By Michelle Marie Chant
All you need is a comfortable space to place your yoga mat…preferably just over an inch thick to protect the median nerve in the wrist joint.
Sit down in a crossed leg position with the sit bones rooting to the floor…As you push down through your sit bones, lift up, through the entire torso….Visualize the top of the head reaching toward the ceiling. Draw your shoulder blades into your back. Broaden your collar bones, spreading the chest muscles without pushing your front ribs forward. Pull your belly up and in toward the spine… With each inhalation expand through your front ribs as if you had a balloon in the belly. With each exhalation contract your belly, working the abdominal muscles to keep your lower back lifting out of the hips as you sit. Hold this for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel like you are struggling to stay lifted. Avoid any compression through the low back and use a blanket or pillow to sit up on if the exercise alone is challenging for you. You would also benefit from the aid of a prop if your knees are not able to drop toward the floor, which is an indication of extremely tight hips and/ or hamstrings. Lifting yourself up onto a prop will help you to feel much more at ease in the pose.
The beauty of yoga is that we do what we can, when we can. It is your time with you…Listen to your body and adjust accordingly. We all have good days and bad days and part of yoga is heightening the internal awareness so that we embrace exactly where we are today.
Staying seated in this position, drop the head toward the floor gently and roll the neck side to side… Do this for a few breathes or until your feel like your ready for the next pose..Let each breathe initiate each movement and not the reverse. Stay connected with the breathe. If you lose the breathe, stop, and reconnect.
Next inhale the arms up over your head, interlace them with the palm of the hands toward the ceiling. Hold this for 5-15 breaths. Release the fingers and reach the torso forward, folding out front until you feel a stretch in the hips and lower back. Hold for 5-15 breaths. Reach to the left, hold for 5 breaths, and reach to the right, hold for 5 breaths. Bring the arms back to the center, begin to flatten the back and bring the arms back in toward the shins until your back to a seated, upright position.
Come to the hands and knees on your mat. Bring the wrists directly under the shoulders, and the knees directly below the hips. Begin to round the back, seperating the shoulder blades, and then reverse the motion, drawing the shoulder blades down the back, lifting the tail bone and then top of the head simultaneously. Do this for 2 minutes or until the muscles that house the spine begin to feel warm and more elastic.
With the spine neutral and back to the hands and the knees, curl the toes, lift the hips and move into downward facing dog. Allow the knees to be slightly bent and shift the weight back into the legs. Move the shoulder blades down the back, and squeeze the arms into the ears. Continue to lengthen the spine and gentle start to work the top of the thighs, dropping the heels toward the floor, without forcing… Hold for 5- 10 breaths and come down to the floor, resting into “child’s pose”… (knees to the floor, hips drop back into the heels, arms rest along your sides). Continue this until you feel like you need rest and try again…
You are on your way to a yoga practice! Each day you will feel like you can hold each pose a little bit longer. Stay present with the breath. The breathe is the single most important component to the practice.
There are several books and videos to help ease you into your practice.
Michelle Marie Chant is an Exercise physiologist B.S., that has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 10 yrs. She has been in the fitness industry for two decades and feels yoga has been extremely instrumental in encompassing the intensity of her favorite workouts yet focusing equally on creating balance in the body and peace in the mind. And… as we get older, we learn to appreciate this concept! Feel free to contact Michelle at [email protected] with any questions.