Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach yoga, Nia, and stretch online!

    ALL CLASSES ARE ON ZOOM AT 10:00 AM PDT

    Tuesday Gentle Yoga 

    Wednesday Nia

    Thursday Stretch

    Please see my website for details!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training all virtual, of course!

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • My Bloggey Past

  • ******

    Chose a month above to visit archives, or click below to visit a page.

Posts Tagged ‘backbends’

Working On My Favorite Yoga Poses

Posted by terrepruitt on March 4, 2014

There are a lot of yoga poses.  Especially since a lot of them I know are the modification of the actual pose.  Some of these modifications seemed to have morphed into their own pose with their own name.  In addition to teaching Nia in San Jose, I am now teaching Gentle Yoga.  And I was thinking.  I wanted to make a list of my favorite poses.  I was thinking I could have a list and do them every day.  But it turns out that I like a lot more than I was thinking.  And some I don’t like at all.  And some I look at the picture and guffaw, saying, “Yeah, right?”  Anyway I came up with about 38 poses that I really like, ones that I would call my favorite.  I have a feeling that I am forgetting a couple too so I bet my list could really be in the 40’s.  I could do over 40 poses a day, but I would rather do less and repeat a handful of poses then just work my way through all of my favorites.  So then I circled ones that I would like to do every day and I ended up with 16.  I was thinking I could do those 16 every day.  But then I realized that while I will probably do that every once in a while I would be better off just picking some from the list everyday.  Whatever strikes my fancy.  I feel that if I pick a group every day I will end up getting the exact practice I need for that day.  It could end up being my favorite 16 of the favorites.

I do feel that my “favorites” for the day will end up being exactly what I need.  I plan to post about some of my favorites.  Working my way through the list.  I have already posted a few of them.  One of my favorites that I have posted about is the Gate Pose.  This is a balance pose but it is done on a knee and an extended leg.  Not all balance poses are done standing.  This is a pose that helps with stabilization, strength and flexibility.

Another favorite with a post is the Locust Pose.  I REALLY like this pose.  This is one that I do extremely modified.  I mean I’ve seen the locust pose where most of the yogi’s body is off the ground and they are resting on just their sternum, upper shoulders, and their chin.  That doesn’t even look comfortable to me.  I prefer the belly-on-the-earth-with-the-head, chest, arms, and legs-lifted-off-the-ground version.  This is a whole body pose.  Not only on my favorite list but on the favorite 16!

I also like the Sphinx.  This is another backbend, but with this one we rest on the forearms and elbows.  Another pose that made my list is another back bend, the Cobra.  This one to me is more of a lift using the back.  And another backbend – the Updog – made the list.  Updog and Cobra sometimes look the same in demonstration – depending on who is demonstrating.  Be sure to check out my posts to see the difference.  I use Patrick Reynolds‘ video to explain the difference.   I think of Up Dog more like a hanging backbend.  The only backbend that made my top 16 was the Locust Pose.

The Garland Pose made my list of favorites and the top 16.  This is a position I try to find myself in every day.  Even if I am not doing yoga or any type of practice, I will put myself in this posture to pick up something.  I think that this pose is a great way to help keeps hips bones healthy and juicy.  Also pushing up from this squat is good for the legs.

So I have already posted about a few of my favorite poses.  So I will continue to explore and share with you.

What is your favorite yoga pose?  Why is it your favorite?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hanging In Up Dog

Posted by terrepruitt on December 17, 2013

As I was saying in my recent post, Bend Like The Snake, Upward Facing Dog or Up Dog and Cobra are sometimes called the same thing or thought of as interchangeable.  But they are not the same pose.  Cobra usually does not have the straightened arms, but it can and that might be the source of confusion.  They are similar, but not the same thing.  To me, Cobra is more of an “energy from the back” type of pose, where Upward Facing Dog is more of an “energy from the arms”.

For Up Dog, you lie on your stomach.  Your legs are stretched out behind you.  The tops of your feet are on the earth.  Place your hands, palms on the earth, at your arm pits – your starting position will probably adjust as you become more flexible and can straighten your arms.  You want to start with your hands in a position on the floor so that when you push up and straighten your arms your hands end up directly under your shoulders. When you are ready you push up with your arms.  Your legs remain together.  As you straighten your arms you continue to keep your shoulders down, the blades back. The neck is lengthening.  Keep the space open between your shoulders and your ears.  No scrunching or hunching.  When you arrive at a place that is comfortable your body hangs.  Even if your arms are not all the way straightened the body hangs.  If you are able to straighten your arms your gaze brings your chin parallel to the ground.  If you arms are not all the way straight your gaze could be at the ground.  This is a pose that is best worked into.  Start with back bends that are not as large . . . like the Sphinx.

The “hang” of Up Dog is what really makes the poses different for me.  The Upward Dog IS a backbend, but the energy is coming from the arms.  Whereas in the Cobra the MAIN energy is located in the back.  The arms are still working, but it is the back where the main energy resides.  The Up Dog is a nice hang.

One thing that really helped me with discovering the difference is this video by Yoga Garden.  I really love how this video explains the difference between Cobra and Upward Facing Dog.  Yet, as I have said, many times, about all things, you might find conflicting information.  You have to find what works for you.  The thing I think that is most important to remember about Yoga and its poses is the benefit you and your body receive from it.  While it is GREAT to know the names and to be able to move into that position, sometimes it all might not match up perfectly.  But the strength and flexibility you gain is what will be the most important.

So does all of this information help you identify the differences between the Cobra yoga pose and the Upward Facing Dog pose?

Some Benefits Of Doing Back Bends

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Upward Salute

Posted by terrepruitt on November 21, 2013

As with all workouts, it is important to warm up before beginning.  In a Nia class our warm up is one or two songs.  When I was young and was first learning to exercise the way to warm up was to perform a series of static stretches.  Science has proved that static stretching can actually increase relaxation and in a sense put your muscles to sleep.  Research has now shown that the best type of warm up is to actually prepare your body for the activity it is about to do.  So moving in a slower and more gentle way that you will be moving in the activity you are preparing for is a great way to actually warm up the muscles.  Walking and/or a slow jog is always a great way to warm up the entire body — depending upon the planned workout.  For a yoga practice a warmup could include moving the muscles that you will be using as you do the sequence of poses in your practice for the day.  It is important to warm up the muscles before you put them into a full on stretch or expect them to hold you in a pose.  A warmed muscle moves more easily and can stretch better than a “cold” muscle.  In the beginning of our classes we often do an Upward Salute.  I think it is a great way to start the warming up process.

The Upward Salute is sometimes called Extended Mountain Pose / Mountain Pose with Upward Stretch / Mountain Pose with Arms Overhead.  The basis of the pose is the Mountain Pose.  To do this pose first position your body in the mountain pose.

Summary of Mountain Pose: Toes touch and feet are parallel sense a stable base.  Distribute the weight over the entire foot – both feet.  Your legs are active and rooting you to the earth.  The abdominals are engaged.  The crown of your head is reaching up creating a long spine.  Your muscles are active.  Once you are comfortable in the Mountain Pose (for more details about the pose click here) turn your palms out and raise your arms up in a sweeping motion.  Allow your arms to reach over the top of your head.  Your palms come together.  You gently look up.

If it is not comfortable to look up then keep your gaze forward.  If it is not comfortable for you to bring your palms together then keep them apart, but facing each other.  No matter if you are looking up or your palms are touching your shoulders are down. There is space between your shoulders and your ears.  You have the idea of your shoulder blades sliding down into your back pockets.  Allow the energy to flow down your arms, through your shoulders, through your back and your spine.  Let it travel through your legs.  Enjoy this nice stretch.  Let it warm your entire body.

Staying here in this pose is a great warm up.  If you would like more of a stretch and warm up for the back allow yourself to bend backwards.  With this pose as a warm up the backbend is not deep.  Your shoulders remain back and down even though you move your head tilts back while your gaze is up.  Remain in this pose for a few breaths.  Then move into Mountain and repeat several times.

Now, I am aware that many people have back issues either with their actually back bone, or their spinal cord, or the nerves, so these poses are to be done with the utmost caution.  Keep in mind your OWN back situation and do only what is good for your own body.  It could be that your body gets the stretch it needs by just standing in Mountain Pose with your arms raised and your gaze looking slightly up . . . that is fine.  If that is a stretch for your back, then stay there and enjoy it.  Yoga is not about competing.  It is about doing what your body can do.  Then as you do what your body can do there is a possibility that it will be able to do more.  But there is no rush.  Yoga is a practice.  Enjoy the journey.  This is a wonderful pose to stretch and warm up the body.  And, of course it can also be done at the end of the session in the cool down when getting ready for Savasana.

Do you practice this gentle backbend?

Some Benefits Of Doing Back Bends

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Moving Into The Back

Posted by terrepruitt on November 9, 2013

In addition to teaching Nia classes for the city of San Jose, I was asked to teach a Gentle Yoga Class.  I have taught three sessions and we have one more before the year is over.  This last session before the holiday break is a short one, it is only four weeks.  In the classes there is a large variety of fitness levels.  Regardless of one’s level of fitness I believe it is very important for the emphasis to be on balance and flexibility.  They also like to practice inner reflection which I believe enables a connection to the body.  The connection is to allow for great stability and ease of movement.  In order to meet the varieties of levels we do a cross between flowing through poses and holding them.  I might have also mentioned before that we include getting up and down as part of our practice.  With this next session we are going to do a progression of backbend poses.  I have not yet decided on the progression of balance poses but I have the backbends progression planned. Since we only have four classes and there are five backbends I would like to progress through we will be doing two in the first class.  As with my Nia classes, my yoga students are continually encouraged to do things in their own bodies way.  Since yoga is a practice they can work into the poses.  For the series of backbends they will be encouraged to stay at the level that is acceptable for their own body.

The first backbend we will do will be the standing backbend.  Then, in the same class, we will progress to the Locust.  The Locust has many modifications some of which can be done with just legs lift or the head and shoulders lifted.

Then in our next class we will move onto the Sphinx.  I’ll probably include the Locust in the routine before moving on to the Sphinx, but the Sphinx will be the next in the progression.  Then the next meeting we will move onto the Cobra.  Excellent for strength, stability, and flexibility.  The last class before the long holiday break will be the Upward Dog.  Even though the idea will be for the students to progress through the backbends the modifications will be presented so each individual can progress only if they are ready.

Some students participate in yoga more than once a week so they are more likely to be able to participate in the progress whereas others will do so to a lesser extent – and modifications meet that need.  This is a great way to work on flexibility.  Everybody is moving in their own natural time through their yoga practice so I am excited to present this progression of backbends.  I will include other flexibility poses and balances poses as in all the classes.  I have been putting the emphasis on one or the other during a class which can still tie into the backbend progressions.

Of course, this is my plan prior to meeting with the class.  It could be that after our first meeting I have to adjust my plan and that will be fine.  I do like to see where the class is at and go from there, but it seems like our group has been pretty consistent.  But I can easily adjust my plan for any new body.

I am very grateful and inspired by the students that come to class every week.  It is very exciting to me to see their progress.  Stay tuned for more on the poses that I have yet to post about.

Do you participate in a yoga class?  How is it structured?  Is it an on-going class or is it a series of classes?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »