Yoga Flow Body

Tips for Asana Postures:

-Always start out slowly, move in and out of the poses slowly.

-These are only outline sequences and/or poses. You could definitely add more postures that compliment the ones shown.

-Hold the poses for as long as you are comfortable. You can always go in and out of a pose or repeat the -pose if you like.

-Poses performed on one side of the body should also be performed on the opposite side of your body.

It is best to have slow, deep, even breathing and do not hold your breath during a pose.

-If a pose is painful or you cannot successfully get into it without compromising an injury, do not perform the pose.

-Yoga is meant to be used in addition to an otherwise healthy lifestyle and not meant to diagnose, correct, cure, treat or necessarily prevent any type of disease. Anyone new to an exercise should consult with their physician before starting.

 

*Above all else trust your instincts and listen to your inner voice.*

Simple Natural Solutions for Bodily Aches & Pains

Essential Oil

Simple, quick and natural solutions that may help lessen bodily aches pains including back pain, fascitis, sciatica, overworked/overused muscles, strains, sprains, arthritis, rheumatic inflammation, etc. temporarily:


  -Apply a heating pad to the area(s); or alternate heat and cold for strains and sprains
-Take an epsom salt bath with or without pain relieving essential oils (EO)
  -Adding a few pain relieving essentials oil drops to your bath water such as peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, German chamomile (a little more expensive though), Clary Sage, or Frankincense Serrata or Carteri. Lavender blends well with all of the other oils listed.    

  *Remember with essential oils to educate yourself before using them. Test a small patch of skin after the oil has been diluted in a carrier oil (7-10 drops EO : 1 oz carrier oil is usually good) such as almond, sesame, or jojoba. EO's can be used "neat" (undiluted) when added to bathwater.*


  -Rub diluted pain relieving EO's onto the affected area(s) a few times a day. All of the above oils can be used more than once a day, the peppermint oil should be used no more than twice a day because it has similar properties as aspirin which thin the blood.


  -Use warm compresses on the area(s) that have been soaked in warm water with or without essential oils for pain relief. Other essential oils to consider in a compress: ginger, clove, or turmeric.

 

-Ingest more anti-inflammatory foods and spices such as Rosemary, clove, ginger, turmeric (or curry powder), cumin, flaxseeds, chia, hemp oil, olive oil, sesame oil, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes (cooked is better), berries, apples, pineapples, citrus, and nuts.


  -Eliminate or cut back on foods that are associated with inflammation such as fried foods, fast foods, processed foods (comes in a can, box, frozen, or other packaging), soda, refined sugars, alcohol, and meat (especially pork and red meat).


  -Become more active if your current lifestyle is sedentary. Start out slow with something that you know you like to do or have always wanted to try. Whatever it is, start doing it.
If your job requires you to sit or stand all day, make sure you stretch and move around every 15-20 minutes or more if you have the opportunity.


  -Last, but not least, STRETCH. In the morning when you first wake up, throughout the day for 5 minutes or so, and before you go to bed.
Lifestyle changes can assist in creating permanent changes.

Yoga Poses & Sequences 

Yoga for the Sciatic Nerve

Sciatica

The sciatic nerve or sciatica is the longest and widest nerve in the human body that begins in the lower back (lumbar L4  to sacral S3) on the right side and splitting down both sides of the legs from the buttocks and finally ending in the feet. This nerve originates from the spinal cord and supports sensations felt in the muscles of the lower back, hips, thighs, calves, and feet.
Many people first learn of the sciatic nerve when it becomes pinched or inflamed from injury, overworking the lower back, herniated disc(s), spinal stenosis; sitting or standing for long periods of time which compresses the low back and pinching the sciatic nerve. The sciatica can even become inflamed or pinched from coughing and sneezing! Have you ever stood up or started to move and felt a radiating, shocking pain that runs down one or both legs, followed by seeing stars? It could have been your sciatica, a visit to your doctor or chiropractor can help to determine this.

Many yoga asanas (poses) are great for sciatica pain because they deliberately stretch and lengthen the spinal column (decompressing the vertebrae) and legs (lengthening the hamstrings and sciatica). Poses to consider below:

 


Standing Poses:
    -Tadasana (Mountain)
    -Uttanasana to Ardha Uttanasana (forward fold to halfway-lift in forward fold)
    -Surya Namaskara Series (Classical, A, or B; sun salutations)
    -Virabhadrasana/Warrior Series
    -Vrksasana (tree)
    -Hasta Padungusthasana (hand to foot w/leg outstretched in front)
    -Utthita Trikonasana (triangle)
    -Parivritta Trikonasana (reversed triangle)
    -Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-leg forward fold)


Inverted:
    -Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog)


Prone:
    -Urdha Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog)
    -Dhanurasana (bow)
    -Bhujangasana (cobra)
    -Salabhasana Series (locust)


Supine:
    -Sarvangasana Series to Halasana Series (shoulderstand to plow)
    -Matsyendrasana Series (lord of the fishes)
    -Purvottasana (inverted plank)
    -Urdha Mukha -Paschimottanasana (legs up the "wall")
    -Jathara Parivartanasana (revolving twist)
    -Supta Padungusthasana (supine hand to foot, leg extended)
    -Anantanasana (lying on side w/leg lifts)
    -Savasana (corpse pose)


Seated/Kneeling Poses:
    -Ustrasana (camel)
    -Malasana (garland) to Pasasana (squat w/twists)
    -Baddha Konasana (butterfly/bound angle; flutter the knees, forward fold, and twists)

    -Upavista Konasana (wide leg forward fold)
    -Dandasana to Paschimottanasana (staff to forward fold)
    -Janu Sirsasana to Marichiasana Series (seated tree stretch to seated twists)

     -Seated Matsyendrasana Series
     -Hanumanasana (splits w/one leg in front and one in back)

When the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed or pinched, it usually just needs to be stretched and lengthened out because it may be compressed by the lumbar discs, or the muscles around have been over/underworked.

Sciatica pain can come and go or remain consistent. The pain can become so bad that it interferes with your daily life and sleep. There are holistic solutions that you could begin with such as yoga, massage (like Thai Yoga), accupressure, acupuncture, seeing a chiropractor, or a combination of these different techniques. If the pain persists or becomes much worse, you should definitely go see your doctor about it to rule out anything more serious.

Uttanasana

Forward Fold (Extreme)

Virabhadrasana I, Anjali Mudra

Warrior 1, Reverse Prayer Hands

Virabhadrasana III, Anjali Mudra

Warrior 3, Prayer/Namaste Hands

Vrksasana

Tree Pose

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Extended Hand to Foot Pose

Utthita Trikonasana

Triangle Pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Upward Facing Dog

Salamba Savangasana

Supported Shoulder Stand

Halasana

Plow Pose

Matsyasana

Lord of the Fishes with Lotus Legs

Purvottanasana

Inverted Plank

Jathara Parivartanasana

Revolving Twist Pose

Ustrasana

Camel Pose

Malasana

Garland Pose

Baddha Konasana

Butterfly Pose

Upavista Konasana

Wide-Angle Forward Fold

Upavista Parsva Konasana

Wide-Leg Side Angle Pose

Dandasana

Staff Pose

Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Fold

Marichyasana A

Sage Marich's Pose (modified)

Marichyasana C

Sage Marichi's Pose C

Sukha Matsyendrasana

Easy Lord of the Fishes Pose


Older Posts


Fascia: What it is & How to Stretch it Using Yoga

Fascia

Fascia is extremely important membrane layers of connective tissue, mostly made up of collagen, tiny blood vessels and nerves; that surrounds, covers, and interweaves like a web around all of our body's muscular structures. This includes all of the organs and all of the muscles found throughout the body from head to toe.
It is equally important, and if not more so, to stretch the fascia before performing any exercises or more dynamic yoga poses.

 

Fascia can become stiff, loose, or torn if not properly stretched and maintained. Many people when first beginning any exercise routine may find that after their first few workouts that they are very sore (DOMS) and inflamed (fascitis: inflamed fascia). This can be because of a few common causes such as not properly warming up and cooling down before an exercise routine, having a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor, repeated motions in your daily life that can align your muscles improperly which then causes pain when we attempt to realign them to their proper locations, and of course past injuries can play a role in how our body responds to newly introduced exercises.


Stretching is an instinctual act. We do it when we're tired, sore, getting out of bed, etc. and even animals do it on a regular basis. Our body sends us pre-warning signals to stretch and we are all guilty of ignoring these signals, then trying to move after the fact, only to realize how sore you have now become. Ignoring these crucial warnings could lead to injury and even immobility.


There are several ways to stretch and be proactive about your muscle health including warm-up and cool-down stretching before exercising, stretching in between sets of exercise (although there are different thought processes behind this, as a yoga instructor I believe it to be imperative), stretching before going to bed and then again after you wake up. If you have a job that requires you to stand or sit for long periods of time, try to do some simple stretches every 15-20 minutes, or walk around if you can.


Many stretches can keep your muscles strong, supple, and healthy. Great poses in yoga that can be done at any time of the day and can be done more than once a day are:

-Balasana (child's pose)

-Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)

-Tadasana (mountain pose)

-Uttanasana (forward fold)

-Ardha Uttanasana (half-lift in forward fold)

-Bidilasana/Biralasana (cat-cow) either seated or in table-top

-Baddha Konasana (bound-angle/butterfly)

-Dandasana (staff pose

-Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold)

-Janu Sirsasana (seated tree-pose)

-comfortable seated twist

-Apanasana (supine knees to chest)

-Ananda Balasana (happy baby/dead beetle)

-Savasana (corpse pose)

 

These are lighter yoga stretches and great to do at any time. They can be done individually and held for a few breaths or in a set sequence to create your own flow. To deepen the stretch of these poses, one can hold a pose for several breaths or minutes and then repeat the pose to even further deepen the stretch.


Other lighter stretches to consider:

-neck rolls making an oval with your chin, looking from one side to the other, shoulder rolls forward and back

-interlacing the fingers and stretching them in front of you with palms out, overhead, and behind your back.


To achieve a very deep yoga stretch, you could (and should) perform several or all of the above poses and consider adding:

-Eka Pada Koptanasana (pigeon pose), either prone or supine versions are great for deeper stretching

-Halasana (plow pose)

-Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) with or without leg variations

-Setu Bandha Savangasana (supported bridge pose)

-supine leg twists variations (legs together, crossed, or one leg crossed over the body)

-Upavista Konasana with variations (i.e. seated wide-legs with forward fold and side to side).

There are many other poses that could be added in, however, these are great yoga poses to get you started on practicing releasing your fascia and keeping the muscular structure of your body healthy.


Baddha Konasana

Butterfly Pose

Balasana

Child's Pose

Bidilasana

Cat Cow

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog

Uttanasana

Forward Fold

Dandasana

Staff Pose

Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Fold

Sukha Matsyendrasana

Easy Lord of the Fishes

Upavista Konasana

Wide-Angle Forward Fold

Upavista Parsva Konasana

Wide-Angle Side Pose

Eka Pada Kopatanasana Prep

Pigeon Prep Pose

Salamba Sarvangasana

Supported Shoulderstand

Halasana

Plow Pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Supported Bridge Pose

Jathara Parivartanasana

Supine Easy Twist

The Psoas Muscle, AKA Iliopsoas: The Muscles That Make Walking a Possibility

Iliopsoas

 

The psoas muscles are an extremely important muscle group that are responsible for helping to support your lower lumbar as well as hip and thigh movement. The psoas muscle, also known as the iliopsoas (ill-ee-oh-so-as)  has been an very trendy topic in the yoga and fitness world.

 

The iliopsoas is a large muscle group forming with the iliacus muscles that connects from the lower back, through the hip bone behind the Gluteus maximus to articulate (joins) from a tendon at the top of the femur (thigh bone) including part of the ball and socket area. This particular muscle not being stretched properly could contribute to lower back pain that can radiate into the hip and thigh area near the groin and even as far down as the knee.

 

This muscle is also important to stretch properly because it is responsible for major muscle movements such as flexing, abducting, externally rotating, crossing and moving multiple joints from the lower vertebra to the hip to femur articulation.

 

Psoas related injuries include but are not limited to any type of lower disc injury, hip or other sacral (the entire interior hip area) injury such as fractures or broken bones all the way through the leg. The tendons of the psoas are easily overworked or torn by weight lifting without properly stretching, running, jogging, power walking, cycling, and the list goes on because the psoas is crucial for normal daily activities such as standing, walking, climbing, bending, stretching, twisting, and even reaching for something overhead! Proper stretching, a strong back, and a strong core can all help prevent these psoas related injuries.

 

Yoga provides many poses as options to help stretch and strengthen these crucial muscles while also creating more flexibility, which will in turn provide better balance and mobility.

Yoga poses that are highly beneficial for the psoas muscle include but are not limited to:

-lotus pose or easy-seated (Padmasana/Sukhasana)

-butterfly (Baddha Konasana)

-garland (Malasana)

-camel (Ustrasana)

-low lunge with the back leg raised, pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

-child's pose (Balasana)

-cow-cat (Biralasana)

-upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

-downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

-forward fold (Uttanasana)

-tree pose (Vrksasana)

-warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

-triangle (Trikonasana)

-revolving triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

-seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)

-wide-leg forward fold (Upavista Konasana)

-inverted plank (Purvottanasana)

-boat pose (Navasana)

-supported bridge or bridge (Setu Bhannda Sarvangasana)

-plow (Halasana) or legs up the wall

-end with reclining spinal twist (Jathara Parivartanasana).

 

It is probably fair to say that most Yoga poses will be beneficial for the psoas and the surrounding area. These particular poses, however, target the major areas, as surely there are more that could be included here for a valuable sequence aimed at strengthening the ilioscacral region, lower back, and core.

 

Mula Bandha practice can also be very beneficial in strengthening the iliopsoas region of the body - Mula Bandha (root lock) contracts the iliopsoas, tones the pelvic floor, the bladder, and the genitalia. The focal point for this is on the first Chakra (Muladhara aka "root chakra") which is said to be found just below the pelvic region. The root lock is very similar to Kegels in that you pull in muscles and then contract the muscles. The difference is that with Kegels you are only pulling in the vaginal wall muscles/and or the urethra, and with the root lock you are pulling in the whole pelvic floor including the sphincter muscles. This will naturally cause the illiosacral region to contract thus strengthening and toning the entire area.

With the above mentioned yoga sequence and integrating the practice of Mula Bandha a person can enjoy the benefits of a stronger more flexible psoas region and continue to enjoy all of the other activities that make living life so much fun!

Sukhasana

Easy Seated Pose

Baddha Konasana

Butterfly Pose

Malasana

Garland Pose

Ustrasana

Camel Pose

Eka Pada Eka Hasta Raja Kopotanasana

Low Lunge with One Leg and One Hand Up

Balasana

Child's Pose

Bidilasana

Cat-Cow

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Upward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog

Uttanasana

Forward Fold

Vrksasana

Tree Pose

Virabhadrasana II

Warrior 2

Utthita Trikonasana

Triangle Pose

Parivritta Trikonasana

Revolved Triangle Pose

Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Fold

Upavista Konasana

Seated Wide-Angle

Purvottanasana

Inverted Plank

Navasana

Boat Pose

Setu Bandha Savangasana

Supported Bridge Pose

Halasana

Plow Pose