Yoga for mindfulness

YOGA BASICS

Yoga poses, known as 'asanas,' began as a very short list. Today, there are thousands of yoga poses, and more and more are being added to the list. While yoga poses cannot be definitively grouped into categories, here we will look at common poses based on the six parts of the most basic yoga sequence. 

  1. Grounding

  2. Warm Up

  3. Sun and Moon Salutations

  4. Standing and Balancing

  5. Floor Work

    • Seated and Supine​

    • Prone and Inversions

  6. Savasana

Grounding:

At the beginning of your practice, it is important to take 5-10 minutes for grounding. What does this mean? To come to the present moment, letting go of the past and the future, and focusing on your breath. At this time, you may also wish to set an intention for the practice. Grounding can be done in a variety of positions, but the most common is Sukhasana (Easy Pose). 

Poses from Tummee.com

Warm Up:  

In the warm up, we begin to connect our breath with movement. Warm up can be quite gentle or jump into more active movement, and can be done completely on the floor, standing, or a mix of both. Most important is to move your spine in all directions, bending forward and extending back, reaching side to side and twisting, in order to prepare the body for further poses. Below are some ideas to include in a warm up:

Sun or Moon Salutations:  

As part of warm up, Sun Salutations can be used to create heat in the body by completing just a few rounds or the suggested 12 rounds, and they can be done at a gentle to vigorous pace. As the name suggests, Sun Salutations are traditionally done at sunrise while facing the direction of the sun, but it is definitely not required. Moon Salutations are a calming and quieting flow great for low energy days. 

Poses from Tummee.com

Standing or Balancing:  

The benefits of poses in the standing or balancing part of a sequence include strengthening and stretching both the lower and upper body muscle groups, but, obviously, improvement in balance is one of the main benefits. These poses also increase awareness of alignment, thus developing kinesthetic intelligence. Below are some of the most common standing poses.

Poses from Tummee.com

Poses from Tummee.com

Floor Work - Seated and Supine:  

Whether seated or supine (lying face upward), yoga poses on the floor are ideal for working on flexibility and can also provide opportunity for yoga practice to those with less mobility or injury. However, after having created some heat in standing poses, seated or supine poses provide great opportunity to deepen your practice while preparing for savasana.

Floor Work - Prone and Inversion:  

Prone poses are completed when facing towards the floor, either with the belly against the floor or lifted, and inversion poses involve the heart being higher from the ground than the head. While handstand or headstand often come to mind first when considering inversions, there are also many gentle options such as downward facing dog, supported shoulder stand or even standing forward fold. 

Poses from Tummee.com

Savasana:  

After taking poses to stretch, strengthen, open and release tension in the muscles, the final pose is savasana or corpse pose. While often looked forward to, this pose is considered by many to be the most challenging pose in yoga. It is not meant for mental planning or sleep, but rather an intentional relaxation of both the body and mind, absorbing the work of the practice, calming the mind, and reducing stress and fatigue. 

Poses from Tummee.com

Poses from Tummee.com

2-1

BREATHING

Sanskrit:  

Purpose:  CALMING, SOOTHING

Used to calm the nervous system, 2:1 breathing involves making the exhale twice as long as the inhale. This breathing practice can be done on its own, within a yoga practice or in preparation for meditation. 

BELLOWS BREATH

Sanskrit:  Bhastrika

Purpose:  CLEANSING, ENERGIZING

Sometimes referred to as "yogic coffee," this pranayama involves rapidly and forcefully inhaling and exhaling the breath through the nose in rounds of 10-100 with a slow inhale, retention and slow exhale in between cycles. 

HUMMING BEE

Sanskrit:  Brahmari

Purpose:  CALMING

Named for the black Indain bee called a Brahmari, this technique involves making a high-pitched tone while exhaling and using the index fingers to close the ear by pressing on the cartilage between the cheek and the ear. 

VICTORIOUS BREATH

Sanskrit:  Ujjayi

Purpose:  CALMING, WARMING

Also known as ocean breath, Ujjayi breath involves constricting the throat while exhaling, creating a soft sound like ocean waves. This breathing practice generally accompanies vinyasa, but may be done on its own. 

3-PART BREATH

Sanskrit:  Dirga

Purpose:  CALMING, GROUNDING

Often practiced at the beginning of a yoga class to calm and centre, dirga pranayama involves bringing attention to the breath by inhaling into the belly, then ribs, and then the upper chest, and exhaling in reverse order.

COOLING BREATH

Sanskrit:  Sitali

Purpose: COOLING

From the sanskrit word sheet, meaning "cold" or "frigid," this technique involves curling the tongue to make a u-shape and inhaling through the moistened tongue. The mouth is closed before exhalation. 

MOON

BREATH

Sanskrit:  Chandra Bhedana

Purpose:  CALMING, COOLING

The left nostril is energetically associated with our body's cooling energy and symbolized by the moon. Block the right nostril and inhale through the left, and then close the left and exhale right.  Continue for 1-3 minutes. 

ALTERNATE NOSTRIL

Sanskrit:  Nadi Shodhana

Purpose:  BALANCING, CALMING

Nadi means "channel" and shodhana means "purification."  This breathing technique involves alternating the inhale and exhale through the right and left nostril in a particular pattern.

EQUAL BREATHING

Sanskrit:  Samavritti

Purpose:  BALANCING, CALMING

Also known as box, square or 4 x 4 breathing, Samavritti, meaning equal movement, involves inhaling, retaining or holding the breath, exhaling and externally retaining or holding empty in four equal blocks of time. 

SKULL SHINING

Sanskrit:  Kapalabhati

Purpose:  CLEANSING, ENERGIZING

From kapala meaning skull and bhati meaning light, this technique is said to purify, rejuvenate and invigorate the mind and body through a steady repetition of active exhalations and passive inhalations.

YOGA POSES

YOGA PRANAYAMa - still growing