Spine Stretches – Yoga Routine

  1. Savasana with 3 Part Yoga Breath
  2. Pavana Mukta – Wind Free
  3. Jathara Parivrtti – Twist
  4. Full body outstretch
  5. Cakravakasana – Cat/Cow
  6. Balasana – Child pose

    Balasana

    Balasana

  7. Setu Bandha – Little bridge
  8. Sitting – knees pulled to chest
  9. Halasana – Plough pose
  10. Partner poses: half stretch; Virabhadrasana (warrior) 2; Vrkasana (tree pose)
  11. Bhujangasana – Cobra pose
  12. Salabhasana – Locust pose (one leg at a time)
  13. Dhanurasana – Bow pose
  14. Ardha Matsyendrasana – Sitting twist
  15. Paschimottanasana – Sitting forward bend
  16. Savasana – Corpse pose
  17. End relaxation – sample meditation “Imagine yourself floating on a cloud, stretched out long, without the force of gravity to constrict your spine. Breathe into the space between your vertibra, allow them to be free, and with this increase in freedom, let your mind be free as well. Play with the freedom… let the whole weight of your existence go. Allow all tension to drain from your body, mind and soul… breathe. Let your breath free you.”
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Yoga postures can help relieve sinusitus

Spring has sprung and that can mean the onset of allergy season for many people. Sinusitis, a real drawback to this welcomed time of year, can be helped through the practice the following yoga postures:

Bhujangasana – cobra pose
Simhasana – lion pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog
Setu Bhanda – little bridge
Halasana – plow pose
Knees to chest, supine
Standing forward bend
Wide angle seated forward bend

Vinyasa, or flow yoga, like Surya Namaskar – the Sun Salutation – can be of great benefit as well. It, along with another much loved vinyasa the Moon Salutation – will get the circulation going, and help with cleaning the blood stream.

If you aren’t particularly stuffed up already there are a couple of useful breathing techniques to help clear the sinuses:

Beginner: Nadi Shodana – alternative nostril breathing
Advanced: Kapali Bhati – paradoxical breathing

Non-yoga tip for building antibodies to your surrounding allergens: eat local honey daily and take high quality bee pollen as a supplement. (Bee pollen has all the B-vitamins, so essential for combating allergies.)

Touch your toes before jumping out of bed

I often hear the statement, “I’ve been thinking of taking some yoga classes”. They come in short conversations like passing ones at check out tills or by mail boxes. My response is usually the same, “start by touching your toes before you get out of bed, breathing into the stretch, and you’ll suddenly be doing yoga.” This tidbit never fails to meet with approval, as it brings yoga out of the realm of something you have to go far afield to study, and into the comfort of home. Yes, it’s important to get eventually get teachings in yoga, but if someone procrastinates because either they feel overwhelmed, or because they have no reference point for the positive effects of stretching and breathing, then the most important thing is to simply get them started.

Touching the toes, or Sitting Forward Bend (paschimottanasana), stretches the long muscles of the body and loosens the lower back. It wakes up the limbs and torso gently, a much needed contrast to jumping out of bed at the sound of an alarm. I believe in this simple practice because it has helped me for years, both to maintain flexibility and to centre myself after a long night of trancing in sleep.

If it seems difficult at first, persevere with patience. Keep yourself from crunching your internal organs by holding your spine as straight as you can. It’s nice to actually touch the toes because it creates an restorative energy circuit, but if that’s impossible, place the hands on the knees. If you have good flexibility, then bend all the way forward and lay your forehead on your knees. Breathe… relax… extend… and breathe.

Then, enjoy your day!

Three part yoga breath can be done anywhere

Breathing mindfully is absolutely the very essence of yoga practice. Breathing correctly doesn’t come easily for many of us, the direct result of living in a terribly stressed-out world, but proper breathing is an essential stage to reach before practicing more advanced Pranayoga techniques. What follows is an outline of the standard 3-part yoga breath technique, which can be done while walking, grocery shopping, falling asleep, chopping wood…  the list goes on and on:

Breathe naturally. Inhale Exhale
Find your rhythm. Inhale Exhale
Place your hands on your lower abdomen. Inhale Exhale
… feel the breathe move here.
Place your hands at the sides of your ribcage. Inhale Exhale
… feel the breathe move here.
Place your hands on your upper chest beneath your collar bones. Inhale Exhale
… feel the breathe move here
If you begin to feel tense with all this focus on breathing
… breath naturally. “Let your breath breath you”
r ~ e ~ l ~ a ~ x

Inhale into your belly and feel your abdomen muscles expand. Breath right down to your sacrum/tailbone/perineum.
Exhale out the top of your head, your crown chakra, the Sahasrara
Inhale into your entire belly, and your ribcage.
Feel your ribcage expand like an accordion. Place your hands on your side ribs.
Exhale out the top of your head
Inhale into your belly, ribcage, diaphragm, and then… exhale
Inhale into your belly, ribcage, diaphragm and upper chest.
Place your hands on your chest below your collar bones.
Feel your lungs expand to accommodate the increase in breath.
Exhale
Long
Have a sacred pause here~

Do it all over again. Feel your heart opening when you breath into your upper chest.

Find your own rhythm now…
How is it different from when you first found it at the beginning of this exercise?

Practice increases our flexibility like nothing else, don’t get caught up in having A PRACTICE.
… just practice…

Aspire to increase the efficiency of your diaphragm and to tone the intercostal muscles between your ribs. Imagine your Being as radiant and flexible. Carry that divine image into the rest of your day…

Yoga in the airport makes a long flight bearable

A flight across Canada is enough to make even a yogin cramp up! On the way west to east, I swore I’d bring my yoga mat in my carry-on next time, and just this week I followed through on my promise. It was a very good idea, and I dare say, one of my finest public yoga actions yet.

Certainly I was discrete, not wanting to draw attention to myself. People were respectful but I immediately noticed nods of approval and comments of support which gave me confidence to continue in the face of hoards of weary air travelers. (They’re not as curious as one may think). I truly felt I had enough semi-private space to do my yoga routine, which I dearly needed after a restless sleep the night before, and stewing for extended periods like a claustrophobic sardine.

I brought a travel yoga mat with me. It’s thin and shorter than standard mats, and folded up nicely in a cloth laptop bag, without the laptop of course.The one drawback was that it was damp. 24 hours wasn’t long enough to dry the mat, much to my surprise. It actually turned out to be slightly refreshing in the dry as dust airport. However, I would recommend giving your mat a couple of days to dry before traveling with it!

Mainly I was happy to lie in Savasana – the corpse pose – but I didn’t want to fall asleep so did several other stretches as well:

  • Balasana – childs pose
  • Matsyanasana – spinal twist
  • Paschimottanasana – sitting forward bend
  • Baddhakonasana – the cobbler
  • Gomukhasana – cow face pose
  • Padmasana – sitting meditation in the lotus pose
  • sitting side stretches 

All those poses were done on my mat but the following can be done without a mat. 

  • Virabhadrasana – the warrior pose
  • Trikonasana – triangle pose
  • lunges
  • backbend
  • standing forward bend

Suffice it to say, I won’t take a long trip again without my travel yoga mat, when I arrived home to BC I was decidedly more relaxed than when I arrived in New Brunswick. This had a lot to do with stretching between flights, which kept my joints lubricated and the deeper breathing kept my mind calm.