Instagram Yoga Challenge: #Shiftyourpractice Days 1-5

Dear friends and yogis!

I am hosting my first Instagram Yoga challenge, with a theme:

Shift your Practice

The challenge is happening August 1 - 31, 2014!

I am hosting the challenge with a wonderful group of yogis and pioneers of health, fitness and wellness. Our foursome core group, self-nicknamed #ahimsaalliance, is working on spreading alternative health, wellness, delicious vegan eats and yoga via social networks.

Our first Instagram challenge theme holds the name #shiftyourpractice.

Our main priority is making yoga accessible to as many people as possible! Whether you are a yoga newbie, a handstand balancing pro, or somewhere in between, the poses in the month long challenge, along with their variations and modifications, are made accessible to every body (and mind) to recreate, and introduce in their home practice.

Therefore we are posting a minimum of three variations of a specific asana or pose per day, with alignment tips, practice tricks and cues.

If a pose is a novelty, give it a try and you might learn something new, and if it’s a goodie and oldie, then you can show us your favorite spin on the pose (and then we will learn from you)!


As the challenge is happening on Instagram, we are also tracking your participation there. To participate, you will need to do the following:

  1. Follow hosts @girlintheraw @mindyvegan @rima_danielle@veganyogiunicorn @yinandjuice
  2. Follow our sponsors @SULARAWear @YogaTravelTree@VeganYogiUnicorn @pranapowder @CompassionateThreads @karma_collective
  3. Repost challenge cover pic with hosts and hashtag #shiftyourpractice
  4. Post your variation of the daily challenge yoga pose, tag hosts & sponsors (so we can find you).
  5. Have fun! Share your experience, insights, realizations and stories. Let us use this challenge to grow together and connect!

Most importantly, we do have wonderful prizes up for most engaged yogis! We kept on adding sponsors because we want to reward as many of you as possible. Cool yoga gear, beautiful malas (jewelry) and healthy vegan powder, and more and waiting for you at the end of the challenge!


The response has been overwhelming. So many yogis joined the challenge and are sharing their beautiful pictures with us. Reading your stories has been quite a treat.


Following are days 1-5 of the challenge, with my variations of the poses and descriptions, including alignment tips and other yogi tricks. Each pose has at least three variations, and you can turn to Instagram and my co-hosts to see their variations.


Day 1

Parivritta Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Revolved one legged downward facing dog)


Revolved one legged downward facing dog - Parivritta Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (wow that’s a mouthful!) A playful variation on the goodie and oldie down dog! Down dog is an inversion, without getting fully up-side down - which means one will get the full benefits of rejuvenating inversions. Whenever your head is lower than the heart, you are inverting and getting fresh oxygen into the brain. Inversions are fountains of youth! In this variation, start with lift your right leg up in the air with toes pointing to the right - opening and stretching your hip. Bend your knee bringing it close to your left glute. Look under your left shoulder, maintaining your shoulders string and neutral, without any sinking in the right shoulder. Search for your foot under your shoulder! A bit challenging on the sand, but super fun!


Day 2

Vinyasa (Flow)


Day 2 of #shiftyourpractice is vinyasa! We are starting our challenge with the basics. There is a chance you will do a vinyasa in any yoga studio and any class (but Iyengar :)), but most of us won’t get a proper backdown of the poses. Vinyasa means flow, linking breath with movement, but it often refers to the combination of poses from Surya A - stepping from uttanasana back to plank, lowering to chaturanga, coming up to up dog and stepping back into down dog. The key alignment tip comes when lowering to chaturanga. Find a strong plank first - engaging the core & gluteus, maintaining your hips steady (no sinking or lifting the booty in the air). Chaturanga body looks the same as plank but with bent elbows. Roll forward over your toes first, so when you lower your elbows are over wrists, in line with shoulders, and upper arm parallel to floor. Do not sink your shoulders down!!! Most shoulder injuries come from vinyasa. Coming up to up dog - tops of feet on the floor and everything else off, arms straight, shoulder blades pulled together. Vinyasa is not easy, so be patient! :) My variation is stepping one leg back at a time, nice and controlled.


Day 3

Bhujangasana (Cobra)


A nice backbend for the weekend - opening your heart on the physical & energetically level is one of the most rewarding part of yoga! My variation is baby cobra or bhujangasana, the first level of the pose. Important difference between an up dog & cobra is - in cobra your legs and hips are ON the mat! With your toes untucked, press the tops of your feet and toe nails into the mat. Engage your legs and glutes, get your inner thighs to touch. Palms under your shoulders, press your fingertips into the mat and lift your head and chest off the mat. Maintain your elbows bent and pressing into your ribs, engaging your rhomboids to bring your shoulder blades together. Cobra is more about your back body strength and engagement of back muscles than relying on your palms. Now have fun with it! Check out the girls for other variations.@veganyogiunicorn @yinandjuice @rima_danielle@mindyvegan. I like seeing all the stuff you guys came up with so far, keep it up and #shiftyourmind, #shiftyourpractice.


### Day 4

### Salabasana (Locust)

Start a brand new week with some spine-healthy #yoga! Day 4 of #shiftyourpractice is here, and we are sticking to our backbend theme. Today we are practicing locus or salabhasana, with me presenting a basic variation. Salabhasana is a backbend where we are fully experiencing the strength of our back muscles, specially rhomboids and erector spinae (the muscles that pull the shoulder blades together, and muscles that extend down the spinal column, respectively). In locust our body is learning to use its posterior muscular strength, as we are not pushing our arms into the ground to help lift the chest. We are also using our glutes and inner thighs to lift and maintain our legs up. In general, we use our front body muscles more than back body (think abs, pecs etc), however for a healthy spine and good posture those muscles of the back are crucial. This is an easy pose to get into after cobra (day 3), and they are great preps for deeper backbends. Start with arms by your side, with bent elbows like chaturanga. Bring your shoulders down and back, feet together with toes pressing into the mat. Engage your core & glutes and lift everything off the floor - your head, chest, arms and legs. Hold for 5 breaths and work on lifting higher with each inhale. For the record, I Do Not Enjoy this pose - but it’s one of those “soo good for you” asanas that it’s a must in our challenge :)! Check out the girls for more variations, including a deep chin stand backbend. Play and share your asana!


### Day 5

### Danurasana (Bow)


Going all the way with backbends for our 5th #shiftyourpractice day! Urdhva dhanurasana or upward facing bow pose. I’m getting a bit funky with my variation today! You can play with your bow and grab one leg at a time, and feeling a deeper stretch in your back one side than the other. And if you are even more adventurous, switch up your mat for a person and do a balance act on top of a backbend. This is called partner or acro yoga. You may not go as deep in this position, but the advantage of this variation is in proper placement of your base’s feet at your pelvis just on or a bit over the ASIS bones. This way you have localized your foundation and can freely feel the rest of your body in the air - lifting your chest, head, thighs, everything else up! Whether on a person or a mat, lift up into bow first, then release one arm/leg at a time. Maintain the engagement in your gluteus, bringing the shoulder blades together, and overall use the back body strength to keep you lifted. I love acro & it’s so much fun, specially on the sand - less fear when falling helps try this funky stuff out!