Archive for April, 2010

Celebrate Arbor Day with TREE POSE, Vrksasana and then plant a tree!

April 30, 2010


Yogagrrrl in Tree Pose

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

“Mister!” he said with a saw dusty sneeze,
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.
And I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs”

Tree Pose is a simple Balance Asana that helps bring balance into all areas of your life.

It helps strengthen your ankles, calves, thighs and back.  Tree Pose is great for people with Sciatica and Flat Feet.

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).

Allow all of your weight to sink into your right foot.

Begin to raise your left foot into kickstand, (left heel on the right ankle, left toes on the floor) or bring your left foot onto your right calf, or bring your left foot all the way up to your right thigh.

When you find your balance (concentrate your attention onto a stationary object),

Grow your Branches (arms) anyway you like: Hands together in prayer position at heart center, Hands together over your head, Arms over your head in a ‘V’ position, interlace your fingers and press your palms to the sky, or bring your elbows parallel to the floor (Palm Tree).

Repeat on the opposite side.

Remember wherever you are today is fine…we are all a work in progress!  There are a lot of things that can affect balance, headaches, and stress.  One side is a little more balanced than the other.

Looking for some variations?

Try closing your eyes in balance pose.

You can also add a side stretch to your tree by slowly bending towards your bent knee.

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April 26, 2010

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What Type of Yoga is Right for you?

April 20, 2010

Ashtanga Yoga (Astanga) means the Eight Limbs in Sanskrit (as laid out by Pantanjali).  Ashtanga Yoga uses the Ujjayi Breath, Bandhas and Drishtis.  Ashtanga Vinyasa progresses though series of poses (75 poses). The Primary Series, must be mastered before progressing to the Intermediate Series.  An Ashtanga practice usually begins and ends with a Mantra.

Bikram/Hot Yoga is done in a room heated to over 95 degrees.  Hot yoga is a 90 minute class that consists of a 26 pose series (repeated twice) created by yogi Bikram Choudhury.

Forrest Yoga Developed by Ana Forrest, Forrest yoga is a healing practice that helps you grow. The pillars of Forrest Yoga are Breath, Strengt Integrity and Spirit.   A typical practice includes an ab series and keeping your toes lifted and spread.

Hatha Yoga ha = sun, tha = moon, Hatha Yoga is a relaxed meditative yoga practice that brings all things into balance.  The goal of hatha yoga is to achieve a balance between mind and body.  Hatha Yoga postures are used to prepare the body for meditation.  It often incorporates: shatkarma (purification), asana (postures), pranayama (Breath control), chakras(centers of energy), kundalini (instinct), bandhas (muscle force), kriyas (techniques; manifestations of kundalini), shakti (sacred force), nadis (channels), and mudras(symbolic gestures).

Integral Yoga Founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga is a gentle, non-competitive Hatha Yoga practice that includes pranayama, and chanting. Integral training goes beyond yoga postures and strives to help students find fulfillment in their lives.  You can download a free integral yoga book by Swami Sivananda “Easy Steps To Yoga

Iyengar Yoga created by B. K. S. Iyengar, Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga and is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  Iyengar uses 200 classical yoga Asanas and 14 different types of Pranayamas with many variations.  Iyengar Yoga has a deep focus on form, and most classes use a variety of props to assist students in obtaining proper alignment. B.K.S. Iyenger is the author of many books including “Light on Yoga.”

Kripalu Yoga a type of Hatha Yoga, Kripalu Yoga is a gentle compassionate yoga that focusus on meditation and physically and spiritually healing students.  Typical Kripalu classes begin with breathing exercises and gentle stretches, series of individual poses and relaxation. Classes end with ‘jai bhagwan’ (a Hindi expression that has a similar meaning as Namaste).  There is a Kripalu Yoga and Wellness center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Kundalini Yoga is a spiritual type of yoga which emphases breathing, meditation, mudras and chanting in addition to asanas.  Kundalini yoga is sometimes called “the yoga of awareness” because it awakens the “kundalini,” (unlimited potential within everyone).  Kundalini classes begin with a short chant, and warm-up. The main work of the class is a kriya, (a sequence of poses) and pranayama that focuses on a specific area of the body. Classes end with a meditation, which is sometimes accompanied by the playing of a large gong, and a closing song. Teachers do not usually make manual adjustments. Kundalini students often wear white robes and head wraps.  Kundalini energy (often represented as a snake coiled at the base of the spine) untapped prana at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening the chakras. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the Crown Chakra.

Power Yoga is essentially the American interpretation of Ashtanga Yoga.  Power Yoga is a vigorous vinyasa-style of yoga that cuts out most of the spiritual aspects of yoga and emphasizes strength and flexibility.  Unlike Astanga Yoga, Power Yoga does not follow a set series of asanas.

Restorative Yoga is a restful, relaxing Yoga Practice.  A Restorative Yoga class often uses props such as Bolsters, Straps, Blankets and Eye Pillows to help practitioners settle into asanas more easily.  Most of the poses done in a restorative practice are done in a supported manor.  Restorative Yoga is a therapeutic practice that focuses on stress relief, rest, renewal and relaxation.  During a Restorative Practice, your mind stays focused on the breath.

Sivananda Yoga follows Swami Sivananda’s teachings.

There are five principals of Sivananda Yoga

1. Proper exercise (Asana, 12 postures)

2. Proper breathing (Pranayama)

3. Proper relaxation (Savasana)

4. Proper diet (Vegetarian:  A yogic diet is encouraged, limited to sattvic foods, void of rajasic foods as well as tamasic foods)

5. Positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (Dhyana)

A typical Sivananda class is a slow, gentle paced class with a focus on pranayama.   Practicioners begin the 90 minute class in Savasana, then the class moves through a warm up of Sun Salutations. Finally, the 12 basic asanas:  Headstand, Shoulderstand, Plow, Fish, Seated Forward Fold, Cobra, Locust, Bow, Seated Twist, Crow, Standing Forward Fold and Triangle are performed.

Vinyasa Yoga Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement.”  Vinyasa Yoga is a fasted paced class with every move linked to your breath.  Vinyasa Yoga does not have a specific series of asanas, so ever class can be different, but most classes do involve Sun Salutations.  Sun Salutations are an example of Vinyasa Yoga since each movement is done on a breath.
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Yoga precautions during pregnancy

April 16, 2010
  • You may want to skip any movements that require you to lie flat on your back for longer than a few minutes, especially after the first trimester.
  • If you’ve never done a headstand or shoulder stand before, skip these poses. Pregnancy is not the time to start an inversion practice
  • Skip positions that stretch the abdominal muscles too much, such as deep forward and back bends and deep twists.
  • Don’t do any asanas (poses) on your back after the first trimester — it can reduce blood flow to the uterus
  • Avoid poses that stretch the muscles too much, particularly the abdominals
  • From the second trimester on — when your center of gravity really starts to shift — do any standing poses with your heel to the wall or use a chair for support, to avoid losing your balance and risking injury to yourself or your baby.
  • When bending forward, hinge from the hips, leading with the breastbone and extending the spine from the crown of the head down to the tailbone. This allows more space for the ribs to move, which makes breathing easier
  • If you’re bending forward while seated, place a towel or yoga strap behind your feet and hold both ends. Bend from the hips and lift the chest, to avoid compressing your abdomen. If your belly is too big for this movement, try placing a rolled-up towel under your buttocks to elevate the body, and open the legs about hip-width apart, to give your belly more room to come forward.
  • When practicing twisting poses, twist more from the shoulders and back than from the waist, to avoid putting any pressure on your abdomen. Go only so far in the twist as feels comfortable — deep twists are not advisable in pregnancy.
  • Listen carefully to your body. If you feel any discomfort, stop. You will probably need to modify each pose as your body changes.
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Celebrate Earth Day with an Earth Salutation

April 15, 2010

Earth Salutation (Prthvi Namaskara)

Earth Day YogaThunderbolt (Laghu Vajrasana) low kneel, hands in prayer position

Raise arms overhead, Mini Backbend

Hands to the floor and transition to Squat (Malasana)

Move to a Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) Free hang in ragdoll

Step back into Plank, slowly lower (Chaturanga Dandasana)

Upward Facing Dog (Urdvha Mukha Svanasana)

Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Jump legs to sit

Staff Pose (Dandasana)

Seated Forward Fold Position (Paschimottanasana)

Staff Pose (Dandasana) Roll Back slowly to the Mat

Transition to Plow Pose (Halasana)

Release and Spinal Rolls, Roll up to Staff Pose (Dandasana)

Wide Angle Forward Fold Pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Roll up, Staff (Dandasana), roll back onto Mat

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Release, knees into chest

Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)

Spinal Rolls to a seated position, then to a kneel

Thunderbolt (Laghu Vajrasana) low kneel, hands in prayer position

Move into a tall kneel, then Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Release to Child Pose (Balasana)

Thunderbolt Pose (Laghu Vajrasana)

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Clean Your Yoga Mat!

April 13, 2010

Guerilla Yoga at the Spring Equinox Festival

Have you been participating in some Guerilla Yoga (Yoga Outside)?  Do you have a dirty yoga mat?

Sweat, mud, germs, gym floors and nature can all create a dirty yoga mat.  It’s ok to clean them.  Of course you can buy a mat cleaner, but why bother when you can make an eco-friendly cleaner at home?

There are a lot of recipes out there:

Try one of these:

Mat Cleaner 1

1 part (like 1 Cup) Vinegar with

3 parts Water (3 Cups)

1 teaspoon of Tea Tree Essential Oil*

Combine all ingredients and put in a clean, labeled spray bottle.  Spray your mat with the mixture and wipe with a clean cloth.

Mat Cleaner 2

1 part Witch Hazel (like ¼ Cup)

4 parts Water (1 Cups)

1 teaspoon of Tea Tree Essential Oil*

Combine all ingredients and put in a clean, labeled spray bottle.  Spray your mat with the mixture and wipe with a clean cloth.

*Tea Tree Oil has antiseptic and antifungal properties

In addition to the Tea Tree Oil, you can also add a few drops of another essential oil for scent.  If you practice outside and insects are a problem try adding some lavender or citronella essential oils.

You can also safely wash your Yoga Mat in the Washing Machine!

Use a Gentle Detergent

Wash your mat in Cold Water (separately from your clothes)

Remove before the Spin Cycle

Hang your mat over a clothesline or a shower rod to dry

Of course you can also use a cloth Yoga Rug or a Sticky/Cloth mat combination.

Outside Yoga Circle

I use:  Cotton Multi Shade Yoga Rug in conjunction with Extra Long 1/4” Deluxe Yoga Mat.

When my Yoga Rug gets dirty, I toss it in the washing machine (Cold Wash, Cold Rinse) and I hang it up to dry.  When my sticky mat gets dirty, I wipe it down with a damp cloth, and/or a homemade cleaning solution.

Give them a try and let me know what works for you.
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Dirga Pranayama (Three Part Breath or Complete Breath)

April 13, 2010

Pranayama (Breath Control): use your breath to control the flow of energy in the body and mind.  Any time you concentrate on your breath, you are doing yoga!

Dirga Pranayama (Three Part Breath or Complete Breath)

The Dirga or Complete Breath is a basic breathing technique that can be easily mastered and used all throughout your day, both on and off the yoga mat.  Although the Dirga Breath is sometimes called the three part breath, it is to be done with a smooth continuous flow of air into the body on the inhale and a smooth continuous release of the breath on the exhale.

How to do the Dirga Breath

Sit up straight or lay back

Begin to notice your breath

Inhale and exhale through your nose

Filling your belly, ribs and chest with air on the inhale

Allowing your chest, ribs and belly to relax on the exhale.

You can gently place your hands on your belly, fingertips touching

As you inhale, filling your belly, ribs and chest with air, feel your fingers separate.

As you exhale, allow your chest, ribs and belly to relax.  Your fingertips come back together
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FREE Outdoor Yoga at the Berks County Heritage Center!

April 13, 2010
Outdoor Yoga: Berks County Heritage Center

Sunday May 23, 2010 (Runs until the end of Summer)
11:00 AM
Admission is FREE!
No need to sign up!

“One does not need to be flexible to do yoga, one gains flexibility by doing yoga”

Instructor: Doug Hayward

Berks County Heritage Center
From Rte. 183 & 222 intersection: Rte. 183 S. to traffic light at Tom’s Mobil . Continue to next right turn onto Red Bridge Rd. (at Hoffman’s Garage.) Follow road to parking lot.

PA yoga sessions offer outdoor detox, strength from the earth
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Asanas for Menstrual Pain Relief

April 13, 2010

Sukhasana (Easy Pose) Seated Meditation Pose. Straightens spine, helps promotes inner peace.

Anuloma Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique) Inhale through Right Nostril, Exhale through Left nostril; Inhale Left Nostril, Exhale Right nostril (one round).  Repeat up to 7x’s.

Bidalasana (Cat Pose) Back Stretch and Back Strengthener

Bharadvajasana (Seated Twist) detoxifies the body

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing dog) Helps mood, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Uttanasana (Standing forward bend) Bend the knees if the hamstrings are tight. Good for back pain.  Will help with cramps, anxiety and mood.

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-leg standing forward bend) Bend the knees if the hamstrings are tight. Good for back pain.  Will help with cramps, anxiety and mood.

Utkata Konasana (Goddess) Builds inner and outer strength.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) Improves spinal flexibility and strengthens arms and back.

Balasana (Child’s Pose) Resting, restorative Pose.  Try allowing the third eye to come to the mat, sending a message to your parasympathetic nervous system and calming the entire body. Reduces anxiety and brings calmness.  Hold for at least 10 breaths

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) Strengthens back muscles and improves posture and back flexibility.

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) Mood Enhancer.  Begin with 25 breaths and increase to 3 minutes over time. You should not experience any neck pain in this asana.

Halasana (Plough Pose) Aids digestion.  You should not experience any neck pain in this asana.

Matsyasana (Fish Pose) Helps relieve stiff neck and shoulder muscles.  Improves spine flexibility.

Pavanamuktasana (Wind Relieving Pose) pavana = air or wind; = release. Helps the digestive system and relieves excess gas .

Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining hand to toe pose) Helps with bloating, headaches and cramps.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle pose) Helps with cramps, fatigue and mood.

Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall pose) Restorative, regulates cycle, helps bloating and cramps.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

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Asanas – Body postures

April 9, 2010

Asanas are designed to free our mind and body from tension and stress.  It relaxes, rejuvenates, and energizes the body and aims to bring the body and the mind into a harmonious union. Asanas should be done with comfort, ease, alertness and steadiness, achieving a balance between ease and effort.  The practice of moving the body into postures helps in improving health, strength, balance and flexibility. On a deeper level, the practice of asana, which means staying or abiding in Sanskrit, is used as a means to calm the mind and move into the inner essence of being.

Warm-up poses

Neck rolls, Shoulder lifts, cat and cow

Standing poses

Triangle Pose, Standing Side Stretch Pose, Warrior Pose, and Sun Salutation

Seated poses

Spread Leg Forward Fold, Hero Pose, Seated Forward Bend, and Child Pose

Twist poses

Half-Spinal Twist and Sage Twist

Supine poses

Leg Reclining Lunge, Locust Pose, Leg Raises, and Wind Relieving Pose

Inverted poses

Shoulderstand, Headstand, Downdog and Plough

Balance Poses

Tree, Eagle, Big Toe Balance, and Dancer’s Pose


Camel, Cobra, Wheel, and Bridge

Finishing poses

Corpse Pose or Savasana

View Asana Posts HERE

See all the 8 Limbs of Yoga Posts HERE
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