Although it's nearly the end of February, the month where love is often top of mind and heart, it never gets old to have a fresh look on one of the basics of heart openers.
Here we look at Cobra Pose from Plank's connected perspective. Our goal is to find the broadest spreading and lift of the collar bones to let that heart burst through and open out.
With a non intentional light hand to mat connections, notice the range of motion in the ball and socket joint of the shoulders. Are the collar bones able to spread 1-2 inches? Is the heart able to lift?
With an intentional broad and full palm (inside and outside edges of fingers, knuckles, metacarpal and four corners of the hand), notice if the ability to rotate the ball joint in its socket is broad and safe, leading to expansion across the collar bones. Notice the ability to create strong and integrated upper thoracic back muscles that can support a higher lift of the heart.
OFF THE MAT:
February is a great month, it's my birthday, it's Valentine's Day, lots of reasons to love this month! Admittedly, I used to wish February would just go by quickly and quietly, as it's my birthday, it's Valentine's etc., which in the past would add a host of reasons to be insecure and wonder 'Does Anybody Love Me'? To answer that unanswerable question, one tip I use, has been to go get connected and find out. So I got connected and thankfully for me, I found out there are some folk out there that do and some that have always. Aw shucks, warm and fuzziness in the air. 🙂
Plank Yoga Mats are the only mats committed to teaching yogis to build their own solid foundations so maybe one day they will be able to practice without a mat. We'd love to hear from you if you noticed higher heart lifts, broader collar bones and/or a larger range of motion in the shoulder joints with intentional hand to mat connections. Post your comments below. Happy Heart Opening!
"When do we remember to take time to love ourselves? It’s so easy to beat ourselves up with, ‘I could have done better.’ We are all so beautiful in so many ways. We all have talents which are unique to us. We are all creative, just in different ways. We’re all scared of not being enough. But, we are!"
Are you guilty of beating yourself up and not feeling like you are enough? How are you learning to practice self love?
As my daughter and I walk the aisles of Valentine’s Day cards carefully choosing boxes for her classmates, I am reminded of how little we celebrate the season of love with ourselves. Gracynn takes time to meticulously write each classmate a card, Hello Kitty for the girls, Angry Bird for the boys. There will be the Valentine’s Day cookies we make, the chocolates bought, the special dinner prepared for my husband.
But, when do we remember to take time to love ourselves? It’s so easy to beat ourselves up with, ‘I could have done better.’ ‘I should be able to do handstand in the middle of the room by now.’ (I hear this one a couple times a week from students). We are all so beautiful in so many ways. We all have talents which are unique to us. We are all creative, just in different ways.You couldn’t pay me enough to get up and sing in front of an audience, I’d be mortified. Yet, my husband, Eric, well, he does that every night. It’s his job. But, ask him to go to a yoga class, and he’d be terrified. See, we’re all scared of not being enough. But, we are!
I’m reminded of my favorite mantra, So Hum. It translates as, “I am all that is.” Whoa. Really? I am alllllllll that is. I am everything. I have a connection to everything, everyone. When we realize that, suddenly we realize we’re all in this big party together. Why do we make it so complicated? So, get up there, go have fun. Sing, Dance, Do Yoga. And practice Self Love this month!
This month, we'd like to introduce you to our newest Ambassador, Daniele Britt!
Daniele is the Retail Manager of Savannah Yoga Barre, is passionate about her Plank Yoga Mat,teaching BackCare Yoga, slowing down and practicing self love. For more on this amazing lady, read her interview with us below.
1) Thanks for reminding us about the importance of Self Love. Sometimes it is easier said than done. How do you make this concept achievable for yourself and your students?
I can be pretty sensitive at times and take things to heart. I’m a step-mom and I’ve learned a lot over the last few years that sometimes it has nothing to do with me when someone is acting a particular way. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to love me (or even like me)-it’s impossible and I cannot do anything about that. I used to want to people please and I would dig myself into more of a hole with a person who didn’t like me. I would end up stumbling over my words, saying completely the wrong thing and making matters much worse.
I used to try to be the ‘perfect’ step-mom and I know that there’s no such thing. I was all ego and thought, “Well, I’m not going to do so and so…” and within the hour I was acting/doing the same thing I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do. I would cry and cry. Beat myself up. Beat everyone else up (or at least in my mind!). It never worked.
So, I quit – cold turkey. I learned that what I can do is to stop, watch and roll! What that means is I can, 1. Check myself before I wreck myself 2. Watch myself if I’m about to spiral into a head-on misery fest 3. Roll with it. It’s only life, after all! And, do you know what? Once in a while, people turn around and realize that hey, I’m not so bad after all and we may have just had a different view on things.
Now, I give myself some time. Time to read a magazine, time to just be me, time to practice yoga, time to buy the latest girlie make-up. Little things can change my attitude all around. But, it starts with stopping. Stopping the control of life, of people. I find that’s Self Love. Not trying to make myself be someone I’m not.
2) You are quite passionate about Yin and Restorative Yoga and your Yoga for Back Care classes. Why do you think these types of yoga should be an essential piece of everyone's practice?
Westerns are GREAT at moving, moving faster and faster. Being still is much more difficult, I find. To pause, be quiet (this is hard if you know me!), and to just Be takes much more discipline. How many times do we skip Savasana when practicing at home? I know I’m guilty. Our minds jump from one thought to the next like monkeys swinging from tree-to-tree. It takes patience to remain in stillness.
There are greater reasons too…to make lasting changes in our bodies we must connect with the source. That is the bones. We can only get to the bones via the connective tissue, or fascia. By just addressing our muscles we miss out on this entire lineage of our body that is our deepest and fullest expression of creating change.
And, BackCare, at least the way I teach it, is a fusion of the 13 years of teaching and 16 years as student of yoga. I have created a system of exercise derived from physical therapy, Pilates, yoga and original sequences that I’ve tested on my own body. I have a special place in my heart, uhm, Back, for people with back pain. I herniated a disc 6 years ago after doing a series of dressage jumps riding English Saddle. The horse got stung on the ear and decided to jump 4 in one go. I didn’t fall off, but the impact of my spine was enough to do the damage.
3) You recently opened Savannah Yoga Barre. Why do you think Yoga and Barre workouts are a great compliment to one another and what makes your new space unique?
Firstly, I feel really honored to work with Lynne McSweeny, the owner and mastermind behind putting the two together. And, secondly, the community of Savannah has really embraced what we are doing. What other studios incorporate Power Yoga, BackCare, Yin and Barre? I really feel that Barre complements Yoga because you are getting some pretty good tests of your limits. Our Barre teachers are amazing and many have a real dance background. They really challenge your muscles to their point of exhaustion, yet not beyond. And, our yoga teachers are brilliant too and, again, we’re so diverse! Yoga can then help you to wring out your day. I find myself still incorporating the yogic breath in Barre, so you can take the girl out the yoga but you can’t take the yoga out of the girl, ha, ha.
4) You are all about connection and love your Plank Yoga Mat because of it. How has your yoga practice evolved since you started using a PYM and what do you tell your students about it?
I find that since I’ve been using my Plank mat, there’s no cheating! I love that I get feedback, such as, ‘Dani, you are really not using all four points of your feet.’ I can feel my mat telling me that! I’ve been much more reliant on my own body connection rather than relying on the mat to sink into. I get a stronger practice, even with a shorter practice with this awareness. My balance has improved.
I don’t just tell my students about Plank Yoga Mats. I take all of my Planks into the studio and let them use them. I leave 2 in the back of the studio for people to try and I always keep one for myself. I’ve noticed quite a following so the time has come with the February BOGO Sale to send them out to get their own, ha, ha.
5) What exciting new ventures do you have planned for 2014?
Oh my goodness, so much!! Life is just so exciting and I wake up every day with such gratitude. I am currently writing an accredited program for Continuing Ed for yoga teachers. I am focusing on teaching my BrittYoga Therapy techniques and BackCare. I’m pretty thrilled over this.
I am working with Doreen, designer & owner of Plank, on a very special workshop series that we will take across the nation teaching students grounding techniques and how to properly awaken their feet. We are in talks to visit some pretty awesome places, but you’ll have to wait to hear the rest of that when I get the go ahead to reveal from Doreen! 😉
I am guest teaching at a festival out West in Sept. Again, we’re in negotiations, so I shouldn’t say! But, I can tell you that I’ve created my newest Anahata Bhakti, the devotion of the heart, workshop to teach there!!!
And, my dream of a lifetime is coming true…I am holding a Yoga Adventure Holiday to Galapagos Islands from Sept . 20th-27th & Sept. 27th-Oct. 4th. It will be the journey of a lifetime. We have boat tours planned & a trip to the highlands, snorkeling, diving and of course, BrittYoga!!! We are staying on a 12-acre tortoise naturalist site with its’ own coffee plantation!!! And, only 10 yogis are going to each week, so guests will get a lot of one-on-one time and personalized instruction. For more details on Daniele's upcoming retreat, please visit: http://www.brittyogaholidays.com.