Category Archives: Yogapuncture

Summer yoga sequence 

Here is the yoga sequence we did at Bonnie’s in Crystal Lake. Let’s do a Facebook live for the sequence at Ohm Mother Yoga especially for those of you who wanted a slightly more active class. ūüôā I’ll keep you posted with a date for July. Photo credit to my joy filled mom Joyce Zender-Hodnett for the pictures by her roses. 


Centering with mudra: touch index and thumb together, place left palm up on thigh and right hand over heart. Find your breath. Inhale from base of the spine up and exhale from crown of the head down. Hold 2-10 minutes 

Shoulder shrugs and upper body alignment. (Not pictured) sit at end of seat feet hip distance apart. Inhale shoulders up to ears and exhale shoulders down. Let movements match breath. 

Lengthen the exhale: inhale shoulders up 

Exhale squeeze shoulder blades then slide shoulder blades down into back pockets

Feel the shoulder girdle grounded (we return to this in chair downdog)


Seated pigeon pose with over head stretch

Square hips and cross ankle over opposite thigh, let knee open 

Inhale arms up, exhale opposite arm back for extra stretch use other hand on elbow as pictured 


Inhale arms to T exhale and twist as far as upper body allows, take a breath here then deepen with hand behind you and on thigh if you wish


Take opposite hand to opposite thigh and take the other arm into a side stretch 


Take the arm in side stretch to opposite knee or thigh and round the back


Curl up from rounded back by crossing arms at elbows in eagle arms, soften shoulders and lift elbows. Palms work towards facing each other or clasping


Seated Cat

Inhale arch back and reach arms out in soft cactus position

Exhale round spine and reach arms forward 

Do 3-6 rounds


Chair lunge 

Swivel to the side of chair, back leg can be straight or bent, you could even put a block under a bent knee for support


Chair dog

Check your arm pit to feel the head of the humerus plugged into the socket, in downdog we feel this by releasing the shoulders away from the ears like we did in the beginning of class only now you are partially upside down 


Chair dancer

Keep the knees in line and bend your knee, bend the elbow and hold your hand out like you would holding a tray feel your chest open, stay here or scoop the inside of your ankle


Remember these fun stretches that open the meridians and nerves of the hands? Arms in a T ground the shoulders down, draw the ribs in and press the heel of the hands out as fingers reach toward shoulders, play around with fingers and wrist location for a different stretch, go deeper by slowly and gently tilting the head from side to side 


Seated band bend

Take hands to side of chair or back of chair depending on how open your chest and shoulders feel, lift up through the chest let the head and throats soften back


Chair fold

Rest torso on thighs and fold forward, reach for ground or block


Seated twist

One hand on block or floor and one reaching up, head can be neutral, looking up or down 


Closing

Hands in prayer, thumbs resting on third eye 

Yogapuncture Summer Foods

Like we discussed in the last post, summer yogapuncture the flavor of summer is bitter. Check back there for some examples of bitter foods to add to your diet in the summer.

Spinach salad with grapes, almonds avocado and chicken salad

Summer is the season of variety! Go to the farmers market throughout the season and each week you will see more and more delicious foods to eat. Bright colored, beautiful foods are the best to eat right now. This nourishes us deeply and fills up our energetic savings account especially for the winter months. Cook light on high heat (or not at all) and steam veggies lightly. Add spicy regularly to help regulate body temperatures. As you eat spicy foods it warms the body which signals to turn on the internal A/C. (it also helps rev up your metabolism) The summer is also a time of eating less and lighter especially on hot days. Eating in season and local is best especially in the summer because the foods you are eating have adapted to the same environment that you have giving you the best nutrition possible.

Sourdough sandwich with fried egg, lentil sprouts, cucumber, carrots, sunflower sprouts and lettuce

The color of summer is red and foods that “bleed” red are especially nourishing to the blood of our bodies energetically. The summer is also the time of adding more fresh, in season fruit to the diet. Think cherries, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries and beets. Watermelon is especially nourishing in the summer as it is hydrating and cooling and is actually considered an herb in Chinese Medicine. It is often recommended to eat watermelon when losing weight or if there is danger of heat stroke. Here is the recipe for Watermelon Juice. You can add cucumber slices for added cooling effects. Drink strained or straight both ways are good.

I’ll end with a few summer recipes to try.

Summer Zucchini Lasagna.

Blueberry Lemon Banana Bread

Creamed Kale with Scapes (the farmers market has scapes now and if you’ve never had them you really should try them they are so good. If you are wondering what in the heck it is, its a young tender garlic)

Zucchini Squash Caserole

Kale Walnut Pesto with Zucchini Meatballs

Cucumber Lemon Water

Share your favorite summer recipes and beautiful meals on our facebook group.

 

Summer Yogapuncture

Summer is the time of expansion, growth, lightness, brightness, outward activity and creativity. Its when the energy around us is most superficial, abundant and available. Just look outside and see everything in full bloom.

In Chinese Medicine the summer is the time of the element of Fire and the meridians most active pertain to the Heart and Small intestine channel. Perhaps because the energy is so available this season has another organ pair active as well: the pericardium and triple warmer.

When you think of summer here is an easy cheat sheet. I’ll get into the specifics below

Color: Red               Taste: Bitter

Emotion: Joy           Meridians: Heat/Small intestine and Pericardium/Triple Warmer

Element: Fire          External Factor: Heat

Opens to tongue    Controls Sweating

The main function of the heart/small intestine system is circulation just like what you would think about in western medicine. In Chinese Medicine the heart also houses the mind, spirit and controls sleep and memory. Pericardium is said to be the master of the heart as well as its protector and because of this carries the same functions as the heart.

The small intestine has the job of separating the turbid from the clear for both the food we eat for usable energy and also for our thoughts.

The Triple Warmer protects the organs of the body¬†on the outside as well as controls the¬†“waterways” of the body which helps with distributing energy throughout the body. My teacher would say that the triple warmer is a concept¬†looking for an organ. There are three¬†warmers: upper, middle and lower that divide the torso in a¬†certain respect.

The tongue is an useful diagnostic tool in Chinese¬†Medicine.¬†It is the only¬†organ that is both internal and external. We look at the tongue as a way to see how the body is functioning internally. The shape, size, color and coat all tell a story. The tongue is also where the heart energy opens to. If you have trouble sleeping, are feeling restless/anxious take a peak at your tongue chances are the tip of your tongue will be redder than the rest of the tongue body. If you find a center crack on the tongue that can indicate stress in the body or can be¬†constitutional deficiency of¬†the¬†heart energy. When stress recedes in our lives typically the center crack will as well even if it doesn’t go away completely. Balanced heart energy means you have an easy time communicating your thoughts. Trouble finding words or getting “tongue tied” can indicate an imbalance with the heart. Forgetfullness is also a sign of heart energy imbalance.

The emotion of the summer is Joy. Like any emotion it should be balanced. We often associate joy as being a positive emotion that you can’t have “too much of.” An example of too much joy would¬†be shock.¬†A woman was once thrown a surprise party. When she walked into the room and saw all of these people she started to scream uncontrollably. This is an example of the excess joy taxing the heart. Another example of excess joy would be overstimulation. You might think of burning that candle at both ends as overstimulation. All fun and no rest is damaging to the heart energy of the body. Manic energy is also depleting.

Especially in the Midwest it can feel like we wait all¬†year for summer. It can feel like such a short season and we might feel compelled to get the “most” out of it. As a way to keep Joy balanced this is a perfect season to practice¬†mindfulness.

The heart energy also controls sweating in the body. The heart energy can be damaged by too much heat. If you find yourself sweating excessively or feeling hot or stuffy especially in the palms, feet and chest this can indicate a heart yin deficiency, essentially your body needs more coolant. Acupuncture, herbs and diet changes can help rectify this.

The taste of the summer is bitter. This is often referred to as the most under utilized flavor in western cuisine and perhaps for good reason. In nature typically bitter plants warn us of¬†the plant’s poisonous nature. However the¬†bitter flavor of foods helps to increase saliva which in turn helps to improve digestion which allows the body to absorb more nutrients from the foods we eat¬†giving way to our ability to have more usable energy. The bitter flavor also¬†clears¬†away heat and drains dampness which can¬†make our bodies feel heavy and lethargic,¬†not how you want to feel in the summer!

Examples of bitter foods include: celery, dandelion, burdock, yarrow, chamomile, hops, Echinacea, alfalfa, romaine lettuce, rye, asparagus, papaya, quinoa and citrus peel. Coffee and dark chocolate are also bitter.

Digestive bitters are also another great way to incorporate the bitter flavor into your diet. Take a teaspoon or so of bitters before a meal to help prime the body for digestion. If you indulge in a heavy meal that leaves you feeling full, bloated or gassy taking bitters after a meal can help assuage your symptoms. The digestive bitters that are included in the summer self care package are custom made for the summer and include cherries or strawberries (the color of summer), citrus peel (bitter element) and peppermint (aromatic and cooling). You can also use bitters mixed with some fruit and sparkling water for a low alcoholic beverage that supports your body rather than deplete it.

contains: brandy, citrus, cherries or strawberries and peppermint

I find that the bitter flavor also leaves me craving more water which is a great way to keep the body hydrated in the summer months.

I’ll leave you with this here and get into the diet of summer in the next post so its not so overwhelming¬†and then will have 2 yoga sequences for you to use through out summer as well. Stay tuned!¬†There are still a few self care packages available for purchase as well, let me know if you would like one. ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†ūüôā

Summer Self Care Packages

Doesn’t it feel like sometimes we wait all year for the summer sunshine and before we know it, its over? These care packages were designed to support you for a healthy summer season.
Each package includes a Pink Salt Foot Soak, Relaxed and Energized Tea, Digestive Bitters and An after sun serum. Below I’ll go into a little detail about the benefits of each. When you purchase your self care package you will also get access to a special blog post just for you with the recipes for each item so you can make more on your own!

 

Pink Salt Foot Soak

contains: pink Himalayan salt, Epsom salt, baking soda and lavender flowers

Summer is the time when we are more active and often times NOT wearing the most supportive shoes. This foot soak replenishes the body with magnesium from the Epsom salts and over¬†84 minerals and elements¬†from the pink salts. The combo of pink salt, Epsom salt and baking soda make it very similar to taking a dip in the ocean which is very replenishing for the whole body. Lavender can also be cooling and its considered to be an adaptogen herb. While its known to be calming it can also be energizing if that’s what your body needs as well.¬†The foot soak is¬†a great thing to do before bed for a good nights sleep as well. (You can recycle the foot soak water and use it to feed your plants or garden when you are done too)

Relaxed and Energized Tea

contains: chamomile, hibiscus and rosehips

The color of the summer season is Red and this delightful tea blend is perfect iced or hot for summer. The chamomile keeps the tea calming and the circulatory properties of the hibiscus and rose hips are great for a non-ca ffeinated pick me up during the afternoon slump.

Digestive Bitters

contains: brandy, citrus, cherries or strawberries and peppermint

The flavor of the summer season is bitter which is the most deficient flavor of US cuisine. These bitters boast the flavors and colors of summer and help support digestion. Take 20-30 minutes before a meal to prime digestion or after a meal if you’ve over indulged to aid fullness and gas. Mixed with sparkling water and fruit wedges its a perfect low alcoholic summer cocktail that benefits the body.

After Sun Serum

Contains: jojoba oil, avocado oil, elderflower, calendula, gree tea, rosemary extract and lavender

This after sun serum is infused by the sun much like a sun tea. The herbs are strained out before bottled. A little goes a long way to nourish the skin before an after prolonged sun exposure. Massage gently into skin.

 

If you would like to order a self care package they will be available at the Crystal Lake Yogapuncture this Friday at Bonnie’s house or next Saturday at OhmMother Yoga. I can also ship to you for an additional fee. The cost is $35.

Preparing for Spring

My daughter scampered into our bedroom this morning early as the sun was just thinking of rising. As she burrowed under the covers she said, “Mama I hear the birds chirping.” Half asleep I replied, “Uh-huh” and snuggled her close and fell back asleep. An hour or so later as I opened my eyes for the day the first thing I saw looking up and out the window was clear blue sky.

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At drop off for school this morning it was undeniable that the “sugar snow” we had last week has awoken the grass and everyday it gets greener. It feels like spring is awakening around here.

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I feel it inside of myself as well, a certain kind of renaissance is happening. I feel inspired and motivated.

In Chinese Medicine the natural state of the Liver energy is to flourish. The liver has a hand in helping all systems function most optimally so it is especially ideal to let the liver flourish. The spring is when the liver and gall baldder are most active.

If you missed Yogapuncture for Spring in Crystal Lake last week you have two more chances to come to class. Next Saturday March 18th at Ohm Mother Yoga in West Dundee and Saturday March 25th at Blu Rain Yoga in Antioch.

Join me for gentle, mindful movement to improve circulation and cleanse the internal organs. Learn gentle ways to cleanse the liver energy. Leave class feeling a little lighter ready to flourish this Spring. I can’t wait to see you there!

 

Illness as Meditation 

My little bear is quite sick, it seems he’s saved a whole winter’s worth of sickies for right now. Being a little one’s everything can give someone quite a lot of time to think.

It’s hard being still. I’m not good at it. I don’t think most Americans are.


Last week we spied our tulips peeking out. Oh no! I thought, it’s quite possible we will get a frost or snow. So I gathered stray leaves and made blankets for all the sproutlings confused about this mild winter. Why don’t I extend that same level of compassion to myself? Nothing in nature is always blooming and yet we skimp on restoration for ourselves and then wonder why we are always so tired. 

Spring is a becoming. Hardy plants grow deep, strong roots. Illness is not comfortable but it happens. Perhaps running from pain and unpleasantries makes us weaker and more frail. Like the hardy plants, leaning into it makes us stronger. 

Join me Friday in Crystal Lake for Yogapuncture for Spring. We will be working on keeping strong roots in the spring, working with the emotion of anger and talking about what it means to cleanse. There a few spots left just for you ūüôā 

Preparing for Spring, Yogapuncture Sneak Peak

We do yogapuncture with the seasons but there is always something happening in the body and our environment. If you’ve been curious about what yogapuncture is (a self care class!) read on and get a tiny peak in. If you’ve been coming to yogapuncture here is a tiny peak in what is going on as we look forward to spring. ūüôā

February is the time of preparation for Spring! Even if it doesn’t feel like it. The energy that has been deep in the Kidneys all winter is starting to make its way back. The kidneys store our congenital qi or energy. This the energy given to us by our parents and could be considered the genetics of your body.

The Spleen/Stomach system which is active in periods of transition is continuously supplying the Kidney qi with new energy. Recall the old equation da qi + gu qi = zhen qi What this means is that the air we breathe and the food we eat gives us available energy to use. Any surplus is given to the kidneys for storage in times of need. Now is the time to fill the savings account so to speak so the body is prepared for the transition to spring. It is very common to get sick, worn down, allergies etc in spring because of depletion.

Ways to nourish the spleen: eating yellow foods, especially root veggies. Start to incorporate more veggies and meatless meals to give the spleen/stomach a break from the rich, heavy foods of winter.

Here is an almost perfect meal for the transition from winter to spring. Don’t worry it tastes pretty good too! Mung Bean Stew with Eggplant and Mushrooms

mungbean

Chinese Medicine believes that colds and other sickness can “attack” the body from wind, especially blowing on the back of the neck. It’s especially important to keep your neck protected while you sleep, so avoid fans blowing directly on you or sleeping with a window open when its windy out. Its tempting when the weather breaks (and it will!) to change from winter to spring clothes quickly. Make sure that if you do go out in an open shirt to wear a scarf to protect your neck.

Here is a fun way to wear a scarf. 

One way to strengthen your neck to keep the wind out is to practice this exercise throughout the day especially if you sit in front of a computer for an extended period of time or while driving. You can do it at each stop light as you get good at remembering.

In Chinese Medicine the kidneys control the bones and the spleen controls the muscles. A misconception is that muscles should do all the work. The foundation of proper health, movement etc is stacking the bones of the body first. Healthy muscles contract when working and relax at rest. When the bones are properly aligned the muscles simply hug the bones in support without effort.

To avoid injury don’t lengthen or strengthen muscles if the bones are not properly lined up.

Stay healthy friends and I’ll see you at the Spring Yogapuncture(s) in March!

Crystal Lake Bonnie Ricica March 3rd,

West Dundee OhmMother Yoga March 18th

Antioch Blu Rain Yoga March 25th!