Feel Free

Now that you have gone deeper in the pose, observe w^har is happening along your spine. If you feel as though your bottom ribs are Stuck to your abdomen, you are folding from the waist rather than the hips. So, come up slight!v to free your lower abdomen, spread the diaphragm, and lengthen the front ofyour torso from the pelvis toward your chest. To refine the pose, move your back ribs down to bring your front ribs closer to your thighs.

It's a lot to keep in mind, but be patient. If you find yourself getting frustrated, work intelligently writh the breath. On the inhalation, focus on lengthening the front ofyour torso and working your legs. On the exhalation, focus on lengthening forward. During and at the end of the exhalation, you may also experience tension being released for a few moments, allowing you to go deeper into the pose without aggression. This release is an important component of forward bending with abhyasa and vairagya, as it helps you create inner space and freedom. With your forehead resting, your brain can relax from the activity of constantly processing information. In this position you can enter a sanctuary7 for a stressed mind and rest in a deep sense of peace. *

Maria Apt ( vogariga.com/, a certified Iyengar Toga instructor, teaches yoga and leads teacher trainings in Los Angeles and abroad.

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home practice with Claire Missiriqham new mama o * z <

on the mat

to begin

Use music Pick something uplifting and energetic, or calming and introspective, to reconnect with your unique inner rhythm.

Create an altar

Place a photo of a person who inspires you, and one of your baby, on an altar to honor your achievement in creating new life.

Breathe deeply Do

Ujjayi Pranayama {Victorious Breath) to bring your attention to the present moment.

to finish

Rest TakeSavasana (Corpse Pose) for at least 10 minutes, so that your body gets to completely let go.

Enjoy the quiet sit with your hands in Anjafi Mudra (Salutation Seal) at your heart. Appreciate all that you have.

Restore your core afterpregnancy with this vigorous practice.

A few months after giving birth to a child, you may be eager to get to your mat. But you are likely to discover that pregnancy and childbirth have weakened your abdominal muscles, so they'll probably need reconditioning. When your body is ready to be challenged again, try the sequence on the following pages created by vinyasa flow yoga teacher (and new mom) Claire Missingham.

Thispracticewillgctyouin touch with the manipura chakra, which governs the navel and solar plexus area, "This energetic force can be weak, not just physically but psychologically, too, after the sheer willpower that giving birth requires," says Missingham. Working the core in Plank and Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose) can reignite a sense of Strength and self-confidence. Other poses in the sequence gently release tension all through the body A supine Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) can be a balm to the ou ter hips and gluteal muscles. Bridge and Eagle are great for relieving the tension in the chest, shoulders, and upper back that builds as you carry a new baby around.

Wait at least six weeks after delivery before you try this practice {you may need to wait longer if you've had a cesarean section). Get approval from a health care practitioner before you begin. When you choose to begin, be sure to allow yourself to do fewer repetitions or shorter holds if you need to, and frame the practice as a way to nurture yourself. DIANE ANDERSON

home practice with Claire Missingham

1 Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), variation

Start with your feet together. With each exhalation, draw the navel to the spine in Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Abdominal Lock) to engage the pelvic floor muscles and draw them up. Stay for 10 breaths. Once you feel stable, separate the feet hip-distance apart.

2 Plank Pose

Inhale and shift into Plank. Align shoulders over your wrists. Press back firmly through the heels and gaze between the thumbs. Relax your jaw and stay for 20 breaths. Then flow from Down Dog to Plank 10 times, inhaling to Plank and exhaling to Down Dog. Step your feet to your hands and fold in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Lift your arms to stand, then exhale into Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

3 Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Wrap your right leg over your left and hook your toes around your lower leg. Place the left arm over the right and touch your palms together. Stay upright and bend the supporting knee. Lift the elbows up and move the hands away from the face. Gaze gently out at a fixed point. Stay for 10 breaths on each side. Return to Tadasana.

4 Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose), variation

Sit with your legs together and back straight, lift your legs off the floor, and bend your knees. Stay here for 5 breaths. Hold the back of your thighs or reach your arms forward, palms facing in. Engage your core, exhale, straighten one leg; inhale, release back; exhale, switch sides. Repeat the change of legs 10 times, then release your feet onto the floor, hold your shins, and open your chest to the sky. Repeat twice, and then lie on your back.

5 Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)

Bring your knees to your chest, draw your navel in, and keep the pelvic floor engaged. Place your arms, palms up: on the floor. Bring your knees over your hips so your legs form a right angle. Exhale, press the shoulder blades into the earth, and lower the legs to the right, almost touching the floor. Inhale up and repeat to the other side. Continue for 20 breaths. Hug your knees and breathe deeply,

6 Elbow-to-Knee Pose

Interlace your fingers behind your head and bend your knees. Exhale, lengthen the right leg, draw your left knee toward your chest, and lift up to touch it with your right elbow. Inhale, release; exhale, change sides. Press your low back into the earth. On exhalations, pull your navel back and feel your pelvic floor lift up buoyantly. Do this 4 times on each side, then rest and repeat it one more time.

7 Setu Bandha Sarvanqasana

(Bridge Pose), variation

Bend your knees and press into Bridge Pose, and then breathe there for up to a minute. Exhale and roll back down to the floor, vertebra by vertebra. Inhale and roll back up. This time, take your arms overhead as you root the shoulder blades down. Exhale to roll down. Repeat 10 times, opening your chest more each time.

The Chakra Checklist

The Chakra Checklist

The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the back to the top of the head. New Age practices frequently associate each chakra with a particular color.

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