This week the two poses I chose to look into were the Tree pose and Cobra pose. I enjoy doing both these poses in my yoga but I never knew what benefits they gave your body.
Starting with Tree pose which is also known as vrksasana is a standing pose on one leg which I knew improved your balance because I felt that when I practiced it. Some other benefits I found were that it strengthens your thighs, calves, ankles and spine while stretching your groins, inner thighs, chest and shoulders! Talk about a stretch of all trades. This pose is also known to help reduce flat feet which for some people might be a huge positive. The steps to tree pose are:
- Stand with your feet slightly apart to have a grounded stance
- Shift your weight slightly onto your left foot and bend your right knee
- Starting out with this pose, you can reach down and grab your right ankle or if your balance is good lift it up and place the sole against your inner left thigh
- Rest your hands on either your hips, or put them into prayer hand mid chest height
- Lengthen your tailbone
- Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute
The next pose is Cobra, I love this pose after I come out of downward dog, into a high plank then coming into a cobra pose. This pose has a crazy amount of benefits to it as well! Some being it stretches the muscles in the shoulders, chest, abdominals and lungs while it strengthens the spine. This pose also firms the buttocks which can be a great bonus for those who want to workout! This pose is known to help relieve stress and fatigue while opening the heart. If you have asthma this pose is very therapeutic for it. The steps to do this pose are:
- Lie with your stomach on your mat and your arms out in front of you
- Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor and your arms under your shoulders on the floor
- Hug your elbow towards your body
- Press on the tops of your feet and thigh into the floor
- On your inhale using your arms push your chest off the floor to a height that still has tour legs grounded and is comfortable
- Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds
This week I looked at two yoga blogs called ‘Yoga Journal’ and ‘Daily Cup of Yoga’. Both had great aspects that I really enjoyed reading about, however, i found ‘Yoga Journal’ had a better layout and overall better information for yoga. ‘Yoga Journal’ has different categories for poses, practice, meditation, etc. and under each categories are sub-categories where you can find more specific poses or information that you want. When I clicked on the category poses, it gave different options for core poses, arm opening poses, balancing poses, etc. which makes it easy for people to find the poses that they want or what poses to do to stretch certain muscles. Under the poses category also has the benefits of each pose, a pose finder and pose by anatomy which can help those starting out on what poses to do and why. Also, they have a section for poses for depression, anxiety, stress and back pain which I thought was great because we often forget that yoga is also a mind exercise. Under the category of practice the blog has multiple sequences that people can do at home that shows a picture of each pose with a description to lead people through their practice without having to go to a yoga studio. Another aspect I loved was it had guides for harder poses like handstands or headstands which I want to look deeper into because I want to get my headstand pose. Overall I loved this blog and will be definitely using it for my other blog posts. I think I will do some of their sequences and discuss what I liked about them and what I didn’t.
‘Daily Cup of Yoga’ had some great aspects as well. This blog had videos on certain poses and had a whole section dedicated to yoga words and terminology which I found great because the names of the poses mean nothing to some people. Even going to a yoga class and listening to an instructor, you might not know what the next step is because of the terminology so I found this a great feature. This blog also has articles on how yoga and running are like yin and yan and what poses to do after running which I found great because I never knew they went hand in hand. However, I felt like it was more a website to sell items than a blog so I didn’t love that aspect. I also didn’t find it as user friendly as ‘Yoga Journal’ was, mainly on the set up of a page.
This week, there will be two poses! The first is balasana also known as child’s pose. This pose has so many great benefits for our bodies as it stretches our hips, thighs and ankles while stretching the back-torso muscles gently. This pose is known to reduce stress and tiredness as well as soothes and calms the brain. This is one of my personal favourites because I always have problems stretching my hips so every practice I start in this pose and I end in this pose just to feel how much stretching my body has done. At the beginning of my practice, I find I am very stiff in this pose but by the end of my practice, my body has warmed up so it becomes a calming pose. The steps to practice this pose properly are:
- Start on the mat on your hands and knees
- Spread your knees apart but keep your big toes touching one another
- Rest your buttocks on your heels
- On your exhale, sink your hips back and bow your body forward so your torso is between your thighs
- Your hands should be in front of your face extending with palms down
- Extend your arms as much as you can to lengthen from your hips to your armpits
- Stay in this position for anywhere between 5-100 breaths but do what your body feels it should
The second pose is downward dog. I love this pose because it stretches the backs of your hamstrings. Some of the benefits to this pose are; that it elongates the spine from planting your feets down and pushing your hands into the mat. It strengthens and opens the chest which reduces the pain and pressure on the shoulders and upper back that we get when we are sitting all day in a hunched position. It opens the backs of your legs that tense up in movements like walking and running. This pose also brings awareness to your breathing which is a key aspect of yoga. This pose isn’t too complicated to it allows us to slow down our breath. The steps to practice this pose properly are:
- Begin on the mat with your hands and knees. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips
- Spread your fingers wide and press your palms on your mat
- Exhale and tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor
- Send your pelvic bone up towards the ceiling and your hips towards the back of the room
- Draw your chest towards your thighs and push the mat away from you
On @cameranmillaryoga there are pictures up of the poses!
As I start my yoga journey, I wanted to talk about a few essentials to a good yoga practice and a little about my own yoga experience
Firstly however, you will be able to find photos, videos and tips on my Instagram page @cameranmillaryoga for more insight on a different social media
Growing up, I was very much into team sports and they took up all my time as I was usually playing on multiple teams for multiple sports at the same time. Whether it was soccer, volleyball, basketball or field hockey, I was always busy with sports. However, playing all these sports made me extremely inflexible. So much so that I couldn’t even sit cross legged. As well as the stresses from school, I had a hard time coping with everything life was throwing at me from graduation, university, school, work, and a social life. My mom one day suggested I take up yoga to increase my flexibility but to also help ease my mind of the crazy world. So, after graduation, I started going to yoga classes at the yoga studio in my hometown. From hot yoga to restorative yoga, I did them all and worked on my flexibility. Yoga also really helped my mind and my anxieties about the world. While most people think about all the health benefits yoga gives a person physically, we often forget how great it is for the mind as well. I’m not going to lie, meditation is one of the hardest things I’ve done. They always say to focus on your breath and the sounds but it is impossible for someone not to be thinking about anything else. It wasn’t until recently when I met another yoga instructor where she told me that mediation isn’t about thinking about nothing, it’s about being conscious of those thoughts and letting them be. That totally changed my mindset on meditation and allowed me to practice my yoga better as what I am hoping to do for you reading. I am not a yoga instructor but I am hoping to get my certificate this summer so this is a stepping stone to reach that goal. I will be giving weekly poses and their benefits to the body as well as some tips I’ve learned along the way. I will also post videos on some of my favourite practices I’ve had.
For starters, one major essential is the mat. While I’ve used many different mats from different companies, one mat stands out to me which I highly recommend. The yoga mat from Lululemon called The Reversible Mat 5mm. This one is great because the material, Polyurethane doesn’t make your hands slide around when you start to sweat. During hot yoga I find this a major issue that interferes with my practice so finding a mat that absorbs the moisture was a major need. It also is easy to clean and comes in beautiful colours if you’re not already sold. Lululemon also has a great selection of equipment like blocks to help you with certain poses, and straps that you can use to stretch your hamstrings. One thing Lululemon does not carry is bolsters. This is a rounded pillow that we use in yoga for frog pose, savasana, etc. for comfort and relaxation but you can find them on Amazon for a reasonable price. As well as if you are practicing yoga you will need to stay hydrated especially if it is hot yoga. While any water bottle works, I prefer to use one that is insulated because during hot yoga it is not fun when you go for a drink of water and it is just as warm as you are. Swell is a great brand as well as hydro flask but you can find others for a better price.
You will need a playlist of music for your practice as well. Below I have added in a link to a playlist I made using Spotify.