Monday, June 24, 2013

Musical Monday: Breathe, Stretch, Meditate, Let It Go

After a fun weekend, sometimes the thing you need most on a Monday is another weekend! However, since that normally is not the case, the next best thing is Musical Monday, and in this case a Yoga-themed Musical Monday. This week I'm posting songs you can use for a yoga session to bring you peace, or as we yogis like to say: Shanti.

The following are songs that are incredibly popular on my yoga playlists, for my own practice, back when I used to teach, or that I've discovered from attending other instructors' classes. I've created a playlist below that can get you through about a 30 minute practice with an additional bit of time for savasana at the end.

If you're not a yogi or even sure what yoga is, these songs can be great songs to listen to when you want to mellow out or have some nice ambient noise for work. Just be sure not to listen to it once you're already tired, because some of these songs just might put you to sleep!

Serifs: Calligraphy

Music: I downloaded their EP for free back in 2011 and the gentle ambient rock is perfect for some ordered background noise to begin your practice.
Yoga: Starting either seated or lying down take a few deep breaths from deep in your belly, thinking about the feeling of your breath moving through your body. After a few minutes of that, hug your knees into your chest, make a small circle with them, and rock forward to transition onto your hands and knees.

Jonsi and Alex: Stokkseyri
Music: I've used the album Riceboy Sleeps as the entire soundtrack to numerous classes, and if you like this type of music I recommend you buy it, and just hit play your next session of yoga/relaxing/meditation. If you like ambient rock (as I do) it can be a great background but I have had people in the past let me know it wasn't their cup of tea. I like the surprising ways they incorporate certain sounds (like horses or rice being poured into a cup) with other musical sounds (like wind chimes and a piano) with a soft undertone to create their music (and apparently you Friday Night Lights fans might recognize some of this album from the shows soundtrack).
Yoga: Here, with every inhale come to Cow pose (bring your chest forward, dropping your belly & arching your back), and on the exhale Cat pose (press through your shoulders, hunching your back and pretending someone is pulling your belly button up to the sky one a string). You can also do some twists, or a vinyasa through Hero's pose or Child's pose, just make sure to warm up your core & back.

Angus and Julia Stone: Paper Aeroplane
Music: Gotta say "mmmmm, mmhhhmmm" as you vinyasa along to this fun and mellow tale of an meandering paper airplane carrying a love note.
Yoga: Transition through down dog, rocking your hips back & forth or making a pedaling motion through your feel. Walk your feel up to a forward fold, slowly roll up and from a standing Mountain pose we'll do some sun salutations. Inhale reach up; exhale Forward Fold; inhale right foot back into a lunge; hold your breath into Plank; exhale lower down knees, chest, chin; inhale Upward Facing Dog; exhale Downward Facing Dog; inhale right foot forward into a lunge; exhale Forward Fold; inhale slow roll up to stand.
Repeat with the left leg leading

Temper Trap: Sweet Disposition
Music: A great song for when you start getting into poses that become a little more taxing, heighten your heart rate, or a vinyasa that involves constant movement. I find the driving beat helps me stay up and focused on moving forward. Plus I can always flash to the montage from 500 Days of Summer in my head, to take me to a happy place.
Yoga: Here, you can start a vinyasa between Warrior 1, Head-to-Knee pose, Warrior 3, and Toppling Tree on each side. If you have some extra time you can also do a balance in Tree pose.

Phoenix: Rome (Neighbours Mix)
Music: Neighbours takes this rocking french band's song and slows it down, cutting some lyrics to turn what was an upbeat nostalgic love-song to past youth, into a melancholic reflection that "I never loved you. And if I loved you, I wouldn't say it. I'm sorry." The melody and beat are calm enough not to pull you out of whatever you're doing but interesting enough to give you something to focus on if you need a distraction from the poses.
Yoga: Here we can get into plank pose, then rotating first to your right arm on the ground, left side & arm extended up; then switch sides. Next lie on your back and lift your legs up as high as possible, supporting your back in Shoulder Stand. Hold here for a minute, then you can bend your legs slightly, bring them over your head and get into Plow pose, if you want (make sure to protect your back here). Slowly roll down and then do either bridge or wheel for a back bend.

Matt Corby: Coloured Stones and Walls
Music: I've posted on this song before but it's just such a wonderful song to with either start your practice or listen to as you get into some of the deeper, less taxing stretches, like pigeon or supine twist (lying on your back, arms spread, bringing your knees to one side then the other) bringing your heart-rate back down and preparing for savasana.
Yoga: Here I like a nice sequence staring in pigeon, then sitting up and rolling down onto your front hip, bending the back leg into a quad stretch (you can do bound pigeon here if you want instead). Release the back leg, swing it around to the bent front knee for a hamstring stretch. Then bend the straight leg bringing that foot to the outside of the front knee for a hip stretch. Hug the knee in & twist the opposite way for a back stretch., Transition through hands and knees to the other side. After that, lie on your back and try some supine twists to prepare for savasana.

Yogini: Bliss
Music: This has been my favorite music for savasana after a good workout, and at around 11:00 minutes you can go through the full 10 minute savasana without having a change of music jolt you out of your thoughts (however, at $9.99 for the single track on iTunes, I will continue to use YouTube to listen to this one).
Yoga: As you return to your deep belly-breathing, focus on what worked for you in the last bit of time spent practicing yoga, did you feel especially flexible, strong, balanced, or centered? Think about how you can apply that to the rest of your week. You can also use this time to inhale a positive value into your heart center through the crown of your head, maybe Patience, Determination, Kindness, Empathy. Once you're so full of this value you might burst, exhale it to the world around you, or wherever you need it most, or to a person you want to share it with.
After a little less than 10 minutes, wiggle your toes and fingers, come back into wakefulness and slowly transition to a seated position. Take a moment of gratitude for the fact you were just able to physically do something not everyone can, and bring your hands into your heart center.

Hopefully you now feel fantastic and ready for whatever the next moment brings!



Friday, June 21, 2013

Foto Friday: Pirate Party!

A few weekends ago I attended a lovely pirate-themed fiesta, complete with a ceremonial burning of "Blackbeard's Head on a Stick" (a drawing glued to a Popsicle stick), delicious Caribbean themed food and drink, and plenty of yaarrhhgs and eye-patches.

The following pictures were taken throughout the night with my iPhone4s and edited with Camera+.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Musical Monday: For The Long Haul

This weekend I will be taking a trip up to PA for a college teammate's wedding and will then head to the outer banks in NC for a few days of sun. This means I need a good road trip playlist.

While there are plenty of great songs out there, I like building my playlists for long trips around long songs. This way I feel like I have accomplished more, and driven farther as each song passes.

In honor of my looooong road trip, here are some looooong songs (criteria, close to or over 10 minutes) I love to listen to on the open road:

Sufjan Stevens: Impossible Soul
Off of his 2010 release Age of Adz,  Sufjan experiments more in this 25 minute song then most artists do throughout their careers. About 13:45, my favorite part kicks in, so if the crooning guitar player or auto-tuned circus aren't your thing, you can join me in the cheer/shout section!

Memory Tapes: Sheila
This song just gets my moving so I have to make sure I don't get too involved in shoulder dancing behind the wheel that it affects my driving.

Explosions in the Sky: The Only Moment We Were Alone
What can I say about my beloved Explosions, they have gotten me through many moments and can be perfect for a great road trip soundtrack. This song is one of my favorites and is off of the 2003 album The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place.

Explosions in the Sky: It's Natural to Be Afraid
From their fifth album, 2007's All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone.

Gotye: Seven Hours with a Backseat Driver
From one of my favorite albums of all time Like Drawing Blood (The 2007 album was named the 11th best Australian album of all time by Triple J last year). While not quite "qualifying" based on my 10minute criteria, I make the rules here so this one makes the list based on getting extra points for being related to the theme. The cartoon is what plays behind Wally in concert and just about perfectly sums up the uncomfortable and muscle-clench-inducing obnoxiousness of driving with a backseat driver.

What are your favorite road-trip or 10+ minute songs? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @itzbizr!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Foto Friday: More Flowers!

I might as well start calling this Flower Foto Friday cause I just LOVE taking pictures of flowers. They overflow with natural beauty. My mom is a great gardener (a trait picked up from her parents, whose backyard might still be listed in a few southeastern wildflower tour books). I almost always have my iPhone with me to capture some great shots and I normally just shoot while walking home from work.

I think Jesus said it best when telling us how pointless worrying is:
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. - Luke 12:27

So here's my tribute to the "wild flowers" (all photos taken with iPhone 4s and edited with Camera+):

Monday, June 3, 2013

Musical Monday: Deep Thoughts

So the Blog Every Day in May challenge is complete. I'm not sure what to do with my blogging self anymore but I will definitely continue reading my newly discovered blogs to follow like Poke the Rock or To the Sea, and will continue to visit the archives of Story of My Life, to read more of my fellow bloggers responses to the various prompts.

But onward to return to routine, today is Monday which means a new Musical Monday post. This week's theme

Matt Corby: Resolution
If you can't tell with my new widget on the side, I really like the song (and may or may not be officially obsessed with Matt Corby the musician himself). There is just so much happening throughout the song that each time I hear it, I discover another layer. It also makes for great pretend-open-mic-night-belting when driving.

Radical Face: All is Well (Goodbye, Goodbye)
A recent find, but the song is actually from back in 2011. The subject of the song is so sad but as the song progresses the lyrics straddle the line between grief and moving on (although one truly doubts if "All Is Well")

F y f e: Conversations
I've blogged about this musician (Paul Dixon and his previous work under the name "David's Lyre") multiple times here. His latest song Conversations continues to ask introspective and philosophical questions in his new f y f e musical styling.

Laura Marling: Where Can I Go?
I first fell into a girl-crush with Laura Marling after listening to her track Ghosts (fun fact, the gents of Mumford and Sons got together when performing/touring as Laura Marling's band & you can pick them out in the Ghosts music video & then both acts toured India together (where they shout The Cave music video)). While she hasn't had the level of commercial success of her friends and former band-mates, she has released three albums in the past three years and has definitely evolved and grown musically and found success of other kinds, critically she has often been compared to Joni Mitchell. This song was released as a single previously this year and can now be found on the album Once I Was An Eagle, released just days ago (May 28, 2013).