Sunday, 22 November 2015

On the road to bliss - the Koshas Part 1

Yogis think of the body as being composed of 5 layers or sheaths, arranged one inside the other like the layers of an onion. The yogic path to self-realisation involves moving in through the layers to reach the innermost layer, bliss, the part of us that is divine.

The first layer to work with is the physical layer, sometimes referred to as the 'food' layer. We should ensure this is healthy and free from disease through good nutrition and our asana work. Our asana work keeps this layer free from tension, keeps the muscles flexible yet strong, and the organs healthy. The short sequence below will help you explore your spine and keep it healthy by putting the spine through its full range of motion and increasing circulation to the spine.

Swan (elongating the spine) - start towards the back of the mat, big toes touching, knees wide. With your bottom on your heels walk your arms forward bringing your head to rest on the mat, your block or a cushion. Stretch from your hips to your shoulders to your fingertips. To come out walk your hands back then come to a kneeling position on the left bottom corner of your mat (fold your mat over if you have delicate knees).

Gate (lateral stretch) - stretch your right leg out (support your foot with a block if your foot does not have the flexibility to reach the mat. Bring your hands to your heart. Inhale stretch your arms out, exhale stretch over the right leg, bringing your right hand down to the right leg, left hand up towards the ceiling. Repeat second side.

Half Lord of the Fishes (seated twist)- from seated with the legs extended, bend the right knee and draw in close into the chest. Take the right foot to the outside of the left thigh. If you can keep the right sit bone and right foot in contact with the mat, take the left heel to the left buttock. Otherwise keep the left leg extended. Take the right hand behind the right hip and bend the left elbow, taking the left arm to the outside of the right thigh in the 'traffic stopping' position. Inhale lengthen through the crown of the head, exhale, twist from the abdomen, ribcage, shoulders and finally turn to look over the right shoulder. Hold for a few breaths, maybe twisting a little more with each exhale. To come out, inhale lengthen through the crown of the head, exhale release the neck, the shoulders, the ribcage, the abdomen.

Rabbit Pose (rounding spine) - CAUTION CERVICAL SPINE PROBLEMS, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE - start sitting back on your heels.  Rounding your spine, take hold of your heels and bring the top of your head to the mat.  If you do not like to be on the top of your head, place your head on a cushion. Come out of the pose slowly on an inhale.

Shoulder Bridge (back bend) - come to a lying position with your knees bent. Inhale, lift your hips and take your arms overhead. While holding the hips high, 'walk' the shoulders down the back then bring the hands under the hips, fingers interlaced. To come out of the pose, release the hands and lower the hips as you exhale. Hug your knees in and rock from side to side.

To end your practice lie in savasana.

You may also want to have a look at my yoga video, 'The Koshas 1-Annamaya Kosha' on my   YouTube Channel-

Janet x

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