Yoga tidbits: handstand prep

Today’s yoga tidbits and on this afternoon’s menu for my 4:30pm at Solfire: handstand prep, the no kick-up zone. It is about taking it slow, steady, and calling on consistency to balance on those palms.
Take it to the wall, but not by way of kicking up. This is about strengthening, engaging, and steadying yourself facing the wall. I used to practice and teach kicking up to the wall for handstand prep and I’ve taken a firm stance to not do so, for several reasons (not to say it’s not right for you, but for me, it’s just a no-go). My kick-up to the wall, heck, even away from a wall, provided me with quite the banana-back habit. Often bowing out into a backbend. Which works beautifully for many. For me, it became impossible for me to feel my balance and it’s been a hard habit to break. I’ve lessened my deepening back bend practice, in order to strengthen my front and back body. It can start simple, with a fiercely strong plank, I love taking a cat-back plank, for example. One of my favorites, perhaps most challenging and testing of patience to balancing on your palms, is facing the wall, like pictured. Doing so, helps build strength in your front and back body, shoulders, legs, etc. See if you can feel your booty weight and hips up over your head. Palms planted firm. Draw your ribs in and down towards your hips. It’ll feel tricky at first, maybe for some time, since inversions require us to wire our brains from a much different perspective, the world is upside-down, give your body, brain, and the mechanics time. Lots of time and practice.
You can try a variety of phases:
Down-dog facing wall, one leg presses, top left photo.
Bent-knee taps at the wall.
L-stand at the wall.
One-legged L-stand at the wall.
Shift into balance by kissing your ankles together.
As with learning anything new, give yourself a healthy dose of rest at night, yes, SLEEP! You will literally recharge and re-wire your brain to remember the tools for your next application. Whether it’s this yoga thang or studying or savoring memories from a beautiful day with loved ones. Ya’ll need to rest your bones and your brains.
And play every damn day! #yogathang #yogatidbits

stephynow

Perhaps this is the most challenging pose of all?

Perhaps the most challenging pose of all? Taking a seat and going inside of yourself. We see the oohs and awes of getting upside-down, bending oneself into pretzels, hand mudras, perfecting the cues, technique here, dare-deviling there. Yes, that is all great fun and pizazz; it will challenge you to your peaks, at times, you’ll fall and plant and get up again, you’ll learn about balance, the body, and perform such party tricks for shits and giggles and sometimes seriousness. Yes, it’s all that and more. You can perform and play until your limbs fall off. Sometimes I wonder if the performance outweighs the practice? In a time where standing on your hands takes up more time and attention than taking a seat with yourself. I’ve taken to witness people investing another teacher’s class to handstand press, or a completely sequencing on their accord. Now, this doesn’t mean it is rude, good, or bad. It brings up questions. I often think, what are we avoiding when we are hard-pressed to the fancy? Is it an attraction? Distraction? Where do you go in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual? Is it loving? Not everyone or everything has to be unison, surely. But we can learn from each other. Let others be your guide. If you’re grinding, it’s the cue to go inside. I don’t like every class I go to, however, I do the practice and give thanks. I know I don’t always have to like something in order to learn and find gratitude. One thing is for certain, it’s not about perfecting the postures, it’s about getting in touch with your highest self. I use the word “touch” because I feel that many are starving to be living in such a way that calls for us to be our best. We touch moments of this. In order to discover ourselves, we must know ourselves. Love ourselves. At times, the hardest to practices and to teach. Yet, so beautiful to witness. Can you take this seat and look into yourself? Can you love yourself when you hurt yourself? Can you forgive yourself? Can you empower yourself? Can you inspire yourself? This means to breathe life into yourself. And say this: I love my life. It is your greatest gift and greatest power. To be in love. #loveliveshere #takeaseat

stephynow

Today's yoga tidbits: up-dog, cobra, and cow pose, all in the family

Today’s yoga tidbits: give yourself options in this transitional posture. We do a lot of planks, chaturangas, and updogs/cobras in a vinyasa class. When a teacher or your home practice calls for upward-facing dog or cobra pose, and neither one of those don’t feel right, take cow pose instead. Cow pose; on all fours, hips above knees, palms beneath shoulders. Inhale your beautiful heart forward, shoulders back, and tail up. 
All three above provide beautiful heart and shoulder opening, core and leg engagement. They’re in the same family, they just look a little different. Empower yourself in this practice, never hesitate to listen, and trust yourself.

stephynow

Today's yoga tidbits: grow your crow

Tuesday yoga tidbits: crow pose. Prep yourself to take flight. Start by propping yourself on blocks, like the first photo. Spread your fingers and press your palms down. Take cat/cows here, drawing your belly in. If this pose is scary, take time to feel your legs lifted off the ground, a block is great for this!
When you’re ready, whether it be minutes, weeks, months or years; place a block underneath your toes, wrap your knees around the outside of your triceps as high up towards your armpits as possible. Get your booty high. I like to call this is in class: crow wrap. It’s a wrap and squeeze, no need to lift-off. If your body is shaking, it’s building strength.
When you’re ready, play with lifting one set of toes up off from the block.
The block helps your lift your bum. It’s one way to play. Play every damn day!
#howtoyoga #blockparty #yogathang

stephynow

Today's yoga tidbits: in lieu of shoulder stand, try this

Yoga tidbits: In lieu of shoulder stand, stay here. Stay here if you are someone that spends the day at a desk, hunched over, or if you spend much of your time cranking your neck looking down at a phone screen. The invitation is not always to take yourself to the textbook fullest expression of a posture. I believe it’s important to evolve the practice, if it calls.
In today’s world, we tend to hunch over our laptops, bend to pick up children, and look down at our phone screens, etc. Sometimes we need to back up and off traditions. Not necessarily to question the practice or the benefits. There are many wonderful benefits to shoulder stand. However, if you spend most of your day looking down, please stay here propped up on a block or lean your legs up onto a wall. In the Western world, many of us have a lot of tension built up around the neck, shoulders, and down the back. The inversion benefits are here with a neutral spine. Lean into your body cues, how you live your life, and you’ll be syncing your intuition within the practice. I promise you this. It is all loving. Science and evolving, if we choose to be open to such findings and nuances. #howtoyoga #trustyourself

stephynow