By Rebecca Louzan
Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments that students bring when they first start their practice here at Namaste Lyons. This is a guide compiled from various, reputable resources, to prepare you for a Yoga practice that supports the health of your back. When practiced consistently, Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen your back and keep the surrounding muscles limber, flexible . The key to a healthy back is a balanced practice that focuses on both strength and flexibility. *1
There are a couple of key items to remember during your practice that will both protect and enhance your back’s health:
Creating Flexibility in the Back
Supine Spinal Twist
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and 4 to 6 inches away from your sit bones. Open the arms out to the sides, even with your shoulders, palms facing up. Then lift your hips and shift them over 4 inches to the left, setting yourself off center.
Next, inhale, draw your knees into your chest, and as you exhale, lower your knees to the right, keeping them at hip level. Now look to the left. Hold for six to eight breaths before returning knees and hips to center and repeating on the opposite side.
"Figure 4" Hip Stretch
Lying on your back, with your legs bent to a 90-degree angle over your hips, place your right ankle on your left thigh just below the knee. Reach your right arm through the space between your legs and your left arm around the outside wrapping your hands around the back of your left thigh. Gently pull your left thigh toward your chest, while pressing your right thigh away from your chest. Hold for six to eight breaths before releasing and repeating on the opposite side.
Cat - Cow Pose
"Cow" Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Inhale and curl your toes under. Tilt your pelvis toward the ceiling, turning your sit bones up, draw the shoulder blades down the back, open through the chest and look a little forward keeping the neck curve long.
"Cat" Exhale and point your toes. Round through your lower back, pressing your palms into the floor and tilt the top of your head down, releasing the tension from the upper back and neck. Repeat for six full breaths.
Strengthening the Back
Lie on your back with your feet flat on floor, palms facing down. Lift your hips and torso off the floor, pressing into your palms and feet. Then interlace your hands under your hips and press your shoulders and upper arms into the floor, lifting your hips higher toward the ceiling. As your breastbone rises toward your chin, move your chin back a little away from your chest. Hold for six to eight breaths. Then lower yourself slowly rolling down from the top of your spine to your tailbone. Rest for four breaths before repeating.
Extended Side Angle
Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart and raise your arms out to your sides, shoulder height, with your palms facing down. Turn your left foot and leg out 90 degrees to the left and your right foot in about 15 to 30 degrees. Inhale, and as you exhale bend your left knee up to 90 degrees, keeping your knee stacked over your heel. Place the top of your left forearm on your left thigh and roll your chest open toward the ceiling. Raise your right hand straight up and turn your head to look at it. Hold for five breaths. Then carefully come out of the pose and repeat on the opposite side.
Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart and raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing down. Then turn your left foot and leg 90 degrees out to the left and your right foot in about 15 to 30 degrees. Inhale, and as you exhale bend your left knee up to 90 degrees, keeping your knee stacked over your heel. To further protect your knee, center it over the middle of your foot, so it’s pointing over your second and third toes. Then turn your face to the left and gaze out over your left hand. Hold for five breaths before straightening up and repeating on the opposite side.
From down dog, lower your hips so your body is in a high pushup position with your hips connecting the straight line between your shoulders and ankles (i.e., not drooping toward the floor). Engage your abdominals and hold for five breaths. Then lift the hips back into down dog and hold for five breaths. Next move inhale into plank and exhale back to down dog, repeating five times to warm up your shoulders.
Support for your Back at Namaste Lyons
Currently, we offer a Yoga for Low Back + Hips on Friday mornings from 8:00 - 9:00 am with Rebecca. Or, contact Rebecca Louzan to schedule a personalized, one-on-one yoga session to create a home practice and to enhance your class practice in a way that supports your individual back health.
*1 This guide, advice from Namaste Lyons instructors and practitioners, and the practice of Yoga is not meant to act as a replacement for your own healthcare professional. It is your responsibility to seek out medical advice and the appropriateness of Yoga from your personal physician.
Materials compiled in this Namaste Lyons take-home edition are from the following resources:
By Rebecca Louzan
Since the flood, we have offered yoga and wellness services to a handful of people here in Lyons who have found themselves in hard times or who otherwise could not afford these services. I feel deeply that this is part of our responsibility as a fellow humans and a neighbors here in our community. It opens our hearts and makes us feel good about offering what we have to give, and for giving back or paying forward the blessings others have gifted us in our lives. Now, we am working to build this concept in our community, and we have created a program that opens the gifting process to everyone.
Namaste Lyons and LEAF have partnered to create a new scholarship program in Lyons. The Namaste Yoga Scholarship provides personal wellbeing support through yoga and meditation classes to Lyons area community members who have found themselves in hard times. Yoga and meditation are known to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and to build confidence, memory and concentration. Yoga reduces the effects of traumatic experiences, and helps those in hard times manage stress.
Become a Good Juju Partner by purchasing a limited edition item (tank, tee, hoodie, or coffee mug) to help fund the Fall Scholarship Programs. This campaign ends October 4th. The goal for this campaign round is to fund three Lyons Area individuals in need, with yoga and meditation classes this Fall. Namaste Lyons is leading the fundraising effort and providing discounted yoga and meditation services for the program. LEAF is helping to identify members of the community in need that can best benefit from the program. To learn more about receiving the Namaste Yoga Scholarship for Fall 2016, contact Janaki Jane at LEAF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our community makes this program happen. To donate (and receive your Namaste Lyons Good Juju Partner shirt/mug) go to https://teespring.com/namaste-yoga-scholarship-fund.
By Rebecca Louzan
Before dawn each day in the early 1900’s, a curious 12-year old south Indian boy would sneak out of his house, wide-eyed and eager to absorb teachings from a sanskrit scholar later known as the “Father of Modern Yoga,” Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. The little boy’s family never knew the child practiced yoga before school each day, but his internal drive was so strong that he left home at an early age to pursue the studies of Ashtanga. When the boy grew to 33 years old, he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India, and soon Westerners including Madonna, Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow would travel to study under him. His name was K. Pattabhi Jois, and in 1975 his first trip to the United States would mark the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga movement in America.
Ashtanga Yoga is much more than the physical practice we associate with the word “Yoga.” Ashtanga Yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga,” referring to a diverse set of practices to ultimately achieve a complete understanding of our human condition, and the “why’s” of our existence. These Ashtanga practices include the establishment of moral codes, self purification and study, physical posture practice, breath control, sense control, concentration, meditation, and ultimately spiritual enlightenment. According to Jois, the definition of yoga is "the controlling of the mind." But he argued that many of the limbs of yoga cannot be practiced when the body and sensory organs are weak and distracted, so a daily physical practice is necessary to keep the body strong and healthy to achieve a steady, controlled mind.
The purpose of the physical practice of yoga, specifically vinyasa, is for internal cleansing. It involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of asanas (postures) to produce intense internal heat and a profuse sweat that carry impurities out of the body, detoxifying muscles and organs. Through the use of vinyasa the body becomes healthy, light and strong.
For more information about Ashtanga Yoga, visit www.ashtangayoga.com. For more information about Lori, visit /www.namastelyons.com/lori-legault. Namaste Lyons charges $14 for a drop in, $120 for a 10-Pass and $200 for a 20-Pass.
Namaste Lyons (formerly Lyons Yoga & Wellness), has been in business in Lyons since 2011. We recently moved to a new and larger space at 402 Main Street (just under The Soda Fountain) and established our new name this August. We offer a full range of yoga and wellness services including Gentle Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, meditation, private wedding classes, massage, body and energy work, relationship workshops, community groups and more. See our full schedule at www.namastelyons.com and follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/namastelyons. The article author, Rebecca Louzan is the owner of Namaste Lyons. Rebecca is a yoga + meditation instructor, author and a holistic wellness advocate. www.rebeccalouzan.com She studied at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda and at Clark University. Rebecca co-founded and operates a second Lyons-based business, Onda Creative - a branding and marketing studio that specializes in the Yoga/LOHAS, Outdoor and Biotechnology industries. www.ondacreative.com
Lyons' Main Street yoga studio; a new name and a new location
By Rebecca Louzan
I grew up knowing well the concept that “everyBODY can do yoga.” I knew this because my grandmother - while in her 80’s - was my very first yoga teacher. I’ve seen many scoff at the idea, probably imagining an intimidating figure resembling a pretzel and thinking “no way.” But my journey has taught me differently. EveryBODY can do yoga, and it does not need to be intimidating. Like anything, you simply choose your pace, your intensity, your style. You learn to listen to your body. And from there you grow and evolve. That is what Namaste Lyons is all about - starting where you are and opening your body and your mind to their own evolution.
In the fall of 2011, I had just come down off a beautiful Pikes Peak ascent, when I answered a phone call from former Lyons local, Alana Yerman; she had an idea she wanted to share. A few weeks later, we began painting the walls and selecting the flooring for a small room in which we would teach yoga and see private clients over the next five years. A shy young woman at the time, my anxieties would creep in every morning before I taught yoga in that room. But halfway through each class, when my students’ eyes were closed and their breathing was steady, my mind forgot about the confidence I lacked as a - then quite green - yoga instructor, and I’d intently watch the transformation in the people sitting in my class. Little did they know, each yoga 'student' taught me every day that they came to my studio. I watched as they created a refuge in their lives - to which they would return several times a week, to slow the movement, to slow the breath, and to create space in which they would dedicate themselves to a practice. They taught me patience, dedication, and humility.
Early in the morning on September 13th, 2013 - when the flood hit Lyons - I left my home and I ventured across town by foot to collect blankets and yoga mats from our studio and brought them to the Community Church for flood refugee neighbors to sleep on. When I tried to make my way back home that night, I found myself stranded on the “Main Island” that had formed in Lyons, unable to return to my “Upper 5th Island” for days. That night, I retreated to my yoga studio floor, and there I slept on Alana’s shiatsu massage mat with one of the few blankets we had not given away.
Days later, holistic health friends and colleagues from outside of town began reaching out to us, asking how they could help our community. We began to meet, one at a time just outside of town, where I would drive them through the National Guard barricade and to our Lyons yoga studio. There, they would set up massage tables and scented oils, and would voluntarily treat locals, firefighters and volunteers for days to help relieve the shock and impending stress the community was absorbing.
In our studio, I have watched transformations occur in people time and time again. I’ve witnessed individuals with extremely limited mobility, chronic back pain, head injury, arthritis, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, depression, anxiety, autism, multiple sclerosis, children struggling with addictions and abuse, women carrying their first babies and so many others find refuge, growth and stillness in the practice of yoga. These past five years have held the most humbling and growthful experiences I’ve ever known. I am deeply grateful to the people who have shared these journeys of their human condition with me.
When Alana moved to Chinle, Arizona after the flood, I decided to keep my doors open solo, for I had watched the space we created become a refuge for so many. I’ve learned many lessons without her by my side as my business partner, but most importantly I’ve connected to a deep dedication to my community members who practice within our walls. Last month, I moved my studio to a new and larger location under the Soda Fountain on Main Street. As I watch newcomers walk through my doors, I am filled with excitement for the evolution of the yoga studio I have come to love very deeply.
I am happy to announce that we have expanding class offerings. Our three newest yoga instructors include the very-loved vinyasa teacher, Blake Curton, the community-known Ashtanga teacher, Lori LeGault, and our newest Lyons resident and Kripalu-trained teacher and counselor, Tara Hanson. We hold classes nearly every day of the week right in downtown Lyons. I personally specialize in Gentle Stress Reduction Yoga and specialized, therapeutic classes. Tara teaches a moderate Slow Flow Vinyasa. Lori starts a 6-week Ashtanga series, and Blake will lead a more vigorous Vinyasa class (Friday Happy Hour Vinyasa). We are offering an Ages 3-5 YogaKids session with Julianne Pream from Aug 31st - Oct 5th. We warmly welcome community groups, meditation gatherings, we facilitate sound baths and host networking events that supports the holistic health businesses. I work to creatively offer affordable ways for community members to attend yoga classes, even if neighbors are struggling financially; I deeply believe that yoga should be available to everybody. We hold free monthly community class as a way to give back to all that my community does for us. The next two free Community Yoga classes are both held at 6:30pm on Wednesdays: Sept. 7th and Oct. 5th.
This month, I happily celebrate each person who has practiced with us as yoga local yoga student, Sam paints our new name that deeply exemplified my feelings for each of my Lyons neighbors, “Namaste Lyons.” The traditional way to close a yoga practice is to bring hands together, and to humbly bow to one another, offering the Sanskrit word, “namaste.” Nama means “bow,” as means “I,” and te means “you.” Literally, namaste means “I bow to you.”
So, “Namaste, Lyons.” The light that makes up my soul sees and deeply respects the light that makes up yours, Lyons. I am looking forward to another five years, and to the next adventures this path brings.
See our full class, event and workshop schedule at www.namastelyons.com. We are very active on Facebook at www.facebook.com/namastelyons. I hope to see you on the mat! I’m more than happy to schedule a private session if starting in a class setting feels intimidating and you’d prefer to start in a more private setting.
The article author, Rebecca Louzan is the co-founder and current solo owner of Namaste Lyons, formerly Lyons Yoga & Wellness. Rebecca is a yoga + meditation instructor, reflexology provider, author and a holistic wellness advocate. www.rebeccalouzan.com She studied at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda and at Clark University. Rebecca co-founded and operates a second Lyons-based business, Onda Creative - a branding and marketing studio that specializes in the Yoga/LOHAS, Outdoor and Biotechnology industries with Lyons local, Jason Stillman. www.ondacreative.com