In this post I have presented a beautiful vinyasa sequence that I taught in my classes this week. This represents for me the essence of one’s yoga practice, to be completely immersed in the breath, the link between the mind and body.
Enjoy, feel the beautiful breath guiding you, stilling the mind.
Lie in Shavasana (flat on your back, complete relaxation)
- Bring your attention to your breath, breathing in and breathing out. On your next exhalation apply mula bhanda (squeeze the perinium,contract the pelvic floor drawing your navel gently inwards) while drawing your left knee towards your belly. Interlace your hands over your shin bone just below the knee as you draw your thigh into your chest. Let it rest just a little to the side, leaving space for the full expansion of the breath.
- Lengthen your right leg along the floor activating the knee by pointing the toes upwards, pressing the underside of the knee into the floor.
- As you inhale gently allow the left knee to move away from the chest and as you exhale gently press the knee into the chest. Feel the movements arising from the breath, the movements will be small. Feel the gentle undulation of the spine on the floor beneath you, like a gentle swell in the deepest ocean. Relax your shoulders, soften you facial muscles, breathe.
Repeat on the opposite side.
This asana helps in removing the gases accumulated in the digestive tract. It is good for relieving pain in the back or abdomen. It improves the functioning of liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and pancreas. Helps to tone the abdomen and develops elasticity in the diaphragm.
- Continuing from Pavanmuktasana begin to extend your right foot towards the ceiling clasping your hands around the right leg where ever you can easily hold. Simultaneously lengthen the left leg along the floor, stretching the toes to the ceiling as you press the heel and underside of your knee to the floor.
- Draw your chin gently in towards your chest as you lengthen the back of the neck, then gently retract the neck so the chin moves towards the throat (Jalandhara bhanda) Apply mula bhanda (as above).
- Extend the heel of the right foot upwards towards the ceiling as you stretch the toes to the crown of your head; broaden the shoulder blades across your back.
- Widen the collarbones away from the sternum as you keep the chest open. As you inhale feel the opening through your body and as you exhale continue to lengthen and deepen the stretch in the right leg. Breathe.
The upper body releases and abdomen relaxes, improves digestion. Stimulates prostate gland. Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves while strengthening the knees. Relieves backache, sciatica, and menstrual discomfort. Bringing calm to the body and mind.
To modify the pose for high blood pressure or a stiff neck, use a folded blanket under the head and neck.
Cautions and Contraindications:
Do not do the following poses if you have a back injury, sensitivity in your lower back or have a headache. Don’t do the pose with carpal tunnel syndrome or sore wrists. Avoid the pose in pregnancy.
- This is a continuation of the pose. Grasp the inside of the right foot with your right hand. If the hand does not yet reach the foot than loop a strap or theraband around the foot and hold onto the strap with the right hand as close to the right foot as possible.
- On your next exhalation lower your raised right leg down to or towards the floor aligned with the right shoulder. Keep the leg extended and avoid bending the knee throughout.
- As you descend the right leg towards the floor, roll the left hip to the left (you may like to place your left hand on your left hip) to reduce the tendency to raise the left buttock and hip. Some people can bring the leg to the floor while others won’t. Some will have the foot aligned with the shoulder while others will be aligned with a spot closer to the hips. Wherever you come now, this is the place you need to be. Your body will continue to open and lengthen with practice.
- The awareness is with keeping the legs extended and a flat pelvis. Maintain your toe hold or strap hold with your right hand. The left leg should be maintained fully extended on the floor with the left toes pointing towards the sky throughout. Breathe consciously through this stretch.
- Inhale, exhale apply mula bhanda. Keeping the extension of your right leg slowly raise it up again to point towards the ceiling.
Stretches the hamstrings and hips. Helps relieve lower back pain and sciatica. The thighs, groin and claves are stretched as the knees strengthen. Increases blood flow in the legs and hips. Nerves are toned by the increased circulation. Relieves stiff hips and provides relief for woman who experience menstrual discomfort.
4. Supta Padangusthasana variation
- Now place your left hand on the inside of your right leg as you extend your right arm out at shoulder height.
- Inhale, as you begin to exhale apply mula bhanda and release your right leg over your body. Gently turn your head towards the right. Breath into this stretch, feeling the opening through the entire torso. Again, for some of us the leg may not initially extend to the floor, this is fine, wherever you are, simply breathe into where you feel the stretch.
- Feel the beautiful opening through the length and breadth of the torso. Anchor your right shoulder to the floor. Enjoy the body unfolding.
Helps to stretch the calf and hamstring muscles. Alleviates lower back pain. Opens the chest, stimulates the breath as it opens through the intercostals. Strengthens the diaphragm. Deeply relaxing.
1. From previous position inhale, exhale; apply mula bhanda as you simultaneously return the right leg over your midline. Keep the right leg extending as you slowly raise it up again to point towards the ceiling. Breath through this stretch for several breathes.
2. Now apply (Jalandhara bhanda) by drawing your chin gently in towards your chest as you lengthen the back of the neck, then gently retract the neck so the chin moves towards the throat. Bend your elbows to keep the neck and shoulders soft, keep the belly toned, draw the navel deep into your spine, and breathe. Anchor your right leg to the floor by extending the toes of the right foot towards the ceiling as you extend your heel away from your body.
3. In this asana the leg is drawn towards the head not the head to the leg. Close your eyes, and feel into where the body wants to open, keep releasing the tension from the upper body as you soften into the asana.
4. When you are ready to come out of this pose, apply mula bhanda and slowly release out of the asana allowing the right leg to softly return to the floor.
5. Repeat all of the Supta Padangusthasana variations now on the opposite leg.
Strong lengthening through the thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves while strengthening the knees. Relieves backache, sciatica. Opens through the hips. Tones the abdomen and increases elasticity of diaphragm. Regenerates nerves and enhances circulation throughout the body.
6. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana One legged pigeon pose Preparatory pose
- Roll over onto hands and knees and slide your left knee forward until it rests between your hands. Now tuck the toes under of the back foot and ‘walk your right leg back as far as you can. Ideally until the left heel is resting in the groin. Release the top of the foot to the floor. Anchor down firmly through the wrists, keeping the inside of the elbow forward facing. Lengthen the neck as you gaze softly towards the floor.
- Hold this position and bring your awareness to the breath, let go of any tension you may be holding onto in the buttocks and hips, let gravity release downwards.
- If you can hold this asana easily, now descend to rest your elbows and forearms on the floor in the same position as your hands. Ensure you keep your weight aligned over the center. Let your forehead rest on the floor and soften into the asana just as a young child can sleep in any position, totally relaxed.
- Breathe into any area in the body where you feel tightness.
- To come out of this position place your hands down firmly grasping the mat with your finger tips and lengthen upwards to first position. Rest here for a moment before transitioning to the opposite side.
Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck. Stimulates the abdominal organs. Opens the shoulders and chest. Faciliatates deeper breathing, and opens the heart.
1. Lying on your back let the arms and legs release openly, with the arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body. Make sure you are warm and comfortable, if you need to place folded blankets or cushions under your knees to relieve any discomfort.
2. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the breath. Allow your whole body to become soft and heavy, letting it relax into the floor. As the body relaxes, feel the whole body rising and falling with each breath. A gentle wave of movement.
3. Scan the body from the toes to the fingers to the crown of the head, looking for tension, tightness and contracted muscles. Consciously release and relax any areas that you find.
4. Release all control of the breath, the mind, and the body. Let your body move deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation.
5. Stay in Shavasana for 5 to 10 minutes.
To release: slowly deepen the breath, wiggle the fingers and toes, reach the arms over your head and stretch the whole body, inhale, exhale bend the knees into the chest and roll over to one side coming into a fetal position. When you are ready, slowly inhale up to a seated position.
- Shavasana is essential to practice at the end of every yoga practice. It rejuvenates the body, removing fatigue and soothes the mind. It helps to alleviate nervous tension and enhances recovery from illnesses.
© Copyright 2010 Megan Ward