When you go to yoga practice, you may have a specific reason such as relieving back pain or calming an anxious mood. To broaden your view, a few hours after your practice, take a few deep breaths, observe and see what else happened this time…
Take a yoga practice break and catch your breath. After relaxing for a while, you’ll find that you’re getting a second wind. By the end of your yoga practice, you feel like a breath of fresh air! See how useful the breath is? And this is only the beginning...
Try these simple stretches at your work area…a great way to include yoga’s teaching in your daily life. Do each move 4-6 times and remember to breathe deeply.
Neck stretches (either seated or standing): inhaling and lengthening upward with your head and neck and then exhaling, dropping your chin toward your chest.
Shoulder rolls: sitting with your feet on the floor and your spine lengthened, make circles with your shoulders, first toward the front, then toward the back.
Chest opening: seated nearer the front edge of your chair with your spine lengthened, reach your arms around and behind you, like you’re reaching for a large ball that is behind you, opening through the rib cage area.
Seated twist: again, seated nearer the front edge of your chair with your spine lengthened, turn toward the left, twisting at the waist. Repeat, twisting toward the right.
Finally, stand up and reach for the ceiling with both arms, stretching through each side.
In traversing a world where instant results appear available, yoga teaches us otherwise. It works to improve our lives in a holistic manner, a little at a time. That’s why it’s important to make your practice a regular part of your week (and your life, kind of like brushing your teeth). By lowering stress, improving our immunity system (and our posture), relaxing built-up muscle tension and lifting our mood, sometimes the body is able to correct many issues on its own. Hmmmm….
Get comfortable in your chair, sitting with your back straight and your hands resting on your lap. Slightly lift your chest area and relax your shoulders back and down; draw in a slow deep breath through your nose, and as you exhale (also through the nose), allow your chin to drop toward your chest, lengthening through the back of your neck and releasing through the shoulders. Do this about 4-6 more times, lifting the head to neutral as you inhale, and slowly dropping the chin toward the chest and relaxing the shoulders as you exhale.
Now, return to what you were doing, enjoying the feeling of a lot less stress in your neck and shoulder areas.
Posture Tip: Mountain (in Sanskrit it's called Tadasana) pose forms the foundation for all of our standing poses. It teaches us how to stand on our own two feet, balancing our weight evenly throughout the entire foot. Then we can begin to experience the feeling of stacking our joints over this strong foundation: the knees over the ankles, a neutral pelvic region over the knees; shoulders back and down, i.e. a lifted sternum while allowing the shoulder blades to draw down against the back ribs; and finally balancing the head evenly over the shoulders. Work on this posture at every class – it’s also a great posture to explore when developing your own home practice.
Yoga Sutra I.33
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
Swami Satchidananda says that whether we’re interested in continuing with yoga or not, he advises us to remember at least this one Sutra (thread of knowledge). He says that it will be very helpful to us in keeping a peaceful mind in our daily lives. It’s worth a try…
Posture tip: Bound Angle pose (in Sanskrit it’s called Baddha Konasana) can really help to open your hips and relieve lower back tension after sitting on desk chairs for a half a day or so (hint hint).
Bound Angle pose is where we are seated on the floor with the soles of the feet together, knees open and our hands are grasping (binding) the feet. By lengthening the spine upward, the upper arms, shoulders and back form a connection that links the hands and the feet and allows you to deepen your pose and release even further.
“It’s important to take time to examine and understand what your yoga practice is all about”, says Judith Hanson Lasater in Hot Buddha, Cold Buddha, (www.yoga Journal.com/wisdom). She asks…”Is it about stretching my hamstrings or about transforming my life? Do I use my practice to have a healthier, more attractive body, or to develop the awareness necessary so that my thoughts no longer run my life? Maybe you want both…having a healthy body is not an unworthy goal.” She urges us that it’s important that we become as clear as possible, perhaps even being able to write down what we want from our yoga practice. Exploring this practice helps to lessen our resistance to attending class on a regular basis (or achieving any goal). Do take a peek at the full article at www.yogajournal.com/wisdom and search for Hot Buddha, Cold Buddha.
As your physical practice develops, it’s interesting to begin to explore the more psychological side of yoga; look for translations of The Yoga Sutras of Patajanli. I frequently refer to my copy by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Enjoy!
A Yen for Yoga
Yoga strengthens the mind and body, but sometimes the stress of daily life challenges our momentum. We hope this page inspires you and keeps you moving!