What do you do when suddenly your yoga practice becomes repetitive, uninteresting, or dull? Every once in a while, after classes upon classes of the same movements, the same transitions, and the same cues, my body demands, “where is the learning?” and “give me something different!”
Here are some delightful alternative poses and/or suggestions for giving your yoga practice extra oomph this month.
Use a rolled-up mat. This can change up most (or all) of your poses. Put it in between your thighs during abdominals to give your inner legs a fabulous workout. Keep it there during bridge and wheel to more effectively tuck your tailbone and prevent dumping the lower back. Squeeze it between your knees in chair. Lift it off the ground with your ankles to amp up your locust. One of my favorite back-tractioning poses is cobra with the roll in between my thighs. After lifting my torso off the ground, I inhale and drag my ribs forward and tuck my tailbone while lowering down slowly. Most of the time, my lower back makes little cracking noises as I feel it expand. It feels so luxurious to get into that spot that gravity naturally compresses all day long.
Shoulder Shrugs! Give yourself a neck and shoulder massage! I like to do this in horse stance, but you can do it standing in mountain pose. Relax arms to the sides. Inhale and spread the upper back, hold the breath, and shrug the tops of the shoulders straight up (towards your ears) and straight back behind you (squeeze shoulder blades together), then exhale and slowly drag your shoulders down your back while keeping the shoulder blades tightly squeezed together. You will feel it in the base of your neck. Now do the same thing with the middle tips of the shoulder blades. And the bottom tips of the shoulder blades. For the bottom tips, it helps to bend the elbows and squeeze them in towards the ribs first. This gives you greater access into your shoulder blades.
Lying down hamstring stretch with a strap. While lying on your back, loop a strap around the ball of your left foot, pull gently on each end of the strap, and flex the foot. Reach through the arch and breathe 5-10 breaths, feeling your hip open slowly and your foot moving ever so gently toward your face. Take both straps in your left hand and bring your foot over to the left, straddling your left leg open. Reach through the arch, flex the foot, breathe 5-10 breaths. Now inhale and use your abs to lift the left foot back to center, switch both straps into the right hand and cross the left leg over the body all the way until you feel a deep stretch across your outer thigh. This stretches the IT band, the hip, the ribs, the side body, and oh holy woman it feels amazing.
Now go. Explore. Learn. Try something new. Get some sparkly yoga pants. Use your props. Have fun! Only you can hold yourself back.
By Fae Leslie Hoffman; All Rights Reserved @2019