Hi! It's beetee here. I can't believe we're just about one month away from Christmas! I sense butterflies (the beautiful kind) in my stomach thinking about that, do you? If you're reading this, you're literally my favourite person in the world. So please share with me what your plans are for Christmas this year. I'd love to hear!
This week's quick dive: Upward Facing Dog, Nasal Breathing and a Sustainable Fashion Idea.
Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
What comes up must go down. Two weeks ago I took you down into a Downward Facing Dog and hung you there to dry; this week I have to take you up again on a Upward Dog. As the name suggests, this pose is the opposite of the Downward Dog: the front of your body - including chest, abdominals and hips - is stretched or lengthened.
If you think about it, we rarely have any back extension (or back bend) in our daily life movements. We always fold forward (or perform a spine/hip flexion): when we sit, when we bend down to pick up something, or when we bow to say hi (in Japan only, hai, ohayo gozaimasu!). As a result, our front body is constantly flexed and our body back rarely gets to strengthen. So whenever you can, add a backbend into your daily movements, maybe by impersonating an upward facing puppy?
The most important thing to pay attention to in this pose? Engage your sexy glutes (bums 🍑) by squeezing them, effectively reducing the lumbar (lower back) compression. Also, keep a long neck line instead of dropping your head back. I always tell my students to imagine there is an egg at the back of your neck, and you don't want to crack that egg by dropping the head back. We need eggs for breakkie after your morning yoga ;)
By the way, a friend asked me two weeks ago whether those English pose wordings are translated from the long long original [Sanskrit] wordings. Let's see: Urdhva = up, Mukha = face; Svan = dog and Asana = pose. In fact, most poses are translated pretty closely. However, many yoga poses are named after heroes, saints and sages of India and Hindu myths, in which cases we don't have a translation, such as Matsyendrasana and Marichyasana. I'm also wondering if the English names of the poses have anything to do with Indra Devi, a European who was born Eugenie Peterson in the early 20th century, the first person who brought yoga to the West. She was an early disciple of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the modern father of yoga.
Nasal Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing in Yoga
Should we breathe through our nose or through our mouth in yoga? It might seem quite obvious to you, but some of us don't know (why): we only breathe through our nose in yoga. Why? Well, have you ever eaten through your nostrils? Mouth is for eating and nose for breathing :D Just kidding, here are the reasons:
Inhalation: The nostrils are designed and built with tiny hairs called cilia and nasal cavity channels to filter, humidify and warm or cool the air before it enters our lungs. If you have been breathing in with your mouth (especially while working out), don't freak out! Air breathed in through the mouth also goes through a mucus-line windpipe, which is another layer of filter, but of course the filtering is not as effective as breathing in through the nostrils.
Exhalation: because our nostrils are smaller than our mouth, we exhale more slowly through the nostrils. Air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of additional oxygen into the lungs.
In some cases, we might purposely exhale through the mouth, such as when we perform the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, the blowout exercise, or during a Pilates session to engage the core muscles. Not sure what these are? Let's chat!
Anything above the Earth and below the Sun is Life. Hopefully something useful to you, or at least something that will bring a smile to your face. 😊
A Sustainable Fashion Idea
Last week I mentioned the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry in my Yoga Quick Dive #4. I think, just like my phone, my Calvin & Hobbes comics book has also been listening to my daily conversations, because the next day, I stumbled across this:
No offense intended to my Taiwanese friends (I love Taiwanese people)!!!
Anyway, as I said, my phone is listening to my daily conversations, so last week this also came up on my phone: a British clothing brand called Vollebak has been inspired by human's history of nomadic life, traveling across grasslands and deserts with the least clothes possible (it's true, if you recall, humans stopped walking after the Agricultural Revolution about 12,000 years ago, when we started to plant wheat and decided to set camp so we could take care of it, and it ended up domesticating us). Vollebak created the Nomad Hoodie that works across any climate and terrain, designed to cover you through both scorching summers and freezing winters by the wool of black merino sheep from New Zealand. What a brilliant idea! Though the hoodie doesn't look very 'fashionable', traveling light is luxury and environmental friendly (given the sheep raising process is also environmental-conscious). Would you have this hoodie? (just under $500 😲)
Thanks for reading! But don't leave just yet!
Ask me TWO questions or leave me TWO comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
Until then, take a deep breath and keep your worries away!
Yoga Quick Dive is a series of weekly newsletters that should take no more than 5 minutes of your reading time. Let's deep dive quickly into 3 topics: Body, Mind and Life.