It’s the holiday season … a time of dark, cold mornings, short days and busy nights, tending to the hustle and bustle of getting things done for various holiday celebrations, all the while gorging ourselves on delicious — but often calorie-laden — holiday foods. The average day passes quickly, and you usually find yourself collapsing into bed at the end of it feeling completely exhausted.
How much more productive would you be if you could clear your mind by opening your body? If you sit at a desk all day, taking periodic breaks to move your body can counteract chronic “desk slump” and reduce stress and muscle tension.
Since yoga is all about balance, it is the perfect tool for creating a happy, stress-free body. When your body is in this state, your mind is more focused, making you a more productive and valuable employee.
In order to bring the body into balance and increase blood flow and oxygenation, do the following desk yoga routine at least once a day. Need a reminder? Write yourself a Post-it note! I’ll bet you have some in your desk…
By The FIRM Master Instructor Kelly Branning
I am a Libra. Although I don’t read my horoscope, I do identify with those scales that represent my sign. Balance, balance and more balance. It is a daily challenge to keep those scales from tipping over. One side seems overloaded with the things we do for others and the outside world, like family, career, social life and housework. The other side of the scale, including exercise and nutrition, usually threatens to let go at any time.
I think the absolute foundation of a balanced life is good self-care, coupled with good self-awareness. That said … how are you doing? How is your eating? Do you get everything you need from the foods you eat? Hopefully you are eating healthy, life-affirming foods every 3-4 hours. How about exercise? Are you finding a little time to work out and get stronger? If you don’t know how you are doing, let’s take some time to figure it out.
There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
I don’t like being upside down and backwards. This makes Handstand a challenge for me. I don’t trust that my fellow students can hold me steady while I substitute my hands for feet. It’s a reflection of my own limited thinking, not an accurate assessment of their competence.
Still, I try. I go to class and work gradually. First, I achieved Headstand, which I couldn’t do a year ago. It’s a stepping-stone to the loftier goal of Handstand.
Yoga is always putting new challenges in our paths. Just when we think we have achieved a difficult asana, we discover that it was the modified version. It taught me to give up hope.
Hope is a feeling, an internal movement. If seen in its proper context, hope is part of the light of joy and love that is constantly shining through and illuminating the beauty of life — the awesome dance in which we take part. There is no need to feed it or hang on to it as a distraction or a promise. Instead, strive to see it in context with all of the present moment’s thoughts and sensations. It is but a broken branch floating in the middle of the river of the Tao that we can hang on to only momentarily; however, it must not become the totality of our reality.
The most common reason for sports-related injuries — whether you’re a recreational athlete or a pro, from ages 10-80 — is overuse and abuse. In my experience, most injuries arise when athletes disconnect from their bodies. Their eyes are on perfection, or the competition.
It follows that the best prevention is to become acutely aware of your body — its shape, its symmetry, how it feels, the range in the joints. Many sports can create asymmetries in the body because they are one-side dominant (think of swinging a baseball bat or golf club or tennis racket). It’s your job to recognize these imbalances before they become injuries. To help you, I’ve identified the top 10 most common sports-related injuries and given you a few yoga poses for athletes to to help correct the imbalances and asymmetries that cause them.
Peep into any of the thousands of yoga classes across the globe and you will find that students are donning more than just yoga outfits. In addition to the latest leggings and tank tops by Zobha, Gaiam and Alo, you’ll also find students of every age, both male and female, sporting a different kind of accessory. These, however, are not made from lycra, mala beads or precious metals, but rather from an overzealous nervous system.
Glance around the room after the teacher calls out “Twisted Half Moon” (Pavritta Ardha Chandrasana) and you’ll see students with arms akimbo, clenched toes, fingers curled and faces contorted beyond recognition. These students are “accessorizing” their poses with parts of their body that don’t actually need to be involved.
My life has been in hyper-speed for weeks. It has been exciting and a joyous adventure — about me manifesting a powerful and expansive life.
The most overlooked and arguably the most important word in health is “balance.” Why? Because this one word says it all! We spend our entire lives trying to keep things in balance, whether it’s our checkbook, our diet or our time management. Then as we age, we need to literally improve our physical balance to keep on doing the things we like to do.