Tag Archives: flexibility

Class Highlight: Vinyasa Yoga

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Vinyasa Yoga

Amy Younkman

Leader Amy Younkman

I often see people pop into yoga class when they feel stiff, sore, or side-lined by injury. What I have found is, the real jewels of this ancient healing art truly begin to surface when one maintains a consistent yoga practice. Just like anything we want to “get good at”, we need to regularly put the time into practicing. When we consistently show up on our yoga mat, we deepen not only our ability to perform different postures, but more importantly, we deepen our internal awareness of what is going on in our bodies; right here, right now. Instead of muscling our way through exercise, we slow down to connect breath with movement, and pay attention to what got us stiff, sore or injured in the first place. If we stick with the practice, the answers are revealed to us.

unspecified-21I love sharing my passion for yoga with others because yoga has literally changed my life, and continues to do so. My practice keeps me true to myself and I love that after a decade of teaching, I am still a student dipping my toe into a deep well on knowledge. When I show up on my mat and allow myself to be vulnerable, rather than performance based and trying to “get it right”, I learn how to work through discomfort, frustration, lack of confidence and feeling the need to be in control. I learn to lighten up on myself and go with the flow. When I can deal with these things on the mat, I can deal more effectively with life off the mat.

My Vinyasa Yoga class is tailored to my students’ needs each Friday morning. Choosing a theme for the class, I like to share insights and inspirations to ignite body, mind and
unnamed-11spirit. I try to strike a balance between fun, creative sequencing and simple, safe alignment. I consider our yoga mats like an adult playground where we can explore fun poses like Eagle, Crow, Flamingo and Camel. The focus of my classes is building core stability and strength, breath and body awareness, proper technique, balance and “getting out of your comfort zone”. You will feel nurtured, safe, and taken care of in my Vinyasa yoga class.

Deepak Chopra says, “Life is like a river; you cannot step into it in the same place twice.” Our yoga practice is no different. We are constantly evolving, and I don’t know of a better system of exercise to calm our central nervous system while giving us tools to grow stronger and more flexible in body, mind and spirit.

“Slowing down is the same thing as waking up.” —Judith Lasatar

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4 Moves to Increase Your Flexibility

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

iGnite leader Amy Younkman shares 4 moves to increase your flexibility to get you on the path to increased mobility, reduced chance of injury and just plain feeling great!

1. Passive Hamstring Stretch

Pretty much all of us could use more flexible hamstrings, right? Who doesn’t want to be closer to touching their toes? This passive stretch is a safe and excellent stretch for the hamstring, best done in a doorway or on a corner where 2 walls meet.

Passive Hamstring Stretch

Passive Hamstring Stretch

  1. Lying on your back, lift one leg up the wall, while the other leg stretches out along the ground inside the doorframe.
  2. Settle the pelvis onto the ground and position the upward leg so that you feel a gentle, but not too intense stretch.
  3. Breathe and hold for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. If you are recuperating from a hamstring tear or strain or need a less intense stretch, move the body further away from the wall so that you do not feel strain in the injured hamstring.

2. Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

Stretching out the front of the hip/psoas muscle is something not many of us think to do, but it is a crucial area to stretch, especially for runners. Not only does the psoas enable you to walk and run, but it also promotes good posture.

Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

  1. Come into a low lunge position on your knees, with the right foot in front and both knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
  2. With hands on the hips, lift the hip points up and root the tailbone down as you draw the navel towards the spine (creating a posterior tilt). You will feel a deep stretch in the front of the left hip.
  3. Lift your left arm on the inhale, exhale and side bend over to the right.
  4. Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths as you feel a deep stretch in the front and outer area of the left hip.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

3. Thoracic Spine/Chest Opening Stretch

After long days of hunching forward, sitting at desks, sitting in the car, and on and on, this stretch feels incredible — allowing you to open up your chest and counteract all of that forward bending.  Goodbye, hunchback!

Spine Stretch / Chest Opener

Spine Stretch / Chest Opener

  1. Lie back on a foam roller (a rolled up yoga mat can work as well) with the roller just below the shoulder blades.
  2. With knees bent and bottom on the ground, reach fingertips behind your head as you lengthen your neck.
  3. On the inhale, curl back over the the roller
  4. On the exhale, knit the ribs together as you curl up and draw elbows together.
  5. With each successive breath, see if you can find more ease and expansiveness as you coordinate movement with breath.
  6. Repeat 8 – 10 times.

4. Bridge Pose

The perfect pose to tie the first three stretches together!

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, heels in line with your sit bones, and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Root down through all four corners of both feet as you press your arms into the mat and lift your hips.
  3. Lengthen the back of the neck and feel a nice stretch along the sides of the neck.
  4. Firm your glutes, and stretch your knees out over your ankles, as you stretch the front of the hips while strengthening the hamstrings and glutes.
  5. Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths
  6. Slowly lower the hips as you gently lay the spine down, bone by bone.
  7. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

 

Photos by Catherine Sanderson

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5 STRATEGIES TO TRAIN FEARLESSLY NOW & FOREVER

iGnite - strength training

Can we keep lean, strong and fit into our golden years? Can we still get a summer-ready body even if we are flashing a senior citizen card someday? The answer is YES!!!
The strategy is UPPING THE ANTE and DOING IT WITH INTENSITY!!

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

You can make 70 look like the new 50 and 50 look like the new 30 if you are smart about your lifestyle choices and approach them, particularly exercise, with intensityGenes play a leading role, but even if you have elevated risk in any category of illnesses/conditions you have a solution: regular strenuous exercise. We may have received a certain genetic package from our parents, but it is not our fate to be governed by it.
Dr. John Ratey writes in his enlightening book SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, “If your brain is not actively growing, then it is dying. Exercise is one of the few ways to counter the process of aging because it slows down the natural decline of the stress threshold.” He says intense exercise is the Holy Grail for our bodies and our brains.

INCREASE YOUR INTENSITY!
Here are strategies you can incorporate into your next workout to drive the power of your workout to a higher level. Get more work done. Lift Heavier. Sweat more.

1. INCLUDE ALL FOUR VARIETIES OF EXERCISE IN YOUR TRAINING.
–Aerobic Exercise that increases your aerobic capacity
–Strength Training to build and MAINTAIN muscle
–Balance activities like training on a BOSU to build core strength–strong core AND a sharp nervous system
–Flexibility to remain limber and agile and on your feet well into your later decades

2. FOCUS ON REGULAR STRENGTH TRAINING
–Regular strength training is also cardiovascular training. It offsets the steady decline in muscle mass and metabolic rate that starts in our 30’s. Only progressive strength training, performed at least 3 times per week will help build muscle and brain mass. The weight should be heavy enough to challenge you. You need to feel the burn and be out of breath when done.

3. HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING IS KEY!
–HIIT repeatedly proves it is one of the best ways to challenge you aerobically and muscularly. HIIT works your aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time, engaging your complete physical self.
By adding even one 30 second sprint into your cardio, human growth hormone peaks and stays that way for several hours afterward. HGH is the surefire, turn back the clock, fat-burning agent produced naturally by the body that ensures a lean and strong body!

4. PUT YOUR MIND INTO THE MUSCLE
–Engage your mind in your training. When you are mentally present for reps or sets, physical payoffs are far greater. In Dr. Norman Doidge’s book The Brain That Changes Itself, he reveals that just thinking about an exercise changes your brain structure as if you were doing the movement. This changes the structure and function of your brain by affecting the neurons at the microscopic level.

5. HEALTHY DIET
Food is Fuel. Don’t pollute your engine!!

This applies to ALL AGES–even you 20 and 30 somethings! Remember at the young age of 30 we start to lose muscle mass yearly if we don’t do something about it.

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Getting Flexible

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

This morning while at Power Pilates, Amy reminded us that life is actually very flexible and the rigidness often comes from our mental state. I love this wisdom, as it is the perfect inspiration to let go of any unnecessary restrictions that we may be putting on ourselves this week.

Here’s to a flexible and fall-like week!!

Flexible Mind Body & Spirit!

Flexible Mind Body & Spirit!

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