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Get Your Yoga On – Before You Even Get Out of Bed

We’ve all been there…it’s hard to wake up, it’s hard to get moving and you want to crawl back under the covers to sleep for 5 more minutes! Wouldn’t it be nice to give ourselves a little buffer between sleep and the rest of our day? How do we get our day going, while being kind to our bodies? Yoga – of course!

Try to incorporate the following poses into your morning – before you even get out of bed.

Savasana (Corpse Pose): Before you even start moving around, lay still and aware. Notice your breath moving in and out of your body. Notice your rib cage expanding with each inhale. Notice the rise and fall of your belly with each breath. Take 20 breaths here to just be, and to see how everything is feeling.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose): Let the soles of your feet touch as your knees splay outward, gently opening through the front of your hips. Place your left hand on your heart, and your right hand on your belly. Feel the beating of your heart, and the rise and fall of your chest and belly for 20 steady breaths.

Apanasana (Reclined Knee to Chest Pose): Draw your right knee up and toward your chest. Use your hands (on your knee or shin) to pull the knee in closer to your body. Take 10 steady breaths here. Switch legs and repeat the 10 breaths. Draw both knees into the chest for 10 more breaths.

Jathara Parivartanasana (Master Revolved Abdomen Pose): With the knees raised to your chest, stretch your arms out wide letting both shoulder blades relax on your back. As you exhale, drop the knees toward your right elbow (keeping the shoulder blades flat and knees above hip level). Take 10 breaths. On an inhale, draw the knees back to center, and as you exhale, release the knees toward your left elbow. 10 more breaths. Inhale your knees back to center. Place your hands behind your thighs and gently rock yourself up to a seat (Sukasana – Easy Pose).

Parsva Sukasana (Easy Pose with Side Bend): Inhale both arms overhead, as you exhale bring the right hand down outside your right leg and bend sideways toward your right hand. Left arm stays overhead and reaches toward the right side of your room. Stay and breath 10 full breaths, lengthening your left side body, without crunching up on your right side – think long spine). Inhale, lifting you back to center, both arms overhead. Exhale, bring the left hand down outside the left leg and side bend to the left. 10 strong steady breaths. Next inhale draws you back up tall with arms stretched overhead. Take a few more breaths here stretching up nice and tall.

Now get out of bed! Gently of course.

Use this peaceful transition from sleep to movement, and from sitting to standing, to give your body a more gentle way to wake up and start your day with some self-care and joy!

Namaste.

Brandie Patterson, RYT

Mastering Chaturanga

Ever heard your yoga teacher call out “chaturanga” and wonder if you’re doing it correctly? We feel you. Chaturanga Dandasana – or four-limbed staff pose – is the one yoga pose yogis love to hate. Most of us do it incorrectly or half-heartedly for years before finding the light!

Because this is such a physically and emotionally challenging pose, there’s a tendency to rush through it to get it over with. But a lack of attention is perhaps the biggest problem. While chaturanga can be a great way to tone your arms and core, your alignment needs to be spot on. Otherwise, you’ll risk shoulder or back injury.

The Benefits of Chaturanga:

Why do we put ourselves through this tough pose? There are several reasons why yoga instructors sprinkle chaturanga dandasana throughout their classes. Here are some of my favorite reasons for using chaturanga to transition between your yoga sequences.

  1. It makes your wrists stronger and more flexible.
  2. It builds muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
  3. It tones and stretches your core muscles.
  4. Add all of this together and it’s a great preparatory pose for arm balances and inversions

The upper-body and lower-belly strength you acquire by practicing chaturanga translates wonderfully into the power and core consciousness you need for arm balances like crow pose and side plank.

Where Most of Us Go Wrong:

It’s challenging to know when you are doing your chaturanga correctly. And since it’s a pose of repetition, it can lead to injury when performed incorrectly over and over again. Here are a couple ways even the best of us mess up our chaturangas sometimes.

  • Our hands are too close to our shoulders, causing our elbows to bend further than 90 degrees.
  • Our bodies either collapse to the ground with a saggy back or we stick our butt out toward the ceiling putting too much pressure on our shoulders.
  • Our elbows fall outward instead of hugging our core.
  • We lazily move through chaturanga, barely bending at the elbow before quickly rushing into upward dog.

How to Make Chaturanga More Accessible:

One option is to practice the pose with your knees on the floor – there’s no shame in this, friends! Closely monitor your elbow alignment. Next, recognize how deep you go as you lower yourself toward the floor, catching yourself before you begin to sag. Finally, share the strength of the pose between your upper and lower body so that your legs can ease the burden.

Still Confused?

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a novice, each of us can benefit from stripping this pose down to its basics once in a while. So, whether you know you’re doing chaturanga wrong or you’re so darn comfortable in it that you’re starting to think you could use an extra challenge, we’ve got you! Join us at Yoga Fever for our next Chaturanga Clinic on March 18th from 1-2:15pm to learn the proper alignment, explore preparatory poses, and even how to take it to the next level by hopping or floating back into it! Sign up now – your shoulders will thank you!