Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

15-Minute Sequences: Morning Energy Burst! August 19, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:09 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences (I’m over halfway there!). Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s sequence, Morning Energy Burst!, loosens up the body and gets the blood flowing with some sun salutations – perfect for your sunrise practice! Take your time and match each movement in the sun salutation to a long, deep, even breath, and hold the lunges for at least five breaths on each side. A great way to start the day!

  • begin standing in mountain pose
  • 2 half salutes
  • one sun salutation with low lunges
  • one sun salutation with high lunges
  • 2-4 basic sun salutations
  • mountain pose
  • toe balance squat
  • camel pose
  • seated neck rolls
  • seated side stretches
  • three deep breaths with hands folded at heart’s center
My playlist: Bhagavan Das, “Shiva Gospel” from the album Now, or Beats Antique, “Egyptic” and “Runaway”, the first few tracks on Blind Threshold

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.


15-Minute Sequences: Seated August 15, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:22 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s Seated sequence probably runs 10-12 minutes instead of 15, but consider taking an extra-long hold in each pose to maximize your enjoyment. Begin in a comfortable seated posture (cross-legged if you’re able, but it’s more important to sit comfortably), and keep your tush planted for the entire routine.

My playlist: self-titled album by Lotus

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.


15-Minute Sequences: Gentle Wake Up August 12, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:00 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s sequence, Gentle Wake Up, warms up the body gently on those days when you just don’t feel like crawling out of bed.

My playlist: Krishna Das, “Mountain Chalisa” and “Nina Chalisa” from Flow of Grace; or “Govinda” by Ben Leinbach and Jai Uttal, Music for Yoga and Other Joys

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.


Mornings November 20, 2012

Filed under: reflections — R. H. Ward @ 1:00 pm
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Yesterday YogaBaby had her four-month doctor visit and some vaccinations, which didn’t agree with her, so she was up every two hours fussing during the night. I’ve adjusted to a lot of the changes of motherhood, but not the lack of sleep, especially when I feed her at 5 am, drift off again at 5:15, and wake up with the alarm at 6. I spent a good amount of breakfast time whining to my husband, who had given up on sleep after that 5 am feeding and gotten up, and who had to be at least as tired as I was. The baby, of course, was peacefully sleeping.

After breakfast I went into the bathroom. The sun was just coming up, so I left the lights off, and looked out the window at the brightening sky behind my neighbors’ houses, and the bare tree branches silhouetted against the dark gray sky overhead. It reminded me of how I used to exercise in the early morning: yoga on our enclosed porch, watching that sky brighten through the big windows as I saluted the sun, or jogging in the cold crisp air, getting acquainted with the colors of the trees and the rabbits, squirrels, and sometimes deer in my neighborhood. Feeling my feet connecting, first thing in the morning, with my mat or the sidewalk or the beaten trail through the park. How solitary I had felt, how good and strong.

If this were fiction, this is the part where I’d realize that giving that up for now is all worth it in my new life as a mother, and I’d leave the bathroom window refreshed by my memories and with a renewed sense of purpose. But this is real life, and I am tired. I miss being outside in the cool air; I miss feeling flexible and strong and powerful, in touch with my own breath and my inner spirit. I miss being by myself. I took a long shower and washed my hair. Then I went in to feed the baby, and she looked up at me with her big grey-brown eyes, full of trust, and she gave me her big good morning smile. And I smiled back.


[Note for my future reference, and for those following the ongoing sleep saga: this post was hand-written last Thursday morning, after a doctor visit on Wednesday evening, and it took a while to type up. Since then the sleep has gotten worse, and even worse, and then last night slightly better.]


Wake-Up Yoga, Incorporating Dance Warmups for the Neck September 29, 2011

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:45 pm
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The past few mornings, I’ve been doing a fun little wake-up yoga routine that only takes about 10 minutes. Sometimes it can be hard to get my yoga on first thing in the morning, so I’ve tried to find ways to get myself moving that aren’t too strenuous and won’t seem like a lot of work pre-coffee. This little practice can be done entirely while seated (and in pajamas) and incorporates some basic stretches, some yoga moves, and a series of neck warmups that I learned in African dance class. The neck warmups in particular really help to relieve tension, so I thought I’d share the love. A little practice like this is a great way to trick your grumpy sleep-deprived self into doing some yoga, and afterwards you’ll feel refreshed.

As you move through this warmup, always be careful to move gently and not too quickly, and don’t push past your natural range of motion. As you practice, you’ll probably be able to turn farther and move deeper, but if not, don’t worry about it: just gently work with where your neck happens to be today.

  • Put on some music you like: something with a good beat but not too fast. It’s fun to do this warmup in time with music, but moving your neck too quickly could hurt! Don’t let the music distract you; it’s just there for the rhythm and to add some fun. You should always practice with awareness, especially any stretch involving your neck.
  • Sit comfortably, either in a chair or on the floor, with your back straight. If you’re on a chair, you probably want to sit on the edge of the chair; if on the floor, straighten your spine and sit up nice and tall.
  • Start off with some gentle neck circles, slowly circling your head around as if you’re trying to trace a giant circle in the air with your nose. Do eight circles clockwise, then eight circles counterclockwise.
  • Come back to a neutral neck, then drop your chin down to your chest and look down. Then lift your head, dropping it back, and look up. Repeat this for eight counts: down, up, down, up.
  • Next, turn your head and look to the right. Then turn your head and look to the left. Repeat for eight counts: right, left, right, left.
  • Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder, tilting your head. Then drop your left ear toward your left shoulder. Repeat for eight counts: side, side, side, side.
  • Now combine them together: down, up, right, left, side, side. That’s one. Do the full series eight times. If it feels good, do it another eight!
  • Next, jut your chin forward and then tuck it back, like a bird pecking. We call this “the funky chicken”. Repeat for eight counts: peck, peck, peck.
  • Shake your head, as if your neck is a spring and your head is going boi-oi-oing. (This is a small motion, like the side-side tilt above – not a full side-to-side shake or a headbang, just enough to shake out the kinks.) We call this “the bobblehead”. Shake it for eight counts.
  • Alternate the Funky Chicken move and the Bobblehead move, eight counts each, repeating each move three or four times.
  • Come back to a neutral neck. Stretch it out a little more by dropping right ear to right shoulder, then use your right hand to press your head gently down, stretching through the left side of the neck. Repeat this stretch by dropping the head to the left, and then drop the head forward and use both hands to apply gentle pressure, stretching down the back of the neck (make sure you’re sitting up straight for these stretches, and be cautious as you apply the pressure!).

I love this neck warmup at any time of day, but it seems especially refreshing first thing in the morning when my neck is stiff from sleep.

I also work in some arm stretches, which is great for a morning practice – I always want to stretch my arms first thing in the morning anyway. Stretch straight up overhead, then grasp one wrist and pull, then switch and grasp the other wrist, getting a nice stretch down each side.

Here’s one nice stretch that I just learned from Better Sex Through Yoga: lift your right arm to shoulder height out to the side, and flex your wrist so that your whole arm is engaged and your right palm is facing away from you like you’re stopping traffic. Turn your head and look to the left, away from the outstretched arm. Then do the other side. I was floored when I tried this – if you sit in an office typing all day, this stretch is amazing!

If you’re practicing on the floor, try beginning the practice in child’s pose and then move into rabbit pose to get the shoulders involved too. If you’re in a chair, you can get the same effect by bending forward, clasping your hands behind your back, and stretching up as you continue to bend.

Work in a twist or two as well, turning your body to one side, then the other, using a hand on the opposite knee for leverage as you look over your shoulder.

After a 10-15 minute practice, all the stiffness of sleep has dissolved away and I’m ready to face the day! And all without doing a single standing posture!