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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

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Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

I’m a religious person, thus I go to church every Sunday and belt it out with the choir.

Singing is sometimes the part of mass I enjoy the most. It’s therapeutic to sing as loud as you can and not care who hears.

I’m Catholic, but went to a soul church for a while because I enjoy singing that much. Their mass was three hours long, and they dedicated the first hour to solely singing with many chorus interludes thereafter. Women, men, and children got up sporadically and started dancing when they felt the music.

I loved it. I’m tone deaf and a horrible singer, but there’s no judgment in church. It’s the one place where I sing in public.

There’s something spiritual about singing and there’s something spiritual about yoga.

I feel a different kind of spirituality at yoga, than I do at church. I am most at peace when I practice faith and yoga routinely.

So, today at yoga we sang. It was blissful.

We sang a yoga psalm. I didn’t know the words and was out of sync with the group a lot,  but it was extremely peaceful.

Singing and yoga is a form of meditation, and actually strengthens your practice. Some studies show that singers and yoga actually require similar skill and focus.

I got my strongest yoga high of my practices thus far. I highly recommend going to a quite space, looking up some yoga psalms, and singing your heart out for 20 minutes or so — you’ll feel extremely refreshed after.

Yoga high: 4.0

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

Most people think they aren’t flexible enough for yoga.

They’re wrong. You don’t need flexibility to go to yoga — that’s what the practice is there for: to stretch and improve your malleability.

Some think they’re too old to do yoga.

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

They’re wrong too. There are yogis in my classes that are in their 70s and far better than me.

And there are others who think they don’t have a body meant for yoga.

Guess what? They’re wrong as well.

Yoga is for anyone — there are no age, characterstic, or size limitations.

Yoga is meant for any body shape and plus size yoga studios recently popped up across the nation.

Plus size yoga modifies regular poses for gals that might have a little trouble bending and moving as someone smaller than them.

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

There are even plus size yoga clothing lines and plus size yoga DVDs.

Pregnant yoginis can even practice yoga. There’s prenatal yoga or poses can easily be modified as well.

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

One of my instructors is pregnant and always jokes that if she can do it, we can do it.

And with a five inch belly on her, it’s true. (Although, she’s surprisingly still a lot more advanced than me).

There’s no excuse not to hop on a yoga mat. It’s truly a practice for everyone.

Yoga high:0

Today’s practice was about surrendering.

Surrendering to those things you cannot control and being OK with giving up some of your own control. It’s a hard feat for many, myself included.

So, as I surrendered to my thoughts, feelings, and life, I began my surrender to my practice. I focused on being OK with the things I couldn’t do today (I was a little stiff) and to challenge myself to my comfortable edge.

And of course, the teacher today challenged us by introducing partner downward facing dog.

I don’t like partner poses because:

1. You have to interact and touch with strangers and,

2. I’m always afraid they’ll judge how good (or bad) you are at yoga. The rest of the class usually feels the same as everyone’s face drops or goes white when we hear we have to do partner poses.

And double downward facing dog is a do-sy because you have to put your feet up on your partner (who is in downward facing dog) and rest on top of them.

It looks like something you’d see in a yoga competition — yes, they do exist and people can contort themselves in unimaginable ways. (See image below).

Courtesy of UnderdogNation.com

Courtesy of UnderdogNation.com

The purpose: to get you used to pushing back and root your hands into the ground.

Often in downward facing dog, the palm of the hands lift or you aren’t lifting your hips and pushing back enough. With a partner on top of you, you don’t have a choice.

It was an interesting sensation, and surprsingly, you can’t even feel the person on top of you nor did anyone get hurt.

I must admit, I couldn’t get myself to surrender completely to the pose and get all the way up.

But I’m working on it. I did my best for the day and that’s all I can ask for.

Yoga high: 2.5

Courtesy of Google images  

Courtesy of Google images

Going to yoga alone, but want to meet a yogi partner in crime? (And you don’t want your yoga buddy to be a pup, but an actual human?)

Try singles yoga

Yes, that’s right meeting people and a little stretching is a two-in-one combo now — multi-tasking for the busy lady. 

I first came across this phenomena through an article tweeted on the Untied Twitter page .

It’s becoming a trend to find your match at meditation. 

You do a little yoga, get to know one another, and sometimes even go out after — that’s the itinerary at Singles Yoga.

Meeting people with similar hobbies is always a good start for a gal on the prowl, Fitness Singles claims to have the largest community of single yogis and has groups for many different sports — hiking, running, biking, etc. 

I’ve always enjoyed meeting people who love yoga, so I see the similar interests and community aspect of singles yoga, but I’m not sure if you could clear your mind while scouting out a post-yoga dinner date. 

Focusing on impressing someone — while sweating and in workout clothes — seems like more of a challenge than the actual practice. And it would distract you from concentrating on the poses. 

Clearing your head doesn’t seem possible, which is my main goal for practicing yoga. Looking for your soulmate and improving the self doesn’t seem to be a feasible match. 

More power to ya though, if it’s something you’d like to try to master — it seems like it would make the yoga conquest that much more difficult. 

Yoga high: 0

So far – apart from my attempt at the advanced class – one teacher has instructed me along my yoga journey.

She always says that the peace we achieve on our yoga mat, we must carry with us in the real world and not lose the lessons learned to the hustle and bustle in society.

As I sit, legs crossed and arms folded, I feel like Aladdin on my little magic carpet.

Eyes closed, deeply breathing, the class begins today’s restorative undulations for the day.

Remaining cross legged, the class inhales bringing the neck forward and straightening the back. On the exhale, the neck scoops up and the back hollows in a “C” shape.

We repeat for a couple minutes. After my mind and body feel total bliss. It’s a good light stretch that can be done in

On my yoga mat, I feel at peace and remember to focus on attaining a clear mind, but once I step off my 24″ by 68″ rectangle of heaven, I forget that clearing my mind is my main objective.

I wish I could stay on my mat, soar out into the real world, and fly over the world’s chaos that clutters my head.

Yoga high: 0.5