After a long winter, spring comes along and everything starts to bud into life. Spring bulbs peep up through the softening dirt as tips of green slowly overtake each and every tree. It happens every year to nature, but it also happens to our bodies. We always talk about spring cleaning our home, but we also need to spring clean our bodies and mind. How? With yoga!
Think of spring as a chance to shed not just unwanted materials, but thoughts and feelings through yoga.
The yoga sequence in this installment of Yoga at Work does just that. By concentrating on bringing fresh breath into the body and then using dynamic movements to release the stale energy and breath, we can feel rejuvenated (just like you do when you finally donate all those clothes you don’t wear during spring cleaning!) The space you’ll be creating in your body with this flow will help you start fresh for spring as the next chapter opens.
Cleansing Breath Yoga Technique
Begin in sukasana, easy seat. You can sit on a comfortable pillow, folded up blankets, a block or even a chair. Just find your easy seat, whatever that may be. Close the eyes and begin to concentrate on the breath. If the mind begins to wander, which it will, just come back to the breath. After at least ten breaths here, place your one hand on your belly. You’ll begin by taking a normal breath in through the nose and then forcefully (but kindly) exhaling through your nose as your belly hugs into your spine. Both the inhale and exhale are short. Practice this breath for 10 breaths at first and then come back to your normal breath. Note that this breath may make you a little dizzy as you begin practicing it. If you become dizzy, stop and come back to your natural breath.
Now that you’ve cleared the stale air out of your system and rejuvenated your bowels, lungs and internal organs, it’s time to supply them with fresh breath. Standing at the front of your mat, take a deep inhale, sweeping your arms up over head as you take a slight baby back bend; on the exhale, sweep your arms to the sides as you dive towards the floor, bending at your waist and leading with your heart. Inhale flat back, exhale fold, letting your arms reach toward your toes. Ground down through your feet as you inhale, arms out and up, coming back to the baby back bend and ending with your hands at heart center. Repeat five times.
High Lunge with Twist
From the top of your mat, step your right foot all the way back, keeping the heel up and the left knee aligned directly over the left ankle. Both sets of toes should be facing the front of your mat. Activate your right thigh as you lift up and out of the torso. As you find length in your spine, bring the hands to heart center and twist towards the left, pushing the hands into each other, while hugging the belly and back muscles into the spine. Breathe here for 3-5 breaths as you imagine anything that doesn’t serve you just melting away. On an inhale, untwist, frame the left foot, and step the right foot to meet the left at the front of your mat. Repeat on the other side.
From the top of your mat, bring the sides of the feet together, sweep the arms back behind you and up to the sky as you sink into your heels and send your hips back (as if you were sitting in a chair). Your inner arms are aligned with your ears as you drop your tailbone down; then hug the belly into the spine. On an inhale, sweep the arms up to the sky as you come to standing, and on the exhale, sweep your arms back as you come back to chair pose. Repeat three times.
Wide Forward Fold with Twist
Turn to face the wide edge of your mat. Step your feet apart, wide enough so that you could fit your torso between your legs. Activate the outside edges of your feet as you lift up through your arches. On an exhale, fold forward from your hips, sending your weight to the balls of your feet, as you gently release any tension in the back of your legs. Bring your right hand underneath your face or to a block, as you center your hips and lift your left arm up, twisting to the left. Relax the neck and the head. Repeat on the other side.
End your practice with at least a five-minute shavasana; giving your body the ability to absorb the practice and make way for a lighter spring in your step. To review the yoga poses in order, click the gallery below for larger images.
Looking for more tips on how to stay healthy through exercise? Let Yoga at Work: The Series be your guide!
All Photos: © Melissa Beveridge / Best of NJ