Welcome to Yogi Sticks!

Do you know your Gomukasana from your Adho Mukha Svanasana? Is your Vrksasana all it can be? And how do you feel about Supta Baddha Konasana? Do you know what I'm even talking about?

Sometimes the Sanskrit - however beautiful it sounds - is not very helpful. So, to encourage my students to expand their yoga practice into their home, I sketch the poses we practice during class on a chart and add the Sanskrit and common name. Hopefully, this is a useful tool to help them along in their yogic journey. I also troll the internet, books, and journals to find interesting articles about yoga and the yogic lifestyle.

Secrets of the Sciatic Nerve

Want more sciatic nerve information (and really, who doesn't)? You've come to the right place! This article by Doug Keller (that's his picture on the left)is a treasure trove of information on sciatic nerve anatomy, diagnosis, and asanas that will help relieve the pain and/or keep the the area pain-free. If the link doesn't work, you can copy and paste it into your browser.

3-22-10 Waist, Ribs, and Obliques

By popular request, we worked some more on our core tonight - concentrating on our waist, ribs, and oblique abdominals. It's especially important to work along the ribs and side body as our breathing muscles and organs attach along the ribs. More movement = more breath! The photo above shows some of the poses we worked on, including forward fold, backbend, reed, and extended mountain. Check out the length of their side bodies - awesome!
The quote from tonight's class was from Alexander Pope: "A man should never be ashamed to own he has been wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." Namaste.

3-17-10 Upper Back and Chest

Happy (belated) Leprechaun Day!
Tonight's practice included several strength building movements. While not actual traditional poses, the movements we worked through are building blocks to a deeper practice and to better posture. Several postures were from Doug Swenson - his wonderful website is in the "Favorites" links on the right (Do Yoga). He has a Twitter account, too, with quotes and thoughts much like the ones I use at the end of practice.

Speaking of which, here's the quote from tonight: "Do what you can now. Tomorrow you will do what you can tomorrow." - Aadil Pahlkivala

3-15-10 Happy Feet, Part 2

More fun with our feet! Above is a drawing of plantar fasciitis - often caused by pronation (rolling the ankles in), wearing the wrong shoes (high heels), and general lack of foot exercise. Take a look at http://www.plantar-fasciitis.org/ for more information. The poses we practiced tonight (as well as last Monday) were chosen specifically for healing and conditioning our feet.
The quote from tonight's class was: "Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong." -Canadian Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker

Let The Sunshine In!

Get out there and enjoy the sunshine today, with proper SPF protection, of course!
Here is the traditional Sun Salutation - a wonderful warm up for all parts of the body, including the breath and the mind.
See you Monday and Wednesday at the studio (www.yoga4all.com) and at Indian Shores Town Hall on Tuesday and Thursday again this week - 9:00!

3-12-10 Arm Strength and Flexibility

We've been working on the lower half of the body lately, so I thought we should visit our arms and shoulders for this practice. Please remember to only move to your comfort level - shoulders are tricky and easily damaged, so respect where your body is today (even if you were ready to try out for the contortionist role in Cirque du Soleil yesterday).

Take a look at this web article about your shoulders in cowface (gomukasana): www.bandhayoga.com/keys_shoulder1. Great for visual learners!

The quote for tonight's class was from Mother Teresa: "When you judge someone, you don't have time to love them." (...this goes for yourself, too).

3-8-10 Happy Feet

Another gift of yoga is the awakening of our feet. In our daily lives, our feet are viewed as lowly, humble servants. However, in yoga the feet are recognized as the important foundation of the temple of the body. If our feet are collapsed or tilted, the repurcussions are felt all along the body. Thousands (and hundreds) of years ago, we walked barefoot on uneven surfaces rolling the soles and ankle regularly, which then led to the mobility of the knees, hips, pelvis, back, etc. Nowadays, are feet are trapped in shoes (some are more "trapped" than others) and we walk on hard, even surfaces. Not good for the rest of the body. Look at the soles of your shoes. Does the inside or the outside of the heel look more worn down? If so, there is likely extra strain on the knee, hip, or low back.So, how do we wake up our feet? Start with the arches. Arches are the trampoline of the body and we create strong arches by extending the foot, making space in the skin, between the bones, and within the muscles. Tias Little (a fantastic yoga teacher in New Mexico) says, "By plugging down the front of the heel, the root of the little toe, and the root of the big toe, we create a triangular base that vaults the inner arch of the foot upward." We also need to lift the muscles of the lower leg that attach to the arch, which feels like a lift from the inner arch along the outer shin up to the knee an dthen up the inner thigh, all the way up to the pelvic floor.

Don't forget your toes. Try to move each individually while in mountain pose. Also, when feet are off the floor while either seated or with feet in the air try to be sure the big toe is about the same distance from the knee as the pinkie toe. Play with your toes, even intertwining your fingers between your toes. Or, wear pedicure pads between your toes.

Quote for tonight's class: "What is true for today is all we need to work on today. - Aadil Pahlkivala.

This is only part one of our foot practice - part 2 is coming next Monday!

The Yoga Percussion Section

I've been asked many times whether popping or cracking our joints (fingers, toes, spine, neck,etc) is harmful. Here is a great article explaining the various types of percussion that we hear in our practice: www.yogajournal.com/for_teachers/1684

3-3-10 Hamstrings and Forward Folds

If I had a nickel for each time I've heard, "I can't do yoga because my legs are just too tight!" ...
Hamstrings, the three intertwined muscles along the back of our legs, are often the bane of our yoga practice - especially for athletes. And hamstring soreness is one of the most common problems I encounter in teaching (and practicing). Hamstrings attach up by the buttocks (the ischial tuberosity) and stretch down behind the knee, so there is a long distance to feel them "bark" at you. When you bend your knee, you contract the hamstrings.
Remember to go s-l-o-w-l-y into these stretches. Heat and sensation are good. Pain is not, so don't push past your edge. Breathe into where you are feeling the tightness, as if you had nostrils right in those muscles and joints. In fact, it is recommended to first go to only about 80% of your full stretch (you should still feel a mild stretch), then hold that for 3 or 4 breaths to convince the muscles that they are safe. Then, with control, move deeper into the pose by contracting the opposite muscles (in this case, the quadriceps - or front thigh muscles).
I came across an amazing website (if you like anatomy and physiology, that is). I've used anatomical drawings from the site numerous times on the blog and in class. Check out http://www.bandhayoga.com/ and click through their "Explore" and "Scientific Keys" sections. Awesome illustrations and explanations of how to move into poses safely, as well as how to relieve some of the discomfort poses may cause. I especially liked the hamstring article under the "Keys" section.
Tonight's practice quote: "Believe those that seek the truth. Doubt those that find it." -Andre Gide

3-1-10 Vinyasa Flow

See, this is what happens when the yoga instructor can't decide on which part of the body to focus on, or even which pose to explore! We worked through a vinyasa flow class - so all our parts were treated to some lovin' kindness. "Vinyasa" just means a series of poses linked together with the breath - like the Sun Salutations. Remember to move at the speed of your breath, not the speed of your mind. If you start to become short of breath, back off the poses until the breath normalizes.

The quote from the practice: "When our minds are inflexible, we cannot see beyond where we are, and regrettably, we fail to realize where we could be going." -Aadil Palkhivala