Tadasana (Mountain Pose)- Recap for Fundamentals Class

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When climbing life’s mountains it is necessary to provide for yourself a firm and solid foundation so you can get through the peaks and valleys with as few bruises as possible.  Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is one of the most foundational poses in yoga from which all the standing poses stem.  Just like in life, in yoga, it is important for you to have a steady foundation for a safe and magnanimous practice.

Here is some important alignment from the summit to the peak (aka from the feet to the head)…

Feet:

Stand on your mat with your feet hip distance apart, toes facing forward.  Ground all four corners of your feet into the mat (base of the big toe, inside of the heel, base of the pinky toe, outside of the heel).  Spread your toes.  Feel the energetic lift of your arches reaching all the way to your groin and continuing through the crown of your head.

Knees, Thighs, Hips and Lower Back

Firm your thighs by lifting your knee caps (not locking them).  Draw your thighs back feeling your sit bones spread (place a block between your thighs and draw it back). Feel your tailbone reaching towards the ground without flattening your lower lumbar region (as you draw your tailbone down, you’ll feel the block move slightly forward).

Shoulders and Chest

Drop the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Draw the shoulder blades down your back and then kiss the tips of the shoulder blades together.  As your shoulder blades spread across your back you should feel a nice opening of your chest and collar bones.  Be careful not to push your ribs out.  Think about your sternum (the bone that connects the ribcage) as a sword in its sheath.  A sword does not bow, but comes straight out of the sheath. This will help you lift and expand your chest, without pushing those ribs forward.

Neck and Head

Move the base of your skull back so that your ears come in line with your shoulders.  Keep your chin parallel to the ground.

Allow your arms to dangle at your side.  Welcome to Tadasana.

Come back next week as we tackle Vrksasana (Tree Pose).

Check out Yoga Journal for additional information about Mountain Pose.Image

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Eat Like a Yogi: The One Bowl Method

Thanks for visiting! This post was written before I adopted an intuitive eating/anti-diet approach to eating. However, he idea of eating from one bowl still intrigues me, and it must also intrigue others as it continues to be my most visited blog post! I no longer write here at YogawithsShawnee.com. However, I recently started a new blog called Sunday Morning Yoga at www.sundaymorningyoga.com. I’m considering a regular One-Bowl featured post in the future. Please hop on over to my new blog and give me a like and a follow so you don’t miss out when it happens. For now, enjoy The One-Bowl method.

You know when you have one of those profound ideas – one of those ideas in which you are absolutely certain nobody else but you, in the history of humanity, could have possibly dreamed  up.  I had one of those thoughts recently.

This idea that I should just eat like a monk kept circulating in my mind.  I had no idea what it meant.  I just had this picture of a monk sitting in silence, getting his one bowl filled with food, expecting nothing else and being totally content.

one bowlI thought, that’s a perfect a book or cook book.  I’m gonna do it.  I’m gonna eat like a monk.  So I googled it.  Turns out there are countless articles about how eating like a monk is very beneficial to your health and can reduce weight, heart disease and cancer.  There was also a book written in the 70s called “One Bowl” and there are a few cookbooks based off of a monk-inspired three bowl eating.

Shucks.

After letting the disappointment that I did not in fact have a totally unique idea soak in, I decided to investigate further.  Turns out there is a Catholic Monastery where the monks use two bowls, and it is traditional of Buddhist monks to use three nesting bowls at each meal.

After checking out “One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit” by Don Gerald from the library and reading through the first chapter, I discovered the idea of eating from just one bowl actually stems from Buddha himself.  When he started his pilgrimage as Siddhartha, he took just one bowl with him and relied on others to fill up his bowl at each meal.  I am guessing there were some meals where he went without.

The goal of one bowl, two bowl or three bowl eating is to eat in a mindful, appreciative and quiet manner, helping you to become better attune to your body, to your food, to those who prepared your food and to the earth.  It’s kind of a sweet practice.

For the past three days I’ve been eating from just one bowl.  I have a smaller two cup bowl and a larger bowl that I am designating for salads and less calorically dense food.

Today I actually used two bowls for lunch.  I had a small leafy salad in my small bowl and in my large bowl I had chicken bone broth with two small gluten free toast boats carrying two roughly poached eggs.

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It was beautiful , nutritious, and incredibly comforting on this rainy March day.  And I did find myself more mindful of my food.  I thought about the organic spring mix growing in rows; the chicken roaming on the farm; my mom gathering the eggs; and the bone broth I let simmer all day long.

During the past few days I’ve been trying this idea, I’ve found myself drawn to nutritious foods.  Since nutrition is very important to me, I want to fill my bowls with food that will be the most nourishing to my body and soul.

As I continue this journey, you can follow my one bowl eating on Instagram.  Additionally, I hope to share a few one bowl recipe ideas and a book review on my blog as well.

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Props: An Extension of Self

My name is Shawnee.  I am a Yoga Teacher.  And I use props.

Gasp!  Oh, don’t worry your pretty little head m’dear…

I don’t just use props in my classes.  I use props in my own practice too.  Props are wonderful!  I love blocks, straps, chairs, walls, bolsters, sandbags… if it has the potential to be a prop, I’ll use it!

However, many students don’t feel as passionately about props as I do.  In many yoga classes props have become a tell-tale sign for the physically weak, for the less stretchy, or for the faint of heart…

Pfft. *rolls eyes*Puh-lease!

Obviously, I disagree.

Before reading on, make a mental note of the reasons to use props.  Go on…

Here are the most likely reasons for using props:

1.) Because a student is less flexible.

2.) I dunno, because the teacher said so?

3.) To avoid injury.

Yes, yes, yes. All very valid reasons (btw, because “the teacher said so” is a VERY valid reason).  But I would also like to offer up reason # 4 and #5…

4.) Because props are fun.

5.) To experience the pose.

Take Tkonasana (Triangle) as an example.  Time and time again, I tell students to use a block behind the outside of their front ankle, dropping their hand onto the block.  Why?  Because I said so? Well, yes, but also because I know when my student doesn’t use the block, the head of their humerous (the top of the upper arm bone) will drift towards the ground, making their heart center collapse, and their ribs round up towards the ceiling.  Not very often do I see a student who is totally open in this pose.  That’s why I tell students to use the block.

Not just to avoid injury, or because the student has tight shoulders, but so the student can experience the pose — so the student can experience an open heart and a lengthening spine.

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Recently in my own practice I used a block in Mermaid Pose and a strap in King Dancer Pose.  The block took pressure off my achy knees so I could more gracefully come into a backbend and reach my foot towards my head.  In King Dancer Pose, the strap helped me bring my arms over head.

The props became an extension of myself.  The block became my sitting bones and the strap became my arms.  I could not experience these poses otherwise.

So I challenge you, rather than feel weak and feeble when you use props, feel strong, proud and accomplished.  Let yourself feel a sense of “I did it!”

And as your teacher places a block behind your front ankle in Triangle, open your heart with grace and extend your loving energy through your block, allowing it become an extension of self. signiture copy