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8:33 pm

Daily Dozen: Part III

      Here are the final exercises of the daily dozen. These are the primary moves that I believe we should all have in our tool bag. You can practice these daily. You'll feel better. The goal of yoga is to reduce suffering. This simple movement practice works toward that end. Scroll down a couple posts to find the first two installments of this practice.

Roll Up

  • Lying on the floor with your knees bent and your arms reaching upward toward the ceiling.  Press your belly toward the floor until you feel your low back on the earth. Then use your abdominal muscles to lift your head, and then your shoulders and then ribs from the floor. It is as if you could peel the spine vertebra by vertebra from the earth.  The more slowly you move, the more quickly you will gain strength.
  • As a beginner your knees will stay bent and you will peel yourself just about ¼ of the way to sitting. As you gain strength you will eventually find yourself rolling all the way up to a full seated position.  Then you can begin working with your legs extended on the floor.
  • Avoid using momentum to throw the body up from the floor.  Keep it slow and controlled.
  • 3 to 15 repetitions.  Bring your knees into your belly and give them a hug when you’re done.

Seated Twist

  • Come into a comfortable seated pose, legs extended, cross legged, or soles of the feet together.  Bring your hands to prayer hand position in front of your chest.  Sit up very tall, use a folded blanket or other support under your pelvis if sitting upright is difficult.  Use your abdominal muscles to feel yourself grow taller, lifting your rib cage away from the floor.
  • Keep your eyes, your palms and your sternum in the same vertical plane as you twist your rib cage right and left over your pelvis. Keep the pelvis steadfast and immobile.  You can check for the steadiness of your pelvis by noticing that your feet are not moving.  The range of motion isn't large, this is the spine of your torso twisting, not your shoulders sliding or neck rotating.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 twists side to side.

Bridge

  • Come to lying on the floor with your knees bent, the soles of your feet, your pelvis, your shoulders and your head on the floor.  Take a few long breaths here before you begin to move.
  • Press your low back to the floor and feel your tail bone lift, then rock your tail bone toward the floor and feel your low back rise.  Pelvic tilt back and forth like this 5 to 10 times.
  • Then when the low back presses into the earth, lift your tail bone, then your pelvis, then one vertebra at a time from the floor.  You may just come up a few vertebra so that your rib cage stays on the floor, or you may lift high enough that you weight is on your shoulder blades and feet.  Then reverse the motion and slowly drop one vertebra at a time back to the floor.
  • Repeat this fluid lifting and lowering 3 to 5 times.  If you like you can hold yourself in your lifted position for up to 5 breaths.
  • When you are finished, rest on the floor, bring your knees into your belly and give then a hug. You can rock side to side here to massage and relax your back.

Corpse’s Pose: Savasana

  • This is the most important and most difficult posture.  Do not skip it.  Take this important time to relax, meditate, and allow the body and the mind to receive the benefits of your practice.
  • Come into a supine posture, lying on the floor facing the ceiling.  You might need to put on some clothing to stay warm.  You might place a small pillow under your head or a rolled blanket under you knees.  Make sure that you are very comfortable.
  • Relax. Fall deeply into your breath.  Fall deeply into the floor.  Allow yourself to completely unwind.  Allow your body to receive the efforts of your practice. This time of rest and integration is essential for the nervous system to learn and build on what you have done.
  • Rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes.  Longer if you like.

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12:39 pm

Meditation in Action

The world is tumultuous. Uncertainty is high. It is easy to get swept into compulsively watching the news. I've been forwarded treatises on what to eat to avoid radiation poisoning, how to prepare for mass evacuation or what to do if you choose to 'hunker down' instead. Uncertainty is always present, but we are usually able to ignore it. When a large earthquake occurs the uncertainty and risks of life come to the forefront of our minds.  In our hyper-connected world, we can easily be swept up in the hysteria of the moment. Take a deep breath. Your breath is your most direct route to finding your own truth in the midst of the storms of life, whether they be global or personal events. Invite your mind to observe your body. Your body holds wisdom that your mind struggles to find. Feel your breath flow in and out. Feel your heart beat. Just observing your breath will illicit a relaxation reflex in your body. Your heart beat will slow and your adrenal response calm.  You will feel calmer. We exist in a collective consciousness.  Our thoughts and actions affect the whole. As you choose to breath and act from your calm center, you influence those around you.  The world becomes calmer. This is meditation in action. You've been practicing meditation in yoga classes, even if you didn't realize it. The practice of moving with awareness is meditation. Bring that meditation into your life now. It is always there for you, and for us. I will be teaching a Yogic-based Meditation series, Sundays, March 27 to May 5, 9:00-9:45am, $72. Register Here. Namaste, Lisa

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6:49 pm

The Daily Dozen Part II: A Yoga/Pilates Mix for Basic Self-Care

    Here is part 2 of the daily dozen, add them to your routine to feel better overall.  :)  FYI, I'm not an artist.  I want my stick figures to have neutral spines, that means wiggles.  Don't emphasize your wiggles, just keep searching for neutral.  One good cue I learned for neutral is:  where are you the tallest?  A little tilt forward of the low back, a little arch back in the upper back, a nice forward arch to the neck.   Feel tall around this.

    Dog Pose

  • From child’s pose extend your arms in front of you again, as you did before you came to plank.  Then rock forward, tuck your toes, and lift your sitting bones up and back.  Your heels may float above the floor, your knees may stay bent.  You’re looking to feel ease in your low back and equal weight in all 4 limbs.
  • If your wrists or shoulder’s cannot bear the weight, keep your knees on the floor for dog pose or use a chair seat or table top under your hands to keep your upper body lifted..
  • Hold dog pose for 3 to 10 breaths.  Wiggle as much as you need to.
  • When you are finished step forward to your hands and rest in a standing forward bend, then slowly roll the spine up to standing.

    Tree Pose

  • In an easy standing posture balance your weight and feel like you are sinking roots into the earth through your feet.  Then bring the sole of your right foot to the inner surface of your left leg, anywhere between the ankle and upper thigh.  Your right knee will bent and turned out 45 to 60 degrees.
~        If your foot is resting on your knee, keep the pressure very light.  You do not want to place lateral force on the knee. ~        If your foot is on your inner thigh you can press the thigh and foot together firmly to hold the foot in place.
  • You can join your hands together in front of your heart in prayer hands, or reach the arms directly out from your shoulders, or extend them overhead.
  • Keep feeling rooted through your feet as you feel yourself extend through your spine for the sky.
  • Hold for 3 to 10 breaths and then change sides.

    Powerful Pose aka ½ Squat

  • Return to standing and reach your arms either directly forward or upward into the space over your head.  Use your abdominal muscles to feel like you are lifting your ribs away from your pelvis.  Then bend your knees and reach your sitting bones back as if you were coming to sit on a high stool.
  • Take your gaze to your fingertips and keep the upward engagement of your belly muscles the whole time.
  • Hold for 3 to 10 breaths.

    Shutters

  • Return to standing and bring your arms like goal posts beside your head.  Bend the knees just a little and lift the belly muscles strongly.
  • Now draw the elbows toward one another, turning the palms toward your face, and working to bring the wrists and elbows together all at once.  Open and close your arms 5 to 10 times.
  • As you get stronger you can use light weights (1 to 2 lbs) in your hands with this exercise.
  • After shutters you can return to Child’s Pose or Dog’s Pose and rest for a few breaths.

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6:39 pm

The Daily Dozen Part I: A Yoga/Pilates Mix for Basic Self-Care

I've put together a dozen exercises that you can do daily. These are basic self care exercises.  I'll post it in parts, so to begin:

Child’s Pose

  • Begin by stretching your low back in child’s pose.  To find child’s pose you begin seated on your heals with you knees slightly wider than your hips and bending forward to rest your forehead on the floor, your hands or a yoga block.  If your knees don’t fully fold, sit on a pillow or a folded blanket between your heals and your buttocks.
  • Emphasize moving your breath into the back of your body, particularly into the space between your pelvis and your rib cage.
  • Stay in Child’s Pose for 10 to 20 breaths and take the time to check in deeply with your body.  This is a resting posture.  It should feel like home.  You can come back to this posture between other poses as often as you like.
  • Opposite Arm and Leg Reach

  • From Child’s pose come up to hands and knees, with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.  Imagine your back is a table top, steady and strong. You belly can lift toward your low back to keep your abdominal organs tucked neatly into your torso.
~        If your wrists are unhappy with this position, you can use fists instead of flat hands or place yoga blocks under your wrists to lift you upper body and reduce the weight load on your arms.
  • Extend your right arm directly forward and your left leg directly back.  Keep your back level, abs strong and avoid turning out your left leg into outward rotation.  Hold for a breath and then change sides.
  • As a beginner move side-to-side at the pace of a slow crawl,  as your strength increases hold the reach for up to 5 breaths before changing sides.  Continue the exercise for 1 to 2 minutes whichever variation you are working with.
  • Take a break in Child’s Pose when you are through.

    Plank

  • From Child’s Pose extend your arms full alongside your ears and press the full circumference of your hands on the floor.  Then rock your body forward so your shoulders are again above your wrists. Your body should now be in a plank, rather than a table top position.  As a beginner keep your knees on the floor, as gain strength lift your knees and come into full plank.
~        If knees on the floor is still too weight bearing on your wrists, practice plank with your hands on a table top, window ledge, or chair seat. ~        Always keep your abdominal muscles strongly engage in plank.  It should feel like you are lifting your organs away from the floor and toward your low back.
  • Hold plank for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • You can increase the challenge by dropping halfway to the floor and keeping your elbows hugging close to your sides while you hold the posture.
  • Locust Pose/Superman
  • From plank come to rest lying on your belly on the floor.  Stack your hands on top of one another and rest your forehead on your hands.  Imagine super gluing the hands to each other and to the forehead. Once again lift your abdominal muscles
  • Now, lift your head, arms, neck and upper chest from the floor as a single package.  Imagine shining your  heart a little forward as you lift.  The arching is from the heart, not from the neck.
  • Lift and lower in time with your breath for 5 to 10 repetitions.
  • As you get stronger you can do the same move with the arms extended laterally from your shoulders and eventually reaching the arms alongside your ears as you lift.
  • Rest in Child’s Pose when you are through.

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