or neat-o ways to open the side body

Ola dear blogosphere. As promised a small snippet of reflection on Tuesday’s class. Do you feel tight and scrunched even with regular yoga practice, or more likely without? Our bodies are naturally orientated forward and backwards; we can alleviate a lot of this tension by opening into the often neglected side body and peripheral zones.

Our turd bird can count to five all by herself! In honour of this amazing milestone that has me convinced she’s future mensa material, my humble five suggestions for you to consider incorporating into your practice*:

  1. Banana-fy your asana – if your spine’s orientation is vertical consider putting a gentle lateral curve into it. You can start with something simple like a comfortable cross-legged or child’s pose(arms extended overhead) and work up to high and low lunges as well as warrior 1s, 2s, side angle, triangle and balancing half moon. Not only does this help release or serratus anterior from its’ usual position (these are the muscles that run along the side of our ribcage) it gives extra room for the breath. Take it a bit further and extend and exaggerate the curve in arm(s) that powerfully extend alongside your ear(s).
  2. Flow – Marry your breath to your new shape – inhale back to the straight spine, exhale with the curved one, start gentle and with time and comfort expand the range and feel the breath, body, ribcage and hips gently open with the flow. Transitioning from warrior 2 to reverse warrior is a fun flow.
  3. Play – Do you feel like naturally opening a bit further, perhaps twisting or back-bending? If it feels good, go for it. I’ve had plenty a well meaning yoga teacher re-position my arms in triangle back into the in between two-panes-of-glass scenario, which at times feels constricted, especially after lugging her highness around all day. If it feels good to open a bit more there’s no harm if body and spirit are happy and strong.  We spend enough of our day playing it straight so don’t be afraid to get curly.

    Extending the side body through reverse warrior.

    Extending the side body through reverse warrior.

  4. Give your shoulders some lovin’ – specifically the tension collectors that reside along top of our shoulders and into our neck, the levator scapulae and trapezius. I’ll go into more detail in next week’s class where we explore hip and shoulder opening.
  5. Don’t forget the sides of your pegs – Release low back, knee and ankle tension pain with two simple postures. Cross one foot behind the other before playing with a flowing forward fold to half forward fold, linking the breath. This releases your IT bands, a radical connective tissue that runs from your knee up to the outside of your hip. Runners will be familiar with the ITB. Bring the sides of your calves and ankles to life with a wide-legged forward fold, holding for a few long breaths to lengthen your lower gams.

Want to go further? Check out these awesome online classes:

  • An accessible hatha class with Rod Stryker on yogaglo(I really love Rod’s voice….not like that’s the ultimate criteria or anything but…)
  • A sweet Yin practice with Tiffany Cruikshank on yogaglo (Tiffany’s classes are great for you athletic types. I love her accessible and informed approach)

*ok so even though it goes without saying, use your common sense here lovelies. Don’t get overzealous with the experimentation if you’re new to yoga, work with where you’re at, and stay safe! If you have never done yoga before, talk to your doctor to get the all clear before heading off to a local studio where you can get some hands-on guidance from an accredited yoga teacher.

Yoga on, and please share if this post was helpful for your home practice!

The Periphery Perspective

(part one of a four-part series on expansion)

We naturally focus from our body’s frontal, or anterior, plane. The bulk of how we exist, engage, sense and interact naturally and logically occurs from this perspective. Nifty things like eyes, mouths, faces and limb orientation might have something to do with it.

With today’s lifestyle it’s no wonder our bodies and minds can get a bit cramped. Us corporate types can sit desk-bound for hours on a deadline whilst tradies like my husband spend the day bent over in weird positions troubleshooting and fixing. As a mum, life feels like its in a perpetual forward bending motion. Add to that time spent commuting, hunched over devices and books plus all the leaning in for the good stuff like a cup of tea with a friend, hugs, cuddles and very important toddler conversations and the front body works overtime.

As yoga practitioners our first impulse is often to counter the forward hunching with back-bending. But what if we started this lengthening and un-scrunching with a more subtle approach? Months of parenting and lugging her highness around have been the perfect yoga lab to test out some different techniques, and I believe our side bodies hold the key to the natural expansion we desire. Come join me Tuesday as we test this hypothesis out together.

We’ll build the foundation on expansion with deliciously simple side bends and rhythmic lateral motion incorporated into basic postures. We’ll also play with modifications and twists that strengthen the connection to our entire periphery. Your body will sing thanks to small tweaks that are easy to incorporate into your home practice.

Once we slip into relaxation and meditation you’ll be attuned to those natural waves emanating, giving a pleasant soft focus point for our closing meditation on the crown. When you walk out of class, my hope is that you feel a natural lengthening and expansion radiating from your beautiful being.

For those of you tuned into the blog, I’ll share a few tips with you later in the week.

Over the next four weeks we’ll look how we can use yoga to bring greater space and openness to our bodies. Please join us tonight at Sevenergy, 7pm for this small suite of classes on expansion, I’d love to see you on the mat.

Yoga on, lovelies. x

The eye of the storm

The eye of the storm

eye of stormThe “schedule,” as I loosely call it these days, was more akimbo than usual last week thanks to hubby’s and my work commitments. By the time Saturday arrived I was in a mildly catatonic state. Though I accept the occasional flux, the hectic pace served as a reminder that guarding my time and interests within reason isn’t an option. Though another demanding week awaits, I’m going to be more vigilant about boundaries that free me up for running, yoga practice, meditation and creative time. Without my beloved outlets, I become sub-par at everything else.

Given the nature of this beast we call modern life, how can you restore and resettle when obligations rev to full throttle? We all run into encounters where a simple, “All righty folks, this is fun but I really need to slip away for a little me time” won’t fly.

What can we do when demands press and life starts to feel a little more whirly, stormy and unstable than desired? I reckon it has something to do with reconnecting to the centre, and there are surprisingly simple ways to do this.

So where is the, or more appropriately, your centre? It’s where your unique energy emanates from. When you reside in this place, it enables you to maintain stability and ride the waves of whatever life throws your way. Whether it be demanding work schedules, the big important race or presentation, the pivotal game, a tense conversation that needs to happen, snatching the toddler from dangerous heights on a distressingly regular basis or a glorious melange of all the above, residing fully in your centre fortifies you to absorb, ride, decide and live from an authentic and powerful position.

In Tuesday’s class at Sevenergy, we’ll explore reacquainting with your centre through a series of asanas that help you discover, challenge and restore. We’ll finish off with a meditation I devised that will recharge your body and spirit so you can handle life’s turbulent times, empowering you to confidently circle into the eye of any storm.

For the beautiful blog readers, what are your thoughts on this idea of the centre? Where is it for you? How does life feel when you firmly plug into that place, and what can you do to reconnect when there’s a short circuit?

Well gorgeous people, I hope to see some of you on the mat this Tuesday in South Freo, and don’t forget about the winter special, where you can yoga your way to a private session with me. Keep yoga-ing on and stay healthy! ~Ange