KEEP SPACE IN THE NECK
Sometimes it seems like we carry the weight of the world in our neck and shoulders. We learn to open the shoulders in yoga practice – very helpful, especially when we spend our days hunched over a desk in front of a computer.
One month, the focus was on the shoulder blades. We’re learning this (and more) as one way to open the chest. Better breathing, more energy, and an open heart result.
Keep the whole of the shoulder blades connected to the back (inner face facing the ribcage). Next take the outer bottom blades towards each other and the top of the shoulder blades broad. This helps to lift and open the chest.
It is important to keep space in the neck. In order to do so, keep the shoulders away from the ears and the ears away from the shoulders. Then, lengthen the sides of the neck evenly. Always turn the head to position it last thing after entering in an Asana.
Breathe normally when you practice. Your breath is your closest friend… make sure you’re not holding back!
TAKE A STAND
In standing poses, transfer the weight from the front foot into the back foot.
How do you extend your arms? from inside the center of your chest to your fingertips.
EXTENDING THE ARMS
EXTENDING THE SPINE
Always extend and lift the spine before turning in a twist. Use the sides of the trunk.
BENEFITS OF SAVASANA
Always finish your practice with Savasana, popularly known as ‘relaxation’. With Savasana of 7 minutes or more, the energy of the practice becomes absorbed in your bio batteries, and meditation is near.
Use your thigh muscles to lift your kneecaps. Then extend your outer knee tendons from the center, to upper and lower leg. Press the front center top thighs back not the calf muscles. This will help avoid pushing the knee back.
Before closing your practice with Savasana, add one more chest opener with your mat. Roll the mat tightly and place it perpendicular to your spine. Lie down on top of the roll with the mat touching the bottom tips of your shoulder blades. Press the tops of your shoulders to the floor. Keep your legs in supta tadasana, straight legs with tailbone in or you can bend or cross your legs. Breathe, and feel the transformation.
PROPS: MARVELOUS MATS
Yoga mats come in all colors, sizes, textures. Although they seem to be the most essential prop, many practiced without them until they came on the scene in the 80’s. The first ones were nonstick mats to put under carpets protecting and enhancing the life of the carpet.
Now, a yoga mat is one of the most adaptable of all the props routinely used . The mat’s wonderful stickiness keeps you from sliding when you jump into a pose. Folded, it supports your head, wrists, forearms and elbows in Headstand, Sirsasana, and many other asanas.
HOW TO WASH YOUR MAT
Have you taken your mat camping? Take advantage of the warm weather and wash your mat! Place it in the Gentle cycle with a little detergent, let it spin, then hang it out to dry. Thin mats take a day to dry; thicker mats will take 2 days to dry out.
Several of you have asked about how often to wash your mat. Personal preferences vary, but a good rule of thumb is to wash your mat at each season. And, of course, wash it whenever it’s dirty!
It’s easy to wash a mat. Just put it into your washing machine with a small amount of mild detergent. Use a cold water setting and spin. Hang it to dry. And if you have ideas for ways to recycle and reuse an old mat, please post them on our Facebook page.
MATS GO GREEN
At Iyengar Yoga in Encinitas we only purchase plant-based and eco-friendly mats. They are the green or blue colored ones and are imported from Europe. Most on the market today are petrol-based, some are rubber.
So it is important for landfill not to throw away old mats. Most older mats, and many today are made using PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. While the vinyl helps give the mats their famed “stick”, the oil-based material almost never disintegrates. We recommend turning that old mat into something useful instead. Cut it up and sew or glue pieces together for many uses. Tie small mat strips together to become play toys for your kitties. Use the mat as packing material when you need to store things or move. Turn the mat into a door mat to catch dirt, dust and leaves. Use it under your carpets!