Hi Sweet Community,
So here we are, December, and it feels like winter. It is cold out there now! I have really been enjoying teaching all of you and connecting with you in some way. Can you believe that I have been in Lewisburg almost a year? Wow time has flown by.
As I reflect on the amount of time I have been here, I realize that, though I have embraced my life and community here, a part of me has been holding on to my life in San Francisco. I know change and transition takes time. It's hard to ease into change and uncertainty. Our country is in a time of transition now and there are those who feel the uncertainty that lies ahead. This is because we cling to what is behind us when we don't know what is in front of us. In Yoga, we turn to Ganesha, the funny looking elephant guy and the deity of transition and change. We ask Ganesha to help us move through the unknown with an open heart. Needless to say I have been really pestering Ganesha this year...like a lot.
The past is the back side of the body since it is what is gripping us from behind. For this weeks alignment tip, I would like to talk about responsibly stretching the hamstring and loosening our grip on what is behind us. So we may invite the spirit of Ganesha into our practice and lives.
In my years as a yoga teacher (gosh has it already been 14 years?) I have adopted the concept of continuous connective tissue lines. These are called the "deep facial lines". I learned about the lines through the anatomy trains methodology. I like this perspective because it reminds us that our connective tissue is all connected and in relationship to one another. This concept is important when stretching the backside of the body, or the "deep back line".
Our muscles are the most dense in the belly of the muscle, at either end they taper out into a tendon. These tendons are very vulnerable because they are much thinner than the belly of the muscle. For this reason, we don't want to overstretch where the muscle attaches to bones. We just want to get a little length. I have torn my hamstring from over stretching at the attachment site and yowzers it hurts!
To responsibly stretch the backs of the legs start standing with a block between your legs up high by your pelvic floor. As you squeeze the block press your big toes into the earth. This will give you a sense of your shin squeezing in. At the same time press down through the pinkie toes and feel your thighs roll out. This will engage your butt and therefore keep the top of the hamstring from over stretching. Send your arms to the sky and imagine all of the muscles along the backside of your body, from your achilles tendon up to the base of your skull, elongate together. This is the "deep back line".
Keep this length as you come down through a flat back so your hands rest on your shins. Keep elongating and slowly fold forward in to a standing forward bend. Send your weight down into your toes and rest on your heels so you aren't leaning into the top of the hamstring.
When doing a forward bend like Parsvottonasana (Pyramid Pose), keep your hips square so that, again, you aren't stressing the top of the hamstring. A good rule of thumb is to find that same flat back with the hips square and press down evenly through your heels. This will always protect the hamstring. You can even keep a micro bend in the front knee to take pressure off of the vulnerable part of the hamstring.
The same applies to Hanumanasana (Monkey pose or full split). When you go into splits, don't let the front leg get away from you. Move slowly, pulling the hip back so the hips are in alignment and the back quadricep is rolling forward and into the ground, just like your pyramid pose.
You can strengthen the hamstring by doing warrior 3 or doing one leg down dog with the leg parallel to the earth. Both of these exercises will encourage the top of the hamstring to engage and strengthen.
Remember that the stretches are really just a way to help the body release what it holds onto energetically. Don't forget to wink at Ganesha as he watches over you ;)
HEY GUYS, THIS RETREAT IS ALMOST FULL. IF YOU WANT TO JOIN US PLEASE REGISTER NOW SO THAT WE CAN RESERVE YOUR SPOT AND/OR PUT YOU AT THE TOP OF THE WAITLIST. WE REALLY DONT WANT TO LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND AND WE DO HAVE SOME FLEXIBILITY WITH THE WAITLIST!!!
THE MINDFUL PRACTICE
With Ariel Howland and Jason Leddington
A 3day/2night retreat: February 3rd-5th, 2017
Mayacamas Ranch, Calistoga, CA
Every year, after the holidays, do you crave some self care?
Simply put, self care and pampering is what this retreat is all about. Set in the extraordinary scenery of Mayacamas Ranch, nestled in the vineyards of Calistoga, join us on an oasis built just for you...
We will practice some yoga. Yoga which is meant to restore, and vinyasa classes to detox. (4 classes in total with Ariel). Each class will be unique; attending to your body, soul, and deepening your connection to the practice.
We will learn to meditate (2 sessions with Jason). Meditation is a tool for getting all blissed out and learning how to stay blissed out. Jason will be sharing with us tools specifically for stress reduction which you can take with you (*see below for Jason's bio).
We will eat REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY good food. We will chat and have a bonfire; we will build community.
You are welcome to enjoy free time; hiking, swimming in the pool or soaking in the hot tub, go local wine tasting or get a massage!! (because this is your oasis).
WE are so excited to bring you to this deeply calming place. We are equally as excited to attend to you and give you the space to to feel nourished.
Price of Admission:
- $850 Single
- $700 Double
- $550 Dorm (Yikes, sign up now these fill fast!)
TO REGISTER CLICK HERE.
(*Jason Leddington is a philosophy professor at Bucknell University where he incorporates mindfulness meditation into his classes. He has been studying and practicing meditation since 2004. He is currently doing his training in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Method. )
Recover from the Holidays 101: at Studio B Yoga Center
Sunday, January 29, 2017 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Feel empowered with quick, easy tools to use when stress arises!
This is a workshop designed to reduce anxiety surrounding the holiday season. While we all love this festive time of year, the holidays come with a bit of anxiety. Stress comes in all shapes and forms and is very hard to shake. If you're a person who experiences stress, and want to find a more easeful way to coexist with it, know that you're not alone - there are many of us out there! We will use: breath, poses designed for concentration and relaxation, and mindful mediation to undo deep patterns of holding in the body which perpetuate stress. You'll leave feeling deeply relaxed and nurtured.
Let us support you in not only surviving the holidays, but thriving during this time of year!
As always my sangha,
See you on the mat,