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    Pose of the Month

    November

    Downward Facing Dog

    Downward Facing Dog or ‘Down Dog’ (Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit) is a yoga favorite for many. It quiets the mind while energizing the body. Down dog stretches the shoulders, legs, feet and hands. It can help relieve backache, sleeplessness and fatigue. It’s a perfect transitional pose to use when moving from the mat to standing and can be used as a resting pose as well.

    1. On the floor on your hands and knees (table pose), spread your fingers and curl your toes under. Inhale.
    2. Exhale and lift hips up, using your abdominal muscles and pushing down through your feet. Keep the knees slightly bent as you push up with your leg muscles.
    3. Inhale. Push with your arm muscles to lift the hips and allow your chest to drop between your arms. The heels will lower closer to the ground as you push your thighs back and lift your hips. Heels do not need to touch the ground. Take care not to lock your knees. The focus is a straight spine, not straight legs.
    4. Breathe. Open the chest by rotating the shoulders gently outward and press into the mat with the bases of your fingers. Feel gravity pull your heart closer to the ground. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Option to “peddle” feet by lifting one heel then the other. Hold for 4 breaths to 4 minutes.

    ​​​​​Variations:
    To open the chest more, use blocks under your hands or place your hand on a chair. For more of a challenge, try Three Legged Dog: Lift 1 leg while keeping the hips and shoulders in line. Repeat with the other leg.

    Caution:
    Do not practice this pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Take care if you have a headache or high blood pressure. Not recommended in late pregnancy.

    Pose of the Month Archive

    October : Triangle Pose

    Triangle pose strengthens the legs, provides a good stretch to the inner thighs and side body and opens the chest. In Sanskrit this pose is called Trikonasana, which means ‘3 angle pose’. It improves balance and focus. Done properly, Triangle pose can relieve lower back pain and improve digestion.

    1. Breathe. Standing tall in Mountain pose (arms at sides, feet hip distance apart), take a step to the side, creating a distance about the length of your leg between your feet.
    2. Turn the right foot so that the toes are pointing away from you, to the side (90 degrees)
    3. Inhale. Lift the chest, firm the belly and raise your arms to your sides and parallel to the floor.
    4. Exhale. Shift your torso to the right and begin to tilt your chest and arms toward your right foot without bending forward. Imagine you are standing between two panes of glass.
    5. Place the right hand on a block, ankle, foot or the floor. *The goal is to keep the shoulders in line with the hips, not to reach the floor.
    6. Look up or straight ahead. Take 5 or 6 breaths here, then slowly lift back up.
    7. Repeat on the other side.

    Variations:
    Use a block. Extend the top arm over your top ear, parallel with the floor. Revolved triangle.

    Caution:
    Look down in this pose if you have high blood pressure or a neck injury. Use the wall to support you if you are new to this pose. Keep the hand of the upper arm on your hip if you have any heart problems.

    September : Warrior Pose 1

    1. Standing straight with arms at sides and feet hip distance apart, step one foot back as far as is comfortable for you. Turn the back foot slightly out.
    2. Engage the muscles in the abdomen, place hands on hips and turn chest and hips to face forward.
    3. Inhale, raise the arms up as far as is comfortable, keeping the chest open.
    4. Exhale, bend the front leg as far as is comfortable but make sure the knee does not move in front of the ankle.
    5. Breathe in this position for 3 or more breaths.
    6. Lower arms and step the back foot forward to join the front foot. Breathe. Repeat with the other leg.

    August : Pigeon Pose

    Pigeon pose, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in Sanskrit, is often described as the “king of the hip openers” as it works in more than one way by opening the hip of the front leg and stretching the muscle of the hip through the back leg. When practiced regularly, your hips will feel more comfortable while walking, standing and sitting. There are many variations for Pigeon Pose, ask your yoga teacher about them in class this month. There’s a pigeon variation for everyone!

    **Be sure to do some warm up stretches before attempting pigeon. Reclined pigeon pose is a good warm up (and is actually the only pigeon pose I like to do).
    1. Starting on all fours (table pose), inhale and bring the right knee toward the right wrist.
    2. Allow the right calf to rest on the floor in front of you. Experiment with this step, there should be no pain in your knee.
    **Use props (blankets, pillows, blocks) as needed to support your hips.
    3. Exhale and lower your hips as you stretch your back leg out. Let the top of the back foot rest on the ground. Use your core muscles to keep your hips aligned.
    4. Inhale as you gently press up on hands or fingertips. Lengthen your back and open your chest. Breathe.
    5. Option to slowly lower down to forearms if this is comfortable for you. Or stretch arms in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor if this is comfortable for you.
    6. Slowly come back to hands and knees and repeat on the other side.

    Variations:
    Use blocks or rolled up blankets or pillows if hips are not comfortably aligned in this pose.
    Reclined pigeon, seated pigeon, king pigeon, double pigeon.

    Caution:
    Do not practice pigeon if you have a knee injury or sacroiliac problems.

    July : Head to Knee Pose

    The head to knee pose, Janu sirsasana, quiets the nervous system. It creates peace and stillness and gives the abdominal organs a little massage. Janu sirsasana is both a forward bend and a twist that stretches the spine, hamstrings and groin area. This pose allows you to choose the depth of your stretch. It’s good for beginners and experienced yogis.

    1. Sit on the floor with a folded blanket under the hips. Stretch your legs in front of you. Move the meat from your sit bones so they are in contact with the floor.
    2. Bend the right knee and place the sole of that foot on the inner thigh or inner calf of the left leg. Place a pillow or block under the bent knee if it does not touch the floor. Place a rolled blanket under the extended knee if it does not touch the floor.
    3. Inhale and turn your torso slightly so it is in line with your extended leg. Exhale.
    4. Inhale and lengthen the spine upward, raising your arms and keeping them parallel with your ears.
    5. As you exhale, engage abdominal muscles and slowly lower the torso to the extended leg, keeping the back straight.
    6. Lower the arms and hands to touch the floor and let the head relax without hunching the back. Breathe.
    7. To release the pose, inhale and use your fingertips to walk your torso back to a sitting position.
    8. Rest the backs of your hands on your thighs and sit in stillness for a few breaths. Then repeat on the other side.

    Variations:
    Use a strap.
    Revolved head to knee pose. Ask your teacher if you’d like to explore this pose.

    Caution:
    Take care if you have asthma or a knee injury.

    June : Child’s Pose

    Yoga generally focuses on stretching and opening the body. The purpose of Child’s Pose is different. Child’s Pose teaches us to turn inward and find shelter. This is a calming pose that gently stretches the lower back. It is a good pose to take during class when you need rest.
    1. Kneel on the floor.
    2. Sit back on your feet if possible. Allow your big toes to touch and keep your knees hip distance apart.
    3. Inhale. Exhale as you lower your chest to your thighs. If this is not comfortable, fold up a blanket and put it between your back thighs and calves.
    4. Rest your forehead on the floor. You should feel comfortable. Use a block or cushion to rest your head on as needed.
    5. Allow your arms to rest on the floor, palms up, alongside your legs.
    6. Feel your spine lengthen from your tailbone to your skull.
    7. Explore your breath in this pose. Notice the rib cage expanding and the feeling of breathing through your back.
    8. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a few minutes. When ready, use your hands to push yourself back up to a sitting position.

    Variations:
    Use a cushion to rest your upper body or a block to rest your forehead.
    Wide legged Child’s Pose (see photo).
    Arms may be extended in front of the body.
    Caution:
    If you are pregnant, practice wide legged Child’s Pose with a block for your forehead or a bolster for your upper body to make space for baby. If you have a knee injury, practice this pose with an experienced instructor before trying on your own.

    May : Spinal Twist

    The Spinal Twist is an energizing and detoxifying pose. It stimulates digestion and opens the chest and lungs. Visualize breathing in fresh air as your spine lengthens and exhaling stale air as you twist.

    Supine Twist (you can do this in bed in the morning if you like):

    Lie down on your back and breathe

    1. Inhale, then exhale and bend the right knee and hug it to your chest

    2. Inhale. Holding the right knee with the left hand, slowly twist to your left and exhale

    3. Inhale and extend your right arm perpendicular to your body (see photo) and gently roll your head to the right

    4. Exhale and adjust the left shoulder by sliding it to the left to allow shoulder blades to be flat on the floor or bed

    5. Have pillows or a block nearby to place under the right knee as needed. Breathe deeply. You should feel very comfortable in this pose. If there is any discomfort, adjust the pose

    6. Gently unwind and return to original position. Repeat on other side

    Variation: Bend both knees for the twist.

    April : Cobra

    Welcome to Cobra pose, a heart opening back-bend. Cobra creates energy in the body, opens the chest and lungs, strengthens the spine, stimulates digestion and firms the buttocks.

    Step 1: Lie face down with your forehead on the floor and legs straight, tops of the feet on the floor. Place your palms on the floor, fingers spread, with the tips of the fingers in line with the tops of the shoulders. Hug the elbows against the ribs.

    Step 2: Press the thighs and pelvis firmly into the floor and tighten the buttocks.

    Step 3: Inhale and slowly lift forehead, chin then chest off the floor with your back muscles only. You may press down through your hands and lift more if you want more of a stretch.Pelvis stays on the floor.

    Step 4: Gently pull the shoulders back and down, away from the ears, lifting the upper chest.Breathe.

    Step 5: Exhale as you slowly lower back down to the floor.

    Do not practice Cobra if you are pregnant, have a back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.

    March : Tree

    Tree is a balancing pose that is accessible to everyone. Expect to make small adjustments to your balance while in Tree; it’s not possible to be completely motionless in this pose. Imagine yourself as a tree, swaying slightly with the wind but staying upright. Practice tree every day for a month and you will be amazed by how much your balance improves!

    Instructions:

    1. Stand up straight with arms at your sides. Spread your toes and root down through your feet to make your legs strong. Tilt your hips slightly up and firm the muscles in the abdomen.Inhale, lifting the chest up and rolling the shoulders back and down. Find a spot on the floor to focus your gaze. It will help keep you balanced. If you’re new to tree, first try this pose against a wall.

    2. Shift your balance to one leg. Breathe. Begin to lift the opposite leg to whatever level feels comfortable. Try not to twist the hi. The raised foot can be placed almost anywhere: from toes on the floor with the heel on the ankle to foot against the inner thigh. Just be sure not to put the foot on the inside of the knee.

    3. Bring your hands together in front of your heart. Remain here and breathe. You can raise your arms above your head if you want more of a challenge.

    4. When you’re ready, slowly lower arms to sides and bring foot back to the floor. Stand in Mountain pose for a few breaths. Repeat on the other side.

    February : Pranayama

    Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) is a wonderful way to relax and has medically proven positive effects on many health conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and diabetes.
    Always start with asana (yoga poses) before pranayama to relax the body.If you only have a little time, focus on poses to loosen chest and back muscles. For example:

    Forward bend

    Twist

    Backbend

    Paying attention to the breath is the most important part of pranayama. ​If you are paying attention to your breath, you are doing it right.Don’t worry about being perfect. If a thought enters your mind, let it pass right through and return your focus to your breath.

    Check your posture. You can practice pranayama in any comfortable position, but do try to keep your spine straight: Ears in line with shoulders,shoulders in line with hips.Start by taking a breath in as you roll your shoulders up and exhale as youmove the shoulder blades back and down to align your spine. If you are pregnant do not lie flat on your back, prop up your head and upper back with pillows.Retention (holding your breath) is a part of some pranayamas. It helps to quiet the body and focus the mind. If you are pregnant, if you have any lung diseases or problems with fainting/vertigo, or if holding your breath makes you anxious, do not retain your breath.

    Breathing Exercises

    Belly breathing:
    Lying on your back with knees bent, put 1 hand on your chest and 1 hand on your belly. Notice your breath without trying to control it.Once you feel more relaxed, allow your belly to blow up like a balloon as you inhale and pull your navel toward your spine as you exhale. You may use pillows under your knees if you like.

    Sama Vritti (equal breathing):
    In any position, count to 3 as you inhale and count to 3 as you exhale. You may increase the length of breath as desired.

    Bhramari (buzzing bee):
    Plug your ears with your finger tips and close your eyes. Inhale and hum as you slowly exhale. Feel the vibration in your body. Good for inward focus prior to meditation.

    2 to 1 breathing:
    Inhale to any comfortable count (3, 4, 5) and exhale to twice that count. For example: If you inhale to the count of 3, exhale to the count of 6. Pause for a second between the inhale and the exhale.Remember to pull your navel to your spine as you exhale.

    Box breathing:
    1) Inhale to the count 4
    2) Retain the breath to the count of 4
    3) Exhale to the count of 4
    4) Retain the breath to the count of 4
    Repeat…

    January : Sun Salutation

    Position 1 – Stand up straight in Mountain Pose (exhale)
    Position 1 – Stand up straight in Mountain Pose (exhale)
    Position 2 – Stretch arms over the head (inhale)
    Position 3 – Bend forward, place hands on the floor next to the feet (exhale)
    Position 4 – Stretch one leg back, place toes on the floor(inhale)
    Position 5 – Bring both legs back so that body is in a straight line (retain the breath)
    Position 6 – Drop the knees, chest and chin to the floor(exhale)
    Position 7 – Slide forward, push up with arms and arch up with hips on the floor (inhale)
    Position 8 – Raise hips, drop head between arms, stretch heels toward floor (exhale)
    Position 9 – Bring the same foot forward between the hands (inhale)
    Position 10 – Step the other foot forward, keep hips high and bend forward (exhale)
    Position 11 – Stretch arms up over head (inhale)
    Position 12 – Bring arms down to sides, Mountain Pose (exhale)
    Repeat the sequence with the opposite leg.

    Rise Up Nourish

    Recipes

    Looking for quick and easy recipes that are also healthy and delicious? Or do you want to share a recipe of your own? You’re in the right place!

    Chai Reishi Tea

    Support your immune system during the cold months with this easy and delicious recipe! Perfect for when you’re feeling run down or stressed out. Reishi mushroom has powerful medicinal properties that improve the function of the immune system so it can fight off viruses and bacteria. Have a cup every day!

    1 liter of water
    2-3 slices of dried reishi mushrooms* Read More

    Summer Gazpacho!

    Ingredients:
    2 lbs ripe tomatoes
    1 long green pepper, like Italian Cubanelle or Anaheim
    1/2 of a small red or other mild onion
    1 cucumber
    1/2 of a small garlic clove
    2 teaspoons vinegar (champagne or sherry vinegar is a good choice)
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 teaspoons salt Read More

    Pickling

    Super Probiotics: Quick and Easy Fermented Vegetables

    Ingredients:
    2 cups of filtered water (no need to buy bottled water, just use your Brita filter or other water filtration system at home)
    1 tablespoon of non-iodized salt (like kosher salt)
    Your favorite vegetable (firm vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, green beans are best for fermenting)
    Any seasonings you like (garlic is always good, also fresh herbs like dill and thyme-choose your favorites-and peppercorns or pepper flakes if you want some spice) Read More

    Rise Up 3 minute Fresh Hummus
    Ingredients:
    *1 can chickpeas
    *1⁄4 cup tahini
    *1⁄8 cup olive oil
    *1 lemon, juiced
    *1 small clove garlic
    *1⁄4 teaspoon salt
    *1⁄4 teaspoon cumin
    *Water as needed, approx 1⁄8 cup Read More

    Rise Up Date Nut Truffles
    2 cups pecans (or your favorite nuts)
    2 cups pitted deglet noor dates (or medjool dates)
    1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon salt Read More

    Jicama (pronounced ‘hik-a-muh’) is a nutritious and absolutely delicious root vegetable that can be addictive in a good way! Jicama has a scrumptious crunch and is juicy and slightly sweet with a nutty taste. It is very high in fiber and low in calories with lots of antioxidant power!Inexpensive and versatile, jicama can be prepared in many ways and it’s a healthy alternative to chips. Read More

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