Hand Weights : Pilates Boxing

HOW TO do Pilates Boxing Exercises with Hand Weights


Featured Product: Hand Weights (1 lbs, 3 lbs, 5 lbs)
Brand: JFit
Purpose: Develop upper body strength
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength training, Core Training, Walking, Jogging, Balance Training
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $6.98-$11.98


A quick video showing us how to perform the Pilates Boxing exercise with small hand weights.  Can us any weight that you feel comfortable with.

Yoga Blanket : Neck Pain

HOW TO Use a Yoga Blanket for Neck Pain 


Featured Product: Hand Woven Yoga Blanket
Purpose: Use during kneeling poses to cushion bones and joints, underneath you in repose positions to insulate from cold flooring, rolled or folded to provide support and stretch in poses, or just as a cover to warm you in Savasana
Compatible Exercises/Uses: Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Iyengar, Meditation
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $13.98-23.98


Here’s a quick fix to get that kink out of your neck.  All you’ll need is a yoga blanket.  We offer several for you to choose from!

Crick Fixes Asana Sequence – Yoga Journal

By Barbara Benagh

Neck Blanket Stretch

Roll a blanket into a firm, even cylinder large enough to wedge between the base of your skull and the tops of your shoulder blades. Lie back over the roll so it gently stretches your neck; the roll should wedge just under the occipital ridge at the back of your skull and support your neck and your first few upper back vertebrae. Keeping your knees bent, place both palms on your forehead, fingers pointing toward the crown of your head, and bring your elbows close to each other. Close your eyes and tune in to your breath, feeling how its rhythm creates subtle movement. Notice areas in your neck, shoulders, and upper back that seem dense, dull, and resistant to the breath’s wavelike action, and invite them to relax against the blanket roll. As your muscles begin to release, slide your shoulder blades away from your skull; you may want to repeat this movement several times as your muscles continue to relax. Remain on the roll for up to five minutes, then remove it and continue to lie on your back for a few breaths, tuning in to the sensations in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

For nine more poses to practice to reduce neck tension, see the entire sequence from Yoga Journal’s website.

Yoga Blanket : Shoulder Stand

HOW TO Use a Yoga Blanket for Shoulder Stand 


Featured Product: Hand Woven Yoga Blanket
Purpose: Use during kneeling poses to cushion bones and joints, underneath you in repose positions to insulate from cold flooring, rolled or folded to provide support and stretch in poses, or just as a cover to warm you in Savasana
Compatible Exercises/Uses: Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Iyengar, Meditation
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $13.98-23.98


In the following 5-minute long video you’ll learn how to do a supported shoulder stand using a wall and the full pose. In both poses, she’ll show us how to do the shoulder stand using a yoga blanket under the shoulders.

You may wish to practice this by also wrapping your yoga mat over the top of the blanket as well. By doing this, your elbows will be on a non-slip surface and it may make it a little easier to hold your pose without your elbows sliding away from one another.

Balance/Wobble Board : Plank w/ Crunch

HOW TO do a Plank w/ Crunch using a Balance or Wobble Board


Featured Product: Round Balance Board 
Brand: J Fit
Purpose:  Improve balance and coordination at the same time increasing strength and reaction time
Compatible Exercises: Strength Training, Balance Training, Coordination Training and overall Toning
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $28.98


In seconds you can quickly learn how to use a balance board or a balance disc to increase the difficulty level of doing a Plank pose with a Crunch. Adding an unstable base to any exercise or pose will force you to incorporate additional muscles and will also train your proprioceptors to reduce the risk of injury.

As your leading Fitness Equipment and Yoga Supply Store, we offer a Round Balance Board at the lowest price!

Sand Bags : Yoga Warrior Pose

HOW TO Use Sand Bags in Warrior Yoga Pose


Featured Product: Sand Bags 
Purpose: Improve Muscle Strength with Added Weight to Yoga Poses
Compatible Exercises: Yoga, Stretching, Core Strengthening
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $8.98

 

 


Sometimes to perfect your pose, you need to play with it.  Try listening to different instructors offering different cues to get in or out of the pose.  Or try using props that will help bring awareness to different areas of your body; or allow you to stay in a pose for a longer period of time so you can focus and perfect even just one part of the pose at a time.

The following article from Yoga Journal allows you to play with your Warrior II so you can become powerful enough to hold this pose for minutes at a time.  The props used are:  a yoga mat; a basic straight-back chair; a yoga strap; and a yoga sandbag.  If you have a partner, that would be helpful, too!  In his one example, Richard mentions an “imaginary friend” to help focus on an action of the back leg – using a “real friend” is even better if you’re a beginner.  Then during future practices you can draw from that experience to get the same sensation – and result.

Stand Strong – from Yoga Journal

Come into your power as you connect with the warrior Virabhadra.

By Richard Rosen

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The standing pose Virabhadrasana II is standard practice in most yoga classes. But few yogis know the tale of its genesis. In Hindu lore, the powerful priest Daksha threw a huge sacrifice and invited everyone—except his youngest daughter Sati and her good-for-nothing yogi husband Shiva, whom Daksha despised (even if Shiva was supreme ruler of the universe). Sati was livid. In one version of the story, she stormed over to the sacrificial fire and threw herself in to teach her father a lesson; in another, her ire was so intense that she spontaneously combusted. Shiva was devastated by his beloved’s immolation and went berserk. When he yanked out a tuft of his hair and beat it into the ground, up popped a nightmarish creature with “a thousand heads, a thousand feet, a thousand eyes, a thousand hands, with fangs terrible to behold.” It was armed to the teeth and invincible. Meet Virabhadra, whose name means “blessed hero,” though typically it’s rendered into English simply as “warrior.” Shiva dispatched Virabhadra and an army of demons to pay Daksha a visit. Happily, Shiva’s wife gets brought back to life, and Daksha’s whupping teaches him humility (he loses his head and winds up with a goat’s as a replacement).

We recreate the image of Virabhadra in three incarnations of Virabhadrasana, designated by Roman numerals (I, II, III), in which we stand like mighty warriors. Our focus will be on II. Virabhadrasana II is an excellent way to stretch your groins and, even though both feet stay on the floor, improve your balance. You can also, to a lesser extent, strengthen your arms and open your chest. Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar points out in his book Light on Yoga that Vira II “tones the abdominals.” It’s also a nice way to strengthen your legs and make them shapely.

LEGWORK

It’s important in Vira II to bring awareness to the head of the femur of the front leg; it’s the little ball on the end of the bone that plugs into the hip socket and swivels like a joystick. You also need to pay attention to the outer heel of the back foot, just under the outer ankle bone.

To work on proper front leg alignment, try a simple chair-supported exercise. If you’re tall, you might need a blanket; if you’re short, grab a block. Set the chair on your sticky mat, near the front edge, with the back of the chair facing the right edge. Face the front edge of your mat and sit on the chair with your knees over your heels, shins perpendicular to the floor. Ideally your thighs will be parallel to the floor. If you are tall and your knees are higher than your hips, use a blanket to raise your buttocks until your thighs are parallel to the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor (typical for shorter students), put the lift beneath your right foot.

Swing your left leg around the seat, straighten the left knee as much as possible, and step the ball of your left foot onto the floor near the back edge of the mat into a lunge. Rotate your torso away from the chair toward the left, pivot on the ball of your left foot, and press your left heel to the floor so your foot is angled slightly toward the front edge of the mat. Align the middle of the right heel with the middle of the left foot’s inner arch and adjust your inner right thigh more or less perpendicular to the front edge of your mat.

BE A WARRIOR

In Vira II, you take the stance of a strong warrior. You balance your weight between both legs, and your torso rises up evenly from your hips. On the chair, avoid leaning forward or back. Burrow the base of your right palm into the hip crease between your front thigh and pelvis and push down against the head of your thighbone. Push into the crease, not farther down the thigh. Ideally you’ll feel the back of your thigh press firmly against the seat and, in response, your spine effortlessly lengthen upward. Draw your right hip point away from your thigh, lengthen your tailbone down, and shift your shoulders so they line up over your hips. After a minute or so, release your hand yet stay here, sitting heavily on your thigh. Bend your left knee, swing the leg back to where it started, turn the chair 180 degrees, and repeat on the other side.

In the full pose, many beginners depend on their muscles to sustain the position and quiver uncontrollably after a few seconds. Then things go downhill. Try to recreate your chair-supported experience, so that some of the support is shifted to your bones, and your muscles can release. Then you can sustain the posture almost indefinitely, needing to come out only for meals and to attend yoga class.

Like other split-leg standing poses, Virabhadrasana II is anchored and stabilized by rooting the outer back heel into the ground. Many beginners have tight groins, so bending the front knee buckles the back knee, which pulls the outer back heel off the floor. Think: What would happen to a tree deprived of its roots? Before you bend your front knee, “dig” your outer back heel into the floor. As you bend your front (right) knee, have an imaginary friend resist that movement by pulling on a strap on your left groin. Your left leg will move physically through space closer to the floor; but energetically it opposes the movement and keeps your outer back heel rooted.

GET HIP

Stand sideways in the middle of your sticky mat, facing a long edge, and step your feet apart. Ideally, your feet are wide enough apart so that when you bend the front knee and position it over the heel, the front thigh is parallel to the floor. With your hands on your hips, turn your back (left) foot to the right 30 degrees, your right foot to the right 90 degrees. Align your front heel and your back arch.

Don’t push the left hip back, away from the long edge of your mat. Many teachers have you square your pelvis toward the wall your chest is facing; I teach the pose slightly differently to create more width and ease in the lower back. As you bend your front knee, roll the back hip forward a fair amount and rotate the front knee out, toward the pinky-toe side. Once the knee is thus aligned, you can take the back hip back a bit, but be sure your front knee doesn’t buckle in toward the big-toe side of your foot.

Inhale, consciously grounding your back heel; on an exhalation, bend your front knee over your heel. Aim the inner knee toward the pinky-toe side of the foot to avoid swiveling your knee inward as you bend it. Now sit your right femur head on the imaginary chair. Then lift your right hip point away from your thigh, tuck your tailbone, and position your shoulders over your pelvis. Align the inner right thigh with the long edge of the mat.

To get your thigh parallel to the floor in the full pose, hang a sandbag on a yoga strap from your front hip crease. Want to go further? Inhale and raise your arms out to the sides, palms down. Press into the back heel and reach actively through the back arm, as if your left arm is trying to pull your front knee straight. You can gaze over the front arm, but if you have neck issues, simply look straight forward. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, inhale and straighten your front knee, release your arms, and turn your feet forward. Never come out of this posture by shifting your weight forward onto the front leg. After a few breaths, repeat on the left.

This pose looks like the mighty warrior Virabhadra emerging fearlessly from the earth and should be a big part of your practice. It increases flexibility and builds strength, physical endurance, and willpower—which will serve you well throughout your practice and your life.

Richard Rosen lives and teaches in California.

Foam Roller : Targeting Serratus Muscles with Pilates

HOW TO Target Serratus Muscles with a Foam Roller


Featured Product: Foam Roller 
Purpose: Use for sports training, to help enhance balance, for body awareness, to improve flexibility, and during dynamic strength training. In therapy or rehabilitation they help with muscle re-education and myofacial release. Use a foam roller to self massage the entire body
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength Training, Self-Myofacial Release, Stretching


The serratus exercise in this video helps to work the serratus muscle which runs from the ribcage to the back.  A short 1 1/2 minute video to strengthen and stabilize the core.

Find your 36″ Foam Roller here.  These are high density foam rollers that will maintain their resiliency and shape for a longer period of time as compared to the white open-cell foam rollers also available on the market.

How To Workout with the Core/Ab Roller

HOW TO use the Core/Ab Roller (also known as the “Exercise Wheel”)


Featured Product: Core/Ab Roller
Brand: J Fit
Purpose:  Build stronger abs/arms/shoulders/back and improve core strength
Compatible Exercises: Roll-outs, inch worms, lat/diagonal pulls, and rolling planks
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $16.78

 


With both hands grab the Exercise Wheel by the handles on each side.  Get on your knees and roll the Exercise Wheel forward until you are extended all the way out.  Now roll the Core/Ab Roller back to the starting position.

Try doing as many as you can in one set every other day. Once you feel you have mastered this Core/Ab Roller workout you can take it to the next level and move on to the advanced Exercise Wheel workout.

Advanced Ab Exercise Wheel Workout:

With both hands grab the Core/Ab Roller by the handles on each side.  While standing bend over and place the Core/Ab Roller on the ground.   Now roll the Core/Ab Roller forward until your body is extended with your hands out in front of you.  Now roll the Exercise Wheel back to the starting position.  Repeat this process with the Exercise Wheel until you can no longer do any more.

Other Advanced Workouts:

  • When working out your obliques, you would roll straight then slowly turn the wheel to either direction. If your rolling to the left then you’re working your left oblique and vice versa.
  • You can work on an incline.  Rolling up and down an incline bench.
  • For a harder workout, you have the one handed roll. But you will need to split the wheels so it looks like a dumbell.

Tips and tricks:

  • if in the kneeling position and your knees get sore – pad with a towel or cushioned mat
  • if hands get sore – consider wearing gym weight-lifting gloves
  • if just beginning and struggling with abdominal control when extending out in front – consider positioning in front of a wall so you don’t overextend while learning.  Move further and further away from wall as ab strength and control builds til you no longer need the wall as “a brake”.
  • maintain proper form:
    • knees hip distance apart,
    • engage the abs when rolling outwards to maintain a flat back and keep the lower back from arching,
    • tuck your chin in slightly to also help with flattening the back,
    • only roll out as far as your range of motion will allow while maintaining proper form,
    • keep arms and legs straight.
    • When returning to the start position, visualize your body “jackknifing” with the hands and feet at equal distance as you bring the roller back.

Don’t overdo the number of sets or reps when first beginning – you don’t want to be so sore that you can’t repeat the exercise several times a week for consistency.  For example, start with 3 sets of 20 reps.

As your leading Fitness Equipment and Yoga Supply Store, we offer the Core/Ab Roller by JFit at the lowest price!

Pilates : The Essentials

HOW TO do Pilates : What you need to know before you try! 

What is Pilates? How do I get started with Pilates? How would Pilates benefit me? Is Pilates just another form of Yoga?

If you find yourself asking these questions, this is a great video for you. Learn the history and benefits of Pilates and, even more importantly, how to perform the basic functions properly to help you get started safely and effectively.

As you start your Pilates practice, you’ll need one simple basic prop – the Pilates Mat. A Pilates mat differs from a yoga mat in one simple way. They tend to be a little thicker to provide cushioning for your spine and joints when doing a floor routine.  Generally speaking, you’ll want to look for a mat that is 1/4″ thick (or offers a comparable cushioning factor – some materials have a higher “cushioning factor” than others).

As you find yourself enjoying the benefits of this great fitness practice, you may eventually look for additional props to use during your workouts – such as a Pilates Ball, Toning Balls, a Pilates Ring, elastic Bands, and more.  But many Pilates exercises can be done with just a mat alone.  That’s a great place to get started.


Pilates:
Pilates: The Essentials

Half Foam Roller : Uses

HOW TO Use the Half Foam Roller


Featured Product: Half Foam Roller 
Purpose: Use for sports training, to help enhance balance, for body awareness, to improve flexibility, and during dynamic strength training. In therapy or rehabilitation they help with muscle re-education and myofacial release. Use a foam roller to self massage the entire body
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength Training, Self-Myofacial Release, Stretching


Half round foam rollers are a great way for beginners to begin incorporating balance and stability exercises into their workouts.  Depending on the exercise itself, you could either place the flat side or the rounded side to the floor.  The flat side to the floor is the most stable position.

Here are just three exercises you could do with a Half Round Foam Roller.

Exercise #1

Lie on your back on the foam roller so that the foam roller is under your spine with both your sacrum and head resting on the roller.  Knees bent.  Slowly lift one knee, hold, and return the sole of the foot to the floor and raise the opposite knee.  The closer your feet are to the midline of your body, the more challenging the balance exercise.  Start with arms extended in a T-position with fingertips on the floor for balance, and advance to putting hands on your hips and using your core to keep from rolling side to side.

Exercise #2

Lie flat on your back and rest your feet on the foam roller, legs bent at the knees. Keep the hands at your sides. Now slowly lift your back and hips off the floor forming a bridge. Stay in this arched position for a few seconds and relax. Perform 5-8 reps.

Exercise #3

This is a leg extension exercise using a foam roller. Just lie on your stomach. Place the foam roller under your stomach. Start by lifting your legs upward, extending them straight, toes pointed. You can perform this exercise by extending one leg at a time and then alternating. Perform 10 repetitions with each leg.