The Power of Choice and The Yoga of Action

Life is Good

I mean, really, REALLY GOOD. It is easy, however, to get caught up in the not-so-good – the suffering, the disaster and the struggle. With so many of us fighting just to pay the bills and to put food on the table, it can be comforting to commiserate and complain with others who are experiencing the same thing. Lately though, I have noticed that focusing on the struggle is actually counter-productive. It is overwhelming and frankly pointless.

Suffering is Optional

I am aware that struggles will continue to occur in my life. I also realize that how I respond to the struggle is my choice. Yoga and mindfulness practices have helped me get to the point where I can notice the things in life, and in the world, that are unfair, unjust or downright difficult. I can notice these things and not get wrapped up in the hopelessness of it all. In the midst of crisis, I can still feel connected and comforted. I am fully aware of the suffering in my life and in the lives of others but I also see the potential that lies in each and every one of us. It is empowering. It is inspiring. It leads to the kind of action that can make a difference.

Unsure about what action you should take? Join the club.

If you find yourself feeling confused or helpless, know that you are not alone. Take comfort in your choices, even the little ones. Making a choice to live a life of mindfulness is taking action. Making a choice to roll out your mat or sit on your meditation cushion is taking action. Whether the choice is to go for a walk, to help a neighbor, or to simply feel better about yourself, the choice itself is the first step towards making a difference. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, when you claim your power of choice, it has a snowball effect in your life.

Why Yoga?

In yoga practice we confront ourselves both physically and mentally. We practice letting go of attachments in the simplest of ways. For example, we let go of thinking about our To-Do Lists and instead focus on breathing and relaxation. Yoga reveals to us our strengths, our limitations and our unhealthy patterns of thinking. It teaches us acceptance and shows us where we have room to grow. With that awareness, we are left with a choice. And just as we practice, we can choose to let go of fear and suffering and focus on solutions and potential instead. Take comfort in your choices because they contain your power for transformation, for change.

Every minute of every day is full of opportunity to claim your power. And it really is as simple as a choice – a choice, right now, between fear and LIFE. I choose life – fully awake, vibrant, healthy, active, compassionate life. And with that simple choice I am seeing evidence of my untapped potential. And it is good, really, REALLY GOOD.

So, how do you shift from worry and fear to decisive action? How does yoga practice help you make a difference in your life and the lives of others? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

Yours in Gratitude,

Lindsay

A Yoga Pose for Letting Go and Opening to Potential

 

Reclining Hero's Pose Variation

Practice moving into this pose with intention and deliberate placement of your body. Exercise your power of presence, choice and action.

 

supported hero pose supta virasana

Sit with your feet at the outsides of your hips. You can separate your knees as wide as you'd like to find a comfortable position for your knees. Keep your feet close to your hips with the tops of your feet on the floor and your toes pointed directly behind you. Place a bolster or  folded blankets behind you and begin to recline back, resting your upper body on the bolster. Your neck should be in a neutral position which means you may need to use additional bolsters or blankets to see that your head and neck are supported. Relax as completely and deeply as possible. Breath slowly in and out through the nose. Relax your shoulders down and rest your arms on the floor with your palms facing up. Allow your heart center to widen as if the skin and muscles of your chest and your ribs are opening side to side, exposing your heart and revealing your true nature, your choices in this moment, your power.

camel pose youtube

Strike a Pose Saturday: A Camel Pose for Everyone [VIDEO]

Thought I would do something a little different this week.

People learn in many different ways. Simple pictures and reading works great for a lot of people but for those of us who are  more "visual" learners a video is very helpful. So, here it is: Tips and modifications for Ustrasana, Camel Pose … in a VIDEO!

It is very important that you warm-up before you practice this pose. 3-5 rounds of sun salutes should do the trick. Also, a counter pose after you practice Ustrasana is important to balance the stretch and stabilize your core and your spine. A great complimentary pose for Camel is Sasangasana, Rabbit Pose. Also, Balasana, Child's Pose or simply hugging the knees into the chest will serve this purpose.

In this video I offer modifications for every level and alignment tips to get the most out of your Camel efforts. Remember, yoga is not about achieving an idealized or "final" pose (that's just a myth anyway) but more about what you learn along the way. In other words it is not the pose but how you approach the pose that matters. Patience, acceptance and an open mind are helpful. Compassion and honesty and a sense of playful curiosity are good things to bring to your practice, too.

 

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So, there you have it. Please post your questions and/or comments below. Also, if you ever have a request for a video or tips for a specific pose, just let me know!

Lots of Love,

Lindsay

By the way, please practice safely. These articles express my opinion and while I have over a decade’s experience with hatha yoga practice, intensive teacher trainings and hundreds of hours of teaching, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen and to find out what activities suit your uniqueness. Because you are special and doggonit … I like you.

Strike a Pose Saturday: Dancing with Your Inner Warrior

I am feeling all nostalgic for South Florida, the ocean and Hot Yoga Teacher Training.

So, this week’s Strike a Pose feature includes a picture of me yoga-posing it on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, in the thick of teacher training.

Jimmy Barkan’s Yoga Teacher Training was a life-shifting experience for me, symbolized here by the funny camera angle.

Reverse Warrior

I know this pose by several names: Reverse Warrior, Exalted Warrior and Dancing Warrior. I like all three names and use them interchangeably. Depending on the mood and the moment, each name can be appropriate.

Yes, I could have my right knee a little more bent in the picture above, with my thigh parallel with the sand but 3 weeks into the training, my legs and hips were ridiculously tight from the hours of yoga practice every day. Not to mention the sand and the surf – they made things a little tricky, too (hey, where’d my feet go?).

Tips

  • -The alignment of the bent knee is important to avoid straining the ligaments of the knee joint. Keep the knee centered directly over the ankle.
  • -Keep the straight leg very active and straight with the outer edge of the foot pressing into the mat (or sand … or whatever).
  • -Hips should be in a neutral position which means scoop the tailbone slightly and draw the navel and lower ribs in and up.
  • -Try not to lean into the hand that is on the outer thigh but rather lift up and stretch back.
  • -The tendency will be to straighten the front leg when you go back, so be mindful of the legs, with a little extra attention on that front knee, throughout the pose.

Benefits

  • -Increases the strength and flexibility of the legs, ankles and feet.
  • -Stretches the groin, hip muscles and connective tissue of the hips.
  • -Stretches the side of the torso and the arm.

Read last week’s tips for Wheel Pose.

Thanks for reading and please leave any questions or comments below (I love questions!).

Lots of Love,

Lindsay

By the way, please practice safely. These articles express my opinion and while I have over a decade’s experience with hatha yoga practice, intensive teacher trainings and hundreds of hours of teaching, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen and to find out what activities suit your uniqueness. Because you are special and doggonit … I like you.

Strike a Pose Saturday: Bending Over Backwards Never Felt SO GOOD!

I don’t know about you, but I love backbends.

There is something about the inside-out feeling of bending my body in this way provides such a release (and relief!) for me. It didn’t come naturally, though, and it took some practice and mental focus to overcome the fear I had around opening my back and my body. Then, once I was clear and trusting that backbends were actually GOOD for me, my body had to catch up with my mind. There was years and years of tightness and patterns to work through (still working through, by the way), a journey which is as much emotional as it is physical. This disciplined practice of yoga asana (hatha yoga) is all about FREEDOM and that is what this pose has taught me the most – freedom in my body and in my thoughts and emotions.

Hi, my name is Lindsay and I’m a Hatha Yogi.

yoga wheel pose

Here I am in Chakrasana, Wheel Pose at Weaverville Yoga in Weaverville, NC

Benefits of Wheel Pose:

  • -Strengthens the wrists and arms as well as the legs, glutes (your yoga butt!) and spine.
  • -Stretches the whole front of the body, the front of the hips, the chest and shoulders.
  • -Great for an energy boost (Try Skull Shining Breath while in this pose. It’s like drinking 12 cups of coffee – seriously!).
  • -Counteracts depression (I wrote about this here).

Tips:

I heard someone say once in a yoga class that you know you’re a yogi if you have flexible armpits.

It’s true. For me, when learning this pose, the shoulders (armpits included) were especially tricky. For a long time, my elbows would bend and want to point to the outside (not ideal). I had to do a lot of preparatory opening before I could move safely into my Wheel. For some people tightness in the front of the hip prevents mobility in this pose. Also, flexibility of the spine develops with practice. Try to think of your spine as long and spacious with room to move between each vertebrae. Breathing helps.

Stretches You can do to prepare for Chakrasana, Wheel Pose.

-For the Hips – Low Lunge, Bridge Pose (this one is great for the spine, too), Splits

-For the Shoulders – Downward Facing Dog, Extended Puppy Dog, Shoulder Openers

More helpful tips from my yogi friends …

-Here are some really awesome tips and an incredibly effective shoulder stretch from Lucas Rockwood.

-And here is a video from Sadie Nardini where she demonstrates some more shoulder openers.

Please post any questions below and as always, thanks for reading!

Lots of Love,

Lindsay

P.S. You can read last week’s post for tips on Standing Bow Pose.

By the way, please practice safely. These articles express my opinion and while I have over a decade’s experience with hatha yoga practice, intensive teacher trainings and hundreds of hours of teaching, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen and to find out what activities suit your uniqueness. Because you are special and doggonit … I like you.

 

 

Strike a Pose Saturday: King Standing Dancer, er, Bow Pose a.k.a. My Favorite

I know, I know … I’m not supposed to pick favorites … BUT … if I had to, this pose it IT. For so many years (over a decade now – sheesh!) I have been practicing this pose and every time I do, it reveals something different to me … about me, within me, and it’s always new.

In Hot Yoga, it is know as Standing Bow or Standing Bow Pulling Pose. In other yoga styles, it is known most commonly as Dancer’s Pose. Doesn’t matter to me. You can call it “Show me your butt and I’ll pick my nose pose” … I’d still love it. Yes, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

Here I am at Bikram Yoga Asheville. Janet Horn, one of the owners was sweet enough to stay after class and give me some tips. She even took this picture for me. Janet ROCKS.

Lindsay Fields in Standing Bow Pose at Bikram Yoga Asheville

Did you notice that my toenails match my shirt?

Some Tips:

Beginners – This is a very challenging pose so please, be patient. And rest assured that at any level, you can still find a correct position and receive all of the benefits of the pose. Work on lowering the upper body first. Then, you can think more about kicking the leg back and up. For most beginners, if you kick back too much at first, you will not be able to lower the upper body down quite as much. The standing leg hamstring requires care and attention to open up (necessary to lower the upper body).  Allow the arm that is holding the ankle to extend back and away from your body while the other arm reaches forward with the palm facing down, parallel to the floor. Keep your eye gaze up over the extended fingertips (not down!).

Intermediate/Advanced – Your standing leg hamstring is key. It is, in fact, 40% of the pose. Notice that if you kick the leg back too quickly the hamstring won’t allow you to lower the upper body. However, if you don’t kick enough in the beginning, you’ll lose the dynamic stretching (the reaching and kicking in opposite directions) and again your mobility will be limited. So basically, experiment with this understanding that 40% of the pose is in the standing leg hamstring, 40% is in the backbend (happens naturally) and the other 20% is in allowing the shoulder and hip to move up and back behind you (hips are NOT square by the way!). Your two heels will line up from top to bottom in the full expression of the pose. More advanced students may grab lower on the leg (away from the ankle). Think of your side body as long and stretching with both sides of the body equal in length. The side with the kicking leg will want to contract – lengthen by kicking back more.

Benefits:

Stretches the shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, groin and hamstrings.

Strengthens the legs, ankles and feet.

Improves balance.

Opens and strengthens the lungs and heart.

Improves circulation.

 

See you on the mat!

Lindsay


Bonus! Here is my first YouTube video ever … Standing Bow Pose Example.

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By the way, please practice safely. These articles express my opinion and while I have over a decade’s experience with hatha yoga practice, intensive teacher trainings and hundreds of hours of teaching, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen and to find out what activities suit your uniqueness. Because you are special and doggonit … I like you.

Strike A Pose Saturday: My Forehead and My Knee – A Love Story

I love yoga.

And I do not discriminate. I love it all. So, if I had to consider only one style of yoga and pick my favorite part about it, it would be quite difficult for me. But considering I teach HOT Yoga and my blog here is called a Yoga HOT SPOT, I will pick my favorite thing about certain poses in this tradition of Hatha Yoga (the physical practice of yoga poses) known simply as Hot Yoga. By the way, you can read this post to learn more about this wonderful lineage and the evolution of Hot Yoga.

Okay, one thing stands out for sure (other than the torrid conditions – that’s just too obvious) and sets Hot Yoga apart from other classes for me. This is the emphasis on the forehead to knee connection … and I just love it (surprise, surprise). This is not to say that this position doesn’t make an appearance in other yoga styles. Of course, it does. In fact, the chin to chest action that happens when your forehead touches your knee is known as jalandhara bhanda, or throat lock, and janushirsasana, head to knee pose, is not unique to Hot Yoga. However, it is the emphasis on the forehead (not nose, not chin) touching the knee (not shin, not thigh) that really stands out. When this forehead to knee contact is made, the front side of your body contracts and the back side of your body stretches, creating a rounded, and emphatically so, position of the spine. Learn about the benefits of this rounded spine position here.

 

 

 

Janushirsasana - Head to Knee Pose

Janushirsasana Tips:

If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knee as much as you need to in order to touch the forehead to the knee (not your shin for crying out loud!).

If your hamstrings are not tight …. just shut the heck up, won’t you? Just kidding, if your hamstrings allow you to fully extend your legs in other poses but when your forehead is touching your knee, you just can seem to go anywhere, try lifting the pelvic floor in (a LOT) and also drawing the navel in and up. This will help lengthen the lower back and create more rounding. You might notice your forehead sliding up higher on the knee and you’ll be able to straighten the leg a little more.

If it just kills your knee to have that foot at the inner thigh of the other leg, you can position the extended leg directly in front of you (rather than 45 degrees out) and place the other foot underneath the straight leg thigh.

Relax your shoulders. Even with the chin to the chest in what is called a “throat lock,” let your shoulders come away from your ears. Shrugged shoulders create a lot of unnecessary tension, leak energy you could otherwise use and limit mobility and the desired rounded spine position.

Find it difficult to breathe? Well, if you are used to breathing shallow and only in the chest you will probably feel a little claustrophobic in this position. Try breathing as if your lungs are on your back and as if your are trying to stretch your back muscles (which you are) with the breath.

Again, you can read about the many reasons why MY FOREHEAD LOVES MY KNEES so much by checking out this post here. And if you have any additional questions, please post them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Lindsay

Strike a Pose Saturday: I Like to Stand on My Hands

A new feature on my blog … sort of my Wordless Wednesday or Photogenic Friday … but, you know, on Saturday.

I will be sharing a yoga pose, with some tips and info every week. Mostly, I am just posting what I am doing these days, places I am visiting, my current favorite (or darn it – why can’t I freakin’ do this?!?!) yoga pose.

Here I am at the Main Street Nature Park in downtown Weaverville, NC

yoga in the park

Still a little timid when it comes to handstanding it away from the wall but thanks to my friend, the tree here, I ventured out of my safety nets and the handstand practice I am accustomed to.

One of the biggest challenges with handstands is overcoming you fear of falling. Best way to overcome that fear? Just do it. And know that you are going to fall at some point. I have – plenty of times. Learning to fall correctly and safely is an important part of the process … but you will probably learn the hard way. For example, I fell once and broke my left big toe. The good news? My fears were realized. What I dreaded has already happened and now I can move on. Oh, and the falling incorrectly thing? It hasn’t happened again.

In the beginning, the hard part will be to straighten your elbows and have your arms be solid and supportive like tree trunks. You can prep yourself for this pose, strengthen your upper body and arms with other poses such as downward facing dog, plank, forearm balance, etc.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens wrists, arms and shoulders
  • Improves  balance
  • A good pick me up when you are feeling sluggish or down. Nothing quite like shifting your perspective – literally!
  • Invites playfulness

Cautions:

  • Back, shoulder, or neck injury
  • Serious heart condition or high blood pressure
  • Ladies – core muscles are crucial in this pose so better not to do it when your lower belly area is busy doing other, monthly, female specific stuff … chances are, you won’t feel like doing it anyway.

Please check out my first ever giveaway …. you can win a yoga DVD!!

Thanks and love!

Lindsay

By the way, please practice safely, especially with inversions and when practicing outside of the yoga room. These articles express my opinion and while I have over a decade’s experience with hatha yoga practice, intensive teacher trainings and hundreds of hours of teaching, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen and to find out what activities suit your uniqueness. Becuase you are special and doggonit … I like you.

tuladandasana balancing staff pose

Yoga Poses and Benefits: Warrior III/Balancing Staff Pose

This posture really gets the heart pumping and the lungs opening, building a deeper connection and stronger relationships within the body and, by default, in your "off the mat" life.  This posture is especially helpful with strengthening your most important relationship – your relationship with YOU. Practice this posture to peel away the layers of fear and self doubt and reveal your true, confident, calm nature and strong self!

Warrior III/Balancing Staff Pose
Virabhadrasana/Tuladandasana

tuladandasana balancing staff pose

Instructions:

  • Start in Tadasana.  Lift your arms overhead bring the palms together and interlace your fingers.  Release the index fingers and cross your thumbs, bringing your palms flat, arms straight throughout.
  • Step forward a couple of feet with the right foot, shifting the weight into the right leg at this point.  Toes of the left foot are pointed and you can lift the left toes off the mat to check that the weight is in the right leg.
  • Hinge at the hips and bring the upper body down and left leg up keeping the entire body in a straight line until it is parallel with the floor.
  • Look down through (not over) your arms at the floor about 5 feet in front of you.  Flatten the upper body and keep the arms straight.
  • Continue to lift the leg and lower the upper body, stretching your arms and legs apart in opposite directions.
  • Avoid the temptation to flare out the lower ribs and arch the back. Draw the lower abdominals in and up and do the same with the lower ribs – in and up – creating even more length and a feeling of spaciousness in the upper body. Deep ujjayi breaths all the way up to the collarbone will also help facilitate space and strength.
  • Keep the standing leg straight and notice that you might need to bring the left hip down so that the hips and shoulders are parallel with the floor.

Benefits:

  • Improves balance and concentration.
  • Stretches and strengthens muscles of the thighs and hamstrings, as well as the back muscles, shoulders and arms.
  • Opens the chest bringing benefits to the lungs and cardio-vascular system.

For some this posture is a favorite and for others, well, not so much.   What are your experiences with Balancing Staff Pose?  I would love to hear them.  Also, please feel free to post any questions or comments below.

And here's to you!

With love,

Lindsay

Strike A Yoga Pose: Warrior II Basics and Benefits

Warrior II Pose Virabhadrasana II

By channeling your inner warrior in asana practice, this posture can bring focus, strength and courage into your life helping you to overcome the challenges of ego and pride.

Yes, shaky thighs and all …

Virabhadra Symbolism

Creation of the Hindu Lord, Shiva, images and mythology portray Virabhadra as having raging, fiery hair and three burning eyes.  He wore a garland of skulls and wielded terrible weapons in each of his one thousand arms.  However, he was not simply a murderous demon. Just as Shiva and destruction are an important part of the Hindu Trilogy (Brahma/Creator, Vishnu/Sustainer, and Shiva/Destroyer), Virabhadra, the Great Warrior, symbolizes that within ourselves which has the power to overcome the prideful ego (symbolized in stories by king Daksha) for the sake of the heart (symbolized by Sati, Daksha’s daughter and first wife of Lord Shiva).  Thus, Virabhadra destroys in order to save.

Here is the Wikipedia article where you can read more about the Origin of Virabhadra.

Warrior II Pose Instructions:

  • Start in Tadasana.  Lift your arms over head and bring your hands in prayer position.  Step 4-5 ft to the right bringing your arms parallel to the floor, palms facing down.  Heels are in line from the side and feet are parallel to each other at this point.  Scoop your tailbone under slightly, bringing your hips into a neutral position.  Arms move back, chest lifted out in front, shoulders roll down and imagine them sliding down your back.
  • Pivot on the right heel 90 degrees (heels still in the same line).  Bend the right knee until the right underside of the thigh is parallel with the floor and continue to sit down, softening in the hips until you have a 90 degree angle with the right shin and thigh.  The knee might have a tendency to move inward and if this is the case, soften your right inner thigh and you can use the right hand to externally rotate the right thigh so that the knee is centered directly over the right ankle.
  • Your weight should be evenly distributed in both feet and you want to make sure, especially, that you have the outside edge of your left foot in contact with the mat and some weight in that area as well.
  • If your upper body begins to lean forward, draw the left arm back in order to bring the upper body centered over your hips.
  • Shift your eye gaze to look out over you right arm across the right middle finger.

Benefits:

  • Increases the strength and flexibility of the legs, ankles and feet.
  • Therapeutic for flat feet, sciatica, backaches and osteoporosis.
  • Stretches the groin, hip muscles and connective tissue of the hips.
  • Opens the chest, lungs and shoulders.
  • Builds stamina.

 

 

 

Virabhadrasana II

 

Thanks for tuning in! Please, feel free to share using the buttons below and ROCK ON with your yogi self!

Lots of love,

Lindsay

catcowchair

You Can Yoga In Your Chair – You Can Yoga Anywhere!

Yoga Stretches You Can Do At Your Desk

So, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time in front of my computer these days connecting with other yogis, writing and sharing.  While this is loads of fun for me, I have begun to notice its effect on my body.  My hip flexors are tightening causing compression in my low back that radiates discomfort up my spine.  This triggers a "slouch reflex" moving my shoulders  forward and putting excessive pressure on my neck — um, ouch!  Then, a silly realization came to me: "Why don't I incorporate yoga postures into my writing/web time?"  After all, yoga asana practice was in part designed to prepare the body for prolonged periods of sitting in meditation.

Here is what I have been doing — some stretches you can do right at your desk:

Begin in Mountain Pose … Sort Of

Your posture while you are working is important.  Keep both feet on the floor.  Try not to cross your legs (trust me on this one) as it can cause imbalance in your hip extensors putting unnecessary pressure on the low back.  Think of it as a Seated Tadasana.  Draw the the pelvic floor up and the navel and lower ribs inward.  Instead of hunching forward, squeeze the shoulders up towards the ears and then roll them back and down, lifting the chest.  The neck can get tweaked with the head forward as is common when focused on a computer monitor.  Bring the head back so that the crown of your head stacks on top of your tailbone.

Your workplace set up is also important.  Click here for more information on creating an ergonomic workplace.

 

Seated Cat-Cow

A great stretch to help combat slouching.  On an inhale, arch the back, lift the chest and look up toward the ceiling.  Try not to bring your shoulders up close to your ears but rather roll them back and down toward your hips and continue to lift the chest.  On the exhale, draw the navel inward, round the spine, chin toward the chest, and let your head hang forward.  Repeat, coordinating this movement with slow, deep, rhythmic breathing for 3-5 breaths (or whatever amount feels yummy to you).

 

Neck Rolls, Because They Feel So Good

Again beginning with your feet flat on the floor, bring your chin to your chest first.  Roll your shoulders back and down.  Slowly roll your head around to the right bringing your right ear to the top of the right shoulder.  Then, head goes back and slowly over to the left with the left ear coming to the left shoulder.  Bring your chin back to your chest.  Repeat this motion moving slowly and noticing at what point you feel tension and want to move through it a little faster.  Move extra slowly at these places, breathing through the tension.  After 3-5 repetitions, move the head in the other direction for another 3-5 reps.

 

Wrist Stretching Good Times

With your arms outstretched and palms facing down, flex the fingers of one hand up and back so that your palm faces away from you.  You can use the other hand to move your fingers toward your face, deepening the stretch on the bottom of the wrist.  Hold for 1-2 slow breaths.  Then bring your fingers down, bending the wrist in the opposite direction so that the palm is now facing your body, stretching the top of the wrist and forearm.  Repeat with the other arm.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Your already sitting down.  Why not add some pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels) to your computer time?  You don't even have to stop typing to do these.  Pelvic floor support is not only useful in yoga class (also known as mula bandha), helping you get a little higher in crow pose or hold a steady headstand, it also has many health benefits if practiced regularly.  A strong pelvic floor is helpful when dealing with incontinence and also supports the bladder, bowel and reproductive organs, preventing prolapse.  Click here for more information on pelvic floor muscles and exercises to help strengthen them.

 

Perched Eagle Pose

Extend your arms out to either side and then bring them in front of you, crossing the right arm under the left, hooking your elbows and crossing your wrists in order to bring your palms facing each other with thumbs towards you.  If you are not able to bring your palms together, simply bring them as close as you can or grab your left thumb with your right fingers.  From here you can play with the stretch, moving your elbows up and down slowly.  I like to bring my elbows down so that my fingertips line up with my eyebrows and I feel a nice stretch on the tops of my shoulders and arms.  Once you've settled into a comfortable arm position, you can add the leg/hip stretch (optional).  Bring the right leg to cross on top of the left thigh and cross the right foot behind the left calf if you are able to.  If not, simply point the right knee to the left and work with the stretching sensation in the right hip.  Hold for 3-5 breaths and then switch the cross of the arms and legs and hold the other side for another 3-5 breaths.

 

Your Chair With A Twist

Seated with both feet flat on the floor, knees and feet are parallel and facing forward. Maintain this position with your lower body and begin to rotate your upper body to the right on an exhale. You can use the outside of your right thigh and back of your chair as leverage to help you twist a little more.  Repeat, this time twisting to the left.

Eye Asanas

That's right – yoga for your eyes.  Staring at a computer monitor for prolonged periods creates a great deal of strain for your eyes.  In order to prevent future eye-related problems and maintain optimal function, perform these exercises regularly, especially if you are going to be at the computer for any length of time.  I would even recommend taking a break ever thirty minutes to do this.  Begin by rubbing your hands together briskly until you generate enough heat to really warm your hands.  Then quickly place your palms over your closed eyes.  Take slow, deep breaths and relax for a minute or two.  This relaxes the eyes and surrounding face muscles and is very soothing to the optic nerve.  Also, it's helpful in relieving tension headaches.  Next, perform these basic eyes exercises.  With the same seated position,  back and neck straight, keep your head perfectly still as you lift your eye gaze and look as high as possible.  Then shift your gaze and look down.  Repeat this 10 times and then close your eyes for about 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.  When you are ready, open your eyes wide and look as far to the right as possible, and then to the left.  Repeat this 10 times, then close and rest the eyes for 30 seconds.  Last one, make wide circles with your eyes by rolling them clockwise.  Perform at least 10 circles and then repeat going counter-clockwise.  Close and relax the eyes.

Pranayama

In addition to these yoga stretches and exercises, pranayama (yogic breathing) can be practiced from a seated position.  Alternate Nostril Breathe is a wonderful exercise to bring focus and clarity and it helps to reduce symptoms of stress in the body.  Here's how you do it: From your comfortable seated position, place the thumb of your right hand over the right nostril and the ring finger of the same hand over the left nostril, keeping your left nostril closed with the ring finger.  Inhale slowly through the right nostril for 5-10 counts (gradually increasing the duration with continued practice).  Then, hold both nostrils closed for the same mount of time as your inhale. Next, release the ring finger and exhale through the left nostril for the same duration of the inhale.  Your next inhale will be through the left nostril and your next exhale through the right nostril so that you are switching open nostrils on the exhale.  Perform 3-5 cycles (or more over time).

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to share and comment below.  I would love to hear about what you do to combat "desk posture."

Keep on rockin'!

Lindsay