Saturday, January 1, 2011

Out With The Old, In With The New

Happy New Year! Namaste!
For many people, starting a new year means creating a New Year's Resolution: something that you intend to do differently in your life. Or it may be something you'd like to give up (like smoking) or do more of (like go to the gym). Sometimes in making a resolution or doing something new in your life, it may also mean letting go of something else. This home yoga practice will help you to let go of the old to bring in the new.

The focus of this practice will be hip openers. It will feature two poses: Three Legged Downward Facing Dog and Cobbler Pose.

Let's start this practice with a Sun Salutation to bring you to your first pose. Stand near the top of your yoga mat in Mountain Pose. Place your hands at your heart, close your eyes, and set your intention (your new year's resolution). Perhaps bring to mind the thing or things you no longer want to do, say, or think. Using the power of your breath, exhale as a symbol of releasing those things. As you inhale, think of things you now want to pursue, gain, and experience in your life from this day forward. Proceed now with your Sun Salutations following the sequence below.

Mountain Pose
Extended Mountain Pose
Forward Fold
Plank Pose
Chaturanga Dandasana (Crocodile Pose)
Upward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog

Once you have made it to Downward Facing Dog, hold this posture, and focus on your breath. Feel secure and grounded in this pose: be sure your hands are fully connected to the yoga mat and your heels are drawing downward toward the floor. (Take a very small step forward with both feet so your heels just about touch the mat.) Also, be sure your hips are high with the sensation of moving them toward the wall behind you.

Inhale to lift your right leg up toward the wall behind you. You really don't have to lift it very high, just be sure the leg is straight with the effort of extended it toward the wall. Keep pressing your left heel toward the floor to maintain your secure connection to the earth. Now, bend the extended leg; bring your heel down toward your back side while lifting your knee as high as you can toward the ceiling. Open your hips and torso so you are now facing the right side of the room. This is your Three Legged Downward Facing Dog, but with a bit of a twist. Think of this pose as a hip opener. Try to stack your right hip directly over your left hip. Your left leg is very straight with the heel pressing down toward the floor. Hold this posture for 5-10 breaths. Come out of the pose and repeat on the other side.

We can think of hip openers as postures that help us to release stress, tension, tightness, and even negative thoughts and feelings.

From Downward Facing Dog, bring your knees to the floor, then take a seat on your mat bringing your legs out in front of you. Draw the bottoms of your feet together while moving your heels in toward your pelvis. The knees will fall open to the side. Hold onto your feet and sit up nice and tall. This is Cobbler Pose, more formally called Bound Angle Pose. This, too, is a hip opener and you are invited to hold this pose for several minutes. Use this time to move into yourself and re-examine your intentions for the new year. Create a vivid picture of yourself in your mind doing and saying the things you want in this new year. As the hips are open, you can feel release, and also a sense of experiencing gain: call in those things you want to be and achieve for yourself.

Feel free to remain in this pose or simply cross your legs (Easy Pose) to complete your practice for today. Hold onto your intention. Let it expand into how you want to live in this new year of 2011.


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