Yoga tidbits: have a block party!

Today's yoga tidbit: have a yoga block party! 

This month I have been co-teaching a beginner's yoga series. Every Monday, we gather to meet, converse, and practice yoga. Part of instruction and what makes this workshop-style series a great success is the repetition of meeting with a small group of people to talk about yoga postures, bones, alignment through awareness, and what comes up in a yoga class. One of my most favorite things to do is teach yoga in this way, where the teacher-student relationship is like having one, big, loving dialogue on the practice. One of the best things we work together is understanding the poses in relationship specific to one's body. Offering modifications as the rule, not the exception. It takes seeing, feeling, and understanding what comes up physically and mentally. I've been really focusing on modifying the practice in accordance with a student's body. For example, length of your limbs and what to do when someone has really long legs and shooters arms and vice versa. One simple thing to use: blocks. Prop it up!

 

This tip is for anyone that has trouble stepping to the top of the mat from downward-facing dog. Use blocks to lift your base to create space.

1. Start with placing two block at the top of your mat, about shoulder-width distance apart. 

2. Take your palms down, press down and finger-squeeze your blocks.

3. Walk your heels towards the back of your mat, making the v-shape for downward-dog, melting the chest towards your thighs, drawing your naval in, tailbone high, and long hamstrings. Stay here for a few breaths, taking some wiggles, or bending your knees, and then steady yourself in preparation to the top of your mat. 

4. On an inhale, sweep your left leg high, flexing your foot, toes towards your chest. 

5. On the exhale, slowly, draw your knee into your chest, rounding your upper back (like cat pose), and step your foot between your palms (blocks). 

6. Dial your right heel down at about a 45 degree angle, separating your feet hip-width distance, creating space for your hips in preparation to stand tall at Warrior One.

7. Use your strong center to inhale your upper body to stand and reach your beautiful limbs high to the sky. 

 

I love to use blocks or have them close by as an option for every practice or class I teach. By bringing the earth higher (your base on blocks), you're giving yourself a boosting-lift in order to sweep and hug your leg into your body in order to step forward to the top your mat. It is also great to use blocks to practice jumping to the top of your mat in a vinyasa class. 

 

Sometimes, we need a few extra inches in our practice. Some of the greatest secrets in yoga has little to do with strength and flexibility and so much to do with anatomy (lengthy limbs, torso, etc). Having long limbs, aka genetics, is a bone structure thing! This is why looks are not everything in this practice. It is about understanding your body and feeling yourself in this practice that is truly everything. Give yourself a lift and have a block party! 

stephynow

Today. Death by hate.

I have so few words. My heart is racing with my thoughts. My jaw has been clenched since this morning. My body is in a fit, rather a rage. It is physically demanding to feel it all.
Today, I am angry and I will not hide it. I do not run from my anger. I will not keep calm and fucking breathe on. I will not numb this. Not now. Not ever. Anger is a motivator. To act, to move. To love the fucking shit out of life. My anger is loving. Prayer is not enough.
Words are not enough.
This post is not enough.
This is the world we live in. Where death is driven by hate. This thing called hate, is learned. If you stand by your homophobic ways, your racist, bigoted, classist, sexist ways, violence against others through thoughts, words, actions, or suggestions then hit the unfollow button right now.
It is unfathomable to me how we keep parading bullshit gun rights to arms that kill by the masses. A weapon that fires rounds, I repeat, ROUNDS. No one needs this weapon. I’m looking to the disgusitng belief systems, the policiticans who pocket money from the NRA, empty condolences, to profiteers, to all for the sake of “rights to bear arms” poor excuse for lack of action to reform.
Inaction is an action.
I sure hope that anger is a motivator to keep spreading love and igniting that love out loud and proud.

This is not up for discussion.

Go out and fucking love the shit out of this world.

stephanie birch

rules...

Ignoring rules of thirds and chopping off limbs in all the funky places and dislocating composition. They make rules so people like us can break them. Test out the old and discover the new.
Beer & Boom. Double B toasting the tongue and fizzling down the throat and tickling the belly.
Cheers to Monday, beautiful humans. You are beautiful to witness; know it, feel it, and love it.

stephynow

security

It’s like a warm blanket wrapped in the familiar. Only everyday, its smell changes into the unfamiliar. The ends tattered and worn, through life, hold on. The seams begin to loosen and take an odd-melting-like shape. This security becomes soft, the shell worn, far from purchase. It’s this blanket that continues to cycle through washes, wears, and tears as though the years that addition your life, build into new, away from the comfort of layered cloth. What was once so bright and fresh, laid to secure has become stretched and torn, weathered from the life endured. The security you crave will always take on new shape. Maybe that means stripping down to a freezing-chill before we take comfort in the warmth of what always was, the thinking of how it “should” be, and masking ourselves to the delusions of easy. Maybe the real work is to get freezing-hot with questioning the ways it’s always been done, to think beyond the external, and dive in to the deepest and darkest parts into the greatest uncertainty of it all.
Some look for balance by getting even. Tucking away emotions as if the parade is to keep calm and move on. Hiding behind the currency of acceptable victim-hoods to shovel the certainties you ache. The games that people play to swindle and manipulate are the very games that don’t move much beyond the superficial. So worried about the other without understanding that he or she is actually the other. You place the others like a chess piece only to reveal that you are only playing yourself. As if a victory over another keeps your power intact. It does not, true power is your soul in action. 
People will charge you for not playing the game, they’ll boast their hurts and finger points for gain, and they’ll never understand that you are simply not their opponent until they’re willing to get freezing-hot in the work they refuse to seek. 
Bypass the bullshit. Penetrate the superficial. Security blankets off. Bare as the air. Here you are, alive and wild and free. Fine-tuning and waking up yourself. #wordiness

The many faces of me

Expressions that boast and acidic tastes that quiver, spill out like trance-drop elixir. Slowly, at first. The visions blur, one image then two then three and four. I saw my face in the mirror once, only four stared back. I waved my hand in front of me and watched the trails of four arch like rainbow. My face was numb and my limbs wobbled unsteady, it wasn’t unfamiliar, I pay little mind to my ungrounded ways, it’s a lifetime of skin and bones that clunk in uneasiness. Stuttering images reflect back, four parts of me, there and not. Maybe I want to get away, feel unseen for once. Maybe this makes me come alive, to go with my four faces, the many faces of me that I aired to the world. The many of me that stack to the whole. It was me, alive and well, alive and bubbling, swift elixirs that dance on my tongue and fizzed down my throat. Lucid, yet alive.
I danced with these many faces and spun back to myself, I didn’t know it then that I was merely trying to find myself and understand my ways in the form of pills, late night hops, and sunrise-chasing. So sure of hits, yet spun-out at home. I understand myself now, as I understand myself then. There was a time.
I don’t expect to be understood, so don’t expect me to explain myself. It is written and faded and forgiven. All is alive and well. Like a spinning circus, coming home to myself. #wordiness