No Yoga Class Tommorow

Due to the Good Friday holiday, there will be no gentle yoga class tomorrow.  Please join us next Friday and every Friday for a gentle flowing class.  There is still enough space for about 5 more participants.

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Variations of Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is one on my favorite asanas to use in the physical therapy clinic.  It is a powerful exercise to strengthen many muscle groups moving into spinal extension, a direction we all need to spend more time in to prevent low back pain.  Compared to “physical therapy bridge” performed by simply lifting the hips up, Bridge Pose requires segmental control of the abdominal muscles and spinal extensors in addition to working various arm and leg muscle groups.  See below for a full list of muscles strengthened from this posture.

Full Bridge Pose requires much flexibility of the chest and spine to perform safely.  Fortunately, there are two versions of bridge pose that provide you with the same benefits and allow to eventually work up to the full version.  Take your time with each step and be sure to breathe deeply with this asana.

STEP ONE: Preparation for Bridge Pose

 

  • Start with a rolled towel or foam roll on the floor
  • Lie on your back with the roll directly under the spine.  Bend your knees and rest your feet on the mat.  Be sure your knees and feet are in line with your hips.
  •  Actively press your arms down into the floor with your palms down.
  • Slowly roll your spine up from the bolster, beginning with your tailbone, lifting one vertebra at a time as you actively press your feet down into the floor.
  • Maintain the activity in the core, arms and legs as you hold the lift up to one minute.
  • When you are ready to come out of the pose, slowly and with control, roll down one vertebra at a time, making sure your tailbone is the last part to touch the floor.
  •  Note: laying on a towel or a roller makes it easier for you to lift up the pelvis.  Continue with this modification until you feel confident.

 STEP TWO: Half Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat.  Be sure your knees and feet are in line with your hips.  Actively press your arms down into the floor with your palms down.
  • Slowly roll your spine up from the floor, beginning with your tailbone, lifting one vertebra at a time as you actively press your feet and arms down into the floor.
  • Maintain the activity in the core, arms and legs as you hold the lift up to one minute.
  • When you are ready to come out of the pose, slowly and with control, roll down one vertebra at a time, making sure your tailbone is the last part to touch the floor.    Continue with this version until your mid-back can lift up off the floor.

 STEP THREE: Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat.  Be sure your knees and feet are in line with your hips.  Actively press your arms down into the floor with your palms down.
  • Slowly roll your spine up from the floor, beginning with your tailbone, lifting one vertebra at a time as you actively press your feet and arms down into the floor.
  • Once you have achieved maximum lift, walk the shoulder blades down towards your tailbone.  Clasp your hands together and press your arms down to the floor.
  • Maintain the activity in the core, arms and legs as you hold the lift up to one minute.
  • When you are ready to come out of the pose unclasp the hand and slowly, roll down one vertebra at a time, making sure your tailbone is the last part to touch the floor.

 Bridge Pose Benefits:

  • Strengthens the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, multifiti, serratus anterior, lower trapezius
  • Stretches the thoracic and lumbar spine, anterior shoulder capsule, intercostals, pectoralis major and minor and iliopsoas
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Relieves depression and anxiety

Sacred Flow Yoga Fundraiser for the Blue Lotus Temple

 
You are invited to attend a fundraising yoga event on Saturday, January 22 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, benefitting the Blue Lotus Temple.
Location Prairie Stone Sports & Wellness Center

5050 Sedge Blvd.
Hoffman Estates, IL
 
Sponsored By
 
  Cost: $40.00

Sacred Flow with Lourdes Paredes and Loving Kindness Meditation with Bhante Sujatha.

For many of us, our yoga practice has become a ritual of mindfulness and a reminder of the importance of the breath. But what if we allow our practice to also be a spiritual renewal-a surrendering to a higher source? In this Vinyasa practice, we will explore the concept of offering the fruits of our actions to the Divine, so we may awaken our hearts through devotion.

Following our Asana practice, Bhante Sujatha will lead us in a loving-kindness meditation that will ignite our capacity not only for self-love but love for all, so we may maintain unshakeable peace within.

To register, visit www.fusionmindbodystudio.com or call Juanita at (847)-567-6913  or visit www.bluelotustemple.org.

This is a fundraiser for the Blue Lotus Temple in Woodstock, IL. Your attendance will be much appreciated .  Hope to see you there!

Dolphin Plank

Dolphin plank is a wonderful alternative to the traditional plank pose for anyone looking for more of a challenge for the scapular stabilizers or those with wrist pain.  It is important to maintain the elbows at shoulder’s width apart for correct biomechanics.

Instructions:

  • Start on your stomach with your toes curled under
  • Rest elbows directly over your shoulders and press your forearms firmly against the floor, fingers pointed straight ahead
  • Pull your shoulder blades in and down
  • Lift your thighs up towards the ceiling as you contract your abdominal muscles
  • Elongate your neck and look straight down at the floor
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds, focusing on maintain your shoulder blade position
  • Release your knees to the floor to relax

Contraindications:

  • Shoulder injuries
  • Insufficient strength to maintain correct scapular position in traditional plank pose

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the hips, shoulder, abdominals, and back muscles
  • Increases bone density of the spine and arms
  • Allows individuals with carpal tunnel and other wrist problems to participate in weight-bearing postures safely.

Photo credit: yogajournal.com

Yoga Breathing: Three Part Breath

Pranayama, Sanskrit for breath control is the yogic practice of voluntarily controlled breathing exercises.  Researchers have conducted over 100 well designed research studies investigating the physiological and medical benefits of pranayama.  It has been discovered that voluntary breath control stimulates the Autonomic Nervous System.  This system controls the overall level of relaxation or arousal of the body.   The Autonomic Nervous System can be divided up into two components:

  1. Parasympathetic Nervous System

When triggered, muscle relaxation, decreased blood pressure and hard rate and improved mood occur.  Breathing techniques focusing on prolonged exhalation increase the relaxation response, helping those in pain or feeling anxious.

  1. Sympathetic Nervous System

Also known as the flight-or-fight response, the SNS prepares our bodies for activity by increasing blood flow to the skeletal muscles and increasing the heart rate.  This arousal response can be triggered by breathing techniques that focus on a prolonged inhalation and is helpful to combat depression and lethargy.

Three Part Breath is a technique that focuses on the inhalation, helping to restore your mood and increase one’s energy level.

Three Part Breath Instructions:

—  Sit tall in a comfortable position.

—  Inhale, bringing your breath deep into your abdomen, then ribcage, and finally into your chest and throat.

—  Exhale completely, letting everything go.

—  Repeat for 3-5 minutes.

Tai Chi: Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg

Background:

Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg is a challenging Tai Chi balancing exercise.  Traditionally, Tai Chi exercises are performed in a flowing sequence.  The exercises are performed in a particular order and transition smoothly in all 3 planes of movement.  This is particularly difficult for individuals just learning Tai Chi.  In the clinic, I teach one exercise at a time, repeating until the whole body exercise is learned. 

 In this blog, I will use the same approach as I introduce new Tai Chi exercises.  As you attempt this position, focus on your breath and use the least amount of effort required to maintain your balance.

 Benefits:

  • Increased static balance
  • Strengthening of the intrinsic foot muscles as well as the ankles, quadriceps, hip flexors, rectus abdominus, obliques and anterior deltoid.

  Instructions for the left leg:

—  Start with your feet shoulder width apart and rotated 45 ̊ weight on L

—  Your arms hold a ball of energy at chest height

—  Raise R leg so that your thigh is horizontal & the foot hangs relaxed 

—  At the same time, raise up the R arm with the elbow bent to 90 ̊and relax the L arm

—  If possible, bring your knee up to your elbow

—  Stay in this position for a moment

—  When ready to come out of the hold, step back with your R leg, shifting your weight to this side

Right:  Repeat the opposite way

Cyclic Meditation

Cyclic meditationcombines yoga postures with supine rest, blending active and passive practices together. A 2006 study by Sarang and Telles studied the oxygen consumption by volunteers performing both cyclic meditation and supine meditation to determine what technique provides a superior relaxation response. The results indicate cyclic meditation is superior in terms relaxation and arousal states vs. traditional supine meditative practices.

Based on my clinical experience, most people find it difficult to maintain focus when first introduced to meditation. A more active approach such as cyclic meditation is a great place to start.

Instructions:

STEP ONE: Mountain Pose

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart with toes pointed ahead. Tighten your thighs and straighten your back and neck. Pull in the shoulders and relax your arms. Hold this position with your eyes closed for 1-2 minutes. Your focus your attention to only your breath.

STEP TWO: Corpse Pose

Slowly lay down on your back with your legs hips width apart and rotated out. Rest your arms comfortably at your sides with palms up. Relax every part of your body and breathe deeply. Again focus your attention on your breath. Maintain this position for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this cycle 3-5 times.

 

Reference:

Sarang, P.S and Telles, S (2006). Oxygen consumption and respiration during and after two yoga relaxation techniques. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 31, 143-153.

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