Friday, May 22, 2015

May 19 Restore Series

Fire
Ether

Earth
Water

Air

The elements of nature.  Upon further study and contemplation, I found not only are all aspects of our life created from the basic material elements of the birth of our home, the earth but aspects of our own nature and mind are made up of the qualities of these natural elements.  These are called the gunas (with a little "g") in Ayurvedic study.  Gunas are the characteristics of the 5 elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth).  For example, air is dry, cool, windy, mobile and rough. Water is mobile, steady, soft, dense, liquid. 

Upon waking, it may be useful to check in with your physical body and notice how it feels. Does it feel dull, heavy today or is there a sharpness to it or maybe it feels completely light.  And then as you set your intention for the day, you could include an intention to balance those qualities in your body.  If you are feeling that dull, heaviness in your body possibly inertia, maybe you can add a brisk walk or energetic breath to move the sluggishness. Or what if your thoughts are racing and your body feels cold with air like qualities, add as your intention some grounding activities like restorative yoga or nuturing your body with oil massage (abhyanga in Ayurveda).

These gunas can assist in seeing where your imbalances are and provide a starting point for balancing practices.  

Journaling Exercise: take 5 minutes to sit comfortably, close your eyes and observe your physical body. Open the eyes and write in your journal the qualities or characteristics that you feel in your body along the lines of those qualities found in the 5 elements.  Are your daily activities increasing those qualities or supporting your balance?  Try this for the mind. What qualities are present in your thoughts?  What activities in your life are adding to these qualities (i.e. feeling stressed (spacey, air element), what is adding to this stress?  

After journaling, take a few more moments to breath evenly and deeply to let any observations go.  For more information on the gunas, please go to https://www.dharmainc.org/teachings/view-teaching/twenty-gunas-qualities.






The Breath

Alternate Nostril Breath for Meditation (Nadi Shodhana)

This breath invites the calm in, balancing both sides of our nasal passages and our brain.  We tend to breath predominately with either the left or right nasal passage and we become unbalanced.  A few minutes at the start of a class or practice, can merge the two hemispheres of the brain and allow you to become more receptive.

Breathing through the right or left nostrils gives different effects.
Right Nostril
increases heart rate, increases verbal performance, stimulates left brain, increases rate of blinking
Left Nostril decreases heart rate, increases spatial performance, stimulates right brain, reduces rate of blinking,

The Practice: Find a comfortable seat or laying down.  Using the right hand, bring the middle and index fingers to rest toward the palm.  Alternatively, they can be placed at your third eye (forehead area). Begin with even breaths through both nostrils, gently close off right nostril, then inhale through left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.  Gently close off left nostril, as you inhale through right and exhale through left. Keep the same count for both sides. That is one round.  Repeat for 5 to 6 rounds or more.  Tongue comes to rest on roof of mouth.

Other variations of this breath are:
  • Retaining the breath after the inhale while keeping both nostrils gently closed. 
  • Extending the exhale longer than inhale
  • Cessation of breath after the exhale, with only one nostril closed
Mental Nadi Shodhana.  Mentally instruct the breath to come in and out through alternating nostrils.  Can even visualize breathing in from one far away place and breathing out to another far away place (Mt. Everest (Inhale), African plains (Exhale)


The Poses
Reclined Bound Angle (grounding)
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 
Props: 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth and eye pillow

This version is lower than a Reclined Bound Angle on a bolster which is perfect for a day that you need to open the chest but need a bit more grounding.  Place 2 to 3 (based on back comfort) blankets folded long on top of each other.  Unfold a blanket completely and from the longest end, make a roll. It may resemble a long snake. Sit at the end of the stacked blankets so that your low back is on the support and hips on the floor, smooth side and place the middle of your blanket roll over your feet. Tuck the end of the rolled up blanket under your legs and hips. Keep the hands on the blanket as you recline over the stacked blankets to pull the feet in closer to the pelvis. Ensure that you have enough support under the legs and hips so that you are not holding them up. Get comfortable with the stacked supports and add or take away any blankets.  Add your eye pillow and relax your arms by your side. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Supported Bridge (adding energy, vitalization)
Props: 4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow, can also use bolster for more stretch
Extras: blanket for warmth
Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases oxygen intake to the brain, can stimulate the immune system (thyroid)

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift butt and slide the stack of 2 or 4 blankets under the base of your spine. Find a comfortable position, then let the upper back release on the floor. Arms are relaxed at sides or resting on belly. Feel chest and belly rise with each breath. Roll gently to one side when done and inhale up to seated.


Revolved Abdominal Twist (grounding)
Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth and or laying on lower back to ground
Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine (quadratus lumborom) Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced.

Set one bolster lengthwise on your mat.  Depending upon your comfort, height can be elevated with blocks under bolster. Lay one blanket on top double-fold and one double-fold at end of bolster where your right hip will go. Sit next to bolster with your right hip touching it, bend knees, left or top ankle can lay in arch of right foot or other comfortable position for feet. For added comfort, place blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, laying bent legs in one directions and upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.
  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 5 Restore Series

The Elements

ETHER

FIRE


AIR



EARTH



WATER

Why place importance on the 5 Elements?  Check back for next blog to find out.........


The Poses

Supported Childs Pose
Props: bolster, one blocks, 2-3 blankets, neck roll for forehead
Benefits: Gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind.  Give a sense of security. Feeling support and release. Gently lengthens the legs.
Extras:sandbag for sacrum

Place bolster on the mat lengthwise and lay a blanket over it. Make a smaller roll for the ankles and place at the other end of the mat. Also place a block at top end with a neck roll or eye pillow on top. Begin on all fours and lower  your upper body onto the bolster. Settle the tops of the ankles on the smaller roll and adjust the body so that the tops of the thighs rest on the edge of the bolster.  Lay the forehead on the cushioned block and place the arms to the side, shoulders dropping from the ears.  Soften your jaw and let the body sink into the supports and the floor. 

Legs up Variation

Props: 3 blankets, 2 blocks, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits: drains the legs, reducing fluids in the legs, gentle
stretch to the legs, releases pelvis and low back, rejuventating

Make two stacks of blankets on your mat and place the two blocks at the edge of these stacks. Lay a folded over blanket over the blocks. Additional blanket may be needed for your low back. Lie down on the mat or floor and place lower legs on the stack of blankets and ankles and feet on the block supports. Keep legs in tadasana alignment for better blood flow. Add your neck roll and eye pillow, arms relaxed by your side.

Starfish Savansana
Props: 2 or more blankets, neck rolls, eye pillow
Benefits: soothing to the nervous system, grounding, gentle chest opener,  releases the pelvis

Lay a blanket on  your mat for extra comfort and warmth, blankets for the arms as well.  As you lay down, place your feet towards the corners of your mat and arms about 10-12 inches from your body, palms up. Add your eye pillow, and blanket on top.  We adjusted the legs with our Double Dutch for op

Monday, May 4, 2015

8 Methods of Grounding and Connecting to the Earth’s Frequencies

Find out why it is useful to ground ourselves with nature and the earth and very very easy ways to do so.

8 Methods of Grounding and Connecting to the Earth’s Frequencies

April 28 Restore Series

I am coming down to earth again. And it feels good to feel my feet on the earth - literally!  Last week was a flurry of motion and not much time to ground myself.  This week, I am going barefoot.



The Poses
Supported Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirasana)

Props: bolster, blankets, neck roll

Benefits: Stretches hamstring and back of leg, centering and calming to central nervous system, gently stretches back, mild hip opener.

In the variation that we practiced in class, we placed the bolster upright on short end on our thigh and draped the arms over it letting the fingers and hands relax.  Use blanket support under knee and possibly to sit on to take pressure off of the low back.  Add a neck pillow or other cushioning for the head to rest on.  Stay for up to 5 minutes and switch sides mindfully.  We warmed up some with a flowing Head to Knee pose prior.  Try out the Mental Alternate Nostril Breathing.


Supported Bridge Pose


Props: bolster, two blocks, strap, additional blankets, neck roll for comfort
Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases oxygen intake to the brain, can stimulate the immune system (thyroid). stretch out lower back, release tension in the shoulders.

 Lay bolster lengthwise on mat and place one block at about 9 inches away from bolster and the other block about 9 inches from the first block.  Place a strap around the middle of your thighs and tighten so that legs are hip distance apart. Sit on bolster and gently recline yourself down onto the blocks. Adjust the first block to be directly under the shoulder blades and adjust the other block so that your head is resting on it like a pillow.  Shoulders should drape between the blocks.  You may need to add blankets to the blocks for further comfort.  Stay in pose for at least 5 minutes.  Take care when rolling off the bolster and blocks. May bring knees to bend.  Pause before lifting up to sitting. 


Nesting Pose

Props: blankets, bolster
Benefits; Nurturing, sense of security, well-supported pose to regulate the nervous system, good for when you are feeling anxious, keeps body in alignment, supportive for the spine, hips, shoulders, head.  Allows for optimal healing and sleeping position. nurturing, sense of security, optimal for sleeping

Create a big enough folded blanket to place between the knees to align the legs in Tadasana. Add a folded blanket to rest your top arm on. Recline on a side that is comfortable, resting your head on a blanket. A neck roll can go under the ankles for support.  Bolster can rest along spine for further support and grounding. Finally, cover yourself with a blanket from head to toes.  Sink down with each long exhalation.  Mantra to accompany pose "I am safe, I am supported".

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 21 Restore Series

I am not even going to comment on this weather. Not going there, no way, no how.  Okay, just a short commentary. I am going through a process of rethinking about our current cool weather.  Maybe we are not "owed" a spring of warmer weather.   I am trying to get out of the prevalent mindset of disgust at Mother Nature.  Now this may not be the case for those that their income relies on a warmer spring. The farmer, the landscaper, the carpenter, etc. may all need a normal spring for their livelihood. I've planted my vegetable garden (at least the cold weather plants) but my income does not hinge on getting the produce to market.  

But like anything there are cycles, ups and downs, and roller coaster rides.  We make plans to weather out the turns and twists.  We strive to find balance in what is thrown our way.  Where can you find your balance as you grab your winter coat for a few more days.  Maybe a walk outside, bundled up, to appreciate how nature is coping with the colder winds. What do the tulips do?  What about the birds?  Maybe this is the break you need to spend some time indoors to finish a winter project or read that book.  Find your own way to balance.

The Breath
10 Breaths

10 beautiful breaths brings you to the present, the here and now.  A great way to transition in a yoga class, or anytime in your life where a little space is needed before moving onto the next thing. 10 long inhalations, 10 long exhalations.  Feel your body expand with the breath in and feel it release and become centered.

The Poses
Surfboard

Props: blankets, including one for warmth, stuffed animals or eye bags for hands
Benefits: gently stretches the lumbar spine and para spinal muscles, and gives a release in the diaphragm, quiets the mind and comforting. Gives a sense of security.  

2 bolster fold blanket placed lengthwise on mat on top of each other. One blanket at end of mat for ankle support. Make roll for ankle support. Rest of that blanket fills in gap where shin does not meet the floor. Make sure no blanket is on knee. This supports the knee in the pose.  Top bolster folded blanket roll towards you in a wider roll to fit in chest and shoulder area. One more blanket folded so that its height is the same as the two bolster folded blankets. Come to all fours straddling the props, release to forearms and then fully recline on props.  Ankles rest on small roll at end of mat, shins supported by the rest of that blanket. Rest the rest of your body at hip crease on the bolster fold blankets and lay chest on wider roll of top blanket. Head rests on additional blanket at top, turned to the side. Arms come out to the sides, releasing shoulders down the back and away from the ears. Placing an eye pillow or stuffed animal in palms as they face floor is very grounding and comfortable. Additional blankets for pillows tucked in as needed with student to create boundaries or make more comfortable.
New Version includes laying tops of ankles over padded blocks for further draining of the legs.

Legs up Variation (with bolsters)
Props: 2 bolsters, 1-2 blankets, neck roll
Benefits: drains fluid from the legs, releases pelvic floor, chest and shoulder opener, back of legs get a gentle stretch


Place one bolster horizontally on mat (for the knees) and one vertically (for the feet, ankes and lower legs). Arrange a triple-folded blanket horizontally (lumbar and thoracic spine area). Recline legs over the bolsters and lower the upper body on the blanket. Adjust so that the tips of the shoulder blades are right above the blanket. Add neck pillow under neck and move arms to Goddess position if comfortable for  your shoulders. Otherwise, they can go by your side or stack hands on top of your belly.  10 to 15 minutes, dropping the weight of your body on the exhalations.


Friday, April 17, 2015

April 13 Restore Series


My head feels like a ping pong game.  This is my vata being off balance.  My dosha is normally very spacious giving me room to be present and take inspiration from all around me. Not so much right now. My mind still creates but instead of inspiration, it causes me perspiration.  Did I say my Dosha was off?  Is a Dosha akin to my mojo?  I suppose so, in whatever language/belief you may have, something is off balance.  

I recently attended the first of 4 weekend trainings to be a Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist at Moon Dog Yoga in Quakertown.  I have been introduced to Ayurveda previously but this in depth look at the science of life, has my head reeling.  Overall, I believe I get it but connecting the dots especially when you throw in more than a few sanskrit words, isn't happening.  Then I pause, take a breath, allow a moment of stillness to reside in me, and give myself a break.  Easy peeze, right?  

Dinahcharya - not Dinah Shore

I've begun to add a few more Ayurvedic routines into my day.  5:30 a.m. My day begins with an intention for the day right from my very own bed.  I first splash my face with cold water 6 times (not sure if Ayurvedic but it wakes me up and seems to reduce any puffiness). I then move on to scraping my tongue to remove Ama "Scraping the tongue daily removes any build-up on the tongue, which, if left untreated, can lead to bad breath and may house a significant number of bacteria. This simple practice is a direct way of removing Ama from your physiology. In Ayurveda, Ama refers to any accumulation of toxic residue in the mind-body. This can result from improper eating, poor digestion, or a reflection of an imbalance somewhere in the gastrointestinal system." http://www.chopra.com/ccl/the-benefits-of-tongue-scraping
and gargle with warm sesame oil.  So far so good. The neti pot is next on my routine,  usual for this well-pollinated time of year.  More sesame oil to coat just inside my nostrils.   The blip in this routine happens when I need to drink a warm glass of water with lemon in it.  I need to go down to the kitchen and boil water, cut lemons and then wait for the water to cool down.  The water with lemon is used to support elimination and can trigger peristalsis .  By the time, the water is ready, I am so over needing it.  A yoga practice and meditation follows the purging.  If it is a bath day for me, add dry brushing,  oiling the skin from head to toe, waiting for the oil to absorb and then my shower.  Whew, that is a full load.  (Abyhanga)

10:00 p.m. The evening routine is much more manageable and enjoyable for me. How about a yummy nighty night drink, Rasayana. Raw unpasteurized milk, boiled with cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg and coriander. Add some raw honey after cooled a bit and HEAVEN.  My feet get a lovely lavender oil massage and off I go to dreamland.

So back to the giving myself a break thing. I am trying out these routines and they are not set in stone. What works for me and my life right now?  What works to balance me, keep my mojo/dosha in check.  I want to bring love, light and life to myself. That is my true intention.  Just figuring it out for now folks.  Please google any of the above practices for more information, or send me a comment for further resources. 

The Poses
Supported Reclining Pose
Props: bolster, two blocks, neck roll, at least 5 blankets
Benefits: helps with insomnia, congestion, relieves tension between the shoulder blades and is beneficial for the kidneys. Can help reprogram your nervous system.
Build an incline with the bolster and two blocks, make it sturdy. A smaller rolled up blanket is placed at the lower end of incline to support lumbar spine. One double-folded blanket at top of bolster to lay the head on. And one long-rolled blanket with ends tucked under to support knees and keep legs in place.  Two triple-folded blankets on either side to rest arms on (if arms out to the sides) or two blankets placed on floor just above the shoulders for Goddess arms. 
Sit in front of bolster with tailbone resting on floor. Place rolled up blanket under knees. Lean back on bolster and place head on blanket and your neck roll in cervical curve. Let heels come to the floor (may add blanket for cushioning of heels or even wrap feet for extra comfort and warmth). Arms rest either at side or in Goddess position, palms facing up. Take several long, slow breaths. As you exhale sigh it out and drop the belly to drop onto the pelvis. Stay with the pose anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. 

Childs Pose - Straddle Variation
Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed.
Props: bolster, 2-4 blankets, may use a chair, if difficult to reach bolster.

Place blanket single-fold on bolster draping down. Legs can stretch through chair or straddle or cross-legged.  Arms placed folded on chair in front of you. Rest forehead on arms. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest.  Close eyes. For comfort or lower back issues, sit on blanket, add rolled up blankets under knees if legs in straddle, or blocks/blankets under knees if cross legged. May add a blanket at sacrum for grounding.


Revolved AbdominalTwist
Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth and or laying on lower back to ground
Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine (quadratus lumborom) Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced.

Set one bolster lengthwise on your mat.  Depending upon your comfort, height can be elevated with blocks under bolster. Lay one blanket on top double-fold and one double-fold at end of bolster where your right hip will go. Sit next to bolster with your right hip touching it, bend knees, left or top ankle can lay in arch of right foot or other comfortable position for feet. For added comfort, place blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, laying bent legs in one directions and upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.


Starfish Pose (Savasana)
Props: 2 or more blankets, neck rolls, eye pillow
Benefits: soothing to the nervous system, grounding, gentle chest opener,  releases the pelvis

Lay a blanket on  your mat for extra comfort and warmth, blankets for the arms as well.  As you lay down, place your feet towards the corners of your mat and arms about 10-12 inches from your body, palms up. Add your eye pillow, and blanket on top.  We adjusted the legs with our Double Dutch for optimal release through the legs and pelvis.  Try a progressive relaxation, 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 7 Restore Series

And the beat goes on....here I am post-cleanse.  I wish I could say that it was the miraculous transformation that so many have witnessed in their own cleanses.  Indeed, there were micro-changes.  I spent a lot of the time observing my physical reaction to limiting sugars, caffeine, processed foods and most proteins as well as my emotional and mental reactions.  Some of the physical observations were easy to spot, like less flatulence (we are all friends here, right?) while others not so much (lightness, energy).  What was apparent in my moods, were increased irritability by afternoon time, fixation on my cravings and beginning each day on a very positive note.

So would a cleanse be beneficial for you?  And which one? There are so many varieties of cleanses as there are diets.  My friend and colleague, Lisa Scarborough, is creating a program for wellness which will include a cleanse according to the Ayurvedic dosha system.  Read more on the Ayurvedic system from our friends at MindBodyGreen.com by Nadya Andreeva  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1117/Ayurveda-Dosha-Types-for-Beginners.html.  Once Lisa's program is ready, I will let you know.

Ayurveda is a holistic science of health, focusing on maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state. Ayurveda began about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago when Indian monks were looking for new ways to be healthy. Revering their bodies like temples, the monks believed that preserving their health would help them meditate and develop spiritually. Over thousands of years of observations, they gathered all their conclusions and advice and preserved it for future generations. This collection of knowledge came to be known as the "science or knowledge of life" -- Ayurveda. 
 
How is Ayurveda different from modern medicine?

  • In Ayurveda, every individual is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone.
  • Prevention is key. Ayurveda focuses on providing specific advice and guidance on how to maintain physical and emotional health.
  • Food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine. If you come to an Ayurvedic doctor with a complaint, you are more likely to leave with a recipe than with a prescription for pills.
How does Ayurveda work?
Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas. Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body: 

The 3 Dosha types:
1. Vata Dosha -- Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat. 

  • In balance: There is creativity and vitality. 
  • Out of balance: Can produce fear and anxiety.
2. Pitta Dosha -- Energy that controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body's temperature. 
  • In balance: Leads to contentment and intelligence. 
  • Out of balance: Can cause ulcers and anger.
3. Kapha Dosha -- Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. 
  • In balance: Expressed as love and forgiveness. 
  • Out of balance: Can lead to insecurity and envy.
Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one's physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types. Generally these are considered to be characteristics of each mind/body type:

The Poses

Belly Down
Props: 2 or more blankets, neck rolls
Benefits: soothing to the nervous system, grounding, stimulates the
digestive system, gentle chest opener, lengthens the legs, ankles, releases the pelvis

Place a blanket for the chest to lie on as well as fill in the belly area and one blanket for a pillow. Lie belly down with legs extended, arms bent slightly out to the side. Can hold onto your neck roll to ground through the palms. Turn your head to one side and change direction when you need to.  Additional support at the ankles. Add a blanket over top for comfort and warmth.

Another Version of Opening up the Chest and Comforting the Belly


Supported Belly Wrap Pose (Minimal Prop)

Props: 1-2 blankets
Benefits: grounding, soothes abdominal organs, relaxes and relieve fatigue in the legs, opens chest

Open blanket so that you have a longer rectangle, fold this rectangle over approx. 4 times, smoothing each fold so no creases appear.  Lay on your belly with the blanket between your lower navel area and the breastbone, legs stretch out.  Arms and hands can form a pillow under your head or use a neck roll.

Wrap extra ends of the blanket over your back and add another blanket for grounding.  Stay for 5 minutes or however long to release into the earth.

Reclined Bound Angle
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow

Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. We used the wall in this week's class placing the bolster at a higher elevation. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees)  Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Legs up on Bolster


  Props: bolster, two blocks, blanket, neck pillow, eye pillow  

Benefits: may help reduce swelling in legs, release tension in pelvis, gentle chest opener, relaxing, great for end of day, reduces heat

The photo demonstrates Legs Up version with two blocks placed under the bolster. Another variation is to keep the Reclined Bound Angle set-up as above and lay the legs on the bolster at that angle.  Legs will be at more of an incline.  Use as many blankets as you need to ensure that your low back is comfortable.