HOW TO: Plow Pose (Halasana)

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This variation of Shoulder Stand  provides a deep stretch to the backs of the legs and tones the abdominals.  I love this pose as a quick way to energize the mind and awaken the body.  Like any variation of Shoulder stand, it’s important to not move the head from side to side and to keep the chin tucked towards the chest. This pose can be modified by bringing the feet to a bench, chair, or yoga block if your feet cannot touch the ground.  You can also place a blanket underneath the shoulders to make the pose more comfortable.

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and the palms facing down on either side of your body.
  • Press into your hands and lift your legs up and over your head.
  • Begin to straighten your legs back behind you bringing the toes in contact with the floor.
  • Interlace your fingers and squeeze the shoulder blades together to open your chest.
  • Keep your chin tucked into your chest and your neck long. Be careful to not move your head.
  • To come out of the pose release your palms to the ground and slowly roll your spine onto the mat.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings, and chest
  • Relaxes and calms the mind
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid gland
  • Reduces stress and fatigue
  • Relieves headache and backache
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Yoga Sequence to Build Core Strength

A strong core has more importance than just looking good in a swimsuit.  The core muscles include the abdominals, pelvic muscles, hip muscles, and the muscles of the low back.  These muscles are responsible for stabilizing the body.  A strong core can help reduce low back pain, improve posture, increase balance, and make everyday tasks like walking, carrying groceries, or picking up your kids so much easier and safer.

This short yoga sequence was designed to target the core muscles while also focusing on balance and strength. It’s less than 10 minutes so it’s perfect for those days when you don’t have much time to workout.

 

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Yoga Sequence to Strengthen Your Upper Body

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Yoga may not be the first form of exercise you would choose to build upper body strength, but it is extremely effective at developing muscle strength.  Additionally yoga will also give you the focus and balance needed to achieve challenging arm balancing poses.  This sequence was designed to use minimal poses to work the muscles in your shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back, as well as your core muscles.

Flow through this sequence of poses slowly and as many times as you need to, working on holding each pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Plank Pose – Begin in Table Top Pose with your wrists, elbows, and shoulders in one line and your knees in line with your hips.  Step your feet back, forming a straight line from your heels to your head.  Keep your hips lifted in line with your body and your navel drawing in towards your spine.

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Yoga Push Up – From Plank Pose roll forward onto your toes and bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle hugging them into your ribs.  Keep your hips level with your torso and draw the navel in towards the spine.

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Downward Facing Dog – From Table Top Pose push into the hands and send the hips up and back towards the ceiling.  Draw the heels down towards the mat and tuck the chin towards the chest. Press evenly into the hands.

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Dolphin Pose – From Downward Facing Dog drop onto the forearms keeping the arms shoulder distance apart.  Press into the hands and keep the top of the head off of the mat.

imageDolphin Plank – From Dolphin Pose walk the feet out straight behind you to bring them in line with the rest of your body.  Press into your palms, keep your core engaged and hips lifted to prevent collapsing in the low back.

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HOW TO: Half Camel Pose (Ardha Ustrasana)

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Backbends can provide an incredible stretch for the front body and can improve mobility in the spine. However, they also should only be entered into when the body, specifically the spine, is warmed up.  Before jumping into Half Camel Pose I recommended warming up with a sequence of Cat/Cow poses, Cobra Pose, Downward Facing Dog, and Twisted Forward Fold.  Repeat these poses at least two to three times each to really warm up the spine and prepare for this backbend.

Instructions:

After warming up come into a kneeling position sitting back on your heels.

Spread your knees out hip distance apart and lift your hips stacking your hips on top of your knees.

Press your palms on your low back with your fingers pointing towards your heels.

On an exhale gently press your hips forward and lift your chest to come into a slight backbend with your hands supporting your low back.

Stay here or come deeper into the backbend by reaching your right hand to your right heel.

Reach your left arm up towards the sky or reach it back behind you.

Let your head fall back if comfortable for your neck or keep your head lifted.

Remain in the pose for about 30 seconds or as long as is comfortable.

To come out of the pose, bring both hands to the low back and gently bring your self upright with your neck and head coming up lastly.

Repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

Stretches the entire front of the body including the ankles, thighs, groin, abdomen, chest, and throat

Stretches the hip flexors

Strengthens the back muscles

Improves posture

Stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid.

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3 Ingredient Healthy Fruit Snacks

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Whether you have kids or you are a kid at heart, these delicious, healthy fruit snacks are a must try! There’s something so addictive about fruit snacks, they’re convenient, tasty, and both kids and adults love them.  The problem with commercial fruit snacks is that they’re loaded with corn syrup, refined sugar, “natural and artificial flavors” (which is typically code for MSG, aspartame, or other not good for you ingredients), and food dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1. Even the so called “healthy” or “natural” fruit snacks will typically have some of these ingredients in them.  None of which equate to anything remotely resembling a healthy snack for you or your child. So if you’ve decided to ditch the unhealthy fruit snacks, but are craving a gummy snack, then try these out and you won’t be disappointed!

These fruit snacks contain gelatin from grass-fed cows.  I recently jumped on the gelatin bandwagon as a last resort to help my overly sensitive digestive system.  Since adding gelatin to my smoothies, or taking shots of it mixed with water (not my favorite way to consume it) I have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of times my stomach feels horrible after eating anything. There’s also a ton of other benefits that gelatin can offer, see below for more info!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of fresh or frozen fruit of your choice (I used blueberries and strawberries)
  • 5 Tablespoons raw, organic honey
  • 5 Tablespoons gelatin from grass fed cows (we’re not talking Jello brand gelatin here)

Directions:

  • If using frozen fruit, allow the fruit to thaw to where it is soft
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor
  • Mix until well combined
  • Pour ingredients into a small pot and heat on low heat for 2-3 minutes
  • Pour liquid into molds or on a parchment paper lined pan
  • Place in the freezer for 10 minutes
  • Pop them out of the molds or if you used a parchment lined pan, allow to soften slightly and then cut into bite sized pieces
  • Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh

Benefits of Gelatin from Grass-Fed Cows

Gelatin is a water-soluble protein that is prepared from the collagen found in the bones and ligaments of animals. If you’re a vegetarian and vegan, this post is not for you! I know that doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thing, but if we eat the muscle and fat of animals, why not this? Gelatin is a great source of protein, minerals, and amino acids and it has a ton of health and beauty benefits.

  1. Helps heal the gut lining and aids in digestion
  2. Aids the liver in detoxification
  3. Strengthens bones and joints
  4. Helps prevent stretch marks and smooths the skin
  5. Can aid in weight loss as it keeps you feeling fuller for longer
  6. Helps your hair and nails grow stronger
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HOW TO: Flamingo Pose

Flamingo Pose

This advanced standing balance pose is challenging but so fun to practice.  It’s not a common yoga pose, but it challenges and improves your balance as well as strengthens the legs and core.  It’s definitely not easy though, so have patience with yourself and your body as you practice.

Instructions:

Begin standing in Mountain Pose.

Shift your weight to your right leg and focus your gaze on something still in front of you.

Slowly lift the left leg,  bending the knee and pointing the sole of the foot down towards the ground.

Stay here or point your left toes drawing the foot down towards the right foot.

Begin to fold your torso towards your left thigh.

Stay here or wrap your left arm around the leg so that the knee rests on the left tricep.

Bring your right arm behind your back intending to clasp the hands together or grabbing a yoga strap with each hand.

Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly release your arms rising up and then releasing the foot to the ground.

Repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

Strengthens and tones the muscles of the legs

Strengthens the core muscles

Improves balance and concentration

Strengthens the arches of the feet

Stretches and opens the chest and shoulders

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HOW TO: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Bridge Pose

This mild backbend is one that can be enjoyed by beginners and advanced yogis alike.  It has so many benefits and is such a great way to rejuvenate the body and mind.  Just practicing this pose for a brief time several times a week will help you quickly recognize both the physical and mental benefits.

Instructions:

Begin by lying on your back on your yoga mat.

Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the mat, bringing them as close to your sitting bones as possible.

Rest your arms alongside your body with your hands face down.

Press evenly into both feet and begin to lift your pelvis up towards the ceiling.

Lift your spine off the mat and press into the mat with your shoulders.

Ensure your feet are hip distance apart and engage your arms, legs, and glutes to lift your hips even higher.

Stay here or roll onto the outer edge of the upper arms and interlace your fingers underneath your tailbone. Press the palms together and keep your chin tucked into your chest.

Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Benefits: 

Stretches and opens the chest neck, spine, and hips

Strengthens the back, glutes, and leg muscles

Calms the brain and helps relieve stress

Stimulates the abdominal organs

Improves digestion

Reduces back pain, fatigue, and anxiety

Strengthens and tones the core muscle

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