Friday, April 24, 2015

This grasshopper can finally jump

On Tuesday, I could not even do this yet, frustrated thoroughly, I told myself to get off my butt and try it again today, Tif.  Just do it. I'm so happy I did.  It's not perfect but I was finally able to execute the Grasshopper Pose.

It took awhile but after I experimented with, "What part of my foot do I place on which part of my arm so that it is the most comfortable?" - then I knew I could lift my upper body.  The leg still is not perfectly straight but since this is my first time, I'll take it.

The initial pushing up on the right leg - that was challenging - ahhhh!! I felt that one:

Had a little bit of rain this morn.  Looking forward to the weekend and more sunshine next week.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wipe out those headaches

I had a little bit of a headache waking up this morning so decided that yoga would help.  I've pounded out a couple of sessions in the past when I had a major headache and it seemed to have worked. I've played around with the side crow so much that it never gets dull.  I've done this pose with 2 legs extended, and 1 leg extended, but I've never tried both legs extended in the same direction:

I admit it's a little harder to synchronize both of my legs in the exact same position and to try and straighten them.  Very similar to the 8 angle pose but an entirely different feeling from the inside:

Some more stretching exercises for the legs and back:

I'm thinking another monthly challenge is in order for the month of May.  I'll try to find a good one that I can keep up to. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Grasshoppers are good for you.....

....or so I've heard.  I know people who actually eat grasshoppers...cooked ofcourse, the whole thing..legs included.  It's fascinating to watch.  Doesn't bother me.  But it would not be the first item I would choose on the menu.  They are supposed to be super nutritious, high in some nutritional value.  Ok, I'm just rambling. So I can not fully execute the Grasshopper pose, but am able to get into the second position after the initial toe stand position:

Now if I could just push that left leg out.  Work in progress.  I decided to do a Baby Grasshopper for now. I'm ok with that:

It's been a rough couple of days this past Mon. and today.  Ugh. There's a mentality that I can always beat rough days.  I can, and I will.  I decided to put my feelings aside on what makes bad days loom and concentrate on the things that I do have 'control' over.  So I did about 5-6 Flying Peacock poses.  Just to get it out there.

There is one thing I'm most certain of at this time. Do what I love, and do it with vigor. Do it until I beat all of my obstacles. On good days, reap in its success, on bad days, have it always to fall back will always be there for you when no one else's my description of it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Getting a bit back to the basics

I've been re-visiting older poses and have come across some poses I've never tried before for whatever reason, or maybe I had no interest in it at the time.  The Half Lord of the Fishes Pose is a beginner's pose that helps the spine for flexibility and is great for posture again:

I continue to practice the classic crow pose to re-shape my form and try to get my buttocks higher into the air.  This is one of those poses where you can do literally anywhere in your house, at any time and it would only require about 3 minutes.  I've gotten some pretty insane looks from my family members when they walk in on me whether I'm in the kitchen or bathroom, or closet.  What have you!  It's a yoga obsessed kind of a thing!!

That's all I had time for today. I'm exhausted. Saturdays always make me tired. I need to sleep now!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baby Steps

Still a very slow, work-in-progress with my handstand attempts this morning.  Today, I think I was able to get my back as straight as possible more than my previous attempts.  That's all I want for now is the back/arms to be strong.  I can worry about the legs after that:

Also with a small split, was able to get my back as straight as I could:

So very hard to see my alignment without a mirror.  I have to really just mentally feel every inch of my body and where each limb is placed.

Next up, this is a warrior pose variation with a side twist with arms, good challenge leg balancing:

And I ended my session with more side crow fun, I'm really getting addicted to side crows now - super fun:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Step-by-Step Tutorial for the 8 Angle Pose

I received some wonderful comments through email and on SM regarding my last Eight Angle Pose, so I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial on the whole process.  NOTE - I AM NOT an expert at anything - I am still learning along the way just like everyone else....I love to learn and I love watching tutorials and take advice from others as well.

But before beginning any advanced yoga pose, I did do a lot of work to improve my strength and you can improve your strength by concentrating on poses like the crow pose, downward dog, downward planks with leg lifts, pushups, sit-ups, stomach crunches, windshield wipers for your legs and abdominals, etc. Lots of exercises out there to get your entire body flexible and stronger.

So to start out with the 8 Angle, I sat in an L-shape/90 degree angle, sit with your back perfectly straight and both legs placed out front:

Breathe in and out and work the abdominal muscles.  Prepare to stretch.  Take your right hand and lift the foot of your right leg and bend as far back as you can across your torso and close to your armpit:

If you're not that flexible to bend your leg back all the way, it's ok, keep practicing.  Continue to rotate that leg with your arm in circles for extra flexibility.  Next, lift that right leg back and onto your shoulders as far back as you can.  This prepares you for the Elephant Trunk Pose:

Next, keep that leg on your shoulder as you begin to lift your buttocks and left leg off the ground using both your hands:

The higher you can lift, the more momentum you will have, I still can't lift that high, but it is high enough for the next phase. Remember, each person is different, you don't have to go the highest to still achieve the final result. Next, continue lifting that left leg and start extending your right leg out, clasp both feet together, keep that right arm placed between both legs:

Continue to push off and keep the feet clasped and legs together as you begin to rotate the body forward:

At this point you are using your arms, hands, legs, and feeling where your right knee is in comparison to your right shoulder.  The strength will be from pushing off of that shoulder and knee as you continue to bend even further down, straighten your legs even more:

Keep shifting your legs and arms to your comfort level, keep bending forward even more:

And finally, straighten out both legs while keeping the feet clasped tightly - pinch that right arm - helping you to lean forward more and balance. Use that right elbow to dig out further strength and squeeze your abdominal muscles:

You can smile deep from within now because you've earned it! :)) I still would love to bend forward even more....awww....keep practicing!

My cooling down pose was the classic Lotus Pose.  Although simple, it proves to be - still - one of the most difficult as far as 'erasing' all thoughts and outside noise from your head to 'fully' meditate and relax:

I'm still trying to find my perfect Lotus meditation session - haven't yet. We are human, we have thoughts, we think constantly - it's hard to just sit still for a full 10-15 min. and not think of anything. Great challenge though!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Eight Angle Pose

I've been doing some prep work in order to get to an advanced pose that utilizes both arm and core strength together.  One of the hardest poses I've maneuvered thus far, in my opinion.  I thought the crow pose was hard 'til I tried this one.

To prepare for the Eight Angle or Eight Limb Pose, you have to practice the Elephant Trunk pose first.  Then you can rotate and maneuver your body into the Eight Angle:

To do this and not wince in pain was incredibly hard, I'm pretty sure I executed this about 50 times before I felt confident enough to post my progress.  The smile on my face - I look back and know that it was a genuine smile.  I'm so happy!  I think my legs can get more and more straight with additional work.  But still, I'm super happy with the progress on my arm strengthening exercises.  Gotta Run, have lots to do today but I'm pumped up now. Whooooo!!!! Goooooo Monday!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Practicing the Firefly

I've been concentrating on one move and one move only for a few days, the Firefly Pose is an advanced pose that requires a high level of concentration.  There is no fooling around with this pose.  As I can get into the initial position, my leg/knee falters off of my shoulder afterwards.  This is as far as I've gotten:

I still have a long ways to go with this one.  Another wonderful arm strengthening move that is quite invigorating.  I look like I'm dying in this one by the look of my eyeballs, but I was really trying to block out surrounding noise. So hard to mentally block all sounds around you:

The great thing about this pose is that if you fall, you fall on your buttocks which is hardly as scary as some of the other falls I've taken.  Falling backwards on your bottom is much easier to handle physically.  That's it. I'm sooooo excited to practice more this coming week.  Beyond measure, this is the stuff that motivates me more than anything.  Even a fall is a motivating factor because I am constantly learning new ways to position my body.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Odd Friday

Today, I felt a little off-key.  Off as in...... took the wrong road, went to the wrong house, and was very late for the party.....kind of off.  I lacked....well, lets put it this way....I 'felt' I lacked poise, grace, and strength - 3 key items I fully expect when I immerse myself into anything.  But I still managed to do about an hour of yoga and either at night or in the early morning, I will do stomach crunches and 50-60 counts of core work with my arms and legs.

Basic stretching:

This pose below, I was simply trying to see if I could lift my legs off of the ground, kind of looks like a toad, doesn't it? I managed to lift myself up as much as I could:

It's been a while since I've done the lizard pose:

Another variation of the lizard pose:

This is not my best seated pose, I think I was trying to lift up my leg for whatever reason and my back is not aligned:

Oh my, I think I need to mentally recharge myself by next week and kick it up - way up a notch.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"BACK" to work

I've neglected working on my back muscles for a few days - so even though I've been concentrating on arm strength, I need to remember to do a little bit of everything and not just one or another part of my body. Got in only about an hour today and did some shoulder stands with a plow pose combination:

A reverse upward plank:

And I'm much more comfortable now tucking my knees into my armpit for the crow pose:

More side crow work:

I've been playing with this a lot and have managed to bruise my back leg veins pretty bad.  They are healing but I sort of expected it coming.  Love this arm balancing technique though.

And always nice to throw in easy moves before and after each session as warm-up and cooling down:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Twists and turns

I played around a little bit more with my side crow today. I should be resting but, what the hey, had a little bit of an adrenaline rush in me, so I did a different version of the side crow with a 2-leg extended kick:

A little bit different than my last side crow - the left leg I tried kicking out sideways as far as I could and the right leg doing the same.  I want to straighten out that right leg more though. Always fun experimenting!

This one is the Revolved Extended Side Angle Twist, it really does twist your body in all sorts of ways:

And, lastly, this is more of a relaxed, seated back bend, a good hip opener:

That's it. Still a busy day and week ahead.  The little one is so excited for Easter this weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

30-Day Challenge - Day 30 - Final Day

Woot, woot!!! I made it, there were days where I wasn't sure I would get in any yoga time at all, but this challenge has really helped me focus and maintain a daily time just for me.  Life is crazy, it has its good points and extremely low points, but whether it was just 5 minutes of time that I had or 3 hours, whatever the schedule permitted, I have learned that it is possible to initiate a goal and stick to it.

I chose to do two difficult poses as my last day to 'celebrate' finishing my goal!  I decided to do a very brief picture tutorial on both poses.

First pose is a Side Crow Pose with Leg Extension.  First, I sat in the position as if I'm doing a regular crow pose but I position my arms sideways with front legs bent and kneeling down:

I, then, gently bent my arms and placed both pressed knees against my arms while leaning sideways:

Hold until you are comfortable and firm, then slowly tilt your head down all the way to the floor:

Re-position your legs for the last phase of balancing - in which I extended my left leg upwards and straightened while keeping my right leg still pressed inwards and on my left arm:

Anyways, I never could have done this until I had some strength in my arms.  I'm glad I'm still working on arm and core strength.  It has really helped so much.

The next pose is the Bird of Paradise.  I started by hunching my body all the way over and placing my right arm underneath my leg:

Place your other arm around your back to meet both hands and clasp together. While keeping this hold, gently begin to stand up straight bringing up the leg clasped between your arm:

Then straighten out leg as you keep hold - this was as far up as I could go, I can't straighten it out any further so I'll keep practicing:

It's interesting how your body conforms better for one type of pose than another even if it uses similar techniques and so on, etc.  

And I threw this pose in both at the beginning and end as my daily stretching exercises - standing head to knee:

I will continue to try and do one pose a day if possible!! It's been a great month of challenges, ups and falling downs, scratches, bruises, moments of extreme joy, exhilaration, and moments of exasperation, moments where I wanted to give up.  But in the end, I know the moments of joy somehow outweigh the frustrations by far.  And I need to remember that always.