Thursday, February 26, 2009

Manipura Yoga Practice

This practice has several twisted poses. If you feel uncomfortable doing this practice, feel free to do the previous week's practice, focusing your breath and thoughts on the Manipura Chakra. If you need to modify any of these poses or want suggestions on how to do them, see the Yoga Journal website. Beginning in Mountain Pose, breathe down into the Manipura Chakra. Allow your breath to slow down. Once you have fully centered yourself, breathe for a specific number of inhalations and exhalations. As I've said before, my cycle is nine breaths long but yours may be longer or shorter.
On an exhale, fold forward into Big Toe Pose. Use a block if you cannot reach down to your toes. The focus is on raising the tailbone and hips and not on pushing back your legs or over-extending your spine. You can also make this a dynamic move by putting your hands on your shins, extending your back slightly and looking forward, on an inhale and folding down again on the exhale.
On an inhale return to Mountain Pose and center yourself before moving your feet wide apart. Although you want your feet to be very widely spread, they should also press firmly into the mat and the edges of your feet should not curl up or away from the ground. On an exhale, swan dive down into Wide Legged Forward Bend. You can make this dynamic by straightening the arms, extending the spine, and trying to look forward. Whether you choose to hold this as a static pose or make it dynamic, do so for your cycle of breaths.
On an exhale, walk your hands over to the right into Revolved Triangle Pose. You will want to turn your right foot out to a 90 degree angle and your left foot in slightly. Use a block if you need extra support or place your left hand on your ankle or shin, as needed. On the inhale, stretch and on the ehxale twist more deeply. Hold for the cycle of breaths you have chosen. On the exhale, return to Wide Legged Forward Bend and hold.
Repeat on the left side, moving into the pose on an exhale and holding for the same number of breaths as always. On the exhale, return to the Wide Legged Forward Bend. Stay in this pose until you are centered, or for the full cycle of breaths if you prefer, before rolling yourself up slowly on an inhale.
On the next inhale, raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Once again, turn your right foot out and your left foot slightly inwards. On the exhale, shift slightly in the waist, bending over towards the right. Use a block for support, if necessary, or place your right hand on your ankle or shin if you cannot reach down to the floor. Inhale as you extend and exhale deeper into the pose. Hold for your cycle of breaths.
On an exhale, rise again to where your arms are perpendicular to the floor. You can either move to the left side and repeat the above or move into Revolved Side Angle Pose. On an exhale, bend your right knee and place your left elbow on your thigh as you raise the right arm up and over your right ear. If you can, lower your left hand down to the floor and hold this pose for the same cycle of breaths. If this is too challenging, do Side Angle Pose, leaning your right elbow on your thigh and reaching your left arm up and over your left ear.
Always and only do what feels comfortable! If you stayed on the right side of your body, return to the center before moving to the left side. If you moved from one pose to the next, working both sides before moving onto the next pose, return to Mountain Pose.
You may choose to end your practice here or move down to the floor and do the practice for last week when working with the Svadhisthana Chakra. By combining these two practices, you will give your core a stronger workout and nurture both the sacral and solar chakras.
Throughout, focus your breathing on the Manipura Chakra.

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