Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)

Begin with your legs extended in Dandasana (Staff Pose). For this variation, keep the left leg straight and active and the left foot flexed. Inhale, bend the right knee, and exhale, placing the right foot on the outside of the left knee. Keep the right knee pointed straight up and the right foot pressed firmly into the ground. On an exhalation, rest the right palm on the ground next to the right hip. Inhale and hook the left elbow on the outside of the right knee.

To deepen the twist, inhale fully, lift the spine, and exhale as you press the left elbow into the knee and turn right. Let the twist originate in the belly as you breathe. Hold the pose for 5 breaths and tune in to the currents of energy moving through your body. Exhale as you unwind the posture, and then twist in the other direction briefly as a counterpose. Pause in Staff Pose, and notice if there is an increase in flow of energy. Repeat on the other side.

Balasana (Child's Pose) Begin by kneeling on your hands and knees, with your knees hip-distance apart and parallel, and your big toes touching. Inhale and gaze softly at the earth before you. Exhale, and extend back so that the buttocks touch or move down toward the heels, the torso rests between the thighs, and the forehead sinks into the earth. Bring your arms along your sides and extend them out behind the buttocks. Turn the palms up. Inhale and lengthen your spine by extending your neck forward, then exhale and reach the tailbone backward. Allow gravity to pull the weight of the torso down, and feel your back widening and expanding. Breathe deeply and slowly for 5 to 10 breaths or more, completely letting go and resting on the earth.

When you're ready to come out of the pose, inhale, bring your torso up slowly until you're in a seated kneeling position, and rest your hands on your thighs. Keep your eyes closed for a few breaths, and then gently open them to observe your connection to the earth.

back to earth forward bends

Forward bends likeJanu Sirsasana (Head-of-Knee Pose), Ankle-to-Knee Pose, Balasana (Child's Pose), and especially a supine asana like Savasana (Corpse Pose) let you sink deep into the quiet ofthe earth. Outdoors, that means you'll be sinking into sand, grass, stone, or even mud. You might have twigs on your shirt or sand in your hair, but the moments of feeling the quiet vibration of the earth will surely make up for it. So choose a spot that feels inviting, and relax into any of these poses.

When practicing forward bends in nature, try turning your face downward and close your eyes. Imagine that you can see into the layers of stone and soil. Allow your senses to soften, and let the darkness behind your eyelids fill your consciousness. There's nowhere to go, nothing to do.Just be. Ideally, the meditation will take you down into pure space and empty the mind. More important, this deep listening to the earth is a way for you to commune with nature.

natures spin twists

Twists are everywhere in nature: a vine wrapped around a tree, a river whirlpool, a snail's shell. In yoga asana, twists such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja's Twist), Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose), and Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) curl you in closer to your center. In addition to revitalizing the spine, they are thought to invigorate the interior organs of the body by increasing blood circulation there.

Many twists are done while you're seated or lying on the ground for several still moments. During this time, the mind can wander to the damp grass under your bottom, the itchy twig tickling your leg, or the sun in your eyes. Remember to breathe and close your eyes as you twist so that the rich sensations outside and inside have a chance to mix into your awareness.

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