Monday, August 30, 2010

Morning Viniyoga Therapy for Hips

I've been doing this great yoga therapy sequence in the mornings.  It's from Gary Kraftsow's Yoga Therapy for Hips, Lower back and Sacrum.  It's such a great way to wake up.

I go right into the other room where my mat is set up alongside a portable DVD player.  The room is nice and big with a high ceilings featuring a pair of skylights and tons of windows with a view onto the green side of our house including the garden. 

The series begins supine (on the back) and works in the viniyoga style - which is gentle targeted movements that are timed with the breath.  Most poses have two phases - moving in with the inhale and coming out with the exhale.  This is so different from your typical yoga approach - get into an asana and stay for a while, calm breath.

The purpose of the 30 minute hip therapy routine is to stimulate circulation around the hips by working the distinct muscle groups of the hips in rounds of poses.  I have been practicing this series to work my own hip issues.  My left leg is currently .25 inches longer than my right and with the help of Bikram and a chiropractor, I've made progress.  Great progress... but have still had this nagging pinching sensation on the left medial illium area.

This yoga therapy sequence is healing me!  Not only that, but it's helping me be able to hike - an activity that I've been unable to do for a few years.  I'm also learning it from the inside out because I want to teach it.  It's not like in my corporate yoga work I can do targeted yoga therapy for individuals.  There's no time or money for that.  But in these worksite group settings, I'm dealing with inflexible, stressed people in office clothes.  So I need to find adaptable poses that aren't too challenging and are close to the floor.

Taking sessions with Gary at a YJ conference was mind blowing to me.  Sure, you look at people doing viniyoga and the yoga perfectionist mentality scoffs.  Knees bent in warrior two?  Spending a half hour on the floor doing yoga in the morning?  Really?  But the work you do is safe and balanced enough to get deep into the body and heal it through gentle breath-centric movement that increases circulation, keeping what's working working and allowing some easing of tension in other muscle groups.

Anyway, there's this great lunge series I thought I'd share with you.  

Stand on the knees, knees hip width apart.

Bring the left foot forward, creating a 90 degree angle with the left leg (left foot under the left knee), both hands on the left knee.

Inhale as you lunge forward, and gently lift the chest.
Exhale and come back out.
Repeat twice.
It's easy, in this part, to really lunge forward and feel the right hip stretch.  However what I've learned is that if I don't max out the lunge (which seems to stretch the surface muscles of the hip) and really focus on the chest lift away from the pelvis, you stretch much more deeply into the psoas and hip.  Deeper connecting muscles.  It feels A-MAZ-ING!!

On the third lunge "in" instead of coming out on exhale you stay for a couple breaths, adding in an arm movement.
Exhale drop right arm to the side.
Inhale lift the right arm to stretch deep into the psoas.  If you start to get the nuance of how to stretch deeper into the hip connectors, this arm reach can augment the stretch.
Exhale arm back to the side, repeat twice.

Come out of the lunge, repeat this series on the other side.  So you can work this so intensely and deep that you're shaking at the end of the pose.  However it's safe for uninjured beginners.  They don't quite get the nuance and the set up is a little challenging to their stability, but they will certainly be able to work to the point of feeling something great.

I love it.

With regards to Bikram, every time I'm on the mat right now is really tough.  I'm starting the journey of conception and basically it's toying with my emotions a lot, which for me, just makes my Bikram practice so hard.  I don't feel I have the fortitude of spirit to even get on the mat a lot, and last week I gave myself the week off - I didn't push myself to practice.  I don't feel awesome though - it definitely helps me when I do practice.  So my goal this week is to hit the mat four times between today and Sunday.  Here's hoping!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still kickin

Compliments of Weblo... THANKS!

I'm still makin' it through over here... Have had some medical issues that put me into a place where I was struggling with reality.  Some things I've tried are keeping up with my yoga and exercise (to the best of my ability), doing some EFT with a professional, dropping therapy for a while (why force things?) and just trying to relax and appreciate the good things in my life like my hubby.

I'm not in any serious trouble or anything just wishing for things to happen faster than they are.  That may give you some clues!

Hope everyone is out there taking great care of themselves and being kind in the mind.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Struggling with acceptance

Something is going on in my life that is quite difficult for me to accept.  I'm asking anyone out there, if you read this, to please send me some prayers of hope and acceptance.  Patience, hope and acceptance.  Thank you.

A teacher helped me last night

Setting: The pool.
Task: complete a set I cooked up that's quite challenging

10 x 300 yards
first 200y of each repetition is freestyle (8 lengths), best moderate/quick pace possible
then 100 yards (4 lengths) backstroke, recovery pace
then rest approx 20 seconds

I've only gotten through six passes of this set.  I've tried a few times.  Swimming 3000 yards is almost two miles so I was willing to work up to completing the set, honoring my joints, as I get my endurance back in the pool.

A guy in the next lane asked me if I wanted to do some workout stuff with him but I declined, as I have declined him in the past.  He asked what I was doing and if he could join in (smart guy, eh?)  Of course, I said!  I had completed 3 x 300 at that point.  He is much faster than I am.  He basically "paced" me and urged me to swim a bit faster than I would have.

It kicked me up into a higher gear and I powered through numbers 4-7 with him. Then he was off to do some coaching - I swam with the masters swim coach!  I had a great time, and after he left, I slogged through the last three repetitions of the set.  Not as fast, but I made it.

He encouraged me to come swim with them in the winter - and maybe I will!  I'm so proud of this set.  It's quite hard and takes real endurance.  I can't wait to do it again!  The next few times I will just try to complete the whole 3000 yards (1.81 miles).  After that, I'll start working the intervals in more concrete times (rather than a loose 20-30second rest at the end.

I couldn't have done it without a teacher's help.  I love love love feeling like a student.  Being a student.  Being helped and supported.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I was a mess on the mat

Image Compliments of
Last night's class was in the midst of a huge and torrential downpour.  The humidity was amazingly high in the studio.  Our studio has been closed for a week so I enjoyed my week off from practicing and teaching.  For me, Bikram is a practice I will do for the rest of my life.  How can I do that?  The best recipe for me is to not burn out on it and to learn to be very kind to myself in the practice room.

So when presented with a week off, I took it.

Sunday was the first day back, great class.  Teachers don't rush to end right on time for our Sunday morning class, and it's always an exercise in endurance and limitations when even three to four minutes are added to the class!  I worked hard, took class from a teacher I haven't had before.  Then I spent the day weeding and mulching in my garden.  Lovely!

Which brings us to yesterday, Monday.  The studio air was thick, it was raining, and it was a steamy class.  I'm adopting a modification for some lower back pain - so I'm practicing with my feet apart in pranayama and half moon.  Class was difficult for me from the start, and I really struggled during standing balancing poses.  Standing bow should really be called wibble wobble or falling bow or something.  It's such a challenge for me to stay in it.

My balance was off, and by triangle and separate leg forehead to knee, I was exhausted.  I think I even caught myself swearing at the teacher in the floor series - something I haven't done for ages.  The floor series was difficult.  I couldn't even do rabbit - I had to do the serious modification of hands on the floor.

I felt like a mess on the mat, my head was all over the place, I was getting into and out of poses late and early respectively, but I was doing my best.  That much I knew.  I didn't have any juice in the tank.

I'm hoping this means that better classes are around the corner - it always does.

My teaching class last night was just packed with dialogue.  As someone who teaches at a non-dialogue studio, I have always worried about the dialogue slipping.  However I listen to my recording in the car pretty faithfully and last night just spewed it.  It came very naturally.  Dialogue that still needs work: Standing separate stretching pose (this was one of my easiest at training thus I haven't worked it at home at all), bow pose (really???) and rabbit and separate leg forehead to knee with stretching.

None of it is that bad though.  I know what the dialogue points are, it's more a question of order.

Anyway, I was wiped after my class (as opposed to feeling juiced and energetic as I usually do).  So... teaching was going to be a challenge.  Just add dialogue, watch the clock, and the students had a great class.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Breakfast Cereal Compared - Cereals from Post, Kellogg's & General Mills

Breakfast Cereal Compared - Cereals from Post, Kellogg's & General Mills

I found this to be a great resource for comparing breakfast cereals!

(If you don't already eat your own colon blow concoction of bulger flax flakes that you ground yourself.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guest Teaching - I did it!

Wow, so beautiful!  Image compliments of Luk Waiho at
I teach all over my state in worksites, however, I had not taught Bikram in another studio until last night!  I was quite nervous but of course, things went wonderfully.  I ended up with two teachers in my class (the studio owner and an attendee.)  It was wonderful and fun.  I'm quite proud.

I "brushed up on my dialogue" as Manali would say and taught a strong class.  I noticed I was pushing through postures quickly - I ended up a few minutes earlier to the end of the floor series than usual.  This was a bonus because I'm usually rushing the final breathing.

For those of you who don't do Bikram, it's taught based on a dialogue (a monologue really) of instructions.  The partner in dialogue is the student's body.  Though thankfully my studio does not require strict dialogue, some studios do.  So I choose to keep my dialogue chops up but also teach in my own style all the time.  It's a nice way to balance the purist in me and my creative power.

In my own practice I've actually been... well... practicing in a more consistent manner.  It's like I fell back in love with Bikram.  It took a while after training.  But I'm back - fallen in love.