Rest Stop Yoga Lesson II

The journey's not over. You pull over at yet another rest stop.  Walk around, use the loo, and then take a short yoga break. Here are some simple poses to ease travel weary bones:Seated Twist
Seated Pigeon
Bench Lunge
Bench Spinning Lunge

Seated Twist:  Turn around and sit on the bench. Sit forward so that your spine is upright over your pelvis.  Take your left hand to your outer right knee and your right hand to the bench seat behind you.  Twist your spine from your tail bone to the base of your skull. Breath deeply and lengthen up into the twist.   You'll want to stay very vertical as you twist and breath.  Repeat 2 to 3 times each side.

Seated Pigeon:  After the twists, return to center.  Bring one ankle to the opposite shin.  Sit up nice and tall and allow the knee of the lifted leg to drop down toward the earth.  Keeping your spine long, hinge at your hips to bring your chest closer to your lifted shin.  Rest here for up to 2 minutes and then change sides.  This is a great relief for low back pain and sciatica.

Bench Lunge:  Stand up again and turn to face the bench.  Bring the sole of one foot onto the bench and keep one foot on the floor.  Lunge forward, always keeping your knee over your ankle.  If you need a deeper stretch hop the back foot farther from the bench.  Press the back ankle toward the floor and bend the back knee as you like to deepen the stretch in the front of the back hip.  Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Bench Spinning Lunge: Reach one arm across your body and take your elbow or forearm to the outside of the lifted knee.  Turn your chest over the lifted knee and reach your free hand behind you. Breath deep into your hips to stretch the hip rotators.

Find a pole or the corner between two walls. Reach one hand straight up and back to hold onto the wall or pole.   Pivot your body away from the lifted arm to stretch through your upper chest.   You can walk your hand up and down the pole to change the position of the stretch within the fan of the pectoral muscle.  Take a deep full breath while your here.

Finally, talk a walk, keep breathing, drink lots of water.  Enjoy the journey as much as the destination!

Rest Stop Yoga Lesson I

You've been driving for hours, or you've just got off the plane, or your still trapped on the train. Here is a sequence to relieve your back and your spirit:
Bench Cat/Cow
Bench Dog
Bench Flying Cat
Seated Twist

Bench Cat/Cow:  Stand about 1 foot in front of a bench seat, bend at your waist and bring your hands onto the bench. You'll want to find a position where your feet are directly under your hips and your hands are directly under your shoulders. Begin in neutral spine and wag your tail right and left to stretch the sides of your low back. Return to neutral.

On your exhale arch your spine upwards toward the sky,

 On your inhale lift your tail bone, your heart and your gaze as you arch your spine toward the earth. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged all the while. Move back and forth from Bench Cow to Bench Cat 10 to 20 times cycling with your breath.

Bench Dog:  Take a step back, lift your sitting bones and bring your head down into the space between your arms for bench dog. Stretch way back through the armpits and the spine. Keep your knees soft so your low back can release. Try wagging your tail again. Breath deeply.

 Bench Flying Cat:  On an inhale step forward again so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists.  On your inhale lift opposite arm and leg while keeping a very steady center.  Hold for 3 breath cycles and then switch sides.  Repeat 3 to 10 times each side.


Why Yoga?

First and foremost, because I feel better when I practice yoga.

Anxiety, depression and bipolar spectrum disorder are common afflictions in my family of origin. As I raise my children, I am treated to the pleasure watching these struggles arise in the next generation. And as I have watched my children, I learn more about myself.

I have structured my life to support my mental health. Through the years, I have learned that to maintain good mental health, I must also maintain good physical health. The body and the mind are not separate entities, but a single functional unit. I have learned that vibrant health is the basis for a vibrant and happy life.

Yoga is the best medicine and most efficient path to vibrant health. I move, stretch, and strengthen my body through its full range of possibility. I exercise with as much presence as I can muster, and I follow the practice with meditation and stillness. I challenge myself toward practices that seem unattainable and marvel when I master something new. My anxieties are lessened and I am able to face my struggles with poise. I am able to do things that seem impossible when I am not practicing yoga.

I saw a yoga student at a social event yesterday. We talked about these issues and how yoga made us feel. She said, "when I do my 30 minute yoga practice every morning, I just feel better." That's it. We feel better. We rise to our days with grace and joy.

Yoga is a daily tune up for the self. It keeps our spirits and our bodies running at their highest potential. It feels good to take this medicine. It is a pleasurable cure for what ails us.

Come along, give it a try. If you want to experience true change in yourself, practice regularly. Take a couple classes each week and work toward a daily practice of your own. Half an hour a day will make profound differences in how you feel for the other twenty three and a half hours of your day.