Thursday, May 30, 2013

Five Great Reasons to do Hot Yoga in the Summer!

Now that New York has finally decided to get the temperature on the same page as the calendar, and it's heating up out there, you may be skeptical about continuing your Hot Yoga practice through the summer months. It's easy to get into the hot room in the winter, when it's cold outside, and New York Yoga provides a respite from the winter chill.

But here are five reasons why you should continue working in the hot room in the summer, too, even though you are being tempted by the gods of central air conditioning!
  1. Hot Yoga can help acclimate you to the season’s heat. Your body cools itself more efficiently and effectively through sweat. So when you leave the yoga room, the outside feels cooler than inside! It works the other way around also—when the hot room feels cooler than the outdoors, practicing becomes a delight!
  2. Your muscles, joints and ligaments will already be nice and warm when you enter the studio, so you will likely find you’re more flexible and can go deeper into the postures during the summer. Stretching and strengthening your body with hot yoga is the best way to increase joint flexibility, core strength and spinal mobility.
  3. The summer heat can leave you feeling sluggish—Yoga is a great way to fill your tank with energy by increasing your oxygen intake and balancing the various systems of the body. Hot Yoga encourages you to stay well hydrated and to replenish your electrolytes regularly. This can be a great benefit during the hot summer months.
  4. Practicing Yoga will give you an advantage in any summer athletic endeavor you choose—swimming, hiking, sailing, biking, jogging, beach volleyball-ing…No matter what outdoor activity you choose, Yoga will increase your strength, stamina, balance and coordination. Not to mention, burning 800 calories or more per class will get you buff in all the right places.  You will look great and feel more comfortable and confident all summer long.
  5. Activate the immune system and lower your risk for illness by detoxifying your body in a healthy air quality exercise environment. High quality air exchange helps protect the body against infection. Get re-energized. Rejuvenate your body and clear your mind by practicing in a heated environment, spend quality ‘me’ time focusing on your own health needs.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pose of the Month: Kurmasana

Pose of the Month
Kurmasana – Tortoise Pose
by April Evans

If you’re anything like me, you have seriously had enough of this Vata spring season.  Vata is the Ayurvedic dosha of air and ether.  It is associated with change and creativity, and is highly present in the transitory seasons of Spring and Autumn.  When we have a particularly Vata spring, where it goes back and forth from and rain to sun and hot to cold, we can get to feeling like the winds of change are dealing us some hard knocks.  We get to feeling too airy, too spaced out, too much like our feet aren’t on the ground.  It can be hard to make decisions, and for those of us who are naturally airy to begin with, we might experience anxiety, insomnia, and mood swings.

This month’s Pose of the Month is Kurmasana – tortoise pose.  For me, this pose is the ultimate grounding posture.  Just like a tortoise retreating to his shell, this posture always makes me feel safe and reminds me that no matter what is going on around me, I am always at home in my own skin.

*Balances Vata Dosha
*Calms the Mind
*Opens the entire back body
*Opens inner and outer hips
*Tones abdominal organs

How to do this Pose
There are lots of stops on the way to the full expression of Kurmasana – stay and breathe once you’ve reached your edge.  Remember, you don’t have to be able to hook your ankles behind your head to embody a calming inward gaze.  Also, this is not a pose to do cold.  Warm up the hips, hamstrings, and space between the shoulder blades before trying this pose.

1.  Come to sit on the mat.  Bend the knees a lot and place the heels on the ground about as wide as the mat.  Drape the torso down in between the legs.  For some, this will be plenty.
2.  Reach from the insides of the legs and take the hands to grab the backs of the ankles.  Begin to work the shoulders underneath the knees.  Squeeze the knees into the shoulders to feel the shoulder blades open up, continue to let the head drop and breathe deeply.

3.  Start to reach the arms out in a V shape behind you, and begin to extend the legs long into a V shape in front of you.  The forehead may come to the floor, or maybe the chest can extend forward and the breast bone and chin will come to the floor.  This is another great place to stay and breathe.

4. If this feels good, start to reach the hands toward the center of the back, and begin to wiggle the feet toward each other.

5. For the full expression, you may be able to find a clasp with the hands near the small of the back, and hook the ankles behind the head.

6.  Breathe deeply into the safety of your own little shell.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Practice your Pigeon

Pigeon Pose is a staple of most classes. But reading this recent interview with New York Yoga instructor Kristin Leal made us stop and think about what really goes into pigeon.

As with all things yoga, remember that your body is not the same as the body next to yours in class, just like no one else's practice is quite like your own. So take a look at what Kristin has to say, and as always, listen to your body.

We'll see you on the mat!