Yoga Bliss

MY 5 FAVORITE HEART OPENING YOGA POSES

Heart opening yoga poses are one of my favorite ways to challenge myself...to let shit go...to open myself physically, mentally, and emotionally to the pose, but also to whatever life is currently throwing at me. These experiences are another one of the MANY reasons why I love to practice. This practice is not just about being present on the mat, but also present in LIFE.

Have you noticed how heart opening poses are hard? How they change the way we breathe? How they force us out of our comfort zone? How they even make us agitated and discouraged? Raise your hand if you have experienced these frustrating moments...ME!

*My “oh crap I hate this pose” moment: When I raise myself up into wheel and I let out a grunt, the practice is kicking my butt and so is life. It feels like there is an elephant on my chest and everything feels heavy and the move well just flat out sucks. The first thing that comes to mind when I get up into wheel is I immediately want to come down. I want to throw in the towel and just be done.

But have you also noticed, that when you allow yourself to LET GO...to breathe...to open yourself to the unknown...to be a little fearless...to take a chance...the heart opening pose allows you to fully OPEN and it all feels effortless.

*My “YES!!! FREAKING GO FOR IT pose” moment: Landing in Half Moon pose and feeling grounded, strong, open, and happy is yoga bliss. When I feel these things and all that other mushy gushy stuff, this pose is effortless and yes, just makes me SMILE.

Yes these heart opening poses also require practice, strength, and balance, but they also offer much more than that and I hope you will be able to feel mental and emotional benefits someday soon. In the meantime, here are my 5 favorite heart opening poses. Each one presents its own challenge to me in my practice. What I truly love about these poses is that there is ALWAYS room to grow in both the physical practice, but yes also the mental and emotional. So let it go...Open your heart...Open your mind...Breathe...

CAMEL POSE

CAMEL POSE
WHEEL POSE
HIGH LUNGE - CRESCENT VARIATION
WILD THING
UPDWARD FACING DOG

What is your favorite heart opening yoga pose?

Do heart-opening yoga poses challenge you?

MY FAVORITE YOGA POSES TO STRETCH YOUR HAMSTRINGS

Running...Strength Training...Sitting for long periods of time...and overall inflexibility causes tight hamstrings. The hamstrings NEVER lie and these big ass muscles are VERY crucial for our daily movements, so it is important to make sure that you to take the time to stretch them.

MY FAVORITE YOGA POSES TO STRETCH YOUR HAMSTRINGS

Let’s be real and state the obvious, that many of us do not take the time to stretch. I will be the first to admit this and I have admitted it MANY times. That is why I make time to incorporate yoga into my training schedule EVERY week. It honestly the only way that I can disconnect...slow down...breathe deeply...let shit go...and yes STRETCH.

If you cannot make it to a yoga class, then I highly recommend you take some time after your workout or your long day of work to do as many of these poses as your schedule allows. Grab your mat; put on some music; get in the zone to stretch. I promise you will feel better...Pinky swear!

Some tips to remember:

  1. Hold each pose for up to 1-minute;
  2. Try to do each pose 2 - 3 times;
  3. Listen to your body...Remember to breathe...And take your time with getting into the pose and holding the pose...Do not get frustrated...Enjoy and embrace the pose!
  4. Use props if are unable to touch the ground in certain poses. Yoga blocks can be your best friend!

Pyramid Pose:

  1. Make sure that your front foot is aligned with your back arch;
  2. Square your hips to the ground;
  3. Reach for the ground and allow your upper body to fall over your front knee;
  4. Fold forward as much as your body will allow you and HOLD!

Head to Knee Forward Bend:

  1. Bring one foot into your groin, while the other goes straight in front;
  2. Keep the front leg straight and reach for your foot;
  3. As you reach as far as your body will allow you, let your head relax and fall off the straight leg;
  4. I like to cross my wrists and pull myself towards my foot to get real deep into the hamstring;
  5. Hold, breathe, and try to relax!

Big Toe Pose: L O V E this one!!!

  1. Stand straight up with your feet hip-width distance apart;
  2. Slowly fold forward and grab your big toes with your thumbs and peace fingers;
  3. Pull your toes toward your face; bend your elbows to the side; and bring your chest towards thighs as far as your body will allow you;
  4. This pose will let you know how tight those hamstrings are, so be patient with your body and this pose...Remember to breathe and move into it slowly!

Triangle Pose:

  1. If there is one pose you should do every day...this is THE ONE! It is one of my favorites for stretching my hamstrings; opening my heart and shoulders; improving and strengthening both my balance and core. YEP, it works all that stuff!
  2. Make sure your front foot aligns with your back arch and your feet are spread wide. An easy way to get into this posture is from Warrior II;
  3. Slowly hinge your body forward and bring your front hand as close to the ground as possible;
  4. Keep your hips and chest open and facing forward;
  5. Keep your legs and core engaged...Do not get lazy in this pose...Feel that hamstring burn;
  6. You can use a block for support if you cannot reach the ground and you can grab your big toe for a different variation.

Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose:

  1. Lay on your back and take a moment to breathe and enjoy that time laying down;
  2. If you don’t have a yoga strap, you can always use a towel, jump rope, etc.;
  3. Keep your spine glued to the mat; one leg straight and on the ground; and bring the opposite leg up. If you cannot grab your foot, use your prop.
  4. Try to keep the lifted leg as straight as possible, while slowly bringing closer to your nose;
  5. Hold...breathe...let your body settle into the stretch!

Let me know which ones you start adding to your daily stretching sessions...Like I said up above, make the time to take care of your body. Whether it is five minutes or 30 minutes, a little self-care goes a long way both physically and mentally.

Embrace the hamstring BURN and just do it!

Friday Feelings

Can I have a moment to vent? Between the Full Moon, the time change, the blizzard, and the frigid temperatures, I have felt all sorts of stir crazy and lots of frustration. It has felt like a long freaking week. I have felt all sorts of emotions and I finally feel like I have it together. Now that the rant is over, why don't we dive into some "Friday Feelings", before I welcome the weekend with a BIG hug...

Friday Feelings

GRATEFUL - After my rant of really minuscule things, I am truly grateful for many things: 

  • A strong body that allows me to train it hard on a daily basis;
  • Foods that help me stay nourished, healthy, and fueled;
  • Family that supports me through all the crazy endeavors that I decide to embark on;
  • Friends who are there for me through it ALL. This community both near and far are a solid bunch!

I think it is important to take some time each day and write them down, say it out loud, or tell someone what you are grateful for. It really puts things in perspective!

Cauliflower In a Smoothie is DELISH - I know it sounds weird and it is kind of weird, but it is weirdly really good! I have seen some of my favorite recipe gurus talking about this kookie addition to their smoothies and I finally gave it a try. I eat a lot of cauliflower anyway, so why not step out of my comfort zone and try something new. It is good and I recommend you try it. I will share my recipes next week. 

Friday Feelings

There is so much BAD Television on these days - How is possible that with hundreds of television channels there is hardly anything to watch? And what about ALL the commercials? I have noticed lately that I seem to watch at the most the same 4 channels on a daily basis - Fox Business, HGTV, Bravo, and Showtime. So why am I paying a cable bill that is almost $200.00? With that being said, it is time to switch things up and get rid of the cable package. I am going to try it out and see how it goes and take advantage of my Amazon Fire Stick. Stay tuned...

Towel Workout - Make sure to check out my latest workout with Core Power! While I was snowed in earlier this week, it was the perfect time to create another at-home workout. You know that I am ALL about these types of workouts, so it was fun to put this one together. I love how these moves are truly a full body blast. They help your balance, build your overall strength, and of course ALWAYS your core! 

Potato Party - I have a potato obsession. I eat these beauties at least 4 times a week. They are easy to make. They are versatile. They are nutritious and delicious. I even picked up some regular russet potatoes the other day and they make me just as happy too. I cannot get enough spuds in my life and it is what my body is craving, so I am going to give it just that. 

Friday Feelings
Friday Feelings

It's Time for YOGA - It is definitely time to step back onto my mat for not only the physical benefits but also for the mental ones too. My workouts as of lately have been intense. There has been a lot of running and strength training. I am stiff, sore, but getting stronger. And those frigid temperatures are not helping my already tight muscles! It is time next week, to stretch it out...sweat it out...and find some balance, peace, and clarity on my mat. I am looking forward to reuniting with my favorites at Powerflow Yoga in Chatham, NJ. 

I know I sound like a broken record, but when you listen to your body and you give it what it needs, life is a lot more fun, because you are happier, healthier, energized, and that energy attracts only good things. And YES I am speaking from experience. When I ignore the signs regarding nourishing and training, I can become a not so friendly person. But when I am in tune with what my body needs and actually giving it those things, I am just a big beautiful ball of happiness...Corny much...YES, but it is the truth!

Friday Feelings

And that is it my friends! Thank goodness it is Friday! I need to choose a day to fully disconnect, do some spring cleaning, reconnect with old friends, and just slow down a little bit. I hope y'all have a beautiful weekend and see everyone next week. XOXO

What are you GRATEFUL for today?

Do you still have a cable package?

Yoga BLISS At Powerflow Yoga

I LOVE going home to New Jersey anytime of year, but I especially enjoy it during the holidays! Our family is very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas and I look forward to those traditions each year. I cannot believe that I was home for a week and poof it just disappeared. There was lots of time spent with family and friends, working, shopping, and YES there was so much food, but gosh darn it was good...Mom's meatballs and spaghetti; burgers; Italian subs; pizza; and Thanksgiving dinner. My "food baby" was large and in charge, but thankfully I was able to balance it out with lots of yoga and running! 

I knew when I got off the island last week, I needed to spend some time on my mat! I have been doing a lot of running, spin, and weight training, and I wanted to switch things up. My hips were screaming to be stretched and I knew it was time to step back on my mat! I was craving hard sweaty workouts that would help me stretch, lengthen, and work different muscles in my body. I am so grateful for Powerflow Yoga in New Jersey! You can learn more about this studio in my post that I did a few months ago HERE

I was able to practice 5 days in a row at Powerflow Yoga. Each class was 75 minutes long and I was able to take classes from 3 different instructors. It was AWESOME and I was in yoga bliss. There was so much sweating, twisting, and poses that I have not done in months and it just FELT GOOD and was exactly what my mind and body needed! Love that feeling! 

I took classes with Emma, Jeff, and Jessie. I have been taking classes with Emma and Jeff for a few years, but Jessie I had never taken before and it was nice to switch things up and try something new. 

Emma's Class: Don't let this petite gorgeous woman fool you...She's TOUGH! Her classes focus on core, strength, and fun but challenging sequences that leave me sweaty, sore, but always smiling! With all the running I have been doing, her classes definitely helped open my hips, stretch my hamstrings, and build up strength in some of those neglected places...Chaturanga push-ups and lots of them, reminded me where I was weak!   

Jeff's Class: Oh how I love Jeff and so does everyone else! His classes are always packed. He is fun, hilarious, and I love his music selection. I like the flow of his classes because he is always switching things up, to take you out of your comfort zone. He somehow makes it fun and comical even when you have been standing on one leg for what seems like a never-ending sequence. It's a hot sweaty mess of awesome yoga! 

Jessie's Class: This was the first time I practiced with Jessie and I was pleasantly surprised and I definitely will practice with her again. She blew me away with her knowledge of the human body. This was a very challenging class, that I really enjoyed. We really got into deep stretching of the hips and shoulders. The sequences were slow, intense, and well structured. It really helped me focus on my breathing, my balance, and my core. It was such a well-rounded flow that I highly recommend for athletes. 

It felt good to reconnect with this community. To see familiar faces. To switch up my workout routine. To try new things. To challenge myself. To find comfort and peace on the mat again. These are just a few reasons why I practice yoga and why I look forward to reconnecting with these people when I go home. The studio, the people, the teachers are the BEST and I cannot wait to go back in a few weeks for Christmas and spend more time on my mat and working on those inversions. I loved being upside down again!

Make sure to check out the studio, their schedule, and follow them on their social media platforms below to stay up to date and maybe even sign up for some classes this holiday season!

What is your favorite yoga studio?

What type of workout are you currently loving?

Twist All The Bad Stuff OUT...

"Learn to open to the subtle guidance and messages your body sends to you about what it likes, what it dislikes, what it leans toward, and what it leans away from. Learn to see where it's leading you. Talk to your body. Ask it what it wants. Then let it show you. Respect it enough to listen...

Trust the wisdom of your body, for it often reflects the wisdom of your soul" - Melody Beattie

Running and Yoga are my bliss! No matter how hard, challenging, or frustrating these forms of activity can be, I am always smiling! I like the way running and yoga make me feel inside and out. I like the peacefulness of being alone on the pavement and being at peace on my mat. It is "me" time that allows me to reflect, recharge, and just sweat it all out...that includes both the good and the bad. 

So it is time to talk about TWISTING!!! 

Twist all the bad stuff out, so that you can let all the good stuff in! Twisting yoga poses are hard! They are challenging poses that can leave us physically feeling frustrated and unbalanced. They also can leave us feeling emotionally angry and upset. All of these physical and emotional side effects are totally normal and you should feel this way because twisting yoga poses are all about releasing the toxins. 

Below are some of my favorite twisting yoga poses that help me twist out the bad stuff, so that I become more open physically and emotionally, to let the positive energy in. These poses help strengthen, stretch, and improve my balance, posture, and core. All of these poses are also beneficial to my other activities that I participate in, especially now that I am running outside more and increasing my mileage. 

I hope that you will try to incorporate these twisting poses into your next practice! Enjoy!

Triangle

  • Probably my favorite twisting pose...I could stay in this one for a very long time!
  • Make sure your front heel is intersecting the arch of your back foot;
  • Keep both legs straight and engaged;
  • As you look up...twist..breathe...and open yourself to going deeper into the pose without compromising the form!
Triangle Pose

Lunge With Twist

  • I may be smiling in this pose, but it is definitely my least favorite twist...It makes me agitated!
  • Keep your back heel lifted and your front foot heel flat on the ground;
  • Use your elbow to push into your knee to twist and open;
  • I like to use my thumbs to press into my breastbone to keep me centered and stable!
Lunge With Twist

Extended Side Angle

  • Make sure your front heel is intersecting the arch of your back foot;
  • Use your elbow that is on the ground to push your knee out to open your hip and help with the full expression of the pose;
  • Keep your overhead arm straight as you look up and twist your heart and ribs open!
Extended Side Angle

Kneeling Twist With Quad Stretch

  • Breathe deeply into this pose as this one hurts so good after a long run;
  • Do not let your front knee go over your toes, while you reach for your back foot;
  • Keep your front arm straight and keep twisting deeper into the pose with each breath and as you bring your bent leg closer to your butt. Your quadriceps will thank me later!
Kneeling Twist With Quad Stretch

Seated Twist

  • Remember to keep your straight leg flexed and your bent knee foot flat on the ground;
  • Keep your straight arm close to your side to help your stay tall and with good form;
  • Use your bent elbow to also stay tall, but help you twist deeper into the twist!
Seated Twist

Seated Twist With Bind:

  • Take your seated twist just a little bit further and deeper, by wrapping your arm around your back and connecting with your front hand and hold;
  • Remember to keep both hips on the ground (as soon as one pops up, back off the pose)
  • Keep your posture tall and straight and twist...breathe...twist deeper!
Seated Twist With Bind

What is your favorite and least favorite TWISTING yoga pose?