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Yoga with Mara, My Wednesday Afternoon of Hip Flexor Pain and Joy

Yoga with Mara, My Wednesday Afternoon of Hip Flexor Pain and Joy

Yoga with Mara

Rain or shine, I make my way to YogaSource in Palo Alto to Mara’s class to get my body moving and my hips unlocked.  It’s not an easy class, and people are packed pretty close to popular’s popular session, but I don’t feel right for the week unless I see Mara and get those postures and movements going to undo my stressed-out desk-bound stiffness. 

Mara has a pretty interesting background.  Battling a fierce addiction, she embarked on a rigorous therapeutic journey, which unexpectedly led her to the doors of Bikram yoga. Though initially resistant to the intense heat of Bikram sessions, Mara committed to a challenging 90-day regimen at the behest of her therapist. This commitment began a profound love affair with wellness to include yoga and pilates. 

Location: 158 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

From Student to Teacher: Mara’s Ascension in Yoga and Pilates   

Mara’s dedication soon evolved into a deeper connection with Iyengar yoga, which focuses on the right alignment and specific sequencing of moves and times that postures are held (three more breaths!). Mara absorbed everything about yoga, and you can tell that she immersed herself fully in the yoga experience. This immersion as a student to teacher-led to a significant shift in her understanding of the mind-body connection as she began to experience the transformative effects of yoga firsthand. 

Beyond the Mat: Mara’s Holistic Approach to Wellness

Mara’s expertise extends well beyond the yoga mat. She is a certified birth doula, massage therapist, energetic medicine healer, intuitive empath, and guide. Mara embodies the essence of a medicine woman, channeling her energy into nurturing and healing. Her roles as a wife, mother, friend, and advocate for truth and healing further enrich her approach to wellness, infusing her classes with a holistic and compassionate perspective.

Four Key Poses for Unlocking the Stiff Hips

From yoga with Mara, I have learned there are four key poses to unlock stiff hips that significantly enhance your flexibility and overall mobility. Here are four essential yoga poses that target and release tension in the hip area.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I): A Hip Flexor Stretch with Proper Alignment

Warrior I is an effective stretch for the hip flexors when performed correctly. Begin in a stance with one foot forward and the other back. Touch the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) on your front pelvis. As you execute Warrior I, focus on preventing the pelvis and lumbar spine from tilting forward on the side with the extended hip. Achieve this by manually guiding the ASIS upwards, maintaining this posture as you bend the front knee. Simultaneously, keep the back leg straight and the heel anchored, feeling the stretch in the iliopsoas muscle.

For further alignment in Warrior I, be mindful of the lower back and pelvis. Using a belt around your waist as a guide, ensure that the ASIS does not tilt forward as you transition into the pose. Instead, press your back waist against the belt, lower your tailbone, and elevate your spine, deepening the iliopsoas stretch.

Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana): Stretching the Rectus Femoris

The rectus femoris, part of the quadriceps, can restrict hip flexibility. To effectively stretch this muscle, adopt the Reclining Hero Pose, which involves sitting between your heels and reclining backward. This position elongates the rectus femoris. To avoid lower back compression, use a bolster or folded blankets for support, maintaining some length in the lower back.

King Arthur’s Pose: An Intense Stretch

King Arthur’s Pose offers a potent stretch for the front thigh. Start on your hands and knees near a wall, placing one shin against the wall and the opposite foot forward under the knee. As you straighten your spine and lower your tailbone, you’ll feel an intense stretch in the thigh.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Developing Pelvic Tilt Awareness

Tadasana is ideal for those with a swayback posture. This pose involves lifting the ASIS, lowering the tailbone, and elevating the lumbar spine. Using a belt as in Warrior I can enhance awareness of your pelvic alignment. It’s crucial to include hip flexor stretches in your routine, especially after prolonged sitting, to prevent lower back issues and enjoy increased pelvic mobility.

The Unique Essence of Yoga with Mara: Vinyasa & Pilates

Mara’s Vinyasa and pilates classes testify to her dynamic teaching style. These classes are exercises and experiences – challenging, fluid, and inspiring. Mara’s unique approach blends breath, laughter, and creativity, making each session a distinctive co-creation between her and her students. Her classes, renowned for their energy and inspiration, often attract many participants (be prepared to be right next to someone as people love her classes). 

There are many pilates studios in bay area where you can do pilates and learn more about it. To know all about the places, read this blog: Discover the Bay Area’s Pilates Studios: Your Guide to a Stronger Core.

Cultivating Mindfulness and Inner Peace, Give it A Try

One of Mara’s most impactful teachings is her focus on breathing and mindfulness. In her classes, she guides students through breathing techniques that promote relaxation and help in letting go of excessive thoughts. This practice mainly benefits those struggling with mental clutter and stress, offering a sanctuary for clarity and calmness. 

Mara’s emphasis on mindful breathing enhances yoga’s physical training and fosters a deeper connection with the self, encouraging students to embrace tranquility in their daily lives.

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner, Mara’s classes offer a transformative experience that transcends the physical realm, guiding you toward a path of serenity and strength.

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