The Right Alignment

The Right Alignment

Do you frequently question if you’re practicing with the “right alignment”? I’m frequently asked by my yoga students, “am I doing this right?” to which my answer is usually “how does it feel to you?”. We all want to make sure we are practicing safely and with the “right alignment” which is important because we certainly want to be safe but sometimes we can go too far down the path of doing things “the right way”. Let me explain… The right way or right alignment implies that there is only one way and that this one way will work for everyone. And if it doesn’t work for us, we need to work hard until we are able to do the pose “the right way”. This is problematic because everyone’s bodies vary anatomically and to think that we should all be able to practice poses in the exact same way is just insane. If you asked 3 different teachers how to practice the same pose, you would think you’d get the same answer from all three but you’re more likely to get 3 different (maybe even conflicting) responses. The variety of instruction is enough to bewilder anyone especially new yogis because you’ll wonder “well, who’s teaching it right?” Here’s the thing… There are lots of different approaches and ways to do all poses and each have different pros and cons. As teachers we usually teach the approach that either works for our body or what we see works for the majority of students. Let’s look at chair pose for example. Here are multiple approaches and their various pros/cons:                ...
Surviving Summer with doTerra Essential Oils

Surviving Summer with doTerra Essential Oils

When I think of summer I think about beach trips, camping trips, traveling, relaxing, etc. It’s such a fun time of the year. However, it’s also a time of sunburn, bug bites and crowded travel. Here’s my summer essential oil survival guide to help you THRIVE this summer! Before heading out to the beach or on a camping trip, pack your essential oil survival kit. Bug Spray: Use the Terrashield pre-made spray bottle DIY: Combine 15-20 drops of Terrashield oil with fractionated coconut oil and add to a small, dark glass bottle. Tick Spray:   Bug Bites: Apply Lavender & Melaleuca (aka Tea Tree) via the rollerball directly on bite Or apply both oils neat to the skin To deal with seasonal allergies use Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint. Different Ways to Use: Combine 1-2 drops of each oil in a shot glass of water and drink! You can also make the combo in a veggie cap and take it like a supplement Use TriEase Seasonal Blend Capsules that are already pre-made for you. Sunburn Spritzer: 1 oz. water 4-6 drops of lavender 1 drop of helichrysum (optional but it’s so great for healing skin issues) ½ teaspoon of organic aloe vera Cooling Mist: Combo 6-8 drops of peppermint with water in a small glass bottle and carry with you to spritz around you or in the car while traveling. (You could also add some aloe to this for extra cooling!) Peppermint is fresh, cooling and invigorating. It also increases mental clarity and accuracy. Top travel oils to keep you healthy: OnGuard When I travel I carry OnGuard beadlets in...
Demystifying Flexibility

Demystifying Flexibility

As I shared with you all last week, I spent the weekend in D.C. learning about the science behind stretching, pain science and biomechanics with Jules Mitchell. I learned an overwhelming amount during the training and it’s hard to decide where to start when it comes to sharing the information but I think the perfect place to start is with demystifying flexibility. We’ve all at some point in time said “XYZ muscle or body part is tight and I need to stretch it” implying that we need to lengthen or change the tissue in some way. What I learned this past weekend is that actually your muscles are the perfect length just as they are so it’s not a muscular issue as to why you can’t “stretch further” but instead it has to do with your nervous system. (by the way all of this info was backed up with multiple research studies) (LESSON #1: Stretching doesn’t actually change muscle or tissue length.)​ We all have different amounts of what is called a “stretch tolerance” which is the degree in which a person can tolerate the sensations during a stretch. This tolerance is determined based on how frequently you move in the particular range of motion, how much control you have in this range, plus other factors. (LESSON #2: You have to show your nervous system you can CONTROL the movement at your end range of motion and you have to do the movement fairly regularly. Use it or lose it applies when it comes to range of motion.)  ​So how will this information change the way we “stretch” when you come to my classes?...

Balancing Effort & Ease

We’ve all heard the saying “work hard, play hard” which links to this idea of trying to find balance in our lives. In yoga philosophy there is what’s called a sutra in Sanskrit that says “Sthira sukha asanam” which basically translates to mean that “each pose (asana) should be stable (sthira) and easeful (sukha)”. So in each pose we want to notice, where are we working too hard? Where are we not working enough? Are you clenching or gripping in your face? Where can you find some ease amongst the effort?  Same thing applies to life. We want everything we do in life to have some kind of boundary, container, or structure to it while having at the same time being able to experience joy and ease within the structure. We want structure without rigidity and flexibility without instability.  Easier said than done, right? So as you plan your day, your life, your activities can you work toward balancing this effort and ease? (I’m constantly working on this.)  Try to notice: When are you working too hard? When do you need to soften? Where do you need stronger boundaries? For every work activity or task you take on, how can you balance it? Or while you’re doing a task that requires a lot of effort, can you do that task with a sense of joy and ease? Recently I’ve been sharing a lot of stretching/mobility videos and I’m going to start changing it up with some stability work. Physically in our bodies, t’s important to balance our mobility and stretching with stability. ​  So here’s a short video you can do to strengthen your shoulder stability. Have fun and while you’re working hard in...
Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds

Happy March everyone! I don’t know about you but I’m SO excited for spring! On one of my morning walks this week I was thinking about what I wanted to plant this spring and as my mind went down a trail of thoughts, I began to think about how I wanted to plant “yoga seeds” everywhere I went. Seeds of kindness. Seeds of compassion. Seeds of mindfulness. Seeds of love. We can all plant these seeds wherever we go and whomever we are with just by simply being kind, compassionate, mindful and loving to everyone around us. Kindness to the cashier at the grocery store. Compassion for the woman in front of you that’s taking forever because she has tons of coupons to use. Mindfulness in all the “in between” moments while we are driving to and from. And love. Love all the time. That’s my goal for this spring: to plant these kinds of seeds all around and hopefully inspire others (like you!) to do the same. Happy planting! With love, Samantha “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just...
2017: The Year of Space

2017: The Year of Space

Last year was the year of “Vibrant Growth” as I called it. Little did I know when I set that intention that it would come to fruition beyond my wildest dreams. Like last year, I spent a couple hours reviewing my journals and planner for the year and wrote down the “highs”, “lows” and “lessons learned” for the year. I’m a big believer that if you don’t write down and acknowledged your lessons learned over the year, they’ll come back to teach it to you again. 😉 Reflecting is such an important part of my planning process for the new year. It also makes me extremely grateful for everything that’s happened over the year. I encourage you to go through your planner and journals from this year and make your own list of “highs”, “lows” and “lessons learned”. Here’s a short list of my highs, lows, & lessons learned (Make your own list!): Taught on average 15 classes every week between public group classes, corporate classes and private sessions. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people along the way. Some students stick and return each week and I get to develop wonderful relationships with each person. Some move on and that’s okay. LESSON: I can’t get attached to students coming or going. This non-attachment helps me be totally present and enjoy the time that I do have with them because I never know if I’ll see them again in class and that’s okay. Planned my own 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program, received accreditation from Yoga Alliance, and began training 12 wonderful trainees. LESSON: Getting everything out...
A Yogi Squat a day keeps the doctor away

A Yogi Squat a day keeps the doctor away

If there was one pose I think everyone should do once a day, it would be malasana or garland pose aka the yogi squat. You really get a lot of benefit bang for you buck in this pose. There are so many benefits to this pose including: Aids in digestion Opens hips and stretches inner thigh area Helps maintain ankle, knee and hip mobility Lengthens muscles of the low back Strengthens legs The full variation shown in the video may not work for you right now and that’s totally fine. You can adjust this pose to work for your body. Simply go as low as your range of motion will allow and hold for 5-10 breaths. You can use props such as the wall for your back or a rolled up blanket under the heels. Bonus points if you garden or do daily activities while in the yogi squat! Happy squatting! Samantha 1 yogi squat a day keeps the doctor away from Samantha Harrison on...
What a pain in the neck

What a pain in the neck

Are you experiencing a nagging pain or tension in your neck? Often when our neck is tight we automatically start doing neck stretches which don’t get me wrong are great but there could be another culprit. Since everything is connected, tight shoulders or upper back tension could be causing the stiffness in your neck. I’ve created this super simple and short video today to help you loosen up your shoulders which in return will help release your neck. Shoulder Wall Circles from Samantha Harrison on Vimeo. Simple exercises like this will help to alleviate the tension but are not going to prevent the pain from coming back. To do that, is much more difficult. You have to change your habits. If you’re slouching while you’re working at your computer 6-8 hours a day then that’s going to repeatedly cause you issues in your upper back, shoulders and neck. Check out the image below. We all know we wanna be like the guy on the right. There are a lot of other habits that could be causing you this pain such as driving with a forward head position. I hope this is a reminder to be aware of your posture while working and driving (which is where we spend most of our day) so that you can minimize the tension in your shoulders, upper back and neck. Awareness is the first step to developing change! Good luck with that! Let me know if you have questions or enjoyed this...
Hamstring Strengthening Sliders

Hamstring Strengthening Sliders

I’ve been on a hamstring kick lately mainly because I’ve realized I’m weak in this area and think many other yogis are as well. We are usually focused on stretching and lengthening our hamstrings but this month I’m focused on building hamstring strength. For the below video you’ll need a towel, blanket, or even paper plates would work. You’ll also want to be on either hardwood or tile floor so you can slide. Here’s the video: Have fun!   Hamstring Strengthening Floor Slides from Samantha Harrison on...