Tuesday, September 6, 2011

High Lunge/Crescent Pose

Why Yoga?

I'm sure you've seen pictures of people practicing yoga, gorgeous, insanely flexible, with rippling core muscles of steel. These yogis throw themselves upside down, backwards, sideways, then right side up with a smooth grace that is eminently enviable. This isn't the yoga that most of us will ever do...and honestly why would we really want to?

What about yoga for real women? Women with jobs, lives, partners, friends, and other types of exercise; all competing, trying to fit into the schedule. Essentially, what about yoga for you? Yoga can be a part of your life allowing you to gain a greater awareness of your body, an increased flexibility in the muscles, ligaments, and joints, better balance (not just good for high heels), and strength with muscle development and lengthening (legs, arms, core, etc...!). Yoga also lets you connect to your breath and meditative self allowing for a greater development of awareness and peace and calm (excellent for hectic schedules).

One of the best things about yoga is you don't need anything to do it. I recommend comfy clothes that allow for movement and that you don’t mind sweating in (you will very likely sweat during yoga!). Eventually you may want to invest in a yoga mat, but when beginning you can go without. You can always grab a cheap mat at Target or TJ Maxx ($12-15) to get you started.

Some yoga tips:

1. Do yoga barefoot.
2. Breathe in and out through the nose.
3. Yoga links the breath and movement – try paying attention to your breath, it can be really difficult at first.
4. Let go of your ego! Yoga is an individual practice: your body may need to build to more difficult options, do what you can and you’ll progress naturally! This will not only help you avoid injury (although that is massively important too) but also to build mindfulness and respect for your body.
5. Your flexibility and balance will differ on each side of the body and each day, yoga strives to bring symmetry to the sides but there will always be differences – don’t dwell on these (again, see ‘ego’).
6. Yoga will probably not feel natural at first.
7. Don't get discouraged, yoga is a practice; everyone topples out of poses (including and especially teachers!), everyone has wobbly days - perhaps you can do a pose one day and not the next, that is fine, challenge yourself to accept it.

Pose to try: High Lunge/Crescent Pose (great for lengthening and toning pretty much everything)

Step one: From standing at the top of your mat facing forward, place your hands on your hips and step your left foot back about 3/4 of the way back. Keep your right foot pointing forward and stay on your left toes. Bend into your right knee until it is at a 90 degree angle, you may need to move your right foot further forward or back so that your knee stays directly above your ankle.

Step two: As you inhale, circle your arms out to the sides and overhead reaching your fingertips toward the ceiling. Keep your arms actively reaching upward (while your shoulders move down away from your ears), let your torso come straight up out of your pelvis, keep your ribs and core pulling in, sink further into your right knee, press back through your left heel and lift through your left quad to straighten the leg. Activating as many muscles in the body as possible will give you the most benefit from the pose.

Make it harder: Begin to lift your gaze and your chest toward the ceiling arching your back. Pull the core in tightly here to take strain out of the low back. Sink lower into the front knee. You can even bring your left arm down behind your back reaching for your left thigh – this adds the element of a detoxifying twist to the pose and feels awesome!

Keep breathing slowly in and out through the nose; see if you can hold the pose for 6-10 slow breaths

When you are ready to exit the pose, exhale and bring your hands back to your hips, as you inhale begin to shift your torso/weight forward, as you exhale step your left foot forward to meet the right. Repeat on the other side. There may seem like a million things to remember, but do your best and it will get easier!


I fell out of the pose twice-oops!;) xo Molly