Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

    Gentle Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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Posts Tagged ‘Upward Salute’

Some Benefits Of Doing Back Bends

Posted by terrepruitt on April 24, 2014

In one of the sessions I taught for the City of San Jose at the Willow Glen Community Center I taught a progression of back bends over the course of the sessions.  We started with a very gentle standing back bend, Upward Salute.  Then in our next meeting our next step in the back bend lesson plan was a back bend on our bellies, it was a Locusts Pose.  With this one it can be a very gentle progression as it can be done in mini forward steps.  It is an easy pose to modify.  It can be broken down into three separate components all which can be modified.  Then we moved onto the Sphinx Pose, which is more of a bend.  Then the next pose we moved on to was the Cobra Pose.  This is a bigger back bend and while it can be modified it is not as obvious in its modifications as the Locusts Pose.  The last one we did in the series was Upward Facing Dog, which is a hanging pose which allows for a big bend in the back.  In my posts regarding each pose I talked about how to do them, but I didn’t really explain the benefits of them.

Here are some of the benefits of each pose:


Upward Salute
(Urdhva Hastasana)

Good for relief from symptoms of:
Fatigue, asthma, congestion, indigestion.  Also, like all of the back bends, it helps relieve back ache.
It helps Improves digestion, relieve mild anxiety and create space in the chest and lungs.


Locust Pose
(Salabhasana)

Is an invigorating pose so it can help alleviate fatigue.  It also helps with relieving flatulence and constipation.  It can assist in relieving indigestion.

Sphinx Pose  (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Helps calms nerves and relieve fatigue and stimulates abdominal organs. It also helps relieve stress.

Some say Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.  (According to the Yoga Journal’s website.)

Cobra (Bhujangasana)

This pose also helps relieve stress.

Soothes sciatica along with the same as the sphinx (some believe that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.)

Upward dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Is similar to the other back bends as it stimulates abdominal organs, and helps relieve fatigue and sciatica. It is also therapeutic for asthma. It also helps with mild depression.

 

Many yoga poses separately boast stress relief.  I believe, however that yoga in general helps relieve stress.  I understand though that some poses target stress specifically.  All the back bends open up the chest and bend the back so ailments associated with those areas are often made better by doing back bends.  The benefits stated here are benefits that can be found after engaging in a yoga practice and doing the poses properly.  This page is not to be used to diagnose or treat any issue you may be having.  Please make sure you are seeing a medical professional for your serious health issues.

In addition to know how to do the pose, I always think it is nice to know how poses can help you.  Back bends are a good way to reduce stress.  Please take caution in doing them.

Do you include back bends in your practice?

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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

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Sun Salutation – My Way

Posted by terrepruitt on May 4, 2013

The Sun Salutation is a sequence of asanas.  I have not yet included it in any of my Nia classes, but I am thinking about doing so.  In general modern day usage “asana” is what people call a yoga pose.  So the Sun Salutation is a sequence of yoga poses.  Now, if you look up Sun Salutation on the internet you will find a lot of variations.  There are certain asanas that you will consistently find in all of them, but then not all of the Sun Salutations will include the same EXACT ones.  I’ve seen anywhere from 9 to 13 poses in a single salutation.  Since yoga is considered a practice associated with religion, a meditation, a prayer, a movement form, and/or a straight out exercise it makes sense that there are so many difference ways to do the Sun Salutation.  If you are chosing to do the movement as a form of worship it might have different movements than if you are doing it to get a specific physical benefit.  Most of the instructions on how to do it agree that the movements are based on breath.  Inhale here, exhale there.  I have decided on a combination of what I have been trained with, what I have practiced in classes, what I practice at home, several applications, and things I have learned along the way.  I have decided on thirteen movements.  I move using the right leg through 11 asanas, then through them again using the left leg.  Two of the poses making the sequence 13 are only used only in very beginning and the end.

I start in Anjali mudra then go to the
Mountain Pose, then arms move out and up into an
Upward Salute, then I swan dive into a
Forward Bend, up into a
Standing Half Forward Bend, then I place the left leg back into a
lunge then the right leg back into a
plank then I move down onto knees into
knees, chest, chin/Ashtanga Namaskara or chaturanga up into
cobra, then I push back into
downward dog, I stay here longer than any other pose.  I breath.  Then I bring my right leg forward, so I am in a
lunge, then I bring my left leg forward then I
forward bend, then I come up a little into
Standing Half Forward Bend then lift my arms out and up as I rise into an
Upward Salute which I consider the start of the right sun salutation.  I go through the sequences again this time place my right leg back into the lunge.  When it is time to lunge again, I bring my left leg forward.

I find that as I move through the salutation, I like to change my Upward Salutes into more of a little back bend.  Only bending back as I warm up and it feels good.

Since this is my Sun Salutation, and I am not worshiping the sun . . . in fact I don’t even think of the sun at all, I just do it my way.  I do it in the way I feel like doing it that day.  Sometimes I time it with my breath inhaling on this move and exhaling on that move, sometimes I stay in each pose longer and while I am aware of my breath my movements are not dictated by it.  I do somewhat feel that is WAAAAAY contrary to the way it is “supposed” to be done, but then again it is MY movement.  It is MY practice.  It is MY meditation.  So I do it the way MY body feels like doing it that day.  I don’t usually decide how I am going to do it when I begin, I just begin and however I seem to move is how I do it that day at that time.  Sometimes I even time it to the music I am listening too.  Sometimes, unfortunately, I am in a hurry and I just want to get a few in so I do them.  It all depends.  That is why I think it is nice because YOU can do it how you want to do it to match the reason you are doing it.  After doing at least six, I end with the Mountain Post and the Anjali mudra.

Do you do a version of the Sun Salutation?  What asanas do you include in your salute?

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