This week we will work to find length along the sides of the body to prepare for Trikonasana, Triangle Pose. Most of the postures will use the wall for support in some way. Set up your mat so that the short end is at a wall.
Medha Prana Kriya Mudra
Touch index finger nails to the middle joint of the thumb and apply light pressure, extend all other fingers and turn palms up.
Benefits: Opens heart and releases deep emotional blockages, encourages breath in the side ribs
Practice Tips: Use when feeling bogged down by old emotional patterns
Contraindications: Those medicated for psychological conditions
Reclining Twist at Wall
Lay on back with knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet on the wall at the same height as the knees. Shift the pelvis a few inches to the left. Begin to walk the feet in an arc down the wall to the right. Allow the left hip to come off the floor and use a block under the right knee and/or between the knees. Press the feet into the wall, especially the left foot to increase the stretch along the left side of the body. Keep the left shoulder on the floor with that arm out to the side or over the head. Bring the breath into the left lower abdomen. Hold for 10 breaths, then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Stretches lateral body, rotates the spine
Reclining Side Bend at Wall
Lay on the back with the feet at the wall and legs straight. Step both feet to the right corner of the mat so the legs are angled to the right. Bring the right knee into the chest and step the sole of the right foot down on floor to the outside of the left knee. Raise the arms overhead and use the right hand to pull the left wrist over to the right side, elbows softly bent. Keep both shoulders and the hips square to the floor. Breath deeply into the left side body. Hold for 10 breaths, then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Stretches lateral body, opens ribs, stretches lower back, outer hip and thigh, opens shoulder.
Half Happy Baby Pose
Lay on the back with the feet at the wall and legs straight. Draw the right knee into the chest and hold with the right hand behind the knee. Draw the right knee out to the right and keep the thigh close to the side body as you extend through the heel to unbend the knee to 90 degrees. Use the right elbow on the floor like a kickstand to support the weight of the leg (photo shows a more advanced version where the hand holds the foot). Extend the left leg long and press the left thigh into the floor. Raise the left arm over the head. Hold for 10 breaths, then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Stretches the groin and inner thigh.
Half Standing Forward Bend
Begins 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. The hips can also be against the wall for extra support. Hold for 10 breaths, release into Uttanasana.
Therapeutics: Stretches front torso, backs of legs
Triangle Pose with Block Assist on Front Foot
Stand with feet wide apart, left side facing the wall. Place a block angled on the wall. Turn left out to 90 degrees with ball of foot on the block, turn right foot in 30 degrees. Bring left finger tips into the left hip crease and deepen the hip crease into the body as you tip the torso over the left leg. Reach the left arm out parallel to the wall and floor as far as you comfortably can, then bring the left hand down to a second block behind the left ankle. Roll the left shoulder under the chest as you turn the chest to the right. Keep the right hand on the hip. Continue to draw the left sit bone away from the left heel. Hold for 10 breaths then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Opens side body, stretches hamstrings and calves
Stand with feet wide apart. Turn left out to 90 degrees and right foot in 30 degrees. Inhale arms out from shoulders. Exhale and cock hips to the left. Reach left arm parallel to floor to lengthen the left waist and bring left hand on block or shin to fill the space between the hand and floor. Rotate the chest towards the right and reach right arm towards ceiling. You can also set up at a wall and keep the left hip, shoulder and back of head against the wall to assist with balance and alignment.
Hold 5-10 breaths then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Opens side body, strengthens legs, eases pain in the lower back
Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Begin on all fours with hands slightly forward of shoulders. Turn toes under and lift knees off floor. Keep shoulders wide and palms flat, press thighs and sit bones back, scooping belly in.
Hold 1-3 minutes, release into Child's Pose.
Therapeutics: Strengthens arms and shoulders, stretches back of torso and legs
Supported Bridge Pose
Salamba Setu Bandha
Lay on back with knees bent and feet hips with apart. Inhale and lift hips away from floor, rolling onto upper back. Press arms back into floor and lengthen tail bone towards backs of knees. Place block under sacrum and rest pelvis on block.
Hold 1-3 minutes and release.
Therapeutics: Opens chest, activates thyroid, tractions spine
Sit beside wall. Swing legs up wall as you lay back on mat. Place either a bolster or long-folded blanket under the lumbar curve, the buttocks should not be on floor. Lay arms out to sides with palms facing up. Rest at least 10-15 minutes, then roll over to release.
Therapeutics: Activates the Relaxation Response, reduces swelling in the legs and feet, balances the nervous system, good if you have been sitting or on your feet all day
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.