I may be a day late for International Yoga Day, but if you practice a bit of yoga #everydamnday, does it really matter?

Sometimes people like to think yoga isn’t a “real workout”. Well, I’ll take you to a hot vinyasa flow anytime, any day and you just let me know how you’re feeling the next day. It’s a beautiful practice that involves both body and mind, spirit and flesh. After wringing your body out of toxins and negativity, along with the endorphin high from the cardiovascular activity, you feel absolutely recharged, rejuvenated, and… peaceful. We could learn a lot from the practice, and for me, it was addicting from the moment I sent my hips up into downward facing dog. There is literally a pose or a sequence of poses for EVERY single body part and any sort of pain or ailment you may have. Some can even be done – In. Bed. There’s also a flow for every age and every level.

Majority of Americans, and much of the developed world, spend over 40% of their lives hunched over a keyboard and in front of a screen. Rounded shoulders are the perfect ingredient to looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame before anyone should even be calling you madame. My favorite yoga sequence after a particularly long week or end of month madness at the workplace, involves lots of shoulder stretching and opening. We tend to carry a lot of tension in our backs and our shoulders when we have a lot on our mind or when we feel the weight of the world bearing down on us, so these poses are some of my personal favorite to do when I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tense, tight, or even just when I need a pick me up.

The Glam Greek’s Favorite Shoulder Poses

  • Wide Legged Forward Bend with Clasped Hands
    • I love beginning a practice with this pose (as always, after a couple of Sun Salutations) because it helps to engage everything. The shoulder opening part is getting your arms behind you and clasping the hands together to stretch out the front of your delts.

  • Eagle Pose
    • This pose can appear a little daunting at first, and maybe your hip flexors wont allow you to wrap one leg around the other, and that’s okay. The arm part of this pose can also, very easily, be done in a seated position. Take both your arms out wide, start by bringing your right arm across to your left side, cross your left arm on top of your right, bend at the elbows – if you’re a beginner or very tight, you can stay here – or continue twisting for an amazing rear deltoid stretch; then switch sides!

 

  • Thread the Needle Pose
    • This is probably my FAVORITE of the shoulder poses because I think it’s the first that I learned and mastered of these. Bringing it down onto the mat, I’d suggest to start on all fours, bring your right arm up, bend at the elbow and start reaching under and across through to your left side. Stay here or extend your left arm in front of you and shift your hips over your feet to stretch both your outer & inner delts respectively.

  • Marichi’s Pose
    • I LIVE for this pose. If you sit at a desk all day, stretching your shoulders, back AND hips out is MAJOR key to living a healthy life – take care of your joints man. You only get one set! Any twisting pose helps to wring out the inner organs and detoxify!

  • Bow Pose
    • From two rear deltoid stretching poses to a front deltoid stretch, and everything in between – I’m obsessed with boat pose. This calls for a lot of back flexibility, so take baby steps. This works back, glutes, and stretches quads and front deltoids!

  • Reverse Prayer
    • A typical yoga sequence will end in some sort of variation of lotus pose and the usual prayer arms, but to end your practice with an amazing last front deltoid shoulder hoorah, send your arms behind you to reverse prayer. This one is particular I feel is GREAT for posture as your hands will come into the middle of your back and encourage a straight sitting position. Sometimes I even do this mid-morning to ensure my posture is straight (my co-workers think I’m strange I’m sure…)

 

There are SO many poses that can stretch out the shoulders, these are just my favorite that I come to time and time again.

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me!

 

Namaste,

The Glam Greek

Le sigh. This Houston weather lately has me yearning for the temperatures that graced us towards the end of last/earlier this month thanks to a couple of high pressure weather fronts. Lol! If you’ve even skimmed my blog a bit, I’m sure it’s easy to tell I’m a bit of a dork and have got some, what at first may appear to be useless info in my head, but being a “fashionista” type chick, I gotta pay attention to the weather so I know what to wear and how I should do my hair and makeup! How much effort I decide to put into a look is great influenced by the direction the wind blows – literally. In essence, winds in a low pressure system will bring more moisture – humidity, if you will – into the air that will create clouds, which sometimes means rain. I am not going to straighten my hair or wear a dewy finish foundation if the humidity wont even allow my hair to be frizz-free or my face to be oil-free for longer than a couple minutes. However, when a high pressure system comes in, causing air to sink and drying out the atmosphere, I can load up on highlighter, wear the liquid liner, relax the tresses and throw a light bomber over the shoulders. Basically it allows me to dress and feel fly AF..

Bomber – H&M || Top – Stitch Fix || Jeans – Express

 

Sunnies – Dolce & Gabbana (my favorite pair!) || Lips – Kat Von D Lolita

 

Bauble Bar necklace

However helpful high pressure may be on my hair/makeup/outfits, it’s definitely not good on the psyche. I’d been feeling really low much of last week due to particularly high volume at work, plus mostly added stress that I put on myself to be on my A-game for everything. I’m constantly trying to put 1000 things on my plate, I have 10,000 thoughts going on in my head all at once, I’m forever starting new projects and then stress even more when it takes me longer than usual to complete them. And once I get caught up in the whirlwind, it’s hard to get myself out. Factor in some negative situations or negative feelings about situations and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm. A few things I like to do when I catch my mild anxiety start creeping control over my life, or trying to at least :

  1. BREATHE – this is the most simple, but toughest one!! When my mind is going warp speed, the last thing I want to do is stop what I’m doing or thinking and take a couple of deep breaths. But this is CRUCIAL. Actually, I think I’ll do a couple right now, because breathing is always helpful in any situation, especially at you know, like, sustaining life or whatever.
  2. Meditate – My heart is racing at the thought of all the things I have to do, and I’m supposed to take a minute and really ground myself in my breathing and be grateful for my existence?! In the midst of a stress induced anxiety attack, this seems incredibly inconvenient, but doing so can give you so much peace.
  3. Stretch – oftentimes, my to-do list is ridiculously long and I have no time to allot for even a 20 minute work out, but I try to take a moment every couple of hours to send my arms up to the sky, and swan-dive into forward fold a few times, stretching out the neck, back, and hamstrings which for me, holds a LOT of tension.
  4. Aromatherapy – I especially love lavender or rose when I’m incredibly anxious/stressed and I love it at night before bed; or peppermint during the day when I need a refreshing pick me up. Taking a quick whiff or massaging a small amount onto the temples is my fave. Or light a soothing candle like Eucalyptus MintMidnight Blue Citrus, or Lemon Mint Leaf, all from Bath & Body Works.
  5. Cup of Chamomile Tea – the scent enough is calming to the nerves, but teas are always a great way to warm the soul.
  6. Bubble Baths – Major key alert – putting a few droplets of the aforementioned essential oils to create a dreamy smelling steam bath can take your bath to a whole ‘nother level of relaxation. Bath and Body works has a great selection of good smelling bath products like their Eucalyptus Tea bubble bath and their Lavender Vanilla bath soak.

Whatever may be triggering your panic attacks, just know that you are NOT alone in this, although it may feel that way. Try to let the negativity escape you, and breathe in the positivity around you.

 

xoxo

The Glam Greek

Spring is here, y’all and she’s loud and she’s proud! Not only do we Houstonians have to deal with pollen overload between late February through about May, but the weather also likes to play games. We put away our sweaters thinking spring is here, only to be surprised by a 2 day cold blast, followed by the return of springtime vibes. Both of these things are prime ingredients to a recipe for disaster.

I might be being a little dramatic, but being prone to severe allergies can make you this way!

In my 10 years of yoga practice, inversions continue to terrify and entice me. I try to incorporate some sort of balance or inverse pose into my daily practice because not only is it great for your physique, but it can help improve a multitude of maladies.

When you’re dealing with congestion, the last thing you want to do is flip your head upside down, but adding inversions like shoulder stand, forearm balance or something as simple as standing forward bend can alleviate that pressure by increasing blood flow to these areas. Increased circulation in the sinuses can help to open the passageways and restore clear breathing!

My Favorite Asanas for Sinusitis

  • Standing Forward Bend – Uttasana
    I love this pose. Be sure to keep knees slightly bent. I like to grab each elbow with the opposite hand and swing slightly from side to side
  • Downward Facing Dog
    If your practice does not include this pose… girl…
    Before practicing any intermediate or advance pose, you should always do some Sun Salutations to warm up the body. And your Sun Salutation flow should almost always include a couple of Downward Dogs & chaturangas.
  • 3 Legged Dog
    Downward Dog turnt all the way up. Be sure to keep hips aligned, facing the ground to really benefit from this pose. Do not be afraid of trying this pose. Build your strength, height & flexibility will come with time

    Oops.. my hip is too lifted. We all have areas to improve no matter how long we have been practicing anything

  • Dolphin
    This pose is a CRUCIAL, fundamental pose to incorporate in your practice if mastering inversions (specifically Pincha Mayurasana) is your goal. It’s basically Downward Dog’s weird cousin.
  • One-Legged Dolphin
    Wait a second – dolphins don’t have legs!! This pose is particularly helpful and most effective when holding for about 3-5 breaths before returning to regular dolphin pose as it fires up the lats and core – major key alert!

    When you get comfortable here, lift the leg that’s up as high as you can until the foot at the bottom slowly begins to lift off the mat. Be sure to engage the core and only go as far as your body tells you.

    If your bottom toes start to peel off the mat, align your spine as much as possible and try to hold your legs in this “L”-shape for as long as possible. If there’s no wall behind you to come into Pincha Mayurasana, this is a true testament to your balance, spine alignment and core and will help you master this pose.

    Of course, if you can do forearm balance, go right ahead, but for me – this is where my current practice resides.

*Stretch Break*

  • Sphinx Pose
    Inversions are my favorite full body toner. But they can make muscles tight. Be sure to stretch. Sphinx is perfect for after attempting Pincha Mayurasana
  • Shoulder Stand – Sarvangasana
    Assisted or not, this is a great pose. I’m also a fan of how it helps to stimulate the thyroid! You could also go into plow pose from here (plow pose not pictured in this sequence) and stretch the back of the neck, upper back & shoulders.
  • Headstand – Srirasana
    Big Daddy! Do not try this pose with acute sinusitis, try to wait a few days after symptoms are less severe.

    Start by aligning the spine & tucking the knees into the core

    When you’re ready, slowly lift your legs up towards the sky 

    Once you are secure enough in this pose and are able to hold it for multiple breaths, try different leg variations! I was feeling quite eagle-y this weekend, hoping to soar away from my sinus & allergy issues.

Whatever your skill level, yoga is a great addition to your exercise routine for a full mind & body workout.

Hoping to spread inner & outer beauty, thank you all for stopping by, and namaste.

xoxo
The Glam Greek