Have you ever returned from your vacation more tired than when you left?
That was my experience when I returned home this last weekend. I had a wonderful and whirlwind trip – first presenting my research at the American Heart Association conference in Baltimore, and then traveling to Buffalo, my hometown, to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. There was a lot of dancing, and it was a great weekend of family and friends. But this year more than others in the past, late flights, late nights, and Daylights Savings Time completely knocked me on my butt. Combined with a particularly long list of work tasks, I knew I needed to get myself out of my rut, and fast.
Battling a foggy brain haze, I turned to my yoga mat to wake me back up again. When I got to my mat (relieved to not be doing yoga in a hotel room!), I knew that twisting poses were the way to go because they are great for boosting your energy while relieving stress. Continue reading…
Most of us experience low back pain at some point or another. Sometimes the cause is easy to identify — you had a long car ride or lifted some heavy boxes. But other times, back pain seems to come and go daily, perhaps during your yoga class, while you’re riding your bike, or sitting at your desk. Super frustrating.
If you’re experiencing low back pain in your daily life, in your yoga class, or during other exercises, here is a 10-minute set of yoga poses you can do to strengthen up those muscles and relieve your pain. With these poses, we’re looking to do three things: release tightness in the muscles of your low back, strengthen your lower back muscles so they’re more resilient, and give your low back muscles support from a strong core.
Warning: the following post contains yoga gifs. They’re pretty hilarious, but so useful so you can see the movements I’m talking about! Thank you for laughing along with me. Continue reading…
So if you receive my newsletter (shameless plug -you really should sign up -it’s awesome!), you know that I am blissfully happy about the return of Spring. I love feeling of warm sun on my skin, hearing the birds chirping, and seeing the beautiful flowers and new plants popping up everywhere. But the pollen that has invaded North Carolina? Not so nice. There is a fine green powder which has coated every outdoor surface for the past few days, and even though I don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, my throat is scratchy, and my breathing feels bothered when I am outside. I can only imagine how the true allergy sufferers are feeling.
Even though Spring gives us amazing weather and delicious vegetables, we also need to help our bodies protect itself from the not-so-nice parts of Springtime. Some strategies for allergy relief after the jump…
Sometimes you have to go off balance to be in balance.
Revolved Side Angle Pose. It’s a tough one, right? You’re trying to keep your balance, and you’re all twisted around…the temptation is to round your shoulders, crunch in, and protect yourself from falling. It’s understandable that you’d fear falling…your body is not used to being in such a precarious position!
But what if you press your belly to your spine, feel your tailbone lengthen towards your feet, and envision your breath filling up your side body and back? Rather than bringing your off center, these motions help you bring integrity and strength to the pose. Even though it seems further off balance, you actually get stronger and feel more secure in the position. Crazy right?
I had an amazing yoga class at Yoga Tree in San Francisco. One of the highlights was this variation of Ustrasana, which I hadn’t seen before. In this variation, you do Ustrasana with your thighs facing the wall. This variation has great benefits: by pressing your legs against the wall, you bend backwards with your abdominals rather than just throwing your head back. It helps you integrate your ribs with the rest of your front body and is a great way to focus on ab strength in your backbends! And we all could use a little more core.
Fold your mat in half 3 times and place it next to the wall to get a nice cushion for your knees.
Kneel in front of the wall with your legs pressing into the wall.
Bring your hands to your low back, fingers facing up or down.
Lean backwards, focusing on pressing your thighs and hip points to the wall, keeping length in your lower spine, and tightening your core muscles. The point of this variation is not see how far back you can bend, but to feel the backbend coming from your abdominal muscles.
After a few breaths, return to upright, and try it again!
What do you think about this variation? My lower back felt great in this pose, and I’m very excited to integrate this variation into my regular practice for a while.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.