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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

{GUEST POST} PEACE BE WITH YOU

Ah, yoga. In theory: relaxing. In practice: where do I find the time? Easy, says our friend Kate Nicholson, a holistic nutrition counselor, licensed massage therapist and certified yoga instructor. With a few minutes, a few deep breaths and a yoga matt, anyone can find the time for yoga. Kate's suggestions for at-home poses are so simple and straightforward all you'll have to do is go with the flow.
   

YOGA ACCORDING TO KATE

It’s a new year and you have resolved {again} that you are positively going to start doing yoga! It’s no secret how a regular yoga practice can reduce stress, improve sleep, boost immunity, build strength, enhance performance, calm your mind and help you focus. Yoga can also, ahem, jump start your sex drive. 



So, you’re convinced but starting something new can be overwhelming, intimidating and confusing. I mean, to choose between Kripalu, Bikram, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Yin, Yogilates, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Kundalini, and Hatha yoga? That is why your friends at Well to Do asked me to put together some yoga poses for you to try.    



If you're already an active yogini then perhaps consider using this sequence to fill out your home practice when you can’t get to the studio. You don’t need any fancy yoga clothes or a “yoga butt” to do these, just a yoga mat and 20 minutes all to yourself. {Although, as a mother of a 3-year old I know that can be a tall order so just take whatever time you can get, whenever you can get it - but do something!}  
The following postures are my go-to poses if I don’t have much time. Just do the best you can and hold as long as your breath is fluid and steady...
   

To start: It’s always important to just take a few minutes to pause and center yourself. In fact, this might be the most important piece that you commit to regularly. Sitting in a comfortable position, just close your eyes, lift through your spine, drop your shoulders and take a few deep, belly breaths.  From here, give your shoulders some nice squeezes up to your ears and roll them your back. Repeat in the other direction.  Drop your head to your chest and let it roll gently across your chest from side to side a few times.


Child’s Pose: Sitting on your shins, draw your knees wide and big toes together. Let your hips drop back to your heels and belly drape downward. Reach arms out long in front of you on the mat and, if comfortable, rest your head on the floor. This pose is incredibly grounding and centering so just take a few breaths and enjoy being left alone for a few minutes here! 


Downward Facing Dog: Tuck your toes and start to push your hands into the mat, lifting your hips up and back to the wall behind you. At first you’ll likely find this pose a lot of work as your shoulders bear much of the weight. With practice, however, this pose will feel divine as you learn to shift your weight out of your hands and into your hips, reaching you chest towards your thighs. An easy way to monitor this is to look at the crease of your wrists. The more your weight is shifted forward the more of a crease you will see. The more your weight is efficiently transferred into your hips and legs less of a crease will be visible and you will feel a fluid line from your fingertips to your tailbone. 


High Lunge: Placing your right foot between your hands, back heel stays lifted. Reach your arms up to the sky and breathe into balance. Steady yourself by fixing your eyes on a single point on the floor or wall. To get a great stretch in your chest, lace your fingers behind your back, let hands drawn down the back leg a bit and squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you. Whether you’re at a computer all day, nursing or picking up needy toddlers the chest muscles are almost always tight and shortened. A final version of this for those feeling sassy is to remain open in chest but fold your upper body inside your front, bent knee, arms possibly floating off the back and up over head somewhere. Having fun yet??   



Side Angle Pose: From Downward dog, step right foot between the hands and this time your back foot will plant down at a slight angle, toes shift towards front of mat and your heel is the furthest point away from you. Lift up and open your hips to the left, long side of your mat. Don’t let that front knee cave inward as you sink into your fullest side lunge here. Open that knee toward your pinky toe by squeezing your right bum. Drop your right forearm onto the shelf of your right thigh and reach your left hand either up to the ceiling or up and over your ear towards the front of the room. Either way, continue pressing down through border of your back foot and feel an awesome stretch through your whole side body! Take 5-10 breaths here and then repeat on the other side, moving through downward dog or child’s pose. 

Pigeon Pose: I like to come into this pose from Downward Dog but you can come in from table top also. Allow your right knee to float up towards your right hand and then place your shin on the floor where it is comfortable (very relative term here!) your hips drop down completely (again relative!) and feel free to cushion with pillow under bent-knee hip. The angle of your knee is up to you, just make sure your knee is totally cool with it and isn’t sending you any mixed signals. The more your front shin wiggles up parallel to front edge of mat the more intense you will likely feel this in your outer hip. Your back leg is long and back foot is flat on the floor. Women often hold their tension in their hips so do your best to breathe deeply and hold for a minute or two if you can. It’s worth it, I promise. 


Legs Up a Wall Pose: If you’re still with me and your kids haven’t woken up yet and you haven’t gotten up to answer that text then good for you! Take this last pose as your svasana and soak in how good it feels! Just find yourself some wall space.  Scooch your hips on one side as close to the wall as possible.  Then, as you start to lie down, pivot so your torso is perpendicular to the wall and walk your feet up it. Wiggle around until you find just the right spot and then flop your arms out to your sides, let shoulders drop down, palms up and breeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaathe. Enjoy your final moments of peace and quiet and be proud of yourself for actually practicing yoga today!!!   


OK, now you really do deserve to go get those cute yoga pants you saw on Etsy last week.    
Until next time,….. Namaste. 


Kate


 About Kate Nicholson
Kate Nicholson is a holistic nutrition counselor, licensed massage therapist and certified yoga instructor.  She is passionate about supporting women through life’s transitions and helping them get their mojo back! When she’s not practicing forearm stand she can be found baking vegan chocolate cupcakes, having a dance party with her three year-old daughter or hiking through the Maine woods with her black lab, Luna.  Visit her at www.katenicholsonbodywork.com 


Images courtesy of Kate Nicholson and  Gaiam Life

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4 Comments:

At February 1, 2011 at 7:53 AM , Blogger A Dance With Grace said...

Great tips for this mom who doesn't have a lot of time to hit the yoga studio. Thanks for the guest post and thanks to well-to-do for the insight:). And, um.....who knew about the bedroom aspect?!

 
At February 1, 2011 at 5:27 PM , Blogger Pam Libby said...

Awesome Miss Kate!!! So proud of you!!!

 
At February 2, 2011 at 12:15 PM , Blogger Retail Therapy Lounge said...

Hello!

Found you on a blog hop and am your newest follower - Would love for you to check out my blog and follow back if you like it.

Check out my "retail therapy" giveaways and enter a few, there are some great products to win. Also - if you do giveaways - join my March Madness Giveaway Hop!

I also have a fantastic weekly blog hop.

http://retailtherapylounge.blogspot.com
or
http://www.retail-therapy-lounge.com

Carol

 
At February 4, 2011 at 10:12 AM , Blogger Kate Nicholson said...

So glad you enjoyed the yoga inspiration, "Dance with Grace". Aside from toning the pelvic floor (ah, the joys of child birth...) and learning to breathe more into present moment (ever think of something other than sex while having sex?:) yoga ultimately reconnects you with your body from the inside out. And when a woman feels strong, healthy and empowered in her bod then very sexy things often follow suit...good luck!:)
Kate

 

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