7 Best Shoulder-Opening Yoga Poses

1. Child’s Pose

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This pose is a wonderful passive relief for many areas of the body but especially the shoulders. By folding over your bent legs and reaching your arms to the end of your mat, you are letting the shoulders fall open and relax.

Be sure that your shoulders aren’t creeping up towards your ears, but rather encourage them to move down your back. Hold this pose for a minute or two to allow the stretch to move deep into your muscles.

2. Child’s Pose with Block

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After the initial opening allowed by Child’s Pose, I like to grab a block and take things to the next level. Place the block at the top of your mat, walk your hands forward on the mat so your hips rise off your heels. Place your elbows on the block, point your hands up towards the ceiling in prayer position.

Now, start to lower your head between your forearms and sink your hips back slightly. You’ll feel an intense stretch in your shoulders, so only go as far as feels safe for your body.

3. Rabbit Pose

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From your hands and knees, with knees hips distance apart, place the crown of your head on the mat. Reach your hands behind you to grab a hold of the tops of your feet. Simultaneously pull on your feet while pressing your shoulder blades forward. This will create a wonderful opening in the shoulder blades.

4. Thread the Needle

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Come back to your hands and knees. Reach your right arm open to the ceiling, then thread it under the left arm, bringing your right shoulder and cheek to the mat. The hips should stay lifted. If you want to work the left shoulder at the same time, reach the left hand behind you towards your right hip. Do this pose on both sides.

5. Eagle Arms

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This pose can be done either standing in Eagle pose or seated on the mat. Simply hook the right elbow under the left, and wrap the hands so that your palms meet. Work on getting the shoulders to stay away from the ears while also raising your elbows to deepen the stretch.

6. Cow Face Arms

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Again, either stay in Easy pose with crossed legs, or stack the knees for Cow Face pose. Reach your right arm behind you and place the palm between the shoulder blades. Reach the left arm back and try to take hold of the right fingers.

If the hands don’t quite touch, grab hold of the fabric of your shirt, or use a strap. Practice on both sides.

7. Hands Over Head in Wide-Legged Forward Bend

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Take either a wide-legged stance, or feet together with bent knees. Interlace your fingers behind your back. Hinge your upper body forward while bringing your hand up over your head and away from your body. Be gentle with yourself as this pose can be intense.

As with all yoga poses, listen to your body and be wary of any existing injuries or sensitivities when moving through these poses. The shoulders are a delicate body part and it is important not to push them too far.

 

From: https://www.doyouyoga.com

5 Yoga Moves for Toning Muscles

Here we go, the ultimate top 5 calorie busting moves for toning muscles. Simple, doable and effective yoga moves, let’s start toning muscle!

Downward Facing Dog

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Downward Facing Dog strengthens the arms, legs, core, and shoulders.  It also stretches your hamstrings, calves, and spine.  Holding Downward Facing Dog can also relieve stress, improve digestion, energize the body, and improve memory.

Crescent Lunge

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Crescent Lunge strengthens your thighs, glutes, hips, and core.  It also stretches your hip flexors, groin, chest, and shoulders.  The pose also is incredibly energizing and can help improve balance and concentration.

Chair Pose

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Chair Pose strengthens your thighs, glutes, ankles, and calves.  It also helps open up your shoulders and stretch your Achilles tendons.  Holding the pose will also increase your heart rate and help stimulate your circulatory system.

Prayer Twist

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Prayer Twist strengthens your legs, glutes, and core.  It stretches your spine and because it is a twist, is great for helping rid the body of toxins.  The pose will improve balance and posture.

High Plank

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High Plank strengthens the core, arms, shoulders, and wrists.  It also helps improve posture and increase energy levels.

(The original article link: https://diyactive.com/5-yoga-moves-for-toning-muscles/)

6 Yoga Poses for Quick Weight Loss

Down Dog Crunch

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Start on hands and knees, palms flat and slightly in front of shoulders, knees under hips, and toes tucked under. Exhaling, straighten legs and press up into Downward-Facing Dog (your body should resemble an inverted V), stretching heels down toward mat. Inhaling, lift right leg up, pressing palms evenly into mat. Exhaling, shift torso forward into plank position (keep shoulders over wrists and core engaged) and pull right knee toward right elbow. Inhaling, reach right leg back to sky, returning to one-legged Down Dog. Do ten reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Reverse Warrior to Side Angle

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From Down Dog, step left leg forward between hands, bringing side of right foot parallel to back edge of mat. Inhaling, come into Warrior II, turning hips and torso to right and raising arms to shoulder height, palms facing down. Flip left palm up.

Inhaling, come into Reverse Warrior, reaching left arm up and leaning torso back slightly, resting right hand on right leg. Exhaling, lean forward and rest left forearm on left thigh or beside foot, reaching right arm up and over head, biceps by ear, coming into Side Angle Pose. Inhaling, come back to Reverse Warrior. Do five to ten reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Bowing Warrior

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From Down Dog, step left foot between hands. Press right heel down and turn foot 45 degrees toward center of mat. Inhaling, come into Warrior I. Interlace fingers behind back. Exhaling, fold forward, bringing chest inside of left thigh. Inhaling, lift back to start, keeping fingers interlaced. Do five to ten reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Chaturanga Push-Up

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Start in Down Dog. Draw torso forward to plank position, bringing shoulders directly over wrists and keeping spine in one long line. Inhaling, engage core and lengthen spine, extending crown of head forward and pressing heels back. Exhaling, lower halfway to mat, keeping elbows close to waist and shoulders away from ears. Inhaling, push back up to plank position. Do five to 15 reps, gradually working up to 25.To make it easier, drop to your knees for Chaturanga Push-Ups, keeping elbows pulled in and shoulders away from ears.

Warrior III Core Crunch

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Stand with feet together in middle of mat. Inhaling, set your gaze on one point and contract abs, shifting weight onto left leg. Exhaling, come into Warrior III, leaning torso forward, hinging at hips, and lifting right leg off mat and arms out to sides at shoulder height (torso and right leg should be parallel to mat). Inhaling, lengthen through arms and right leg. Exhaling, bend left knee and crunch into a tight ball, hugging arms to chest, pulling right knee toward nose, and rounding upper back. Inhaling, straighten left leg and return to Warrior III, reaching arms out to sides and right leg behind you. Do five to 15 reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Bridge Pose With Leg Lift

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Lie faceup on mat, knees bent and hip-width apart, feet flat on mat and parallel, with heels as close to butt as possible. Inhaling, lift hips off mat. Clasp hands below pelvis and reach fists toward feet, rolling shoulders underneath chest, coming into Bridge Pose. Hold for five breaths, pressing chest and hips up. Continue to hold, or shift weight onto left leg, and on an inhale, press through left heel and lift right leg straight up. Hold for four breaths. On exhale, bring right knee into chest and release foot to mat. Inhale, then exhale, releasing hips back down to mat. Repeat sequence on opposite side to complete one rep. Do two or three reps.

15 Things That Happen When You Get Into Yoga

Calm

Stress is an inevitable part of life, however being able to monitor it with breath and introspection can change the outcome of many situations. Ideally stress will begin to subside with the tools discovered in yoga.

Strength

Over time the body will become stronger and yoga poses will feel much more accessible. Discovering body awareness and incorporating appropriate cues from instructors can take a practice to another level. Yoga will never be easy, however the body builds up strength to support the practice in time. Certain daily activities that felt difficult before will get easier. Activities such as walking up stairs, balancing to put on shoes or picking up children can become less challenging.

Weight loss

Although many people do not initially turn to yoga for weight loss, it is a surprising bonus. The pure and detoxifying feeling the body experiences after practice sends people in a healthier direction. The body begins to crave nutritious foods and denies heavy meals.

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Happiness

Learning tools to incorporate breathing and body awareness into scenarios that are mentally or physically demanding will change the outcome of many situations. Letting go of self-medication with food, alcohol, or prescription drugs is difficult. However in minor cases, replacing self-medication with yoga can help. The residual buzz from a yoga practice can deliver some of the happiness people struggle to find.

Change

Releasing things that no longer serve or fulfill are some of the first steps toward change. Like-minded individuals, and better decision-making replace toxic relationships, negative friends, and harmful environments.

Diet

Some people have been known to try vegan or vegetarianism at least once. There are teachers that promote non-harming and compassion to living beings with emphasis on a plant based diet. Some bodies can handle not having meat while other bodies need it. The best advice is to do what fits for the individual. What works for one, may not work for all. Ask a doctor if uncertainty arises with diet.

Posture

Many of the postures in yoga strengthen the spine and the muscles surrounding the spine. The majority of the work is to maintain a tall spine in each pose. A great yoga class will train the practitioner to take daily habits such as a hunched over body out of the practice. Overtime, students will learn techniques on how to carry the body in everyday life. Some yoga poses and classes strengthen the abdominals, which improve the posture quite a bit.

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Confidence

There are so many poses and ideologies in yoga that make the practice a lifelong journey. There is always another variation to achieve or a style to discover. One of the most gratifying feelings is when accomplishing a posture that seemed so difficult in the past. Noticing changes in the body and advancement in the practice gives a person that confidence they may have been searching for. Whether it is an inversion/arm balance or holding plank pose for an extended period of time, these small achievements ignite a positive sense of self.

Mindfulness

Bringing attention to areas of a person’s life that may have gone unnoticed in the past is the first step toward mindfulness. Maybe its deciding to stop wearing high heals, or forgoing the pain medication for small aches and pains, or possibly holding back on negative thinking. Maybe it’s noticing how many chips are consumed in one sitting or how the body is sitting while eating those chips. Shedding light on these little moments that are overlooked so often can change how life is lived in a positive way.

Flexibility

In time, tight muscles will release. That stiff and achy feeling when getting out of bed or right into downward facing dog won’t be as common. All bodies are different. Some people are extremely flexible and hypermobile, while other’s bone structure won’t allow for a super flexible practice. Finding the appropriate flexibility for each body type is the healthier way to think about it. Forcing or pushing the body to become flexible like the person on the neighboring mat is not a safe decision. It is extremely important to balance that flexibility with strength.

Obsession

The yoga practice can become addictive because of the mental relief it offers practitioners. Yoga is a lifetime practice with so many different postures, variations, and lineages. Some people practice intensely on a consistent basis to achieve their goals faster. This is when injury occurs. Many people learn the hard way and ultimately realize that a safe, strong practice will result in longevity of the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

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Body awareness

Depending on which route is traveled in the yoga world; learning about the body is an incredible discovery. How often does a person cross their legs every time they sit, with the same leg over? Understanding how body patterns and daily routine can affect well-being is tremendous.

Clarity

Lifecan be very hectic and stressful with to-do lists and priorities. The mind eventually becomes cluttered putting up roadblocks in our path to clarity. The physical yoga practice is helpful with clearing the mind, however the meditative aspects of yoga can change thoughts drastically. A daily meditation practice is known to clear the mind and bring clarity to situations in which we feel limited.

Self Inquiry

Depending on the person, there will be interest in becoming a yoga instructor. Even if teaching isn’t the goal, some become certified to understand the practice on a deeper level. Spirituality is a huge part of the path of yoga. Studying yogic philosophy or reading up on spiritual teachings can help. Learning more about who you are as a person is a growth process unlike anything else.

Love

I have found that if you love life, life will love you right back.”- Arthur Rubinstein. Learning to move through life from a place of love is one of the best feelings in the world. Whether it is love for one’s own body, other people, or the love of life in itself, positive outcomes normally result in this way of thinking.

Yoga can turn a person’s world upside-down, literally and figuratively. Diving into a yoga practice in order to gain wisdom, peace, and physical strength is one of life’s best-kept secrets. As time goes on, life will continue to change for the better with the help of a little thing called yoga.

 

(The original article link: http://yogatime.tv/blog/15-things-that-happen-when-you-get-into-yoga/)

Beginner’s Guide to Headstand

There are so many benefits to inversions and they are a lot of fun to do, but if you aren’t ready for them, you can potentially injure yourself or scare yourself out of trying again.

A strong core and strong upper body are necessary to keep you upside down in any inversion. Though you will gain both of these through an inversion practice, it is important to note that you need to take things slow to get there. The more you control your movements, the greater the strength you will develop.

Before you jump right into this guide to headstands, be sure to warm up the muscles that are crucial to support your body in a headstand through Sun Salutations, and/or core exercises/poses, downward facing dog, and stretching to loosen up your hamstrings.

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(The original article link: http://www.bodyrock.tv/fitness/beginners-step-by-step-guide-to-headstands/)

How to Create a Home Yoga Space

The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere. It’s relatable across all cultures, languages, and countries. It can be practiced independently in the comfort of your home, outside in Mother Nature, or in a room full of people. The options are endless.

Once you learn the basic postures , the practice can easily be integrated into your daily routine. Wake up. Sleepily walk to the toilet. Gulp down some water. Step on your yoga mat. And flow! Sounds simple enough, right?

While actually practicing yoga every damn day can be quite challenging, mostly because the mind loves to make up excuses, it can also be incredibly simple. If practicing yoga in the comfort of your home sounds appealing, then creating a home yoga space should be added to the to-do list.

Below are the must-knows for you to create your very own home yoga space.

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What to do in your yoga space:

5 – 10 sun salutations upon first waking up to awaken & energize the body. Light stretching before bed to quiet the mind and relax the body. A yoga practice of any kind it’s your studio so anything goes! Meditate.

Practice breathing exercises. Read books, write in a journal, reflect on the day or week ahead. Get creative, make a vision board, dreamcatcher, or take a nap! Enjoy a glass of wine or a steamy cup of hot tea.

Where to create the space:

Choose a room or area in your home where you can be undisturbed and find some quiet time. If you have an outdoor space and live in the sunshine state, then outdoors is best.

A flat surface is key for balancing postures and to root down into the Earth. A room with an abundance of natural light, we all need that vitamin D. Anywhere that lights your inner fire!

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Yoga supplies needed + props:

Yoga Mat. If your practice is only at home, invest in a durable mat! A yoga towel for comfort, easier grip, and to absorb the sweat. Mexican style blanket, super inexpensive and so helpful.

A bolster is a beautiful prop with so many benefits – it helps open the heart, can support the low back, aids in restorative postures, helps to go deeper into postures, or it can be a pillow for afternoon naps.

Meditation pillow, not necessary but a great addition if meditation and breathing exercises are part of your yoga practice. A strap can aid in flexibility and making a lot of postures more accessible. Even if you are flexible, it just makes everything feel juicier.

A set of blocks – so crucial! These babies are like flour when making dough. They help in almost any posture to feel grounded, balanced, lengthened, or relaxed. Required purchase! A yoga sandbag to help the body deepen and relax into postures.

How to decorate your space:

Lanterns of any size, shape, or color. Plants that are easy to take care of. A Buddha statue. Incense, an incense burner or essential oils  and a burner. Candles and more candles.

Seashells, crystals, rocks, something nature related to ground you. Hanging embellishments, wind chimes, dreamcatchers, sea glass or seashell decorations. A portable speaker to play some soothing tunes.

If outside, a lamp to create mood lighting & possibly bug spray. If inside, hang tapestries, curtains, or string lights to create an inspiring environment.

(The original article link: http://www.thejourneyjunkie.com/yoga-3/create-home-yoga-space/)

5 Beginner Yoga Poses for a Strong Core

A strong core is not only essential for your yoga practice, but your overall posture also.  The amount of time we spend sitting in chairs can affect our posture. Another downside to sitting all the time is we forget to engage our core. Most people sit with all their weight dumping into their lower back, which can lead to lower back pain.

A simple remedy for this is to engage your core while seated. Do this by drawing your abdominal muscles in towards your spine, and simultaneously lengthening your spine away from your tailbone. This causes your core to hold your upper body weight and relieves your lower back from being dumped on.

To practice these beginner yoga poses for a strong core, hold each pose for 3 to 5 breaths, and work your way up to holding them for longer periods.

Half Boat Pose

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How To: Begin by seating with your legs bent, feet on your mat hip distance apart. On an inhale, engage your core and shift your weight backward to your sit bones while lifting your feet off the mat. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing in towards your spine, and your chest lifting up towards the ceiling. Reach your arms straight out in front of you, and strongly towards your toes. Your thighs should be at a 45-degree angle from the mat, and your legs parallel to the mat. Keep your legs engaged by flexing your toes back towards your body. To come out, slowly lower your legs to the mat.

Dolphin Plank Pose

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How To:Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward, lower your forearms to the mat, and drop your hips to bring your whole body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your elbows. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

High Plank Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward and bring your body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your wrists. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

Knee to Nose Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee in towards your chest. On that same breath, round your back, push the mat strongly away and tuck your chin in to bring your nose towards your knee. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine. To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Don’t forget to do the left side!

Knee to Forearm Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee to the outside of your arm, and up on your forearm. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine, and your leg close to your thigh.  To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Practice on the other side.

(The original article link: http://socialhermit.me/5-beginner-yoga-poses-strong-core/)

4 Ways to Use Yoga Blocks to Improve Flexibility

1. Forward fold

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For forward fold, we’re working on our hamstring flexibility, so placing a yoga block on the legs (any which way works for you is fine – it can be vertical or horizontal) may help. Rest your head on the block and with each exhale, visualize your stomach coming down toward your thighs. Try to stay here for 5 – 7 breaths (or more, if you can).

2. Janu Sirsasana A

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This is forward fold but with one leg bent, and it’s working on the hamstrings and the inner thigh and hips as well. So, same idea. Place the yoga block on the floor this time, any way that works for you, and rest the head. With each exhale, visualize your stomach coming toward toward your thighs, visualize the shoulders and hips even. Breathe fully here for 5 – 7 breaths or more.

3. Lizard pose

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Lizard pose is hip opener can be super tough for people with tight hips and a block sort of raises the floor so you can spend some time here without wanting to scream (or is that just me?!). Anyway, place the block any way that works for you, and bring the forearms down to the block. With each exhale, visualize any tension you’re feeling totally released. Breathe 5 – 7 breaths or longer.

4. Wide leg forward fold

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This is a good one for the hamstrings, too. Bring your head down and rest here, breathing into the backs of the legs. Visualize the hip joints in line with the ankles and hold here for 5 – 7 breaths or more.

 

(The original article link: http://yogabycandace.com/blog/yoga-block-for-flexibility)