Yoga Revival – Week 6: Yoga Warm-up

August 6, 2015

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I kicked off week 6 of my Yoga Revival with an outdoor yoga session. I have a slight nagging pull in my right upper hamstring from when I “came out of waterskiing retirement early in July.” I feel its presence when bending forward, and so I brought a tennis ball to my yoga mat to massage it along with all the muscles in that lower back and buttocks region. It is a meditative challenge to breathe through such deep massage, and I followed this with gentle hamstring stretches – laying on my back, using a strap while extending each individual leg straight up, then about 45 degrees to the side.

I was happy to feel extra flexibility when I began my standing asana practice. Along with the sound of birds and breeze in the trees, my warm up helped create a grounded feeling that only deepened through my whole 50 minute practice. I have used the tennis ball to knead out sore muscles in a couple of practices since Sunday, along with a brief warm-up using a strap – with similar positive results. I find keeping it brief is helpful, because when I get too comfortable, it becomes harder for me to get going on my sun salutations – which require fortitude, tenacity, and sweat.

Since getting back into a regular yoga practice at the beginning of the summer, I have spent more time doing the “in between” poses that sometimes have been neglected in my yoga practice. I do have some of that type A inclination to jump into things quickly – that fervor over Pattabhi Jois’s call to action – “99% practice, 1% theory.” But I find an extra breath with a lift here, and a pressing down there – is always beneficial. And so in between my first forward bend, and jumping or stepping back to “Chattarunga,” I am conscious to take a moment to lift my knee caps, press down with my heels, and lift my toes and my sternum, while looking up – before going into a deeper forward bend. Sometimes I go up and down like this 5 times before continuing.

And there’s no question – my asana practice is a good warm up for sitting meditation. I try to end all of my asana sessions with at least a 5 minute sitting meditation, followed by sivasana. So my well-used 15 year-old sari zafu was with me, and I ended my practice with a sitting meditation, followed by sivasana.

I’m still trying to work out my life schedule in a way where yoga fits in more naturally and automatically. These days I generally cram it into my very busy life with some difficulty. But even crammed in, I always feel better from yoga practice, and a little warm up goes a long way.

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In this picture sits my 15 year-old sari zafu on top of my 1/8” hybrid eco-mat, which sits on top of my Jammu rug.


Summer Yoga Festivals: August

July 31, 2015

As summer starts to wind down, you may want to squeeze in one more yoga festival in the sun, to experience the joy of stretching your yoga muscles and meeting new friends in a fun and communal setting. Here are some of our top picks for yoga festivals to attend in August:

Santa Fe Yoga Festival – August 6-9

Featuring the music of festival favorites Michael Franti and Spearhead, this gathering shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the southwest! The festival includes classes by over 35 yoga instructors, as well as inspiring music, daily meditations and dharma talks.

ARISE Music Festival

ARISE Music Festival – August 7-9

The scope of this event in Colorado encompasses not just yoga and music, but exciting visual performances and thought-provoking workshops! Whether you want to practice Jivamukti, Kundalini or Laughter yoga, there’s a class for you. On top of that, you can attend concerts by a variety of musicians, shows by talented aerial performers, and insightful discussions about culture, art and spirituality.

LoveYogaFest

LoveYogaFest – August 14-16

Cape Cod’s yoga festival includes two classes that you just can’t miss: beach yoga and paddleboard yoga! You can experience the natural and fragile beauty of the New England coast at the best time of the year, and get your yoga at the same time. In addition to beach yoga, there are aerial, restorative, and Vinyasa classes, and a whole lot more.

Big Bear Yoga Festival

Big Bear Yoga Festival – August 21-23

In beautiful Big Bear, California, you can enjoy a festival filled with yoga, music, meditation and lectures, surrounded by the picturesque San Bernadino Mountains. And on top of all that, the event is located at a YMCA camp that offers canoeing and swimming to cool off in the heat.

Iowa Yoga Fest – August 28-30

For those in America’s heartland, there’s this three-day festival that kicks off with a yogi party in downtown Des Moines! During the rest of the weekend, you’ll enjoy workshops and classes with a variety of teachers from around the world. Whether you’re interested in mandalas, mantra meditation, or gong baths, you’ll find something to excite your interest at this eclectic event.

For ultra-portable yoga supplies including Hybrid Eco Mats, Eco-Foam Blocks and Yoga Mat Bags, visit www.barefootyoga.com!


Yoga Trends: Paddleboard Yoga

July 30, 2015

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Keeping your balance during practice on dry land: sometimes challenging, but pretty manageable. Keeping your balance during practice on water? A whole different story.

A recent yoga trend that’s caught our eye is “yoga on water” (A.K.A. standup paddleboard yoga) which provides a sometimes not-so-sturdy surface to really beef up on your balance and strength.

It also offers a truly unique, meditative – and some yogis have said spiritual – experience by providing a very close connection to the outdoors while practicing. Feeling the water all around while practicing can provide an amazing and brand new feeling, with your feet planted firmly on the board and the gentle current of water underneath.

Some yogis feel it offers a brand new way of feeling grounded – more of a temporary stillness that is always changing with the tides and might offer a sudden flash of instability, quelled by an almost as sudden stillness.

Another great benefit of paddleboard yoga is the extra kick your muscles get from keeping steady on the board! Your body will feel the burn (in a good way, we promise) from the extra strength and care needed to stay “on board”. (A tip for the easiest way to keep your balance? Use small, slow movements when moving from pose to pose!)

While paddleboard yoga may seem like more of a stateside trend, it actually originated in Rishikesh, India! It began as a new way for yogis to get their OM in, and has grown in its popularity within the past few years as an awesome way to mix up and reinvigorate any practice.

For all of your dry land yoga needs, visit us today at BarefootYoga.com!