Yoga Pose Breakdown: Lotus

Lotus (Padmasana)
It’s the pose many people associate with yoga – a calm, wise-looking yogi, meditating with crossed ankles. It seems painful and impossible to get into – and while it can be if flexibility is missing in certain areas of your body – it doesn’t have to be. With consistent stretching of the correct muscles, Lotus is within reach more than you might think!

So let’s break the pose down a little bit:

What muscles need to be stretched?

TFL Outer hipsTensor Fascia Latae:
This muscle connects to your IT band and the top/front of your pelvis. It helps internally rotate the femur at the hip – when tight, it limits external rotation.

Gluteus Medius:
Internally rotates the femur bone in the hip socket – when tight, it limits external rotation.

 

 

adductor muscles


Adductor Muscles:

Since these muscles cross the hip joint + connect to your femur bone, the flexibility of these muscles are necessary for lotus. Tightness can prevent your knees from reaching the floor and creating deeper external rotation in the hip.

 

 

 

 

hamstringsHamstrings:
The hamstrings don’t contribute to the rotation of the hip, but they do affect the tilt of the pelvis. If your hamstrings are tight, you are more likely to have a posterior tilt (pelvis tucked under), as your hamstrings attach to the bottom of your pelvis. This affects posture while in lotus (or any sitting position) – having a slight anterior tilt releases tension in the lower back and improves posture.

 

While stretching the above muscles will help create more space in externally rotating your hip, the hip must be doing the rotation (it is a ball and socket joint!). More rotation in the hip (versus treating your hip socket, pelvis, and surrounding muscles as 1 unit) = less tension/stress on your knee joint.

So what poses can be done to prepare for Lotus?

Low squat (Malasana)
Externally rotates the femur bone, opens up the hip joint, stretches adductor muscles. Use a block to sit on if you are unable to sit your hips low comfortably.

Malasana  Modified Malasana

Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)
Externally rotates the femur bone, opens up the hip joint, stretches adductor muscles
*Do not put a lot of pressure on knees to get them closer to the ground. Instead, perform a PNF stretch, which will bypass your stretch reflex & help release the adductors. Push hands & knees against each other, at 20% effort for 8 seconds. Relax for one breath, then gently press your knees down a little further than before.  **Only perform PNF stretching 1-2 times every few days on a single muscle group.

Baddha Konasana

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Stretches the outer hips/glutes. Add a twist to stretch adductors & external rotators. Place a block under your glute for modification.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose Modification

Reclined Figure 4
Modification for pigeon pose – stretches the outer hips/glutes & inner thigh muscles.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Yoga

Figure 4 Yoga

Forward Fold
Stretches hamstrings, lower back. Place a block between legs & rest head on block as a modification.

Forward Fold Yoga

Forward Fold Modification

Seated Cat’s cradle stretch
Stretches tensor fascia latae & glute medius – make sure to pull knee into chest before externally rotating your leg (creates more space in your hip joint) to cradle it + also flex your foot. Gently rock leg from side to side.

Revolved Triangle
Stretches the hamstrings and the muscles attached to the IT band – Tensor Fascia Latae & Glutes. Use a block under the bottom hand for an extra lift.

Paravrtta Trikonasana

Revolved Triangle Modification

Hero’s Pose (Virasana)
Opens up the hip joint (internal rotation), stretches quads & hip flexors. Place a block between legs as a modification. For a more intense stretch, lean back on elbows or lay on back. **I was able to do this around 6-8 months post-knee surgery, so patience is key with this pose 🙂

Heros Pose

Heros Pose Yoga

Heros Pose

Heros Pose Modification

Once you’ve done a few of the above stretches, you can now try to enter lotus. **If you don’t feel comfortable attempting lotus just yet, do the stretches above 2-4 times a week (or more if you are looking to increase your flexibility faster!), holding for 30-60 seconds.

Begin in a seated position, both legs straight in front of you. Hug your right (or left) knee to your chest, and allow the knee to fall out to the side, relaxing the muscles around your hip in order for the external rotation to happen. If your knee is not close to the ground, stay here, and repeat the above step with the other leg, staying in butterfly pose.

***Also, if you feel any tension in your knee, that is a signal to STOP. When the external rotation of your hip stops (a ball and socket joint), the rotation is then transferred to your knee (a hinge joint, NOT a joint that can move freely like the hip!). This puts pressure on your cartilage and meniscus, which can cause serious injury to your knee(s).

If you feel no pressure on your knees, begin to move your (flexed) foot up and across your thigh so that it rests on the inner crease of your hip. If you feel pressure at your knee at any point during the movement of your foot, do not continue with the stretch.

If you are able to get into half lotus, repeat with the other leg. Sometimes, we are more open on one side of our bodies, so switching the order of the left/right leg on top might help you get into this pose easier on the other side.

And that’s it! By understanding the muscles involved with getting into lotus pose, you now have an awareness of what to work towards. Give yourself a few weeks or 1-2 months of consistent stretching, and you’ll begin to notice an opening of your outer hips & inner thighs, making lotus a little more accessible.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Handstand Workshop with Shana Meyerson

Hi!

Earlier this year, I signed up for Shana Meyerson’s handstand workshop at GoYoga in Columbus. Shana is a bubbly, fun instructor all the way out in California (btw – her name is pronounced Shawn-a, not shane-a…. a mistake I made the entire time she was here… sorry Shana!!!). While I’ve never taken a class from her before, I have watched a few of her youtube videos, and I loved her teaching style (check her out, she has a ton of great videos for beginners to advanced!). So, once I heard she was coming out to Ohio, I immediately signed up to take her workshop!


Shana is a little different than a lot of yoga instructors – she is passionate about yoga obviously, but has such a fun, quirky personality that you can’t help but instantly like her. She wears her hair in 2 long braids all the time, and is very engaging while teaching – you won’t get bored!

Her 2.5 hour workshop was a lot different than other workshops I’ve taken – Kino MacGregor focused on a lot of strengthening drills, and Matt Giordano was more focused on anatomy/technical skills. Shana emphasized the strength of your core, as well as hamstring flexibility. We used the wall for the first half of class, and then the last half we were able to work without a wall. There were a few people that were able to find their balance for a little bit, which just shows how well Shana can teach handstands 🙂

While I am not a newbie to handstands, I am always looking to refine & improve what I can already do. I always learn from every teacher I encounter, and Shana was no different!

Shana Meyerson

Afterwards, I grabbed dinner with her & 2 other women who attended the workshop. Shana was very down to earth, and I loved being able to connect with everyone! If you ever get the chance to pop in for a class while out in Los Angeles, California, check her out!

What has been your favorite workshop that you have ever taken? And why was it your favorite? Leave a comment below!

Yoga Teacher Training Recap: Pranayama & Chakras + Handstands & NYC!

Time. It seems that there is never enough of it nowadays – between traveling, adjusting to a new job schedule, yoga teacher training, workshops.. I am struggling to find time to get my runs in, create my yoga classes, practice guitar, see friends/family, volunteer, get in my own yoga practice, etc…

BUT – I love it all! And this past weekend, I completed class 5 of 6 for my 200 hour Yoga teacher training… which means there is only1 more class until I have my 200 hour certification in my hands! All of this studying, hours of reading, weekend workshops – all adding up to my end goal! Another item to check off the bucket list for this year 🙂

Below is a recap of the 5th weekend of training!

Module 5: Take Students to their Edge and Help them Find Their Greatness (10 hours)

  • 8-9:20 am: heated yoga class
  • learned about Pranayama & different types of yogic breathing (lions breath, ujjayi, baya/antara kumbhaka)
  • learned about bandhas
  • learned about Ayurveda & the Doshas
  • paired up & taught half a class, getting feedback from another other teacher trainee
  • Coloring/meditation exercise & learned about the different chakras
  • Taught first 15-20 minutes of yoga class at end of day

So, we basically learned a lot of stuff to integrate into our classes, inspire students + practiced teaching. 10 hours of learning is a LOT to take in at once, even when it is interesting. I loved learning about pranayama, as breath is the one thing I need to learn to be more comfortable with when teaching my classes. I don’t really consider myself super yogi-ey…. meaning, I am not sure if I buy into all the chakra/medicine stuff – which is totally fine. My classes are more of a workout, with a focus on body awareness and prepping for advanced poses like inversions. However, I am still learning, and whatever I find interesting I will always add to my classes. I always want my students to have the best experience – they do all of the work, I cannot even take any credit for their greatness – but, I want to teach in a way that people understand & get them to think a little deeper. So always evolving, growing, and having fun at the same time 🙂

yoga

And a few quick updates –

  • Putting on a workshop as part of my training – basically the “rough draft”, where I will be getting evaluated. It is this Friday – called “Journey to Handstand” – and I will be teaching the basics and foundation to work up to handstands! I have an outline and have practiced on a few friends, so I think I am ready.. still nervous, but ready!

Nina Elise Yoga HAndstand

  • Next trip: NYC!!! I found out Tamara Levinson-Campos was coming to NY for a workshop in December, and I have been dying to take a class from her! She is amazingly crazy and awesome and fun – check her out here! I’ll be visiting a few friends while there (yoga class + Sunday brunch = best combination ever) and exploring the city a bit for 3 days.

So with that all being said… what are your thoughts on what makes a yoga class so special or great? Would you take a workshop on how to handstand? And for everyone in NYC – any recommendations on where to go, what to do? Or even better – I’d love to meet up while I am in town! 

Weekend Update, Impromptu Travel & 5K Recap

Sooooo where to begin? Things have been absolutely crazy the last month, and I have barely been able to keep up! A few things:

New job – yep, after 2 (LONG) years of working in ecommerce, I quit my job. New job = a new chapter in my life, advance in my career, and less stress. Besides the longer commute to work, I couldn’t have asked for anything better! Well, unless I was traveling for my job, but that might be in the not-too-far-away future 😉

Running – I decided to run a 5k on Thanksgiving – so lately, I’ve been making time to run 2-4 miles a few times a week, as well as signing up for a 5k this past weekend as a preparatory race. The race was called “The Donut 5k” – you get to eat donut holes every mile, then are handed a half a dozen donuts once you cross the finish line. Of course it was a no brainer to sign up! Unfortunately, I didn’t feel so good from going out Thursday and Friday night… but, fortunately, my body magically decided it was fast – and I ended up running the race in under 24 minutes! First place in my age group, 7:41 pace. Considering I had major knee surgery last year, I am incredibly grateful for the progress I have made in running – the body is capable of amazing things!

donut run nina elise

Travel – I took an impromtu trip to the beach in FL on Monday this week – yep, for 1 day. I needed some time to relax before starting my job, and even though I only had 1 day to do it, I did it right! After teaching my Sunday yoga class, I booked a flight 6 hours before take-off – went to a yoga workshop for 2 hours – then hurried to the airport to catch my flight. I arrived in Florida around 1 am, slept, then went to the beach from 11 am to 5:30 pm at night. I read, napped, and swam in the ocean. At night, I hung out with family. It was the most perfect day trip I could have asked for! Tuesday I flew back to Columbus at 4 pm, managing to somehow run errands, go shopping, and meet friends for dinner. Travel is awesome, but sometimes it lacks in the sleep department. But – that’s what the weekends are for, right??

west palm beach yoga

jupiter florida

fit blonde yogi beach

Yoga Teacher training – only 2 more 10-hour Saturday classes before I am DONE! This 200 hour training has taken quite a toll on me mentally – but in a good way! I have been learning so much, and there just are not enough hours in the day to study. Also – I will be putting on my first ever workshop next Friday! Update to come on how this goes/possible future handstand workshops in Columbus!

One More Thing…
body building warehouse protein powder
My friends over at body building warehouse were kind enough to send me some samples of their products – whey protein from happy European, grass-fed cows. I finally was able to give their protein shakes a try – the hot chocolate (YES, a hot chocolate drink that’s good for you!!) and Banana Peanut Butter. I consider myself pretty smart, so I decided to mix the 2 together – banana + chocolate + peanut butter = Gods gift to humankind.. so basically, this was an amazing shake. I recommend mixing with ice/a frozen banana + milk (I used almond). You can find a huge range of products at their site – check them out here, it’s hard to find good quality protein mixes these days! There are also non-dairy flavors too, so there is something for everyone!

protein shake body building warehouse

That’s it… for now! I’ll be posting a recap in the coming weeks of finishing up my yoga teacher training, more races, and moving! Also – where will I be traveling next?? More to come on this 🙂 Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

Yoga Teacher Training Recap: Creating a Workshop

This past weekend, I took class # 2 of 6 for the last half of my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. As a recap, below is a summary of what my homework was, and what I did to prepare for the second training class:

  • Create a theme-based class (I created a (pretty tough) class on balancing)
  • Complete yoga vision board **Complete!
  • Begin a daily mantra/meditation practice **I decided to start with 5 minutes a day, alternating between using the mantra “I am” and just sitting in silence. I had to journal about how it affected my life, if at all.
  • Complete online module **Completed. I took a survery to find out what type of learner I am – and I am about equal parts of visual (40%), auditory (30%), and hands on (30%).

This weekend, I spent 8 hours learning how to Educate – Create Workshops that Wow. Below is a recap of what went on in those 8 hours:

  • Taught part of the theme based yoga class I created from my last homework assignment (Balance)
  • Learned how to market a  workshop (design flyers, cost, details, etc)
  • Chose a theme for my workshop
  • Began research on my workshop

+ 2 Hours of Workshop Presentation & 8 Hours of Attending Other Trainee Workshops (for a total of 18 hours)

Homework due at next module in October:

  • Put together a workshop – pick a theme, research it, put together an outline & a marketing outline. I will be creating a “Journey to Handstand” workshop… who in Columbus wants to learn how to handstand?? 🙂
  • In addition to the daily meditation practice, write down 3 things I am grateful for – so start a daily gratitude journal

Overall, the whole class went really quick! I really love all of the girls in the training with me, they are all amazing people and yoga teachers. It makes sitting all day learning a lot easier 🙂

I’m off to Europe in a few hours.. If you want to follow my adventures, add me on snapchat – my username is neens06!

snapcode

Scan this to find me on snapchat!

Until next time!

Nina

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