After a month of “me” time, I’m back. I needed to step away and focus on getting back to the groove of things in Oslo. This included new work projects, preparing for lectures, catching up with friends who I hadn’t seen in weeks, and most importantly, focusing on myself.
February threw some big curveballs my way, but I survived, and I’m growing and learning from those events.
I’m taking a break from writing about my usual travel destinations to share what this yogi was up to during the month of February.
YOGA EVERY DAMN DAY! Well, almost everyday! There were some days I moved my body by doing cardio, strength or a combination, but skipped the yoga part. But it was such an eye opening experience to focus on practicing outside of the studio more.
Even though I love practicing in the studio among other yogis, let’s face it, it is time consuming, expensive, and is usually a committment to get there! I am guilty of practicing in studios as much as I can, but this past month I tried to put in the extra effort to practice without other yogis around, without the heat, and without the hassle of driving or walking to the studio. I finally realized I wasn’t going to deepen my poses or further my practice by constantly relying on a studio. Yes, a studio and instructors have their pros, but if you have the motivation, and trust to put yourself through the poses (poses you can do safely), then you might as well build the heat at home!
The main reason I transitioned into yoga was because my collegiate diving career finished in 2013. Competing in gymnastics and diving for most of my life left me searching for something similar, but less demanding on my body. Of course yoga is fun for the all the crazy poses, but yoga is so much more than being upside down, touching your toes to your head, and bending into cool poses. The benefits are also much more than increased flexibility, strength, energy, and balance. Try reduced stress, increased blood flow, increased focus, promotes better breathing, and more! So why not practice yoga every damn day!
This is what led to my February yoga challenge #flowthroughfebruary. I decided to challenge myself to further my practice and deepen my poses starting February 1st. I extended the invite through social media , and although I love having others taking part in challenges with me, this Flow through February challenge was mostly for myself.
- To stop making excuses
- To show up for myself
- To give myself the self love it desperately needed in February.
Ok, enough babbling… You can take a look for yourslf and see how the challenge went. Some days are not posted on my blog because they were short video clips.
Goddess Pose Variation // Utkata Konasana
- Strengthens calves, quads, glutes, core and back
- Stretches inner thighs, hips and groins.
- Improves circulation and builds inner fire
Camel Pose // Ustrasana
- Chest lifts
- Push your hips out
- Spine long
- Press your tailbone slightly forward
- Knees and shins hip distance apart
- Feet pointing straight back
Child’s pose// Balasana //Be where you are, not where you think you should be
- Knees as wide as the mat and big toes to touch
- Sit back on heels
- Lengthen neck
- Lengthen your tailbone
- Forehead to touch the floor
Forearm Balance // Pincha Mayurasana
Forearm Balance alone, took me some time to master. Now, time to push past my comfort zone and work on mastering scorpion!
If you are new to forearm balance I would recommend using the wall as your support until you feel sturdy enough to stand without! These poses are not all about having strong arms. Your core is your base of support, but you are also engaging tons of other muscles to stay strong in the balanced pose.
Half Pigeon // Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
I always start this pose from down dog, extend my leg, rotate and open my hip, then bring my knee into my elbow to set up the pose. Remember to breathe through this pose and let go of the tension.
Side Plank Variation // Vasisthasana
- Start in plank pose
- Rotate right hip to face the ceiling
- Reach right arm up to extend straight
- If you are daring, grab your big toe on your right foot with your peace fingers and extend your leg to the ceiling
Airplane Pose // Dekasana
Are you ready for take off?
You can get into this pose from Crescent Lunge
- Push off your back foot to bring all the support onto your left leg
- Do not stand with a locked knee. The supporting knee should be bent some
- Extend free leg straight with your toes and hip facing the ground
- Arms straight to the side with palms facing down
Bound Half Moon // Baddha Ardha Chandrasana
- Start from half moon pose
- Be balanced on your standing leg and very little weight should be put on the supporting hand
- Reach back and grab hold of the foot or ankle of the raised leg
- Gaze can be up or down
- Turn torso upwards
Baby Crow // Baby Bakasana
Not the most traditional pose, but it is still fun and brings you closer to the ground if you have the fear of falling.
- Knees to the floor and forearms to the floor
- Set yourself up as if you were going to go into dolphin pose
- Make yourself as small as possible
- Bring your knees to your upper arms (as high as you can)
- Lean forward and engage the core
- Lean your weight forwards, extend your chest forward while rounding your spine
- Point one foot and then the other so your toes are off the floor
- Be sure to press you forearms down into the ground
Reverse Warrior // Viparita Virabhadrasana
- Flow to Warrior II pose
- On an inhale, flip your palm and reach it to the sky and let your other arm slide down your leg or wrap it around your hip
- Breathe through this pose, especially your side ribs
Eight-Angle Pose // Astavakrasana
- Start in a seated position
- Hike your right leg up over your shoulder and hug your arm to your leg
- Plant your hands shoulder-width apart on either side of your hips
- Cross your left foot over the other foot to hook your ankles together
- Press into your hands, exhale and kick your feet out to extend to the side with your hips hovering above the ground
- Make sure you practice the other side too! I’m guilty of getting really good at one side and neglecting the other, but it’s all about balance and progress.
By squeezing your arm (right) that is between your thighs and squeezing your thighs together, you should float into the pose.
Crescent Lunge Pose // Eagle Arms // Anjaneyasana
- Front knee is bent 90 degrees
- Back knee is resting on the earth with the back foot pressing into the earth
- Keep hips squared and press forward
- Keep pelvis tucked under to protect your back
- Lift arms and open up chest
Tripod Headstand // Sirsasana II // With Stag Legs
- Start in tabletop position with your hands under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips
- Place the top of your head down, which should form the top of your triangle created by the palms and head
- Keep arms bent at 90 degrees
- Stand the legs up and walk them as close to your hands as possible (think dolphin pose)
- The easiest way to get your legs up is to draw one knee at a time to your upper arm/armpit (right knee to right arm and left knee to left arm)
- Once both knees are balanced and resting on your arms, you can bring your toes together and start to slowly lift your toes to the ceiling and bring your legs together. Engage your core and squeeze your legs!
- Get fancy with your legs once you feel confident and balanced on your head!
The goal of yoga (No, it is not the Handstand)
The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal.
The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates.
To make peace with who you are.
The goal is to love, well… You.
Come to your mat to feel; not to accomplish. Shift your focus and your heart will grow.
Namaste and Happy Sunday!
2 thoughts on “Bend Don’t Break”
Congratulations on the challenge! Your reasons for doing it are so relatable. Glad to see it all went well 🙂
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Thanks! (: I definitely needed to focus on myself a bit more, and practicing a little each day really helped with my stress and it was a great feeling to show myself some self love!