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Jun
02
2016

Yoga Practice

Look! I finally found a few minutes to blog about something! Woohoo!!!

Apologies to my mom who has seen just about every one of these photos before (had to brag to someone!), but since I haven’t talked about it here yet, I really wanted to record my thoughts and images so I can look back later in one place and track my progress. Plus, I'm just really proud of how hard I've been working and can't hold it in!

Long story short, last month I decided to join a couple of yoga challenges on Instagram. Having never done it before, the idea confused me when an online friend recommended one to me, so I’ll explain what I’ve learned. Generally, one or more yoga teachers will put together a month-long calendar of yoga poses, often with a theme, and you can follow their accounts to view and get a tutorial on how to do each daily pose, and then you post a photo of you doing it and tag it with the challenge name so that the hosts and other participants can see it.

There are lots of these going on all the time, so you often have your pick of challenges each month. Last month, I did one called May I Begin Yoga, which takes you through a lot of the foundational poses (Downward Dog, Plank, etc.) and I also did one way beyond my current skill level that was teaching hip openers. (I did a lot of modifications! I'm not quite to Leg Behind Head stage yet. LOL)

I have many current goals, including increasing flexibility in my hips, back, shoulders, etc. so I’m doing more yoga and also just started a morning & evening stretching program for June. And plus, it’s really just fun to set goals for things you either definitely can’t do yet or have never tried before and see what you can work up to!

I’ve joined another couple of yoga challenges for June, one of which is only 10 days long and another of which focuses on inversions (handstand, headstand, etc.). Yikes! Should be interesting… but my new motto is nothing ventured, nothing gained. wink

Anyway, needless to say, I’ve collected a LOT of photos of me doing yoga (thank you, Adam!) and I thought it would be fun to share some of the more interesting ones to look at. Plus, it’ll be nice to look at this down the road when, hopefully, I’ve improved on many of these.

So without further ado…

This was the first day that I ever successfully did a headstand (April 16). This version, called tripod because of the positioning of your head and hands, is the easiest to balance in, in my opinion. But still looks just as cool as the harder ones!

I also tried one out with a different leg balance for fun. (Molly kept rubbing against the side of my head while I was doing this, for an added difficulty level.)

Next up is a variation of wheel pose with one leg. Super hard, but I’ve found that the better your form is (straighter arms being key), the easier the weight of the leg comes off the ground.

This one (Warrior II) is not a difficult pose, per se, but I thought Adam’s framing of the shot that morning was perfection!

This next one is similar to Warrior II but with an arm bind. It's called Interlock. I’ve definitely gotten better at this one as I work on flexibility. A couple years ago, I used to not be able to do this one on one side and now I can do both. Yay! I mean, I'll never be perfectly symmetrical, but it's nice to increase flexibility in my tighter shoulder.

(Side note: I'm also trying to learn the Sanskrit names for these as I go along. The more times I see them, the easier it becomes. This one for example is Virabhadrasana II. Easy, right?)

So, this pose was part of my hip flexibility challenge last month. Harder than it looks actually if you have tight hips and shoulders, but I thought it turned out pretty neat. It’s a combination of a half lotus (the left foot on right hip) and bound boat (arm behind back is the bind and leg out is boat).

Crane pose! I’m actually pretty good at this arm balance, although there are always tweaks to make in yoga. I want to work on my knee placement and arm straightening.

Another area I want to improve on, but which scares me the most (more than inversions, surprisingly ... falling on your face becomes less scary after you do it a few dozen times ... you didn't read that, mom) is spinal flexibility and backbends. They're just so intense and I feel inside out when I'm doing some of them. My current "ultimate" goal would be King Pigeon. Click to see. I can do up to step 7 here, but that's about it!

This camel pose is one I should practice more. The longer you stay there and breathe, the more you open up. I really should work on my back more than I do, but I can only balance so many goals at once!

This one I just did for fun because I’d never done it before, but I'd seen photos of it and thought it would be cool to try. It’s called Eight-Angle Pose and don’t ask me which 8! Lol (Wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips?)

A few more inversions for you now…

This is a Tripod Egg, which is basically the starting position before going into a full Tripod Headstand. I had some fun and did this at MegaCon last weekend for a more festive background.

Okay. This next one is not proper form. But I pushed myself to try this over and over and over because it is so hard! I actually started in a headstand and then lifted up to this forearm balance (with copious use of the wall). The idea was to do a half lotus with the legs, which technically I am doing, but I am obviously not straight here. Still, this is my first forearm balance EVER and I was so proud I didn’t give up! (May 14)

This, likewise, was my first handstand (May 18)… again with a wall assist. But I’ve learned baby steps is the only way sometimes! I ended up using some grippy gloves here because my hands were getting sweaty. Lol! The legs are in Bound Angle position, which you can also do while seated for a hip stretch.

And last, finally! For my new inversion challenge this month, yesterday's Day 1 posture was Downward Dog at the wall. So incredibly difficult with the amount of weight on the arms!

Adam had to keep telling me to bring my legs down so they’d be parallel. They felt totally straight to me at the time and they were like two feet too high! Haha. Weird how your mind doesn't always knows what your body is doing. That's why practice and photos help so much!

And as I walked them down, it got heavier ... and heavier... Yikes! Definitely a toughie.

Okay, that's it! Maybe I’ll post more of these in future if you find them cool to look at. I’m working hard to challenge myself and get stronger, more flexible and more balanced. It’s fun! If you're on Instagram and want to follow my fitness account, it's piit_princess_liz

Don't ask. Lol. It has to do with the name of the HIIT exercise program I do. 

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Yoga Practice
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