Pose of the Week: Downward Dog

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Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana) is what some might call a “classic” yoga pose. Its benefits include elongating or stretching the spine (and releasing tension in the spine as a result), stretching the hamstrings, calf muscles, achilles heel, arches and hands. Downward dog also builds strength in the shoulders, arm muscles, wrists and back. Other benefits may include relieving low back pain, increasing circulation to the brain, which can rejuvenate the body and mind, and because it is a mild inversion, it can help calm the nervous system and relieve stress, which could help with insomnia and anxiety.

Cautions: High blood pressure, carpal tunnel or arthritis in the wrists or hands, detached retina or weak eye capillaries, shoulder injuries/sensitivities, late-term pregnancy, eye or inner-ear infection.

Modifications: You can elevate the hands with blocks or by using a chair on a yoga mat, the seat facing toward you, with your hands gripping each side of the seat of the chair, your feet are about hip-width apart on the mat. You would then press your hips and tailbone back so you get a nice long stretch through the spine, lower back and hamstrings.

You can also roll the top part of your mat up and place the palms of your hands on the rolled edge for added lift and not as deep of a stretch on your hands and wrists.

Directions:

1: Start on hands and knees with hands either under the shoulders or slightly forward of the shoulders, fingers spread out, with index fingers pouting toward the top of the mat. Knees are under the hips with toes tucked under.

2. Exhale. Then inhale as you lift your knees off the mat and your hips and tailbone toward the ceiling, but keeping your knees slightly bent to start. Here you can bicycle the knees a bit, bending one at a time to wake up and stretch the calf muscles and hamstrings.

3. When you feel warmed up, gently press into your hands, as though trying to press away from the floor, and press your tailbone back toward the wall behind you and feel the heels gently pressing down toward the floor. Don’t worry if the heels do not touch the floor, you just want to feel a nice easy stretch through the spine and straightened legs and heels. (note: you should keep a slight softness in the elbows and knees)

4. Widen the shoulder blades and feel them reach toward the tailbone. Try to keep your neck lengthened with the head in line with the arms, though be mindful you are not straining the neck. It should be relaxed.

5. Try to keep an even weight between the hands and feet and keep breathing deeply in and out, feeling the breath going down the back of the lungs, expanding the ribcage.

6. Stay in for a few breaths, trying to relax into the pose and focus on lengthening the spine. When ready, you can come out by lowering the knees back down to the floor into table position and rest in child’s pose if that feels good.

Be well ❤

~Judi~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pose of the Week: Reclined Butterfly (Bound Angle)

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Reclined Butterfly or Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana) pose is a great way to welcome Spring and to really open up and relax during that mid-point of the work week.

Benefits include stretching the inner thighs and groin muscles, aiding digestion, this pose may help alleviate PMS symptoms, lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety and open up the front of the body, relax the mind and trigger the parasympathetic system, bringing calm to the body and mind.

Cautions include groin, knee or hip injuries or sensitivities and be mindful of lower back and/or shoulder injuries/sensitivities as this is pose impacts the lower spine.

Modifications include putting folded blankets, pillows or blocks under each knee, elevating the knees to the point where you only feel a mild stretch that you can truly relax in. You can also lie back on a bolster (longways), with the bottom of the bolster right at the base of your spine.

Directions:

  1. If you need any props, keep them close by on each side of you so you can access them once you are in the pose and adjust them accordingly.
  2. Lie down on the floor in Shavasana (corpse pose) and draw your shoulder blades in toward the spine, allowing your arms to relax on each side of you, palms facing up. Take a few deep breaths in and out.
  3. Slowly bring the bottoms of your feet together and begin to slide them up until you feel a gentle stretch in the groin and inner thighs.
  4. Relax the buttocks and lengthen the tailbone toward the heels, continuing to breathe deeply in and out.
  5. Adjust any props as needed and then relax into the pose, breathing slowly and steadily.
  6. Stay in this position for anywhere from one to 10 minutes or as long as feels good. To come out, gently draw your knees into the chest, roll over to the right side (unless pregnant, then roll to the left) and press up to a seated position with your hands.

Engage, but Detach: The Paradox

This is a hard thing to do. To be present, experience life with every fiber of our being, yet somehf5f8eef4fdbc1a0bd315a0c5cf4a42acow, also remain unattached. What does that even mean?

Well, let’s take the weather right now for example. We seem to keep getting a few teasers of spring, but then it’s almost like Mother Nature is saying, “just kidding!”

In those moments, some of us might get frustrated, might get a bit glum or irritated, stressed or frazzled, thinking, “Why do I live here again?”

Yet, let’s examine it a bit deeper. Perhaps Mother Nature is saying, be present. Take it all in, soak it all up, but remain a witness. As the saying goes, “Be in the world, but not of the world.”

When it is warm. Be present, enjoy the warmth, the sunlight, the magnificent sunsets we’ve been having, the fresh air, the slight dewiness of winter thaw. Don’t take the moment for granted. Enjoy it. And when it’s cold again, be present. Be good to yourself. Dress warmly, enjoy the feel of layers, even if you might be tired of them. Feel grateful for warm clothes and heated buildings. Enjoy a stroll outside in the crisp, clean air. Knowing this, too, shall pass.

As you feel the transitions of the seasons right now, try to go with it. Think of yourself, as you have transformed over the years. It’s never this completely linear thing. It’s often a few steps forward, one step back, a few steps forward, one step to the side. As Mother Nature transforms, she, too, takes a few steps forward, and one step back and then to the side and then forward again. So let’s dance with her … and let’s dance with ourselves, our daily lives. Enjoy the dance, be present, yet know that you are bigger than the dance, you are part of the stage, the lights, the entire backdrop. Take in every detail, feel it all, yet know it all moves, transforms and changes. Be the experience AND the witness.

Love,

~J~