5 Simple Stretchs If You Sit All Day

By Dani Ibarra~ YogaWorks Teacher Trainer, Instructor and Mentor

1.  Start lying down with feet as wide as mat and knees touching.  Allow inner thighs to release towards floor, this opens the low back/sacrum.  Hold 9 breaths

2.  Drop knees to left and place left foot on right knee to gently stretch out hip flexors.  If you experience pain in the knee lower the foot back down to the floor.  Hold 5 breaths and switch sides.

3. Dynamic Bridge Pose.  Step feet hip width distance apart and parallel.  press feet down and lift hips up, extend arms overhead, exhale everything back down to floor.  Repeat 6-8x
4.  Supta Baddha Konasana- bring soles of feet together and open knees apart.  This externally rotates the thigh bones and opens the hips.  Support thighs if needed, you can also elevate the feet on a pillow to release low back pain

5.  Low Lunge-step right foot in between hands, stacking knee over heel.  Extend left leg back on diagonal and allow the hips to melt forward. hold 5 breaths.  Repeat on other side

 *If lunges are not available to you due to knees injury or extreme tightness then move to a wall, stand and hold ankle stretching thigh muscle and knee down towards the floor.  Hold 5 breaths and switch sides.  Use a strap if unable to reach foot.

*The timing for these poses can always be modified according to your ability.  Always listen to your body and remember, YOGA SHOULD NOT HURT!  If you experience any sharp negative sensation come out the pose and check your alignment.

Thanks for reading! Namaste' Sweet People



Self Care Tips for Yoga Teachers


Yoga Teachers Need Nurturing, too!
When you're tired take a nap
Try to sit first thing in the morning 5-20 min to clear your mind listen.  Insight Timer is a great app to use for guided meditations
Daily restorative pose soothes the nervous system, pick your favorite and try it for 2 weeks /15 minutes a day.  Results are amazing!
Essential oils can be used throughout the day to pick you up or calm you down.  In my purse I carry this wonderful little bag of chakra oils along with some of my favorite young living oils
Don't place a ton of pressure on your self to have a strong flow practice every day, listen to your body and practice accordingly
My home is my sanctuary, surround yourself with inspiring quotes, mantras, yummy soy candles and anything else that brings peace to your environment
Depending on my mood, I will either end my shower with a sugar scrub, or self massage with Coconut Oil for the summer months and Sesame oil for the winter months.  Coconut oil is cooling, Sesame oil is warming and sugar scrubs are just down right awesome!
Get a pedicure every once in a while so you don't have to worry about people always looking at your feet.  Gels last longer :)
Create a list of things that fill you up spiritually, emotionally and mentally and be sure to do one of those things every day. Could be listening to music, painting, dancing, writing, reading, hiking, gardening, etc.  This keeps your soul happy
Listen to your body, if you're having a rough day it's OK not to give a ton of adjustments, honor your energy and be aware of how much energy you're giving out, the worst is when you feel depleted
It's OK to say no at times when asked to sub, especially if you're already teaching 15-17 classes per week
Spend time in Nature breathing in fresh air
If you use music in your classes be sure to create playlists that inspire you
Have a hobby that's not yoga related, we tend to wrap our entire world around yoga
Don't forget, we can't take of our students if we don't properly take care of our selves
"Self care is a divine responsibility.  It is not self indulgence, it's self respect"  

Namaste' sweet teachers, keep up the amazing work!
xoxo Dani


No Mirrors, Less Judgement

Understanding Prakritti can help us deal with change.

 Just imagine going through one whole day without seeing yourself in a mirror. How much more confident would you be? No added pressure, no worries about how you looked and no reminders of how quickly life is passing by. According to yogic philosophy we suffer because we cling to things that are constantly changing. Most everything in life falls into Prakritti translated to that which is always changing. Human beings, nature, our homes, cars, money, etc are all are part of Prakritti.  When we can accept that nothing ever stays the same we can reduce our suffering especially when we wake up and find a new wrinkle on our face. When we can accept that everyday our body is in a different state this may reduce some of the expectations we place on ourselves. Learning to accept the things we have no control over, accept the things we cannot change may help us overcome some of the fears that come along with change.  We won’t be surprised when the car breaks down or the house needs repairs or we find a new wrinkle if we remind ourselves that we’re all part of that which is always changing.

On many occasions students have asked why there aren’t mirrors in most traditional yoga studios. Yoga is about creating a sacred space of moving more from the external toward developing a relationship with the internal place of non-judgment.  Mirrors take away a piece of that inner experience, I’ve lived this first hand during my years as a dancer.  When you’re in front of a mirror for long periods of time it’s very easy to slip into all sorts of self-judgment. You begin to compare yourself to everyone else in the room and very quickly develop insecurities that may not have been there before.  You become fixated on all the physical aspects of yourself that you don’t like or wish you could change which can lead to many negative and even harmful thoughts.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice designed to calm the fluctuating thoughts of the mind and bring inner peace, acceptance, compassion and healing to the practitioner. By not having mirrors in the asana room the individual is able to find alignment from an organic place rather than using their eyes to make adjustments and self-judge.  With the guided instruction from a knowledgeable teacher the student is able to deepen their practice from a place of non-judgment and non-competitiveness and move into a place of pure acceptance and eventually a deep sense of inner peace.  In my opinion this is one of the most priceless gifts you receive from a yoga practice, learning to accept our body for what it looks like and feels like on each given day can be life changing. Understanding Prakritti can help us deal with these changes and as a result this can reduce some of our suffering that naturally come with change.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  Please leave any comments or questions below.

Namaste’ Sweet People
Xoxo Dani

How to use Essential Oils to Enhance Your Yoga Practice

Some of you have been asking me about how to incorporate essential oils into the practice so I'd like to offer some practical ways you can enhance your yoga experience and overall life.

Because there are so many amazing different oils to choose from you first need to take into consideration what you are using the oils for.   Do you or your students feel tired, stressed, anxious, nauseous? Is there pain from inflammation, tightness, sore muscles or trauma from an injury? Are you looking to bring the energy in the body up or are you trying to create more calmness.  Once you've recognized the projects you want to address you can then choose the oil that will best suite your needs and desire.

There are many different essential oil companies out there to choose from so I encourage you to explore your options.  I am currently in the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program and we only use Young Living Oils.  There are just a few of my personal favorites...

Lavender, Peace and Calming and Stress Away will help facilitate a calm and serene atmosphere, great to use during savasana or when doing a restorative practice.  You can defuse these oils, rub them on your hands and inhale or rub some onto your neck, shoulders or around your temples.
Peppermint will pick you up!  Also good for digestion and pain.  I use this on my hands right before I teach. I also offer it to my students to rub on their feet to address any pain in their body.
Pan Away and Valor are great to rub on areas where your muscles are sore or tense. Pan Away provides relaxation to the muscles and Valor helps renew feelings of strength, courage and confidence.  Both help to combat negative emotions so the body can find balance.
Joy is a nice oil to use when practicing heart openers.  Just place a few drops onto your chest, it helps you to overcome feelings of frustration or despair and brings joy to the heart, mind and soul.
Citrus scent just make me feel happy and can be used at the beginning of the practice. Just rub in hands and inhale 5-6 long breaths.
Finding your favorite oil and adding a few drops to a water spritzer is a great way to liven up your environment.  I keep a peppermint spritzer in my purse and spray and use it in my car on hot days...its been amazing!

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Leave a comment if you have any question!!
Namaste' Sweet People
xoxo Dani

My Alter Ego...Yogini Storm Chaser

Anyone that knows me knows how much I love storms. Some of my best childhood memories are of me and Dad sitting on the front porch in NJ watching the storms come in. My mom would say that when the leaves would all flip over a storm was coming, of course I have no idea if that's really true but I believed it and still do! We would get so excited, we'd sit on the porch and often got soaked from the sideways rain hitting us. It was exhilarating to witness the sky as it turned to smokey grey as the energy of the thunderclouds began rolling above us.  I joke around a lot because sometimes I say I missed my calling to be a meteorologist/storm chaser. I’m not much of a TV watcher but if you asked my husband and even 5 yr old son they would both tell you that the first station I put on is the weather station.  Storm Stories and Tornado Alley are my personal favorites.   

It’s ironic that I teach yoga and hold space for people to calm the storms of the mind.  I'm able to give my students different breath work and relaxation techniques, visualizations, essential oils and yoga postures... but deep down I know I'm the girl that would hanging onto the pole reporting the bad weather and loving every second of it!

I'm currently in Kansas right now experiencing a series of mid west thunderstorms.  Last night I was listening to the rain hit the roof as the wind howled.  The night sky light up every few seconds and the house would literally shake from the thunder...exciting and terrifying all at the same time.  I'm now sitting on the back porch experiencing another thunder storm, breathing in the clean air, feeling so grateful for this beautiful life of mine.

I get the amazing opportunity to spend the next few months flying back and forth to Wichita to lead my 9th 200hr YogaWorks Teacher Training to another group of Firefly Yogis.  I'm sure I will have lots of inspiration to share.  Thanks for reading.

Namaste' Sweet People