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!

Best TRX Core Exercises Choreographed to Me and My Girls by Selena Gomez

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TRX was absolutely foreign to me in the beginning of this year.  I had no idea what it was, not to mention what you do with it.  Well, well, well.  My studio, Marin Power Yoga, made the BEST decision about 9 months ago to invest in TRX and add this amazing workout into our class schedule.  It is a perfect complement to yoga because all the TRX exercises work on strengthening your core for poses like side planks or planks, plus strengthening your upper body and arms for chaturangas, inversions and arm balances, and of course your lower body and feet get stronger for warriors and balances.  Total body workout!!!  I completely credit my press handstand improvements to my dedicated TRX practice!

If you want to know more about TRX, here’s an old post I wrote when we first tried out Suspension Based Training using some test-run straps.

Of course with my dance and choreography background, I had to create a TRX routine set to music.  Of course.  This routine is NO JOKE.  My arms and abs were burning and I really could not go any lower on those push ups… I had this grand idea of getting all my “girls” at the studio to learn the routine and do it with me.  It worked out ok for the first half, but as you’ll see in the videos below… it is NOT EASY.  We were dropping like flies.  Haha!!!  But nothing wrong with that – it’s all about the progress, the determination, the effort!

Ready to learn it?   If you do memorize it and attempt the routine, please tag me @gracelingyu on Instagram or give credit to my website in your description.  Thank you!  Here are my choreography notes using the You Tube video times:

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Me and My Girls by Selena Gomez – TRX Core Routine

32cts, 4×8, 0:00-0:14: Intro – Feet into the straps.  GET PUMPED UP!!!

RIGHT SIDE LEADS

16cts, 2×8, 0:14-0:22: Down Down Up Up lowering to forearms and back up to hands, 4x.  On the last one, keep the L forearm down, and R hand down (funky plank).

16cts, 2×8, 0:22-0:29: Funky Knee Tucks Both knees tuck to the R elbow, 4x.

8cts, 1×8, 0:29-0:33: Set up Forearm Side Plank by moving R foot behind L foot and lift up R hand behind head.

16cts, 2×8, 0:33-0:42: Forearm Side Plank Oblique Crunch R elbow crunches down to meet bent L knee, 4x.

8cts, 1×8, 0:42-0:46: Transition to Knees to Floor, 5x Quick Claps and hit the floor for the Chorus.

32cts, 4×8, 0:46-1:01: 8x Mountain Climbers, 4x Alternating Pendulum Tucks, 2 sets

32cts, 4×8, 1:01-1:17: 4x Atomic Push Ups, 3x Atomic Pike, Hold Plank to Reset

REPEAT ALL ON LEFT SIDE 1:17-2:20

32cts, 4×8, 2:20-2:36: 4x Frog Tucks In and Out, 4x Frog Tucks Out and In

32cts, 4×8, 2:36-2:51: Locust Pose 4 Pulses Each: Arms Back, Arms Side, Arms Front, Push back to Plank

32cts, 4×8, 2:51-3:07: Spiderman Push Ups 8x Alternating

32cts, 4×8, 3:07-3:24: 4x Plank Jumping Jacks, 2x Wide Knee Tucks to Triceps, 2 sets

End in Crow Pose, releasing the straps from your feet!!!

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Below are 2 videos for you to learn the routine.  The first one is my initial attempt at testing out the routine and to see if it was difficult (YES.), and the second one is when I got together with some of my girls, Wendy, Araceli, and Laine!  #thestruggleisreal!!! Alright, leave a comment below if you try it out!!!

Lolasana (Pendant) Yoga Pose Drills Choreographed to The Chordettes “Lollipop”

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The full Lolasana (Pendant) yoga pose should have knees lifted about armpit height… HA!!!

What is my current least favorite yoga pose?  HANDS DOWN: Lolasana, or Pendant pose.  It’s just one of those poses that “looks” like something I should be able to do, but then when I go to try it, I press down on my hands and oh, it is SO heavy… why do my legs NOT lift off the floor???  FAIL.  I only recently discovered this pose on Instagram 7 weeks ago, and after several attempts, I was able to lift up probably a milimeter off the floor for just about a second.  It was tough!!!  So after that Instagram post, I went back to pretending Lolasana pose did not exist.

Well, if you have been working on Press Handstands like me, then at one point or another, you will need to face Lolasana pose because it is completely related to learning how to control floating up and down in presses.  ARGH.  So here I am now… ready to commit to working on Lolasana everyday.  What better way to practice then to create a silly choreographed routine that works on Lolasana drills???  Lolasana, Lollipop…yeah, sounds similar enough.

Some tips before you get started:

  1. Invest in some good sturdy blocks (NOT the cheap, flimsy, thin, terrible 2.5 inch width foamy ones I’m using – as you’ll soon see why!!!).  I literally just purchased these Clever Yoga Blocks on Amazon after I made the video because they were the highest rated!  I’ll let you know how they are!
  2. If you’re just starting out, place the blocks on the highest height, and then work to the middle height, lowest height, and eventually hands on the floor the whole time!
  3. Don’t forget to stretch out your wrists before and after.
  4. Yes, the toes are supposed to be pointed back and you are on the tops of your feet.  This automatically forces you to focus on putting LESS weight on the feet (ouch ankles!) and MORE weight into your arms and deep CORE!  Oh yeah!
  5. Enjoy!  This routine BURNS.  Do you feel it???

How to Get Started With Suspension Based Training

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What is Suspension Based Training (SBT)?

Imagine two adjustable straps hanging down from a secure point on the ceiling with handles and loops at the bottom.  Now imagine your hands holding the handles and doing exercises from bicep curls to push ups to rows.  Or perhaps your feet are in the loops and you are doing a plank, side plank, or even mountain climbers.  Take your normal, everyday exercises and perform them on these two unstable, swinging, out of control straps.  What happens?  Your everyday exercises not only work the regular muscle groups such as the biceps or quadriceps or chest, but now your CORE is forced to work too in order to stabilize your straps and keep everything in control.  A total body workout that will keep your heart racing and might, just might, cause you to be sore for 3 days.  THAT is Suspension Based Training.  Awesome.

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Who can do SBT?

YOU!!!  The best part about SBT is that it is truly an all-levels class.  SBT was created by a Navy Seal.  A NAVY SEAL.  So there you go, advanced fitness enthusiasts love SBT.  On the other hand, an absolute beginner who is wanting to build strength can also take the exact same class.  Why?  Because YOU determine your intensity just by moving your body closer or further from the straps.  YOU choose how much of your own body weight to use as resistance.  YOU decide when to work harder and when to ease off.  Here are some examples of how a single exercise can be performed at different levels:

The starting position for a basic row can vary from slightly leaning back….. to all the way down in a tabletop!

The starting position for a basic row can vary from slightly leaning back...

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High plank is the foundation for most prone exercises.  Lowering the knees to the ground is a great modification for any student who finds legs straight too challenging, especially in an exercise such as push ups!

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Suspension Based Training - Kneeling Plank

You can see that in the same exercise, the range of intensity and difficulty can vary from student to student, allowing any person to be successful at SBT!

Why add SBT into my weekly workout routine?

SBT is a form of strength training.  If you already have strength training built into your exercise routine, then SBT is just a different, fun, and challenging variation you might love because it continually works on stabilizing your core and improving balance. One is not better than the other, it just comes down to personal preference, comfort, and changing up your routine.

However, if you currently do not do any strength training, then you should consider starting.  Strength training in general is necessary to build muscles and increase bone mass, which helps you to perform everyday activities and to prevent osteoporosis.  Strength training also helps to burn calories, lower blood pressure, and reduce body fat.  Look and feel better.  It’s a win win all around!

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SBT Basic Rules

1) Choose your intensity.

It is YOUR workout.  If it feels impossible to do a single repetition, or if you barely feel anything, then it is your responsibility to shift your bodyweight until you get to that perfect place where you are challenged, but the exercise is still doable.

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2) Keep the strap tight.

Your strap will keep you accountable.  If the strap loosens or bounces during an exercise, then you know something is not right and adjustments with your stance or body angle need to be made.  In every exercise, the strap is always stretched out to its maximum tightness.

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3) Engage your core.

Keeping a neutral spine by gently tucking in your tailbone and pulling in your ribs, is crucial to every exercise in SBT.  The spine should stay long and straight, and likewise, your hips and bottom should stay in a straight line from head to toe.  Abdominals need to be activated throughout every exercise, or pain such as in the lower back will occur.

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When are the SBT classes?

We will be adding more classes soon, so check the Marin Power Yoga schedule to stay updated.  Make sure to sign up online and reserve a spot since there are limited spaces.  Please wear workout shoes!  As of today, we offer SBT on:

  • Mondays:
    • 6:00am-7:00am with Jill Townsend
    • 9:30am-10:30am with Wendy Rodgers
  • Tuesdays:
    • 12:00pm-1:00pm with Grace Yu
  • Wednesdays:
    • 6:00am-7:00am with Jill Townsend
    • 9:30am-10:30am with Wendy Rodgers
  • Thursdays:
    • 12:00pm-1:00pm with Grace Yu
  • Fridays:
    • 9:30am-10:30am with Grace Yu

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SBT is worth giving a couple shots.  In the beginning, there is a slight learning curve, from practicing how to adjust the strap length to getting your body to move in the direction you want it to go.  Be patient, have an open mind, and see what happens.  You may love it, you may hate it, but you will never know unless you try it.

Oh, and for all you yogis out there like myself, SBT will absolutely strengthen your yoga practice, especially inversions!!!

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