Prana flow boost
Refresh body and mind: 9 postures to boost your prana flow. By Laura Dodd
This series of postures is about connecting body, mind and breath through a moving meditation; it’s about boosting the flow of prana, or energy, throughout the body to fully refresh both body and mind. Asana, the physical poses, and pranayama, the regulation of breath, was developed to circulate, cultivate, and control prana. When prana flows efficiently, both our voluntary and involuntary functions work at the correct levels, which can help promote a calmer mind, increased stress resilience, higher concentration levels, healthier digestion, more restful sleep and therefore improving our overall wellbeing.
Move through the following invigorating sequence, connecting breath and movement, to let your energy flow and refresh the body and mind. You will need one yoga block and always listen carefully to your body throughout the practice to do what is right for you. Breathe deeply and enjoy. Let’s get started!
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1. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
From standing, facing the left-hand side of your mat, take a wide step out so your feet are roughly 3-4 feet apart. Turn the right toes to face the front of the mat and bring the left foot to around 45-90 degrees, making sure the heel of the front foot is in line with the middle arch of the back foot and the back foot is grounded. Bring the arms parallel to the mat. As you inhale, reach the right arm forward and draw the right hip back in space, hingeing at the hip. Exhale as you bring the right hand to a block, your shin or the mat. Keep length in the sides of the body, the shoulders in line with the hips and legs and the chest rotated to the sky. Inhale, as you take the gaze and the left hand up. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
2. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Come to a Warrior II posture, right foot forward. Making sure the front heel is in line with the middle arch of the back foot, the back foot is grounded at around 90 degrees with the outer edge of the foot pushing into the mat and the front knee is tracking over the front ankle. Hold the lower body steady in this position. Take an inhale here. Exhale, bring the right forearm to the right thigh or the right hand to inside the foot or to a block. Inhale, sweep the left hand down and forward to create one line from the outside edge of the left foot to the fingertips. Keeping the torso rotating to the sky, and keep length in the side body, as you draw in through the lower ribs and abdominals. Breathe here for five Ujjayi breaths, before repeating on the other side.
3. Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)
From standing, facing the left-hand side of your mat, take a wide step out so your feet are roughly 3-4 feet apart and feet are in line with each other. Draw the toes to face the corners of the mat so the feet are around 45 degrees. Take an inhale here, on the next exhale, bend the knees and drop the hips down, keeping the knees tracking over the toes. Engage the glutes as you draw in through the lower abdomen and draw the shoulders down the back and bring the hands to heart centre. Hold for five deep breaths.
4. Skandasana (Side Lunge Pose Or Half Squat Pose)
Begin in Goddess pose, take an inhale. Exhale, start to drop the right hip down towards the mat towards the right heel, keeping the left leg long. Keep pushing the hips back, as you lift through the chest, keep the shoulders drawing back, as you root down through the left heel and flex the toes. Gently draw the right knee away from you to the side. Drop into the hip as far as feels good. Modify as necessary: lift the heel, drop the hands to the mat, hands to heart centre or rotate the chest to the sky. Stay for five strong breaths. Repeat on the other side.
5. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
Come to standing at the back of the mat. Step the right foot forward around 3 feet with the right foot facing forward and the left foot to around 45 degrees. Make sure your feet are hip-distance apart and your hips are squared to the front of the mat. Come to place your right hand on your lower back. Inhale, lift the left hand up, lengthening through the spine. Exhale, hinge at the hips, lowering the torso down and reaching fingertips to the top of the mat. Lower the torso down to a place where you feel you can keep the spine long and the chest open. Variations are to either drop the left hand to a block or the mat, inside or outside the front foot. Inhale, lift the gaze and the right hand to the sky, drawing in through the lower ribs and belly and twisting the torso to the right-hand side of the room. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
6. Parighasana (Gate Pose)
Begin kneeling with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, keeping your pelvis in neutral and your hips over your knees. Draw the right leg straight out to the side, right toes generally facing the side of the mat and keeping the left side of the hips directly over the left knee. Inhale, reach the left hand up to lengthen through the spine. Exhale, slide the right hand down the right leg, to either rest on the shin or thigh, as you reach the left hand towards the right toes. Lengthen through the sides of the body as you gaze up. Keep breathing here for five strong breaths. Repeat on the other side.
8. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Stay lying on your front, keeping awareness of space in the back of the neck and the lower back. Take hold of the outside edge of the feet or ankles with the hands. Inhale, simultaneously lift the chest and thighs off the mat, as you draw the shoulder blades together, hug the thighs into the mid-line and maybe lift the chest and feet a little higher. Keep breathing here for five strong breaths.
7. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Come to lie on your front, palms facing down, next to the hips. Draw the shoulder blades together and engage the glutes, as the feet point and the legs draw into the mid-line. Inhale, lift the chest, the feet and the hands away from the mat, keeping the back of the neck long and keeping length in the lower back. Variations are to either keep the hands by the hips or clasp the hands together behind the back. Hold for five deep breaths.
9. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
Bring yourself to lying down on your back as you draw the knees in towards the armpits and the feet towards the sky. Inhale, take hold of the outside edge of the feet with the hands. Exhale, use the hands to gently draw the knees towards the armpits. Keep drawing the sacrum towards the earth and the feet flexed to the sky, as you soften the head, neck and shoulders onto the mat. Hold for five deep breaths.