Guest Post: Yoga Wisdom from Averie

by Gena on April 18, 2010

Hey all!

I’ve only been away for a day, and I miss you already.

Hope everyone has had a fabulous end to the weekend. I’m gallivanting about the Windy City right now, and probably still aglow from an incredible blogger meet up lunch, which I’ll give you the full report on tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m pleased and honored to extend a welcome to Averie, of Love Veggies and Yoga, who has graciously offered to do a guest post on that most beloved of physical and spiritual pastimes: yoga. I originally asked Averie to write about yoga for digestion; we all know that digestive health is just about my fave topic, and the last guest post I wrote for her was, in fact, about my top tips for digestive healing. As Averie and I discussed the post, though, it became clear that it ought to go beyond digestive health alone: Averie is a veritable fount of yoga knowledge, and I wanted her to share more than a few specialized poses.

I’ve written about my love for yoga a few times and gotten great responses, but it’s a topic I’d like to write about more often! I’d also love to write about it with more authority than I do now. Until the day that I add “yoga teacher” to the hats I wear, however, I can welcome writers who know their stuff inside and out. On that note, I’m proud to turn the mic over to Averie: yoga instructor, athlete, raw dessert impresario, and holistic Mama extraordinaire! _______________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Choosing Raw Readers!  I’m Averie of Love Veggies and Yoga. When Gena asked me to do a guest post on her blog, I was flattered!  I have so much respect, admiration, and appreciation for Gena and for all the knowledge she shares with us! Thank you, Gena, for extending this opportunity to me and I am so glad you asked me to post about a subject that I am passionate about: Yoga!

I have been a registered yoga teacher since 2001.  Finding yoga, or as I think of it, that the practice found me, has changed my life in so many amazing and wonderful ways over nearly the last decade!

I went to my first yoga class in the year 2000 wanting to tone up, get some exercise, and “get a good workout in”.  After my first class, I was hooked, but it wasn’t just because I was “getting a good workout in”.  Rather, I was drawn to the vibe, mystique, and the beautiful energy that is yoga.   Although the physical poses were very awe-inspiring to me, I loved how yoga made me feel.  Prior to yoga, I was no stranger to athletic endeavors from volleyball, basketball, track, running, hiking, swimming, you name it, but yoga was different.

Some of the things I have experienced in my life as a result of my yoga practice include:

  • Increased Physical Strength & Flexibility
  • Increased Overall Physical Fitness
  • Becoming more Patient, Calm, Compassionate, Forgiving, Understanding, Empathic, and Kind.  Not only to others, but to myself as well.
  • Increased Mental Toughness, Tenacity, and sense of Discipline & Dedication to something outside of and much larger than myself
  • Becoming more Humble
  • Seeing the Good in All People and Things even when it seems impossible
  • Finding the Balance between Strength and Surrender both on and off the mat; in physical pursuits and in interpersonal relationships and daily life
  • The breathing techniques and connection to breath awareness help reduce stress & tension
  • Improved Overall Health & Well-Being (Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual)
  • Being More In Tune With My Body, With My Health, With my Physical, Mental, and Emotional Wellness
  • The List can go on and on…But for me in a nutshell, Yoga is about looking inward, finding your true self, finding what works for you, not just on the mat, but off the mat and in your everyday life, too.

I don’t want to make it seem like I walked in to class one day and the next day I walked out a fully enlightened being.  No, quite the contrary! Anything worth having takes effort, patience, and perseverance, but the challenges inspire me to keep going, keep practicing, keep learning, and to stick with yoga.   Actually, I couldn’t imagine my life without yoga!

Gena asked me to Suggest some Yoga Poses That May Help with Digestion

What Types of Yoga Poses Can Help with Digestion & Why?

  • Twists and forward bends are good for massaging the internal organs, stimulating the liver and kidneys which are our internal toxic filtering systems, and engage the digestive fire (or tapas = heat) in our bellies.
  • Restorative poses and meditation help us to slow down and de-stress, bringing a conscious awareness to our bodies.

What Yoga Can Help With?

Certain asanas (poses) can help stimulate the stomach, pancreas and the intestines which will:

  • Increase gastrointestinal circulation
  • Increase food absorption
  • Reduce acid
  • Decrease gas
  • Reduce sluggish digestion issues

First, Twists are Excellent for Digestion. Note: start with your right leg or right side “up” first, then the left leg or side.  That ensures you will be working with the flow of digestion, and not against it.

Some Helpful Twists include:

Marichyasana A

Marichyasana D

Here’s a Link to More Twists To Try if these are too “pretzel-like” for where you’re at now

Here’s a Lying Spinal Twist that is excellent for digestion

Instructions & Source

Next, Forward Bends Are Helpful for Digestion, too.

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

And with the traditional ashtanga style toe-hold

Here’s a Link to More Forward Bends to Try

Finally, Here’s a Link to Restorative Poses

Such as Child’s Pose (Balasana) and Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) which are great for digestion, too.

In short, all yoga is beneficial for our overall health and wellness.  There are some asanas which are better suited towards different goals, however, I encourage you not to get hung up on doing the “right” pose specifically for digestion or for another particular malady you are trying to spot-treat or target, but instead, just start doing any yoga! Only good things can happen from it and as your practice unfolds and deepens, and as you become more proficient, you can then begin to hone it more specifically towards particular issues you may be experiencing.

For those of you with Questions About Yoga including DVD Recommendations, How to Score Free Yoga Classes, What to Do if You’re a Total Beginner and How to Start, and tons of other information, please check out my Yoga FAQ’s Post.

Finally, thank you again, Gena, for this opportunity and thanks to all of you who read this post!

Namaste, My Friends!

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Pure2raw twins April 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Great post Averie!! Two of my favorite gals with one of my favorite things- YOGA. You two our Lori and I’s inspiration to do more yoga!

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Danielle (Coffee Run) April 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Woohoo, 2 Averie posts in one day! The more I practice yoga, the more I love it. That seated forward bend pose feels so good after a run :)

p.s. The first pic of you & Skylar is sooo cute :D

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nelly April 18, 2010 at 10:37 pm

amazing post averie! an enjoyable and informative read as per usual!!!

thank you!

hope you’re have an awesome time gena!

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Marissa April 18, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Love her blog! Excellent post!

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) April 18, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Inversions are good too know? I like to lay on a block under the flat part of my back, legs out in front. Really feels like I’m stretching out my intestines.

What a great post though! I love how you two team up like this to hit both of your expertise and interest!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 18, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Inversions are indeed great, Kenzie. There are so many great asanas that I didn’t cover, for brevity sake, but yes, inversions can be wonderful.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Thanks, Gena, so much for asking me and allowing me to contribute some of my yoga knowledge on your blog. I hope everyone enjoys the post and thanks for the sweet comments from those of you who have already chimed in :)

Gena-hope you’re having a ball gallivanting in the Windy City :)

xo
averie

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Heather April 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Yay! I love Averie and I love yoga! Thanks for bringing us this wonderful yogini.

Have fun on your trips Gena!

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Christine (The Raw Project) April 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Awesome post! I’m getting more into yoga and this is wonderful inspiration at a perfect time. Thanks!

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jenny (green food diaries) April 19, 2010 at 12:20 am

awesome post.
another thing i noticed is that being semi/high-raw REALLY helped me take yoga to a different level. i’m now MUCH more focused during a yoga session and see deeper inwards. i don’t know if that’s just me, but the two definitely go hand in hand together. it almost shocked me when i first went high-raw and i was able to go further into my yoga poses than ever before.

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Katie April 19, 2010 at 12:32 am

Ahhh great post Averie! I have very finicky digestion system, and I love that just “doing yoga” rather than getting caught up in the right pose can help. Thanks for all the good examples.

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Katie April 19, 2010 at 1:10 am

In awe of your yoga prowess, as always, Averie!

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Katherine April 19, 2010 at 6:57 am

Averie, thank you for sharing!
Gena, look forward to reading more!
Katherine
whataboutsummer

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Stephanie April 19, 2010 at 8:18 am

Hey Gena and Averie, it’s great to see yoga-related posts here! For me yoga and nutrition go hand-in-hand for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Just curious what type of yoga you practice Averie? In the style I’m familiar with, ashtanga, the poses pictured here are named differently – your second marichyasana pic is marichyasana B. Also the 2 poses pictured here are forward bends more than twists – the twisting marichyasanas are C and D (not the one you call D here. )

you might also mention for people just starting out who can’t do half lotus that there are modifications for B and D – rather than putting the bottom leg in lotus, you can just bend the leg, leaving the foot on the floor.

Otherwise nicely done – great to see encouraging words about yoga here!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

You’re right about the labeling of the 2nd Picture, Stephanie. It should be Marichyasana B, not D (that’s what happens when drafting blog posts with a 3 yr old tugging at me!).

I think that there is a fine line in between some twists vs. forward bends. Clearly one is twisting in order to get into those poses above, not just simply bending. Shades of gray rather than black and white kind of thing. But the purpose of the post was to show a few examples of me in “real life” poses as well as I provided lots of links for everyone to do his/her own research as to what works best.

I have been doing ashtanga for 10 years as well as other flow, vinyasa, and “power” based practice. I recently became a RTY 500 Hour Yoga Alliance Credentialed Teacher and held my RYT 200 Hr since 2001. I discuss it on my blog :)

Namaste!
Averie

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Stephanie April 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

Hm, in the astanga tradition I’ve studied, there is no twisting in A or B other than to enter and bind in the pose. Once bound (if one is binding!) then the action is to fold straight forward as if in paschimottanasana, with the head eventually coming to the knee in A or to the floor in B. But interesting to hear different ways of doing the poses. For me A and B are forward bends, with the head centred over the legs, hips square (or as square as possible!) while C and D are 100% twisting poses.

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Stephanie April 19, 2010 at 11:37 am
Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I think that with anything in life, we all have different teachers, slight tweaks and variances, nuances, and subtleties and I am so glad you have found what works for you, Stephanie. That, after all, is yoga! Not getting too wrapped up into the minutia, but more embodying everything as a whole.

Yes, it is important at times to make distinctions but this post was more to address yoga for digestion in very General Terms for a wide variety of people. Sounds like you are a disciplined student with a lot of info…which is awesome.

Have a lovely day..time for me to unplug more, and yoga more, and mommy more, now :)

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Stephanie April 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Yep, I am a traditionalist when it comes to ashtanga :D. I like to practice primary sequence in its entirety – all 4 marichyasanas included.

If you don’t practice C and D currently, I suggest you give them a try — they are *wonderful* for digestion, and provide more umph in that department than A and B do.

Cheers, have a great day yourself!!

Stephanie April 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

PS — I find it rather odd that you refer to actions of folding forward vs. twisting the spine as ‘minutia.’. These are the basic movements that constitute these poses. They are gross rather than subtle actions. Also for me yoga is learning to revel in the details, finding those small and unused muscles, as well as understanding the gross actions and counter-actions. Yoga is a balance between attention to detail and attention to the whole.

Best,

Stephanie

Keri - IEatTrees April 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

Great post, Averie! :)

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Katie April 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

Great post, Gena and Averie! While I certainly don’t need help with my digestion (too much information?) I LOVE twists, restorative poses, and the sense of calm I feel after a good practice.

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Veronica (LifeWithNature) April 19, 2010 at 11:18 am

Great. I love yoga. Should do more. Thanks Gena and Averi for this post. Averie, what is your favorite kind of yoga? Personally, I’ve tried Power yoga and Flow yoga, but I would like to try some other tupes, to see which suits me better. Any suggestions?

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Hi Veronica, at the end of this guest post here, I gave a link to my Yoga FAQs post on my site. It’s a monster of a post with my recommendations, feelings, thoughts, on tons of different aspects of yoga. Maybe check that out…

I enjoy ashtanga, power, vinyasa, and more vigorous types of yoga, by and large.

Glad you enjoyed the post!

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elise April 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

love ya averie!

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sarah April 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Hey Averie,

Nice to see your beautiful face over here. Great post, as I think I mentioned to you before, reading your posts got me back into bikram yoga. I am so glad it did, it has benefited me in numerous ways. You are an inspiration!

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leslie April 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm

yoga posts never cease to make me smile. i’ve seen so many positive changes in my life because of yoga as well – i got into it because it was non-impact “exercise” that wouldn’t aggravate my awful runner’s knees, but i stayed with it because it had such a profound effect on my mind, my body, my view of so many different aspects of life. i’m no perfect yogini, and i love that that is the point. i love being a student.

i so rarely think of each pose as having different purposes. it’s nice to think that there are different benefits or different meanings behind each moment on that mat, whether physical or mental.

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hihorosie April 21, 2010 at 12:00 am

Love you Averie!

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Melissa April 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Yay Averie! Love your yoga poses on your blog. Thank you for sharing some of your immense knowledge with everyone!

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