Fitness Friday Week 8: Bridge Pose Sequence

Bridge Pose is my go-to for helping my students strengthen their cores, create awareness of the inner thighs through adduction, and to recognize how the abdominal wall can be both strong and supple simultaneously.

You will need a yoga block or a few hardback books for this sequence. 

Start off on your back with your feet planted on the ground as close to your pelvis as possible. Keep your hands alongside your hips with your palms facing down. It is important that you keep your nose pointing towards the ceiling during this entire sequence. On your inhale, press into your hands and feet and lift your hips off the ground, focusing on engaging your abdominal muscles and inner thighs for support. On your exhale, allow the pelvis to slowly return to the floor moving one vertebra at a time, ending with the tailbone. Do several rounds of this to warm up the spine. Then end with the hips up and place a block or a stack of hardcover books underneath your hips right at the crest of your buttocks (the top of the tailbone.) Pick a height that is closest to your active bridge pose. I give examples of all three block height options in the video. To add more variety to the sequence, you can take “butterfly” legs by bringing the soles of the feet together and knees apart. You can also walk the feet away from the block and extend the legs to fully lengthen the abdominal wall and the psoas (front of the hip bone). To come off the block, walk your feet back so your knees are bent, lift your hips off the block, remove it, and keep the hips lifted for several breaths—allowing the muscles surrounding the spine to regain control. Then, with an exhale, slowly release down and rest for a few breaths with the legs extended. 

Try singing both before and after this sequence and witness how your breath and posture have been altered. Enjoy!

(Click on the blog title at the top of the email to watch the instructional video.) 

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Fitness Friday Week 7: Strap Shoulder Work

Continuing with our theme of shoulder tension release, I offer you this short and sweet strap sequence. If you do not have a yoga strap, a simple belt or thick piece of ribbon or rope will work fine. To begin, take a strap into both hands and bring your arms up in a wide “V”. Then take your right arm alongside your head while keeping the arm straight and swing your left arm back as far as possible, keeping your shoulders down. Feel the scapula/shoulder blades pull towards one another, keeping your chest wide and open. Then repeat on the other side. 
Next, return to the “V” shape and lean your torso to the left, taking several deep breaths into your side waist to expand your ribcage and open up your side body. Repeat on the right side. 

Hold each pose for 5-10 deep breaths.

(To view the video, click the blog title link at the top of the email.) 

Fitness Friday Week 6: Shoulder Stretch at the Wall 

This is a yummy shoulder stretch which can easily be done in a practice room or hotel room. All you need is an empty wall. 

Start facing the wall and extend your left straight up towards the ceiling. Then, keeping your left arm straight, move it slowly in a counterclockwise motion as far as it can go (heading towards 9 o’clock.) For increases intensity, start to rotate your feet away from the wall towards the right hand side without moving your shoulder away from the wall. Hold for several breaths then come out of the pose by turning your body towards the wall before moving your left arm away from the wall. To repeat on the other side, bring your right arm up the wall and then move in a clockwise motion towards 3 o’clock. 

Feel free to send any questions you may have!

(Click the link to the blog post at the top of the page to view the video) 

Tuneful Tuesday/Thursday Week 31: The Saga of Jenny 

I’m posting my Tuneful Tuesday early this week in honor of my birthday—because all I really want to do for my birthday is sing. 
I’ve always loved the irony of this piece by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill; but I’ve never actually had the opportunity to sing it. I figured my birthday was a great opportunity to remember not to make your mind up about how your life is going to go. You never know what the world has in store for you. I never thought I’d be filling my days singing, teaching yoga, and running my own private vocal and piano studio; but I love the variety, intensity, and joy with which I live my life. Growing up, I made many plans. Some fell through; some were achieved; all helped me to evolve as a person. But, some of the best things in my life happened when I let go of my plans and just went where fate led me. As the character Tracy Lord says in The Philadelphia Story, “the time to make up your mind about people is never”… and that includes making up your mind about yourself.

(To see the video, click the blog title link at the top of the email.) 

Fitness Friday Week 5: Practice Room Backbend

I love this deep heart opener. It is perfect for travel, before a performance or audition, or during a practice session when you’re just feeling tense and stuck vocally. Let me know if you have any questions!

(Click on the blog post title to access the video)