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Alternative Sun Salutations

Alternate Sun Salutations variation with very little weight-bearing on the wrists, no chatturanga, and elements I think are lacking in most yoga classes (natural movement, pulling, work to encourage scapular stability, etc...). Flow this sequence as shown a couple of times then go though the sequence slower holding each shape 3-5 breaths. Because it is a flow, I din't get to tell you to engage your hamstrings as you forward fold. Especially if you are very mobile like I am. I was inspired to make this from watching Trina Altman's "creative sun salutations" video which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pjaf...

The disclaimer at the beginning is something I wish someone had told me when I first began doing yoga. Instead, all my teachers told me to do yoga every day. Here it is in case you missed it. Disclaimer: This is a yoga video but please don’t only include yoga in your movement diet. I can’t in good faith say “#yogaeverydamnday” when I know that’s what caused me injury. Do other types of movement: deadlifts, hamstring curls, pull ups, dance, hike, walk, run, climb, etc… It’s ok to do yoga everyday! But do other stuff. For more info on varying your movement diet and the issues that can come with repetitive movement follow Katy Bowman, Alex Auder, Trina Altman, Jules Mitchell, Giulia Pline, Ariana Rabinovich, Diane Bruni, Kathryn Bruni, and Diana Zotos to name a few.

Congrats to the Crane Yoga School Graduates!

The five women in  Crane Yoga School  reinvigorated my love for teaching. Each week, we met for about 8 hours of hard work, laughter, philosophizing, and camaraderie.  In they end, they taught well curated, humble, nurturing, and healing classes like pro's. I can't wait for them to go into the yoga world and teach. We were lucky enough to have a killer adjunct faculty this year with Nikki Villela, Lauren Haythe, Ali Cramer, Erin Dudley, Margherita Tisato, Hira Lesea, and Lindsay Ashmun. I thank each and every one of them for helping steer the Crane Yoga School ship.    
  
 
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   John O'Donohue said, "Though the human body is born complete in one moment, the birth of the human heart is an    ongoing process. It is being birthed in every experience of your life. Everything that happens to you has the potential to deepen you. It brings to birth within you new territories of the heart." The experience of leading a training "birthed within" me new territories of my heart. I didn’t know I could love teaching so much. These women were focused, humble, intelligent, radiant. And I was lucky to be able to absorb some of their light as we studied together. 

The five women in Crane Yoga School reinvigorated my love for teaching. Each week, we met for about 8 hours of hard work, laughter, philosophizing, and camaraderie.  In they end, they taught well curated, humble, nurturing, and healing classes like pro's. I can't wait for them to go into the yoga world and teach. We were lucky enough to have a killer adjunct faculty this year with Nikki Villela, Lauren Haythe, Ali Cramer, Erin Dudley, Margherita Tisato, Hira Lesea, and Lindsay Ashmun. I thank each and every one of them for helping steer the Crane Yoga School ship. 

John O'Donohue said, "Though the human body is born complete in one moment, the birth of the human heart is an ongoing process. It is being birthed in every experience of your life. Everything that happens to you has the potential to deepen you. It brings to birth within you new territories of the heart." The experience of leading a training "birthed within" me new territories of my heart. I didn’t know I could love teaching so much. These women were focused, humble, intelligent, radiant. And I was lucky to be able to absorb some of their light as we studied together. 

Broaden the shoulder blades in Adho Mukha Svanasana

After class tonight someone asked me what I meant by broadening the tops of the shoulder blades apart. Here's a vid to illustrate the action and how it frees the neck. If you don't have a stellar adjustment from Chris Roberti to help you, try energetically pulling the hands apart on your mat. Ignore my hyperextended elbows and splayed pinkies, please.

Leg Swings for days

Channeling my college dance days here... Exhale drop knees to the right and swing the left leg and arm across the body inhale pass through center. Exhale drop to the left and so on. Go with gravity. Let go of effort and control of the body and give in to momentum (hidden life lesson!). Think of it as a pendulum swing with the greatest velocity reached at the bottom of the swing. It is a beautiful way to hydrate the hip and shoulder joints and turn off the thinking mind. Typically you would keep the swinging leg's big toe connected to the earth but it doesn't quite work with a non-slippery surface or yoga mat so I broke the rules and did it free floating and it felt good. I could do these for hours and hours. 

Restorative Sidebend

Open the seams of the side body over 3 blocks (you might need more or less depending on your proportions) stacked and a pillow/bolster on top. Play with the arms. You can't see it but my bottom knee is down on a blanket and the top leg is extended. Imagine someone is pulling your top foot away from you. A wave of energy flowed up and down the side of my body and it was Magnificent. I stayed here about 2.5 nearly psychedelic minutes.

Shine light into the ribs...

Exhale as you side bend. Inhale back to center. Keep the legs and pelvis as stable as possible. Imagine the sun is shining directly into the outer seam of your left ribs when you side bend right and vice versa. Do this over and over again. I like to start very slowly then move faster and faster- almost like a kundalini kriya. 

I Rarely Teach Shoulder Stand

Read this article from the folks at SMARTer bodies. I don't often teach shoulder stand either. When I do, it's highly propped. All of the information here is solid but I could definitely do without the snark which I think is meant to be funny. It's not funny to me and I think it pushes away the very people who should consider removing shoulder stand from their practice. Anyway, read it.

Hyper-mobility Syndrome

Read this article by Bernadette Birny. As a hyper flexible person, I understand wanting to sink into poses - it used to feel oh so good. Now, I have become a hyper conservative on the mat and I rarely do full expressions of poses. My body feels much better, especially my joints. Yoga teachers, let's try to help the hypermobile resist sinking into their joints before injury occurs. Provide boundaries for students.

Thumb to Hip Crease Pyramid Pose - Tutorial

A student asked me what I meant by "thumb to hip crease" to help draw the front hip back in parsvottonasana (pyramid). Here's a quick tutorial video. it's one of the best feelings in the world. It helps bring traction and length to the spine to free up the lungs. With the left leg forward, inhale draw the left hip back as you elongate the spine by moving the heart and lungs forward. Keep the spine long as you bring right kidney toward the left shin and fold toward your left leg. I hope this video helps more than the sometimes insane "yoga speak" that we teachers assume everyone understands. #donthunchuseblocks #parsvottonasana

Louis C.K. and why we have back pain...

Why do we experience so much back pain? Which emotions are tied to specific back pain? I was randomly watching an episode of Louie, and was stunned (and pleasantly surprised) to see an enlightening scene about our spine. 

In said episode, Louie hurts his back and goes to the doctor who says something like the following: "There's nothing we can do. The spine was designed for horizontal movement but humans made it vertical. However, it's not designed to be vertical and hold all of that weight. So, the discs bulge and slip and swell. It'll take another 20,000 years for it to adapt to being upright. It's an engineering mis-design. We were given a clothesline and we're using it as a flagpole."

Pre- and Post-Exercise Stretching: Pros and Cons

If you're interested in "stretching", read this article by Thomas Myers. I've been thinking a lot about "stretching" lately. There is so much conflicting information out there. While this article does not give any easy answers, he does bring up some interesting points.  "Islands of supreme tension within the ocean of availability" is the best phrase in the piece...

1 hour intermediate vinyasa yoga class.  We will do some flow, some longer holds, sun salutations, forearm stand, and headstand. We’ll focus on pressing the elbows into the surface beneath feel the rebound of gravity up through the body in headstand, forearm stand, and extended side angle. This action of pressing the elbows down also helps to integrate the shoulder blades on the back.

Pranayama
Prana - breath/energy/life force 
yama- harness/regulate/control/channel 

Breath is an autonomic function but, with practice, we can harness it’s power to change our energy levels, calm our minds, increase the capacity of our lungs, bring more oxygen supply to the body, & fortify our organs. It often takes a backseat to asana but I believe it should be front and center. I resisted learning it at first because it wasn’t as sensational as learning handstands and wild poses. I was wrong. It’s powerful and life changing. Try it. 
  
Advancing in your yoga practice means that you can continue doing basic things—like breathing deeply, observing your entire body, and quieting your inner narrator—in increasingly challenging situations (on and off your mat).
— Jason Crandell