Category: Hip Opening Practices

Episode 23 – “Dancing in the Forest”

Guess what guys — I got out of the living room to film this one!  The view is WAY better… although I have to admit the picture of me really isn’t.  Whatever – you can hear me, you can see the shapes, and this flow was pretty great.  Lots of open-hearted shapes, continuous movement, opening up all over the place.

Since we’ve been doing pigeon for a couple of weeks in flows, I thought we might dig into some variations.  My teacher calls this “Queenie Pigeon,” as opposed to King Pigeon where you hold onto the bound foot with both hands from over your head and it’s kind of madness.  I’m still working on that one.  On my good side, I can get there for a second or so with a LOT of warm-up on a really good day.  So this practice won’t take us through that (but hey, if you have it and wanna work into it, be my guest man!)  BUT “Queenie” is still a great backbend and fun shape to work with and we’ll explore the steps leading up to it as well.

Make sure you’re really focusing on what’s going on in your body as you’re working into that pose.  Keep a lifted long spine to avoid pinching in the low back, and pay attention to the support from your thighs in your hips.  I really feel a lot better trying to wiggle into a longer spread of the legs and get my hips closer to the ground, but you might feel more supported by drawing the thighs into the hips.  Personally, that strategy leaves me feeling somewhat precariously balanced so I prefer getting down for more foundation.  If I’m making no sense at all feel free to comment and let me know “April, I have no idea what in the actual hell you are talking about.”

In fact, leave me comments anyways.  Like and share this with your friends, and enjoy the beautiful mountain views.  Follow me on Instagram @aprilkindarocks to see more from my trip to Mt Hood National Forest this past weekend. And keep looking forward to more field trips out of my living room over the next couple of weeks.

Cheers, yo!

-*- Namaste -*-

April

 

 

 

Episode 22 – “Deeply Rooted”

So, this is like a week and a half late to the website.  Thanks for bearing with me.  I’ve been having a rough time keeping dedicated to all of the elements of this blog and video series for two reasons.

One – you folks never talk back to me about it.  Comments?  Likes?  Shares?  Anything guys?  I’m not kidding I really do like talking to people and hearing from them about their experiences.  Tell me what you like or don’t like, or give me some requests and suggestions for future videos.  Heck you could even keep it casual and just sign up for my email list 😉 That would make me just tickled. (Thank you!)

Two – I’m less than 2 months now from the biggest craziest move of my life.  I’m going to Melbourne in Australia in mid-October and I’ll be there about 6 months.  Starting to job hunt, wrapping up my life here in Portland, and trying to make the most of time with loved ones here… it’s been a lot.  And it’s not going to get much easier over the next few weeks, so, again, your grace with my inconsistency is so much appreciated.

I’m still totally in this project!  These videos are going keep coming, I’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep sharing for sure.  I might not always get things done “on time” but they’re coming, don’t worry.  It would definitely help me out a ton to get some feedback and cheering on from all you readers and viewers, though… just sayin’ 😉

Anyways, I talk in the video.  Yada yada yada.  Watch it!  Do it!  Enjoy!

Cheers, yo.

-*- Namaste -*-

April

 

Episode 20 – “Crow is Awesome”

So I was on another TEDtalk watching kick, and there was a talk by Jill Shargaa that really stood out to me and got me thinking.  It was about the word “awesome” and how we generally misuse it.

And by “we” I totally mean “me, too.”  Then again, if you’ve ever read this blog or seen a video before, you already know that.  So I’m trying to do better, trying to use “awesome” when it’s actually appropriate.  According to dictionary.com, awesome is supposed to describe something that inspires admiration and/or fear… that is, something that inspires a state of awe.

I’m totally with Jill, for the most part.  I mean, yeah, in all likelihood whatever you had for lunch was definitely not truly “awesome”.  Jill goes into a list of things that do qualify as awesome, according to her, and as she worked her way through her list I started to disagree with her.

For instance, sharks were on her list for being fierce creatures at the top of the food chain.  However, I know that sharks have their flaws as creatures too (their mouths are in really ineffective places to actually eat or maim people) and I also don’t live in or near the ocean, so they’re not really on my radar of “things to fear”.

Realizing this got me thinking about perspective.  After all, we all have different experiences and opinions on things.  What one person finds admirable or scary isn’t going to inspire the same response in someone else.

And even if we’re going back to using the word “incorrectly” I still don’t want everyone else to think the same things that I do are totally awesome.  I like seeing my favorite bands in small, intimate venues for $10 at the door, rather than dishing out hundreds to scalpers for sold out arenas.  I want the food I like not to sell out at the grocery store. I want to be able to stretch my legs at the park nearest my house rather than everyone in the city deciding its the best one and crowding around.  Differences in opinion and tastes make life not only interesting but, honestly, bearable.

You know what most of us can probably agree on, though?

Yoga is awesome.

That’s right — even if we’re not using slang, yoga qualifies as awesome.  There’s a lot of admiration for the things that we achieve in our practice (and seeing what others can achieve, yay for inspiration) .  And there’s probably at least a little bit of fear, amiright? (If there’s no fear in your practice, we should talk!)

Why is yoga so awesome?  Well, partially because it brings change.  Change is scary.  But change is also pretty cool, because we are challenged and find growth in change.

Crow definitely qualifies as an awesome pose in yoga.  There’s the whole face planting potential, but also the potential that you can suspend the body so very elegantly (or precariously) in that distinctive arm balance.  We’ll work on crow a bit in this practice, including a modification I really enjoy.

I also made up a pretty sweet soundtrack for this practice.  Click right here to open up a playlist of Joy Division that will play in the background while you do all of this awesome yoga (you should also be able to click the link directly in the video).

Don’t forget to leave me some comments — I still haven’t heard anything from people about whether or not this new “click on a soundtrack if you want it” scenario is working out.  Also, what do you wanna listen to next week?  What moves do you wanna work on next week?  Talk to me!

But right now, join me on the mat, it’s gonna be awesome 😉

 

Cheers, yo!

-*- Namaste -*-

-April

 

 

 

Episode 11 – “Open Up and Find Paradise”

I had a nice little laugh at myself this week when I read a very well-known statement from the Buddha…

“The root of suffering is attachment”

And immediately my thoughts became “Yes!  Exactly!  I’ve been suffering in pain because of an attachment… the attachment of my torso to my legs, my hip flexors.” Also, as I’m experimenting with finding a way to heal the pain and prevent it from coming back, I’m finding that gripping and compression are major culprits.  So, this class has some focus on supporting the hip joint from the butt and the legs to avoid placing all of the attention on the hip-flexors, which in my case are getting too much focus right now anyways.

Its amazing when we get so attached to ideas of what we want or what we want to get away from.  It starts to consume us.  We get tunnel vision, and suddenly we’re losing track of everything else.  I was practicing with total tunnel vision on “how does my psoas feel right now?” and another teacher, my friend, comes over several times to realign my totally fallen-in knee and remind me to get my shoulders out of my ears.  If you know me, these are things I’m always really keen on when practicing and especially teaching.  It became very clear to me then that I was way too attached to what was going on in this one part of my body that I was neglecting the rest of my practice.

Yada yada, enough talk.  Check out this week’s video!  I talk a bit more about the benefits of non-attachment and we get into not only some work to support the hip flexors but also some neat back tricks and Bird of Paradise!  Also, in the main video we kind of just push through to Bird of Paradise but I also did a short segment on some modifications and adjustments to access the pose so you should check that out, too.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with attachment, maybe any tips and tricks you’ve discovered for your own body for the attachment of the hip flexors or any of the poses we explore in this practice.  Also, got any requests for body stuff or poses you’d like to work on in the coming weeks?  I love playing with new ideas and connecting with my students about what they’re needing.  Leave me some comments!

Cheers, yo!

-*- Namaste -*-

April

 

Here’s the full practice…

Here’s the clip on bird of paradise…

Here’s just the dharma…

Here’s just the warm up…

And if you just wanna get into the main flow, I got that for ya, too…

Episode 8 – “ABC and less-than-three”

As I’m sitting here trying to write this entry I just keep spiraling out in so many different directions.  But I think I captured the message pretty well in the dharma for this week’s video:

You are loved!  You matter!  The things you have to share and say in this world are worthy of sharing and being said.  And no matter how much you might feel like it’s not true sometimes, there is someone out there who is incredibly grateful for your existence because it’s helping them with theirs.

I lost my very good friend Steve to an ongoing battle with depression and addictions this past December.  Wondering what’s up with the whole “less than three” thing? It’s the characters that make up the text emoji for a heart – one of his favorite cute jokes. It breaks my heart to think of every time I missed an opportunity to reach out to him (to anyone) and let them know how much their life, their friendship mean to me.  As I mention in the video, I often feel like I’m bothering people to keep saying high and doing little things to reach out — but I’m doing everything I can to re-wire my habits to bother the crap out of others with as much love and smile-inducing-awesomeness as I can.

In the moments that I have fallen under the weight of depression and anxiety, two things have been my saving grace.  I have been so fortunate in my life to have the ferocious support and love of incredible friends — these people have simply refused to let me succumb to feelings of doubt and hopelessness.  I am also very fortunate to have found a love of movement.

Movement can be a form of meditation, and it is certainly my favorite form.  Focusing on the movement of my muscles and the endorphins released from moving the body brings me happiness I have a hard time describing.  Dance has always been one of my greatest sources of joy.  When the pursuit of my degree in a college dance program became too stressful, I found solace in my yoga practice.  The ability to get out of my head and into my body is the best resource I have to remain sane and joyful in this crazy world, and I love that it is my work to bring that ability to others.

This week’s episode is one of my favorite flows that I call my “ABC practice”.  Sun salutation A, B, and C, and some other basic poses thrown in to create a full spectrum practice.  I’ve started sectioning off the full episode videos, so below the full episode you will find videos of just the dharma talk, a brief warm up, just a segment of the main flow, and a clip of prepping for handstand using the wall for support and strength-building.

I really hope that you enjoy this practice, that the movement brightens your day a bit (even if it’s already been pretty sunny for you).  If you know someone who’s been really clouded lately, maybe share this with them (or even better, do it with them!).  Even just letting them know you’re thinking about them makes a big difference.

Also, check out the group Suck It Suicide on Facebook and Six feet Over — these organizations do some great work to encourage engagement, connection, and healing for those struggling with depression, anxiety, and trauma.  Find out how you can get involved through the organization and in your own community as well.

In the mean time, go out and bother the heck out of people with how much you care about them and all the joy you have to share.  Share some with me too 😉 let me know what you think of these videos, I’d love to connect with you.  If you’re needing some encouragement and love, shout out and I will sooooo send some your way.

Cheers, yo!
-*- Namaste -*-

–April

So… here’s just the dharma…

And just the warm up…

Wanna get in just a quick practice?
Here’s Sun Salutations A, B, & C for a quick flow…

And if you’re looking for a walk through of a good hand stand strength-building and preparation exercise…

Episode 6 – “Feel Free to Fidget”

I’ve always been in love with moving.  It just feels awesome, feeling muscles move together, dancing or running or even working out (yes, I’m one of those people).  The “happy dance”? That’s totally a real thing in my world.  I even have a tendency to groove around in my seat when eating some good grub.

I know I’m not alone on that.  Not only are there plenty of other “adults” who assure me they can identify with my need to be in motion, but I also see it in the kids I do outreach classes with.  No matter how well-behaved and engaged the group is, there’s always an arm flying out, a head bobbing, someone facing the other side of the room… and always a teacher apologizing to me for the kids and their fidgeting.  But kids fidget, man, they move, and I totally understand.

I subscribe to a theory that we are born with “all the answers” and we’re raised to “forget” the real truths of the world and what we truly need from it.  So why can’t kids ever seem to sit still?  Maybe it’s because we’re not supposed to sit still.  We’re seeing all of this evidence that sitting and working office jobs is so bad for our bodies — it’s because we’re supposed to keep on the go.

Also, it’s hard to sit still.  The body’s systems are constantly in motion – every cell within you is hard at work at all times.  It takes a lot of strength to remain sitting with proper posture for any length of time.  That’s why yoga was created.  Because there is such a huge connection between the body and the mind that in order to quiet the mind and seek a better headspace, we need to quiet the body and improve upon its physicality.  We need to cultivate both strength and flexibility in order to pursue meditation for any length of time.  Even if you don’t meditate (*ahem* you should start) then you still need to be able to rest easily and efficiently (oh yeah, a good yoga practice can totally help you sleep better!).

As Patanjali stated in the Yoga Sutras, “Sthira Sukham Asanam”.  For us English speaking folks, he was telling us than an asana (what we call a yoga pose) is a steady, comfortable seat.  Notice he didn’t say a stagnant seat, a ridgid seat, or a frozen seat.  If a pose is steady, we can still work to find our fullest expression of it through mindfulness and engagement.  As far as comfortable, well, often some adjustment and modification is necessary in order to find that in the pose.  Often it takes a really long time to become comfortable with certain asanas, and perhaps its more reasonable to shoot for being “at peace with” the pose much as we might be with a frustrating co-worker or the neighbor’s noisy mean dog.

My point?  Yoga is awesome because it helps work out the body so we can chill out.  And if it’s not chill for you, do what I call “purposeful fidgeting”.  Which means move.  Explore the posture, ask questions of your body like “Hey, dude, what can I do to make this less terrible?”  When that issue is addressed, the question becomes “What can I do to make this really awesome?”

Click on the video — let’s get moving and get awesome together!

Oh and if you’re still feeling like fidgeting your fingers around the internet, click here to leave a comment on the YouTube channel, and subscribe while you’re there so that you get updates about future episodes.  I’m also working to create shorter sections as well as full episodes to roll out every week — thoughts about that?  Leave me some comments and let me know!

Thanks so much for sticking with me long enough to get all the way down here to the end of the page.  I’m already movin’ and shakin’ on to next week’s adventure…

Cheers, yo!
-*- Namaste -*-

–April

Episode 4 – “A Garden of Open Hips”

It’s the good ol’ seed planting metaphor this week, folks.  Old faithful.  You know the one: everything we think and do is planting a seed that will grow to affect our lives down the road.  Karma and all that jazz, right?

Compass Pose Selfie Time! Balancing a phone and a leg at the same time is a feat worthy of a little pride IMO

Compass Pose Selfie Time! Balancing a phone and a leg at the same time is a feat worthy of a little pride IMO

It’s really important to have intention about our “seed planting”.  Don’t go planting berries when you want salad greens.  If you want to open up the body, make sure you’re planting seeds of open-ness, of finding space and flexibility and improving the body’s range of motion.  If you keep planting “I have tight hips” seeds, I got news for you; you’re going to keep harvesting tight hips till the cows come home.  It’s that whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing.

So instead of reverting to regret and admonishing ourselves for what we don’t have (yet) let’s try planting some seeds for what we WANT.  Throughout this practice (and honestly, pretty much all the time) keep planting seeds (words, mantras, imagery) for what you’re trying to achieve.  Since we’ll be working towards compass pose today, seeds of open hips and flexible hamstrings would be good choices.

We’ll use some assistance from household items (or, you know, a real yoga strap if you happen to be the sort of person who’s prepared, which I generally am not – didn’t last long in Girl Scouts) to put our legs behind our head, because that’s what yoga’s all about, right?

Not! Yoga is about fostering growth and connecting to the very best version of you that you have within you (because really, it is in there).  Let’s breathe and laugh and plant some seeds of love and light.

By the way, I’ll just throw a little seed here that I would be tickled pink (and any other color you like) if you could maybe subscribe to the YouTube channel this comes from, and maybe leave some comments letting me know what you think?  My project for this week is to keep working on a more operational Pinterest page as well as figure out how to get the best website builder that will enable putting a comments section on the website as well (you should comment on YouTube and tell me all about that, too!)

Thanks, yo.

Cheers

xoxo

Episode 1 – “Why is a crow like a unicycle?

Video Edit Screenshot

Slightly terrifying uncharted territory

Well, after weeks of deliberation and preparation, a solid hour of anxiety and doubt trying to talk me out of hitting “record”, a whole bunch of really bad out-takes (including a wicked crash-and-burn), and a lot less frustration during the editing process than I would have suspected… here it is!  Alt Life Yoga has officially launched a (hopefully) weekly video blog series.

Editing, getting this thing going, filming it, posting that it’s available — these were all super scary things, but I’m so glad I did them! I got this thing started, I began the practice of reaching out to people online and bringing yoga to them, and it’s only gonna get better from here, right? I hope? I’m sure it will.

Check it out, and check it out on YouTube! Subscribe to my channel and rave about how awesome or terrible you think this was and make requests for the next episode, and then share it and tell all your friends.  I’d love your suggestions as to how this could become a better program.  I’m working on it.  Baby steps.  Like on a unicycle.  Which makes more sense after you watch the video…

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