Monday, June 1, 2015

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Low Back Sequence

Move into this yoga sequence for support and relief to the low-back, relieving tension and tightness. Excessive sitting done at work and perhaps traveling can lead to tight hamstrings and tight iliopsoas muscles that have a direct effect on the low-back. Take a moment to release tension and tightness in order to maintain a healthy and supple spine.

To do Child’s Pose, Balasana: Come to your hands and knees on the floor. Option to keep knees together or spread them wide. Find a soft surface like a yoga mat or on carpet. Walk the palms out in front of you. Sink the hips over your heels. Try bringing the tops of the feet on the ground for a nice ankle stretch. You can also stay propped on your toes if it feels better on your feet/ankles. Rest the forehead on the ground or use a pillow, block or towel to rest your forehead. Another variation for the arms, is to bring the arms to rest by your sides, (Embryo Pose).

Stay here and breathe for 3-5 full-rounds of breath. One inhale and one exhale, equates as one-round of breath. If Child’s Pose is not comfortable on the knees, try rolling up a yoga mat or use a towel under the knees for support. You can also lay on the back and bring the knees into the chest, receiving many of the same benefits.

Close the eyes and feel gravity pulling the hips downward, allowing a gentle opening in the hips and low-back. Feel the breath moving as it opens and expands throughout the area on the chest and across the back. Feel the breath leave the body while the back and belly contract and become soft.

Cat/Cow Pose, Marjaryasana/Bitilasana: Move into Cat/Cow in order to open the front and back line of the body: Start on the hands and knees, in a table-top position. On the inhale, drop the belly and lift the gaze, arching the spine into Cow Pose. Feel the arch of the spine and the stretch in the area of the belly and in the throat.

On an exhale breath, draw the pelvic under and tuck the chin in towards the chest, moving into Cat Pose. Draw the low-belly up in towards the spine and ceiling as the back is rounding and feel the stretch along the back-line of the body. Move with the breath, inhaling into Cow and exhaling into Cat. Repeat this sequence for 3-5 rounds. Accentuate each inhale and exhale and close the eyes to tune inwardly, towards the heart.

Move into Bridge Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Come to lie down on the ground, onto the back, with the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the ground. Walk the feet closer towards the glutes.  Align the feet under the knees and bring the feet to hip-width distance apart. Take a deep inhale and open mouth exhale to prepare. Take another inhale breath, and on an exhale press the hips up towards the ceiling.

Keep the gaze upwards, looking at the ceiling in order to protect the neck. Shimmy the shoulders underneath you. Clasp the hands below the low back, or use a strap for support. Option to keep the hands pressing downward into the ground, at the sides.

Continue breathing and lengthen the tailbone towards the heels. Draw the knees energetically inwards, as if you were holding a beach ball in-between the legs. Release any “gripping” in the glutes, which can result in compressing in the low-back area. Press the back of the head into the ground and draw the chin away from the chest, lengthening the back of neck. Stay here and breathe for 3-5, full-rounds of breath.
Move into Knees into Chest Pose, Apanasana: “Apana” refers to the prana or energy flow or breath that we produce in yoga to eliminate toxins from the body. In this case we eliminate unwanted gas and irritations due to digestion, constipation, pain from menstruation and irritable bowel syndrome. Apanasana also brings relief to the low-back.

Take an inhale breath to prepare. On an exhale, bring both knees in towards the chest. Wrap the forearms around the shins, if available. Another option is to grasp the hands.  Give yourself a hug.

Press the tailbone down towards the earth, to create more length in the spine. Slightly tuck the chin towards the chest to create length in the back of the neck. Option to place a towel or blanket under the head for added support to the neck.

To massage the low back, rock from side-to-side. If the belly or chest is too big to bring knees into chest, wrapping arms around the legs, bring one knee into the chest at a time. Inhale to prepare, and exhale draw the knee into the outside edge of the chest towards the armpit. Feel the “pinch” in the hip crease, creating a stretch and opening in the hip and low-back, while massaging the digestive organs.

To move into Supine Twist or Supta Matsyendrasana: Come to lie down on your back with the legs extended, long. Keep the left leg and draw the right knee in towards the area of the armpit, avoiding the rib cage. Flex the left foot towards the face and press the extended leg down into the floor, energetically reaching length out of the left heel.

Take an inhale breath and squeeze the right knee into the chest. On an exhale, with the left arm, draw the right knee across the chest to the left side to twist. Bring the gaze to the right, if it is okay on the neck. Option to leave the neck neutral. Right arm stays long like a wing on the floor. Notice the spine, if the spine does not feel straight, gently shift the hips slightly to the right in order to align the spine. Gently working the right shoulder down towards the floor. Allow gravity to do the work. Stay here and breath deeply on each inhale and exhale. Stay here for 3-5 full rounds of breath.

To come out of the pose: Gently release the twist and draw the knees in towards the chest to neutralize the spine before repeating on the opposite side.

Utilize supine twist when you first wake up in the morning, before bed at night, or anytime during the time to receive its’ benefits.  Work to keep the mind present, by following the breath.

Move into Corpse Pose, Savasana: Find a quiet space while laying on a yoga mat or blanket. Lay flat on the back with the feet splayed open wide and the palms resting towards the ceiling. This hand gesture represents being open and receptive to whatever may come up in this pose. Option to place blankets or a bolster under the knees for low-back strain or to even elevate the feet on a chair.  Option to put a blanket or block under the head for comfort.

Release the heads of the shoulder blades down towards the earth and expand through the area of the heart and chest. Notice that the heart is opened and exposed. Relax the entire body, releasing tension in the jaws. Allow the eyes to fall deep into their sockets, and even release the tongue from the roof of the mouth.

Release any control over the breath, and if the mind wants to wander, follow the breath as it moves up and down the spine. Give the breath a color, and watch the color as it moves from the crown of the head all the way to the tips of the toes.

Notice how you feel after taking the time to nourish the body and the mind. Move throughout the day as the body and mind feel “lighter” and more at ease.

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, kids 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. 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 to learn more.
*Go to to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.

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