Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Frog Pose

Lower into Frog Pose, Mandukasana, to receive a deep opening in the inner thighs and hips. Further benefits include finding opening and expansion in the area of the chest and the shoulders. Frog Pose is also known to be beneficial in helping to relieve menstrual cramps and anxiety. “Manduka” in sanskrit means frog and “asana” means posture or seat.

Come into Anjaneyasana, Crescent Lunge Pose, as a preparatory posture in order to open the area of the hips. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog. For step-by-step instructions on Downward Facing Dog, type Downward Facing Dog in the search box at Clairemont Central Blog.

On an inhale breath, lift the right leg high behind you. On an exhale breath, draw the knee in towards the chest. Drop the right foot by the right thumb. Grab your ankle with the right hand and place the foot down so that the knee is in line with the ankle. Bring the feet to hip-width distance apart.

To take the balance out of the posture, drop to the back knee. Double-up your yoga mat or place a blanket under the knee for support, if it better supports the body.

If you are taking the “high” lunge variation, off of the back knee, the back foot stays on the ball-mound of the foot, the heel is lifted off of the ground. It is important to check-in with the front knee to see if it is stacked over the ankle. The knee should not be extending forward in front of the knee. On an inhale breath, lift the arms up over the head. Spin the pinkies inwards for more opening in the back, the area in between the shoulder blades. Straighten more through the arms. Open the arms like the letter “v” if it is easier on the shoulders. On an exhale draw the shoulder-blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone down, towards the ground.

On an inhale, lift the area of the sternum, the heart space and chest up towards the ceiling. On an exhale, sink the hips lower and focus on the breath. Relax the face and the jaw. Count the length on the inhale in order to match it to the length on the exhale. Stay here and breathe for 3-5 full rounds of breath. Enjoy the opening sensation in the area of the hip flexors and in the chest and shoulders. Slowly and mindfully come out of the pose. Begin to straighten the front knee and step the left foot forward to meet the right.

Take the same preparatory posture on the opposite side.

Drop into Child’s Pose, Balansana. Take a few moments in between the poses to rest and allow the breath to calm.

Come into Utthan Pristhasana, Lizard, or also known as, Runner’s Lunge, as another preparatory posture for deep opening in the hip flexors and in the groin muscles in preparation for Frog Pose. Start in Plank Pose, at the top of a push-up position. Press down through both palms and spread the fingers wide. Bring the palms towards the left side of your mat and step the right foot forward towards the top of your mat. Bring the right knee in line with the right ankle. The back foot can stay active, on the ball-mound, or option to drop down to the back knee for less intensity.

Stay here and breathe. Create smooth and even inhales and exhales. Gaze down, to lengthen the back of the neck. Press the palms down into the ground and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Lengthen the tailbone towards the back heel and allow yourself to sink the hips down energetically, towards the ground. Visualize that you are sending the exhale to the areas that feel tight. Enjoy this deep opening. Soften the pose by utilizing the breath. Slowly and mindfully come out of the pose. Drop down to the knees. Take the same variation and instructions on the opposite side.

In each and every posture, check-in with some fundamental qualities of yoga. Work to create a smooth, flowing breath and focus on every inhale and exhale, in order to create equanimity in the body. Start by counting to the count of four on the inhale and then work to “match” the length of the exhale with the count of four. Slowly increase the count to five, six and seven and up. Work to bring a natural flow and rhythm without force. Even at the top of the inhale and the end of the exhale, notice if you tend to hold the breath. Pay attention to feelings in the physical body. Notice the expansion of the chest and notice the opening across the back-line of the body, as well. Create space on the inhale, and work to keep the space on the inhale as you exhale, fully.

Move into Frog Pose after properly warming up the targeted areas of the body. Start in a table-top or on all-fours, on the hands and knees. Bring a blanket, towel or padding under the hips and knees. Bring the palms to shoulder-width distance apart. Bringing one knee out at a time, allow the pelvis and hips to sink towards the ground. Adjust the feet to face outwards and flex the feet towards the face. Keep the ankles behind the knees, so that you keep a ninety-degree angle with the thighs, knees and ankles. Come down to the forearms or even all the way down to the belly. Stay here and breathe. If on the forearms, gaze down, keeping the neck neutral and back of the neck long.

Every “body” is different. Especially if you are new to the pose or new to yoga, in general. Be gentle on the body. Never force yourself into a pose. Find your “edge” of the posture and then check-in with the breath to see if you can maintain a steady and smooth inhale and exhale.If you cannot maintain a steady breath, come out of the pose a little, and back-off.

Find ease and effort in every pose, “sthira sukham asanam.” Practice ahimsa, or non-violence towards yourself and others. This applies to physical violence as well as “mental” violence or negative self-dialogue. Practice self-love, compassion and awareness on the yoga mat in order to bring these valuable concepts to life outside of your asana practice.

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, 500 hr. cert. yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga

Christi Iacono is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. She guides adults, kids and families in the ancient tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her daily personal practice. She is passionate about  sharing her experience, inspiration, and dedication with her students. She is committed to being a life-long student and teacher of the practice. Christi carefully works with each student in order to find the variation that best serves their body, finding the balance of effort and ease in every posture, “sthira sukham asanam.” Yoga is accessible to all.

IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa and yin-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as Tues. and Thurs. evening classes.

Donation-based yoga classes coming up:
Sat., Feb. 7th, 9-10:15 am, proceeds donated to Ride 4 Water. Ride 4 Water brings water filters to people in need of fresh drinking water.
Sat., March 7th, 9-10:15 am, proceeds donated to NEDA, National Eating Disorders Association.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and in her home. She can help you learn more about how to bring essential oils into your life for better health, ambiance and aromatherapy. Visit http://www.apothecarysociety.com/ciacono to learn more.
Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.

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