Happy New Year everyone! I’m not sure about you, but a holidays can make me feel quite lethargic. The business of the season, along with an excess of food and drink, and a lack of my regular practice routines has an impact on how I feel.
As I was practicing recently, a sequence arose that stimulated my digestive system and assisted me to let go into a deep restful shavasana to rejuvenate.
I thought others may benefit from this brief but beneficial sequence ...so here it is if you want to give it a go at home. I also made a guided audio recording of this practice, you will receive a link to it a few days into the new year if you are on my mailing list, or email me for a copy.
This practice is best to do on an empty stomach, perhaps in the morning before breakfast.
The practice starts kneeling, buttocks to heels. There are a few variations of this. Virasana is similar but you sit your buttocks on the ground in between your knees. Some people enjoy this, but please be careful if you have knee issues. I often prefer sitting on a blanket or bolster between my knees. This pose is great for digestion, and a great place to start this sequence focusing on breathing energy into the belly region. Of course, feel free to use any other sitting pose, or even a chair.
While here, try a breathing practice, a variation of agni sari, to stimulate the digestive fire. This breathing is a fast dynamic practice, snapping the abdomen towards the belly on exhale, inhale passive for 3 rounds of about 10 breaths each. We have practiced this in class, but if it doesn’t sound familiar to you please just sit and breathe with awareness, or try any other breathing practice.
From here, move into a variation of dynamic forward virasana, sometimes called sun bird. Inhale to high kneeling, arms overhead, control the exhale, belly to spine as you reach the arms long along the ground, reaching tailbone back towards the heels. As you come up with an inhale, sweep the arms to shoulder height first and then all the way above the head as you come to high kneeling. Do a few rounds of this before staying in a static extended child pose for a few breaths, elongating the spine with every inhale.
Then move into all 4’s for some rounds of cat pose, and then try a dynamic variation of kneeling balance. Start again in a soft extended child, inhale up to all 4’s but extend the left leg and the right arm long off the ground as you balance on the opposite limbs. Exhale back to extended child and then inhale up to the other side.
Rest after this pose in dog pose, staying and breathing and again lengthening the spine, keeping the knees as bent as needed.
From here drop the knees to all 4’s once again for a dynamic variation of extended side stretch. Balancing on the right side, hand under shoulder, extend the left leg long to extend through the left side. The bent right leg may swivel a bit here for balance. Bring your left arm to your hip or lower back while looking down. Inhale and sweep the arm over heard and towards the front, lengthening from the fingers to the foot while you look up. Exhale return the arm to your back and look down. Do a few rounds on each side and then have another stay in dog pose.
Transition from dog pose to the floor, coming to badhakonasana (butterfly) pose. Stay here and breath for another few breaths, either holding on the feet, ankles, or hands behind your back on the floor. This pose also assists with blood flow into the pelvis and abdominal area.
Then move into a comfortable cross leg, or other position for a dynamic seated twist, growing tall on an inhale and exhaling into the twist.
Transition into easy rest position on your spine for a variation of apanasana. In this variation, we extend one leg long along the floor, keeping it active by pushing away gently into the heel. Start with the left leg extended and both arms on the floor overhead. As you exhale, bring the bent right leg in towards the chest and the head towards the knee. Inhale the bent leg to floor, arms return overhead. Starting on this side massages the ascending colon. Do a few rounds before changing sides and massaging into the descending colon. When you have finished come into your favourite supine (lying) twist , resting for a number of breaths on each side, before coming to rest in shavasana for a brief relaxation.
Feel free to stay for a longer rest, perhaps using a yoga nidra practice. I hope you enjoy this practice - let me know how you found it!
Wishing you all a wonderful 2017, with plenty of yoga practice and deep rest opportunities.