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Yoga to Combat the Effects of Sitting Part Two

July 17, 2012

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog Variation 
Benefits:  Tones entire body, opens hamstrings & shoulders, lengthens spine, and stretches out muscles of the pelvic floor.

o    Start in Child’s Pose (Balasana) with arms outstretched and shoulder width apart. Breathe here for a few moments, feeling into the hips and spine.
o    Roll forward onto hands and knees and press the hips up and back, remaining bent in the knees.  Lift the sitting bones away from the heels, and lift sacrum and tailbone towards the sky.  Lengthen from the pubic bone to the navel.
o    Stay here for a few breaths and encourage your breath to fill all the way down to the pelvic floor.  Take long 5 second inhales and exhales.
o    Then allow the heels to descend towards the earth until you feel a good stretch along the back of the legs, or hamstrings.
o    Your heels may not make it to the floor, but this is not important.  Keep the sitting bones lifting and the line from the navel to the pubic bone long.  Stay here for 10-15 breaths.

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana – Easy Feathered Peacock Pose (Dolphin)
Benefits: Calms the brain, relieves stress & mild depression, stretches shoulders, hamstrings, calves and arches, strengthens arms and legs, relieves headache, insomnia, back pain & fatigue

o    From Downward Dog, drop to elbows and knees.  Align elbows under shoulders, and knees under hips.
o    Interlace fingers to the root and release bottom pinky into the clasped hands to access both ulnar ridges.  Firmly press forearms to knuckles into the floor.
o    Curl toes under and exhale the knees off the floor.  Keep knees bent and re-focus on the upper body alignment.
o    From the inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
o    Shine sitting bones up and back to where the ceiling and wall meet, & lengthen from navel to pubic bone.  Breathe into the pelvic bowl fully.
o    Draw shoulder blades onto the back of the ribcage and down toward the hips.
o    Keep your head between your biceps and space between it and the floor.
o    Stay for as long as you can, maybe working in rounds of 10 breath increments.

Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge Variation
Benefits:  Great Psoas and hip flexor stretch!  Also stretches and tones the legs, abdomen, and upper back.  Helps to stretch pelvic floor and deepen breath.

o    From Downward Dog with the heels at a wall, step right foot forward between the hands and drop the back knee.
o    Regain contact with the back heel at the wall.  Press the back heel into the wall, keeping the knee down.
o    Breathe here for 10 full long deep breaths, focusing on the left side of the pelvic floor.
o    Elevate the back knee off the mat, straightening the back leg, and step forward into Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
o    Hang here with hands clasping wrists, knees slightly bent for 10 breaths.
o    Step right foot back and repeat on the other side.

Gomukhasana – Cow Face Pose
Benefits:  Stretches the shoulders, triceps, armpits, chest, ankles, hips and quads

o    From a table-top position with a block nearby, draw your right leg forward and over your left so they cross at the knees.
o    Take the heels just wider than the hips, and gauge whether you’d need a block between the heels, or you think you can make it to the floor, hips between the heels.  Most people need some height under the sitting bones.
o    Make sure you feel grounded, even, and that you are not in a posterior pelvic tilt.  Soften the pelvic floor down and breathe the sitting bones wider
o    For the arms, reach your right arm up and bend at the elbow, releasing your hand palm towards the back (like a pat on the back)
o    Reach your left hand behind you and up for the fingers of the right and make a gentle bind (if this is not possible, toss a strap over the right shoulder and grab the ends as close as you can).
o    Draw the elbows in opposite directions, firming the shoulder blades on the back ribs as you do, and lift up through your sternum (mind your low ribs jutting out!)
o    Keep the right bicep next to your ear and draw the chin to neutral.
o    Breathe here and soften for 10 breaths.  Switch sides and repeat.

Malasana – Garland Pose Variation
Benefits:  Drops the breath into the pelvic bowl, stretches the spine, shoulders, ankles, and inner groin.

o    Come into a deep squat, with a rolled yoga mat under the heels.  (even if you can take this posture with heels grounded, try this variation and compare the depth of the breath!)
o    Separate thighs slightly wider than the torso, and release as far down as you can through the sitting bones toward the earth.
o    Join palms together at the heart and if it feels okay for the knees, apply gentle pressure outward from the elbows into the inner knees to create space for the heart to open forward.
o    Descend the breath deep into the pelvic floor and sense into left and right sides.  Try closing the eyes, and stay for 10-15 rounds.

Salamba Setu Bandhasana – Supported Bridge Pose
Benefits:  Releases lower back tension, realigns and slightly tractions lumbar spine. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.  Reduces headache, fatigue and insomnia, and helps relax the body.

o    Lie onto your back with your knees bent at right angles, heels near the seat.
o    Press into the feet and lift the hips off the mat and slide a block under the sacrum, and release the pelvis onto the block.  You should feel very grounded and stable.
o    Options to stay here with the knees bent or SLOWLY walk the legs long toward the end of the mat.  Eventually you may let you legs straighten completely.
o    Breathe deeply into the belly, allowing all tension to melt out of the hips, low back, shoulders and neck.
o    Work with gentle rolling of the head back and forth with the breath if you feel extra tight there.  Inhale – head at center. Exhale – head releases to the side.  Inhale – head returns to center. Exhale – head releases to opposite side.
o    Stay here for 10-15 breaths, and be sure to release out early if pain occurs.  Gently draw the legs back in and lift softly off the block, rolling down one vertebrae at a time.
o    Lie flat for a few breaths and feel the release of the hips into the earth!

  Savasana Viparita Karani– Corpse Pose with Legs-Up-the-Wall
Benefits:  Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet, gently stretches hamstrings, heart, and neck, relieves mild backache, and calms the mind.  Slight inversion resets one-way valve systems like lymph and circulatory.  Energetic body gets revitalized.

o    Position your mat with the short edge at a wall and a blanket or two stacked up against the wall, folded edges facing out.
o    To get up: lie in a side facing fetal position with the sittingbones at the wall, spine along one edge of the mat.
o    Scoot your bum up to the wall as close as you can and roll onto your back. Legs will swing up and extend towards the sky while your hips are perfectly aligned in the center of the blanket stack.
o    If you feel like you have to try to keep your legs up the wall, try to scoot closer, or try a belt around the legs, just above the knee.
o    Brings the arms out to a comfortable position and settle the shoulders back, with the neck long. Support the head if needed.
o    Stay and breathe for as long as your body asks for 10 minutes or more is completely safe.
o     Soften the root of the tongue, the wings of the nose, the inner ears and nasal cavity, and the skin of the forehead.  Let the eyes sink deep into their sockets. Release your brain to the back of the head.
o    Let the benefits of your practice saturate you entire body.
The physical infrastructure of our society sets us up for unhappy pelvises, bad posture, and back pain.


-By Sarah Louisignau

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