Tuesday, February 12, 2013

strike a pose

Need to settle your mind? Relieve an achy back? Boost your mood? Sarah has it covered in this post (with pictures!). Enjoy Friends. I'm off to do legs up the wall.
Okay no I am not referring to Madonna’s song Vogue (or am I???)…
I’m talking about yoga poses.
Do you know which pose is best for quieting a monkey mind? For lifting your mood? To encourage the body to relax? What about for soothing an achy low back?
Here are my tried and true go-to poses. Next time you need an asana pick-me-up, give one of these a try...no yoga mat required!
Settling the mind.....
You'll find me in a seated forward fold, with my forehead resting on the support of a yoga block (if props are nearby) or maybe on the seat of a chair or couch, or the edge of a desk if not. Supporting the forehead is key. Usually my legs are loosely crossed in front of me (but they don’t have to be!), and I don't have to fold too far forward to access peace of mind. I might sit in this pose up to five minutes, and encourage a longer exhale than inhale in my breath.

Boosting your mood.....

Sphinx pose is my go-to mood lifter for when I’m feeling cranky. Add in some steady ujjayi (victorious breath), and after a minute or two I will feel more clear headed and clear hearted. And I can always let my chin rest to my chest if the backbend feels “too” good. A little back bending always helps me find a smile.

Relaxing the body.....

Supported bridge is the ultimate relaxation pose for me.  It doesn’t get better than a supported inversion.  The grounding of a block under my sacrum, combined with feet planted on the ground, yet legs relaxed (and hip flexors at rest) and upper back pressing gently into the earth…ahhhhhh…a few minutes and an occasional big inhale-2 second pause-slow exhale breath later, I feel like a brand new yogini! If you don't have a block try using a thick book or a couple really firm pillows.

Relief for a sore low back....

Legs up the wall to the rescue! This pose encourages the low back to lengthen and rest, and the sacrum (tailbone) is firmly rooted to the floor.  I might rest here up to 15 minutes, and practice inhaling breath into my belly, and exhaling and gently pulling my belly button towards my spine. And if I take a quick nap, all the better. Legs straight up the wall (and inner thighs relaxing) is the ideal option for back relief versus legs wide or feet and legs in butterfly. If flexibility limits you, you can use a chair – just bend your knees and let your lower legs and heels rest on the seat of the chair.

So friends, I want to know – what’s your go-to yoga pose?

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