Pose of the Month: Vrksasana – Tree Pose

Pose of the Month: Vrksasana – Tree Pose

By Natalie Weinstein I love trees and feel the most at ease, grounded, and connected when I’m hiking in the woods. I love trees so much that I even dressed up as one for Halloween in college (picture purposefully excluded). My connection to trees extends to my love of Vrksasana, or tree pose, in yoga. In its true sense, this posture teaches you to feel rooted to the earth, yet just as wind does to a tree, it teaches you to maintain balance even when a slight shift may cause you to sway or wobble.   Not only does tree pose enhance your ability to balance by strengthening your calves and thighs, it’s also a great hip opener, and stretches the chest and shoulders. There are many fun variations in this posture and a lot of dynamic ways to transition into and out of this posture — come to one of my classes to explore this posture further! Tree pose can be accessible to anybody. There are many modifications and stages to this posture, so yogis can choose what is right for them. Step 1: Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) at the top of your mat. (You can also modify this pose by standing against a wall.)    Step 2: Place your hands on your hips. Begin to shift your weight into your left foot. Step 3: Lift your right foot and place it either: against your inner left ankle, inner left calf, or inner left thigh. Be cautious not to place your foot against your inner left knee.                Step 4: Bring your...
5 Habits to Consider for 2018

5 Habits to Consider for 2018

By Caroline Noel Jackson Hey Yogis! Do you need some inspiration for 2018 New Years resolutions? Consider adopting one (or a few!) of these 5 little practices that I have found really helpful. They are small changes/routines that help keep my days balanced, grounded, and healthy.   Starting the day with a warm glass of lemon water This healthy habit is really easy to start, maintain, and incorporate into your morning routine. Starting the day with warm lemon water wakes up the digestive tract, hydrates the body, and provides a quick dose of vitamins and minerals.  Simply mix together an 8-12 ounce glass of lukewarm water with the juice of half a lemon and sip it first thing in the morning. I made this a habit by preparing my lemon water alongside my morning coffee. When I wake up I start my kettle, prep my French press, and squeeze half a lemon into a juice glass. When my kettle is about half way to boiling, I remove it from the stove and add some of the warmed-up water to the juice glass and enjoy it before coffee.   Ending the day with warm milk An ayurvedic ritual that I have incorporated into my nightly routine is drinking a warm glass of milk before bed. It is believed that warm milk helps with sleep. The recipe is simple: 8 ounces of milk (I use whole fat milk, but this recipe can be made with dairy free milks, too) 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric 1/4 teaspoon cardamom A pinch of black pepper Put everything into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir...
An Introduction to Children’s Yoga – Including a Sequence to Practice at Home!

An Introduction to Children’s Yoga – Including a Sequence to Practice at Home!

By Jess Gruber There are moments of teaching children yoga when I know they are deeply aware that yoga is so much more than an exercise; it happens when we practice deep breathing, the children close their eyes, everything stills and quiets, as they finish they look at me, eyes softened above a gentle smile. I ask them how they feel, pausing to consider, they say, “so peaceful,” “I feel gentle,” “sleepy and soft,” “like I want to cuddle”. Why + How? When teaching yoga to children, it’s important to utilize visuals, songs, and creativity. Visual guides help children to understand their body in space, this is called proprioception. When our proprioception is working efficiently then we can strengthen our interoception, our ability to feel the body internally. Interoception is important because it helps us to manage emotions and understand our body’s needs (hunger, elimination, illness) and then respond accordingly. Music is a timeless method to help children (and adults) improve memory and also creates structure within the lesson. Creativity, such as pretending to be animals or mindfully making crafts, provides an opportunity for children to utilize their foundation of knowledge and experiment with it. When teaching children yoga, one of the ways I engage children’s proprioceptive/interoceptive abilities, strengthen their memory, and set the groundwork for creativity is through the Little Moon Children’s Yoga Cards! I helped create these cards in collaboration with artist Andrew Schubert. The LMY Kids Yoga Cards tap into the creativity of pretending to be animals while teaching deep breathing and mindful movement to cultivate proprioceptive and interoceptive skills.   A Practice Here is a...
The Yogi Test Lab: Homemade Facewash and Toner

The Yogi Test Lab: Homemade Facewash and Toner

From our labs to yours, here are your yoga teachers’ top natural lifestyle hacks! By Becky Paris, with contributions from Amy Rizzotto When I first took the leap into full-blown hippie lifestyle about 5 years ago, I made the decision to cut out any extraneous harmful chemicals and toxins I was applying to my skin. I switched over to making safe and comforting face and body products from scratch. I’m no Martha Stewart, so when I realized this was as easy as it is, I was hooked. This was great for my desire to limit certain products from entering my body, and it was pretty great for my wallet, too (y’all face products are EXPENSIVE), but I had no idea the overall improvement this switch would make in my life. Since I was young, I’ve had very *very* dry skin. I’ve had doctors tell me I needed medical creams to keep my painful, itchy skin tame. I’m talking the kind of skin that when it gets cold and dry will crack open and bleed. So, when I gave up on all the creams, lotions, and “moisturizing” soaps in favor for an entirely homemade skincare regimen, I was shocked to find that TAH-DAH!!! all of a sudden, my skin was not just absorbing less toxins, it was kinda soft and silky and nice. Teacher and co-owner Amy Rizzotto has combination skin. And her experience, while coming from another angle, wasn’t too different than my own. She struggled with skin issues through her teens and twenties, trying just about everything to keep her face looking clear and bright. In the past,...
Pose of the Month: Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon

Pose of the Month: Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon

By Jess Gruber Confession: When I first started practicing yoga, I absolutely hated this posture! I couldn’t balance, I didn’t have enough strength to lift my leg, I kept collapsing. Whenever the teacher cued it, I felt an unsteady sensation in my stomach, my jaw would clench, and my body would stiffen. Over time, I grew stronger in postures like the warriors and lunges, more flexible in wide legged forward fold, and more balanced in tree pose. Now, this is one of my favorite postures – it’s so dynamic, provides the ability to move through a variety of transitions, and no matter how many times I’ve practiced it, it’s still challenging. If you’ve been to my classes, you’ll know that this posture is a staple of my All Levels Classes! We play with transitioning in and out of this posture, consider the lines the body is making, all while elongating the body and allowing the breath to wave through the body with ease. Let’s try it! Grab a block, find an open wall, and take a few breaths or wiggles to open your breath and body in preparation to try something new/challenging! Step 1: Come to the wall and take a forward fold with soft knees and your right side against the wall. Take a few breaths here.   Step 2: Take a halfway lift with a strong core, elongated spine, and strong legs without locking your knees. Place the block in front of your right foot and bring your right hand to the block so that your wrist is underneath your shoulder. Creating strength and stability in your...