So to make a long story short, I got locked out of yoga class tonight. And it’s been one of those days—has been one of those days for a while now actually—so I really needed to escape to asana for a spell.

Home practice never has been one of my strong suits though. Unless I’m structuring a sequence for a class, I tend not to practice outside of class. But I was desperate to quell the mental mind-stuff for a while, and my body was aching to stretch. So I put together a practice just for me, just for tonight.

PREP

I started by reading today’s reading from Sri Swami Satchidananda’s The Golden Present.

10 January

Health is Your Birthright

Don’t think that Hatha Yoga is just for athletes or for young people. It is written in the ancient yoga scripture: “Anyone who practices yoga properly and sincerely becomes a siddha–an accomplished one–be he young or old, weak or strong, or even very elderly or sickly. From prince to peasant, child to grandparent, ailing to robust–all can practice these yoga postures and get maximum benefit.”

Health is your birthright, not disease; strength your heritage, not weakness; courage, not fear; bliss, not sorrow; peace, not restlessness; knowledge, not ignorance. The person with health and strength of body, soundness of mind, with morality and spirit is a real gem among all humanity. Such a one possesses the true treasure.

Then, to bring a sense of sanctity to my practice, and honor it as if a ritual, I swept the space, turned on the Deva Premal radio station on Last.fm, saged the room and burned a little incense [okay it might have been more than a little…and my home practice space doubles as my husband’s office during the daytime, so maybe that last bit wasn’t the greatest idea...].

THE SEQUENCE

For me the challenge of home practice is that it can be tempting to not challenge myself and stick with just my favorite poses. So I focused on finding a well-round vinyasa sequencing, while adding in a few poses by listening to what my body needed. And since it was evening, keeping it light on the backbends. Written in my shorthand, but with links to many of the poses at Yoga Journal or other online sources, here’s the class I built for myself tonight [images from Yoga Journal’s Yoga Sequence Builder]:

  1. Seated meditation in lotus pose for 3 -5 minutes (or thereabouts; I didn’t actually time it), trying to focus on the breath and release thoughts
  2. With hands in anjali mudra, chanted Om 3 times
  3. Dedicated my practice—this one was to my husband and my coworkers, that I be a source of peace rather than stress
  4. Neck & shoulder rolls
    • shoulder rolls back: 3 times
    • neck rolls clockwise 3 times; counterclockwise 3 times
    • shoulder rolls forward: 3 times
  5. Gentle stretches. With the fingers intertwined and the palms pressing forward, inhale the arms up overhead, then:
    • exhale, bend right. Stretch the right side of the body for 3-5 breaths
    • inhale the arms up; exhale, bend left. Stretch the left side body for 3-5 breaths
    • inhale the arms up; exhale, release the hands and float them behind the body onto the mat. Releasing the head and neck back, reach the chest and hips forward stretching the front of the body for 3-5 breaths
    • tuck the chin in, inhaling the arms back up; exhale forward fold
    • inhale the arms up; exhale, twist to the right (right arm goes behind the seat, left hand palm up on the right knee)
    • drop the left shoulder to the left knee, bring the right arm up and over beyond the right ear
    • repeat the twist and side extension on the left site
  6. JanuSirsasana_70Janu sirsasana with variations, starting on right side:
    • Janu sirsasana (head-to-knee forward bend)
    • Ardha matsyendrasana with extended bottom leg
    • Ardha padmasana (half lotus) twist and bind (right hand goes around back to reach for right toes; left hand up on right knee)
    • Lift left arm up, then forward fold in half lotus staying bound
  7. Paschimottanasa_70Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold)
  8. Repeat #6 on left side
  9. MC_211_Dandasana_70.jpgDandasana (staff or stick pose)
  10. HP_214_ParipurnaNavasana_70.jpgParipurna Navasana (boat pose)
  11. Repeat 9 /10 three times
  12. Cat /    Bitilasana_CowPose_70 cow
  13. Adho mukha svanasana. As the first down dog of the practice, I always like to pedal my legs out, especially because I have super tight hamstrings
  14. HP_209_Uttanasana_70.jpgStep the feet forward into uttanasana hold for a few breaths, then add these variations:
    • Padangusthasana (big toe pose)
    • Place the palms up under feet, toes going up the inside wrists
  15. tadasanaTadasana (mountain pose)
  16. HP_MAR06_Vrksasana_70.jpgVrksasana (tree pose) — starting with the right side
  17. Ardha baddha padmottanasana — right leg in half lotus
  18. hp_218_Natarajasana_70.jpgNatarajasana (Lord of the Dance pose)– right leg back
  19. Repeat #16 – #18 on left side
  20. tadasanaTadasana
  21. Surya namaskar A (3 times)
  22. Surya namaskar B
  23. hp_219_Warrior2_70.jpgRepeat surya namaskar B as in #22, but adding virabhadrasana II (warrior 2)  after virabhadrasana I (warrior 1) on both sides
  24. HP_220_Parsvakonasana_70.jpgSame as #23, but adding utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle) into the sequence after virabhadrasana II on both sides
  25. tadasanaTadasana
  26. Start surya namaskar B just to the first down dog
  27. Lift the right leg parallel to the floor; open right hip, bring the right foot to the seat. Straighten the leg, pivot the hip and bring the knee to the nose
  28. Eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon prep); inhale lengthening the spine upward; exhale forward fold
  29. HP_214_ArdhaMatsyendrasana_70.jpg Walk hands back up, lean onto right hip and swing left leg around and over the right for ardha matsyendrasana (seated spinal twist) with bind
  30. Agnistambhasana (firelog) with left shin on top; inhale and lift arms up overhead, exhale fold forward; come back up to seated and switch legs (right shin on top); inhale arms up, exhale fold
  31. HP_214_ArdhaMatsyendrasana_70.jpg Ardha matsyendrasana to the left with bind
  32. Eka pada rajakapotasana with left shin  in front (parallel to top of mat); fold forward
  33. Walk hands up, release back into down dog for a moment. Lift the left leg parallel to the floor; open left hip, bring the right foot to the seat. Straighten the leg, pivot the hip down, come back to downward facing dog
  34. Jump the feet between the hands coming to a seated position
  35. Slowly roll down the back; tuck the knees into the chest
  36. With hands on the knees make little circles on the low back clockwise, then counterclockwise
  37. DavidMartinez/YIN_213_AnandaBalasana_70.jpg Ananda balasana (happy baby). Rock left and right.
  38. HP_193_Bridge_70.jpgSetu bandha sarvangasana (bridge)
  39. Release the shoulders, roll down the back one vertebrae at a time; bring the knees together, feet apart, arms at the sides or palms on the belly
  40. Repeat bridge twice more
  41. HP_216_Halasana_70.jpg Halasana (plow pose)
  42. HP_216_SalambaSarvangasana_70.jpg Salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand)
    • Candle balance practice (arms up along side body)
  43. Bring knees to ears and feet to floor behind head; slowly roll back down
  44. Fish_Matsyasana_70 Matsyasana (fish)  with legs in full lotus (hands on feet)
  45. With straight legs, hands go behind the head; lift the shoulders and neck and look toward your flexed feet
  46. Supta matsyendrasana (supine twist) — both sides
  47. Bringing the knees in, and placing hands under the thighs, rock up a few times
  48. Paschimottanasa_70Paschimottanasana
  49. Pranayama exercise: kapalabhati (skull shining). Three rounds of 108 exhalations each; with maha bandha and breath retention between each round.
  50. savasana_70Savasana (corpse)
  51. With hands in anjali mudra, chant Om 3 times

Om bolo sat guru, bhagavan qi, jai! (God is the only real teacher, alleluia!]

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