Thursday, February 05, 2009

Muladhara Yoga Series II

All images are taken from yogajournal.com. I am using the English translation for the names of the asanas/poses. Remember that throughout the series, the focus should be on the muladhara/root chakra. Holding each asana, focus your breathing and energy on the chakra. Move from one asana to the next slowly and mindfully. This series of asanas should be done with deep awareness and focus. Pay attention to your breathing and make adjustments as needed. Begin in Mountain Pose, pointing the fingers downward. In spite of the seeming ease of this pose it should be quite active with the crown of the head reach up and away while the feet do the same rooting deeply into the ground. Allow the breath to deepen and slow down. On an inhale, raise the arms and sink into Chair Pose. You can leave the arms parallel to the floor or raise them alongside the head. You can make this a dynamic pose, raising the body and lowering the arms on the inhale and lowering again on the exhale. Repeat through a series of slow, deep breaths. Then hold the pose static for the same number of breaths. Spread the feet about four feet apart. On an inhale, place hands on the hips, elbows pointing back behind you. On the exhale, lower the torso in Wide Angle Forward Bend. If you want, after you have held this static pose, walk the hands forward into a Wide Angle Downward Dog and hold. Inhale and slowly roll back to a wide stance. Turn the left foot in at a 45 degree angle and the right foot out towards the head of your mat. Bend the right knee and raise your arms to the sides perpendicular to the floor. On the exhale, bend the knee and move into Extended Side Angle Pose. You can choose to now move through all of the following exercises on one side of the body or repeat the above on the other side. With your left foot turned in and your right foot pointed to the head of the mat, on an inhale raise arms perpendicular to the floor. Hinging from the waist, exhale and lower the right hand to the floor (or block/shin) into Triangle Pose. Don't forget to breathe deeply, focusing your inhalation toward the muladhara chakra. On an inhale, come out of Triangle Pose and turn your left foot to face the the head of the mat, still keeping the legs wide apart. Place your hands on your hips and on the exhale bend your right knee until your thigh is perpendicular to the floor (without the knee extending beyond your ankle!) and on the next inhale raise your arms above the head. (You can also choose to keep your arms on your hips.) Hold Warrior I for the same number of breaths as before. Lower the arms as you turn your torso and shift the left foot to 45 degrees into Warrior II. Sink into this powerful pose, focusing your breath on the muladhara and rooting deeply and solidly through your feet. On an exhale, circle the arms and torso to face your right foot and turn the left foot to face the front of the mat into High Lunge Pose. You may choose to keep your hands on the floor or place them on your thigh, elevating the torso. On an exhale, lower your left knee and sink into a Low Lunge. Again, you may choose to keep your hands on either side of the right foot/leg (as pictured above), resting your torso on the thigh, or you may, on the inhale, raise your torso, resting your hands on your thigh or even raise them above the head (as pictured to the right). Lower the left leg completely to the floor as you fold the right leg into King Pigeon Pose. This is a deep stretch and you may need to modify. If this is too uncomfortable, skip to the next asana. I was taught to do this with the forward foot much closer to the groin and I recommend that if you do this pose you do it that way. As pictured to the right, this asana can put a great deal of strain on your hip, knee, and ankle. Before moving out of King Pigeon Pose, lower the torso over your forward leg. This is a lovely stretch and should feel easy. If there is any strain, back off your limit until the stretch feels comfortable. Unfold from King Pigeon Pose and shift your legs into Staff Pose. Hold this pose for a full cycle of deep, slow breaths. If you have worked through only one side of your body you will want to now slowly rise, pause in Mountain Pose to recenter and root yourself before beginning where you left off with Extended Side Angle Pose. I recommend you even return to Wide Angle Forward Bend before continuing with the left side. The Muladhara Yoga Practice I ended with Bound Angle Pose. This practice concludes with the more traditional Corpse Pose. The photograph shows one of several possible modifications. You may not want or need to do any modification. Breathe deeply and, when you have finished the full cycle of breaths, turn over onto your right side and breathe a few more times before sitting up. Namaste!

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