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

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

it's only a body

It’s only a body.
This body that houses the innards of me. A body that once lived quite disconnected and abused; for purchase and gains and misuse from others. It’s this body that displays tom-boys scars and proven athleticism. This body that was - and still at times - mocked for its size and intake. This body is long and lanky and more often ungrounded and shaky. It is this body that has nourished life and birthed a child. This body on display has kept me moving and living. This is the body that longed for curves to fill out the womanly ways. This body unable to reach one point or another of standards untrainable. This is the body that is shaped from living, mothering, strengthening, and aging. This is the body I remain in and hold steadfast and high.
It is this body, I strengthen.
It is this body, I’ve reconnected.
It is this body, I love.
It is this body that is wrinkled, scarred, and resurrected. It’s taken years to learn what strength can do for the physical and the mental. I learned at the age of 19 that a 100lbs girl can save a 300lbs man 13ft underwater. I know now that strength is as much mental as it is physical.
Never stop showing up for yourself and your life.

stephynow

body movin'

You are safe because you are in your body. In this practice and in life, you are your greatest teacher. This past weekend, I taught a foundations workshop on the yoga "basics." I have write that word in quotes because they're not "basic" postures, they're really fucking hard. There's nothing "basic" about them. My daily personal practice is challenged by the same postures I've been practicing since day one.
We often listen to teachers as they fuse life metaphors on and off the mat. The thing is, life is challenging, the external world is coming at you even on days you don't feel like showing up. Some things you can control and others you cannot. In your yoga practice, meaning everything, functional movement with breath, you're challenging the internal world. You are the common denominator; not the teacher, not the cues, or postures. You. We have to come back to the greatest teacher, the self.
In a yoga class, you are co-creating this practice. The students beside you are your teammates. Your breath encourages your neighbor's breath. Your presence encourages your neighbor's presence. You are empowering each other to go deep, challenge, get to an edge, and take flight in an emotional release. This is the internal world of you. We can talk about alignment and refinement all day long, bust through myths, question others, and preach.
Mobility requires awareness, it doesn't show up and give responsibility to another. If something is feeling off or tweaked, don't do it. Simply pause, check in, breathe, and take seat of the teacher within, always. Let go of right vs wrong and feel yourself, the body is far more intelligent than we give credit. Allow the body to move energy, feel vulnerable, overcome obstacles, and calm the mind. And sometimes we have to rest the whys and just BE.
 
My teacher gave me the nudge of love when she said, "question everything, including me."
Empower yourself to know yourself, love yourself, and feel yourself. Don't give it away, call it back. You are your greatest teacher.

stephynow