Grab two small massage balls of equal size for this next exercise for hip therapy. Don’t have these balls yet? Try it with two tennis balls, but these smooth massage balls are smooth to the touch and come in a kit of three (each a varying density to use on different areas of your body, or to progress from softest to hardest).
Just a couple of minutes of some cardio work and then a couple minutes showing a “simple” yoga routine using the BOSU. I say “simple” because once we add a BOSU to any exercise, Yoga, or Pilates routine, nothing is as simple as it used to be. Challenge the core and your balance or just add variety and fun to your practice with this balance training tool.
Are you thinking of incorporating BOSUs at your studio or gym? Then take a look at the PRO version of the BOSU. Sturdier vinyl, no feet, and weighs about four pounds heavier than the Home version.
This is a continuation of last week’s article on Yoga and Your Wrists. Here are a couple of the wrist stretches recommended by Marian Garfinkel, who has created a whole series of yoga asanas for Carpal Tunnel. In addition to stretching, using props – such as a yoga wedge - to help reduce the angle of extension can help you during your practice.
Five minutes a day can help anyone get the benefits of yoga, says Marian Garfinkel, doctor of education, senior Iyengar yoga instructor, and lead author of a promising study on the effectiveness of yoga for carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel sufferers who attended an eight-week, twice-weekly yoga class had less pain, greater flexibility, and a stronger grip than those who wore a wrist splint, the standard treatment for the condition. Whether your hands hurt because of too much time at the computer keyboard, other repetitive stress injuries, or even a chronic illness such as arthritis, “A few simple stretches can really help,” says Dr. Garfinkel. She recommends the following three exercises to help you get started.
Overhead arm extension (urdhva hastasana)
Do this first thing in the morning, or as a break during the day.
Stand straight, with feet parallel and arms at your sides: a posture that promotes blood flow to the hands. Stretch your arms and fingers straight out in front of you, palms facing the floor. Keeping the arms and elbows straight, slowly raise your arms over the head to the 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock positions, inhaling through the nose. Be sure to keep your throat and shoulders relaxed. Lift the sides of the body, keeping the shoulders away from the head. Maintain for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing in and out through the nose. Exhale and lower your arms to your sides. If you feel the blood flowing through your hands, says Dr. Garfinkel, it’s a sign you’ve done the exercise correctly.
Trunk extension (dandasana)
A good exercise for the office or anywhere you’re seated.
Sit on a chair with your trunk upright. Place your hands at your sides and press the palms into the seat, taking care not to tense your shoulders or neck. Press shoulder blades into your back, moving the shoulders back and down. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing in and out through the nose. Relax, then repeat. Spreading the chest and shoulders, Dr. Garfinkel explains, also has benefits for the wrists and hands.
Chair twists (bharadvajasana)
A more advanced position, also effective for back and neck pain.
Sit sideways in a chair, with the right hip and thigh towards the chair’s back. Keep the knees and feet together, with the heels aligned under the knees. Stretch your trunk upward and pull the shoulders back. With knees together and feet on the floor, turn your trunk towards the right and place both hands on the back of the chair. Pull with the left hand, bringing the left side of the body toward the back of the chair; at the same time, push with the palm of the right hand, moving the right side away from the chair back. Turn the body, then the head, and look over your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat on the left side.
For additional information: Journal of the American Medical Association, 11/11/98. Dr. Marian Garfinkel teaches the Iyengar method of hatha yoga, which stresses precision and alignment; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association (1-800-889-YOGA; www.comnet.org/iynaus) for a list of certified yoga instructors.
For more on vitamins, herbs, and other therapies for painful wrists, see our library entry on Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Date Posted: 01/22/2001
Here is a nice introduction to Tingshas – which look like small cymbals and are often used in yoga classes after Savasana.
What are Tingshas? (by RapunzelGifts.com)
(Tibetan Bells, Tibetan Chimes, Tibetan Hand Cymbals)
Awaken your spirit and summon peacefulness to your mind and body with the vibration of tingsha chimes. These prayer chimes have been used for centuries by Tibetan Buddhists to prepare for meditation. When the two pieces strike each other they produce a clear, pure, cleansing sound which can be used to focus the mind before and after meditation. Tinghsas are also for clearing space of negative energies and the healing and balancing of auric fields. They are used in feng shui to ring in the four corners of a room in order to open the energy and for clearing spaces.
How do you play Tingshas? Tingshas come in matched pairs, held together by a leather cord. Simply hold each cymbal by the cord close to the hole where it enters the tingsha. Strike one cymbal against the other on their edges at right angles. Let the bell ring until there is silence.
The sound of tingshas is like a summons. The pure, ringing sound of the Tingsha creates an opening in reality. They are used at the beginning and end of a meditation to open the mind for meditation and then to open the mind to go back to reality. Some teachings say that Tingshas can be used to push or fill energy and diagnose energy blocks. By passing the tingshas’s vibration over a person’s energy field the sound can clear the imbalance.
Today, many people use sound healing as an alternative to modern medicine. In the article “The Power of Sound to Heal, to Create New Life”, Sandra Cosentino writes, “Vibration is the basis of life. Every sound you ever made echoes still. Sound waves never entirely disappear. Every part of our body has its own frequency. Resonance occurs when frequencies come into synchronization. Different frequencies influence genes and cells. Form is created by underlying vibration. A solid is actually a wave, created and organized by pulse.
Sound energy can be used to heal when entities vibrating at different frequencies come into resonance with one another. Sound can trigger memories, release past memories, stimulate joy. Sympathetic resonance is a healing technique in which the practitioner applies positive intention, focus and attention to the sound healing instrument being used. The harmonics create the shift.”
One website sums it up describing sound healing as:
“Vibration + Visualization = Manifestation. Creation myths from around the world speak of sound as the originating act of creating life on earth. May you find your soul’s song and resonate it joyfully to all of Creation!”
Many people suffer from chronic back pain. This video will teach us how to do three yoga poses that will help relieve our pain. The poses are: Reclining Big Toe, Standing Twist, and Legs Up the Wall. If practiced daily, you are sure to see some results.
If you’re just beginning to practice yoga it is important to start out by learning how to properly get in and out of the postures. Following is an article from the LA Times that explains this well. A second article follows that discusses common mistakes in several popular poses. Even if you have been practicing, you may wish to consider reading this entire post. If you experience any soreness or pain during your practice, it could be that your alignment is not correct. Some yoga practices – such as the faster-moving Power or Flow yogas – do not always allow the time to evaluate your alignment in a pose, but it is still very important to know how to perform these poses correctly.
By Jeannine Stein - Los Angeles Times - April 19, 2010
Yoga is more than just striking a pose. But how you strike that pose is nonetheless critical.
Maintaining correct form is essential not only for building a solid yoga practice but also because improperly doing the same yoga poses repeatedly — even the most basic ones — can lead to strains, sprains and chronic aches.
Yet it’s easy to go awry. Many popular classes are overcrowded, making it difficult for teachers to correct every swayed back and hunched shoulder. Even in smaller groups, a misaligned leg can easily go unnoticed. And then there’s the fact that less experienced students sometimes try to emulate more practiced ones, over-stretching muscles or getting joints out of alignment in the process.
As for doing yoga only at home with no supervision? That can be a recipe for disaster.
“Yoga is really about getting to know your body,” says Christine Burke, co-owner and director of Liberation Yoga in Los Angeles. “A lot of us don’t have that awareness of what something is supposed to feel like when it’s right.”
That can make going from bad form to good form sometimes feel uncomfortable, she says. Occasionally the body must get used to the new position before the resulting aches and pains go away.
We talked to three yoga teachers about the most common mistakes students make while doing basic poses. They explain the potential harm and offer easy ways to correct improper form.
By Jeannine Stein - Los Angeles Times Staff Writer - April 19, 2010
A few simple techniques can make the difference between a sore back (or other body part) and a strong, healthy one.
Co-owner and director of Liberation Yoga, Los Angeles
Downward-facing dog: The body bends at the hips in an upside-down “V,” with arms straight, hands on the floor and heels pressing toward the floor. The head is aligned with the spine.
• Don’t: Drop or hang into the shoulders. People do this in an attempt to truly stretch, but it prevents the joints from stacking properly and puts stress on the shoulders, elbows and wrists.
• Do: Lift the shoulders and slide the arms forward a little, taking some of the pressure off the shoulders. Also, open the hands and press them into the floor. (Curling the fingers up will put the pressure right back into the wrist.)
Warrior I: The body is in a modified lunge position, with the front leg bent and the back leg straight. Arms are straight and parallel, reaching upward, palms together.
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:
- Mat size Mexican blanket
- Our Classic Mexican blanket
- The Premium Mexican blanket
- Premium Thunderbird Mexican blanket
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.
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.
We offer several yoga blankets. The Classic Mexican Yoga blanket offers a looser weave, is a little lighter weight, and a few inches smaller then the Premiums. The Premium Mexican Yoga blanket and the Thunderbird blanket are a tighter weave, offering a slightly firmer support, in addition to be larger than the Classic. And, finally, the Mat Size Yoga blanket is the size of a standard yoga mat, which is great for someone who is looking for a little support or cushioning and a blanket that is easy to fit in a mat bag and carry to class.
Before listening and watching the following 8+ minute video, find a quiet spot to sit comfortably with an erect spine. This video is by an English Anusara yogi and would be a beautiful Savasana meditation to do as well at the end of your yoga practice.
If you will be sitting cross-legged on the floor or earth, and if your knees are higher than your hips, Bridget suggests tucking a blanket under both of your knees to allow you to fully and deeply relax your inner thighs during this meditation practice. Another option would be to sit higher. How high would depend on how high your knees are – you may just need to sit on a yoga blanket, or your may prefer to sit on a Zafu. We offer a large selection of Zafus: round or crescent-shaped; regular cotton covers or organic; and cotton, buckwheat or kapok stuffing.
Why should you practice yoga? Here’s just one more reason…
3:07 PM PST, November 11, 2010
Yoga has many proven health benefits, but does it stand up to other forms of exercise? Researchers pitted it against a walking routine and found that those who practiced yoga showed greater improvements in mood and anxiety.
Researchers randomly assigned 19 people to an Iyengar yoga program and 15 to a metabolically matched regular walking regimen.
Both groups took part in the programs for an hour three times a week for 12 weeks. Study participants were tested several times to measure mood and anxiety. They were also given magnetic resonance spectroscopy scans to measure levels of the brain chemical gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that quiets brain activity, reducing anxiety and producing a state of calm. The scans were done at the beginning and end of the study and immediately following a yoga or walking session.
Those in the yoga group saw better changes in mood and less anxiety than those in the walking group. The yoga group also saw increases in GABA levels linked with improvements in mood.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times