Balance and Health with Yoga
Hello zesters! Arielle here, the newest addition to the Zest crew! I am Sam and Chanda’s right hand gal. If I’m not Zesting, you can find me teaching/taking yoga or hiking outdoors combining the two. If you missed my big debut and would like to check it out, click here for my first day on the blog last week! I was asked to give a little insight into my yoga world, so here it is!
Yoga once a upon a time, seemed to me boring, slow and a waste of my “workout” time . Everything changed when I was in a bit of a downward emotional spiral and needed some serious healing. I was invited by a close friend to attend a free Sunday evening yoga class offered in a nearby studio. I started going to class for the physical, but kept going for the emotional. The deep emotional work that sparked from this practice would forever change my life. Yoga has helped me shift my self talk, my perception of my body, my attitude towards others, my attention span, my eating habits, the way I treat my body, mind and spirit. I am thankful to God for all that yoga has done in my life.
I work hard to spread the gratitude and the gift of yoga to others. Below are several of my favorite postures and the basic structure and health benefits. Enjoy!:)
Birds of Paradise, Svarga Dvijasana:
The finesse of the floating leg, married with the strength in the grounded lower extremity exemplifies the articulate union of strength and flexibility. Equanimity and grace are embodied in this pose as the openness of the hip joint is tried and the stable base leg remains rooted. Once mastering the awkward upper body bind, successfully warming up the hips and hamstrings, the reward of standing with leg in tow feels oh‐so‐victorious. Bird of Paradise aids in strengthening the hips, pelvis and quadriceps, lengthens the hamstrings and calves while opening the shoulders.
Crow can look impressive but, is much simpler than it appears. This is a beginner level inversion that involves stacking the knees on top of bent “shelf‐like” elbows. Reaching the knees on top of the triceps as close as possible to the axillaries (armpits), the abdominal strength is at work to center the body in place. This pose strengthens the arms, wrists, abdominals and stretches the upper back. Initially experiencing the ‘floating’ feeling, crow pose will have you hooked, wanting to try more arm inversions. Bakasana, is an excellent prerequisite for more advanced arm balances.
Eagle Pose, Garudasana
Eagle is a detoxifying, juicy, twist that helps open all 12 major joints in the body while flushing the lymphatic system. This posture stimulates the lymph nodes in the body, aiding to improve the immune system. Mobility of the hip joints is also a huge benefit of this posture. The basic structure of this pose starts with the feet together in a squat position, one arm wraps under the other and eventually standing on a single foot, the corresponding leg wraps over the standing leg. There are variations to accommodate various levels of flexibility and body type. The elbows pull down towards the navel while the chest remains upright and the legs and hips sink low. The duality work in the upper and lower extremities increases flexibility, balance and strength.
8 angle pose, Astavakrasana:
This posture is an advanced arm balance that will challenge one’s arm and wrist strength. This pose helps bring about stability of the core muscles while involving strenuous activity in the biceps, triceps, deltoids and inner thighs. Maneuvering the legs off to one side may feel like the teeter totter is a bit off kilter, but the arm strength and core compensation will bring one to level ground. Talk about equilibrium! This is great for shoulder stability and overall body spacial awareness.
Standing forehead to knee, Dandayamana Janushirasana:
This standing, balancing posture takes much precision. From the baby toes gripping the mat up to the toes flexing back at 90 degrees, this is anything but a cake walk. Marinating in this posture will deeply work the digestive and reproductive organs. The frontal compression stimulates the major organs in the body while stretching hamstring muscles and the sciatic nerve. The fullest expression of this posture is forehead to knee, while the elbows reach down towards the ground wrapping around the sides of the elevated calf.
One legged arm balance, albatross pose, Eka Pada Koundinyasana II:
This posture utilizes abdominal strength and hamstring flexibility. The torso is lengthening on one side and contracting on the other. A strong core is more critical in this posture then the arm strength. The abdomen is doing a tremendous amount of work to balance the front leg on the back of the tricep, simultaneously lifting the back leg. This posture leads to some twisting in the spine, rejuvenating the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Standing bow pulling pose, Dandayamana-Dhanurasana
This posture circulates fresh blood to each internal organ in the body. Opening the shoulders, increasing the elasticity of the rib cage and lungs and improving strength in the lower extremities are just a few of the glorious benefits. The arm reaching back grasping the lifted leg is relaxed allowing the leg to drive energy up, while the opposite hand is reaching forward to balance. This helps to increase flexibility in the lower lumbar and thoracic spine.
Forearm headstand variations
Here are some fun variations. Top left to right; traditional forearm headstand legs together, eagle legs, supta baddha legs‐soles of feet together, separate legs‐toes flexed.
Yoga literally translates to yoking the mind and the body. This union of the mind and the body lends itself to a more well rounded self awareness. Body awareness has been proven to be pivotal for consciousness and emotion regulation, increasing a sense of self control and positively impacting self regulation. With yoga there is always room to improve, to grow, and to challenge oneself. Find your creative playfulness and discover your own physical capacity!
I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into the yoga life! I have much to learn and I am always working on my personal physical practice as well as my working knowledge. #Learner4life
Thanks for reading!:)
Byrd Rider, Kimberly BSHS,MPT,DPT. “Revolutionary Yoga Rehabilitation: The Science of Recovery & Resoration”. Cross Country Education LLC 2010.