This sequence of asanas is meant to be practiced slow and with ease. It is designed to open the spine, enhance breathing and movement of diaphragm. Increase energy and lift mood. To soften and relax into the heart more. And to simply take time to love and appreciate all your body can do, today, now.
Guided by the pace of your breath, savor each moment of movement.
Consider these words of wisdom as you form an intention for your practice in words authentic to you.
Hero Pose: Centering with breath meditation
Kneel on the floor, placing a block width wise under your sit. Both sitting bones grounding on the block. Your inner knees can be a touching or a few inches apart. Your feet slightly wider than you hips, with the tops of your feet and all ten toenails on the ground evenly. For extra comfort and good alignment, take your palms to the back of your thighs and your seat and draw the muscular parts out to the side of the room.
Let your awareness come to your breathing. Settle your attention on the center of your chest. Imaging the breath could move directly in and out through your heart, as if you had nostrils on your chest. Feel your inhalation gently massaging and expand your heart. Untangling any tension as it flows through. Feel your exhalation soften and release any holding.
For a more complete breathing practice visit last weeks blog.
Then, sit for another few moments of centering and create an intention for your practice in words authentic to you.
Come to all fours. Bring your knees as together as comfortably possibly.
Sit back on your heels and fold forward and Rest your belly on your thighs completely.
Place the forehead on a block, blanket, or the floor and release the full weight of your head into the support. Relax and let your breath stretch the skin on your back.
Let your awareness come to your breathing. Settle your attention on the back body, behind your heart. Imaging the breath could move directly in through the back of your heart your. Then imagine your exhale releasing through an imaginary nostril on your chest.
Cat / Cow Flow
Come to all fours. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and knees about as wide as your hips. On your exhale, draw your belly up into your back, round your back into the sky. Push what ever is in the ground down as you empty the lungs completely. Notice the pause at the end of your breath.
As you hear your breath flow in, allow your spine to soften and release to the floor. Your heart will see the front of your mat.
Try this with your eyes closed as you listen inward to your breath. Listen to your breath, as if you don’t know how long the inhale or exhale is going to last.
The game is, can you discover the pace of your breath as it is happening, and let your movement be guided by the lengths of your ‘now’ breath. Moving in sync with the breath as it is happening will organically slow you down and soften you up.
Begin on all fours. Hands a little wider than your shoulders, knees about as wide as your hips. Curl your toes into the ground.
Push down into your hands and feet as you gather your belly up to the sky and slide back into downward dog.
Pause in downward dog and actively lift your heels so you are high on the balls of your feet. Spread the toes. Press everything in the ground down, while you continue to draw the belly up.
From all fours, step your right foot between your hands. Bring your hands to blocks.
Curl the ball of your left foot in the ground and push through your heel. Reach strongly as if you were going to leave a footprint on an imaginary wall behind you with your left heel. Keep pressing through your feet as you allow your hips to slide forward. Keep the upper body light, and all the work and action in the legs and feet. Enjoy the breath moving the torso and ribs as it flows in and out.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Spread you toes, as if you were trying to expand the size of your feet into bigger shoes.
Firm your thighs on all four sides of your legs.
Align the center of your crown, over the center of your belly and pelvis. Imagine a plumb line could drop from crown through your ankles to the floor.
Arms dangle by your side. Strong base, light upper body. Feel your breath moving each rib in your torso.
Standing Side Lean
From tadasana, sweep your arms up to the sky, and interlace your fingers except for your index and thumb. Gently squeeze your arms towards your ears
On an inhale, press your feet down, firm your thighs and stretch up and over to the right. Let your breath inflate your side ribs.
On your exhale, gather your belly into your back, press your feet down, and lift back up to the sky.
Repeat on the left side.
Eagle Arm Stretch (or 1/2 eagle variation)
From Tadasana, bring your arms out in a T shape to the side.
Extend both arms to the front of your body, crossing the right arm over the left. Bend at the elbows and bring the backs of the hands towards each other. If you have more room to play, you can press the back of the hands together strongly and if this is possible, try wrapping the hands around each other until the palms meet. Press the palms into each other like a prayer. Reach the elbows and forearms away from you. Invite the breath to expand between the shoulder blades. Enjoy 5-10 breaths,
Repeat on the other side.
From Tadasana, on your inhale, sweep your arms up above your head. On your exhale, twist to the right as you extend your right arm to the back of your mat and the left arm to the front of your mat. Arms out parallel with the ground. Inhale, press into the feet as you sweep back up to the sky, coming to center in tadasana with arms up. Exhale twist to the left; left arm to the back of your mat, right arm to the front of your mat, arms out like a T, the height of your shoulders.
Continue on your breath, sweeping up to center on each inhale, and twisting on each exhale. Do each side at least 4 times.
Begin on all fours. Hands a little wider than your shoulders, knees about as wide as your hips. Curl your toes into the ground. Push down into your hands and feet as you gather your belly up to the sky, drawing your hips up into downward dog.
Spread your toes and actively lift your heels so you are high on the balls of your feet. Press down strongly through the balls of your feet as you draw your belly up deep into your pelvis.
Down Dog to Plank Flow
From Down Dog, on an inhale, open like an accordion in both directions flowing into plank pose (upper push up position). On your exhale push down into the balls of your feet and hands, gathering your belly up as you lift into downward dog.
This action is quite strong in your belly, like a reverse sit up.
At the pace of your breath, flow between down dog and plank 5-10 times.
Half-Plank with Knee down (to focus on opening side body with ease.)
From Plank pose bring your right knee to the floor. Sweep the right leg and foot to the ground behind your seat. Come high up on your right fingertips.
Sweep the left arm up to the sky and then all the way over the head until the bicep and left check press together. Palm faces the ground.
Actively extend the left leg long and deepen your whole left footprint in your mat.
Reach the left leg and left arm away from each other – breathing deeply into the whole left side body.
Do each side 1-3 times.
Cobra (with wide arms, known as Gecko Arm cobra)
Lay on your belly, center of your Kneecaps resting on the ground, extend through your legs back reaching through your second toe.
Place your hands just off your mat, coming onto your fingertips lining them up with your breastbone. Elbows point up to the sky and reach away from each other.
Press your pelvis, toes, and fingertips down into the ground strongly; on inhale, allow your chest and head to float up. All four sides of the neck equal length so the chin does not pull you up. Think long, not high. The main effort is in pressing the ground down, so your breath can inflate your light chest and back.
Kneel on the floor, placing a block width wise under your seat. Both sitting bones grounding on the block. Your inner knees can be a touching or a few inches apart. Your feet slightly wider than you hips, with the tops of your feet and all ten toenails on the ground evenly. For extra comfort and good alignment, take your palms to the back of your thighs and draw the muscular part out to the side of the room. Do the same with your seat.
Pause, take a few long breaths, and let your weight drop down – out of the head, through the torso, down into the pelvis and down into the block.
Imagine the way an hourglass timer will drain sand out of the top and into the bottom. Let all the sand in you drain out of your head and into your seat.
Heavy seat, light heart and head.
Place one hand on your heart and one on your belly, and invite the breath to move under your hands. Pause for a minute and feel the breath expanding the space under your hands.
Resting pose: Gentle Chest Opener (on bed pillows or blocks)
Stack two bed pillows (queen size are best) on top of each other to make a bolster or use a couch cushion.
Sit with your back to the stack of pillows. Slowly lay your self down over the pillows. Keep your knees bent and feet on the floor throughout the pose. Ensure you feel supported from your low back to the back of your head. The head should be on a higher plan than your heart. So you make an angle the forehead being the highest point, then your heart, then your navel. Rest your arms out to the side, or keep them on your belly.
Give all your weight to the props, allowing your chest to expand with each breath. Follow the breath with your mind as it flows in and out of your nostrils, in and out of your chest. Enjoy savoring your breath, like a practice session for the day. Set an intention to pause through out your day for a few moments to enjoy our breath.