Zen Body Yoga + Wellness

Spreading the Zen to Tulsa!

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Using a Yoga Block

Written By: Margaret Wish

Yoga BlocksDo you use a yoga block in your practice? Personally, I always grab a block for every practice because you never know if and when you may need one. Some days my body will be fully open, other days I may be tight and need a little support.

When I first started my yoga practice, I didn’t realize the importance of using this prop. I thought that since I had a dancer background that yoga would be no problem for me, and that I would be able to do everything with ease. That was my ego talking. Once I became more serious about my practice, I realized that having a block is not a sign of weakness, but rather acknowledging that it is okay to need help and support.

Lately, I have learned several different ways that you can use your yoga block, and I thought it would be fun to share that with you! Here are 2 of my favorite ways that you can use your yoga block to improve your yoga practice:

1) Feeling Grounded
If you have used a yoga block during your practice, you probably already understand this tip! The yoga block has three ‘settings’: high, medium, and low. These ‘settings’ simply mean the way in which you are holding the block.

As you start your practice, you may need to use the high setting in your extended side angle or triangle pose until you are able to slowly move your hand to the floor. The block brings the ground to you, and can bring ease into a posture that would otherwise be uncomfortable.

2) Improving Technique
Alignment is key in your yoga practice, and your block can help you better understand how to properly hold your arms and legs.

Here is a great way to learn and practice engaging your shoulders in downward facing dog:

Holding the block long ways in your hand, press your hands into the side of the block while trying to make your pinkies touch. You should feel an internal rotation in your arms, similar to being in downward facing dog. Next, try holding downward facing dog and applying this technique to the posture. Do you feel the difference?

Next time you step onto your mat, don’t be afraid to grab your yoga block and use it to further your practice.

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Mountain Bubbles & Tummy Time

Written By: Laura Brownphoto

Pause and breathe.

I have to tell myself this all the time with my 3 young kids. I am trying to teach my children that people do not make good choices when they are stressed and not self-regulating.

How often do you make it through the day in a calm state?

Let’s keep it real…

Not often.

Being able to self-regulate throughout the day is quite tough, especially for children. As parents, we have to be good role models, and give them tools to better self-regulate.  One great tool is to teach children to take deep breaths.

Bubble Mountain is a super fun way to do this. Making bubbles grow and grow by taking deep breaths in and then blowing out is so much fun for kids. Deep breaths are also a great way to help with self-regulating. Taking deep breaths before sitting for long periods of time, before doing homework, or to improve your mood can be very beneficial.

Another great way to help with self-regulation is as easy as laying on your stomach, in prone position on your elbows. In this position, you engage the shoulder and back muscles, which then activates the brain stem, which can help you to self-regulate. This is one of the reasons that tummy time is so important in infancy. Babies need to be on their tummies often in order to properly develop. This is also why crawling is so important to do before walking.

Instead of sitting for coloring, writing, playing games, and reading, do it on your tummy to help improve your day.

This week, try spending more time on your front side instead of your backside.

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Getting to Know Jessica Cummings

zen body-12What brought you to yoga?

I was first introduced to yoga as a child. I enjoyed the stretching, but at the time didn’t see it as much more than that. Over a period of years, as my personal Journey of Self expanded, I was reintroduced to yoga as part of a support system in my growing “tool belt.”

After spending some soul-searching time in the Rocky Mountains, I was inspired to embrace Hatha Yoga training at 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona. This 5-week intensive program led me to many new layers of what I felt life was truly about. I awoke each morning at 4 a.m. – cleansing, neti-potting, meditating, eating vegan for the first time in my life, taking cold showers and releasing any form of technological support system, comfort food, or glass of wine I had once used to “escape” – and I began to see life much more clearly.

Being cut off from the mainstream to dive into my own personal oasis was truly life changing. As each week passed with others acquiring their 200 hours of yoga and hiking the blissfully charging lands of Sedona, a new Being inside of me began to arise. I learned through this journey of self-surrender that wherever you go, there you are. So here “I AM” – happy, healthy and whole – on my true path of Heart Source.

What is your favorite style of yoga? Why?

My favorite style of yoga is ever changing! After spending several years focusing on the classical yoga practice of Hatha, improving my alignment and flexibility, I began moving into deeper aspects of meditation, raja and mantra yoga. Currently, my highest focus is on Kundalini Yoga, as I have found that through this style of yoga, I have received the most energy at the fastest rate. Kundalini’s ability to shift internal perceptions as your external environment changes with it is like no style of yoga I have ever experienced.

I have found that this is truly a style of yoga that gives back as much as you offer. Yogi Bhajan said, “Let your effort be an offering to your highest self.” Through my time practicing, I have found this to be true. I feel more at peace with all things around me, less reactive and able to manifest my destiny at an increasingly faster rate. With the technology of Kundalini Yoga under my belt, I feel truly prepared for anything that comes my way.

What is one thing that yoga has helped you with?

One thing yoga has helped with is to shift my life “expectation” to the concept that I have a choice! I can choose to “be sad” or be experiencing sadness. I can choose to “be angry” or experiencing anger. I am able to step outside of my emotions and observe them as a witness to self. This has created a much more peaceful and loving environment internally and externally in my life.

I am grateful towards my teacher in Sedona, Shraddha, for sharing the Enneagram with us. As I was able to uncover my personality type through the Enneagram and see “what my ego does,” I was also able to find a gateway through the ego and back to heart center.

How do you integrate yoga into your everyday life?

I integrate yoga through leading by example. I choose daily to allow my practice to influence my lifestyle by choosing to make healthy and conscious decisions. Whether it is through my diet, kindness to others or my personal practice, yoga is a part of my everyday life.

When I go home, my home reflects yoga as I sit peacefully in my mediation room or enjoy the rock, water and fire elements around my house. I keep live plants always growing to remind myself and those around me that life is a gift in the present and when we don’t take care of it, it will cease to exist. Yoga is a constant and forever choice that I am choosing to live by.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to a new student beginning their yoga journey?

When you come up to your wall, you may choose to back up and go the other way, or accelerate and go through it! Throughout our practice of yoga, which is often described as “a life long journey,” we come up against many blocks. These may present themselves as a physical, emotional, energetic or spiritual block; but no matter what type of block, BREATH WILL GET YOU THROUGH! Just remember, it’s usually those breaths right after you want to give up and move out of a pose that the sweetest part begins to reveal itself.

Inhale the tension and Exhale the release – as Theodor Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.” Be patient and kind to yourself as your journey to heart is endless.

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Morgan - StrikYourZenJoin us in our newest Yoga campaign, Strike Your Zen.  As you start your summer, whether you are on vacation, at a music festival, at the lake, or simply in your back yard, take a picture of yourself in one of your favorite yoga poses and include the hashtag #StrikeYourZen.

We will share your pictures on our pages, and post it in our studio as well! We want to see it all: from savasana to crow, tree pose to firefly. Share your love of yoga with Zen Body and the world!