Stretching Out to Ride the Barrel

Pose: Upward-Facing Dog

(Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

 

Why You Should Do It: Every surfer knows that a good pop-up is crucial to a good ride—and a strong, flexible back is crucial to a good pop-up. That's why Upward-Facing Dog, which employs the same motion needed to come into a standing position on the board, should be a part of your practice.

Besides increasing spinal flexibility, Up Dog also:

 

»  Stretches the abs, chest and shoulders

»  Firms the butt

»  Improves posture

 

How to Do It: Start by lying prone on the floor with your legs stretched back, the tops of your feet on the floor and your hands (fingers spread) alongside your waist. Then:

 

» Inhale and press the inside edges of your hands down and slightly back; straighten your arms while lifting your torso and your legs a few inches off your mat. Your elbow creases should face forward.

 

» Press your tailbone down while lifting your pubic bone toward your navel. Keep your butt firm.

 

» Push your shoulder blades into your back while looking straight ahead or tipping the head back slightly.

 

Note: Don't push your front ribs forward, which is tough on the back, or compress the back of your neck.

 

Variation: To make this pose a bit easier, position a blanket roll under the tops of your thighs for light support.

 

Be Careful If: You have a back injury or carpel tunnel syndrome.

 

 

Outdoor Yoga at Siesta Key

 

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, but if you want a beach with benefits, Siesta Beach, also known as Siesta Key Beach, offers pristine white sand believed to have the power to heal.

 

Unlike most beach sand, Siesta Beach sand is 99% quartz. It’s not only cool and soft to the touch—the experience has been described as walking on cool powder—but quartz is regarded as the most powerful of the healing crystals. This explains why Siesta Beach was named “The Best Sand Beach in America” by The Travel Channel in 2004 and #1 US Beach by the Orlando Sentinel in 2015, and why it sees an estimated 350,000 tourists visiting each year.

 

These qualities make Siesta Beach an ideal location for yogis who want to practice barefoot.

Karen Mahlios, owner of Siesta Healing Holistic Spa & Wellness Center, lives on the beach herself and opened up the center a year ago after her daughter-in-law Amy was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. She says that when people come to Siesta Key, they don’t want to leave.

 

“Siesta Key really is a special place: The people, the space, the breeze, the birds. There’s lots of wildlife around; the beauty of all of that nature does it for me,” says Mahlios, who believes the beach is a perfect yoga setting. “Just being able to be outside, being able to breathe, especially with the beautiful crystal quartz sand, it’s a different energy force.”

 

For those seeking a more enhanced and energized yoga experience, Mahlios offers outdoor yoga classes on the beach for $10 a session. For veterans and persons fighting cancer, the wellness center offers free classes.

 

Mahlios believes that self-care is crucial. ““Most people don’t take time for themselves anymore. I have people that come in and are like, ‘I don’t know why I waited so long,’ and then we have to teach them how to get into a routine of taking care of themselves,” says Mahlios, who also offers customized three-day yoga retreats on the beach, upon request.

 

In addition to indoor and outdoor yoga, the wellness center offers an herbalist, an acupuncturist and a nutritionist, as well as a salt room and massage therapy. To learn more, visit siestahealing.spa.com.

—Samantha Hunter

 

 

Learning to Love Your Body

How often have you looked in a full-length mirror and felt shame at what you saw?

 

How someone sees his or her body can "sway how we see ourselves in the world," write Robert Butera, PhD, and Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, in Body Mindful Yoga (Llewellyn), which explores how to honor the body through words—especially the ones we hear inside our own heads.

 

Butera's four-step method—listen, learn, love and live—uses yoga and self-reflection exercises to help transform negative self-talk into a narrative of acceptance and affirmation. For example, in a section on the moral language that surrounds food, the authors suggest using statements such as "I respect my hunger and fullness" and "Food is a divine gift."

 

In a world where image is everything, regarding your body with dignity and esteem can be difficult. Body Mindful Yoga can help you meet that challenge.