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Yoga Practice

When it comes down to it, yoga is all about practice—the day-to-day experience that eventually makes yoga our own. Here are tips, musings and commentary on the practice we all love!
  • Parsva Balasana: Bird Dog Pose

    Chances are Parsva Balasana (Bird Dog Pose) does not have a 2,000-year history in the yoga tradition. More likely, the concept of a bird dog—symbol of one of their favorite pastimes—may have come from the British who colonized India, as did so many of yoga’s more gymnastic poses. This doesn’t diminish its value, however. Parsva Balasana confers many benefits. Practicing Bird Dog Pose: strengthens and stabilizes the core. strengthens the low back. challenges, and therefore increases, your ability to balance. may promote balance between the right and left lobes of your brain through the contralateral relationships between the arms and legs. As a core...

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  • Slip-Sliding Away On Your Yoga Mat? 3 Tips to Save Your Practice

    Back in the old days, up until the late 1980s, there was no such thing as a nonskid yoga mat. We practiced on an unpredictable variety of floors—wood, linoleum and carpet. We used outdated carpet samples instead of yoga blankets and neckties from a secondhand store for straps. Pretty primitive. The lack of a nonskid surface made for a sometimes-frustrating practice. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) and standing poses such as Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) were especially dicey. The effort to keep hands and feet from sliding out from under us and causing a crash landing kept us from fully extending...

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  • Yoga of Patience: Learning to Spread My Toes

    It’s taken years for me to learn how to spread my toes. What looks like a simple act for most people in my yoga class isn’t simple for me. It has required patience and faith and a kind of stubborn determination that I hadn’t known I possessed to finally push apart the bones, flesh, and nails on the ends of my feet so that my toes could spread. When I first began practicing yoga, my teacher would ask us to stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and spread our toes as a way of setting a firm foundation. On either side...

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  • Parvrtta Utkatasana: Revolved Fierce Pose

    Utkatasana is popularly known as “Chair Pose.” But I can’t imagine that ancient yogis—who had never seen, let alone sat in a chair—would have invented a word for “chair” just in case. Truth is, they didn’t. Instead, the root word—utkata—means “fierce.” Utkatasana, a pose that strengthens the legs, feet and abdominals, is a staple in my healthy hips regimen. It strengthens muscles that can help stabilize hypermobile hips. In addition, it strengthens the core. The revolved version, Parvrtta Utkatasana, adds a thoracic spine rotation that can help soften shoulder tension. One of the keys to releasing upper body tension is...

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  • Dekasana: Airplane Pose

    Right off, I’ll say that the chances that Dekasana (Airplane Pose) is one of yoga’s ancient staple poses are slim. Unless an ancient yogi sage predicted the invention of airplanes thousands of years ago, this pose, or at least its name, has to have arrived recently. That’s no problem, however, as many of yoga’s most popular asanas actually derive from British gymnastics. When the British occupied India, they introduced many of the more acrobatic asanas to yoga’s existing collection of poses. While not traditional in the strictest sense, these poses—such as backbends and standing poses—confer benefits that can help us...

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  • Yoga for Hiking: 4 Asanas to Help You Wind Down

    A while back I wrote about specific yoga asanas that can support your hiking practice. Hiking requires good balance, and the ability to negotiate uneven terrain. Asana practice is replete with poses that build stability and balance. But what comes after your hike? Often, sore, tired muscles and achy joints follow. Hiking—especially when there’s lots of uphill and downhill trekking—can tighten muscles and jar our joints. Winding down with a few choice asanas after a hike can help restore your legs. Yoga for Hiking: Winding Down There are lots of yoga asanas that can help you wind down from a...

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  • International Day of Yoga: 4 Ways to Celebrate

    Depending on where you live in the world, today may be the longest day in the year. Summer solstice can fall anywhere between June 21st and 22nd. Here in Salt Lake City, solstice occurred last night at 10:24 pm. In Mumbai, it happened this morning at 9:24 am. The year’s longest day is reason enough to celebrate. But on December 11, 2014, the United Nations gave us another reason. At the request of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the UN designated June 21st as the annual International Day of Yoga. Modi requested summer solstice to honor the yoga tradition because...

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  • Yoga Poses for Hiking: 3 Asanas to Prepare You for a Trek

    Here in Utah, the time is ripe for getting outdoors. The creeks and rivers are raging with runoff from winter’s voluminous snow. As temps climb into the 90s in the Salt Lake valley, mountain air remains crisp and crystalline. Down south, the slickrock desert beckons too. While it’s considerably hotter, the red rock and contrasting royal blue skies, along with the deep silence, provide much-needed solitude. No matter where you choose to spend time outdoors, it’s time to hike. The benefits of being in nature are well documented. Studies have found that spending time in nature promotes sleep, increases vitamin...

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  • Going to a Yoga Festival? Here Are Some Tips

    Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets—or at least for practicing yoga all day and dancing all night. Yoga festivals have pretty much supplanted the yoga conferences of old. These celebrations combine all-day asana with evening music. It pays to be prepared. The days are long, and if you want to take advantage of as many classes you’ll be doing a whole lot of practice. A few weeks to a month before you go, you might want to ramp up your practice a bit. If you plan on going to every available class, you’ll want...

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  • Eagle Arms: Dissolve Upper Back Tension

    Garuda, the eagle god known in Buddhist lore for his 40-foot wingspan, is revered for his special powers, such as shrinking and growing at will. A single flap of his gargantuan wings is said to move mountains. Garuda is ubiquitous in the East. His image is the national symbol of Thailand and Indonesia, and his legends span across Hinduism and Buddhism. He plays a starring role in the first book of India’s epic, Mahabharata. Garudhasana (Eagle Pose) expresses Garuda’s powers by strengthening and rooting our legs and feet. The arm position expresses the eagle god about to take flight. In...

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