SPOONIE YOGA TO BUILD STRENGTH

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When I used to think of strength training, I'd think of healthy, fit people in gyms 🏋🏻‍♀️ lifting weights wearing expensive tennis shoes and sweat-soaked clothes (i.e. not me). And then when I started practicing yoga, I thought I had to be doing sun salutations and power yoga flows every day in order to get strong. I thought that if I couldn't do that, then what was the point of doing anything? 😔 But as I've lived the past seven years with chronic illness, I have learned to recalibrate my concept of strength training. 

 

When you are chronically ill and struggling to get out of bed each day, EVERYTHING feels like exercise 😫 The body isn't ready to handle lifting weights or HIIT, so we must honor the body with smaller, gentler movements. Low-intensity exercises can help us begin to build strength 💪🏼 and prevent muscle wasting. You don't have to be lifting weights or doing chaturanga dandasana in order for your exercise to be worthwhile. Whatever you are able to do is worth doing. 

 

Today I am sharing a supine yoga practice to build STRENGTH 💪🏼 This is a fairly gentle practice, but the movements will help prevent muscle wasting. This is so important! We have to keep the muscles working! 

 

Doing so will help decrease pain and fatigue. I would consider this practice safe for most Spoonies, including people with EDS, ME, Fibromyalgia, and POTS, but please talk to your doctor before you begin exercise. 

 

THROAT CHAKRA MEDITATION FOR THYROID HEALTH

Hypothyroidism can be a tricky disease to manage, and our bodies are all so different 🦋 The good news that there are more options available to us than what modern medicine dictates! For the past six months I have been successfully treating my Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism with natural remedies 🌼 I have seen my TSH and thyroid hormones come into balance without the use of pharmaceuticals 🤗 Part of my therapy for my thyroid has been healing meditation and chanting for the throat chakra. I truly believe that this has been powerful medicine for me both physically and emotionally. Not only has it brought energetic healing to my thyroid but it has also helped me become more comfortable with expressing my inner truth 🦋 

 

Today I am sharing a recording of the meditation practice that I do myself. It only takes 8 minutes.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana: One-legged King Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose is one of my favorites because it has so many variations. Also known as Swan Pose in the Yin Yoga tradition (which in my opinion sounds much more elegant), this pose is a delicious hip opener that I like to practice every day as a way to combat the effects of sitting in front of a computer.

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BENEFITS: Opens the hips by stretching both the hip flexors and the psoas muscles

HOW TO: From Downward Dog or Table Top, bend your right leg and bring your right knee forward between your hands. The right shin is coming as close to parallel as possible with the front of the yoga mat. Keep the right foot flexed to protect the right knee. Check that your back leg is pointed straight behind you. If it is splaying toward the left side, you may need to bring your front foot closer toward your body so that the back leg comes back to the midline. As the hip of the front leg externally rotates back, the other hip should internally rotate forward to keep the hips even. Lengthen through the crown of the head, gently opening up the chest, to avoid compressing the lumbar spine.

Hold for ten breaths or longer if part of a yin yoga or restorative yoga practice. Practice on both sides.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Knee pain, back pain, hip tightness or pain

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MODIFICATION: Pigeon pose with block, blanket, or bolster under the hip

BENEFITS: If you are tilting over to one side in this pose, using a prop will keep your hips level so that you can enjoy the pose in proper alignment.

 

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MODIFICATION: Pigeon Pose in a chair

BENEFITS: this is a nice way to incorporate this stretch into your work day if you work at an office, it's also good for yogis who can't make it down onto the floor

HOW TO: In a chair, place the feet flat on the floor with the ankles directly below the knees. Lift your left foot up off the floor and cross the left ankle over your right knee. Keep the left foot flexed. You can bring the hands together at your heart, or you can apply gentle pressure to the left knee to intensify the hip stretch. 

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ALTERNATE POSE: Thread the needle

BENEFITS: This pose stretches the hip flexors and is a good option for beginners or for people with low back pain.

HOW TO: Lie down on your back and bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Lift the left foot off the floor and cross the left ankle over your right knee. You can stop here if you're already experiencing sensation in your left hip. If you'd like to go deeper, interlace the fingers behind your right knee and pull the right knee into your chest. Hold for ten breaths and then practice on the opposite side. 

REMEMBER TO KEEP THE FOOT OF THE BENT LEG FLEXED!

45 MIN RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR CHRONIC FATIGUE

For so long, I aggressively resisted fatigue. I would push my body well beyond its limits, thinking that it was more important to complete my to do list. Maybe if I just ignored my body long enough, the fatigue would just go away. Ha! That never worked. 

I've learned that fighting against the fatigue, pushing through it and just doing whatever it is I think I "should" be doing, leaves me feeling even worse for a longer period of time than I would have if I had just listened to my body's cry for rest. It is much better to surrender to rest in order to overcome fatigue, and we can use certain yoga poses to create constructive rest that nourishes mind, body and spirit.

In this week's yoga practice, we will be using props to support the body in yoga poses that combat fatigue by recirculating stagnant energy and relaxing the mind and body. These poses include:

  • Prasarita Padottanasana - standing wide legged forward bend (with support)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - supported bridge pose
  • Supine Twist
  • Balasana - child's pose
  • Savasana - corpse pose

This practice ends with a guided meditation in savasana to help you deeply relax so that the body may revitalize its energy stores. Click the video below to get started.

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Tadasana: Mountain Pose

POSE: Mountain Pose

SANSKRIT NAME: Tadasana

While this pose may look easy, there is a lot going on here! You may be surprised by how challenging it can be to stand still for thirty seconds…one minute…two minutes. It is as much an exercise of the mind as it is of the body.

Tadasana is a yoga pose that is easy to incorporate into your daily life. I like to check in with my posture throughout the day and find my Tadasana when I’m at work, when I’m doing the dishes, when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store…

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BENEFITS: Improves balance, improves posture, strengthens leg and foot muscles, balances the root chakra

HOW TO: Press into the four corners of the feet while lifting through the arches, refrain from locking the knees, gently engage the abdominal muscles, drop the shoulders down and back; as you root down through the lower body, reach up through the crown of the head, lengthening the spine. This pose may be practiced on its own or as a transition into other standing poses.

To check your alignment, you can practice this pose with your back against a wall.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Vertigo, headache

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MODIFICATION: Mountain Pose in a chair

BENEFITS: Improves posture and soothes the root chakra without the challenge of balancing

EXPERT TIPS: Sit at the edge of a flat chair. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly between your sit bones and that your pelvis is not tilted forward or backward. As you root down through the feet and sit bones, allow the crown of the head to reach up toward the sky, lengthening through the spine. This is an excellent position for meditation.