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Yoga straps. Courtesy of Google images

Yoga straps. Courtesy of Google images

Summer has officially hit here in Central New York — the muggy, warm days are here to prove it.

Feeling groggy after a day at Untied, I debated if I wanted to go to yoga or go home drink a cool beverage, relax, and maybe get a little shut-eye.

The latter definitely sounded better, but I decided to stick to my quest for mental clarity and trudged to yoga. It was restorative, so I figured some light stretching and meditation would probably do me some good.

And it did.

I wasn’t the only one who wanted to skip out on yoga. There were only two other people in the class. My teacher commented that summer had begun because people were out enjoying the weather rather than coming to yoga.

I was instantly glad I came because classes with fewer people are always more relaxing.

Slowly turning inward and focusing on only my breath, I instantly cooled down.

Here’s a great heart opener and shoulder stretch that we did today:

1. Sit cross legged with your back straight.

2.Take a band, yoga strap, or some sort of material you can hold on both ends. Make it taut by pulling it with your arms, which should be separated a little wider than your shoulders.

An example of wide your arms should be. Courtesy of Google images

An example of wide your arms should be. Courtesy of Google images

3. Take a deep breath in, and on the exhale pull the arms (holding whatever strap you choose) behind your head and hold the stretch, as well as the breath.

4. On the inhale, pull your arms slowly back over the head.

5. Lean forward, placing your head on your arms, and breathe in supported child pose.

6. Sit slowly back up, repeat the shoulder stretch, and this time do one extra rep of pulling the arms back over the head.

7. Repeat as much you as like.

Yoga high: 4.0

(Courtesy of Google images)

Sometimes to take a few steps forward, you have to take a couple steps back.

And when re-starting a new sport over, you gotta start completely over. On my third day back to yoga, I revisited the basics of a beginner class.

And it was quite refreshing.

The beauty of yoga classes is that despite recommendations for class levels, anyone is welcome to float in and out them regardless of skill and experience. I can usually just make the 5:30 p.m. classes, so I the levels I will be attending at this studio are diverse. Despite practicing yoga on and off for a number of years, I still learn how to improve my practice by perfecting the

Since my muscles were still a little sore in the upper arm region from my first class, the beginner class proved to be just the right challenge.

Opening the heart is a major form of emotional release in yoga. People usually cave their shoulders in and close their heart, trying to protect themselves from opening up too much and being vulnerable. Yoga moves teach practitioners to roll their shoulders back and open their heart, which reveals emotional relief for those typically closed off.

In the beginner two class, we did crab pose, which is a bridge form and extreme heart opener.

After bending backwards and opening up, I felt a little lightheaded when I first returned to a normal state and mind was wiped of all thoughts.

(Courtesy of Women’s Health Mag.com)

During this pose I achieved mental clarity, but for the majority of class I struggled to clear my thoughts.

It’s only the beginning though and the road for improvement that lies ahead pushes me to keep trying.

In some way in life, we are always beginners setting out on a road to try new things or stepping back a little bit to re-start our path the way we should have.

Yoga high: 0.5