Sequence Wednesdays: Morning Wake Up

Sequence Wednesdays: Morning Wake Up

Sequence Wednesdays are BACK with a very special guest post from Anna Guest-Jelley, the founder of Curvy Yoga.  Anna has been a huge inspiration to me both for this blog and for my yoga teaching.  She’s one of the first people I connected with in the online yoga community and, in addition to being a smart and talented teacher, is an all-around lovely individual.  If you haven’t checked out her website and her new E-Book, Permission to Curve, you need to head over there ASAP!  You should also check out Anna’s first E-Book, Curvy Voices, which features a section written by me, and several other curvy yogis’ stories. I am so honored to have a post from Anna featured here, so without further ado, here is Anna’s morning wake-up sequence. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I don’t know about you, but when I roll out of bed in the morning, my body wants a good stretch. Now, that doesn’t mean I give it to it. Often, what I give it instead is hurrying, checking my iPhone while I wait for my breakfast to heat up and then right into work. But on the days when I can remind myself that my whole day would go better with even a brief yoga practice, the following is what I like to do. You can go through this sequence once, holding each pose for 1-3 breaths, and be done in 5 minutes or less. As crazy as it sounds, this can actually be enough. You can also repeat it as many times as you like, or play with holding different poses longer. The great thing about...
Sequence Wednesdays: Home Practice Roundup

Sequence Wednesdays: Home Practice Roundup

I don’t have a new sequence or set of poses to share with you this morning (I know, boo Annie!) but I thought it might be useful to show you how you could put some of the sequences and hacks I’ve already covered together to create a full home practice.  Depending on how quickly you move, I’d guess this would be a 30-45minute practice, but you could certainly extend or shorten it easily. Home practice is hard.  I wish I could tell you that I diligently roll out my mat in a place free of distractions and spend an hour practicing every day.  I don’t do that.  Because of my full time job, my teaching and all the other obligations/excuses that come up, I find myself doing my home practice a pose here, a pose there etc…and I get distracted.  When I do have the time and the focus to sit down for a long home practice, I find I need to go in with a plan of what I’m going to do. What’s interesting is that even if I don’t stick with the plan, simply having it keeps me on my mat long enough to be able to do the practice that feels good that day.  This is a round about way of saying that while I think it will be helpful to have a full sequence as you begin your home practice, the world won’t end if you deviate from it.  This is simply my suggestion for a starting point.  I’m not going to include all of the pictures and explanation from the original posts (though hopefully...
Sequence Wednesdays: Supported Full Sun Salutation A

Sequence Wednesdays: Supported Full Sun Salutation A

You’ve seen me use a bolster to support the dreaded chaturanga to upward dog transition.  Now, I will demonstrate doing all of Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) A with the bolster handy to support you.  This is one of my favorite things to do in my home practice and it really helps make the sun salutation more accessible to more students.  I teach this in my plus size series class all the time. Disclaimer: This feels a little bit like cheating since I’ve spent a lot of time on this material, but I think it’s worth sharing the whole caboodle with you.  Yes, caboodle.  PS. Does anyone remember caboodle cosmetic boxes ? I LOVED that stuff when I was a pre-teen! (but I digress…) Ahem, so to start, place the bolster in the middle of the mat – toward the front.  It take a few tries to get it in the right (or should I say, least awkward) place.  Then stand over it – your feet will obviously not be together or even shoulder width apart, but that’s alright.  It’s a steadier base anyways. Step 2: Swan dive over your legs to uttanasana (standing forward bend) with your back as straight as possible.  You can bend your legs here and bring your palms or head to the bolster. Step 3:  Come to a flat back and then fold forward once again into uttanasana. Step 4: Bend your knees, plant your hands and then step one foot back and then the other to a plank position.  The step back and step forward are the most awkward part of the shebang and...
Sequence Wednesdays: Restoratives

Sequence Wednesdays: Restoratives

First, if I may direct your attention to the sidebar, I have added a “Like Supportive Yoga” button for the new Supportive Yoga Facebook page.  You can follow my content there and I will also be sharing lots of extra yoga goodness from the greater online yoga community.  I’d love it if you “liked” it! Onto the matter at hand.  I am feeling run down after this weekend’s shenanigans and teaching 1000 chaturangas, so this is a good time to break out some restorative poses.  Restorative poses are supported (woo!) with props and we hold them for a long time to allow the body to release naturally at its own pace.  Joints and ligaments may respond to a restorative pose more readily than an active pose as well.  We can’t really force ligaments and tendons to “stretch” the way we can with muscles.  Hold these poses for up to 5 minutes.  Viparita karani and child’s pose can be held for much longer if you like. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order: Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) on a bolster with an optional badakonasana variation: Getting into this pose can be a little awkward, especially when we bring the bolster into it.  I try to get my butt as close to the wall as possible when coming into it and I usually sit down sideways, get as close to the wall as possible and then swing my legs up.  You can also use your arms to move close to the wall once you are on your back but I find this much harder.  For more...
Sequence Wednesday: Warriors!

Sequence Wednesday: Warriors!

I always wanted to teach a class that featured all of the various warrior poses that I’ve seen over the years, both traditional and non.  Warrior I, II and III are the classical poses, but yogis have gotten very creative and come up with some new favorites like peaceful/goddess/reverse warrior, which I love as well. It’s always interesting to consider the Warrior Poses in the context of the broader teachings of yoga.  On the surface, fierce, strong poses like Warrior seem out of place given the emphasis on ahimsa (non-harming/violence) and the fairly gentle worldview many yogis have.  On the other hand, the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important and oldest yoga texts out there, is all about Krishna assuring Arjuna that it’s totally ok to go to war if that’s your dharma (clearly, I’ve oversimplified a bit here, sorry…) The traditional Warrior (Virabhadrasana) poses represent the story of Virabhadra’s destruction of Daksha from the Vayu Purana.  From what I understand, Warrior I is Virabhadra raising his sword, Warrior II is the slashing motion and Warrior III is cutting off of Daksha’s head.  A little gruesome for your average yoga class, eh?  Of course, a scholar better than me could explain to you that these stories are metaphors for defeating the ego etc…but I do like the idea that we can approach some yoga poses with a certain ferocity.  We are cultivating strength and discipline (or tapas, which also means ‘heat’ in sanskrit) when we do our Warrior poses. Starting with the classics: Step 1: Warrior I.  I’ll leave it up to you how you are going to...
Sequence Wednesdays: Wheel, Redux

Sequence Wednesdays: Wheel, Redux

Good morning!  The touch of fall in the air is giving me some much needed energy for today’s post.  I have to admit that this isn’t a sequence per se.  I’m going to call it a pose process – as in, there are a lot of steps to this version of wheel and I encourage you to take it one step at a time, hanging out for as long as you need or want in each.   We are going to use the wall to “drop back” to wheel but in a controlled way, passing through a version of camel pose (ustrasana) and upward dog/cobra (urdva mukha svanasana/bhugangansana) a long the way. I think it’s clear that I like Wheel (sorry Blakeney!) and this is my favorite way to teach it.  Why? Because you can customize this approach to all levels of students and it works for almost everyone no matter how open or tight their backs might be.  Though I don’t think of this pose process as theraputic, it came in really handy when I had a student a couple of months ago who could not bear any weight on her knees at all.  Because all steps of the pose are done standing up, she could participate. It’s also a great party trick :).  Boyfriend Steve, who is a big comic book fan, was very excited when I told him I could climb up and down the wall like Spiderman. Step 1: Find a wall.  If you are planning to try to get all the way down the wall into wheel, you’ll need to be at least an arm...