Half Lord of the Fishes: Detox, Twist and Shout

Half Lord of the Fishes Twist Blog Travel Yoga

Half Lord of the Fishes

Detox, Twist and Shout

Welcome to week four of the travel yoga pose breakdown, inspired by 5 Best Travel Yoga Poses You can do (Practically) Anywhere to Energize.

This week, we’re twisting and shouting! Half lord of the fishes is a great, grounded option to rinse your internal organs and twist your spine.

Listen to your body—if a shape doesn’t feel good (pain is a different sensation then a releasing stretch), don’t do it. And as always, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.

If you’re a curious adventurer, looking for your next immersion and opportunity to practice travel yoga, join us in our upcoming retreat to Dominical, Costa Rica! Learn more about the beautiful beach town of Dominical here.

Half Lord of the Fishes: Travel Yoga Pose #4

Twist Blog Travel Yoga

This luscious twist can be oh-so-subtle in public, depending on where you’re sitting. Twists work to reset your spine and are fabulous companions while traveling. Additionally, twists gently massage your internal organs. Half Lord of the Fishes adds in an element of compression between your inner thigh and belly to further stimulate your internal organs. If bending your knee in isn’t an option where you are (or due to what you’re wearing) you can omit that aspect of the pose and still receive majority of the twist’s benefits.

How to

Half Lord of the Fishes

Begin in a seated position with straight legs. Bend your right knee and plant your right foot somewhere near the outside of your straight left knee. Then, bend your left knee and draw your heal towards your booty, but not underneath so you are sitting on it. Plant your right hand behind you and on an inhale, reach your left hand skyward and gaze towards your right shoulder. With your exhale, bend your left elbow and hook it to the outside of your right knee. Hold for 5 or more breaths and follow with the left side immediately, staying with each side for an equal amount of breaths.

Troubleshoot

Posture:

Between reaching up and twisting over, it’s challenging to maintain your personally perfect posture (as stacked, vertically, as possible in your spine) throughout this twist. However, it is vital that you do to keep your spine safe. You may notice a tendency to rely on your back hand for support. This renders the twist less active and beneficial while putting excessive pressure on your wrist.

To correct, know that your back hands’ purpose is to provide traction to deepen your twist rather than support you. It’s also common to lean in this pose—forward or to one side. Mirrors help with addressing this misalignment, as does closing your eyes and feeling equal weight in both of your sitting bones.

Once you’ve addressed one or both of these misalignments, use your inhales to actively lift the top of your head towards the ceiling and your exhales to strengthen and deepen the twist by pulling your navel in and up.

Shoulders:

Resist the temptation to lean into a shrug here. The above corrections for posture should help, but if your body is tight you may opt to dismiss the legs and instead try this seated twist.

Benefits

  • Great for digestion
  • Promotes blood flow to vertebral discs
  • Massages liver, stomach, intestines, and other organs
  • Prompts spinal rotation which supports spinal health
  • Relieves menstrual cramps
  • Combats fatigue

Modify

Straighten a Leg

You can straighten the leg that isn’t being used as a hook, or do away with the legs and simply twist your spine from an easy seat.

Amplify

Bind

This video by Do Yoga With Me demonstrates the bind very well (notice how his spine returns to stacked and erect)

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What are your favorite travel yoga poses? We’re always looking to improve and revise content. Comment below or tag us on social media with your favorite travel yoga poses to energize.

Upward Facing Dog: A Juicy Yoga Pose your Lungs will Love

Upward Facing Dog Blog Yoga Travel

Upward Facing Dog

A Juicy Airway Opener

Welcome to week three of the travel yoga pose breakdown, inspired by 5 Best Travel Yoga Poses You can do (Practically) Anywhere to Energize.

As we’ve mentioned, even the most well-seasoned yogi(ni)’s can feel a bit… awkward… when taking their practice off of the mat and into public settings. For many people, there’s something deeply intimate about a yoga practice. There’s also a pretty big difference between practicing yoga in an established group setting (i.e. yoga studio, gym, etc.) versus any ol’ public place (i.e. the airport terminal or lobby of your hotel and other travel yoga locations).

All five poses are versatile (modify and alter as necessary), accessible (whether you’ve been practicing yoga or not!), and relatively discrete (can be done in various outfits and in numerous settings). They’re perfect for a travel yoga practice. However, we recommend practicing these shapes initially at home or in a studio setting before taking them to the streets.

Listen to your body—if a shape doesn’t feel good (pain is a different sensation then a releasing stretch), don’t do it. And as always, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.

If you’re a curious adventurer, looking for your next immersion and opportunity to practice travel yoga, join us in our upcoming retreat to Dominical, Costa Rica! Learn more about the beautiful beach town of Dominical here.

Upward Facing Dog: Travel Yoga Pose #3

Yoga Travel Upward-Facing Dog Blog

Upward facing dog is a juicy , belly-down spinal lengthening posture that also opens the chest and stretches the abdominal muscles. This posture is integral in movement-based yoga classes that incorporate chaturanga dandasana (a tricep pushup)—it directly proceeds the tricep pushup, and precedes downward-facing dog.

How to

Upward Facing Dog

Lie on your belly with your feet hip-width apart and plant your palms underneath your shoulders. On an inhale, press into your hands to straighten your arms and lift your upper body. Ground through the tops of your feet as well, but lift your knees and thighs off of the ground. Roll your shoulder heads back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and down, and lift your chest through your arms. Breathe steadily and evenly through your nose for 5-15 breaths.

Troubleshoot

Wrists:

It’s possible that any excessive pressure you’re feeling on your wrists can be countered by redistributing your weight to your palms and fingers. Spread your fingers wide and ground through the outer edges of your palms as well as your finger pads. At the same time, imagine your torso lifting skyward and forward. If you feel pain in your wrists, you may have to build up to this posture by practicing wrist-strengthening exercises. If this is the case, you can start with cobra (under Modify).

Shoulders:

This posture is relatively “easy” but it still requires some muscular engagement (especially initially) to properly pull off. While you won’t likely feel pain in your shoulders, you may notice a tendency to “collapse” in this area—similar to a shrug. Over time, this puts a lot of strain on your rotator cuffs, neck, wrists, and low back. Similar to troubleshooting wrist pain, press into your hands and lift your torso skyward and forward.

Low Back:

As noted in shoulders, low back pain may come from a “lazy” up-dog. Hanging out in this pose, without engaging, puts an extra load on your low back. If the correction for shoulders doesn’t help, be sure that your knees and thighs are lifted. If they are, you may have to take this backbend slower. Either start with cobra or literally take the action from lying on your belly to up-dog more slowly. If you opt for the latter option, focus on maintaining a long spine every step of the way, from belly to your expression of the pose.

Neck:

Where you set your gaze for this pose will depend heavily on your depth of backbend. The important thing is to maintain your neck as an extension of your spine, or as some teachers say, retain your neck in a neutral position. Notice if you’re crunching at the back of your neck and if you are, re-straighten your head and lift up rather than cocking back. The same goes for your throat side—float your chin away from your chest.

Benefits

  • As a backbend, it’s an inherently energizing posture
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Strengthens and stretches your spine (posterior and anterior sides, accordingly)
  • Strengthens your wrists
  • Opens your throat chakra
  • Lightly massages your internal organs

Modify

Cobra Pose

Cobra is a great starter-pose before tackling deeper backbends. You’ll start out similarly, on your belly with your palms planted underneath your shoulders but, dissimilarly, the insides of your feet (big toes through ankle bones) should touch. Then on an inhale, instead of pressing into your palms to straighten your arms, you’ll keep your elbows bent and either lightly lift your hands from the ground (to increase back strength) or pull your hands towards your body (to further aid in lengthening the spine). Your feet, knees, and thighs will all remain grounded.

Amplify

Locust Pose

You’ll need a bit more room for this amplifier. There are various acceptable arm variations—you can reach forward/overhead, out to the sides (like a T), or back with your arms alongside your body. In each of these expressions, your palms will face down. Feel free to start with your feet hip-width, but eventually you’ll touch your big toes together. On an inhale, lift all four of your limbs off the ground. Feel similar length in your spine as you felt in upward facing dog. Reach through your toes and the top of your head. For even more variations, see this awesome post by April Saunders on DoYouYoga.

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What are your favorite travel yoga poses? We’re always looking to improve and revise content. Comment below or tag us on social media with your favorite travel yoga poses to energize.

Chair Pose: Sit Strong while Traveling

Chair Pose Blog Travel Yoga

Chair Pose

Sit Strong while Traveling

Welcome to week two of the travel yoga pose breakdown, inspired by 5 Best Travel Yoga Poses You can do (Practically) Anywhere to Energize.

As we’ve mentioned, even the most well-seasoned yogi(ni)’s can feel a bit… awkward… when taking their practice off of the mat and into public settings. For many people, there’s something deeply intimate about a yoga practice. There’s also a pretty big difference between practicing yoga in an established group setting (i.e. yoga studio, gym, etc.) versus any ol’ public place (i.e. the airport terminal or lobby of your hotel and other travel yoga locations).

All five poses are versatile (modify and alter as necessary), accessible (whether you’ve been practicing yoga or not!), and relatively discrete (can be done in various outfits and in numerous settings). They’re perfect for a travel yoga practice. However, we recommend practicing these shapes initially at home or in a studio setting before taking them to the streets.

Listen to your body—if a shape doesn’t feel good (pain is a different sensation then a releasing stretch), don’t do it. And as always, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.

If you’re a curious adventurer, looking for your next immersion and opportunity to practice travel yoga, join us in our upcoming retreat to Dominical, Costa Rica! Learn more about the beautiful beach town of Dominical here.

 

Chair Pose: Travel Yoga Pose #2

Chair Pose Blog Travel Yoga

This posture is fierce: anyone who’s taken a class where their instructor guides them through chair for more than 5 breaths knows what I’m talking about. Who would have guessed holding a static squat while breathing would be so challenging? It was also news to me when I read that chair pose is meant to be a fierce pose. The Sanskrit naming of chair pose is utkatasana. Utkata loosely translates to fierce or difficult (and asana to pose). This shape must be done mindfully, or you’ll risk countering the brag worthy benefits it possesses.

How to

Chair Pose

Start standing with your feet parallel and hip-width or a smidge wider than hip-width. When we say hip-width, we’re talking about the distance between your femur heads (roughly two fists’ distance between your feet) rather than the meat on ya bones.

On an inhale, either reach your arms overhead or take them long by your side. With your exhale, bend your knees and pull your hips back—like you’re squatting into a chair. “Tuck” your tail bone under and imagine a straight, diagonal line extending through your tailbone and the top of your head.

Position your head so your neck is a part of the now diagonal line your spine is forming, then soften your shoulders and face. Grant the front of your body permission to support the back of your body. Allow your low belly to engage (like you’re zipping up a pair of pants!), especially on the exhale. Align your front ribs parallel with your back ribs to prevent arching your lumbar and thoracic spine. Hold for up to 10 breaths and feel free to rest/relax your arms if they become too much to carry overhead.

Troubleshoot

Knees:

Your knees should stay relatively stacked on top of your ankles. However, as Paul Grilley—master teacher and anatomy genius hammers home, many repeated, natural movements in our daily lives require us to bend our knees far beyond our toes. Instead of blaming improper alignment for this issue, it may be more beneficial to self-inquire (or ask a doctor, PT, or bodyworker to help you analyze) about where you need to build strength. In other words, which muscle groups are slacking off in your chair pose that need to step up and bear some weight or engage?

If you feel knee pain, don’t bend as deeply into your knees. Work on strengthening the muscles that support your knees: quadriceps, hamstrings & calves. Play with shifting your weight around in your feet. Ideally, your weight should be fairly equally distributed throughout both soles of your feet: arches and edges, ball mounts and heels. As you squat more deeply, a bit more weight will transfer to your heels but not so much that your ball mounts lift.

Spine:

Your spine should stay in a “straight” line (though not vertical), or at least as straight as it is naturally. In other words, no rounding forward, and no bending backwards.

Pelvis:

Fixing pelvis problems can also help with troubleshooting your spine and returning your spine to neutral. As you lean back into your chair pose, your pelvis may tilt forward—this sends your spine into a backbend and stretches your abdominal muscles, which is not what we’re going for. Aim, instead, to lift the anterior (front) portion of your pelvis (at your hip points) towards your rib cage and tuck your lower ribs to prevent any chest poppin’ as your lean back and squat down.

Benefits

  • Increases heat
  • Builds endurance
  • Reduces flat feet
  • Promotes correct posture
  • Strengthens muscles that support the spine
  • Amplifies focus

Modify

Arms

You don’t have to reach up to do chair pose. As mentioned, you can take your hands to your heart and alongside your body. This modification helps make chair pose a bit more discrete and gives your shoulders a break. You can focus, instead, on deepening your squat. A further modification would be to literally use a chair for chair pose. This won’t be near the leg-burning exercise as chair-less chair pose, but is a great launching point and opportunity to connect with your breath & body through alignment & awareness.

Amplify

Squat Deeper

While maintaining suitable, tailored-to-you alignment, of course.

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What are your favorite travel yoga poses? We’re always looking to improve and revise content. Comment below or tag us on social media with your favorite travel yoga poses to energize.

Standing Backbend: How to Energize and Open your Heart

Standing Backbend Blog Travel Yoga

Standing Backbend

How to Energize and Open your Heart

To follow up our last post, 5 Best Travel Yoga Poses You can do (Practically) Anywhere to Energize, we’re breaking down each of the 5 postures in the weeks to come to ease your travel-yoga journey.

As we’ve mentioned, even the most well-seasoned yogi(ni)’s can feel a bit… awkward… when taking their practice off of the mat and into public settings. For many people, there’s something deeply intimate about a yoga practice. There’s also a pretty big difference between practicing yoga in an established group setting (i.e. yoga studio, gym, etc.) versus any ol’ public place (i.e. the airport terminal or lobby of your hotel and other travel yoga locations).

All five poses are versatile (modify and alter as necessary), accessible (whether you’ve been practicing yoga or not!), and relatively discrete (can be done in various outfits and in numerous settings). They’re perfect for a travel yoga practice. However, we recommend practicing these shapes initially at home or in a studio setting before taking them to the streets.

Listen to your body—if a shape doesn’t feel good (pain is a different sensation then a releasing stretch), don’t do it. And as always, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.

If you’re a curious adventurer, looking for your next immersion and opportunity to practice travel yoga, join us in our upcoming retreat to Dominical, Costa Rica! Learn more about the beautiful beach town of Dominical here.

Standing Backbend: Travel Yoga Pose #1

Standing Backbend Blog Travel Yoga

Backbends are inherently energizing. They help to open the chest and strengthen the spine. Even a small backbend, performed correctly, will help give you a quick mood-booster and keep your spine healthy. If you only practice one of our travel yoga poses, this is the one we highly recommend.

How to

Standing Backbend

From a standing position, separate your feet hip-width and ground down through your soles. Stack your joints, hips over feet and shoulders over hips, to evenly distribute the weight of your body amongst your joints. As you inhale, you can 1) reach your hands overhead, 2)take your palms to your low back, or 3) press your palms together at your heart.

Start by tracing your gaze up to the ceiling and when your gaze sets roughly 45 degrees higher than straight forward, exhale and lean backwards to open up your chest. Maintain a long spine (see Troubleshoot, low back)—there should be no pain. Only bend so far into the pose that you continue steady breathing and the ball mounts of your feet remain grounded. Breathe steadily and evenly through your nose for 5-15 breaths.

Troubleshoot

Knees:

As you bend backwards, your body may want to bend your knees as a form of release. While this isn’t inherently ‘bad’ (depending on how deeply your knees are bending), it isn’t recommended to start developing that habit in forming a backbend practice. Ease up on your backbend so your knees remain relatively stacked on your ankles. However, as you deepen your backbend, your shins (and knees by extension) will start to shift forward to counter the weight-exchange that’s happening in your feet.

Shoulders:

Depending on your chosen arm variation, your shoulders may start to creep up towards your ears, or round forward. Remind yourself to suction your shoulder blades in and down and continually broaden your collarbones.

Low Back:

If you feel extensive pressure at your low back, you’ve gone a bit too far too quickly in your backbend. Your spine should be ‘lengthening’ while your back bends to combat excessive compression at the posterior side of your vertebral discs. You can try from the beginning, and not go as deep, or take bridge pose (under Modify).

Neck:

If this backbend is too much on your neck, you may have to strengthen the muscles on the posterior (back) side of your neck. Likely, you spend much of your day with your head slightly leaning forward. Practice gazing up and slightly back from a seated position, regularly, to build strength. Apply the advice from the Shoulders section as well.

Benefits

  • Support a healthy spine
  • Relieves chronic back pain
  • Compresses and flushes your kidneys
  • Stretches your hip flexors
  • Counters long periods of sitting and leaning forward
  • Releases shoulder tension

Modify

Baby Backbend

This may sound a little too obvious, but the best way to modify a standing backbend is to bend less and/or provide yourself with more support. It takes dedication to build up to a deeper backbend and not risk injury, so always play it safe by listening for signs of pain in your body. Any sensation that feels crunchy, compressed, or stabbing is a red flag.

It’s challenging to maintain your arms in line with your ears in a backbend, so feel free to cactus out your arms for more support. For the most support through this standing backbend, you can place your hands at your low back as you bend—just be sure not to stick your booty out in the process :P.

Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is a different type of backbend than standing backbend: it targets the lower segments of your thoracic spine and requires cervical flexion. Nonetheless, it’s a superbly healing yoga posture that can be both invigorating and grounding. See this fabulous post by the yoga journal for how-to, benefits, and more!

Amplify

Wheel or Floor Bow

Both wheel and floor bow may be a bit harder to pop into in an airport (unless you have both the space and the confidence) but my oh my, are they juicy, energizing backbends! Whereas floor bow is a more grand iteration of a standing backbend, wheel pose is more akin to the mature variation of bridge pose. Learn more from the Yoga Journal how to pop into wheel and floor bow.

 

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What are your favorite travel yoga poses? We’re always looking to improve and revise content. Comment below or tag us on social media with your favorite travel yoga poses to energize.