If the end of Winter Olympics left you wanting more, you're in luck, because the 2014 Paralympics are about to get underway. Although the political situation in Ukraine has led the U.S. and Britain to cancel the participation of their official governmental representatives, the athletes will still compete and deserve our support. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing snowboarder Evan Strong, who is an avid yogi.
We finally get to downward facing dog! Since we're moving through a sun salutation, let's talk about the transition from upward facing dog. With some practice, you can learn to roll over your toes to get there. Eventually, this seemingly painful maneuver may even start to feel good. If it doesn't, another option is to flip the feet one at a time. When you're coming from cobra, you can choose to go through a hands and knees position as you transition.
Though the sun salutation continues, the poses that return you to the front of the mat are the same as the ones that brought you back. Confused? Pick up the end of the sequence here.
My yoga teacher made the rounds before class the other day, checking in with each student to see how he or she was feeling. A woman sitting near me said her back was aching, and she rolled her shoulders back to illustrate the area that was giving her trouble. She has a young baby and was feeling the physical toll of constant breastfeeding. I thought back to when my own kids were small and felt her pain. So I put together this group of chest-expanding poses and I send it out to all the nursing moms. I hope it helps!: 8 Yoga Poses for Nursing Moms.
Arthur Boorman's transformation video became a viral sensation in 2012 and it's back for another run. I got curious about the system Boorman credits, DDP Yoga, so I tried it out and talked to its founder, former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. If you're thinking about a transformation of your own, check out my DDP Yoga review.
The next pose in the sun salutation is a back bend: choose cobra or upward facing dog. (If you're confused about where we are in the sequence, here's more on the vinyasa portion.) In either case, keep your shoulders away from your ears and your shoulder blades moving down your back. If you come into a high cobra (arms straight) or upward dog, try bending your elbows in order to get your shoulders in a good position (down and back). You can then keep the elbows slightly bent or straighten your arms if you can maintain your shoulder position.
People with glaucoma, a serious eye disease that affects about three million Americans, are advised to approach some yoga poses with caution. Studies have shown that inversions like headstand can elevate pressure in the eyes to levels dangerous for glaucoma patients. Now, a new study examines the effects of four milder inversions on eye pressure. Here are the results of the study, including some updated safety recommendations.
Since I left you guys hanging in plank pose for a week, I'm sure you're ready to lower to the floor. The question is, how are you going to get there? There are basically two options. Knees, chest, and chin is a perfect description of the first option, since those are the parts of your body (plus your toes) that are touching the floor in this pose. If you're going that route, drop your knees first, then lower the chest and chin while bending your elbows straight back and keeping your butt up in the air.
If you're going for chaturanga, take time before you lower to roll your weight forward into the balls of your feet. This is going to put your shoulders in a much better position to prevent injury. Stop lowering when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. If you're not quite ready for the full pose, you can split the difference by bringing your knees down and then doing chaturanga from there.
In yoga, a heart opener is a pose in which the shoulders go back, allowing the chest to expand and blossom. It feels great to do these poses to counteract the hunched over, protective posture we often assume in cold weather. Here's a list of chest expanding poses for beginning, intermediate, and advanced yoga students. Yes, some of these poses look a lot like backbends. As it turns out, backbending and heart-opening go hand in hand.
As we continue our in-depth look at the poses in the sun salutation sequence, we come to plank pose. Last week, we looked at lunge. More experienced students may choose skip the lunge, jumping directly back into plank. However you arrive, take a moment to adjust your alignment, making sure that your shoulders are directly over your wrists, you are not sagging in the hips, and your heels are pressing back. When you start to prepare to lower into the next pose, shift your weight forward onto your toes. We'll talk more about why next week.
The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champs and yogi's choice. An article in The New York Times points out that many are crediting the Seahawks' victory to their yoga and meditation practices, which were highlighted in an ESPN feature last summer. Witnessing how these practices can benefit football players may inspire more people to explore yoga themselves, says YogaDork's Jennilyn Carson in the Times.