Article by Annie Moore
There is a myth that yoga is only possible for those who are bendy! This could be due to the flood of yoga contortionists posting on social media.
Yoga is not actually about how flexible you are, it’s about focusing more on the mind than the body. You could say it is a type of meditation through movement, where you learn to stay in the present and focus on your inner self, your soul. It’s about withdrawal of the senses and preventing the chatter of your mind – the monkey mind from taking over.
I would like to show you how learning to control the breath can help you mobilise and strengthen your physical body without forcing or straining into difficult poses.
There is a lot to be gained from following a regular practice, using the yoga principles of pranayama breathing, meditation, relaxation and of course gentle yoga poses. The idea is to master and explore an effortless flow that leaves you feeling uplifted, energised, calm, relaxed and peaceful.
When we talk about Yoga we are effectively using the natural ability of the breath to control our yoga postures.
Once we understand these principles we increase our ability to enjoy the extension, flexion, lengthening and releasing of our muscles and limbs with minimal effort. It’s at this point that we can really begin to develop our practice. We are able to tune in with the breath, close the eyes, listen and feel how our body is responding in the moment. If it doesn’t feel right then we stop and rest. If we are feeling energised then we can release a little further. If we are feeling stressed then we have the ability to slow down completely, taking more time between poses to adjust and settle with the breath.
Beginning your yoga journey
Beginning the yoga journey is not a difficult step. You just need to approach it with an open mind. Be prepared for change, open your heart to acceptance, and allow your body to release and your mind to let go.
Starting to practice from home is a good way to develop a yoga routine that best suits your needs and your lifestyle. If you struggle to find time during the day, you could get up a little earlier in the morning. The benefits you get from your yoga will definitely outweigh the sleep you will have sacrificed.
The following poses will help you to get started with your home practice, giving you the confidence to commit to a daily ritual that will make you feel more balanced and in control of yourself.
Aim to practice the following ten poses as a sequence in the order suggested.
Before starting your yoga practice, it’s important to begin with stillness. Begin by lying in savasana – corpse pose, so you can sense how your mind and body feel.
Lie on the mat with your legs just a bit wider than hip width apart with your feet flopping outwards and your arms, alongside and away from your body and with palms relaxed facing upwards. Take about six breaths to settle yourself and tune in.
- Resting Breath
Taking a moment to set an intention. This will ensure that you use your time
constructively. Follow this with a breathing exercise to slow you right down
and bring you into the moment.
Place your right hand on the heart and your left hand on the belly. Inhale deeply into your belly and feel your left hand rise as your belly fills with air. Slowly take the air up into your lungs and feel your right hand rise as your chest expands with the air. Hold the breath at the end of the-inhale for 3 counts. Then slowly exhale and control the release of the breath as it travels back down into your belly, feeling your hand fall as your belly flattens. Hold the breath at the end of the-exhale for 3 counts. Then inhale and repeat the complete round two more times.
- Upper body stretch
With your arms by your side, bend the knees and place the feet flat on the mat, keeping the knees and feet hip width apart.
Inhale and bring the arms overhead. Exhale and breathe into the stretch.
Take three breaths here and extend the arms a little further on each
- Knees to Chest
Inhale and bring your knees together, holding them at the shins and hugging them into your chest. Take three breaths here.
- Double leg twist
Bring your arms straight out to a T and keeping the legs bent glue them together. Inhale and as you exhale take the knees over to the right and turn your head to the left. Take three breaths here. Then inhale the knees back to centre and exhale them over to the left, turning the head to the right and take three breaths there. Inhale back to centre.
- Single Leg Stretch
Continue lying on your back and bend the left leg with the left foot flat on the mat. As you inhale raise the right leg straight up towards the sky and hold it behind the knee with both hands. As you exhale walk the hands up the leg towards the calf and draw the leg towards your head.
Lower the right leg to the mat and repeat on the other. First by bending the right leg with foot flat on the mat and as you inhale raise the left leg towards the sky. As you exhale walk the hands up to the calf, drawing the leg towards your head. Lower both legs straight out along the mat.
- Head to Knee
As you inhale bring both knees to the chest holding the shins. As you exhale lift your head to the knees. Inhale while your head is lifted and as you exhale take the head back to the mat.
- Synchronized Bridge
With the knees bent plant the feet hip width apart onto the mat and release the arms to the side with palms facing down.
Inhale slowly, and as you exhale peel your back off the mat, coming up onto your shoulders and press your palms and feet into the mat.
As you inhale take your arms over your head, keeping the body lifted off the mat.
Exhale while releasing your back to the mat and keep the arms overhead.
As you inhale bring the arms back down by your side, to finish.
Repeat the complete sequence six more times, beginning with exhaling the back off the mat.
The idea is to synchronise the movement with the breath, so that you flow through the sequence with minimal effort.
- Knee Circles
Hug the knees in to the chest and circle them in one direction and then the other to release the lower back and stretch the spine.
- Resting Pose
Release your legs along the mat and bring your arms to your side, few inches away from the body with palms facing upwards, coming into savasana, which is the resting corpse pose. Lie here for a few minutes to rest and restore body and bring your mind back to stillness.
When you are ready roll over to your right side, draw your knees towards the waist, cover your face with your palms and close the eyes.
Take a few breaths into the palms, then slowly release the palms and use your left arm to push you up to sitting, to finish your practice. Namaste.
Yoga is ageless, anyone can do it! An ongoing practice can help you to achieve your fullest and best potential in all areas of your life.
Embracing the different elements of yoga with the breath, poses and relaxation will help us you to take control of ourselves.
Most of all yoga helps us to find inner peace, to still the chatter of the mind and it provides us with tools for living a balanced and harmonious life.
Join me soon with more ageless yoga tips and sequences for everyday practice.
Annie Moore is a holistic therapist, yoga and meditation teacher with 25 years’ experience. She teaches one2one courses from her studio in Surrey and also hosts yoga and meditation retreats in the Algarve, Portugal.
For more information visit https://www.moorwellbeing.com/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org