Category Archives: Practicing

The Not-So-Scientific 7-Minute Yoga Class

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I love exercise sequence diagrams; I have a whole binder full of them. A favorite, lately, is the Times’ Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Twelve exercises, done for 30 seconds each (with a 10-second rest in between), with a focus on increasing heart rate and working all the main muscle groups. It’s great when you’re traveling and have no equipment.

This morning I wondered what a yoga version of that might look like. So, I kept the diagram in front of me as I practiced this morning. It kept me going for 45 minutes, and felt great!

 

The Not-So-Scientific, Not-7-Minute Yoga Class

inspired by the NYT’s Scientific 7-minute Workout

7-9 breaths in each pose, if possible

 

  1. breathing:
    • standing arm raises w/breathing
    • standing crescent (side, side, back, front)
  2. leg warmup:
    • chair
  3. arm warmup:
    • sun salutation A x5, one breath each
      • step back right, step forward
      • step back left, step forward
      • step back right, jump forward
      • step back left, jump forward
      • jump back and forward
    • sun salutation B variation, x2, one breath each
      • jump back
      • up/down/split dog
      • warrior I, II
      • extended side angle
      • chatarunga
      • up/down dog
      • jump forward
  4. abs sequence, 5x
    • boat
    • half boat
  5. lunge sequence, each side:
    • down dog
    • lunge
    • leaning lunge
    • revolved lunge
    • revolved bound lunge
    • revolved bound half moon
  6. revolved chair
  7. handstand practice, each side:
    • L-shaped / splits at wall
  8. forearm plank
    • dolphin
    • forearm plank and hold
  9. leg lifts, each side
    • standing hand to big toe
    • standing hand to big toe expanded
    • standing hand to big toe, no hand
    • dancer
    • standing half ankle to knee
    • flying crow
  10. hip stretch, each side
    • split prep
    • splits
    • splits forward bend
    • revolved pigeon prep
  11. arm strength, each side:
    • side plank
  12. relaxation
    • foam roller on the IT band
    • meditation (grounding)

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBook

I was recently asked to review a new yoga eBook, and it looked pretty cool. Darren Rhodes successfully kickstartered the Yoga Resource Practice Manual, a 360-pose guidebook that’s totally digital. You can browse everything on the computer, your phone, your Kindle, and more. Here’s the preview:

I’d seen Darren’s awesome poster (From Tadasana to Savasana) in the back of my Anusara studio, but didn’t know much about his style. The poster and the book show his love of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga;each presents a comprehensive index of poses, showing a range of forms the human body can take. (Darren actually created that poster as he learned to do each and every pose in Light on Yoga. Read his piece on Elephant Journal for more details.)

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBookThe book was nice to browse, I skimmed it as I planned a Saturday morning class with a friend. Each category has some important explanatory text, and a cool diagram of the main alignment cues. You can save poses to your favorites, add notes, or highlight the text. You can quickly find the alignment instructions for any pose, as well as a little piece of inspiration in the “refinement” section. I liked these personal notes a lot, and would actually like to see a book of just these details!

As a student, you can choose new poses by browsing categories and picking a photograph. It would be good for discovering new poses outside of your regular classes, and for getting all their alignment details in one organized place.

I hope that future versions let you create and save actual sequences I saved a bunch of poses and notes, and they were all mixed together in the sidebar. Beginners might also appreciate some default sequences, or some instructions on how to sequence a home practice.

I also wanted to know why I might choose one pose versus another, so that there are goals beyond the shape. After the category intros, there’s not a lot of details on particular benefits (or contraindications).

Accommodating injuries is (still) my current challenge, so (as a side note) I’d also love to hear more about what Darren learned from his intense approach to asana, his breaks from it, and his current practice. He writes:

“Consider viewing hatha yoga as a sport instead of as a remedy for injury and health issues. In that context, when injury occurs in your practice it simply goes with the territory. The aim of hatha yoga is certainly not to injure you. Nor is that the aim of any sport. However, in both sports and yoga, injury does occur. In my view, that is not necessarily a problem.”

That seems like a healthy relationship to injury, but I still haven’t decided if I want to agree!

I’d recommend this book for intermediate students in good health, and for any teacher wanting an inspiring, comprehensive index with clear and efficient alignment instructions. Thanks Darren.

 

 

Recharging

On Saturday, I took a break from all the screens, cursors, and endless tidbits of information that filter through to our various in-boxes. I was exhausted and worn out, and my creativity was taking a serious nose dive. I closed my Mac, turned off my phone, and collapsed in a heap on my yoga mat. My brain was so full that I couldn’t even think clearly. Everything around me seemed fuzzy.

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Find a Sacred Place

wp000119“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” ~ Joseph Campbell

At the suggestion of a friend, I’ve been reading a lot of Joseph Campbell lately. I recently watched his DVD interviews with Bill Moyers around the idea of myth and the hero’s journey. A piece of the interviews that really caught my attention is their discussion about the importance of having a sacred place in our lives.
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A Rested Mind

For those just coming back from vacation, think carefully about what you are going to put your fresh, valuable mind to in your first few days. Value this resource highly. It may be your only chance to see the mountain you are on, to decide if you’re taking the right path up, or even if it’s the right mountain to be climbing at all. ~ David Rock in Psychology Today

For the past few weeks, Ive been working on clearing my mind more often during the day. The natural tendency for a busy mind is to work ever-harder to crack a problem or find an innovative solution. The yogic belief is that a clear, unburdened, relaxed mind is actually a more creative, efficient problem solver. And now that belief has a boost from hardcore science.

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Morning Practice #2

This felt great. For posterity:

Kundalini Warmup (seated, all with Breath of Fire)

  • Low Back Flexes (hands on knees)
  • Mid Back Flexes (hands on ankles)
  • Spinal Twists (hands on shoulders)
  • Upper Back Flexes (hands on shoulders)
  • Shoulder Shrugs (hands on thighs)
  • Shoulder Seesaws (hands clasped)
  • Shoulder Stretch (hands clasped in front of heart and pull, above head and pull)
  • Neck Circles
  • Eye Circles

Vinyasa Warmup

  • Down Dog
  • Down Dog Split (twisted)
  • Crescent Lunge
  • Forward Angle
  • Handstand
  • Lunge
  • Down Dog Split (straight)
  • repeat other side

Hatha Holds

  • Camel
  • Forearm Stand (2x, lead w/each leg)
  • Headstand

Then run take a shower! (That was all I had time for.) 30 minutes total.

Quickie Practice

Gosha I borrowed your photo
Gosha I borrowed your photo

Crazy week last week, but I kept up a daily practice, a MORNING practice no less, for the length of it. Why? I got off on a good foot last weekend (a blissful hiking/yoga retreat with some Russian friends)… and my morning practice is 15 minutes short!

3-5 sun salutations, left and right sides

100 breaths of fire (in Plank)

2 handstands

That’s it. It’s delicious and fun, I’m so stiff that I don’t try to stretch, I just step back all sloppy and sleepy. And it wakes me up and sets the tone for the day.

And, five minutes of meditation after I get off my computer each night has cleared my insomnia! Yoga EXPRESS, love it.

[I’m just writing this so I remember that daily practice doesn’t have to be a big ordeal.]

Wanting to Be

I was thinking the other day about what I wanted to be in the future. When I grow up. I want be someone who practices yoga and meditation every day.

Then I realized I am that person, RIGHT NOW, if I practice yoga and meditate today. It’s not like “I want to be a world-famous photographer” where you have to build a portfolio and a reputation over years and years. All I have to do is practice yoga and meditate today. And tomorrow. And repeat. It’s an identity that’s defined by habits, not by goals. Verbs, not nouns.

I’m going to major in linguistics.

Gold Star for You, Kid

How do you keep your practice schedule organized? For me, pen and paper never gets old. And this week I made it into full color:

Mastery of Space and Time
Mastery of Space and Time

That’s my newly-encircled calendar. It’s just an ugly wall calendar from the office supply store that I like because of the weird to-do forms at the top of each page. I was getting overwhelmed with the exercise/ice routine recommended by my PT, on top of my yoga practice, on top of trying to build a meditation practice. I am not a robot and it’s hard to remember to do six exercise routines a day. And floss my teeth.

So, my calendar sat there, and finally BEGGED for some doodling. Blue circles are for meditation. Yellow is for yoga. The black boxes are for icing and strengthening my knee (twice daily). Then I write everything else in red so it pops forward.

I figured I’d show this at the beginning of the month while it looks all perfect. Already the checking off of boxes is giving me great satisfaction and motivation. My inner six-year-old takes over scheduling from now on. Maybe I can get my sister the first grade teacher to give me some stickers…