yoga poses for stiff joints relief| yogi surprise

If You're Totally Over the Stiff Joints Thing and Want to Feel Better

Practicing yoga poses for stiff joints is one of the wisest choices we can make. It's right up there with wearing a hat in cold weather and washing our hands before touching food. Pain most definitely decreases anyone's desire to move, but it's actually likely the best thing you can do. Even though it's tempting to take a more sedentary approach when you're feeling joint stiffness, resist the urge. A gentle approach is the key. And, not expecting your body to perform as it once did will greatly enhance the benefits of moving your body with the goal of kindness and increased comfort.

Yoga poses for stiff joints will minimize discomfort

I know, we yoga lovers claim it cures everything. While yoga won't magically give you the ability to read minds or understand calculus, it does have a touch of magic in healing lots of causes of pain and limited mobility. When we strengthen our muscles, they have an improved ability to work as shock absorbers. This enhanced strength and flexibility assist our joints in working more comfortably. It takes time and you may have to change your practice to a more restorative one. But if you're game and willing, there are most likely positive results to look forward to.

Stiffness is no fun. Let's help ourselves out

If you suffer from, "I used to be able to..." knock it off. I'm telling you, me too. But it does us no good to lament for the body we once had or longing for abilities that we used to take for granted. Self-care is demanded here and loving acceptance of what is will minimize the mental anguish that comes with anger towards a body that isn't performing as optimally as you believe it should. It's really sorta cool when you land in the realm of doing what you need and prioritizing it over doing what you want.

Just because you can doesn't make it a good idea

Oh my stars, I need a tattoo of this sentiment. I see it every day in yoga classes. Students who push their bodies past a healthy range of motion only to injure themselves and not be able to practice. It's a sick cycle, but it's one we can stop if we adopt new thinking. Here's a little advice on how to use yoga poses for stiff joints and embrace all truth as good news:

  • If you have pain, don't ignore it. Being kind, patient, and practicing a bit differently will help you feel better physically. Just as importantly, you'll feel a surge of gratitude towards yourself. Maybe this means bending your knee less in Warrior 2. Perhaps it would be best to sit on a block in Malasana. Or, maybe you don't bend your knees so deeply and instead strengthen your quads.
  • Practice non-attachment. This will save you from so much torture both physically and emotionally. I once loved Compass Pose as much as I loved my dog. (kidding!) But my shoulder started to get squeamish. So I don't do it anymore. There are quite a few yoga poses I simply skip now and perhaps, so should you. When we insist on taking our bodies on the trip of shapes that look cool but don't serve, we're in for it. And sure, I can make that shape, but it doesn't feel good. Pain demands our attention. If you want to push yourself, focus on muscle building. It's uncomfortable and challenging, but it will bring you many gifts.

Try these yoga poses for stiff joints immediately

Legs up against the wall pose: It's definitely one of the most restorative poses in the yoga asana arsenal. It relieves congestions from the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Daily, y'all. Do this as much as possible.

Puppy pose with a bolster: Gently opens the shoulders and provides support for your head and chest.

Figure four hip-opener: Execute it reclining on the floor or transition into it from legs up against the wall.

This is ahimsa in action. Enjoy and have a day full of ease and little distraction.

 


Thanksgiving yoga sequence

Thanksgiving Yoga Sequence to Help You Digest and Detox

There may be some overeating.

Scratch that, it's a certainty.

Use this Thanksgiving yoga sequence to prepare and repair

There's always the possibility you won't eat too much. You may decide to fill up on water before embarking on the tradition of expandable pants and indigestion. But in case you decide to indulge, both preparing your body beforehand and fixing what's just a little bit broken after your meal will have you feeling totally normal (almost) by Friday.

Critical information about why we practice a specific Thanksgiving yoga sequence both before and after a feast:

  • Twists are amazing for purging and aiding in digestion. When we twist, we massage our abdominal organs and deliver a fresh supply of blood to that area of our bodies. Twists also create internal fire, Agni. This also contributes to our ability to move food throughout bodies and eliminate effectively.
  • Forward folds are downright fabulous in our pursuit of digestion and for decreasing bloating. Bloating sucks, right? Let's eliminate that with some gentle compression to the organs that live in our abdominal cavities.
  • Backbends stretch our abdominal organs really well. Space is good. The action of expanding and contracting gets things moving. We're gonna do a bunch of this.
  • Releasing excess gas is a must after a big meal. There are a few poses that really help with this.

Practicing a special Thanksgiving yoga sequence so you can thoroughly enjoy your meal and time with family is, most importantly, a loving way to be present. Because it will ensure you're not distracted and irritated by what's going on in your belly, it's a damn good idea. Comfort is a priority. Share this with those you've included in your celebration. It's a simple sequence that's designed as beginner-friendly. Perhaps practicing together will become a sweet and integral tradition starting with this holiday season.

Thanksgiving yoga sequence for digestion and comfort

  • Begin in Balasana (Child's Pose). Breath deeply. Keep your knees together so they help with compressing your belly. Stretch your arms forward, keeping your forearms off the ground.
  • Slither through into Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Move back to Child's Pose and repeat the sequence 3 times.
  • From Cobra, move into tabletop position. Thread your left arm under your right and lay your head and shoulder to the ground. Enjoy the twist and shoulder release. Make some noise. Move on to the other side.
  • Move through Cat/Cow pose. It's one of the very best actions to stretch and compress the organs of the belly. It's also good for anxiety. If your holiday celebration offers none of that, super news. But just in case...
  • From tabletop, move into Downward Facing Dog Pose. Stretch everything. Think of your body like a wishbone (see what I did there?) and apply equal amounts of pressure in your hands and feet. Hold for several breaths and step forward to the top of your mat.
  • Remain in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Enjoy the massage action applied to your abdominal muscles and organs and reset your central nervous system. Walk your feet hips distance apart.
  • Squat down in Malasana. Sit on a block or other prop if that feels better on your hips and knees. Move your left arm in front of your left shin and raise your right arm high in a twist. Hold for a few breaths and do the other side.
  • Sit down and come laying on your back. Bring your left knee into your chest and lay your right leg straight on the ground in Wind Relieving Pose. It does exactly what it says. Repeat the action on the other side.
  • Conclude your practice in Supta Badda Konasana (Reclining Cobbler's Pose). You could also place a block under your sacrum for a slight backbend if you feel inclined.

Enjoy the pleasures of food, loved ones, and downtime. I hope this Thanksgiving yoga sequence aids and abets you in this pursuit. Happy holidays!


hot yoga benefits|yogi surprise

The Hot Yoga Debate: Is It Actually Good for You?

Hot Yoga is the practice of yoga in a heated room. It's typically practiced in heat that is 100 degrees or higher. If you just said, "Yikes, no f'ing way could I do that," I'm with you. I've tried many times and finally landed smack dab on not for me. But there are many who absolutely live for it and there are legit reasons why. Let's discuss.

Facts about Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga, aside from happening in an extremely heated room, is often thought of interchangeably with Bikram Yoga. This is a common mistake. The high temperature is the defining component, not the sequence. Many styles of yoga utilize high heat to accompany the style. These include Baptist Yoga, Barkan Method, and Modo Yoga.

Reasons for practicing in a very heated room

Advocates of Hot Yoga feel very strongly about the remarkable benefits they've personally derived from practicing in the extreme heat and sweating profusely while doing yoga. They describe it as life-changing. Here are the main hard-core benefits if this practice is something you're either currently enjoying or interested in trying:

  • It's mentally challenging. If you've never tried it, the only way to find out for sure if it's right for you is to give it a go. But there's no denying that getting through a 60 or 90-minute class is hard as hell. Putting up with the sweat and the difficulty in breathing is a big part of the payoff according to long-time practitioners. Knowing you can persevere has lasting positive effects.
  • It can help with finding calm in the midst of the constant storms that cross our paths. Staci McCool, owner of Bluespot Yoga in Columbus, Ohio offers both Barkan Method and a variation on Bikram Yoga called Hot 26. She is firmly rooted in the Hot Yoga camp and articulately explains why. "It trains your brain to breathe before you react. How? For one, it's uncomfortable. It's hot and you're holding poses. And all you want the instructor to do is crack the damn door. But she won't. And you learn to let the sweat drip, your hair to fall in your face, and you find stillness."

Hot Yoga isn't for everyone

Staci McCool acknowledges this, as do many other hot yoga advocates. How does one figure out if it's not the right fit? First, identify your goals via yoga. Start with these questions:

  1.  Do I practice for strength, discipline, and to challenge myself? If yes, and the heat just feels too oppressive to you, there other styles of yoga that will offer you the above benefits and not require that you practice in a sauna. But if you enjoy sweating, you'll probably dig Hot Yoga once you get used to it and learn to breathe through it.
  2. Do I prefer a comforting, gentle practice that offers me ease, nurture, and a calming environment? If yes, go for a warm room (between 78-85 degrees).
  3. Do I get light-headed and feel dehydrated often? If either or both of these describe you, Hot Yoga is probably not the best practice for you. Those who regularly practice get used to hydrating before class and getting enough water after to replace electrolytes. But if you know you don't handle heat well, try a Vinyasa or Ashtanga class to build heat internally without overdoing it.
  4. Am I highly inflexible? If yes, practicing in a hot room will help with the pliability of your muscles and tendons. However, it's important to make sure you're not going too far. If you have any degree of hypermobility in your joints, be careful. The extremely hot room can make it even easier to go deeper. This is not a great idea for everyone. And yoga, in general, will help with increased flexibility even in a room-temperature space.

Bottom line, yo

Hot Yoga is fine for some and not so much for others. It's a matter of preference, goals, health, and what attracts you. If you love it, then do it. If you can't stand it, there are other ways to satisfy your desire to challenge yourself. I've most definitely given it many chances to seduce me and it only repels me further. And for those who just dig it so very hard, I'm so happy it exists for you. It's good for you if you feel positive effects. If it just pisses you off, no need to force it.


oil cleansing method skin|yogi surprise

Use An Oil Cleansing Method to Put Your Best Face Forward

I swear to you, washing your face with oil makes a whole lotta sense.

If you've never tried an oil cleansing method, I'm really excited for you right now

I was skeptical too. Very. But those who recommended using oil cleansing versus soap and water sure as hell had really nice skin. Trust the people who have the skin you want.

Like attracts like

It was only about ten years ago that this concept introduced itself to me. The law of attraction is that like attracts like. I had grown up with the opposites attract ideology. When we question what we know to be true, we can consider doing things differently and with gusto.

Reasons using an oil cleansing method will improve your skin

  • It's a fact that oil dissolves oil. If you have oily skin, that means there is an overproduction of oil. To mitigate this, using the right oils depending on your skin's needs can effectively clear up an abundance of oil, blackheads, acne, dry skin, you name it.
  • Balance. By using natural oils to clean your face combats the oils your body produces that have become stuck. Dissolving these oils will create a healthy balance in your skin.

I'm not an esthetician. I have no medical background. But as an avid oil cleansing method practitioner, I've seen the results. I stopped breaking out, even during my cycle. My skin feels moisturized, luminous, and healthy. I definitely have seen a decrease in fine lines. It's even helped with the appearance of dark circles. But it took me a while to figure out the best oil for my skin, truth be told.

But be forewarned, not all oils work the same. Essential oils can be harsh.

Rosehip oil across the board is safe and effective. Essential oils often need to be diluted and combined with other oils to be as helpful as possible. You might have a reaction if you use an oil that is simply not good for your needs. My routine is rosehip oil morning and night and a microfiber towel with warm water. That may work for you, and it may not.

Which oils should you use?

That's the 'rub', isn't it? Here's a list of common skin ailments and potent oils that help reduce the issues:

  • For aging skin, rosehip oil is a winner. This was the game-changer for me. I tried the other recommended oils for aging skin such as jojoba and lavender, but rosehip had a much more noticeable effect. My skin stopped looking oily and I found I only needed a few drops morning and night. You could try a combination of these oils as well. Trial and error may be how you find the best solution for you.
  • Acne is a bummer. Experiment with thyme essential oil. It's been shown to be effective in fighting the bacteria that causes acne. Dilute.
  • If you have dry skin, there are many oil cleansing methods you can try to rectify this issue. Consider carrot seed essential oil. It's incredibly moisturizing and it can also protect your skin because it contains so many antioxidants. But there are many oil cleansing methods that may help with dry skin. Sesame oil is highly recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners to soften and heal the skin. Try it in combination with dry skin brushing. You will be blown away.

Is organic oil an important factor?

Yes. Simply yes. If staying away from chemicals and other harsh components in your skin care matters to you, go organic. Look for products that are labeled 'USDA Certified Organic'. Be sure to read all of the ingredients before buying.

Don't be discouraged if the first thing you try isn't the best thing for you. Sensitive skin and allergies need to be taken into consideration. Counterindications are important to know. There are many skin specialists who can work with you and help you discover the exact best combination of essential oils to create the perfect oil cleansing method specifically for you. Essential oils are not FDA approved as a skin treatment. Educate yourself, know your own sensitivities and allergies, and study up on the ideal course of action for you. Your best skin is waiting for you, just right around the corner.


yoga for hip pain modifications|yogi surprise

Practicing Yoga for Hip Pain and the Power of Backing Off

Some of us just are not all that talented at resting.

If you're an active sort and have trouble keeping still, then being told to rest might feel like a punishment. Since the joints of the hips are so large, sometimes they require more rest than we want to give them. But they will keep asking. And often, it will show up in the form of a demand.

Practicing yoga for hip pain can help depending on what's actually going on

And just because I really love stating the obvious (and I'm so damn good at it), yoga instructors are not doctors. They can't tell you why your hip hurts. Only an x-ray and qualified medical professional can help you out with that. However, if you're not ready to go that route, trying rest may be your best bet. See where that takes you. Not interested? Then go see a professional so you know what you're dealing with.

Less is often more

I promise. It feels like those words are spilling out of my mouth on the regular as of late. The very deepest place you can go is not necessarily the most optimal for you. If you're always reaching for the biggest and most extensive stretch, this may be where you need to begin. Try doing less, rest, backing off, and getting cozy with a more subtle stretch may be the yoga for hip pain prescription you really need.

Yoga hip openers and modifications

Most hip openers are asymmetrical. This is outstanding when you are trying to let one side of your body rest and heal and want to nurture the other side. Props such as blocks, bolsters, and blankets become very good friends in many hip opening and strengthening poses. We have to respond with compassion to pain. We shouldn't push past it. It requires respectful acknowledgment and a kind response.

Pigeon pose is a fan favorite in the asana realm. I really can't recall a class where people have neglected to request hip openers. It's a big need and practicing yoga for hip pain is probably how a lot of people find yoga in the first place.

If you are in pain, the only solution is to back off. Minimize how deep you go and how often you go there. Joints and tendons have strong reactions when they are pushed past their capacity.

Ways to modify in popular hip openers

  • Pigeon pose: use a blanket, block or bolster underneath the hamstrings of the forward bent leg. It will help with easing pressure placed on the knee joints and possibly provide a more valuable stretch to the hips.
  • Cobbler's pose: Sit on a block to tilt your pelvis forward and provide relief to the muscles surrounding the spine.
  • Figure Four: If you are laying on the ground. you could place the foot of the bottom leg on the ground instead of suspended in the air. This will minimize the stretch and not tax the spine.

Subtle stretches have a lot to offer. Apply the principle of how much you give and what you're specifically receiving to take the very best care of yourself possible.


yoga diet is there one|yogi surprise

Is There a Specific Yoga Diet? Yes but Mostly No

Timing is everything, they say.

And I absolutely believe that cliché. It was when I was in the process of moving back to Atlanta from Columbus, Ohio that I met my life partner. And when I first moved to Columbus, I walked into a yoga studio to apply to teach there. The owner was reading Yoga Journal and was on the page of my DVD review. Timing, y'all. It really does matter so very much.

Let's talk about the yoga diet

We all know the stereotype of the vegan yogi who basically lives on what they can pick from their garden. They can essentially subsist on greens, good vibes, and downward facing dog pose. This is bullshit, for the most part. There are a whole lotta yogis who eat everything and anything. I even know an avid hunter who practices five days a week and just completed his 200-hour yoga teacher training.

Many people who have tried to become either vegetarians or vegans report that they became sick as a result. There are also loads of happy, healthy folks who do not eat any animal products. And there's a ton of people, like me, who are pescatarians (they only consume fish). Everyone has to make their own personal choices about what they consume and why. When trying to define a yoga diet, it's the timing, quantity, quality, and specific foods consumed before a practice that really matter.

The yoga diet breakdown

These are the important things to keep in mind when developing your own yoga diet:

  • Self-care is your primary focus. Taking the very best care of your body by nourishing it with the foods you need, crave, and that help you feel your best. If there's truly a yoga diet, this is it. Eating with thoughtfulness and gratitude for having sustenance plus choosing wisely are the pillars of a so-called yoga diet.
  • Practice on a relatively empty stomach. Make sure you haven't eaten anything of real substance for about two hours before you enjoy an asana practice. Twists do not feel good on a full stomach. All movement goes better if you're not in need of loosening your pants. If you're uncomfortable, it will be pretty tough to enjoy your practice.
  • Certain foods digest easier than others. I ate a bean burrito one time, ONE, a couple of hours before going to a ninety-minute vinyasa yoga class. It was a very bad call. Salads are good. Even sandwiches are fine as long as they include a lot of healthy ingredients and nothing heavy that will weigh you down.
  • Skip the sugar. Sugar. Do you just live for it? That might be an issue during practice. Sugar crashes are real and not at all fun while you're in the middle of a practice.
  • Pacing. If you're anything like me, you typically eat as though you've been held hostage and this is probably your very last meal, slow your roll. Chew your food thoughtfully and deliberately to enjoy it to the fullest extent and digest it more efficiently.
  • Portions. You can eat two eggs and a tomato, or you can eat five with two thick slices of bread. Smaller portions also digest faster and easier. Save the big meal for after your practice. Often, even most of the time, less is more.
  • Quality. Fresh food will always win out over processed. Whenever possible, go for fresh produce, protein, and grains.

Use this guide to help you make the best food decisions you can today. Observe how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Once you reflect on your chosen yoga diet, keep these choices in mind every day that guided you so well today.

 


yoga nidra meditation|yogi surprise

Self-Care Via the Practice of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra may feel strange the first time you try it, but the echoes continue long after the physical practice ceases.

If you've never practiced yoga nidra, you're in for a real treat. It's believed that practicing this form of meditation for 45 minutes is equitable to 3 hours of sleep. The benefits will reverberate throughout the rest of your waking hours making stress more manageable and focus more obtainable.

Once you invite yoga nidra into your life, you'll probably wonder how you ever functioned without it.

An explanation of yoga nidra and how to practice it

Yoga nidra translates to "yogic sleep". It very well may replace that nap craving you typically find yourself having. It's a guided meditation that relaxes your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and allows your brain to go from the active beta state and transverse over to the more restful alpha sleep state. If you can relax enough, your brain may be capable of going to an even further state of restoration. And when things are really working, your brain is able to move all the way to the delta state of deep, restorative relaxation where the benefits of truly restful sleep start to kick in. Sounds awesome, yes? So how do you actually get there?

Begin your yoga nidra practice laying down

That's no surprise, right? There are various ways of enjoying yoga nidra. But first and foremost, you must place your body in the most comfortable relaxation-inducing state. Use bolsters, blankets, eye pillows, and anything else to help you get cozy.

Your job is to receive and allow yourself to be cared for and guided. Yoga nidra is growing in popularity. So finding a class near you may not be too difficult. But if it is, try the app Insight Timer for hundreds of thousands of meditations, including guided yoga nidra.

Your guide's job is to help you find the most restful state available to you with calming words offering you visuals and taking you on a journey deep within. The guide may also have you do some minor calming techniques such as briefly clenching the muscles of the face, arms, hands, legs, and feet. This allows your body to sense where it's holding stress and choosing to let go.

How long is long enough?

If 45 minutes feels a little overwhelming, begin with a 30-minute meditation and work your way up to 45. Thirty minutes is the minimum length of time to allow the body to surrender to a parasympathetic state.

The intent of yoga nidra intent is to help you inquire within and work through the subtle body to gain both awareness and a release of stress and anxiety. The intention you set for yourself is key and keeping it in mind as you travel through the guided meditation will allow you to gain access to benefits you may not have experienced in previous meditation endeavors.

Of all the various tools and techniques available to help us find relief from stress and feel more peaceful, meditation continues to rise to the very top in the benefits it offers. So if you are still finding it difficult to embrace the practice, maybe the specific practice of yoga nidra is the one you have yet to try, but can fully embrace. Let us know how it goes. We're all in this together.


breath practices for stress|yogi surprise

2 Highly Effective Breath Practices to Minimize Stress & Anxiety

It really is all about the breath

Every time I think otherwise, I'm again proven wrong. And I enjoy being wrong about this. It's comforting to be reminded and really accept that the breath is paramount and everything else has the job of supplementing the effectiveness of breath.

Don't believe me?

Think of the hardest pose you can effectively (most of the time) execute. Okay, now go practice it with a determined commitment to your breath. How did it go? Pretty damn well, I'm betting. Sit with that. Breath practices and movement equal excellent outcomes.

Next, try the posture while holding your breath. What's the verdict? Did you kind of want to pass out a little from the awfulness of it? Yeah, been there. Been there too many times. And I know I'll be there again. I can't quite seem to remember to prioritize breath practices each and every single time.

If we know a specific resource makes all the difference, why would we ever decide not to utilize it?

There are quite a few theories on why breath practices are not as much of a priority as they should be:

  • We are habitual folks. All of us. We get used to a habit and it's hard to create a new one, even a habit that only adds to our quality of life. If we are used to breathing shallowly and not really thinking about our breath unless we are told to breathe, well then. It's going to be a challenge to alter that long-held pattern.
  • We're stubborn. Of course, we are. Even those of us who embrace change don't feel completely open to all change. Breath practices seem quite daunting at first. And then there's the belief that we haven't died yet, so we must be breathing at least effectively enough. We realize that when we do sit down and focus on our breath we feel better. Way better. But then we quickly forget and talk ourselves out of prioritizing it, even if we know it will help relieve our stress.
  • It's an effort. Everything is and we have to determine where to spend our energy and what we want to achieve. When we stay on auto-pilot, we grant ourselves permission to focus on other things. Things we convince ourselves are more important.
  • We fear success. I used to think that was a croc, but it's not. If we add in breath practices and feel the positive outcomes, we have to acknowledge that we could have been succeeding all along and refused. Back to stubbornness we go.

Once we embrace breath practices as a vital form of self-care, we start to warm to its importance

Every yoga practitioner has had that moment when they've had no choice but to accept the importance of breath practices. We feel better with more oxygen in our blood. Our central nervous system gets a much-needed break and we build our parasympathetic nervous systems to a healthy and well-functioning place. We aren't quite so stressed. Managing our anxiety and tendencies to ruminate and create stories feels easier. We know breath practices are of the utmost importance.

So let's begin right now.

Introduce these two breath practices daily for just a couple of minutes in the morning and at night. Try it for a week and journal about your daily observations.

  1. Nadi Shodhanam (Alternate Nostril Breathing). This practice offers a credible and immediately noticeable decrease in stress, anxiety, and clearer thinking and sinus passages. Begin by sitting comfortably and using your right hand, gently partially seal your right nostril with your thumb. Tuck your index and middle finger into your palm. Breath in through your left nostril and using your ring finger, tap both nostrils for a moment and let your thumb go, breathing out of your right nostril. Breath back in through the right nostril, seal both nostrils for a moment, and move your ring finger to breath all the way out left. Do this for several rounds, concluding by breathing out left. At night begin with the alternate nostril.
  2. Simple diaphragmatic breathing. The important thing to remember here is to relax the muscles of the belly and to really let the exhale out. I know, it sounds obvious, but because we short-change the exhale on the regular. Use the counting method to try to accomplish an evenness to your inhales and exhales. Don't try too hard to take in the very biggest breath ever. Just take in a comfortable amount and exhale softly but with the intention to clear the lungs.

Please share your experiences and any other breath work you feel is of daily importance to the management of stress and building of our mental commitment to our own health and well-being.

 


restorative yoga benefits|yogi surprise

Why Restorative Yoga is The Practice We All Need the Most

Let's break down what restorative yoga really means

Restoration means "the act of returning something to a former and improved condition".  It's what each of us needs to be in full command of our lives and selves. When our sense of contentment and well-being are feeling off-kilter, it's time to address what we've been ignoring. Restorative yoga is a highly effective way to do this.

In a restorative yoga class, there are lots of bolsters, blankets, eye pillows, sandbags, and other props that help each of us to receive an assist as we approach each posture with ease and a gentle intention. Typically postures are held for several minutes so the practitioner can fully receive the benefits and dive deep into a relaxed state. Postures include hip openers, shoulder and hamstring stretches and gentle releases for the spine and shoulders.

We are a culture that is highly focused on achievement. For many of us being busy brings us a sense of productivity. But y'all, it's a false belief. We absolutely have to slow down. When we ignore all of the obvious signs we need rest, relaxation, and to do basically nothing, we pay the price.

We get ill. We get ill-tempered, for sure. It's far too easy to convince ourselves that we have way too much to do to take a break and attend to ourselves. But the irony is, if we don't, we'll be out of commission for much longer. Even if we don't fall prey to sickness, the icky sense of being off-balance and inauthentic will creep around to eventually confront us and demand we hear it's plea to take better care of ourselves. Restorative yoga is here to help.

Why restorative yoga could be the answer you've been ignoring

The benefits of restorative yoga are vast. Even if you're typical practice is hard-core heat building and you absolutely love it, you might be surprised just how much you'll eventually adore the permission to chill. By not trying to accomplish anything aside from an improvement in our disposition and a gentler feeling in our bodies, we obtain so much. Here are just a few benefits of restorative yoga:

  • Improved flexibility. As mentioned above, many of the postures offered in restorative yoga classes stretch our hamstrings, spines, shoulders, ankles, and hips with support.
  • A calmer nervous system. When we are breathing deeply and effectively, our entire nervous system benefits and finds more balance.
  • An improved mood. Every single time I make the effort to calm down and slow down with rejuvenating yoga versus my typical vinyasa class, I'm amazed at how much better my disposition is when I leave the class. Everyone walks out calmer, smiling, and overarchingly more relaxed.
  • A deeply relaxed body. If you have trouble sleeping, try a restorative yoga class in the evening. The sense of relaxation will carry with you long after class and hopefully into bed with you.
  • More compassion. Taking care of yourself and being gentle and kind to your own body extends to everyone around you.
  • Stillness of the mind. Restorative yoga works a lot like meditation. If you can't get a handle on the various places your brain just will not stop going, trying a more rejuvenating style of yoga might just do the trick to help you focus and direct your thoughts in a positive direction.

Still not convinced?

If you don't fall in love with restorative yoga the first time you try it, do yourself a favor and give it some time. Go easy on yourself if relaxing feels like the least appealing thing in the world. Many of us can relate to this constant state of movement and accomplishment. The benefits are just waiting to embrace you and send you down the road of rejuvenation.


prenatal yoga considerations|yogi surprise

Prenatal Yoga and Continuing Your Regular Practice While Pregnant

Practice prenatal yoga and keep up your regular practice too with modifications

Yoga is incredible for healing and nurturing ourselves.  By practicing, we create the most hospitable body for our breath to move and flourish. Never is there a more important time to prioritize this than during pregnancy. Practicing prenatal yoga can potentially be one of the best things you do during your pregnancy to keep your body supple, healthy, energetic, and prepared to grow a human being.

Prenatal yoga is a specifically designed practice for pregnant women to both facilitate deep breathing and moving in ways conducive to a growing baby. There are plenty of yoga poses that eventually just won't feel good and won't be a real super idea. More on that below.

Whether you've been practicing for years or just starting a practice because you're pregnant and everyone is telling you to do prenatal yoga, gather your facts so you can make informed decisions.

Before starting any type of exercise or movement program, including prenatal yoga, check with your OB to make sure it's okay

If you get the green light, there are a few crucial things to be aware of while continuing your practice or beginning prenatal yoga classes.

Even though studies have shown that women who do yoga during pregnancy, specifically prenatal yoga, have lower stress and anxiety, less discomfort, and lower incidence of prenatal disorders. It all makes sense.

For women who really dislike the slow pace and gentle nature of a prenatal yoga class, you can probably keep going to your regular class, which is awesome. However, your practice will need to change and modifications will be necessary. Most definitely tell your teacher you are pregnant and ask all of the questions about modifications and concerns. It would be ideal to stay with your regular practice with modifications and possibly open your mind to a weekly prenatal class too.

You'll meet other mammas in prenatal yoga classes who are experiencing similar things and can relate to the shocking changes going on in your body. You'll be encouraged to modify, skip poses, and rest as much as you like. Prenatal yoga classes offer a very supportive, nurturing environment and you really, really do need that while pregnant.

3 things to know and practice while pregnant

  1. Pregnant women should avoid practicing yoga in extreme heat. I know, I know, there is quite a bit of disagreement on this topic. But science says don't do it. There's a myriad of issues that can arise due to extreme heat during pregnancy. A pregnant body experiences more heat dissipation.  Sweating is how we release heat and when the room is hot, the body can't cool down. Prenatal yoga classes are typically set at room temperature, around 78 degrees. The average heat in a hot yoga class is over 100 degrees. Add movement and all of the other bodies producing heat and you have a really damn hot room going on. Joint laxity is another issue during pregnancy. And a hot room only increases joint flexibility so the risk of going too far and too deep are greater for pregnant women, increasing the risk of injury. And then there are dehydration concerns. Advocates say as long as you stay really hydrated it's fine. All we can do is arm ourselves with facts and use our best judgment.
  2. Remember twists and inversions will be waiting for you after you've given birth. These types of postures are not offered in prenatal yoga classes. Inversions can actually change the position of the baby inside the womb. And then there's the risk of failing. Again, there are dissenting opinions on inversions during pregnancy. So if you absolutely love them and don't want to stop doing them, consider using a wall and doing them much less frequently. Twists constrict space in the body temporarily. While pregnant, more space is what's needed, not less.
  3. Your center of balance is going to shift. You can still practice balance postures, of course. But being near a wall for support may be the very best way to get the full benefits of the poses while you're with child. Support is the ongoing advice and theme here. You simply need more while pregnant, so let yourself have it!

Everone agrees breathwork is absolutely necessary. Regardless of what you choose, taking the very best care of yourself you can is the most important thing.