Tag Archives: lower back

Balance in Your Home Yoga Practice

Easy Pose

Easy Pose

 

Balance In Your Home Yoga Practice
by Trina
 

We tend to do more of what we like and less of what we don’t like. This practice also bleeds over into our home exercise practices, but we must learn to balance even when our instructor isn’t around to remind us or to choreograph our routine. 

Yoga teaches that balance is extremely vital to the practice and our bodies. When we inhale, our exhale should be the length of our inhale. When we work our right side, we must work the left side. Every muscle that we contract, we must lengthen or stretch. In Yoga, each pose has a counter pose to create the necessary balance. 

I want to emphasize the importance of balance in your home routine, specifically when you work your abdominal (abs) muscles. Everyone wants great abs, so people tend to do extensive abdominal exercises, especially at home, where people are enamored with sit ups and crunches. But as you strengthen your abs, you must also stretch out the ab muscle that you worked AND strengthen and loosen your lower back. The abs and the lower back work together to provide strength and stability and to support vital organs and stabilize the skeleton. 

Have you ever seen those body builders whose arms are so huge and thick that their shoulders round over? That is an example of imbalance. We are inclined to develop the muscles and body parts that we can see, the front of our body, often neglecting what we don’t see, the back of our body. 

In your home practice, I encourage you to do more than crunches and sit ups. Try some of the poses listed below that not only work your abs, but they also work your Core. When you work your abs, include poses that loosen, stretch, and strengthen your lower back too. Essentially, you want to make sure that when you work or contract a muscle, you also lengthen and stretch it, for example, after Bridge Pose (contracting the back and stretching the abs) do Plow Pose (stretching the back and contracting the abs). 

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

 

       *After Bridge Pose, do Plow Pose 

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

 

Camel Pose prepares the body for more difficult Backbend Poses. It makes the lower back flexible, while limbering the shoulders and opening the chest. Child’s Pose is an excellent counter pose to Camel

Locust Pose

Locust Pose

 

 Locust Pose strengthens the lower back muscles, while opening the chest, and encouraging good breathing. A good counter pose to Locust is to lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. 

 Bow Pose  induces flexibility in the spine, tones the abdominal muscles, and also helps to relieve backaches. Child’s Pose is a good counter pose. 

Balancing Poses, such as Tree Pose and Chair Pose, also strengthen your abs and your lower back. 

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog

 

The Sun Salutations series contracts the abs when you are in forward bends, such as Standing Forward Bend, and it lengthens the abs in back bends, such as Upward Facing Dog

Here are Core Poses that loosen, stretch, and strengthen your Core muscles

Full Boat Pose
The Hundred
Dolphin
Plank
Bridge Pose

Staff Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Upward Plank Pose 

Resources:
The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
The Yoga Journal
About.com
Althea Lawton-Thompson of Aerobics Yoga & More 

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Make sure that you have adequate instructions about how to do these poses before you do them. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. 

© 2009 KaTrina Love

Yoga: Sun Salutations Part 1

SunSalGrupThis week, I want to give you a variety of Sun Salutation vinyasas. You can adapt Sun Salutations to suit your mood, energy level, or available time, and let your practice shine. This first series is from Richard Rosen at Yoga Journal.

Sun Salutation is a series of postures that warms, strengthens, and aligns the entire body. It’s serves as an all-purpose yoga tool, kind of like a hammer that’s also a saw and a screwdriver, if you can imagine such a thing.

This sequence might be considered the classic one, but there are so many variations that many modern schools would dispute this. You can alter this particular Sun Salutation by playing with its pace. If you move through the sequence rapidly (by transitioning into the next pose each time you inhale or exhale), you’ll warm up fairly quickly. Start with 5 or 6 repetitions and gradually build to 12 or more or set a timer starting with 3 minutes and gradually increase to 10 or more.

Alternately, try moving slowly and deliberately, and you’ll feel how the sequence becomes a sort of moving meditation. As you practice this way, center your awareness at some point in your body (such as your third eye or your heart) and challenge yourself to keep focusing there for the duration of the practice.

Moving quickly is more stimulating, while moving slowly is more calming. Whichever way you do it, the sequence can serve as either a self-contained minipractice on days when your practice time is short or a warm-up for a longer session.

Before You Begin

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Injuries can occur if you do not  have a licensed instructor present when you do these poses, especially for the first time. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. Remember to always listen to your body. Yoga isn’t about straining or pain. Also, match your breath with the poses to get the maximum effect.

The following information is taken from an article at www.yogajournal.com
WARM UP
Stand in Mountain Pose with your palms pressed together in Salutation Seal. Focus for a few minutes on the inner sun at your heart, which is the microcosmic equivalent of the outer sun at the heart of our solar system. Your inner sun represents the light of consciousness, without which nothing would exist—just as our physical world wouldn’t exist without the sun. This inner sun is often compared with the embodied Self, the jivatman or “liberated being.” You might dedicate your practice to this light.

If Sun Salutations are your warm-up for a general practice, move slowly and consciously, gradually building heat. If Sun Salutations are your whole practice, do a 2- to 5-minute Downward Dog as a warm-up.

1. Mountain Pose:  Stand with your feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Stretch your arms (but not rigidly) down alongside your torso, palms turned out, shoulders released.
2. Upward Salute:  Inhale and sweep your arms overhead in wide arcs. If your shoulders are tight, keep your hands apart and gaze straight ahead. Otherwise, bring your palms together, drop your head back, and gaze up at your thumbs.
3. Standing Forward Bend:   Exhaling, release your arms in wide arcs as you fold forward. Bend your knees if you feel pressure on your lower back and support your hands on blocks if they don’t reach the floor. Release your neck so that your head hangs heavily from your upper spine. 
4. Half Standing Forward Bend:  Inhale and push your fingertips down into the floor, straighten your elbows, then lift your front torso away from your thighs. Lengthen the front of your torso as you arch evenly along the entire length of your spine.
5. High Lunge:  Exhale and step your right foot back into a lunge. Center your left knee over the heel so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor, and bring your left thigh parallel to the floor. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your right thigh up against the resistance. Inhale, reach back through your right heel. Lengthen the torso along the front of the left thigh. Look forward without strain.
6. Downward-Facing Dog Pose:  Exhale and step your left foot to Down Dog. Spread your palms and soles. Press the front of your thighs back as you press your inner hands firmly against the floor. Imagine that your torso is being stretched like a rubber band between the arms and legs.
7. Plank Pose:  Inhale and bring your torso forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Your arms will be perpendicular to the floor. Try not to let your upper back collapse between the shoulder blades: press your outer arms inward, and then—against this resistance—spread your shoulder blades apart. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your thighs up.
8. Four-Limbed Staff Pose:  Exhale as you bend your elbows and lower down to Chaturanga with your torso and legs parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders lifted up, away from the floor, and down, away from your ears. Lift the thighs away from the floor, lengthen your tailbone toward your heels, and draw the lower ribs away from the floor to avoid collapsing your lower back. Look down at the floor or slightly forward. If you can’t maintain your alignment, place your knees on the floor until you have built more strength.
9. Upward-Facing Dog Pose:Inhale, straighten your arms, and sweep your chest forward into Up Dog. Keep your legs active, firm your tailbone toward your heels, and press your front thighs upward. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead or look slightly upward.
10. Exhale back to Down Dog:  To finish the Sun Salutation, step the right foot forward into a Lunge, then inhale into Ardha Uttanasana and exhale into Uttanasana. Inhale into Urdhva Hastasana and exhale to Tadasana. Observe your body and breath. 
After You Finish

REST DEEPLY End by devoting at least 20 to 25 percent of your total practice time to Corpse Pose.

By Richard Rosen
www.yogajournal.com

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Make sure that you have adequate instructions about how to do these poses before you do them. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.