Setting your intention to revitalise and detox mind and body
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. - Buddha
We often reflect on the old and look ahead to how we might make some changes. We tend to set ourselves resolutions and goals and try to re programme our lives after a periods of excess!
We all too frequently struggle to maintain our resolutions and achieve our goals! So, with this in mind, I suggest that you practice this short sequence as regularly as you can, and begin it by setting an intention, what in yoga we call a Sankalpa.
A Sankalpa engenders an emotional response. It might be trying to be more compassionate, understanding or generous, listening more, judging less. It’s like taking one step at a time in the direction you wish to travel in the year ahead, without trying to complete the journey in one go!
This sequence is designed to help revitalise our body, toning, strengthening and mobilising key muscle groups whilst helping us to feel more grounded and able to make better judgements.
ANJANEYASANA – Runners Lunge
From standing, step your left foot back so that the legs are wide apart and the front knee is over the ankle not the foot. Extend your right heel away as far as you can and engage the inner thigh muscles whilst keeping finger tips on the floor. Hold the pose for 6-8 breaths through the nose, and feel length through the top of the extended leg and hip flexors. Relax across the shoulders and keep length in the neck. Proceed to pose below.
This pose can be very helpful in releasing stiffness in the hip flexors which shorten through spending too much time seated. When they are shortened they pull the pelvis forward and can cause discomfort through over-arching in the lower back area to compensate.
PARIVRITTA PARSVAKONASANA – Revolved Side Angle Stretch
From Anjaneyasana, place the left hand inside the right foot and spiral the body round towards the right thigh whilst moving right hip up and back and extending the right arm to the ceiling. The right hand can be tucked behind the back if there is discomfort in the shoulder and the pose can be adapted by dropping on to the back knee if initially challenging. Hold for 6-8 strong breaths.
The posture is excellent for increasing stamina, massaging the internal organs, stretching into the groin, waist, chest, lungs, spine and shoulders. Very good for a lazy gut too, by aiding elimination and bloatedness. REPEAT Anjaneyasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana on the left leg.
This is a posture that really develops strength throughout the body. From the two postures above, step feet back so that you create a ramp like shape. Hands are directly over your shoulders and you lift the weight out of the wrists. You can modify the pose by doing it on your elbows, if there is weakness or discomfort in the wrists.
Extend the legs away, aware of strength through the inner thighs to develop support around the knee joint. At the same time engage the abdominals to protect the lower back area. Hold the pose for 5-10 strong breaths.
Plank helps to bring strength and stability into the inner core muscles of the tansversus abdominus and the rectus abdominus (this is the definition we look for in the mirror)! With stronger abdominals, the back is better stabilised which can reduce symptoms of back pain.
The posture works the body from the pelvis to the shoulder girdle which in turn improve posture as the back gets stronger. As a result of developing a stronger core, the arms and legs don’t have to work so hard in activities such as swimming and running, so therefore the pose can help co-ordination and the body works more as a unit rather than in individual parts.
USTRASANA – Camel Pose
Come to a kneeling position with knees hip width apart. Take the thumbs into the lower back area and as you breathe out push the pelvis forward and lift the chest towards the ceiling as you draw the shoulders towards the hips. At first, it’s a good idea to keep the neck long by imagining that you have an orange under your chin.
You can refine the pose as much as like, by either continuing to keep hands on your lower back or taking them back to your heels with toes curled or extended away from you. Hold for 4 breaths and repeat 4-5 times.
This is an energising and revitalising pose which is excellent for improving respiratory function, releasing discomfort in the lower back area, whilst letting go of feelings of anxiety and fatigue. It creates a real feeling of release in the front of the body, releases tension in the abdominal organs and stretches out the front of the thighs and hip flexors. It strengthens the back muscles which in turn improve posture.
SUKIRANDASANA – Eye Of The Needle Pose
Come on to your back and place right ankle on left knee. Hug left thigh in towards you to release stiffness and tightness into the right hip. Flex right foot and hold comfortably around left thigh for 6 breaths. Relax through the shoulders and neck and use the breath to gently release into the right hip joint. Hold for 6-8 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Can be modified keeping hands on lower back.
This posture works like a form of self-acupressure on the Gall bladder and Liver. It also helps to release the surrounding muscles of the piraformis muscle in the right buttock and allows a deep stretch in the surrounding joints, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue in this area.
PASCHIMOTTANASANA – Seated forward bend
Sit with bottom on the floor and legs outstretched. If you find this uncomfortable, place a book underneath your seat, so that you help to tilt the pelvis forward and find it more comfortable in the back of the legs and hamstring muscles.
Breathe in and sit up tall drawing shoulders back and down. Bend your knees and take the outer edges of your feet with feet hip width apart. On the out breath, gently extend your legs away from you whilst keeping your chest on your thighs. The chest and thighs must stay together as you gently fold forward and down towards the floor. Hold the pose as comfortably as you can for 6-8 breaths.
As with all forward bends, this posture calms the mind and helps to relieve stress and mild depression. It releases tension in the shoulders, spine and hamstrings.
The pose improves digestion and can be helpful for symptoms of menopause and menstruation. It also releases tension from headaches and fatigue. It is an excellent pose to do before bed as it helps to calm and focus the mind and lowers blood pressure.
This sequence of poses takes the body through a varied range of movements, stimulates the internal organs, helps to maintain mobility in the joints and flexibility in the muscles. It can be done daily or a few times during the week. When you have completed the sequence, sit or lie on your back for 2-3 minutes.