Not Feelin’ It? Try these 5 Motivational Boosts.

Not Feelin' It

Guys, it’s been a while! I’ve been busy doing exciting things over at inspireyoga.com. We now have a pretty spiffy blog up there as well where I will be posting some sequences and pose breakdowns. I will also be adding more content here since I have received so many loving comments and requests to write more. I’m here for ya! Just do me a favor and hop on over to Inspire Yoga to explore our blog and training programs. We’ve got some good things in store :)

 

So – how do we practice yoga, when we just aren’t feelin’ it?

1. Take a deep breath. Yoga started with simple breathing techniques. So why do we feel that we always have to do a handstand and a bind to practice yoga? Psh! All you need is a little pranayama and you’re good to go. What I love about breath is that it creates space within our bodies and our minds. When you practice these techniques (bee breath is my favorite) – you create the space for a fresh start, which is really what we need.

2. Rest. Yep, savasana is yoga. A lot of times we assume we have to do an entire practice to “deserve” it, but that’s just not true. You work hard at your job, being a parent, planning your day, …whatever your story it. And sometimes your body and mind just need to balance all the effort out with all the ease. So…take a nap. Veg on the couch. Turn off your phone. Hide in the closet. Just shut down for a few minutes.

3. Go on a walk. Nothing like the fresh perspective of going outside and simply putting one foot in front of the other. Just move your body a bit. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be yoga. If you have a pup, even better….take em’ with ya! My dogs always remind me to enjoy the little things. They get excited about every tree, every car, every gust of wind. It cracks me up.

4. Practice speaking truth over yourself. In other words, find a mantra that you need to hear. Something that you need to remind yourself of. Perhaps it’s “I am loved.” or “I trust”….just find something that resonates with your spirit. What does your soul need to hear?

5. Make a gratitude list. Naming the things you are thankful for is an excellent way to rediscover your passions, your values, your true self. Nothing helps me refresh my mindset and really set an intention like saying “thank you”. Try it!

Root Juice: Beet, Carrot, Grapefruit, Apple, Lemon

photo copyHappy Earth Day friends!

Here is the juice I made today. I decided I needed to juice a beet and some carrots to celebrate being connected to the ground I walk upon! I had never actually juiced a beat, but it was super easy. If you are new to it, just make sure you scrub down the outside first (I use a bamboo veggie scrubber brush from World Market). Cut off the stem and the base of the root and press it right in your juicer!

Here’s everything I had for this juice:

3 Carrots

1 Apple (any kind will do)

1 Medium Beet

1/2 Grapefruit

1 Small Lemon

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The benefits of root juice:

  • Enhances energy levels
  • Clears skin
  • Bone strength
  • Decreased risk for disease
  • Cleansing for the liver, kidney, gallbladder
  • Increased mental capacity

Yin Yoga: Hips & Hamstrings

piclabHappy Friday!

Today I wanted to share with you a sequence for your hips and hamstrings that I taught in class this week. It’s a great sequence for runners and cyclists to help loosen up those tight areas. If you do have tension in these parts of your body, there is a tendency to want to run away from the pose or fidget your way through the hold. Do your best to transform those moments into opportunities to lengthen the breath, soak up stillness and receive the gifts of the 1st chakra (root). With time spent in these poses you will begin to feel a sense of calm, patience, and willingness to savor the moment at hand. Enjoy!

Complete steps 1-6 and then switch to the other side of the poses.

Step 1. Cross Leg Fold | 4 minutes

Lately I’ve been trying to find ways to switch up poses that we are very used to. For your first pose, cross your ankles (right leg on top). Take a deep inhale, lengthen the heart forward as you begin to fold. When you feel a good amount of sensation, pause, relax the arms and forehead.

*If you need to, you can take your basic caterpillar pose (regular forward bend) here.

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Step 2. Sage Twist | 1 minute

Draw your right knee up, snug the outer ankle to the left thigh and plant the soul of the foot. Drop your right hand behind you like a kickstand and on an inhale lengthen the left arm for the sky. As you exhale, find your twist. 6 deep breaths. After the twist, take both hands off to the other side and counter with a few breaths folding to the left.

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Step 3. Reclined Pigeon | 3 minutes

From previous pose, begin to bend the left knee and bring the sole of the foot to the earth. Set up your right leg so that the ankle crosses over the base of the left thigh and flex the foot. Begin to recline. Reach through the legs with the right hand and to the outside of the leg with the left. You can hold onto the hamstring, shin or you are welcome to use a strap.

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Step 4. Figure 4 Twist | 2 minutes

Without changing the leg position, just release the arms out to either side of you. Drop the left foot back to the earth and walk it over to the left a few inches. Drop both knees to the right and send your gaze to the left.

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Step 5. Half Happy Baby | 4 minutes

Uncross the legs and hug both knees into the chest. Take a little bit of movement side to side, front to back, and then release the left leg out to the ground in front of you. Keep hugging in the right knee and then begin to reach for the outer edge of the right foot (your forearm will cross the shin). Imagine drawing the knee in toward your armpit and the sole of the foot is facing the sky. Do your best to keep the left leg grounded here. You can also bend the left knee and bring the soul of the foot to the earth.

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Step 6. Banana | 3 minutes

Release the right leg to meet the left and take a full body stretch. Begin to grab onto either elbow as the arms are stretching overhead and relax the arms to the earth. Take the left foot off of the mat at about 6-inches to the side. Keeping your hips where they are, begin to walk the upper body over to the left until you find a good stretch in a banana shape. You can also rest the left side of the face on the left arm here. Breathe deep breaths into the right side body. Notice the space you’ve created on this side.

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***Repeat Steps 1-6***

Step 7. Dragons | 5 minutes

Begin in tabletop or downward facing dog. Take the right leg to the sky and open the hip. Step the right foot in between the hands and drop down the left knee behind you. Allow your chest to rest on the thigh of the right leg and your gaze to be down. Taking 2 minutes in this position.

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If you feel open, begin to bring both hands to the inside of the right foot. To make space for your upper body, begin to walk the right foot over a few inches. If you can go further, begin to drop down to your forearms on a bolster, block or all the way to the mat (not shown). 2 minutes here.

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Whether you are on hands or forearms, begin to turn the right foot out about 45 degrees, flex the foot, then roll onto the outer edge of it. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the inner ankle to protect the joint. Your knee should be pointing in the same direction as the toes and there should be no pain. Take your right hand to the right knee and begin to twist and stack your shoulders on an exhale. If you would like to add a quad stretch, begin to bend the back knee and locate the foot with your right hand. You can simply draw the heel in toward your glut or kick into the hand to draw you into a deeper twist and backbend. 1 minute.

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Step 8. Half or Full Splits | 2 minutes

Release the back foot if you have it and square your chest back to the top of the mat. Both hands come to either side of the right foot and then take your next exhale as you begin to shift your hips back and straighten out the right leg. Flex the right foot to protect the joints and deepen the stretch.

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Take a childs pose for one minute to balance out before moving to other side.

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***Repeat Steps 7 & 8 on the other side***

Step 9. Savasana (however you’d like) | 6 minutes

When you are ready begin to make your way into your final pose of relaxation. You can set up for Savasana however you feel most comfortable and at ease.

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Namaste!

 

Downdog Breakdown

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{Downloadable PDF of this tutorial}

One of the most difficult things to understand when you first begin practicing yoga is the proper alignment in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). It is such a critical pose to understand in order to find ease in your flow practice. There are a lot of cues that you might hear in class from your instructor. Here are some important ones…

Starting with your base: Hands & Feet

1. Fingers spread wide, pointer finger forward. Make sure to root down through the pointer finger and thumb knuckles especially.

2. Feet are hips distance apart, sometimes a wider stance can grant more space in the low back if that area is tight. Heels draw in toward the mat.

Moving on up: Gaze, Spine, Ribs, Tailbone, Legs

3. Gaze shifts forward to the top of the mat (neck is long)

4. Internally rotate the “eye of the elbow” forward. If you are hyper-mobile in the arms, you will want to make sure you do not hyperextend here. This rotation will help lengthen through the shoulder blades and draw the shoulder heads into socket away from the ears.

5. Chest reaches for the thighs, but keep the low ribs drawing in toward the spine.

6. Slight tilt of the tailbone up to sky (to help lengthen hamstrings)

7. Legs are engaged, gently drawing the kneecaps into the base of the thighs. Engaged, not locked.

Common Mis-alignments:

1. Hand Position…

It is so crucial to have your hand in the right position. One of the main complaints I hear is of wrist pain in yoga. It’s usually because the student is unaware of their hand position in poses like down dog, plank, etc. Your hands are a very important part of your foundation in these poses. Picture three shows all fingers spread with the finger pads and knuckles rooting into the mat. This will protect the carpel tunnel region from getting all of the weight and will help you evenly distribute it throughout the hand.

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2. Rounded Spine….

This misalignment is usually caused by tightness in the shoulders and hamstrings. When these areas are tight, it is easy to try and compensate in the pose by altering the integrity of the spine to feel more supported. Unfortunately this rounded spine will do nothing for your growth in flexibility and feeling the expansion of the pose. A way that you can better modify the pose is by bending the knees and drawing the chest in toward the thighs. This will help you shift your weight away from the wrists.

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 3. Deeply Arched Spine…

This usually happens in students who are very flexible. I used to do this myself! I have really open joints in my shoulders and knees so I used to lock out my legs and dump into my shoulders (as you see in picture one). Students will think the goal of down dog is to get the head down to the mat because they see these hyper mobile students like this. It is a really bad position for your joints (especially the shoulders) and it does nothing to help activate needed muscles to transition into the next pose from down dog.

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A quick note on flexibility…

When you are really flexible, your goal should be to find places where you can balance out with strength. And vice versa…when you are tight, your goal should be to locate areas where you feel the sensation of flexibility happening. When you find that place of balance, you are able to transform physically and mentally. You will feel more in touch with your true self and will find areas to explore and grow in! 

Easter Juice | Carrot, Apple, Ginger, Tangerine, Lemon

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Hey Y’all!

Well it’s a pretty brisk spring day here in Texas, but I won’t let it strip me of my excitement for Easter. For me, this holiday symbolizes the hope that awaits me beyond the trials of this life. I am so grateful for my faith. It truly carries me through both good times and bad.

I wanted to share a yummy juice I like to make with carrots! We will just pretend for this that Easter is about bunnies and carrots in some way and call this good stuff “Easter Juice”. Yup. Hashtag EasterJuice.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

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4 Carrots

2 Cutie Tangerines

1 Lemon

1/4 Cube Ginger (peeled)

1 Apple (I used Granny Smith)

Benefits of this juice:

- Strengthens vision & helps fight eye disease

- Stimulates new cell growth to mature into functional tissue

- Potassium to help keep your heart, muscles, digestive tract functioning well

- Magnesium for energy and strengthening bones/teeth

- Vitamin K for healthy blood coagulation

- Anti-cancer affects of phytonutrients in ginger

Enjoy!

 

Green Juice | Spinach, Cucumber, Pear, Lemon

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Hello Everyone!

I wanted to share another of my favorite green juice recipes with you. It’s a great juice for helping you feel refreshed and energized. It is a wonderful addition to our spring health regimen as we transition full-force into warmer weather.

If you have a juicer, that will work best for the recipe. But of course if you only have a blender, you can blend up all the ingredients and then drain the juice from the pulp. No excuses then!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5 Handfuls of Spinach 
  • 2 Large Cucumbers
  • 1 Pear (I used Anjou)
  • 1 Small Lemon (Rind cut off)

Makes 1 16oz Serving

Like my other green juice, this is pretty veggie-based. So if you are a new juicer, use an additional fruit and maybe just one cucumber.

Benefits of This Juice: 

– Spinach is very high in Vitamin C as well as tons of other vitamins and minerals.

– Cucumber has been known to hydrate the skin and help prevent imperfections.

– Supports Digestive Health

– Lowers the risk of blood cancer and heart disease

Cheers to you!

xo,

Nancy

 

Where there is Love, there is Light.

There is light among us.

IMG_1623It is warm.

It is bright.

It offers healing, the unfolding of the truth, and hope for the future.

We just have to keep our eyes open and our hearts ready to receive.

Three years ago today I was sleeping in my apartment in Busan, South Korea when my phone rang. Before I knew it the conversation turned to loss of a very close friend. I was soon on a plane. And eventually back home in Texas. My heart was broken. I had never lost a friend so close to me. I cried out to God for healing, for assurance, for hope.

At this point in the journey, 1095 days later, there is still grief and sorrow. But the past three years, God has made his love more evident to me than ever before. My prayers were answered. He gave me a hunger for love and the desire to live life to the fullest. He held my hand and gave my heart a peace that it cannot understand and a faith that can sustain my spirit. I found the love of my life just months after my friend’s passing. I am working doing something that I not only enjoy, but I feel is my life’s passion. The time of searing loss and pain is dark. I felt like I was stuck in a storm and couldn’t see my way out. But God pulled me out of it. He gave me hope, joy, and he lit the way for me to walk into a new chapter. He loved me enough to do this, just as he does every one of us. We live in a broken world, so the clouds will come. God is just waiting for us to cry out to him. I can assure you he hears you. He loves you. He will guide you through it. There will be a place you never expected.

For where there is love, there is light.

 

I know many who are in difficult circumstances. Storms. Sorrows. Pain. He is there. Ask him to pull you closer.

Please pray for the Wilkinson family. 4-year old Aspen was in a terrible accident and has lost her foot. She (and her family) have a long road ahead of them. If you would like to help love on this family (financially, loving cards, messages etc.) I will have more information in the next few days on how you can do that.

 

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Yin Yoga: Kidney Meridian Lines

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Today I am going to walk you through a sequence (about 60-75 minutes) that you can use to detox the back body and clear out blockages along the kidney meridian lines. Meridians are lines of energy that flow through the body and can affect various organs, circulation, and general function of the physical body and the state of your mental/emotional self. The kidneys work to flush out the waste in the body so that blood can move purely and effectively to nourish our cells. When we have a lot of built up stress in the spine, hips, and legs – we need a release through those joints so the kidney meridian can flow energy effectively. When our these lines are clear we can feel more vibrant, confident, and calm. When there are blockages in these energetic pathways, not only is our mental state out of whack (anxiety, confusion, dullness) but our physical body can take on unnecessary stress (reproductive issues, urinary problems, pain in back/neck/throat). Today’s poses will include a focus on: hips, hamstrings, spinal rotation/flexion/extension.Below you see a picture that shows the path of the kidney meridian lines. Check out this link for more information.

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If you would like to see this flow in action, check out my youtube video here: http://youtu.be/iQuggphHEC4

Download the PDF version of this flow hereyinyoga-kidneyflow

First thing’s first. Try to have a few of these things (or something similar) nearby. Props are a great way to make a yin sequence even more amazing.

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1. Reclined Butterfly (5 minutes)

You can recline onto a bolster with the knees supported (as pictured) or you are welcome to lie on the mat as well. Spend some time here getting settled into the physical body. Closing your eyes and breathing deep breaths feeling the fresh surge of oxygen moving through your belly, ribs, and chest. As you continue to breathe, feel the expansion into your back as the breath moves in. As you exhale, feel the body relax and begin to soak up the space your inhales create.

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2. Butterfly (5 minutes)

You can do a lot of things with props in this fold. Feel free to use your bolster or block for support. Any prop that will help you to soften and surrender in a place of sensation will be really beneficial to the pose.

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3. Wide Leg Fold/Straddle (Right, Left, Center)

Open out your legs into a wide V shape. Make sure you can sit up nice and tall. If it’s difficult to maintain a long spine, you can sit onto the edge of a blanket and let your pelvis drop forward so your low back is lengthened.

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a.Right, Left Sides (3 minutes each)

When you are folding over one leg at a time, it can cause some compression and painful feelings in the low back. If this is happening when you enter the pose, you can pull in the opposite foot to the inner thigh and take Half Butterfly instead. Again use your props for this posture so that you are able to relax and breathe. Once you are in the posture, you can relax the feet and round the spine.

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b. Center (5 minutes)

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4. Sphinx/Seal (3 minutes)

Begin in sphinx pose and if you feel ready, you can move forward into seal pose. Make sure your low back feels stable and you are able to breathe fully wherever you land in the pose.

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5. Saddle (5 minutes)

There are so many options here. If you have really tight knees/ankles. Just stay with the first option (1st picture) sitting onto your heels or place a blanket in between your hamstrings and calves. Stay here and just work on your breath.

If you feel okay, begin to lean into your hands and open out your heels wider than your hips and sit onto a block. If you still feel open in the leg joints, see how it feels to sit all the way on the mat.

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If you are sitting onto a prop, you may recline back onto your hands, forearms or a bolster. If you are not sitting on a prop, you can recline all the way back. Take your time, ease into it, and then close your eyes to breathe wherever you are.

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6. Dragons (1.5 minutes each)

a. Baby Dragon

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b. Overstepping Dragon

This is a less-common asana but is a great way to lengthen the back of the ankle and deepens the stretch in the hamstring and psoas muscles.

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c. Splits (2 minutes)

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Use your discretion on whether or not to enter into full splits. I like to use a block under the front hamstring and keep my back toes tucked until I feel open enough to lower to the ground. Take your time with this! Your hamstrings need lots of patience and love!

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Take a moment to balance out the body in childs pose or a wide leg down dog.

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7. Caterpillar  (3 minutes)

Take about five breaths upright. Working on feeling the breath move from your belly, up through your ribs (feeling the back body expand), all the way to the chest. Take a long inhale and use your exhale to fold forward.

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9. Happy Baby (2 minutes)

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10. Spinal Twist: Cat Pulling Its Tail (3 minutes each side)

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10. Savasana (Legs Up The Wall) (5-10 minutes)

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I like to lay a blanket across me to feel extra comfortable and grounded. This pose will help you feel the circulation moving through the body more freely and will leave you feeling light, relaxed, and open as you close your practice.

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Green Juice | Kale, Celery, Apple, Lemon

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Happy Monday Lovely People!

I have really been slacking and not using my juicer lately, which is totally unlike me. So since it’s a new day and I have the opportunity to take action – I made a delish juice and thought I’d share it with you. If you have a juicer, that will work best for the recipe. But of course if you only have a blender, you can blend up all the ingredients and then drain the juice from the pulp. No excuses then!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 Leaves Kale (whichever variety you prefer)
  • 5 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Apple (I used Granny Smith, I like it tart!)
  • 1/2 Large Lemon (Rind cut off)

Makes 1 16oz Serving

This juice is pretty veggie-based, so if you are new to juicing you can make it more sweet by using less celery (maybe 3 stalks) and one more apple.

Benefits of Juicing Kale: 

– Jam-packed with vitamin A, C, and potassium

– Decreased risk of cancer

– Supports eye health

– Healthy function of kidney and heart

– May help to lower blood pressure