Sunday, July 4, 2010
Traveling This Summer?
Take YOGA with you on the airplane or in the car!
Sukhasana (easy pose) that I discussed last month is a great pose to do with the assistance of a seat. Sit tall with your feet on the floor. Try your best to keep your knees together. Taks your left hand to the outside of your right knee and your right hand behind you onto the seat or the back of the chair on which you are sitting. Inhale to lengthen your spine, exhale to start your twist. Begin the movement from the base of your spine. Have the twist last 4 breaths on each side. The first exhalation twist your lower back, think aim your navel, to the right. One the second exhale, twist the lumbar and thoracic spine, think aim your navel and heart to the right. The their exhale, twist the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine, think ending the twist aiming your chin toward your right shoulder. The final breath is a deepening once you are in the pose. Repeat on the other side.
Always initiate twists with the right side. A fringe benefit of a twist is the assistance with digestion. Your ascending colon is on the right and your descending on the left. Thus...twisting right side first helps move food through your colon...in the proper direction.
Another exercise when siting for long periods of time is to tap your feet. Tapping both your heels AND your toes works your leg evenly...keeps the muscles from atrophy as well as increases blood flow to your lower extremities.
A final exercise you can do when seated in a plane or car for extended periods of time is to stretch your arms. One pose that does not require much space is Cow Faced Pose, Gomukhasana. Don't worry if your hands do not touch behind your back...you can always hold onto your shirt.
To get into the pose...sit tall, draw your navel to your spine, your tailbone toward the ground and aim your shoulders to opposite walls. Inhale and stretch your right arm straight out to the right, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly; the thumb will turn first toward the floor, then point toward the wall behind you, with the palm facing the ceiling. This movement will roll your right shoulder slightly up and forward, and round your upper back. With a full exhalation, sweep the arm behind your torso and tuck the forearm in the hollow of your lower back, parallel to your waist, with the right elbow against the right side of your torso. If you want more and your shoulder is open...roll the shoulder back and down, then work the forearm up your back until it is parallel to your spine. The back of your hand will be between your shoulder blades. See that your right elbow doesn't slip away from the right side of your torso. Go only as far as your shoulder allows. DO NOT FORCE.
Now inhale and stretch your left arm straight forward, pointing toward the opposite wall, parallel to the floor. Turn the palm up and, with another inhalation, stretch the arm straight up toward the ceiling, palm turned back. Lift actively through your left arm, then with an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand. If possible, hook the right and left fingers.IF YOU DO NOT TOUCH...DON'T WORRY...AIM YOUR HANDS TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER AND YOUR SHOULDERS TOWARDS OPPOSITE WALLS, DRAW YOUR NAVEL TOWARDS YOUR SPINE TO PROTECT YOUR BACK.
Lift the left elbow toward the ceiling and, from the back armpit, descend the right elbow toward the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the left arm right beside the left side of your head. If you feel pressure on your neck, ease off the stretch.
Repeat on the opposite side.
You can modify many yoga poses to take them "on the go". Do not forget to breathe and do not forget the essence of the pose.
Photos courtesy of yogajournal.com