A Yoga Sequence to Shake the Winter Creaks and Aches

15 Feb

Find ways to stay centered, calm and happy during these long days of snowy days of winter. Enjoy this sequence to shake the winter creaks and aches.

 

meditation 3

 

 

 

Metta Meditation (Loving Kindness Meditation)

Loving-kindness meditation can be brought in to support the practice of ‘bare attention’ to help keep the mind open and sweet. It provides the essential balance to support your insight meditation practice. Loving-kindness is a meditation practice taught by the Buddha to develop the mental habit of selfless or altruistic loving. Loving-kindness is a meditation practice, which brings about positive attitudinal changes as it systematically develops the quality of ‘loving-acceptance’. It is a way of healing the troubled mind to free it from its pain and confusion. Of all Buddhist meditations, loving-kindness has the immediate benefit of sweetening and changing old habituated negative patterns of mind.

Loving-kindness is the first of a series of meditations that produce four qualities of love: Friendliness (metta), Compassion (karuna), Appreciative Joy (mudita) and Equanimity (upekkha). The quality of ‘friendliness’ is expressed as warmth that reaches out and embraces others. When loving-kindness practice matures it naturally overflows into compassion, as one empathizes with other people’s difficulties. You remain kindly disposed and caring toward everybody with an equal spread of loving feelings and acceptance in all situations and relationships.

There are many ways to cultivate feelings of loving kindness. One is visualisation. Think of something that brings an internal smile or an inner feeling of warmth. Breath into it. Then extend that feeling of warmth, loving acceptance of yourself. Breath the warmth into any feelings that come up. Let them float like snow flakes. Then extend loving kindness to your teachers or your parents, then to someone who is dear to you, then to someone or something that you have negative feelings about. If this is hard, just feel the warmth of your breath, visualize something that brings a feeling of calm and warmth. Breath into the warmth inside, cultivate it and send loving kindness to the world, to the universe. Try to offer it freely. Then draw your focus back to your breath. Breath softly. Observe how you feel.

supta-baddha-konasana12

 

 

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Cobblers Pose)

Bring the soles of the feet together and knees out the side. Loop a strap. Place it over the top of your sacrum and wind it over your outer hips, through your inner thighs, and on the outer edges of your feet. Lie back on the bolster so that your spine and lower ribs are supported and the lumbar spine is free. Let the bolster support you. To deepen the stretch reach your arms over your head, holding onto the wrists or elbows to lengthen your psoas. Breath into the back of your lungs, back of your lower ribs to bring openness to the chest and heart.

downward dog

 

 

 

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Stretch your arms long.  Pull your inner heels back as if you had a laser beam pulling them back, to pull the outer hips back. Lengthen your spine. Breath into the back of your lungs to open up your diaphragm and your heart. Try this with your feet on blocks to open up your hips. Place blocks length wise from the wall. Stand with toes on blocks and heels against the wall.

low lunge

 

 

 

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

From Downward Dog bring right foot forward so that knee is over the ankle. Bring the left knee on the ground. Start with both hands on either side of your right foot. Press down with the right big toe mound as if there was a sesame seed under it. Press out through the left inner heel as if you had a laser beam shooting back, to pull the left inner heel back. Draw the pelvis back about an inch. Come up with your hands on your hips. Draw the pelvis back a little more. Lengthen your spine. Bring your arms out the side. Pretend they start in the back of your lower belly. Paint the air with your finger tips and reach for the sky. From the back of your lower shoulder blades, lift your heart to the sky. Breath into the back of your lungs. Switch sides

pigeon pose

 

 

 

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

On a bolster bring the right leg forward into pigeon pose, extend the left leg straight back. Rest on your forearms and lean into the right leg. You will be off center but this will allow your external rotators to open up and then allow you to take it into a deeper back bend. Extend out through the right big toe and inner heel and through the left inner heel. Draw the pelvis off of your thighs. As your hip opens up try to come into the center. Come up on your hands or blocks to bring it into the full pose. Remember that you never want to rush into the full pose. It is important to go through the process and to allow the body to open up. Listen to your body. If it is tight, stay in pigeon prep on your forearms.

warrior 1

 

 

 

 

 

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)

Using a block, place the block on the long end at the wall and press your right shin into the block. Step back far enough with your left foot so that your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Start with the left knee bent, heel off the ground, hands on your hips. Press into the block with your right shin, draw your right lower belly away from the thighs. Pretend that there is a helium balloon under the left upper thigh. Let the balloon lift the thigh up. Extend out through the left inner heel to extend the leg, keeping the heel up or lowering the heel toward the ground. It is more important to be able to keep the back thigh lifting then to lower the heel. Allow yourself to go through the process and to arrive at the pose that works for your body today! :)

camel pose

 

 

 

Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

We will come into camel in two ways. The first way will allow you to ease into the pose and to open your lower back up. Kneel a blanket with your feet flat and knees hips width apart. Take two blocks and place them on the high end on the ground on the outside of your heels. Put your hands on the blocks so that your arms are internally rotated, fingers are facing forward. Lean back toward your heels. Press through the inner heels as if you were shooting a laser beam back to start to engage the legs. Pull the pelvis off of your thighs. Lift your chest and hear to the sky. Slowly allow these actions to bring you into the expression of the pose that works for your body today. Check in with your lower back and sacrum. If it is tight stay in a place that is comfortable.

The second variation will be to face a wall and put a bolster on your calves. Start with your hands on your hamstrings. Press the thighs into the wall by pushing the hamstrings toward the quadriceps (back of the thigh to the front of the thigh). Draw a line from your pubic bone to your nose (both ends of your spine). Keeping the glutes soft, slowly come into the backbend. Lift your hear to the sky. Allow the warmth in your heart to shine out.

Virasana-Hero-pose

 

 

 

Virasana (Hero Pose)

On a folded blanket sit so that your ankles are on the edge of the blanket and knees are on the blanket. Feet are on the outer edges of your hips. Lean forward, rest on  your head, and pull the calves away from the knees. Sit back so that your pelvis rests on the ground or a blanket or block. If your knees or ankles are tight, sit up on a prop. Press the pinky toe down. Extend out through the inner heel.  Soften the fronts of your thighs. Close your eyes. Softly, inhale “Om” and exhale “Om”. Feel the vibration of the words. Enjoy this mantra meditation for a few minutes. Then turn back to the warmth of the breath. Feel the vibration of the words. Observe how you feel.

legs up the wall

 

 

 

Vipariti Karini  (Legs up the wall pose)

Place a bolster or folded blanket about 2 inches away from the wall. Sit sideways so that your right hip is against the wall. Rotate to the right, trying to keep your pelvis as close to the wall as you can, and walk feet up the wall. (You will fall off of the bolster, don’t fret! There is no graceful entrance into this pose.:))  With your hands overhead push yourself closer to the wall trying to get your sitting bones against the wall, keeping the bolster an inch or two away from the wall. Extend your legs up the wall. Bring your arms out to the side or rest one on your lower belly and the other on your heart. Let the back of your head release, the shoulders drop, soften your sacrum, let the outer hips drop. Soften your mind, soften your heart.

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