Sunday, 16 July 2017

Building a home practice-Yoga warm ups, so worth it - standing poses

Standing poses have many benefits from grounding to building focus and concentration. They build strength in the legs, stretch the leg muscles and create flexibility in the hips.  The following sequence will prepare your legs, hips and spine for a standing pose sequence. You will need one or two blocks, possibly two cushions and a yoga belt or a dressing gown tie:-

To start spend a few moments in Hero pose or Easy pose if Hero is too much for your knees with your eyes closed watching your breath.  To come into Hero pose start in kneeling with your knees together and heels apart so that there is space for you to sit back between your heels.  Your feet should be in line with your shins.  Sit back between your heels.  If this is too much for your knees, elevate your hips by placing one or two blocks between your heels (short edge of the block towards your knees).  Top the blocks with a blanket if you need to. Do not let your props force your knees apart.  Your ankles should be tucked in close your hips and your weight evenly distributed over your sit bones.  If your ankles bother you in the pose, a rolled up towel placed under your feet can help.  Rest your hands on your thighs. Some people may benefit from a rolled up towel placed behind the knees.  To come out of the pose come back to all fours, stretch out the right leg pressing back through the heel.  
Repeat with the left leg then come to lying on your back.

Supta padangusthasana - lie on your mat and draw your right knee in towards your chest. If you have lower back issues bend your left leg, otherwise press the back of your left leg into the mat. Take the strap around the ball of your right foot and holding the strap in both hands start to straighten the back of your leg.  Work with the breath with each inhale press through your right heel, with each exhale you may be able to draw your leg closer in. Continue until you find your 'edge' - that place where you feel a stretch but not a strain. Now hold both sides of the strap in your right hand and place your left hand on your left hip. Breathe in and as you breathe out engage your core and take your leg out to the side and up. If you cannot get your leg higher than your hip, bend your knee slightly.  To come out of the pose bend your right knee, breathe out, engage your core and draw your leg back to centre then down on the mat.  Repeat second side then make your way back to seated.

Leg warm up - sit on a block with your legs outstretched.  Bend your right knee and, supporting your leg by holding the back of your thigh with both hands, raise your right foot a few inches from the ground.  Spread and open your toes then curl your toes in towards the sole of your foot.  Repeat several times then circle your ankle one way then the other way several times.  

Circle the knee joint by 'drawing' circles with your foot in the air, one way then the other.  
Release your left hand and circle the hip by 'drawing' large circles with your foot, one way then the other.  

Take hold of the outside of your right foot, lift it up then circle your foot back to the start position. Repeat several times then reverse.

Baddha Konasana - sit on a block, bring the soles of your feet together, close into your body and hold onto your ankles, or if this causes your back to round hold onto your shins. You may support your thighs with cushions to protect your SI joint.

Cat/Cow - with your hands under your shoulders, knees under hips, breathe in lift your head and chest, breathe out tuck your chin and arch your back.  Continue working with your breath. 

Thread the Needle - come back to a neutral spine, breathe in and stretch your right arm up, breathe out as you bend your left elbow, post your right arm under your left and take your head and shoulders to a block or to the mat.  Press into your left hand to deepen the twist. Stay for several breaths then when you are ready to come out press into your left hand and return to all fours.  Repeat second side then stretch out your spine in extended Child pose.  

You are now ready for your standing pose practice.

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