Monday, January 25, 2010
i do 10 minutes of yoga in the morning. it's not much -- and i hope to come back and practice more than that later in the day -- but it's a solid little practice. if i don't do it i feel wacky, or more wacky than i would if i HAD done it. it's the simplest 3-4 posture sequence -- enough to warm up the low back, do a bit of sacral stabilization (the sacrum is this amazing heart shaped bone at the base of the spine that has a maze of muscles, ligaments and a milliong other things weaving through it that link the pelvis, legs & spine ...) and warm up shoulders and neck. try it yourself!
i start doing cakravakasana = on all fours like a cat (hands below shoulders, knees below hip joints), spine is straight like a table and gets really long on the inhale, then exhale and bring hips to heels, chest to thighs, forehead to the mat (child's pose). inhale back to table, exhale into child's pose. repeat 4-6 x's.
next make way onto belly, legs zipped together, forehead on the mat, arms along sides. on inhale, using the strength of the low back muscles, lift the head (gaze ALWAYS at the mat when lifting, don't crane the neck up), shoulders, chest off the mat. Lift the arms as well, palms come together behind your back as though you were squeezing a big beach ball behind you. exhale and lower down. 4 x's with legs zipped together. then next time you're down, widen the legs about 12 or so inches, and continue lifting. feel free to turn the head and alternate bringing your cheeks to the mat when you lower, but head is always neutral and gazing at the mat when you lift. 4 x's at this width, then widen legs to mat width for 4 lifts, then to wider than the mat (4 x's) and FINALLY bring the legs back to about hip distance for 4 more lifts. it seems like a lot when you first start using these back muscles - and the squeezing of the "beach ball" behind your back can feel like a lot to your triceps, but these back muscles will THANK you for the strengthening. i rest here for a moment, cradling my head in my arms.
the next posture is called vajrasana. sitting back in child's pose (hips to heels, chest to thighs, forehead to the mat) with palms facing up in the small of the back, stand up on shins on inhale, simultaneously sweeping arms to the side and up above (relaxing shoulders at the top) and then exhale - pull the belly in firmly and bring cheek to the mat and hands to small of back. repeat - inhaling and standing on shins and sweeping, warming the shoulders, opening the front of the body, exhaling bringing opposite cheek to mat. 6-12 x's.
then come back to hands and knees, inhale feel the spine getting long and then exhale -- tuck the toes and push hips high to the ceiling or back wall, knees really really bent because the hamstrings aren't warmed up yet. inhale back to table/hands and knees, exhale toe tuck hips to sky, head hangs softly, spine looong and head and arms and vertabrate all in a long extending line. inhale back to table. exhale to this posture (which is called 'downward facing dog) and continue moving in and out 4-6 x's and then stay in downdog for 3-4 breath cycles.
eventually, walk hands to feet or feet to hands and hang out in a forward bend. knees SUPER bent because the stretch you want to feel is in your low back NOT your hamstrings, then walk your hands up your legs and come to standing, hands at heart, let the blood drain, feel how it is to be standing.
after all this, i grab my french press, sit down again and journal. the ideal way to start my day. and if you know me in the morning, you know this is how i keep my sanity.