Sanskrit: Janu Shirasasana
Do you have tight hamstrings (or as we like to call them, "hammies")? People who run a lot and sit a lot may have tight hamstrings in common. A lot of people have tight hammies, so if you do too, you are not alone! By practicing a one-legged forward fold, you can take the time and give the appropriate attention to each hamstring. This pose is also known as Head-to-Knees Pose and is a one-legged variation of the Seated Forward Fold.
Benefits of One-Legged Forward Fold:
Let's practice this pose:
Yoga model: Raquel is an Army retired veteran & enjoys summering in Wisconsin & long visits with friends & family.
As we grow into adulthood, most adults stop playing. Play is replaced by appointments, schedules, and to-do lists. Sure we may be good at hitting the gym and keeping date night, but when was the last time you played? We are encouraging you to play, or go freestyle, on your mat! There is a yogi saying, "it's yoga practice, not yoga perfect," so let's embrace pure play. You're invited to roll out your mat and explore moving your body in an unchoreographed manner to cultivate a long lost child-like joy. Like your favorite yoga class or personal practice, play can be both rejuvenating and relaxing. So carve out some time this year for some unstructured play on your mat, maybe even with a pet!
1. Roll out your mat
2. Mindfully breathe in and out of your nose
3. Explore moving your body in a gentle to vigorous manner, setting on whatever feels good to you in the moment
4. Optional: invite your pet into the room and see what they do with you
5. Take a few moments at the end for a systemic relaxation to lock in your playful yoga session
6. Repeat as desired throughout the year
Play is beneficial for people of all ages. Here are some of the benefits, according to Helpguide.org:
~ Relieves stress
~ Improves brain function
~ Stimulates the mind and boosts creativity
~ Improves relationships and your connections to others
~ Keeps you feeling young and energetic
Yoga model: Puppy yoga model is Ms. Lilly. Lilly gets excited when her human Suzy, a US Air Force veteran, rolls out her yoga mat. Lilly has an amazing Downward Facing Dog pose!
(Sanskrit: Uttana Shishosana, meaning extended or stretched out puppy pose)
The word puppy is synonymous with playfulness, cheerfulness, and happiness. While this pose may not fill you with tail-wagging fun, we hope it cultivates a fresh and playful start of 2021 for you!
Puppy Pose, also referred to as Melting Heart Pose, is a mild inversion and has several modifications and options. It’s the midpoint pose between Table (hands and knees pose) and Child (inversion and resting pose). Puppy serves to expand the chest, reduce or relieve tension in your neck and shoulders, and lengthen your spine.
Use caution or avoid this pose if you have neck or back injuries
Yoga Model: US Navy Veteran Rachel B. Her puppy co-model is named Shadow. Rachel is a twinless twin who knew part of herself was missing. As a child she would pretend she had a twin and imagined her reflection was her twin. She operates Bella Vita Mushrooms and for the past three years has been growing gourmet mushrooms for the public and restaurants. She also makes mushroom tinctures that help support many health ailments. Find out more, visit www.bellavitamushrooms.com.
Pyramid Pose allows us to cultivate stability, strength, and a solid earthly balance. Maybe not as great as the Great Pyramids of ancient Egypt, but let's explore. This standing forward bending pose helps stretch both the hip muscles and hamstrings, as it lengthens the spine. Some practitioners refer to Pyramid Pose as Intense Side Stretch because it is a deep forward fold.
Elongates the hamstrings
Stretches the spine and hips
Activates the lymphatic system and blood flow to the brain as a mild inversion
May experience an energetic alignment having so many body parts active
Modifications & Safety Tips:
If your hands do not reach the floor, use blocks. Note: avoid resting hands on your shins. Press into your feet, especially your big toe mound and inner heel of the rear foot to assist with balance.
Use a micro bend in your forward knee to prevent knee stress and/or locking. Avoid this deep bending pose if you have hamstring, hip, or back issues. Also, avoid if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or pregnancy.
Yoga Model: Jessica J. Retired Air Force and current law enforcement. Jessica likes beach vacations (like the one she's pictured here), SCUBA diving, and chickpeas.
Do we always need to look ahead? We think not. Reverse Looking Warrior II is a reflective modification of Warrior II pose. The reflective reverse gaze is a welcomed perspective change. While actively grounding and strengthening the lower body, this powerful standing pose utilizes the major leg and glue muscles.
Feel free to explore practicing from the support and stability of a chair. You could also use a chair in front of you while standing for added stability. As a friendly reminder, notice the strength in your stance, and the strength in you!
Casey is an Army combat veteran with service in Iraq (3 tours), South Korea, and Afghanistan. Medically retired after her truck was hit with an IED, she joined a Veteran Service Organization to continue to serve and support veterans. She went on to earn her bachelor degree. Her husband is a currently serving service member, and together, they have two kids in college and two dogs named Zoey and Zeus. Casey dreams of traveling to each beach in the world to dip her toes in the water!