Here we are on the eve of another major holiday. As I type this, I'm sure the malls and parking lots are packed with last minute shoppers. And once those prized packages are purchased for friends, family, co-workers, and kids, they still have to be wrapped, right? Holiday themed paper, decorative ribbons, and brightly colored bows to complete the package. Then, of course, placing the precious gift underneath the Christmas tree ready to be unwrapped to thankful eyes in the morning.
So, for this holiday blog entry, we pay tribute to the bow on top of the newly wrapped gift. It symbolizes the time and effort put into buying or making the gift inside. Let's top your holiday season with Bow Pose.
Bow Pose actually is named after and resembles the bow that is matched with an arrow, not the bow on top of a gift. But since it's Christmas, when I think of a bow, I think of that bright red ribbon resembling a flower that brings life to the wrapped treasure.
Start by lying on your belly on your yoga mat. If you need extra padding, use a blanket or towel underneath you. Since Bow Pose is a backbone, you want to be mindful of your breath to protect your lower back. Take a few deep Ujjayi breaths to engage your core muscles. When you inhale, create a lengthening in your entire body: point your toes to help lengthen your legs and feel the crown of your head extend forward. Your arms are down by your sides. As you exhale, feel a tilting of your pelvis in order to create support in your abdominals and space in your lower back. With this same exhale, your pelvis is gently pushing into your mat and at the same time feel like your belly button is pulling away from your mat. Continue this breathing effort several times to experience a greater connection to your core body.
Next, bend your right leg and reach back with your right hand to hold onto your foot. If you're able, do the same with the other side. This will put you into a full Bow Pose. Continue the same breathing effort to help support your back as you are in the pose. To modify the pose, since this is a deep posture, do one leg at a time. For example, when you're holding onto the right foot, the left hand can extend out in front of you with your hand or fingertips on the floor to help support the pose.
Bow Pose, like many backbends, can be considered a heart opener. (If you haven't already, read the previous blog entry to learn more about the intention of a heart opening yoga pose.) Bow Pose, since you are resting on your pelvis, can aid with digestion and lower back muscle strengthening. Further, it acts as a stretch for the abdomen, chest and neck.
Whether you're in the full posture or in the half posture, think of yourself being on top! You've made it through another holiday season which can tend to be engulfing and exhausting. Celebrate your accomplishments and the gratitude of making it through another year. Spend time (on top) with your family and friends this Christmas. Enjoy!