Category Archives: Yoga

Fire Log – Agnistambhasana

This pose could be easy for you or it could be very uncomfortable. Have a blanket ready if you need to wedge it under a knee for support.  Sit in easy seated pose (sukhasana) and begin to move your feet so that your knees and ankles are stacked directly on top of each other.  This is the eventual goal but if its too hard you can fold forward in easy seated pose and each time you do the pose try to move your feet a little further.  You can stay sitting up or you can fold forward to intensify the stretch.  You’ll get there!  This is one of my everyday poses.

ANATOMY LESSON: Remember with yoga that you can feel the stretch anywhere you might be tight.  You should feel a deep stretch in your hip.  This is getting your gluteus muscles (your butt cheek area) and the muscles located under the glutes the lateral rotators. You may also feel it down your leg.  PHOTO BY amyelizabethbruce

Cow Face Pose variation – Gomukhasana

cowfaceposeFThis is half of the pose.  The full pose also has an excellent arm/shoulder stretch but here we’ll just focus on the legs.  Extend you legs out. Cross one leg over then swing the feet to either side of the body with the goal of getting the knees to stack on each other.  You may need a blanket to place under a hip. One of your hips will certainly come off the floor and one day it will make it to the floor.  Hold this pose for as long as you like or can tolerate and don’t forget to do both sides.  This stretch is excellent for the hip muscles that laterally move your legs.  Exp; Glutes, lateral rotators (perifomis is one of 6 that are deep in your hip, under your glutes). Also you may feel a very intense stretch on the outside of your thigh.  This is your iliotibial band (IT band) The longest tendon in your body and a very important stabilizer!

ANATOMY LESSON: PLACE YOUR HAND ON THE FRONT OF YOUR HIPS. You should feel 2 bony spots on either side of your pelvis these are your ASIS (AKA; Anterior Superior Iliac Spine). The most anterior areas of your pelvis.  Move your fingers just to the outside of the ASIS and this is where the muscles for your IT band originate.  It’s a little Muscle called tensor fascia lata (TFL) It starts then transitions into the IT band. (your gluteus maximus muscles also partially attach to the IT band they form your butt cheeks!  Then the IT band inserts on the outside/lateral side of your knee on your Tibia (the shin bone).  FYI! Muscles transition into tendons and then attach to the bone.

PHOTO BY amyelizabethbruce

Pyramid Pose – Parsvottanasana

PyramidFAlso called Intense Side Stretch Pose. Start by standing with your feet hip width apart. Step one foot up anywhere from 12 inches or a few feet. The distance of your feet depends on how deep you want the stretch to be. The back foot should rotate a few degrees away from you. Check to make sure your hips are aligned so one side isn’t more forward than the other. If one hip is more forward then your feet are too fat apart. Take a big inhale as you reach your arms overhead and as you exhale fold forward. If you you can’t touch the ground you may want to use blocks until you get there. Hello Hamstrings! FYI Make sure you have a micro bend in the front knee while doing the pose. You can easily overextend your knee. BE CAREFUL! When you start to come out of the pose place both of your hands on your front thigh and bend your knee and then rise to standing. Now to the other side. Have fun! Love this one. PHOTO BY amyelizabethbruce

Half Frog Pose – Ardha Bhekasana

half-frogFSphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana) to Half Frog Pose (Ardha Bhekasana).  As you can see in the pictures this is a great opportunity for a chest stretch.  Grab your foot from inside your arch and press your leg away from your body.  This will pull on your arm and create an excellent chest opener.  You’ve got to open up your heart!  Then the next step is to start bending your elbow and bring your foot toward you.  This then becomes a great Quadriceps Stretch.  WAY safer than trying to stand up and do it.

PHOTO BY amyelizabethbruce

Camel Pose – Ustrasana

Camel Pose The photo on the left is how you normally see this pose done. The photo on the right is actually the proper alignment. You will feel the difference when you support your neck and align your palate (the top of your mouth). Hold in your core and tuck your tailbone.  You must engage your muscles don’t just let go in the pose, be strong. If you want neck problems when you’re older go ahead and don’t support your neck. When your neck is happy your lower back will be happy too. You can see my lower back is arching way too much on the left and I’m losing stability in the lumbar area. Over arching your spine is never a good idea!  Only do one arm at a time if using both arms is too intense.

Monkey Lunge – Anjaneyasana

monkeylungeFMonkey lunge is one of my absolute favorite poses. Start in downward facing dog, table top or just lunge. Press into the back heal as you slowly lower the back knee to the ground. If you have any discomfort in your back knee place a blanket or a towel under it. Allow your front knee to slowly move over the ankle toward your toes. This is the only pose you’re allowed to take the knee out of alignment with your ankle. With any other pose you ALWAYS want the knee to be directly over your heal/ankle. STAY HERE! Your now stretching the front of you rear leg (quadriceps muscles) and you’ll probably feel discomfort in the front leg, the inner thigh muscles called adductors. Once you feel comfortable with your balance and control you can try reaching your arms overhead. You’ll feel a stretch in your 3 major core muscles iliopsoas (psoas major/minor & iliacus). These muscles go from the inside of your lumbar vertebrate and pelvis, then all 3 attach to the inside of your upper leg bone, the femur. You’re intestines are their neighbors! When you do core exercise iliopsoas is the prime mover! A mad iliopsoas can create lower back pain that feels as if the pain is wrapping around your waist.  Your palms should be facing. Take your shoulders up into your ears and then roll them down your back. This should create space between your arms and ears. Press though both feet hold in your belly, tuck your tailbone and BREATH! Once this pose gets easier there is so much other fun stuff you can do with it.

(AHN-jah-nay-ah-sa–na) also called crescent lunge pose, low lunge.  PHOTO BY Amyelizabethbruce

Lizard Pose – Sirsangusthasana

lizardFYou can start in downward facing dog, table top or just lunge. Bring the back knee to the grown slowly as you press though your heal. Blanket/towel if you need it under you knee. Then bring both hands to the inside. If you can’t get your elbows down (which is most likely) grab a pillow or a yoga block and place it under your forearms. This pose is a hip opener obviously.  hehe. It really gets the flexer muscles of your hip and the quadriceps (front of the thigh) of your opposite hip. Pressing though my back heal creates stability. You want to hang out in this pose for as much time as you can. Don’t forget to switch sides! Try using downward dog or tabletop as a transition to the other side. Then go back to downward dog after you’re done with your Lizard. Have fun with this one. Also called; head to big toe pose and lizard pose. PHOTO BY amyelizabethbruce

High and Low Plank – Phalakasana

plankFTime to do plank! The key to this pose are the heals, your foundation. Specifically pressing your heal down with all your might. This creates stability. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. Index fingers are parallel, fan out the fingers proportionality creating total symmetry. Squeeze your shoulders up toward your ears then roll your shoulders back down. Tuck your tailbone (aka; squeeze butt cheeks together and push your pubic bone forward). Imagine you have a rope attached to the very crown of your head and someones pulling on it. Your head is extending diagonally and your heals press away from you. You also NEED to contract your abdomen. Activity squeeze the breath out on your exhale. Hold in your belly I still want you to breath with your belly but YOU MUST have conscious control over it’s movement. Hold for as much time as possible. Knees are there when you need a break. Make a goal of holding it for a minute. I know your phone has a stopwatch in it’s clock settings! USE IT!! Time your stretches. {Try going to the forearms for a low plank. Make sure each elbow is placed directly where the hand was. This is much harder. These poses create strength and stability. Try ALSO lifting a leg one at a time, great low back strength exercise.} …AND DON’T FORGET to BREATH of course!!!!

PHOTO BY amyelizabethbruce