Monthly Archives: April 2013

Take a FREE Qi Balance Flow Yoga Class at Home!

No time for yoga? Let it come to you! Cozy Orange teamed up with our favorite yogis at Yogadownload.com to offer Cozy Customers a free online Qi Balance Yoga class! Guided by the renowned yoga instructors Kylie Larson & Tara Lynch, this 25 minute yoga class, perfect for advanced beginners,  takes you on a journey to strengthen and lengthen your body with powerful balancing asansas. Balancing the body can’t be achieved without inviting balance into the mind though, so Kylie Larson expertly guides you through calming intentions to center your thoughts. Try the class and if you love the feeling of your own personal practice on your own schedule, try YogaDownload.com’s Elite Membership class which features unlimited downloads and streaming of their online classes! Thru May 5th, YDL is offering  Cozy customers a discount on Elite Memberships for just $10 a month!

If you love Kylie and Tara’s yoga clothing, take advantage of Cozy Orange’s special 15% off discount on all Cozy collections thru May 5th. Simply use code: YDCozy15 at check-out! 

Click here to unwind, relax & try the free Qi Balance Flow class! 


Bring on the Restorative Yoga!

BRING ON THE RESTORATIVE YOGA!

Restoratives.  I love practicing them.  I love sharing them with my students. If you’ve never had the opportunity to try them, give yourself permission to indulge in this often overlooked hatha yoga practice.  Consider restorative yoga as an antidote to the residue of chronic stress that can seem inevitable in our overworked and emotionally and spiritually undernourished society.

There is a line from the 17th century writer, Madame DeSevigne that faultlessly applies here. She writes,

“It is the fine rain that soaks us through.” 

How right she was.

About a year ago, I was offered the chance to teach as a long term substitute covering a restorative class.  I was intrigued by the thought of an entire hour of soothing quiet.   A friend of mine then asked, “Why would someone want to go to a class to just lay there?  Why not just take a nap?”  This was the question I had been waiting for to explore the restorative practice more deeply.

With experienced instruction and enough props (blankets, blocks, straps, bolsters, sand bags, eye pillows), restorative asanas offer a plethora of benefits.  They allow your muscles to be completely supported and therefore release their held tension.  When you are napping or sleeping, your body and mind are surprisingly active.  Your muscles twitch and contract throughout the night and your mind is actively shifting within and between the stages of sleep and dreaming.

To understand how our physical and emotion bodies react to stress, it is helpful to understand some basic physiology.  The adrenal glands, which are located atop our kidneys, are responsible for production of the “fight-flight” hormones that we attribute to increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, mental alertness and muscular tension.  As humans evolved, this response was essential when confronted with a danger that required immediate action for survival.  When faced with a threat, the adrenals secreted appropriately, were processed and then returned to normal levels after the danger was resolved.

Today we are still of the same general physiology as our predecessors, but unfortunately the stressors we face do not afford us the same chance to utilize and metabolize these hormones as nature intended.  As our adrenal glands continue to produce these hormones in response to chronic instead of acute, immediate threats, our “rest-digest” system is suppressed.  As a result, our digestion, absorption, and elimination suffers.  Our ability to grow, repair cells and damaged tissues and reproduce also is limited   When one system is active, the other is quiet.

Restorative yoga is also useful for soothing headaches and insomnia, for difficulties with breathing, menstruation and so much more.  It is a practice that can be valuable while ill or recuperating and before returning to more active asana.  And, it just feels delicious to be so fully supported while gently opening, releasing or grounding down.

Restorative yoga, as a practice of deliberate stillness, teaches us to quiet and settle in mind and body and counteracts the effects of chronic over-stimulation.   It is from this clear space that we can learn to make healthy and life affirming choices and come back into harmony with our bodies’ natural rhythms.

For more information on how to practice restorative yoga and for particular indications and contraindications for each pose, check with your local studio or find a copy of “Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times” by Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, PT.

Be sure to check out Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall) and Supta Baddha Konasana (Relining Bound Angle) —two of my favorites!

Life is Practice.  Practice is life.  Namaste. 

 


Finding Your Inner Yoga Warrior

I stood over the crib of peaceful, sleeping infant.  At nine months old, she looked so sweet, so innocent. She was everything my husband and I could have hoped for. Slowly, I lifted my hands up and began banging kitchen pans together as loudly as I could.  My beautiful daughter continued to sleep, blissfully unaware of the noise around her, and I began to cry.

As the specialists confirmed, our daughter was born with profound binaural sensorineural hearing loss. She was completely deaf.  I went through the stages of grief. I cried. I raged. And then, I fought.  I focused all of my energy on fighting for what we wanted for our daughter. I wanted her to hear my voice, to talk to her daddy and sing silly songs to me. I hoped that was possible.  After hundreds of hours of testing, meetings and so many appointments that we lost count, our little girl received cochlear implants when she was 18 months old.

In yoga, we talk a lot about warriors. We ask our students to connect with their inner strength or to find the courage of a warrior. What I learned is that there is no greater warrior than a parent fighting for their child. During the months leading up to her surgery, I poured myself completely into that fight. I forgot about me and focused completely on my little girl. By the time she received her implants, I had ballooned up to nearly 200 pounds and my yoga mat was collecting dust in the closet. Although she had received her implants, this was just the beginning. As I reviewed the schedule of multiple therapy sessions each week, my full-time job, and the work we would do at home with her as well, I knew I was done. I had exhausted my store of energy. I grabbed my mat and headed to my first yoga class in months.

A dear teacher shared a thought with me that I know is true. “We cannot give fully to others until we first give to ourselves.” I began to give back to myself on the mat. Looking back, I know that without my yoga practice during those following months, I would never have had the strength and energy to support my family. Our practice isn’t just physical. Although I lost 60 pounds that year, I gained a renewed spirit. Taking time for myself made me a better wife and mother. And eventually, it made me a teacher.

Laura King is a wife, mother, yoga teacher & Cozy Orange Brand Ambassador. When she’s not chasing after her six-year old daughter, she shares her abundant energy with students in Texas and abroad. 

 

 

 


Tips for Nourishing Sweaty Yoga Hair

A little tea tree oil goes a long way.

Teaching yoga full-time, sweating, and being in humid rooms for most of the day can take a toll on a gal’s hair.  Found myself shampooing everyday leading to dry-looking locks and breakage.  I was advised not to shampoo every day, but found my hair to get pretty oily. But with practicing yoga everyday and generally leading an active lifestyle, how can you not wash your hair.  Reminds me of an earlier post about Saucha, but more in relation to the external/physical body. Some use dry shampoos. Popular choices include:

·         Dove Dry Shampoo

·         Blow Pro: Faux Dry – Dry Shampoo

·         Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo (or try the Volumizing version)

I’ve tried these all, but what really works for me is tea tree oil.  Bumble & Bumble makes a great hair product that has tea tree oil and peppermint.  It leaves my scalp feeling refreshed post-yoga practice.  It also has Vitamin E which is great for the skin (and, when used in skin moisturizers, definitely helped me with scars I had from acne during my adolescent years).  Below are the ingredients for the Bumble & Bumble Hair Tonic Lotion and their purposes: 

  • Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Extract: fullness, shine, moisture balance
  • Lamium Album Flower Extract: softness, gloss
  • Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil: antiseptic
  • Menta Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract: stimulates circulation, oil control
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract: scalp stimulant, anti-microbial, conditioning
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E): protects, moisturizing
  • Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract: astringent; tones and conditions scalp

While there are many tea tree oil dry shampoos out there, this one is my fave.  Just like your own yoga practice and your own yoga mat, you have to find the one that works for you.  (If dry shampoos are not your thing, my friend/stylist/fellow blogger YourStylistAJ offered some tips to deal with dryness and breakage making small adjustments to your at home routine. )


8 Inversion Swing Exercises that Will Strengthen Your Yoga Practice

Therapeutic inversion swings provide a variety of benefits, including the stimulation of the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, increased oxygenation of the brain, and improved body alignment. An inversion swing is also the ultimate prop for going into supported and deeper versions of your favorite yoga poses, exploring variations that defy gravity! Begin by holding the poses for 1 – 2 minutes while engaging ujjayi breath, over time increasing the hold for up to 5 minutes. Beginners are highly encouraged to work with an inversion swing therapist or other certified spotter.

Shoulders

1. Inverted Prasarita Padottanasana C (Wide-Legged Forward Fold Pose) with Hands Clasped

Standing behind the swing, climb in with one leg and then the other. Holding the sides of the swing, pull the bottom of the swing up to just below the hips and let your hands slid down as you drop your upper body back. Both feet will wrap around the sides of the swing. Keep your feet flexed to lock them into place. Once the legs feel secure, release your hands and bring the fingers and palms together behind the back. Allow gravity to pull gently on the arms and hands, releasing towards the ground.

 

2. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Fold Pose) with Arms Lifted

Standing in front of the swing, grab the bottom sides of the swing with the fingers facing down. Bring the upper body forward while retaining a firm grip on the swing and the arms straight. As the shoulders open and the chest drops down, move into a v-shape with the legs straight.

 

 Chest

3. Standing Heart Opener

Standing in front of the swing, bring your arms back and through the sides so that the bottom of the swing is nestled  below your shoulder blades. Spread the arms wide and and let the head and neck lengthen back, feeling a deep stretch radiate across the chest, shoulders and arms.

4. Double Assisted Inverted Heart Opener

After climbing into the swing, dropping back, and locking your legs into place, have your spotter place their hands directly below your shoulder blades and push your chest forward. Maintain a straight back while you stretch your arms up and  forward. 

Back

5. Inverted Eka Pada Dhanurasana (One-Legged Bow Pose)

After climbing into the swing, dropping back, and locking your legs into place, release one leg and bend your knee to bring the foot behind you to clasp the top of  it with both hands. Press your foot into your hands as you arch back. Repeat on the opposite leg.

6. Inverted Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

After climbing into the swing, dropping back, and locking your legs into place, release each foot back towards the corresponding hand, grasping the outside of each ankle and pressing the ankles out into the hands.

 

Psoas

7. Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose)

Standing in front of the swing on one leg, bend your other leg back to place the top of the foot in the swing. Bring your arms above your head and release the hands back to grab the top of the swing. Deepen the pose by sliding the hands down the sides of the swing and arching the head back towards your foot.

Repeat on the opposite leg.

8. Navasana (Boat Pose)

After climbing into the swing and moving it to just below your hips, allow the upper body to release back and the legs to come up to form a v-shape. An additional swing below the occiput is a great way to support the neck so that you can focus on keeping your back straight and psoas muscles engaged.

Photos taken with gratitude by Jack Greene at the Aum Dome in Encinitas, CA. Big thanks to Maura Rassman.

Maura Rassman, M.A., B.S. holds degrees in Biology and Education. She is a leading trainer, workshop facilitator, yoga instructor and integrative body worker in Encinitas, California with over 15 years experience.  With a background as a biologist, acrobat and massage therapist, Maura integrates healing traditions from around the world into a powerful unique system. She is the creator of the Aum Dome, a sacred garden space in Encinitas, where she holds her trainings and sees her clients.  Her dome is also the home of 15 yoga inversion swings which she uses in her therapy sessions and trainings. You can learn more by visiting her website: maurarassman.com

 Cozy Luminary Michelle is featured in the Virgo Eco Tank and Leo Foldover Pants.