Hi Friends! In thinking about little tidbits I can offer online, it occurred to me that there are a few poses that I recommend to nearly every student, and that I practice myself, that are super duper awesome.
Here's one for today: A supported backbend, sometimes called supported fish pose.
Most people spend time with their head forward of their shoulders a good part of the day -- driving, talking, working on the computer, looking at a cell phone, focusing on a task at hand. This posture brings the head forward in space and causes the shoulders to round forward as well. Not only does this cause strain on the neck and shoulders (knotty traps, anyone?) but it also reduces the ability to breathe fully. And we know what happens then, right? Reduce breath= reduce life force/ energy-- it makes us feel sluggish. Ugh.
So! We counter pose! I recommend doing this pose for 5 min to start your day and 5 min to end your day. You'll love it and you'll want to do it longer and more often. If you are just getting started with an asana practice, it is a good idea to do this pose for shorter periods of time and build up. Maybe start with a minute or two, building up to 5 minutes. If you feel restricted in the upper chest, it might be wise to start with the blocks on their lowest level. For those that are more active or flexible, you can go for the medium height.
Here's how to set up:
· Place one block on the floor, width-wise and lean back so that it supports your body toward the base of your shoulder blades.
· Place the second block under your head. Make sure the block is stable on the floor so that you feel supported. If your chin is higher than your forehead, place the block on its taller end and see if that feels more comfortable. (You'll want the forehead to be level with the chin or slightly higher.)
· Extend your arms out to the side, and draw your shoulder blades together and down your back so that your chest feels broad and open. Let your shoulders and chest soften.
· You can keep the knees bent with your feet on the floor, or, if it doesn't bother your low back, extend your legs straight along the floor.
· Once you've made your adjustments and feel comfortable, close your eyes, and allow your breath to slow down.
· Let this be a time just for you to enjoy your breath, clear your mind, and invite energy and grace into your experience.
· When you are ready to come out of the pose, bring your arms alongside your body, and press into your hands and forearms just enough to move the blocks out from underneath you. Do this slowly and mindfully. Lower all the way down to rest on the floor. Enjoy the sensation and openness in your body.
· Give yourself some time to adjust on your back before rolling to one side to sit up. Now is a great time to practice asana or meditation, or move on with your day.
Here's a photo of what this pose looks like. If you'd like to have me take a look at your block placement, please don't hesitate to ask me in person. Feel free to ask another teacher too!
Once you get your blocks just right, this will feel amazing. And if you practice this consistently over time, this will change your life. ;) Enjoy!!!