Most of us spend much of the day seated in a chair, working at a desk or at a computer. Sitting in a chair for extended amounts of time, can be compromising to the spine and core. Poor posture can result in a lack of oxygen to the brain, feeling non-energetic, as
well as tension in the neck, shoulders, and spine.
Set a timer on your clock or phone every two hours in order to move, stretch and breathe. Downward Facing Dog with the support of a chair, allows for extension of the spine and an opening in the shoulders and in the hamstrings. You don’t need a lot of room or even much instruction to feel the benefits of the pose.
To move into Downward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, with support of a chair or a wall: find astable chair without wheels. You want to find a chair that will not shift or move when you apply pressure. A chair with rubber on the “feet” is ideal. You can use the back of the chair, the seat, or even the arms for support. Place the palms at the back of the chair, arms or at the seat. Create a ninety degree angle with the torso and the legs. (Notice if you use the seat or arms of the chair, you will create less than a ninety degree angle.) Bring the feet to a hips-width distance apart. Gaze down and allow the back of the neck to be long and in a neutral position. Bend the knees as much as you need to support the low-back and any tightness in the hamstrings.
Shift the weight into the legs, and create more length in the spine. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and draw the low-belly in towards the spine. Engage the quadriceps and allow time for the hamstrings to open up. Create small, organic movements to work out the tension. Try bending one knee and then the other, shift the hips from side-to-side, shake the head yes and no, rise high on the toes, and reach length through the sitting bones.
Find stillness and breathe for 3-5 full rounds of breath, one inhale and one exhale equates to one round of breath. Create long and smooth inhales and exhales. Work to stay present in the moment, as thoughts and distractions arise. Simply come back to the breath, when the mind wanders. Envision the breath moving up and down the spine. Give the breath a color, and “watch” the breath as it nourishes each cell of the body.
Create movement. Move into organic movements that honor the body, creating opening down the backs of your legs, the spine, the shoulders, chest and neck. Try gently walking out the heels and then press the hips back one at a time while simultaneously bending the opposing knee. Allow the breath to continue to flow and be steady when moving and releasing tightness.
To come out of the pose, slowly walk the feet back in towards the chair or wall. Notice how you feel after taking a few moments out of the day to nurture the body, mind and spirit. You may feel more energetic, after bringing more awareness and mindfulness to the breath; more clarity in the mind, by focusing on the present moment; and a lightness in the body, letting go of tension and creating space in the body.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga
Christi Iacono is a certified yoga teacher, at the 500 hour level, and she is the owner of In Rhythms Yoga, in Clairemont. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., 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 their body. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
IRY offers regularly scheduled classes on, Sat., Sun. and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class. Meditation classes start the last Thursday in Oct., from 6-7 p.m. and run for 4 weeks, consecutively. Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.