I actually did a decent sequence this evening in the park. I’ve been doing way more breathing exercises and meditation than “actual poses” lately, so it felt great to stretch. Although it’s always weird to practice in a crowded Brooklyn park, you feel so many eyes on you (even if they’re not). Here’s the part that flowed really nicely:
- Prayer Pose (standing, w/hands together)
- Forward Bend w/hands interlaced behind back
- High Lunge
- Bound Revolved Side Angle
- Bound Revolved Half Moon
- Airplane (low lunge with forearms on ground)
- Hamstring Stretch (from low lunge, sit hips back on heel and stretch front leg)
- Half Moon (circling arm forward and leaning onto front leg to come up)
- Dancer’s Pose
- Full Dancer’s Pose (both hands over head to grasp toe)
- Prayer Pose
Then the other side. Tree into Flying Crow was also a nice transition. And I held a Handstand, unsupported, for 2 whole seconds :)
The nice thing about the park is that I can jog to warm up, so I don’t have to do Sun Salutes! I really hate them most of the time. Which means I’m doing them wrong…
Spending 3 hours doing yoga today… who’s underemployed???
Since I got back from the retreat, I’ve actually kept up a morning practice. I always do pranayama:
- 3 rounds Breath of Fire (60, 75, 90 reps, and 60, 75, 90 second retentions)
- 5–10 rounds Alternate Nostril Breathing (inhale 4, hold 16, exhale 8 )
Sometimes I add my favorite sequence ever: the Kundalini Spinal Warmup. It is great for days when you can’t bring yourself to practice vinyasa, or you’re really stiff, or you’re tired and can’t think, or your back hurts, or you have shoulder problems. Sitting in easy pose:
- Hands on knees: Flex spine forward and back, with Breath of Fire (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands on shoulders, elbows out: Rotate spine side to side, with Breath of Fire (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands clasped in front of heart (Bear Grip), pulling on each other: Rock alternate elbows up and down, with Deep Breathing (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands still clasped in front of heart: Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Raise clasped hands above the head. Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. (3 times)
- Hands on knees. Inhale and hunch shoulders up to ears; exhale and drop them, with Breath of Fire (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands on knees. Tip chin to chest; inhale and roll head around in a circle, lifting from the jaw as it reaches the back. (5 times clockwise, 5 times counterclockwise)
- Sit on your heels (Rock Pose) and interlace your fingers above your head, index fingers extended to the sky. Close the eyes and focus between the eyebrows. Inhale and think Sat (truth); exhale and think Nam (named), using Breath of Fire. (2 minutes)
I always skip the last one for some reason.
Another great wakeup exercise is Spinal Jump Rope. Sitting in Easy Pose, with the hands on the knees:
- Focus on the navel. Gently start to spiral the lower back clockwise, making each loop a bit larger than the last. Inhale circle it forward and exhale circle it back. Visualize the navel like a sparkler tracing a circle in space. Continue for a couple minutes, then gently slow back to center and do the other direction.
- Focus on the heart. Same as before, but making gentle circles with the upper back.
- Focus on the throat. Same as before, but making gentle circles with the neck.
I did this a few weeks ago and couldn’t stop. My spine got really warmed up and the movement became completely unconscious. I was like a circling Sufi or something. Really weird.
Today I added 5 Sun Salutes; we’ll see if that sticks.
Here is my practice sequence from last week. I’ve been trying to rest a hip strain (the massage therapist and acupuncturist said it needs 4-12 WEEKS of rest), so this gentle sequence from Dr. Amrit Raj was much appreciated. (He was in town for a “Yoga & Ayurveda” workshop at Exhale.)
This is a light sequence, safe for anyone. We did about 10-20 reps each one. The numbers in front are just my mnemonic device. Start off sitting, with legs extended.
10 – Flex toes about 10x (inhale point, exhale flex)
9 – Flex feet about 10x
8 – Circle ankles about 5x each way
7 – Flex knee about 10x each side (clasp foot, bend knee to chest, then straighten leg)
6 – Flex hips about 10x (butterfly position — inhale up, exhale forward)
5 – Round spine and roll forward and back about 10x
4 – On stomach, hold bow pose about 30 seconds
– Rock forward and back about 10x
– Rock side to side about 10x
3 – Clench fingers about 10x (sitting, with arms extended up)
2 – Flex hands about 10x
1 – Circle wrists about 5x each way
0 – Circle shoulders about 5x each way (with arms bent, hands on shoulders)
1 – Turn neck left, right, up, down about 5x
2 – Turn eyes left, right, up, down about 5x
Then 5 minutes of alternate nostril breathing
Then 5 minutes of meditation
I did this every morning last week, and by the middle of the week a chronic charley horse in my foot was completely gone.