Day 10 Pose: DANCER WITH A STRAP ON THE WALL

FINAL DAY OF 10-Day Warrior Heart Online Collective: DANCER WITH A STRAP ON THE WALL POSE

As a lover of dance - having grown up on stage, in tap & jazz shoes, in college as an unspoken 3rd major (Dance Works! Romina Laygo Wienert Lisa Montalvo Vik Adam), and finally flash mobbing #bafm - my body and spirit REALLY LOVES Dancer pose. The feeling of freedom, flying while grounded and making an aesthetically pleasing shape. It was always a hip opener and a back bend, but with this version DANCER WITH A STRAP ON THE WALL it also super opens the shoulders, pecs & armpits. Having my shoulder and hip supported on the wall takes falling out of the equation and allows the standing quad to activate without putting stress on the knee (and reminds hip not to turn out). Using my hands to pull up the strap helps lift elbows over head and foot higher while activating the triceps/upper arms.

It took me almost 20 years of my yoga practice to really embrace the idea that my yoga practice could be self-nourishing and just for me. Much gratitude to my Forrest Yoga community - Lisa Day for bringing us all together from all corners of the globe to be Warriors of the Heart!

danceronwallW.jpg

Days 8 & 9 Poses: LUNGE BACKBEND & CAMEL

Day 8 & 9 Poses of 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online: LUNGE BACKBEND & CAMEL

I'm pairing these two day poses together not only so I can catch up for the finale on Valentine's Day in a few minutes, but also because I really liked how these poses felt back-to-back.

I've always been protective of my knees - I did them no good service in high school with years of careless cheerleading moves landing on my knees for half-time routines. Thankfully both Forrest Yoga and my restorative practices welcome yoga propage with open arms - and soft knees.

LUNGE BACKBEND

lungeBBW.jpg

Doing this pose without any padding under the back knee is just ludicrous. Padding is mandatory if you like having functioning knees. Bare minimum is folding your mat over on that side or using a folded blanket under the knee. As you've figured out by now, I prefer to get cozy and stay awhile in my poses without strain in order to go deeper, hence more supports.

In addition to a folded blanket under the back knee, I wedge a rolled up yoga mat at the bottom of the thigh and the floor - takes pressure off of the knee. AND I place a yoga block the tallest height (or another rolled up yoga mat vertically) on the floor under the front leg to the front of the sitbone (not directly under the sitbone). Depending on how low you go in your lunge will determine which/how many props will be the correct height for that front leg.

Now that my knees and pelvis are supported, I can reach back and hold on to my ankle, foot flexed and reaching back, keeping shoulders and neck relaxed. Lift the mid-back and press through the front foot.

CAMEL

camelwallW.jpg

Feels very juicy right after that deep quad stretch of Lunge BB. A veteran Bikram-er from a lifetime ago, my body does love a deep backbend (camel was always the apex pose). It took a bit of de-programming my muscle memory to NOT squeeze my butt and thrust my thighs forward in camel. This is where using the WALL as a support (along with folded blanket under my knees & shins) is a perfect assist to keep the thighs at 90 degrees and use my shins to anchor. Starting with my entire front body on the wall I can focus on lifting mid-ribs from low ribs on the inhale and back bending on exhale, bit by bit.

#warriorheartcollective #lungebackbend #camel #loveyourknees #iloveforrestyoga

Day 7 Pose: TWISTING LUNGE

Day 7 Pose of 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online: TWISTING LUNGE

What can transform a yoga pose into your favorite, go-to pose is the magic of a Forrest Yoga assist from a teacher/assistant while you're in the pose and having an AHA moment. Such was the case for me in TWISTING LUNGE. I didn't realize how much my body could luxuriate in this pose, not powering into the twist or laser-focusing on opening shoulders, but rather feeling opening in my upper chest/sternum and low ribs. The assistant was behind my back and coached me to lean back into her to roll my chest more open to the sky; that stable contact of her to the back of my heart was the secret sauce that I think of every time I do the pose or give the assist to a student. How you can feel relaxed and supported/held while encouraging opening.

emiko_Forrest_twistlungeW.jpg

Using the strength of the bottom "hooked" arm against the thigh, I lengthen bottom ear away from shoulder and "grow" my spine with each inhale (esp those lower ribs facing the floor), and unfurling my upper chest towards the sun with each exhale. I love doing this pose in the morning - sometimes my chest is so tight that this pose "cracks" it open, ahhhhhh.

 Click image for video of Twisting Lunge

Click image for video of Twisting Lunge

Day 6 Pose: BIRD WING SHOULDER SHRUGS

Day 6 Pose of 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online: BIRD WING

When I took class last summer with Forrest Yoga Guardian Erica Mather I picked up this mash up of BIRD WING with SHOULDER SHRUGS and have been doing this variation ever since. The bottom tips of shoulder blades are sometimes difficult to feel and move, especially for beginners, so this combo gets "2 birds with one pose". Keeping elbows close to side ribs is KEY, and also helpful to sit deeper in your Warrior 2 pose as the forearms extend out at the end of the exhale.

 click image for video

click image for video

#warriorheartcollective #birdwingshouldershrugs  #iloveforrestyoga #rhomboidlove

Day 5 Pose: LOW COBRA

Day 5 Pose of 10-day Warrior Heart Collective online: LOW COBRA

How many times have you taken a Vinyasa Flow class (i.e. a non Forrest Yoga influenced flow, that is) and done a ton of sun salutations without hearing any cueing for cobra? So many shoulder joints are unhappy and straining in most cases.

What I find helpful to cue new students into Low Cobra is a tip I picked up from @ericamather - start on belly in sphinx pose with forearms on floor (like in dolphin pose), elbows under shoulders. Press down through hands, reach back with legs & lift elbows and heart up off of floor. Having hands forward of shoulders is less strain on wrists while simultaneously tractioning them as long as shoulder blades continue to wrap towards armpits.

 Click this image for a video demo of Low Cobra

Click this image for a video demo of Low Cobra

Day 4 Pose: BRIDGE

Day 4 Pose of 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online: BRIDGE
(i.e. How to Love Your Sacrum and Not Be a Tight Ass)

Back in the day (pre-Forrest Yoga times), Bridge pose used to be about shoving my hips as high as possible and getting as much of a back bend as I could get. Not great for the sacrum, and certainly accentuated my tight-assedness attitude towards my practice.

NOW, deep in my Forrest Yoga and Restorative practices, I've fallen in love with how my body FEELS when I practice and I can allow myself to channel EASE and SURRENDER even while my thighs are heating up in Bridge.

Two of my Go-To props and variations for Bridge are:

1. Resting my Sacrum under 2 stacked, low height blocks positioned lengthwise. I witnessed my yogi pal Abbie Doss Dutterer using the blocks this way in class and my body reacted with an "of course! that makes sense" feeling. The blocks positioned this way assure your body that you are stable to the floor (not weeble-wobbly), thus encouraging your body that it's safe to open and release further. Plus it provides a wider shelf for the sacrum bone to rest completely. For me, it's almost like a restorative pose, giving me pause to BREATHE into my sacrum and allow it to relax. I'll use this setup for Hip-Opener and One Leg Up and Half Virasana variations.

bridgeon2blocks.jpg

 

2. Undo Tight-Ass by using the Rolled Mat between thighs at the groin. I used to squeeze my butt way tight to lift hips higher (some yoga styles use that as a cue in class, eww), which shuts off your sacrum. By squeezing the rolled mat between my thighs, it reminds me to use my inner leg muscles to power the pose, not my ass.

bridgewRollW.jpg

 

#warriorheartcollective #bridgepose #forrestyoga #loveyoursacrum

Day 3 Pose: SHOULDER SHRUGS

 Click image for video of Shoulder Shrugs

Click image for video of Shoulder Shrugs

Day 3 Pose of  10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Onlin: SHOULDER SHRUGS

By 6pm most everyone can use some release from shoulder/upper & mid-back tension. I'd say that is the most popular area of tension amongst my evening class students. All the better reason to start class with SHOULDER SHRUGS. I'm digging sitting in 1/2 lotus on the edge of a bolster, which elevates my hips above knees and lengthens my posture (esp since I'm short waisted/short torso) and feel into elongating the back of my neck. 

The key is to focus on activating the shoulder blades to squeeze and move the back rather than moving just the arms to activate the back. It can take a while of consistent practicing to really be able to breathe into these specific areas of our body, but it is possible and visible. 

Tonight after we shrugged we did a few authentic YAWNS which was the cherry on top, releasing jaw and neck tension (which tend to be tight if the shoulders are tight). That tip brought to you by from Restorative yogi queen, Kari Jacobse.

When it all comes down to it, it's replacing STRUGGLE with SURRENDER. In reading about Arizona White Oak essence today (in The Alchemy of the Desert  - thanks to Susanna Claudia Delma), I came across this timely quote in regards to SURRENDER:  "It is often indicated when we are at a point of recognizing the amount of struggle in our lives. It helps us to understand that an attitude of struggle inhibits our growth, rather than enhancing it. We begin to see that the extend to which we fight is the extent to which we are resisting life. Likewise when we struggle against ourselves, there is usually something within us that we do not want to accept."
Rather than convincing ourselves can DO IT ALL (hence, struggling), instead activating our will and intention to get things done by balancing it with what the flow of life brings us. 

Check out the fabulous Aviva Levine demonstrating this pose on YouTube.

#warriorheartcollective

Day 2 Pose: BRAHMARI BREATH INTO THE HEART

brahmeri_W.jpg

Day 2 Pose for 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online: BRAHMARI BREATH INTO THE HEART

When I'm feeling unsettled/ungrounded/distracted at the beginning of my practice, this pranayama of Bee Buzzing Brahmari plugs me in. I like vibra-hum into all sides of the heart with the hands placed accordingly to FEEL the vibes: front, sides, back, top & bottom. The more you hum into it, the more you can blow off steam or anxious energy.

Best personal Brahmari experiences have been whenever a large group of dedicated Forrest Yogis get together, whether it be for trainings or workshops, especially when Ana Forrest is leading us, the collective buzz connects us like an invisible cord. Like we could all rocket up to space together.

When teaching, if I felt the group energy was turned on in a good way, I'll end class with everyone doing one long Brahmari, much like an Om but Forrest Yoga style. Afterwards, everyone just floats out the door...

See Forrest Yoga teacher Jacqui Ferraiolo's video on Brahmari: https://www.facebook.com/YogawithJacqui/videos/548530982180115/

#warriorheartcollective 
photo by Steve Adams

Day 1 Pose of Warrior Heart Collective

Day 1 Pose of the Day for 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online:
CHEST OPENER ON THE WALL

I find that when I wake up in the morning I crave this pose to get the sleep kinks out of my upper back. Also when I need a break from my jewelry bench work (i.e. hunching over LEGO bricks with my drill), this is my GO TO pose. 2 minutes and I'm good, my posture is reset. Anyone who has an arm and a wall can do this pose (you don't need to be a yogi), another reason to love it!

I have limited empty wall space in my condo, so I like this mod of finding a wall edge to hold onto as I get more into my lunge and really hold on to the wall edge I can feel more release in the pec on that side of chest.

Lately I've been starting my FY All Levels 6pm classes with this pose after wrist stretches and before we sit down to set intent - not only does it feel great for the midback, sternum and neck after spending the day hunched over desks or workbenches, it forces you to ground right away and calm down the zingy energy that may be bouncing around in you (or from around you) at the end of the day.

If this pose sounds juicy to you and you want to TRY IT FOR YOURSELF, watch this video tutorial by the amazing Lisa Day:  https://youtu.be/-5Rd-GM3Ujg

#warriorheartcollective

10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online Begins

Today begins the 10-Day Warrior Heart Collective Online where Forrest Yoga teachers and students come together online on FB and IG to practice a Pose of the Day that focuses on the heart and share what we're feeling both physically and emotionally, plus any insights about the poses. This is what I LOVE about the Forrest Yoga community of yogis, teachers and leaders - this willingness to break through our walls and support each other in the process.

The Forrest Yoga teachers who are leading the charge (and who you can follow to get more insights) are: Lisa Day Yoga & Pilates,  Lola Rephann - Yoga & Bodywork, Aviva Levine - Breathe In Love, Jacqui Ferraiolo - Yoga with Jacqui

Every day I'll be posting my musings on the Pose, tips that I've found effective over the course of my practice and teaching. And any energetic gems that may arise from such a mindful focus on the heart center. Stay tuned!

If you want to join in and share your insights with us, go the the FB group page for the details and who to follow: https://www.facebook.com/events/746579848869191/

#WarriorHeartCollective