Lack of sleep due to medications or stress can greatly affect your overall outlook on treatment and mood. This week we will focus on cooling pranayamas, grounding mudras and supported forward bends which will calm the nervous system and help to prepare the body and mind for sleep.
Parsvakonasana or Side Angle pose requires a stable base through the legs and feet allowing the side body and chest to blossom open into a full lateral stretch. This week we will approach Parsvakkonasana much like the other standing postures in the series by finding opening in reclining postures, alignment in kneeling postures and then approaching the full posture standing.
Reclining Side Bend
Lay on back with legs extended. Walk legs to right side of mat and raise arms over head. Extend through heels of feet, especially on the left leg and hold left wrist with right hand drawing left arm overhead to create crescent moon shape with body. Hold 1-2 minutes per side keeping both shoulders and hips on the floor, then change sides.
Half Happy Baby Pose
Lay on back with knees bent and feet on floor. Draw right knee into chest holding behind right knee, pull knee out in front of the right shoulder and press up through right heel so that knee is bent about ninety degrees. Either keep left foot on floor or extend left leg straight. Hold for a bout 10 breaths then change sides.
Happy Baby Pose
Lay on back with knees drawn into chest. Hold behind knees and press heels up so that knees are bent at about ninety degrees. Alternatively reach arms inside of knees and grasp the outsides of the feet and draw thighs down towards floor while keeping soles of feet facing upwards. You may also place a folded blanket under the pelvis for comfort and ease.
Low Lunge with Twist
From hands and knees, step right foot forward between hands and keep left knee down on floor. Raise torso up and place left hand on floor or block and right hand on hip, twist torso to right. Hold for up to 10 breaths then come back to center. Place right hand on block or floor and left hand on hip and twist torso away from bent knee. Hold up to 10 breaths and release into Child's Pose or Downward Facing Dog.
High Lunge with Twist
From hands and knees, step right foot forward between hands and press the left leg back raising left knee off floor. Raise torso up and place left hand on floor or block and right hand on hip, twist torso to right. Hold for up to 10 breaths then come back to center. Place right hand on block or floor and left hand on hip and twist torso away from bent knee. Hold up to 10 breaths and release into Child's Pose or Downward Facing Dog.
Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose)
Stand with feet wide apart. Turn right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in 30 degrees. Inhale arms out from shoulders. Exhale and bend right knee. Bring right elbow to right knee or right hand to a block behind the right foot. Raise right arm overhead and stretch entire left side of body.
Hold 5-10 breaths then release and change sides.
Both constipation and diarrhea can be caused by some radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Stress also creates unconscious holding in the abdomen as we try to literally hold ourselves together. The key is to soothe the digestive system by not overheating the system and our focus this week will be on gentle twists and lateral bends that will gently massage the abdominal organs.
Anxiety is a major factor for anyone going through cancer treatment and can have a hugely negative impact on quality of life. This week we will focus on calming anxiety, stress and worry through a series of gentle movements, breathing exercises and mudras that will all ease the intensity of anxious moments. Be sure to periodically check in with how the body, breath and mind are affected by these practices and your awareness of each of these levels of your being.
Virabhadrasana I, or Warrior I is a challenging standing pose the incorporates many opposing forces within the body. The feet are grounded without collapsing the energy into the earth, the pelvis is turned slightly toward the back leg as the chest reaches forward, the arms reach up as the shoulders stay connected to the back of the body. This week we will learn how to incorporate all of these alignment points with versions of Warrior I on the side, on the back and standing.
Side Lying Warrior I Variation
Lay on right side with long folded blanket under right waist and another folded blanket supporting the head. Bend both knees until the shins are parallel with the long side of the mat. Extend left arm overhead and bend elbow, resting hand on floor or a block. Extend left leg straight and press foot behind the body opening the front of the left hip. Keep left hip stacked over right hip and hold pose for up to one minute, bend knees and roll onto the back to change sides.
Begin on all fours and bring left foot between hands. Inhale sweep arms forward and up overhead pressing pelvis forward. Exhale and touch floor on either side of foot as you lift left knee off floor with the toes turned under. You may also use blocks under the hands if it is difficult to reach the floor.
Repeat to both sides 5 times with the breath.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
Begin standing in Tadasana. Step left leg back about three feet keeping feet hips width apart. Keep right toes turned forward and left foot turned slightly out. Turn hips gently towards front foot and balance weight on both feet. Inhale arms overhead. Exhale and bend right knee. Draw belly up and release tail bone towards floor.
Hold 5-10 breaths then release and change sides.
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.