Wrapping Up 2018’s Charity of the Month Project

Donation Boxes Available at the Studio and Boutique

Asheville Yoga Center is raising funds for Eblen Charities throughout December to finalize its 2018 Charity of the Month project. Founded in 1991, the organization has helped thousands of families in western North Carolina each year with medical and emergency assistance. Eblen assisted 300 families with only one program when it was first established. Now, Eblen has been able to help tens of thousands of families with more than 70 available programs.

“Eblen Charities has worked so hard over the past few decades to support families with medical and emergency assistance. It provides the opportunity for those in our community to seek the help they need to physically heal. As a yoga studio, we know how valuable it is to be able to give others going through health issues access to the resources they need. The community at Asheville Yoga Center is honored to raise funds and awareness for Eblen in an effort to work together to support their work locally,” says Melissa Driver, Director of Operations at Asheville Yoga Center.

Donation boxes will be displayed at the front desk in both the Studio and Boutique beginning on the first day of December until the end of the month. On Thursday, December 27, 10% of sales from drop-in and community classes will be donated to Eblen Charities. Additionally, AYC will be making a direct donation of $250.

We challenge our members and community to support our efforts in raising donations throughout December to give back to those in need.

For more information on Eblen Charities and their work, please visit https://www.eblencharities.org/about/.

What You Need to Know About Restorative Yoga

Written by AYC Instructor Paige Gilchrist

Okay, so we’ve got a little irony right off the bat. Striving to get the best results in restorative yoga? As in powering up your dreaming or asking your bubble bath to multi-task? Restorative yoga is, after all, the art of undoing. But let’s be honest, that’s not so easy in a full-throttle culture that encourages us to make the most of all things. Here are some simple suggestions to calm the impulse to accomplish, and instead just be. You might find this will lead you quietly toward the peace and restoration your body really needs.

Talk About Yourself

Arrive a little early and share with your teacher anything you’re dealing with physically or energetically. If you’ve recently had a medical procedure, that’s especially important to communicate. Simply mentioning the chronic ache in your low back, or the fact that you overdid it the day before at the gym, can also be helpful. We teachers are grateful when you take the time to let us know! We can then spend a couple of minutes together before class to customize pose modifications and prop configurations, if necessary, to make you feel supported and safe.

Prop Up

Speaking of props, restorative yoga poses typically involve a lot of them. Props such as bolsters, blankets, blocks, straps, sandbags and eye pillows are all available at the Studio for you to use as you see fit. They’re meant to support you fully as you sink into comfortable shapes for long, luxurious amounts of time. They allow your physical body, and then all of your other layers, to release tension habits and holding patterns. Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of props you may accumulate, or the blanket folding, bolster stacking or other ways to assemble and rearrange your props as class moves along. You can think of it as part of a self-care ritual and know that the more restorative yoga you practice, the more familiar the props will become. You’ll start to determine a better feel for how they can best support you.

Get Comfy

Be really and truly comfortable. In other styles of yoga, there may be a benefit to sticking with something that feels challenging or even uncomfortable. However, this is not the case with restorative yoga. The whole idea is to allow your nervous system, which probably spends much of its time on high alert, to shift into deep relaxation mode. It can’t do that if you’re enduring a sensation that’s too strong. Tuck a bolster under the place that’s feeling overstretched. Cover your body with a blanket. Don’t worry about fidgeting, adjusting and re-adjusting the props. Don’t worry about adding or subtracting layers of clothing or coming out of a pose entirely. Take your time and experiment with props to settle into each pose so it feels nurturing and restful.

Ask Away

Look to your instructor if a pose setup is unclear. You may want to modify a pose but feel unsure about how to approach it. Maybe you need an extra prop. Don’t hesitate to let your teacher know so that they can assist you during your practice. Our main job, especially in restorative yoga, is to support you, so don’t be shy about inviting us to do that.

Let Go

This is the most overused cliché in the yoga world, but this “letting go” business you hear about so often has its roots in restorative yoga. As we gradually drop the need to constantly be busy, it offers the opportunity to enjoy sinking into rest, support and deep relaxation. Our breathing, blood pressure and heart rate slow, releasing stress and tension. We then start to replenish, repair and heal on every level.  Restorative classes take practice and gentle intention. They’re often a lot easier with group support and the guidance of a teacher, which is why this type of yoga can be so magical.

Try a restorative class. Your body will thank you for it.

See our class schedule for upcoming restorative yoga classes.

Sign up for AYC’s holiday class challenge! Take 10 restorative yoga classes in December and receive a free eye pillow! The word “restorative” must be in the name of the class for it to count.

What You’ll Find in the AYC Boutique

Your loved one LOVES yoga. We mean the kind of love where they’re in class four or five days a week, eager and ready to go. They always keep a yoga mat in the trunk of their car, and leggings are a permanent staple item in their wardrobe. Does this sound familiar?

It’s that time of year again when you’re ready to start holiday shopping. You want to buy your loved one something they’ll enjoy, but you’re just not sure how to shop for them!

For many, figuring out the perfect gift can be rather stressful. Say goodbye to hours spent wracking your brain and making lists of possible gift ideas, because AYC has this helpful gift guide to the Boutique. We’ve made your holiday shopping easy this year! In the Boutique, we offer an assortment of products ranging from locally made jewelry to yoga props and accessories to clothing items, all of which will help your yogi elevate their practice. These gift ideas are wonderful for those just beginning their yoga journey and for the more seasoned yogis. 

Malas Beads

Malas have been used for centuries in meditation practices, but many people wear them around their neck or wrist for everyday use. They are a sacred string of 108 beads used to recite a mantra. The beads are made of different types of crystal, wood and stone to activate their own unique characteristics in your energy system. They are beautiful and look good with anything!

Zafu Meditation Cushion

Enhance your daily meditation with a new cushion! A meditation cushion is useful for enhancing a meditation or pranayama practice by aiding the spine in proper alignment and comfort. Each print has its own unique pattern to bring a little personality to your practice. The variety of bright colors serve as inspiration to compliment your yogi’s home practice.

Hydro Flask

These beautifully crafted, double wall vacuum insulated flasks keep your yogi’s cold drinks colder and their hot drinks hotter! Easily take your drink of choice with you on the go. This is the perfect gift that can be used during any season of the year. Branded with the Asheville Yoga Center’s iconic logo, we have various styles, sizes and colors available.

Yoga Mat

Is your loved one still using the same mat from years ago? If so, it’s probably looking a bit worn out. Yoga mats are essential for any yoga practice. Get your yogi excited and smiling with a brand new mat this holiday season! We have both the Jade Mat and Manduka Mat available for purchase. These mats come in an assortment of colors, are eco-friendly and have a great grip. Easily roll them up and take them wherever you prefer to practice. For every Jade mat purchased, the company will also plant a tree which perfectly aligns with yogis who hold sustainability high among their values.

Locally Made Goods

In Asheville, we love to support our community and local artisans. The Boutique has a wide range of locally made goods from talented artists and businesses.

Jewelry: You will find beautifully hand-crafted earrings made by our instructor, Maeve Hendrix. Shop a variety of necklaces, bracelets and earrings from Soulku. Each piece has a specific gemstone chosen to encourage that element and characteristic in each customer’s life. Explore the wide variety of wrist malas and full malas made by local brand, Japa Mala.

Apparel: Leggings, scarves and umbrellas with beautiful scenes of Asheville made by local photographer, Wendy Newman.

Leggings

Who doesn’t love a new pair of leggings?! They’re the perfect clothing item to stay warm and fashionable throughout the winter months. They are fun, comfortable and can be worn to yoga or even to Sunday brunch. You’ll find a variety of styles from bright fun patterns to more neutral colors. There is plenty to choose from to accommodate all shapes and sizes.

AYC Shirts and Tanks

AYC branded tank tops and t-shirts are available in an assortment of colors. These shirts are lightweight and extremely comfortable. Throw them on with leggings or jeans to complete your outfit. However you choose to wear them, these clothing items will make a great addition to your yoga wardrobe.

Long-sleeved Merchandise

With brisk mornings and colder days, it’s important to stay warm! The winter season is a tough time to brace the elements, and in Asheville, the weather can be unpredictable.  Our variety of long-sleeved shirts and sweaters are stylish, comfortable and will help guard you against the chill of winter. So whether you’re coming in for class, or just running errands around town, rest assured that you’ll be warm and ready to go!

Studio Specials

Nothing is better than yoga class! Give your loved one more! Here are some options for you:

Intro Special: This is the perfect gift for someone just starting their yoga journey. This special allows your loved one to enjoy six classes of their choice for just $36.

Class Pack: Purchase our 10-class pack for only $149.

Annual Membership: Treat your loved one to the ultimate yoga gift, an annual membership! For only $1299, receive unlimited classes for a year, 10% off of Boutique merchandise and 10% off workshops and 200-Hour Teacher Trainings, a savings of more than $100.

We hope this list has given you some new gift ideas and a little taste of the goodies our Boutique and Studio have to offer. Make your holiday shopping easier by visiting AYC!

Asheville Yoga Center Asks Community to Help Support MANNA

Donations accepted at the Studio and Boutique 

Asheville Yoga Center dedicates the month of November to raising food items and funds for MANNA FoodBank. Since 1983, MANNA FoodBank has been serving Western North Carolina by collecting, storing and distributing food through community-based food assistance agencies. During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, MANNA FoodBank distributed 18.2 million pounds of food throughout 16 counties in WNC.

With November being a month focused on gratitude and thankfulness, the partnership with MANNA FoodBank truly hits home for members and staff at Asheville Yoga Center. The yoga community at AYC fosters values that emulate the importance of giving and showing compassion for those in need, and these values are homogenous to those of MANNA FoodBank.

“MANNA FoodBank is a leader in the Asheville community by educating and uniting people to work towards ending hunger. By supporting MANNA FoodBank, we are able to shed light and combat the hunger issues in our outlying communities. We are proud to partner with MANNA FoodBank to collect food items for those in our area. We are very appreciative of the work they have done and continue to do,” says Melissa Pennscott Driver, Director of Operations at Asheville Yoga Center.

Food bins will be available for food item donations in AYC’s Studio and Boutique beginning on the first day of November until the end of the month. On Thursday, November 29, 10% of all drop-in and community class sales will be donated to MANNA FoodBank. In addition, AYC will make a direct donation of $250. Staff and members are participating in a volunteer day on November 13 to package and sort food at MANNA FoodBank.

“MANNA serves over 100,000 people across 16 counties of Western North Carolina every year who are facing hunger. Our largest source of support are individuals who resonate with our mission to feed anyone who needs food, and in our region, that is 1 in 6 people, including 1 in 4 children, who don’t know where they will get their next meal. Every single dollar of support makes a real and tangible difference in the lives of the people we serve, and we stretch every dollar as far as possible. Thanks to the support of our volunteers and food donors, we can help provide enough food for 3.5 meals for every dollar donated,” says Hannah Randall, CEO of MANNA FoodBank.

We ask our members and community to join us in supporting our efforts to raise food items and funds throughout the month. If you would like to volunteer with us, please email marketing@youryoga.com. There is limited space available.

For more information about acceptable food items to donate, go to https://www.mannafoodbank.org/how-you-can-help/donate/donate-food/

Shutting Down the Myths of Yoga

We’ve heard about every rumor, complaint, myth and lie about yoga. We wanted to take a moment to clear up some of the most common myths we hear. Whether you need to read this to help yourself, or share with others to clear up misconceptions, we hope this list of myths and truths will help more people understand the open, welcoming, challenging and engaging practice of yoga.

Myth 1: Yoga is only for people who are already in shape.

Yoga is for all bodies: short or tall, lean or overweight, flexible or stiff, open or reserved, young or old. Yoga meets you where you are. Whether you’re at your first class, returning after a break, or experienced in yoga, you can work at the level that’s right for you. Your instructor will help find positions that work for your body and your individual capabilities. You will be in a room free of judgment to work at your own pace. There is no competition or comparison in our yoga Studio.

Myth 2: Yoga is for mental health; it’s not really exercise.

While yoga is a wonderful practice to calm the mind, help with focus, and renew your mental energy, it is also a challenging physical exercise. Yoga may burn fewer calories than other more strenuous forms of exercise, but it can help create lean muscle which improves your metabolism. Yoga can help you form a stronger core, develop muscle strength and improve stamina. It’s a wonderful work out on its own or combined with other exercise practices.

Myth 3: Yoga is not for Christians or any other religion.

Yoga, as practiced in most classes in the U.S., is not a religion nor a religious practice. Yoga actually pulls from several religions, including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, as well as New Age philosophies that combine many of the traditions from these religions. Someone from any religious or spiritual practice can pull from parts of these religions without converting or feeling like they’re betraying their own beliefs. The ideals of enlightenment, inner peace and personal renewal, can work well alongside anyone’s personal religious beliefs.

Myth 4: Yoga requires special, trendy clothes.

Recently, “yoga pants” has become a blanket term describing tight-fighting stretchy pants, usually worn by women. But yoga has never been defined by a certain look.  In fact, how you look has nothing to do with yoga. In yoga class, please come as you are! Yoga clothing should be comfortable and allow you to move easily, but it doesn’t need to be expensive or look a certain way. In some yoga practices you might see individuals wearing one color. In kundalini yoga, often times the yoga instructor and some of the students may be wearing predominantly white clothing. However, you’ll see plenty of looks and styles in any yoga class.

Myth 5: Yoga is hard.

Yoga class is entirely what you make of it. Speak to instructors and staff ahead of your first class to make sure you find a class that will be the right fit for you. There’s no competition in yoga, no demands to copy anyone else or keep up. Move at the pace that works for you. It should be challenging but not overly strenuous. If you’re pushing your body too hard, ease up and be more gentle. Remember, this is your practice!

Myth 6: Yoga forces you to do awkward positions with your body.

Like Myth 5, this misconception is passed around by people who are scared that a class will require them to tangle up in painful knots. That is not what yoga is about. Positions are presented step-by-step for you to ease your body into them. Some days, you may be able to do the exercise fully; other days, you may have to adjust to do less. Your instructor should give several options for getting into and holding a position that will allow you to find what works for you, whether you have a weak back, sore joints, issues with balance, limited flexibility or any other concerns. Keep in mind that you can always arrive early to speak with your instructor about any physical concerns or limitations you may have.

Myth 7: Yoga class makes you sleepy.

All yoga classes are different and have different goals. Some classes, such as Gentle Restorative and Yin, are geared towards relaxation. Other classes, like Warm Power Flow, are focused on awakening your energy and leaving you feeling engaged and ready to seize the day. While meditation is a part of many classes, it’s not in all of them. You can find a yoga class that matches what you need to work on in your life, whether that’s calming your mind or renewing your energy.

Myth 8: Yoga is a lifestyle; I can’t just take a class now and then.

You do not have to commit to a life as a yogi in order to enjoy the benefits of yoga. While some people do choose to take yoga classes several times a week, plenty of other people take yoga when they can. Some people even practice at home for convenience. Yoga can be integrated into a physical therapy practice, paired with another form of exercise, or perhaps just taken on vacation. You can drop into a class anytime and still reap the benefits of that hour of mind and body integration.

Don’t be scared to try a class now! We offer a free Intro to Yoga class every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month, so you can become more comfortable with yoga practice!

Overcoming Your Fear of Inversions

By AYC Instructor Tucker Shelton

Headstands and forearm stands and handstands, oh my! Fear of inverting is perfectly normal in any yogi’s journey. The push to be upside down is strong in western yoga culture, but to many practitioners, inversions feel risky and unachievable at best. This is for good reason because it doesn’t take much to tip and fall hard out of a handstand.

As a species, we have developed the unique quality of bipedalism. When we stand up, we bring our heads away from the earth. Energetically, the action of standing is yang, and the action of moving towards the earth is yin. The root chakra and the legs are where we store our mortal fears, so moving your head toward the earth/putting your head below your feet means those fears flow to the front of your mind.

It is important to be able to approach inversions with a calm heart and mind. Blood pressure needs to be low to get all the juicy circulatory benefits, but usually, we are maxing out in our practice by the time we go up. We often jump and fling ourselves up into the poses. It’s no wonder that our bodies give out and we fall.

As a young yogi, I was always out to find the next great pose. It was thrilling after a lifetime of avoiding competitive sports to find an embodied practice that brought me joy. The more poses I could tuck under my belt, the more excited I became. I used to call my mom after class to tell her about my latest asana discoveries.

Once, I took an inversion workshop with a knowledgeable teacher. Here I encountered a new variation on forearm stands where I was asked to bring my hands to my chin and balance only on the tips of my elbows. There is still a plastered-over hole in that studio’s wall from where my butt crashed through!

During my excited yogi phase, a very wise teacher named John Scott helped me cool the fire of my ego and step back from my unwieldy inversion practice. I took inversions, other than legs up the wall and the occasional shoulder stand, out of my practice for seven years. I realized during that time that although it takes discipline and determination to get upside down, it is more important to have patience and ease in the approach. I stopped being hard on myself, and I actually stopped caring about inversions altogether.

When I came back to inversions a few years ago, I leaned forward, put my hands on the floor and magically floated into a press handstand for the first time in my life. I was absolutely amazed! Somehow it had become possible when I wasn’t focusing on my handstand. During my years upright, I was focusing my practice mostly on deep core strength for low back care. Actions like low boat, and other safe strength builders, are what gave my body the control to invert safely.

Here is my advice to you.

  • It’s a good idea to build up to inversions slowly. It’s not really important to get that pose today.
  • You may not necessarily need them. For example, legs up the wall boasts many of the same benefits (i.e. lymph drainage, improved balance and concentration, elevated mood, fresh blood flow, etc.)
  • Practice strengthening and stretching preparations by opening the shoulders with strapwork. Practice core strength exercises and learn to keep your low ribs back when your arms go overhead.
  • You can try l-pose handstand at the wall. Once you can be here for ten breaths and release with control, you are ready to come away from the wall.
  • Try not to hop. Kicking up bypasses the control and strength needed to be in a pose safely. It feels good to get up, but it feels better to move sustainably.
  • Ditch the wall. Using a wall to catch you makes you rely on the wall, and you will have to relearn the shapes all over again when you come away from it.
  • The key is to warm up before you go up.
  • Ask different teachers about their perspectives on inversions to help build your own understanding.

Sometimes the hardest part is just finding the courage to try! You can take inversions on at your own pace when you feel that you’re ready. Talk to our knowledgeable instructors at AYC to work towards trying or improving your inversions!

Finding a Mentor

By AYC Instructor Richard Fabio

Yoga Teacher Training is the experience of a lifetime. You’ll find a deeper education of yoga than you thought possible. It will challenge you to discover more about yourself as a yogi and as an individual. Starting out, teacher training can seem intimidating, which is why having a mentor will elevate your experience and keep you on the path to becoming the yoga teacher you aspire to be.

A mentor helps you navigate through new terrain or unchartered waters.  Literally, the word mentor comes from Greek mythology where a young man joins a sailor named Mentor on his ship to learn the trade and skill of sailing first hand. Once you begin your yoga teaching, storms will roll through and the compass will become confusing to read. What do you do when you forget which side is starboard?  You consult your mentor.

At Asheville Yoga Center, we work hard to provide teacher trainees with a thorough background across many different styles, exposing students to various historical and technical resources.  The 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program is designed with this in mind. It is like being handed a map of the world.  We also work to hone the foundational skills of yoga teaching so you will know how to set sail.  However, once you set out on the metaphorical sea of yoga teaching, where exactly on the map will you sail?

A mentor can help aid in the path. They will keep the course from becoming overwhelming, reinvigorating you with guidance and inspiration as you come across various trials. A yoga mentor can help you in several ways:

  • Providing feedback on your development as a teacher.
  • Networking with studios to help find a position for you.
  • Allowing you to sub their class.
  • Giving you additional areas to explore and deepen your study.
  • Be a great resource to go to for guidance and answers to the slue of questions you will have about teaching and yoga.

When you begin teaching, it is natural to encounter trials, and a mentor can provide both context and empathy as he or she has very likely been through something similar.

When looking for a mentor, look for someone whom you admire. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the person you are considering have a sense of character you respect?
  • Do you admire the way they teach?
  • Do you admire the way they carry themselves off the mat?
  • Do you like the type of personal practice they have?

Once you have an idea of who your mentor might be, reach out by asking questions after class or sending an email.  Try to say or write something where the person will have to give a thoughtful response related to yoga.  If you like the response keep building the relationship.  A mentorship can be as casual as just continuing to ask questions after class or through email. As the relationship develops, you may grab tea or share a meal sometime.  But word to the wise, grow the relationship around yoga, prioritize the development of you as a yogi.  A mentor is not a guru, and it is not just a friendship either.  A good mentor will relish the opportunity to pass along wisdom.

As you deepen the mentoring relationship, some teachers may ask for a more formal commitment.  Usually, there will be a fee for their time in these types of circumstances as you will be receiving much more focused attention on developing your teaching skills.  A good mentor puts a lot into mentoring and will invest their time and energy in their mentees’ success.  Continuously ask yourself throughout the mentoring process, “Is the time and/or money I am investing in this mentorship helping me grow as a yogi and a yoga teacher?” Personally, I have had a number of mentors throughout my career, some more casual and some formal.  They have all been worthwhile.

The breath of lessons that come with the personal attention of someone further along the path is priceless.  It was always readily apparent when the relationship was needed and when it was time to move on.  A good mentor will know when it is time for you to sail your own ship. Good luck and may you find your teaching voice and yogic message. Don’t wait to start your yoga teacher training journey!

A Day to Remember the Importance of Peace

In 1981, the United Nations declared September 21 as the International Day of Peace to be observed around the world annually. This momentous day provides an opportunity for all of humanity to leave all differences at the door and come together as one body to focus on building a worldwide culture of peace.

Finding Peace on Your Yoga Mat

Yoga practice, at its core, embodies what it means to be at peace both with yourself and your surroundings. It is a way of living life on and off the mat. Yoga teaches you to be at peace with your inner soul while showing that same essence of love and peace to those around you. One of the foundational principles of all forms of yoga is ahimsa, part of the first yama in the Yoga Sutras, a Sanskrit word meaning “nonharming” or “nonviolence.”

Here are a few fun facts about this day of peace!

Moment of Silence

The Moment of Silence, or Minute of Silence, was established in 1984 as a way to commemorate International Day of Peace. At noon, in each time zone around the world, there is a Moment of Silence to initiate a “Peace Wave” globally. Every individual, community and nation is encouraged to participate in this peaceful act.

2018 Most Peaceful Country in the World

Iceland comes in first as the most peaceful country in the world according to the Institute for Economics and Peace. You might be surprised to know that this is actually the tenth year in a row that Iceland has garnered this title! This nation of 350,000 citizens has no standing army, navy or air force and is the smallest of any NATO member state. Icelanders enjoy record-low crime rates and consider tension between economic classes to be non-existent.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner

In 2017, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The organization was recognized for its work to bring to light the consequences of nuclear weapons on humanity and for efforts to accomplish a treaty-based prohibition of these weapons. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced on Friday, October 5.

Take this day as an opportunity to reflect on what peace means to you and what kind of peaceful impact you can have on yourself and your community. Whether it’s a few more minutes on your yoga mat, or taking the time to make a difference in someone else’s life, International Day of Peace is a day for reflection and change.

yoga pose

What to Expect in a Beginner Yoga Class

 

You’re thinking about going to your very first yoga class. You’re wondering what the flow of class will be like and what kinds of poses you’ll learn from your yoga instructor.  It’s always a little scary to try something new, but taking a yoga class is a great way to add variety to your weekly workout routine! Beyond that, the mental and emotional benefits of yoga are a great addition to any wellness regimen. Your instructors have all completed extensive yoga teacher trainings to assist you with your newfound practice. Remember, yoga should be practiced at your own pace and shouldn’t be strenuous on your body. Let’s talk through some of the poses you may encounter during your first yoga class!

 

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Mountain Pose

You’ll see this pose as part of the warm up in your yoga class. It’s an opportunity to check in with your body, breath and mind. It begins by standing tall with a long spine and keeping your feet close together. The benefit of the Mountain Pose is that it improves posture and balance while simultaneously strengthening lower body muscles.

 

 

 

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Forward Fold Pose

This next pose builds on the structure of the Mountain Pose. You’ll bend forward from the Mountain Pose, placing your hands where they’re comfortable. It is encouraged to slightly bend your knees or keep your arms folded so as not to hurt your hamstrings. This pose will release tension in the back of the legs and strengthen the lower body.

 

 

 

Table Top Pose

This pose serves as home base for a wide variety of movements. It’s an essential pose for any beginner, because it can take the place of other more challenging postures like Plank or Downward-Facing Dog. To enter Table Top, position yourself on hands and knees with a flat back. Ensure your wrists are directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. From here, you can alternate between arching your back and rounding your back for a comprehensive spinal stretch, also known as Cat-Cow Pose. This pose improves core strength and stability, as well as spinal mobility.

Cat-Cow 

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Downward-Facing Dog

Even if you’ve never practiced yoga, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of this pose. This pose begins in Table Top with your hands slightly further forward then slowly lifting your hips. Your arms should be strong and your shoulders wide. The goal is to maintain a straight line from your wrists to your hips, so it’s encouraged to bend your knees at first to maintain this alignment. Alternatively, try Melting Heart Pose, with your knees on the mat for a more accessible posture. Downward-Facing Dog is excellent for balance, strength and flexibility.

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Melting Heart 

 

 

 

 

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Child’s Pose

If you want to relax, this is the pose for you. To enter child’s pose you start in Table Top then sit your hips back on your heels. Your arms can be extended in front of you or down by your sides. This pose gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles while relieving the back and neck. A lot of introductory yoga classes will incorporate this pose instead of Downward-Facing Dog for added relaxation.

By the end of your first yoga class you may find that your muscles feel more relaxed and you stand just a little taller. You may leave the studio feeling energized, rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of your day. But don’t take our word for it, come try it yourself! You may be surprised by what you discover.

Learn More About Our Intro to Yoga Class