Yoga Handstand Hip Opener: Handstand with Baddha Konasana

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Doing Baddha Konasana in handstand sounds ridiculous, but it is actually quite delightful ounce you get the hang of it.

I remember the very first time I tried this. I was just beginning to flirt with the idea that I may indeed be able to do a handstand. This really helped give me the confidence to try handstanding in the middle of the room.

The reason this works so well is because when you bring your feet together it helps to get your hips up over your hands. Also, your center of gravity is lower than it would be in a traditional handstand.

Start by warming up for your handstand with a few Sun Salutations and a seated Baddhha Konasana. The Sun Salutes will warm up your hamstrings, shoulders and the Baddhha Konasana will prepare your hips for this handstand.

Try a few practice hops.

My teacher always says”Remember they are like pancakes, the first few are never that good”.

Remember these key points…

Keep your eyes focused between your index fingers.

Draw your arm bones into the shoulder sockets.

Do not let your elbows bend

Exhale and pull your navel back towards your spine as you go up. It is normal to get nervous and forget about the breath so try a few where you exhale audibly to get the hang of it. Once you are sure that you are breathing properly feel free to go back to silent breathing.

Have fun handstanding!

5 Tips For Having the Best Savasana Ever!

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Savasana: savasana is being without was, being without will be. It is being without anyone who is.”   
 Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar

How to make your next savasana the best five minutes of your life…

You know that excited feeling you get before your first “real date” with you new snookums? Well, I get that feeling when I’m about to take Savasana. Yep, I’m weird. Or maybe, I’m enlightened. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Either way here are my top five tips for dropping into bliss and having the bestest savasana ever.

1. Don’t know what to do with your feet? No need to stress, this isn’t dancing with the stars and I’m not going to try to teach you the fox trot!

Relax….ahhhhh…

Alright, now just take your feet about as wide as the mat and let them roll out naturally. Here is a tip: Your toes will point out to the sides.

2. Lift your buns and lengthen your tailbone away from your lower back and towards your heels. This is not JUST for those sporting a badonkadonk, but J. Lo if you’re reading this, listen up, because this one is for you girl!

This amazing little adjustment will eliminate any “crunchy” feeling in the lower back. The term “crunchy” is only cute when it’s used to describe peanut butter,…(and even then it’s questionable), try to keep your savasana “crunch-free!”

3. Pickup your shoulders and move them down away from your ears. Use the “stickiness” of your sticky mat to hold your shoulders down. Much like a fly caught on some sticky fly paper your shoulders will be stuck down there away from your ears and no longer able to bother you. Brilliant! (Don’t get your panties in a bunch over the flypaper analogy, no flys were hurt in the making of this blog post and bunched panties do not a comfortable savasana make.)

 4. Place your hands with your palms facing up about 5-8 inches from your body. The only exception to this rule is if you are right next to someone. Touchingthem. Touching. sweaty. hand. touchingyou. What you’ve just encountered here is the recipe for a potentially awkward savasana. You could bravely leave your hand there. Or for a less awkward savasana and more relaxing experience place your hands on your chest, belly or pretty much anywhere you won’t meet with someone else’s clammy fingers.

5. Relax the skin between your eyebrows. Most of us have jam-packed lives that have us running around  feeling like red bull fueled spider monkeys, but it’s time to make sweet savasana! Power down the noggin’ and smooth the eyebrow wrinkle. THE BIG BOSS wrinkle that looks like the number 11 between your two eyebrows. Imagine the teacher has her thumbs on each of your eyebrows and is pulling them away from one another gently. Aaaahhhh. Feels better already, right?

Now drift away to your happy place. It’s okay if  your “happy place” consists of Johhny Depp bringing you cupcakes for lunch while your boss keeps you cool by fanning you with a palm frond. I won’t judge you. Nobody will. That’s why savasana is so freakin’ awesome! Not to mention I’ve rested better in those five blissful minutes than a full eight hours on my fancy-pants-egyptian cotton sheets!!!

Enjoy.enjoy.pure.bliss.savasana…..

If you enjoyed this article please share the love below :) Thanks!

Your Hands In Handstand: 7 Easy Tips For Better Handstands!

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When it comes to handstand there is no better place to start than your hands!

Sure, it seems pretty obvious. However the hands are sometimes an afterthought for students whose minds are preoccupied with trying to get their bottom to float above their head.

For the frequent flyer however (see inspiring photo to your left of my teacher Krista Cahill by the incredible photographer Jasper Johal) the hands and wrists always come first when attempting handstand!

Like anything, it’s best to start at the bottom and work up. In this case the foundation is your hands and like any good foundation it must be laid properly.

The worst possible news for a house is having cracks in its foundation and the worst news for a handstand are poorly positioned hands. (A close second is a poorly positioned attitude, actually a bad attitude is worse…but I digress)

At any rate you are headed for trouble fast if you don’t get your digits and palms properly set up, so listen close future flyers!

Tips For Your Hands in Handstand

  1. Place your hands shoulders width apart with your hands slightly turned out.
  2. Spread your fingers wide apart. Reach the fingers forward and apart to spread the weight evenly. Uneven weight causes problems for the wrist. Your fingers should spread evenly away from the palm like the spokes on a wagon wheel.
  3. Pay special attention to your index finger and thumb rooting down into the mat.
  4. Then with your hands firmly planted on your sticky mat try to squeeze them towards one another like you are trying to wrinkle your mat between your hands. The mat will not actually wrinkle  but this action engages the muscles of the hands, forearms and biceps creating stability.
  5. Push into your hands! Trust that they will hold the weight of your body. (Be mindful however not to push out of your shoulders, keep your collarbones wide and your shoulder blades firmly planted on your upper back! More about that later)
  6. Do not let the wrists lift! As you jump from the back of the mat it’s tough not to let the wrists lift, but do your best. I took a workshop with master ashtangi David Swenson and he kept saying over and over again to “put the weight in your hands”. This is key! Imagine your hands are cemented to the floor, make them super heavy as you practice jumping into handstand!
  7. Grip with your fingertips. Think of them as your emergency brakes. These little guys will help you not to “Go flying over the handlebars” as my teacher Brock Cahill likes to say. (Your primary brakes are your core and serratus anterior muscle. Secondary are your forearms and fingertips.)

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Yoga Inversions Pre-Flight Warmup

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“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

The Pre-Inversion Warmup

Before practicing inversions it is essential you warmup and stretch the muscles you will be using.
Your best bet if you are practicing at home is to warm up with a few Surya A’sSurya B’s and then do a few of my favorite pre-flight stretches and strength building postures listed below.
Happy flying yogis!

Yoga Video: Kick From Down Dog To Handstand With Angela Kukhahn

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How To Kick From Down Dog To Handstand Yoga Video With Angela Kukhahn

Ever wonder how people kick from handstand from downward dog? Magic? Nope! Just a few simple steps to get your float on! Watch this short yoga video on inversions and you will be flying into handstand from downward dog in no time!

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Where Is Your Psoas?: How To Find And Activate Your Deepest Core Muscle!

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Psoas oh Psoas, where art thou oh psoas…

I Have been obsessed lately with teaching pulling the knee into the chest as you kick into handstand. This action works because the action of bringing the knee to the chest activates the psoas muscle.

I found this useful article on Yoga Journal and will help you to understand the movement of the psoas and how it works…

Puppet Practice

Source Yoga Journal fab abs with Richard Rosen

I find it useful to imagine that the psoas is a puppet string, originating on my inner thigh (lesser trochanter). The puppeteer (what good are puppet strings without a puppeteer?) is sitting on my lumbar spine and holding the other end. She can pull on or release it, depending on whether she’s raising or lowering my leg.

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor with your heels about a foot away from your buttocks. Focus on your right lesser trochanter. From here, in your imagination, follow the course of your puppet-string psoas through the pelvis and up to the lumbar spine, where your puppeteer is holding its free end.

As she pulls on the string, exhale and watch your right foot lift effortlessly off the floor and your right thigh close in toward your belly. (For now, keep your knee bent.) Pause when the hip is fully flexed, and inhale. As the puppeteer releases the string, exhale and lightly float your foot back toward the floor. But wait! Just as your tippy-toes brush the floor, pause to inhale. On the exhalation, the puppeteer will pull again, and your foot will rise up. Continue this up-and-down swinging for at least a minute. Pause at the conclusion of each movement to inhale; lift or drop your foot only on an exhalation. When finished, return your right foot to the floor and repeat with your left leg.

Advanced Yoga: One-Handed Handstand Prep Video With Marysia Weiss

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Advanced Yoga: One-Handed Handstand Prep With Los Angeles Yoga Teacher Marysia Weiss

Perhaps you find yourself with enviable boredom with regular handstand and are ready to move onto something a bit more luxurious, the Ferrari if you will of handstanding…the one handed handstand.

Side Note: If you are a yogi who is offended by my reference to such a gas guzzling monster as the Ferrari rest assured that a yogi like myself is only referring to a eco-friendly Ferrari that runs on vegetables, rainbows and good intentions.

Ah, where was I now? Oh yes, the ever so elusive and seductive one-handed handstand…

To do this pose you will want to start small working with one hand on a yoga block on its flattest side. Your goal will be to keep the arm of the hand that is on the block strongly firming to the mid-line of the body as you kick up into your handstand.

Next place the block on its side at middle height and continue. You get the idea. The higher the hand that is not on the floor the more difficult it will become to balance in handstand.

Eventually of course you will get rid of whatever props you are working with and try to balance by shifting your weight onto one hand, coming up onto the fingertips of the opposite hand and then slowly lifting the fingertips and balancing in your one-handed handstand!

Happy One-Handed Handstanding Yogis!

Yoga Video: Tips For Doing Handstand Away From The Wall

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How to do Handstand Away From the Wall by Engaging Your Core!

Hi Yogis, Are you having a tough time doing handstand away from the security of the wall?

Do you have a tough time engaging your core upside down?

Don’t worry, you are not alone!

A lot of us bendy folk have über flexible lower backs and it can slow us down in our endeavors to balance in handstand away from the wall.

Never fear!

Here is a Handstand trick for engaging your core!

In this two-minute video I will explain how pulling one knee to your chest after your lift off helps to immediately engage your core muscles and help you balance.

Enjoy this quick video on how to move away from the security of the wall while handstanding and out into the center of the room.

I promise if you continue to practice what you learn in this video it will have you floating and flying with confidence!

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Resources For The Sanskrit “Yoga Speak” Newbie

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Angela Kukhahn in Upward Facing Dog in the Tuscan sunflower fields (yoga pose) photo by Tara RiceWhen I first found myself in a yoga class figuring out how to actually do Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) was a challenge enough,… let alone trying to learn the ancient language of Sanskrit. (the language of yoga)

To say I found Sanskrit intimidating is to put it mildly. All I knew is that  all the names of the poses sounded alike since the name of each pose ends in the word asana. (asana means pose, so Trikonasana is Triko which means Triangle followed by asana which means pose.) All I have to say is Yogi rappers have a huge advantage, but I digress….

After deciding I wanted to become a yoga teacher I was a little distraught  when I learned I was going to have to learn this ancient language of rhymes whether I liked it or not.

I must admit, at first I didn’t really see the point, however, as a teacher it has become essential for me to have a good grasp on both the Sanskrit names of the poses and basic Sanskrit terminology.

Click below for a few  great online resources to acquaint yourself with the Sanskrit names of poses, and commonly used yoga terms from the Sanskrit language.

I found these websites extremely helpful for you “new to Sanskrit” yogis!

This one www.tilakpyle.com is great because it has audio. The guy recorded his voice pronouncing the names of the poses in Sanskrit. If you click on the name of the pose it takes you to a page with photos of the pose and a description.

Also try www.YogaJournal.com for pronunciation and great photos and descriptions as well!

Also check out www.YogaDancer.com which gives you the all of the poses (even ones I’ve never heard of! ) and when you click on the pose it shows you all the different variations as well,…very cool!

Also for the meanings of a lot of commonly used Sanskrit terms check out Yoga Glossary.

Good Luck on your yoga journey!

Body Detox ~ 10 Amazing Yoga Poses to Kickstart Cleansing

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Need a yoga detox routine?

Here is a quick body detoxifying yoga sequence! When you are feeling sluggish and need a full body cleanse these yoga poses will kickstart the process!

Even the best laid plans this time of year tend to get derailed by the many bbq’s, picnics and poolside  gatherings that are customary during the warmer summer months. As lovely as that mac n’ cheese, burger or in my case 5 gardenburgers (In my defense I didn’t eat the bun,..but did I really need 5 gardenburgers smothered in bbq sauce? ) looked the day before you end up waking up the next day feeling like you are about to give birth to a bowling ball. Ugh!

So what’s a person to do? Besides of course sitting around rubbing your tummy, groaning and muttering things like “I am never eating such and such (insert food you overindulged in) EVER again” to anyone who will listen?

Yoga to the rescue!!! Here are 10 detoxifying poses that will kickstart your digestion, elimination and get you back on your livers good side in no time!

Start with a gentle warm up, nothings fancy, just 5 Surya A Sun Salutes to get the joints, tendons and ligaments warmed up and the blood flowing to all the major muscle groups. As a bonus this alone is already helping the lymph glands to eliminate waste, and Cobra, Up Dog and Forward Fold are all excellent for detoxing as well!

Detox Pose 1: Breath of Fire.

Benefits: Breath of Fire is a super detoxifier as it works expel carbon dioxide. This is one of the ways the body expels excess acid. Exhalation of carbon dioxide represents an excretion of acids. So this breathing technique helps to restore the bodies pH. As an added benefit, Breath of Fire is also one of the most effective way to engage and strengthen your Transversus Abdominals which act as a corset around your middle!

Detox Poses 2 and 3: Navasana and Ardha Navasana Cycle (Boat and Half Boat) Go slowly and do 10-20 reps depending upon how strong you are. On the last Ardha Navasana hold for 30-60 seconds.

Benefits: Navasana works to clear gunk from the intestines while Ardha Navasana works to clear the liver, gall bladder and spleen. These will tone your abs and get you back into those skinny jeans pronto!

Detox Pose 4: Dhanurasana/Bow Pose. Do 3 rounds holding each one for about a minute with even breathing.

Benefits: The pressure on your abdomen when performing this pose aids in digestion, stokes the gastric fire and helps with in flatulence issues you may have.(Oh sure, you can play dumb..I believe it wasn’t you..really…)

Detox Pose 5: Child’s Pose/Balasana

Benefits: Stretches your lower back muscles around the kidneys bathing them in fresh oxygenated blood and compresses the liver and abdomen promoting digestion and de-bloating after a big meal.

Detox Pose 6: Bridge/Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana and/or Upward Facing Bow/Urdhva Dahnurasana Start with bridge and if your body feels open enough come into full wheel posture.

Benefits: Chest opening poses are good to counter congestion or stagnation. Backbends are also very useful to increase metabolism…and let’s face it we could all use a little extra metabolism after a big day of indulgence!

Detox Pose 7: Marichiyasana C (Seated Sage Twist)
Benefits: Yoga twists stimulate digestion and help with the elimination of impurities and waste products from the body. The abdominal organs are squeezed during twists, stimulating the kidneys and liver, and forcing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When the twists are released, then fresh, clean blood enters these organs, bathing the cells in nutrients and oxygen.

Detox Pose 8: Head to Knee Forward Fold Pose/Janu Sirsasana
Benefits: Forward bending poses are a good way to compress the abdominal organs. The digestive system is stimulated, helping with the elimination process.

Detox Pose 9 and 10: Plow Pose/Halasana and Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulderstand Use several blankets to ease any tension on the neck. If you still feel tension take your legs up the wall instead into Viparita Karani.

Benefits: Inverted pose, such as Plow, Shoulder stand, or a simple “Legs up the wall” pose helps to drain accumulated lymph fluid from the legs and re-circulate it through the body. This benefits the immune system. Inverting is also good for increasing metabolism as it stimulates the thyroid gland!

Finish with Fish Pose,  Supine Twist and then rest in Savasana for 5-15min, you deserve it!

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