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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Coconut Oil For Your Coffee

My mornings just wouldn’t be the same without my French Vanilla home brew. I’ve always liked it black; no milk, no sugar. I’m a no nonsense kind of gal. Then, one day, fate stepped in, and well, it changed me.

I stumbled upon an article by Mike O’Donnell, author of the IF Life Blog. In it, he swears by putting coconut oil in his coffee and proves its relevance with scientific information. He details too many awesome perks to ignore; some of which include having immediate and longer lasting energy, better cognitive function, and an increase in metabolic rate AKA weight loss.

After the first sip of this unexpected yet harmonious concoction, I was hooked. Not only does the addition of coconut oil make the coffee rich and creamy, but O’Donnell was right! What I love most about the added energy is that I never experience any negative side effects, such as feeling jittery or light headed. There is a trick to making this drink creamy and frothy at the top: use a blender. I just put 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon in my Ninja and blend for about 20 seconds, and voila, rich, creamy deliciousness.

If you exercise, I recommend you drink the coffee 20-30 minutes prior to your work out, as I’ve enjoyed more endurance as well as improved strength when lifting weights. This may all sound too good to be true, but I would not waste my time writing this piece if it wasn’t a miracle drink.

If you want to give it a try, I recommend buying unrefined organic coconut oil, as the unrefined or “pure” version contains no additives and does not undergo bleaching like the refined does.   You should also try one teaspoon to one tablespoon at first, and if you really enjoy it, can add up to 2 tablespoons to your cup. I personally add 2 teaspoons each time, and it looks like this:

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Written by Relephant Writer Jackie Dugas.

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.

A Little Trim Goes a Long Way

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This is Joseph, 49, a Veteran and without a home. “I’m not a lazy man! I’ll do anything for work,” he says, “Only problem is that when people find out I’m homeless, they don’t want to hire me.” Lucky for Joseph, he met Mark Bustos on the day of this photo, an encounter that would land him a fresh haircut, a place to clean up and a pare of work boots for a job he would begin the next day. These seemingly simple essentials, which many of us deem as ordinary may change an entire life, make it extraordinary or as Joseph called it, “Unbelievable!”

Mark Bustos is a passionate stylist at New York’s Three Squares Salon whose usual clientele consist of celebrities like Norah Jones and Mark Jacobs. On his day off he could do a lot of things but rather than elevating his feet and reclining his seat, the 30-year old looks to donate his time and talent through random acts of kindness.

Every Sunday Bustos gives haircuts to people who are homeless. His girlfriend, Lucille Javier helps by giving these individuals care packages. Street photographer, Devin Madga captures Before and After pictures and adds the images to Mark Bustos’ Instagram page where he inspires over 215,000 followers to #BeAwesomeToSomebody.

Bustos, his photographer and his girlfriend set to the streets every Sunday around the Lower East Side, Union Square and Midtown. Their reputation proceeds them as many homeless peoples recognize the stylist when he travels the neighborhoods.

Bustos’ work has shown many they can make a difference by offering a small bit of assistance to strangers low on their luck. Followers on Instagram ask the stylist if they can join in his efforts. He motivates his fans saying, “Many people ask me how they can “team up” with me to #BeAwesomeToSomebody. My answer is plain and simple. Just go out and do it. You don’t need me.”

A little trim can go a long way. The Fillipino stylist does more than cut hair. He meets strangers that have fallen through the cracks, been ill or down on their luck. He puts names, faces and stories to a situation that many of us stereotype against. He trims hair and snips off the bad parts for these strangers.

So there you have it folks, the story that has David from the Bronx doing his happy dance!

Be Awesome to Somebody!

What if?

what if.

What if when you die they ask, “How was Heaven?”

This blew me away. I have been struggling to find my gratitude this past week due to a series of misfortunate events. This blew my mind and put it back together with the correct mindset. Everyday is a gift. Our lives are ever wonderful holidays when we are grateful for the present.

I thought I would share. I hope this helps you as much as it did me.

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