Poses to Set Your Energy Free, Part 2

Many people don’t have time for an extended 30 minute or more practice of yoga, but when you have the time, it has the power to recharge your body and mind.

But even a little practice of yoga can get your energy moving and send your attitude in a positive direction, freeing up tension from work, family, job, and everyday stress.

The first installment in this series gave a number of poses you can do on an ad-hoc basis throughout your day, standing or sitting, and this post describes more options.

STANDING POSES

If you are doing a more extended session, it’s great to start out with a few energizing exercises to warm-up.  Or you can do any such energizing exercises, such as those in the Part 1 post:  Marching in Place, Calf & Ankle Recharging, Shoulder Rotations, or any of the first five below.  And all the poses are gentle enough to do as stand-alone poses to get the energy moving!

Tense & Relax Whole Body (with Double Breathing)

  • Inhale with double inhalation:  a short, then a long breath through the nose (Sniff, Snifffff) and simultaneously tense the whole body with low, medium, then high tension.
  • Exhale with a double exhalation:  a short, then a long breath out the mouth and the nose (Ha, Hahhhhh), and simultaneously relax the body back to no tension.
  • Repeat 3 times.  This gets the energy and circulation flowing, and also brings tension under our conscious control.

Tense & Relax Shoulders (Up & Down)

  • Use the double breathing as described above, and limit your tensing and relaxing to just the shoulders.
  • As you take a short and a long inhalation through the nose, tense the shoulders by lifting (elevating) them toward the ears.
  • Then, as you do a short and a long exhale through mouth and nose, relax, (depress) the shoulders, drawing them toward the feet.
  • Repeat 3 times.  Increases the circulation in the shoulders, and results in good posture.  Especially when done with the “W” below.

Tense & Relax Shoulders (Forward & Back) — The “W” Pose

  • Use regular breathing on this one, or feel free to use double breathing.
  • Keep the shoulders in a downward position, put your arms in a “W” position:  arms to the side with elbows bent and pointing down, and fingers up toward the sky.  Palms and hands facing forward (anterior).
  • Inhale and draw the bent arms (the forearms) toward one another.
  • Exhale and draw the shoulder blades back toward one another (retract).  However,  when you do this, keep the natural curves of the back stabilized, by gently pulling the your waist area (360 degrees around) in toward the spine–essentially engaging your core.
  • Repeat 5 times.  Or try gently holding the retraction of the shoulder blades, squeezing them together gently, holding for 8-10 seconds, release, and repeat 3 times to start.  Increases the circulation in the shoulders, and moves us back to a balanced posture.  Especially when done with the shoulder exercise above.

Back Extention/Lengthening (Moving Camel Pose)

  • Keep a sense of lengthening through the spine throughout this exercise, which essentially is a supported, gentle back bending motion to counter balance all the forward bending that we do.
  • Place your hands in fists, and place the flat side of your knuckles on either side of the base of the spine, just below the waist. Draw your shoulder blades and your elbows gently toward one another.
  • Inhale, and as you exhale, lean back gently, keep lengthening through the spine, and support this gentle backbend of the spine by applying gentle pressure with the fists on either side of the spine.  Slowly inhale and come back to center with the spine.
  • Repeat a few more times.  Each time you come back to upright, move the fists up a little on either side of the spine.  As you move up, the fists will be on the erector spinae muscles, on either side of the bony spinous processes.

Hip Rotations

  • Feel free to have the back of a chair, or a wall handy so you can hold on with one hand as you practice this moving balance exercise.
  • Stabilize your core (keep the natural curves of the back stabilized and lengthened, by gently pulling the your waist area–360 degrees around–in toward the spine), balance on the left foot first, lift the right foot, keeping the bottom of the foot close the floor, and circle it by rotating the hip, 3-5 times in one direction, 3-5 times in the other direction.
  • Practice on both sides.  Brings circulation to the hip joints

Chair Pose, Part 1 (Heel Lifts)

  • Feel free to have the back of a chair or face a wall with palms slightly touching the chair or wall.
  • Feet should be a few inches apart, with toes perpendicular to the chair or wall (without the feet turned/angled out to the sides).
  • Inhale, and as you exhale, engage the core (keep the natural curves of the back stabilized and lengthened, by gently pulling the waist area–360 degrees around–in toward the spine) and lift your heels up slowly, balancing on the balls of your feetl,and inhale back down.
  • Exhale as you lift, take about 2 seconds to go up, then inhale, and 2 seconds to go down.
  • Keep your ankles from turning out the sides.  Prevent that by placing even weight on the big toe side of the ball of the foot and the pinky toe side of the foot.  If the stabilizing muscles around the ankle and foot are weaker, the ankles will not tend to stay pointing forward (anterior), so until they get stronger, don’t lift as high up.

Chair Pose, Part 2 (Sit & Stand)

  • Sit in a chair, with the back of the legs lightly touching the front of the chair.
  • Practice a few rounds of “hip hinging,” which is hinging forward from your hip joint, rather than rounding your back when bending forward.  When you hinge forward, your core engagement will keep the spine stabilized.  Inhale to prepare, exhale and you hinge forward, inhale back to center.
  • Inhale to prepare, exhale and hinge forward and press equally down through your feet, a few inches apart and parallel to each other, and slowly stand up.
  • Inhale and as you hinge at the hips, make sure the chair is close and back behind you, and then exhale, slowly lowering the hips back to the chair.
  • Repeat 8-10 times for quads and general lower body strengthening.  Mentally affirm, “My body is no burden, it is light as air!”

Warrior 1 (Forward Lunge)

  • Start by standing behind the back of a chair.  Hold onto the back of the chair with the right hand.
  • Step back with the left leg, both hips facing the chair, and ideally keeping the toes pointing toward the chair, and press the left heel toward the floor.  Allow the right knee (in close behind the chair), to be gently bent, but no more than 90 degrees.  Keep the core stabilized and lengthened through the natural curves of the spine and neck.  Gently tuck the tailbone and keep the chest bone lifted.
  • Reach up with the left arm (same side arm as the leg that is behind), further stretching and opening the front side of the body.
  • Feel this pose opening and lengthening the hip flexor (iliopsoas), stretching the back of the calf through pressing down through the back heel, and strengthening the forward leg and stabilizing the knee.
  • Then come back to center, standing briefly, affirming mentally, “I attune my will to the source of all power.”  Then switch sides.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds each side, or about 5-6 breaths.

Warrior 2 (Side Lunge)

  • Start standing behind the back of the chair, and keep both hips facing the chair and separate the feet so you are in a wide stance.  Turn the left foot out, and allow the right foot to gently turn to the left as well.  Bend the left knee into a lunge position, while the right leg remains straight.  Feel the strengthening in both legs, and actively press down through both feet and lengthen up through the spine.
  • Mentally affirm, “I joyfully manifest the power of spirit.”
  • Hold for about 30 seconds each side, or about 5-6 breaths.
  • Then come back to center, standing briefly, resting, then switch sides.

Straight Leg Clams & Variations

  • Stand behind the chair with enough clearance to move swing your left leg forward, to the side and back behind you.  Hold onto the back of the chair with the right hand.
  • Balance on your right leg, and while engaging the core to prevent movement in the torso, energize/straighten your left leg and slowly:
    • lift the leg in front about 30 degrees, then back to center
    • lift the leg to the side about 30 degrees, then back to center, (aka Clams) and
    • lift the leg to the back about 30 degrees, then back to center.
  • If you feel this in your back at all, make sure your core is engaged, and/or lift your leg less than the 30 degrees.
  • Repeat about 10 times, then switch to the other side.
  • Builds strength in the hips, which supports core stability.

SITTING POSES

Two of the poses covered in Part 1 are great to do everyday, even multiple times as needed to keep the hips and hamstrings open:  Pidgeon & Head to the Knee Pose.  The poses below focus on the upper body.

Neck Stretches

Lengthen & Lift Postural Position

  • Lengthen up through the top of the head, as if a string is lengthening, drawing up your spine and neck, relaxing your shoulders and jaw.

Gliding Back into Double Chin Stretch

  • Best done in front of a mirror before or after brushing your teeth (to see the double chin effect!)
  • Keep the chin parallel to the floor, and glide (retract) the chin back toward the spine, gently stretching the cervical spine.  Then release.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Side, Back (Oblique), and Front (Oblique) Stretches–Sitting on one hand

  • Anchor your left hand, palm up, under your left “sitting” bone or left hip.
  • Lean your right ear toward your right shoulder.  Feel the stretch on the left side of the neck.  Hold for about 20-30 seconds or 5-6 breaths. Then bring the neck back to center.
  • Then lean your right ear toward your right chest.  Feel the stretch on the left back side of the neck/shoulder.  Hold for about 20-30 seconds or 5-6 breaths. Then bring the neck back to center.
  • Lastly, lean your right ear toward your right shoulder blade.  Feel the stretch on the left front side of the next.  Hold for about 20-30 seconds or 5-6 breaths. Then bring the neck back to center.
  • Repeat all of these on the other side.

Front (Anterior), Back (Posterior) & Rotation Stretches

  • Gently bring the neck forward, and hold for 3-5 breaths.
  • Gently bring the neck back, and hold for 3-5 breaths.
  • Gently rotate the neck to the left, and hold for 3-5 breaths.
  • Gently rotate the neck to the left, and hold for 3-5 breaths.

Forearm Stretches

Flexors

  • Hold your left arm out straight in front of you, palm facing away, fingertips pointing up, and gently stretch all the fingers back toward you with the right hand.  Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, 5-6 breaths.
  • Then stretch the pinkie, ring, middle, and index fingers back (fingers pointing up) into a gentle 3 second stretch, one at a time, with the right hand.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Extensors

  • Hold your left arm out straight in front of you, palm facing toward you, fingertips pointing down, and gently stretch the palm back toward you with the right hand.  Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, 5-6 breaths.
  • Then stretch the pinkie, ring, middle, and index fingers back (fingers pointing down) into a gentle 3 second stretch, one at a time, with the right hand.
  • Lastly, come back to center with the left hand, and make a fist.  Use the right hand to gently stretch the fist down.  Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, 5-6 breaths.
  • Repeat on the oppostie side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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