Yoga – Wake With an Open Heart: Day 2

Somedays it’s simply about getting out of bed, others it’s about finding balance, energy, even sanity. Somedays like Day 1 of Wake With an Open Heart, are a little slow and laid back. I just need my body to feel good and wake up with me. Somedays like today I’m honestly just grateful and ready to seize the day. Day 2 illustrates a routine focusing on your back rather than Day 1, which did a little bit of everything. Every day is just like every body; different. Listen to it. 

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Yes, I was a different person yesterday. We are all subjects to consistent change. Your body is different everyday and it knows what it wants. Meditation allows you to listen to your breath and your body and learn from each of them. You have the power to heal, revitalize and rebuild yourself anew every morning.

This routine will result in strengthening the hamstrings, glutes, calves and biceps. You will experience stimulation in your liver and kidneys. Improved digestion and relief of stress, anxiety and mild depression.

Wake With an Open Heart
Day 2

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Get started by just moving your feet closer to your hips so that your knees are up. Elevation assists in blood flow, which then increases endorphins and energy so this simple maneuver is already benefiting your body.

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Bridge Pose
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Push into your heals, inhale and lift at the hips. Feel your chest opening. Your arms should be reaching towards your feet and your chin should be tucked. For a more in depth description click here. Your energy will begin to increase as you feel your core, gluteus and leg muscles burning.

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Knee to Chest
Apanasana

Bringing your knees into your chest will lengthen your spine. You will feel your back stretch in ways that may really impress you. You know that lower part of your back that is really hard to stretch? Now is the time.
Benefits from this stretch include removal of sciatic nerve pain, ridding constipation and other digestive issues such as symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you have knee problems, do not grab your knees. You can grab the back of your thighs to avoid pressure on the knees.

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Leg Up the Wall Pose
Viparita Karani

This variation differs from Day 1 as we take away the comfort of the pillow beneath your bum and the rest against the wall. You will experience advanced results, toning your leg muscles, core and gluteus.
If you’re not feeling up to this challenge today, please watch the standard version of this pose. Listen to your body, find your limit but do not push past it and risk straining muscles.

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Big Toe Pose
Padagusthasana

 This pose just like all others is most easily achieved by focusing on your breath. When exhaling, you will find that it is easier to delve deeper and grab your big toes with your index and middle fingers. As you inhale, straighten your arms and as you exhale pull your head towards your knees, bending your arms and if you need to, bend your knees. For more details.

To conclude your routine, reach up, reach out, grab the day and achieve whatever goals you may have set for yourself. To wake with an open heart is to wake with possibility, strength and happiness. I hope this quick stretch helps you find that.
Namaste.

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Prayer Pose and Positivity

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Prayer Pose

Stitha-Prarthanasana

Prayer Pose will align your physical body and as a result the non-physical may follow. To balance physically requires concentration. Close your eyes. Bring your hands together at Heart’s Center and press your palms together. Keep a straight posture and press your shoulders back. You may stand or sit whatever is comfortable. Just relax and meditate. The pose will result in balance that will engage your imagination, intuition and focus. Enjoy this blissful harmony.

I myself am not a religious person. I am simply filled with faith. In Prayer pose I find strength in letting go. Having faith that the universe also pursues balance and all good things do come in time. Do not quit searching for them.

A negative mind is the most destructive illness.

It seems as though illnesses have been running my life recently. To add to my anxiety over those around me who have been sick, a doctor appointment added self concern to worry. I was mad and I was hurt that in a time that was already so complicated my body would throw this curve ball at me. I was mad at my body for betraying me.

Wait, what?

Is that honestly it? My body has betrayed me because it is sick?

It was not my body that was wronging me but my mind, telling me to turn against myself. To hate myself. Sometimes it is easiest to think of what is wrong before what is true.

Negative thoughts can only hurt you if you give them permission. Time to sort this out. Put your foot down. No distractions, we are sorting out this issue like two elementary school students told by their teacher to stand in the hallway until they apologized to one another.

I encourage you… Press your palms together. Find symmetry. Find balance. Know that your existance is not betraying you, it is teaching you to fight through fear and see what blessings lie ahead. Life is not handed out with promises. It’s taken and lived in seconds, not years.

Your body doesn’t hate you. Contrarily, it loves you so much that it will sacrifice itself to teach you what you struggle to understand. Your body is selfless and if you listen to its cries for help you will find that it is only trying to help you learn how to improve your life.

“There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.” – Deepak Chopra

Namaste.

Wake With an Open Heart: Day 1

Can your good deeds calculate the good that enters your life? Being a good person brings only good into your life, right? I always was told that you were rewarded for your kindness unto others, your pristine moral compass and so on. Now I realize that to bring only good in is to only allow good into your life and radiate that no matter what the odds. We have all been betrayed and beaten down by life but it is in how we rise that will determine our happiness. To rise, I find we must wake everyday with an open heart and rejoice. Pay gratitude towards our bodies and the wonderful fact that you have in fact woken up to another day and that, my friends, is a wonderful gift.

If your heart is open you allow everything to reach you, good and bad. I believe that living with a welcoming heart means waking up with a quick stretch and meditation to decrease stress and physical ailments. This release will help clear your mind and open you to daily possibilities.

I first dreaded waking up. Hated leaving my bed. Hated everything that forced me to leave my cotton covered, plush palace where I rest my head every night. Now, I meditate my way out. I bend my knees. I inhale a new beginning, preparing to paint my day how I please. I reach up, legs lengthening, back bending …and I roll over and close my eyes. I love my bed, I really do.

Alas, we must voyage out on a new journey, to responsibilities, jobs, exercises, chores, food shopping… shit, reality. Bed.

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Anyways, reality calls…

Wake With an Open Heart

Instructions

DAY 1

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Upward Facing Dog
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

From a position lying on your stomach, place your hands next to your shoulders and push up until your arms are locked straight. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana can be as deep of a back bending stretch as you so choose. It took me many practices to get where I am today and I hope that you do not compare any of these photos to your accomplishments.

Upward Facing Dog is beneficial to the digestive system and improve posture. In some cases it may help with sciatica and asthma. This will open the heart chakra and assist in curing mild forms of depression. Toning will occur over time in muscles such as the gluteus and arms.

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Childs Pose
Balasana

Pull your hips back in between your heals and rejoice in the relief of your back, thighs, neck, shoulders, and hips! Child’s pose will calm your body mentally and physically if you allow it. It’s a rewarding pose to ease in and out of as you flow through your practice.

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Cow Pose
Bitilasana

Are you flowing with me yet? Wake up sleepy head! To shift into this asana, bring your knees in beneath your hips and your body to a tabletop position.

Cow Pose benefits your body by improving focus as you coordinate it with breathing and with it’s sister asana the Cat Pose (to be discussed next). Bitilasana stretches the front torso while also soothing spinal and belly organs.

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Cat Pose
Marjaryasana

Soon we will discuss transitioning. As Cow Pose benefits you mentally, so does Marjaryasana. A perfect opposite to combine with Cow, the Cat Pose stretches your back torso and neck (a feline favorite) and massages your spine and belly organs.

Cat and Cow pose go hand in hand so you will actually use the tabletop position as a constant while changing and progressing.

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Back into Child’s Pose.

Keep your practice playful!

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Leg Up the Wall Pose
Viparita Karani

This gentle inversion influenced my practice to begin before leaving bed. I learned it at a rewarding 6 a.m. yoga class and Yoga Mandali in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. We elevated our hips with pillows to feel this pose’s incredible effects on the body such as circulation, increased energy, relaxation and even some medical benefits. With your feet high above you, your blood begins flowing to parts of the body that really need a little extra attention to heal ailments such as arthritis, insomnia or blood pressure.

How do I get my legs up there?

I usually just roll up to the wall but everyone is different so listen to your body. I usually lay on my side with my legs along the wall, have a pillow behind you also against the wall. Release your breathe and swing your legs straight up against the wall. Adjust the cushion underneath your hips. Relax. Allow your arms to fall where they please and let your body sink, stretching your spine effortlessly. Inhale. Exhale…

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Happy Baby Pose
Ananda Balasana

Keep your spine relaxed, reach for your knees and while exhaling, pull them into your chest. Take the pillow or blanket out from underneath you when  you’re ready.Your spine should rest flat. From here, grab your toes, straighten your legs and let them fall to either side. Rest here for a few breaths and breathe out focusing on stretching that groin muscle a little bit more with each exhale.

When you’re done exploring this asana just pull your knees back towards your chest and roll to your side as you prepare for the next posture…

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Big Toe Pose
Padangusthasana

Big Toe Pose has a lot of variations and can be performed with a strap (a tie or a belt could suffice) to assist those of you who can’t always reach their toes. You can sit and grab your big toes with your pointer and index fingers or you can stand or recline onto your back. Reach for those toes in whatever way that works for your body.

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Upward Salute
Urdhva Hastasana

Begin in Mountain Pose or Tadasana by standing with your feet flat, arms at your sides and shoulders square with your hips. Keep your shoulders relaxed and arms straight.

Feel the comfort and discomforts of your body before moving into Upward Salute or Urdhva Hastasana. If you have neck pain or shoulder injuries please, be cautious. If you feel a little tightness in your shoulders like I do after a long night’s sleep then you may be ready for upward hands to loosen up. Stretch towards the sky with straight arms, reaching through your fingertips. Enjoy the rush of energy this asana will present you with!

Namaste.