The Spinal Twist is an energizing and detoxifying pose. It stimulates digestion and opens the chest and lungs. Visualize breathing in fresh air as your spine lengthens and exhaling stale air as you twist.
Supine Twist (you can do this in bed in the morning if you like):
- Lie down on your back and breathe
- Inhale, then exhale and bend the right knee and hug it to your chest
- Inhale. Holding the right knee with the left hand, slowly twist to your left and exhale
- Inhale and extend your right arm perpendicular to your body (see photo) and gently roll your head to the right
- Exhale and adjust the left shoulder by sliding it to the left to allow shoulder blades to be flat on the floor or bed
- Have pillows or a block nearby to place under the right knee as needed. Breathe deeply. You should feel very comfortable in this pose. If there is any discomfort, adjust the pose
- Gently unwind and return to original position. Repeat on other side
Variation: Bend both knees for the twist.
Welcome to Cobra pose, a heart opening back-bend. Cobra creates energy in the body, opens the chest and lungs, strengthens the spine, stimulates digestion and firms the buttocks.
- Lie face down with your forehead on the floor and legs straight, tops of the feet on the floor. Place your palms on the floor, fingers spread, with the tips of the fingers in line with the tops of the shoulders. Hug the elbows against the ribs.
- Press the thighs and pelvis firmly into the floor and tighten the buttocks.
- Inhale and slowly lift forehead, chin then chest off the floor with your back muscles only. You may press down through your hands and lift more if you want more of a stretch.Pelvis stays on the floor.
- Gently pull the shoulders back and down, away from the ears, lifting the upper chest.Breathe.
- Exhale as you slowly lower back down to the floor.
Do not practice Cobra if you are pregnant, have a back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tree is a balancing pose that is accessible to everyone. Expect to make small adjustments to your balance while in Tree; it’s not possible to be completely motionless in this pose. Imagine yourself as a tree, swaying slightly with the wind but staying upright. Practice tree every day for a month and you will be amazed by how much your balance improves!
- Stand up straight with arms at your sides. Spread your toes and root down through your feet to make your legs strong. Tilt your hips slightly up and firm the muscles in the abdomen.Inhale, lifting the chest up and rolling the shoulders back and down. Find a spot on the floor to focus your gaze. It will help keep you balanced. If you’re new to tree, first try this pose against a wall.
- Shift your balance to one leg. Breathe. Begin to lift the opposite leg to whatever level feels comfortable. Try not to twist the hi. The raised foot can be placed almost anywhere: from toes on the floor with the heel on the ankle to foot against the inner thigh. Just be sure not to put the foot on the inside of the knee.
- Bring your hands together in front of your heart. Remain here and breathe. You can raise your arms above your head if you want more of a challenge.
- When you’re ready, slowly lower arms to sides and bring foot back to the floor. Stand in Mountain pose for a few breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) is a wonderful way to relax and has medically proven positive effects on many health conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Always start with asana (yoga poses) before pranayama to relax the body.If you only have a little time, focus on poses to loosen chest and back muscles. For example:
Paying attention to the breath is the most important part of pranayama. If you are paying attention to your breath, you are doing it right.Don’t worry about being perfect. If a thought enters your mind, let it pass right through and return your focus to your breath.
Check your posture. You can practice pranayama in any comfortable position, but do try to keep your spine straight: Ears in line with shoulders,shoulders in line with hips.Start by taking a breath in as you roll your shoulders up and exhale as youmove the shoulder blades back and down to align your spine. If you are pregnant do not lie flat on your back, prop up your head and upper back with pillows.Retention (holding your breath) is a part of some pranayamas. It helps to quiet the body and focus the mind. If you are pregnant, if you have any lung diseases or problems with fainting/vertigo, or if holding your breath makes you anxious, do not retain your breath.
Lying on your back with knees bent, put 1 hand on your chest and 1 hand on your belly. Notice your breath without trying to control it.Once you feel more relaxed, allow your belly to blow up like a balloon as you inhale and pull your navel toward your spine as you exhale. You may use pillows under your knees if you like.
Sama Vritti (equal breathing):
In any position, count to 3 as you inhale and count to 3 as you exhale. You may increase the length of breath as desired.
Bhramari (buzzing bee):
Plug your ears with your finger tips and close your eyes. Inhale and hum as you slowly exhale. Feel the vibration in your body. Good for inward focus prior to meditation.
2 to 1 breathing:
Inhale to any comfortable count (3, 4, 5) and exhale to twice that count. For example: If you inhale to the count of 3, exhale to the count of 6. Pause for a second between the inhale and the exhale.Remember to pull your navel to your spine as you exhale.
1) Inhale to the count 4
2) Retain the breath to the count of 4
3) Exhale to the count of 4
4) Retain the breath to the count of 4