Wednesday, June 29, 2011

pose of the week: plank

How to do it:

1. Starting on your hands and knees, draw your torso forward so that your shoulders are directly over your wrists.
2. Curl your toes under, walking your feet back to straighten your legs.
3. Keep your body in one straight line; avoid sinking in the hips or rounding in the back.
4. Draw your belly in, press firmly into your hands, push through your back heels to engage your legs, and breathe in through your upper back.

Hold for 10-15 breaths, then drop your knees and push back to child’s pose.

  • Strengthens the arms, legs and spine
  • Tones the abdomen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

fly like a bird!

Who would have ever thought that acrobatics and yoga would mix? Well it certainly does, after I experienced my first ever acro yoga class at The Yoga Sanctuary downtown. It was such an intense workout, incorporating back bends, forward folds, and lots of core strength! We branched out into small groups of three's where one was the base, flyer and spotter. I felt like an act out of Cirque du Soleil, even though I looked nearly as graceful as those talented gymnasts. The energy in the room was so uplifting and fun that two hours went by so fast! There was also an energizing blend of partner work connecting our bodies and deepening the backbends. As the class came to a close, we all sat in a circle joining our bodies into a group twist then feeling the vibrations as we all chanted OM in unison as our hands touched the back of the heart of our neighbours.

Yoga Sanctuary will be holding more Acro Yoga classes during the month of July, August and September. Check their website for the dates, or let me know if you want to join me. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

photo source:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

pose of the week: hand to big toe pose

How to do it:

1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, placing your hands on your hips.
2. On an inhale open the chest and gaze up. As you exhale, hinge forward from your hips.
3. Release your hands to grab your big toe with your first two fingers and thumb (you may also rest your hands on your shins or ankles.
4. Inhale, lengthen the spine to look forward, and exhale fold over the legs.
5. Keep your legs engaged, roll your shoulders away from the ears and point the elbows out to the side. Avoid rounding in the back.

Hold for 5-10 breaths, then bring your hands to your hips and slowly come up with a straight spine. 

  • Strengthens lower back and hamstrings
  • Improves digestion
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys

Saturday, June 11, 2011

5 tips to improve your yoga pose

So much detail goes into perfecting a yoga pose. The word perfect and yoga don’t really go hand in hand, but yes, an asana or posture can look beautiful when done correctly, but it truly is the yogi inside us that does all the work. As long as you are doing the pose within your limit and you are feeling the stretch, then you are doing yoga. We all have different body types. Your triangle may be different than the dancer beside you or the seasoned yogi at the front of the class, but what unites you all is the energy we get from doing the pose. These tips are just guidelines I’ve come to learn and notice during my practice. I’d love for you all to share any other pointers as well!

1. Find your foundation: Whether you are standing, seated or balancing on your hands, the foundation is key. You are rooting down into the ground with your feet, sitting bones or hands to establish a stronger YOU and safer practice.

2. Lengthen the spine: This is one of the most common instructions I hear from teachers and which I myself use a lot. Posture is key, and by lengthening the spine towards the crown of the head helps keep your back in line and improve your stance.

3. Engage your core: drawing your navel in slightly towards your spine as you inhale and exhale will strengthen your core muscles. This is known as uddiyana bandha. The lower belly pulls inward and upward will simultaneously lifting the diaphragm. This should be held during the entire practice, which may be difficult for some, however be aware of this in your next class. When you feel that you’ve lost it, just think engage the core!

4. Roll your shoulders away from the ears: This is the most familiar instruction especially for beginners. The shoulder blades should be rolling back and down to help support the neck and avoid any tension.

5. Relax and breathe: This is the most important thing to remember. Yoga is not a competition. Staying with your breath as you move and relaxing the body to the flow of the class or pose will help maintain a clear mind from wandering. After all, yoga should feel good. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

pose of the week: extended hand to big toe

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B
How to do it:

1. Standing in mountain pose, shift your weight over to your left foot and then bend your right knee to grab onto your big toe. Rest your left hand on your left hip. You may stay with your knee bent, right hand on your knee.
2. On an exhale open your right hip, extending your right heel out to the side. Pull the toes back. If this is too much, keep your knee bent.
3. Turn your gaze over your left shoulder, staying focused on a point. Keep your standing leg strong.

Hold for 5-10 breaths then repeat on the other side. 

  • Strengthens the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the backs of the legs
  • Improves sense of balance 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

top five essentials this summer!

This is geared more towards the ladies. I picked only five things, but you know there’s really more that we can’t live without ;) I’m no expert, but thought I should share my favourite things. 

1. Bronzer  - enhancing your sun-kissed skin will illuminate your face and make it look like you just came back from the beach! I’m also going to include SPF 30 or higher in this section, because protecting your skin is vital from those harsh UV rays.

2. Wedge sandals – yes, the wedge is back! From all looks, shapes and sizes, pairing a wedge with your outfit gives it that stand out look. Perfect from day to night!

3. Summer dresses – whether casual or dressy, summer is all about showing a little skin, and letting the girly side of you come out. From pretty flower prints, safari jungle fever, bright hues to sweet pale pastels, anything goes. Make sure to accessorize to add a little mix!

4. Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver – this must have balm enhances the natural colour of your lips to create a shade that’s uniquely yours. With added moisturizer and sun protection for bonus lip appeal.

5. Bold & Bright nail polish – get those perfectly manicured nails and feet the affection they deserve by spreading a little colour on them. Essie and OPI are my top fav brands, (I have enough to open my own shop!) and I just found a new love in Joe Fresh, three polishes for $10, sweet deal! Stand out in high intense colours this summer. After all, we use our hands and feet the most, so take care of them! 

BONUS: drink lots of water, stay hydrated and of course practice yoga daily!