Yoga Poses

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!

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?