Take a moment,
Take a moment,
I spent the day sick in bed, catching up on reading and sipping hot chamomile tea. It’s been a day of putting myself and rest first, and I am learning to be gentle with myself when I need to take a breather.
I can still be a warrior without pushing myself to the extreme. I learned that lesson with my stress fracture at the end of last year. And now I am putting what I learned into action as I mend my cold. There is definitely strength in that.
After running a turkey trot race on Thanksgiving morning, I injured my leg a bit (stress fracture with painful edema). It’s an injury I’ve had in the past from pushing myself too hard by running on pavement on the roads. I love the mental benefits of running outdoors, but sadly it seems that I need to stick to walking or treadmills and soft tracks. So what have I turned to as my leg rests and heals? You guessed it: restorative yoga.
Spending over a week with my leg propped up or hobbling about on my crutches led me to feel cabin-feverish. I missed my yoga practice. An anti-inflammatory (prescribed by my doctor) helped with the pain and swelling in the hip joint. But I needed the physical and mental outlet of exercise back again.
When my leg began feeling better, I slowly incorporated gentle stretching and restorative yoga poses into my day. A few books helped me focus on helpful asanas, along with my own knowledge from YTT (yoga teacher training) in the past. I’d recommend Yoga Anatomy for great visuals and instructive aids on anatomical alignment, and Yoga Sequencing for planning your practice.
Restorative poses such as supta baddha konasana (with props: bolster, strap, blanket, blocks) and legs-up-the-wall helped ease the tension in my hip. After many days of dedicated rest, I started adding a gentle yoga flow every couple of days. Learning the hard way, I discovered the importance of listening to my body when it needs rest, and restraint from pushing myself to much.
The moral of the story is: practice where you are, as you are! Yoga is not a competitive sport. It is an inward practice and self-reflection. One day, you may feel strong in certain poses; the next day, you may find that you must back-off of certain asanas. There is no judging right or wrong in yoga — there is proper alignment, however, which you can benefit from going to a class and practicing with a certified instructor. Listen to your body and be gentle with what it tells you. I certainly will be more mindful of my own.
Keep in mind, your own personal yoga practice is not a substitute for physical therapy or doctor’s orders — unless directly recommended or prescribed (or taught by a certified, specialized yoga teacher!). But it certainly can help when attention and care are paid to the injury and poses are done with proper alignments.
I’m overwhelmed by the strong emotions felt after a well-balanced yoga practice. When I move in and out of the asana (poses) and bring the dynamic of pranayama (breath) to my movements, a beautiful thing happens at the end of the sequence. Lying in savasana — the final pose — I feel connected and grounded to the Earth. My chakras (energy centers) vibrate at a high frequency and I feel spiritually at peace with the universe.
Not voodoo or magic, but disciplined yoga practice allows me to navigate the world more gently and easily and let go of the little nuances we all struggle with through life. So, steady as she goes…
Ever wonder about the quality, eco-friendliness or affordability of yoga mats out there? With so many options, it’s hard to sort through the characteristics that are important to you — and it can be difficult to make that final decision.
Currently, I use a lululemon reversible mat with great cushioning and stickiness and an extra-large Jade Yoga mat when I’m looking for more room to practice. I recommend doing your homework and testing out different mats when making an informed decision on a mat that will provide you with what you need.
There are a lot of factors to compare when looking for the right mat for you. A great resource I found is this comprehensive guide on yoga mats from ConsumersAdvocate.org that breaks down some of the most popular options in well-researched detail. I was happy to find my current yoga mat on the list!
Whether you are looking for eco-friendly yoga mats or the best price for your budget, the right one is out there!
Chakra energy work is something I like to pay attention to and incorporate in my practice and teachings. If you aren’t already familiar with the chakras, here’s a quick and simple guide to the seven major concentrated energy centers:
Located at the base of the spine, this chakra energy center represents grounding, thus the name! It is attributed to survival instincts, physical strength, and reproductive organs. Root chakra is associated with the color red and Earth element.
Located below the lower back or naval, this chakra energy center represents independent power and metabolism. It is attributed to the emotional self, trust, and the spleen. Sacral chakra is associated with the color orange and Water element.
Situated between the chest plate (sternum) and navel, this chakra energy center represents ego, passion, and growth. It’s associated with sexual energy, adaptability to change, and adrenals. Solar plexus chakra is attributed to the color yellow and Fire element.
In the center of the chest, this chakra energy center represents love, and so the name! It’s guided by acceptance, social relationships, and the heart organ. Heart chakra has the characteristic of the color green and the Air element.
At the base of the neck, this chakra energy center accounts for communication. It’s guided by creativity, sounds and language, and the thyroids. The throat chakra is characterized as the color blue and the Ether element.
Between the eyebrows, this chakra energy center represents wisdom. It’s associated with intuition, awareness, and the pituitary glands. The third eye chakra is attributed to the indigo light and transcends elements.
At the top of the head or beyond, this chakra energy center represents thought. It’s attributes include spirituality, intelligence, enlightenment and the pineal organs. Crown chakra is characterized as purple/white light and transcends the elements.
Personally, I like to envision each chakras attributed colors swirling from the rooted ground to its coupled energy center and flowing out the crown of the head as white light. Play around with the energy flow! I’ll be on the lookout for resources if you want to know more…
I’m in the early part of my yoga teaching journey, but I’ve already learned so much. I substitute teach once or twice a week at an amazing new studio. I also have taught/volunteered yoga at a health clinic for special populations. Each class brings new challenges, rewarding moments, and lots of learning curves.
During this holiday season, I am grateful for the life I am building for myself. It’s been a year since I started my yoga teacher training. I’ve learned how to teach chair yoga, sensitive verbal cues to avoid touch, grace under pressure and so much more. Cheers to the swiftly approaching New Year.
Thank you for reading! Namaste.
Lemons out of lemonade!
Sometimes life throws you curveballs, a minor setback or a major life crisis. One can seem like a mountain to one person, the other may feel like a molehill — just a minor setback. No matter the situation, keep going and persevere! You have come so far in this world, don’t give it up over a squirt of citrus — make lemonade!
No matter what you go through
Your pain is your pain;
No matter what you smile with
Your joy is yours.
It took me a long time to recognize the importance of self love. Finding yourself is a lifelong process, and I practice loving myself for all that I am — the good, the bad, and the idiosyncratic.
What I discover each day is that I can always strive to make a better choice or a better decision. I fall down, but I get back up; I cry one moment, but I laugh about it later.
I found self love by taking better care of myself. No matter what you practice, I invite you to work on self care. I have faith that you will find a deepening of self love in the process.
With this tree
I dig my roots into the ground
I reach my branches to the sky
I let each Fall leaf float down
Knowing my green will come back around.
Today I felt sick, mentally and physically exhausted.
But I rested myself to the yoga mat and practiced where I was. I found energy in the prana mudra, my breath moving in and out of each asana, and my acceptance of myself for where I was today.
I am grateful for my life, but the past can creep up, the heartache and hardships resurface, and I sometimes sense that the wonderful things of today are not deserved by me.
And so I remind myself, good, bad, or indifferent, that nothing is perfect, stationary, or forever. I bring myself back to the present. And I remember how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am today.
I know who I want to be, who I choose to be, and who I am. I have faith that I can maintain these important moral codes for myself. I am in control of my destiny. And I love the ride of life now that I can walk confidently upon steps unwavering. Being true to myself feels good, powerful, and honest: I wish everyone finds their truth and walks down their own paths as well, finding beauty in what makes you uniquely you.
We don’t always get answers to our why’s and how’s — but we can get inner peace when we detach from our need for an answer.
September is a special time of year.
It begins the start of Autumn, and what better way to greet the beauty of the Fall than with National Yoga Month?
Yoga is an around-the-year practice. But there are ways to welcome the seasonal changes through our asana and breath work.
I recommend turning inward in your practice and setting intentions for what you wish to let go as the year begins it’s close. As the leaves change and float to the ground, let the thoughts and actions you wish to leave behind fall as well.
With love and light,
I like to switch up my yoga practice with new and old sequences I’ve written. Today, I grabbed an early one I wrote for Standing Split pose, or Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (in sanskrit).
Using blocks to prop myself into a deeper pose, I thought about how grateful I am to have my daily practice and to maintain mindfulness beyond the mat. There have been times when I haven’t been able to focus or bring play to the mat.
In my yoga practice, I am grateful for what I have accomplished from teacher training and beyond.
Thank you for visiting Joanna Yoga!
I’m Joanna, a RYT-200 certified yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance. I teach an aligned vinyasa yoga style with an emphasis on anatomy of asana poses and a yoga philosophy that welcomes everyone for accessible teaching.
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