Monday, September 26, 2011

DVD Review ~ Yoga for Total Back Care

 Yoga for Total Back Care features vinyasa flow teacher Annie Carpenter.

This DVD features two 45-minute sequences which target the back's major problem areas: one for the lower back and one for the upper back, neck, and shoulders.

The first sequence I tried was for the lower back. I had been working on a few different house projects through out the day: painting in the morning and then hauling, mixing, and pouring concrete for a couple hours in the afternoon. My low back was really feeling sore and stiff and I knew I needed to do some yoga. So, I decided to try out this DVD.

Carpenter started us on our backs with pelvic tucks and tilts, eased us into Supta Padangustasana and then led us into some core work. She brought us to upright and we did a few long held lunges with down dog transitions and then moved into standing poses like Warrior I, Revolved Side Angle and Wide Leg Forward Fold with a twist. She emphasized keeping a level pelvis and keeping our breath steady and smooth. We finished on the floor again with some block-assisted Bridge Poses, gentle twists and a hip stretch.

After Savasana I felt great. My low back was not hurting me at all. After carrying all that concrete I was worried but this sequence helped me get out of pain.

I tried the Upper Back, Neck, and Shoulders sequence the next day after painting for about 6 hours. My right arm, shoulder and neck were very tight and I was getting a headache on the right side too. I try to paint with both hands to bring balance but I can only manage to use my left hand about 20-25% of the time.

This sequence focused on noticing the differences that you might have between the right and the left side, building strength and releasing tension. We started out on our backs again and rolled our heads slowly from side to side which felt great. Then we worked on some shoulder stability with blocks, transitioned into table for cat-cow, down-dog and hanging fold. From there, we moved into slow flowing postures: sun breath + chair, WII + Extended Side Angle, and Plank to Down Dog flow. We came down to our bellies for a Belly Boat flow and ended with some seated arm stretches - Cow's Face arms and Eagle Arms. After a gentle twist we settled into Savasana.

I didn't connect with this sequence as much as the first one. But perhaps that is because it was more challenging and I felt like relaxing, not working. I know I need more strengthening though because I often have ribs out of alignment in my upper back which tells me I don't have enough stability.

I was a little worried that this would be too vigorous a practice for me to enjoy but I was pleasantly surprised to find a smooth, calm, and flowing practice that really did make my back feel better - especially the low back sequence. Over all, I liked the DVD and would recommend it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Sideways on a Scooter

I am signed up for the Duluth Public Library's Daily Book Review (click here to see the categories you can sign up for). I receive a book review every day by email and if I like the look of it I can go on line and request the book to be held for me. When the book is in, they send me an email and I have a week to pick it up. The DPL is the best!

Anyway, "Sideways on a Scooter ~ Life and Love in India" piqued my interest and I requested it (but not quick enough - at least 4 people were in line before me). This book is a memoir of/by Miranda Kennedy in the years she worked as a foreign correspondent out of India.

I guess I was expecting something more romantic and "happy ending" - more like "Eat, Pray, Love." But what I got was the gritty truth about the enigma that is India. Kennedy explores race and class/caste issues in depth and left me feeling quite uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of yoga and yoga's origins. Kennedy does not even explore yoga (well, there is a Women's Fitness Center where there is a yoga class but the women really just go to the center to socialize and get away from the prying eyes of men), but I am struck by the "all people are equal and we are all divine" message of Western yoga and the reality she saw of complete caste inequality; of Indians purposely keeping the castes in place and being happy about it; of women purposely keeping other women down. Ms. Kennedy does a great job of diving in to Indian culture and helping us understand it. She appears to be very uncomfortable in her situation but she sticks it out, learns, and shares her learning with us.

I am still reeling from the book which to me says that this is one we all should read - especially if we have a romanticized notion of the roots of yoga, which apparently I do since I am stunned by the book.

Monday, September 12, 2011

DVD Review ~ Yin Yoga

I am always on the look out for new Restorative, Yin and Deep Relaxation information. I recently purchased "Yin Yoga," a DVD by Kim Eng with an introduction by Eckhart Tolle.

The DVD features two practices plus a lecture/introduction with Eckhart Tolle. I came away from the introduction with the reminder to stay present in the practice, notice if you have discomfort or if your mind wanders. Bring the mind back to the present, time and time again. Do not run from discomfort; explore it.

Ms. Eng offers two practices: The Full Practice - Complete Yin Yoga (75 minutes) and the shorter Daily Practice (60 minutes) which is a copy of some of the poses from the full practice. Each practice is soothing and well presented. The style is voice-over set to Ms. Eng's practice in a beautiful garden. She did offer modifications and talked about using props but did not often show the props or use the props herself. I find in my classes that maybe one person per 15 does not need props - everyone else does. But I know that "no props" is more in the Yin style so I was not expecting to see any props or even talk about using props so I was pleasantly surprised.

There was no information pamphlet / table of contents in the DVD jacket which is a disappointment, but this seems to be the norm these days. However, this is definitely a DVD that I will watch / practice with again. I really enjoyed it. If you want more info, there are quite a few reviews on Amazon - some of which are very detailed and helpful.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Reflection Retreat ~ Best Price Deal Extended

Return to Center Fall Reflection Retreat the weekend of September 30th

Think... camp... for adults.

This weekend retreat at beautiful Camp Amnicon, which is just 30 minutes from Duluth, will include many opportunities for group yoga daily, deep relaxation & meditation, lecture & conversation, hiking, sauna, rest, good food, & great community.

There will also be a guided Amnicon River Canoe trip, fall color hike, bonfires and opportunities for outdoor contemplation or worship. Makes an excellent gift for yourself or a loved one.

Led by Molly McManus & Sara Duke

Arrive: 6 pm Fri, Sept 30th
Depart: 4 pm Sun, Oct 2nd

Cost*: $225.00 or $202.50 if you register yourself online before the deadline. Use the promo code "10fall" when you check out online to receive an additional 10% off your enrollment.
$240.00 starting September 12th.

*Price includes Saturday and Sunday meals, daily yoga classes in postures and philosophy, guided canoe trip and the use of Camp Amnicon facilities.

Sign up online at Yoga North by clicking here or call the office at 218-722-YOGA.