Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Yoga Link Round-Up August 1, 2014

I’ve been collecting links for a while, so here’s a link round-up!

  • Mother and 4-Year-Old Daughter Take Impressive Pictures Of Their Yoga Poses: I linked this in a¬†recent post about practicing yoga with YB, but I just can’t get over this. It makes me a little teary, actually. I love these photos: I love the joyful looks on their faces, I love the little girl’s obvious commitment to each pose, I love their matching pants. I would love to do a photo shoot like this with my YB someday, but clearly I need to step up my game because there are some arm balances here that I just can’t pull off. ūüôā
  • A Selection from the Hammer Museum at UCLA’s Contemporary Collection: Katie Grinnan’s Mirage: To create this fascinating sculpture, Grinnan “cast multiple molds of her body executing a sun salutation”. I find the piece exhilarating, exciting, and also a little creepy.
  • The Strength-Building Yoga Pose That Tons of People Do Wrong: Related to sun salutations, I love this informative video from superstar yogini Kathryn Budig on how to chaturanga properly without hurting yourself.
  • Bending the Rules to Offer Yoga With a Beer Chaser: My father-in-law sent me the link to this NYT article about yoga classes in breweries, offering a beer tasting after class. While I love both yoga and craft beer, I’m really not sure how I feel about this. I find that yoga, like running or dancing or working out, makes me feel fresh and healthy and connected to my body; afterwards I typically want a glass of water, a banana, a salad, a smoothie. I just don’t feel like beer would taste¬†right after a yoga practice – but believe me, I’d try it! And I think it’s fantastic that classes like this are leading people to yoga and helping them build a practice that can extend beyond the brewery.
  • Yoga Every Damn Day: My husband sent me the link to this piece about how, when we’re dealing with other issues in our lives and can’t make it to the yoga mat, we’re still practicing yoga every damn day. I don’t know Angela Arnett but I admire her strength and calm in this piece.
  • Pope Francis Reveals Secrets of Happiness: Can I tell you how much I love Pope Francis? He seems to be so full of kindness and peace, focused on loving and helping and supporting people. Everything he lists here is also discussed by Matthieu Ricard, former scientist and Buddhist monk, in his book Happiness, and seems to be in agreement with everything I’ve ever heard or read from the Dalai Lama, including the concepts discussed in The Art of Happiness. When the Catholic Pope and the Dalai Lama¬†agree about how you should live your life, I feel like there’s something right happening.
  • And finally, for your giggle for the day:¬†Men in Yoga Pants.

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

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:09 am
Tags: , , ,

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.


April Yoga Weekend: Friday night practice on sun salutations April 27, 2011

Filed under: teacher training,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 3:05 pm
Tags: , ,

On Friday night I found out that this month is… Asana Month! Last month was intensive study on the yamas and niyamas, and this month will be intensive study on poses. Really excited about this, but on the other hand, I do wish this month was something more bookish that could be easily done in a plane, train, or automobile. F and I have a LOT of travel going on in May, which will make time on the mat more difficult to come by. I predict much grumping and whining in my future (but then, that’s pretty much the norm).

After group sharing on Friday, N gave us a handout that covered general guidelines for asana practice (I’ll come back to this in a later post), guidelines for sequencing a yoga class, and notes on each type of yoga posture: sun salutations, backbends, standing postures, twists, etc. On Friday night, we went through sun salutations in detail, papers¬† and notebooks open next to our mats, practicing and taking notes and practicing some more. I felt so pumped up – yes, this is exactly what I want to be doing! It was really exciting, doing poses and talking through them and asking questions about nitpicky details of alignment.

I’ve been doing sun salutations for over eight years (longer if you count Paul and Caroline teaching me a sun salutation after our college production of Children of Eden). Sun salutations always follow the same basic format – reaching up, folding forward, stepping/jumping back, backbend, downward-facing dog, stepping up, and rising back up – but there are variations in how some teachers teach sun salutations. It seems like something so basic to most people’s yoga practice, but I’ve always wondered about those variations. (For those who aren’t familiar with sun salutations, here’s the Wikipedia page about sun salutations, and I’ve linked a few videos below.)

N & J recommend teaching the “classic” form of sun salutation for a beginner class. This form takes out some of the more difficult elements. Instead of jumping or hopping back, you step one leg back into a lunge, hold for a few breaths, then step the other foot back to plank position. You then lower gently down to the belly (rather than doing a chaturanga push up), and take Sphinx or Cobra pose (rather than upward-facing dog). Press back to down-dog as usual, then step one foot forward to do the lunge on the other side, before stepping both feet up to the hands and completing the sequence.

Other common variations are Sun Salutations A and B. In A, you step or jump both feet all the way back, skipping the lunge, and typically you do chaturanga and upward dog. Sun Salutation B starts with chair pose and also includes Warrior 1.  (Here are videos of an incredibly flexible guy doing Sun Salutation A and  Sun Salutation B.)

I’m more used to doing Sun Salutation A, so it was actually a little challenging for me when I started attending classes at this studio and doing the “classic” sun salutation. The lunges were really hard when I wasn’t used to them! Now, though, I can appreciate it more. In the past, doing A, I was used to moving on every inhale and exhale, while with the classic version, each pose can be held for a few breaths, which can allow for a deeper experience of the pose while still building heat in the body. I find that slowing my sun salutations down this way can also help me to improve my alignment in tiny ways, creating a better experience.

Friday night’s class was useful because we were able to analyze each step of the different Sun Salutation sequences, looking at every option and modification for each step. After having practiced yoga for many years, it was useful to look at this basic sequence from a beginner’s perspective, examining what could be challenging or painful, and seeing how the poses could be interpreted by beginners.