A simple sequence to get some movement in

Here’s a simple yoga sequence that can be done anytime you need some movement. I wish I would have thought about this during my 7 hour layover at the airport last month!

1) Opening breath– Begin seated with your legs crossed and eyes shut, inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose with your lips sealed lightly shut. Do this for 2-3 minutes, then slowly open your eyes and make your way to all fours.

2) Downward facing dog to plank flow– From all fours, move into downward facing dog and hold here for a few breaths. Roll up on the tips of your toes and inhale as you roll forward into plank pose, then exhale as you move back into downward facing dog. Flow between these two poses for 10 breaths. •A modification for this would be to stay on all fours, and flow between all fours (or even child’s pose) and kneeling plank.

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3) Warrior 1- From down dog, step forward with your right foot placing it between your hands at the center of the mat. Then ground your left foot on the mat, turning it at a 45 degree angle. Grab your hips and slowly roll up. Look down and make sure both of your heels are aligned, and then lunge into the right knee. Make sure right knee isn’t going past your ankle (that might require you to walk your right foot up a few inches). When you have your foot placement set, grab on to your hips again and turn both shoulders towards the front of the mat, reaching your arms up towards the ceiling. Hold here, looking straight ahead and breath for 10 breaths.

4) Humble Warrior- From in warrior 1, bring your arms behind your back and clasp your hands together. Inhale as you bend back slightly reaching your heart (chest) forward. Then exhale, folding forward, bringing your right shoulder in towards the inside of your right knee. Your hands will begin to float up towards the ceiling, and maybe towards the front of the room. Hold here for 6 breaths, then slowly ground your hands on the mat on either side of your front foot.

Step back to down dog and repeat steps 3 and 4 on the opposite side.

 

Yoga and beginners: My advice to a new yoga student

So many times I’ve heard a person say they tried yoga once and never want to try it again. When I ask why, it’s usually because the person went to a class that was too hard for them and ended up leaving class feeling defeated.

Hearing stories like this makes my heart hurt. No one should ever feel bad after taking a yoga class. It’s so important for people new to yoga, and even people who’ve been practicing for a while, to understand that they don’t have to be able to do every yoga pose after their first class, or their 1ooth class for that matter. A person can take yoga classes for years and still have new things to learn. For example, I’m 25 and I’ve been doing yoga for almost four years and whenever we work on inversions in class, I usually hang out on my mat in child’s pose. On the other hand, my 51-year old mother practices inversions all the time for fun. She tells me she never would have practiced inversions when she was my age because she didn’t like being upside down. So funny. I was told once (or maybe more than once) during a class that yoga is about the journey, not the destination. I love that because it’s so true.

If you are one of those people that swore you’d never take another yoga class because of a bad first experience, give it another try. If you have been putting off trying yoga for the first time ever because you don’t know what to expect, please come try a class and see that it’s not so bad. Just be sure you go to a class that is beginner friendly!

Here are some tips all people who are new to yoga should know. 

  • If you are taking a class and the teacher says to do a pose that doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to do it. Just because you can’t do a pose doesn’t mean you are “bad at yoga.” You will get there someday, maybe, and if not it’s ok. Remember, yoga is about the journey, not the destination!
  • Just because the class time might be convenient for you that day doesn’t mean the class is right for you. Do a little research online or call the studio to get some information about which class you should start with. Most yoga studios have classes for all levels, so there’s plenty of room for you to grow in your yoga practice!
  • Don’t compare yourself to other people in class. You are in class for YOU. Leave your ego at the door, please.
  • Don’t give up on yoga. Maybe you took a class that wasn’t the right one for you. Maybe you didn’t like the way the instructor taught. Don’t worry, everyone eventually finds a place in the yoga world that works for them.

Written by Kelsea, a yoga instructor and student at Radiant Yoga

Keeping the heat flowing during the colder seasons

During the colder seasons the body takes longer to warm up. There’s a solution to that though, more movement. A room of yogis moving together raises the temperature almost as well as our Radiant heaters. The more you move, the more heat you build in your body and around you.

Movement

If you feel like you aren’t getting what you need during your practice it’s always ok to add in some extra movement to create heat in your body, just like it’s ok to do less movement when you need to cool off and rest. Add in a few more vinyasa flows when an opportunity comes. If you prefer not to flow, you can do some cat cows on all fours or seated cat cows.

Breath

Remember to keep breathing. Ujjayi breath, or victorious breath, builds internal heat as well. Ujjayi breath is done by breathing in and out through the nose with the lips sealed shut. When you inhale and exhale through your nose with your lips sealed you maintain the heat that’s inside your body.

Kindness

As yogis, we often hear the words “be kind.” This can be a pitfall for a lot of us. If yogis are supposed to be kind, what happens when we become human and feel emotions that make us want to behave unkindly? Does that make us non-yogi?

Let’s face it, even the kindest people can be pushed to their limits where they want to scissor kick or go all spider monkey on someone. It’s human nature.

Kindness word cloud concept with love help related tags

So, how do we overcome this pitfall and truly embrace kindness when someone is undeserving of kindness? First, we need to understand that people may intentionally or unintentionally do things to hurt us and it is not our job to teach the person a lesson by being unkind in response. It is life’s job to teach the lesson. Everyone is walking their own path learning from the lessons that life is giving. Some people still have a lot to learn. Responding in an unkind way would only cause more harm, mostly to ourselves. It certainly doesn’t feel good to be unkind to someone, even if they have been unkind to us.

So how DO we respond? When someone has hurt us, we do not have to be their friend or go to lunch with them anytime soon. What we need to do is show kindness to OURSELVES by letting go of hurt, anger and resentment, knowing holding on to those emotions only hurts ourselves in the long run. We can then move forward and trust that life has a way of teaching people the lessons they need to learn without our help. After all, life is an echo and what we put out comes back to us.

Using Yoga Props During Class

I’m in a yoga class and the teacher has us start out sitting cross-legged on our mat. She walks over to another student and gives him a block, telling him to sit on it. He looks around the room at the other students in class and looks uncomfortable because no one else is sitting on a block. “Is that cheating?” the student asks. The teacher kindly explained to the new yogi that because his hips are tight, sitting on a block will help him sit up straighter so he didn’t slouch. He placed the block under him and his face went from confused to comfortable when he sat on the block and immediately grew taller.

yoga equipment

There has been several times when situations like that have happened, so I think it’s important for people, whether they are new to yoga or are experienced and just need a reminder, to know that blocks and other props such as bolsters, blankets and straps are there to help you enhance poses. They are not “crutches” and using these props won’t make you a cheater or prove you are weaker than others. Everyone’s bodies are built differently and certain poses might not be achievable without the help of a prop. For example, in triangle pose if someone tries putting their hand on the ground and their top shoulder rolls forward, they are missing the whole point of the stretch, which is to open and expand through the chest. When they place the grounded hand on a block, that person is able to roll the top shoulder back, feeling the stretch.

So, if you are in yoga class and the instructor comes over and hands you a prop, don’t be offended or let your ego get in the way. Take the opportunity to expand your practice and get the full benefits of the pose.