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Use These 4 Restorative Yoga Poses for Immediate Stress Relief

When we are at ease in body and mind, we feel open, expansive, and grounded. We are able to show up for ourselves, others, and our work fully, and we are our best selves.

However, when we experience stress, we tend to feel scattered, uncomfortable, and unsettled. The physical manifestation of stress might express as inconsistent and short breaths, tightness in the body, and tension in the face.

Stress is a mindset that we adopt (either consciously or unconsciously) in response to a given situation. More often than not, stress is an unsupportive addition to our daily lives.

Restorative Yoga is an antidote to the harm caused by stress, offering an opportunity to step back and reset the mind and body. A restorative practice offers a reprieve from stress that allows us to reframe our approach toward external stressors.

 
It can feel counterintuitive to take a time-out from our day when we feel pressed for time or burdened by an approaching event or deadline. Perhaps the very reason we feel stressed is because we feel short on time.

However, there can be value in taking a few minutes to change the channel in our minds and slow the pace of our inner dialogue. By taking the time to reassess, we might recognize the stress we carry to be unnecessary, and we can address the role of stress as an obstacle to our end goals.
 

Use These 4 Restorative Yoga Poses as Your Go-To Yoga for Stress Relief:

The Restorative Yoga poses below offer a holistic approach to stress relief. Restorative Yoga can imbue our lives with a fresh perspective, introspection, and a broader understanding of our response – a stark contrast to the narrow-minded thought pattern imprinted by stress.

Taking a moment to pause and break the cycle of tension can do wonders for your day, offering ease in the body, mind, and breath. The next time you need to recenter, give one or all of the poses below a try.
 
Props You Will Need: 4 blocks, 2 blankets, 1 bolster, optional eye pillow.
 
If you do not have the yoga props listed, please feel free to supplement with items found around your home. Firm pillows and/or a couch cushion can be a great substitute for the yoga props used in the poses listed below.

1. Restorative Twist

This Restorative Twist is a wonderful way to quiet the mind and gather grounding energy. Support under your belly offers a soothing effect, which alleviates feelings of worry and strain.

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Let’s try it:

  • Place two blocks on your mat, the first block on its lowest height and the second block on the second height

  • Lay your bolster over the two blocks so you create a slope with the bottom edge of the bolster touching the floor

  • Snuggle your right hip at the base of the bolster with your knees bent to the left and your hands framing your props

  • Keep your navel as close to center as possible and lie down so the front of your body is supported by the bolster

  • Tuck your arms underneath the bolster and between the blocks

  • Your head can turn toward or away from your knees. Choose whichever option feels best for you neck

  • Enjoy each side for up to five minutes

Check out the other poses and the full article on YogiApproved

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30 Minute Vinyasa Practice

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30 Minute Vinyasa Practice

Hi yogis!

Join me for this 30 minute Vinyasa Yoga Flow. This practice is catered towards yogis with a regular practice. However, those working on building strength can enjoy this video by taking breaks when needed. Enjoy and please reach out if you have any questions!

xoJenny

Have you Subscribed to the Urban Om Yoga YouTube channel yet? Stay up to date with free yoga and meditation videos when you subscribe. Check it out 

Photo: Kristin Wolford

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Feeling the heat? Keep it Cool with this Pranayama

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Sitali Pranayama is a breathing exercise, perfect for finding balance during summer. This cooling breath is a quick and easy to way to both beat the heat and calm the mind.

This pranayama is said to not only remove excess heat from the body, but it also keeps the mind and emotions cool, calm and in check during fiery Pitta season. 

Sitali Pranayama is practiced with a rolled tongue. If you are not able to roll your tongue, instead gently place the tip of your tongue to the top two teeth.

Let’s try it:

1. Find a comfortable seat. A great option is to sit cross legged on a pillow, blanket or bolster. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

2. Start with a body scan, checking in from the top of the head and moving down the body. Notice how you are feeling physically, mentally, & emotionally. Take note of any areas which show signs of excess heat.

3. Once you feel ready to begin the breathing technique, roll your tongue. Breath in through the mouth with your tongue rolled. When you are ready to exhale, close the mouth and breath out through the nose.

4. Continue this for about 8-10 rounds, doing your best to keep the in and out breaths equal in length.

5. Allow the breath to resume a natural rhythm, breathing in and out through the nose. Take a few minutes to sit in meditation and take note of any cooling sensations.

*As with all pranayamas, if at any point you feel lightheaded, come back to a normal breath rhythm and continue again as you feel ready.

Sitali Pranayama is a wonderful way to stay balanced and cool all summer long. Give this breathing exercise a try the next time you need to keep your cool.

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a restorative yoga sequence for some seriously sweet dreams

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a restorative yoga sequence for some seriously sweet dreams

Who doesn't wish they could squeeze in a few more zzz's? Sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing, proper immune function and lowering our stress levels. Although we might be aware of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep, sometimes it can be challenging to transition from the busyness of everyday life into a restful slumber. If you could use a bit of help winding down for bedtime, check out the restorative yoga sequence below. Taking 20 minutes before bed to slow down and unwind could be your ticket to snoozeville. 

For this practice you will need:

2 blocks or firm pillows, some wall space, a blanket (optional), and an eye pillow (also optional)

Short and sweet meditation

Begin in a crossed leg seated position, back facing the wall. You might want to sit on your block or blanket for additional support. You can also use the wall for back support if this is helpful. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. Before you change your breath in any way, notice the natural rhythm of your breath. Take note of where the breath wants to live in the body and the quality of the breath. Be aware, there is no right answer to these questions. This is not about judgement but rather building awareness. Take this time to check in how you are feeling at the beginning of your practice.

After a minute or two gradually begin to deepen your breathing and begin:

3-part breath (dirga swasam pranayama)

Divide the inhale into 3 equal parts, breathing into the belly, the ribs, and the chest. If it is helpful, you can use your hands to guide your inhale as you move the breath up the torso. Allow the breath to be continuous as you initiate your inhale from the low belly, lift the breath into the rib cage/diaphragm, and then the chest. Once you reach the top of your inhale, take a long, continuous exhale, following the same path in reverse. Repeat 5-10 rounds. You may slowly start to lengthen the breath as you feel ready.

*as with all pranayama (breathing exercises), stop if you become dizzy or lightheaded

 
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Legs up the Wall:

Snuggle one hip next to the wall, knees facing up toward the ceiling

Lay on your back as you simultaneously swing both legs up the wall. You can place your hands behind you to help this action.

Cover your eyes with an eye pillow. 

Take long deep breaths into the belly. Enjoy this pose for 5-10 minutes

*If the legs fall asleep, you can either come out of the pose or hug the knees into the chest for a few breaths and re-stretch the legs when you are ready.

*If the hamstrings are tight, the knees can stay a little bent in this pose. 

 
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Supine Twist

Bend the knees into the chest 

Rock the knees over to the left with your feet  gently pressing into the wall

Stretch your arms out on the floor, in line with your shoulders, chin turned towards your right shoulder

Optionally place your left hand on top of your right thigh to gently encourage the leg toward the floor, thus deepening your twist. 

Breath deeply, finding a smoothed out version of that same 3-part-breath with which we started practice. Hold 10 breaths, then switch sides

 

Supta Baddha Konasana

Lie on down on your back with an optional low folded blanket under your head. 

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Bring the soles of your feet to touch, open your knees to the sides, laying the thighs on either your blocks or firm pillows. 

Gently place an eye pillow over your eyes and a blanket over the belly. A blanket placed on the abdomen adds a sense of grounding, which is very helpful as you ease your way towards dreamland.

Enjoy this pose for 10 minutes. 

When you are ready to finish your practice, draw your knees together and rock side to side a few times. Roll to one side to press yourself up to sit.

Take a few breaths in a seated position, take note of how you feel. Then head to bed for some seriously sweet dreams!

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Hipster Yoga: 20 minute hip opening yoga video

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Hipster Yoga: 20 minute hip opening yoga video

Dear yogis,

I am off to Tulum this weekend for Brynne Billingsley and my Winter Escape retreat and I couldn’t be more excited! For those not joining us on the retreat this time around, I wanted to leave you with a new video so we can practice together while I am away :)

This 20 minute hip opening vinyasa flow is great for any time of day. Take a short break to stretch, breathe & re-center. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

Enjoy this feel good flow and let me know how it goes!

Adios!

xoJenny

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legs up the wall: the cure-all yoga pose

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legs up the wall: the cure-all yoga pose

Legs up the wall is sometimes know as the cure-all yoga pose. It boasts healing benefits for ailments ranging from anxiety to headaches to insomnia, making it a go-to yoga pose for just about anything.

I practice this pose almost every day as I find it to be a brilliant way to rest my legs after running around the city all day. It is also a wonderful way to find a bit of energy when you feel like you could use a boost.

Check out the video below for a rejuvenating, relaxing 5 minute restorative practice. This video includes a short and sweet meditation followed by legs up the wall with optional variations. You can practice this sequence any time of day, but it is especially helpful as an afternoon pick-me-up or an evening wind-down at the end of a busy day. I hope you enjoy this powerful healing pose as much as I do!

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wishing you a bright new year!

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wishing you a bright new year!

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As we bid farewell to 2017 and say hello to 2018, I would love to share with you a practice I have found to be a powerful way to ring in the new year.

A few years ago, I started the tradition of closing out the year by listing all the positive aspects of the past year. No matter how big or small the event, the accomplishment, the blessing, I sit with my journal and list all the beauty that has entered my life. This has proved to be both a wonderful way to reflect on the past year as well as a way to embrace a positive perspective for the year to come. 

Not only does this practice frame the closing year in a positive light but it is very telling as to what IS working in our lives and how we can grow the positive aspects of our lives rather than being overly focused on what we need to change, uproot and shed. 

I encourage you to give this exercise a shot for a happy and positive transition into 2018.

Wishing you and your family a bright and happy New Year!

Much love,
Jenny

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Too busy for Yoga?

Too busy for Yoga?

There is an old Zen saying, "you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are very busy; Then you should sit for an hour." 

This saying rings so true as I am currently moving out of my apartment where I have lived for the past 7 years. Between sorting through papers, organizing clothes and getting the room ready for the next tenant, this Zen reminder is just what I have needed to keep my practice going, even when super busy.

I think of all I have to do in order to get ready for my move (on Sunday!) and it feels like any spare moment when I am not teaching, I should be working to prepare for the move. However, knowing myself and knowing the power of meditation and yoga, most days I have carved out time for practice. Having a little time on my mat has given me the calm focus I need to stay on task and not get too distracted. This post-yoga focus has been a sharp contrast to days when I was 'too busy', didn't practice and somehow wasted more time than if I had spent just a bit of time on my mat.

I always love a nice, long yoga practice but it is true that we do not always have the time. That's why we could use a break from the all or nothing mentality. A 15-30 minute practice can do wonders, leaving you grounded, centered, focused and ready to take on whatever tasks are at hand. 

For this reason, I have been creating short yoga sequences and sharing them on YouTube. (You can subscribe here if you haven't already!) Anytime you need a shift of energy but don't feel like you have the time, try a video from the Urban Om Yoga channel, like the one below. Just 13 minutes is all you need for an afternoon boost :) Check out the video and, as always, let me know if you have any questions! 

xoJenny

This video was filmed in the loft I have called home for 7 years. Excited for a change but I will miss this dance floor!

Yoga for a Strong Core

Yoga for a Strong Core

Happy Self Care Sunday, Yogis!

I am excited to announce that I have started a YouTube Channel, Urban Om Yoga! 

I started this yoga channel to offer some peace and calm in an easily accessible (and free!) platform. Through various practices we will sweat, rest, restore and meditate. There will be a wide range of practices on the channel so you can find a practice that works best for your specific needs each day. I am so excited to share this project with you. Subscribe to the channel here and check out the most recent video below. 

A strong core supports from the inside out, promoting good posture and a healthy back. 

My yoga practice has been influenced by my recent pilates training and I have found some incredibly helpful exercises to weave into my everyday yoga flow. Check out the video and subscribe to Urban Om Yoga to stay in the loop for future videos- More coming soon!!

Have a wonderful Sunday! 

xoJenny

Traveling Yogi

Traveling Yogi

I recently returned to Brooklyn after a 10 day vacation in California. I love traveling and California always feels like my home away from home so I was happy to head west for a bit. 

Traveling can be an amazing adventure, one that encourages you to leave your comfort zone, try new things and experience different cultures. It creates opportunity to discover fresh perspective by nudging you out of your usual routine.

Combining your travels with a bit of yoga here and there can keep you feeling grounded and calm while on the road. Below are a few tips to help squeeze in some yoga and healthy habits while exploring new terrain. Happy travels yogis!!

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Pack a yoga mat

You can purchase a mat bag for as little as $10. Lightweight and easily portable, you can carry your bag onto the plane as a carryon and slide your mat under your airplane seat. If you have your mat during your travels, you are much more likely to practice. It can be great to find a class at a local studio but sometimes when one is visiting family and friends, there is not time for a full yoga class every day. Find a quiet space to practice for as much time as you have available.

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

A 10 minute yoga practice can make all the difference

Really. Taking time to center yourself, set an intention for the day and move your body makes you a happy traveler and travel companion. Even if you only have a few minutes to stretch and breathe, you will find yourself making healthier choices throughout the day. So often traveling is the opposite of structure. We are often going with the flow and ‘winging’ it, so to say. By adding a bit of structure to your day in the form of a yoga or meditation practice, you will find that you can relax and go with the flow a bit more. 

Practice first thing in the morning

I know it’s vacation and you want to sleep in but if you can wake up just a few minutes early to squeeze in a practice, your body will be happy with you for the rest of the day. 

Meditate

I personally love the Headspace meditation app. It has super simple meditations and cute animations to boot. Choose from several minutes of meditation up to one hour. They also have 1 minute kids meditations if you are traveling with kiddos. On my recent JetBlue flight there were several Headspace meditations in the inflight entertainment so check your flight’s channels and you might be so lucky. 

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Pack Healthy Snacks

Keep your blood sugar even to avoid sugar crashes. I always love having snacks such as Lara bars, almonds, and fruit in my bag as to avoid the hangry stage ;) It is also always great to have options while at the airport where food is often overpriced. 

Find a local studio

It can be a lot of fun to check out a local yoga studio while traveling. Often times family or friends will have a recommendation or they will be up for trying a new class with you. Just as it can be eye opening to experience a different culture, it is always interesting to try a new practice and experience a new view on yoga and meditation.

Know that it’s ok if you stray from your yoga plan

Also, remember that you are on vacation and if you fall out of your usual yoga routine, it is not the end of the world. Sometimes we need a break from practice for one reason or another. Often it is the absence of our yoga practice when we realize how much benefit our practice offers. Do your best while on the road and then get back into your usual routine once you are back home. 

I wish you safe and happy travels!

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