extra grateful: a new 1:5 gratitude challenge.

Here’s a new Gratitude Challenge for you: 1:5. In the traditional 30 days of gratitude approach, our list often becomes stagnant, rote and trivial by the end of the month. We start listing things that are fun, fast and easy, instead of listing things that truly bring us back to our Highest Self and the practice of Gratitude.

So, a shift on an old theme: 1:5. Name ONE thing you are EXTRA grateful for and 5 people who make it possible. As we know, writing an acknowledgements page is good for the soul: in the end, we cannot take ANY of this stuff with us, but our relationships and the people we love leave an impression on our Soul.

For example:

This year I’m extra grateful to be the Owner and Curriculum Director of Westport Yoga KC. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worth it because I get to share generously the teachings of yoga and meditation with willing and beautiful Souls every day. I have 5 incredible teachers who teach at Westport Yoga KC and make my dream possible: Thank you Maris, Amie, Sedona, Jesse and Kelly. (Of course, it’s really my STUDENTS who make it possible… but I’m sticking with the above Fantastic 5.)

This year I’m extra grateful that I am HEALTHY! Severe allergies, sinus issues, skin rashes and energy imbalances seemed to be the norm for most of my life and this year I am HEALTHY! It’s feels like a miracle; a big shout out goes to my ‘health squad’: my nutritionist, my acupuncturist, my Yoga Medicine teacher and my best friend Russell Clive who gets me out on walks daily. (And also my Ironman who buys a vanload of vegetables every Monday at Costco so our crock-pot is continuously full of soup. (See.. limiting it to 5 people is actually a bit difficult…)

Name 5 specific things you are EXTRA grateful for and the 5 people who make it possible.

Take a minute to thank some of these people who make your life happier, healthier and more whole.

The practice of Gratitude is just that: it is something we practice. Gratitude is the key to living a wholehearted life; it is the key to living in the Present Moment and learning to see the Divine in all the little moments we tend to overlook.

A Guided Meditation during which we consciously name, reflect on and appreciate specific blessings in our life reminds us that the only reasonable response to being alive is that of Gratitude. As always, I’ll be teaching a Full Guided Gratitude Meditation at Westport Yoga KC this month.

Please check our website for current dates of Donation Yoga Classes supporting Rose Brooks Center, which helps women and children in Kansas City re-build sustainable lives after leaving unsafe households.

Westport Yoga KC

how to start a home practice.

Berkeley, California

When it’s sunny I recommend taking your home practice outside. :)

 

Nearly every week I get a Facebook message from a friend saying, “Oh, I WISH I could come to your classes, Lisa, but…<enter any number of legitimate or not-so-legitimate reasons> so could you recommend yoga for me to practice at home?

I always try to be helpful, because I understand that attending a yoga class led by a teacher is not always feasible. Babies require babysitters, Kids need rides to gymnastics, co-workers schedule mandatory lunch meetings, work deadlines must be met, happy hour specials should be enjoyed.  Or, it’s snowing.  Or raining.  Or sunny.  Or hot.  Or just too stinking early in the morning to get to a 6:00 am class.

If any of these excuses ring a bell: you need a Home Practice.

Home Yoga Practice has benefits: I engage in home practice at least twice a week because I’m usually teaching my own classes at ‘yoga class times of the day.’  I also use this time as exploration of poses and sequences that I’m going to teach; my classes are always intentional and my lesson plans detailed.

However, I strongly believe you NEED A TEACHER.  The Yoga History is very clear on this subject: yoga was originally taught from teacher to pupil in a 1:1 ratio.  Teachers can offer you the appropriate modifications for injuries and for body type. Teachers can point out to you when a pose needs to be tweaked to avoid injury.  Teachers can offer pointers on breath control, guide you through meditation, and share their own wisdom regarding the philosophy of a yogic lifestyle. They may show you a few poses, but that’s not the important part. Teachers actually, um, teach you.

During your search for your yoga teacher (if you don’t already have one or live too far away from me to attend my classes) here are some tips for “Starting a Home Practice.”

  1. Find a space.

My home yoga space is actually a home office.  (And a ‘bike room’ a perk of living with an IronMan.)  It’s not a state-of-the-art bamboo-floored softly lit yoga haven like you would imagine a yoga teacher would own.  Actually, we don’t even own my office, we live in a 900 square foot rented house.  Read: there are a LOT of distractions in my ‘yoga space’ including my computer, my books, my to-do pile, a closet, a doggie bed, and an area rug always in need of a vacuum.  My point?  No space in your home is ever going to be ‘perfect’ but do not let that be an excuse.  Turn down the lights, clear away a space big enough for your mat (preferably not carpeted) and light some candles.  Commit to your space and invite the Sacred to meet you there.  In my yoga space are pictures of loved ones, landscapes of mountains, reminders of the beach, and a small altar.  Make the space meaningful to you.

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my home yoga space. please note the presence of Russell Clive, who cuddles with me in savasana.

  1. Outfit with Yoga Props.

You’ll need the following: your own yoga mat. Everything else is optional.  Seriously. But if you do want to buy props, here are my recommendations:

  • 2 Yoga Blocks.  I prefer foam blocks which can be purchased at retail outfitters such as Target and Sporting Goods Stores.
  • 1 Yoga Strap.  I prefer an 8 or 10 foot yoga strap with a plastic buckle available from Yoga Direct.
  • 1 Yoga Bolster for Meditation.  I love this “Sukasana Pillow” which helps me sit in ‘easy-pose’ for meditation.      
  • 1 Eye Pillow for Savasana. I love this Hugger Mugger Silk Eye-Bag with flaxseed filling.
  1. Choose a Guide.

Again, there is no substitute for the guidance and expertise of a teacher in the room with you. However, if you are looking for a guided session at home, here are my recommendations from trusted teachers.

Yoga Upload with Maris Aylward.  Maris teaches for me at Westport Yoga and is an excellent guide.  Her YouTube channel is free, but it is quality.  A unique class that caters to beginners is her “Wrist Free” Yoga Class which doesn’t require Downward Facing Dog or Yoga Push-ups. Ideal for strong beginners and anyone who has a wrist or shoulder injury.

YogaGlo is an online forum of yoga classes from some of the most popular and respected yoga teachers in the country.  YogaGlo requires a monthly fee of $18 but the first two-week trial is free. Classes can be sorted by class level (making it easy for beginners to find an appropriate pace) and time frame (for busy-bees!).  You can also add classes to your ‘que’ and for easy referencing. My teacher Tiffany Cruikshank of Yoga Medicine is featured on this website and her classes are super fun!

YogaVibes offers the option to purchase per-online-class.  If you are an Ashtanga Practioner and need to practice at home, you can download a Full Led Primary Series Class with my teacher Wade Mortenson here.

  1. Schedule it in your day.

Write it in your calendar and treat your Home Practice as an appointment that cannot be missed. It’s easy to become distracted during a home practice: you’ll suddenly notice your house needs cleaning or that the laundry isn’t done.  You’ll put it off until after your NetFlix original series ends. You’ll sit down to answer one email and end up on Facebook an hour later.  The key is discipline and commitment.  Set a time for your home practice every week and respect that time.  Make a schedule and stick to it!

No home practice is going to perfect, but then again, no yoga practice is ever perfect. That’s why it is called ‘practice.’  And it’s worth it, because yoga is the good life and can change your life in a million ways (or at least 10).  Remember: when it comes to yoga, there are 2 lessons to learn.

Go. Get learning. Let me know how I can help along the way.

-lisa

best advice for wrist pain.

I would agree with blogger and yoga teacher Kristen Warren that wrist pain is the most common complaint for new-to-yoga students.  My first advice is always: stretch your shoulders!  Most wrist pain is due to tight shoulders… funny enough.  This article gives detailed explanations and advice regarding the dreaded wrist pain experienced in yoga asana sessions.  I’m reblogging from Kristen’s site:

How to avoid Wrist Pain, or deal with it if you’ve got it!

Wrist Range of Motion (ROM):

To start, it is very important to understand the ways in which a person’s wrist can move. To visualize, place your right arm in front of you with your palm facing away from you and move your wrist as I describe the ways to move it.

Bend right hand towards the inside of your forearm or radial bone (hand is moving left) – ABDUCTION

Bend right hand towards the outside of your forearm or ulna bone (hand is moving right) – ADDUCTION

Bend your hand down towards the floor so fingers point down – FLEXION

Bend your hand up towards the ceiling so your fingers point up – EXTENSION

Rotate your wrist so the thumb is midline to the body – PRONATION

Rotate your wrist so the thumb is away from the body – SUPINATION

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Now visualize the various poses offered in a typical yoga class: All 4’s, Crocodile, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog, Crow…just to name a few. Think about what the wrist is doing. With these poses, the wrist is often in a 90˚ “EXTENSION” and is this not when the complaints arise?

In yoga, many times wrist EXTENSION is pretty intense and new people aren’t used to this intensity so it hurts. Think about it, in general, how often do any of us have our wrists in full extension? Umm, not too often. So as long as person doesn’t have a wrist injury, past surgery, or even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome there are a lot of options out there to help alleviate the intensity and also to strengthen the wrist so you’ll be able to do those poses more comfortably.

Suggestions:

Props: Wedges, folded towels, or hands placed on edge of a folded mat, will lessen the angle of extension which can alleviate the intensity of the wrist’s pain. There are also “Wrist Assured Gloves” (WAG) which provide support like a brace. And recently these yoga eggs which are a hybrid between a ball and a block also lessen the angle. I’ve seen these eggs advertised in Yoga Journal, and YogaFit offers trainings which incorporate them. Other props change up the hand position. These include small (non-rounded) hand weights or Gripitz or even just creating fists vs. having the wrist in extension is another option. (I’ve found a great selection of these types of props at Dick’s Sporting Goods store).

Choosing Other Pose Options:

Sphinx vs. Cobra/Upward Facing Dog

Hovering Palms in Cobra vs. Cobra with hands pressed in the mat

Dolphin vs. Downward Facing Dog (or use props such as eggs, wedges or towels, straps or chairs)

Focus on Hand Placement and Pressure; Are You/They Actually Doing the Pose Correctly:

  1. Stack the joints (hands under shoulders) and spread fingers out like “starfish” –and ensure your index finger is pointed forward verses angled out. This distributes the pressure.
  2. Press down where the fingers join the palms and allow it to continue down towards fingertips with most weight being on the thumb side of the hand, ensure middle fingers are parallel to each other. The thumb side of the hand is stronger than the pinky finger side.
  3. Engage those leg muscles! When you are in Downward Facing Dog, you aren’t supposed to place all your body weight into the hands; however, lots of people are guilty. Pursue the pose correctly and/or instructors fix their alignment! Exhale as you enter into the pose, relax the head and neck, ears should be between the biceps, shoulders are relaxed and pulling towards the hips, not the ears. And of course, follow the above steps 1 and 2 for the hands.

Daily Strengthening Wrist Exercises:

  1. Place hands together at “Heart’s Center,” lower palms down as elbows lift.  This will help you get used to the “EXTENSION.”
  2. Make a fist, rotate your fist clockwise 10x and then 10x counterclockwise, end with stretching “Starfish Fingers.”
  3. Make a fist, palms up and do wrist curls. Rotate palm down, and do “upward” wrist curls. Try first alone and then with hand weight as the wrist strengthens.

Be kind to those wrists. Send them some love. Enlighten yourself and your participants! Enjoy the benefits of practice!

Namaste, Kristen

 

Let me know if this is helpful to you. ~lisa