You can see from the infrequency of my posts that I have been busy. Very busy. I’m studying for finals as I finish up year 1 of law school, AND I am busy training clients, teaching yoga, and managing a law firm. Phew, life can be exhausting! BUT I always make time for my practice. This is difficult because having very little time and/or having complete burn-out can really make you NOT want to get yoga (or any physical activity for that matter) in. But that is also when you need yoga the most. Here are a few pointers, really just 5 poses, for those days you just don’t think you can do anything, but really need to do something.
Step 1: PRANAYAMA- BREATHE!
It seems so simple, but yet we forget to do it. Find a comfortable seat, if you have tight hips, use a pillow, block or blankets so you can sit with a straight spine. Bring your hands to your knees and close your eyes. Let everything go. Forget about the past, the future and just focus on the present moment: your breath. Inhale slowly, deeply and fill the lungs up. Open the mouth and sigh it all out. It’s ok to make sound! Repeat as many times as you need to find your center and breathe in and out through the nose slow, long, and deep.
Forward Facing Hero Pose-Adho Mukha Virasana (you know it as child’s pose)
This posture is great for the spine, the nervous system, the shoulder girdle and the hips. Bring the feet to touch, knees out wide and sit your hips toward your heels. Walk your hands out in front of you and rest your head on the mat. Options for tighter individuals: roll a blanket under your knees and rest head on a blanket. I like to gently rock the head from side to side to massage the forehead and calm the mind. Are you still breathing? You should be! Breathe slow, long, and deep.
Backbend Over the Block
Most of us have very sedentary jobs and that means tight hips and rounded shoulders with kyphotic spines. To correct this travesty, backbend over the block is necessary! Grab a block and place it in between the shoulders in the upper Thoracic region of the spine. With straight legs pressing into the wall, slowly lower yourself down over the block on whichever level you like and relax the arms out like a T. If your head is uncomfortable, place a second block under the head, or a pillow/blanket, whatever is appropriate.
This is everyone’s favorite posture. It’s one of the ones that enables you to really let go and release. Start on hand and knees and take the right leg forward as you slide the left leg back. Your right leg is bent at whatever angle you need, usually the ankle is near left hip bone. The left leg is rotating internally towards the earth and the foot is in line with the hip bone. You are trying to get the hips even in space, so you have to send the left hip toward the earth while you drag the right hip back. If you are tight, stack blankets under the right hip. I like to place a block or blanket under the forehead so the neck can be in a neutral position. Stay as long as you like and then switch sides. To deepen, remove blankets and work the front foot more parallel to the top of the mat.
Viparita Karani – Legs Up the Wall
Everyone likes this pose too, unless you have really tight hamstrings, then you need to be further from the wall. I like to wrap the strap around the thigh so they can release. This pose is great for any anxiety and it helps put the ribcage into the ideal position for pranayama. If you do no other inversion, do this pose. Place a bolster or a few blankets folded into rectangles by the wall. Sit facing away from the wall and roll to your back while you bring the legs up the wall. You may have to adjust a bit to get the hips in line with the shoulders but starting sitting close to the wall will help you get really close to the wall. Close the eyes and find your breath.
That’s all. Do these and I promise you will feel better. You will feel restored and able to continue through that hectic schedule!