The pelvic floor supports us in body and experience. Chronically held tension in this part of the body may cuase muscles to become weak over time so it is important to learn to both contract and relax the pelvic floor.
Sit in Baddha Konasana. On inhale imagine the breath moving downward from the throat to the perineum like an elevator car. Exhale and imagine the breath moving up from the perineum to the throat. After a few minutes of this practice, add in a gentle contraction of the lowest abdominal muscles right above the public bone. and feel the entire pelvic floor lift in response to this abdominal contraction.
Touch tips of thumb, middle and ring fingers together, extend index and little fingers; rest back of hands on thighs.
Benefits: Eliminates toxins from the body, creates a sense of calm
Practice Tips: Use when you need to feel safe and tranquil
Contraindications: Low blood pressure
Practice for the Pelvic Floor
- Elevator Breath
- Legs apart & together with strap across feet
- Half Happy Baby
- Spider Walking (hold one leg in Half Happy Baby, other leg straight out, alternate sides)
- Gomukhasana legs with pelvis on blanket
- Windshield Wipers
- Bridge Series (up and down three times, then hold first with hips width feet, then toes turned out, then wide feet toes turned out)
- Swimmer Series (Talasana, Swimmer, Utkatasana, Parvrita Utkatasana to R, Utkatasana, Parvrita Utkatasana to L, Utkatasana, Swimmer, Talasana, Tadasana)
- Prasarita Padottanasana
- Side Lunges
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Childs Pose
- Grounding Cord Meditation
- Instant Maui (back flat on floor, legs in chair)
This week we focus on the knees which are involved in almost all of our movements. They support the weight of the upper body and give movement to the the body below. They are hinge joints which should only move in two directions, flexion (bent) and extension (straight). Many injuries can ensue when the knees are strained or twisted. This week we will learn ways to strengthen and align the knees which will affect the alignment in the hips and spine above, and in the ankles and feet below.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Begin in Tadasana. Bend both knees and lower pelvis, grounding thighs. Inhale arms either parallel to floor or overhead and lean torso forward from hips. Hold 5-10 breaths and release.
Therapeutics: Strengthens legs, core and lower back
Right Hand: Touch tip of thumb and ring fingers together, extend all others
Left Hand: Touch tips of thumb and middle fingers together, extend all others. Rest hands with palms up.
Benefits: Draws energy into the joints
Practice Tips: Good for arthritis
On Inhale, "I am receiving courage"
On Exhale, "I am releasing fear"
Practice for the Knees
- Squeeze tennis ball between calf and thigh
- Cow/Child's Pose
- Downward Dog (bend and strighten knees)
- Tadasana with block, toes lifted (with Marma Mudra)
- Standing quadriceps stretch
- Swimmer series: Tadasana, Talasana, Swimmer, Utkatasana, Parsva Utkatasana, Utkatasana, Swimmer, Talasana, Tadasana)
- Warrior I (with block between knee and wall)
- Warrior II (with block between knee and wall)
- Warrior II (moving in and out of pose)
- Triangle (with block under calf)
- Baddha Konasana (press feet together, knees wide)
- Setu Bandha (parallel feet)
- Setu Bandha (wide knees)
- Supta Virasana
- Windshield Wipers
- Savasana (with knees supported)
This weeks practuce focuses on the feet which create the foundation for all of our physical experiences. Did you know that 25% of our bones can be found in the feet, that's a lot of joints held together by many small muscles, tendons and ligaments. Lets spend the week loving our feet and giving them some special attention!
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Stand with feet hips width apart (or toes together, heels slightly separated). Engage the muscles of the legs towards the bones. Draw the belly in and release the tail bone. Lift the chest and draw the shoulder blades down. Press the crown of the head towards the ceiling. Hold 10-20 breaths.
Therapeutics: Grounds the body and prepares for all standing poses, improves balance
Curl ring and little finger into palm, secure with thumb, extend index and middle fingers into V shape; point fingers toward the ground.
Benefits: Activates downward flowing energy in body
Practice Tips: Use when constipated or to ground
Inhale through nostrils, then exhale completely through nostrils and pause after the exhalation holding the breath out. The length of the pause should be comfortable to maintain.
Benefits: Calming, grounding, quiets the mind
This Week's Practice: Grounding the Feet
- Grounding cord medtiation
- Foot massage (top & bottom)
- Roll sole of foot on tennis ball
- Press 6 points along sole of foot into tennis ball from standing (center of heel, front of heel, center of arch, front of arch, ball of foot, toes)
- Supta Padangusthasana with feet against wall
- Supta Tadasana (with block between thighs)
- Vajrasana (with toes turned under)
- Tadasana (with block between thighs)
- Talasana (with Bhu Mudra)
- Stork Pose (with Bhu Mudra)
- Vrksasana (with Bhu Mudra)
- Padangusthasana (with foot on chair)
- Prasarita Paddotanasana
- Tadasana (with Bhu Mudra)
- Seated Rechaka Kumbhaka
- Instant Maui
The seventh chakra is seen as a thousand-petaled lotus at the crown of the head, a portal through which all energy enters the chakra system. All wisdom must pass through the crown before it can be used to manifest blessings from the lower energetic centers. A blockage can cause one to be rigidly stuck in the material world of the lower chakras where the beauty and wonder of the world is absent. Excessive energy leads to extreme self-centeredness and feelings of spiritually superiority. Balance at the crown chakra allows for intuitive knowledge and blaanced spirituality where connection to the self, the world and all of life is present.
Location: Crown of head
Parts Affected: Brain
When Excessive: Constantly seeking spiritual gifts, arrogant in intelligence
When Blocked: Cannot connect to spirituality
When Balanced: Sees connection between all things
Mudra: Hakini Mudra (see Mudras for Meditation)
Bija Mantra: Ah
Touch the tips of all fingers together and sense the energetic connection between the fingers and palms.
Benefits: Engages the witness consciousness, directs breath into the entire body
Practice Tips: Use to feel inegration of mind, body and emotions
Begin in childs posture with the palms on the floor in front of the knees. As you inhale lift the hips of the heels and press the crown of the head lightly into the floor, using the hands to keep excess weight off of the head. As you exhale return to childs pose. Repeat 5-10 times.
Tratak (Candle Gazing)
We can practice this simply by sitting in a darkened room with a candle burning safely in a holder. Sit comfortably and look into the flame of the candle. Do not allow your awareness to waver from the candle’s flame, even if the eyes begin to water. Every time a thought or emotion comes to the mind, return your attention to the candle flame without judging the ease or difficulty of this exercise.
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.