Trail Etiquette

When you go hike more often than not, there are a lot of things to see and experience that go beyond the view. I’m not knocking the view or being immersed in nature. Actually, the view, nature, and getting away from the hustle and bustle are pure joys of mine with regards to hiking. It is sort of a walking meditation, part of my yoga, and a fun workout for me.

But… and yes, I have a but when it comes to hiking. It’s called Trail Etiquette. Many people, in fact most people I encounter, have it. However, NOT EVERYONE DOES. Typically, those that don’t have trail etiquette fail miserably!

This past weekend, my friend and I saw some of the worst offenders on a popular trail and thus I was very inspired to blog about it. VERY INSPIRED!!!
For instance…
- A guy flying down the trail on a bike, not wearing any protective gear and shirtless, crashed into a rather large boulder at the switchback corner. He flew off his bike. He shook it off, got back on and kept on riding. He is just begging to seriously get injured.

So in case, you’re wondering, I’ll share important trail etiquette in hopes to enlighten those few who are naive. Overall, etiquette violators come off as extremely rude. You don’t want to be “THAT” person, do you!?

1. ENCOUNTERS:
A. If the trail is narrow: If you are descending (going downhill), you should step aside to those ascending (going uphill). Why? It takes way more energy to go up hill (fighting gravity) than it does to travel downhill (with gravity). Hiking uphill is way harder! We all know this.
B. If the trail is narrow: if you are moving faster than someone and hope to pass them, don’t assume they know you are there. You might be a stealthy runner, they have earphones in, or they are hard of hearing or deaf. Here is what you should do, say something! “Runner on your left” or “Excuse me, may I pass.” This goes a long way and your slower person will shift to the right side of the trail or stop so you may pass. Yep, it’s that simple!
C. Usually there are trail signs. However, if there isn’t, remember:
- Bikers yield to hikers and horses
- Hikers yield to horses
D. Treat the trail like you do a road. Stay to the right.
E. Also, just because you are running and someone else is walking/hiking, doesn’t mean your workout is more important or mean you trump the hiker. Never ever run over anyone! All I can say is WOW! See above!

2. CAIRNS:
If a trail is not well marked and I’ve been on trails where it seemed the trail disappeared into thin air, some people will mark it using nature. Personally, I for one appreciate it.
What are cairns? Cairns are a man-made pile of stones maybe forming a pyramid or arrow. Don’t destroy it! You come off as a complete ass, if you do! Leave them alone.
The cairns are someone’s pay it forward or well intended karma to prevent others from getting lost when the trail seemed to have disappeared and it isn’t other-wised marked. And people do get lost. Some hikers really stray off course and have to be rescued. Every summer, here in Colorado, someone gets lost and the story makes the news. Not everyone has a GPS/compass and not everyone’s instincts are on target.

3. SMALL TALK GOES A LONG WAY!
Say hi or engage in small talk (talk about the trail or how nice the weather is) with other hikers. It’s friendly, polite, and it makes the hike more pleasent. It also is a smart safety move. Why? Let’s say something bad happens to you and people start looking for you, chances are higher that the people you spoke to are more likely to remember you than the people you never uttered a word to. Those that remembered you maybe able to provide useful information to first responders. Things like where you had mentioned you were hiking to or at the very least where they saw you. This narrows their search window which likely allows them to find you quicker and that maybe the difference between hyperthermia, shock, or death…

4. DISCONNECT:
Why hike if you are going to text or yak on your cell phone the whole time. Put it away! Only pull it out for GPS or taking pictures. You’ll save your cell phone battery, you’ll enjoy your hike more, or you’ll hear nature to include wildlife. Think about it!

5. BATHROOM:
I can’t believe I have to say this. No one should really be able to see you do your business. Leave the trail, find some trees, or large boulders and allow them to conceal you. Same applies to your dogs! Take them off the trail or pick it up!

6. TRASH:
If you pack it in, pack it out! Water bottles, cigarette butts, and power bar wrappers are things I sometimes see. Don’t litter and destroy nature!

7. STAY ON THE TRAIL AS YOU HIKE:
Don’t take shortcuts between the switchbacks. You’ll destroy nature, mess up the clarity of the trail, and increase your chances of getting hurt. Last year, we lost a Fort Carson solder because a group of them were cutting across switchbacks and straying off the trail. Not smart! One accidentally fell down an embankment and needless to say he was critically injured, his buddies couldn’t get to him, and he succumbed to his injuries. A great way to end a hike, not!

If you google trail etiquette, you’ll see that professional hikers/writers say pretty much the same thing. Hopefully, this will help educate at least one person on trail etiquette thus making hiking more enjoyable for all of us (including me). Remember, you aren’t the only one on the trail!

~ Namaste,
Kristen

Posted in Community, Community Yoga Practices, Exercise, Exercise Foundations, Fun, Habits, mind-body connection, wellness, Yoga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ideas for Earth Day

Our celebration of Earth Day is fast approaching. Always on April 22nd, this year’s annual observation falls on a Tuesday. However, some communities will have observations, events, and sales on the weekend leading up to the day also since a lot of people tend to be off from work and can participate more freely than on a work day. Overall, I’ve always liked Earth Day and the reason why it is observed. It really resonates with me as a yogi.

If you are like me, then this post is written with you in mind. So what is a yogi to do??? I have some ideas.

1. Spend the day outside (or at least part of it).
- There is so much you can do outside! Take a walk, go hiking, ride your bike, visit a park, dine al fresco, read a book on your patio, play with the dog and kids outside, or have a picnic… Endless daytime possibilities!
- At night, enjoy the night’s sky. The sky is fascinating and there are a ton of things to investigate. Shoot, a much enjoyed past time with treasured friends involves us sitting out on their deck talking about whatever came to mind, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the night sky. To this day, shooting stars are pretty cool to witness!

2. You regularly do yoga.
- Take your practice outside even if it is in your backyard.
- Maybe focus on the roots of your practice, have a root chakra theme, or explore a grounding mindset such as drawing awareness to possibly the big toe mound as it suctions into your mat.
- Explore a grounded sequence. Last year, in April, I actually found a Earth Salutation sequence and I posted it on my blog. Check it out, you might like it.
- Use grounding oils like frankincense and apply it to the soles of your feet and the back of your neck and enhance your practice. I’m a big fan of DoTERRA essential oils. Not familiar with DoTERRA, check them out. (I have a link: DoTERRA
- Maybe use no music and enjoy nature’s music or make a green conscious playlist.

3. Make a real green smoothie.
- Green smoothies are something I really like and usually, I have the gym’s cafe blend up one for me after my workout. However, I found a site that has a super easy 60/40 formula and yet gives you flexibility to design your own blend. Because of this, I wanted to share the site. Here is the URL. Smoothie site Check it out.

4. Do yard work or plant something.
- To me spring is a celebration of plants and new growth. With this in mind, check out your nurseries and see if they have any sale specials. I always get inspired to plant something in the yard or at least buy a plant for the house. – And speaking of the house, did you know that having a plant(s) in the house will purify your indoor air which is great for asthma and even allergies. There are a lot of plants to choose from. I personally think an ivy is easy to take care of.

5. On this day, make a Vegetarian meal or even a Vegan Meal.
I suggest this due to the many documentaries and books that discuss the cruelty of factory farming and it’s affects on pollution. I have some trailers posted on my links page which may inspire you to explore this option at least on Earth Day.

6. Earth Friendly Documentaries.
The are a lot of choices out there. Now, on my page, I have mainly eating ones, but do know there are other choices to watch. For instance, last year, I watched “The Cove” which was in my opinion extremely upsetting and disturbing but I’m really glad I watched it. It was also well done.

7. Open up the blinds and drapes and take advantage of the natural light.

8. Pursue Earth Friendly Activities:
- Recycle, buy products made from recyclables, Adopt a Highway…
- Reuse. Have you ever boiled potatoes? Do you have a garden? Can be food or flowers. Let the water cool then pour over your plants. This delivers water and extra, but natural supplements to your plants. And you didn’t pour water down the drain. Collect rain water for outdoor watering.
- Try regrowing some vegetables or fruits from one’s you’ve cut up. It’s easy, sit the base or roots in water and place in sunlight. Google this and you’ll see the numerous options like onions, pineapple, carrots…

9. Meditation Walk.
Have you ever done a real Meditation Walk? They are highly rewarding and are great for stress relief. Do the walk outside and give your undivided attention to nature. Enjoy nature’s sounds, smells, textures… To truly do this that means no cell phones or iPods!

10. Use or make natural household cleaners.
- Natural cleaners are healthier and are just as effective as those toxic ones you possibly buy for around your house. There are a ton of recipes online where you can explore making your own or you can buy green products.
- If looking to make a cleaner, here is just about the easiest recipe. Get a generic spray bottle. Fill the bottom 1/4 with vinegar and then fill with water. This is a great option for the kitchen and I give 100% credit to my Mom for this one.

Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you as you explore and celebrate Earth Day in your own unique way.

Namaste,
Kristen.

Posted in Community Yoga Practices, Creating Yoga Themes, Eating Healthy, mind-body connection, wellness, Yoga | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Yoga Nidra

Personally, I have never ever heard of “Yoga Nidra” until after I became a yoga instructor. Little bits and pieces, sample experiences here and there in certain courses I’ve taken along the way. There was one experience in a class I took as I pursued my 200. However, now as I’m pursuing my 500, I’ve had more opportunities to sample it.

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As I pursue instructor training, one of the things I’ve discovered about myself is that the training classes I take do a wonderful job of introducing concepts to me. Then later after the class, sometimes immediately, sometimes way later, the curiosity bug strikes me and I really explore, research, and practice a concept and it is then that I truly seal in the concept.
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If you aren’t a yoga instructor, chances are you too don’t know what the heck Yoga Nidra is either. I can relate! I was that person once. So let me introduce (hopefully in a way you’ll understand) it to you and encourage you to give it a try.

WHAT IS IT???
Yoga Nidra is yogic sleep but not sleep as you are accustom to. Quite the opposite. You are actually awake in a sort of sleep with awareness; in a zen zone.

Yoga Nidra is not a new age sort of concept. Actually, it is an ancient practice, but it is catching on here in America little by little often in a therapeutic setting.

The goal of Yoga Nidra is to induce full-body relaxation and a deep meditative state of consciousness. It is done systematically. This sort of practice is a great thing to do because as we all know, today’s world is bombarded with stressors. We don’t have enough hours in the day, our “To Do” list is endless, and we live in an overstimulated world that never shuts off.

If you pursue restorative practices such as Yoga Nidra, meditation, or restorative poses, you’ll change your life for the better! Also, for those of you familiar with the Limbs of Yoga, these practices can be part of the fifth limb, Pratyhara or withdrawal of the senses.

HOW TO DO YOGA NIDRA:

1. Get the mindset of I have to have a sweaty tough workout out of your head.! This is different and relaxation techniques have an equally importance in our lives as does exercise. Vegging out in front of the TV doesn’t count as true relaxation. You have to really disconnect.
2. Go to iTunes or Amazon or some place like that and order or download a “Yoga Nidra” album/audio book. The first one I ordered was from iTunes called “Yoga Nidra: Wakeful Sleep. A Deep Healing Relaxation” by James Jewel and I like it because he has a short and a long practice that you can choose from. As you browse and sample albums, you’ll want to look for one with a voice that is deep, rhythmic, and fairly flat or monotone. Also, there are scripts that people can read outloud; however, I highly recommend downloading and ordering some type of prerecorded Yoga Nidra program as this will take the difficulty out of the process and you don’t need another person.
3. Dress comfortably, maybe what you might wear to yoga class.
4. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to do your Yoga Nidra practice. Longer is better, but 30 will do.
5. Get out your yoga mat, maybe a blanket and/or an eye pillow, and find a nice, dim, and quiet place where you won’t have distractions. No cell phones either, unless it is playing the Yoga Nidra and it is on “airplane” mode.
6. Start the recording and lie in Savasana. Remain still and listen. Allow the recording to guide you systematically through your Yoga Nidra.

That’s it. Now, try to pursue Yoga Nidra and make it a regular practice.

BENEFITS:
1. Reduced stress. Lower blood pressure. Reduced anxiety. (Proven beneficial to those suffering from P.T.S.D. or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The military and VA are using it now.)
2. Helps reduce insomnia. One hour of Yoga Nidra is essentially equivalent to four hours of actual sleep.
3. Proven effective in pain management.
4. Helps keep you younger looking.

It may be hard to get started, but if you can just mentally prepare and say the following. “I’m going to do this for me and my mental health. My me time is very important! I’m important.”

Here’s to better mental health and a healthier you.
Namaste,
Kristen

Posted in Habits, listening to your body, natural Remedies, Pain Relief, Psychology, Stress Relief, Tension Relief, wellness, Yoga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Mind-body Conference

I’ve been teaching yoga for a while and practicing it for even longer. I absolutely love all things “Mind-Body.” However, just recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Mind-Body conference in Denver. This one was by YogaFit.

Anyways, leading up to the conference, I was extremely excited, but essentially had no idea as to what the conference would be like. Oh and I reached out to others asking them what to should I expect.

Well, let me tell you. I LOVED IT! And as such, I wanted to share my experience and tell you all about it. If you are YogaFit trained, maybe you’ll have the opportunity to attend one yourself. Maybe you’re curious.

The conference took place Thursday through Sunday and was held in a fancy hotel that actually was pet friendly. I stayed all four days and racked up four trainings. (I was thinking that I might as well take advantage of the training proximity and course availability). For this conference, there were many classes to choose from. The trainings were just like always, well executed with knowledgable master trainers and excellent! Teachers knew their stuff, were friendly, and approachable. (This is more than I can say about some other fitness trainers out there). Each class had the flavor of the other trainings I’ve taken independently throughout the past few years but with the courses focusing on their specific topic. In general, classes ran from 8am to 6pm or so. Beth Shaw even was there on one of the days and she presented a Mediation workshop teaser. I jumped at the opportunity to meet as well as take a training from her. And yes, I even took pictures.

That’s not all. With the exception of Sunday, each morning was greeted with the opportunity to take a Master class an hour before trainings were set to begin. As you can guess, I took advantage of opportunity and began my mornings with a practice. Loved each one! There also was a boutique that sold YogaFit merchandise and they had a nice selection. The best part, Sales! Additionally, we had quite a few “sponsor” breaks where we were showered with their snack bling. No complaints from me. On Saturday, YogaFit hosted a nice luncheon where we had a sort of pep rally, raffle, and recognition of 200 and 500 graduates. Lastly, the evenings had free little presentations. One was on essential oils, one was a documentary, and another was an informative on one of their programs.

All in all, I spent four days doing yoga which I love, hung out with all my friends, met several more new friends, and I learned quite a bit of great new stuff. In case you are wondering, I took the following classes:
1. Thai Massage. (I now have quite a few volunteers who said I could practice on them).
2. PMS to Menopause (I wish I would have been practicing yoga my teen years. I could have used some of the techniques I learned back them. Well, at least I know some good stuff for menopause).
3. Warriors (I’m super excited about this one. I learned all sorts of great stuff for and about PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, anxiety, autism…)

If you can, I highly recommend attending a conference, especially if you are YogaFit trained! What I especially liked was the opportunity to rack up some trainings in a short amount of time. (Now, I just need to digest, practice, and apply). Looking forward to going again soon. Now, I’m thinking about attending some of the Yoga Journal conferences. Wonder what those are like.

Namaste,
Kristen

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Experimenting with Essential Oils in Yoga Class

I’ve always have liked essential oils. For me, it increases the pampering and pleasant experiences of wonderful things like getting a massage, facial and even yoga classes. I even like to add essential oils to my bath water, foot bath water, and candle warmers or diffusers for my home.

Since I teach yoga, I’ve wanted to include the essential oil experience into my classes. Just recently, I started exploring the idea and introducing my classes to them. Before I brought oils into class, I felt like I needed to do some research as I am a novice with so much to learn. For instance, I was curious as to what types of oils I should use for various effects. Also, I was concerned about application. Do I apply oils to the skin and if so where/how? Do I spritz oil around the room and if I did this, what would be the best technique? Or do I invest in a diffuser? Additionally, I casually brought up the idea in my yoga classes a few weeks in advance in order to get a feel for their thoughts and to get them to digest the idea. At the very least, I’d get feedback as to whether or not I should even bother. Good news, they were open to the addition of essential oils in our yoga class.

HERE IS WHAT I’VE LEARNED:

Sensitivity: In my investigation, I’ve learned that some people are very sensitive to smell, usually fragrance more so than essential oils. If you want to minimize aggravation, it is best to use essential oils that are “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG).” Never the less, various aromas/scents can cause migraines in some people so a best practice is to always ask your classes up front before you use the oil. If one person says NO, then don’t use the essential oil. The last thing you want to do is give someone a migraine!

Application: If you plan to apply oil directly to skin, it is important to know whether or not the oil will cause irritation. (If applied undiluted, it is considered a “neat” application). If you don’t know sensitivity, then I’d definitely recommend that you dilute the oil into a “carrier oil.” Carrier oils will dilute the oil and aid in absorption.
Some Common Carrier Oils:
• Coconut Oil (Fractionated or Virgin)
• Almond
• Grapeseed Oil
• Jojoba Oil – I found this oil at Whole Foods in the same section as where the essential oils were. This is what I decided to use.
• Olive Oil – Grocery store cooking oil section.
• Safflower Oil
• Wheat germ
When diluting, you’ll want to create a mixture of various strengths. For my yoga classes, I trusted my nose and the below seemed to be an ideal strength and was more than enough for the 8 – 20 clients and myself.
~~~~ 10% Solution: 1 Teaspoon Carrier Oil: 10 Drops Essential Oil
~~~~ 10% Solution: 1 Tablespoon Carrier Oil: 30 Drops Essential Oil
I was going with a single essential oil and the carrier oil verses combining several essential oils since blending requires layering the essential oils in an exact order which is key to maintaining the desired therapeutic properties. (I’m not even close to understanding the art of blending stuff). Also, I placed my diluted oil in one of those tiny dark-colored blue glass jars (avoiding light and heat) that have an eye dropper. (I found my jars at Whole Foods). In the glass jar, I added the carrier oil first followed by the essential oil.

Spritzing: Dilute the essential oil in water. Blend 4-6 drops of oil per ½ cup of water. I diluted my oil in a small blue glass spray bottle also found at Whole Foods. Before you spray, shake the bottle. Never spray above people in Savasana where the mist settles right on their faces as most will find that annoying. Also, the mist, will last approximately 15 minutes which is perfect for a one hour yoga class.

Oils for Various Effects:
There are tons of essential oils out there and of course there is more to these oils than a pleasant aroma. Thinking past the smell, I asked myself why do I want to use essential oils in my yoga classes. What is the purpose? In general, essential oils can therapeutically benefit people psychologically and physically. You’ll hear them described as “nature’s medicine.”

Some questions I explored for yoga practice included:
1. Stimulating/Balancing the Heart Chakra (Emotional Balance/Cardiovascular):
- I encouraged one drop to be placed on the chest/heart area and rubbed in a clockwise direction. Since smelling essential oils stimulates the limbic system of the brain, I also had my clients put a drop on the inside of the elbow so the aroma would be available with Eagle Arms. I additionally, encouraged a drop either on the top of their mats or on a cotton pad placed at the top of their mats so the aroma could be visited during Chaturanga but not on Manduka mats. As the body heated up, the mild aromatherapy was pleasant.
- Oils Tried: Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Rose, Lavender
2. Stimulating Detoxing/Digestion:
- I encouraged one drop of Pepperment to be rubbed on the abdomen in a clockwise direction. (Some other suggested application areas that I’ve learned about include under the arms, the liver, intestines, and feet). If added to the feet, the oil needs to be applied in a “neat” state verses blending in a carrier oil so slipping is reduced, plus again certain mat brands can’t have essential oils on them. If not doing yoga, then the slipping concern is obsolete.
- Oils Tried: Pepperment, Juniper
3. Fighting Cold and Allergy Season:
- A drop of the essential oil can be applied to the base of the neck.
- Oils Tried: Melaleuca, Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus
4. Calming and Grounding:
Frankincense is great in a yoga class where you want to encourage people to calm, center their energy, and to ground which are great places to be in mentally. Many of us are surrounded by stress and often have anxiety which is not a good state to be in.
- For this type of intent, I encouraged Frankinsense. I used DoTERRA brand and it can be applied Neat to the skin. I put a few drops in my client’s palms, had them apply the oil on their feet, back of their necks, and to cup their hands together so they can inhale the oil before yoga practice.
- Oils Tried: Frankincense

Essential Oil Sources:
Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils can be found by contacting a distributer. Respected well-known companies include DoTERRA, Young Living, and Aura Cacia.
Young Living: http://www.abundanthealth4u.com
DoTERRA: http://www.doterra.com
Aura Cacia: http://www.auracacia.com
Natural/Organic Stores are another source of finding essential oils and accessories. Try Whole Foods.

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I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m definitely curious. Hopefully, if you’re a novice like me, you will have found this information useful. To really learn, I suggest you take some workshops, get some books, search online, and maybe just experiment. Personally, I have found workshops to be a wonderful experience that are both enjoyable and filled with learning opportunities.

(I wrote this because a few of my clients have asked me quite a few questions concerning essential oils).

Namaste,
Kristen

Posted in Community Yoga Practices, Creating Yoga Themes, Fun, listening to your body, mind-body connection, natural Remedies, strategies, Stress Relief, wellness, Yoga | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Little Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A friend of mine asked me if yoga would be good for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I answered with a resounding YES! Yoga can help ease the affected nerve compression, improve blood flow, and also create an improved joint posture. That being said, the common theme to be mindful about is to “Listen to your Body” and if it hurts to back off, modify, or don’t do the pose queued in the yoga practice.

WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
You can certainly Google and get an in depth explanation and I encourage you to do so. However, for the sake of this blog, I’m going with the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Short and Simple) and give you a brief idea.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome arises when the “median nerve” that runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand becomes compressed at the wrist. (Think kinked garden hose). When this occurs, people typically experience tingling and numbness. Sometimes, there is a sharp, piercing pain that shoots up from the wrist into the arm and for some there is a weakening of grasp. (My Mom suffers from the weakening and thus she sometimes drops stuff). Overall, it is a progressive condition where symptoms come about gradually and eventually worsen. There are a lot of contributing factors such as wrist injury, rheumatoid arthritis, work stress… and women tend to be likely to suffer than men.

YOGA FOR CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME:
When designing a class around Carpal Tunnel Syndrome whether it is for your own home practice or one you are designing to present to a class, it is important to focus on the upper body. Pose sequence considerations would be those that help to strengthen, stretch, and essentially balance all of the upper body joints that are in the wrists, arms, and shoulders.
Keep in mind…
1. First off, avoid any poses that place too much pressure on the wrists. Again, if pain is present, back off, modify, or don’t do the pose. (There are no bonus points for pain). Poses guilty of too much pressure include Downward Facing Dog, High Plank, and Arm Balances. For instance, if the ever popular Downward Facing Dog is queued, pursue Dolphin instead or try using your fists. (You may want to reference my blog on wrist pain for modification ideas. “Participants Number 1 Complaint: Wrist Pain” written October 2012).
2. Also, it may not be radially apparent but practicing proper posture helps with body alignment which reduces upper body stress to include those contributing towards Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Mountain Pose is one of the best asanas to draw mindfulness towards one’s posture. Consider also reversing the day’s evils of sitting hunched over a computer or smart phone. Great options are the various backbend varieties. Choose one.
3. In yoga, there are a lot of arm and hand positions that provide nice a nice stretch for the wrists and shoulders.
- Consider Reverse Namaste (AKA Secret Prayer). This is just hands in prayer position but behind your back.
Two other popular arm positions include Cow Face Arms or Eagle Arms or even Eagle Hug.
- For Cow Face Arms, reach one arm up over your head and lower as if patting your upper back. Then take the other arm down behind your back reaching fingers toward the top hand. If fingers don’t grasp each other, consider connecting with a strap or towel.
- For Eagle arms just extend both arms out in front of you, fold one of the other, bend the elbows, and wrap the forearms around so your palms can meet with thumbs pointing toward your forehead. Can’t do the wrap around, then just put opposite hand on opposite shoulder.
The nice thing about all three of these hand positions is that they can be pursued in quite a few yoga poses or even at your desk at work.
4. And speaking of yoga at work, a great wrist stretch is to place your hands on your desk with your fingers facing your body and applying gentle pressure by leaning into your hands. Try this wrist stretch at any time during your duty day when your wrists start to feel aggravated.

All in all, these concepts are pretty easy to remember with regards to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Just make some little changes to your existing practice or if you are exploring yoga for the first time, keep these concepts in the back of your head.

Namaste,
Kristen

Posted in Beginner yoga, Deep Stretching, Exercise, Exercise Foundations, listening to your body, mind-body connection, natural Remedies, Pain Relief, strategies, Stretching, Tension Relief, Uncategorized, wellness, wrist pain | Tagged | Leave a comment

February Classes: Hosting a Heart Opening Themed Mind-Body Experience

Back in November 2013, I wrote about some yoga class themes that I generally pursue. It’s now February 2014 and if you’ve read my blog back in November, you may recall that I mentioned having a “Heart Opening” theme.
Since it is February, I actually wanted to elaborate a little on what I was thinking of doing for my yoga classes. Plus, if you are doing special February classes, I would love to hear what you are doing! I will do a variation of the below plan each week. This year, there are four weeks in February.

HERE’S MY PLAN:
1. I’ll open with idea that it is February and when we often think of February events, one of the things that typically makes the list is Valentine’s Day. When you think about Valentine’s Day, you are likely to think about the heart. Heck, hearts are everywhere in decorations, on cards, balloons, commercials, and on heart shaped boxes packed with candy. So if my participants haven’t guessed, I’ll inform them that class will highlight several heart opener yoga poses inspired by Valentine’s Day.

But to make it a whole class experience…

2. I’ll also discuss the Heart Chakra.
a. Now, I know that some gym yoga participants could potentially dismiss the chakra idea so I won’t go into extreme detail or rub it in. Instead, I’ll tell them about the nervous system and its network of nerves throughout the body that these nerves connect back into the spinal column in the spine. The medical/scientific community calls the connection points “nerve plexuses” with the one located in the chest area being called the “cardiac plexus.” Yoga refers to these nerve plexuses as “Chakras.” Regardless of what you call these points, if they are blocked, damaged, or otherwise not flowing freely, it can be associated with illness.
b. In discussing chakras, I’ll briefly mention and point on my body the seven chakras.
c. As I talk about the heart chakra symbolism and yes, I will use the word “symbolism” because I am teaching these classes in a gym setting, I will show a picture of how it is depicted. (I have those little chakra wheels). Then I will mention that it is green and associates with the air element. I will also mention the body areas governed by the heart chakra are the heart, thymus (immune system), and lungs.
d. I’ll mention blockage signs such as shallow breathing, Asthma, and heart and lung diseases. I definitely DON’T want to come across as discouraging any proven medical treatments but rather present the idea that what we’ll do in class is a complementary healing art of self-help remedies/self-soothing practices. ****(Every now and then, our doctors encourage alternative practices in addition to their treatment plans).****

My discussion won’t be more than a few minutes and I’m only going into detail on day one.

3. The heart opening poses are meant to be rejuvenating, help to open the chest area posture wise, stimulate those nerve areas which may provide an energetic sense. (I feel this energetic sense when I personally pursue wheel pose).

4. The breathing exercises positively stimulate the respiratory system and us as a whole. Each week, I’ll highlight a breathing exercise.

5. Aromatherapy is therapeutic. Many scents trigger different emotions and sensations in different people. Maybe it is a memory albeit good or bad. Or a scent might trigger a gland in our brain to release a chemical secretion into our bloodstream that causes some affect.
A. I’ll use pure essential oils and not fragrance because some people have adverse reactions to “fragrances” that often result in a migraine. The last thing I want to do is give anyone a headache so I’ll ask first before using any essential oil. If I get even one person who says no, then I won’t use them.
B. I Googled Heart Chakra and Essential Oils and pleasantly discovered that I could choose from about 15 oils. I chose four, one for each week in February. (I found my essential oils at Whole Foods and went with the Aura Cacia brand of which is sold there. You can learn more about them at http://www.auracacia.com/auracacia/acindex.html). There are other pure brands out there like “Young Living” and “DoTERRA.”
C. I took a workshop back in November on how to enhance your yoga experience with essential oils. For this class I’ll have them rub some oil on their biceps pulse point, on their chest, and on one of those cotton facial pads which would be placed at the top of their mat since essential oils can ruin some mats. My oils will be diluted in Jojoba oil since it is being applied to people’s skin. Some oils can’t be applied in a “neat” state (undiluted) as it can be a skin irritant. My mixture is 1 teaspoon carrier oil (jojoba) to 10 drops essential oils that I mixed in a small glass jar.

6. Reflexology is also therapeutic. I’ll focus on the feet since in yoga, we have our shoes off. There are reflexes on the feet that correspond to every limb, organ, and gland in our bodies. When we apply gentle pressure to specific points on our feet, we stimulate the corresponding limb, organ, or gland. In class, I’ll have them sit on their yoga mats in easy pose and have them apply pressure with both of their thumbs to the balls of the feet. We’ll do one foot at a time.

7. I’ll give them a little handout that they can keep. I make handouts from time to time with my classes. I sometimes feel that I might firehose them with information and this helps them revisit what was presented in class and grow deeper in their practices. I’ve always have had a positive response and have even had clients ask for handouts from a class they may have missed.

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All and all, I’ve done this type of yoga class before in other gym locations and the participants liked the class. In the past, I had the chakra discussion (just as briefly) and then we did a heart opening theme sequenced class. This will be the first time I do a month long series, specifically bringing in the breathing exercises (with this themed class), aromatherapy, and reflexology. My hope is that my participants will enjoy their special Valentine’s gift to them from me.

1. The breathing exercises won’t be necessarily new to my clients as we have done many of them in other classes from time to time (breath of fire, alternate nostril breathing, warming breath…).
2. I’ve never presented essential oils in class. I do use them in my own practice and have been in studio classes that have used them. I also enjoy aromatherapy when I get massages or facials and the masseuse or esthetician uses essential oils.
3. As for reflexology, I’ve always have been curious about the power of the foot. Plus who doesn’t like a little foot massage. (They will apply gentle pressure on each foot with their thumbs).

In general, I hope to perfect my February theme. (It has changed since I’ve first explored the idea). I’ll continue to research ideas to make it a more rounded and whole mind-body experience. I haven’t narrowed down specific music so if any of you out there have recommendations, I’d love to hear your song suggestions.

Other ideas…?
Namaste,
Kristen

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