Category:

Yoga

Yin Yoga – Butterfly Pose

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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:

Yin Yoga Butterfly Pose 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:

Yin Yoga Butterfly Pose 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.

Happy Practicing!

nyk

Yin Yoga – Dragon Pose

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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!

nyk

Yoga For Gardeners

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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.

Organic market fruits and vegetables

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,

nyk

Back Pain? Squat Down!

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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.

Nyk Danu

Check out this fun informative music video by Denise Kaufman about why you should learn to give a squat.

The Squat Song from Denise Kaufman on Vimeo.

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.

Happy Squatting!

nyk

Yin Yoga – Seal Pose

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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.

Seal pose 2

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

Happy Practicing!

Namaste

Nyk

Yin Yoga -Sphinx Pose

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Back bends are so important to the health and longevity of our spine. We start to lose our lumbar (lower back) curve naturally as we age and this is even more likely to happen in those who sit at a desk all day. When we lose the that lower back curve it can cause all kinds of back issues and eventually even the stooped over posture or hunch back of which we often see in elderly people.

Sphinx 2

This can be prevented if we pay some attention to maintaining this curve on a regular basis. The Yin Yoga Pose known as Sphinx pose is a great pose to start with and if you sit at a desk for hours at a time, you can practice it everyday.

Sometimes when people are new to back bends there can be some fear around feeling sensation in the lower back, especially if we have had a back injury in the past. But gentle, mindful compression is actually good for our spine and helps us keep our discs stay spongy and young.

However, you want to be sure what you’re feeling is gentle, mindful compression which will feel like a dull ache. We do not want any sharp or stabbing sensations. If that happens, please do not do this pose and seek medical attention.

In the video below, I’ll walk you through how to practice Sphinx pose including props, variations and modifications.

How to do Sphinx pose

Enjoy!

nyk

Yin Yoga Principles & Practice- A Book Review & Giveaway

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This is the third of a three part introductory series to Yin Yoga. You can check out part one and two as well if your not familiar with Yin Yoga.

Paul Grilley is know as ‘Mr.Yin Yoga’ in Yoga circles and is my Yin Yoga teacher.  So what better way to wrap up my introductory series than with a book review and giveaway of his expanded 10th anniversary edition Yin Yoga Principles & Practice.

 

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This book is packed full of information in a surprisingly small package. The book only has 141 pages but still manages to cover a fair bit of Paul’s many years of study, practice and experience. The book includes Chakra Theory, Bandha Practices, Pranayama practices and Meditation in addition to the Yin Theory and poses.

Yin Yoga Principles and Practice is not as long or ‘Sciencey’ as some of the other Yin Yoga books out there which, I think makes it great as a first read for new Yin Yoga students and teachers, as well as an crucial book for any serious Yin Yoga practitioners library. Over all the book is clear to follow and isn’t over the heads of those who might be new to reading Yoga books.

My only critique of the book is that there aren’t any variations or modifications for those who are less flexible. If you know how to use props and modify poses for you trouble spots then you’ll be just fine. If not you will want to find a qualified Yin Yoga teacher to help you along the way.

 

 

Yin Yoga – New To Yin Yoga? Some Practice Tips To Get You Started.

https://nykdanu.com/yin-yoga-new-to-yin-yoga-some-practice-tips-to-get-you-started/

This is the second of a three, part introduction to Yin Yoga series. You can check out part one here and part three here.

If you haven’t practiced Yin Yoga before you may be surprised at how different it is than more active forms of Yoga. The focus of Yin Yoga is quite unique. In more active or Yang forms of Yoga, the focus is typically on building strength and flexibility in the muscles as well as internal warmth. This is done by doing shorter holds in the poses and repetition of dynamic movements. In Yin Yoga the focus is on targeting the connective tissues, fascia and joints. This has a profoundly different feeling in the tissues as well as the nervous and energetic systems of the body.

Yin YogaWhen you first come out of a Yin Yoga pose, you will have the urge to move slowly and may even want to groan and moan. The sensation in the body after a Yin Yoga pose is often referred to as the rebound effect or the echo of the pose. I often describe this sensation as a resonance. If you have ever rung a bell or gong, you know the sound is the strongest initially and then dissipates over time, until you eventually no longer hear the sound at all. The resonant sensation of a Yin pose in the body is like that. At first the feeling is strong, then it gradually softens until you can no longer feel it. This is why we typically take a small rest time between poses.

Benefits Of Yin Yoga Purple Back GroundPicMonkey Collage

Yin Yoga is based in concepts of Taoist Yoga, it emphasizes the connective tissues. In Yin we practice relaxed floor based Asana’s (Yoga poses) often using the support of props when needed. Yin Yoga poses are typically held  for two to five minutes at a time. Yin yoga postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissues that form our joints, allowing us to maintain and restore joint, fascia and muscle flexibility.

In the video below I talk briefly about Yin Yoga guidelines and some practice tips.

Practicing and teaching Yin Yoga has been such a gift to myself and my students.

In the comments below let me know if you have tried Yin Yoga yet? If You have a Yin practice, what is your favorite pose?

Peace, Love and Yin,

nyk

Yin Yoga – My Journey To The Yin Side

https://nykdanu.com/yin-yoga-my-journey-to-the-yin-side/

This is the first of a three part introductory series to Yin Yoga. Make sure to check out part two and part three as well Part three .

In 2007 when I signed up for my first Yin Yoga Workshop, I actually had no idea what Yin Yoga was. I just recognized the teacher Paul Grilley from his Anatomy For Yoga DVD  which had completely changed both my practice and my teaching. So I Just signed up. It was a weekend workshop that changed my Yoga practice and teaching forever!

Yin Yoga Nyk Danu

That first dabble in Yin Yoga created a Yin Yoga love affair that is still going strong today. After that workshop I felt amazing both physically and energetically. My body had a feeling of space and openness that I had never experienced before, energetically I felt a deep peace and quiet within myself that was completely new to me.

As a recovering  ‘Type A’ personality, and a Yogini with some very tight muscles and fascia (from my previous life as a body builder) Yin was exactly what I needed. I immediately bought Paul’s DVD Yin Yoga and began to practice with it 2-3 times a week in addition to my Hatha Yoga practice.

In 2010 I decided that I needed to learn more about Yin Yoga so that I could deepen my practice and offer this powerful practice to my students. So I signed up for my first of many 100 hour teacher trainings with Paul and Suzee Grilley.

I have now completed hundreds of hours of Yin Yoga teacher training with the Paul and Suzee (and plan to do much more) and I am honored to call them my teachers. The breadth of knowledge, compassion and humility of this amazing couple is unsurpassed in my books and is something that is difficult to put into words.

In the video below I talk more about this journey to the Yin Side.


Generally speaking we live in a Yang dominated society and culture. All we need to do is look at the huge amount of stress related diseases to see that this is true. Yin Yoga creates a window of peace and harmony so desperately needed in our fast paced world.

In the comments below let me know have tried Yin Yoga Yet? For those of you who are Yin Yoga lovers what difference has it made to you and your life?

Peace, Love and Yin,

nyk

 

BKS Iyengar- RIP Thank You And Farewell

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Last night while scrolling through Instagram my heart stopped. There in my feed was a picture of BKS Iyengar with a RIP under it. My chest tightened, tears flooded my eyes…no it can’t be true I panicked. It was. A quick internet search revealed that he had passed at 95. Now I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked I had heard that he was ill and in hospital, but last I had heard his family was insisting that he was recovering and doing well.

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured” -BKS Iyengar

Death doesn’t normally upset me that much, even with people I know. I mean we are all going to die. Death happens to all of us after all, it’s just a common as birth. I guess one advantage to believing in past lives, is that it takes some of the blow out of death, since I believe that we are all coming back around again. So why was I so upset about the death of an Indian man who lived miles away and whom I had never actually met or studied with? It’s taken me until today to figure that out.

“When we free ourselves from physical disabilities, emotional disturbances, and mental distractions, we open the gates to our soul.” -B.K.S. Iyengar

I start all my classes with a moment of pause and a guided gratitude practice, part of that practice is pausing in reverence for the teachers that have come before, my teachers, my teachers teachers and so on. BKS Iyengar was my teachers teacher, and indirectly through books and DVDs my teacher too.

I feel the grief and sadness of my teachers.

My first teacher training program was steeped in Iyengar Yoga, although not an official Iyengar certification program it was heavily Iyengar Inspired. I was so blessed to have some amazing certified Iyengar teachers leading my training. Teachers like Margot Kitchen, David McAmmond, Trish Robbins & Valerie Crump just to name a few. These skilled and passionate teachers built a strong foundation for me to grow from as a Yogini and a teacher.

A fierce lion of a teacher, he demanded nothing but the best from his students. Iyengar had an attention to detail and awareness or the subtle aspects of Yoga Asana & Pranayama that no one can top. His teachers are some of the most rigorously and thoroughly trained teachers in the world.

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

Despite the fact that I have branched away from my Iyengar roots somewhat, there is still the deep resonance of Iyengar Yoga and those teachers through out my classes, practice and being today. In fact if it weren’t for BKS Iyengar, I wouldn’t have become a Yogini or a teacher.

Whether someone is a devoted Iyengar Yogi or not, I don’t think anyone can argue about the massive influence he had on Yoga as we know it today especially in the west. He is truly the father of Yoga as we know it. In fact 90% of today’s Yogi celebrities and influential teachers were in whole or in part trained by Iyengar or Iyengar teachers. If you Have ever used props in your your practice, you can thank BKS Iyengar.

Hi-lights Of BKS Iyengar’s Contribution And Influence At A Glance:

  •  Received gold medal known as Yoga Shikshaka Chakravarti, which means “Emperor of Yoga Teachers, Teacher of Teachers
  • Author of 14 Yoga books translated into 18 languages, including Light On Yoga which is commonly deemed “The Yoga Bible”
  • Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine
  • Built the foundation for Therapeutic, Medical, and Restorative Yoga as we know it today
  • Iyengar created his own brand of Yoga, called “Iyengar Yoga,” and established studios in 72 countries
  • Iyengar Yoga’s poses and breathing techniques have been adopted by mainstream medical practitioners to help patients suffering from many illnesses and diseases including: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic back pain
  • Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) was established on January 19, 1975 , The institute is filled with numerous awards, citations, presentations. The library has 8000 titles in several languages on a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy, human anatomy and physiology, Ayurveda, commentaries on the scriptures, modern medicine and of course Yoga.
image source unknown

image source unknown

Deepest of  bows and much gratitude to the man known affectionately as Guruji. My condolences to the Iyengar family. My deepest sympathy to all of his students including my teachers.