Yoga for Tight Hips for Beginners

Yoga for Tight Hips for Beginners

Inversion Free & Wrist Friendly

Yoga for Tight Hips is perfect for Beginners and anyone with Tight Hips. This is a no standing, inversion free, wrist friendly practice.

🎶👉 Spotify Playlist: https://bit.ly/YogaforTightHipsSpotify

Cow Face Pose, Half Lord of the Fish, and Seated Pigeon are just a few of the poses to encourage tight hips to open. Each pose is explained and variations are offered so you can explore what feels right to you.

Props: Blocks and a yoga strap are helpful but not necessary.

Basics of Bandhas Link: The Basics of Bandhas in a Yoga Practice

Enjoy! Be well.
Remember to breathe.
🙏🏼Namaste my friends🙏🏼

Beginner Yoga Balance Flow

Beginner Yoga Balance Flow

For Concentration and Calmness

Beginner Yoga Balance Flow explores standing balances on one foot as well as seated balances. Each asana is explained and variations are offered so you can explore what feels right to you.

🎶👉 Spotify Playlist: https://bit.ly/BegBalanceFlowSpotify

Balance poses are not only good for our physical strength and balance but also for concentration, calmness, and a sense of feeling grounded.

Warrior 3, Eagle Pose, and Half Moon Balance are just a few of the balance poses explored in this flow. We start with some grounding warm ups to prep the body and mind to execute the full variations of the poses.

Props are optional: Yoga Blocks, a chair, or a wall may be helpful but not necessary.

✨Try this to Improve your Shoulder Flexibility: How to Open Stiff Shoulders – Inversion Free

Enjoy! Be well.
Remember to breathe.
🙏🏼Namaste my friends🙏🏼

How to Open Stiff Shoulders – Inversion Free

How to Open Stiff Shoulders – Inversion Free

Welcome to this shoulder opening practice addressing arm positions found in Warrior 1, Downward Facing Dog, Cow Face, and Eagle by working on Flexibility in the chest, armpits, and shoulders.

Want Music? Try this Spotify playlist: https://bit.ly/StiffShoulders

Stretches for the armpits, triceps, chest, front of the shoulders, and in between the shoulder blades are targeted to help open those tight, stiff shoulders. All done with the wall and a yoga strap to stay Inversion Free.

Helpful Prop: a yoga strap or object that resembles it.

This area of the body happens to be where the heart chakra and throat chakra reside. So if you’re feeling indifferent or less creative, resistant or unresponsive these chakras will benefit from a shift in energy.

Opening the shoulders and chest is exactly what they need for you to feel more receptive, to tap into your creative juices, and allow for more compassion in your day.

Good for everyone. Especially if you have tight shoulders. 😉

Enjoy! Be well.
Remember to breathe.
🙏🏼Namaste my friends🙏🏼

The Basics of Bandhas in a Yoga Practice

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As I sat down to write all about the Basics of the Bandhas in a Yoga Practice, I wound up leafing through my notes from my initial yoga training that was 10 years ago. While I have great memories of those times, the actual application of the material has been vital in my growth as a yoga practitioner and as a yoga teacher. I’ll share with you what I have learned about the bandhas and currently implement in my own personal practice.

I’m going to do my best here to keep my explanation simple; if you know me, you know this is no simple feat. I’ll cover the why’s and how’s of the most commonly used Bandhas in a yoga practice.

Okay, here we go.

Bandhas are defined as “to lock, to hold, to stop”. This refers to locking, holding, or stopping energy with physical connections. Along the spine, there are three used to direct the flow of energy. My beautiful notes from ten years ago say this, “(Bandhas) work like the heart valve to keep energy in and moving up and don’t let it back out.” This phenomenon is ultimately responsible for the ‘zen’, calm feeling when you are finished with your practice. In a nutshell, they help ‘ya feel good.

Let’s go over these three bandhas.

Uddiyana Bandha

Note: Bandhas should not be practiced by pregnant women. Those of you with eye pressure issues and/or cardiac issues should stay away from any breath retention (holding the breath).

The first one is called Mula Bandha (Moo-lah Bond-ah) and it’s location is the pelvic floor. It’s the root lock as it’s at the base of the spine. The engagement of this bandha is very similar to Keigel exercises. It’s those muscles you use to stop the flow of urine plus you have to contract your anus (like you’ve gotta go to the bathroom NOW but there’s no where to go). Mula bandha engagement keeps the energy from falling out. It’s used in asana practice, like a Hatha or vinyasa, in poses like Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Urdvha Dandasana (Wheel Pose), Sirsasana (Headstand), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold with extended legs), etc.. Oh—and every other pose during the entire practice. Yep, the whole thing!

Moving up the spine the next bandha is Uddiyana Bandha (Oo-dee-ayn-na Bond-ah) and it’s located in the belly. This bad boy of a bandha is by far the most frequently mentioned bandha of the three. There are two engagements; subtle and full.

The subtle engagement of Uddiyana Bandha is a gentle pulling up and in of the belly toward the spine. From an anatomical perspective think about Pilates’ “Powerhouse”. The main muscles that create the Powerhouse are the rectus abdominis, the obliques, transverse abdominis, diaphragm, multifidus, gluteal group (your bum), the pelvic floor, and the psoas. When your movement teacher says one of these cues, “Pull the belly up and in”, “Scoop the belly in and up”, or “Hollow out the belly”, they are referring to Uddiyana Bandha with this subtle engagement. If you’ve taken any of my classes, you’ve heard me say these cues A LOT.

Energetically speaking, this bandha moves the energy from the lower abdomen upward toward the head. Physical benefits of this bandha provide support for your spine, hips, standing balances, and overall stability.

Now the full engagement of Uddiyana Bandha is done with the purpose of cleansing, toning the abdominals, and massages the internal organs. Sounds intense, right? I promise it’s not that bad. Instead of grabbing milk of magnesia or the pink stuff, try Uddiayana Bandha. It stimulates your digestive juices to help remedy stomach ailments. It also balances the adrenal system, relieves stress and can pep you up. (Remember, this bandha moves energy upward).

Here’s how you do the full engagement but before we get into it…it’s best to learn this in person with an instructor if possible.

Full engagement is done on an empty stomach and empty bladder. (👈Super important.)
Start standing in Tadasana, feet hip width apart, hands on the hips. Inhale deeply. As you exhale, bend the knees slightly, hands to the thighs, elbows out, and let the belly soften outward. Once ALL the air is out, suck your belly up and in toward the spine and up under your ribs. Hold your breath. When you need to inhale, FIRST release the belly then take your inhale through the nose, keep the hands on the thighs. On your NEXT inhale gently come to full standing position, Tadasana, and go for another round.

✨This can be repeated up to six times.
✨Wait about 15 minutes before eating or drinking so your belly can benefit from the exercise.

The last of the bandhas along the spine is Jalandhara Bandha (Jah-lan-harra Bond-ah) located in the throat area. This seals the energy lock from tail to skull; the length of the spine. Jalandhara Bandha can be considered the lock that controls the flow of energy in the nerves and blood vessels of the neck as it engages the medulla oblongata.

It’s performed by lowering the chin toward the notch between the collar bones. It’s similar to holding a small piece of fruit or an egg with your chin. When done correctly, if you’re built like me, you’ll have a glorious double chin.

It’s used in a few poses like Dandasana (Staff Pose) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand). More frequently, it’s used in pranayama practices like Ujjayi (ocean breath) and Nodi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril breathing).

When all three of these are done at once, it’s called Maha Bandha. The great seal or lock a.k.a. The Big Kahuna Bandha. Just kidding. It’s not called that but it sounds fun.

Bandhas are defined as “to lock, to hold, to stop”.

There are a few other bandhas which I’ll mention but not get into detail about because they are self-explanatory…

Downward Facing dog

Hasta Bandha is when the hands press against the ground…the ground stops the energy from leaving through the hands. Same with the feet with Pada Bandha.

i.e. in downward facing dog, you’re practicing both these bandhas. In arm balances, you practice Hasta Bandha. In Warrior poses you’re using Pada Bandha. You get the idea, yes?

Lastly, there’s Brahma Bandha. This is when you keep your mind locked on God as you practice.

There you have it. Bandha mania all wrapped up in one little blog post. I hope this brings more understanding on the why’s and the how’s of Bandha usage in a yoga practice. Implementing them into your practice, if you’re not already, will create a new layer of understanding with continued practice.

Happy Bandha-ing!

🙏Namaste my friends🙏

Suggested Reading:
B.K.S. Inyengar Light on Yoga
David Swenson, Ashtanga Yoga “The Practice Manual” An Illustrated Guide to Personal Practice.
Paul Massey, The Anatomy of Pilates
Lauren Imparato, “Bandhas for Beginners: Intro to Yogas Interior Locks”
Rolf Sovik, Yoga International. “A Beginner’s Guide to Bandhas”

Yoga ‘A-ha’ moments; ever have one?

Yoga ‘A-ha’ moments; ever have one?

Have you ever had an ‘A-ha’ moment during your yoga practice?

Don’t worry if you didn’t.

Not every yoga practice is a life changing moment but instead builds moments to a life change.

After Savasana, I always prompt this:

“Take a few moments to check in with how you feel.
How do you feel physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, and spiritually?”

What does all this mean?

Yoga isn’t just the physical practice. Yes, we get on the mat, we move physically but when we move physically, it effects everything else.

Ever go into a fitness class or dance class in a foul mood but walk out feeling SO MUCH BETTER?? Yeah, it’s because of all the beautiful hormonal changes that happen when we move our bodies…

Moving your body has been scientifically proven to keep us healthy. It creates the happy hormones; Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, & Endorphins.1

Once you stop moving, your body starts to weaken and things start to deteriorate.
Physically AND mentally. Because…MOVEMENT IS LIFE.

I digress…(and I gracefully step off my soap-box)

Here’s what I’m really asking you to observe and think about at the end of each practice.

  1. Notice what you feel physically. The good, the not-so-good, and the bad.
    i.e. tingling, tightness, weakness, stretched out, muscle fatigue, soreness, etc.
    ~ By taking notice, you learn what poses, what style of yoga, what breath work, and what meditations work for you and your body.

2. What do you feel emotionally?
i.e. boredom, excitement, sad, happy, peaceful, or maybe you can’t label what you feel.
~ If a wave of emotion comes up, do your best to experience it, even if it’s uncomfortable. By experiencing it, you’re allowing that energy to release. Releasing allows space for new energies to replace them.

3. What’s going on mentally?
i.e. are worries popping up, are you anxious about something, are you thinking about something else or someone else, do you want to stay longer, (Monkey Mind) etc.
~ A big part of practicing yoga, is observing our thoughts. This is the perfect time to do so. Just ‘cause the thought is there, doesn’t mean it’s true or you have to act on it.

4. How do you feel energetically?
i.e. are you fidgety, fatigued, sleepy, calm, re-energized, etc.
~ These signals help you figure out if and how the practice helped you, or not.

5. What, if anything, has come up spiritually?
i.e. any ‘A-ha’ moments, epiphanies, or personal realizations, any noticeable changes within yourself; how you cope with stress, life changes, beliefs, etc.
~ Sometimes, this is as simple as an answer to a complex issue you were having…maybe how to resolve a relationship issue or how to execute a plan.

I’ll say this: not every practice is going be a life changing epiphany. Sometimes we get these awesome ‘A-ha!’ moments but more often than not, the changes are subtle and appear over time. This is why having a consistent yoga practice is important. Small changes culminate to create awareness and mindfulness.

Have you had an ‘A-ha’ moment during your yoga practice? What light bulb went on for you?

Have an awesome day!
Namaste my friends.

1Shah, A., 2020. Happy hormones: 4 chemicals that activate happiness and how to increase them naturally. [online] Everyday Science. Available at: https://www.everydayscience.blog/happy-hormones/ [Accessed 11 June 2021].