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12:36 pm

Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breath

As you continue your practice of yoga, you will become more aware of the energy moving in your body. Yoga and Ayurveda call this energy Prana. Chinese Medicine calls it Qi (chi). Prana is your life force, the essence of being alive. We all know it, we recognize it in other living beings. It is a 6th sense: the sense of life in our flesh. In yoga we work with Prana to deepen our poses and heal our bodies. Pranayama, breathing exercises, are methods of directly working with our life force. Nadi Shodana, Alternate Nostril Breath, is one of the best all around exercises for balancing Prana. Nadi Shodhana balances our rising and grounding energies, our continuous longing for heaven with our firm commitment to the earth, our need to get things done with our need for rest, and our actions with our emotion. It is a simple Pranayama that can be practiced daily. Nadi Shodhana has been studied by western medicine and consistently shown to reduce anxiety, lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure. Begin by practicing the timing of your breath. You’ll want to create a breath cycle where your exhalation is twice as long as your inhalation. You can use a simple counting method to establish this. Try a 5 count inhale and a 10 count exhale. If this is too long shift to 4:8; if it is too short shift to 6:12. The pace should be easy and comfortable, without strain. You might choose to just practice this simple breathing pattern for the first couple weeks of your Pranayama practice. Extended exhalation is a great pranayama in and of itself. It will reduce anxiety in your body and you can use this to avert a panic attack, lower your heart rate, or get back to sleep in the middle of the night. If you ever experience anxiety, nervousness or emotional disturbance during pranayama: STOP. Return to a simple extended exhalation until your body calms down. Then talk with a certified yoga instructor or another health advisor before you continue. We’ll use our left hand to control the breath through the nostrils. Place the pointer and middle finger of your left hand on the middle of your forehead, right above the bridge of the nose. Place your thumb on your left nostril and your ring finger on your right nostril. Stroke from the bridge of your nose to find the transition from bone (hard) to cartilage (soft). At that transition of the flesh you can lightly touch either side of the nose to close a nostril. Practice closing each nostril before beginning Nadi Shodhana. Once you have the pieces in place, here is the breath pattern for Nadi Shodhana: Inhale left Exhale Right Inhale Right Exhale Left Continue for 9 to 12 breath cycles. Watch your body as you practice. Sit quietly for a minute or so when you are through. Namaste, Lisa

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11:55 am

Five Minute Pilates Warm Up with Antigone!

"I love Antigone's warm-ups. Where can I find a video with such a good warm up?" Right here!  Here she is, the lovely Antigone with a 5 minute warm up sequence just for you.   Antigone's warm ups make a point of stretching every joint in your body.  Enjoy!

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1:32 pm

Yoga for your Knees: text version

Text Version here: extended video version in three parts below. Dear Yogini: I recently started taking yoga. I’ve been a long-term gym rat, lifting weights and working out with cardio machines. My doctor told me I needed to develop more flexibility and to reduce stress so I started taking yoga classes. Why have my knees started to hurt? What can I do about it? ~Gym Rat Dear GR: Congratulations on making it to a yoga class. Your body is changing and the change in alignment may be the cause of your knee pain. It is also possible that you have injured your knees. Don’t quit yoga, focus on doing yoga smart to keep your knees healthy. Here are some common mistakes and some poses that can help your knees get stronger. 1) Don’t hyperextend (aka lock) your knees. The back of the knee is vulnerable. Let’s explore it: feel the two ropy cables on either side? These are your hamstring tendons and are directly responsible for bending your knee. The middle squishy area is the back of the joint capsule. Hyperextension, many hours spent sitting or unsupported deep squats can cause the joint capsule to rupture into this area. The rupture is called a Baker’s Cyst. To avoid a Baker’s Cyst, keep a tiny bend in your knee for every yoga pose as well as when you are working out at the gym. 2) Avoid torsion. The knee joint is designed for flexion and extension, not for lateral or rotational movement. Stress on the sides of the knees can injure the stabilizing ligaments. Rotational stress can tear ligaments or the meniscus. Therefore, be diligent about good knee alignment. The kneecap should always face directly over the middle of the foot in standing postures and the knee should never twist or torque in seated-postures or hip rotation. 3) The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone…. Many knee injuries are caused by misalignment in the hips or feet. If we push a pose beyond the limits of our hips, our knees take the stress. If our ankles and feet are not strong and flexible, our knees take the stress. Don’t push too far into forward bends or back bends. Care for your whole body to care for your knees. Here are a few great postures for your knees: Foot massage: Use a spiky acupressure ball or an old tennis ball. While standing, roll the ball in circles under the arch of each foot, about 10 circles in each direction, then roll the ball over the full sole of the foot. Sitting down, interlace your fingers between your toes and rotate the toe joints to spread and mobilize the distal foot. Utkatsana ~ Powerful Pose: Stand tall and squeeze a small ball (~6 in diameter) between your knees. Keep your feet parallel, knees pointing straight over the long axis of your feet. Engage your belly muscles strongly. Bend at your knees and come into a half-squat, as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Hold the pose for up to 6 breaths, repeating 4 or 5 times. Firmly squeezing the ball between your knees engages your inner thigh muscles and builds knee strength and good alignment. Vrksasana ~Tree pose: Set the ball aside and return to good standing posture. Bring the sole of your right foot onto your inner left leg. Open your arms wide, palms facing upward. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths and then change sides. You can repeat 3 to 4 times on each leg. For a bigger challenge, try balancing on tiptoe in tree pose. Nataranjasana ~ Dancer’s Pose Preparation: Return to good standing posture. Bend your right knee and reach behind you for your right foot, draw your heel toward your bum. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position by strongly engaging your abdominal muscles. To deepen the stretch, press your foot into your hand. Hold the pose for 5 to 8 breaths and then change sides. Supta Marichyasana ~ Reclined Twist: Lie on your back on a soft surface. Draw your knees into your belly and rock side-to-side to massage your low back. Then drop both knees to the floor on the right side of your body. Your hips turn, but keep your heart facing the ceiling and your arms resting on the floor beside you. This pose stretches your iliotibial band, the long stabilizing tendon on the side of your hip, thigh and knee. A tight iliotibial can result from over-training and is a common cause of knee and back pain. Relax and enjoy the stretch for as long as you like and then repeat on the other side.

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1:28 pm

Yoga for Your Knees: Video~~~~~~

Warm yourself up with some floor stretches and simple abdominal work: A great standing sequence you can do anywhere: And a brief cool down to stretch your lower body.  Don't forget Savasana at the end!  It's the hardest pose.

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11:56 am

Yoga for your knees: Part 3

A brief cool down to stretch your lower body.  Don't forget Savasana at the end!  It's the hardest pose.

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