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Take a Minute for Your Brain:
Soak Up the Outdoors!

I think we can all admit – working from home 24/7 has been hard on all of us. It might be in different ways, people who already worked from home adjusting to having new people in their space, parents not getting a respite from their kids, finding new ways to workout without leaving the house, not being able to comfortably go to the grocery store whenever we need something for tonight’s dinner. The list goes on and it is totally easy to get overwhelmed by it all.  

So stop, take a minute and just breath. 

Studies have shown that when we work from home, we actually end up working more hours – it’s because we take the hour or two that it would normally take us to get to the office and just start working earlier and forget to stop when everyone else leaves. This is all fine and dandy except now all of our meetings are online – and there’s few breaks between starting at your computer for hours on end. 

But there’s something we can do to press reset – spend some time outside! 

When you’re outdoors it is so much easier to turn off all the notifications and just be in the present. It is also relatively safe for social distancing and gives you a reason to use those muscles we all know aren’t doing much work right now. We can all just take some time to enjoy the space we have been given to take advantage of the great outdoors and detox our brains a little. 

There’s science to back it up too: In the book Your Brain On Nature, authors Eva M. Selhub and Alan C. Logan, explain that biophilia, as redefined by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson is “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms…having the potential to influence the matters that mental health care providers concern themselves with: cognitions and behaviours.” Our brains love being in nature and it gives them a much needed break from the daily stressors of this new life we are living. 

So we asked our instructors their favorite ways to get outdoors: 

 

Abbie loves to take her bike to the outdoors where she can really get the wind in her hair. It’s also safer for socially distancing! Some of her favorite places to go biking include Mount Tam in Marin and Alpine Dam in Bolinas.

Lauren Kaplan has been spending a lot of quarantine out in Colorado!

For her, the best way to get outside is with other people. Her and her friends have taken to socially distanced picnics in the Aspen Highlands area just outside of Denver.

A few weeks ago, Drea escaped down to Santa Cruz to be closer to the beach and to have more space. Her new favorite adventure is going down to ocean’s edge at West Cliff. With its serene views and calming tide pools its a great place to meditate and connect with yourself. 

 

Sami just got a new puppy 🐶 and is looking forward to taking him on hikes when he is ready! One of her favorite trails in San Francisco is Lands End – it’s very dog friendly and has 10/10 views. She also recommends checking out the Sea Cliff neighborhood with all the beautiful mansion and grabbing a breakfast sandwich from Devils Teeth.

Of course, always wear a mask and practice social distancing, but also just relax a little, because if we don’t, we won’t be able to tackle all the other challenges facing us right now. 

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Learn a New Yoga Pose: Crow Pose

Yoga is the Sanskrit word for union – to combine the mind and soul to bring them into the present moment. It’s the practice of bringing yourself to this place of unity. Today, we wanted to bring you a pose to add to your practice which will help bring you to this beautiful mental space. 

Crow Pose (or in Sanskrit Bakasana) is a full body, challenge pose. It is meant to be challenging enough that you must focus all of your attention and listen to your body and act as a stepping stone into a higher level of practice. With Crow Pose, you must be okay with falling and giving the time and energy needed to master it. Be prepared to start out with a few bruises on your triceps – your full body weight isn’t light. 

The best time to practice this pose is when you are looking to ground yourself and build an internal fire. If you are feeling anxiety, both internally and externally, try going to the practice of this pose. It will require you to bring some calm to your mind and limbs to successfully hold the pose. 

Before attempting this pose here are some good things to know. You will need some solid core strength – if you feel unable to balance, start building up your core with standard abdominal exercises like planks and crunches. You will also need some wrist flexibility to achieve the 90 degree angle. You can test both of these by holding a plank on your palms for a minute. Other exercises you should feel very comfortable doing multiple sets of chaturanga (or tricep) pushups, reverse crunches and side planks. If you can do all these moves without modifications and with stability, you should be ready to start!

There are some people this pose may not be particularly safe for – as always we recommend you listen to your body and be aware of pre-existing injuries. You know yourself better than anyone else ever could. If you have any sort of wrist injury, shoulder injury or condition like carpal tunnel, please make sure to take care of yourself and try the modified version. 

When you come to the moment in your practice where you would like to try a Crow Pose, make sure you feel completely warmed up – any stiffness and you might cause an injury. This pose takes a lot of strength and flexibility so there is no reason to rush into it. 

See below of a list of steps to get into the pose and common modifications. Most importantly, have fun and try not to knock your teeth out on the floor 🙂 

 

 

      First, start standing on your mat with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and place your hands flat on the mat at a similar distance as your feet with your fingers wide. Keep all 4 points of contact on the floor and lift your hips towards the sky while keeping your gaze slightly in front of your hands.. Lift your heels so you have your weight on just the balls of your feet. Gently press your knees into the back of your forearms and shift your weight to your hands. You should feel light on your toes. If you feel off balance, try bending your arms more. 

 

 

 

 

Once you feel relatively comfortable there, start try picking up a couple toes. Use the core to draw the navel in toward the spine to stabilize and find that “lift” in the center of the body that eventually allows you to straighten the elbows and hold. Be sure to bring your gaze just between the hands to maintain balance. And then Lift!

 

There are a couple of good modifications to try if you are not making much progress. One option is to only lift one foot off the ground at first. This will give you the feeling of balancing and get over some of the fear. If you are nervous of falling on your face, place a block under your head! As you become more confident, place the block on its side and limit the weight you place on the block until someone could slide it out from underneath you. If you are having trouble keeping your arms stable, start with a heavy resistance band around your biceps. This will keep you from shaking and help build up the strength.