SO HUM … I AM … CALM
Yoga in one of the best life-tools we have to help us find a sense of calm and peaceful balance. The more we practice, the more we are able to move through life smoothly and to face adversity with grace. And this is a valuable quality to have - especially in challenging times like these.
Each of the following poses is particularly calming, and they can be linked together into a lovely, slow-flowing, ultra-soothing sequence. Here are some tips to make it mindful.
Child's Pose (Balasana) - Childs Pose is a gentle rest pose that soothes the nervous system and helps you to release stress and tension. It’s a lovely way to begin a calming yoga practice. And in fact you can use at any time, as a place to come back to whenever you need a rest. It brings you spine into a gentle C curve providing a gentle stretch to your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. With your big toes together, your knees hip width apart, lower your forehead towards the floor, or to stacked fists or forearms; if your forehead is on the ground, you can reach your arms forward, or back by your heels. Relax completely and receive the support of the earth. And breath.
Cat-Cow (Marjariasana-Bitilasana)-Come to hands and knees, with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Take a breath to arrive in the pose. As you exhale, curl your tailbone under, round your back to the sky, draw your navel to your spine, and drop your head towards your chest(this is Cat Pose); then as you inhale, tip your tailbone to the sky, drop your navel, pull your collar bones forward and look up (this is Cow Pose). Flow slowly from Cat to Cow for 10-15 breath cycles, scanning your awareness through your whole spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head on every breath.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) - From hands and knees, lift your hips to arrive in a standing fold, with fingertips on the floor and knees generously bent, allow your spine and shoulders and arms and head to drape towards the floor like a heavy velvet curtain. If possible, release the muscles in your neck to allow your head to hang heavily. Relax the muscles of your face. Visualize any stress or tension dripping out the crown of your head towards the floor.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)- Slowly rise up to standing and take a moment to align, standing with your feet hip width apart and firmly rooted, and the crown of your head reaching for the sky. In between earth and sky, breath moves into your back, sides and front. Imagine breathing all the way down into your feet, and breathing out all the way to the crown of your head. Know that you are safe and supported and calm.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) - Slowly shift your weight over to your left foot. Imagine strong roots reaching down into the earth from all four corners for your foot. Bring your right foot up to tiptoes and externally rotate your right hip, opening your knee out to the right. Bring the sole of your right foot to press against the inside edge of your standing leg at a comfortable height (ankle, shin or upper thigh). Hug the muscles of your legs to the bones. Feel you are rooted to the earth. Bring your hands to press together in a gesture of prayer at heart centre. Then reach them up to the sky, centered and calm in heart and breath. Stay for 5-10 breaths, then mindfully release back to Mountain Pose and observe any difference in sensations from right to left, before switching to Tree Pose on the opposite leg.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana) - In a comfortable cross-legged position, with your spine tall and easeful, just sit with your eyes closed, feeling grounded. Relax into the flow of your breath for a few moments, taking the opportunity to calm your mind. For extra comfort you may wish to sit up on a meditation cushion or yoga bolster. Stay here until you feel ready to move on.
Knees to Chest (Apanasana)- Lying on your back, hug your knees into your chest. As you inhale, slightly release the knees away from your chest; as you exhale, hug them in. This is a small and gentle movement of your knees, into and away from your chest. Feel free to experiment with gentle rocking from side to side or forward and backward. You could also try bringing your forehead towards your knees. Follow what feels good. Sometimes just rolling on the floor is the best calming medicine - simple is powerful.
Reclined twist (Jathara Parivartanasana) -Start with your knees drawn into your chest. Open both arms wide, lying palms up on the floor. Then drop both bent knees over to the left side, keeping the knees together and at the level of your hips. You may like to place a block between your knees for more comfort. Try to keep both shoulders on the floor, and if you can turn your gaze over to the right side. Relax into the pose, trying to release all tension from your body. When you are ready, bring your knees back up to your chest, and on an exhale lower them over to the right, and repeat the pose on the right side. Bring both knees back to your chest to finish.
Windshield Wiper Pose - Keeping your knees bent, release your feet down to the floor and walk them about as wide as your mat. Bring your arms out to your sides. Exhale as you slowly drop your knees to the right. Pause. Inhale back to centre. Exhale as you slowly drop your knees to the left. Pause. Inhale back to centre. Move slowly and with lengthened exhalations. Notice how those brief pauses on no breath and stillness feel. Know that you are sending powerful messages to your nervous system that you are safe and calm.
Savasana -Set yourself up for final rest to let the benefits of your practice settle in deeply. Lie down on your back with your arms and legs extended and your palms turned up in a gesture of receiving. Make any adjustments necessary to be comfortable -- you might use an eye pillow, cover yourself with a cozy blanket, slide a bolster under your knees, or have your knees bent with your feet outer hip width apart and your knees dropped into centre. Relax and release completely, letting go of all tension, all worries, all thoughts. Be restful but stay alert and present to the moment. Take this opportunity for a few moments of visualization meditation: picture a calm, clear lake and imagine its mirror surface is a mirror of your state of mind. Imagine all the sights and sounds of this peaceful lake experience. Rest in this vision for as long as you like, at least 5 minutes. Set a timer if you feel that would allow you to rest easy.
Comments will be approved before showing up.