a poem i love of late
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] BY E. E. CUMMINGS
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] BY E. E. CUMMINGS
Tripod headstand is a badass yoga pose! Balancing on your head, with the hands behind you in support, feels pretty cool. Not gonna lie. It can be intimidating, though. Here are a few tips to help you lift off into Sirsasana II.
The trick is to bend the elbows back, just like chaturunga. This requires the hands to be far behind you, elbows stacking over wrists. You’re creating a shelf with the arms and this shelf will provide you with enough stability to lift the feet off the ground and into the pose. Tripod headstand is aptly named: the palms of the hands and crown of the head are your base.
Press the palms strongly into the mat, fingers spread wide. Make sure your elbows are above the wrists. Think chaturunga with the arms. Place the crown of the head onto the mat. See if you can slowly lift the feet off the ground. Play here, with the feet rising. Breathe as the feet lift up, hips stacking over shoulders, legs reaching high overhead. I like to come into the pose from a Wide-legged Forward Bend, pulling the belly in as I fold. You can also walk the toes in, placing the knees on the arms, as Kathryn Budig demonstrates here.
Practice against a wall, using a blanket underneath the head. This extra bit of cushioning will get you used to balancing on the crown of your head. It can feel uncomfortable at first, so take your time. This pose takes practice, patience and strength. Go for it! It’s super fun when you get there.
Your shoulders. How do they feel right now? Are you carrying the weight of the world on em? Are you hunched over the computer? Been driving more than usual? Almost everything we do in our daily lives involves the shoulders and you can feel it. This 7 minute practice can help. Have a block (or book) belt (or towel) handy and use a wall. Shrug your shoulders up, back and down and begin!
I’m just getting back from a great trip to California. One of my best friends (and an amazing yoga teacher, check her out www.pilarcarillo.com) and I took Jason Crandell’s class at YogaGlo in Santa Monica. YogaGlo is an online yoga studio. Only $18 a month, some of the best teachers across the U.S. travel to Santa Monica, teach classes for free, then post the classes online for yogis across the world. Super cool concept. I started practicing with YogaGlo when I lived in England, when the rain and grey kept me away from class.
The studio itself is clean and modern. Sunshine streams in from the skylight. It’s a great space for yoga practice.
From the start, Jason has been a favorite of mine. He lives in San Francisco, travels extensively, and trained under Rodney Yee. His classes are alignment-based but it ain’t no Iyengar 🙂 . He’s a skilled and thoughtful teacher who doesn’t make it to the East Coast too often, so I was psyched to practice with him while in CA. I have learned so much from him on YogaGlo and would love to do a 500 hour training Crandell-style. Here are a few photos from my trip. If you’re in LA, definitely check out YogaGlo!
But you don’t have the time right? You haven’t finished what you started and you need to. Consider this: you might be more productive if you allowed yourself to slow down. Instead of pushing your body to its limits and slowing down only when you get sick, give yourself time to take it easy. EVERY DAY. Whether it’s savoring your morning cup of coffee undisturbed (no email or Facebook) or practicing this yoga sequence at the office. This is a guilt free break. In France, it is now illegal to check your email after 6pm. Illegal! Imagine that. We don’t need to take it that far, but there’s something to be said for the principle. Give back to your body, go easy on it sometimes. Do you push yourself hard each day, mentally, physically or both? Show it some love, gratitude and respect. Throw a little R&R in your day with this sequence. Take a deep breath and enjoy!
I write this from the vast woods of Alaska. The sun rises at 9am. The stars are so close in the night sky, they practically touch the trees. Snow-capped mountain peaks surround me and just yesterday, I watched a moose and her calf walk across the yard. They sauntered by today too.
Here, life is wild and oh so freeing. You live with nature, aware that you could encounter a brown bear in the woods or on your lawn. My best friends are wildlife biologists and they’ve confirmed, you really could get eaten alive out there! I’m in moose, bear, lynx, and wolverine country. Pack the bear spray.
You respect the immense power of the natural world in Alaska, in a way which is lost in more urban areas. The tide is strong in Cook Inlet, best not walk through the mud flats. There’s a chance of avalanche, avoid snowy mountain passes. These are some of my daily considerations. It’s primordial hiking the deep Alaskan woods and rare to find oneself in terrain so untouched, so remote, so still. You are required to be mindful of your path. Observe what’s walked before you, know what you’re walking towards.
On my own personal vision quest, my mindfulness is strong. I’m keenly aware of each step I take in walking my path. It’s easier to get in touch with my deep inner knowing, my intuition, my core.
Away from the modern world, limitations fall away. The world feels wide, the world is wide. I know my truth. Speak my clarity. Act from love. Follow my heart, not my fear. Seeking and finding my own inner stillness, one step at a time.
Yoga gives me a similar space, just like these woods, and teaches me to expand.
The trick is to hold onto this wild energy and trust. Remembering that deep down, you know which way to go.
A few weeks ago, I visited my high school (14 years post-graduation) to teach yoga to freshmen. These kids are lucky enough to have a “Fitness for Life” class, where they are exposed to weight training, pilates, kickboxing and other types of exercise, outside of traditional sports. Walking through those high school doors was amazingly scary! There’s something about high school that brings back every fear, hope, and dream I felt as a teen. My motivation was not to relive these moments – I could’ve skipped those! My motivation was to share yoga and get the kids moving and breathing in new ways.
Here’s what I learned:
Peer pressure lives. We felt so independent as teens, didn’t we? How many of our decisions were truly ours, and not our friends? Looking across the mat at these young boys & girls, I remembered the strength of peer pressure and how each moment can feel like a ‘cool kid test.’
Everyone’s looking for acceptance & love. We’re all just trying to fit in. Is this feeling ever so strong as in high school? As I asked the kids to try puppy or cobra pose, the gym was full of laughter. Who is this lady in stretchy tights asking us to embody animal shapes? The kids often sought confirmation from their friends before trying a pose themselves.
Our kids need nurturing. Cruising into adulthood, our teens need lots of TLC. Kids today grow up fast and if we can teach them to nurture themselves, body and mind at a young age, we can instill healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Boys flop around. That’s right, high school boys are goofs. Silly and fun, they aim to make the girls laugh. A vinyasa quickly turned into boys slipping and sliding across their mats and face-planting. They brought a smile to my face and I couldn’t help but laugh. It was great to see they were having fun, even if it turned into a flop.
Fitness is fun. Our kids are constantly plugged in. Iphones, Facebook, video games and texting. Today’s kids are more comfortable on the Internet than they are playing outside. By teaching our kids that fitness is fun, we can set the tone for a lifelong habit of health and wellness. Balance is needed in teens’ lives. If your child doesn’t like playing basketball, take them to karate or a yoga class. Just because kids don’t like traditional sports, doesn’t mean they can’t be active.
After teaching a 60 minute flow class, the kids were ready for savasana. I let them know (in my best schoolteacher voice), that this was their chance to tune into themselves and just be. The high school gym was quiet. The kids were sprawled out in corpse pose, no movement whatsoever. Slowly they began to wiggle their fingers and toes. We closed class with ‘Om’ and the kids had a nice rosy glow on their cheeks.
But you know, boys will be boys. And they resumed flopping around!
Thanks to Tammy Claussen at Leland & Gray UHS.