Easy Pose (Sukhasana)When you strip away the cumulative benefits of yoga: increased flexibility, better strength and balance, peacefulness, stress management, etc….the practice essentially boils down to meditation. It is in meditation that we melt into that place of peacefulness. Unfortunately, tight hamstrings, inflexible inner thighs and sore backs can limit the time we can spend in this restorative posture. Thankfully, painful backs and stubborn hips can be improved and even offset by beginning your practice with the following simple routine. Add to these a few abdominal strengthening exercises and you’ll soon find that Easy pose becomes…well, easy!
Cat/Cow (Marjariasana): One all fours, with your wrists stacked underneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips, take a moment to find your neutral spine. Inhale and gently allow the belly to slacken as the chest and face open towards the front of the room. Exhale and engage the abdominals as you round your back and tuck your chin inwards, looking past your knees. Let you breath move you between these two postures and notice how nicely cat/cow release tension from your spine. 12-20 breaths
Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana): Anchor your sitz bones to the mat or, if your hamstrings are tight, sit on a folded blanket. Extend your legs out from you, grow your spine long and then hinge from the hips forward, gently moving your nose towards your toes. Keep your back straight and the front of your legs (thighs) active as you reach out from the hips and slowly, enjoy how this fold opens the hamstrings and brings length to the backs of your legs. 12-20 breaths
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana): Again, anchored with your sitz bones on the mat or a folded blanket, draw the soles of your feet together. Cradle your toes with your hands. Grow your spine long and hinge forward from the waist. Gently move your chest towards your calves, concentrating on the sensation of opening in your inner thighs. Don’t worry about how far forward you actually move. It’s about finding and working with your edge and extending only as far as you feel challenged. If available, gently press the elbows into the inner thighs to further lower the knees out to the sides. 12-20 breaths
Easy Pose (Sukhasana): Come to a cross legged position. If your hamstrings are still tight, pull the flesh of your butt back off of your sitz bones so that you feel them ground into either the mat, a folded blanket or a meditation cushion. Pivot your hips forwards and backwards noticing where to find neutral, and then settle the hips into that comfortable middle-place. Roll your shoulders forwards and backwards, again sensing where neutral is and let your shoulders settle at middle ground. Engage your core muscles about 30%, enough to feel them supporting your lower back and then drop your lowest ribs in slightly to compensate for a chest that may be popping forward slightly. Finally, lower the chin slightly and notice that as you do, how the back of your neck gets longer. Now you are in the perfect position to dive into stillness. Place your hands gently at your knees, draw your awareness to your breath and enjoy just being there.