“The Ground, the Breath, & the Spine” by Esther Myers and Lynn Wylie

Table of Contents

  1. Relaxation
  2. Warm up poses
  3. Standing poses
  4. Inverted poses
  5. Backbends
  6. Sitting poses
  7. Breathing
  8. Suggested practice routines

Sample Exercises: Warmup Poses

Little boat (Supta Vajrasana I)
exercise_littlebaotLie on your back; bend both knees to your chest. To support your legs wrap your arms around the knees. Your back may round slightly. The arms and shoulders are passive as you inhale. As you exhale, draw the knees closer to your chest, using the minimum effort needed. The back lengthens, the back thighs stretch and the groins relax. Keep the back of the neck long and the chin in slightly.

Little boat twist (Parsva Supta Vajrasana)
exercise_little boat twistFrom Little Boat, hold your legs with your right arm and rest your left arm on the floor at shoulder level. Exhale and roll your knees as far to the right as you feel comfortable. Gently turn the head to the left. Relax your arms and shoulders. Stay in the pose, letting the left side of the body lengthen and release as you breathe. Repeat on the other side.
This pose benefits the lower back and sacro-iliac joint.
If your knees are uncomfortable or have been injured, wrap your arms around the back of the thighs so that there is no pressure directly on the knees.

Knee to chest (Supta Vajrasana II)
exercise_kneetochestFrom Relaxation Position, bend the right knew to the chest. As your exhale, relax the left leg so that it drops and lengthens. As the groin of the bent leg relaxes draw the knee closer to the chest. Relax the feet. Breathe normally. Stay as long as you feel comfortable, keeping the shoulders relaxed and the back of the neck long. Repeat with the other leg.

Straight leg stretch (Supta Padangusthasana)
From the Knee of Chest position, exhale and straighten the right leg toward the ceiling. You can either hold the leg or use a belt. As you exhale relax the leg toward the ceiling. You can either hold the leg or use a belt. As you exhale relax the leg on the floor, so that it drops and lengthens. Exhaling, stretch the lifted leg by extending the heel away from you. As the muscles relax, you will be able to draw the leg towards you easily. Relax your arms and shoulders using only the minimum effort needed to support and move the leg. Keep the back of the neck long. Repeat with the other leg.

As you straighten the legs, the muscles along the back of the legs are stretched. This may cause some discomfort. When the muscles have reached their limit, wait and breathe to give them time to relax before stretching them further.

Sitting Poses

Sitting straight
As in the Sitting Poses, relax the muscles of the back so that the pelvis drops. Sit with your weight on the back thighs and your spine straight. Lengthen the lack of the neck by releasing the shoulders and dropping the chin slightly. Breathe normally.

Chair forward bend
Lean forward from a sitting position onto a table or counter. Rest your head on your arms. Exhaling, let the weight of the pelvis drop, so that the back lengthens. Relax your arms and shoulders. Feel the back muscles gradually ease as you stay in the pose.

For more stretch lean forward, letting your upper body rest on your thighs. Relax your neck, arms and shoulders.
For even more stretch, take the leg apart and let the upper body drop between the knees.

Chair twist
Sit with your back straight and your legs parallel. Place your right hand on the back of your chair, your left hand on your right knee or the right arm of the chair. Exhale, and slowly turn, keeping your spine long and straight, and equal weight on both buttock bones. Relax your arms and shoulders, using the minimum effort needed to turn. Repeat, turning to the other side.

 

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