Thursday, August 13, 2015

In Rhythms Yoga: Reverse Warrior

When moving into Reverse Warrior, Viparita Virabhadrasana, we often start in Warrior II and transition with our breath into the reverse variation. Be mindful of the breath and the physical body in space.

To move into Reverse Warrior, Viparita Virabhadrasana, start in Downward Facing Dog.

To move into Downward Facing Dog: Start in a table-top position on the hands and knees. On an exhale, begin to straighten the knees and extend the hips and tailbone up and back. Shift the weight towards the legs and feel the shoulders and chest open and expand. The hands stay planted at shoulder-width distance and the feet stay spread open hip-width distance.

Relax the head and neck. Option to gently shake the head yes and no to completely release tension. Keep breathing long and smooth. Option to take a little movement by peddling the feet and shifting the hips from side-to-side. Find stillness and engage the quadriceps (front-side of the thighs) and allow time for the hamstrings (back-sides of the thighs) to open. Integrate the shoulder blades onto the back and notice the length in the spine. Stay here for 3-5 full-rounds of breath, one inhale and one exhale equates to one-round of breath.

From Downward Facing Dog, on an inhale breath, lift the right foot high. Lift from the inner right thigh. On an exhale, draw the right knee into the chest. Stay there and press the palms into the ground while rounding the spine. Draw the low-belly inward, towards the spine. Drop the right foot in between the feet. Align the right knee over the ankle. If the knee extends out past the ankle, walk the feet wider apart. Spin the back foot flat to 90 degrees. On an inhale, windmill the arms up over the head and come to standing. Bring the arms open like wings.

Notice the feet. In order to find proper alignment, draw an imaginary line from the front foot and in-line with the arch of the back foot. Bend the front knee. Keep the back leg firm and straight. Notice the front leg has external rotation (the inner thigh is spiraling outward) and the back leg has an internal rotation (the outward thigh is spiraling inward).

Press both feet down into the ground and lift the inner arches. Draw the tailbone downward and the low-belly inward towards the spine. Draw the shoulder-blades down the back and actively reach the arms away from the mid-line of the body. Relax the face and jaws. Gaze over the right middle finger. Find the balance of ease and effort in each breath and in every movement. Stay for 3-5 full round of breath.

To move into Reverse Warrior from Warrior II: Flip the front palm up towards the ceiling. While keeping the lunge and keep the bottom-half of the body the same. Bring the left arm down, resting on the back leg and lift the front arm up, towards the ceiling. Notice the front knee, often times it shifts inwards. Guide the knee back over the front ankle and bend it a little deeper, but not past a 90 degree angle with the hip, knee and ankle.

Keep the back leg straight and strong and press into the knife edge of the back foot to help stabilize the posture. Reach out of the right hip crease and out through the fingers. Create length on both sides of the torso, rather than “crunching” into the left side of the torso. Look up at the fingertips reaching towards the ceiling, being mindful of the neck.

Repeat the same instructions on the opposite side to bring balance in the body and in the mind.

In yoga, we learn to focus on being present in the moment, even during the transitions in life. It is during transitions that we find our mind drifting, as we our driving and pass the exit we were supposed to get off at, and when we are sitting with a friend visiting, while we plan tomorrow’s agenda in our minds. Similar challenges come up while practicing asana, or the physical postures of yoga. Our minds begins to drift, and we lose focus on the breath. We may get lost in class or even cause injury to ourselves during these moments.

Keeping the body injury free and in order to get the most out of your practice, bring your attention to the breath when the postures become more challenging and when the mind starts to drift away. Move in slow motion as if you are moving through honey or in the middle of a slow dance, while following the breath. Move with grace and mindfulness.

Be aware, focus on the transitions as much as the postures themselves. Become more “in tune” with the rhythms and the cadence of the movements. You may notice that there is a rhythm in everything that we do, and we can move more with ease and less effort when we are conscious of the subtle energies of the body and mind. You may even find that there is an orchestra playing all around us, at each and every moment of the day.

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” -B.K.S. Iyengar

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.

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