Relieve Back Pain with these Quick Poses

Follow this short sequence of 6 Back Relieving poses:

  1. Bitilasana/Marjaryasana -Cat/Cow x10 each
  2. Adho Mukha Shvanasana -Downward Dog x8 deep breaths
  3. Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana -Upward Dog x8 deep breaths
  4. Apanasana -Knees to Chest x8 deep breaths
  5. Trikonasana -Triangle Pose x5 breaths each
  6. Supta Matsyendrasana -Lying Twist x10 deep breaths each

“Our Health Lies in our Fingertips”

Have you heard the word ‘mudras’? Maybe you have, but have no idea what that means. You’re not alone. Mudras date way back to the ancient Vedic texts of India. The word ‘Mudra’ is derived from the root word ‘mud’, which means, “to be glad or to have a delight in”. These postures bring delight to the performer causing ‘drava’, or “dissolation” of the mind.

Mudras are praticed by bringing the fingers together, touching or slightly pressing them in a specific pattern. Doing this affects the levels of the five elements in our body by balancing them and inducing good health. Thus, our health literally lies in our fingertips.

What are the ‘five elements’ and how are they related to the fingers?

According to the ancient Vedic culture, our entire world is made up of the 5 elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air (wind), and Ether (space/vacuum), which also constitute the human body.

Earth: The nutrients from the soil are absorbed by plants, which we consume.

Water: Blood running through our veins

Fire: Heat in our body; the digestive system.

Air/wind: Oxygen, inhaled and carbon dioxide, exhaled.

Ether/space: Sinuses in our skull and nose.

Each of our five fingers represents one of the five elements. The pinky finger represents water. The ring finger represents earth. The middle finger -ether/space. The Index finger represents wind/air and the thumb -fire. See image below:

An imbalance of the five elements in our body leads to deteriorated health and disease. Practicing the appropriate mudras help maintain balance, keeping us healthy. Click here to learn more about each mudra and start improving your health!

Relieve Negative Emotions & Anger with Mushthi Mudra

Ever feel overwhelmed with negative emotion or anger so much that you react and unload that energy on the person that emotion is directed at or even just whomever is near you at the moment? Usually, and unfortunately, it is those we are closest to.

We have all been there, but let’s be real, unloading your negative emotions in a reactive manner is NOT healthy for yourself nor those around you. Not only are you hurting your ability to grow stronger as an individual, but you are sabotaging the relationships of those around you each time you react.

Our bodies respond naturally to emotions such as anger and fear and practicing the Mushthi Mudra helps get rid of those accumulated emotions.

If you do not already incorporate meditation into your lifestyle, I highly encourage you to do so. The best way to apply the Mushthi mudra is through meditation.

Sit comfortably, in a seated position on a mat or chair and close your eyes. Fold the index, middle, ring and pinky fingers into the palm of your hand. Place the thumb onto the ring finger, gently applying pressure. You can do this with both hands. Place the back of the hands on your knees if you would like.

Mushthi Mudra

Focus on your breath, with each inhale and exhale getting a bit softer and slower as they pass. Practice 15 to 45 minutes per day for full benefits.

Key benefits of Mushthi Mudra:

-Controls blood pressure -Releases tension in the body -Relieves anger, fear & frustration -Clears the mind of worry -Eases constipation -Relieves stress & unwanted thoughts

You can practice Mushthi Mudra as a coping skill to simply reset in the moment or you can really use this as an opportunity to reflect on where the emotion is coming from and create healthier habits around controlling your emotions. Shifting your focus internally can help ease the external matter and make a significant difference in the way you experience life.

Chakras-The “Energy Organs”

“What is a Chakra?”, I was recently asked. What a great question! I guess we don’t really learn much about “chakras” in our Western world teachings, do we? I’ll break it down for you as simply as I can.

The “Chakras” are the energetic system of our bodies. While we have the physical body, we also have what is called the “subtle” body. The subtle body is an energetic field that exists in a plane just outside of the physical body. It is not visible to the naked eye but can be seen through the third eye and otherwise “sensed” (let’s say, our “vibes”). This energetic plane is where our chakras are housed.

The concept of chakras date back to at least 500 BC, found in the ancient Hindu text, the Vidas. The Sanskrit word for chakra means “wheel”. A chakra might be visualized as a turning wheel of energy (called “prana”) where the physical world meets one’s consciousness. There are seven chakras which work like a network to continually renew our bodies energy. When they are each opened and aligned, we may be able to experience well-being with the mind and body at ease.

One way I like to demonstrate the chakra system within our Western culture is through Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. This may help you better understand the meaning of each chakra and the system as a whole. They lay the energetic foundation of our fundamental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

The Root Chakra, “Maludhara”, exists at the very base of the spine between the anus (for lack of a better term) and the genitals. When we break down the Sanskrit term for the root chakra we get mula-, which means “root” or “base” and -adhara, which means “support”.

Working up the spine from the base, we get to the second chakra, the Sacral Chakra. This is our safety center, located below the naval. It is associated with our emotional body, creativity and sensuality.

Next we arrive at the Solar Plexus Chakra, “Manipura”, located from the center of the naval up to the sternum. This is where we hold a sense of power, confidence, self-respect and positivity.

“Anahata”, or the Heart Chakra is located at the center of the chest and deals with love, compassion and acceptance.

The last three chakras are grouped with the “self-actualization”, spiritual or higher consciousness category. This is the out of body experience. These are the Throat, Third-Eye and Crown Chakras. The throat chakra, located at the center of the neck represents the ability to speak and communicate clearly and effectively. Your third eye is located between the brows and is responsibly for intuition and imagination, while the crown chakra, located at the top of the head, represents a divine connection and higher consciousness.

Each chakra is highly important. If one chakra is off, it can throw off your entire physical and energetic system, allowing disease and disability to creep into the mind and body. I will dive deeper into each chakra and how to keep them healthy and aligned in posts to follow. Please also subscribe to my YouTube channel for FREE yoga classes relating to each chakra.

Breaking Down Dynamic Stretching vs. Facilitated Stretching

You’ve probably all heard the terms “Dynamic” Stretching and “Static” Stretching. I prefer to introduce to my clients, “Facilitated” stretching as a component of static stretching to help further deepen the stretch.

As we all know, dynamic simply means movement. So dynamic stretching includes repetitive movement of the body in order to increase flexibility or deepen the stretch.

An example of dynamic stretching would be during any Vinyasa Flow in yoga.

You should perform dynamic stretches each morning to reset your resting muscle length each day. A great example would be performing Sun Salutations.

Facilitated Stretching occurs when you contract the muscle being stretched during an active static stretch.

Facilitated Stretch in Bridge Pose

By contracting the stretched muscle, a reflex arc involving the golgi tendon organ is triggered, which allows for a much more enhanced muscle relaxation when the contracting period ends.

Facilitated sretching of the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, & tensor fascia lata.

When practicing facilitated stretching, it is encouraged to lightly contract the stretched muscle in order to protect the associated joints.

Overcoming Distractions of the Mind…

I’m going to pull a few excerpts from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras on overcoming Distractions of the mind:

1.30. Disease, inertia, doubt, lack of enthusiasm, laziness, sensuality, mind-wandering, missing the point, instability- these distractions of the mind are the obstacles.

1.31. Pain, despair, nervousness, and disordered inspiration and expiration are co-existent with these obstacles.

1.32. For the prevention of the obstacles, one truth should be practiced constantly.

1.33. By cultivating friendliness towards happiness and compassion towards misery, gladness towards virtue and indifference towards vice, the mind becomes pure.

1.34. Optionally, mental equanimity may be gained by the even expulsion and retention of energy.

1.35. Or activity of the higher senses causes mental steadiness.

1.36. Or the state of sorrowless Light.

1.37. Or the mind taking as an object of concentration those who are freed of compulsion.