4 Ideas for the day after a yoga mala

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Yesterday was the winter solstice.  You may have participated in 108 sun salutations, or you might have had a normal active weekend and are feeling tight and sore today.  Whatever you did this weekend, but especially if it was 108 sun salutations I recommend you pause to take care of yourself.  Personally I'm feeling surprisingly energized as I was wide awake at 4am, but I do feel tight.

Here are my top 4 tips for recovery after a yoga mala.

1) Take an epsom salt bath in very warm water:  I've never seen any scientific data that will make your soreness go away by taking an epsom salt bath.  That said a long hot soak is good for the soul and it gives me temporary relief and just plain feels good.  Not to mention it can help you with number 3! Go soak it up!

2) Drink Lots of water:  When you exercise your body builds up lactic acid and you've gotta flush it out and the toxins that came with it.  It's impossible to flush your system if you don't drink water.  Drink up!

3) Spend 10 minutes or more in meditation:  Did you feel a storm of emotions brewing as you took your body through a long moving meditation yesterday?  Did you run right out of class to grab a cup of coffee before finishing your christmas shopping or did you go spend a little time in reflection or meditation?  Yoga helps strip things down to the bare bones and brings us to the core of our beings.  If you haven't spent time reflecting on what you did yesterday I recommend you do today.  You might have missed some feelings moving just below the surface that need a little extra nudge, give yourself time to feel and explore.

4) More Yoga! Yes you read that right.  Get back on your mat!  One of the first things I learned in yoga teacher training is "The best cure for sore from yoga is more yoga".  You need to move. Try a few sun salutations, childs pose, downward facing dog, or twisting.  It doesn't really matter, just get on your mat, explore and see where it takes you.  It doesn't have to be another 108, but move!  It will help the muscles as they repair and rebuild from yesterday.  If you need inspiration here are a few past posts that might help, post 1 and post 2.

Now go mark your calendar for the solstices in 2015 because we will be practicing more malas on those days too!

xoxo -Alisha

108, i am Home, i have arrived

IMG_3018 It's been a magical weekend, from our snow filled pre-yoga run yesterday, post yoga knitting, to our sweat filled mala at the studio this morning.  This afternoon I relished spare time for a long and much needed soak in an epson salt filled tub.  Finally I made a quick run out clad in my pj's for take-out thai soup (sorry no recipe post from me this week).  With a warm full belly, there is now space to reflect on the beauty of this weekend.

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Today is the winter solstice, the shortest amount of daylight in the year, truly the zenith of darkness.  Cold barren winter is not my place.  Celebrating the shortest day of the year seemed like a solid idea knowing that more sunshine will surely cycle our way.   In the yoga world many people practice a yoga mala on the solstice.  A mala is a practice of 108, that can be 108 breaths, sun salutations, chants or mantras.  The most important thing is your intention.

Our yoga studio was juicy with love this morning.  There is nothing I adore more than seeing students stream into my studio and today was special. For a long time I've wanted to share a mala practice at  Greensboro Downtown Yoga.   Luckily for me, my team is supportive and great, they helped so that I didn't have the full responsibility of 108 sun salutations solely on my own shoulders, this made the practice so much more interconnected and sacred.

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We did practice 108 sun salutations today.  In the winter many studios choose to make the equinox a practice of 108 breaths, but this was our first mala so we wanted to go all out!  I'd be fibbing if I told you it wasn't a challenge.  In fact when I was the one teaching today it was challenging to stay on my mat and not run around adjusting everyone (as I love to do), and challenging to remember to keep count by moving the beads from one bowl to the next to mark the passage of each salutation, something that requires extra amounts of awareness and presence if you aren't in the habit.  When I was not IMG_3059teaching I found it a challenge to listen to my body and not power into chaturanga or plank on every salutation (something my shoulders are angry at me for now).  I was also challenged to remind myself to keep to the intention.  What was the intention?  "I am home, I have arrived".  This is a mantra by Thich Nhat Hahn.  I use it often in my meditations and I shared it with our group.  Yoga reminds us that we are more than enough, "we are home, we have arrived".  It's that simple.  Where ever you are are you can be home, you can arrive.  The only travel you need to take is a journey inward.  I believe this is an important lesson because if we are going to be helpful to others we must first be helpful to ourselves.  Being helpful to yourself means knowing that this is enough, you are enough, you are home, you have arrived.  During the mala if I felt like I'd lost my path or lost the intention it was easy to look around the room and be reminded, that is the beauty of a collective practice.  When you are in a big room with a bunch of people the gathered energy keeps you going, accountable and present.

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There are times as a yoga teacher that you become a witness, today I was a witness to the power of intentions.  Today I was a part of something bigger than myself.

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Happy Winter Solstice, -Alisha