So here we have the lovely Cat demonstrating one of my favourite Poses: Pigeon with a Twist! A great pose to open hips, shoulders, stretch the glutes and twist the spine.
- Start on all fours. Draw right knee to the back of the right wrist.
- Gently draw right foot towards left wrist. Do not put any undue pressure on the knee or take it beyond it’s normal range of movement. If there is any pain discontinue this asana.
- Wiggle the left leg out strong and straight behind you. Both hips should be level (use a block or blanket to prop if necessary).
- Walk your hands forward to spend five breaths in sleeping pigeon.
- Come back up. Lay your left forearm on the floor and twist your right arm behind you. If you can catch hold of your big toe then bind or use a belt to bridge the gap. Gaze to the ceiling to emphasise energy directing into the twist.
This little balance is deceptive but with practice can be attained or at least improved upon.
Start standing in Mountain (weight equal between left and right).
Slowly peel right leg off the floor on an exhalation, hold for a few breaths and then on an exhale tuck the chin in and lower head towards the knee. Don’t get too hung up about the two meeting as you are then likely to tense and wobble. Hold for a few breaths and then come back to Mountain.
Repeat on the other side.
An nice easy gentle twist for these lazy Summer days!
Start with your feet wide apart parallel to the edge of your mat.
Slowly on an exhale slide your hands down the back of your legs to the floor (use a block if your hans don’t reach).
Place the left hand on the floor and twist slowly on an exhale to the right. Try to keep the pelvis level and steady so that the twist is in the upper body. Stay here for five breaths or longer. As an extension it may feel nice to take the right hand to the left leg as demonstrated by Paula here.
Repeat on the other side.
Come back up nice and slowly keeping the chin tucked in until you are fully upright.
July: a month when we are often conscious of our core strength (or lack of it) for vanity reasons due to being on display at the beach! However having a strong core is essential for executing so many yoga poses to the best of our ability, particularly balances. It also gives us better more upright alignment which better for the flow of energy through the body. Thanks to Tony for modelling this us.
Start on all fours in a level tabletop position with knees under hips and hands under shoulders.
Step back with the right leg pushing the toes into the earth to get a nice calf stretch for a few breaths.
On an inhale lift the right leg (ideally level with your spine) and as much as raising the leg aim to lengthen the leg. Try not to let the back arch by pulling in the tummy muscles up to the spine. Encourage the left shin to drop to the floor or place padding under so you have a greater surface area to balance upon. Keep pulling you core in and extend the left arm level with your ear, again aiming to feel a lovely stretch and flow of energy from fingertip to toes. Stay here for a five deep breaths before repeating on the other side.
Following on from last month’s backbend (Extended Puppy Pose) this pose is a great way to strengthen your back muscles without jerking and overdoing it as often happens in more strenuous backbends.
I found this pose when doing Yin Yoga and it is typically held for three minutes, you may not want to do that but try to hold it for ten long, slow deep breaths. This pose is very rewarding in feeling the breath in the belly.
Make sure you warm up before doing this pose by doing a few SunSaluations or half salutations.
From lying on the mat on an inhale stretch your arms away, spreading the fingers, thus sharing the weight evenly. Lengthen tailbone and feel the pubic bone pushing into the earth. Check that you are not holding tension in the buttocks. Encourage the shins to drop to the earth. The closer the legs are together the more challenging the pose. Needless to say if you feel any discomfort in your back come out of the pose drop your cheek the mat and let the heels drop outwards and curve your arms down to your hips.
Doing this everyday for a month and you will see a difference in your back strength.
Here is my lovely hubby demonstrating Extended Puppy Pose. It is a great one to stretch out your back and a good alternative to Child’s Pose. I also like starting my practice with this as I really feel the breath in the belly. It is a super warm up for Down Dog.
Start on all fours and stretch forward keeping the sitting bones lifted. After a few breaths try to walk the hands a little further away from you. Bring the forehead to the floor or a block. Encourage the shins to drop to the earth. Stay here for as long as it feels good for you!
Thanks to the lovely Cat for posing in Half Mountain for me.
I like to do this pose near the start of my practice as it is an easy (ish) balance and a hip opener and it lets me know how my balance is shaping up.
Start in Mountain with big toes touching and a slight gap at the ankles. Check the weight is equally distributed between both feet. Prepare for the left foot to take weight and peel the right foot off the floor.
Inhale and draw the right leg up so that ideally the heel finds the soft hollow at the top of the left leg. Avoid bringing tension to the pose, check that you are not crunching the mat with your toes.
Relax the right leg so that the knee hangs heavy and works with gravity to open the hip.
On the next inhale stretch the right arm alongside the ear trying keep the shoulders relaxed. If possible raise both arms but if your foot loses its place or your bottom starts to stick out go back a stage.
Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
To begin working into Cossack Pose I recommend a gentle warm up such as a Sun Salutation. Then starting with the legs wide apart fold over from the hips.
Then bend your right knee and walk your hands across the floor over to right foot.
Soften the elbows and increase the bend of the knee to lengthen out the inner thigh on the left leg.
Walk the hands over to the left and repeat the work here.
Do this several times.
Come back to the right and now dig the left heel into the mat, increasing the inner thigh stretch.
Again repeat several times on each leg.
Then if you have the balance bring your hands to prayer and lift your upper body upright, as you can see It is still a work in progress for me!
Any questions please ask!
The essence of yoga, going within and experiencing yourself. This may seem like a counter-intuitive Pose to do when the suggestion in January is to get active. But Shavasana is essential in a yoga practice. It does not have to be at the end either!
Extend arms away from the body. Flatten the shoulders. Rest on the centre point on the back of your skull. Feet are shoulder width apart, allow them to fall outwards. Do not have arms or legs too close to the body so that you do not feel cramped or claustrophobic nor so far apart that your energy feels dispersed. Find your perfect alignment and then give yourself permission to relax and do nothing.
Relax everywhere and be aware of how you feel. Relax and let go of every mental and physical tension, temporarily let go of everything that you don’t need. Willingly put aside concerns, worries, fears and release every discernible hint of tension in your body. Savour the way you feel.
Often we are unconsciously tense so that we barely even notice it. So take notice of where your body is tight and deliberately release and relax in order to experience what it is like to be tension free. Not uptight, not contracted or compressed not shielded but voluntarily undefended and relaxed and therefore expansive, spacious, clear, clean, wide open ready to surrender.
As I said it is the essence of yoga, going within and experiencing yourself. the feeling of undefended, uncontracted, undistorted being is stillness, peace – and the peace of stillness feels good,positively blissful. peace is a higher energy state than we are used to. peace is high energy centred, a dynamic calm. with practice the peace of infinite being becomes increasingly familar and you will discover it is always available to be experienced.
I am glad that I managed to look so peaceful in this pose as when one’s hips are tight it can feel very pinchy indeed (imagine double Pigeon)! I am sure there is a joke in here somewhere about cows but we will remember they are revered in India as the symbol of life.
Start lying on the floor with knees pointing to the ceiling.
Lift the left leg over the right and grasp under the soles of the feet, on an exhale gently pull the feet towards the chest and then gently pull the feet away from each other.
On subsequent out breaths continue to draw the feet further apart.
Breath into any tightness in the hips, releasing tension and debris that is inhibiting the flow of energy around the body.
Uncross legs come back to start and notice any differences before repeating on the other side.
When you come to do an upright Gomulkasana it will be so much easier!