In our asana practice all postures have parts of the body that need to ground into the earth, provide stability and create the foundation for the posture. At the same time, there are other parts of the body that are lifting and ascending, extending towards the sky in order to create length and space along the spine. This week we will explore these two concepts of grounding and extension, manifestation and ascension.
Virasana (Hero Pose)
Sit on block between heels. Ground fronts of shins and tops of feet, thighs, and sit bones. Lift up through navel, chest and crown of head. For Ankle Pain - Kneel on folded blanket with crease of ankles at edge of blanket).
For Knee Pain - Sit higher so knees do not have to bend all the way.
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
Touch tips of thumb, ring, and little fingers together, extend index and middle fingers into V shape.
Benefits: Activates upward flowing prana in body
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
Lie on the back with the knees bent.
Variation I: Draw your right knee into your chest and lengthen the left leg onto the floor. Wrap a strap around the ball of your foot and extend the leg into the air. Reach the hands up the strap until the elbows are straight but the shoulders are still grounded.Also ground through back of body and press out through left foot. Extend through spine and heel of right foot
Variation II: Hold the strap in the right hand and place a block on the outside of the right hip. As you exhale, lower the leg directly out to the side so that the outer thigh rests on the block. Extend the foot into the strap and reach the left arm out to the side. Ground through back of body, especially left side of body. Extend through spine, into right heel and left hand. To release, use the inner thigh to draw the leg up to center.
Variation III: Hold the strap in the left hand and slowly bring the leg across the body as you twist. Ground into right shoulder and left half of body. Extend through spine and into right foot. To release, drop the right hip into the floor and allow the leg to follow. Hold each variation for 10-20 breaths.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Sit with the soles of the feet together and the knees apart. Sit on the edge of a folded blanket if needed and the knees apart. Ground through sit bones and press heels slightly together as you extend through the spine and out through the knees.
Hold 10-20 breaths then release.
Janu Sirsasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
Sit on floor with sole of the left foot on inside of right thigh with the right leg straight. Press right leg into floor and extend through ball of right foot. Inhale and sit up tall through front of chest. Exhale turn torso towards right leg and release forward from hips, keeping heart forward and shoulders relaxed.
Hold up to 1 minute each side, then release.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Stand with feet hips-width apart. Engage legs and bear weight on left leg only. Draw right foot onto calf or inner thigh (do not press on side of knee). Press foot against leg and leg against foot. Draw belly in and release tail bone towards floor. Inhale and draw arms overhead without gripping shoulders.
Hold as long as you can balance with comfort, release and change sides.
Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend)
Begin standing in Tadasana. Bend forward from hips and place fingertips on either floor, blocks or tops of knees with arms straight. Open heart forward and draw thighs and sit bones back.
Hold for 10 breaths, release back to standing.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose or Queen's Pose)
Sit in front of two long-fold blankets or a bolster parallel to mat. Place soles of feet together and let knees move apart resting on blocks or bolster. Place looped strap around back of pelvis between thighs and over outside edge of feet to help lengthen low back. Lie back over bolster and place blanket under head. Rest 5-15 minutes, then release
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.