Rana Waxman

About Rana Waxman

Rana Waxman is a registered yoga therapist ERYT-500, with 20 years of teaching experience. Rana is a freelance writer and social media expert in addition to leading yoga workshops internationally and teaching alignment focused private and group Yoga Lessons in Hoboken and Jersey City NJ.

Yoga for Backache

posture is key to alleviate backache

balance posture can help backache

Lower Backache

Many people complain of backache despite no structural issues.  The figure above, for example, as a stick figure, has no lower back problems, and excellent posture, which either means it does lots of yoga or is just an illustration. Whether you have poor biomechanics and posture during the day, sit, stand or drive a lot, or are just very active, accumulated stress and tension can accumulate in the lower back and cause a feeling of dullness and tightness. Some of the muscle groups involved include tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, inflamed Si joint, mid back rigidity. Note that each person is unique and may need to explore their own back issues, and sometimes a practitioner needs complete rest rather than any type of movement. Yoga is not a magic pill. It is a practice. 

Restorative Yoga for Backache

Some of the key ingredients to a healthy back might include balancing your active yoga practice with:

  • Traction
  • Mobility
  • Stability
  • Flexibility

or a combination of all of these to eliminate the compression. Healthy postural habits must also be learned otherwise the ease you gain will be easily lost when you go back to daily living. Use your yoga practice to learn new skills and tools.

lower backache and pain relief

lower back pain relief

The emotions and backache

Emotional overload and stress can also create discomfort in the lower back, because the mind is in the body! We also need:

What a Restorative Class Can Do 

Restorative yoga involves a series of prop-supported asanas held for prolonged periods. This may facilitate the transition from lower back discomfort to comfort and well-being. Come explore this themed class and reap the benefits!

Love: Reflections

Conscious strategies LLC

Have a little faith in possibility

Reflections on Love

Love: Reflections… In honor of my anniversary, I am celebrating love and great marriages. As the site responsible for more Jewish marriages than other dating sites, JDate makes a great muse for my reflections on meeting new potential partners online, the dating experience, and finding a lasting partnership.

Why Online Dating? Why JDate?

The face of dating has changed over the past years.   People spend way more time in front of their computers, mobile devices and tablets than ever before. The digital age has made the need to rely on dating sites even stronger.

If you are new to the online dating process, it may feel awkward and hard to navigate. However, let me walk you through how simple it is!

JDate has responded to these changes by updating their website to make the experience easier and more streamlined for users. They also have enhanced their mobile presence, with JDate mobile apps for IOS and Android as well as improved the experience for iPad and Tablet users. For instance, if you have AllAccess, it enables you to message and chat via Instant Messaging with anyone, even non-paying members. So with this great new design, why not get started with putting a fresh face on your dating presence!

Your JDate Profile Looks Fantastic!

Your profile is the key to meeting the “right” person. Someone who is in love with you for your quirks, like drinking coffee with chocolate soymilk in it. Someone who enjoys walking in nature, people watching in Central Park, or is looking for a partner who has laugh lines. This being said, be honest and thorough. If I met someone who lied on their profile, I would say, “red flag” and move on.

JDate has so much room for you to share tidbits about yourself that make you real, like your hobbies, interests and goals. This way, someone can see your profile, and get to know you at a glance. In fact, you might reach out to several potentially interesting profiles with a simple email message that expresses that you like what you saw. Since your inbox is now organized by conversations rather than messages, you are able to see all these communications very easily. Don’t forget, you can upgrade to make your profile stand out even more. Shine and browse on!

JDating and the Art of Matchmaking

Ok, so you signed up, have a great profile. You are still a little tentative to actually choose someone to greet and possibly meet. That is ok. JDate’s new Daily Matches feature is a simple, curated look at your best matches each and every day. They base this on the information that you provide so, don’t be so shy, say hi. Now, if someone says hello, be polite even if you are not interested. And likewise, if someone doesn’t respond to you, move on with a sense that meeting your mate is on the horizon, or, even at one of JDate’s offline events.

Going out on a JDate?

Inbox encounters are fine but take things offline so you don’t waste hours typing. First meetings are a chance to see if you have good energy with someone, or enjoy being in their company. If you do, book a date, if not, return to JDate. Hopefully, that person is a profile match away!

Savasana For Low Back

Savasana For A Tired Lower Back 

As I write this, it is the middle of Thanksgiving weekend. Many of us spent time in the car travelling to visit friends and family. Some spent long hours doing Black Friday shopping. I personally did not, but we went on a long hike, to be in the outdoors. It was uphill but worth the view. Hikers may want to practice viparita karani, or after a sequence of other poses, this variation is quite nice too. In any event, some of these circumstances breed lower back fatigue, leg fatigue and low grade back ache, and you might wonder what you can do using some simple yoga techniques to alleviate discomfort. 

savasana for hikers

Savasana is For Hikers Too

What is Savasana?

The classic meaning of savasana is corpse pose, or relaxation

. Not sleep, but deep relaxation. It is not always practiced the same way. If you have a stiff lower back, you might want to use props to practice savasana since lying flat on the floor may pull your back via tight hamstrings.

Propping in Savasana

how to practice savasana

Savasana for a tired back

What I propose for today is using a bolster, or a few stacked blankets to help weight the top of the thighs down so that the legs and lower back release into gravity. Fighting the physicality of a pose helps the nervous system to calm down, and once this takes place, a calmer breath and the possibility for relaxation can then occur.

You might even consider setting up for Pranayama using the bolster to open the chest, and then segway into a 15 minute relaxation practice. Remember that yoga sequences need to make sense; there are times when you might want the bolster under your knees, or some other variation. Tune into yourself, book a private yoga lesson, or come to class

Practice Yoga At Home

YOGA SPACES

how to create a home yoga practice space

A beautiful open space for yoga

A few weeks back I attended a yoga retreat in the Catskills. The practice space was glorious, and faced out into the mountains. Trees were visible through the windows, there was a sense of light and air, and we all had quite a bit of space around our mats. This is, or can be, a completely different experience for us when we are at home, trying to vie for a peaceful corner of a small apartment, or in a yoga class with others where space is at a premium.

CREATING YOUR YOGA CORNER

how to create a home yoga practice space

the wall as a yoga prop

I literally keep the visual of this beautiful and spacious practice space in my mind’s eye, however, at home, I do not have that luxury. I don’t actually care; super grateful to have what I have, which is a blend of home office and space to roll out a mat. I think there are a few key ingredients to creating a yoga space at home, and however you do it, in whatever scale, this mini guide may set you up for success.

WALL SPACE

The wall is a fantastic yoga prop and has always been my top choice for my home yoga spaces.

Here is my corner. What you can do is not actually hang things in one area so that nothing falls on you when you swing up into Viparita Karani

INVEST IN PROPS

how do I create a home yoga practice

invest in good quality yoga props

I have more in the closet, including yoga straps, Iyengar chairs and other tools of the trade. Buy good quality.

Even if you have two good blocks and a 10 foot yoga belt, you can improvise with towels and sofa pillows, especially if you want to add restoratives, or pranayama

ADD PERSONAL TOUCHES

Adding a few personal and meaningful items to your corner can bring your space to life or make it into a “sacred space”. I like plants, and have a few special things as touchstones of peace. Use whatever you like, whether it is a seashell, a candle, a photo, a flower.

making a yoga space at home

some beautiful objects of calm

It really does not matter what your practice space looks like. If you are practicing pratyahara, you can pretty much just focus on your body and your breath…enjoy :-)

a simple guide to creating a sacred space

yoga prop tutorial

Yoga Prop tutorial 101: The Blanket

Blankets are a staple yoga prop, and very useful for a restorative practice. While in many forms of yoga classes blankets are used during savasana, as a warm layer, there are other uses of them. 

how to use a blanket as a yoga prop

Foundation: The single fold

One of the things blankets do is soften the hardness of the floor, which allows the muscle fibers to relax. You can use a stack of blankets or just one. The height you choose will depend on the asana, the intention of use, and how much you want to bring the floor closer to you.

Finding The Right Height

I often see students using way too much height under the head, or not enough, and the result is not an improvement of the posture. You want to be able to release tension in a restorative practice, to support you body in any number of poses from backbends, chest openers, forward bends, twists, and simple seated poses.

Two simple uses of Blankets

How you fold blankets is an important factor in using them as effective yoga props. You can roll or fold them, stack them up, or use combinations. They can be substituted for bolsters. Folding them well means having clean edges so they retain their shape. Remember that a yoga prop is there to support you and provide feedback. If they are falling apart this cannot happen.

SINGLE FOLD: FOUNDATION: Starting with the short ends of the blanket, it gets folded in half, then folded again twice. Smooth all edges. As seen in above photo

how to use the blanket as a yoga prop

Yoga Blanket folding step 1

DOUBLE FOLDED: Starting with the foundation fold one side into the middle, follow by the other side. Smooth all edges. As seen in above photo

how can I create a home yoga practicee

yoga blanket as bolster

The finished product, seen above, smooth edges can be used with another one together to make a nice bolster. Enjoy different ways to use yoga props in class today 

Or book a private!

 

asana 3 ways -perking up practice time

Asana 3 ways

In the spirit of satya (truthfullness), I sometimes shop for clothing online. This makes me the recipient of a gamut of email campaigns, which I mostly delete. A couple of them have captivated me, not because I am lured into buying what they are selling. It has more to do with how they are approaching their merchandise. For example, “this skirt, 3 ways” or “instant wardrobe update”. So, what I am proposing today, is taking the principles of creativity, versatility and gaining a fresh perspective on something we already have, into our asana practice. Hence, “asana 3 ways”. 

Variations on a theme

In the fashion sense of using something different ways, there is usually a product – we are going to substitute asana – with how to wear it classically or low key, to work or slightly basic and out for an event, which is usually slightly snazzy. We are going to replace this with a basic variation to learn a skill, one with a little more subtlety, and one which requires a bit more work. I am going to propose we use props for this exercise. You aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just explore something from a different angle, self-reflect, observe, and get to know yourself, your breathing patterns, your tension packages and all that other good stuff. 

What yoga props you need for this asana experiment

I used the wall, a long mat, a travel mat folded folded in 4 then accordion fold, and a yoga strap.

helpful yoga props

yoga props for asana 3 ways

Let’s look at Tadasana, which teaches the art of standing and taking your place in the world. Planting the feet firmly can create emotional and physical stability. This being said, often the feet turn in or out which shifts the hips-shoulders-neck. Let’s try a supine variation of this asana 3 ways to help correct faulty posture. The main things we will explore are:

  1. Getting the feet parallel, lifting and spreading the toes with attention in the heels so that the pelvis can align
  2. Lifting the inner ankles to bring the legs to life
  3. Opening the chest

Variation 1- Getting the feet parallel. Lie down and use the folded mat under the heels, so that you can access the heels. This actually allows the top thighs to go back and the tailbone to draw in so that the pelvis aligns

how to practice an asana 3 ways

supine tadasana variation 1

Variation 2- Lifting the inner ankles. Placing the belt across the feet to lift the inner ankles into the outer ankles will actually also help to roll the groins back, lengthening and activating the legs

how to practice tadasana

using yoga props to access the ankles

Variation 3 – Opening the chest by placing the folded mat under the breastbone/thick ribs to free the emotional center, release shoulder blades down and away from neck and be able to lengthen the crown of the head

how to open the chest in tadasana

supine tadasana with arms overhead

Supine variations of asana allow us to access a calmer mind, without fighting gravity.

They do not necessarily make things ‘easy’. Try holding each variation for 30 seconds, then increase that time. Then try taking the skills with you as you practice standing up.

Enjoy.

Why restorative yoga?

Best benefits of restorative yoga:

Restorative yoga offers the practitioner an opportunity to explore different aspects and benefits of practice that are often overshadowed by more dynamic styles.

A restorative yoga practice frequently relies on the use of props, prolonged holding in safely aligned asana sequences, meditation, pranayama and relaxation. Excellent for active physical recovery, balance, stress management,a restorative yoga class can explore different safe alignment skills through therapeutic themes.

Let’s take a look at Child’s pose (balasana)

benefits of restorative yoga?

Active childs pose

This is often called a resting pose, and can certainly be that. The variation in the above photo is dynamic, and often used as a preparation for downward facing dog. The props are used to wake up the spine and the shoulders as well as encourage conscious breathing into the back body. In a vinyasa, holding the pose for 5 or 10 breaths can offer the practitioner a break from the activity of the practice. However, many students cannot actually ‘let go’ in the pose, whether due to stiffness or pain or just inability to perform it safely. So…is it really restorative?

Now take a look below. Here, props are used to bring the pose to the person, encourage release, and the arms are taken out of the equation. There is no pulling, but the arms lines, shoulders, hips and spine are safely letting go of tension.

I encourage you to uncover some of the benefits! Restorative Yoga Classes can be booked privately or check my Calendar  

strategic yoga prop placement

restorative child’s pose

Defuse Anxiety

how to diffuse anxiety through yoga practice

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
to diffuse anxiety

Defuse Anxiety With Yoga Practice

Are you anxious or irritable? Do you feel emotionally vulnerable or prone to mild depression? If you are nodding here, then you may want to read on. 

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose)

In this variation of setu bandha sarvangasana, the supported expansion of the chest helps to stabilize the chest and calm anxiety. It is a backbend, and because the heart is above the head, it is also considered a mild inversion.

Benefits

This is a pose that helps you rest, and quiet the brain. It can also help to relieve diarrhea, and stabilize the thyroid and parathyroid, as it engages the chin lock. The open chest helps you to access a relaxed breathing pattern. It can therefore be practiced prior to a formal pranayama practice or as a restorative pose at the end of an active session.

How to practice

Set up a bolster on the floor, not a mat, at a right angle to a wall, in such a way that when you stretch out over it, the top edge of the bolster is at your lower rib area and your feet touch the wall. Place an upright yoga block against the wall for your feet in line with the center of the bolster. Sit on the edge of the bolster, close to the wall. Secure a strap on the top thighs to help the abdomen staff soft, and compact the hips. Curve your torso back over the bolster so the shoulders and back of the head are on the floor ( you can always have a thin blanket under these areas). Allow the soles of the feet to touch the wall.

Roll the shoulders back and down and the upper arms out, palms up. Breathe smoothly. When the breathing is quick and choppy, it is a sign of alert and anxiety. When the breath is calm, mind quiet, thoughts quiet, these feelings can be diffused, and peace can set in.

To come out, bend the knees, feet to floor, beside bolster. Remove the strap, and let the lower back settle. Tip: Not a wise posture if you have a herniated disk.

Yoga Belt Video Tutorial

Yoga Belt Video Tutorial

Yoga Belt: How to Use Without Getting Tied Up In Knots

Yoga Belt – A Versatile Yoga Prop

I have noticed when it comes to using a yoga belt in class that many students get flustered. I have even encountered students who are so confused that they actually tie a knot in their strap, which is a pet peeve of mine. Here’s why: in the first instance, this is not as secure, in the second, it doesn’t allow for any movement, so if it is either too tight or too loose, you can then not improve that situation, and third, come on! just plain lazy! :-)

The yoga belt itself comes in different lengths. This one is my favorite D-ring. I prefer the long 10 feet ones because I am tall and they also adapt to different uses. I prefer the D-ring because it locks well so I do not worry it will slip open.

A yoga belt can be used to stabilize your joints, and they can either encourage flexibility or help to create both traction and ‘space’ if you are inflexible (which is not a bad thing, it just is what it is). I find I use a strap both to warm up and prepare for postures, as well as for any number of postures – both active and restorative. They really do help de-compress and give a pretty immediate sense of length and relief. Check through some of my other yogatherapy blogs for other insight

Yoga Belt Video Tutorial

Learning to tie a yoga belt in this video tutorial should set you up for ease and success for your home or group yoga class practice  

Tips For the Visual Learner

Simple video on the ‘anatomy of the yoga belt’ and a visual explanation so you don’t get tied up in knots! 

Group yoga classes

Group Yoga Classes in September:

group restorative yoga classes

group restorative yoga classes

This season I’m kicking the restorative yoga classes up a notch, through the use of weekly themes and focuses on different categories of asanas. 

This is primarily because I notice a prevalence of folks who either come expecting to just lay out on a bolster and sleep, or are already burnt out and tired that they should really be coming more often (preventative measures) rather than 1&1/2 hours of “curative”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good, but discipline (tapas) pays off, especially with restorative yoga, since we do not always cultivate the softer forms of practice (meditation, relaxation, pranayama). 

Also, holding any pose for any length of time is either not helpful (if you do not have the alignment or trajectory of the pose in the first instance), or helpful if you are really in tune with proper prop placement and so on. Comfort is really learned too!

Many of you come to group yoga classes when you are already tired; have lower back pain, stiff shoulders, and tight hips. We will address all these issues in weekly themes during our yoga classes where you can learn sequences and alignment skills to complement your busy life and your active yoga practices. The sequences will progress as you learn them…right?! so come to class – or just book me privately.

The first week of the month will be devoted to supine standing poses, which are great to alleviate tension in the whole body. The second will be devoted to backbends and twists, to improve posture, circulation, the third to forward bends and light inversions, which have great benefits for immunity and overall calmness, and the fourth to peaceful practices and pranayama.

Look forward to seeing you in class, 

Rana

Google Circle
Join my Circle on Google+

Plugin by Social Author Bio