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Unifyoga

Meditation

" Change Begins Within "

When I meditate, I sit comfortably on a cushion with my legs crossed and hands placed on my knees. I like to sit on the edge of the cushion so my pelvis tilts slightly downward, making it easier to maintain a straight spine. This helps me stay alert, instead of falling asleep. I close my eyes and focus on my breath, trying to slow my inhale and exhale to about the same length. When I first tried to meditate, I noticed that after a few minutes, random thoughts would arise: What time is it? What will I have for lunch? Was that a door opening? I decided not to feel like I had failed, but instead, went back to focusing on my breath. After six months of meditating like this regularly, I realized the interrupting thoughts came less frequently! Even more interesting, I was able to notice trends in the recurring random thoughts that interrupted my focus. This provided an opportunity to better understand myself. When I finish meditating, my mind is very calm and my thinking is more intentional, less guided by external stimulation. Better understanding myself will be a lifelong process, which is why meditation is now one of my regular practices!

meditation
warriors

Warrior I-III

" Confront Yourself "

When I first started practicing yoga, I felt strong and graceful in the warrior sequence. I stepped forward from mountain pose into warrior one and raised my arms, crescent like, overhead. Then, pivoting on the ball of my back foot, I lowered my arms until both were parallel with the ground and my gaze traced just beyond my front arm, coming into warrior two. I felt strong but burdened and distracted by the burning sensation in my arms and thighs. As my practice grew, I became more sensitive to where I pushed and gravity pulled my body. I progressively found relaxation in my warrior one and two. Finally, it was time to bring all my weight into one leg, tilt my chest and raise my other leg until parallel with the ground to confront warrior three. Every practice, I fought to maintain steady breath, sensitivity, and relaxation. I realized that this internal war helped me confront the fluctuations of my mind, and I grew to embrace a warrior I was proud of.

 

Warrior I-III

" Confront Yourself "

When I first started practicing yoga, I felt strong and graceful in the warrior sequence. I stepped forward from mountain pose into warrior one and raised my arms, crescent like, overhead. Then, pivoting on the ball of my back foot, I lowered my arms until both were parallel with the ground and my gaze traced just beyond my front arm, coming into warrior two. I felt strong but burdened and distracted by the burning sensation in my arms and thighs. As my practice grew, I became more sensitive to where I pushed and gravity pulled my body. I progressively found relaxation in my warrior one and two. Finally, it was time to bring all my weight into one leg, tilt my chest and raise my other leg until parallel with the ground to confront warrior three. Every practice, I fought to maintain steady breath, sensitivity, and relaxation. I realized that this internal war helped me confront the fluctuations of my mind, and I grew to embrace a warrior I was proud of.

 

warriors

Downward Facing Dog

" Challenge Your Perspective "

      My love for running and swimming has made me very strong, however, I find myself stiff and inflexible. Downward facing dog has increased my awareness of which muscles are tight and which muscles need to be strengthened. Initially, I struggled to stay relaxed and keep a steady breath as I concentrated on keeping my shoulders externally rotated which strengthens the rotator cuffs. This was difficult because I had originally learned and practiced the pose incorrectly; my arms and shoulders were locked in place, rotating internally which can cause common shoulder injuries. Now, when I experiment with my body in the pose, I can feel how slight adjustments turn a deep stretch into a strengthening action. Most amazingly, the stretching of my hamstrings, calves, and arches of my feet in the pose has totally changed how I feel when I run! Practicing downward facing dog gives me the freedom to keep adventuring as I grow older! 

downward
cats-cow

Cat - Cow

" Balance is Essential "

I work a desk job. A few months into the position, I started to develop back pain from sitting eight hours a day. No matter how hard I tried to maintain good sitting posture, I found myself slouching with rounded shoulders. One day, I overheard my co-workers saying they disliked sitting so much at work.

Before I could join in the conversation, a voice from a few cubicles over said,"You guys should try yoga! It has worked miracles for my back".

I didn't respond, but I knew I had to do something if I was going to keep my job. When leaving work that day, I saw a flyer on the office news bulletin board for a local yoga class.

So, I gave it a try. I hesitantly walked into a beginner's class, where I carefully watched and copied what others were doing to make sure I had the right equipment and was sitting properly. The instructor led us through a variety of poses until we were comfortably on our hands and knees ready for cat-cow. I felt my spine being stretched, safely, back and forth and knew I had found the answer to my back pain!

Cat - Cow

" Balance is Essential "

I work a desk job. A few months into the position, I started to develop back pain from sitting eight hours a day. No matter how hard I tried to maintain good sitting posture, I found myself slouching with rounded shoulders. One day, I overheard my co-workers saying they disliked sitting so much at work.

Before I could join in the conversation, a voice from a few cubicles over said,"You guys should try yoga! It has worked miracles for my back".

I didn't respond, but I knew I had to do something if I was going to keep my job. When leaving work that day, I saw a flyer on the office news bulletin board for a local yoga class.

So, I gave it a try. I hesitantly walked into a beginner's class, where I carefully watched and copied what others were doing to make sure I had the right equipment and was sitting properly. The instructor led us through a variety of poses until we were comfortably on our hands and knees ready for cat-cow. I felt my spine being stretched, safely, back and forth and knew I had found the answer to my back pain!

cats-cow

Cobra

" Listen to Your Body "

When I first started doing Yoga, I went to classes almost every day and loved pushing myself to my physical limits. When it was time to come into cobra, I pushed up with my hands until my arms were locked.  My chest and abdominals were stretched as I opened my chest, rolled my shoulders back, and arched my back. I figured the more I felt the stretch, the more flexible I would become. After a few months of practicing cobra like this I was confused: my lower back felt tighter than ever and it hurt! I started watching other students and realized that many of the students were not pushing into their hands at all ... experimented with different variations of cobra, I realized my "push-the-limits" mentality was the source of my back pain. An instructor later explained that if I don't push into my arms at all and lift my torso using my back muscles, I could still open my chest while strengthening my back! I became more sensitive to whether my body needed a deep, chest-opening stretch or my back needed a little strengthening.

cobra
inversion

Inversion

" Respect the Process "

I work a desk job. A few months into the position, I started to develop back pain from sitting eight hours a day. No matter how hard I tried to maintain good sitting posture, I found myself slouching with rounded shoulders. One day, I overheard my co-workers saying they disliked sitting so much at work.

Before I could join in the conversation, a voice from a few cubicles over said,"You guys should try yoga! It has worked miracles for my back".

I didn't respond, but I knew I had to do something if I was going to keep my job. When leaving work that day, I saw a flyer on the office news bulletin board for a local yoga class.

So, I gave it a try. I hesitantly walked into a beginner's class, where I carefully watched and copied what others were doing to make sure I had the right equipment and was sitting properly. The instructor led us through a variety of poses until we were comfortably on our hands and knees ready for cat-cow. I felt my spine being stretched, safely, back and forth and knew I had found the answer to my back pain!

Inversion

" Respect the Process "

I work a desk job. A few months into the position, I started to develop back pain from sitting eight hours a day. No matter how hard I tried to maintain good sitting posture, I found myself slouching with rounded shoulders. One day, I overheard my co-workers saying they disliked sitting so much at work.

Before I could join in the conversation, a voice from a few cubicles over said,"You guys should try yoga! It has worked miracles for my back".

I didn't respond, but I knew I had to do something if I was going to keep my job. When leaving work that day, I saw a flyer on the office news bulletin board for a local yoga class.

So, I gave it a try. I hesitantly walked into a beginner's class, where I carefully watched and copied what others were doing to make sure I had the right equipment and was sitting properly. The instructor led us through a variety of poses until we were comfortably on our hands and knees ready for cat-cow. I felt my spine being stretched, safely, back and forth and knew I had found the answer to my back pain!

inversion