(that relaxation time at the end of class)
Savasana is one of the few Sanskrit words that I use in my yoga classes.That's because it sounds so much nicer than saying, "OK everyone, get into corpse pose for relaxation" Savasana is also known as final relaxation where you relax in a supine position and allow the body and mind time to process what has happened during a yoga class. It's sort of a counterpoint to the effort put forth during asana practice. (Asanas are the postures or poses in Hatha yoga.) Asanas help get stress out of the body, while savasana helps relax the mind.
No yoga session is complete without this final pose. The body needs this time to understand the new information it has received through the practice of yoga. Even though savasana is a resting pose, it’s not the same a sleeping! You should try to stay present and aware during the five to ten minute duration of final relaxation.
Savasana can often be the most challengin yoga pose because it can be difficult for some people to do nothing for ten minutes. Many times the body is relaxed, but the mind wants to stay active. Quieting that mind chatter takes practice. Eventually you will notice that when your body goes into savasana, your mind also assumes a relaxed position.
1. Lie down on your back.
2. Let go of holding your legs straight so that your feet fall out to either side.
3. Bring your arms alongside your body, but slightly separated from the torso.
Turn your palms to face upwards but don't try to keep them open. Let the fingers curl in.
4. Gently tuck your shoulder blades on to your back for support.
5. Relax your whole body, including the face, eyelids, and jaw. Let the body feel heavy.
6. Let your breathing occur naturally. If your mind wanders, you can bring your attention to your breath but try to just notice it, not deepen it.
7. Stay for a minimum of five minutes. Ten minutes is better. If you are practicing at home, set an alarm so that you're not compelled to check the time (there are also many good meditation apps you can use).
8. To come out, first begin to deepen the breath. Then begin to wiggle the fingers and toes, slowly awakening the body.
9. Stretch your arms overhead for a full body stretch from hands to feet.
10. Bring your knees into your chest and roll over to one side, keeping your eyes closed. Use your arm as a pillow while you rest in a fetal position for a few breaths.
11. Bring yourself back up into a sitting position using your hands to support yourself.
When your mind begins to wander, don't give those thoughts your full attention. Treat them like word bubbles in a comic strip and let them float by over head. For example, if your mind wanders to "I need to get the oil changed", let that thought bubble drift past without going into the detail of the logistics of actually getting the oil changed. Acknowledge the thought, but don't delve into the details.
Savasana is your time for peace and inner stillness and in those 5-10 minutes, it's is right where you're supposed to be.
Next time we'll talk about staying present (that is, staying awake) :)
Wellness Coach &
Happy Yoga Teacher
Pilates isn't just for fitness fiends. Pilates is an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. Here are some things to know:
What exactly is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements. Pilates emphasizes use of the abdominals, lower back, hips and thighs. Pilates is named for its creator, Joseph Pilates, who developed the exercises in the early 1900s.
A Pilates routine typically includes 25 to 50 repetitive strength training exercises. Pilates is similar to calisthenics, such as situps and pushups. In fact, some people call Pilates the ultimate form of calisthenics.
Is Pilates for beginners?
It's a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. While these groups first adopted Pilates, they aren't the only ones who can benefit from this approach to strength training.
Another common misperception is that Pilates requires specialized equipment. If you're familiar with Pilates, you may picture the reformer, an apparatus that resembles a bed frame with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs, or the cadillac, a type of trapeze table. The reality is that many Pilates exercises can be done on the floor with just a mat (which is how we incorporate Pilates on on Thursday nights in the Yoga+Pilates class).
What are the benefits of Pilates?
By practicing Pilates regularly, you can achieve a number of health benefits, including:
Is Pilates for everyone?
If you are older than age 40, haven't exercised for some time or have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Pilates is no exception. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their health care providers before starting Pilates.
Pilates can be adapted to provide a gentle strength training and stability program or a challenging workout for seasoned athletes.
Pilates may not be recommended or may need to be modified for individuals who have the following:
How does Pilates fit into a total fitness program?
If you're a healthy adult, your weekly exercise routine should include:
I hope to see YOU at the Yoga+Pilates Class on Thursdays at 7:00 pm at Drive Dance Company!
The True Story of Reaching New Heights
Circa 1979 is when it happened. That's the year my upward growth stopped at sixty one inches. So at my physical exam last year when the nurse recorded my height at 61.5 inches, I requested a do-over. I've been measured many times in my life and the number always comes out the same: 61 inches - no more, no less. I questioned her. Was my ponytail adding hair height? Was I standing properly? Would she kindly re-measure so the right number is on my chart? And, with a barely perceptible eye roll, she re-measured me. Three times (to satisfy me). Her original assessment stands! I am indeed at the vertical elevation of sixty-one AND A HALF inches! I was pretty excited about that!
So, what happened? How, after 36 years, had I "grown" half an inch? Don't people usually shrink with age as the spine compresses? How could my height increase? I'll tell you. It was in my behavior. Let me explain that.
Posture is one of the only factors of your height that is affected by two key behaviors.
The challenge we face is having breaking years of bad postural habits and creating more awareness about our posture in general. We need to self-correct and stop slouching in front of the computer, at the steering wheel, and as we eat. Take a break from looking down at our favorite electronic devices to avoid suffering from forward head posture.
One of the easiest ways to stand taller, look taller, and feel better is to change your posture. Standing up tall, and dropping your shoulders can dramatically increase your self confidence, make you look slimmer and more assertive.
I credit my yoga practice with that additional half-inch. Yoga has made me aware of how I stand and sit, so I can self-adjust when I'm slouching. Yoga has has increased my range of motion, toned & strengthened muscles, and helps me to feel a lot younger than I am.
It's been said that you are as young as your spine is flexible. How's your spine today? Want to begin improving your posture and reap the benefits? I wholeheartedly recommend yoga. Seriously.
Perhaps one-half of an inch isn't a big deal to you, but to me it was proof-positive that yoga kicks ass! ;)
Physically, yoga improves flexibility, bringing greater range of motion to muscles and joints. Many yoga poses require a person to support the weight of their body in different ways, thereby increasing strength in many muscles. As one practices, muscles are not only becoming stronger, but more toned, long, and lean.
Another physical benefit is pain relief, especially back pain. People who sit down a lot may have tightness and spinal compression. Specific poses can address this effectively, bringing relief to the practitioner.
Yogic breathing provides another significant physical benefit of yoga. There is a calming of the central nervous system by bringing attention to the breath and using the lungs more efficiently. Learning how to properly inflate the lungs and exhale completely also promotes focus, clarity, has a calming effect, and helps with relaxation, thereby benefiting the yogi mentally as well as physically.
In the busy-ness of life, we tend to get stressed-out, burnt-out, overwhelmed, and anxious. The prescription for this is to practice yoga. We know that being physically active helps alleviate stress, but yoga practice brings a keener awareness to one’s self in the moment. It provides a much needed break from stressors by applying concentration on the poses, as well as through relaxation and meditation.
What’s happening on the inside?
There are significant things occurring inside the body because of yoga, such as
Wait! There’s so much more! A balanced metabolism, which helps maintain healthy weight can be attributed to yoga. There may also be benefits to the immune system. And who knew that your internal organs could be massaged? Yes, yoga can do that, too! The practice of yoga helps improve the body’s ability to prevent disease, plus, as one becomes more attuned to the body, there is more awareness if something isn’t functioning properly.
It makes you stronger, provides consistent energy, and helps you sleep better. Yoga improves balance and increases body awareness. You will walk taller, sit more ergonomically, and have ways to stretch your body that are safe and effective, with the benefit of reducing aches and pains.
Yoga helps develop as calmness and positive moods. As you continue to incorporate yoga into your life, your focus and ability to pay attention to details improves.
There's enough competition in the world, don'tcha think? I am a competitive person but I understand now the importance of just 'being'. The non-competitive nature of yoga enhances a stress-free workout and deepens your introspective nature. Yoga’s a personal experience
So, what's NOT to love about yoga?