In our stressful lives we tend to feel as though we have lost control. Even though we always have control of one thing, our breath. Breath is essential to life. By connecting with our breath we are able to calm the mind, relieve anxiety, become more focused, and heal from within. The great thing about this practice is that it can be done anywhere! It’s the perfect way to start off your yoga practice, during pain after breast cancer related surgeries or treatments, at work, or even in your car. Allow your breath to center you; bring you into the present moment.
- To begin find a comfortable position. For this example we used a seated posture. Please always listen to your body and find a position that best suits you in your stage of recovery.
- Press your sits bones down into the mat as you lengthen up out of the crown of the head. Keeping the ears in line with the shoulders.
- You may place your hands on your knees with palms facing up or with hands in prayer at heart center.
- You may close you eyes or keep them open. Try a few rounds both ways to find which works best for you.
- Begin to bring your attention to your breath. Notice how your lungs feel on each inhale and exhale. If your mind begins to wander bring it back to your breathing.
- Gently exhale completely. At the end of the exhale, slowly begin to inhale, stretching the breath. Filling the lungs completely. Resist the temptation to rush your breath.
- When the lungs are full, slowly exhale. Keeping the inhale and exhale the same. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath.
- With each inhale, feel the fresh oxygenated blood healing your body. With each exhale, see all the toxins leave your body.
- Continue for 10 breathes to start. You may go longer as you see fit.
- To release the pose, place hands by sides, relax, and smile.
Sanskrit name: Tadasana
Bad habits and gravity have shaped our posture. When we slouch or crunch our bodies it creates kinks in the body and disrupts the energetic flow within the body. Similar to a kink in a garden hose. Causing tension, discomfort, and disease within the body. Mountain pose is perfect to improve our posture and help the healing energy flow once again. This is another pose like mindful breathing that can be practice almost anywhere at anytime.
- Step to the top of your mat with your feet parallel and hip width distance apart. Hands by your sides. To make this pose more challenging you may place your feet together.
- Stack your knees over your ankles, hips over the knees, shoulders over the hips, and shoulders and ears are in line with each other.
- Lift all 10 toes and feel your feet ground into the mat. Slowly lower one toe at a time starting with the pinky toe.
- Gently shift your weight forward to the balls of the feet, then backwards on the heels then gently shift to the right and lastly to the left. Allow yourself to feel your foot rooted into the mat.
- Keep your feet grounded as you engage your thighs, lifting the knee caps. Be sure not to lock out your knees, by keeping a micro bend in the knees.
- Engage the glutes and bring your lower belly to your spine to protect your back.
- Inhale as you broaden your shoulders, then shrug them up to your ears. Slide your palms down the side of your thighs and extend up through the crown of the head.
- Breathe here for 5-10 breaths to start. As you breath imagine that you are a mountain, strong and unmovable.
- To exit the pose relax your body.
*You may also practice this pose up against the wall. The back of the heals, buttocks, and shoulders should be pressed up against the wall but, not the back of the head.*
Supported Bridge Pose
Sanskrit: Setu Banda Sarvangasana
Supported bridge is an energizing pose that opens the chest and shoulders. Stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid which promotes healthy immune system function. Other notable benefits include reduced fatigue, anxiety, improves digestion, lowered blood pressure, and relief of menstrual/menopause symptoms. Which is why it is one of my favorite poses.
You can practice this pose with or without the use of a block. By using a block the pose becomes more restorative. It may be helpful to have someone place the block underneath you.
- Lie on your back with your hands by your sides. Palms facing down.
- Bend your knees, placing the soles of your feet to the mat. The feet are parallel and hip-width distance apart.
- Make sure your lower back is on the mat as well as your shoulders.
- Press your palms and feet into the mat. (If yours legs splay out, use a strap around your thighs or place another block between your thighs)
- As you inhale lift your pelvis to the sky. Keep pressing the palms and feet into the mat. (If you feel pain in your neck gently lift your chin to create space)
- With your hips lifted place the block underneath your sacrum (the space right above your tail bone). Use the block height the works best for your body. Try them all to see which one is the best.
- Gaze up, passed the tip of your nose. Stay here for 5-10 breathes. As you practice more and gain more strength and energy you may stay longer.
- To exit the pose, remove the block and lower the pelvis back down to the mat. Straighten the legs. Rest here for a few breaths and feel the effects on your body.
Gentle Seated Twist
Gentle seated twist stimulates the internal organs as well as the lymphatic system. This both aids digestion and improves the function of the immune system. The spine, shoulders and hips are stretched and strengthened as well. It’s important to always listen to your body and twist only as far as it feels good. Happy twisting!
- Sit in a comfortable seated position with your legs crossed. If your hips are tight and sitting with your legs crossed is not comfortable, sit on a folded blanket to support your hips. Place the palms of your hands on your knees.
- Make sure your ears and shoulders are aligned. Then begin to root your sits bone into the mat as you extend up and out of the crown of the head. This straightens the spine and creates space for a healthy twist. Take a few breathes here.
- On an exhale, twist to the right keeping the spinal extension. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand either next to your right waist with palms racing down, finger tips forward. Or you may place your right hand a few inches behind you, palm facing down and fingers pointed backward. Gaze passed the tip of your nose. (To deepen the twist, inhale lengthen up and as you exhale bend your left elbow)
- Stay here for 1-5 breathes.
- On an inhale, release the twist and come back to center. As you exhale repeat on the left side. Be sure to stay equal amount time on the left side.
Sanskrit Name: Savasana
Though this may look the easiest, savasana is one of the most challenging yoga poses because it requires you to relax and let go. As you may know this is easier said than done. As a restorative pose, savasana rejuvenates the body, calms the mind, and lowers blood pressure. This translates into the alleviation of fatigue, anxiety, and stress.
Savasana is especially good on the days you feel the most run down to revitalized your body and mind. Try dimming the lights and creating a relaxing environment to help you go deeper into the pose.
- Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, palms facing up.
- On an inhale bring your knees into your chest. As you exhale, lower the soles of your feet to the mat. The knees are bent and feet are parallel. Gently straighten your legs and allow them to roll out naturally.
- Close your eyes, bring your attention inward. Begin to focus on your breathing.
- Gently inhale through the nose until the lungs are completely full and release the exhale out through mouth as a exaggerated sigh. Do this 2-3 times to allow yourself to relax even further.
- Return to your normal breathing. Feel your body, scan yourself from head to toe and release any tension you may feel. Continue to focusing on your breath and feel the healing light radiate through your entire being.
- Stay in this pose for a minimum of fives minutes to receive the restorative benefits. You may stay in this pose as long as you like.
- When you are ready to come out of the pose first begin by wiggling your fingers and toes. Slowly turn you head to the right, then to the left. Inhale stretch your arms overhead and exhale roll to your right side. Use your left hand to press yourself up to a seated position and smile.