• Yoga for Menstruation

    As someone who has had to seek medical intervention in the past, I can tell you that the most consistent relief I’ve had has happened since I have had a consistent yoga practice.

    Menstruation can be hard. Whereas it’s normal and expected once girls hit puberty, those 5-8 days can be dreadfully, frighteningly painful for many women. From anxiety to mood swings, lower back pain to crippling abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea to constipation. As someone who has had to seek medical intervention in the past, I can tell you that the most consistent relief I’ve had has happened since I have had a consistent yoga practice. Try adding yoga to your daily routine and see how it helps. You can also try these yoga poses for menstruation. They will help to relieve symptoms of bloating, heavy bleeding, PMS and lower back pain.

    Supta Baddha Khonasana

    This is a reclined variation of Butterfly Pose. You can also place a cushion, bolster or blanket under your back, the entire length of the spine. Hands can be flat on the ground, palms up. Or, you can place one hand on the heart, the other on the lower pelvic belly. Breathe. This pose opens up the hips and groin area and helps to relieve traditional lower abdominal cramps. Stay here for 5 minutes.

    Legs Up The Wall

    This pose is especially helpful for those of us who struggle with lower back pain associated with our period. It supports the lower back and the relaxed position, with the spine flat on the ground, eases compression in the lower back area. If a wall is not available, feel free to choose a similar variation but with the knees bent and feet drawn close to the glutes. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes.

    Bound Angle/Cobbler/Butterfly Pose

        

     

    Bound Angle Pose works by opening and massaging the pelvic area of the body. This pose can also help with heavy bleeding. You can sit with the spine straight, grabbing the feet. Or, place several blankets, a bolster or a cushion underneath the torso and come into a folded variation. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

    Sideways Cat Stretch

    From all fours: inhale center, exhale, try to bring the head to the glutes. Alternate, left and right sides.
    The aim here is to help the pelvic muscles to relax and ease the discomfort that results in cramping pain when those muscles contract. Repeat 5 times on each side.

    Supine Twist:

    Supine twists are great for relieving the symptoms associated with menstrual cramps. They aid by easing the discomfort in the lower pelvic region and also stimulating blood flow and circulation. The stretch on the lower back and hips is also quite soothing. Add a bolster, cushion or folded blankets under the bent leg to make yourself more comfortable. Then stay in this pose, on each side, for 3-5 minutes.

    Savasana

    Menstruation often comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Savasana relaxes and calms the nervous system and helps to balance the emotions. Hold Savasana for 5 minutes.

    Happy period.

    By Sasha Daley

     

    I started practicing yoga in 2015. I had a pain in my knee and, after searching Google, figured I had nothing to lose by trying. I watched my life and relationships become transformed by my practice. So much so that I pursued my 200 HR certification with Bodhi Yoga Academy in 2018. I advocate yoga and it’s transformative, healing properties for all peoples and all bodies. I see yoga as a safe space, a place where we forget who we think we are, who we’re expected to be; it is where we allow the body, the mind, the breath to be so perfectly intertwined that we can just be. Being a teacher is great. Being a student of the practice is, by far, my greatest accomplishment.

  • Dolphin Pose: Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

    Dolphin pose is a pose which I think is often overlooked, but it packs so many great benefits that I think it’s more than worth taking a closer look at. Dolphin Pose, or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, strengthens, and stretches the shoulders, upper back and legs.  It’s also a pretty awesome core strengthener. The combination of strength and flexibility that Dolphin pose builds can help with so many areas of your practice. Particularly when working towards Pincha Mayurasana or Forearm Stand, and other inversions.

    Check out more pose tutorials on Omstars

    Here are some things to focus on when practicing Dolphin Pose:

    Set up with the forearms parallel to each other, with the elbows shoulder width apart, and the palms flat on the mat. Those elbows are going to want to splay out to the side, so keep hugging them in towards the mid-line to prevent that from happening. Think about wrapping the shoulder blades outwards, away from the spine and broaden through the collar bones.

    As you walk your feet in towards your torso aim to stack the shoulders over the elbows. Focus on reaching your hips towards the ceiling and keeping the spine long. If your hamstrings are tight, feel free to come up on your tiptoes, or if you have the flexibility then press your heels down into the mat. Keep your legs engaged by pulling your kneecaps and strongly engage your core to stabilize and support the whole pose. Relax your neck and gaze towards your shins or toes.

    By Laura Large

    I am an Ashtanga Yoga Practitioner and Teacher based near Marlborough, Wiltshire with a real love and passion for the practice. I also own and manage a Wellbeing Centre where I work as a licensed Acupuncturist, which really helps me to understand the energetics of the asanas and how they affect the physical, mental and emotional bodies. My classes are strong, energetic and fun.  Ashtanga Yoga is an amazing practice for developing some serious strength and flexibility in body and mind. Outside of my daily Ashtanga Vinyasa practice I love playing creatively with poses and exploring hybrid postures and different variations – Arm balances are a real favorite of mine! You can find me on Instagram where I host yoga challenges and share tips and tutorials at @omniyogagirl

    Plank Pose Breakdown with Laura Large

  • How to do Marichyasana B

    Marichyasana B of the Ashtanga Primary Series is one of what I call “Birthday Cake Poses”. It involves specific ingredients that must be added in the proper order, at the appropriate time, for the recipe to work. The process is essential to honor the intention of the posture.

    The first ingredient is the lotus posture. Without lotus, it is really just a version of Marichyasana A. So take your time with your lotus position, finding release in the hip, checking in with the knee, bringing that foot high across the other leg, heel positioned within the line of the pubic bone and belly button. Once you have a workable lotus – perfection is not required, just something that is not painful and gives you space to work the other leg – lean back into the hands so that you can draw the second leg up, heel to sit bone. This moment may reveal some resistance in the hip, acknowledge that and navigate a path through it. If the hip is not too intense, rock your weight forward and diagonally toward the lotus leg. Eventually you want to feel secure in this foundation, the thigh of the lotus leg and the foot of the other side, that sit bone lifted. This is the baking phase of our recipe. Settle into your foundation, sit with ease. If you are still holding on to the planet to avoid falling back, then work here for a while. Next take a forward fold over you lap, reaching around for the bind just as in Marichyasana A, first arm around the upright knee, the other tossed behind the back. Got the bind? Frosting! Lastly, enjoy your dessert, finishing with a deep fold, forehead or chin to the floor. Breathe.

    If you rush this posture, you may end up with some distorted version with no integrity. Step by step process draws your awareness to places of resistance and thus places to work. When the full expression is reached it will feel like it makes sense, you will feel ready for it. No hurry! And always honor injuries, especially in the knees. It is certainly acceptable, even encouraged, to modify the lotus during a time of injury.

    By Angelique Sandas

     

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  • Use Yoga & Ayurveda to Balance the Vata Dosha

    Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, is an ancient wellness system that can help us find optimal health and balance in life. It’s all about eating a nutritious and balanced diet that’s suited for your individual needs, engaging in self-care practices that nourish your body, mind and soul, plus, practicing yoga in a way that is informed by this ancient science of life. These three components are your Ayurvedic keys to good health and well-being.

    Our October challenge, #EatLikeAYogi, is all about bringing yoga and Ayurveda together as they were meant to be practiced. In doing so, you will have all the tools you need to find your way back to a place of optimal well-being. During this challenge, each day, participants will complete an Ayurvedic practice (based on food and self-care) with Sahara Rose, and an Ayurveda informed yoga pose recommended by Kino.

    Each of the yoga poses in this challenge have been selected based on their ability to help balance the doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). As a compliment to the challenge, we are going to breakdown which poses are good for balancing which doshas, and why.

    Today we’re talking about Vata imbalance and which yoga poses you should incorporate into your practice if you’re working to find balance.

    A Vata imbalance is typically associated with many of the following signs and symptoms:

    • Constipation
    • Excess bloating and gas
    • Poor mental focus
    • Anxiety or excessive nervousness
    • Cold hands and feet
    • Physical weakness
    • Dry Skin
    • Irregular appetite
    • Restlessness
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Hyperactivity
    • And more

    Does this sound like you? Participating in the October Challenge with Kino and Sahara Rose is a great place to start for finding your way back to a more balanced state. Plus, be sure to put more emphasis on the following Vata balancing yoga poses that Kino has recommended for the challenge:

    Tree Pose – Since vata imbalance is usually associated with scattered thoughts, poor ability to focus, excessive nervousness and anxiety, balancing postures like tree pose can help to bring more stillness to the mind. Tree pose requires a keen mental focus, so try incorporating this pose into your daily practice to see if it helps.

    Paschimottanasana – Forward folds are grounding, calming, and encourage introspection. This is why any forward fold is great for bringing balance to excess Vata. Try this pose in the evening before bed to ease hyperactivity and help you prepare for a more restful sleep.

    Utkatasana – Chair pose is very effective for creating a sense of grounding, which is great for relaxing a Vata mind. Plus, it activates the downward moving force in our bodies (Apana Vayu) which can help when it comes to alleviating constipation.

    Warrior II – This is another grounding pose that can really help with balancing excess Vata. This posture does however pose a challenge for those of us who may be experiencing a Vata imbalance. This is because it’s a little less interesting than some of the other postures on this list. Vatas get bored very easily, but if you try incorporating a little movement with this pose before settling into stillness, you may find more success. Try this simple movement before settling in to hold Warrior II for an extended period of time: from Warrior II, inhale to lift your arms and bring the palms to touch. At the same time lengthen your front leg. On the exhale, bend back into your front knee, and extend the arms back in opposite directions. Repeat for several rounds of breath.

    Ustrasana – The last pose on our list for balancing Vata is Ustrasana, aka camel pose. This pose is recommended because it asks us to still the mind and focus on grounding through the legs before adding in the backbend. That’s what’s really important for getting the full benefit out of this pose. From this place of grounding, move slowly and mindfully into the backbend, being extra careful not to overdo it.

    Remember, a dedicated yoga practice that’s informed by Ayurveda is only part of what we need to do to find balance. Incorporate these poses into your daily practice and be sure to try the recipes and self-care routines recommended by Sahara Rose. This is what will truly help you find optimum health and bring balance to your overall life.

    By Alex Wilson

    Alex Wilson is a writer, yoga teacher, Ayurveda Yoga Specialist, and the content manager here at OMstars.com

    Alex Wilson, Anxious yogi

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  • Cultivating Strength in Warrior I

    Warrior I, otherwise known as Virabhadrasana A, is one of the most basic poses in the practice. It is also, however, deceptively simple. When performed correctly, Warrior I should cause the thighs to burn, the heart rate to accelerate, and the breath to become heavy. You should feel a sense of heat rising throughout the entire body as you cultivate both mental and physical strength. When practiced mindfully with proper alignment and adequate effort, the whole lesson of the journey of yoga can be found right there in Warrior I.

    In Indian mythology, Virabhadra is a spiritual warrior created from a lock of Shivas hair. Shiva sends Virabhadra down to Earth to act as a warrior of peace in the world. When Shiva releases this lock of hair, dropping our warrior down to Earth, Virabhadra lands, at the ready in Warrior I. This posture and the story behind it represents the brave heart of the Yogi. As you begin to practice, you gain access to the energy of Virabhadra, and as such, gain the spiritual strength to go out into the world as a force of healing energy and strength.

    To practice your strongest Warrior I, begin in mountain pose – Samasthiti. Hug the belly in toward the spine and begin to lift your energy up along the midline. Cultivate strength in your mountain pose and then step back with the left foot. You want about the distance of one of your own legs between your feet.

    Place the heal of your back foot down onto the mat so that the toes come out to a 45-degree angle. Check to be sure that the heal of your front foot is in line with the arch of your back foot, then press down with the back leg to seal the outside edge of the foot against the mat.

    Be sure to keep your pelvis in a neutral position, oriented forward toward the top of your mat. From here, pull femur-head of your front leg into your hip socket as you bend the front knee. Be sure that you keep the belly hugging in toward the spine, and then reach the fingertips up toward the ceiling, palms touching. At the same time, lift your gaze. The whole body strong, every muscle working. Hold here for several rounds of deep, continuous breath, then step back to Samasthiti. When you’re ready, mode to the other side.

    By Alex Wilson

    Note: The alignment cues and expertise offered in this blog post come straight from Kino’s breakdown of this pose on OMstars series, The Encyclopedia of Yoga.

    Check Out More Pose Breakdowns on OMstars

    Alex Wilson is a writer, yoga teacher, and the content manager at OMstars – The Yoga Network.

     

  • Chair Yoga For Happiness

    If you’re participating in our 30 Day Yoga Living Challenge, then you had the wonderful opportunity to practice Chair Yoga with Kristin McGee! If you’re not participating in our challenge, you now have the opportunity to learn a few Chair Yoga tips from Kristin herself, right here on the OmStars blog. Take a look at what Kristin has to say about adding Chair Yoga into your everyday life, and explore a few poses that she breaks down right here on the blog! So find a chair, sit up tall, and start adding a little more happiness to your life with these simple moves.

    Chair Yoga for Happiness

    Where is your happy place? Probably not when you’re stuck in your seat in one position for too long. Our bodies are designed to move. Modern day culture and technology has caused many of us to sit for most of the day.

    Sitting for too long causes us to slouch, compresses our lower back, cuts off our breathing and puts strain on our neck and shoulders. It’s hard to be happy when our neck or back is achy, or we aren’t taking in enough oxygen.

    Chair yoga is our happiness antidote. The second you move, stretch and breathe, you feel one hundred times better. When you feel good, you’re happy, it’s as simple as that. Practicing yoga in our seat makes so much sense. You’ll suddenly become more aware of how your posture and breathing affect your attitude and outlook.

    Anyone can do chair yoga at anytime. It doesn’t matter what kind of chair you’re in, just sit towards the front of your seat and ground your feet (make sure wheels are locked if it’s that type).  You may do these at the start of your day or when you hit that mid day slump.  Maybe you want to do them on your commute or right when you get home instead of getting back online or watching television.

    4 moves to boost your happiness and lift your spirits:

    High Altar Pose: Lift your arms up overhead interlace the fingers invert the palms and lift the corners of your mouth in to a smile. You’ll feel your lungs inflate as you lift out of your lower back. Get an immediate rush of energy in to your body and notice how much better your body and brain feel. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths.

    Hands Clasped Behind the Back Arch: Backbends are the antidepressants of yoga. When we slouch forward we get depressed. Our posture determines our mood. Use this pose to open your heart and lift yourself up mentally. Sit towards the edge of your seat clasp your hands behind your back and lift your chest upwards toward the ceiling. Stay and breathe for 5-8 breaths.

    Assisted Neck stretch: We carry a ton of tension and stress in our neck and shoulders. Use this stretch release the issues in your tissues. Place one hand over your head on the opposite ear. Gently let the head fall to the side as you stretch the neck and top of shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths and then switch sides.

    Forward Fold: Finally end with a forward fold to bring oxygen to the brain and stretch the entire back body. When you fold forward you let the spine release and relax. Stay for 5 to 8 breaths before coming back up to sit and notice how much happier and refreshed you feel.

    You can incorporate these and other chair yoga moves on a daily basis. Hopefully you can encourage your friends, family and co-workers to join in too! The more the merrier, or should I say happier?!

    Namaste!

    By Kristin McGee

    Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates Instructor, trusted wellness expert, author, speaker, and mompreneur.

    Try Kristin’s Chair Yoga Class On OmStars