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My Scorpion Chin Stand Pose Journey

About the Yoga Pose, a Tutorial, and How I Got There

Yoga has taught me a lot about myself. The practice of yoga, both on and off the mat, has boosted my confidence, reduced mental stress, and given me the gift of fitness that can come with me wherever I may go. All you need is a mat or accessible chair, and you are good to go!

I began practicing my chinstand scorpion pose early this year. It is an advanced yoga pose that requires careful and thoughtful practice to protect the neck and back. It may come as no surprise that my journey to this yoga pose came with props.

Some of the benefits to practicing this asana include:

  • Back strength
  • Hip strength
  • Pelvic strengthening
  • Legs strengthening
  • Back flexibility
  • and back balance

The yoga props I used to begin my practice included 2 yoga blocks, preferably sturdier cork ones, and a small-to-medium sized yoga wheel. I began by getting a feel for rolling my torso forward on the wheel with the blocks together under both shoulders. See tutorial one below:

Scorpion Chin Stand with wheel and blocks

Next, I removed the wheel when I felt strong enough to lift up and arch my back while still being supported by the blocks under the shoulders. (I also practiced removing the blocks and just using the wheel to see where I was at as far as comfort in the yoga pose.) See tutorial two below:

Scorpion Chin Stand with blocks

Finally, after several months of incorporating these variations of supported chinstand scorpion pose, I gave it a try without the props. It is very important to note that this is an advanced yoga pose and should be worked up to with props and supports during practice for a lengthy period of time before you begin the asana without them. Strain in the neck is possible if not continually and habitually practiced with gradual care. Really explore your body and it’s strengths and limitations. See tutorial three below:

Scorpion Chin Stand without props

Key pose cues to remember when practicing Scorpion Chin Stand:

  • Start on all fours in a box pose
  • Lift one leg in the air to begin to find balance
  • Drop your shoulders into a narrow, tight and strong push-up position
  • Drop the chin and chest and find balance here
  • Press evenly into the palms
  • Curl the toes of the leg on the ground
  • Lift the leg up with a gentle kick to meet the other in the air
  • Carefully begin to arch the back and bend the knees
  • Point the toes towards the crown of the head

*IMPORTANT: Remember, this is an advanced pose and must be practiced slowly and with caution. I have low blood pressure and when I first began to practice the asana, I felt a blood rush to the head upon transitioning out of the pose.

I hope you have found this story and tutorial helpful. Have fun with inversions. Yoga props are your friends; don’t be afraid to use them to assist you in your practice!

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Crystals 101

To speak in depth of crystals and their meanings would take much time and effort, but if you would like to get a general idea of the power held in stones then look no further than “Crystals 101!” Below I will outline some basics on common crystals, their meanings and uses, and ways in which you can harness their magic.

What is a Crystal?

A crystal is a solid mineral compound coming in may shapes, colors and sizes and carrying within and about them geometric faces and patterns. Crystals generally refer to the stones found in nature and also created in labs that can be used in jewelry, decoration and singularly on their own to bring the holder various powers — or at least nudge a person in the direction of the meanings it possesses.

Common Types of Crystals

There are so many types of crystals, families of crystals, variations of crystals and combinations of crystals. Below is a list of a few stones that have been commonly seen in parts of the world and used for their meanings and purpose.

Quartz

Quartz crystals come in many different colors and types. Clear quartz is often used in healing and spiritual growth for its holder, while pink quartz can represent love and relationships. Overall, quartz is an excellent cleanser of energy and it is frequently found in forms within other gemstones. It is also a stabilizing stone.

Jade

Jade crystals, often seen in a green color or hue, represent fortune and good luck in many cultures both eastern and beyond. This crystal can provide tranquility and balance to its wearer. Not only in green, red jade is a “warrior” stone which brings about vitality to its holder as well as protection of the life force.

Amethyst

Amethyst typically comes in a purple tone and it is a great crystal for mental illness and addiction issues. An “all purpose” stone, amethyst can provide spiritual guidance and relief from stress and anxiety. This calming stone is said to quiet the mind and inner turmoil and provide wisdom in the face of chaos and adversity, making it an excellent stone to use when troubled by life’s daily stressors.

Finding Meaning in Crystals

Crystal meanings are often relative to the type of stone as well as what you, the holder, are looking for. Resources on crystal meanings are abundant both by book and by the internet. Here are a few excellent articles on finding meaning in crystals:

The Complete Guide to Crystals — An A-Z appendix on many crystal types and their meanings

5 Ways to Find Your Own Crystal Meaning — A step-by-step on creating your own personal meaning around your crystals

A Guide to Healing Crystals — An alternative and holistic approach to the power of crystal energy and its meanings

How to Use a Charged Crystal

Finally, I leave my readers with advice on charging and using your newly “adopted” crystals. Many require a gentle rinse in cool water or an overnight outside under the moonlight. A few more common ways to charge your crystal include: incense burning around them, soaking them in a tonal sound bath, or burying them in the cool dirt of the ground. When your crystal is charged and ready for use, you will feel its slight vibrational energy in the palm of your hand. Hold it uncovered and meditate on what you wish it to bring you guidance with.

Whether you fully believe in crystals or not, there is a lot of science behind crystal energy, and a lot of good can come from reflecting on the beauty of stones and manifesting your own destiny.

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Yoga with Crystals

There are many ways to incorporate crystals into your yoga practice. From meditation with focus on a guiding crystal, to setting an intention with a crystal on your alter or near you in practice, crystals can help to guide your yoga flow. Here I list a few benefits of bringing crystals to your yoga sequences.

Crystal Intentions

We can use crystals within our yoga practice by allowing them to guide us as we set an intention. At the beginning of your asana flow or meditation, you can carry a crystal with you and place it near to your yoga mat or meditation pillow. Set your intention. For example, use a rose quartz crystal to set a self-love and heart opening intention for your yoga practice, and use heart chakra opening asana in your sequence. In meditation, you may have a crystal near you as you focus on your breath.

Crystal Meditations

In addition to setting an intention with a crystal as your guide, you may use a crystal to focus on during a meditation session. I have used my Nirvana quartz crystal for focus and enlightenment in my meditation practice. If you would like to meditate with a focus on healing from worldly addictions, you can incorporate an amethyst, know for its powers in breaking unhealthy cycles, into your dedicated focus. Place the crystal in front of you and softly gaze at it while channeling your focus and breath towards it.

Crystal Drishti (Focal Point)

A “drishti” is a Sanskrit word for “focal point.” We can use a drishti to gaze at an object in front of us to help us hold a balancing pose in yoga practice. When I work on freestanding headstands, or Salamba Sirsasana, I like to place a small crystal in front of me and center it to my gaze. Having a crystal for a focal point can help you balance and focus by having one point to view and pose with. It also helps to use a crystal that is meaningful to your practice that day. For instance, I have used a serpentine crystal to be one with nature and the Earth, as well as to help with grounding in the pose.

Crystal Chakra Energy

Crystals can be used to open blocked chakra energy. Pick a crystal for which you would like to energize within your yoga practice. I often use grounding stones when I wish to focus on stability. Carnelian, a beautiful red stone, can help with the root and sacral chakras and assist in hip openers while bringing flowing energy to your passions and sexuality.

Aesthetic Crystals

And finally, crystals can add a beautiful physical aesthetic to your yoga practice environment. They can beautify your place as you move through your asana, and are beautiful to look at as you move in and out of postures!

Whatever the reason may be, crystals can enhance your yoga practice and guide you in new ways. For more on yoga with crystals, lookout for my next post on Crystals 101!

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Yoga and Mental Health (Part 2 Resources)

As promised, I wanted to follow up my post Yoga and Mental Health with a companion post full of resources that describe the ways in which yoga can benefit your mental wellness. Here are a few of such resources with a brief overview to help you decide whether you would like to begin a yoga practice that may benefit your mind (though this is *not* a substitute for treatment from a psychiatrist or therapist, yoga can be an added tool to alleviate mental illness):

In an article from Psychology Today, the author gives an overview of the ways yoga can support deep relaxation and calming of the physiological nervous system, as well as support slowing down the breath and heart rate. See Take a Stand for Yoga Today for more information.

At the American Psychological Association, the organization lays out how yoga can help people with anxiety, and particularly trauma. The organization also talks about how psychologists are incorporating yoga into their practice as a tool for use in conjunction with therapeutic methods. See Yoga as a Practice Tool for more information.

In a piece by Yoga Journal, the author lists out 5 different ways that yoga can creatively help with mental health and well-being, that are also backed up by biopsychological science. These benefits include a movement away from the sympathetic nervous system towards a calming effect of the parasympathetic nervous system, as well as improvements in sexual health and relationships with partners, among others. See 5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health for more information.

At Healthline, the author writes about 13 different benefits to physical and psychological health that may come from a yoga practice. From decreasing the heart rate to alleviating stress, anxiety and depression, this article shares the possible positive effects that yoga can have on the body and mind. See 13 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported By Science for more information.

And on Positive Psychology, the author lays out over 60 different ways that yoga can be a great companion to your toolkit for combating mental illness. Each of the ways, including the benefits yoga practice has on mental health specific to men and children, are outlined and supported by scientific research. See 60+ Benefits of Yoga for Mental & Physical Health for more information.

While the research on benefits of yoga to mental health is still relatively new, it continues to grow as more scientific data becomes clearly studied and available. Although this list of resources is by no means exhaustive, it can be a good place to start if you are considering beginning yoga or deepening your practice for the positive impact it can have on your mental health.

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Yoga and Mental Health

Becoming a certified yoga instructor opened the gateway to taking better care of myself, not just physically — mentally, as well. I began to practice self care that worked for me. I maintained a positive practice, incorporating vinyasa and restorative yoga, as well as healthier eating habits and ahimsa. I found much of what I had lost along the way on the mat. And my mental health improved. Dramatically.

There is still much to be done in research, but yoga is increasingly becoming a recommended form of integrative approach to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. I plan on becoming certified in yoga therapy and have been taking certificate courses (see Yoga International for more information).

Along the way, I felt better. In fact, well enough to pursue my MSW (Masters in Social Work). Here are a few of the ways that yoga practice has helped my personal mental health:

Mindfulness. Practicing yoga requires focus of the mind and body. Coming into poses, holding asana, and flowing to the next posture are a practice of mindfulness. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, one learns the skills to be present in the moment. Practicing one activity and being mindful as you go (that is, focusing solely on what you are doing in the moment, rather than multitasking thoughts) is a way to release anxieties, worry thoughts, and help regulate emotions.

Breathing. Along with mindfulness, I have found that awareness of my natural breath, pranayama breathing practice, and meditation have helped with my anxiety and reign in wandering worries. My focus becomes clearer as I pause and focus on my breath (or take a deep breath when I realize I am holding it too long!) and I have noticed that regulating the breath in my yoga practice also helps me regulate and calm my thoughts off the mat.

Consistency. Yoga eventually became a healthy habit for me. I practice regularly, typically in the mornings, and start my day off with a clear head. The habit of practicing yoga creates a healthy schedule. Consistency was something I lacked, especially when I struggled with my mental health. Having a regular routine not only helped me mentally, it also created structure that spilled out to other areas I was struggling with: completing tasks, better sleep hygiene, healthier food choices. Overall, I can say that yoga practice and teacher training helped me learn to become consistent in other areas of my life.

Yoga is not a cure for mental illness. However, yoga practice has been a tool in the kit that helps me alleviate mental health struggles. I have experienced profound differences in my mental state over the past several years and I am in a remission from what I suffered from. I place importance on my social workers, treatment team, family and other supports. I also credit yoga with changing my life for the better.

NOTE: As I do more research, I will seek out information on how yoga positively impacts mental health. Check back for updates and more resources.

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Healing with Restorative Yoga

After running a turkey trot race on Thanksgiving morning, I injured my leg a bit (stress fracture with painful edema). It’s an injury I’ve had in the past from pushing myself too hard by running on pavement on the roads. I love the mental benefits of running outdoors, but sadly it seems that I need to stick to walking or treadmills and soft tracks. So what have I turned to as my leg rests and heals? You guessed it: restorative yoga.

Spending over a week with my leg propped up or hobbling about on my crutches led me to feel cabin-feverish. I missed my yoga practice. An anti-inflammatory (prescribed by my doctor) helped with the pain and swelling in the hip joint. But I needed the physical and mental outlet of exercise back again.

When my leg began feeling better, I slowly incorporated gentle stretching and restorative yoga poses into my day. A few books helped me focus on helpful asanas, along with my own knowledge from YTT (yoga teacher training) in the past. I’d recommend Yoga Anatomy for great visuals and instructive aids on anatomical alignment, and Yoga Sequencing for planning your practice.

Restorative poses such as supta baddha konasana (with props: bolster, strap, blanket, blocks) and legs-up-the-wall helped ease the tension in my hip. After many days of dedicated rest, I started adding a gentle yoga flow every couple of days. Learning the hard way, I discovered the importance of listening to my body when it needs rest, and restraint from pushing myself to much.

The moral of the story is: practice where you are, as you are! Yoga is not a competitive sport. It is an inward practice and self-reflection. One day, you may feel strong in certain poses; the next day, you may find that you must back-off of certain asanas. There is no judging right or wrong in yoga — there is proper alignment, however, which you can benefit from going to a class and practicing with a certified instructor. Listen to your body and be gentle with what it tells you. I certainly will be more mindful of my own.

Keep in mind, your own personal yoga practice is not a substitute for physical therapy or doctor’s orders — unless directly recommended or prescribed (or taught by a certified, specialized yoga teacher!). But it certainly can help when attention and care are paid to the injury and poses are done with proper alignments.

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Yoga Mats in Review

Ever wonder about the quality, eco-friendliness or affordability of yoga mats out there? With so many options, it’s hard to sort through the characteristics that are important to you — and it can be difficult to make that final decision.

Currently, I use a lululemon reversible mat with great cushioning and stickiness and an extra-large Jade Yoga mat when I’m looking for more room to practice. I recommend doing your homework and testing out different mats when making an informed decision on a mat that will provide you with what you need.

There are a lot of factors to compare when looking for the right mat for you. A great resource I found is this comprehensive guide on yoga mats from ConsumersAdvocate.org that breaks down some of the most popular options in well-researched detail. I was happy to find my current yoga mat on the list!

Whether you are looking for eco-friendly yoga mats or the best price for your budget, the right one is out there!

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Chakra 101

Chakra energy work is something I like to pay attention to and incorporate in my practice and teachings. If you aren’t already familiar with the chakras, here’s a quick and simple guide to the seven major concentrated energy centers:


Root Chakra

Located at the base of the spine, this chakra energy center represents grounding, thus the name! It is attributed to survival instincts, physical strength, and reproductive organs. Root chakra is associated with the color red and Earth element.

Sacral Chakra

Located below the lower back or naval, this chakra energy center represents independent power and metabolism. It is attributed to the emotional self, trust, and the spleen. Sacral chakra is associated with the color orange and Water element.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Situated between the chest plate (sternum) and navel, this chakra energy center represents ego, passion, and growth. It’s associated with sexual energy, adaptability to change, and adrenals. Solar plexus chakra is attributed to the color yellow and Fire element.

Heart Chakra

In the center of the chest, this chakra energy center represents love, and so the name! It’s guided by acceptance, social relationships, and the heart organ. Heart chakra has the characteristic of the color green and the Air element.

Throat Chakra

At the base of the neck, this chakra energy center accounts for communication. It’s guided by creativity, sounds and language, and the thyroids. The throat chakra is characterized as the color blue and the Ether element.

Third Eye Chakra

Between the eyebrows, this chakra energy center represents wisdom. It’s associated with intuition, awareness, and the pituitary glands. The third eye chakra is attributed to the indigo light and transcends elements.

Crown Chakra

At the top of the head or beyond, this chakra energy center represents thought. It’s attributes include spirituality, intelligence, enlightenment and the pineal organs. Crown chakra is characterized as purple/white light and transcends the elements.


Personally, I like to envision each chakras attributed colors swirling from the rooted ground to its coupled energy center and flowing out the crown of the head as white light. Play around with the energy flow! I’ll be on the lookout for resources if you want to know more…