Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Yoga for Better Sex Sequence November 2, 2011

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:41 pm
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This sequence of poses will get you moving and warm up all the necessary places for a great time in the bedroom! For each pose, I’ve included a brief explanation of what it does and how it can improve your sex life.

child’s pose relaxing, centering
cat/cow tilt

This pose wakes up the spine, stimulating the natural flow of energy through the chakras and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Also, being familiar with the subtle movements of the pelvis will help in the bedroom.
downward dog Downward dog stretches and strengthens the entire body!
forward fold Forward folds open up the back and massage the internal organs.
5 half-salutes Half-salutes are meditative, promoting focus and awareness of the present moment.
2 full salutations The sun salutation is a series of poses linked together gracefully. Sun salutations serve to limber up the body for yoga practice. The poses in the sun salutation alternately stretch, expand, and contract the entire body, making it great for overall health, fitness, and stamina.
goddess pose Standing poses are good for overall fitness, strengthening the entire body, especially the legs, and building heat in the body. These poses really stretch and work the thighs and hips, as well as toning the extended arms, and standing poses help to improve stamina too.
warrior 1
warrior 2
triangle
side angle
half moon Half moon pose opens the hips and includes a balancing element.
Repeat standing sequence, other side
crane pose Balancing poses encourage a calm, focused mind, improve concentration, and remind us to stay in the present moment.
tree pose
squat (transition to seated) Squatting is excellent work for the pelvic floor muscles and also opens the hips.
cobbler pose This pose increases blood flow to the pelvis and opens the root chakra, which helps to cleanse and energize the sexual organs. The pose opens up and promotes greater flexibility in the hips.
boat pose This pose warms up the core and gets blood flowing in the pelvic region.
wide-legged forward fold This pose works and stretches the hips, thighs, and groin and opens the root and sacral chakras, and it increases blood flow to these regions.
locust pose This pose opens the chest and heart center, and the act of lifting and squeezing the legs stimulates the sexual core.
bridge pose This pose stretches and elevates the pelvis, hips, and thighs. It’s also a chest and heart opener.
reclining spinal twist Twisting wrings out the toxins from our internal organs, promoting good health.
savasana Savasana is the most important yoga pose for healthy sex. In savasana we learn how to relax, how to be in the present moment, and how to be comfortable with the stillness within yourself, which is what will allow you to connect deeply with another person.
 

Hip-centric Sequence October 13, 2011

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:40 pm
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One of the students in my little yoga class has tight hips despite a lot of flexibility elsewhere, so I came up with this sequence to challenge that student a bit. (And then, of course, he got stuck at work and couldn’t make it to class, but we went ahead and did the sequence anyway last night, and I liked it well enough that I’ll pull it out again later!)

  • child’s pose
  • cat/cow and curving side stretches
  • down dog
  • down dog twist
  • 5 half salutes
  • 2 full sun salutations (first time, regular high/low lunge; second time with lunge twist)
  • standing sequence:
    • warrior 1
    • warrior 2
    • radiant warrior
    • triangle pose
    • half moon
    • wide-legged standing forward bend
    • goddess pose
  • standing sequence other side
  • tree pose
  • seated poses:
    • squat
    • cradle
    • cobbler
    • forward bend
    • seated twist
    • pigeon
  • bridge pose
  • savasana

I particularly loved doing goddess pose last night. It was fun to teach, and it just feels empowering to do. I think I’ll be pulling this out more often!

 

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!

 

Home Yoga Class, September 21 September 22, 2011

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 3:34 pm
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Last night’s yoga class was possibly my best yet. (I really like this thing where every class I teach is my best one yet. If I keep this up, pretty soon I’ll be a yoga superstar.) I taught a sequence I came up with a few weeks ago that focuses on breath and on thighs, with the idea that poses that are tough on the thighs are an opportunity to lengthen and deepen the breath. Everyone seemed to enjoy the class even though it was hard work.

I started out by teaching ujjayi breathing (which apparently I did only partially successfully, since I ended up really confusing my husband, so I’m planning to go over it again next week in case anyone else was confused and didn’t say so). Then we went through the following sequence of postures:

  • child’s pose
  • thread the needle
  • downward dog shifting to plank
  • locust
  • lifting to plank and back to downward dog
  • forward fold
  • 4 half salutes
  • 2 classic sun salutations (low lunge the first time, high lunge the second time)
  • chair pose (everyone was so excited!)
  • standing sequence:
    • warrior 1
    • warrior 2
    • radiant warrior
    • side angle pose
    • triangle
  • standing sequence on the other side
  • crane pose, transitioning directly to eagle pose
  • camel
  • hero
  • cobbler
  • seated forward fold
  • bridge pose
  • savasana

Everyone commented that it was both a challenging class and a really good class. I was glad that it was challenging both for my beginner and for my more experienced students.

 

Relaxation Sequence July 22, 2011

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 2:37 pm
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For last month’s homework, I had to prepare a relaxation sequence – the sort of thing I’d say out loud during savasana at the end of a yoga class. Here’s what I came up with. Feel free to imagine me saying this aloud in a calm, soothing voice.

Let’s start getting ready for savasana: do any last pose or twist you need to do, then come down to lie on your mat. Make sure you’re warm enough, arrange your clothing so nothing’s bothering you, and we’ll prepare the body for relaxation.

First, flex your feet: curl your toes, really tense the feet… and relax them.

Now tense your legs: engage your calf muscles, squeeze your thighs, really tighten… and relax.

Tighten your tush, squeeze it hard, really flex… and relax.

Now squeeze your belly, tighten your abs, pull it really tight… and relax.

Curl your hands into fists, squeeze them hard, flex the arms, tighten the arm muscles, push… and relax.

Pull up your shoulders, squeeze them up toward your ears, really press hard… and relax.

Now squeeze your face: scrunch up your nose and mouth and forehead, really squeeze… and relax.

Release all the tension from your body, and feel your whole body relax. Feel the floor holding you up. Let your body be heavy; let yourself just sink down into the floor and rest. Let your mind rest too: just watch your breath move in and out, in and out. Let all your worries go for just a few minutes and luxuriate here.

Savasana

I’d give the students several minutes to relax in savasana. Then I’d invite them to begin to bring movement back to the body – wiggling fingers and toes – and to roll onto one side, then up to a comfortable seated position. After a moment of meditation, we’d all say “namaste” and the class would be over.

 

Hangover Sequence May 27, 2011

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:30 pm
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In honor of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I present you with a sequence of yoga poses designed to help with hangovers! (Or, if you prefer, to help with headache pain and remove toxins from the body.)

  • begin in child’s pose (briefly! and don’t just stay there!)
  • rabbit pose to start the warm-up
  • come up to all fours for some cat/dog tilt (also called cat/cow)
  • thread-the-needle side stretches
  • step forward and up to standing (yes, really, it will do you good)
  • 2 rounds of half sun salutes
  • 2 classic sun salutations (nice and slow now!)
  • standing sequence: warrior 1, warrior 2, radiant warrior, triangle pose, revolved triangle
  • standing sequence, other side
  • tree pose for balance
  • come to the floor for cobbler pose and paschimottanasana
  • marichyasana and janu sirsasana with a twist (these seated twists will wring the toxins out of your internal organs)
  • if time allows, take another seated twist (for example, adding a twist to a simple cross-legged pose)
  • inversion: legs-up-the-wall (no need to get complicated here, your head’s throbbing enough already)
  • sivasana (and maybe a nap)

I hope this sequence helps you have a terrific weekend! I’ll be trying it out on at least a few friends, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you’d like to read more about how yoga can help a hangover and learn why I chose these particular poses for this sequence, check out this article in the New York Times and this post at Elysium Yoga.

 

Beginners’ One-Hour Class Sequence May 16, 2011

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:12 pm
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The sequence below would be appropriate for a beginners’ one-hour class. I practiced and timed this sequence earlier this week. For most poses, I held the pose for a count of seven of my breaths (a beginning student would be likely to have shorter breaths than I do; my breath tends to be shorter than N’s or J’s, so they’d probably count each pose at five breaths to my seven, while a beginner might count eight or ten breaths, or just hang on until it’s over!).

  • child’s pose
  • rabbit pose
  • cat/dog tilt
  • side stretches
  • downward dog; transition to standing
  • half sun salutes X 4
  • class sun salutations with lunges X 2
  • mountain pose
  • vinyasa (transition to wide-leg standing poses)
  • warrior 1
  • warrior 2
  • radiant warrior
  • triangle pose
  • revolved triangle
  • head-to-knee pose
  • pigeon pose
  • one-legged downward dog
  • vinyasa
  • repeat wide-legged standing pose sequence (warrior 1 to pigeon) on the other side
  • vinyasa; transition back to mountain pose
  • tree pose
  • paschimottanasana (seated forward fold)
  • if time allows: cobbler pose
  • if time allows: seated twist
  • if time allows: camel or bridge
  • inversion: legs-up-the-wall or shoulderstand
  • fish pose
  • sivasana
  • brief meditation