On my list of top requests for class is upper back release. Between our desks, our cell phones, our steering wheel, and how much we just tend to live in our brains … the upper back gets very neglected and very tight. Here is a mini sequence to help get the upper back moving and to release some of the typical tight spots. Pick one or two poses from this sequence, or do them all. Either way, your upper back will thank you.

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For those days when you need a good dose of steadiness and grounding – but you don’t have time for a full practice. Take 10 or 15 minutes and move through this mini-sequence to get you back to feeling like you can take on the world and accomplish what you need to today.

steady + grounded yoga flow

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I hear this all the time … “I’m not strong enough for crow pose.” And sometimes … SOMETIMES, that’s the case. But honestly, more often than a lack of arm or core strength, the limiting factor in crow pose is flexibility in the hips. Next time you want to work on crow pose – try focusing on strength a little less, and shift your prep work to your hips.

Here is some of my favorite hip prep work for crow pose. You could use this as a partial sequence, or sprinkle some of these poses into your home practice. See below for notes on each posture.

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It’s the middle of your day. Maybe you’ve been sitting at a desk. Maybe you’re super stressed out. Maybe you can’t focus to save your life. And you know you should practice yoga – it will help – but you just don’t have time. Take 5 minutes to move and breathe, and you’ll feel better, I promise.

Here’s a mini sequence that you can use for a 5 to 10 minute break. Length depends on how long you hold each pose. If you don’t have a block for the final pose(s) – you could use a rolled up blanket, a stack of books or any object that will give a slight elevation to your hips.

See below for some additional notes on the sequence.

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Hi, my name is Mikki and I am an Inversion Addict. And an Arm Balance Addict. And a lover of all things Vinyasa. Which means that I spend a lot of time on my hands and supporting my body weight with my arms. All good things … until your forearms and wrists start to revolt against you. Fortunately, the revolt can be prevented by spending some time during each practice giving some love to your wrists and forearms. Below are just a few of my favorite wrist and forearm release tricks! Hope these are helpful for you in promoting sustainability in your practice! Read More

Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana) is definitely one of my favorite poses … but it wasn’t always. I remember when I was new to inversions, being just completely overwhelmed by this pose – what do you mean you want me to keep my elbows under my shoulders, and lift away from the floor, and get my hips over my shoulders, and go upside down without looking like a massive banana or seriously face planting?!? Yeah right. Luckily I had super knowledgeable teachers that were able to break this pose down for me and once I began practicing the pose repeatedly in my body, it eventually started to make sense in my mind and in my muscles. And now we are buddies. I put together this video and blog post combo on Forearm Stand in the hopes that you can develop a friendship with this pose as well. Read More

Nothing divides a yoga class quite like the words – “pigeon pose.” When I say these words in class – I watch students’ faces range from elated kid on Christmas morning to what I imagine is the same face your dentist’s receptionist is used to seeing. Depending on our hips and a variety of other factors, pigeon can be an amazing release and stretch or just pure torture. And if you feel like you’re being tortured in pigeon pose, then you probably aren’t releasing and relaxing into it, which means you aren’t receiving a great deal of benefit from the unfortunate experience. Read More

I love a strong Vinyasa practice. I love the flow between breath and movement. I love building heat and then letting go. I love that post class, sweaty, blissed out smile you get at Namaste. But there are days when my body says, “don’t you dare do another vinyasa.” And like any good yogi, I find ways to listen to my body. Read More

Office Yoga – TedX Salem

I recently taught an office yoga session at TedX Salem. For those of you who were wanting a reminder list of poses you can do at your desk – here it is!!

1) Sit tall and BREATHE!
If you find yourself sighing or yawning often through out the day, notice if you’re breathing … chances are you are not. So let’s breathe. Plant your feet solidly on the floor, stack your knees over your ankles, and root your sit bones into your chair. Sit tall (not leaning into your chair back) and place your hands on your legs – palm face up if you need a little extra energy, palm face down if you need some grounding. Close your eyes and start to breathe steadily, inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Find a count that’s comfortable … 7, 11, 15 … and count the length of your inhales and exhales, allowing them to become even. Continue for 10-20 rounds.

2) Neck Release
While sitting tall and breathing – let your head fall side to side in a half circle on the front half of the body (i.e. left ear to left shoulder; chin to chest; right ear to right shoulder). After 10-15 rounds, switch to some shoulder rolls – forwards, backwards, together and/or one at a time. Any movement to break up the stagnancy in the neck/shoulder area is encouraged!

3) Wrist Release
The reality is, most of us spend our day with our hands on our mouse and keyboard. This can translate into repetitive stress injuries if we’re not careful. Through out the day take your hands and SHAKE them. Side to side, letting your fingers flop. Start slow, and go faster and faster and faster. Eventually switch the shaking from side to side, to up and down so your hands flap like a little birdie. Maybe make sure no one is around before testing out your wings … 😉

4) Seated Cat/Cow
Still sitting tall in your chair, place your hands on your thighs. Continue breathing through your nose. On your inhale, draw your chest through your arms as your gaze up toward the ceiling. On your exhale, press into your thighs as your navel draws back toward your chair back and your head releases, gazing into your lap. Continue for 10 rounds.

5) Seated Thread the Needle
Remain seated in your chair, lift your right foot off the floor and keeping the right foot flexed, place your right ankle on the left thigh and let the right knee press itself toward the floor. Stay here and breathe … or if you are really open in the hips and want a bit more opening, begin to fold over the legs and release your hands toward or onto the floor. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the second side.

6) Seated Twist
With both feet solidly planted on the floor once again, keep your weight evenly distributed on both sit bones as you place your right hand on the outer left thigh and your left hand behind you (either on the chair seat if there’s room, or on the chair back). Gaze over your left shoulder. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the second side.

7) Forward Fold
Take the feet a bit wider than hip width apart, but still narrow enough that if you fold forward, your outer rib cage and abdomen will be supported by your inner thighs. Inhale and sit tall, lifting up all the way through the crown of the head. Exhale and begin to fold forward releasing the hands down onto the floor or grabbing opposite elbows as you let the head and neck release and hang toward the floor. Breathe steadily for 10-15 breathes. Slowly lift up to seated. This can also be done standing, using the back or seat of your chair to rest your arms on.