You walk into yoga class. The instructor calls out, “Option to grab a yoga block,” and receives smirks from much of the room. Real yogis don’t need blocks, right?
Well, it might be time to readjust your mat and your mindset. Yoga blocks can actually challenge your practice by allowing you to tackle more difficult postures. They can also help with alignment and proper muscle engagement.
So, grab a yoga block and give these eight yoga poses a try:
1. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Place a yoga block between your inner thighs to energize them and advance the posture. Or, if you have difficulty lifting your pelvis, place a block under your sacrum for support.
You may stare at that rectangle in disdain. Or maybe you hit the mat, but can only think about the thousand other things that you would rather be doing. Sometimes you may not even be aware you are in a rut until — epiphany — a rut!
We all get there sooner or later, but the trick is out to get out of it. Below are nine suggestions for getting out of the yoga rut:
There’s nothing more heartbreaking to me than when people are unkind to one another.
When we are young, we learn the most fundamental teachings about being human: be nice to one another, share, clean up after yourself, don’t take things that aren’t yours, etc. But it seems that when we become adults, we often forget everything that was a part of these original lessons of life. Even the yoga community is littered with heartbreaking exchanges. If unkindness is evident in a community dedicated to conscious living, I imagine it is even more insidious in other spheres.
I have been making friends with impermanence. It may sound silly, but after a profound meditation experience, I came face to face with the realization that I am a control freak, and while that control has helped me in some ways, it has also caused me much suffering. I’ve opened up to the reality that everything is in a state of impermanence — the seasons change, each day is different from the previous one, all living things grow, relationships change, the years go by.
At first this was rather scary to me, as it brought up all of my fears of the unknown. I wanted to hide in my usual pattern of planning in order to maintain some power over the future. Then it dawned on me: My life is in a much better place than it used to be, and that is due primarily to the moments over the past few years when I let go and went with the flow.
The cold winter months are a good time to delve within to decide where you want to invest our energy, what you want to hold onto, and what you want to let go. This is always a very exciting time for me because although every day is a chance for a new beginning, I love the energy around this time of year. Everyone is open to the possibility of change and the boundless opportunity found there. To keep the momentum going, it is important to stay connected to your goals, your inspiration, and your belief in yourself.
This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to start having a sizzling affair. Not the way you think, though — I want you to choose your closest soul mate, the one who’s been there for you during all the ups and downs of your life and the person who has never, ever left you, and never will.
By The FIRM Master Instructor Leslie Perry Duffy
Nothing says “I love you” quite like a gigantic box of chocolates, right? Hardly! This special holiday symbolized by hearts and celebrated with high-calories treats can be anything but heart-healthy. However, there’s no hard and fast rule that requires us to celebrate with sugary candy and foods saturated with fat. Celebrating Valentine’s Day in a healthy way does not mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite treat in moderation. Or, forget the treats and celebrate in a unique way that’s special for you and your loved one(s).
Before the holidays is a great time to detox. It can stave off weight gain and put you in a healthy mindset to help you resist temptation. And detoxing after the holiday “re-tox” — no matter how much carnage was left on that Thanksgiving dinner table, or how much stress crept into your weekend — is as easy as unrolling your mat. No matter when or on what level you could use a little realigning, this sequence is for you.
Life presents itself in a vast array of cycles: the cycle of the moon, the cycle of the seasons, and the cycles of the sun and tides. Celebrating these cycles with some type of ceremony is such a profound practice and one worth considering.
This past New Year’s Eve, rather than hit the town with friends, I was snuggled up by the fire holding a ceremony to close the cycle of 2013 and welcome the coming year.
For our ceremony, we found a little shop that sold a variety of stones. We picked out stones based on their traditional meanings. Each one represented something we wanted to cultivate or bring into the new year. We included stones like carnelian for passion and obsidian for letting go.
One by one we placed each stone in a little wooden box. We spoke about each stone’s meaning and specifically how we wanted it to infuse our lives in the coming cycle around the sun. We closed the box and put it outside for the night.
The next morning, we brought the box inside and imagined bringing all the things we had spoken about the night before into our lives. The box now sits open on our mantel to help us remember our intentions.
As any trend, person, ideology, etc. mounts in popularity, it can easily diverge from its original state.
Perhaps this is simply a flexibility that allows for such expansion and appeal to a broader audience. Perhaps it is an imminent fall from grace that occurs once the subject is spread too thin. Yoga today is a $27 billion dollar industry. This is big business and a number that reflects its quick rise in popularity.