Yoga

5 GO-TO Yoga Poses Post Athletic Training

5 GO-TO Yoga Poses post athletic training, 

to increase mobility in thoracic spine and hips.

Yoga meets us where we are at; mentally, emotionally and physically.  Yoga is a science and art of connecting mind, body, and spirit.  The breath is a key element of yoga.  The breath needs to be allowed to flow freely and evenly.  This will be bringing us into and keeping us in a calm state of mind and body. 

Yoga is also a feeling practice.  As we move through the asanas (yoga postures), we feel into our body.  If we experience discomfort, we allow ourselves to soften into the discomfort with the use of the breath.  If we experience pain, we modify or stop the pose altogether. 

We practice below postures individually, or as a whole set, or even in addition to sun salutations or any other warm up movement. 

A short yoga practice often and consistently is better than inconsistently a lot and a long time.  Most of all, we enjoy what our body is capable of doing at any one time, and we have fun.

Head to Knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana A.

This is a deep forward bend from the hips, stimulating the digestive organs.  Both, the inside and the outside of the legs are stimulated and it is one of the more classical seated forward bends.

One leg straight and one leg bent, with breath and your bandhas (pelvic floor and lower belly muscles) engaged, bend forward from the hips.  Place your hands somewhere on your feet, alongside your lower leg, or hold your feet, or even bind.  Bend only as far forward as you can from your hips with a straight spine.  Avoid rounding forward.  This is an active pose, keep your straight leg engaged, and keep moving the heart & chest forward and the shoulders back and down.

Stay for 5-20 breaths, or longer.  Let your breath and your body guide you.  Enjoy and change sides.

Revolved Head to Knee Pose – Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana.

Can you feel the deliciousness of this pose? A wonderful lateral side bend and stretch for our quadratus lumborum, a deep postural muscle in our lower back.

Also, a chest opening pose and a beautiful stretch for the whole backline of the straight leg.

We set up as previous pose, bring our left forearm or hand (the arm or hand of the straight leg) along the inside of our left leg (the straight leg).  Sit up tall and twist your torso from the belly to your bend leg (the right in this case).  Then use your left arm as a lever working against your straight leg as you keep your chest open, and slowly bring your side body of the straight leg (here the left) sideways towards your straight leg.

Lastly bring your right arm overhead and either hold on to your left foot, or bend at the elbow, bring your hand behind your head for support and actively point the elbow toward the sky.  Keep breathing evenly; keep your bandhas engaged and your straight leg active.  This is an active position and you may only choose to hold it for a few breaths; or of course as long as it feels good.  Change sides and enjoy.

Bound Angle Pose against the Wall – Baddha Konasana.

We sit up against a wall and bring our whole back to the wall.

With knees bent and heels as close as possible towards our buttocks, we aim to open the soles of the feet like a book.  Inside of the feet open, outside edges of the feet push together.

The aim is to promote hip and ankle mobility and flexibility, as well as core strength.

We aim to sit up tall, inhale lengthen through the spine and exhale aiming to widen through the hips, by guiding the knees closer to the floor.

5-10 breaths or longer.  Time and comfort permitting.

Supported Bridge Pose with Block – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana with Block.

Lying down, we bend our knees and bring the soles of our feet to the floor.  At this stage, we can have our arms to the side of the body.

Lifting our hips off the floor, we bring the block underneath our sacrum, the lower triangle part of our back.  We place it where it feels good.  We let our body guide us. Then gradually we feel into letting one leg at the time straighten and totally relax.

This is an inactive pose.  Aiming to let go muscularly, arms can be to the side or even overhead.  This is a glorious backbend, opening the thoracic spine, as well as stimulating and stretching the hip flexor area.

Stay for as long as comfortable.  A few minutes will be excellent.  We observe our breath and our physical sensations.  We come out slowly and mindfully.  Firstly, we breathe a little deeper, bring the arms to the side, bend our knees.  Lift our hips off the block.  Bring the block out from underneath and slowly lower ourselves to the mat.  Stay in a mini savasana for a minute.  Noticing our physical sensations, as well as our emotions and our breath.

Windscreen Wipers.

Lying on the floor, we start to bend our knees and bring our feet to outside edges of the mat, knees pointing to the ceiling.

Arms can be to the side or overhead.  We start to bring both knees to one side on an exhale and bring them back to starting position on the inhale.  Exhale to the other side.  Repeat.

This beautiful spinal twist and hip mobilising posture can be practiced in a rhythmical way with the breath; or we can hold the shape on any one side for a few breaths to a few minutes.

Again, comfort and time permit the length of the time we practice.

Relaxation Pose – Savasana.

Probably the most challenging posture of all.

Complete rest.  Surrendering to rest and stillness.

We allow the whole physical body to rest and to simply be.  The mind stays present.

We enjoy the stillness of our body, the effortlessness of our breath and the freedom and clarity of our mind.

We stay from 5-7minutes.  We come out slowly and mindfully.  We roll onto one side into a foetal position and sit up slowly.

Thank you once again for your trust and for allowing me to suggest and guide you through a yoga practice. Remember to never strain, and always listen to your body.  Smile and have fun!

Yoga is a joyful movement practice, a healing practice and a way of life.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please be in touch at any time.

Mantra For Letting Go

I let go.

I simply let go.

I am not my thoughts.

I am not my fears.

I am not limiting beliefs.

I let them go.

I am not my stress.

I am not my fears.

I am not my insecurities.

I let them go.

I simply let go.

I feel lighter with every breath.

I feel calmer with every breath.

I let go.

I let go of the tension and I realign with ease.

I let go of worry and I realign with faith.

I let go of doubt and I realign with confidence.

I let go.

I simply let go.

I let go of anger and realign with forgiveness.

I let go of frustration and realign with patience.

I let go of annoyance and realign with compassion.

I let go of guilt and I align with acceptance.

I let go.

I allow.

I align.

I let go.

I simply let go.

May you have the courage to fully let go.

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED!

The most important question to ask yourself, for yoga and for life.

Losing motivation, hands up if that has ever happened to you.  Mine is up.  Sometimes, we even lose motivation for the very things we previously had a passion for.  No need to dwell on the fact that it has happened, let’s explore what we can do about it.

Some of us lose our motivation for our yoga practice, not only in winter.  We blame the rain, cold wind, unwellness, colds, stiffness, darkness, sleepiness or other for it.

I’m often asked: “Bettina, how can I keep my motivation for yoga all year round?”.  It’s a valid and important question. How can we keep motivated or even increase our motivation not only for yoga, but for other things in our lives as well.

Let’s de-mystify motivation.  Let’s look at the word :  MOTIVE (ation).

Can we ask ourselves, what is actually our MOTIVE for doing what we are doing.  In case of yoga practice, what is our why for practising yoga in the first place?

Is it the desire to improve your health?  And has that desire perhaps slipped into the background, has the motive (ation) to perfect certain postures moved into the foreground?  And now you realise that this sense of competition is not really in line with your values and why you started yoga in the first place.  Recognise that, become true to your initial motivation and reason for practice, namely your health, and your motivation will come back.

When we know why we do what we do, motivation naturally happens.  Our motivation will be in line with our own values.  It will be in line with what is important to us, what matters to us most.  And if it is not, then we will lack motivation.

So in case of our yoga practice, we need to become clear on why we are stepping on the mat.  Ask yourself, what is your motivation, your reason, for coming to class.  And if you have practiced yoga with me before, you know that I invite you to answer this question several times a year.

Being clear on our reason and motive for doing something is the answer to any lack of motivation.  Yoga, life and all!

Ask yourself here and now, what are your reasons for allowing yoga to be a part of your life?  Or, what is missing when you don’t practice yoga for a while?

Notice, these answers reflect our values in life.

On a personal note.

Each year after I come back from my July holiday in Germany, and from the two week break after Christmas, I ask myself, what is your motive for teaching yoga Bettina?

I aim to answer this question to remain an authentic yoga teacher, and to stay motivated throughout the year for my profession, as well as for my own yoga practice.

Here are my answers:

  • Adding value.  I have the desire to add value to my clients’ life.  The value of being of service and do useful work is important to me.  Also, to be adding value to those I encounter, in general.
  • Excellence.  Personal and professional excellence.  I do wish to fulfil my fullest potential.  I do realise however, that not everybody strives for that.  Personally I do, and nothing prompts me more to do just that than running my own business in the healing arts.
  • Connection.  Connection to myself in a closer and broader sense is essential to me.  I wish to pass on the idea that connection to self fosters a deeper connection to others.  That in turn fosters a sense of peace.  My contribution to world peace.
  • Healing.  I do see my work as healing work.  Facilitating healing from physical ailment and / or emotional trauma is my dharma.
  • Selfcare and selflove.  Big statements, I know.  I strongly believe that all healing starts with us looking after our needs first.  Not in an arrogant way. In a caring way.  Caring for yourself first.  Selfcare is not selfish, it’s essential.
  • Challenge.  I thrive on a physical and mental challenge.  Interacting with humans, running my own business and the physical practice of yoga provides me with plenty of that.

Your turn now to being clear on the motive and meaning for doing something in your life.  It is your answer to any lack of motivation.  ON and OFF the mat!.

Wishing you the courage to ask the question.

See you on the mat.

Mardi’s Testimonial

Mardi’s spontaneous sharing of how yoga has impacted her life.
She mentions better quality of sleep and more energy. Listen for yourself…

Thank you Mardi for your trust, your business and your enthusiasm.

Mardi Malone, Frankston – June 2019

How slow can you go – 3 poses to calm, heal and de-stress

Let’s face it, you are perhaps like me, enjoying relatively dynamic and challenging movement and adventures in your life. Yes? No? In both cases, slowing down our movement and slowing down our breathing and as a result slowing down our mind will be a good practice for us to engage in.

It will be a good idea and an efficient way to reduce our level of stress.  It will be rejuvenating.   It will be the calming.   It will bring clarity.  It will be do-able.   It will not take long.   We will love it.   Maybe not at first.   Over time, we will.

The practice of Yoga and meditation will help us get there.

There is very slow yin yoga, and more physical hatha yoga. Our weekly timetable allows for both.  Check website for current timetable.

These three (3) postures, taken out of our yin yoga program, will allow us to slow down, to energise your body, and calm your mind.  Prerequisite: a block or a book. Here we go.

Block on the base of the scull

Simply lie on your back on the floor.  No mat underneath you required.

Take your block and place it sideways behind your head.  Tilt the block backwards slightly and place the base of your skull, your occiput, directly onto the sharp edge of the block.

You will feel when you’re in the right position, as the base of the skull is where the hair starts to grow, where there is a lot of muscle attachment and where there is consequently the potential of tenderness.

You can now roll your head from side to side.  Alternatively, if you feel you have moved onto a sore and tender spot, allow yourself to pause there.  Feel into the physical sensation and let the tenderness pass.

That way you can move from one tender spot to the next.  Or simply stay still and enjoy the stretch of your neck.

On top of the physical benefit, the enjoyment comes from slowing down.  Let your body soften into this shape.  Allow your whole being to surrender to every moment.  Allow the breath to be natural and enjoy the sense of slowing down.  Receiving energy, making space in both body and mind.  Slowing down and letting the levels of stress decrease.  Hold this shape for one to 10 minutes, or until you feel it’s time to come out.

To come out, start to deepen your breath, gently switch on your belly muscles and start to bend your knees.  Hold your block, lift your head, place the block to the side and allow your head to come to the floor again.  Stay in this neutral position for a few minutes after.  Enjoy the comfort of your already much calmer state of mind.  And notice how relaxed your body is too.

Repeat as many times during the day or week as you can make time.  Praise yourself for making the time to be still and slow down.  This pose on its own is enough.  If you have time, move on to the next one.

Block underneath the sacrum

As you can see, the block is placed on its flattest side underneath your sacrum.  This is the lowest part of your spine.  From the side view it looks like most of your buttocks are covered too.  Feel into it.  If you place the block too high, on your lower back, it doesn’t feel good.

To get into position, it is best to lie on back, bend knees and lift your hips up, then lower onto the block.

Now simply allow your whole body to relax and give into this shape.  Notice how the tissue releases tension.  Notice how your natural breath slows and with that your heart rate.  Notice how easeful it is to just let go and surrender.  Stay for one minute or longer if you have the time.

Of course there are physical benefits too.  For the sake of today’s blog, the intention is to find ways to slow down and de-stress mentally, physically and emotionally.

Again, this posture on its own is enough.  Time permitting, include the other ones as well.

Optional: Block in highest position, underneath sacrum/lower back

As above, except the block is placed on its highest position between sacrum and lower back.  Again, feel into it and find a spot where it feels good.

You can keep your knees bent or straigten them, as shown.  Feel into where there is tension and see if you can relax that with your breath. Slowing down, being still, surrendering is the key here.  We are after de-stressing and calming.

Again, stay for as long as appropriate and it feels good.  Enjoy the practice of slowing down.

The block can be replaced by a book.  If you’d like to purchase a block, I sell them in the studio for $15.

Wishing you the courage to slow down.  Happy practicing.

REVOLVED TRIANGLE POSE

ONE OF THE MOST LOVED YOGA POSES EVER!

Twisted OR Revolved Triangle Pose – Parivrtta Trikonasana

Let’s explore why this standing pose with a twist is soo loved and treasured, or is it?!.  Honestly, it really gives us a marvellous full body experience.  It trains our ability to keep the balance between stability, mobility and agility.  Come re-align your mind, body and soul with this energising standing twist.

Firstly, see if you can agree that yoga is about union.  Union of the outer reality with the inner reality, the thinking with the feeling; the dark with the light, the inner landscape with the outer landscape, the individual with the group, the personal universe with the wider universe, the letting go with the holding on, and many other connections and unions.  And it is through the physical practice of yoga asana, or yoga postures, in connection with the breath that these connections and unions can be achieved.

Secondly, let’s also assume that all yoga practices enhance outer, physical body confidence and therefore enhance inner, mental & emotional confidence.  All yoga practice also helps improve one’s posture, and hence physical wellbeing.

Name:

Parivrtta               = Twisted or revolved

Tri                        = three

Kona                     = angle

Asana                   = pose, posture, or even ‘comfortable seat’

Benefits:

  • Promotes stability and mobility and the hips and the spine
  • It teaches rotation of the spine while maintaining steadiness in lower body
  • Twists the whole spine
  • Stretches chest, buttocks, back, legs
  • Opens, chest, back, hamstrings, hips
  • Strengthens legs, back, arms
  • Improves balance and stability
  • Teaches proprioception
  • Improves physical and mental stamina
  • Allows to feel the body in a different dimension
  • Takes one out of one’s comfort zone
  • Improves body confidence and gracefulness
  • Improves flexibility in the thoracic spine, in the hips and in the hamstrings
  • It stimulates internal organs and can improve digestive health and metabolism

It goes without saying that you make sure that if physical ailments exist, you have checked with your medical practitioner if yoga practice is appropriate for you.

It’s a beautiful standing pose with a twist, stimulating the whole body.  It can be practiced on its own or of course intelligently woven into a flow style practice.  Always listen to your body and never push beyond your body’s limitations.  Remember ‘ahimsa’, practicing with awareness and not brutal force.  Move into your body’s full potential on any given time you practice.  And always listen to your breath, keep it soft and flowing.  Find a way with your breath to make space and find more freedom.

Modifications:

  • Only turn your head if it is appropriate for you. Otherwise, look to the floor or straight ahead.
  • Place your lower hand to the inside of your front foot, or simply somewhere against the outside of your front leg.
  • Shorten your stand if balance is challenging.
  • Rest your back heel against the wall.
  • Rest your top hand on your lower back if your shoulder is tender.
  • Use a block to place your lower hand onto.

Hold the pose for as long as you are able to. Start small.  Start with a few breaths, then build up to a couple of minutes.  Repeat pose with other leg forward.

Pointers:

  • Stability is key. Aim not to compromise your stability for a deeper twist.
  • Aim to have equal weight on both the front and the back foot.
  • Your spine craves length. Let it have it by actively lengthening from the top of your head to your tailbone.
  • Always observe your breath. If you’re holding your breath, or shorten it, it means you are moving out of your yogic state of ‘rest and digest’.  This indicates to you that you need to modify or come out of the pose altogether to facilitate healing, rather than just achieve a shape with your body.

Please let me know what other poses you would like to have explored.  Thank you.

With my best wishes for a joyful and calming yoga practice.

VALUES TO CREATE BALANCED PARTNERSHIPS WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS

Yoga is a practice of union, of seeking a healthy partnership with yourself and, in the wider sense, a healthy partnership with others.  This can be family, co-workers, relatives, business partners, life partners or clients.

To honour this ancient practice of yoga and to allow you to get to know me, your yoga teacher, a bit more closely, I have listed the 7 values that are most important to me when it comes to creating and fostering healthy partnerships.  This is also how I approach teaching yoga, conducting business with my clients, and live my life.

  1. Authenticity
    The ability to know oneself fully.  Warts and all.  So we can be honest and transparent in any situation.
  1. Compassion
    The ability to put oneself in the shoes and situation of others.  This allows us to act with understanding, care and consideration.
  1. Integrity
    The ability to have and to adhere to a high personal code of ethics.
  1. Accountability
    The ability to own and acknowledge one’s errors and mistakes in judgment.  And then take responsibility for the impact of those actions and choices.
  1. Assertion
    The ability to express one’s needs clearly & distinctly without judgement, emotional manipulation nor blame.
  1. Self discipline
    The ability to act from one’s own intuition and to lead from the heart.  The ability to show initiative.
  1. Freedom of choice
    The ability to put all those values in place and practice them on a daily basis.

I hope this inspired you to look at the practice of yoga in a different light.

Please feel welcome to share any of your values and anything that comes to your mind.  Thank you.

With much gratitude,

Bettina Pfannkuch

Yin Yoga and Crystal Bowl Sound Meditation – Masterclass of Relaxation

Friday, 29th November | 18:00 – 20:00 | $40

Friday, 20th December | 18:00 – 20:00 | $40

YIN: 1hr
Yin yoga is a quiet, slow-paced and mostly floor based form of yoga, where yoga poses (asanas) are held for a longer period of time to stimulate the deeper layers of connective tissue.

You will be invited to let go of all muscular effort, allow yourself to come into a pose, be supported by bolsters, blocks and blankets and feel a stretch-like sensation that varies in intensity depending on your own personal preference and physical state of being. You will be encouraged to use your breath to soften, calm and quiet your mind and with that the intensity of the physical sensation.

This is a wonderfully relaxing and flexibility increasing style of yoga

CRYSTAL BOWL SOUND MEDITATION: 1hr
As you make yourself comfortable either sitting or lying down, you can completely let go of all sensation, thought or worry and allow the week that was to simply be as it was.

You will be experiencing a deep sense of physical relaxation and calmness of mind while you are completely immersed in the sound and vibrations of the crystal singing bowls.

A deeply healing and relaxing meditation modality.

Here in our MASTERCLASS, we will explore 60mins of YIN YOGA, followed by 60mins of SOUND MEDITATION.

A fabulous way to let go of the week and start the weekend with intent, clarity and calm.

Although this is an additional service for The Art of Balance client community, everyone is welcome.

No yoga or meditation experience is required.

COST: $40
Book via email – bettina@theartofbalance.com.au

Payment of $40 reserves your place, and is due with booking.

Bettina Pfannkuch
BSB:733 059
Acct:512308

Thank you.

I look forward to sharing this masterclass with you.

SHOULDER OPENING SEQUENCE – OPEN & CLOSE BOOK

In this video, I demonstrate a simple and effective way to move our whole shoulder girdle.  It is well known amongst our community of yogis and yoginis as the “opening and closing of book” sequence.  As well as stimulating front, back and side of shoulder and upper back region, we will also combine breath with movement, which will bring us into our parasympathetic response of our nervous system.  This is our “rest and digest” state, where healing and repairing of the body takes place.

This is how we move into a yogic state.

Make sure you are comfortable.  Either sitting, kneeling, standing or even lying down.

Allow the movement to happen first.  Then see if you can connect breath with movement simultaneously.

Keep your arms in shoulder height if you can.  If you lower them down, the intensity of the exercise will be less.

Let’s practice:

Please let me know how it goes for you.

And maybe you can share YOUR favourite way to open your shoulders.

How to Celebrate – My Six Favourite Ways.

June is my Birthday month.  So each year my intention for this month is – Celebration!

And to help you find a way to celebrate in day to day life, I am going to share 6 ways of celebrating life that work for me.  Six ways to nurture your whole being, mind, body and soul.

  • listen to beautiful music (YOU define the meaning of beautiful)

 

  • spend time in nature

 

  • enjoy a delicious meal (with friends optional)

 

  • hug another human

 

  • do something physical (movement, body treatment…)

 

  • declutter

There’s no need for complication, no need to spend a lot of money, or to even leave the house.

See if you can incorporate one or many of those ideas into your life and notice what happens.

Please let me know how it goes for you.  And maybe you can share YOUR favourite ways to celebrate with me.

Celebrate!