There’s a pose for that…

Your stress level.

“Stress is as old as civilization itself. The ancient sages understood the impact on the mind and body of the turmoil of daily life. Yoga helps to detach the mind from this turmoil and allows you to face the effects of stress with equilibrium.” ~ BKS Iyengar

I have been planning this post for what seems like forever. I first thought about it when I started graduate school and now I’m 4 semesters deep. My yoga practice has become an important part of my stress reduction (and sanity) techniques. These pictures were taken over Christmas break from school and work at my parents lake house. When it’s too cold to practice by the water I move to the fire place. What wonderful parents I have.

Iyengar says:

“We experience stress from the moment of birth, and spend our lives adjusting to it. Some of us manage better than others for a variety of reasons. It could be because of one’s personality, environment, or one’s physical condition. But everyone has to deal with the effects of stress at some time or another, and in order to do so, he or she has to cultivate and discipline the mind, the physical body, psychological body, and spiritual body. We all evolve ways of coping with stress, checking and minimizing its effects with varying degrees of success. Yoga provides one of the most comprehensive and effective solutions to this problem…”

“Different people respond to the same stressful situation with different levels of intensity. Some may become angry, others confused or depressed, ultimately stress leads to disease, premature aging, or even fatal illness. The science of psychoneuroimmunology has established the connection between the body, mind, and emotions, but the ancient yogis recognized this a millennium ago. According to yogic science, the health of the psyche is reflected in the body. Psychological pressures stress all the systems of the body.”

“To reduce stress, the body and mind must be treated as one. The tension associated with stress is stored mainly in the muscles, the diaphragm, and the nervous system. If these areas are relaxed, stress is reduced. The organs of perception and the central nervous system also react physically to stress. Yogic methods of deep relaxation have a profound effect on all the body systems. When a part of the body is tense, blood flow to that area decreases, reducing immunity. Yoga works on that area to relieve tension and improve blood flow to the entire body, stabilizing the heart rate and blood pressure. Rapid, shallow breathing becomes deep and slow, allowing a higher intake of oxygen, and removing stress from the body and mind.”

How props help…

“A yoga prop is any object that helps to stretch, strengthen, relax, or improve the alignment of the body. It helps to sustain the practice of asanas for a longer duration, and conserves energy. These props allow asanas to be practiced in a relaxed way, balancing the body and mind actively as well as passively… The yoga asana practiced with props is unique in that it is the only form of exercise which allows both action and relaxation simultaneously. It activates the muscles, tones the body’s organs, and relieves undue mental and physical stress or strain. Props help to increase flexibility and stamina and, at the same time, relax slack and tired muscles. They help to rejuvenate the entire body, without increasing physical fatigue.”

Asana… The poses

Always warm up before practicing these poses. I like to practice 5 rounds of surya namaskara A & 5 rounds of surya namaskara B (sun salutations A & B, 5 rounds each) before I begin. Hold each pose for at least 5 deep breaths. Feel free to hold to supported poses (using blankets or bolsters) for 10-20 breaths. Stay in savasana as long as your body needs!

*As with most all of my posts with photos, the dog is optional, but highly recommended. She reduces my stress too.

Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana – mountain pose with arms stretched up

lindseyogabliss, tadasana urdhva hastasana

Utthita Trikonasana – Extended triangle pose

lindseyogabliss, utthita trikonasana

Utthita Parsvaknasana – Intense side stretch

lindseyogabliss, utthita parsvakonasana variation

lindseyogabliss, utthita parsvakonasana

Ardha Chandrasana – Half moon pose

lindseyogabliss, ardha chandrasana

Uttanasana – intense forward stretch

lindseyogabliss, uttanasana

Prasarita Padottanasana – intense leg stretch

lindseyogabliss, prasarita padottanasana

Adhomukha svanasana – downward facing dog stretch

lindseyogabliss, adhomukha svanasana

Dandasana – staff pose

lindseyogabliss, dandasana

Virasana – hero pose

lindseyogabliss, virasana

Urdhvamukha Janu Sirsasana – Upward-facing bent knee pose

lindseyogabliss, urdhvamukha janu sirsasana

Baddhakonasana – Fixed angle pose (aka butterfly)

lindseyogabliss, baddhakonasana

Paripurna navasana – complete boat pose (supported)

lindseyogabliss, paripurna navasana

Upavista konasana – seated wide-angle pose

lindseyogabliss, upavista konasana

Paschimottanasana – intense back stretch

lindseyogabliss, paschimottanasana

Janu sirsasana – head on knee pose

lindseyogabliss, janu sirsasana

Adhomukha virasana – downward facing hero pose

lindseyogabliss, adhomukha virasana

Parsva Virasana – side twist in the hero pose

lindseyogabliss, parsva virasana

Halasana – plough pose

lindseyogabliss, halasana

Viparita karani – inverted pose (legs up the wall pose) (please excuse the old picture!)

lindseyogabliss, viparita karani

Setubandha Sarvangasana – bridge pose

lindseyogabliss, setubandha sarvangasana

Ustrasana – camel pose

lindseyogabliss, ustrasana

Supta padangusthasana – reclining leg, foot, and toe stretch

lindseyogabliss, supta padangusthasana

lindseyogabliss, supta padangusthasana variation

Supta Baddhakonasana – reclining fixed angle pose (reclining butterfly)

lindseyogabliss, supta baddhakonasana

Supta virasana – reclining hero pose

lindseyogabliss, supta virasana

Savasana – corpse pose

lindseyogabliss, savasana

Happy journey,

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Reference: all quotes and information come from “Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health” by BKS Iyengar

Aim true yoga challenge…

I kicked off National Yoga Month with a 10 day yoga photo challenge via Kathryn Budig & Instragram! Kathryn Budig is such an inspiration to me so I really wanted to try this challenge. It was so much fun to think of a pose that best fit the theme of the day then try to get a good picture of it! I loved this challenge because it reminded me why I love yoga so much. Each pose does something for my spirit.

Now… the rules. There is one cardinal rule to a yoga photo challenge… IT’S NOT ABOUT WHO CAN DO THE MOST ADVANCED POSE!!! A yoga challenge is about finding poses that go along with the theme and that fit your practice best right now, in this moment. It’s about the descriptions you give to the photo explaining why the pose is important to you. It’s about the real you.

Here are my 10 days of yoga pictures and description of why I chose each pose…

Day 1… EMPOWER

EMPOWER

Day 1 is a pose that makes me feel EMPOWERED. One day in class I told my teacher, “I don’t have the upper body strength” and he had a surprised look on his face and said, “Lindsey, you are so strong.” His sincerity made me realize that most of my weaknesses were mental. I finally landed the pose and I feel so empowered and strong.

I had to squish this picture to make it fit into Instagram so here’s the original… That’s my Bailey girl in the picture with me! She’s my yoga buddy.

20130902-231924.jpg

Day 2… CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE

Day 2 is any pose that CHALLENGES me. I chose handstand because it’s the hardest inversion for me. The fear of falling and fear of my arms and shoulders not being strong enough were debilitating. Every time I kicked up on the wall my elbows would buckle and I would fall down. My confidence started to build while doing this pose first in a doorway, then on the wall, and now I can’t hold it for very long… but I am taking steps in the right direction! I used a spotter behind me so I’m still working on trusting my own strength and balance…

Day 3… COMFORT

COMFORT

Day 3 is any pose that COMFORTS me. I chose Viparita Karani aka Legs Up the Wall Pose because it feels so good on my back! I spend my days working with children with special needs so I spend a lot of time hunched over, sitting on the floor, sitting in child-sized chairs, and picking up children. By the end of the day I can really feel it in my upper back and this pose gives the perfect mixture of backbend and relaxation!

Day 4… COMMUNITY

COMMUNITY

Today’s theme is COMMUNITY. I can’t think of any better community than my yoga community! But I have a confession to make… When my first wave of grad-school-ness hit me I thought about cancelling my yoga classes for “me” time. Extra time to study, extra time to sleep, extra time to just do nothing. But I realized that these spunky yogis are the reason I teach yoga. I love coming to class and seeing them touch their toes for the first time and fall in love with inversions! And most of all, who doesn’t need friends that will meet you at the yoga studio after hours just to take a silly picture???

Day 5… ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT

Today’s theme is ENVIRONMENT so I chose my everyday work environment… the playground! I chose a balance pose because being a teacher requires lots of balance in many different ways. I have a plan to create a special needs yoga program at work so hopefully there will be lots more yoga happening around this wonderful little school very soon!

Day 6… NO STRETCHY PANTS ALLOWED

NO STRETCHY PANTS

Today’s theme is NO STRETCHY PANTS… That’s right no Lululemon allowed. And to be truthful, I usually travel in my stretchy pants… But today I’m traveling like a lady… in my new dress! This is me dropping off Bailey at my parents house for the weekend because we’re headed to North Carolina for Susan & Mike’s wedding!!!

Day 7… EMBARRASSING YOGA PHOTO

EMBARRASSING

Today’s Aim True Challenge is to pose an EMBARRASSING yoga photo… I usually get on to Darren for taking the before-the-pose and after-the-pose photos of my butt… but all in the name of National Yoga Month & the Aim True Challenge here they are! It’s hard to pass up doing a yoga pose in an old-timey phone booth!

Day 8… OTHER LOVES

OTHER LOVES

Today’s theme is OTHER LOVES. I had to think about this one because I have many other loves than yoga… But I really love spending time with the little ones! I just happen to be spending time with this precious baby on the beach today and I asked her mother/my good friend what to do for today’s theme. She said, “Lindsey, you love kids! I can’t ever get Sophie away from you!” Precious babies are not only my occupation, but a true love!

Day 9… YES I CAN!

YES I CAN!

Day 9 of the Aim True Challenge is a YES I CAN! pose. Bakasana aka Crow Pose was one of those poses that I idolized when I first started a yoga practice. The funny thing about yoga is the more I did the basic poses the more confidence I had to branch out and try the more difficult poses. I started to believe in my own strength and play around… And it might take a while for it to be pretty (still working on that), and not to fall on your face (I recommend a crash pad), but it feels so good when you balance for a half second! I can now hold this pose for a few deep breaths and I’m working on a jump-back into plank. It’s so fun to challenge myself and try new things!

Day 10… AIM TRUE

AIM TRUE

Today is the last day of the Aim True Challenge and for today (Day 10) I am to pick a pose that embodies what AIM TRUE means to me. Aim True to me is a heart opener. I chose a variation of Ustrasana aka Camel Pose with my hand over my heart because I can’t even begin to explain how much yoga has helped me open my heart and at the same time taught me to listen to my heart. I realized my purpose in life during my RYT200 training and made some pretty radical changes in my life to serve that purpose. So what Aim True means to me is to be true to myself. To be the real me and not who anyone else thinks I should be.

Not only were these pictures fun to take and I had a re-connection with my love for yoga… but I had a few people reach out to me and ask if yoga was a good fit for them. My response was that yoga truly is for EVERY BODY. I love setting off new yogi’s on their new yoga path. My only want for you is that your ride is as amazing as mine.

Aim true,

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