Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fly Like the Eagle

Eagle Pose


My first encounter with Eagle pose was in a Hot Yoga class many moons ago. I had know idea what I was in for and why wrapping my body around itself was even beneficial. All I remember thinking about was the heat and the question swirled in my head about why am I even doing this to I am sure many of my students can soo relate.

Now that I am a little more seasoned I, of course, love this pose! I see it helping my students that suffer from sciatic and arthritis. I feel that opening across my shoulders when I am in the pose and know my shoulders would thank me if they could. Eagle has help my ankles get much stronger than in my running and aerobic days. So, let's explore the Eagle pose.

Eagle pose strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves. You also get an amazing stretch in your upper back and shoulders as well as your hips and thighs. Eagle improves your concentration and improves your balance. It offers circulation into your major joints (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and wrists) which counters swelling and arthritis. It also a great therapy for asthma, sciatica and lower back pain.

Getting in and out of Eagle Pose

1. Stand tall in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

2. Inhale reach the arms out at shoulder height.

3. Reach the right arm out front and then stack the left arm on top. Bend the elbows so the backs of the hands face one another and then bring your palms together. Keep the elbows at shoulder height. Thumbs should face your face.

4. Inhale lift your head and chest. Exhale sit into Chair Pose. Tuck your tailbone underneath you.

5. Lift the right leg up and over the left leg. Squeeze the thighs in towards one another and wrap the foot around to the back of the leg. If you are unable to wrap the foot around then bring your big toe down next to your ankle.

6. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Breathe.

7. Release and repeat on the other side.

Find your inner eagle and soar through this pose. As always your body will thank you.

Top Photo: Akilah Richards of Execumama @ Sweet Water Wellness Center.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kick Things UP with Headstand

Salamba Sirsasana
(Why Sanskrit? Cause you can go anywhere in the world regardless of language barriers and practice yoga!)
(sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna)
salamba = with support (sa = with
alamba = support)
sirsa = head

I love Headstand! I think I say this about every pose, and maybe I do. However, Headstand has a special place in my heart for several reasons. And its not just because it has so many wonderful benefits. This pose boosts confidence!

Something about getting a new yogi into Headstand after a few session of yoga and you have turned on a light bulb. It offers a shot of amazement towards the body's wonders and strength like no other. Regardless of age, body type or fitness level Headstand awakens the playful side of people, the side that was buried under all that adult responsibility. It some how brings the kid in us all to life in a way that reminds my students of life possibilities instead of life's limitations.

Ok, you want proof right? You wanna know how standing on your head can make you feel more alive...well, I challenge you to just try it....but before you do, check out the benefits.

The benefits of Headstand are endless. This pose was dubbed the king of all asanas (poses) because of its many benefits. Headstand relieves stress and calms the brain. This pose rejuvenates the mind making your thoughts clearer. It can even relieves mild depression and anxiety. It stimulates the pituitary gland (which balances the pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland and adrenal glands) and pineal glands(aka the third eye & balances the mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and some cognitive functions including memory and learning), Headstand strengthens the arms, legs and the spine, along with the lungs. Sleep and memory improve with the use of this pose and your energy level increases. The lungs get stronger helping you to resist colds, coughs, tonsilitis and palpitations. Its therapeutic for asthma, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis. It tones the abdominal organs and improves digestion. Eliminates constipation and sluggishness in the body's cleansing system. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself and see what it does for you.

Getting in and out of Headstand

Caution: I caution that if you feel afraid to kick up into headstand you try this near a wall for support. Also, if you feel overwhelmed visit a yoga class first and get instruction from a yoga teacher.

1. Bring your mat near a wall. Place your index fingers on each ear at the top. Draw a line from the top of your ears to the top of your head. Once your index fingers meet at the top of your head that is the spot you want to place on the floor or on your mat.

2. Come down onto your hands and knees. Interlace your hands a few inches away from the wall and bring your elbows down on the mat directly below your shoulders. Your knees are directly below your hips.

3. Place the top of your head in between your hands and bring your elbows right back into place. Do not allow your chest to collapse towards the floor. Lift it up make your back nice and strong.

4. Stand up on your feet and walk the feet in towards your face.

5. Once you can no longer walk forward lift one leg while pushing off from the floor with the other leg. (This part may take a little practice.)

6. Once you have both feet on the wall lift your shoulders back away from the ears and push through your elbows. Make sure your core muscles are nice and strong.

7. Tighten your core muscles and push through your legs as if you are standing on them. You can try bringing the legs off the wall one at a time or try them both. Keep in mind the wall is only here for support. The goal is to free stand. Stay here for at least 2-5 mins for beginners and 10-15 mins for advanced students.

8. To come out take a deep inhale and exhale lower your legs down together until the toes touch the mat. Make sure your legs & belly are engaged as you lower down.

9. Bring the knees to the mat and take a Child's pose. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.

Headstand is a wonderful pose for kicking up your energy level. Give the king of asana a try see how wonderful you feel.