Please comment to share your experience! What did you think? Which Asana and yoga workout did you choose to practice today? Always remember, be kind!
Good morning Yogis! We are continuing our cycle through the Yoga Sutras with the third of the Niyamas – Tapas or Discipline. Since we are in the middle of a September Asana Challenge, we are featuring a new Asana that represents each of the Yoga Sutras! Utkatasana (oot-kah-TA-sa-nuh) or Chair pose is my choice to represent Tapas. This is a challenging pose, and a great workout when held for an extended time. The literal translation from Sanskrit is Powerful or Intense Pose. If you hold this Asana for a full minute, I am sure you will feel why this pose was named “Intense”!
I usually practice with the Yoga Studio App rather than streaming services, so I can download my favorite classes and use in areas without WiFi or phone signal. Today I am doing a new Hip Hop Vinyasa.
Each Tapas day, we check in on our progress with the daily habits we have set for ourselves. It typically takes 30 Days to set a new habit (which is why I love these 30 Day Challenges!) so if you have kept up on your daily habit you have likely successfully formed a new habit! Congratulations, keep it up.. perhaps it is time to add a new daily habit to your routine!! If you have not kept up, examine why you did not, and consider if you want to keep this goal or set a new one. Evaluate the reminders and/or rewards you set for yourself, and perhaps modify these systems to ensure your success! Yoga is a practice, and successfully changing our habits is about consistency, so we will keep checking in on our goals on Tapas Days.
As mentioned we are in a daily Asana Challenge, which I have kept up with by wearing workout clothes to bed and practicing first thing in the morning. I also have a daily habit of practicing French or Spanish with Duolingo… I am pretty pleased with myself to have a 29 Day Streak, about to hit 30 tomorrow! I have missed fewer than 20 days in all of 2020, but there is just something very rewarding about the increasing number of days in a row. And, lastly, this daily Asana Challenge has helped put me on the right path to meet another goal – hitting all three rings on my Apple Watch.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to try Chair Pose for Tapas Day! This pose is common in all styles and levels of Yoga. It is a great alternative to backbends to stretch thighs and back, and is a fantastic workout for legs and glutes when held for 30-60 seconds!
Inhale and lift your arms above your head, palms facing in, and sit your hips back as if you are sitting back in a chair. Keep your shoulders down and back straight, and try to get your thighs as close to parallel to the ground as possible. It is more important to have a straight back than to “sit” lower into your chair. Look up between your hands if comfortable.
Take deep breaths into your belly (perhaps try Vilona Pranayama) and hold this pose for at least 3-5 full breaths. I recommend playing with weight in your feet a bit through this pose – generally you should keep all weight in your heels. Perhaps try lifting your toes slightly from the mat! Or, shift your weight into the balls of your feet, and try lifting your heels slightly from the mat, preparing for more advanced variations of this pose like Awkward Pose (a Hot Yoga favorite) and Drinking Bird Pose. Or, try placing a block between your knees for an even more challenging lower-body workout!
To come out of Utkatasana, inhale and straighten your knees back to Tadasana / Mountain Pose, then exhale and lower your arms – you may want to come all the way forward into Uttanasana / Standing Forward Fold to counter this pose after holding for a long time.
PS If you are comfortable with variations of these poses, please tag us with your pictures on Instagram!
Please comment to share your experience! Have you tried Utkatasana or the more advanced variations before? Always remember, be kind!
Basically, this pose is sitting on the ground with your feet straight in front of you. However, as with many of the “basic” poses, there is a lot of alignment to consider for the proper expression of this pose!
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to try a modified and more challenging version of our Glutes Yoga Workout. Today, we will start in Dandasana / Staff, lift into Purvottanasana / Reverse Plank, and HOLD. I like to work up my hold times… I start with 10 reps of holding in Purvottanasana for 3 breaths, 10 reps of 5 breath holds, and then 5 reps of 10 breath holds. If you’re up for a challenge, perhaps try 10 reps of the 10 breath holds. Either way, you’ll certainly feel the burn by the end!
Dandasana – Staff Pose
Feet – You should keep heels on the mat, and feet flexed straight up, with toes pointing to the sky. I have to admit, this was a bit weird for me coming from a dance background! This is yet another yoga pose where your toes should be straight ahead and flexed, NOT turned out and pointed.
Legs – This pose can be very tricky for Yogis with tight hamstrings! It is more important to have a straight back here than straight legs. Try your best to keep legs on the ground. Activating the quads can help release tight hamstrings. If you feel your back rounding, allow your knees to bend slightly, and/or put a couch pillow under your seat!
Hips and Torso – Your sit bones should stay grounded to the mat. To help hamstrings release and keep a straight back, err on the side of sticking your booty out a bit rather than tucking it under. Your torso should stay aligned over your hips – check your hips, ribs, and shoulders are stacked right over your hips. Perhaps try a few cat/cow motions with your torso, and settle in a neutral middle spot.
Arms – Keep you shoulders pulled down you back to help open your chest and keep a straight back. If you are comfortable, you can rest your hands on your thighs. I like to press my hands into the mat, fingers pointing straight to the side, to help both straighten and stretch out my back a bit.
Head and Neck – Keep your head in line with the rest of your body, looking straight ahead. Note where your ears are compared to your shoulders. Most of us keep our heads slightly forward. If you notice you are doing this, tuck your chin slightly and gently press back to bring your neck and ears into alignment with your shoulders.
This pose is tricky for Yogis with tight hamstrings. Try a couch pillow under your seat and/or use a strap to help posture and work chest towards thighs.
Please comment to share your experience with this exercise! How many reps were you able to do of the 10 second holds? Do you prefer this lift and hold, or the standard lifts we did yesterday? Always remember, be kind!
Good morning Yogis! Our challengers are continuing our detailed breakdown of each of the poses in the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series, so we will learn about similar poses. Our challengers are learning about Phalakasana or Plank Pose. So, we will cover its reverse, Purvottanasana / Reverse or Upward Plank today. This an arm balance and foundation for a great Yoga Workout for the core and buns!
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to try a Purvottanasana / Reverse Plank Yoga Workout! If this is a new pose for you, then perhaps try just 5-10 repetitions of your reverse plank, holding for a full breath at the top. If this is familiar to you, then see how many you can do and share!
Feet – You will be balancing with a majority of weight on hands, but make sure to put a decent amount of weight in the heels of your feet for stability. I try to keep my feet slightly apart for more stability. Try to place the bottom of your feet flat on the floor
Legs – It is more important to keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your knees, than to have straight legs. Try to keep your feet flat on the mat as you lift your booty up for an added challenge. If you are unable to support yourself with straight legs, then bend your knees and plant your feet to come into Catuspadapithamasana or Crab Pose (aka reverse table top) instead – see picture below.
Hips – Your hips and glutes are the key to keeping your body straight from head to feet or knees. Therefore, tighten and lift your glutes to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body!
Arms – This pose is great for building arm strength. I have heard directions for fingers pointing either straight back or straight forward – perhaps try both! Starting from Staff / Seated, make sure your hands/wrists are directly below your shoulders, and arms are straight. Spread your fingers wide to help support your weight, while keeping middle fingers pointing straight forward or back. Press into your palms as you tighten your glutes and core to lift your body from the floor into a straight line. Make sure you are keeping shoulders down and back, not shrugging up to your ears.
Head and Neck – Keep your head and neck neutral, try not to let head drop down or get out of line with your sine. If you notice you are doing this, tuck your chin slightly and gently press up/sideways, then bring your neck and ears into alignment with your shoulders.
Catuspadapithmanasana – Crab Pose
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Please comment to share your experience or any questions! What did you think of this exercise? Which way did you point your fingers? Do you think you will add these arm strength exercises to your routine? Always remember, be kind!