Try stand-up paddle yoga for adventure and to mix-up your workout and “work-in.” Build flexibility in the knees, hips and spine, while building strength in the feet and ankles in Hero Pose, Virasana. Practicing Hero Pose helps to keep the joints of the knees in good health. Place a towel under the buttocks, in order to help support the hips and knees or take Ardha Virasana, Half-Hero Pose, as a modification.
To move into Hero Pose: come to kneel on your board. Move to the middle of the board and find stability. Sink the hips in between the feet. Use a towel under the buttocks in order to raise the buttocks higher off of the board or if you find that the buttocks does not comfortably sit in-between the feet. Bring the tops of the feet downwards on the mat with all 5 toes touching. If the knees are not touching the ground, or if you feel discomfort in the knees, use a prop or towel under the buttocks.
Bring the palms to the thighs and take an inhale breath, and reach the crown of the head towards the ceiling, growing the spine taller. On an exhale breath, draw the shoulders blades flush to the back, creating more space and expansion in the area of the chest while drawing the low-belly inwards towards the spine.
Stay here for 3-5 full-rounds of breath (one inhale and one exhale, is considered one round of breath) or you can move deeper into the pose. Bring the forearms down to the ground behind you. Lengthen the tailbone towards the heels by gently lifting the hips and extending them towards the heels. Stay here and breathe. Notice if the knees lift off of the ground after coming to the forearms. If the knees lift, this is an indication that you have moved too deeply into the pose. Come back to the seated variation, upright with the torso or try Ardha Supta Virasana, Half-Reclining Hero Pose, with one leg extended on the ground and one leg bent.
If the knees stay rooted down towards the ground, stay on the forearms and focus on the breath. Create a smooth and rhythmic breath, for 3-5 rounds of breath or option to come all the way down to the back.
Take precaution if coming all the way down to the back. Notice if the knees lift off of the ground or if the knees want to splay out to the sides, wider than hips. This could be injurious to the knees, hips and low-back. Move into the deepest version of the pose, Supta Virasana, if the buttocks can easily rest on the ground without a prop, and if the knees can stay in proper alignment, grounded on the ground and in-line with the hips.
If you come all the way down to the back, into Supta Virasana, Reclined Hero Pose, shimmy the shoulder blades underneath you in order to create more expansion in the area of the chest. Draw the chin away from the chest in order to lengthen more through the back of the neck. Slightly lift the hips and lengthen the tailbone towards the heels. Gently place the buttocks and hips back down. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine in order to lessen the “arching” in the low-back.
Stay here and breathe. Option to bring the hands over the head, clasping the pinkies around opposite elbows. Notice the gaze, the breath and the rocking of the board on the water. Find a drishti gaze, or focused point of attention on a non-moving object, and refine the breath by focusing on each inhale and exhale, creating a rhythmic and even breath.
To come out of the pose: slowly come back up to sitting, one step at a time. If reclined on the back, lead with the chest rather than the head, and come back to the forearms and then up to a seated position.
As a counter-stretch after Hero Pose, come down to a table-top position, on the hands and knees. Gaze down, in order to extend the back of the neck. Extend one leg at a time behind you, resting the toes on the ground. Allow the blood to flow freely back into the joints and notice how you feel. Yoga allows us to slow-down and focus on the minute details of the breath. It also allows us to practice being “present”, bringing us peace in between our thoughts, while bringing integrity and alignment into the pose.
Take in the surroundings of practicing yoga outdoors on a stand-up paddle board. Feel the breeze on the face, notice the gentle rocking of the water, and take-in the sky above you to allow you to be fully present in the moment.
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. Visit http://www.inrhythmsyoga.com/ for schedule.
*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.
*Join us for a Special Full, Restorative Blue Moon class on Friday, July 31st, 5:30-6:45 pm.