Mommy and Me Yoga Poses

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Double Butterflies

Our kids just want to spend time with us.  They want to come to work with us, join our date nights, and help with errands.  In my household, I am always doing yoga, so therefore my kids want to do yoga with me all the time!

Teaching our kids yoga can provide them with so many benefits including: having healthy exercise habits, learning body awareness, and building strength and flexibility.  In addition, kids learn emotional skills such as: determination, patience, and focus.  Perhaps the most important lesson is learning how to breathe, and teaching our children to take slow deep breaths when they are faced with challenges to stay calm.

Next time you step on your mat at home, instead of practicing alone, try out some of these fun mommy and me poses!  I guarantee you will both love your time together!

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Double Upward Facing Dogs

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Double Planks

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Double Boats

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Double Chairs

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Double Trees

And one more if you are feeling adventurous… have fun!

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Supported Cobra Pose

 

How To Do A Sun Salutation

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So what exactly is a Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)?  There are several variations, but in general a sun salutation is a series of poses that flow continuously with your breath, and are often performed in the beginning of vinyasa yoga classes to warm up the body.  The most common sun salutation A consists of 8 main poses:

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  1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

This is your starting and ending pose.  As a stand alone pose, your feet can be hip distance apart, although in a sun salutation flow, your feet can be together.  Spread weight evenly through the four corners of your feet (outer edges of balls and heels of feet).  Engage your kneecaps, lengthen your spine and lift the crown of your head towards the sky.  At the same time, draw your shoulders back and down, and engage your ribs and naval back towards your spine.  Ignite energy from your feet to the crown of your head, and energize your fingertips towards the floor.  Take as many breaths as needed here to become grounded and still.

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2. Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)

On your inhale, lift your arms up towards the sky and perhaps come into a gentle backbend.  Think of backbending from your upper back, lifting from your sternum versus collapsing in your lower back.

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3. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

On your exhale, fold forward by hinging from your hips and keeping your spine long.  As you fold, your arms can either swan dive out by your sides, or you can bring your hands together in prayer as you fold.  Soften your knees if

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4. Halfway Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)

On your inhale, lengthen your spine.  Your fingertips can be on the floor or on your shins, and your knees can soften as much as needed to create the extension in your spine.

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5. Plank (High Plank)

On your exhale, step back into plank, keeping your shoulders over your wrists and heels stacked over the balls of your feet.  Engage your core as you continue to lift your naval up towards your spine and prevent your hips from sagging.  Push down through your palms and lift your back side towards the sky.

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6. Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana or Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

On that same exhale as your plank, shift your weight forward so that your shoulders move beyond your fingertips and your heels glide forward over the balls of your feet.  Bend your elbows at a 90 degree, hugging your elbows to your ribs.  From the side profile,  your shoulders, elbows, and hips should be in a straight line, and your elbows stay stacked over your wrists.

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7. Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

On your inhale, press down on your palms and place the tops of your feet on the ground.  Engage your triceps as well as your quadriceps so only your hands and feet touch the floor.  Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling and draw your shoulders down away from your ears.  Keeping the legs active will prevent “dumping” weight into your lower back.

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8. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

On your exhale, use your core to lift your hips away from the floor and roll back onto the soles of your feet.  Press weight evenly throughout your palms, especially your fingers.  Straighten your arms and externally rotate your upper arms and shoulders, making space around your neck.  Move your chest towards your thighs and lift your tailbone towards the ceiling, creating as much length in your spine as possible.  Continue to draw your ribs in.  Reach your heels towards the mat, but it is not important for them to touch the mat.  Sometimes softening the knees will help you feel more length in the spine.  Rest for 1-5 breaths.

To return back to the starting Mountain Pose:

9. On your exhale, walk or hop your feet together between your hands.

10. On your inhale, Halfway Standing Forward Fold.

11. On your exhale, Forward Fold.

12. On your inhale, soften your knees, keep your spine straight and reverse swan dive to your Upward Salute.

13. On your exhale, return to Mountain Pose.  Stay for 1-5 breaths and complete the whole Sun Salutation A cycle 3-5 more times.  Feel the warmth in your body that you have created.

“As the sun spirals its longest dance, cleanse us.

As nature shows bounty and fertility, bless us.

Let all things live with loving intent

And to fulfill their truest destiny.”

~ Summer Solstice Blessing

 

 

 

#StopDropAndDance With Grace Ling Yu

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Can’t Stop the Feeling with Justin Timberlake #StopDropAndDance with Grace Ling Yu!

So you know when a catchy song comes on the radio, and your body just wants to MOVE? Well, that’s exactly how I feel, pretty much on a daily basis.  Justin Timberlake’s latest song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” is no joke.  When I first heard that song, it was around 10pm.  And I stayed up another 2 hours dancing.  By myself.  This was the video I ended up recording because I had to document my ridiculousness.

Of course that dance is very choreographed and if I were to teach it to you, I would have to break down all the steps and counts.

I’ve decided to start posting EASY TO PICK UP dance videos that require absolutely no breakdown of steps.  You can literally turn on the video and start dancing with me!!!  And it is such a good cardio workout, not to mention the obvious… it is SO MUCH FUN.  I even got a bunch of “backup dancers” from Marin Power Yoga to show you how much we love this!

I’m officially using the hashtag #StopDropAndDance with Grace Ling Yu.  If you like my videos, there are more videos posted on the #StopDropAndDance tab on this blog, or you can do one of the following to stay up to date:

  1. Press LIKE on my Facebook Page to receive the latest updates: www.facebook.com/PowerWithGrace
  2. SHARE my #StopDropAndDance Videos and TAG your friends to dance too!
  3. Press SUBSCRIBE on my YouTube page: www.youtube.com/gracelingyu
  4. FOLLOW me on Instagram: www.instagram.com/gracelingyu
  5. Optional: Post a video of you doing part or all of one of my dances and TAG @Power With Grace as well as the hashtag #StopDropAndDance to spread the LOVE!!!

My ultimate goal is that a particular song could come on the radio, and you would start dancing the #StopDropAndDance moves simply because you remember them and you just CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!!!

Enjoy!!!

 

 

Prenatal Yoga Dance to “How Long Will I Love You,” By Ellie Goulding

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Mother’s Day just passed two days ago, and at times I am still in disbelief that Mother’s Day is now a celebration for me too!  How much changes in 5 years… from never sleeping in anymore, to taking 1 hour to get out of the house in the mornings versus 15 minutes, to having stuff… just stuff… all over the house.   And now… to having endless kisses and snuggles, to having a helper put away dishes or laundry, to knowing a love that is so deep and so great that my heart actually hurts thinking about my kids.

Motherhood has been a wild ride, starting with being bedridden for 3 months in my first pregnancy!  Fortunately, my second pregnancy was smooth sailing and I was able to teach my fitness and yoga classes literally until the morning of my labor.

18 months ago, I shot this impromptu yoga dance video with Jamie Ginsberg at Marin Power Yoga when I was pregnant with my second child.  I am so grateful I have this footage.  My heart is full.

Some other yoga dances I’ve made:

Yoga Dance – “Make You Feel My Love”

Yoga Dance – “Amazing Grace”

 

Other pregnancy posts I wrote:

Prenatal Yoga For Experienced Yogis

I Am Going to Miss Being Pregnant!

4 Ways I Balance Family, Fitness, and Fun!

 

Hiking in Yosemite with my daughters.

I would be lying if I told you it is easy to be the primary caretaker for my two girls, 4 and 1 years old, while working full time teaching 15 fitness and yoga classes a week, and serving as the Lead 200RYT Teacher Trainer and Director of Operations and TRX at Marin Power Yoga.    The struggle is real, but I am truly doing everything that I love!

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Here are some tips on how I try to balance it all:

1) Make Exercise A Priority

I have a hard time getting through a day without moving around, or stretching at the very least.  I feel restless, easily irritable, and end up having little to no energy.  I just feel bad.  When I do get to exercise, I feel like I am a battery that is fully charged and ready to go!  I have that much more energy (and patience) to give to my family.

Create a predictable and reasonable routine that you can follow every week.  Decide how many days per week and when is the best time of the day for you to exercise.  Perhaps it is at midnight like me after the kids have gone to sleep and finally all my work is done!  Set your routine, and make exercise a priority for your health, so that you can take care of your family.

2) Set Aside Quality Family Time Everyday

When I get home after a long day, I dread the endless list of chores I have to do – dishes, dinner, laundry, cleaning, lunches for the next day… I could easily spend the entire evening multi-tasking between these chores and spending time with my family.  Actually, up until recently, dinnertime looked like my kids eating at the table while I ran back and forth between the kitchen doing chores versus sitting down to have a meaningful meal together.

Now I am making a conscious effort to give my complete attention to my family especially during dinnertime as a priceless opportunity for conversation, as well as during bath time as a place for silliness and play, and during bedtime routines where we read stories together.  Set aside quality family time everyday with no multi-tasking, no interruptions, and no distractions (that includes the phone!).  It can be as short as 5 minutes one day, it can be an hour another day.  When you give your full attention to your family, they will notice and appreciate it.

3) Be Fit Together

When I started teaching at Marin Power Yoga, one of the open time slots was Saturday at 9:30am.  Right away I said no because I did not have childcare on the weekends.  Jamie, the owner of MPY, offered to open a concurrent kids yoga class so that my daughter would not only have childcare, but would also learn yoga too.  How could I say no to that?

We are role models for our kids, and when they see us leading active lifestyles, they will naturally too.  Everyday, my daughters take our dog out for walks with me even though we live on a big, steep hill.  I am often doing Yoga or TRX at home for my Instagram posts (@gracelingyu), and you see my kids playing around me or my older daughter trying some poses too.  What else is fun?  A DANCE PARTY of course!  Fitness and family time are not exclusive of one another.  We can be fit together.

4) Get Outside and Play

My most favorite way to balance family and fitness is to plan day trips or vacations together.  I literally go through my calendar and plan out these special family excursions or else it will simply not happen.

We just went to Yosemite with my sister’s family and my parents, and all of us from ages 1 to 70, went hiking for 3 days in a row.  We saw waterfalls, lakes, meadows, tunnels, and animals, and my daughter gained confidence climbing on logs, crossing bridges, and jumping off logs.  She learned to get back up after falling down, and most importantly, it was the best quality time with the ones I love, doing something active and healthy for all of us.  There are so many beautiful places right next door to you.  With the weather getting warmer, we have no excuse not to be outside in nature.

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I thank my parents for always being my role model when I was young.  I distinctly remember our evening bike rides after dinner, annual family trips to go skiing, and their support enrolling me in all my favorite fitness activities.  Even now, they wear pedometers and walk 10,000 steps daily.  I hope one day to be a role model to my daughters, and see them living healthy, active, fit lifestyles with their future families.

“Family, nature, and health all go together.”

~ Olivia Newton-John

Girls, Healthy Doesn’t Mean Skinny

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The truth is: my husband was disappointed when he found out we were having girls.  It sounds harsh, but the reason is because he knows all the problems and drama that girls are more-likely faced with these days, including especially body image issues that lead to anorexia or worse.  And as a father who dearly loves his daughters, it is an added worry and heartache in his life.  As a mom who completely understands these roller coaster emotions, binge eating habits, and struggles with self-esteem, I completely agree with my husband.  I am scared of all the peer pressure, media, and negative influences that are out there telling girls they are not pretty or skinny enough.  This is not OK.

I don’t usually forward articles, in fact, this is the first time I am sharing an article on my website.  However, my friend Jackie Ashton, who also teaches at Marin Power Yoga, published her powerful article, “Why This Mother Is Stopping It With the Cleanses, Diets,” on The Washington Post today and I feel drawn to share it.  Reading this article has brought more awareness into how my own actions may be creating positive or negative examples for my girls.  Teaching my girls healthy eating habits is one thing, but teaching them to love their body is another, much more important lesson.

“I am not my body. My body is an instrument that allows me to do great things in this life: to take care of my children, to be a loving friend, sister, daughter, and wife. In time, my body will decay and ultimately, it will die and dissolve into the ground. But what is inside—the true essence of who I am—will never change.” Jackie Ashton

I hope Jackie’s article speaks to you and all the women and daughters in your life.  Feel free to share your responses below!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/03/31/why-this-mother-is-stopping-it-with-the-cleanses-diets/

Happy Valentine’s Day Playlist

 

 This week I was splurging on one of my favorite bars, the Chocolate Peppermint Luna Bar, when I realized that they have quotes written on the wrapper!  Most of you know I LOVE quotes, but this quote was just perfect.  Perfect because Valentine’s Day was approaching over the weekend and I was having trouble deciding whether or not to do a Valentine’s theme for my Rock and Flow Power Yoga Class at Marin Power Yoga.   This was my answer.

YES!!!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be romantic as it is often thought to be.  Self-love.  Make yourself happy.  Isn’t that more important?

So I shared this quote with my class, then continued with an awesome playlist that had the word “love” in the title (that wasn’t hard… Probably could make 5 different playlists!!!).  Enjoy!

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Valentine’s 75 minute Playlist:

How Deep is Your Love – Beegees

That’s the Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson

Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis

Rhythm of Love – Plain White T’s

Love Rollercoaster – Ohio Players

The Power Of Love – Huey Lewis

Baby Love – The Supremes

Best of My Love – The Emotions

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family

I Love You Always Forever – Donna Lewis

I Just Called to Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

All You Need is Love – The Beatles

It Must Have Been Love – Roxette

Love Takes Time – Mariah Carey

Endless Love – Diana Ross

Because I Love You – Stevie B

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

The Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston

Learning to love yourself.  It is the greatest love of all.  ~Whitney Houston