tuck the toes under for a stretch. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT compromise your knees in this posture – as always, stop where you need to stop.

If you feel comfortable going a bit further, walk your hands back and open your chest, adding some ustrasana to this pose. Again, take a few breaths.

This pose might not look like much but runners and stiletto-wearers (and actually, everyone!) beware, the sensation can be pretty intense. Take it one breath at a time and build up to holding the stretch gradually.

When you’re ready, rock forward and release your toes. Gently circle your ankles and let the blood flow back into your toe creases [WHEW!]. Your piggies will thank you.

 

Thanks from your piggies!

That’s all I’ve got today 🙂

Happy Hump-asana Day, fellow yogis! Get your minds out of the gutter – Hump-asana Day, traditionally known as Wednesday or “Hump Day” in lamens/working-folk tongue, is a mid-week yogi treat. Hump-asana Day features a snippet of a pose worth spending some time exploring. And since they’re ALL worth exploring, we’ll never run out of poses for Hump-asana Day – rejoice!

Getting to Know You: Live.Breathe.Grow.

Searching for answers on the web sometime around 2am, in typical fashion, I stumbled across Live.Breathe.Grow.’s Happy Buddha tee complete with [you guessed it!] a fat, happy Buddha on the front and a back that reads “I am Peace. I am Love. I am Happiness. I am Me.” [I had to have it].

How can you disagree?

My purchase sparked an email, a note, a Facebook exchange and, [poof!] somehow, I was blessed with discovering the pair of truly inspirational and beautiful women behind LBG’s operation. I am honored to share their story in this Getting to Know You series.

Nancy and Terra met at teacher training in 2009 and although they didn’t know it yet, they were on the verge of something really beautiful: Live.Breathe.Grow. A company that’s mission embodies its name entirely, LBG offers yoga and wellness sessions ranging from self-indulgent Valentine’s day treats to pre-natal workshops. LBG encourages women to embrace their inner light and “nourish their roots” not only through its hands-on classes but also through its inspirational apparel that just so happens to be 100% organic [and adorable to boot!].

These thoughtful ladies were kind enough to indulge in a little Q & A, VY style. Read on:

VY:  Tell us about a “day in the life” as a yoga teacher and clothing designer?

NANCY: “Clothing Designer,” hmmm… I’m not sure we’ve completely come to the place of ownership of that term yet but this question really made me realize that we  are, in fact, clothing designers – hah! What I can tell you is that there is no typical “day in the life.” Because our company is still just a baby, every day is predictably unpredictable, although Terra and I definitely arrange our schedules each day around what yoga class we know we want to take for our personal practice. We generally go over the to-do list the night before and hit the ground running the next day. Our first task most mornings is to check in with Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, etc. If orders were placed the day before we make sure to send them out that morning. We often spend time selling t-shirts out of our car trunks because, without fail,  after taking a yoga class, people ask us about the shirts we’re wearing and where they can get them. Then we get together and start working on the agenda of the day, which can be anything from developing/designing our line, answering emails, coming up with specials, updating our social media sites, answering emails, blogging, research on new potential products, writing a lot of copy for our ever-evolving website, talking to interested studio owners about booking trunk shows, workshops or going over wholesale information. We’ve also been developing our affiliate program – The Kavaiyla Warriors. In the evenings, one of us is usually teaching classes (Terra teaches adults and pre – and post-natal and I teach kids). We recently acquired an official LBG office space (which is something we’re presently celebrating!) which will help build some sort of daily schedule.

VY: Since difficulties must arise even in a dream job, what motivates you every day? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

TERRA: After 6 years of practicing corporate law, getting out of bed in the morning for anything else is a dream! I think that when you do something that you’re passionate about, even the biggest headaches seem minor. There’s nothing I love more about my “job” than watching someone fall in love with yoga and seeing from an outside perspective how much joy and peace it brings to their life.

NANCY: What gets me out of bed in the morning is every woman I know and don’t know who feel good about wearing a t-shirt that I have lovingly created with the intention of supporting them in their life’s journey. Does this sound corny? Well, I don’t really care! It’s the truth. Every time a woman feels good about putting on one of our t-shirts and literally feels stronger, happier, lighter, more grounded by embodying the message it carries – I feel filled with love and gratitude and unending energy to move forward.

VY: 10 years ago, did you envision yourselves involved in something like LBG? Continue reading “Getting to Know You: Live.Breathe.Grow.”

The Yoga of Mass Transit

The New York trip was lovely. In sum, it was a mix of family time, good food [holy overeating/overmargarita-ing at Alma in Brooklyn], a walk in Central Park and through the farmer’s market, a trip to meet Dharma [call me a groupie, I don’t care because O.M.G. HE IS AMAZING!], a jaunt through Eataly and H&M [swoon], more family time, a broken umbrella, and general ogling of the little adorable bump in my sister-in-law’s belly. The good news: I only froze to death a few times. The bad news: I was pooped by 10 p.m. every night.

New York: 1. Amanda: 0.

That’s ok, I’m a Sox fan anyway.

Poor judgment?

Not that big of a fan.. [Good Lord, girl, that’s commitment!]

Quick! Shift your eyes here:

Baller AND Cancer survivor

Mmm, he’s dreamy… [but not as dreamy as you, big guy]

Anyway, back to the trip. I found yet another pro to practicing: yoga is a coping mechanism for mass transit [and, no, I’m not suggesting you strike a yoga pose Madonna-style on your flight]. I mean, through meditation and breathing exercises, you too can survive even the most horrific situations. See, although we yogis and yoginis believe in non-violence (ahimsa) and avoidance of impurities of speech (saucha), to name a few, still, experiencing the abhorrent behavior of some people can really make you wanna strangle lovingly embrace them. And that’s where the yoga comes in – the emotional, non-reactionary stuff we’re all supposed to practice. You know, that whole no one person is better than another and have compassion, you don’t know the life circumstances of another sort of stuff. If you want to survive the harshest of conditions, it’s pretty simple: breathe. It’s as simple as using the same breath and meditation techniques as you would during hip openers. I mean, you can’t tell me you don’t internally scream obscenities in pigeon pose [I know you do]. So next time you’re traveling or just stuck like a sardine somewhere and can’t move your asana, use the other part of your yoga that overcomes hip openers or other rough poses.

Following are examples of folks you may encounter while traveling that will provide you the opportunity to employ your yoga [caution – these scenarios will challenge even the most compassionate of souls]: Continue reading “The Yoga of Mass Transit”