Diggin’ Deep: Scorpion, King Pigeon + Child’s Pose

My three favorite yoga poses? This is just like asking me to pick my favorite Bible verse! There are so many to choose from, and each one significant. They have each taught me something about myself or have changed me in some way. So choosing only three is quite difficult, however, there are three that have truly made a huge impact on my life.

Scorpion
1. Scorpion Handstand or in Sanskrit, Vrschikasana.
This challenging asana not only requires strength and flexibility, but it requires humility, patience, willingness, and practice. For me, this pose sums up my practice of yoga, which is why it has made its way into my top three favorite asanas. When I first witnessed this being done on a YouTube video, I had just begun practicing yoga on a daily basis. Beginning to practice scorpion resulted into a turning point in my practice. Yoga, which what I thought was just a fancy word for stretching at that time, was proving to be much, much more. Before attempting my first scorpion, not only was I intimidated by the external look of the asana, but I was also afraid. It was then that I realized when practicing yoga, you are not only working towards a strong body, but also a strong mind. It takes a lot of strength to overcome thoughts full of fear and doubt. Scorpion pose demands that you move beyond what you think your body is capable of, and open your mind to possibilities we may not think exist. When I practice scorpion now, it brings me back to when I began my yoga journey and shows me how far dedication and practice has taken me. I can now find comfort, empowerment, and peace in Vrschikasana.

Childs pose

2. Child’s pose or in Sanskrit, Balasana.
Up until recently, I used to dread Child’s pose. Coming from a gymnastics and dance background, my mentality since I was a child has been to pursue perfection, to never give up, and to always push myself harder. When I began practicing yoga, my brain had to be rewired to think the opposite. Perfection should never be a goal in your yoga practice, because there simply is no such thing. Everyone’s body is built differently, created to move differently, and grows at a different pace, therefore making everyone’s standard for perfection different. In a yoga class, it is common for teachers to refer to Child’s pose as a place for you to rest if you get tired, overwhelmed, or to regulate your breath. This was never a pose I felt I needed to visit because I thought I needed to push myself in my practice, no matter how tired I was. It wasn’t until I strained my back when I began visiting this pose on a daily basis. This pose asks that you humble yourself; that you listen to your body when it is showing signs that it is tired and overwhelmed, and you honor it by giving it a moment to rest. This pose has taught me that humbling yourself and honoring your body is not admitting defeat, but displaying your strength.

 

Kapotasana

3. King Pigeon Pose or in Sanskrit, Kapotasana.
Although Kapotasana is one of the deepest backbends in the Ashtanga Intermediate series, it surprisingly was not unpleasant to learn. Kapotasana was such a beautiful asana to learn because as I began moving deeper and deeper into the pose, my heart opened more and more to all of the possibilities I never thought existed. Kapotasana has helped me to accept where I am in my practice and just embrace the process, embrace the journey.

HEADSHOTI’m Kayla Perry.  I am 19 years young, born and raised under the sunny skies of Miami.  I am a lover of Jesus, people, life, and yoga.  I am a self-taught yogi and began just one year ago, but can no longer imagine my life without it.  I am a student, an artist, and a creator.  I desire to share my passion for yoga and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle with others.  The more I learn the more I teach, the more I teach the more I learn.

Pilates Posture: Stand Tall Like a Goddess

10480178_777129688994478_4898179285751687696_nI’ve been 5’9″ for as long as I can remember. I was always in the back row of every class picture. My friends in the front row. My parents nagging me non-stop  to “throw” my shoulders back. Pull my shoulders back. Stand up! It wasn’t as if I was being rebellious. I just didn’t know how important it was to my health, future and life it would be to Stand Tall.

Truth is there is not one person who does not need to have proper posture.  But, it’s not that easy to have proper posture when you have spent so many years without it. Also, our lifestyles are not always conducive to proper posture. We sit too much, drive too much, have desks that are not properly measured to us. Our lifestyles constantly reinforce poor posture because we don’t enforce good posture.

I know poor posture is not intentional. In fact I can’t think of one person who is yearning to be the little old lady with the hump back.  But, guess what? Hump back didn’t just wake up like that. Nope, it happened ever so gradually over her entire lifetime.

As a Pilates instructor I work with clients of all ages, careers and fitness goals. I hear it all the time when I adjust their bodies into alignment how “strange” it feels or “crooked”. Because we don’t always realize how out of alignment we are, how slouched we are. Right now you’re probably reading this and thinking of someone you know who needs to work on their posture. Hold that thought, I am going to have you check your posture in a minute.While I am sure you know what “good” posture is let’s review.

Proper posture is having the ability to stand, lay or sit upright against the earth’s gravitational pull. Darn gravity! Training your body to stand, walk and lay without straining in one place more than the other is good Posture.Having good posture means using your muscles to support your body evenly. Yes, you have to use your muscles to hold your bones up.  Your posture is on point when your body is in a nice plumb line: Ears are over shoulders, shoulders are over hips, hips are over knees and even weight is spread throughout your feet.

What’s so important about Good Posture anyways?

Aside from looking correct, confident, strong and well, attractive. Posture is important to your body functioning at it’s best.  When you sit, stand or lay with correct posture you body is able to use it’s muscles in the correct alignment, decreasing wear and tear on the body. This posture also aides in reducing stress on your spine and overall spine health. The muscles in your body will not fatigue so quickly as they are able to work in the fashion they were designed. You’re less likely to overuse a particular muscle and therefore reduce the likelihood of pain and aches in the body especially the back. Oh and again, you just look better!

Still not convinced your should pay attention to your posture? No worries, let’s talk circulation. If you are slouching you’re affecting the blood flow to your spine and other major body parts. Your spinal column is the passage of information from your brain to your body. Picture a freeway, everyone is going in one direction. Their are on ramps and off ramps. What happens when a car stalls at ramp? It backs up traffic. Information isn’t getting to parts of the body the way it was designed. Overtime this can become chronic.  Poor posture will also lead to back pain and aches or even injuries, which then will lead to furthering the bad posture. Think about it. Last time you had an ache or pain did you stand taller or hunch more?

Now that I have your attention let’s check YOUR posture.

Stand against a wall. Your feet will be about shoulder distance apart and six inches from the wall. Your head, shoulders and hips will be against the wall. When you do this you neck and low back should have less that a two inch space from the wall. If it’s larger than you are looking at signs of poor posture. If you cannot get your head, shoulders and hips against the wall at the same time, that’s a sign of poor posture.

Check your body’s alignment regularly with this exercise.

The Wall 

Set up just as you did to check your posture. Double check that your head, shoulders, hips are against the wall to start. Then with soft knees curl your head off the wall, then one vertebra at a time articulate your spine off the wall until your hands are in front of your knees. Missed a vertebra? Stop! Start over. If you miss it again then that’s as far as you go. Continue to roll up and down focusing on one bone at a time. Using your core will help you get through the whole spine one day. Do this a few times and then roll all the way up and hold.

Again, double check your landmarks. Head, shoulders, hips against the wall. Lift your arms to shoulder height. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor and each other plug your shoulders on the wall. Reach your arms forward, the shoulders will leave the wall then plug them back on the wall. Do this again a few times. Reaching forward, plugging back in. You’ll feel the muscles of your upper back warm up and pull your collar bones wide to allow for your shoulders to touch the wall. These muscles are necessary for keeping your shoulders “on” your back and not rounding forward.

The last time you plug your shoulders on the wall hold. Draw small circles with your arms. Keep the circles controlled, only as big as your can maintain your shoulders on the wall. Do 5-10 then reverse.

photo-13-150x150Lesley Logan author of Profitable Pilates and Los Angeles Magazines Best of LA Pilates instructor has been teaching in LA since 2008.  She currently  teaches at Westwood Pilates and Equinox West Hollywood  where she also runs the Pilates studio.  As a goals coach for Fitness Instructors around the world she enjoys seeing her clients hit their personal and career goals!

Website: www.lesleyloganpilates.com

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