yoga

The Turtle Wins The Race

I’ve been feeling very flexible as of late. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to really feel the basic poses anymore unless I go into class feeling sore to begin with! It’s pushing me to work harder, which is good.

My yoga instructor noticed the ease with which I took a backbend last week and gently encouraged me to take one of my feet off the mat. I appreciate these little tips since they help me put everything in perspective – I may be able to do step 1, but that’s just the beginning! Yoga is a constant growth process,ย there is no end goal. There are tiny goals to advance your practice along the way (this year I resolved to do a handstand, for instance), but once achieved you don’t stop there – you keep going. ๐Ÿ™‚

The backbend I took was Wheel, and I absolutely collapsed without being rooted by both feet. It was humbling for me, but I will continue to work on it. Here is what it would look like if I could do it perfectly:

Extended Wheel

…or something to that effect. As much as I encourage everyone to try something new and by all means to stretch as much as possible, I do not recommend just popping into wheel without warming up first. It is usually at the end of a hot class when your body is relaxed and nimble that we take our backbends and inversions. If you try this at home, please do some spinal warm-ups first!

In yoga, if something feels easy, we slow down. Slowing down and continuing to move with fluidity and grace is actually WAY HARDER than moving rapidly from pose to pose. Sometimes we need to slow down to feel it, so challenge yourself by moving with *intention* instead of powering through it, in some area of your life this week.

I do believe I am happy with this sketch.

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A bird without wings

There are lots of animal-inspired poses in yoga (i.e. Camel and Cow, Down Dog) and quite a few of them are birds: there’s Bird of Paradise, there’s Pigeon, and then there’s Crow. It always seems to me to be perched there, wingless, or at least with that impression.ย Here’s what it looks like:

crow

Heart shining forward, head creating a tripod with your hands, complete balance. You can take this up to a handstand, scorpion, or a whole bunch of other poses! At any rate, it’s a fun one, a balance pose is always a challenge. It has taken me some time to master this one – when I was younger my light weight made it easy to pop right up onto my elbows. Now that I’m older (and heavier) it’s not so easy. I had a fear of falling on my head for the longest time until my yoga instructor encouraged me to give it a shot again and spotted me as I tried. With guidance and security I was able to achieve Crow this year and feel very comfortable with it now! I’m so happy, it’s a major accomplishment and I hope it turns into a stepping stone to other great poses. It has opened the door to a plethora of new challenges and experiences!

I do believe I am happy with this.

What your shoulders can bear

I felt like doing more than usual tonight. I wanted to show Plow pose, but also the next step from there – Shoulder Stand. I personally love both of these poses, it’s sort of my test to new yoga studios. If they do Plow at the end of class, it’s got my thumbs up! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So the drawing on the left is what I started with, really small and simple, just trying to show what the idea is. The right shows full Shoulder Stand. Well, I think you’re actually supposed to support your back with your hands, so there isn’t so much pressure on your neck and shoulders. But I forgot that, so I drew it incorrectly – oh well!

As a side note, this type of pose is called an ‘inversion’ (for obvious reasons), and it’s really healthy! It’s good to reverse the blood flow, get things moving around, send some blood to the ol’ brain. It helps increase your circulation, too, so give it a shot.

Your Two Shoulders

As I’ve mentioned before, getting back to the sketchy-ness I once had, and so far I’m really happy with the way things are coming out! I love the darkness of it – there’s so much more to look at when your eye almost has to search for it. Adds character, too, I think. Question, if you care to answer: is it givingย new character to the skeleton, or is it my own character being imputed to the page?

So that’s it, Plow and Shoulder Stand. As a warning I think I’m going to bring this yoga series to a close soon. It’s a vast collection that is ever growing, but I don’t think I’ll get to finish all of the poses, at least not right now. I want to let my mind take me on its own track as I am inspired by the events in my life, rather than sticking with the yoga idea for longer than my attention span can take it. At some point I’m bound to get sloppy or careless, and I want to keep these drawings fresh and new! We’ll see what’s next…

I do believe I am happy with this set.

The Unattainable

What do people most often want the most? The unattainable. Think about it – it’s a huge tangent that I won’t go into here and now, but if your eyes are open to it you’ll see it all the time in today’s culture and society.

So that ties into this post because I always consider a split to be unattainable, which is why I so admire those who are able to do it. A standing split is also very difficult, butย I was recently challenged in my yoga practice to do FIFTEEN standing splits! It was intense, but it pushed my limits, and helped me to grow. To me, a standing split is the stepping stone to a split. It’s easier for me, it’s a whole different muscle group, a practice in and of itself.

I find that during the growing experience – those moments when you kind of hate whoever is telling you to keep going – it’s terrible: I keep having doubts, keep hearing myself muttering mild expletives as I try harder and harder. It’s not fun, it’s definitely not easy, but yet we do it anyway. And in the end, you feel great! Because you’ve either gone farther than you ever have before, or you’ve achieved a new goal, or you just feel like you’ve reached the full capacity of your abilities, and that’s an amazing feeling! At least it is to me, and if you’ve never felt that, I encourage you to push through, because the reward is great!

Alright, enough of that. After the rigorous and continuous standing split extravaganza of Tuesday night’s class I was inspired to draw the pose itself in its full expression (at least I think so). I am by no means here yet, but one day I hope to get there and possibly that will take me into trying a full split, grounded, like a pro. ๐Ÿ™‚

Standing Splits:

Standing Splits

The sketch itself isn’t perfect, it’s a little off with the angles, but you get the idea. I am really liking the rib cage on this one since I decided to black out the in-between lines. I think it adds depth.

I felt that I should name this guy, so I’m calling him Hobbles – as a nickname. His face certainly doesn’t imply a ‘Hobbles’.

I do believe I am very happy with this guy!

Back to basics

You’ll please recall in the post “Moo” I didn’t know what sound a camel made. I still don’t, actually, but I read somewhere that they can make quite the range of noises and can sound like a bunch of different animals, so there isn’t a classic onomatopoeia associated with camels, I guess.

Anyway, in that post I mentioned that I had decided to draw Cow pose “next”…well next has arrived. I drew Cow last night and here it is:

Cow

Cow is a very open position. It is most commonly found in the short series “Cat-Cow” which takes you from one spinal extreme to the other. This help to warm you up and maintain flexibility in the spine (remember, you’re only as young as your spine!). Tailbone and shoulders are spread, opening the chest and hips. The face, head, and neck are all extended forward, if not a very little bit upward. I’m careful about the neck at this point since I’ve always been taught as a singer never to drop your head backward, as it strains the vocal chords.

So that’s Cow for ya. It’s very plain and simple, but it’s the basics that ground us – a tree cannot grow without its roots, so plant your roots deep and strong.

I do believe I am happy with this one.

Opening up

I actually have another sketch that I did between the last one and this one, but it’s not yoga-related so I’m going to wait to post it until I feel I’ve finished my yoga series. Sorry! Be patient, it’s a virtue.

This pose is called Side Angle, or in sanskrit: utthita parsvakonasana. ๐Ÿ™‚ A mouthful I know. That’s why we call it side angle.

You can optionally extend the arm – how I depicted it here – which allows the side body to really open up. It’s a lovely pose that really helps stretch you out. I’m usually sitting at my desk for the majority of the day, and after a long day of sinking deeper into your chair and yourself, a good opener like this is perfect.

Side Angle

A note on my style: I’ve noticed the intricacy of my last few drawings, and realized that they are lacking the sketchy quality that I love. So I’m really loosening up again and reminding myself that sometimes it’s okay to color outside the lines!

This is exciting, folks – we are current! I drew this side angle sketch THIS WEEK! So what you’re seeing now are the real deal, here and now, as they come to me. Enjoy!

I do believe I am happy with this guy.

Calm in Chaos

My journey in yoga has been a long one, a one in which I’ve learned countless lessons. It has taken me through the lowest of emotional drags, and the greatest happy highs.

Not too long ago I heard a phrase during class that has allowed me to find space in my life no matter what is going on. Yoga is calm in chaos – that means that through good and bad, your mat is your escape, and it’ll always be that calm in the storm, your getaway to check yourself and emerge refreshed and refocused.

When my yoga instructor said, “…that’s what yoga is, it’s calm in chaos…” I was inspired to draw what it meant to me. I started simply by sketching out the basic lotus pose, seated, with hand in hand. It’s a settled, grounded, relaxed position that starts nearly every class:

Lotus

 

That’s the calm. Then I started on the chaos – and this is not technically finished – I had hopes of doing a lot more but time escaped me and I signed and titled it before it got left behind in the back of my sketchbook for good.

Calm in Chaos

I’m very happy with it – I think it conveys what I felt, and still feel about the peace and serenity that I can depend on amidst anything and everything that’s going on around me. You can’t control any of that, but you can control yourself and your thoughts and feelings. Taking time to look inside, check yourself and your mental state can help you to find inner calm and strength in times when you really need it.

Stay focused, stay strong, and find the calm in the chaos.

I do believe I am quite happy with this 1st attempt! ๐Ÿ™‚

TGIF!

Thank God it’s Friday! I’m so ready for the weekend!

This is called an inversion – there are a plethora of different inversions you can take, but I almost always choose Full Wheel. My yoga instructor always has us take it three times for ten seconds each, and at the end of the third one when you think you’ve done the very best you can, when you’re about to collapse, you hear the words, “…your fullest expression of the pose.” and all of the sudden you’re inspired to take it higher, and wider, and to open up just another inch or two – to me that phrase triggers “just a little more” in my mind.

This is wheel:
Bridge

Take this idea into your own life – when you feel like you’re there, when you’re really ready to let go and relax, when you’re at the end, THEN push it “just a little further”. Let this be an encouragement. It’s when you force yourself to keep going that you grow the most! So, give this week your fullest expression and really give Friday your best shot.

I do believe I am very, very happy with this sketch!

Down to earth

Downward facing dog: probably the most recognized yoga pose of all time.

When I first started out practicing yoga, I found this extremely difficult, painful, uncomfortable, and I couldn’t bear to hold it for more than a moment before my arms gave way. NOW, after several years of dedication and enlightenment with regard to my practice and being taught the correct form, I appreciate it for its true nature: a resting pose after a tough set; a stepping stone to a standing series; a good stretch for the back of the legs; a reset.

Down dog is supposed to look like an inverted V. This doesn’t show it quite as neatly as I’d like, but then again, every human form is different, so I can’t expect perfection.

Down dog

This one isn’t too bad, it embodies the pose well, I think. The feet are disjointed and the rib cage is a little too ‘swirly’ to be accurate. BUT, don’t let that get in the way – the spine is beautiful, the arms are perfect.

I do believe I am happy with this one.

Moo

No, this isn’t Cow pose…though typing that just now I have decided that should be next. I love cows, by the way. #funfactaboutme

This is Camel pose. (What sound do camels make?) I LOVE Camel, it feels so good! Opens your abs, chest, throat, shouldersย – even your quads if you lean back a little (not recommended for beginners). Sometimes it’s hard for people to get into this position if their backs are weak or inflexible (you’re as young as your spine!), but as of now, I don’t have any trouble with it and find it quite beneficial.

This sketch is not my favorite, to be honest. The angles are confusing, and I don’t say I did it wrong, but the picture I was copying was a little difficult to follow – I couldn’t really tell what angle it was supposed to be showing! So this is just my first Camel, I might have to do another to make up for the poor quality. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Camel

Positive thought, the hand does actually look pretty good for once. I have issues getting all those little joints and tiny bones in the right place, but this isn’t too bad. I do LOVE the way the rib cage came out, very well-defined.

Can we just pause and take a moment to realize that I’ve already caught up to current day?! Well close enough, there are a few more, but just as a warning, the posts will slow down as I start posting these in real time.

I do believe I am happy with this one!