It is hip to be square. Last night I was sitting on the porch handing out candy when the nerdiest couple of kids came up requesting said candy. I was looking at their costume of rolled up pants, checkered shirt, suspenders and big black glasses, and I'm thinking they look pretty hip to me. Segue to our practice this week on bringing the focus to our hips by opening them up to ground ourselves in this whirlwind of a season. It is Vata season. See the below video by Banyan Botanicals for some helpful advice to keep you in balance both off and on your mat.
Vata Pacifying Yoga
Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness. If you have a vata constitution, or imbalance, this video demonstrates how you can customize your yoga practice to encourage the opposite qualities that naturally bring vata back into balance. By adding the qualities of warmth, stability, grounding and focus to your practice, you can reestablish your natural state of health and well-being.
A yoga practice for a vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:
- Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.
- Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.
- Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.
- Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.
- Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.
- Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.
- As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.
- Focus on lengthening your inhalation.
- Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toes.
- Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.
- Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.
- Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.
- Be present in your practice.
- Stay warm.
- Conclude your practice with a long relaxation.
Humming Breath (Brahmari)
- Excellent for speeding up the healing of body tissues
- Alleviates stress and tension, anger, anxiety, asthma, insomnia, and high blood pressure
- Strengthens the voice and relieves thyroid ailments
- Benefits are enhanced when practiced after Nadi Shodhana
- Balance air and ether, especially in the vata Fall season (Ayurvedic)
- Sit comfortably, with lips closed and teeth slightly opened. Make sure the jaw is relaxed.
- Raise the arms to the sides, bend the elbows, and bring the hands to the ears, plugging the ears with the index or middle fingers.
- Bring the awareness to the center of the head (ajna chakra) and keep the body still.
- Inhale through the nose, and while exhaling make a deep, steady humming sound like a bee for the duration of the exhale.
- Then, while inhaling, contract the throat to produce a humming sound on inhalation (if this sound is difficult to make at first, focus only on producing the sound while exhaling).
- Practice 5 rounds, ending with a humming exhale.
Props: 2-3 blankets, neck roll, two bolsters
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.
Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft ones!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing. It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.
On your mat, place one bolster where your knees will be and another where your lower legs can rest, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), and a neck roll for the cervical spine. Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up or come into Goddess arms. If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel. Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes. Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves. Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket. Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.
Props: bolster, two blocks, 2-3 blankets
Benefits: Gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind. Give a sense of security. Feeling support and release.
Extras:sandbag for sacrum
Place the two blocks at either the lowest or medium height, equidistant from each other bolster lengthwise on top of blocks. A s-fold or triple fold blanket on top of bolster. It may be more comfortable without blocks. Legs straddle the props at one end, and lengthen body over them. Head will rest on props. Additional blanket(s) may be used behind knees. Ideally props should extend all the way to the pelvis area but this may not be the case with your body structure. Stay here for 10 minutes to begin with, rotating head side to side.
Nesting Side-Lying Pose
Benefits; Grounding, 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.
|Can you find the student?|
Props: bolster, 3-4 blankets, neck pillow
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".
Labels: Childs Pose, Humming Breath, Mountain Brook Pose, Nesting Side-Lying Pose