Sunday Sequence – Legs. Binds. Balance.

For this week’s sequence I have uploaded an audio file, from a live class that I taught, onto SoundCloud.

What I love about this sequence is that it really takes you into all areas of your body. You will feel your legs, utilize your core, and open into your shoulders. Often times when we focus on our upper body we lose the connection in our legs; this class will help guide you through the transitions to maintain the connection through the whole body.  I hope you enjoy it.

90 min class – all levels. For props you will need 2 blocks, or I’ve also used a stack of books at home before, and possibly a strap or towel if you have tighter shoulders.

https://soundcloud.com/nicolenadeauyoga/legs-binds-balance

Sunday Sequence – Twists & Flight

Twists have been feeling really REALLY good to me lately. My spine seems to love them as I search for more space and length in each twist I do. And with the last several months of very grounding practices, I was ready to play around with some different flight options today. I approached this with a very playful attitude, and let the practice just take me to the next pose.  Play!

I hope you enjoy this twisty flying kind of day.  5-8 full breaths per pose. Take the time to find space in each twist and length as you fly.


 

shoelace series
-kapalbhati (1 round of 100 each side)
-forward fold
-twist toward top foot

dolphin prelude on blocks
dolphin
embryo

psoabs (4 each side – alternating)
abs over a block (10 – slow, full breaths)
dolphin on the wall (10 breaths)

suns C (4 rounds)

chair > forward fold > chair w/ twists > forward fold > monkey > plank > cobra > down dog

warrior 1 w/ goddess arms > twisting warrior 1 > warrior 3 > warrior 1 with archer arms > plank > cobra > down dog > other side

inch worm (10 rounds – wear socks or use a blanket under the feet)

from down dog > forward fold > uddiyana (3 rounds – either in forward fold or upright) > malasana > twisting malasana (to both sides – you can bind here if you want) > forward fold

chair > half chair > flying pigeon > other side

forward fold > plank > cobra > down dog > warrior 2 > extended warrior > warrior interlock > easy twisting high lunge > plank > cobra > down dog > other side

from down dog > forward fold > chair > stand > wide legged forward > side crow (both sides)

pigeon > twisting pigeon (both sides)

move to your back
happy baby > half happy baby

savasana


“you always have what you need. not always what you think you need.” – Byron Katie

with so much love…. namaste.

Sunday Sequence – Slowin’ Down for Hips

I had a request this week to share the sequence we did in class on Thursday for candlelight yoga. Hip openers. We moved slow and earnestly. Perfect for a stormy night with candles flickering. You know, if you have control over that sort of thing…

Hips are an interesting playground. There is so much going on in the hip, both physically and energetically. Physically the hip is made up of several different muscles, all working with each other to provide you multifaceted joint! Healthly hips offer support and better functionality to your knee and ankle joints, as well as your low back. These babies do a lot for us! They are also fairly neglected in our sitting society, so its nice to get some blood moving in there. As you work in your poses, stay with feeling and get curious about it! Be inquisitive. Find out if the labels you’ve attached to those feelings are true. Are they absolutely true? Without any doubt? This way, you can start to reveal your truth.

This is meant to be practiced very slowly with long holds, and deep, steady breathing. You will need a strap of some kind for this sequence. I would say 8-10 breaths each side for this one. Enjoy.


 

Start in child’s pose. Stay here for about 10 deep breaths, moving your thoughts inward.

Hero’s Pose with an easy twist
Downdog
Cat/Cow/Barrel Rolls/free spinal movementFrom table top (on hands and knees) “thread the needle” shoulder opener.

Come to your back, grab your strap.
Hamstring stretch
Open leg to the side, for inner leg stretch
Keeping hip grounded, cross it over in opposite direction to stretch outer leg/IT band
From there, let the leg come all the way over to the floor for a spinal twist

Active pigeon on the back. AKA figure 4 or back release pose.

Downdog > walk hands toward feet for Forward Fold (hang out, sway, come in and out of the fold with breath, feel it out) > Monkey > Deep Squat (add a twist if you want) > Forward Fold > Downdog

Low lunge (hands on the floor, bring front leg to far edge of mat and turn toes out, eventually working forearms to the floor) > plank > low cobra (hang out for the full count of breaths) > downdog

Frog, belly down (make sure you place enough padding under your knees, and watch the angle of you hips and knees, you want both at 90 degrees, engage your core slightly so your low back doesn’t collapse) – hold for 10 – 15 full, deep breaths, move out of it slowly.

Come to your back.
Knee circles
Spinal Twist

Savasana


Drink lots of water, stay gentle with yourself. Much love to you. Namaste.

Sunday Sequence – Spine Love

In case you haven’t heard, today is Super Bowl Sunday. So, happy American footballing to you! 😉

Another fun fact for you… Don’t tell anyone, but I am notorious for going easy on myself during my home practices the majority of the time. I’ll spare you my reasoning, that will most likely sound more like excuses, and just tell you that this past week was not part of my majority as far as home practices go. I really kicked it up a notch or two this week. Consistently. Needless to say, boy oh boy was I feeling it by the weekend! Almost to the point that I was slightly abashed by the whole thing. I could feel every muscle from my hips to my head, all along my spine, and every single movement that my spine wanted to make was a not so gentle reminder that I had finally challenged myself this week. Don’t get me wrong, I was loving every minute of it. However I knew come tomorrow, if I was still feeling that way, there would be no way that I could sit at my desk for 8 hours. And so this lovely side bendy, spinal twisty, neck relaxy sequence was born…. I can vouch for the fact that it works, because all of my hurt so good sensations have retreated until next time.  Enjoy!

This may be shorter than my usual sequences because I had a football game to get to… 5 to 8 deep breathes on each side.


Quiet your thoughts, and find your breath for about 5 mins. Play with moving your breath deep into your pelvic floor and then stretching it all along your spine into your collar bones and neck.

Legs in Badda Konasana
– 100 rounds of Kapalbhati
– side bend
– side bend with neck release

Dolphin Prelude on Blocks
Dolphin w/ leg lifts
Embryo

Abs over a Block (12 or two sets of 8)
Uddiyana on your back (3 rounds)

Suns C (4 rounds)

Chest opener on the wall – legs in warrior 1 or high lunge
Twisting chair on the wall
Monkey

Cobra Push Ups  (10, or two sets of 6)

Downdog > Warrior 2 > Eagle Arms > Reverse Warrior > Triangle > Twisting Triangle > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

Surfer Stretch

Camel on the Wall – Mini back bend. Ribs don’t leave the wall today.
Child’s pose > add side stretch

Back Release Pose (aka Active Pigeon on the back)
Laying Spinal Twist

Savasana


As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Here’s to a happy spine!

Namaste

Sunday Sequence – feel your strength

Do you ever have one of those days/weeks/months/years that you just don’t feel strong enough? Be it physically, mentally, emotionally… Do you ever notice that it might start with just one of these things and then seems to transfer into the other areas as well? Like maybe you are going through something emotionally, and then you have low energy, and your legs don’t seem to want to climb a flight of stairs, and then the voice in your head starts asking you what the hell is wrong with you that you can’t climb these stairs, there’s only 10 of them, get your shit together. Que the downward spiral for your not so finest moment. Now whether that moment is just an off day or a story we keep retelling ourselves, I feel it is incredibly important to remind ourselves of our strength. It is an easy thing to feel strong when you are at your strongest; it’s not so easy to feel strong when you are shaking. It’s not easy to remember that shaking is your strength being woken up. To remember that even though your legs might be shaking, they are still holding you.  You are so strong. You are so capable. You loved. You are supported. You are enough.

As you are moving through this sequence, let your breath be what steadies you. If you like practicing with a mantra I used “I am powerful” and it sure helped me wake up my strength.  Hold each pose for 5 deep breaths on each side.


 

Sit comfortably and explore your breath for about 5 mins.

Seated spinal twist – straight leg variation
Stay here and lift straight leg off of the floor
Marichyasana A

Dolphin Prelude variation on blocks
Dolphin – to up level add leg lifts
Psoabs (3 on each side)
Abs over a block  (10 or 2 sets of 6)

Suns C (4 rounds – 2 slow, 2 faster

Horse > Twisting Horse > Low Horse (forearms to thighs, lift chest up) > Wind Horse  (videos are coming… bare with me) > Wide Legged Forward Fold

Chair with Goddess Arms > Forward Fold > Monkey > Forward Fold > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

High Lunge > Add Archer Arms > Twisting High Lunge > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

High Lunge with Goddess Arms > Warrior 3 > Standing Splits > Forward Fold > Plank > Cobra > Downdog > Child’s Pose with side stretch

Lunges on the Wall – Stages 1, 2, & 3

Come onto your back.
Laying Spinal Twist

Savasana


If you have any questions about the poses listed here, please feel free to ask me!  In the process of getting things filmed for videos.

The strong, fiery, gleaming lighting inside of me honors and bows to the strong, fiery, gleaming light in you.  Namaste.

 

 

Sunday Sequence – A little hip action

This morning I was drinking my chai tea and watching Ironman save the world from bad guys while I was plotting out how my final day of the weekend. It included painting projects, putting my room back together, naps, and yoga. The seriously awesome painting projects definitely inspired some creative energy for me today. So naturally I gravitated to my hips for practice; one of the 2nd Chakra’s attributes is creativity. When you move through this practice, perhaps notice how you feel about how you use creativity in your life, and maybe this sequence will even get some creativity moving for you.


Hold each pose for 5-7 deep breaths.
Sit comfortably – start ujjayi breath for several mins while you transition to practice space.

shoelace > shoelace forward fold > shoelace twist (toward the top foot)
(repeat other side)

dolpin
pso’abs’ (3 on each side)
abs over a roll (10 or 2 sets of 6)
bada bridge

stand up for suns salutations

low lunge > arrow lunge > twisting low lunge > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

warrior 1 w/ archer arms > pyramid > twisting pyramid > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

warrior 2 > extended warrior > interlock warrior (if you have a binding practice) > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

pigeon > twisting pigeon > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

lay on your back for spinal twist (both sides)
half happy baby
savasana


 

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments, and let me know how you like it!

Happy Hips!

 

 

Introducing Sunday Sequences

Each Sunday I will be posting a sequence for you to try. Use it however you’d like – parts and pieces, add stuff, subtract stuff. Make it yours.

This is a pretty basic movement sequence that I did yesterday morning, just to get moving and everything warmed up before I went on a hike. I was not focused targeting anything specific; I just wanted to wake up my body overall.
It can easily be up-leveled if you know those variations.


Hold each pose for 5 deep breaths on each side. Remember to keep your jaw and neck relaxed, and track the sensations in your body as you move through your practice. 

Sit cross-legged and start your ujjayi breath.
Bring your attention to how the breath feels, where you feel it, the length of your inhale and exhale. Intimately get to know your breath.  (about 10-20 deep breaths before you move on.)

Breath Retention – inhale for a count of 10. hold for 10. exhale for 10.  on the exhale come into a forward fold. inhale out of the fold. (4 rounds – switch the cross of your legs after 2 rounds)

Easy Spinal Twist – legs can stay cross-legged

Easy Side Bend – switch cross of legs from the spinal twist.
add neck stretch to the side bend after a couple breaths.

Dolphin

Abs over a Block – if you don’t have blocks at home, I’ve used a stack of books before. (1 set of 10 or 2 sets of 6)
**don’t know these abs? video here. you may notice Talya uses a roll and a block. I have always taught these with two blocks, due to available props.

Come to stand at the front of your mat.
4 rounds of Classical Sun Salutations  (video to come)

Chair > Forward Fold > Monkey > Forward Fold > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

High Lunge > Twisting High Lunge > Plank > Cobra > Downdog (repeat on other side)

Warrior 2 > Reverse Warrior > Extended Variation > Plank > Cobra > Downdog (repeat on other side)

Horse > Twisting Horse > Wide-legged Forward Fold > Surfer on each side.

Come to your back.
Back Release Pose (I’ve also heard this called figure 4)
Laying Spinal Twist (any variation)

Savasana


 

This series of “Sunday Sequences” will be evolving over time. I am in the process of getting images together to add a visual with the pose names. If you ever have any questions about what a pose is please leave it in the comments and I will be happy to answer it. Once you’ve tried the sequence, come back here and share your thoughts about it!

Happy Sunday.

Liberation or Stamina?

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. It will be a permanent self, rooted in awareness and creativity. Once you have captured this, you have captured the world. -Deepak Chopra

The first sentence of Deepak’s quote brings up all sorts of feelings in me; here’s why: He speaks to the idea of liberation; I am fond of this idea. I don’t find myself to be attached to many things anymore. I say this generally because there are still things I do have deep attachments to, and there are days when I tend to hold on to things I normally wouldn’t due to my current life situation on that given day. Still, overall I have released many of the attachments I used to hold onto in my life, say 7+ years ago. I have people in my life that have even told me I have an unhealthy detachment to certain things; I disagree of course, but I understand their reality. I started evaluating my attachments back when I read The Four Agreements; the tag line of the book, “a practical guide to personal freedom” became reality for me. My yoga practice carried it a step further, giving me tools to release past events that were holding on to me. I think this is one of the reasons the first line of his quote strikes me the way it does; because I know it to be true. Another reason it strikes me is because knowing it to be true doesn’t always make it any easier to accomplish.

When you let go of things, you lose things. You may lose relationships. You may lose belief systems. You may lose opportunities. You may lose lots of things, some life changing, some on a much smaller scale. But, these things you’ve started thinking about while you read this, are they flowing with you as you move through life? If they were flowing with you would they have popped into your head while reading about letting go? And if they aren’t flowing with you then that means you are carrying them, or worse dragging them… Man, you are strong! Just look at all of that stuff you carry with you. Carrying an extra load sure takes stamina. You’ve built so much of an endurance around it you may not even notice the extra weight. You may not even remember a time when you weren’t carrying it; it feels like part of you now.

Let’s try something, do this step by step, give yourself time to experience each answer.
Allow yourself to feel the weight of those things you carry.
What is the weight of each one?
How much of your energy do you spend holding them?
Do you notice that mass of these things makes you feel weak?
Or exhausted?
Inadequate?
Something else?
Under this weight, are you able to feel your strength?
Are you able to express your desires and aspirations?
Take a moment to ponder on how you feel about your answers.

You are strong enough to keep holding on to anything you choose to. You are. You will adapt. You will juggle. You will figure it out until it kills you. You are human; that’s what humans do. You will reiterate to yourself all of the reasons, obligations, perks, and responsibilities you have, over and over. And you may choose to listen to those stories.
-or-
You may choose to reevaluate those stories. You many choose to lose those things, or set them down. You may choose liberation. You may choose to take all of that energy and strength you’ve built from carrying those things and use it in a new way. You may reclaim that power of choice. Because you do have a choice… Liberation or stamina?

I’m going to paraphrase Jack Kornfield here… The knowledge and memories of your past stay with you. Letting go does not mean you lose the experience. When you let go you release the images and emotions, the story, of the experience. You release the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind your spirit.
This is liberation.

When Good Intentions Are Just That

Through this idea of the letting go process I’ve been told multiple times over the years to set intentions around it. I’ve heard several different approaches… the intention focuses on the act of actually letting the thing go, or it focuses on the what you want in the future after you’ve let the thing go. So over the past two weeks I’ve been digging into intentions more. What is an intention, really?

in-ten-tion |inˈten ch ən|
noun
1 a thing intended; an aim or plan : she was full of good intentions |

A desire. A focus. A plan. A plan… I don’t know about you, but I can plan with the best of them. I LOVE planning and then daydreaming about the plans I’ve made. All of those plans start with an intention of sorts. They are beneficial; they give us a defined direction, like a destination on a map. But what is a destination without the directions on how to get there? Living a life full of good intentions does not equate to living a fulfilling life; it is only a piece of the whole. Don’t get me wrong – living with intention is a powerful practice. I’ve seen it change lives, mine included. Yet, there is so much more to it than just setting an intention for your practice, day, or your life. You can set the best of intentions and then still end up numbing out to your life experiences, and staying stuck in patterns.
You can say you are going to be more active, but then decide to go grab a drink instead.
You can say you are going to read that book that’s been sitting on your dresser, but then decide to watch your favorite TV show.
You can say that you are going to eat better, but then decide to grab the quick & easy thing as you run out the door.
Having the intent to do something, and doing it are two different things; both have ramifications.

Creating an intention is significant because it brings things into your awareness. Awareness sounds empowering, doesn’t it? However, without the desire or mapped route toward that intention, your awareness can have a dark side. Have you ever become aware of something that was hurting you, or someone else, but you didn’t know how to fix or shift it? How did that make you feel? Or realized your dream and purpose, but it feels more pretend than real? You have this knowing that you should be “there”, but no clue on how to leave “here”. It brings up all kinds of possible feelings! You might feel helpless, sad, frozen, overwhelmed, or even ashamed… all because you are aware with no map. This is when that choice to numb out comes into play. It may not even feel like a choice at the time. The good news is that it IS a choice, and the awareness is your call to action!

As you read above, an intention is an aim or plan, like the big picture. Avoiding the dark side means turning that big picture into actionable steps toward each and every desire that you’ve cultivated for yourself. Its the breakdown of why you have this desire; what is the passion or driving force behind it? That way when you start to set up your actionables, you have a very clear purpose to keep you motivated. With these smaller actionable steps, your big picture awareness does not seem overwhelming. Learning how to create the actionable steps is a whole other post, instead I am here to share with you that setting an intention is not where your work ends. A good intention without any action behind it, is just that, an intention. You must make steps. You must believe in your intention. You must believe you are worth taking the steps for. And you are.

So tomorrow, you and I, hand in hand, are going to take a small step together toward the intentions we have set for ourselves; I will not be eating bread and butter for dinner as I run out the door… what small actionable will you take?

Reminders of Harvest -or- Growing your Garden

Your Mind is a Garden

Last week in class I shared a story about my garden. I have built my entire practice around this story for over a week now, and I just can’t seem to shake it. So I have decided to share it again here.

I think the transition from summer to fall is my favorite time of year. You get to enjoy the final summer days but feel the promise of fall in the crisp mornings. Then there is the first harvest in the garden, where you reap the benefits of all of the work you’ve done over spring and summer.

Early last week as I was out gathering tomatoes, and I started to think about the life of these plants. I had planted them a bit later than I should have, and when I left for teacher training at the beginning of June, the sprinklers had not be turning on. They had gone 10 days without any water; I thought they were goners. But I fixed the sprinklers and kept checking on them, sending them love, and coaxing them along. I would see other people’s gardens and their tomato plants were twice the size of mine, and it would bug me… Eventually you could see that my plants were strong, and they started to flower! Soon those flowers turned into tiny little green buds, and now I’m picking baskets full of tomatoes! With hoards of green ones holding the promise of future harvests.

During my practice that night I started thinking about those green tomatoes that were waiting to ripen. I started to think about how sometimes there are weeks were I don’t feed my practice. How I notice the set backs that the drought causes in my body; but then how quickly I can get strong again when I start showing up consistently on my mat. My yoga practice is just like my garden. You start to dig in a bit, warm up the dirt. Set intentions and sow the seeds you wish to grow. Then you have to nurture it, feed it. Your breath, and movements are like water and sunshine. There are going to be weeds you have to pick along the way, removing that internal dialogue that is trying to take over. Your garden will go through storms, your legs won’t stop shaking from the thunder rolling in. Things start to transform, you feel yourself growing more expansive. Then you’ll start to blossom, you’ll stick a pose that has been challenging. And eventually, you’ll notice you breathe deeper. You are happy for no particular reason. You notice how the sun feels on your skin. That the usual road rage is gone. That the kids making a mess all over your kitchen isn’t the end of the world… This is the harvest of the practice. And because you keep showing up on your mat, and you keep loving and nourishing yourself, you have more green tomatoes that you will get to harvest later. It doesn’t matter that you started late in the season. It doesn’t matter that there was a drought. It doesn’t matter that your garden doesn’t look like Suzi’s garden. Each plant in your garden is sacred. Each plant has something to offer you.
Water and sunlight. Breath and movement. You have all of the tools you need to grow your garden.
You are enough.
You are bountiful.

What is it that you want to harvest from your personal garden? Are you tending to your practice in a way that will allow you to reap that harvest? Mindfully go grow your garden.