Friday, February 1, 2013

January Yoga Recap of Favorite Poses

  I learned many things in January and made many new friends.  One of the big lessons I learned is that blogging every day is hard stuff!  I think I missed 2 days and on those days I didn't do much of anything.  Some days the words flowed and some days I had no idea what to say.

  Many new yoga poses were tried and I was introduced to a mediation challenge that I am participating in the month of February.  Its a 15 minute a day challenge.  Today was the first day and if today was an indicator of how my meditation will go in the future, well, the future looks bright.

  I digress,  January, oh January.  You went by so fast.   The Humble Beginnings Yoga challenge was broken into weeks.  Each week had a yoga pose a day and a weekly theme of intentions to work on and apply to your daily yoga on and off the mat.

  Compassion was the theme for week one.  The poses were heart openers and truly joyous to do.  I was able to set daily intentions and delve into what compassion means to me and how to apply it to my life.

Easy Pose with Lotus Mudra

  The first pose was easy pose, which isn't so easy for my tight ol' hips, with Lotus Mudra (the hand positioning and gesture).  I didn't know about this mudra and now use it often.   Throughout the week I sent out love and light to my loved ones and even better for me as a human was to send out love and light to those I disagree with or downright don't like to be around.   It was a nice inner test of my hearts ability to forgive and become more open.

  My favorite pose of  week two  was the Wild Thing!  Such a fun and playful pose.  When I fist saw others doing this pose I thought it was way too advanced for me.  I looked for some tutorials on YouTube and discovered that it is much more doable than I had imagined.

   I learned that I should try poses and look into each of them as though I am capable of doing them.  I have found that some poses that I think are too advanced I can do much better than I thought and on the flip side of that there are poses that I imagine myself doing with ease and then I try them and can barely do the modified version.  For example, Grasshopper pose is out of the question at this point which was surprising to me.

  Be open minded and forgiving with myself.

Wild Thing Pose

Hip openers are my nemesis.  Ok, so I don't want to think that I am against myself but I can say that hip openers are the most difficult poses for me.  I love them but I love them because I choose to not because they are easy or without discomfort.  At least most of them anyways.

Pigeon Pose

  I practice Pigeon Pose and Cow Face Pose daily to work on opening my hips.  Progress is slow and subtle but its there.  Changes are being made.   It is said that emotional stress and turmoil are held in the hips.  I often joke, mostly joke, that I store my crazy in my hips.  I have really tight hips..... haha!

Cow Face Pose

Astavakrasana or Eight Angle Pose
  Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a hard time with all hip openers.  Some of them I am quite strong in and love to do often.  Side Crow and Eight Angle Pose are favorites of mine.   When poses get me feeling down or I feel down on myself for other reasons, I can get into Astavakrasana and feel awesome again!

 Cleansing and Detox was the theme of week three.  I love twisting poses.  They feel refreshing and I feel like they are cleansing for my spirit as well as my body.  It was a nice and natural feeling transition from those hip openers into the cleansing and detox poses. 

  There were some lovely sunny days in the month of January that gave a much needed reprieve from the cold and dreary days.  I remember this day from the photo below and it was a calm day with easy and relaxed self refleciton.   This photo represents my practice from that week well. 

Revolved Chair Pose

  Setting your Drishti and Dharana or Gaze and Focus was the theme for week four.  One of my very favorite poses of all time is the Crane Pose.  With bent arms its the Crow Pose but over time I have been able to get my arms straight and my feet higher.  

Crane Pose Bakasana

  Even though I enjoyed all the poses during this week,  I had a hard time with Gaze and Focus in those particular poses although I did feel good doing the Tree Pose.  I can catch the sweet spot in that pose and its unmistakable when the sweet spot is found in that pose and I can bask in it for many breathes.  I made improvements on the poses set out on the calendar but I had a lot of fun learning how to do Pincha Mayurasana or arm balance. 

Pincha Mayurasana Arm Balance

  I think I will remember this week of setting my Drishti and Dharana from learning this pose.  It takes so much concentration and yet a huge amount of purposeful relaxation in my neck.

The last week was all about Pranayama with anatomical focus on the whole body.  This is the week that I started meditating regularly.  Amazing how things work out serendipitously.  

 So far this has been my favorite monthly yoga challenge to participate in.  I loved the idea of the intentions that went along with the asanas.  It gave me much needed structure to learn on a deeper level which is the direction I am heading in.  Some days I don't know what I am doing and this challenge gave me guidance and support on my journey.

To finish this recap I have to include my favorite picture of the whole month of yoga for me!   It felt as wonderful as the photo came out!  My lovely superhero is so supportive of my yoga practice.  Although I use an interval timer now,  he will take photos for me when I need it and is quite patient.  He had a good time doing this pose with me.

  So, will the yoga end now?  Of course not!  I have several yoga challenges that I am doing as well as the aforementioned meditation challenge.   There is an #eatplanklove challenge that I am excited to do.  Planks are amazing!  

  Here is a calendar list of some of the challenges to participate in.   You don't have to be on instagram to participate.  You can just follow along or tweet, blog, Facebook etc your photos.   Find me here on instagram.  Do as many or as few as you like.  Each pose can be done by everyone.  There are modifications for all of them.  Be humble and (from experience and practice daily) don't compare yourself to others.  Journey on your own path.   That is the hard thing about sharing pictures with others.  Everyone is good at some poses and struggle with others and we all don't match up and its hard not to get down on ourselves and compare.  

  Oh and before I forget, take some before and after pictures!   The Grow Soul Beautiful challenge has many of the same poses monthly.  February will be my fourth month participating in it.  Its nice to look back and see progress as well as see where I need work.

  Its amazing to meet new people, most of my friends are online friends.  Being a mom to four spawn doesn't leave much time to socialize in person.  The yogis I have met this month are from all walks of life, color, nationality, and ability levels in yoga.  Yoga is for everyone!  I think its for you too.  Namaste.

Angie Bee

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