Tight Shoulders? No Problem! Use a Strap for These 5 Shoulder Opening Poses

Tight shoulders can hinder us in our daily lives, and daily life could include yoga poses. This post will show you how to access certain poses that might otherwise seem impossible because of tight shoulders. In the process, you should find some relief from that scrunched, tight feeling in your neck, upper back, and chest areas, also referred to as shoulders. Warning: benefits include, confidence, good posture, and happiness.  

 

Disclaimer: I am a certified yoga teacher, however I am not your personal yoga teacher. Therefore these poses are for informational purposes only and are also based on my experiences. Exercise good judgement, and, as always, consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise.  

Cow Face Pose

Cow face pose is great for the hips and the shoulders. Specific to the shoulder area, the pose stretches the sides of the armpits, upper back, back of the arms, and chest.  

One would ideally reach their fingertips, leading to clasping the hands. Yet tight shoulders can prevent one from touching the fingertips. So how can one perform this wonderful pose when they can't touch their hands?  

Use a strap:

  1. The upper body portion of the pose can be done seated, kneeling, or standing.  
  2. Starting with the right arm, hold onto the strap and reach the arm high above your head. Bend at the elbow, allowing the rest of the strap to fall behind your head.
  3. With the left arm down, bend at the elbow (left hand is behind your back) and find the strap.
  4. Move your left hand up the strap, toward the right hand, as much as comfortable to you.
  5. Using both hands, gently pull the strap apart.
  6. Take at least 3 easy breaths, then change arm positions (left arm up, right arm down).
  7. Repeat as often as necessary.

Personally, I do this pose twice or three times, on each side.

 

Hands over Head

Hands over the head is a variation within a pose.  This variation is commonly offered during a wide legged forward bend, however this option is also available for pyramid pose or a simple forward fold.

The variation starts with one clasping their hands at the low back, followed by moving the hands over the head. Yet, there are times when one cannot maintain the clasp position of the hands as movement continues toward and over the head.  

If clasping the hands is difficult, don't avoid this shoulder opener. Use a strap and give your shoulders some TLC:

  1. Begin standing upright, with the feet wide. Hold on to the strap with both hands, at the low back.  
  2. Hinge forward at the hips. Make sure the big toes are facing forward or slightly toward each other.  This prevents you from rolling over.
  3. Begin moving the strap away from the low back. Take your time with this. Better yet, intentionally breathe in and out as this will relax the shoulders and bring some ease to the movement.  
  4. Stay at your stopping point for at least 3 breaths.
  5. To come out of this variation, move the strap and hands to the low back. Place the palms on the low back and slowly move to a standing position.

To keep the focus on the shoulder opening aspect of this variation, find a wall.  Connect your tailbone to the wall in the folded position and allow the wall to support you.  

 

Floss the Shoulders

This movement has two purposes. It can loosen and strengthen. For example, if one is very flexible in the shoulders, this movement can add strength. And if one has tight shoulders, this movement can increase the range of motion.

Honestly, I am not sure if the movement is called floss the shoulders.  It's one of the labels I heard from someone.  

In any case, here is how a strap can help open the shoulders:

  1. Start with the feet hip width apart. Hold on to the strap with both hands. We want a wide grip. In other words, your hands should be away from each other, more than shoulder width apart.
  2. While inhaling, move the strap above your head. Take care to not arch the back, when the arms are over your head.  
  3. Here is the fun part: exhale and move the strap behind your head. What makes this fun is keeping your arms straight as you move the strap behind you.
  4. With the strap at your tailbone, inhale and move the strap over your head.
  5. Finish the motion with an exhale, as the strap ends in front of you.
  6. Repeat this movement up to 10 times.

If you have a difficult time keeping the arms straight while moving the strap in front and behind your body, give yourself more slack on the strap.  On the other hand, if moving the strap in front and behind is too easy, shorten your grip on the strap.  

 

King Dancer Pose

 

This is a pose that requires a bit more coordination, however one does not improve in anything if one does not try.  Therefore, please do try this!

Improving the balance is one obvious benefit. This pose is also a backbend. However the shoulder opening component takes place when the yogi holds onto the foot with one or both hands.  

A strap is helpful because holding onto the foot can be challenging if the shoulders are tight.  Rather than writing this off as a "difficult pose", get the benefits using a strap!

  1. Secure the strap on your right foot or right ankle. As a suggestion, have the buckle part of the strap on the sides or the top of the foot. If the strap is around the ankle, position the buckle in front or to the sides.
  2. Ground down with your left foot. Bend the right knee, hold on to the strap with both hands, and raise your arms above your head.
  3. Begin pulling upwards on the strap to raise the right foot higher and higher. You should already feel a stretch in the chest, shoulders, and upper back area.  
  4. As you are pulling upwards, try to keep your elbows pointing upwards, toward the ceiling or sky. This is the shoulder opener aspect of this pose.  
  5. Stay in this pose for several breaths, and then release the right foot down. 
  6. Undo the strap on the right foot, move to the left, and have fun!

In step 4, I mention keeping the elbows pointing upwards. If you have difficulty doing this, don't worry because that is totally normal. That's what happens when you have tight shoulders :-)  As your shoulder flexibility improves, you'll find that you can keep your elbows up. 

Also, while the elbows staying up looks nice, it is not the goal. Focus on the relief you feel, rather than appearance.  

 

Forearm Balance/Dolphin Pose

While forearm balance and dolphin do well to strengthen the shoulder structure, these poses also open the shoulders.   

Ideally (I know...enough with the ideals already!) the elbows are shoulder-width distance apart. The rest of the forearm remains parallel to each other.

However, if you have tight shoulders (and I am in the tight shoulder club) one of three things will most likely happen in the forearm placement:

  1. Elbows start to move wider than shoulder-width distance.
  2. The palms start to move toward each other, which results in a pyramid shape forearm placement rather than parallel.
  3. Both 1 and 2 happen.

The benefit of doing this pose is that the shoulders open, which reduces or eliminates the instance of 1, 2, or 3 happening. A strap can assist with keeping the elbows in place, which further encourages proper form and maximizes the shoulder opening benefits.  

Again, what matters is the function (opening the shoulders), not the shape.  

Here is how to approach dolphin pose/forearm balance:

  1. Begin standing. 
  2. Secure the strap around the middle of the triceps (back of the arms). The strap should be shoulder-width distance apart. To measure the shoulder-width distance, stack your forearms. Your middle finger and elbow should be lined up. There are other ways to measure shoulder-width, however I think what I mentioned is the easiest.  
  3. Come down to your knees and place your forearms on the mat. This is where you can best tell if your elbows are shoulder-width and if the strap is secured properly. If you have a traditional strap, you might make tighten or loosen at the buckle to get the right distance.
  4. Curl the toes under and begin to straighten the legs, like you would when approaching downward facing dog. You should start to feel the shoulder opening.
  5. Walk your feet towards your face while pressing the floor away with your forearms. It is important to not sag in the shoulders, which is why pressing is key.
  6. At this point, you are already experiencing the benefits. If you'd like to experience the benefits a different way, let's proceed to the forearm balance.  
  7. Raise your favorite leg toward the ceiling or sky. Try to keep your big toe pointing toward the ground rather than out to the side.
  8. Start to kick up. When you catch a balance continue to press the floor away, giving you more control of the balance.  

I'll discuss this pose (forearm balance) in greater detail, in later posts.  


Don't let tight shoulders limit you! The next time you enter a yoga class or go to the gym, grab a strap.  Not taking a class?  Try these poses or movements anyway!  

For additional questions or if you are interested in private yoga and fitness sessions, please contact me.  Skype and Facetime are always available when in-person interaction is not.  

 

 

 

6 Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk...Right Now!!

Disclaimer: I am a certified yoga teacher, however I am not your personal yoga teacher.  Therefore these poses are for informational purposes only and are also based on my experiences.  Exercise good judgement, and, as always, consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise.  

 

Sitting is a big part of our lives. We sit in our car. We sit on the couch. We sit on the toilet (yes, I went there).  And for a good percentage of Americans, we sit at desks while earning a living. 

Why is sitting (for extended periods of time) an issue?  Because our body is designed to move.

The weight of our body is not evenly distributed when we sit. Instead the weight goes to our spine, which does encourage back pain.  We often hunch forward while working on computers, which causes neck and shoulder pain.  And because we are not using muscles such as the core (front and back), hips, and hamstrings, they weaken.  When they weaken, our range of motion decreases.  With a limited range of motion we might find that we lose our balance and fall every now and then. 

Yet, sitting is part of our reality.  Therefore, we must find a way to minimize the adverse effects of sitting.  We can do that by maximizing our ability to move at the desk or in a chair. 

Here are 6 yoga poses you can do at your desk.

Seated Pigeon Pose

Seated Pigeon Pose

This pose stretches the groin and hip and also opens up the low back.  This pose assists with reducing and preventing low back pain.  

Instructions:

  1. Begin seated upright, with both feet on the floor. Contract the abdominal muscles slightly and relax the shoulders away from the ears.
  2. Place the right ankle on the left thigh, close to the knee. Slowly and consciously breathe in and out.
  3. Inhale to lengthen the torso, exhale to fold forward. As you for fold forward, lead with your chest and try to not round the spine.
  4. Repeat the breath pattern (inhale lengthen, exhale fold forward) until you feel a desired stretch.  
  5. Stay in the folded position up to 10 breath cycles. Rest your palms on your desk or thighs.
  6. To exit, slowly sit upright. Release the right foot to the floor.
  7. Repeat on the left side.

Neck Release

Neck Release

Texting, computer use, lifting, and stress can cause neck pain. I'm sure some of you have experienced tension headaches.  

This simple stretch at your desk can help alleviate neck pain or that headache. This can also assist with clarity and focus.

Instructions:

  1. Sitting upright, intentionally relax your shoulders away from your ears. Consciously breathe as the breath will help release tension.
  2. Gently place your right fingertips on the left side of your head. Guide (do not force!) your right ear toward the right shoulder.  Remember, the right shoulder should be relaxed.  
  3. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths or until you feel a release on the left side of the neck.
  4. Move the chin slightly toward the center of the chest.
  5. Hold again for 3 to 5 breaths or until you feel a release.
  6. Move the chin again, pausing to breathe, until the chin and your nose are facing the center of your chest.
  7. Use your right hand to guide the head upright.
  8. Gently place the left fingertips on the right side of your head and repeat the stretch.

Seated Twist

Seated Twist

This is a situation where your seat can support you. The seated twist can maintain or improve flexibility in the spine. It can also decrease stiffness in the low back.  

Instructions:

  1. Sit upright away from the back of your seat, and feel both feet on the floor.
  2. Please both hands on the right armrest of the chair. If your chair does not have armrests, place your hands on your right thigh. 
  3. Inhale to lengthen the body. Exhale and rotate the chest to the right. 
  4. Inhale again to lengthen. Exhale to twist a little deeper.
  5. To exist, reverse the twist and place your hands on the armrests or thighs.
  6. Repeat on the left side.

Make sure your knees continue to face forward when you move the torso.  


Standing Backbend

Standing Backbend

This pose is just amazing and can be done anywhere! It opens up the chest and shoulders, releases the hip flexors, and improves the flexibility in the spine.  

Instructions:

  1. Stand upright with your feet hip width distance apart. Relax shoulders.
  2. Place both palms on the low back.
  3. Inhale to lift the chest toward the ceiling, and exhale to move the torso backwards.
  4. Press the palms lightly on your low back. This will assist with keeping your hips forward and should prevent the "crunching in" sensation in the low back.
  5. To exit, first inhale, then exhale to an upright position. Remove your palms from your low back and release the arms to the sides of your body.

As you are adjusting into your backbend, you can let the head and neck release backward, adding a neck stretch element. Alternatively, if you are feeling some discomfort in the neck and shoulders, tuck your chin towards the chest.

You might also find that you have more access to the pose when you turn your toes outward. 


Forward Fold

Forward Fold

You open your chest and shoulders, in this pose, which gives you the ability to breathe a little easier.  This pose also assists with stretching the back of the legs and relieves tension in the back and hips.  

Instructions:

  1. Stand behind the chair and place both hands on the backrest.  Hands are to be shoulder-width apart.  
  2. Begin to walk backwards, hinging at the hips, until a 90-degree position is achieved (see photo) OR until you feel a desired stretch at the back of the legs and/or chest.
  3. Anchor down with your feet as you press the tailbone away from the chair.
  4. Hold the position for 3 to 5 breaths.  
  5. To exit, walk the feet forward, toward the back of the chair, while using the hands to press yourself upright.

If the back of your chair is not high, as pictured, find a wall or use your desk.   


Stand Up / Sit Down

Stand Up / Sit Down

Something as simple as standing up can do amazing things for the body! When you stand up, you remove the stiffness from the joints. You also reduce tension and tightness and improve circulation. Take a stand for yourself. Literally!

Instructions:

  1. Root your feet down and lightly engage your core.
  2. Inhale to prepare.
  3. Exhale and sit up.  
  4. Take a seat and repeat.
  5. Stand up and sit down as many times as you need and want.

To assist you as you sit up, use your hands by pressing down on your desk or arm rests.


For additional questions and/or if you are interested in private yoga and fitness sessions, please contact me.  Skype and Facetime are always available when an in-person interaction is not.  

4 Yoga Poses That Make You a Better Runner

Running is just plain amazing. Some of my fondest running memories include runs within Central Park, in New York City.

Unfortunately, tight hamstrings, shin splints, and general stiffness are common by-products of running due to repetitive training and overuse.  The result is a slower, less enjoyable run, or worse, an injury.

Want a solution?  Add yoga to your running routine.

Yoga prevents injury in the body by sending oxygen rich blood to overworked muscles, which promotes healing.  It also increases the runner’s range of motion and endurance through poses that encourage strength and flexibility, which can lead to a better race time.

While many yoga poses are great for runners, here are 4 of my favorite:

Downward Facing Dog

Injured or not, everyone should do this pose to improve their performance. It relieves shin splints and tight hamstrings, which can improve speed.  Downward Facing Dog also opens the shoulders, which greatly assists with improving endurance because the runner has an easier time breathing. 

1.     Standing upright, with your feet hip-width distance apart, hinge at the hips to fold forward, taking the option to bend the knees as your head moves below your heart. 

2.     Place your palms down (on the ground or your yoga mat) and walk them forward until you are in the shape of a pyramid.

3.     Give yourself a good foundation by spreading your fingers apart.  Make sure your pointer fingers are pointing at twelve o’clock or turn the fingers, on each hand, toward the outer edges of the mat.  In other words, don’t turn the hands to face each other as doing so will hurt the wrists.

4.     Keep the head relaxed and press the shoulders away from the ears.   Allow gravity to push the heels toward the mat (the heels do not need to be on the mat). 

5.     Stay for 3 - 4 long breaths.

This pose is powerful on its own or as part of a flow.  If you feel a lot of pressure on your shoulders or if your hamstrings are tight, add a bend to the legs (look at the second image).


Eagle Pose

Eagle pose is great for relieving tight hips and shoulders while strengthening the ankles and calves.  As you incorporate this pose into your routine, you might find that it is easier to develop speed and momentum in your runs.

1.     Standing upright, reach your arms up, toward the ceiling or sky.   Breathe in through your nose.

2.     Exhale and take your arms down, wrapping the right arm under the left. 

3.     Begin to sit as if there is a chair behind you.  Bring your right leg high above the left, and over the leg.  

4.     Take steady breaths in and out.  With each breath, move your right hip toward the back while your left hip moves forward. 

5.     To release, unwind the arms and legs.

6.     Repeat the pose with the left arm under the right, and the left leg over the right.

If you are unable to clasp the hands, for eagle arms, you can place the palms on the shoulders.

Usually the elbows remain at shoulder level in this pose.  However, I adjust my elbows up or down when my shoulders are really tight and when I want to maximize the stretch.   

If balance is a challenge, you can lightly rest your toes down, on the ground, rather than hooking the foot to the calf.


Squat

This pose gets EVERYTHING the runner needs, from the hip to the toes.  It stretches the feet, calves, groin, and low back.  Not everyone can drop the hips low, which is why I show another example.  Don’t worry about the look of the pose.  Enjoy how it feels!

1.     Stand with feet hip-width distance apart or more.  Look down at your big toes.  Imagine yourself standing on two clocks, one under each foot.  Turn the big toe, on the right foot, toward one o’clock.  Turn the big toe, on the left foot, to eleven o’clock.

2.     Sink the hips down as much as comfortable.  Try to keep the heels down.

3.     Take up to 10 steady breaths.

Press your elbows against the inner thighs to assist with the hip opening effect of the pose.  

Try not to round the back.  Rather, open the chest and give yourself a better opportunity to breathe!


Low Lunge

Another great pose!  This version of low lunge releases the hip flexors and groin. You could also feel a lovely stretch on your calves. 

Add this to your running routine, and you should experience an increase in stride length over time. 

1.     Begin on your hands and knees.  Bring the left foot forward, between your hands.

2.     First ensure the left knee is stacked above the ankle.  The knee should not be in front of the ankle. 

3.     Adjust the right knee (on the ground) backwards until you achieve a desired stretch.  The idea is to feel a stretch or release primarily on the right side (hip flexor).

4.     Allow gravity to assist you with sinking the hips/sit bones down.  Press down with your left foot, which gives you access to shifting your left hip back while moving your right hip forward (squaring the hip).

5.     Take 5 to 10 steady breaths, allowing your body to adjust and relax into the pose.

6.     Repeat, with your right foot in front and left knee down.

Feel free to get curious with where to place your hands or arms.  To adjust the intensity of the lunge you can move your fingertips or palms to the thigh, as pictured above.  You can also place the palms on your low back (boney part) or reach the hands above your head.  

For additional questions or if you are interested in private yoga and fitness sessions, please contact me.  Skype and Facetime are always available when in-person interaction is not.  

Disclaimer: I am a certified yoga teacher, however I am not your personal yoga teacher.  Therefore these poses are for informational purposes only and are also based on my experiences.  Exercise good judgement, and, as always, consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise.  

 

40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Personal Essay

Originally published on The Mindful Bookkeeper

Originally published on The Mindful Bookkeeper

Being successful in your career and business is not only about working longer hours for the sake of producing more. Success also comes from having a healthy body and mind. A by-product of a healthy body and mind is mindfulness. 

 

One of the ways to achieve a healthy body and mind is through exercise. Personally, I have learned discipline and stress management because of it. My confidence in my abilities has increased because I feel better about myself. Better yet, I find that I rarely get sick (fewer sick days) and have less aches and pains in my body. Finally, through exercise I have developed the courage to let go of anything that no longer serves me. Recently, I made a business decision to do just that.

 

I had been directly involved in that something for over two years and somewhat around it for a few years longer.  I felt liberated when I let go of that thing that was not serving me…I also realized how much damage I endured and was upset about it to the point where I had considered relocating to another city and turning my back on my business. 

 

I shared my recent departure and the effects with a yoga teacher and friend. He suggested I enroll in his studio’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution. As much as I rolled my eyes at a yoga challenge, I knew I had to get my mind right for the sake of my business and myself.  I signed up.

 

The “rules” of 40 Days to Personal Revolution, at that studio, are as follows:

  • Practice yoga at any of the studios (they have two locations) 6 times a week. 5 of the 6 practices must be at the studio, and the 6th practice can be at home.
  • Attend one group meeting each week (there are 10 opportunities each week to attend one each week. In that meeting the participants will engage in journaling and discussion exercises. 
  • Meditate twice daily, starting with 5 minutes each time.

 

Each week I will be sharing my experience with this program.   Stay tuned for Week 1!

3 Bookkeeping Tips for Fitness Professionals

Photo Credit: Abigail Keenan via Unsplash

Photo Credit: Abigail Keenan via Unsplash

Recently, I went to a workshop called The Business of Teaching: for Fitness Professionals. As a yoga teacher, I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to improve my business, as I would like to expand my reach. While many topics were familiar, it was great to be reminded that 2016 is not over. In other words, there is still time to make necessary adjustments for your business or start something new.

Here are the highlights from the workshop, plus my own two cents:

 

Bookkeeping.  Fitness instructors (yoga, Pilates, spin, etc.), gyms, studios, CrossFit boxes and more should maintain financial records by way of bookkeeping. Really, if you earn an income, bookkeeping is a must. I state this because many fitness pros do not have a bookkeeping system. If that happens to be you, turn to user-friendly cloud based software, such as FreshBooks, Quickbooks Online, or Xero.

 

By having current financial records, you are in better control of your cash flow, which means you are in better control of your business. You can measure the performance of your business, make adjustments, plan, recommit, and grow. 

 

In the US, FreshBooks and QuickBooks have monthly pricing plans starting at $12.95 while Xero (my personal favorite) begins at $9. If you are not sure which software is the best for you, try before you buy. Each offers a 30-day trial, free of charge.

 

If you are behind or short on time, invest in a bookkeeper. Yes, invest! Focus on the potential gains to your business. A good bookkeeper will help you achieve your business goals.

 

Vehicle Expenses.  This task is annoying to many of us. However, if your vehicle is used for business purposes you may be able to deduct car expenses by tracking your mileage. 

 

For example, if you use your vehicle to meet clients at their homes, you may be able to deduct car expenses. If you are a yoga teacher, personal trainer, or some other instructor using your car to travel to and from the studio or gym, you may be able to deduct your car expenses.

 

Obtain the mileage to and from your business destination and multiply by 54 cents. As always, refer to the IRS in order to verify the mileage calculation as well as other deductions. 

 

Another option is to download an app that tracks mileage for you. In the iPhone and Android app stores, enter the search term “mileage tracker”, and you’ll see plenty of highly rated apps to choose from. 

 

If tracking mileage is not your thing, you can claim the actual costs incurred during the business drive.  Such costs are gas, car maintenance, and other car related expenses. To claim these costs, retain the supporting documents, such as receipts. 

 

Receipts and Invoices.  Ah, the paper… What about the little receipts from the taxicab, deli, or grocery store? So easy to misplace! So tempting to throw away! However, those pieces of paper are necessary and are our friends.

 

Saving receipts and invoices provide detail beyond that of the bank statement. The detail within the receipt makes it easier for the business or individual to categorize, reconcile, and budget the expense, which is helpful for managing cash flow. Receipts are also essential for providing proof that your business is eligible for deductions taken during tax time. 

 

FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Xero make it easy to store receipts and invoices. One can take a photo of the receipt using the app related to the software. You then code the details of the receipt through the app, and the image of the receipt is saved. You could actually throw the receipt away although my old-school nature does not recommend that. However, you could!

 

And for those that do not want to be coding receipts, I recommend using services like HubDoc.  HubDoc is an online add-on for both QuickBooks and Xero. All you need to do is create a rule for the receipt once. The next time you have a receipt from the same vendor, HubDoc will automatically code the details of the receipt into the accounting software, and save a copy of the receipt. Just verify (reconcile) and you’re done!

 

There are more tips than provided. These tips are meant for informational purposes only. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from your tax advisor, attorney, and business advisor. 

 

Please check out my other article 4 Mid-Year Review Tips for Small Businesses

5 Ways to Find a Yoga Teaching Job

Photo Credit: Flickr via PhotoPin CC

Photo Credit: Flickr via PhotoPin CC

I want to tell you a secret. I’ve been offered numerous yoga teaching jobs, and I've never had to prove that I'm certified (yet).  

Oh, and there's more! I’ve never had to show my resume. I’ve only auditioned at two out of six places I have worked for. 

You might be wondering how I was able to get yoga teaching jobs, at studios and gyms, after only two years of teaching. Here’s the answer: I got out there. I did not stay at home after yoga teacher training and hope for the best. I got out there! And I’m going to share exactly what it means to get out there.

 

 

1.     Take Classes at the Studio of Interest

If you like a studio, and want to work there, take classes! By taking classes you begin to get familiar the studio’s culture, expectations, and teaching style. More importantly, the front desk, students, teachers, and studio director will become familiar with you, which can be helpful when a teaching opportunity presents itself.

 

2.     Take Classes From Your Favorite Teacher

By attending his or her classes, you and the teacher are bonding. With this bond the teacher often takes you under his or her wing and provides guidance that helps you grow as a teacher and student. 

 

Your favorite teacher is also a strong bridge between you and the studio.  His or her influence could easily lead to a teaching opportunity.

 

Finally, your favorite teacher could also introduce you to his or her fellow teachers, which expands your network. In turn, those teachers could also present you with teaching opportunities.

 

3.     Assist Classes & Workshops

Don’t be shy about this one.  Many teachers would love to have a fellow teacher assist their class.  Assisting, like taking classes, is another way to show commitment to the studio.  Furthermore, you begin to interact with the students in the room in a teaching capacity.

 

4.     Take Workshops & Trainings

Workshops and trainings are great for networking. What’s great about both environments is the opportunity to interact with those that share your interests and possibly your values. You can easily meet a peer that could refer you for an opportunity or meet a potential client.

 

5.     Just Ask!

Yes, it is that easy.  Ask!  Ask the person at the front desk.  Ask the karma yogi.  Ask a teacher.  Ask another teacher.  Ask the studio manager.  Ask the yogi that practiced next to you.  Put the intent out there.  And while you are interacting with the person you are asking, someone else might be watching or listening, which could also lead you to an opportunity to teach. 

Yoga for Stress Management in the Workplace

Photo by Flickr via Photopin cc

According to many studies, the workplace is a major source of stress for US adults. Stress manifests itself physically in the form of body stiffness, headaches, high blood pressure, and even a heart attack.

 

Stress is expensive! Employees lose wages if stress related illnesses keep them away from work. Employers spend billions due to employee absenteeism, low employee productivity, staff turnover, health insurance premiums, and disability claims. 

 

To minimize stress among employees as well as reduce stress related costs, employers have taken to implementing health and wellness programs in the workplace. Specifically, onsite mind-body classes, such as yoga are starting to be the norm in more cities.

 

As little as 10 minutes of yoga a day does wonders to reduce stress. Some of the elements used in yoga, which reduces stress, are breathing, movement, and stretching.

 

WHat Makes YOGA ideal for the workplace?

Convenience. Depending on the type of yoga, one does not need to change into special clothing. Furthermore, the use of equipment is optional.  Yoga can be practiced using a desk, chair, or wall.  

 

Scalable. Yoga can be adjusted to one's needs or wants. For example, meditation and breath work could be more appropriate for those under a lot of stress. A powerful lunchtime flow is attractive for those that don’t have time to exercise before or after work. Yoga offers a ton of variety.

 

Positive. A positive self-image is often associated with yoga. Other by-products include a higher self-esteem and sense of worth.  If one feels great about his or herself, one is likely to be more productive.   

 

Companies like Apple, Google, and JP Morgan Chase offer in-house yoga classes.  However yoga is not only for the large and global.   Smaller companies such as Bazaarvoice and Alert Logic also offer yoga to their employees.  

 

If your company offers yoga, I’d love to know how it has helped you.

If you are in the Houston, TX or Chicago, IL, and are interested in yoga as a method for reducing stress while increasing productivity, please contact me!


3 Things You'll Notice About Your Yoga Gear

*This post contains affiliate links*

 

After your first, second, or third class, you decide you like yoga! 

Sure you’re still learning about the poses (asanas) and are also learning how to synch your breath to your movements.  However, you are on your way to feeling like a yogi, right?

You’ll probably start to pay closer attention to your gear as you deepen your commitment to the yoga practice.  In this case, "gear" does not mean the latest threads from Lululemon.  Gear refers to the mat and the other accessories that help you focus on your practice. 

Here are three things you'll notice (and appreciate) about your yoga gear.

 

1.    Yoga Mats Come in Different Lengths

The length of a standard mat is 68 inches, which is suitable for someone that is 5 feet 8 inches or smaller.  However, what if you are taller than 5 feet 8 inches?

Fortunately brands such as Lululemon, Manduka, and Jade Yoga have you in mind.  Their standard mat size is 71 inches, which is suitable for someone as tall as 5 feet 11 inches. 

For those 6 feet and taller, Jade Yoga has the 74 inch and 80 inch options, which are perfect for the 6 feet 2 inch and 6 feet 8 inch individual, respectively.  Manduka’s Eko mat has the 79 inch length option and their PRO has an 85 inch option.  Lululemon’s reversible (Big) mat is 84 inches long. 

Finally Yoloha, a brand that makes its eco-friendly mats out of cork, has mats as long as 86 inches!  Now even a 7 foot tall yogi can find a mat!  How cool is it that there is a mat for everyone?

 

2.      You'll Prefer a Mat with an Anti-Slip Surface

Image from Yoloha Yoga

Image from Yoloha Yoga

 

Have you ever practiced on a slippery mat?  I have, and it was difficult to focus on my practice because I was too busy trying to not fall!  I’ll never forget the time I was in downward facing dog and my feet slipped backwards, causing me to belly flop on the mat.   

 

Fortunately many of the same yoga brands (Lululemon, Gaiam, Jade Yoga, Manduka, and more) mentioned above pride themselves on creating mats with anti-slip surfaces.  Yoloha maintains that its mats have grip even when completely submerged in water (see photo).   

 

There are other less popular mat brands with super grippy, non-slip surfaces, and Amazon is a great place to find them, in my opinion.  

 

If you’d prefer to try a mat before you buy, more and more yoga studios and gyms are starting to have non-slip mats, from the popular brands, available for use.  

 

3.      The Yoga Towel is the Robin to Your Mat, who is Batman

I sweat during my practice.  And if the studio is heated, I sweat a lot more!  Because I sweat there is often a certain point, during the practice, when my "non-slip" mat becomes as slick as ice.  Maybe this happens to you?  For that reason I use a yoga towel.

 

A yoga towel replaces the grip on your mat that disappears during sweaty practice sessions.  The length of most towels is 68 inches, the length of a standard mat.  Manduka is the only brand I have found that carries yoga towels in longer lengths.  Manduka's Yogitoes come in lengths up to 80 inches while their thicker mat towel (Equa Hot) has a 79 inch option.  

 

To use, simply place the towel on top of your mat and keep flowing.  And don't worry about sweating too much.  Moisture enhances to grip of the towel.  

 

Yoga towels can easily be found in many locations such as Amazon, sporting goods stores, and yoga studios.  

 

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