Sunday, May 29, 2011

Yoga Gems: Yoga for Your Lower Back

Previously I posted a video that showed how lying over a block placed strategically in your upper back can help 'billow' out your chest and give your upper spine a new found feeling of freedom.  Well, we can do the same thing with our lower backs too!

Lots of us want to or need to free our lower backs.  The video link shows a wonderful way to help create length in your lower back to give it the freedom to move pain free. 

The poses shown should be restful.  If they do not feel restful, or if you feel any pain, then move out of them.  It is really important to get the block position right.  It needs to be on your sacrum, which is the hard bony plate that you can feel just above the crack of your own bottom (I wish I had a better way of putting it!).  Do not put the block on the lower back itself--it will feel awful and you probably will not be able to stay there. 

If you do not have a block, be creative.   A thick dictionary could do the trick.  How high you go all depends on your flexibility. Don't go too far, too fast.  Listen to your body and respect what it is telling you. 

In the video I show a progressive series of poses of increasing difficulty, culminating with a mega thigh stretch at the end!

These sorts of poses are 'gems' and I practice them nearly every day, along with the block in my upper spine.  The lower back becomes more free and length is created across the upper thighs where they meet your torso.  This is exactly the place where many of us need to stretch out to help those deep back bends. 

Be safe and enjoy your practice.  If you have any doubts, then please consult your yoga teacher and get them to have a look at you.

Happy and safe practicing!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paddy's Here!

Paddy's here!  Just what our spines ordered 

If you have not gathered already, Paddy is my teacher (not in the possessive sense--she is everyone's teacher!). She is in Colombo from the 20th May to 5th June and is conducting classes around town. 

Please log onto Paddy's website for her contact details
It is also where you will find details of her classes around the world for those no longer in Sri Lanka.  If you have trouble then you can always contact me. 

If you have never had the pleasure of being taught by Paddy, then please take this opportunity as she may just be the best teacher in the world (no, I am not biased!).


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun With Trikonasana

Trikonasana is one of those poses that you learn early on in yoga.  I really like how it stretches out my sides even after all these years. 

Like any pose, Trikonasana can start to feel dull if you keep practicing it in the same way.  It's important to continually break down habits so your body keeps learning and keeps challenged. 

In this video, I leap into trikonasana like Paddy has shown me.  And then I turn it into a standing balance for a bit of fun. 

The trick in turning this posture into a standing balance is to learn to dance so that you transfer weight from the front foot to the back foot at just the right moment. 

I have been a bit naughty and not provided a modified version of this posture in the video.  If you cannot bind your arms (which is pretty hard) you can just try to keep your upper arm or shoulder pressed close to your knee instead. 

Have fun and remember to keep your spine long and free.

Step 1:
Come into Trikonasana with a long spine
Step 2:
Bend the front knee and bring your front shoulder towards the knee, nuzzling it in as close as possible.  If the shoulder does not get there, press your upper arm against the thigh or knee.  If you can bind your arms here then do so.  Don't worry it you can't.  Keep your spine long and free as though it is still in Trikonasana.
Step 3:
Start your little dance.  Transfer the weight into your front foot.  You need to start leaning forward to do so.  Your back foot should start to feel a little light so you can hop it close to your front foot. The back foot is perpendicular to the front foot.
Step 4:
Transfer your weight into the back foot now.  As you do so, shift your weight more and more to the back foot side.  With any luck your front foot will just start to float off.
Step 5:
As your foot starts to float off the ground, come into standing.  If you like you can straighten both legs! 
Relax and breathe.  Turn your head away from the raised leg.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Yoga Retreat in July

Every now and then George from Kahanda Kanda hosts a weekend yoga retreat at his beautiful hotel.  Amidst the gentle greenery, surrounded by the rolling hills of the tea estate and the calls of a diverse array of wild-life, and beneath beautiful open skies we practice yoga morning and evening.  In between we swim, eat, read, relax, cycle, and basically chill-out. 

If this sounds like the type of weekend you have been looking for, then check out the website and book in for the yoga weekend in July.  These retreats tend to fill up fast since George offers a discount rate so be quick.  KK is a boutique hotel with a few rooms so you might find if you round up your nearest and dearest yoga buddies you might even have the place to yourselves!

Looking forward to seeing some of you there!


Monday, May 2, 2011

New Class On Thursdays!

We've really lengthened our legs and spines with Yes-You-Can-Can Legs (and even did the splits!).  We've opened up our hips and they didn't die in the Hips Don't Die class.  Now it is time to move up to our waists with Twistin Round The World (first made famous by Chubby Checker of course).

I have choreographed a sequence of twists and turns, and side bends and stretches, along with a bit of core strengthening thrown in.  Amidst all of this twisting, turning, and bending we will really be trying to get an idea of how to lift our bodies out of our pelvis.  Who knows, you might grow a few inches?  (Disclaimer: height gain is not guaranteed)

It does not really matter how much yoga experience you have for this class as there are easier and more challenging versions of everything.  As is usual with these classes, I have tried to find interesting alternatives to the 'normal' poses, so expect to experience a few new asanas pop up!

It all starts this Thursday and should be lots of fun.  So why not come along to the women's international centre next to the Lionel Wendt at 5:45pm.

Happy practicing!