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February 24 Restore Series


Whee feel the exhilaration!

This week's blog is the traveling kind.  I am still reliving my recent trip to Pura Vida in Costa Rica. You may or may not be readying yourself for a late winter/early spring vacation but these tips are useful anytime of the year that you are traveling.  The first is a yoga sequence that I created for the airplane.  Try these at home in your own simulated airplane seat (you know the one where your thighs touch your neighbors and there is no leg room to speak of).   Secondly, I will present some tips from our yoga wizards at Yoga Journal for what to do enroute and when you get to your destination to arrive and stay balanced.  Enjoy and if you are taking off on your very own journey, don't forget your journal.

Airplane Sequence
(try a massage for the feet and back with a tennis ball) 

Seated
*Breath 3-part* Sit up tall and align ankles under knees, hip distance
apart. Breath deeply in to the belly filling up, exhale and empty out.
Next breath into belly then rib section (feel expansion in the ribs),
exhale and empty.  Breath into belly, ribs all the way up to the clavicle
or even the throat, exhale from top to bottom. Repeat as many times as you
want. Stop if you get dizzy and come back to normal breath. Calms, aids in
digestion, moves organs.
*Neck Stretches*
*Cat & Cow* (Spinal movments with pelvic tilts) Opens up constrictions in
the back, gets the blood flowing, lengthens spine, opens up chest and
throat.  Sit with feet firmly planted on floor, ankles stacked under knees,
hip distance apart. Stack head over shoulders, crown of the head lifted.
Hands on knees, on an inhale, arch the back belly pressing forward,
lifting chin. Exhale and round the back, chin drawing into sternum. Repeat
at least 10 times more if you feel tight or it just feels good.
*Seated Twist* Same seated position as above. Bring right hand to left
knee, on an inhale, lengthen crown of the head up, on an exhale, twist from
upper back, repeat 3 times on each side.  Brings fresh blood to the spine,
rejuicing the discs, detoxifies (releasing airplane air), spinal adjustment
and aids in digestion (if twisting more from the belly)
*Seated Heel and Toe Lifts* get the blood moving in the legs, alleviate
stiffness, reduce swelling. Sitting in seat as above, lift heels at least
10 times and then toes. Move with breath, inhale lift, exhale release.
*Seated Hip Circles* Same seated position, slightly away from back of
seat. Circle in one direction, full breath for each rotation at least 5
times, then other direction.
*Figure Four* (hip opener) Same seated postion, place right ankle above
left knee or below, breath deeply for at least 4 breaths. Switch sides.
          Standing
          *Heel Lifts* Find a spot where you can stand holding onto a wall and on
          an inhale, lift heels, exhale return down. Great for swelling.
*Hip Circles*
*Side Bends* If possible, inhale arms or one arm to the ceiling, bend to
the side for 4 breaths, inhale center, exhale switch sides.  Even having
the arms by your side and bending to one side will lengthen the side body
and stretch it out.
*Warrior 1* Need a wall or back of seat. Face wall, hands at shoulder
height, step one foot back, front leg is bent at 90 deg angle, stretch out
back inner thigh through the heel, breathing full deep breaths. Switch to
other side.

There are so many others I could share with you but this should give you
an overall feeling of wellness, rejuvenation or allow you to take a nap on
the plane.  One of my students actually gets some of her fellow traveling
mates to do them as well.  Who knows who you'll meet!!!
Travel Suggestions

  • Your Gut - to prevent stomach upset (even if the food is delicious organic and whole) try Probiotics or flax seeds mixed into smoothies, yoghurts.  Bring some powder mix-ins like coconut water powder, seeds or dried fruits blended with local fruits and veggies for a smoothie on the road. Drink plenty of water or bring foods like grapes and celery with high water content.
  • Practice Like the Locals - find a local yoga studio to continue your practice, even if language doesn't transcend, the practice may.
  • Take-off and Landing - Find some time in the airport before your flight to move the spine and lengthen the body.  Does the airport have a yoga/meditation space or maybe a little nook tucked away where you can practice. After landing, see if you can carve out a few minutes to do some stretching and movement to get the circulation going. Legs up anything is very helpful after the flight to drain the legs and quiet the mind. Get out in nature as soon as you can to ground yourself as well. 
  • What to Pack - besides the healthy snacks, if you have room, your mat, perhaps a meditation image that serves you, essential oils to stay calm and relaxed through whatever travel adventure awaits you. They can also help in staving off viruses (orange, clove, birch and cinnamon oil).  
  • Routine - travel may seem anything but.  Bring with you a comforting routine from home. Maybe it is washing your face, or having a glass of water by your bed and a favorite book.  Maybe it is a shawl that you wrap yourself in.
  • Attitude - remember you are traveling to a place that is not your home turf and the reason for travel is because it is different. If things don't go smoothly, your practice will come in handy as you let go of expectations and receive what is happening.

The Breath
Lions Breath (Simhasana)


Sit comfortably either in Sukhasana (Easy Seat) or on your heels. Take a deep inhalation through the nose. Then simultaneously open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, curling its tip down toward the chin, open your eyes wide, contract the muscles on the front of your throat, and exhale the breath slowly out through your mouth with a distinct "ha" sound. The breath should pass over the back of the throat.
Some texts instruct us to set our gaze (drishti) at the spot between the eyebrows. This is called "mid-brow gazing" (bhru-madhya-drishti; bhru = the brow; madhya = middle).Other texts direct the eyes to the tip of the nose (nasa-agra-drishti; nasa = nose; agra = foremost point or part, i.e., tip).
You can roar two or three times. Then change the cross of the legs and repeat for the same number of times.
Benefits: Useful for people with bad breath, relieves stress and can be used when you need to ease a tense situation, relieves tension in the chest and face, move stagnation in sinuses.
(Yoga Journal)

The Poses
Seated Forward Fold (in Chair)

Props: chair or stool, bolster, blankets, neck pillow
Benefits: lengthens spine, centering, aids in relaxation response,
aids in moving digestive process, grounds through feet and seat

Bring chair or stool close enough to the wall where you can sit
in mountain pose and lean bolster at an angle against the wall.
Place blanket on seat of chair and one for the bolster. Add any support for your forehead so neck stays long.



Seated Twist (in Chair)

Props: chair or stool, 2 bolsters, blankets, neck pillow
Benefits: aids in releasing the spine, digestive process, remove toxins, maintain normal spinal rotation, releasing tension in shoulders and back. Opens chest.

Bring Chair or stool close enough to the wall where you can set in mountain pose with one hip along the wall side. Place blanket on seat of chair. In this pose, we set one bolster horizontally and one bolster vertically on top of bottom bolster. We added blankets and neck pillows to support the head in the twist. Outer hand on opposite knee, Inner arm and hand relaxed. Switch sides after 5 minutes or so.

Grounded Cuddled and Cradled (Savasana)

Props: enough blankets to cover, ground and cradle the head, eye pillow
Benefits: Comforting, supportive, keeps warmth in , grounding to feel head cradled and feet touching the wall or blanket, relaxes musculature and pelvis, gentle chest opener and lengthens spine and legs.

Facing wall place a rolled up blanket against wall which feet will rest on. Add any blankets to support low back and arms. Cover your body with a blanket for warmth. The head cradle is made using a blanket tucked around the crown of the head. Add an eye pillow.

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