Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas and Niyamas and it serves as the foundation to the other Yamas and Niyamas. In Deborah Adele's book "The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice" she explains how Ahimsa guides us to step lightly, do no harm, and to honor the relationship we have with the earth, with each other, and with ourselves.
While overt violence may be easier to see and understand when it is occurring, violence occurs in many more subtle ways. If we feel fearful, powerless, rushed, out of balance, or self-anger we are more likely to act out.
The practice of Ahimsa begins with the practice of bringing courage, balance, self-love, and compassion into our lives. Here are some ideas to bring non-violence into your yoga practice:
1. Courage: Try out a pose this week that pushes your comfort zone. It can be a pose that you fear such as crow pose, half moon, or even headstand!
2. Balance: In class we sometimes speak about Sthira and Sukha, or effort and ease. While in a pose such as bridge pose it can be difficult to balance the effort of lifting your hips to the ceiling while finding ease in your neck and jaw. Try to find a balance between effort and ease during your next yoga flow.
3. Self-love: "Our inability to love and accept all the pieces of ourselves creates ripples - tiny acts of violence - that have huge and lasting impacts on others." Deborah Adele. Take time to love yourself for showing up on your mat and doing the work.
4. Compassion: By getting out of our head and grounding in our body we learn compassion. Listen to your body and use this as a guide to how far you push in each pose this week.
Image obtained from beYogi
Bandha's are "energy locks", a muscular contraction within the body, this contraction binds the circulation of prana, our life energy.
Uddiyana Bandha is a a powerful abdominal lock, also known as the "upward flying lock" in which you pull your entire abdominal wall in toward the spine and up. This energetic action moves energy from the abdomen up into the head.
The practice of Uddiyana bandha is part of a pranayama practice. It is generally done on an empty stomach. After a complete exhale you pull your whole abdominal area in towards the spine and then lift it all up into the chest. This practice can be done standing or in a seat. Some of the benefits of this bandha are that it massages all of the abdominal organs, including the heart, lungs and the solar plexus,this practice also strengthens the abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
We do not fully engage Uddiyana Bandha in our practice, but the action of pulling the belly in and up towards the spine as you pull the front ribs in to the center, assists and creates the light energetic action of this bandha and allows your core to engage and bring in the action of "Lift up".
As you become more comfortable with pulling into the core, you will feel your inner fire grow and a "lightness" to your practice.
This bandha is especially important to engage during back-bending poses such as wheel, bow, and dancer to protect the spine.
With practice Uddiyana Bandha becomes more automatic during poses. Try bringing this bandha into different poses in your yoga practice to bring your practice to the next level.
The sun is shining here in Colorado and we are all working hard to cross everything off of our summer bucket list! Yoga is such a great compliment to all the fun summer activities. Yoga helps us warm up our bodies and then allows us to cool down before and after high impact activities. Today in our Summer Sports and Yoga blog series, we will discuss how yoga can help you step up your rock climbing game!
One quick and simple stretch to do before and after you climb, is a combined wrist extension stretch with all fingers pointing in and down. Follow these steps to gain the optimum benefit of the stretch:
1. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and bring your forearms to eye level.
2.Bend your wrists so your fingers are pointing down with both thumbs closest to you.
3. Press the outsides of both hands into one another as you start to feel the outside of the wrists open up.
*To deepen this stretch, slowly start to press your elbows down until you feel a deep enough stretch.
Cow face pose is a great pose to help you step up your climbing game! Cow face is a hip opener that will also stretch and strengthen your shoulders, if taken with the arm variation shown below. Use cow face pose to help open your hips and shoulders before and after you send it up a big wall!
*Beginner Tip: if you can't grab onto opposing fingertips, hold on to a strap with both hands!
Hopefully you feel like Spider-Man when you are grabbing on some rock, and you can even feel like Spider-Man when opening up your hips! Having open hips will help you maneuver all those tricky holds. Spider-Man pose is a great option either before or after you climb!
One pose to help you stretch out your feet after they've been crammed in your climbing shoes all day is screaming toes pose. Don't be too scared by them name, this pose provides a deep release of the back of the toes. Come to a kneeling position with your toes tucked under your seat and feel the stretch in your feet!
We all hope your are having a wonderful! Don't forget to save time for some yoga during these warm summer months!
The weather is warm and the sun is shining! But that doesn't mean you should be avoiding time on your mat! With all the fun summer sports and activities, it is important to complement these high-impact activities with some yoga! Yoga can help with injury prevention and provide a deep stretch after an intense physical activity. In this blog series, we will explore how certain poses can help strengthen and stretch different muscles in our body that'll benefit different summer activities. Today our focus will be on hiking!
Whether you're hiking a 14er or taking a walk around Sloan's Lake, knee stabilization will help you keep a smooth stride! Two poses that help stabilizing our knees are chair and bridge. Chair pose helps stabilize our knees by strengthening quadriceps which helps protect and stabilize our medial collateral ligament (MCL) and our lateral collateral ligament (LCL). Bridge pose strengthens our hamstrings which helps protect and stabilize our anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
After you're done hiking, it is important to stretch. This will help you not be too sore the following morning! Two poses to help us stretch after a big hike are ragdoll and pyramid. Ragdoll will help open up your hamstrings after a hard leg workout! Also, if you're backpacking or even carrying a day pack, ragdoll will feel great after your take your pack off as it'll lengthen your spine. Pyramid pose will help strength out your calves after they brought you up and down a mountain!
We hope you enjoy the beautiful summer weather and take advantage of it to go hiking! But don't forget to get on your mat!
When I first found out about the Crestone Yoga Retreat from my Life Coach, I thought “That sounds amazing! But I don’t have the time or the funds for it. I wish I could go!” Yet, somehow my work schedule cleared and I was able to come up with the cash despite being on a single income at the time.
The road trip from Denver to Crestone (only 3.5 hours) was one of the most fun road trips of my life! I was able to carpool with other retreat participant that I had only just met and we connected deeply right away and the time flew by. As we made our ascent up the rolling foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains the views, vistas and stupas were breathtaking. The property of the Zen Center was like a secret garden with views of the valley and the Sand Dunes. The buildings (especially the Zendo) were absolutely magical!
This retreat was my first real exposure to yoga and I undoubtedly had the least experience in the group. Brittany’s heart, leadership and instruction in our twice daily classes left me wanting more! As a result, I was anxious to join the Container Collective community and continue my yoga journey upon my return to Denver. In fact, Crestone had me so hooked I completed my 200 hour RYT at CC last fall!I was able to get to know each participant authentically. We laughed together, were vulnerable together, and had an indescribable sense of community and trust. We connected so much that several of us kept in close contact after the retreat.
The food, by far, was one of the highlights of the trip for all of us. Think gourmet vegetarian for all 3 meals. It was so delicious, we were so eager to eat that many of us often showed up early for every meal.
My experience is undeniable. Crestone was an awakening and unraveling for me. It was the first time in my life that my ego was stirred, and my heart began to be my guide. You simply can’t put a price on that kind of peace and ascension.
Heidi teaches and practices at Container Collective. She works in the veterinary field in emergency and critical care. She took the 200 HR teacher training, and I asked her to share her experience with each of you. Trust me, it's worth the read.
“When I first considered teacher training, I had no idea what to expect. I felt that I was in a healthy and secure time in my life, just looking to find a new way to stay fit. Yoga was very new to me but I fell in love with the practice immediately. I looked at teacher training as an opportunity to challenge myself physically. My hesitations at the time were cost and a little fear of the unknown, but after some thought and support from friends and family, I decided to make an investment in myself and go for it.
The training was tough as expected, but I instantly improved my practice with step by step breakdowns of each pose. I discovered the importance of breath, proper and safe alignment, what I was doing correctly, where I was way off, and how to push myself. I literally learned a new healthy way to hold and move my body and it felt amazing.
Meditation taught me that like my body, my mind needs rest. I learned so much about myself just sitting quietly and noticing what came up. My mind was mostly dwelling in thoughts of the past or worries of the future, and I constantly struggled to pull myself back to the peaceful space of the present moment. As training moved forward, my mat became a sacred place for me to discover all of these things I didn't know about myself, and i learned how to take better care of me, physically and mentally.
I was not prepared for the self inquiry work within the teacher training program and didn't realize the impact this work would have on me until I was faced with a loss of a friend, and more very difficult life changing events at the beginning of the year. In a very scary time I was able to see opportunity for change and growth. I found myself working through painful feelings, instead of ignoring them and pushing them away. I found strength within myself that I didn't realize was there, and support from my amazing teammates. I watched myself, and 11 other people work through the things that hold us back, and become confident and brighter individuals who had their own style and something unique to teach the community.
I gained so much more than just being able to teach a JIP yoga class. I have built amazing friendships with a group of people, from different backgrounds who I would have never met without this training. We have a special bond with each other. We offer each other support and respect that is different from other relationships. I have grown as a individual, student, and teacher. I'm better prepared to handle day to day stress and the many challenges we all face in life. I'm showing up in life for myself and others, I'm taking chances, facing my fears, getting involved at work and in my community, and sharing my knowledge with others.
Teacher training, like yoga, is truly for everyone. Although my intention was not to become a teacher in the beginning of training, I love sharing what I have learned with others. This training reminded me of my worth, and that I wasn't living life to my fullest potential. It taught me to have a new, more positive perspective on the challenges we face in our lives and healthier ways to handle them. For these reasons, I would recommend teacher training to anyone!!"
| Ground down like EARTH
| Flow like WATER
| Build an inner FIRE
| Soften like AIR
| Create SPACE for something new
At Container Collective Yoga, you will likely hear the teachers cue students through the Baptiste Yoga Methodology of True North Alignment. These cues are the Baptiste Methodology of yoga anatomy and alignment. By simply doing the most ordinary movements this alignment creates greater depths, new edges, and different perspectives. Over time, these ordinary movements can create miracles. With consistent practice of True North Alignment you can work your way towards deeper folds, a more open back body, & a powerful posture.
True North Alignment cues address the various ways bones and muscles are activated in yoga. These cues also assist in exploring how different parts of the body can move and how those parts provide access to experience each pose in a new way! Curious what True North Alignment cues are, exactly? Check them out below & try them on for yourself.
| Feet on 12 o'clock
| Lift the 10 toes
| Spread the 10 toes
| Press the mound of each big toe down
| Press the center of each heel down
| Lift up
| Turn the inner ankles back
| Pull the leg muscles into the bones
| Pull the outer shins in
| Lift the front of the pelvis up towards the belly button
| Pull the pit of the belly into the spine
| Pull the shoulders up to your ears
| Expand out across the chest and upper back
| Pull the shoulders straight back
| Press the thoracic spine into the chest
True North Alignment affords the experience of creating & understanding the balance of effort (sthira) & ease (sukha) in mind, body, & spirit. As you move more efficiently in your yoga postures you may notice yourself feeling reinvigorated & empowered at the end of your practice. One of the most beneficial byproducts of implementing True North Alignment into your personal yoga practice is taking the methodology off the mat & into your daily life.
Whether you have taken a Heated Yoga class with us or in your own community, you have most likely been cued to breathe your “Ujjayi breath.” Ujjayi breath is considered a type of pranayama. Pranayama is a controlled breath typically used in yoga & meditation. There are several pranayama variations.
In today's blog, we are going to discuss how to begin breathing Ujjayi breath or how to deepen your existing Ujjayi breathing technique!
What does Ujjayi mean?
Ujjayi is pronounced as: oo-jai-ee. Ujjayi originates from the yogic language of Sanskrit. In the simplest manner, Ujjayi translates as “Victorious Breath.” This breath is used to become victorious or gain mastery in alignment with the asana (yoga) practice. When performed correctly, the sound of the Ujjayi breath has been compared to the sound of the ocean, desert wind, & even Darth Vader!
Why is it important to practice Ujjayi breath during yoga?
Ujjayi breath works to heat the body from the inside out. Creating internal heat using Ujjayi breath helps open & warm up the body in a more efficient & controlled manner. The breath also serves to create a meditative quality in your yoga practice. That oceanic sound of the breath is quite audible, when performed correctly, & can aid in keeping your focus on your practice as you listen to the soothing sound of your breath.
This breath also slows down the entry & exit speed of inhalations & exhalations from the body. Ujjayi is performed with a constriction of the muscles at the back of the throat. This narrows the physical passageway the breath is allowed to come in & out of. The slower speed of the Ujjayi breath develops a mental state of “tend & befriend” versus “flight, fight, or freeze.”
How do I create Ujjayi breath in my body?
We’ll begin with some practices breaths first. Our practice Ujjayi breath will work non-traditionally as the inhales will arrive through the nose & the exhales will exit through the mouth. The open mouth exhales will help create an exaggerated sound of Ujjayi breath & also create the throat constriction we are looking to develop. As you exhale, imagine you are fogging a handheld mirror or lenses on a pair of glasses. Really use your throat muscles to create an audible exhale. This action will help you understand how to constrict your throat muscles.
Now, practice the inhales and exhales through the nostrils only. You will continue to practice that throat constriction you just tried out with the open mouth exhales. With the breath only entering & exiting through the nostrils while you are constricting the muscles at the back of the throat you should be able to hear that ocean/desert wind/Darth Vader sound. This is your Ujjayi breath! Try it out, whether you’re brand new to Ujjayi breath or are ready to try on a new perspective with it. We look forward to seeing you (& hearing you!) next time you’re at the studio.
When coming out of a great yoga practice you can’t help but feel incredible. Ever wonder why? We’ve done some research and found the mental benefits of yoga, how yoga decreases pain perception, & why heated yoga leaves your body feeling oh-so-good!
Mental Benefits of Yoga
There are growing bodies of research on yoga’s many mental health benefits. Yoga is known to relieve stress, strengthen attention & concentration, & calm & center the nervous system. It has the ability to improve the symptoms of depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, and sleep disorders.
Some of our CCYOGA students have shared with us how yoga has improved their lives. Many noticed that sleep improved with a dedicated yoga practice. Another CCYOGA community member has noticed an improvement in her memory over the years through devoted yoga practice & the addition of meditation!
Pain Relief & Yoga
Yoga can prove to be an excellent pain relief tool. When most people are expecting pain it triggers the “fight-or-flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system. When yogis anticipate pain, their parasympathetic nervous system activates. This cultivates a "tend-and-befriend" response instead of "fight-or-flight." Over time, the mental practice of creating calm will help decrease the sensation of pain. As always, consult your doctor first when contemplating pain relief practices and perhaps ask your doctor how yoga could possibly aid you in your pain relief.
Heated Yoga Benefits
At CCYOGA we practice mainly Heated Yoga with the offering of Restorative Yoga (unheated) on the class schedule, too. Practicing yoga in a heated room can increase your pulse rate & metabolism. With the increase of these two the body is able to burn calories in an efficient manner. Research has shown that Heated Yoga has a higher potential to aid the body in releasing fat over other types of yoga.
Heated Yoga has a higher capacity to build muscle tone as the challenge of flowing & sweating creates a fair amount of strength. It can also improve the lymphatic system which aids in flushing the internal systems.
Heated Yoga is known to reduce muscle tension, strain, and inflammation. As you may already know, Colorado has a reputation for having a very active population! Try out Heated Yoga at CCYOGA as a great complement to the muscles soreness that can come on after a steep hike or solid bike ride.
The benefits of yoga stretch much further than the topics covered in today’s blog. If you’re curious about many more of the benefits of yoga try out one of our personal resource favorites: Yoga Journal. Happy reading & see you on your mat!
Sources cited: www.zliving.com , www.forbes.com , www.psychologytoday.com
If you are thinking of building a bamboo bike or have always been attracted to how they look, how durable the material is, or how light the bikes are - sign up for the Bamboo Bike Workshop! You will not regret it! Becky Duffy, one of our very own CCYOGA teachers, spent a weekend with CCBIKES building her first bamboo bicycle. She shares her experience with us below.
As many yoga goers may or may not know, the entire left side of the Container Collective building is dedicated to bikes. Russ Hopkins, owner of Container Collective Bikes, leads Bamboo Bike building workshops once a month. Every time I walked into the studio on the bike building weekends, I would see people busy creating their ride-able pieces of art in the bike shop. Everyone always seemed to be laughing, learning, listening to music, and just having an overall good time. When the opportunity arose, I was more than excited to create my own bike.
I was a little nervous at first since I usually spend more time on my mat than being handy with tools. Russ put me at ease by consistently providing clear, easy to follow instructions, and did so at a great pace. It was so exciting to pick out my own pieces of bamboo. I picked pieces that had some fun characteristics (bends, bumps, & colors.) One of the neatest things is that each bike that was built during the workshop was completely unique to the bike next to it due to the variety of bamboo available. By the end of our first day, everyone had picked out their bamboo pieces, cut them to fit each other, and sanded them down to create a precise fit.
The second day was dedicated to wrapping each joint, where bamboo meets bamboo, with carbon fiber and epoxy. I was encouraged to bring a friend along to help with the building process and was so glad that I did. My friend got to learn how to build a bamboo bike and I got to work more efficiently with an extra set of hands.
I am not an avid biker, so when Russ asked what kind of bike I wanted I wasn't sure how to answer it. He helped me narrow it down to three points: how many gears, where I would be riding most, and what riding style I found most comfortable.
I decided I wanted an upright comfortable riding position on a hybrid bike that I could take on dirt trails and commute in the city. As he ordered the parts, Russ provided open shop hours throughout the week where we could come and go as we pleased. One of my favorite customized features of the bike building process is that wood burning tools are provided to engrave pictures, symbols, or any other creative inspiration into the bamboo.
Every single step in the workshop was up to each individual builder to decide. This means that every decision that went into creating this ride-able piece of art was entirely up to me. How cool is that?!? No matter how hard someone tries to find my bike in a store or online they will never be able to find or duplicate it.