Mind Body Balance
10 postures to ground down and find mind-body connection, with Moon Saker. Words by Laura Dodd of The Yoga Class
Move through the following sequence to help find balance for the body and mind in October, a month that encompasses World Mental Health Day. Our days are shortening, darkening, and becoming colder again and this series of poses is designed to ground, as well as rebalance and restore. Physically, these poses play with balance and ground to the Earth, as well as uplift, opening the heart space and chest.
Mentally, we find mind-body connection and use the breath to calm and still the mind. You will need one yoga block. Always listen carefully to your body throughout this practice to do what is right for you. Breathe deeply and enjoy. Let’s get started!
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1. Muktasana — Meditation Pose
Come to a comfortable seat, perhaps using a yoga block or a cushion under your sit bones. Bend the knees so the shins are parallel with the front of the body and the ankles are crossed. Draw up tall through the spine so the crown of the head lifts, tuck the chin very slightly into the chest and roll the shoulders down the back. Anchor your mind on a calm and conscious breath, hold for as long as you need.
2. Vrikshasana — Tree Pose
From Tadasana at the top of the mat, bring the weight into the right foot finding an even spread of weight through the full foot sole and spreading the toes evenly. Standing tall, draw up through the crown of the head and sternum, as the shoulders roll down the back. Once you feel steady, take an inhale and draw the left foot either to the inner calf or inner thigh, not the knee. Keep the hip points square to the front of the mat, as you gently draw the left knee down. Possible variations with the hands are Anjali Mudra, lifted in prayer or open wide at the sides of the body. Hold for five conscious breaths. Repeat on the other side.
3. Parivrtta Utkatasana —Revolved Chair Pose
Come back again to Tadasana. Exhale, deeply bend the knees keeping the weight back in the heels. Lean the torso slightly forward over your thighs and bring the hands to heart centre. Take an inhale and on the exhale twist to the right, hooking the left elbow over the right thigh. Keep drawing the left shoulder gently through and moving the right shoulder blade back in space as you keep the hips low. Ensure the weight is staying back in the heels and the knees are together and in-line. The gaze can go over the right shoulder. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
4. Parivrtta Anjaneyasana — Revolved Lunge Pose
From Tadasana step the left foot back and lower the back knee to the mat. Untuck the toes, keeping your back foot pointed and back leg straight. Check your front knee is tracking over the front ankle, as you squeeze your back hip forward in space to square the hips. On the inhale, bring the hands to Anjali Mudra at heart centre and keep lifting the sternum. Exhale to twist, drawing the left elbow to the right thigh. Keep drawing the left shoulder gently through and moving the right shoulder blade back in space, as you gently draw the tailbone down and keep the glutes active. Sink lower into the hips, squeezing the inner thighs together. Hold for five strong breaths. Repeat on the other side.
5. Ardha Chandrasana — Half Moon Pose
From standing at the top of the mat, start to bring the weight evenly into the right foot. On the exhale, drop the right hand under the right shoulder, top corner of the mat. Keeping the left hand on the hip, draw the left leg up in line with the torso, foot flexed and leg parallel with the mat. Keep balance by finding your gaze point, your drishti. On the inhale, rotate the chest to the sky a little more and lift the leg a little higher. If you feel balanced, you can take the top arm and gaze up to the sky. Modify by bringing a block under the front fingertips. Hold for five conscious breaths. Repeat on the other side.
6. Ardha Matsyendrasana — Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose
Come to seated on the mat, left leg straight forward. Bring the right foot to the mat on the left side of the left knee. Drop the right hand to the mat behind the right hip. Inhale, sweep left arm up, finding length in the spine. Exhale, hook left elbow onto the outside of the right thigh to twist. Gaze can go gently over the shoulder. Modify by sitting on a block. Variations include bending into the left knee to tuck the foot next to the right hip or taking the bind behind the back. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
7. Janu Sirsasana — Head To Knee Pose
Sit on the mat with the legs straight in front of you, drawing the right foot to the inner left thigh. Inhale, find a forward tilt of the pelvis and lift through the crown of the head as the shoulders draw down the back. Exhale, start to tip the torso forward, hingeing at the hips, and twisting gently over the extended leg. Keep the front foot flexed, and keep length in the back of the neck. Only fold as far forward as you can with a straight spine. Variations are to bind the hands around the foot or rest the hands where they land. Hold for five strong breaths. Repeat on the other side.
8. Purvottanasana — Upward Plank Pose
Return to seated on the mat with the legs straight in front of you and toes pointed. Drop the hands a foot behind the hips with the fingers facing forward. Inhale, keeping the core and legs engaged, start to lift the hips and the chest, drawing the shoulder blades together. Wrap the foot soles to the mat as you lift the hips a little higher. Variations are to keep the head lifted or let it hang back. Hold for five conscious breaths.
9. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana — Bridge Pose
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet under knees, legs and feet parallel and hip-distance apart. Engage the glutes as you draw the tailbone long. Root through the feet to lift the hips, then the lower, middle and upper back off the mat. Arm variations are to leave the hands by your sides or clasp the hands behind you making a fist as you gently draw the shoulder blades together to find the back bend. Hold
for five deep breaths.
10. Matsyasana — Fish Pose
Come to lie on the back again, legs straight down the mat. Hug the inner thighs together and point through the feet. Bring the hands flat under the hips and forearms close to the sides of the torso. Take an inhale, push into the forearms and lift the chest to the sky. Variations are to leave the head lifted or let it hang back, ensuring the weight is in the forearms and not the head or neck. Hold for five deep breaths.
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