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Caterpillar Pose is a great pose to open up the tight muscles and fascia of the whole back of your body including the legs and back. So depending on your intended area, you can use props to change up this pose to be more legs, more back or even a bit of both if that’s what is needed.
In the video below I’ll walk you through the complete how-to for Caterpillar pose including modifications and how to use props to customize your pose to suit your needs. If you have bulging disks you’ll want to keep your spine long and back flat in this pose instead of rounding your spine.
We have a tendency to avoid our own tender spots and to walk around the potholes of our vulnerability. We’re afraid of getting upset, apprehensive of being hurt, terrified by the prospect of feeling things too deeply. We know there exist certain conditions of mind and heart for which there is no numbing pill. We tend to think our threshold for discomfort is way lower than it actually is in part because our true limit hasn’t ever been tested.
We dodge things that entail loss of control. We date people that we don’t love because that one time we fell in love for real it felt like a runaway car that smashed into a brick wall at full speed. We swore we’d never do that again.
“I’m feeling steady right now” I tell myself. “I’ll just bypass anything that ruffles my feathers or gets me off course.” This is the equivalent of erecting a bubble and living inside it. In our protective avoidance we miss not only the grit but also the rapture. We keep out the danger forgetting that a little danger is actually good for us. A little turbulence reminds us that we’re alive.
We’re told from a young age to not get dirty, to keep our mouths, our hands, and our clothes clean. We look the other way when we walk by a homeless person, change the channel when we see appalling events on the news, and avoid our friend who just got diagnosed with cancer because we simply don’t know what to say. We’re afraid that one crack in our veneer will lead to the shattering of the whole vessel. We forget that we can’t be closed to some things and open to others. We can’t actually be closed and open at the same time.
We can only see ‘out there’ a reflection of what’s ‘in here’. If there are certain places ‘in here’ that we’re not willing to go, if there’s a certain depth ‘in here’ that we’re not willing to be with, then we’ll also not be able to be with that depth ‘out there’ or to even perceive that depth ‘out there’.
Some of my most cherish memories are of staying up way past my bedtime, feeling the moonlight on my face, and instead of averting my eyes, having a long hard look. Instead of avoiding the person that made me feel too much, I dove in. I trust the hurricane will not swallow me whole, or at least if it does, it will spit me, or at least some semblance of me, out on the other side.
Let yourself go. Walk through the door. Learn to sit in the fire with the pain, the loneliness, and the confusion. It is only by sitting in the blue heat at the fires’ core that you’ll access your true capacity to be there. In meeting my own shadow, I discovered that I could also meet your shame, guilt, and disillusionment and still hold steady.
Be defeated. Be disturbed. Be delirious. Let your hair get messy, go out on the coldest day and feel the frozen air sting your cheeks. Allow yourself to fall in love and feel the bare nakedness of that dizzying exposure. Stay up past your bedtime and revel not only in the night hours but actually feel the tiredness the next day—it is not your enemy. The next time you have a headache ride the waves of pain and notice the slight pause between throbs. Map your own discomfort. Befriend your bliss. Greet it with open arms.
Let life affect you. The heart can bear it all.
Marie-Ève’s calling is to remind others of the truth of who they are and to help them reconnect to ‘center’ — the powerful seat of wisdom and essence that lies within. She guides others in transforming their life challenges and experiences of loss and trauma into the powerful rerouting and growth opportunities that these initiations really are. A gentle and playful soul, Marie-Ève’s presence is often described, much to her delight, as ‘magical’. You can connect with her at Circling into Center
Copyright © 2015 Marie-Ève Bonneau
One of the questions I get asked a lot by my Yoga students is where do I get my Yoga Music from. It would be impossible to do a blog post about ALL my Yoga music (cause I have a shit ton of it). But I can highlight some of my favorites.
I love New Earth Records and I would say 80% of my Yoga music is from New Earth Records. They have a big variety from up-tempo and a bit dance-y to super atmospheric and spa-like, so whether you are doing a Yang (flow) practice or a Yin practice they likely have something for you to help you get your ‘Yoga groove on’.
If you’re new to buying Yoga music, starting with some of New Earth’s compilations is a great way to sample a few artists all at once.
I have these compilations:
The first Yoga CD I ever bought was by Chinmaya Dunster and I have bought several more since then. Chinmaya Dunster’s work is on the more lively side and great for Yang (flow) Yoga.
Chinmaya Dunster Cd’s I have:
That’s what I have so far but really I want all his CD’s.
The second favorite artist is Deuter. I find some of this music too Flute-based (not my favorite instrument) so I always listen before I buy. I would say his music is better for Yin Yoga as it tends to be more atmospheric.
The Deuter CD’s I have are:
I have a few Terry Oldfield and again I try before I buy with him as well because he also tends to be flute-based. Again I would say Terry Oldfield’s work is more Yin than Yang but there are some exceptions.
Terry Oldfield CD’s I have are:
I have 2 CD’s by Osho and I would say it is a bit softer but could be used for either Yin or Yang Yoga depending on your preference.
The Osho CD’s I have are:
Rasa makes beautiful music. Kim Waters has a beautiful voice. I tend to use if for Yang since I prefer more sound-scape-y type music for my Yin.
Rasa CD’s I have are:
So there you have a small peek into my Yoga Music collection.
Visit New Earth Records website to listen to samples and click though to either by Cd’s or MP3’s either through iTunes or Google.
Butterfly pose can be done a couple of ways depending on your intention. The first way is to stretch the tissues of the back (like in a forward bend) and the second way is to target the muscles of the inner thigh.
So depending on your intention, you can customize your Butterfly pose. In this post I’ll include how to do Butterfly pose both ways.
Butterfly pose variation 1:
This variation is great for rounding the back and stretching the back of the body and can be more accessible for those of us in the ‘Tight Hamstring Club’ than some other forward bends.
However if you have bulging disks you should try to keep your back long and flat as you come forward instead of rounding your spine. You could also do this pose lying on your back in the same shape holding your ankles or shins.
How to do Butterfly pose
Butterfly pose variation 2:
This variation is great for stretching the inner thigh. If your knees are up quite high in this version, because of tight hip flexor muscles (you can thank chairs for that), you can put more padding under your bum but don’t lose heart if your pose doesn’t look like mine.
The majority of my students have super tight hip flexors. Most of the time this is because of the hours spent sitting in chairs. Dragon Pose is one of the most effective ways to release these chronically tight muscles. The hip flexors are the muscles that attach the front of your hips to your thighs. If you’re not sure where these muscles are don’t worry you’ll become well aware of them when you come into this pose 😉
Dragon pose is often the ‘least loved’ of all the Yin Yoga poses but if you work at a desk it’s one of the most important for you. Practicing Dragon pose every day would not be too often.
Because this pose is so challenging you need to have some extra mindfulness about keeping your mind focused on the intended area and your breath. Don’t let the monkey mind start jumping all over and judging your experience and telling stories about your experience. Just try to stay with the sensation and breath into it.
In the video below I’ll walk you through the whole buffet of Dragon pose options including the rarely chosen ‘Screaming Dragon’ variation.
How to do Dragon pose
Peace, Love and Happy Hips!
Andrea of Jewelry by Andrea is a Calgary-based Jewelry designer that has a stunning line! Andrea and I first met virtually because we traveled in some of the same business groups on Facebook. When we realized we were living in the same city we had to meet up in person.
When I first saw Andrea’s line, I loved how many beautiful Yoga, Meditation & Buddhist inspired pieces she had. Since then she has expanded on her line and has started to add more themed pieces and is adding Malas as well.
Andrea made me the above two pieces for review which you can learn more of in the video below but first a bit more about Andrea and her company Jewelry By Andrea.
Nyk: When and why did you start making Jewelry?
Andrea: I started making jewelry in 2008. My children were 2 & 4 and as a stay at home Mom I was looking for a creative outlet. Prior to children I used to travel & collect interesting jewelry. I have always loved jewelry with a story to tell or items that remind me of an amazing experience.
Nyk: How did Jewelry By Andrea Come About?
Andrea: After children I wasn’t able to travel like I used to so I started bringing in interesting beads, fair trade materials and spiritual symbols. It all just grew organically into a beautiful creative expression. I couldn’t have planned it if I had tried!
Nyk: What’s the vision or mission of your company?
Andrea: Unique fashion jewelry with meaning. High quality designs using spiritual symbols and fair trade materials. My goal is to create jewelry with a story to tell that allows the wearer to tell their story.
Nyk: Where is your line produced?
Andrea: I hand make many pieces from my home studio in Calgary. I have also recently started having custom designs made through Fair Trade in countries such as Nepal, Bali and India. This process has been exciting as I’ve been able to have stones colored, cut & died for me. It has allowed me to create my Capri Collection featuring vivid peacock blues (did I mention I love peacocks!). Stepping into having stones cut for my collections has opened up an entire new creative process that I am just beginning to explore.
Nyk: What are the ways the company gives back? Are there charities or non-for-profits you support?
Andrea: I give a portion of my proceeds to the YWCA of Calgary. I also always focus on ethically sourcing materials. Many items I use are made through traditional methods that have been passed down through generations. To me it feels wonderful to work with handmade materials and I often wonder what life was like where they came from. I travel viciously through the designs I make.
Watch the video below for my full review of the two stunning pieces designed for me by Andrea.
A huge Yogic Thank You to Andrea for my beautiful sacred jewelry. You can use the code karma for 20% off your first purchase.
Peace, Love & Malas
Spring has sprung. So it won’t be long now before I have students limping into my classes with all kinds of sore spots from weekends of hardcore gardening. Our growing season in most of Canada is pretty short, so those who are avid gardeners dive in head first and barely come up for air.
Gardening is often confused with a super gentle activity that only seniors do but anyone who has gardened knows that is not the case. Gardening is a workout, especially at the start of the season when you are getting ready to plant.
I consider Gardening a revolutionary act. Growing your own food is one of the best ways to have control over not only what you eat but also how we treat the earth. The most inexpensive way to eat local, organic and GMO-free.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of time spent gardening with my Grandma who was an organic gardener most of her life. Although I can’t grow my own food at this point (no yard), I salute those change-makers who can and do.
I dream of a world where every lawn is replaced with a garden, where every school and hospital grow their own food. Imagine how much more connected to the earth kids would feel if they actually got to learn about growing food. How much healthier would we be if we trashed the packaged hospital food and replaced it with organic, local veggies and fruit!
So as a tribute to you, the revolutionary hardcore Canadian gardeners, I made this video which includes some pre and post gardening poses to help you rock your gardens this year.
Please share this post with friends and family who garden!
Viva La Green Revolution,
Back Pain sadly is a common theme in my classes. I myself have suffered with back pain on and off over the years due to some poor standing habits from back when I was a hairstylist and the misalignment of my spine because of it. For many of you it’s likely from sitting at a desk all day.
In my Back Pain Yoga classes, we work directly on the common areas that affect the back which includes stretching the areas that are chronically tight that pull our spines out of alignment and strengthening the areas that are weak and leave the back prone to injury.
Squatting down on a regular basis can do wonders for lower back pain and increase the flexibility of the whole lower back and sacrum.
Check out this fun informative music video by Denise Kaufman about why you should learn to give a squat.
If you have knee issues then squatting may not be available for you, but for the rest of you I recommend squatting everyday! This will likely be difficult at first but with practice you will become more and more comfortable and be able to hold your squats longer and longer.
I’m a bit of a Yoga geek so I like to find hidden pockets of time to squat down while I’m doing other things (like during the commercials of your favorite TV show instead of hitting the fridge).
In the video before I walk you through the complete how-to when it comes to squatting.
In my first Yin Yoga Back Bend post Yin Yoga-Sphinx Pose I go into a lot more detail about why back bends are so important for the health of our spine, especially for western bodies, since we tend to spend way to much time sitting in chairs. If you haven’t read that post check it out before exploring the noticeably deeper back bend of Seal Pose.
I would recommend practicing lower back bends like Sphinx and it’s variations and getting comfortable with those before trying Seal pose. For those of you who are ready to take it a bit higher, deepening the curve in the lower back allow me to introduce Seal Pose.
How To Do Seal Pose
Right now you might be thinking “YUCK pea soup” (that’s what I used to think) or maybe you like pea soup but are used to the “ham bone” style of Pea soap. If that’s the case, I’m going to encourage you to open your mind and taste buds a bit and prepare to have your taste buds sing.
This soup is perfect for this time of year when it’s is not winter anymore and yet not quite spring. We get the warmth and comfort of a bowl of soup with the glimpse of the fresh taste of the spring and summer to come.
My Bestie made this for me once when having lunch at her house. I was a bit resistant to Pea Soup because I had never liked it before. Not wanting to be rude or ungracious (I don’t often get cooked for) I decided to open my mind and give it an honest try.
I was amazed at how good this soup tasted and how easy it is to make! It’s since become a staple at our house and honestly a dish I could eat every week.
As self professed “Crock Pot Queen” I make mine in a crock pot (or slow cooker) but of course you could also do stove top as well. My crock pot is quite large so you could cut this recipe in half or thirds if needed.
Easy Peasy -Pea Soup (Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)
4 cups of dried organic split peas (rinsed) yellow for a sweeter taste or green for a fresher taste
8-9 cups of filtered water depending how thick you like your soup
6 crumbled vegan soup cubes (I use this brand because it’s gluten and sugar free)
In the morning dump it all in the crock pot set to high it normally takes about 4 hours for me. You want the pea’s to be mushy enough that when you stir it it looks like it has been pureed. Serve and enjoy!
I hope you fall in love with this simple soup as much as I have!
Peace, Love & Peas
Nyk Danu Yoga ~ Victoria, BC, Private Yoga Sessions & Yoga Classes
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