Tag Archives: yoga

yoga spotlight: dancer’s pose

or, as it’s more formally known, Lord of the Dance Pose. I mean, that just sounds graceful. Excuse me, while I slip causally into Lord of the Dance Pose. I feel much more balanced just typing that… but beyond sounding impressive, why is it that we love Dancer’s Pose so much? Part of the reason is that there is certainly an inherent grace built into the pose – you can’t just flop into Dancer, like you can with some yoga poses. The transition into Dancer is requires mindfulness and focus, and the nature of the pose demands a very precise level of balance. It is a physical form put to total balance – balance on the standing leg, but also balance between the two different outstretching sides of the body, balance in the core, and balance in the gaze, breath, and mind.

Physically, the pose offers some truly incredible benefits – it provides an intense stretch for the thighs, groin, and abdomen, as well as the shoulders, chest, and legs. It tones the thigh and calf muscles, while increases ankle strength and stretching your hip flexors. It is an incredible chest and lung opener, while also strengthening the back body. But most importantly, Dancer is a pose that calls upon a steady breath and steady balance. It is a pose that harmonizes every aspect of the body  and the mind.

A crucial element to maintaining Dancer’s Pose is to have strong and stretched hip adductors, the muscles in the inner groin and inner thighs. These are what help keep the pelvis steady and balanced in poses like this, and weak hip adductors can result in too much strain on the lower back. A great way to strengthen your hip adductors, and therefore get a more balanced and beautiful Dancer Pose is t0 fold regularly into Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose.

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thanks to the lovely Suzie Blackman, the latest and greatest on the Winston-Salem yoga scene, for this beautiful Dancer’s Pose.

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wanderlust stratton, 2014

You guys… Holli went to Wanderlust – only the most incredible experience imaginable, times ten!!! Unbelievably wonderful… and luckily, we all get to experience a little bit of this beautiful bliss through her writing and pictures:

Have you guys seen the movie ‘Wanderlust’? You know, Paul Rudd & Jennifer Aniston make their way from life in the big city…imagine daily Starbucks addiction, a cell phone that just won’t stop & that feeling that things are moving way too fast all of the time…to a bucolic, bohemian-paradise commune where music filled nights make way for morning yoga. Even if you haven’t seen the movie (you should…it’s laugh out loud hilarious) let’s pause on the last part of that sentence and let it set the scene for real-life Wanderlust, the Wanderlust festival held on Stratton Mountain, Vermont.

Last week, I had the pleasure of packing my bags full of luon and taking a four day bliss break in the form of Wanderlust Stratton. Imagine four days, on a mountain, under a bright electric blue sky, yoga by day (incredible, life-changing yoga classes to be exact) and music filled nights, delicious, healthy food and conversation that lifts the soul, all in a setting where every last detail has been thought of and accounted for and everyone around you is functioning on that beautiful post-yoga high. Yep, that just about sums it up.

Below is a photo recap of my Wanderlust adventure, one of hundreds of other stories (think choose your own adventure, yogi-style) beautifully curated under the clear blue sky of Stratton Mountain, Vermont:

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1. All packed & ready to go! Luon…check. Birks…check. Mala beads…check & journal…check!

wanderlust22. First stop upon arrival, the d’om, home away from home, lululemon’s tent where we are graciously greeted with natural beauty, smiling faces & luxe floor pillows to lounge on!

wanderlust33. Next up, let’s get this party started with a class led by Eoin Finn w/ music by NahkoThis may have been my favorite class of the entire weekend. I left completely blissed out & incredibly happy to be exactly where I was.

wanderlust44, My (oh so cute) partners in crime, on the left, Elliott, who is one of our ambassadors and an instructor at Wanderlust & Coby, a fellow lemon who I fell head over heels in love with from day one. Here, we’re chillin’ at the lululemon welcome BBQ. It was quite the night & I was living in-the-moment so no more photos, sorry!

wanderlust55. & 6. Up bright and early for the Daybreaker, think 6am dance party and yes, those are jelly fish in the background. What a way to start the day!

wanderlust66. See #5

wanderlust77. Off to class with Sean Corne-that’s one the most amazing things about Wanderlust, the ability to practice with some of the most amazing teachers, all in one space…community at it’s best.

wanderlust88. Back at the d’om, with costumed & painted dancers flanking the entrance…only at Wanderlust.

wanderlust99. That’s me cheesing in between MC Yogi and Amanda Giacomini, after class with the two of them & DJ Drez. I went to two classes with this crew & they were some of the most fun hours of the weekend…A yoga class to the tunes of Beastie Boys, yep, that happened & it was as fun as it sounds!

wanderlust1010. Some of the many friends we made throughout the weekend, pictured here with more than a yoga-buzz going on at ‘Winederlust’, one of the many non-yoga activities you could find as options for nighttime fun!

wanderlust1111. Yes, it looked like this the entire time. Breathe-taking.

wanderlust1212. I had my first Kundalini yoga experience compliments of Gabrielle Bernstein & Elena Brower. Helloooooo second chakra!

wanderlust1313. I finished the weekend by coming back ‘home’, and heading to one of Elliott’s classes. Seeing one of our local instructors, not to mention a dear friend who I love, shine so brightly doing what he loves on a really, freakin’ incredible stage with lots of major players was amazingly gratifying. If you’re ever in the Triad, you must head to one if his classes at Paz Studios.
 

My photos & my adventure are only a small glimpse into what is possible at Wanderlust. Do yourself a favor and pack your luon, grab your mat & let yourself wander a little. It does the mind & soul a whole lot of good!

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adventures off the mat: yoga & stress

it’s too easy to contain yoga to a yoga studio – this is what I do on my mat. This is how I breath on my mat. This is who I am, how I am, what I believe, on my mat. But there’s so, so much more – the asanas and the studio time are only the very surface of a yoga practice, and in a lot of modern yoga culture, there is not nearly enough focus given to yoga off the mat. To using your breathing, that gentle, powerful ujjai breath in your daily life, to bringing that flow and awareness to everything that you do. Recently, in an incredibly stressful situation, I recognized that everything is yoga. Everything can be yoga. If we can just bring that mindfulness, that awareness, that breath and that power to our every day lives, we can truly live a yoga practice. I can think of nothing more powerful. So, here are a few ways that I found to breath yoga into my stress, and to truly bring my practice to life.

1. First of all, recognize that, just like in your yoga practice, everything that is present in your world right now is a result of choice. Just like you have the choice, always, to skip a vinyasa, or to step out of a challenging pose, you also have the choice to remove yourself from whatever is causing you stress. No matter how persistently you would argue that, no, in this case, there really is no choice, yes – there is always choice. If work is what’s stressing you out, remember that YOU are choosing to make that deadline, or even to show up at all. Yes, that choice is resulting in the status of your employment… but recognize that staying employed is also your choice. It truly is all up to you – and how freeing is that? Just as you could arrive on your mat and simply spend the entire practice in savasana, so you can also chose to step away or be absent from any elements of your life. So, step one is to recognize each element as a choice, and take a moment to decide if it is truly a choice you want to be making. Remember that, like poses, some choices are hard, or even uncomfortable. But you make them, because you love yourself, you love your body, and you love the world. So, once you’ve decided to grow to fullness within those choices you make, you can move on to another element of yoga:

2. Your breathing. Maintaining that calm, steady, deep, and full breath is just as important in your daily life as it is in your yoga practice, and even more important in moments of high stress. So much anxiety and worry could be easily avoided if we just took an extra moment to focus on our breathing, to really balance that deep, full in-breath, and completely clear ourselves with an even, measured out-breath. It’s amazing, what space will open up in your life with no effort except to simply center yourself in your breathing. And just as you try to send breath to the areas of your body that are tense or hurting in a pose, send your breath to your stress. Breath in peace, balance, stillness, and certainty that you are enough. Breath out doubt, worry, uncertainty, exhaling them completely and resting in what remains – you.

3. Once your breathing is centered, turn your attention to your balance. This is a huge element of yoga, both on and off the mat, and while a large part of maintaining balance is breath, there is also so much strength and presence required in a balancing pose, and in a balanced life. Just as you can’t stay in a challenging balance if your mind is anywhere external to your practice, and you really can’t maintain that posture with integrity if you don’t have a fixed, strong focus, so it is with a balanced life. I find that, a lot of the times that I’m the most stressed, it’s simply because I’m actually very absent from what’s going on. I’m not grounded, not rooted, I’m simply letting my body and mind react negatively to vague, undefined stressors, instead of taking that moment to truly get rooted within myself, identify the exact nature of the situation, and focus my gaze with stillness and strength on fixing it. Get present, get focused, get balanced. It’s amazing how quickly and effectively you’ll be able to work towards a solution for your stress once you’re truly balanced.

4. Recognizing the flow is another crucial element to yoga, both in the asanas and in your life. It’s all flowing, fluidly and constantly. The Warrior series you’re in the middle of now, it won’t be here forever. Soon, you’ll be back bending or forward folding, maybe even arm balancing. You don’t know, and you can’t know… all that you can know is that it won’t last forever. No matter how long you’ve been holding chair, you know that it won’t be all that there is. Something came before this, and there is something following this. It is not permanent. So it is with whatever is going on in your life right now, be it good or bad. It’s not forever. And that’s incredible. If the Right Now is not your ideal, that’s okay – it’s all a part of a flow. Not everything will be Child’s Pose. But not everything will be handstand either.It’s a constant balance between the rest and the work, and it is in that flux that we find the true and deep beauty of life.

5. And finally, a crucial element of both yoga and life, please remember to take Savasana. Do as much as you can, give as much as you can, shine and be truly amazing. But rest. Recover. Come back to your breath, to your body, to the now. Remember that you don’t always have to find the solution this second. Give yourself some grace, and make space for yourself to rest. Just as there is a very definite space carved out at the end of a yoga practice for rest and breath, so there should be in your life. Make space for you, especially when you’re so stressed out that you can’t see straight. Doing more isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, your heart is crying out for a Savasana. Don’t be afraid to take it.

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fitness fusion: yoga for runners

in the wonderful world of fitness, there tends to be at least some symbiosis between different activities, for which I am totally grateful. Once you start loving certain things, they all seem to flow together effortlessly, and  maybe in some cases it’s only because you are pursuing these things so wholeheartedly that they cannot help but fuse; but in other cases, the connection is incredibly and undeniably clear (paddleboard yoga, for example). Either way, it makes everything so much more exciting when all of the ways that you love to be active can blend together to make one awesome, incredible life. Someone asked me the other day what my favorite way to sweat was, and my immediate response was “runningbutclimbingandabsolutelyyogaplusnowpaddleboarding.” Definitely all one word.

With that being said, and in honor of yesterday’s Boston Marathon, I wanted to take a moment to explore the fusion between yoga and running by looking at some of the best yoga poses for runners! So if you were one of the incredible 26.2-ers from yesterday, or if you spent your sunny Monday getting in some milage of your own, here are a few great ways to work it all out on your mat:

1. Crescent Lunge – I know this one is always a little bit of a struggle for me, because everything in my legs usually hurts a little bit from running, but stick with this beauty even through the pain, because  it is  truly a wonderful hip, calf, and hamstring stretch.

2. Downward Dog – my post-run paradise. This pose helps to stretch out and strengthen everything in your leg that gets so tight from running, which will actually help prevent common running injuries later on (shin splints, IT band issues, etc.)

3. Pigeon Pose – a lot of the time, runners will suffer from overuse injuries, because of the repetition of one type of movement for a long period of time. If you’re doing this constant motion with tight hip flexors, your body will look to other joints to balance the load, even when they were not meant to do so. SO. If you put in a little extra time on your mat really focusing on opening your hips, it will help train your body to put the pressure where it was meant to be when you’re running, and ultimately lead to a much better run, and much fewer injuries!

4. Pyramid Pose – this is a phenomenal hamstring stretch, which is  such a necessary undertaking for active runners. When your hamstrings are too tight, it changes the angle in which your pelvis tilts, which in turn adds a lot more stress on your back. Well-stretched hamstrings will not only keep your legs flexible, but will help keep your back aligned and strong.

5. Triangle Pose – two words: hamstring. stretch. Get on it.

6. Chair Pose – big ow, especially for runners. I can feel my glutes burn even as I type the words. But such a helpful pose, as it’s working to strengthen not only those leg muscles we need for a solid run, but the core muscles to help us run properly, and therefore avoid injury.

7. Hero Pose – the motion and bending of running puts a lot of stretch and strain on your psoas muscle, which tightens it up and allows for poor posture. Hero pose stretches out your psoas muscle, working to counteract this tightness.

8. Forward Fold – don’t have the time or space for any of these other fancy moves? That’s fine. Sometimes, a simple forward fold is all you need to stretch everything out, and to heal and re-center your body and your breath.

 

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city spotlight: charleston

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Charleston is a city alive with culture, adventure, and a very distinct southern charm, and recently, I was blessed enough to get to spend some time basking in its historical beauty and funky atmosphere. A three-day getaway to this incredible place was the most necessary pause, and since this fantastic city is close enough to make a weekend trip of, I figured I’d share some of my favorites, so you all can go enjoy them too!

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First stop in this incredible city has to be City Lights Coffee, which we stumbled into absolutely on accident (frantic necessity for mate tea after some late-night driving), but was one of the most happy accidents of the trip. The atmosphere is calm and cozy, while still somehow maintaining the distinct feeling of a beachside coffee shop, the building was rustic and beautiful (surprise: it was apparently actually once a brothel, but has been beautifully retouched since it’s past days), the owner was warm, helpful, and wonderful to chat with, and the drinks were superb – hot tea, and freshly squeezed lemonade. I even spotted some gluten free muffins sitting on the corner…

After you grab some tea or coffee at City Lights, although I’m not usually one to suggest caffeine before yoga, the best life choice you could ever make would be to head down King Street a little bit in search Charleston Power Yoga, aka a little slice of heaven. Being the tireless researcher that I am, the second we decided on a vacation location, I was immediately scouring the area for the best yoga spots available, and although I have about fifteen different locations marked down to hit up (in a three-day time period, so realistic), I ended up just making continuous appearances at this amazing Baptiste studio. With a perfect blend of fast-paced, challenging sequences and authentic, positive inspiration, this studio has it all, and is an incredible way to work up a good sweat in between all of the eating and drinking that the city has to offer.

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After working up a good sweat, a nutritious and filling meal is an absolute must, and fortunately, just a few blocks down the street from Charleston Power Yoga sits one of my new favorite lunch spots in the world, Black Bean and Co. Described as “energy food,” this quirky little joint offers just that – fresh, whole foods, with a creative and well thought out combination of tastes and elements… and even some bottles of kombucha in the fridge! Healthy heaven. I ordered a mexican un-wrapped wrap, as mexican food and beaches seem to be a pretty ideal combination, but they seemed to have an extensive sampling of flavors and food styles.I spotted a beet and goat cheese salad that I’m pretty anxious to go back for…

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Further still on King Street was another absolutely needed stop for our trip, and for yours as well – a visit to the local lululemon! As always, it was simultaniously exciting and refreshing to be in another one of our stores – everyone there was, of course, helpful and wonderful, and we got some great tips on spots to hit in the area, while also picking up a brand new chakra mat (!!!). Since we’re still a small showroom, I always love a chance to get to pop into the full stores and see all the colorful goods that they’ve got. At the moment, my favorites that I tried on were these Free Reign Shorts and the Cool Racerback in a soft grey luon light (big time not-buyers regret on these puppies).

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And what would a city guide be without at least a little bit of a scoop on some scoops of ice cream? Shockingly, after days of sun and walking, my sweet tooth began to kick in just a little bit, so naturally the walking led us right to a giant ice cream cone outside of a cute-looking little shop (again, still on King… I promise, we did leave this street a few times during the trip!), which happened to be heaven-on-earth, otherwise known as Belgain Gelato. Yum. My first question was, “okay, how many of these flavors can I get in one cup?” Answer: not nearly enough.

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To prove that we did more than eat while down in Charleston (I swear! It happened!), here are a few shots from the South Carolina Aquarium, which was a delightful surprise – for such a small building, it packs in a lot of incredible animals, AND is doing an amazing amount to support and preserve habitat maintenance and animal protection. Aquariums are something that I always forget how much I enjoy until I’m there, but this was a great one, and definitely another must-visit for anyone planning to spend more than a day or two down there.

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Saving the best for last, if you only pick one thing to do from this entire post, please make it be eating at Scratch Taco Boutique, because it will be the best choice you ever make. Ever. I could have eaten every meal we had down there at this place, and still probably not be sick of it. But really. Lemon thyme margaritas, fresh baked chips with a house salsa, and lettuce-wrapped vegan tacos (but also non-vegan tacos available…!), I think I may have taken the smallest bites of my life just so that the taste of the food wouldn’t have to end as quickly. The menu was super user-friendly (aka, everything was kindly labeled “GF or V” for high maintenance eaters like myself), the taste combinations were superb, and the atmosphere was sophisticated and relaxing, all while maintaining the feel of a little taco spot by the beach. We ate there on our last night in town, and it was the most perfect way to end the most perfect trip.

A few honorable mention activities that didn’t get photographed because of all of the activity surrounding them are: Sullivan’s Island, which is a fantastic beach area, great place for a picnic, and, like most of Charleston, dog-friendly; White Point Gardens, which is only a 15 minute walk away from the heart of downtown (just head straight down King Street until you see the water!), and is an amazing place to work on handstands or read a book; and finally, the Charleston bar scene – pick a bar, any bar, because they are all amazing… at least all the ones we hit up. Maybe next time I’m down there, I’ll post a Part Two: Bar Review!

So should you start craving a sandy mat and some ocean breeze, I highly recommend taking a road trip – spontaneous or planned, alone or with loved ones, down to Charleston. ’tis the season, after all!

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yoga: the many-hatted vixen

I remember very clearly the first time that I was introduced to the idea that yoga could be more than just yoga: I was in an airport, flying down to Florida for the weekend, and had just started a very, very basic home yoga practice, so I brought my mat down with me, hoping to continue exploring my budding love for yoga. While waiting to board the plane, one of the flight attendants saw my mat and came up to me to talk about yoga… I don’t remember much from the conversation, except that she used a lot of words that I had never heard before, and that it ended with her drawling, “well, I myself am very well-practiced in ashtanga” and listing everyone that she had ever studied under. I’m pretty sure that my only contribution to the conversation was a lame, “oh, yeh, I mean, I really like down dog…”  Needless to say, five minutes later I was planted in my airplane seat, frantically googling “different types of yoga” on my phone so as to prepare for that situation, should it ever occur again. Years later, I can safely say that I have a little bit better of a grasp of the various forms that a yoga practice can take, and would probably not run away in fear if sanskrit were ever to be dropped  in a casual conversation, but that experience has always served as a reminder to me that sharing knowledge is only powerful when done out of a space of love!

That being said, here’s a short breakdown of the main, basic styles of yoga practiced, so that all you lovely yogis and aspiring yogis are well-versed if ever cornered by an over-zealous flight attendant. Namaste.

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Anusara literally means “to step into the current of divine will,” this is a very spiritually-centered style of yoga, and yet one that maintains a good level of physical challenge. There is as much of a focus placed on the proper alignment of the body as there is on the inner-goodness of the individual. An anusara class will certainly make for a beautiful fusion of mind and body, and will also tend to be fun and lighthearted. awesome for: learning proper alignment and putting you in an incredible mood.

Ashtanga – ashtanga yoga is one of the oldest styles of yoga practiced, but it was popularized and brought over to this side of the pond in the 70’s. An ashtanga class is based on six series of postures, which increase in difficulty as the class progresses. It’s a lot like vinyasa yoga, except that it follows a much more structured pattern – definitely still a super-sweaty workout. awesome for: some pretty serious strength building and body toning.

Bikram – translation: super, super, super sweaty yoga. One of the first yoga classes I ever took was a bikram class, and I honestly did not know that my body was capable of producing as much sweat as it did then. Bikram yoga utilizes a series of 26 traditional yoga poses in a specific sequence, and is practiced in a room that is heated to 105 degrees. Note on this: drink more water than you ever imagined consuming, both before and after class. Otherwise, you’ll experience what I refer to fondly as a “yoga hangover.” awesome for: in-freaking-sane weight loss, and a lovely system reboot.

Hatha – the word “hatha” is actually just used to describe the physical practice of yoga, and could be used as a blanket description for most of the yoga classes available today. A class labeled as “hatha” is probably going to be one that focuses more on the perfect forms of the postures, slowly moving from one to another. These classes tend to be a little more calm and gentle, but still provide a wonderful way to step into yoga, or to deepen your practice. awesome for: calming down and de-stressing.

Iyengar – this style of yoga could be summarized in two words: alignment and precision. In an iyengar yoga class, you’ll find yourself holding poses for a much longer time than in other classes… the idea behind this is to shift the focus of the class away from getting from one pose to another, and instead becoming increasingly aware of your muscular and skeletal alignment in each pose. You will also end up using a lot of yoga props, like blocks, straps, and even the wall. awesome for: learning some yoga fundamentals, and toning some beautiful muscles.

Kundalini – a yoga practiced that, according to Yogi Bahjan, is the path to everyone becoming “happy, healthy, and holy” – this style of yoga is a blend of breath, posture, and chanting spiritual mantras. A large amount of focus is placed on the awakening of the energy at the base of the spine, and spreading that energy through the rest of the chakra systems in the body. awesome for: building a beautiful energy in your body, while still staying grounded and focused.

Vinyasa – fun fact, “vinyasa” is actually the Sanskrit word for “flow,” and with good reason. The primary focus of a vinyasa class is to flow through various postures while connecting to your breath. Although the core of this class is breath and rhythm, don’t expect an easy class – vinyasa yoga can be quite a sweaty and intense mind-body workout! awesome for: a calm, focused energy, and a full-body workout.

Yin– yin yoga is a lot more of a slow and mindful practice, a serious exercise in meditation while also challenging your physical body. Yin poses are held for long periods of time (typically five minutes or more), and are targeted towards stimulating the flow of energy through your body. awesome for: meditation and a better understanding of your own body.

 

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yoga spotlight: balance your half moon

ardha chandrasana, or more commonly known as balancing half moon, is one of our favorite poses to pop into during practice, and with good reason! Physically, this pose is a challenging one, as your entire body has to be properly aligned and engaged, but it is also a welcome mental challenge, as is any act of balance, both in yoga and in life. Balancing poses require a perfect harmony of breath and concentration, a very clear sense of presence within your body and a full awareness of what is surrounding and grounding you, and this pose is no exception – in my opinion, it requires a much greater sense of presence than some traditional leg balances, because your body is in an entirely unusual and unfamiliar alignment.

Aside from promoting an excellent awareness, balancing half moon pose has a whole host of other amazing benefits for your body: it strengthens your entire leg, ankles and knees included, as well as your core and buttocks. It also works to open up your chest, shoulders, and torso, and spine WHILE stretching your hamstrings and calves (to all you runners, take note…)! Additionally, because the heart is higher than the head in this pose, you get a little taste of those inversion benefits that we all know and love, such as stress and fatigue relief. Lastly, this is a phenomenal pose to take if your digestive system needs a little bit of love.

Now that you’re all loving good old ardha chandrasana as much as you should be, here are a few final thoughts on the pose, to ensure that you’re not in any way hurting your body while trying to reap all of these fabulous benefits: make sure to keep your core engaged in this pose (as in most poses) and your pelvic floor drawn in, so as to avoid any pain in your lower back. If you’re feeling any neck pain in this pose, make sure to keep your head level and try to look straight forward. As with everything, use a block or other modification to make sure that you’re giving your body all of the love that it deserves!

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many thanks to the beautiful Lindsey from Paz Sudios for rocking a snowy half moon for us! 

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the chakra system: an overview

in honor of our amazing chakra mat (tragically not in the showroom… but definitely worth an online order!), a post breaking down the basic idea of the chakra system seemed to be well warranted. Once you read up on the chakras and the function of the chakra system, go take this quiz… it’s a pretty cool indicator of how open certain chakras are in your life!

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So what is the chakra system? In the most basic terms, the chakras are seven centers, through which energy flows in our body. An energy blockage in a certain chakra can lead to emotional, or even physical, ailments, and for that reason it’s important to know how to open each center and let energy flow through it. There are seven different chakras, each located in a particular station of your body, and each marked by a specific color and a distinct set of mental and emotional attributes.

1. Root Chakra – what is it? Located at the base of the spine, this chakra focuses on feeling grounded and at home, stable and secure, and present in this moment and in your physical body. The color associated with this chakra is red. what does it do? An under-active root chakra can cause fear or nervousness, particularly surrounding food and money; whereas too much activity here can cause excessive materialism, greed, and a resistance to change. how to balance it? Yoga-wise, a whole lotta bridge pose can help to open up this lower spinal area. Try simply being mindful of your grounding, both in yoga and in your everyday life – be conscious of where you’re touching the ground, what’s rooting you, and how firm you are in that grounding… and during that mindfulness, eat lot of red and root fruits and veggies (apples, beets, carrots).

2. Sacral Chakra – what is it? Located in the lower abdomen, this beautiful little chakra is what leads us to our feelings. It’s the center of energy for our relationships, as well as our sense of self. The color associated with this chakra is orange. what does it do? An under-active sacral chakra can lead to a stiffness and unwillingness to be open in relationships, and a happily open sacral chakra will leave us with a secure sense of abundance and the freedom to “let go” of excessive control or withheld emotion. how to balance it? Cow face pose is a good one for opening the sacral chakra, and it’s also a really easy one to just hang out it (confession: I’m sitting in it while typing this post!). Pigeon and other hip openers are also great for opening up this area, as long as they feel gentle and natural, never forced or strained. While you’re hanging out in pigeon or cow-faced, munch on some oranges or nuts if you feel like your sacral chakra needs further opening.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra – what is it? Located in the upper abdomen, this chakra is what controls our sense of self-esteem, our confidence, and also our contentment with life. A well-balanced solar plexus chakra leads us to feeling confident, secure, and in-control. The color associated with this chakra is yellow. what does it do? An under-active solar plexus chakra can lead you to be passive and indecisive, feeling the need to constantly self-sacrifice and be liked, but over-activity in this chakra can lead to a domineering and aggressive nature. how to balance it? Boat pose, and other abdominal based poses, are good for opening up this chakra, and a good round of warriors or sun salutes can re-ground you in a strong sense of empowerment and well-being. Or, simply sit and sip on some peppermint tea, and breathe into the incredible being that you are.

4. Heart Chakra – what is it? Spoiler alert here, guys… this chakra is located at the heart, and deals mostly with our ability to love. Way out of left field, this one. But still, incredibly important to know and understand, especially because it is the bridge that connects our lower and higher beings. Balance is so crucial to achieve in this station of energy, just as a love balance is crucial to achieve in life. The color of this chakra is green. what does it do? An under-active heart chakra can lead to feeling cold and distant in relationships, as well as loneliness and shyness; but over-activity in this station can lead to co-dependency, “love smothering,” and entering into emotional relationships for selfish reasons. how to balance it? Yoga-wise, a lot of backbends will help to open up the heart chakra, as well as Eagle Pose.Eat lots of leafy greens, like kale and spinach, and drink green teas (but you should absolutely always do these things anyway…) and mostly just love. Having a daily, active, strong practice of pure, honest, selfless love is the best way to balance this chakra, and your life.

5. Throat Chakra – what is it? Located in the throat, this chakra is our center for communication, self-expression, and openness. Generally, there is an association with an artistic sense of self-expression, and a great verbal diplomacy. It is the center through which we convey our inner self to the outside world.The color of this chakra is light blue. what does it do? An under-active throat chakra can lead you to be quiet, withdrawn, and afraid of speaking out or expressing your opinions; however, an over-active throat chakra can lead to controlling, judgmental, and hurtful speech, as well as being a bad listener. how to balance it? Lots of shoulder stands, or plow pose, can be really helpful in opening up this chakra. Also, drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruit, and singing as much as possible. Three things that are, in my opinion, necessary components of a happy and healthy life at all times!

6. Third Eye Chakra – what is it? The third eye chakra is located on the forehead, between the eyes, and is the center for our perception. It is this chakra that allows us to focus, to see the bigger picture, and to perceive spiritual matters. The color of this chakra is indigo. what does it do? An under-active third eye chakra can result in problems thinking for yourself or forming your own opinions, and may lead to cloudy thoughts or dull understandings; however, if this chakra is under-active, you may find yourself fantasizing and dreaming too much, instead of being present and aware in this moment. how to balance it? To balance this chakra, the best recommendation I can give would be to take time to sit still, close your eyes, and really be drawn in to your mind and senses. Do a few supported forward-bends, and while doing so, meditate on positive images of yourself and your life.

7. Crown Chakra what is it? The seventh and final chakra is located at the very crown of your head, and is your center for consciousness and enlightenment. It is in this center that you connect to the spiritual world, allows you to tap fully into the wisdom that is available to you, and to truly be one with the world. The color for this chakra is violet. what does it do? It balances the way that you know and understand the spiritual matters of the world – if this chakra is under-active, then you may find yourself less spiritually aware, and perhaps more rigid and closed off to matters regarding spirituality. However, if this chakra is over-active, you may find yourself living too much in your head, over-intellectualising matters and maybe becoming a little egotistical. how to balance it? Run! At last, cardio meets the chakras. The saying “running to clear your head” is literally exactly what this chakra calls for – run, and engage in other cardiovascular activities to balance out your crown chakra. Also, fresh air, sunshine, and meditation help with the clearing and balance of this energy center.

If you wanted to do a bit more reading or research on the chakra system, I found that mindbodygreen has some really fascinating articles on the subject, and the yoga journal has a cool article breaking down the function of the chakras and suggesting asanas to balance them out. Enjoy!  

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