Movement and breath

Welcome to our Summer 2018 12-week yoga course! I usually focus on the connection between breath and movement during the first class of a series, because without it, we cannot practice yoga. The prana, or life force, is what connects mind and body, and that is the breath. Yet, many of us have never learned how to breathe well. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned practitioner, returning your attention to the breath always brings benefits.

Tuesday class practice tips are below, using selected poses from our class. Please make breathing and finding elegance and ease in each movement the primary focus, and all else will follow 🙂

Cow/Cat pose: breathe in during cow (=more space for your lungs), out during cat (= less space for your lungs). This pose warms, stretches and strengthens the spinal/back and belly muscles.

Cow/cat poses – be sure to draw the shoulders back in cow (top photo) and the bellybutton up to the spine in cat (bottom photo).

Knee to nose: Begin on your hands and knee, extending one leg back. Exhale when your knee comes in, inhale when taking the leg back. This pose is excellent for stretching the back and engaging the abdominal muscles.

Keep toe of uplifted leg pointing down (not out to the side), and push ground away with hands as you bring knee to nose or forehead.

Rag doll roll up: Breathe as many breaths as you need as you slowly roll up from a forward bend. Bend back down and repeat several times, feeling your spine release stretch and release.

Knees slightly bent, bellybutton pulled up to spine, arms and head hanging as each vertebra stacks on top of the one underneath.

Lunge with touchdown: Stepping back into a deep lunge pose with one leg, keep the knee over the ankle of the front foot, heel of that foot planted firmly. Touch the back knee down lightly, repeating 3-5x. Step up into forward fold between sides.

Keep back leg energized when straight, and touch down very lightly when bringing knee down. Keep spine extended long.

Thread the needle: cross one leg across the other at the ankle, then reach for the thigh or shin of the other leg. Keep the knee of the crossed leg open out to the side.

Keep foot of crossed leg flexed. Exhale when drawing legs in towards chest, inhale when releasing away from chest, making small pulsations of movement in time with the breath.

End lying on your back in savasana, or corpse pose, legs straight or feet on the floor if your lower back feel tight (these patterns take some time to undo), and enjoy the feeling of renewed energy flowing through you body!

Happy practicing 🙂