Yoga tidbits: squat-talk

Today’s yoga tidbits: squat-talk also known as a variety of names (malasana, garland, goddess, yogi squat, deep squat, etc). Personally, I rarely teach poses by their name. I love the beauty of Sanskrit and the power behind the shapes of their English translation, I tend to reserve my breath and voice for body parts in motion. I have found that my body responds to target areas, what’s happening, where, and how to modify.
This deep squat for most is tough! It is opening the groin, hip and inner thigh area. Stretches the lower hamstrings, back, neck, and ankles. It can be a lot of compression for the ankles too, a bone thing, which is something that may prevent you from dropping your bum close to the earth. Pictured here are different-looking shapes that offer similar target-area stretches and benefits. If the deep, low squat is not your jam, try something new:
- you can roll a blanket or your mat under your heels for lift to relieve ankle compression. Same blanket can be placed behind your knees for a squeeze.
- sit on a bench or prop your bum on blocks.
- send your bum way back behind you, bringing your chest forward.
- drop your knees, like you would for a toe-stretch, with your knees wide.
- or take the tops of your feet down, knees wide, for a chest-lifted child’s pose variation.
Surely, these all look slightly different, when we focus on a target area, we begin to move our body in a way that feels right. It doesn’t mean we have to always go for a pictured posture, or cue, or what our neighbor next to us in class is doing. You are your best teacher, your body is your best cue. It will always give you feedback and a single posture can come with a family of shapes and variations.

stephynow

Hey, bossypants, let's talk.

Hey, bossypants, let’s talk.
Somehow-some way, we’ve made it okay to intrude on others. Maybe okay isn’t the word. I think you get what I mean. So many opinions tossing around, so many offensives guarding up. What if we stopped looking around at others in order to form opinions on how other people live. What if we stopping hunting for things and people to be offended by. What if we utilized that energy to feed our own lives and allowed others to live theirs. I’m not saying we can’t have opinions, I’m saying let’s work to keep them to ourselves. Let’s get worked up about our own lives, instead of others. That is what changes the world; changing yourself, loving yourself. Bashing, stepping, or hating on others doesn’t make you stronger, taller, or wiser. The strongest people I know are often the softest, most genuine, and fierce with their love.

Recently, people have mentioned I’ve changed. Some have opined their disproval for various things: teaching, writing, what I share and don’t, from real life to social media, that I’m too light therefore I must not be real anymore, requests to speak on depression, how I’ve posted an ad, their wishes for the old, etc. Listen, I hear you. I see you. I get it. I post about life. I write my mood. I share yoga when I want. I have amazing opportunity gigs that are creative and also keep food on the table. My yoga is in real life, not just a square. My life is constantly changing. This place, social media, is a form of such expression, with integrity. It’s something I’m grateful for, to land and drop off. I aim to connect, give and love here, I don’t count the number ticks. I sometimes cringe when people ask me about it or say instafamous, that’s not my real life. I have felt shame about it, I’ve lost “friendships” and have had finger points, over an app. It's weird to even write about it - and this is life right now. We have apps in our lives. This app, I am grateful for the connections and the love that abounds here. And sometimes, these introductions, pay my bills. I don't know if ya'll know this, but yoga teaching is not the money-maker here. I say this not to host a pity party. It is not why I teach, I would say that most yoga teachers have side gigs or even full-time jobs. Point is - I feel this need to speak on this in hopes that you may understand that my choices are my own, not yours. I hear you, I see you, and I understand you. Truly.
I’m a woman, mother, teacher, writer, feeler, giver, and lover. I am many things, I’m not perfect. Sometimes your opinions hurt, I’m not a robot. Your critiques are not welcome here, unless I ask. Please know this: I love you, anyway. I will certainly not live up to your standards, so please take me down from such great heights and let’s talk, sans bossypants.
With love,

Steph

stephynow

Big kids

Up until now, you are every age you’ve ever been. Like a stacking collection of memories, playfulness, triumphs, trials, adventure, experiments, experiences and wonderment. I like to believe it’s not so linear, as we’ve been taught to heed. Such a timeline full of expectations in the “shoulds” of life. As you age, tethering the self to responsibility and checklists. Such lifestyle keeps tied to weekend cravings, tossing back mind-altering elixirs, perhaps to let down and turn up on the dance floors or whatever have you to fancy such a release. It’s a freedom we crave. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a way for our adult selves regain the small freedoms we once held as children. 
Take for example, this time of year, we expect teenagers to not go out and trick or treat, as if an age is a marker to “grow up.” That because you’ve reached a point on a system, therefore you must halt joys. Hell, I’m 33 years old and I enjoy playing dress up and shoving candy in my face as much as I love singing, dancing, taking my clothes off, not brushing my hair, skinny dipping, crying my face-off, laughing my ass-off, telling make-believe stories with my 5 year old, pretending the sidewalk is my runway, practicing jokes like I’m on a standup, squealing and experimenting with adventure in this life. Each of us, is still very much the child within. Often, we hide her (or him). We need a solid excuse for her/him to come out and play. 
I think one of my most favorite things about being a mama is this: wonderment. To play. To be a child. Exploratory eyes. Big with love. Little things are big. So simple and pure, we forget the amazement that abounds in this (extra)ordinary life. To be playful, messy, wild, and full of emotions. Full of expression. 5 year olds, they’re the most honest people I know. They’ll tell you what’s up, what they like and don’t. And often, they don’t need a reason and I don’t budge on my son producing one. Sometimes life just IS and things just ARE. And that’s that.
Toss candy into those big kid bags for goodness sake. Let big kids be kids. And let adults be big kids and kids too. Life is fun and full that way.

stephynow

Yoga tidbits: what about these arms?

Today’s yoga tidbits: Warrior I with different arm variations. This used to be such a tricky pose for me. Often, dread would come over me whenever it was cued. Until I learned to give myself some space and get over attempting to perfectly square my hips forward. Let’s start from the ground up:
Begin in a long lunge. Separating your feet about hip-width distance. This was a big key for me, providing space for my hips and midline. Plant your back foot firm, many suggest at a 45 degree angle. That works for some bodies, not all. If you’re part of the not-all, most days that’s me, you’ll have to play with that back foot; either opening into a top foot to back foot perpendicular meet or perhaps taking a stance wider than hip-width and face your back toes forward.
Nugget: wherever your back toes are pointing relates to your hip-opening. If you’re looking to square your hips forward, bring your back toes forward and wide (spacing for hips). If you’re looking for a slight hip-opening, keep your back toes open (in the above mentioned perpendicular). Both legs actively participating and recruiting your bum engagement in support of your pelvis and hips. I don’t believe in “relaxing” the butt cheeks as they’re a great mass of support in your body. Let’s use the tush!
Hug your ribs in and draw them down towards your hips. Heart is proud and pumped full of love.
Let’s talk arms: palms on your hips, shoulders back - great. Palms up and wide like a V for victory - great, especially if you’re like me with tight shoulders. Arms like goal posts - great. This is wonderful if it’s hard to breathe, this shape encourages the heart to lift up for lung expansion, space to breathe. Lastly, traditional, palms up, pinkies in. You can also take your palms out like you’re air hugging the world because that just feels damn good when you live up the world around you. The theme is space. How am I creating space and giving myself space on the mat and in life?

stephynow