Thursday, February 19, 2009

Svadhisthana Yoga Practice

First, I want to apologize for the delay in posting more information about the svadhisthana chakra. Life got in the way but I also felt a need to stay where I was with the chakra clearing rahter than move hastily through it. I may wish to spend two weeks on each chakra or not. We shall see. In the meantime, here is a yoga practice that helps stimulate the digestion and will warm the area. This practice has several twisted poses, all of them seated. Next week the poses will be twists as well but will be mostly standing poses. As before, I encourage anyone to look at the Yoga Journal website where you can find all of these poses and suggestions for how to modify the more challenging poses. Begin in Hero's Pose. Allow your breath to slow down as you focus on the svadisthana chakra located between the navel and genitals. Breathe down into the svadhisthana chakra and exhale from it. Always breathing through the nose, if possible, do this for a cycle of predetermined times. (I usually hold each for a series of nine inhalations and exhalations.) Shifting your body so that your feet are to the left and your knees to the right, inhale and on your exhalation gently place your left hand on the right knee. Inhale and, as you exhale, place your right hand behind you. As you move igently nto into Bharadvaja Twist, do these things very slowly. On your next exhalation, turn your head to look over your right shoulder. On each inhale lengthen the spine and on the exhalation deepen the twist. Return to Hero's Pose and then shift to the other side and repeat the steps. Once again, return to Hero's Pose. Once you feel centered, move into Easy Pose. Place your hands palm down on the knees and on your inhalation, lift the chest, arching your back slightly, and look up. On the exhalation, curve your spine, lower your chin towards your sternum, and turn down your tail bone towards the floor. (This is a seated form of Cat and Cow Pose.) Always on the inhalation, focus on the breath moving down to your svadhisthana chakra. Return to a neutral and straight spine. Inhale and exhale a few times. Then, on an exhale, take your left hand and place it on your right knee and place your right hand behind you. Inhale, lenghtening through the spine, and on your exhalation, deepen the twist, turning to look over your right shoulder. Hold for several cycles. Returning to the center on an exhalation, inhale and exhale a few times before either moving to turn towards your left or you may choose (and I recommend this) once again curving and arching your back, in rhythm to your breath, as you described above before twisting gently towards the left. Using your hands, move your right leg over your left and towards the outside of your left hip. Pull the left foot back and towards the outside of your right hip, gradually moving your body into Cow Face Pose. However, rather than moving your hands into the full pose (as pictured to the left), move your arms into Eagle Pose, your right elbow crooked into your left, pressing your palms together. Inhale and exhale as you hold this pose. Repeat the pose on the other side, with your left leg and arm on top, holding the pose for the same cycle of breaths. The previous poses opened up the svadhisthana chakra while this one closes in around it. You may choose to do the full Cow Face Pose with the right leg on top, after you have held it with Eagle Pose arms but before moving the left leg on top of the right. Return the right leg to the top but this time extend the left leg out before you so that it is flat on the ground, the left foot flexed. On your next exhalation, lower your torso over your folded leg. This is a lovely and deep stretch and you do not have to go far to get the full benefits. Use your hands to balance yourself or, if you are more flexible, allow your upper body to rest on your lower body. Hold for your cycle of breaths. Stretch your right leg out to Staff Pose. As you did in Easy Pose, lift the chest on your inhalation, looking upward and on your exhalation curve your back and lower your chin towards your sternum. Do this slowly, without haste, focusing on drawing your breath down towards the svadhisthana chakra. Before repeating the above stretch on the left side, pull the right leg so that your heel is as close to your right buttocks as you can make it. Wrap your left arm around your right leg and, on the exhalation, twist and place your right hand behind you. (If you are more flexible and able to hook your left elbow around your right leg as pictured to the left, all the better.) Stay in Twisted Sage Pose before repeating the last three poses on the left. Return to Staff Pose and hold for the cycle of breaths you have been using for all of the practice. Do not arch and curve your spine, this time. When you have finished, lower yourself slowly into Corpse Pose. Place your hands on your lower abdomen. Your fingertips should lightly touch, your fingers close together and covering the area where the svadhisthana chakra abides. Inhale and feel how your fingertips flow apart with the rising of your adbomen. Exhale and feel how they move towards one another to touch again. Your breathing should be very slow, very steady, and very deep as it moves down to the svadhisthana chakra. When you are ready, lay your hands to either side, palms facing up, and stay in Corpse Pose until you are ready to roll over onto your right side and sit up. You may now move into Lotus, Half Lotus or Easy Pose. Placing your hands in prayer position at the level of your heart, shift your palms so that your right thumb is closer to your body than your left. On the exhalation, allow your hands to slowly lower towards your lap as your fingers interlace as if your right hand and your left hand were holding one another. Rest your hands in Ushas Mudra and sit in silent meditation. If you like, you may also want to do this for the cycle of breaths and then raise your hands again into prayer position before repeating the same mudra but with your left thumb on top. Feel the subtle difference in your hands feel when the one thumb lies over the other. Hold this repetition for the same number of breaths.

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