Yoga

 

 Alternate nostril breathing 

Nadi Shodana is said to balance the two major nadis (energy flows) of the pranayama kosha (energy body), which are a bit like the outward or active and the receptive or passive sides of our nature. It also balances left and right brain function, improving mental clarity. 

Sit in a comfortable position. Hold your right hand in front of your face with your middle and index fingers curled toward your palm.  Place your thumb next to your right nostril and your ring finger next to your left nostril. Use your thumb to close your right nostril and inhale, slowly and deeply through the left. Pause. Release your right nostril and use your ring finger to close the left nostril; exhale slowly and fully. Pause, keeping your left nostril closed; inhale slowly and deeply. Pause. Release your left nostril and close your right nostril; exhale slowly and fully. This is one full round of nadi shodana. Start with five to ten rounds, and increase as your comfort level grows. 

Five pillars of yogic balance

The five pillars, as developed by the Sivananda yoga school teach us to embrace these essential elements for a balanced lifestyle.

  1. right exercise is achieved by practicing regular yoga and other forms of exercise that make sense for your body
  2. right breathing this is developed by working towards awareness of the breath at all times and re-establishing the deep, natural breathing of a child, which energizes your entire body
  3. right thinking this means decluttering your mind of its scattered thoughts to gain a sense of clarity and calm and cultivating a positive attitude
  4. right nutrition be aware of what you feed your body with-a good range of healthy, fresh and seasonal food in moderation while eating slowly and mindfully
  5. right relaxation by taking time out to balance all the activity in your life with proper rest to maintain physical, emotional and mental relaxation throughout your day

 

Dancer’s Pose. Lord of the Dance. Natarajasana. Nata= dancer, actor, mine. Raja= king.

Stand with your feet together and arms at your side, while fixing your gaze at an immobile spot in front of you.
Inhale and bend your right leg backward, taking hold of the inside of your foot with your right hand.
Extend your left arm above your head with your fingertips reaching to the sky.
Slowly lower your left arm straight forward and kick your right leg back as you stretch forward.
Hold the asana (posture) for 5-30 seconds while taking calm, deep breaths, focusing upon the stretching and strengthening of the abdomen.

Tip: Try bracing your free hand against a wall to help you stay stable.

In addition, “this difficult balancing asana develops poise and a graceful carriage. It tones and strengthens the leg muscles. The shoulder blades get full movement and the chest expands fully. All the vertebral joints benefit  from the exercise in this pose.” -B.K.S. Iyenger “Light on Yoga”

Bharadvaja’s Twist. (bah-ROD-va-JAHS-anna), Bharadvaja = one of seven legendary seers, credited with composing the hymns collected in the vedas. 

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift over onto your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left. Lay your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch. Twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or close to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long. Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, pressing your shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest to the right. Breathe. Repeat on the opposite side.

Yoga for headaches

Our headaches are usually a result of muscle tension in the back of the neck due to postural problems. For most people, restorative yoga poses and breathing techniques can relieve and help prevent the onset of all types of headaches.

Mountain pose is an active standing posture. Stand tall with the outer edges of the feet parallel to each other. Lift the kneecaps while engaging the thigh muscles. Press your shoulder blades together and then release them down the back. The neck is long, chin is parallel to the floor, eyes are soft.

This asana can help eliminate bad postural habits and serve as a reminder to lift the head up and away from the shoulders rather than crunching it into the neck.

Downward Facing Dog. Begin by kneeling with the hands and knees on the floor, hands under the shoulders, fingers spread wide, knees under the hips, spine straight. Push the hips upward, moving the body into and inverted V-shape. Legs and arms are straight, the elbows are engaged and the shoulders are wide and relaxed. The heels move toward the floor and the tummy can be engaged while the head and face are relaxed. Take several slow deep breaths and repeat as many times as you like.

Stretching and strengthening the muscles in the upper torso during this pose can also help relieve tension in the neck and head.

Bridge Pose. Lie on your back with the feet planted close to your buttocks, palms on the floor. Breathe in, and with an exhale, press the feet into your mat to lift the tailbone. Clasp your hands together underneath you and walk the shoulder blades closer together so that your weight rests on the posterior shoulders and feet. Lift your hips upward. Hold for several breaths and then slowly roll the spine down to the ground, one vertebra at a time.

This calms the brain while opening the chest and rejuvenating tired legs.

Wrapping the head with an Ace bandage while in restorative postures can also be helpful and the sensation it creates can be quite comforting.

pictured below: child’s pose

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