Postview and Practice Notes: Breathe Yoga, Shreveport

IMG_2526

What a sweet group of yogis there are in Shreveport, Louisiana! If you ever begin to despair for the future, please consider that in DeSoto Parish, in the northwest corner of the state, there are a group of high school football players who swear by their yoga, using it as a dynamic warmup on the field before games. (Go, R.J.!) The more young people can tune in to their bodies, breaths, and spirits, the better.

Emily, me, and Aimee

Emily, me, and Aimee

Huge thanks to Aimee and Emily, the wonderful owners of Breathe Yoga. It’s a beautiful space that serves its local community extremely well, and I am eager to watch it grow!

For my students or anyone interested, here are your practice notes.

Friday Evening

We covered yoga to do before, during, and after your workout.

Standing Six Moves of the Spine, with Chair Pose

Some of these poses are depicted in this piece I wrote for Yoga Journal. You can hold the poses in this sequence for several breaths (squirming is encouraged!) or pulse with the breath cues:

  • Stand in mountain pose, finding an easy, neutral position.
  • Inhale arms overhead
  • Exhale to a side bend
  • Inhale arms overhead
  • Exhale, side bend other direction
  • Inhale arms overhead
  • Exhale arms behind you
  • Inhale arms forward
  • Exhale and sit to chair pose
  • Inhale arms in front
  • Exhale to a twist
  • Inhale arms in front
  • Exhale to a twist
  • Inhale arms in front
  • Exhale hands to thighs
  • Inhale to a light backbend (standing cow)
  • Exhale to round your back (standing cat)
  • Inhale to standing
  • Exhale to arrive back at mountain pose

Parking Lot Yoga

Named for its portability, parking lot yoga requires no mat and serves as a dynamic warmup for your whole body. Complete a few rounds and you’ll be primed for running, cycling, climbing, or any other outdoor activity. There’s a free eight-minute video of the routine on my YogaVibes channel; you’ll also find it on page 44 of Everyday Yoga. Repeat several rounds on both sides.

  • Mountain pose
  • Inhale, lift leg to crane balance
  • Exhale, diagonal lunge
  • Inhale, crescent lunge
  • Exhale, warrior II
  • Inhale, crescent lunge
  • Exhale, diagonal lunge
  • Inhale, crane balance
  • Exhale, mountain pose

Yoga to Do During Your Activity

Yoga teaches us tools for focus (dharana) and presence (diyana). We reviewed these:

Form. Use just the effort you need to get the job done. This efficiency will improve your endurance. Remember mountain pose and find its alignment wherever possible: weight even, knees soft, pelvis level, core engaged, chest broad, neck long.

Breath. Use the right breath for what is happening in the moment. Keep your breath calm and regular to cue your nervous system that everything is under control.

Mantra. Focus your mind on repeating a few syllables—in, out works very nicely. (Read lots more on mantra in my guide to your personal best performance, Racing Wisely).

Drishti. Your body goes where your eyes are looking. Notice where your focus lands, and move in the direction you want to go.

Presence. We practiced being open to whatever happens moment to moment by playing with stepping to tree pose from warrior II (rock the weight into your back leg until you get some hang time) and from diagonal lunge to eagle pose (wrap your back leg over your front leg, and wind your arms if you feel steady).

Standing Stretches

Back at the parking lot after your workout, do these three poses for flexibility and balance:

  • Dancer pose (quad stretch)
  • Standing pigeon (optional chest stretch)
  • Pyramid pose (core strength or back stretch version)

Yoga to Do After Your Activity

This minimal core routine strengthens the abs and back, while stretching the chest, glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings. It appears on page 76 in Everyday Yoga and in the Core and More episode of the Sage Yoga Training podcast.

  • Boat pose: hold a V sit for several breaths. Sweeter: hold the backs of your thighs and keep your feet low; spicier; extend your legs and arms.
  • Cross your legs and fold forward to stretch your back and hips.
  • Lift your knees, rest your feet on the floor and lean back into your hands as you lift and stretch your chest. Spicier: press into your feet and lift your hips for reverse table.
  • Boat pose with twist: inhale to center, exhale to twist to one side. Repeat several rounds.
  • Cross your legs with the opposite ankle in front and fold forward.
  • Listing boat pose: roll the weight onto one side. Spicier: inhale and sink the boat; exhale and pull back up. Switch sides.

Yoga to Do in Bed

Our finishing sequence works around the hips while twisting the spine and stretching the chest. Hold each of these poses to your heart’s content—fifteen to twenty-five breaths is a starting point. Named Reclining Twists, you’ll find this sequence in Everyday Yoga, in The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yogain the Reclining Twists episode of Sage Yoga Training, and in this short practice at YogaVibes (use code sagefreemonth to extend your free trial to a full month!).

  • Start on your back, knees bent. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Walk your right foot to your left hip, and drop your knees to the right.
  • Take your right foot near your right hip, and drop your knees to the left.
  • Lift your legs, cinch your knees together, step your right foot toward your tail, bump your hips to the left, and drop your knees to the right. Switch sides from the start.

Saturday Morning

Leg-Swing Flow

You’ll find this on page 36 of Everyday Yoga, and in this video at YogaVibes.

  • Start in table pose. Roll over your right toes a few times for a toe and calf stretch.
  • Inhale and lift your right leg for cow with leg swing; exhale for cat with leg swing, knee between your elbows.
  • Inhale your right leg straight behind you; exhale to curtsy into a side bend.
  • Cross your knees, widen your feet, and either squirm, sit to cow-face pose, or lift to balance.
  • Inhale your right leg behind you, externally rotating it; exhale to kick to the side.
  • Drop your foot in line with your left knee and twist right.
  • Walk your hands to the left for reverse gate. Switch sides from the start.

We ran through the essentials of Teaching Yoga to Athletes. Find a full-featured online course at sageyogateachertraining.com, and find the slides we used here.

Saturday Afternoon

We enjoyed a sweet practice of yoga for athletic recovery.

Six Moves of the Spine, Supine, One Leg

See page 38 of Everyday Yoga.

Six Moves of the Spine, Prone, Bent Knee

See page 34 of Everyday Yoga.

Bridge to Block

Set your block on its lowest or second-lowest height under your pelvis. After a while symmetrical, try hugging one knee in while pressing out through the opposite heel.

Blanket Hug

Fold your blanket into a ribbon, about six inches wide. Lie on top of this so that its top edge runs just against the lower edges of your shoulder blades. Wrap the blanket around your ribs, under your arms. Stay a while.

Twist to Bolster

Elevate the top end of your bolster, set your left hip along its bottom edge, and spin your belly and chest toward it. Add support between your knees if you like. Stay a good while on both sides.

Supported Fish and Cobbler

Lie back on your bolster. Take your feet together, knees apart. If your blanket ribbon is handy, take its middle across the tops of your feet and tuck it under your outer calves and thighs. Stay a good while.

Sunday Morning

Six Moves of the Spine, Supine, Two Legs

This can be done in bed, at the start of a long day or toward its end. You’ll see it on page 40 of Everyday Yoga.

  • Stretch long, inhaling to reach and exhaling to relax
  • Banana: cross R leg over L, slide shoulders L, repeat second side
  • Wipe your knees side to side. Inhale to lower, exhale to lift. For more spice, lift your shins parallel to the floor.
  • Bridge: inhale to lift hips, exhale to lower

Warrior I Flow

See page 48 of Everyday Yoga. We added arm variations:

  • In Warrior I, try a lat pulldown or a very wide lat pulldown
  • In Warrior I, interlace your fingers, take your elbows wide, and rest your head in your palms
  • In Warrior I, press your palms together, bend your elbows, and rest your head against your thumbs
  • In diagonal warrior, inhale to touch your thumbs together overhead; exhale to touch your pinkies together behind your back (bend your elbows)

Warrior II Flow

See page 52 of Everyday Yoga; we combined with Half Moon Flow (page 54). We added an arm variation: in exalted warrior, bend your top arm to hold your head

“Christina’s World”

See page 66 of Everyday Yoga, and this video at YogaVibes.

Hip/Spine Reset

This appears in part on page 86 of Everyday Yoga.

  • Bridge pose
  • Reclining cow face (left ankle over right, or left knee over right)
  • Reclining twist (right foot to floor, hips shift left, knees drop right)
  • Cobbler pose
  • Reclining cow face (other side)
  • Reclining twist
  • Happy baby

Happy trails, Shreveport—I hope to see you again!

IMG_2533