Monday, December 30, 2013

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Standing Forward Fold

Fold into the New Year with a Wide-Legged, Standing Forward Fold or Prasarita Padattanasana. This is a powerful posture to tune out the rest of the world and focus your awareness inwardly. Practice being present in the moment, rather than concerning yourself about future or past events. When moving into Prasarita, a deep forward-fold, we bring fresh, oxygenated blood into the central nervous system. Focus your awareness on the breath and the mind becomes more calm and clear. Take the time to decompress the spine, strengthen the legs and the core, and minimize symptoms from mild-depression.

To do wide-legged, standing forward fold: Stand with your feet 3 ½ to 4 feet apart with the feet parallel to each other. Bring the palms to the hips. On an inhale breath, lift the chest and draw the shoulders down the back. Take another inhale and lengthen out through the crown of the head. On an exhale, fold forward with a flat back. Bend the knees as much as you need especially if you feel tightness in the low back or hamstrings. Hands can come to the mat, if available, aligned under the shoulders. Option to use a block to raise the earth towards you if it is difficult for you to touch the ground.

On an inhale, lengthen the crown of the head forward and create a flat-back. On an exhale, fold forwards towards the ground. Hang the head and neck heavy. Option to gently shake the head yes and no to release extra tension. Option to keep the palms stacked under the shoulders or grab the outside edges of the feet or ankles, gently tucking yourself closer towards the ground. Stay here and breathe for 3-5 breaths. Take long and smooth inhales and exhales. Shift the weight towards the ball-mounds of the feet. Feel the core engage and the hamstrings and calves lengthen. Feel the sitting bones widen.

Another variation of Prasarita is to maintain the fold and add a twist, creating a detoxifying effect to the internal organs as well as creating flexibility in the spine. To move into the twist, on an inhale, shift the left palm under the face. Option to use a block as a modification, placing the block under the face. On an exhale breath, twist the right arm up towards the ceiling. Bring awareness to the spine. Keep the spine long, from tailbone to the crown of the head. Continue breathing and extend length through both arms, reaching the extended-arm up towards the ceiling, creating more space in the chest and shoulders. Notice the sitting bones and hips and work to level the hips. The tendency is to shift weight to one side when twisting.

On an inhale re-lengthen through the torso and crown of the head. On an exhale twist deeper, rotating the heart open towards the ceiling. Repeat on the other side when taking the twisting modification of Prasarita.

To come out of the posture: Bring the palms to the hips. Ground down through both feet and energetically “scissor” the thighs towards one another. Using the core on an inhale breath, rise slowly maintaining a flat-back and come back to standing position. Bring the feet together and palms to touch. Notice how you feel after taking the time to do the pose. The mind may feel more clear and calm and the body may feel lighter and more energetic.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Christi Iacono, In Rhythms Yoga, Clairemont, S.D.

Christi is a certified yoga instructor that focuses on teaching adults, private lessons, and kids. She has an intimate space in Clairemont, San Diego, located in the Mount streets. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. She believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, Christi carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve your body. Contact for more info. Go to to see the class schedule and instructors.

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