There’s a lovely long weekend up ahead, so why not start it with a simple yoga sequence to help you recharge and unwind...
When we feel drained, it may feel as if fog has settled on the horizon and it’s not possible to imagine the sun shining simply because it takes too much energy or vision to do so. However, if we are tuning in to ourselves, we may catch the signs and symptoms before we are overwhelmed. Recognizing when you need to recharge, and working a little breather into your life as a priority, can be the “apple a day that keeps the doctor away.”
Sweet Pose (Sukhasana with a Chair ) and Victorious Breath (Ujjayi Pranayama )
Sit cross-legged on the floor in front of a chair, spine straight, in Sukhasana. If your low back feels tight, sit up on a folded blanket or two. You may also place a blanket or towel on the seat of the chair for extra comfort. Cross your forearms and place your forehead on your arms. Relax into the pose.
This requires little to no physical effort and should feel very comfortable. Focus on your breathing. Notice it and draw your attention away from everything else. Feel your breath moving in your body. Tune your awareness to, and lightly constrict, your throat before inhaling through your nose. Feel the sensation and listen for the sound of your own breath like a “whoosh” or ocean waves. Exhale in the same manner, listening for that sound. If you are having trouble hearing it, exhale through an open mouth. Then close your mouth and try again.
Listen to the ocean in your body, until you feel calm and connected to the breath and this moment. You may desire to keep your attention on the breath or release into a soft, natural breath, allowing yourself to move into a state of pratyahara—withdrawal of the senses. Stay here as long as you are comfortable.
Modifications: Rather than sitting crosslegged, you can stretch your legs out in front of you or place them in a V if that feels more comfortable. If they are straight out, they will slide under the chair seat. If they are in a V, they will go around the outside of the chair legs.
Supported Child’s Pose (Salamba Balasana )
For this cozy, restorative pose you will need a bolster and/or several folded blankets. Begin on hands and knees and bring your big toes together, knees apart. Sit back on your heels and draw your navel toward your spine. Pull the support in between your knees up to your groin or abdomen and lean forward so that your torso and head are lying along the prop.
Send your hips toward your heels. Stay for as long as you are comfortable, with a minimum of 5 minutes, turning your head to one side and then the other for an equal length of time.
Modifications: If you have any discomfort in your ankles, place a blanket beneath your feet. If your knees or quadriceps are tight, place a blanket or something similar evenly and snugly behind your knees before taking your hips back.
Reclining Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana ) with yogic breathing
Sit on the floor, spine straight, and bring the soles of your feet together, having placed your support to come right up against your low back. Draw your tailbone underneath you, as if you are smoothing out your skirt to sit down, and then lower your back onto the support. You may want to have a blanket or thin pillow under your head as well. If the stretch feels too much for your hips or knees, place blocks, books, or rolled-up blankets under the outer knees. If the stretch is too extreme for your back, place a block or books under your support where your upper back lands.
Now practice Dirga or Ujjayi breathing. For Dirga breath, inhale into the bottom of your belly, then your solar plexus, and finish in your chest. Pause briefly and then exhale from the upper chest, solar plexus, and finally bottom of the belly.
For Ujjayi breathing, inhale through your nose while tuning your awareness to, and lightly constricting, your throat. Feel the sensation and listen for the sound of your own breath like a “whoosh” or ocean waves. Exhale in the same manner.
This pose activates and restores our senses of power and comfort, easing anxiety and pacifying an irritable mind. Stay for as long as you like.
For more yoga sequences, check out The Yoga Healer by Christine Burke.