Tis the season to be jolly.
As this carol lyric reminds, the winter holiday centring around the Solstice is a time for counting our blessings with glad tidings. In order to fully experience happiness, our heart needs to be unencumbered and open. An open heart, which necessitates a lifted spacious rib cage, energizes our daily experiences, stimulates digestion, strengthens our spine and expands our breathing chamber so we can inhale and exhale deeply.
Of course, when we are able to increase our breath and energy capacity, we see and feel the healing and transformation throughout all aspects of our mind-body-spirit relations. Backbends, whether beginner or more advanced, are agents of change. Just imagine if everyone in the world could do Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose), which is illustrated above. The heartfelt gladness, joyful laughter and outpouring of love would end war. If that is a gift you would like to offer to the world, then try out the next several weeks of backbend sequences. Notice how these heart-opening practices improve your mood, mobility and mightiness.
As always, beginning any yoga practice with a few minutes of seated contemplation helps to centre you deeper into your body and inner experience. Sit quietly in Virasana ( or another seated pose you enJOY) and practice the following yoga action. Continue to work with these yoga actions in each pose that follows.
1. Draw the front hip bones toward each other.
2. Nutate the top of the sacrum — release it forward into the core of the body. Note how the tailbone shifts away from the core.
3. If you wish, include the Rectus Abdominis action from the inversion sequences.
NOTE: These actions create the conditions for the Mula Bandha (pelvic floor energy lock) to activate — the toning and lifting of the pelvic floor muscles.
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Down Dog) 10 – 20 Breaths
SIRSASANA (Head Stand) 20 Bs
SALABHASANA (Locust) 5 – 10 Bs
1. Pubic bone grounded to mat; toes flexed; fingers pressing into floor
2. Lift arms & thighs off mat
DHANURASANA (Bow) 3 Repetitions @ 3 – 5 Bs
– Inhale to lengthen spine; Exhale to lift into pose
SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (Shoulderstand) 40 Bs
UPAVISTHA KONASANA (Seated Wide-leg Forward Fold)
SAVASANA (Corpse) 5 – 10 minutes
– weights or sandbags across both wrists
May your open heart joyfully embrace each present moment as it emerges. Namaste.