THREE INSTANT STRESS BUSTERS
The next time you feel tense, stressed, tired, sad or worn out,
try these exercises.
Tense and Release - Scrunch every muscle
in your body (face, fists, arms, legs, toes, bottom), hold for a
moment, then release. Do this three times…then take five long,
slow deep belly breaths. Notice how much better you feel. Tensing
and releasing muscles is a good way to become aware of where you
are holding tension in your body. One caution, if you suffer from
high blood pressure this exercise may not be appropriate for you,
therefore get your doctor’s approval first.
Rice Bag Breathing – Lie on your back with
your knees bent and hip width distance apart. Place a 5 lb or 10
lb bag of rice on your belly. As you breathe in through your nose
notice your belly expand as the bag of rice rises higher. As you
breathe out through your nose notice your belly get smaller as the
bag of rice moves back down toward your spine. Once you get a feel
for this, start counting your breath – in, two, three, four….out,
two, three, four. Do this for five minutes, or as long as is comfortable
for you. If you begin to feel light headed discontinue the exercise,
remove the rice bag, and return to normal breathing.
Child Pose – Children are masters of self
soothing, so why not put their tricks to good use? If you feel stressed
out, move into child pose and focus on your breathing. Notice your
belly expands against your thighs as you breathe in through your
nose. And, as you breathe out through your nose, notice your belly
moving away from the thighs as your navel comes in toward your spine.
Once you get a feel for this, start counting your breath –
in, two, three, four….out, two, three, four. Do this for 30
seconds to a few minutes. If you begin to feel light headed discontinue
the exercise, remove the rice bag, and return to normal breathing.
Do not do if you are pregnant. See details for this pose at yogapostures.com
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YOGA FOR PARTNER: Healthy ‘Together Time'
It’s widely believed that when it comes to ‘together
time’ women want to chat, whereas men want to ‘do’.
For many couples that means going out to dinner, the theatre or
a movie. These are all fine activities, but they are too sedentary
and do not offer growth opportunity. So, instead of ‘chomping
down 3,000 calories of over priced, restaurant food for ‘date
night’, more and more couples are choosing active ‘together
time’ doing things like golf, bike riding, and…..yoga,
Sound good, but not sure you can get buy-in from your loved one?
I created the list below to help you persuade that special somebody
to give it a try. Most of this applies not only to romantic couples,
but to other relationships, such as parent/child, siblings, and
7 Reasons to Do Yoga with Your Spouse, Partner or Loved
1. Accommodate Difference – with weight lifting,
running and many other active pursuits it’s difficult for
couples to participate together. Can you imagine a 105 pound woman
trying to spot her 225 pound husband on the squat rack? I don’t
think so! Yoga allows for couples to participate side-by-side without
the need to be at the same fitness or skill level.
2. Save Money – Spend a terrific ninety minutes
together for less than the cost of movie tickets and popcorn. Heck,
take a class for free at Monique’s Free
Yoga on the Beach in Naples, then go for a swim afterward.
3. Get Connected – Yoga involves mindful breathing,
invigorating movements and centering meditation. Doing these things
as a couple is a fantastic way to ‘get connected’ and
in-tune with one another. If you want individual attention in a
more intimate setting, try private
4. Liven Up - Daily responsibilities can wear on a relationship.
Practicing yoga together you’ll get in touch with your ‘inner
child’ I know, what a cliché, but it’s true.
Here’s another cliché, ‘couples that play together,
stay together’. Speaking of playing, while it’s great
to get silly and joke around with one another, be mindful of keeping
your jokes positive – no, negative humor allowed during or
after yoga class!
5. Get Along – Regular yoga practice helps to rid the body
and mind of accumulated stress. Yoga teaches belly breathing, a
breathing pattern that is known to elicit the ‘relaxation
response’. Yoga also teaches mindfulness and thought discipline,
so that we are less likely to ‘freak out’ when things
don’t go our way. Once people master these techniques on the
mat, they often find it easier to use them off the mat, and in their
6. Romp in the Bedroom – Increased tone, fitness,
and flexibility are all great things for your sex life. Beyond that,
participating in a regular yoga practice is bound to improve your
body image and body awareness, which leads to freer expression.
7. Get Healthy– a regular fitness program, including
yoga and meditation, is widely claimed to benefit emotional health,
blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia
and many other illness. Enjoy a healthy life together.
If you would like to try yoga as a couple you are welcome to try
yoga on the beach in Naples, Florida.
PROPER ALIGNMENT: Breath, Body Mind
What do you think when you hear the phrase ‘proper alignment’
or ‘good posture’? If you’re like some people,
visions of an eager solider standing stiffly at attention may come
to mind. Or perhaps,a delicate young lady carefully balancing a
book on her head? This is NOT what we mean by proper alignment.
Proper alignment involves more than standing erect or body position.
In this article we discuss three components to proper alignment
that work together to form a balanced, properly aligned yoga practice.
Breathing is the foundation of every hatha yoga practice. It’s
important that you align your breath with the movements, or flow,
of your yoga practice. While breathing techniques and patterns may
vary according to the style and goals of your yoga practice, there
area few general guidelines for basic yoga breathing
1. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
2. When you inhale your belly should expand like a balloon (get
bigger, stick out)
3. When you exhale your belly should get smaller, as your navel
falls toward your spine.
Ideally your exhale should be as long or longer than your inhale.
4. Inhale as you stretch, lengthen or open the body.
5. Exhale as you relax into a pose or close the body.
There is no room for competition, criticism or self judgment in
your yoga practice. When you come to the mat, align your attitude
so that you are working with your body, not against it. Give your
body permission to move forward, rather than forcing or commanding
it to perform. If your attitude starts to stray, here are a few
tricks you can use.
Recognize and Relax
If you begin to compare yourself to a classmate or to the teacher,
notice and label the behavior, “comparing”. Then give
yourself permission to set that thought aside. You can use this
same thing with ‘competitive thoughts’, ‘insecurity’,
‘pushing too hard’, etc.
Focus on Your Breath
If your mind just won’t stop, shift your focus to your breath.
Count each inhale and exhale. Notice the way your belly expands
as you inhale and the way it contracts when you exhale. Notice that
the air is dry and cool as it enters your nostrils and warm and
moist as it leaves. Notice whether your exhale is longer or shorter
than your inhale. Focus on your breath, not on external thoughts.
Listen to Your Body
Ask your body what it needs and abide by that with joy and pride.
Notice I said, ‘ask your body’, NOT your ego.
Notice whether you are listening to your body or your ego.
Proper body alignment of the bones, joints and muscles increases
stability, while reducing the chances of injury. In Hatha Yoga it
is far more important to use proper body alignment than it is to
get into a pretzel pose. One of the biggest mistakes that beginners
make is to try to do too much and push beyond their capabilities.
The result is improper alignment and increased likelihood for injury.
What proper body alignment entails depends entirely upon the pose
and person involved. That said, here are a few general rules:
When lunging the knee should not extend past the toe.
Shoulders should always be back and down, never sink into your
shoulders or scrunch them up by your ears, particularly in weight
bearing postures like plank and chataranga.
Seated spinal twists and unsupported forward bends are not advised
for those who suffer from Osteoporosis.
In most instances, keep the tailbone tucked.
Always talk to your doctor before beginning a yoga practice or
any fitness program to find out if there are any other alignment
issues that you need to be aware of. This is particulary important
for pregnant women, sedentary individuals, obese people, or those
recovering from injury.
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Monique Danielle's Other Sites
Air Fitness - weekly intentions, free yoga videos, more
Yoga Books - download free yoga books. These are FYI and not
intended as medical advice or for religious purposes.
Posures - small, but well done how-to library of yoga postures.
Flow Mediation - you can buy Monique's CD and read recent reviews
from well known yogis, as well as from 'regular folks'.