Tag Archives: yoga

Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama means “victorious breath.” It is often practiced through the entirety of an ashtanga or flow yoga class. It is meant to be calming and rhythmic and help the practitioner focus. Slow, deep inhales followed by long, exhales of roughly the same length. The defining characteristic is the wheezy, ocean-like sound. Ujjayi is an audible breath performed by constricting the throat and tongue slightly while breathing in and out through your nose.

Try this. Sit up straight. Close your eyes. Take a breath in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth and whisper “hahhh”. Feel where it vibrates the back of the throat. Take another breath in through your nose and whisper “hahhh” but press the tongue to the roof of your mouth. Feel where your tongue touches the palate and how the jaw constricts slightly. That’s basically the shape you want for your mouth. Take another deep inhale though the nose and exhale though the nose while retaining the sound. Keep doing this while taking slow, deep abdominal-thoracic breaths.

Ujjayi Pranayama from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

I personally find it relaxing to perform ujjayi breaths and will consciously or unconsciously start doing it when I take deep breaths to relax or when I meditate. Because the breath is audible, you can focus on it better and thus counting your breaths and the length of your breaths becomes much easier. Because you are restricting the flow of air, you naturally breathe much slower with ujjayi breath and consequently much deeper.

One thing that I rarely hear mentioned about ujjayi breathing is the fact that it aides in spinal stabilization. The throat acts like a valve on abdominal-thoracic cavity. True abdominal bracing is done by creating pressure between the diaphragm and the perineum. However, the slight restriction on the breath helps create pressure as well. In situations where breath holding is ill-advised but some intra-abdominal pressure is necessary, ujjayi breath is a strong choice.

Healing

I keep coming back to the idea of healing. In the western terms “healing” means returning to health. That is path many of us are on whether we know it or not. Things we do should move us in that direction. Things that don’t move us toward health should be questioned.

I am starting to question the things I do and ask whether they are healing or not. I am also reflecting on all the various healing strategies I have learned throughout my life and wondering how I can start to incorporate some of them back into my life.

Many of us love to use and abuse our bodies, especially when we are young, but as you get older you realize your body has to last and in order to last, you need to start looking at and utilizing various healing strategies. Get to it!

Day 30 – Happy Baby

Congratulations! You made it to the end of the #30daypandachallenge. I knew you could do it. Your reward is a sweet happy baby pose. Lie down on your back and grab your feet and pull the tops of your thighs to the floor on either side of your rib cage. Your knees should be up by your armpits and your arms should be reaching up between your legs. Breathe deeply and try to flatten your back along the floor. Your inner thighs and hamstrings should get a nice stretch as you try to keep your shins vertical and your knees out.

Day 30 of 30. Happy Baby from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 29 – Suspended Cobra

I love back bends but they are very difficult for me. I find it very challenging to stay in them for a long time. Because I am very tight it takes a lot of effort to hold myself in some of these shapes. Cobra pose or Bhujangasana or the seal stretch is a classic yoga pose that stretches the hip flexors and abdominals and feels pretty amazing. Unfortunately, in order for me to get a good stretch, I need some assistance. The medicine ball under my stomach helps prop me into position so I don’t have to push so hard with my arms. Also the band overhead allows me to get pulled up and does a two-for-one on my shoulder and helps improve my overhead position. Externally rotate your shoulders, breathe deep and keep your legs as straight as you can. Enjoy!

Day 29 of 30. Suspended Cobra from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 27 – The Splits

The splits are the most iconic test of flexibility. We would be remiss if we did not endeavor to work on our splits this month. I love this setup from Kelly Starrett using the band to decrease the load and to keep our torso upright. Hook a heavy band to the pullup bar and loop it under your armpits. I suggest wearing a sweatshirt because the band can be rather uncomfortable. I also use an abmat under the knee because we are going to be here for a couple of minutes. Extend one leg forward and one leg backward, but try to keep the hips as neutral as possible. Sit tall and take deep breaths. After doing both sides, move to the symmetrical middle splits. I use the J-hooks to help support myself here in addition to the band. The splits are really intense so enjoy them.

The Splits from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 26 – Twisted Firelogs

Sometimes referred to as “Double Pigeon” this stretch gets into some great places in your hips. I call it “firelogs” because the shins should be stacked in front of you like couple of fire logs. The ankle should rest on the knee and the shins should remain parallel. If you cannot get your legs in this position, you should probably attempt the version at the end of the video. In this video I demonstrate a deep twist, but you can simply just stack your legs and fold forward and try to bring your head to the floor. So good. I hope this becomes one of you favorites.

Day 26 of 30. Twisted Firelogs from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 25 – Banded Uttanasana

Most people don’t really need a ton of ability to forward bend in their daily life. However, if you want to be able to do fun gymnastics stuff, you need a good deal of compression in this pike shape. This is something I’ve struggled with for many years and the best way I have found to improve is to use bands and weight. I really enjoy this variation. I hope you do too. Wrap a band around a post and walk away and bend forward. Lean away from the post and try to contract your quads and abs and pull your face gently to your shins. Breathe slowly and deeply and stay here for a couple of minutes.

Day 25 of 30. Banded Uttanasana from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 24 – The Grip Saver Stretch

CrossFit will destroy your hands if you let it. You’re grip is constantly getting worked which is awesome, but also terrible if you don’t take care of your hands and forearms. This stretch is one of the best ways to stretch out your digital flexors (a/k/a your grip muscles). Kneeling down on all fours, spin one of your hands around 180 degrees so the fingers are facing the toes. Grab each finger one at a time and gently peel it up off the floor. Use your thumb to confirm the first knuckle down to the ground as you lift the finger thus intensifying the stretch. Don’t forget the thumb! Stretch each digit for approximately 20-30 seconds. You’ll feel amazing after this.

The Grip Saver Stretch from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 22 – The Seated Trap Stretch

If you’ve been doing CrossFit your traps are sore. Going overhead, cleaning, and snatching put a huge demand on the trapezius muscle. This is a simple way to stretch it out and give your neck some relief. Kneel down and sit on your heels. Reach down and grab one of your ankles. Lean away from that ankle and look away from that ankles as well. Gently grab your head and use the weight of the arm to gently pull your ear toward your shoulder. Adjust your head position periodically to target different parts of your traps to stretch. Breathe deeply and don’t force this stretch. Just allow it to happen. If you can’t sit comfortably like this and grab your ankle, sit on a chair and grab under the seat or hold a light dumbbell in one hand.

Day 22 of 30. The Seated Trap Stretch from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.

Day 21 – Prasarita Padattonasana

This classic straddle stretch is called Prasarita Padattonasana. There are a lot of variations choose the one that allows you to stay in this stretch for about 2 minutes. You can start with the hands on the floor, grab your ankles, and eventually walk your hands through your legs. You can also add some resistance to this by taking a light weight behind your back. I’m using a training bar, but I recommend starting light by sliding a small weight over a pvc pipe. My favorite variation is to wrap a band around a post and grab it between your legs and lean forward. This mimics a stall bar stretch. Try to keep your feet pointing straight ahead and keep your legs straight. Breathe slowly and deeply and try not to tense up your neck and shoulders.

Prasarita Padattonasana from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.