Happy Hump Day.
I am a little late with this post and I apologise to those who asked me to get this out last week. I have been finding it hard to make time to write over the last couple of weeks.
Today’s post is all about “yoga poses that can benefit you and can be done in a short amount of time”. I was asked by a few friends to put together a few very simple yoga poses that can be done at home that can help to get them started and get them into the habit of doing at least ten to fifteen minutes a day. I have realised that there is no hard and fast science to how long it takes to create a habit, only that once something is implemented into your lifestyle on a regular basis the more likely you are going to want to do it. If it is beneficial, relaxing and enjoyable then the habit will form quicker then other types of things you may have tried before. So I thought I would share with you a little of my personal journey of how I got into doing yoga and how a few poses a day gradually encouraged me into not only practicing daily for up to 2 hours but has given me new direction in my life and I am now looking forward to teaching classes and supporting others on their journey.
Last year while going through some very hard times with my health, I did some much needed soul searching. I had become so depressed that I questioned why I was living on this earth. Everyday was a battle from the second I woke up to the second I fell asleep. I was truly suffering with my health, physically, mentally and spiritually. After attending many doctors appointments, having multiple radiology scans and blood tests, taking different types of prescriptions, I was finally given some medication to “help” (key word) me get myself back on track.
During my soul searching, I found myself reading a lot (mainly to try and find out what was wrong with me) and learning how stress, anxiety, past tension/experiences can cause sicknesses in a persons body and it finally clicked… I have been sick my entire life, so many horrible things have happened to me, I have suppressed so much, no wonder I am going through all of this. I was told by multiple specialists and my physiotherapist that I needed to start building my muscles, strengthening my body and immune system and I was told by a counsellor that I needed to start releasing all my built up tension, hate, sadness and frustration. I knew I had to do something. I decided that I was going to go to yoga classes and acupuncture to start working through some of my muscular problems.
When I first attempted my morning yoga sessions, I was only doing it because I knew I had to. Every morning I forced myself to get up that 5 minutes earlier so I could do a few stretches… I would then go about my day still being in pain and not feeling or noticing any sort of results and this got me down a little… It was a good week or two before I actually started noticing any results and recognising the differences in my body. After around a months time I started going to proper classes and I enrolled in a level one teacher training course. I didn’t enrol because I wanted to teach yoga, or learn about yoga, I enrolled because I knew if I was spending money I would force myself to attend classes and I needed that kind of motivation. I am so glad I did.
I would definitely like to speak more about my journey with yoga and the amazing gratitude I have for allowing myself to grow and become a practicing yogi, but for now I would like to give some answers to the questions I have been asked and show you a few easy poses that you can do to help get you started in the comfort of your own home. This sequence I have is very simple and shouldn’t take you more then fifteen minutes to do (for those that don’t have much time in their day). If you have more time, then you can hold the poses longer which will be more beneficial for you in the long run.
Lay your mat down, if you don’t have one use a towel and start in Savasana (this is called corpse pose). While you are in that pose start to think about what it is that you want to get rid of, what it is that is causing you to be anxious or frustrated, what has you feeling lethargic and run down. Take some nice deep breaths and let that breath reach it’s way down into your stomach and chest and imagine that all this stagnant energy, this frustration, this anger, this tired and run down feeling is being captured by this breath and on the exhale you release every little tiny essence of it all out and let it all go. Do this a few times, breathing in deeper every time. Once you have done that go back to a normal relaxed breath and begin.
Bring your knees together and plant your feet on the ground, once planted let both legs open and drop to each side of the your body, place the base of each foot together and allow your arms to lay on the earth away from your body, relax. Hold this for awhile.
- Frees energy flow in your pelvic area.
- Stimulates your abdominal organs and improves mobility in digestive organs.
- Helps relieve the symptoms of stress, mild depression, PMS and menopause.
- Relaxes your mind and the central nervous system.
- Stretches your inner thigh and groin muscles.
- Gets rid of tension in your legs and lower back.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose or spinal lift)
Lie flat on the floor, if you have a sore neck place a towel or blanket underneath it for support. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Pressing your feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders. Always remember to breathe deeply and relax as much as possible. Lift your chin slightly towards your chest, firming the shoulder blades against your back. Hold for at least 1 minute and release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.
- Streches your chest, neck, spine and hips.
- Strengthens your back, buttocks, and hamstring muscles.
- Calms your brain and central nervous system which helps alleviate stress and mild depression.
- Massages abdominal organs and improves digestion.
- Stimulates the lungs and thyroid glands and helps relieve the symptoms of menopause.
- Reduces anxiety, backache, headach and insomnia.
Sit in Sukasana (sitting on your sit bones with legs crossed in front of you) raise your hands and put your left hand on your right knee as you twist with your back and neck behind you and the other on the floor holding your spine upright, hold for 1 minute and repeat for the other side.
- Stretches the spine, shoulders, and hips
- Massages the abdominal organs
- Relieves lower backache, neck pain, and sciatica
- Helps relieve stress
- Improves digestion
- Especially good in the second trimester of pregnancy for strengthening the lower back
Cat and Cow Pose:
Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.
As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest. As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straightforward. Exhale, coming back to neutral “tabletop” position on your hands and knees. Repeat at least four times.
- Stretches the front torso and neck
- Provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs
Bah-LAHS-anna (Child pose)
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Lay your torso down between your thighs, lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Lay your hands out in front of you or beside your body. Rest for as long as you like.
- Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue
- Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported
Gomukhasana (a variation of Cow face pose)
Sit on your legs with your knee’s folded and your heels underneath your buttocks. Stretch one arm to the roof while the other arm swings behind your back in-between your shoulder blades. Bring the arm that is stretched to the roof down towards the other and If possible, hook the right and left fingers together. Pull your hands together, firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the arm right near your head right beside it. Hold this for at least a minute and then change arms.
- Stretches the shoulders, armpits and triceps, and chest
AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna (Downward Facing Dog)
I struggle with this pose a lot. If I am not warmed up I can not straighten my legs and my back tends to curve. I decided to show you how I do it if I am struggling so you can see that even if you are unable to plant your feet on the ground you will still reap the benefits.
Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under. lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins. Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor if you can. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Energizes the body
- Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
- Strengthens the arms and legs
- Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported
- Improves digestion
- Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
Come up into a stand position after downward dog, (Tadasana) place your hands on your hips.
Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. Breathe and your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Stimulates the liver and kidneys
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
- Strengthens the thighs and knees
- Improves digestion
- Reduces fatigue and anxiety
- Relieves headaches
To finish bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso, press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up with a long front torso. Shake out your legs, arms and stretch your neck from side to side.
Always remember to breathe, when we calm our breath, we calm our mind. What a great way to start your day.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to know if this helped you at all and I encourage you to give it a go tomorrow.
Enjoy your week, until next time, Namaste.
For all sourced information and more visit this webpage (http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/491)