Tag Archives: yoga

Product Review: Using Medi-Dyne Prostretch for a Deep Calf Stretch

calf muscles

Are your heels so far off the floor that your Downward Dog is a Downward Don’t? Do you suffer with tight calves, hamstrings, or plantar fascitis?  If so, the Medi-Dyne Prostretch might be just the tool you need to improve your yoga practice.  As a recreational runner and yoga teacher, I’m personally aware that running can result in uncomfortably calves tight calves. Yet, I’m not willing to give up running for the benefit of my yoga practice.

Let’s take a minute for a brief anatomy review. There are 2 primary muscles in the calf, the gastrocnemius (a.k.a. gastroc) and the soleus. The gastroc, think rock, is the bulbous muscle superficial to the soleus, which lies under it. Both have a role in plantarflexion (pointed toe position) of the foot. Because the gastroc originates at the femur, it is the primary plantarflexor when the leg is straight. On the other hand, the soleus is primary when the leg is bent. This tells us that, in order to stretch both, we need to extend the calf in both bent leg and straight leg positions.

Medi-Dyne ProstretchSo, what’s a yogi to do?  While poses such as Downward Dog and Warrior I are effective for stretching the calf muscles, using the Prostretch is a more focused approach. First, it also allows for the calf to be stretched with a straight or bent leg. Second, with it’s rounded bottom, it allows for a rocker motion that simulates the foot motion which occurs during running. The stretch can be gradually deepened by rocking back so the heel sits lower than the ball of the foot. Finally, combining all that goodness with a v-shaped cradle, you’ll find it can release the fascia (connective-tissue) and achilles.

Every so often a product comes along that I want to tell the world about it. The Prostretch is one of those products. I use it every morning when brushing my teeth. I love the feeling of release and have fun rolling around on it. So, get yourself a Prostretch and the next time a yoga teacher says that Downward Dog is a restorative pose, it may actually feel that way to you.

 

 

Mindfulness over lattes

I recently stopped by a local coffee shop to grab a soy chai. It was a typical day, I was going through the motions. A woman ahead of me was attempting to order, without speaking. Yes, no speaking, only hand gestures.dog listening

She communicated her order fairly smoothly. It was apparent she was a regular. When handed her drink, she walked to the side to add her milk and sugar. That’s when things got loud. She was banging carafes around. Metal thumping on wood. Glass clanging against metal. The sounds were punctuating latté orders and chats between friends. Then it occurred to me, this woman was deaf. She was unaware of the cacophony of sounds. My next thought…how often do I, do we, hearing intact people do this? All the time. We clang, rush, close ourselves off, mindlessly going about our day.

The stark parallel between not being able to hear and not listening was made so strikingly clear to me in that short encounter. I think of this day, this woman, when I catch myself disconnected, preoccupied with my thoughts. She unknowingly, taught me a life lesson over lattes.

So, today I took a moment on this unusually warm Winter’s day just to sit outside on my deck. To feel the sun on my face. To hear the wind in the elm trees. To think of this woman with gratitude. Give yourself a moment today, as well, and let me know how it went. Namaste.

The business side of yoga

Have you ever dreamed of being a yoga teacher, but were concerned it meant you had to commit to being impoverished? Then you might be interested in this NY Magazine article: A Yoga Studio – Joschi Body Bodega

There is an undercurrent among teachers that yoga and money don’t mix. However, we all have bills to pay. Teaching yoga doesn’t necessarily put you on a fast track to wealth, but there are approaches that can result in higher earnings. In the article, a yoga studio owner named Joschi Schwarz gives tips about his approach to profitability. It’s refreshing to see a studio owner talk about the money end of teaching in such a straightforward manner.

The article is part of the NY Magazine’s ‘Profit Calculator’ series which also provides earnings info for a diverse range of businesses; anywhere from a financial firm to a drug dealer. While the yoga studio article was most pertinent, I got a kick out of reading them all.

Mirrors in your yoga room…do you love ’em or hate ’em?

Nataranjasana pose in mirrorEvery yoga practice room has its own personality. Some are Zen-tastic with a soothing color scheme and just a handful of carefully chosen adornments. Others offer a little more to look at, or distract you, depending on your mindset. There may be a Buddha or two; perhaps Ganesh makes an appearance.

Whatever the decor, the best environments are ones that enhance your practice.  This might be through a minimalist approach or, less likely, with a wall of mirrors for you to check your alignment.

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How to start a home yoga practice

Most of us start out on our yoga journey by taking group classes. This is a fantastic way to learn yoga. BalasanaYou will be in the hands of a trained professional who can teach safe alignment and keep you injury free. At some point, after you’ve absorbed the fundamentals, you might develop an interest in practicing yoga at home.

This is easier said than done. As hard as it may be to get yourself to a yoga class, once there you are mentally dedicated to staying. Barring illness or injury, it is unlikely you would ever get up and leave.

In contrast, the home environment is full of distractions that challenge our commitment to practice. Phones ring. People come and go. Kids and pets don’t understand the ‘Do Not Disturb’ edict you have laid out for them (I’m talking to you Seabiscuit).

I struggled for a long time to establish a home practice and I’d like to share a little about how I finally made it work.  Here are a list of common reasons your home practice is nonexistent, followed by my tips.

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Free you pelvis with yoga hip openers

Gomukhasana

gomukhasana

At the start of each class, I ask students if there is a pose or body part that they would like to work on. One of the most frequent requests is for hip openers. It’s in the top 10 along with neck and shoulders.  Hmmm…all places we commonly carry stress.

The anatomy of the hip is complicated to say the least and there is a spectrum of physical reasons our hips tighten. The desk jockey’s inactivity and the runner’s repetitive muscle contractions are just a couple.

There are also emotional reasons that cause the hips to feel closed off. In yoga, the pelvis is often referred to as the body’s ‘junk drawer’. It’s the perfect analogy.  In it, we stuff experiences and emotions that we don’t know what else to do with.  From an energetic anatomy perspective, the pelvis contains our first and second chakras, energy centers.  The first chakra, muladhara, is located at the perineum and is associated with our root survival needs for nourishment and security.  The second, svadhisthana, is just a couple of inches above muladhara and is associated with our sexuality and how we communicate with others.  You can probably think of your own ‘junk’ related to these chakras that you have stashed in here.

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Yoga: Are you a poser?

What would you think if I called you a poser? Isn’t everyone who practices yoga a poser? Or are we? I guess that Tree Posedepends on how you define poser. I’m thinking of it in 2 ways:

  1. a person who aligns their body into yoga poses
  2. a person who acts like something they aren’t

From my perspective, we all start out being both. Now you might be saying, wait just one minute missy, I love yoga. I’m no poser! Let me explain.

Can you remember when you first stepped on a yoga mat? For me, it was at Innerlight yoga studio in Newport, RI. It was 1996. This was a traumatically whirlwind year for me. I started a new job as a software engineer with IBM. I had recently moved to Rhode Island, having renovated a small cottage on the Sakonnet River with my husband. It was to be our dream home. It was also the year my husband died of leukemia. Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through that challenging year.

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