As we find ourselves in the midst of a period where uncertainty and fear hover over us, this is also precisely the time when we most cherish the yoga practice that can serve as an anchor during stressful times.
The current global reality forces us to undergo drastic changes in our way of living, and while we may feel isolated to a degree, this situation affects us all, and so, ironically, connects us all.
In these times, where our physical body is under many limitations, we choose to see this as an opportunity to practice the changing of habits. Behavioral, mental, and even old emotional patterns that no longer serve us.
We decided to share with you a short sequence that aids in reducing anxiety and boosting the immune system. It can be useful to anyone who feels a little restricted during this period, or to anyone who simply wants to practice and enjoy the benefits.
All you need is yourself and your mat, let get started (:
Start with finding a simple, comfortable cross-legged seated position, make sure you choose one that you can commit to for the next few minutes.
Close your eyes, find a soft place for your hands to rest, and begin to notice your natural breath (let go of any idea or mental concept you may have of how the breath should be in yoga practice -don't change anything yet)
After a few rounds, start to take control over your breath, deepening the inhale, and lengthening the exhale as much as you can without tension.
Increasing the lung's capacity allows for more air and more oxygen to flow through the body, cleansing the blood and conjunctions in our body.
From here we're going to move to some sweet neck stretches.
Drop your left ear to the left shoulder, bring the right-hand all the way back and around your lower back. Pull the right shoulder away from the right ear.
You can gently sway your chin towards and then away from your chest. Make it a small movement and if you find a juicy spot, feel free to take an extra breath right there.
Our neck is the first to hold tension when we're stressed out, allow this stretch to release some mental or emotional tension as well.
Count 5 breath and repeat on the other side.
Next, is a simple Seated Side Bend
Place your left hand on the floor next to the left hip, reach your right hand up and over your head, palm facing down.
Use the left hand on the earth as leverage, press your hand down to root your right sitting bone while at the same time keep reaching your top arm towards the left.
This pose helps to create more space around the rib-cage and heart, making it easier to inhale more air. And, as we have established before breath = healing.
Count 5 breath and repeat on the other side.
Ahhh sweet loving Child's Pose...
From seating, shift weight forward to your hands, bring your big toes to touch, send your hips all the way back to your heels, arms point to back and shoulder melt over the knees.This is a grounding pose, focus for the next few breaths on sinking your body into the joints, connect the forehead down to mother earth, humbly letting her hold your tensions in a loving compassionate way.
Take as many breaths as you like here, this is home base.
This is one of our favorites!
From nurturing Child's Pose, interlace your fingers behind your lower back, keep your elbows bent and parallel, then, slowly transition weight on to the crown of the head, placing the hips in a straight line above the knees.
This one is going deep into the shoulders and neck, those areas that sometimes just won't let go!
5- 10 breathes.
Slowly come up to standing, doing so in any way you feel comfortable. Remember this is a relaxing sequence, make every transition with at-most awareness, without forcing or pushing the body.
Simple Forward fold, can be performed with a generous bend in the knees, hugging opposite elbows, drape the upper body over the legs.
Surrender to the gravity here, again a reminder, we are here to find relaxation rather than effort or a deep stretch.
Hold for 5-8 breath, allowing all the blood to move down towards the heart and brain.
From here were moving towards a few simple standing poses, as creating heat and strength helps to boost our immune system.
By performing this standing sequence you teach your body to work as one harmonious unit.
Trikonasana or Triangle Pose.
Start with the right foot pointing forward, left foot parallel to the short edge of the mat, toes point a bit inwards.
Place the right hand on the right leg/block/ or even a pile of books can do the trick.
Root the feet down and pull the energy from the earth towards the upper hand. With the inhale, lengthen the sides of the body, and on the exhale focus on the bottom side of the rib cage and heart revolving towards the sky.
5-8 breathes and onto the left side.
As we arrive at the peak of our practice, begin to notice how you feel in your body. Yoga teaches us that by cultivating body and breath, it literally can change how we feel!
Set the same foundations as Trikonasana (the previous pose) and bend the front knee right over the front ankle, press the back thigh to elongate the back knee, keep your shoulders over the hips, pull your belly in, point the tailbone down, arms spread in a T position and BREATH.
5-8 breathes and do the other side.
Yoga helps us practice being present in the moment and quiet the mind of all the troublesome thoughts that don't belong to this present moment.
Moving to our last standing posture: Revolved High Lunge.
Square your hips towards the front of the mat, lift your back heel and keep the front knee over the front ankle.
Inhale, bring your hands to your heart center in Anjali Mudra and lift your chest up.
Exhale, twist and bring the left elbow on top of the right knee. This pose can be performed with the back knee down on the floor.
Take 5-8 breathes here, on the inhale, lengthening the spine, and with every exhale twist a little bit deeper.
Have a seat, move slowly and gently onto the ground.
Root your seat bones and extend your legs forward and up, you can also keep your knees bent and find your own variation of Navasana.
Take 5 breaths here, release and repeat for as many times you want.
Optional: lift the corners of your lips towards your ears (:
This is a great opportunity to experience how our body can affect how we feel, not only the other way around.
Release everything down, come to lie down on your back.
Place your hands underneath your buttock, take a deep breath in, lift your chest, pull your shoulder blades closer and drop the crown of the head back for Fish Pose.
This pose opens the whole front body, as we tend to shrug our shoulders forward. It softens the heart, as we tend to close it in times of fear.
Moving into a Half Spinal Twist Pose.
Twists are the most powerful healing practices we can do with our bodies.
Twists penetrate deep into the body, massaging the organs of the abdominal region, they aid with digestion and detoxification and increase metabolism.
To finish our practice together, we will move into an inversion. Here are three wonderful options to reverse the blood flow. Choose the one that calls your name TODAY.
Sirsansana - Headstand:
Sarvangasana - Shoulder Stand:
And our favorite and most recommended, Legs up the wall:
Whichever variation you're going for, spend 2-3 minutes there so your body can adjust to all this blood rushing to the other direction.
From here the road to Savasana is really short, just make your way to lie flat on the back.
Savasana is a practice of letting go, of trust that the world will keep on spinning while your physical body takes a break from it all.
We'll finish with very wise advice from one of the smartest women we know, Carmit, our studio manager, the fairy godmother that no matter what energy swoops into our working space, she magically creates harmony between us all;
"We can keep fussing about prevention or make things happen or not happen.
But, this morning we got out of bed, healthy and with breath in our body? So today is a good day!
This is our reality for this present moment, bless this moment, and find gratitude in your heart."
The Ripple family.