Spinal Erector and Lat Roll-Out
Time to focus on some self-massage! This short video will guide you through a simple, but effective myofascial release for the erector spinae and the latisimus dorsi muscles. The spinal erectors run along each side of the vertebral column, extending (lengthening) the spine alongside the lumbar, thoracic and cervical sections. They also assist in rotating the spine (like when you turn to look behind you) and laterally flexing the spine (like when you bend side-to side in a stretch).
The standing massage I demo for the spinal erector muscles feels great and is ideal to do regularly; as I mention in the video, the standing version is less intense than the supine version.
The function of the lattisimus dorsi muscles is to adduct the arm (take it away from the centerline), rotate the arm and depress the scapulae. These are all actions taken during a pull-up, or if you use the very common lat pull-down machine at the gym.
Slight correction to note: I misspeak in the video by saying adduction is taking the arm away from the body. It is, as described above, bringing the arm toward the body. My excitement to demo the action didn’t align with my words. But the self-massage is efficient despite my slip of the tongue. I hope you enjoy it.
I made a video for one of my private clients that I thought I’d share with the public in order to give you an idea as to what a personalized video looks like. In this video, I teach oblique strengthening coupled with spinal mobility in order to work toward our grand finale pose: side crow or parsva bakasana.
The practice is about 60-minutes long. It is not as challenging as my studio power yoga classes, and I spend more time discussing technique and alignment. But I promise you that you’ll be sore the next day. I definitely was :) If you’re interested in private sessions (in-person, via Skype or videos), connect with me!
Home Power Yoga Practice
I’m a regular home yoga practitioner. Don’t get me wrong - there’s nothing like a heat-and-humidity-filled studio class, but the truth is I can’t always get to public classes. Plus practicing within the comforts of my own home means that I can roll out my mat on my schedule, and I can do the practice that my body and mind need in that EXACT moment. What I’d like to offer you now is to join me in my personal practice. I recorded my 90-minute practice, doing my best to teach, maintain ujjayi breath and flow all at the same time…harder to do than you’d think. The video is free for you to use whenever you need a power vinyasa practice but just can’t make it to a studio. Remember #maketimenotexcuses - go do it! Namaste.
For a long time all I did was yoga. And I still do a lot of yoga. I found a balance between strengthening and stretching muscles. This is partly why I love power vinyasa yoga as I feel I can get these differing elements of physical fitness. That said, our bodies are meant to move in many different ways. That is why I now include running, boxing, HIIT/Tabata, Pilates and Yoga Tune Up to my exercise regimen.
Lately I have been working on strengthening my glutes - specifically my glute medius. Here’s a video that I made for a few of my private yoga students that I thought would be beneficial to share with others. It includes releasing the glute medius and piriformis by using Tune Up Fitness therapy balls, and plenty of strengthwork work to make your glutes light up. Oh, and there’s some low-intensity corework and a little shoulder mobility to balance things out! Enjoy
Shifting down a gear…to slow flow
I’m generally a power vinyasa yoga teacher. But I do teach a lot of private yoga clients who prefer to move slowly to best understand the poses, or to nurse injuries.
Here's a slow flow vinyasa-style practice that you can do at home. It is holistic and breath-focused, so take your time as you move through the poses, and support yourself by modifying any of the poses, and/or adding props (like blocks or a yoga strap). Connect with me if you have any questions.
Better Late than Never...
I'm so far behind in posting class podcasts. I can blame my 'busy'ness' or just be real with myself (and with you) and admit that my procrastination side was very powerful these last couple months. I have a lovely student who asks regularly for these podcasts as they help her so much when she travels, so to her, I must apologize. I will not make empty promises that suddenly I'll inundate this site with more podcasts, but I will make a real commitment to kicking things into second gear, instead of always stalling in first. That said, here are two classes I taught a few months ago. Better late than never, I guess.
Loving Kindness - Treat Yo' Self
I teach a lot of classes - emphasis on A LOT. I love what I do, and feel privileged to be given the opportunity to guide beautiful souls in a yoga practice. But sometimes, like all yoga teachers, I lead my students astray. I call out a pose on one side and completely forget the same pose on the other. I say 'inhale,' when I clearly mean 'exhale.' Bottom line: I'm human.
Recently, I taught a yoga class that I decided to record (in order to upload it here - see "Vinyasa - YogaSource" below). During the class, I completely flubbed and forgot ardha hanumanasana on the other side. Thankfully, some lovely students went into the pose without being prompted, which reminded me to cue it to the rest of the class. I laughed it off in class - you'll hear it in the recording. But instantly, I felt annoyed with myself. And here's the kicker - the intention and theme I had set for the class was centered around sending ourselves and others 'loving-kindness.' Funny since I quickly fell back into my ways of negatively judging my mistakes.
I'm on a mission to be kinder to myself. It takes work. Kindness is something our parents taught us - but it was primarily focused on others: "Be kind to your neighbor, your siblings, your friends, your teachers." Now as a parent I encourage my children to show themselves compassion above all else. Treat yourself (or yo' self in the Parks and Recreation speak) to the kindness you deserve. This isn't selfish as it will emanate to those around you.
My eldest son was in tears a couple days ago when he felt lost in his school's more challenging math homework. "I'm never going to get this. Maybe, I'm not smart enough," he cried. It was a chance for me to teach him that he must be kind to himself FIRST and abolish the negativity that will undoubtedly defeat him. And so, the math lesson became a chance for a bigger life lesson.
Enjoy the podcast for the Vinyasa class below - and if possible, send me a little kindness by smiling at my forgetfulness over a pose...it's just a half-split after all.
Power Yoga...is it all about party tricks?
Remember your first yoga class? For some of you, it was ages ago. For others, it was just last week. If you've done a power yoga class, then you might know that there are challenges galore, fun arm balances, backbends, inversions - a gamut of "party tricks" to keep you excited to be alive.
But is power yoga only about getting to the next cool trick? If you are an advanced student, do you feel like you should be doing more at every step in your practice? You might think: "Why isn't the teacher letting us do more awesome poses?" (Note: a friend of mine calls these poses "show-ga" - the showing-off of one's yoga practice.)
I've had many discussions with fellow teachers about what we are increasingly seeing in our classes: impatient students rushing to get to the next best thing, without pausing to be in this moment, and definitely without taking the time to properly warm up their bodies. Most of us share the concern that "power yoga" is becoming a place for many students to freestyle; this is especially true for the advanced student. Before we can even offer a handstand hop, these bendy and strong yogis are already trying to do a half-handstand, half-forearm stand pose, with scorpion legs thrown in for good measure.
Consider this: going to a yoga class in a studio is not about free-styling or proving what you can do. If you are a strong student, you can work on these poses on your own, or furthermore, I would suggest working with a private teacher to help you progress more quickly. Going to a studio class, however, is about connecting with community - in breath and in movement. It's about learning from the teacher, who has poured more time than you can imagine into building her sequence, perhaps putting together her playlist, and doing necessary reading around themes/peak poses/anatomy/etc. In my own experience, I learn something new from other teachers all the time.
Before launching yourself into the more advanced pose, ask yourself why are you doing it? Sure, if the teacher offers it, go for it. But what if he doesn't? If you are excited about party tricks, don't lose this fire. Keep challenging yourself. But when it comes to studio classes, I encourage you to find enjoyment in simply being a student. Listen to the teacher. Listen to your breath. Listen to your neighbor's breath.
Yoga is more than just party tricks. Let's get back to understanding that this mindful, meditative practice leads us all to becoming more compassionate beings, for ourselves and for others.
With that, please enjoy a power flow class I recorded to get you mindfully breathing and moving. Fair warning - there are fewer "party tricks" in this class, but it will allow you time to dig deep and get real about why you practice. ~ Namaste ~
** The audio is a little quiet at the beginning (technical difficulties), so apologies. We start in child's pose. And please excuse the announcement at the end (as I failed to stop recording). So Canadian of me to apologize!**