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Stand Up and Stretch!

If you are sitting right now, chances are you will benefit from a little “hip flexor stretch.” Too much sitting shortens the muscles that run from the front of your hip to the lower back – aka: the psoas. Almost everyone will benefit from this super simple front of the leg stretch. Go on…. give it a try.

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Standing on one leg, fold the other leg back and grab hold of your ankle or the top of your foot. Begin the pull your ankle behind you until you feel a good stretch in the front of your leg.  If you pull your foot so far back that your back arches, you won’t get the psoas stretch. To stretch both your quads and hip flexors, bring your foot far enough back that you can keep your low back curve long and the tailbone rooting down as your stretch the front of your leg.

If the first line of this paragraph had you laughing, here are a few alternatives….

Loop a strap or belt around your ankle to give yourself an easier option to fold the leg back while holding onto a chair. Or…. just have a seat on the side edge of the chair and bend your leg back behind you.

Yoga postures can be very therapeutic, fun, and even artistic. It’s great that we can celebrate both health and creative expression in the same practice. Here are a few of the students at Shine taking this awesome hip flexor stretch to the next level.

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Happy Shoulders

Slouching over computers, hunched in our cars, lounging on our couches at the end of the day….. it’s a lot for a pair of shoulders to bear. This quick shoulder alignment exercise helps to re-align the shoulders, strengthen your mid-back postural muscles, and helps to stretch your chest and shoulders, which releases upper body tension, strengthens your inner core, and will even give you more energy, by allowing you to breathe easier. Doing the exercise standing gives you the core work but you can do it sitting down too. Like right now…. go ahead give it a go…. your body will thank you! Click through this slide show for step by step instructions for this exercise. Namaste & Make it a Great Day.

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Roasted Roots & Crispy Chickpeas with Balsamic Vinagrette

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Warm, hearty, sweet, and crunchy…..
just what’s needed when the first fall winds blow in.

Preheat Oven to 425°

Roasted Roots & Crispy Chickpea Salad Ingredients:
4 cups of potatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of onion – chopped
2 cups carrots – bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 sprig rosemary – chopped fine – or 1 tsp. dried & crushed between fingers
1 can chickpeas (garbonzo beans)
2 Tb. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
sprinkle of pepper

image> Chop & drop veggies into a roasting pan. Drizzle oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary on top. Mix well and roast for about 45 minutes – until potatoes and chick peas are crunchy on the outside and
soft on the inside.

> Eat as is – or add to a bowl of leafy greens. This Honey Mustard Balsamic Vinagrette is a perfect complement.

Honey Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 balsamic vinegar
2 Tb. dijion mustard
1 Tb. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
dash of cayenne

Mix well & Enjoy!

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Yoga for Every Body

Lately social media has been exploding with all sorts of wild expressions of yoga poses. I honestly enjoy them as much as anyone. But…. I also recognize that they are giving a very skewed representation of what Yoga really is. And… I bet that most of the photos you see are truly only a small part of that individuals practice. It takes mad skill to do most of those fabulous poses. It takes dedication, focus, and passion. But that is NOT what Yoga is ALL about!

For the majority of us who have dedicated at least a portion of our lives to this practice, we know that Yoga is about more than just the poses. The thing is… sharing what Yoga really means to us would be near impossible to describe in words and there’s no way to show it in a photo. A well balanced yoga practice goes deep to the core and it’s not easy to relate it to any other experience in life. It’s not showy… it’s not flashy… it’s a deep sense of contentment and a feeling of radiance that shines from the core of your being. Because it’s not something many can easily relate to — it’s not a great marketing tool. Inherent in our nature as human beings is a desire to connect and share our experiences with each other. And so… we find ourselves doing our best to portray the excitement we have for this practice that enriches our lives so much. We want to shout it out from the roof tops — this feels so good — I love it —- and even though it might be challenging to start — you can enjoy it too! But is this exuberance now having the opposite effect. Is it turning off the people who would most benefit from it because it appears so incredibly inaccessible?

For me… Yoga was not a path I decided to venture down. Instead it was a path that revealed itself to me. I felt called to teach simply to share the benefits of this practice. My mission as a teacher is to do my best to serve the people I’m blessed to share my time with. To help keep a more even perspective of the field of Yoga, I’ve decided to dedicate some time and space to showcase the less flashy and more practical side of Yoga. I want to show how accessible and how beneficial Yoga really is for the everyday, ordinary people…. no yoga pants required…. although I’ll probably have them on in most of the photos – I pretty much live in them with all the teaching I’m doing – and they are after all – super comfortable;-)

The thing I want people to know most about Yoga is that there is such a wide variety that there is definitely a type to suit YOUR BODY – your needs – and even your preferences. If you’ve taken a yoga class and didn’t like it – I encourage you to look around a bit more. Of all the types of self-care I’ve experienced through the years, I think Yoga is the best because it addresses personal health and well-being on so many levels all at one time! It’s great for your body, your mind, your relationships, your soul! A good yoga practice – for you – should feel complementary. It should light you up. Whether you choose a gentle, restorative practice or a fiery, flow practice — it should feel good. In your heart you know what’s right for you.

I do believe practicing Yoga is best done with a teacher in a live class. A good yoga teacher will watch your body and actions. They will help you fine tune the postures so that you benefit more fully from the practice. But — if going in to take a yoga class is beyond your reach right now, or for those in between class times, I wanted to share some great everyday yoga poses, practices, and philosophy.

For me, Yoga is first and foremost an opportunity to re-center. It’s a time to quiet down and listen inside. It’s a time to distance myself from the gravitational  pull of all the roles, responsibilities, and ties to the exterior physical world I work and play in. I am human – there’s no escape of that just yet… but yoga gives me a little space to reconnect to the energy of my heart, or spirit, soul, or whatever you want to call it. In calming my mind, I see a broader perspective of life with more clarity and possibility. The yoga postures themselves help to balance my body and my nervous system. I find the practice calming, empowering, and fun. I choose a practice that is generally challenging and exploratory, but I make time for purposeful alignment, deep relaxation, and restoration too.

I chose this arms up over head and bend to the side pose (a version of Urdhva Hastasana) as my first offering. Most everyone will benefit from this pose. Here’s how you know if it’s right for you or not – if it hurts – stop – and just do less – until it doesn’t hurt! Raising the arms overhead can raise the blood pressure – so just make note of that if this is an issue for you. This pose can help you breathe easier as it stretches your chest and ribs, it also stretches your back and can help re-align your shoulders. You can do it sitting – you can even do it laying down! Interlace your fingers, flip your palms to the sky, stretch, reach, and breathe. That’s it! One thing that will make the stretch “yogic” is for you to be sensitive to how this pose feels rather than just push your way into it. Based on what you feel, make small adjustments so that you experience a sense of integration and harmony as you stretch and breathe.  Until next time… the light in my heart… honors the light in yours… Namaste.

PS – Big thanks to my friend for taking this first photo with me. Even though I put myself in front of the camera, and in the front of the Yoga Studio, I’m really rather shy. I appreciate the companionship and moral support!

 

 

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Back to School – and giving this another go!

IMG_9621Sooooo….. I only made it three posts in last year. Life is busy here at Flourish & Shine. I know there are “busy” haters out there — but it’s true —- and it’s not a call for glory. I’ve just taken on many roles and responsibilities — they all mean a whole lot to me — and I’m busy trying to juggle / balance / spin all the wheels — and enjoy a little summer break fun with my kids. I’ll be back here soon with a Yoga series I’m working on. I just needed to make sure this blog was still active;-) So I’m promising myself — I’ll be back here real soon.