Move into these basic seated poses and notice the physical and mental benefits. Try creating 10 minutes of breath and movement to your daily routine, particularly in the morning, prior to the day’s events. Notice how the body feels when beginning with movement, mindfulness, and when creating more expansion in the breath. The body may feel more flexible, strong and mentally, at ease.
Some of the physical benefits include opening in the area of the hips, knees and ankles as well as support of digestion and elimination (twisting poses). They also encourage good posture and relief of physical tension and tightness in the body, helping to support mental health (more inner-peace) and well-being.
Come to a comfortable seat in Sukhasana, Easy Sitting Pose. Cross the legs at the shins. For some, crossing at the shins is difficult. If it is difficult to cross at the shins, cross and the ankles, and over time and with practice, work to bring the feet forward and away from the hips. Option to sit on a blanket or towel for support tightness in the area of the hips. For some, this pose feels easy. If the hips feel tight, this pose can be a challenge. Use props to best support the body to sustain in the pose with a balance of ease and effort, sthira suhkam asanam.
Ground the sitting bones, the ischial tuberosity down into the floor. Work to bring neutrality in the area of the pelvis. Rock the pelvis forward and back to notice the weight distribution. Encourage good posture and “sit-well”. Lift the chest. Option to bring the thumbs into the armpits to encourage more lift and expansion in the area of the heart space.
Encourage good posture to best support the movement of the breath, pranayama. Prana meaning “life-force” and life-supporting energy. Apana means downward. Apana works to eliminate physical and mental toxins from the body. Pranayama techniques help to encourage each and every pose, while creating intention and a more conscious breath pattern. Pranayama helps to support mental and physical health.
Integrate the shoulder blades onto the back. Notice if the lower ribs are extending outward. On an inhale breath, lift the sternum, the area of the chest, upwards towards the ceiling. On an exhale breath, draw the lower ribs inward to create a tall spine, suitable for maximum movement of the breath as it moves up and down the spine.
Rest the palms on the thighs facing downward or begin with a mudra to support connection to tune inwards towards the heart. Come into Chin Mudra, gently touching and connecting the thumb and forefinger into a circle, palms facing the ceiling. Chin Mudra helps to support inward focus and concentration as well as creating circular energy flow throughout the body, encouraging a peaceful and relaxed state.
Stay in Sukhasana for 3-5 full rounds of breath. Work to create rhythm with the breath. Allow the inhales to match the length of the exhales. Watch the breath as it moves up and down the spine. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine on the bottom of the exhale. On an inhale, notice the crown of the head and torso grow taller.
On the exhale, maintain the length created on the exhale, by reaching the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Notice how the mind and body begin to relax as you begin to put more effort and intent on each inhale and exhale.
On an inhale breath, sit tall and reach the crown of the head and torso up towards the ceiling. On an exhale breath, twist deeper without force, allowing the breath to act as a gauge to twist deeper. If you can maintain integrity of a rhythmic and calm breath pattern, you have not twisted too deeply. Stay here for 3-5 full-rounds of breath. One inhale and one exhale equates as one-full round of breath. Slowly unwind and come back to the center, a neutral seat.
Repeat the same instructions on the other side. Slowly unwind and come out of the pose.
Adho Mukha Sukhasana, Downward Facing Easy Sitting Pose: On an inhale reach the arms up over the head. Spin the pinkies inwards. On an exhale integrate the shoulder blades onto the back. On an exhale breath, fold forward with a flat-back. Draw the low-belly inward towards the spine to support the low-back. Come down to the forehead, if accessible. Option to place the head on a blanket or block for added support.
Placing the forehead down on an object like the ground, a block or blanket helps to encourage relaxation to the central nervous system. On an inhalation, lengthen the heart space and sternum forward. On an exhalation, fold-forward with a flat-back. Repeat this action two more times to encourage length rather than depth in the pose.
*Here is a tip for people with tight hips: sitting on a blanket for this pose can be very beneficial and supportive.
On an inhale breath, lift the gaze and slowly come back up, maintaining a flat-back. Exhale at the top when you have arrived back to neutral.
Option 1) Lateral Stretch in Sukhasana: There are two options for a lateral stretch in easy sitting pose. On an inhale breath, reach both arms up over the head. On an exhale, drop the left palm to the side, and reach over towards the left. Option to come down to the forearm, if accessible. Create length in the spine rather than rounding forward. To encourage this action, open the right armpit towards the front of the room. On an inhale, lengthen the through the crown-of the head. On an exhale moving deeper without force. Use the breath as a gauge to see if you’ve gone too far into the pose. Stay here for 3-5 breaths. Slowly come back to neutral and take the repeat the same instructions on the opposite side.
Option 2) Lateral Stretch in Sukhasana: Bring the left palm to the right knee (crossing the left arm to the right knee). On an inhale breath, reach the right palm up towards the ceiling. On an exhale breath, reach towards the left. On an inhalation, lengthen through the spine. On an exhalation, move deeper into the pose. Again, use the breath as a gauge to see if you can maintain a rhythmic and even breathing pattern. Open the right arm-pit towards the front of the room to encourage a “squaring-off” action in the area of the shoulders. Stay here for 3-5 full-rounds of breath. Slowly come out and repeat the same instructions on the opposite side.
Move into Supta Baddha Konasana, Reclining Bound Angle Pose to rest and restore.
To come into the pose: Start in a seated position. Bring the soles of the feet to touch and butterfly the knees open wide. Bring your palms behind you, near your sitting bones. Gently come down to the forearms and make your way down to your back. Option to use a block under the knees or head for support.
To create more connection to the breath, bring one palm to the belly and one palm to the chest. For a gentle opening in the shoulders, bring your arms over your head. For an opportunity to simply let-go, leave the arms resting at your side. Feel the heart beating and connect and focus on the breath. Relax the face and the jaws. Release the tongue from the roof of the mouth. Stay here for 3-5 inhalations and exhalations or longer. Before coming out, notice how you feel.
For a variation for even more restoration use a strap and a bolster. Bring a strap around your hips and create a loop. Open the loop enough to wrap in between the legs and around the outside edges of the feet. The strap should feel supportive and comfortable, not restricting. Lay on a bolster lengthwise or a rolled up pillow to support the spine and head.
To come out: gently guide the knees back together. Draws the knees in towards the chest and roll to one side. Press yourself up to a seat.
Notice how you feel after you’ve created mindful movements and pranayama in the body towards health. Work to transfer the qualities that you practice in yoga to support your day, work and relationships. Practice bringing the balance of ease and effort in everything that you do. Move throughout the day with intention and awareness.
Allow life to “mimic” your yoga practice and notice how this very simple practice may influence more healthy relationship choices and an overall sense of well-being.
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
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. Work to find 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.
*Christi teaches adult, family, kids yoga and private lessons. Contact her for more info. on how to share the benefits of yoga to your kids and family.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and for a more natural and healthy environment for her family and in the studio. 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.