A low squat is a basic natural movement that’s great for your hips, knees, and ankles. If you watch an average toddler, they squat often with total ease and beautiful alignment. However, due to the amount of chair/couch/car sitting we do, many people have lost the mobility to properly squat. This video with QSY Director Leena shows a simple modification to help you get more comfortable in a low squat, and eventually you can reduce the support over time as you regain mobility. See if you can incorporate this position throughout your day- send a few emails, answer a phone call, chop some veggies, weed your garden, play with a kid or pet… all possible from a squat!
by Melissa Miller, RMT
Movement is vital to life and is a cornerstone to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Movement prevents joint stiffness, improves circulation and increases energy levels. Staying active also releases positive endorphins which helps with discomfort, especially towards the end of the third trimester. A focused exercise and stretching routine will help build an awareness and confidence in your body and its ability to adapt to the physical and emotional changes during this exciting time.
Aches and pains are normal as your baby grows and can vary from trimester to trimester. Taking even 15 minutes out of your day for some basic movements can make all the difference throughout pregnancy and into your labour experience. Here is a basic movement sequence that I have offered to plenty of pregnant clients that is safe for all trimesters and can be modified to your fitness level. Continue reading
Last December I recorded five songs that I sing for students at the end of my classes, while they rest in savasana, a final resting pose. We have been releasing the songs periodically throughout the last year on our blog. You can listen to and download all of them on Soundcloud. This last song is actually a mantra, called the Gayatri Mantra. It is one of the oldest Vedic chants, and this version that I sing is a shortened version of the original.
It is interesting and a bit uncomfortable that I am releasing this song now, after posting a reflection about cultural appropriation and yoga in December. In that post, I wrote, “When I first began teaching yoga six years ago, I was excited about the philosophical content I was learning and eagerly shared my interpretations/understanding of Tantra with my yoga students. I taught my students to sing mantras, and told them stories of Hindu deities. Now, looking back on that, I feel embarrassed. I would describe my early teaching as uninformed cultural misappropriation. Whatever cultural aspects of yoga I was sharing, they had been taught to me by white teachers, some of whom were scholars, but nevertheless, I was taking aspects of Hindu religious culture and teaching them as if they were mine.” Continue reading
This quick Yoga Tips video with Leena discusses why you probably need more calf stretching in your life, and how to do a basic stretch. Add this stretch to your everyday routine to help counteract the effects of sitting, positive heeled shoes and walking on hard flat surfaces. And go find some fun trails to walk on too!
Get your calf stretches in without taking precious time out of your day by doing them while you’re working at a standing desk, brushing your teeth or doing dishes. You can use a rolled yoga mat, a halfdome, or even a Yoga Tune-Up ball. Or, if you’re outside on a walk (Woo! Good for you!) use a stone, a curb, a tree stump or fallen branch. Walking uphill is also a great way to stretch your calves and load your feet, ankles and legs in a new way! Continue reading
The season of gift-giving is approaching. At Queen Street Yoga we are stocking up on all the yoga props you could ever need for enhancing home practice and self care. We’ve got plenty of items for yogis and non-yogis in your life. Check out our gift-giving guide below.
AND…ANNOUNCING OUR HOLIDAY SALE!
Get 15% off all retail items at QSY between Nov 27-Dec 24. We can also special order any Half Moon props for you – our last order will go out Dec 4th, in order to have all items arrive before Christmas. Please check out shophalfmoon.com and email us by Dec 4th with any requests you have.
Typically I try to be fairly minimalistic, but when it comes to yoga props I cannot help myself. All the props! The more the merrier! I love trying out new props, and finding out ways that props can support my body in different poses so I can release or rest a bit more. So basically, I’m a lazy yoga prop hoarder.
Halfmoon Yoga, which is an awesome made-in-Canada prop company just came out with a brilliant twist on the yoga strap. They’ve made a sturdy strap that has a loop at one end, and with the buckle on the second end you can configure it to have two loops.
It opens up all kinds of possibilities. If you had some sewing skills, you could probably easily convert a yoga strap to also have a loop in, and save a few bucks. Continue reading
By Leena Miller Cressman, QSY Director. You can find Leena teaching Slow Flow on Monday nights at 5:30pm. Her classes include exploration of balance and joint proprioception, aspects of the Tensegrity Repair Series, and space for deep breathing and relaxation.
LEARNING NEW WORDS
As a kid, I always loved learning new words. I loved the sounding out the unfamiliar configuration of letters, and discovering a new way to describe or convey the meaning of something. I still love new words, and this is one of the many reasons I love studying and exploring anatomy and physiology, it gives me the chance to learn all sorts of new (and sometimes strange) words and ways of describing the human body. Like gastrocnemius! Listen to it pronounced it here. It is just so much more fun to say than “calves”.
Two words that I think should be on every yogi’s vocabulary list are interoception and proprioception. Interoception and proprioception are two distinct types of perception. Here’s how I’d define them:
- Interoception: Our perception and sensing of internal sensations, feelings, movements, and responses of the body. If you sense a pang of hunger in your belly, or notice pounding of your heart when you’re nervous that is introception. It is the opposite of exteroception, which is an external sensation on the body, like feeling wind in your hair, or the warmth of your hand in your pocket.
- Proprioception: Comes from the latin “one’s own”. It’s our sense of where our body is in space. It’s our ability to sense the relative positioning of our joints, joint angles, and muscle length, and to feel our movement and what will bring greater equilibrium. Proprioception is what allows you to feel how deeply bent your knee is in Warrior 2 without looking at your leg, or allows you to navigate a dark, unfamiliar room at night.
By Leena Miller Cressman, QSY director and resident body-nerd.
One of my favorite well-informed yoga/anatomy-nerd bloggers, Jenni Rawlings, recently had a great blog post and video exercise reminding yogis to strengthen their hamstrings. A lot of yoga sequences and postures encourage flexibility and lengthening of the posterior chain of muscles, specifically the hamstrings.
Due to the amount of sitting we do in North America, the posterior chain becomes shortened for many people, and we lose range of motion in the hips and hamstrings in movements such as forward bends. Think of the difference in the geometry of the knee and hip, and the different loads and length of the muscles and connective tissue lining the back of the leg (from the ankle, up the calves, up hamstrings, up to the butt) in a standing position vs. a chair sitting position. In a seated position, the chair (or couch or car seat) acts like a sort of cast, holding the body in one static position and the
posterior chain can become shortened in that resting position. When it comes to mobility, when you don’t use it you lose it.
But, stretching isn’t the only way to improve range of motion and mobility. Strengthening is a great way to help increase range of motion too. This is commonly misunderstood. Much research has found that contrary to popular belief, strength training does not make you more “tight”, in fact it can help increase range of motion and functional mobility just as much, or possibly more than stretching. Continue reading
Fall has arrived, on a bright and airy Monday in September. While typically we celebrate the turning of the year on January 1st, September can feel like the true start of the year for anyone who is in school. Our Yoga Teacher Training begins this friday, so we are certainly in the back-to-school spirit!
Preparing for the Teacher Training and our Open House has Leena and I quite busy. We anticipate that the fall’s events and gatherings will keep up their regular pace from now until Christmas, so we are taking extra care to encourage ourselves and students to practice #selfcare this fall and find little pockets of time to slow down, breathe and renew ourselves. Leena put together this restorative sequence as a resource for anyone who might want to try slowing down at home. Continue reading