Today’s quote is a reminder that you are amazing and you should always be proud to be YOU! No matter how much hard work you do on a daily basis, make it original and inspiring. Do what makes you, YOU!
Eka Pada Bakasana – One Legged Crow Pose
Eka pada bakasana is a pose that I have not been able to achieve yet. I find that when practicing this pose, it not only requires a whole lot of strength, but it also is very uncomfortable in the upper arms. Basically, to do the pose, you come into crow pose and then shift your weight into one arm and begin to straighten the opposite leg. You also need to shift your weight a little more forward than you already are to counter balance your leg straightening behind you. Crow pose is not my strongest arm balance, I can always get into the pose but it’s not always as stable as I would like, so naturally coming into the one legged version is just not in the cards for me yet. The weight baring arm usually gets bruisey for me and I don’t particularly love that, so I don’t practice this pose maybe as often as I should (but I also don’t like walking around with bruises on my triceps). Everything about this pose is a challenge for me and it’s something I need to incorporate into my own asana practice a little more often because the poses we like the least are the ones we should practice the most!
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold
Uttanasana is a simple pose that is pretty accessible to most people and I love it so much. I feel that this pose has so many options for people who may not be as flexible as others. Many people have a goal just to touch the floor, but if their hamstrings are not open enough for that, overly rounding of the lower back will happen. So if that’s the case, bringing hands onto blocks or upper shins will help considerably. This gives the person the opportunity to lengthen the low back as well as the hamstrings. If you are more flexible and can reach the ground without overly rounding your low back, then you have to make sure you are strongly engaging your quadriceps so that you don’t hurt your hamstring insertions. If you are properly engaged, the stretch feels wonderful in both your hamstrings and your back. I personally really like to do this stretch first thing in the morning, it’s like dusting off the sleep and getting you ready for your day. The simplicity and wonderful feeling this stretch gives me is the reason why I LOVE uttanasana!
Teaching is a Practice of Being a Student
In order to be a good teacher, I feel it is important to be diligent student. What I mean by this is that in order to be an effective teacher, I think it is extremely important to work at your own personal practice daily. In my opinion, your practice is sacred and something that needs to be worked on consistently in order to move forward. As a teacher, I think it’s imperative to show personal growth through classes offered. If a student does not see growth in your teaching or feels stagnated, I think you may fail to inspire your class to grow. Furthermore, I feel that in order to teach poses, you should be able to do the pose (even if it’s a modified version). Some people may disagree and I have been taught poses by teachers who couldn’t do that pose, but they were very able to convey the proper alignment and way to get into and out of the pose, but in my opinion many students need a visual and if you can’t offer that to them, you just shouldn’t teach that pose. I love the fact that this feeling pushes me to explore my practice. I have learned so many advanced postures and have grown my practice exponentially since becoming a teacher. I have conquered goals I had for years, I have tried and succeeded in many advanced postures, I have become more flexible and strengthened myself more than I ever thought I could. I believe that my students feel inspired by the range of motion and the strength that I have and I look forward to continue on this path. The opportunity and inspiration my students give me to further my own personal practice is one of the many reasons that I LOVE teaching!
How Much You Learn About Your Own Body
Looking back on my life before I found yoga, I find it quite amazing how we as a society have become very good at ignoring every sign our bodies give us. Now that I have delved deeply into my practice, I cannot believe how badly I used to ignore what my body was telling me. I feel like yoga offers you the opportunity to begin listening to your body again. I have a sweet tooth and a big challenge for me is avoiding processed sugars, I avoid them because I know how bad they can be and how much they affect me. So a really good example of my ignorance was that I would have a sore mouth most of the time and not understand why, until I learned when I’ve had too much I get an inflamed little sore spot on my tongue. In yoga, I didn’t know how to feel a stretch in many poses cause of my natural flexibility. I would do what the teacher said, when really I should have been doing my own modification to feel something. I didn’t realize this until about a year into my practice, but when I realized it I was also too shy to do something different than what the teacher was saying to do. It took some time, but I began to become very skillful at listening to my body and do the most optimal pose for me. Now I listen so carefully that I can even tell when my energy or vibrations are low and know to avoid people with colds or really stock up on my vitamins to protect myself from illness. I can feel when my blood sugar is too high or low and I know how to nourish myself in the most optimal way to get me through my day. I can’t believe now how much I used to neglect my body. It’s actually quite amazing how much our bodies talk to us through sensations, all we have to do is listen to those messages and react accordingly to be the best we can all be. Yoga gave me the opportunity to learn how to listen to my body and understand the meaning of each sensation I feel and this is one of the many, many reasons that I LOVE yoga!
Use Coconut Oil!
Have you hopped on the coconut oil band wagon yet? If not, you definitely should, you will not be disappointed. Let’s start with the obvious, cooking. Many people aren’t aware of the fact that olive oil isn’t actually a great oil to cook with. Olive oil is full of healthy goodness, but it has a low burn temperature, this means that if you throw some olive oil on a pan and pan fry whatever it is you’re going to eat, it is highly likely that the oil will burn. When it burns it loses all that healthy goodness and actually can create some not-so-healthy toxins and you wouldn’t even know it. So coconut oil is wonderful for pan frying because it takes a higher temperature to burn it, therefore it maintains it’s healthy goodness longer. If you’ve heard about the fact that using oils for pan frying can be harmful and choose to use ghee or water instead, you can actually add the coconut oil after the fact when the food is still hot and let the oil melt and absorb into the food so you get the most benefit from the oil possible (same goes for olive oil). From an ayurvedic standpoint, coconut oil is soothing for many dosha types (constitutions), it’s wonderful to use if you tend to feel hot most of the time because it is can create a cooling sensation. It has a pleasant taste if you wish to use it for oil pulling (discussed earlier this month) which can reap for you many health benefits (whiter teeth, healthier gums, etc.). Coconut oil is so healing for your skin, all that healthy goodness can be absorbed through your skin, repairing dry skin and actually helping with acne, exzema, rashes, etc. You can even use it on your scalp if you’re experiencing a dry, flaky scalp and/or hair strands. Coconut oil is a lot safer than many moisturizers which contain numerous chemicals and weird ingredients which cannot be pronounced. In fact, in my experience, coconut oil works better at moisturizing than many and most of the store bought moisturizers. Give coconut oil a shot and fall in love with it as much as I have!
Eka Pada Sirsasana – One Foot Behind the Head Arm Balance
This pose is an extremely challenging arm balancing pose that requires both strength and very open hips. To get into this pose, you must be able to get one foot behind your head and keep it there (a lot of times when you first find your foot behind your head you may have trouble keeping it there). Once you can keep your foot behind your head, you plant your palms on either side of your hips and lift your free leg to the air as you press your hands to lift your bum off the ground. Now, that all is a lot easier said than done. For me, when I get to the point where you’re supposed to press into the ground to lift your bum, my bum feels like it weighs a thousand pounds (it doesn’t haha). I’m not sure what it is, but I have not been able to achieve lift off quite yet, and that’s why I find this pose so challenging. Practice makes progress, so keep working away wherever you are at in this moment!