We move further into the mindful movement of this series by repeating some of the quieter practices and adding a section on kneeling yoga.
Stating Your Intention
During the first yoga session you will create an intention for your yoga practice. Each time before you practice, sit comfortably with the eyes closed and bring to mind this resolve, state it silently three times with your full awareness.
Vowel Spiral A-E-I-O-U-M
Begin in a comfortable seated position (you may sit in a chair if needed).Take a few breaths into the lower belly and exhale naturally through the nose. When you are ready to begin, chant the sounds at a natural speaking pitch. You may also place your hand over the areas of the body where the vibration is strongest.
Clasp hands together and press index fingers together and thumbs together and open the center of the palms.
Variation I: Hold hands in front of belly with the sides of the thumbs, heels of the hands and sides of the pinkie fingers against abdomen. Creates a sense of self-nurturance.
Variation II: Hold hands in front of heart with the sides of the index fingers and sides of the thumbs against the sternum. Activates the thymus gland to increase immunity.
Seated Lateral Bend
Begin in a comfortable seated position (you may sit in a chair if needed). Reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. As you inhale side bend to the right and bring the left hand to the right shoulder, or bring the left hand to the top of the head, or reach the left arm overhead with the palm facing down. The right hand is on the floor beside the hip with the elbow bent towards the body to keep the right shoulder relaxed. Keep both sit bones grounded into the floor. Exhale return to center. Repeat to both sides with the breath 5 times.
Intended Benefits: Opens side ribs and facilitates breath and lymph movement throughout the torso.
Begin in a comfortable seated position (you may sit in a chair if needed). Reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. As you inhale, draw both hands together at the heart, or to the top of the head, or raise both arms straight up overhead to create length in the sides of the torso. Exhale and twist our belly, ribs and chest to the right, bring the left hand to the right knee, the right hand on the floor behind you. Inhale and return to the center with the arms in your chosen position. Exhale and repeat to the left (shown). Repeat to both sides with the breath 5 times.
Intended Benefits: Opens the ribs, massages the organs facilitates breath and lymph movement throughout the torso.
Seated Forward Bend
Begin in a comfortable seated position (you may sit in a chair if needed). Reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. As you exhale reach the arms forward and lean the torso forward from the hips. Keep the lower back long as the navel reaches forward. Use the arms to support the body and come forward as far as feels comfortable, to the palms, or even to the forearms. Keep the pelvis grounded and breathe gently into the stretch. Hold for at least 5 breaths.
Intended Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groins, hips and low back.
This gentle kneeling yoga series will deepen movement in the spine, shoulders and hips, increase breath capacity and help to move lymph through the nodes and vessels in the chest and torso. When moving the arms it is important to only stretch to a comfortable degree, especially if there are surgery sites or ports in the chest, alternate arm positions will be given so be sure to choose what is comfortable for your body today. Continue to follow the pace of your breath; it is a barometer of how you are feeling in each pose. If you find yourself holding the breath, try again a bit more gently. If you become light-headed or nauseated, stop and rest in a simple cross- legged position for a few moments before continuing.
Begin kneeling with the hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips with the toes pointed. As you inhale, lengthen the spine from the crown to the tailbone.
Cat: As you exhale draw the belly in, round the back and drop the head and tail bone towards the floor.
Cow: As you inhale arch the back lifting the sternum forward and the tailbone up towards the ceiling, pulling the shoulder blades down the back. Repeat at least 5 times with the breath.
Intended Benefits: Massages the internal organs, stretches the muscles along the spine, assists with lymphatic drainage
Extended Childs Pose to Cobra
Extended Childs Pose: From a kneeling position, step the hands forward a few inches and then exhale into Childs pose with the arms extended overhead on the floor. Only go back as far as your knees will comfortably allow.
Knee Plank: As you inhale move the torso forward bringing the shoulders over the wrists and the torso in a plank position. Then exhale back into Extended Childs Pose.
Cobra: If it is available to you, you may also bring the torso all the way forward into a gentle back bend with the elbows bent, the heart lifting and the pelvis close to the floor. Then exhale back into Extended Childs Pose.
Repeat at least 5 times with the breath.
Intended Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the front and back of body, assists with lymphatic drainage and constipation.
Childs Pose to Extended Hero
Childs Pose: From a kneeling position, exhale and sit back on the heels into Childs pose with hands beside the feet or place palms in front of the knees for more support.
Alternate Childs Pose: Only go back as far as your knees will comfortably allow. You may need to place the hands in front of you and lower yourself down slowly, especially if there is knee pain or any nausea.
Extended Hero: As you inhale, lift the chest, press the pelvis forward and raise hands to the heart, hands to the head or the arms straight overhead.
Then exhale back into Childs pose by sitting back on the heels, folding the torso forward and bringing hands to floor beside the feet or in front of the knees.
Repeat at least 5 times with the breath.
Intended Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the torso, assists with lymphatic drainage and constipation.
Legs in the Chair
Lay on the back with the legs in the seat. If you are using a hard piece of furniture, be sure to place a folded blanket between your calves and the surface. You may also wish to use a folded blanket for a pillow. Place the arms slightly away from sides with the palms facing up
Rest for at least 10 minutes.
Intended Benefits: Induces relaxation response, reduces edema in the legs and feet, relaxes lower back
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.