Please meet Brenda Malkowski. She is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. Brenda has a beautiful yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as she demonstrates Camel Pose (Ustrasana).
Brenda Shares Her Yoga Journey
I started coming to MBFY 3 years ago. I saw some friends on Facebook were going, so I decided to give it a try. I went with the only expectation of trying something new. I had reached a point in my life where I just wanted change. I felt there was more to life and I wanted to get outside of my box and try some new things.
I had already started down a road of doing with less. My children were growing up. My older two girls were in college. That year, I had downsized to a smaller house. I was tired of living a life of constant struggle. I wanted peace and less stress and new experiences. So, I have to say that it was the perfect time in my life and I was open to a new mindset. I realize that did help me walk through the doors of the studio that first day. What I didn’t realize was that I was entering into a wonderful community of love and support.
My first foundation flow classes were physically challenging. I was a runner and exercised regularly but this was different. I was really sore after and it was hot!!! At first, I thought my body couldn’t do all those things! Still, I listened to Marina and the other instructors talk about just thanking yourself for coming to your mat. How it was yoga practice not yoga perfect. They always emphasized how your practice is just right for you and that each time is different and not to judge yourself. I felt so accepted and supported at MBFY. “Just keep coming to your mat,” was my mantra that first year.
At that time in my life, I was fighting some very negative feelings about myself and my life. I had suffered a series of losses. I was a divorced mother of 3, had recently downsized and relocated my family to a new home, had made a challenging position change at work, and abruptly lost my father. All those things combined together felt overwhelming at times and often impossible to handle alone. I would wake up some mornings and not even want to get out of bed. I would tell myself get up, go to class, go to your mat, and you will feel better. Just walking through the doors of MBFY would lift me up. The positive environment is amazing. Marina and her staff are always so encouraging. Little by little I felt myself changing and the change lead to self love.
I learned through yoga to love myself just the way I am. Not to wait until I lose 10lbs or get that hard pose. Not to wait to when I pay that bill off or get that new position at work. Not to wait until my daughters graduate college or any of the other numerous reasons I thought would bring me happiness. I realized through yoga that all those things were just excuses that kept me away from living and enjoying the moment. They made me focus on the future or mourn the past while missing out on the present! Yoga taught me to love myself right now with all my brokenness and messy parts.
Then I started looking at others differently too. I became a better mother. More focused and patient. Taking things in stride. Not worrying if the house was spotless, but rather spending time with my girls and telling myself the rest can wait. A clean house didn’t define me. I loved myself anyway! Company could stop by and I was grateful for the friendship and connection. I wasn’t concerned with what others thought. My childrens’ accomplishments and setbacks became just that, THIERS. It didn’t define me either. I also became a better friend and coworker. Learning to love myself helped me love others on a level I never could reach before.
Soon, I started to look at the world around me differently. It was still the same messy broken world, but it all seemed much more beautiful now! I still have a difficult time putting into words how much a simple thing like accepting and loving myself changed my life.
Marina and MBFY helped me become more mindful and love myself and others right now exactly the way we are in the present moment and it has made an incredible difference in my life.
Thank you, Brenda, for sharing your story.
What stood out the most for you in Brenda’s journey? Please share it below to let Brenda know you appreciated her story.
What is this Pose About?
*If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
This is a backward bending pose. The resulting shape is a deep opening through the chest, hips, and hip flexors. Watch Brenda enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
Tips for Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this pose, or if you have already started to experiment and play around with it.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width distance apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
- Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
- Lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. Keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. There is an option here to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Most beginners will stay in the first part of the pose with the hands at the back of the pelvis. If you’re not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, you can try turning your toes under and elevate your heels.
- Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But, be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
- Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
- Opens up the hips
- Stretches the hip flexors
- Stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back
- Expands the abdominal region, improving digestion and elimination.
- Improves posture
- Opens the chest, improving respiration
- Relieves lower back pain
Avoid this posture if you have:
- high or low blood pressure,
- migraine headaches,
- insomnia, or
- serious low back or neck injury.
Enlist the help of an experienced instructor with Camel Pose if this is your first time trying it.
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?