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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!
  • Save Your Wrists in Sun Salutations

    Vinyasa, based in Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations), is arguably the most popular form of yoga these days. From traditional Ashtanga—where the idea for Vinyasa came from—to newer forms such as Power, flowing from one pose to the next is the standard in many classes. Inherent in most of these flowing practices is a core sequence: Plank Pose to Chaturanga Dandasana to Urdva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). In many classes practitioners move through this sequence 20-plus times. In all these poses, the upper body bears a big slice of the responsibility for supporting...

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  • Urdhva Dhanurasana: Wheel of Energy

    Backbends are one of yoga practice’s great gifts. Because our daily lives don’t require a lot of backbending, doing some sort of backbend every day is a way to balance our forward-folded lives. Plus they’re energizing and just plain fun. Backbends take many forms, from smaller backbends such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) to full-body backbends such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow), the subject of this post. All of them can be beneficial to our bodies. They mobilize our spines, lengthen our front bodies and strengthen our back bodies. In Yoga International, teacher Rod Stryker writes: “Urdhva Dhanurasana increases the vital...

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  • Junior Bolsters: 3 Luxurious Restoratives

    If you have an idea about what yoga bolsters should look like, think again. While the flat-topped Standard Bolster stands in for most uses, sometimes a different size and shape can make all the difference. That’s why Hugger Mugger developed Junior Bolsters. These bolsters were originally designed to create an alternative for adults with smaller bodies. But in the decade since they first came on the market, we’ve found lots of other uses for them, no matter what your body type. Junior Bolsters are the same length and firmness as Standard and Round bolsters, but they are narrower in width...

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  • Supta Virasana: Restore Your Belly

    Most of us spend the lion’s share of our days sitting in chairs, with our joints in flexion. Our hips are flexed to 90 degrees, as are our knees. Our shoulders hunch forward—unless we constantly remind ourselves not to hunch. By the time I shut down my computer in the evening, my body craves at least a few minutes of the opposite. One of my favorite poses for countering the effects of sitting, as well as preparing my body to wind down for sleep, is Supta Virasana. Supta Virasana is the lying-down version of Virasana, aka “Hero’s Pose.” Supta Virasana...

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  • Tree Pose: A Link to Ancient Wisdom

    “What is it about these trees that inspires us so? Our calendars and our tape measures become instruments of humility when we measure our lives against theirs. To touch an ancient tree—or better yet—to hug an ancient tree, is to embrace the past.” – from John Moran’s Journal of Light: The Visual Diary of a Florida Nature Photographer (University Press of Florida) On my mat yesterday morning in Tree Pose, I was thinking of John Moran’s quote about trees—how if we embrace them, we embrace the past. As I lifted my right foot off the ground, placed it against my...

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  • Starting a Yoga Practice

    A new year is upon us. A healthy percentage of us use this annual marker to reset our lives—resolving to give up what doesn’t work and start something new. If that something new you’d like to start is a yoga practice, here are some tips that might help: Finding the Right Yoga Class Ask friends. The bigger, better-funded studios have much more advertising power than the more modest studios and teachers, so they are easier to find. They may also have great teachers, but huge classes are not for everyone. Ask friends, relatives and co-workers where they like to practice...

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  • Give Your Body Some Gratitude

    The past few years have given me a bit of a wake-up call. My body, which has always been very low maintenance, has been sending me a big message: “Stop taking me for granted!” Almost two years ago, my left hip was replaced because of hip displaysia. I’ve long known it was only a matter of time for my right hip. Now the time has come. In another week, I'll have a new, titanium hip joint to match the other one. On the first day of an 18-day meditation retreat I at Spirit Rock Meditation Center last summer, I received...

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  • Grounding Your Yoga Practice

    In 1989, I went to Pune, India, to study with Geeta and BKS Iyengar. A group of 30-some dedicated practitioners from around the U.S. joined senior teacher Mary Dunn for a three-week intensive. I gravitated toward a group of teachers who all stayed at the same $10 per night hotel—which I’m sure is not nearly that good of a deal these days. In the evenings, we’d gather on one of our balconies and discuss our day of classes. A theme that kept arising in our discussions was disappointment in the absence of “advanced” poses in our asana classes. Most wanted...

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  • Bakasana: Not Just a Party Trick

    It’s the season of colored lights, familiar carols and full calendars. In December we’re often juggling family, friends, gift-buying and parties. The dizzying pace can often leave us feeling unbalanced. Yoga has remedies for this. My favorites are Restorative practice, long Savasanas and balancing poses. Balancing poses not only teach the extremely valuable skill of balancing, but they can also collect a fragmented mind. They require concentration, so they teach us about concentration. At the mention of balancing poses, we often think of Vrksasana (Tree Pose) or Hasta Padangusthasana (Standing Big-Toe Pose). But standing on one foot is not the...

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  • Trying Hot Yoga? Here Are Some Tips

    As the year comes to a close, most of us have one major priority: finding just the right gift for each person on our list. A close second could be finding a way to maintain fitness while navigating the season’s traditional celebration of copious amounts of food. The key is to remember to move our bodies, even as we enjoy our holiday treats. But the weather can be a bit nippy for a brisk walk. So why not warm up AND move your body by trying a Hot Yoga class? Most Hot Yoga classes take place in a room heated...

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