Summer is officially here! We just celebrated the summer solstice yesterday with our first, live, online Summer Solstice Event. Sending a big shout out and thank you to everyone who joined us for that event! By attending the event, you were supporting the education of underprivileged girls in India, so a big thank you from my heart to yours.
Today, I am going to lead you through a yoga posture to help you cool down for the summer. The pose is called baddha konasana, or bound angle pose. This pose is both cooling and grounding. We will do a restorative version of this pose today, so some props will come in handy. If you don't have yoga props at home, no worries! You can still do this practice using a rolled up blanket as a bolster and also having a few cushions handy. We are all about making this super simple for you to practice at home!
Baddha Konasana – Restorative Props:
Bolster, or Rolled up blanket
Block, or Cushions
Watch the video or follow the instructions below.
Extend your legs in front of you
Bring your hands behind your knees, draw your knees into your chest
Allow your knees to fall out to the side and bring the soles of your feet together
Draw your feet close into your body a comfortable distance from your seat
Restorative modification: Grab your bolster or cushions and place them over your feet. Fold forward and allow your forehead to rest on top of the bolster or cushion. You may need to adjust the height of your bloster, blocks, or cushions so that you are comfortable in this position.
Once you have found your comfortable position, I encourage you to close your eyes and draw your awareness inward toward your heart.
Enjoy 5-10 deep, full breaths here, just allowing yourself to experience any sensations that you feel within the body.
When you feel complete with the pose, take your time coming out of it. Gently open your eyes. Bring your torso upright. Place your hands to the outside of your knees to draw your knees together. Then, extend your legs out.
I hope you enjoyed this pose – it is certainly one of my favorites!
Over the next few weeks, I will offer you more cooling yoga practices to help you beat the heat this summer!
My life these past couple weeks have been characterized by a lot of movement and mobility. I know that I am not alone in this. We all go through phases in our life that feel like we are constantly “on the go,” and for many of us this may be how we feel most everyday! For this reason, I am constantly learning and practicing tools to really ground my energy and get centered. I love finding little pieces of time to squeeze in practices that ground me, that create feelings of stillness and stability. Today, I want to share one of those practices with you. I know how busy all of our lives are, and I am all about making it easy for you to practice self-care! So, let's get started!
Tadasana (Mountain) Pose Today, I want to break down Mountain Pose for you. This pose is the foundation for all of the other standing yoga postures. In one of my teacher trainings, we literally spent over an hour on this pose alone, because when you master the alignment in Tadasana, you are building the foundation for every other pose. Another great reason to learn Tadasana (and the reason I am sharing it with you today!) is because it such a grounding pose. When I think of a mountain, I think of Earth, stability, strength, and unshakeability. I also think of beauty, of the beautiful high peak of a mountaintop that can only arise from a firmly grounded base.
So, stand up and join me! Watch the video, or follow the instructions below:
Come to a comfortable standing position
Take your feet about hips distance apart
Make sure the second toe on both feet are pointing forward, so that your feet are essentially parallel to one another
Take your awareness to the soles of your feet. Allow the ball mound under your big toe to feel grounded on the floor; next, feel that the ball mound under your pinky toe is firmly planted; then, allow yourself to feel grounded through the outer and inner edges of your heel, so that now you have created a solid base with all 4 corners of your feet rooted on the floor. Just for fun, lift up all 10 toes off the floor, and then just just softly place them back on the mat to make sure that your toes are not gripping the mat. We have now created a solid foundation, while at the same time allowing our feet to be relaxed
Find length along the entire back of your legs, your spine, and through the crown of your head so that there is a sense of lifting and lengthening through the body
Allow your shoulders to be soft, falling away from your ears as your shoulder blades draw together along your back
You have now found your mountain pose! Just like a mountain that is connected to the Earth, you have a strong and solid foundation; from that base, you are lifting, rising up.
You can practice this pose anywhere, although I highly encourage you to try practicing this posture outdoors, barefoot on the grass. Allowing our feet to be in direct contact with the Earth is a grounding practice within itself, and so practicing Mountain pose in this way gives rise to added benefit.
Leave a comment below to let me know how you enjoy this practice! As always, sending you so much love!
We've spent the past couple of weeks talking about how the practice of yoga postures can lead to greater flexibility, ease, comfort, and steadiness within the body. I thought it would be fun today to offer you a quick 5-minute practice so that you can begin to experience these benefits right away! Practice these postures on their own; or, for a longer practice, combine with some of the other videos I have already made (links below).
Want more? Join us for our weekly live, virtual classes where I lead you through your practice live and in real-time!
This is Sutra 2.46 from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the main handbooks for hatha yoga. “Sutra” means thread of wisdom, and this book has 4 chapters of distinct Sutras of which only one directly refers to the yoga postures. This Sutra is “Sthira Sukham Asanam,” and it translates to “May our posture be steady and comfortable.”
In today’s blog, we continue from last week when I answered the question “Do I need to be flexible to start my practice of yoga?” I explained that we do not need to be flexible to start our practice of yoga, but it is through the practice of yoga postures that our body naturally becomes more flexible. In previous blogs, I have also described that Hatha Yoga consists of an 8-limbed path and the postures are just 1-limb on that path. As we gain greater flexibility in our body through the practice of postures, we also ripen our mental and emotional flexibility.
When I contemplate this Sutra within the grander concept of yoga, I am reminded of the analogy of “being as flexible as a blade of grass.” So that when the storms come, we are able to bend, flow, and adapt. In our lives, we all experience rainy seasons. It is simply Nature’s tendency to have a rainy season; at the time that I am writing this, we are in Springtime, which is naturally a rainy season. So, not only do we need to be able to adapt physically, but also cultivate flexibility and the ability to adapt mentally and emotionally. The practice of yoga postures helps us cultivate this flexibility, so that when the rain comes, we can bend, flow, and adjust. And, when the rain clears, we stand tall once again, with grace and poise.
What are your thoughts on this Sutra and this idea of being as flexible as a blade of grass? Share your thoughts below!
“I would practice yoga, but I'm just not flexible.”
This is the number one reason people tell me that they don't practice yoga. Even people who are genuinely interested in yoga and who know of the many benefits that yoga offers, will often say “I'm just not flexible; I can't do yoga.” This limiting belief closes them off from experiencing an incredible tool called yoga. So, I'm here today to bust this myth!
Before I started practicing yoga, I could not even touch my feet! I was not flexible. In fact, I have clear memories of being in elementary school and feeling so embarrassed on fitness test day because I could not even come close to touching my toes on the sit and reach test. I'm not sure if they still have fitness test day in gym class in schools anymore, but the sit and reach was where we would sit on the ground with our legs extended straight in front of us, feet flexed with the soles of our feet on the inside of a wooden box. The box had a measuring tape on the top of it. The exercise was to fold forward and reach our fingertips as far as we could on the measuring tape. I could barely even reach the box!
Well, many years later, I started practicing yoga at the local YMCA. I still could not touch my toes. Actually, I could barely even do half the poses in class, and I was too scared to even try the other half of the poses like shoulderstand! Still, I went to class because I was interested in it. My grandfather was a yogi and I wanted to try it. Needless to say, I fell in love! I always felt so great after class. I felt peaceful. I felt more comfortable and relaxed in my body. And so, my point is this - most of us are not that flexible when we first start practicing yoga. We do it anyways, and the flexibility naturally arises through regular practice.
Our regular daily life is restricted to such limited ranges of motion. Think about it, we wake up, get out of bed, get ready for our day, sit in our car, drive to work, sit in our chair at the office, and then drive right back home. This limited mobility tends to stiffen up our bodies. Even if we do exercise after work, our muscles can tighten up especially through repetitive movement exercises, like running. Simply through the practice of yoga, the flexibility comes. Now, I've been practicing yoga for more than 15 years and I can easily touch my toes, but this was not the case when I first started.
So, I'm here today to say that you do not need to be flexible to start your practice of yoga. As a result of your practices, the flexibility will naturally arise. I invite you to give it a try! At Shakti Vidya Yoga, we offer live, virtual yoga classes throughout the week. I invite you to join us. Even if you don't try it out with us, find a local studio, gym, or online videos to give it a try!