Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Sense of Calm

In your home yoga practice today, you will focus on the Seated Forward Fold (Pascimotanasana). There are many benefits to this posture. You'll experience a lengthening through your hamstrings and a stretch for your entire back. This seated posture also provides a sense of calm and ease in the body and mind.

Let's start in Staff Pose (Dandasana). Sit on your yoga mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Flex your feet to fully extend your legs. Sit up nice and tall. Assist this spinal lengthening by placing your hands next to your hips. Push your hands into the floor as if you are going to lift yourself up off the floor. This creates a lightness in your hips and low back. Further, it allows the torso to lift out of the pelvic bowl releasing any tension or tightness in your hips and low back.

Roll your shoulders back and down as you sit up even taller. Take a few deep breaths here. Fully engage your body. As you inhale, feel the continual lengthening of the spine and legs. As you exhale, draw your navel in toward your spine engaging your core and abdominal muscles. This will help the support of your entire body. Remain here for at least 5 breaths.

On your next inhale, extend your arms upward toward the ceiling. As you exhale, be sure to keep your core engaged, then hinge forward from the hips as you now move into your Seated Forward Fold. At first, your spine will be straight, but the further you go down, your back may begin to naturally round. That is ok. Once you are in the forward fold, continue the sensation of lengthening the spine and deepening the fold. Here's how to do that.

Still in the forward fold, slightly lift the torso on an inhale and feel as if you are moving forward toward the wall in front of you. This will extend the spine. As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles, then lower yourself deeper into the posture. Do not feel that you have to rest your chest entirely on your legs. That is not the goal. The intention here is to feel sensation in your body and create a stretch sensation in your legs and back. As long as you are doing that, you are doing the pose correctly.

As your remain in your posture, set your intention. Perhaps you would like to experience more relief in your physical body. As you exhale, experience that relief. Notice how tension leaves your body. Perhaps you want to experience some emotional release. This is a very good pose for that. Because of the folding sensation, you are bringing attention and energy to the first three chakras. The second chakra (just below the belly button) is our emotional center. The more we breathe into this space, the more energy we raise. Use this exercise to help bring new life to this part of your being.

After spending some time here (maybe 5-10 breaths) gradually return to Staff Pose to re-extend your spine. Next, lie flat on the floor in Savasana to complete your entire practice. While here, experience a full sense of calm, release, and relaxation.


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