It's true, as Yogis we often push ourselves to the limits both physically and mentally, which sometimes leads to tight and achy muscles. The best cure we've found is incorporating regular usage of Yoga Therapy Balls into our weekly Yoga Practice. A deep roll before class will open and melt the fascia around hands and feet, allowing for a deeper body to mat connection and more solid foundations in your practice. And, after reading Why Fascia Matters To Athletes you’ll understand why Yoga Therapy Balls are a must-have for any serious Yogi or athlete.
If you're new to Yoga Therapy Balls, we recommend trying Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball System, which provides targeted self-massage trigger point therapy for tight Yogis by using specially designed high grip rubber balls. She also sells some helpful DVD's demonstrating how to use the Therapy Balls properly.
If you are more familiar with how to use Yoga Therapy Balls, a cheaper alternative purchasing Lacrosse Balls or Pinky High Bounce balls – both do roughly the same thing. These also make a great, inexpensive gift for your favorite Yogi!
This month at Plank, we're all about Bad Habit Breaking, in life and in our Yoga Practice!
By using a Plank Yoga Mat (PYM), we've been able to break the habit of collapsing into our joints, by focusing on creating firmer foundations through our hands and feet. However, when we use a grippy mat, we lose our foundations and sink into our joints because we are relying on the stickiness of the mat to root us down, not our own body strength.
The PYM is a mat that asks the practioner to think before doing, not just simply to do. So next time you are on your mat, be conscious of whether or not your are sinking into your joints, or using the strength of your foundations and muscles to hold your poses. If the answer is "sinking"…then it just might be time for a new mat!
Check out this awesome photo of our Ambassador, Elizabeth Rowan, rocking her firm foundations in Handstand.
What bad yoga habits have you been able to break by using a PYM? Comment below, we'd love to hear!
This month, we are proud to feature our newest Ambassador, Julie Starr-Wood, a rockstar Nutritionist and Yoga/Barre Instructor based out of Boston, MA.
Julie is a wealth of knowledge and we hope you enjoy her tips for building strong foundations in both your Yoga Practice and Daily Food Habits, especially as the Holiday Season approaches. Make sure to check out her Facebook Page and Website, too!
As a well-known Nutritionist and Yoga/Barre instructor in the Boston area, a common theme in your message is that developing good habits sets up a strong foundation for your health. How do you make this real and applicable for your clients and students?
When someone comes to see me, I make it clear that I am a guide. I'm not here to tell people that there is ONE diet for them or ONE right answer to their optimum wellness. They in fact, are my boss! In order to succeed in a wellness program, there needs to be trust. I get to know my clients/students, their lifestyle, their needs, and then work from there. I see no point in handing someone a list of nutrition do's and don'ts without knowing how they feel about food, which foods they like/don't like, etc. When you work with me I get to know where you shop, where you eat, your trainer, your sleep patterns – everything! It's my job to help you through the difficult shifts that are required to make positive change with as little stress as possible.
Many of us get overwhelmed during this busy time of year, especially as we head into the Holiday Season. Can you give us your Top 3 Tips for Maintaining Balance in Your Life Throughout the Fall?
Fall is my favorite season! There is nothing better than Fall in New England. My Top 3 Tips for Maintaining Balance through the Holiday Season are:
1) Don't go into the holiday season thinking that it is something to STRESS over in regards to food. It's something to embrace and enjoy! Shifting the way you think about situations alleviates anxiety, which helps maintain healthy eating habits.
2) Keep your house stocked with positive trigger foods. What are these? We all have those foods that when we eat them, they make us feel healthy and like we are doing something good for our bodies. They are different for everyone. Mine are: arugula, coconut, and parsley! So whenever you feel like you have indulged too much or are unbalanced, grab a positive trigger food and you will feel much better.
3) Remember the basics to eating healthy. Drink water, eat balanced meals, don't wait to long between eating, and slow down. When we take time to enjoy what we eat, it keeps us mindful and also allows us to digest our food and recognize fullness.
We hear you are loving your Plank Yoga Mat! How has it changed your practice and what tips are you passing on to your Yoga Students?
I love my Plank Yoga Mat! Due to its technology, it forces me to be mindful of my hands and feet, which engages my whole body while I practice. I remind my students to press into the mat with their whole hand and fingers – like they are playing a piano without missing a single key. Sometimes we favor one finger over another but it's important to evenly disperse our energy to set a strong foundation. While on the PYM mat, you can feel this even more! I also love the vibrant colors and the design of the mat.
This October, our Founder is focusing on breaking her bad habits and with that, comes the practice of beingpresent and grounded. For our pose of the month, we picked Tree Pose (Vrksasana) because it is grounding and also relevant since we are all about the beautiful changing leaves and trees this October.
PLANK TIP: Ground down through all four corners of your standing foot to stabilize your tree pose from the root up. Like the corners of a tent, as you press all four corners of your feet in your mat, feel your joints stack on top of each other and the muscles of all four corners of your legs engage to create solid pillars of strength.
Create a Dynamic Diagonal as the big toe presses deeply into the mat and follow the line of connection to the outer hip, to pin it into its socket. This powerful additional grounding creates a more solid foundation which evens out the hip bone and embeds it deeper into its socket. These actions work to reinforce the body's architecture to be stronger, as it compacts into the midline.
Press your floating foot into your inner thigh, and your thigh back into your foot to create more stability and engagement through your core and upper body, too.
With a Plank Yoga Mat, grounding of all four corners of hands and feet is a starting point and a must. It is not a suggestion, which is the tendancy when using an always-grippy yoga mat. The more you learn to connect to your mat, the more you will develop your firm foundations and mind body connection.
How do you stabilize in Tree Pose? We'd love to hear your own tips below!
In honor of it, here are our Top Plank Tips for Getting Back to Your Mat this Fall!
1) Make a Plan for Your Week: Schedule your Yoga Classes by signing up for them online in advance (if your studio allows you to), or just pencil them into your planner or online calendar. With all the tools and technology we have available these days, there is no excuse for missing your favorite yoga class!
2) Try a New Studio or Teacher: Sometimes, our practice can start to feel a bit stale. Get re-inspired this Fall and remember why you fell in love with yoga all over again. Try a new studio or new teacher's class – you might just find a new fav place to down dog!
3) FREE YOGA! Seek out Free Yoga classes and events in your area this September. In Honor of National Yoga Month, over 2,200 studios nation wide are offering One Week of FREE Yoga. CLICK HERE to see a listing of participating studios and get your asana over to one soon.
4) Get Some New Gear: A new season calls for fresh Yoga Clothes and maybe even a new Yoga Mat or Mat Bag. When you look good, you feel good, and why wouldn't you want to show off your new goods at your local studio?
Have you tried the hottest new workout in town? Take your practice off the mat and cool down with some #SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) #YOGA this August!
According to Boston.com, "SUP Yoga adds a new, exciting twist to an age-old practice." In this physical and mental style of yoga, "you are constantly engaging your core, along with smaller subsets of muscles throughout your body" in order to stabilize yourself. So you can still practice your Ridiculous Body Awareness™ even off your Plank Yoga Mat.
We admit it, things can start to get a little too HOT in August, hence why we're offering up this COOLING posture, Legs Up the Wall, (Viparita Karani) as our #Yoga pose of the month!
#PLANKTIP: To get into this pose with ease, scoot one of your hipbones as close to the wall as possible, then lie down onto your back and simultaneously extend your legs up the wall. Connect your outer shoulders, connecting side ribs, middle back ribs, side waist and low back fully to your mat for optimal spinal alignment. Then, allow yourself to melt into your Plank Yoga Mat. Ahhh relaxation.
Feeling a little bored with your Yoga Practice this Summer? Take it into the great outdoors, like our Ambassador Bex Borucki, pictured above. It helps to change your perspecitive and what studio can beat the killer view of an ocean or stunning outdoor landscape?!
Even better, lots of studios and yoga brands offer FREE outdoor classes in the summer time! In our hometown of Boston, there are a TON of free classes being offered by Lululemon, Friends of Fort Point Channel and even the Boston Harbor Island Alliance! Check out details for Beach Yoga on Spectacle Island (a Boston Harbor Island) HERE and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for these kind of events in your area!
Where is your favorite spot to practice Yoga Outdoors in the Summer?