This advanced practice behind with Shavasana (Corpse Pose), breath awareness and reclined pranayama to free the ribcage, shoulder girdle and arms. It follows with seated pranayama in which the practice is to maintain that freedom in the upright. After that comes an inversions practice with an awareness of the breath and organization of the arms, shoulders, back and chest.
This intermediate inversions practice begins with reclined poses to soften and widen the chest and back, and open the shoulders. It follows with floor poses to integrate the legs and arms into the torso before going into Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand), Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand), Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1), and shoulder stand variations.
This basic back-bending practice begins with simple reclined poses to soften and open the abdomen and chest. Standing poses follow to encourage the separation of legs and torso while establishing the dynamic oppositions necessary for the floor work to come. Warrior Pose 1 and lunges stretch out the fronts of the thighs and more explicitly open the hip crease. In the floor work, the opening of the chest in relationship to the widening and freeing up of the abdomen, and the lengthening of the thighs is introduced while breaking down the component parts of Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), before practice the poses on its own. A short sequence of restorative poses softens and widens the lower back in preparation for final relaxation.
This practice beings with a sequence on the ropes that stretches out the torso, lengthening and widening the back while strengthening and integrating the legs. The poses that follow go around the torso creating strength and length, including a cycle focusing expressly on the strengthening and opening the upper body before focusing on the abdomen as a preparation for inversions.
This basic sequence begins with standing pose work facing into the wall for feedback and support, creating mobility in the hips and pelvis and length in the sides of the torso. It follows with reclined poses, seated poses and abdominal poses followed by restorative poses to release the abdomen and hips.
The big day is over and you still have a long weekend ahead of you. You’ve got time on your hands and an abundance of energy. Time to put it to good use. This practice has a little bit of everything in it: inversions, standing poses, core work, back bends and twists. Feel free to cut it back according to your capabilities and the time available to you. You might try doing about half of the poses in the practice today, half of the poses tomorrow and then have a go at the whole thing from beginning to end on Sunday.
This is practice is for when you need a time-out. Perhaps after the meal is underway, after cleaning up, or after company has finally gone. It is a quiet practice designed to restore and rejuvenate.
If you have an eye pillow or a face cloth, place it over your eyes in the supine poses.
This quiet practice is designed for later in the day, after the big meal, or perhaps the next morning. It is a quiet, supported practice, designed to open the abdomen and to create space for digestion to happen.
Later on, perhaps even the next day once you’ve had a chance to digest, repeat The Fire in Your Belly Practice.
All this week, in celebration of the Thanksgiving Day holiday that we’re having here in the U.S., I thought I would do a special series to help you cope with the trials and tribulations of guests, entertaining and too much time off.
The aim of this practice today is to find you some peace of mind in the face of stressful interpersonal relationships. You could practice this in anticipation of the arrival of company, after company has left, or even in the midst of the holiday if you can get away.
The thought behind the sequence is to give you a gentle warm-up, followed by some relatively quick pose progressions that you don’t have to think about too much, culminating with Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), a balancing pose that will require a certain amount of presence of mind to do well. All of this will get the blood moving and hopefully facilitate unblocking any emotional holding. The inversions will then help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the effects of stress and bringing you to a more serene state, which can then be consolidated by the restorative poses at the end of the practice. Keep this in mind if you find you need to edit the practice to fit within your capabilities and the time available to you. (more…)
Perhaps you have your period and don’t want to invert. Perhaps you want to give your neck and chest a rest. Perhaps you want all the benefits of Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) without doing the actual pose itself. Perhaps you need to counter Salamba Shirshasana (Head Stand) and don’t have the props to do shoulder stand. Then one of these five poses might be for you:
This is the perfect pose to do if you need a gentle chest opener as a preparation for pranayama. It also works great as a counter to abdominal poses. Done with the feet elevated to the same height as the back, it is a perfect substitute for Sarvangasana when you have your period. (Feet on the floor would be to much of a stretch for the abdomen and the organs.)