Get the Funk Out with 3 Yoga Poses
Many people think that since I’m a yoga teacher, I must have tons of energy all of the time. The truth is that I struggle with hypothyroidism. It’s an auto-immune disease that affects the ability for your body to produce enough thyroid hormone. This means that it’s even more important that I stay on top of eating well, drinking enough water, getting sleep, and listening to what my body is telling me. When I start to feel physically tired, my mind tries to boost that feeling, taking me into a depressive thought pattern. The gift of yoga is being privy to these mind tricks. If I don’t have time to take a quick nap, the next best thing is to go marinate in these three yoga poses. These poses help me get through the mid-day energetic snooze.
Balasana (Child’s pose)
My favorite beginning pose. I like to roll up a blanket to support the front side of my ankles and also place one between my bottom and my heels. To get into the posture, come into table top and bring your big toes to touch and the knees in a V shape. Any amount of space between the knees is fine, as long as it feels comfortable to you. Keep in mind that the body will settle into the postures more deeply after a few rounds of breath. Sit the hips back onto your heels and walk the arms long in front of you. And then, my favorite part, relax the forehead to the floor and close the eyes. I like to stay in Balasana, with deep breaths, for up to five minutes. This pose offers a feeling of safety and comfort. It also a mini-inversion since the hips are higher than the heart, which means your getting a gentle flow of blood to your head rather than your feet.
Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide-Angle Fold Pose)
Bring a block or a bolster nearby. For mood lifting, I practice the yin variation of this pose. I come to my personal edge in which I feel some sensation, but I will not push beyond that. I’ll let my muscles and tissues become really soft and allow a slight rounding of my spine. Begin in staff pose. Open your legs only as wide as it feels comfortable to you. Gently fold forward and rest your brow line on your block or bolster. Stay here for five to ten minutes, allowing all of your limbs to soften. You can relax the palms or find mushti mudra, (bend your fingers inward and place your thumbs over the ring fingers). “The Mushti Mudra activates the liver and stomach energy, promotes digestion and helps cure constipation” (Hirschi, p.106). While many people think that relaxation can occur more deeply if the palms are open and fingers expanded, we can actually get to a higher state of relaxation if we allow ourselves to make fists or curl up like the way we did in the womb. At night before you go to sleep, bring attention to what you do with your hands to provide relaxation. For many of us, we make fists and bring them up to our face or chest.
Savasana with a Bolster (Corpse Pose)
This pose is wonderful to transition back into the world. Rather than being turned toward the earth like the two previous postures, you are now opening the heart and the body toward the sun. The breath can flow freely and the spine can neutralize. One great visualization here, especially if you are a Pacific Northwest resident, is to imagine sunlight on your skin. Visualize warmth and light healing your body, the smell of spring or the beach, and all of the sun’s nutrients being absorbed into your system. The bolster beneath the knees will allow a little extra relief for the lower back and spine because it will let the pelvis rest more easily on the floor. The belly will be really soft, allowing the breath to flow freely. Stay here and keep coming back to your personal meditation. When you are ready to transition back into reality, allow yourself to breathe more regularly. Begin to shift your attention to the sounds around you, sensations that are present in the room. Place your palms over your eyes and allow the eyes to open beneath your palms. Slowly allow your attention to come back into the room in which you are resting. Keep in mind that wherever your attention is, that is your experience.