downward dog pose

Do your heels touch the ground in Down Dog?

Do your heels touch the ground in Down Dog?

And more importantly, SHOULD they?

I get asked this question a lot, and I guess it's because people are so often pictured doing down dog with their heels down.

So, if it's not to get your heels down, what is the goal of down dog?

How to have happy wrists -and shoulders - in yoga

How to have happy wrists -and shoulders - in yoga

Ever get sore wrists in downward facing dog or plank pose?

Or simply feel like your arm muscles aren't strong enough to hold your weight? 

Your arm bones can help you with that. 

There are some simple trajectories of weight that will help you position your bones so they can do their share of the lifting better.

Why 'drop your shoulders' is a terrible yoga cue.

Why 'drop your shoulders' is a terrible yoga cue.

A lot of the yoga we practice these days emphasises bearing weight through our arms (and therefore, our shoulder girdles). Which, strictly speaking, we aren't really designed to do.

Which makes it really important to understand what we should be doing with our arms and shoulders to be safe.

How to boost your immunity this Winter (plus a giveaway)

Winter is coming... 

(Okay, maybe it's already here)

And with it the cold and flu season. Ick. But yoga can help give your immune system a little extra ammunition against the dreaded lurgy in the colder months. We made a little infographic to show you how.

Instructions for:

Down dog here

Child's pose here

Tadasana (Mountain pose) here

Legs up the wall pose here

And we have a giveaway!

We have five copies of the 'Salute the Desk' app for iPhone and iPad to give away.

It's a really cool app - it reminds you to take regular stretch breaks, and you get little goals to work towards (see image below). It's awesome too that the person who finally, finally made a non-sucky yoga app is a local Melbourne lady.

To enter, just leave a comment below, or reply to the newsletter saying 'yes please'.

You have until midnight Sunday 11 May to enter and winners will be announced on Facebook on Tuesday 13 May.

Building a yoga habit

Morning yoga has become a ritual for me. 

I roll out of bed and do a few yoga poses on my bedroom floor in my pjs. I do this every day, sometimes just for ten minutes. It doesn't always feel good, but it tunes me in to how I feel, and I am usually calmer afterwards. 

This habit has a significant impact on the rhythm* of my day, my productivity in my work, and how stressed I do or do not feel. 

Rituals and habits are closely related. 

I think of rituals as habits that give us a little space to find meaning, or to remind ourselves of it.  

The dictionary definition of ritual is “any practice or pattern of behaviour regularly performed in a set manner”, and there’s plenty written on how rituals can give meaning to events (even a study that showed that performing a short ritual before eating food increased the enjoyment of eating it!), and how the things we do repeatedly are who we become. 

(These two, on the relationship between personality and habit, and on how long it takes to form a new habit, are particularly interesting.)

What does this have to do with yoga? Well, yoga is a tool both for noticing our habits (in posture, movement, thoughts, emotions) and for changing our them so we spending more time with the ones that help us.

And, of course, yoga itself can be a habit or ritual. 

Do you want to build a yoga habit?

I’ve written here before about how a home yoga practice can be an antidote to Busy. It’s also a way of noticing things about ourselves and how we are in the world, and, potentially, to begin to build more helpful habits in other parts of life.

But how to start?

I’m going to give just one piece of advice.  

Start small. 

A small change is easier to do regularly, and to form a habit we need regularity. (There's a great post here on the Zen Habits blog about forming habits.)

So perhaps start just by standing for a minute (yes, just a minute) each morning or evening in tadasana with your feet at hip width apart, spine tall, face muscles softening.

Or, you might like to try just a minute each day of any of these simple postures:

Build a yoga habit

Pick a time of day, and do it each day at (or roughly at) that time. Be flexible though. If the time doesn't work, change it until you find a time that does. Then stick to it. And that one little change may lead to bigger ones. After all, from little things big things grow.

*A note: I prefer the word ‘rhythm’ to ‘routine’ because it’s a little more flexible and a little less mechanical (and hey, life isn’t always predictable).