Baby Bakasana Where Have You Been All My Life

I have never claimed to know all the yoga poses a class can offer, but if you practice regularly, you practice certain challenge poses over and over again. Bakasana (Crow), Bird of Paradise, Half Hanuman are some regulars for me. This past Saturday though, I was introduced to a new pose named Baby Bakasana, or Baby Crow.

The Saturday class started like any other class, warming up with Sun Salutations and twists. Then we did a sequence I was not familiar with. We went from Down Dog to Dolphin then Knee to Bicep.Now, it’s incredibly hard ab work to get your knee to your bicep in Dolphin pose, but my brain started to put the pieces together. We were going to do some kind of forearm balance today.

My brain started rapid firing poses that we could be going to. What is Pincha? Was it Dolphin Pose to Forearm Balance? I couldn’t stop thinking about what our challenge pose would be. Finally, we finished our Vinyasa sequences and the instructor told use to sit.

Our instructor told us we would be practicing Baby Bakasana. My brain was simply confused. My thought process went something like this:

“Baby Bakasana? Well, Bakasana is Crow Pose, how can Crow be baby? You can’t get any lower to the ground then balancing on your arms.”

Our instructor then demonstrated Baby Bakasana. Here is the step by step guide from DoYouYoga.com:

  1. Set up as you would for Crow Pose, coming into a low squat (Malasana), with your knees bent. Come up onto the balls of your feet, bring your big toes together and separate your knees wide apart.
  2. Plant your hands on the mat in front of you, just wider than shoulder distance apart, then bend your elbows and place your forearms down on the mat. Ensure your forearms are parallel to one another and that your elbows aren’t splaying out to the sides.
  3. Lift your hips up slightly and begin to hug your knees around your upper outer arms. Find the action of squeezing your legs in toward the midline of your body.
  4. Shift your weight forward and keep your gaze just ahead of your fingertips. Leading with the heart, begin to round through your upper back and come up onto the tips of your toes.
  5. Experiment with your balance here, picking up one foot and then the other. If it feels appropriate for you, keep squeezing your knees into your upper arms, reach your chest forward, and lift both feet off the ground, drawing your heels toward your buttocks.
  6. Remain in your expression of the pose for up to five full breaths, then gently lower your feet to the ground on an exhale.

After our instructor demonstrated the pose, now it was my turn. My first response was this wasn’t going to end well. Upon reflection, the only reason my brain went to this negative thought was because I didn’t know the pose. I was unfamiliar with the pose, therefore I must not be able to do it. I’m not really into spontaneity.

I quickly changed my mindset to believe in myself and just try the pose. So in my Malasana, I placed my forearms down, exhaled and rolled forward. Like magic, my feet lifted. It was the strangest but most gratifying sensation of rolling forward onto your forearms. The only thing I did wrong was stay in the position too long, and I exhausted myself by doing that.

Lesson I learned from class was to embrace the unexpected, you might just surprise yourself. Baby Bakasana has become my favorite pose of the moment. I still have work to do on the pose, but half the battle is just getting your muscles to remember what the pose feels like. Readers, would love to know what your favorite workouts or yoga poses are?

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

Remember To Roll Your Shoulders Back

Roll your shoulders back! This is a phrase I hear on a regular basis from my yoga instructors. I have always had problems rolling my shoulders back. This causes problems in various poses like:

  • Chaturanga
  • Cobra
  • Camel
  • Basically any yoga pose

About three weeks ago, my yoga instructor gave me blocks to put at the top of my mat (see featured image). The idea is to get the your chest to touch the blocks when you practice Chaturanga. That way your shoulders are back properly and the shoulder heads do not roll forward.

Now, not going to lie, I was disappointed in myself when she put the blocks in front of me, especially since I had thought I already mastered Chaturanga. I got over my disappointment quickly thought  when I started to practice and I could feel my shoulders and the rest of my body really start to work.

About a week and a half into practicing with blocks, I could feel my shoulders getting stronger. Sure, the Chaturangas were harder but I also noticed I could get into some poses better like Bow Pose and Humble Warrior. I thought to myself, everyone should practice with blocks! You get so strong!

Today was three weeks to the day practicing with blocks. Today was also the day my instructor took them away. Now I only have myself to guide me. No more crutch to help me through. As I reflected on this lesson, sometimes we need “crutches” in life to guide us.

Readers, would love to know what crutches you have used in life.

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

 

Core Strength and Forearm Balance: The Ultimate Yoga Duo

If you follow my blog, you know I practice yoga for multiple different reasons. It wasn’t until recently that I also started to practice yoga with core strength in mind. I had dismissed all possibility that I could ever do a shoulder stand properly or any other “cool” yoga poses. We practice yoga without judgement or expectations right? Well, my mentality wasn’t advancing my practice either, so I decided to get serious about core strength.

I will be the first to admit that some practices I wasn’t giving my 100%. Maybe 80%. I made a commitment to my practice to give 100% all the time. This meant that my core was engaged 100% of the time. I also started to really push myself in these poses:

  • Plank pose
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Knee-To-Nose
  • Knee-To-Elbow

About two weeks into my core strengthening, I found that I could certain poses a lot easier. For example, side plank had always been a pain for me, literally. It would hurt my shoulder. Now, I’m not a yoga instructor, but by engaging my core, it took the work out of my shoulder.

About three weeks after extreme core engagement, I also found that Forearm Balance was feeling a lot different. Before my core strengthening, I would basically “throw myself” into the pose against a wall. Still a good achievement, but not what my yoga instructors were teaching. I have always heard instructors say that it’s core strength for these inversion poses. They couldn’t explain what the core engagement would feel like, but one day your mind and body will just get it.

Having not ever been a gymnast or dancer, I didn’t understand how core engagement would make any difference in an inversion. This past week changed my opinion.  I was practicing my poses at home and I just got the feeling that I can do Forearm Balance with core engagement.

I set up my Forearm Balance near a wall (just in case). I placed my forearms on the ground, shoulders distance apart, and rose to Dolphin. I engaged my core and my legs pulled upward. It worked!

I have a hard time as well describing the muscle engagement for this pose. It is like all my instructors said, when it clicks it clicks.

Readers, what poses just clicked for you in your practice?

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

Product Review Thursday: Athleta Yoga Clothes

All opinions are my own. I was not paid to endorse these products

If you read my blog, you know that I love the Fabletics yoga clothing because it is affordable and stylish. But, there are other clothing brands out there and I have a menagerie of yoga clothes. One of the other main brands of yoga clothing I have is Athleta. Today, I will review the High Rise Chaturanga Tight and the Criss Cross Sweatshirt.

The High Rise Chaturanga Tight (pictured below) is a great essential in any yoga closet. First of all, I love tights for yoga. Since I’m short, the tight allows me to not step all over my pants while I practice yoga. These tights are also high rise, so you don’t have to keep pulling up your yoga pants while you practice. I love how they are extremely soft and don’t cut off circulation. The one thing with Athleta products is they tend to be priced on the higher side. These particular pants are $74.00.

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(Image courtesy of Athleta.com)

My other favorite product is the Criss Cross Sweatshirt (pictured below). I’m always in search of a great sweatshirt in life and this one definitely doesn’t disappoint. I have always struggled with what type of sweater or sweatshirt to put on after yoga practice until I found the Criss Cross Sweatshirt. This product is soft and French terry fabric. The fabric doesn’t overheat the body after yoga, and it loose in the arms for comfort. It is also on the pricey side being $69.00, but it does hold up wash after wash.

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(Image courtesy of Athleta.com)

Readers, what are your favorite yoga clothes? If you ever have any suggestions for Product Review Thursday, feel free to comment.

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

The Truth About Hair Care and Yoga

It’s time to get real about yoga and hair care. Most of us have the same hair routine: we take a hair tie, pull up our hair in a bun, and sweat. I have been blessed with long hair, which I love, but I don’t always have the time after each practice to totally wash my hair. Guess what? That’s ok!

My hair stylist, Amy Braem at Dustin David’s Salon, gave me some Do’s and Don’ts of hair care before and after yoga class.

  1. DON’T wash your hair everyday. It strips the natural oils out of your hair. Try to go 3-5 days between washes. When it is time to wash, scrub and rinse really well.
  2. DO spend money on good shampoo. Most supermarket shampoos contain more alcohol than anything, and will harm your hair.
  3. DON’T wash your hair in the morning. Best practice is to wash at night and let it air dry.
  4. DO use a dry shampoo right before a yoga session. She personally recommends Rene Furterer or KMS California. These products absorb the oils in your hair to create a “refreshed” look.

A special note to people with frizzy or curly hair, you can rinse and condition everyday if need be, but no reason to shampoo more than once a month.

These Do’s and Don’t have really helped my hair, and I cannot thank Amy enough! Yogis, what other hair care routines do you practice? I would love to know!

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

“Accept Me or Forget You”

This week my fiance S. and I needed to go visit our wedding officiant to discuss our ceremony. These meetings are usually part discussion of ceremony, and part discussion about our relationship. Our relationship is solid, but the one thing the officiant stated was that I shouldn’t care whether other people accept me or not as a person. He actually gave me a mantra. The mantra is “Accept Me or Forget You”.

Mantras have always been an integral part in my yoga practice. My favorite mantra in yoga is “I Accept the Things I Cannot Change.” This mantra has always been an important part of why I practice yoga. It is the time in my practice where I let everything go, including worrying about what other people think. It’s the time of the day where I understand that my response to the things that I cannot change is the only action I can control. I try to take this clarity with me throughout my day.

On the car ride home, I kept thinking about what our officiant said. I understood the truth behind the statement, but I didn’t feel that it was true all the time. It took me a couple of minutes to put the pieces together. In my everyday life the mantra “Accept Me or Forget You” makes send, but in my yogi life, it does not.

The yoga community is where I feel acceptance all the time. I never worry about other people’s thoughts. But the yoga community is also a place where I don’t forget about other yogis. It’s a place where I send positive energy to other people, no matter what.

Readers, what mantras make sense in your everyday life? What mantras make sense in your yoga/workout life? I would love to know!

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

Product Review Thursday: Pocket Yoga Practice Builder App

All comments on products are my own, I was not paid to endorse this app.

It’s Product Review Thursday and today I wanted to review this app called Pocket Yoga Practice Builder. My struggle with home practice is I never really know what to poses to do after my Sun Salutations A and B. Having sat with my struggle for a few months, I finally decided to look for an app to help me build a full yoga practice. This app helps a yogi figure out how to build a successful practice (hence the name).

Here is what the app looks like:

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Examples of what the poses look like:

Here are the pros I find with this application:

  • Different yoga styles
  • Different skill levels
  • No internet required to use
  • Play a full yoga class

It does take awhile to build a full yoga practice, but once it’s built, you feel very accomplished with yourself.

Readers, what apps do you use for workouts?

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

 

Studying Yoga and Working Full Time: The Scrappy Edition Part 2

Recently, just like practicing yoga, I made the commitment to also study yoga. I started by investing in some materials to read in order to further my practice. I felt like it was time for me to understand the history of Yoga, and not just try to master the poses. Here are the books I’m reading currently:

Working full time doesn’t always leave room for studying, which is different for me. All through my school years, even college and Master’s Degree, I could always study and work in tandem. It was sort of my identity. I was the student that could do it all. I didn’t understand students that would struggle. I always had a set time schedule for homework and work, or even when I was little, my activities. And, here’s the kicker, I always had things done before 8pm at night, so I could watch T.V.

Now, having not attended school in a few years, I’m finding out that my rhythm is off. It’s almost like I forgot how to study, and just like anything, I’m out of practice. I guess most people would say that I hit real adulthood. My priorities have shifted, so I continuously need to make time for what I want to accomplish in life.

I have set some guidelines for myself to help me study. Here are my guidelines below:

  • Read at least a chapter each night of each book
  • Interact with the content by either trying poses or meditation
  • Underline key facts in the content

The way that I have made this “scrappy” to fit my lifestyle is to read at awkward times. Sometimes, I read early in the morning before work, or maybe in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. I try to fit it all in. It’s not easy, just like making a commitment to practice yoga.

Readers, would love to know your tips and tricks to accomplishing your personal goals.

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

Practicing Yoga and Working Full Time: The Scrappy Edition Part 1

How are you able practice yoga at least five times a week? These are the questions I receive from friends and co-workers all the time. Work weeks and practicing yoga is always a balancing act. Something is always coming up at work which effects when I can practice yoga. Luckily, there are always enough classes at my studio to compensate, but being a very regimented person, I don’t like to change my schedule. When I made the commitment a year ago to really dive into my practice, I knew it was going to be tough and I was going to have to get “scrappy.”

Here is my ideal schedule of yoga practice below:

 

Monday: Early morning yoga

Tuesday: Lunchtime yoga

Wednesday: Lunchtime yoga

Thursday: Early morning yoga

Friday: Early morning yoga

Saturday: Morning yoga

Sunday: Rest

Seems like a pretty easy schedule to achieve right? Yeah, not so much. Here is an example of the internal conversation I have with myself every week on Monday morning looking at my work calendar.

     “Let’s see what my week looks like this morning. Oh, well on Wednesday, I have a 12:30 pm lunch meeting, so Wednesday yoga will have to be pushed to nighttime yoga. Oh wait, can I practice at night and then get up Thursday morning and practice again? I might be too sore. If I do that, then I need to practice at lunchtime on Thursday, and I can’t do that since I have a meeting that ends a noon. Well, if the meeting ends 10 minutes early, then I have a chance of making class on time. Maybe Wednesday becomes my rest day and pick up a class on Sunday? No, not this weekend, I have an Oakland A’s baseball game to go to.”

The way I made it “scrappy” is by making the determination to practice yoga however I can. I accepted the fact that I will have changes in my yoga schedule and to always be ready for yoga class. I always have my yoga bag, clothes and essential products in the back of my car ready to go if my work week schedules changed rapidly. I’m always prepared.

Readers, how do you get “scrappy” and attend all your workouts?

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

Product Review Thursday: Post Practice Beauty Products

All opinions are my own. I was not paid to endorse these products.

So, if you are like me, sometimes you like to practice lunchtime yoga. I particularly love lunchtime yoga, as it gets me out of the office for an hour. The only problem with working out midday is that you need to get” re-ready” for work right after practice is over. Since I practice warm Vinyasa flow yoga, I definitely sweat in class. After rinsing off from yoga, here are three beauty products that make is easier for me to get ready for work again.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Makeup Removing Wipes

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I swear by these makeup removing wipes. I use them before I practice to remove my makeup (mascara in the eye hurts). They are slightly scented, and the calming agent really helps the skin. I also use them after I practice, to remove any sweat from my pores.

Burt’s Bees BB Cream

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This product actually came to me as a sample from my yoga studio. It’s always a pain to reapply all makeup after yoga, so the Burt’s Bees BB Cream is a light weight tinted foundation to quickly put on my face. It saves me a lot of time getting “re-ready” for work.

Goody Girls Elastic Hair Ties

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These are my life saver hair ties! If you are like me and have long, thick, heavy hair, you know that most hair products do not hold. These hair ties allow me to quickly place a bun in my hair and it won’t move for the day. With the bun in place, I do not have to blow dry my hair again after yoga.

Readers, I would love to know what beauty products you use after your yoga practice/workouts.

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi