Why Does my Yoga Practice Hurt?

I recently met someone who just began their yoga journey. The goal he set for himself was to cure his back pain, something that so many of us deal with on an all too often basis.

When I began a few years ago, I did so for the similar reasons. I suffered from stress related back pains that caused knots and sharp pains. Often, I could hunch my shoulders forward just an inch or two and my back would crack itself. It was embarrassing being a college student with the spine of a senior citizen. I also had anxiety issues and fitness goals I wanted to work on and so, started my yoga journey.

Long story short, this friend of mine watched a YouTube video and felt he strained his back even more.

But yoga can heal anything and anyone! WHAT HAPPENED?

YouTube is great, you can learn everything from tying your shoes to cooking dinner on there. But yoga, not always so great on there.

Why? You’re too distracted. You’re not connected with your body on a deep level because you’re too worried that the volume isn’t loud enough or that you’re not watching enough.

I saw him do a downward dog that tightened his neck because he was looking in every direction. Hips were off and so on and so forth. It’s not about perfection. Yoga is freedom and connection.

Yoga is based on meditation, flowing through a vinyasa flow without straining your body or mind. The goal is nirvana. I highly suggest attending a class for beginners. Your computer can teach you poses to take you there but, truthfully, only you can take yourself there. Relax. Breath. Flow.

Read it or study it but don’t bring your laptop to your mat. In fact close your laptop, let your mind wander. Explore. Inhale. Exhale. Enjoy.

Namaste
xo

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Natural Hair Treatment

Do you want shiny, healthy, soft hair? These ingredients will fill your mane with vitamins and nutrients that will wash away a lot of the damage you feel when you run your hands through your hair now.

I do this incredible treatment once a week and leave in the mixture for about an hour before shampooing and conditioning.

STEP 1:
Use about 1/3 cup of coconut oil (more or less depending on how much hair you have). Melt it in the microwave and rub it into your scalp and hair.

STEP 2:
Crack open 1 egg, scramble it up in a bowl and then pour in over your head. You’re looking real good right about now, but wait!

STEP 3:
Saran wrap your hair onto your head or use a shower cap. Yeah, I’m serious. You need to lock in all the good stuff to get the best effects.

Here are a few more treatments for more specific needs. I have yet to try all of them but I can say confidently that I’m sure they work!

The Road to Heart Health Doesn’t Have to be Boring

Although we are often inspired to exercise for the bodies we have now, it’s important to remember that we don’t get to trade in what we have now for what we get later on in life.

Consistent exercise reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and other health issues later in life but sometimes it’s hard to stay interested in a workout routine. The following is a list of activities that may stray from your usual routine but are great for your heart’s health.

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Calisthenics
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Golf
  • Handball
  • Hot Yoga
  • Jump Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Rowing
  • Running
  • Skating
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Walking
  • Weight Lifting

Put your heart into your workout! There is a great long list provided by Joseph C. Piscatella in his book, “Road to a Healthy Heart” that is sure to ad some fun to your journey.

Yoga to Cure your Hangover

The yoga practice we’ve been waiting for!

It’s the weekend and here in the U.S. we’re celebrating Memorial Day and freedom. For a lot of us that means BBQing and drinking beers.

We’re all stuffed with toxins and probably feeling really sh!tty but, no worries. I’ve got some Relephant tips for you to detox and twist it all out like the towel you’re mopping the beer pong table with.

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There are a lot of different ways to help you’re body recover from a massive hangover. Certain yoga positions benefit this process in different ways, curing headaches, stomach aches and so on. You probably can’t rush through this even if you want to however, I suggest taking your time in the poses to receive the most from the practice. Follow this sequence on the couch or bed or where ever you are capable of dragging your hungover self to.

1. Corpse Pose
Savasana

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Yeah, you’ve been practicing this for a while, and maybe you’ve even slept a little. That’s what makes it such a great remedy, the body needs rest! Unfortunately, you might have to go to work or do something that involves moving so, let’s move on…

2. Extended Child’s Pose
Balasana

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Roll over into Child’s Pose and take some deep breaths through the nose into the back of the throat and release them out the same way. Rest your forehead on the floor to help massage that headache away.

3. Seated Half Spinal Twist Pose
Ardha Matsyendrasana

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Twists are the best way to wring out your toxins, frustrations and anxieties. This Seated Half Spinal Twist has been said to massage the abdominal organs, detoxify the liver and kidneys and stimulate the digestive system.

4. Knee to Chest Pose
Apanasana

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Hug your knees into your chest while not allowing the spine to round and this pose will squeeze out toxins. It assists with gas, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, acidity, and constipation while also helping you through anxieties and depression.

5. Reclining Spinal Twist
Supta Matsyendrasana

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While slowly dropping your knees to either side, you will feel a deep stretch throughout back muscles and glutes while also reestablishing your balance. The organs in your torso will be wrung out, detoxifying and stimulating them. If you only do one pose, do this one. It will revitalize you pretty well while not asking you to do much to practice it.

6. Upward Facing Dog
Urdvha Mukha Svanasana

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This is the beginning of your wake up call.
Upward Dog is good for those hangover symptoms like fatigue or depression. It can’t cure regret, but I never said I was a miracle worker.
You’ll also feel a stretch in your abdomen and back. Those muscles will strengthen and you’ll feel a little less weak to your stomach.

7. Standing Half Forward Bend
Ardha Uttanasana

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Honestly, sometimes I’m a little too hungover to do this standing up. If you had too many last night, just take a seat and fold forward towards your toes.
If you’re standing up, you’ll feel a rush of blood to your head and balance may be a challenge. The result: increased focus and balance throughout your day. If you’re seated, try to touch your head to your knees. Both variations can help with both headaches and nausea.

8. Sun Salutations
Surya Mandaskar

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Peace out hangover! Just take some sun salutations to get your heart rate going. You’ll feel yourself gain some benefits from your practice, the most important of which, feeling better than you did before you started.

Feel free to leave questions or comments below!

1,831 Chipotles Feed Foodies GMO-Free

In the past 5 years Chipotle has become particularly popular as its competitors like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have been falling so far behind that Chipotle can’t even see their Drive-Thru signs in its rear view mirror. You’re all sarcastically saying, “Oh no, why? McDonald’s is so great.” (Well, I hope that’s what you’re saying.)

In 2010 the Mexican grille had 976 stores. It has now expanded to 1,831 locations. We’ve all proven to evolve into an increasingly health conscious mindset, forcing restaurants that don’t hold nutrition at high standards to either change their protocol or get out of town!

It’s not a secret that Chipotle has recently rid a large majority of its food of GMOs but what led up to this? Of course it’s been years in the making. In fact, 16 years in the making!

Steve Ells, founder, co-CEO and Chairman of Chipotle, was encouraged  in 1999 by an article written by Edward Behr to visit Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. The experience was, “horrifying” to the fast food restaurant founder and immediately influenced his decision to only source from open-range pork farms.

In 2001 he adopted a commitment to Food With Integrity, which promised that the Mexican restaurant would focus on the quality of their food by using natural food, dairy without added hormones, naturally raised meat and organic products. Ells wrote about this decision to the Huffington Post in a op-ed in 2014.

The restaurant is still working on gaining the ability to consistently provide food that fits the standards of their Food with Integrity statute. They also acknowledge that their drinks include sweeteners enhanced with GMO corn.

Last December Chipotle announced that it did not have enough of the pork needed to make carnitas for just that reason. A farm failed to uphold the regulations and the restaurant chose not to work with them despite the disappointment of their customers. The shortage continues to cut into sales for the company.

Many of the tactics that Chipotle is implementing in order to keep their Food with Integrity and without GMO’s, will be costly. The restaurant will increase prices by about 6% within the next year but the quality will be much healthier than competitors’ and isn’t our health worth it all?

Seven Beginner Level Yoga Postures to Rid Anxiety

Whether it is anxiety, stress or depression, a mental ailment is a serious challenge for any individual. There are a lot of different ways to fight off those negative emotions. This yoga routine is a pair of boxing gloves and Nama-stay stress free if you know what I’m saying.

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The following is a beginner level vinyasa aiding in stress and anxiety relief for beginner yogis and those new to yoga.
For the sake of getting the most out of this routine please read the article before practicing! 🙂

Seven Beginner Level Yoga Postures to Rid Anxiety

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1. Bound Angle Pose
Baddha Konasana

Some of you may have trouble entering this pose if you’re tight. Sit on a pillow or blanket for some extra leverage.

Grab onto your big toes with your middle, pointer and thumb fingers. Now pull your heels together and in towards your body while also keeping your back straight to avoid lower back pain.

Relax in this pose for a few minutes. Read this article to learn more about Bound Angle Pose.

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2. Seated Staff Pose
Dandasana

Looks simple enough, right? Lengthen your legs and flex your feet while keeping your back straight. You can rock side to side to get the flattest seat. Focus on your breath here and relax for 3-5 minutes.

Now go on a reap all of these benefits !

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3. Fish Pose
Matsyasana

Place your hands underneath your hips, palms down. Open your chest and relax your neck, dropping your head back and slowly lowering down to the elbows before gently placing the crown of the head on the floor.

This will open the hip flexors and other muscles you never thought of stretching like the front of your neck! Get ready to strengthen the back, too. Also, this pose is excellent to fix poor posture.

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4. Camel Pose

To enter this pose, rise to your knees and place your hands on your hips. You don’t need to enter the pose fully if you don’t feel comfortable. Leave your hands on your hips and you open up your chest and drop the head backwards. Use the pressure of your hands on the back of your pelvis to enter this pose as far as possible.

If you feel comfortable, let your hands down to rest on the heels of the feet and push your hips forward. This will assist in anxiety and other ailments such as fatigue and mild back pains. Learn more here.

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5. Bow Pose
Dhanurasana

Beginners may be interested in using a yoga strap if they cannot grab their feet behind them. Don’t have a strap? Try a belt or a tie!

This pose is reflective of the power of counterbalance. We’re stretching the entire front of the body plus the ankles, thighs, chest, throat, and deep hip flexors while gaining strength in your back muscles.

Other benefits include relief for constipation, respiratory ailments, fatigue and mild back aches.

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6. Standing Forward Fold
Uttanasana

Woo! Stand up, reach up, show some gratitude for today and elongate your spine to relieve tension after all those back bend poses! Breath deep my friends. On the exhale, hinge at the hips, keeping the back straight as you fold forward.

You can bend your knees a bit here. Relax the neck by shaking your head “yes” and “no.” Enjoy the massage you can feel on your internal organs and that deep stretch as you straighten you legs. Say goodbye to stress, headaches, fatigue and insomnia with this pose!

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7. Tree Pose
Vriksasana

If you struggle with meditation this pose will be the most beneficial in taking your mind off of your stresses. Focus on a steady point in front of you and press the 4 corners of your right foot into the floor. The vitality of concentration will keep you too busy to think of anything else.

Bring hands to prayer. Begin lifting the left leg at a 90° angle, turn the knee out and open the hips. When ready, grab the left foot and place it in whichever variation is most comfortable. One option is as shown above, place the foot on the inside of the thigh, as high above the knee as possible. Another option is half lotus for an extra stretch.

Other benefits are posture, balance, increase in the hips’ range of motion, toning the muscles in the legs, back, and chest, and also strengthening the ankles.

Be sure to repeat on the other side.

Inhale. Stretch up towards the ceiling. Exhale down to heart’s center. Take time to be thankful for this day and all that you have gained in life on your way here.

Everything happens as and when it’s needed to so, we can’t always help what happens. We can, however, control how we react. It is not what happens to us that shapes us but how we handle it.

Enjoy your day and please feel free to leave a comment!

Standing Head to Knee Pose

DSC_0117A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than himself.” – Josh Billings

Lucky often makes my yoga mat into an obstacle course filled with the laughter of a playground. I couldn’t manage a picture that he wouldn’t photobomb. Anyways, that’s not what this post is about… it’s about Standing Head to Knee pose.

I remember first learning Head to Knee or Dandayamana Janushirasana at Bikram Hot Yoga in Setauket, New York. Between the stench of sweat and a beginner’s lack of balance, it was really challenging for me to find focus and pull my face towards my knee without hopping and stumbling back onto two feet. Yes, I was one of those people ruining my neighbors’ zen, sorry, but with practice I finally learned to conquer my mind.

In order to perform this posture
Think of your foot rooted into the floor, every edge of your foot is grounded. Distribute your weight throughout the planted foot. Take your time to engage your knee, after about a minute it becomes safe to lock your knee. Your leg should be locked as you reach for the foot of the leg you wish to stretch. Clasp your hands, lacing your fingers around the middle of your foot and pull your knee into your chest. Stare at a fixed point to keep balance and when you feel stable, lengthen the leg in front of you, aiming to keep legs at a 90 degree angle. When you feel comfortable use your arm strength to pull your face to your knee.

Benefits of Standing Head to Knee Pose

  • Improves concentration and builds mental strength.
  • Beneficial for fighting diabetes.
  • Strengthens back muscles, tendons, biceps, hamstrings, thighs, deltoids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, scapula, biceps and triceps.
  • Compresses and flushes Pancreas, Thyroid, Thymus, abdominal and reproductive organs.
  • Improves sex through the massage of reproductive organs.
  • Improves flexibility in the sciatic nerve.
  • Helps to decrease varicose veins.
  • Prevent future knee injuries by strengthening soft tissue around the knee.