Can your good deeds calculate the good that enters your life? Being a good person brings only good into your life, right? I always was told that you were rewarded for your kindness unto others, your pristine moral compass and so on. Now I realize that to bring only good in is to only allow good into your life and radiate that no matter what the odds. We have all been betrayed and beaten down by life but it is in how we rise that will determine our happiness. To rise, I find we must wake everyday with an open heart and rejoice. Pay gratitude towards our bodies and the wonderful fact that you have in fact woken up to another day and that, my friends, is a wonderful gift.
If your heart is open you allow everything to reach you, good and bad. I believe that living with a welcoming heart means waking up with a quick stretch and meditation to decrease stress and physical ailments. This release will help clear your mind and open you to daily possibilities.
I first dreaded waking up. Hated leaving my bed. Hated everything that forced me to leave my cotton covered, plush palace where I rest my head every night. Now, I meditate my way out. I bend my knees. I inhale a new beginning, preparing to paint my day how I please. I reach up, legs lengthening, back bending …and I roll over and close my eyes. I love my bed, I really do.
Alas, we must voyage out on a new journey, to responsibilities, jobs, exercises, chores, food shopping… shit, reality. Bed.
Anyways, reality calls…
Wake With an Open Heart
Upward Facing Dog
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
From a position lying on your stomach, place your hands next to your shoulders and push up until your arms are locked straight. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana can be as deep of a back bending stretch as you so choose. It took me many practices to get where I am today and I hope that you do not compare any of these photos to your accomplishments.
Upward Facing Dog is beneficial to the digestive system and improve posture. In some cases it may help with sciatica and asthma. This will open the heart chakra and assist in curing mild forms of depression. Toning will occur over time in muscles such as the gluteus and arms.
Pull your hips back in between your heals and rejoice in the relief of your back, thighs, neck, shoulders, and hips! Child’s pose will calm your body mentally and physically if you allow it. It’s a rewarding pose to ease in and out of as you flow through your practice.
Are you flowing with me yet? Wake up sleepy head! To shift into this asana, bring your knees in beneath your hips and your body to a tabletop position.
Cow Pose benefits your body by improving focus as you coordinate it with breathing and with it’s sister asana the Cat Pose (to be discussed next). Bitilasana stretches the front torso while also soothing spinal and belly organs.
Soon we will discuss transitioning. As Cow Pose benefits you mentally, so does Marjaryasana. A perfect opposite to combine with Cow, the Cat Pose stretches your back torso and neck (a feline favorite) and massages your spine and belly organs.
Cat and Cow pose go hand in hand so you will actually use the tabletop position as a constant while changing and progressing.
Back into Child’s Pose.
Keep your practice playful!
Leg Up the Wall Pose
This gentle inversion influenced my practice to begin before leaving bed. I learned it at a rewarding 6 a.m. yoga class and Yoga Mandali in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. We elevated our hips with pillows to feel this pose’s incredible effects on the body such as circulation, increased energy, relaxation and even some medical benefits. With your feet high above you, your blood begins flowing to parts of the body that really need a little extra attention to heal ailments such as arthritis, insomnia or blood pressure.
How do I get my legs up there?
I usually just roll up to the wall but everyone is different so listen to your body. I usually lay on my side with my legs along the wall, have a pillow behind you also against the wall. Release your breathe and swing your legs straight up against the wall. Adjust the cushion underneath your hips. Relax. Allow your arms to fall where they please and let your body sink, stretching your spine effortlessly. Inhale. Exhale…
Happy Baby Pose
Keep your spine relaxed, reach for your knees and while exhaling, pull them into your chest. Take the pillow or blanket out from underneath you when you’re ready.Your spine should rest flat. From here, grab your toes, straighten your legs and let them fall to either side. Rest here for a few breaths and breathe out focusing on stretching that groin muscle a little bit more with each exhale.
When you’re done exploring this asana just pull your knees back towards your chest and roll to your side as you prepare for the next posture…
Big Toe Pose
Big Toe Pose has a lot of variations and can be performed with a strap (a tie or a belt could suffice) to assist those of you who can’t always reach their toes. You can sit and grab your big toes with your pointer and index fingers or you can stand or recline onto your back. Reach for those toes in whatever way that works for your body.
Begin in Mountain Pose or Tadasana by standing with your feet flat, arms at your sides and shoulders square with your hips. Keep your shoulders relaxed and arms straight.
Feel the comfort and discomforts of your body before moving into Upward Salute or Urdhva Hastasana. If you have neck pain or shoulder injuries please, be cautious. If you feel a little tightness in your shoulders like I do after a long night’s sleep then you may be ready for upward hands to loosen up. Stretch towards the sky with straight arms, reaching through your fingertips. Enjoy the rush of energy this asana will present you with!