We may not all be a mother, but we all have a mother. Whether you’ve known her or not, whether she’s still alive or not, this day can celebrate the fact she gave life to you. What happened after that has much to do with circumstances and doing what one thinks is best. I have been very lucky with my mother, who was always there for me, despite having a disabled son, a full-time job and a husband who often worked abroad for the family. Truth be told, she may not always have understood why I chose the yoga teaching path. But now she does her yoga practices every day, and swears they take away the pain in her joints. It is her joint freeing practice that I would like to share with you today. Here’s to mothers, healthy joints and yoga for all ages!
The joint-freeing practice or “pawanmuktasana” aims to keep the joints healthy and mobile. It moves all the joints in their natural range of movement and thereby releases stiffness and improves the circulation to the joints. In daily life, we move our joints only in certain, usually limited ways, so moving them regularly in their whole range of movement keeps them lubricated and healthy for longer.
Do each movement 5-7x, in time with the breath. Whether you inhale or exhale with a certain movement is not always important, as long as you synchronise the breath with the movement. When we include the breath, we train our concentration as well, which is great for the brain. If we don’t include the breath, these movements quickly become boring. So you can use this simple joint freeing practice not only to keep your joints healthy but also to sharpen your attention.
Start by sitting on a chair.
Joint freeing practice 1: toes and feet
Start with the toes, crunching them with the exhalation and spreading them with the inhalation.
For the feet, point them with an inhalation and flex with the exhalation, Then circle circle them round in an as round a circle as possible. You could breathe in for half a circle and out for the other half.
Joint freeing practice 2: knees and elbows
Knees are hinge joints, so we can only straighten and bend the knee. Experiment how you like to coordinate these with the breath: inhale to straighten or exhale?
Now do the same with the elbows, also hinge joints.
Practice 3: hip joints
The hip joints are ball and socket joints, which means they can make a circular movement. You can do this circling of the knee on a chair: take hold of your upper leg with both hands and circle it around, inhaling for half a circle and exhaling for the other half.
You can also perform the hip circles wile lying on a mat or even in bed. In this case, keep one leg bent with the foot on the mat. The other leg is supported by one hand as you move it around in the joint. Don’t forget to reverse the direction.
On the mat or in bed, it is also very good to hold one knee towards the chest as the other leg straightens out. This is a great stretch for the hip flexors and can easy lower back tightness.
Joint freeing 4: shoulders
In a standing or seated position, place one hand on the same side shoulder and circle the elbow around in the shoulder’s whole range of movement. Breathe in for half a circle and out for the other half. Repeat the same number of times in both directions,
Practice 5: fingers and hands
Also fingers and hands can become very tight. In any position, you can move the fingers: making fists and spreading them out. Then circle your wrists around and notice if there’s a difference between the two wrists. Is one wrist much more flexible than the other?
Joint freeing practice 6: the neck
Make sure you sit upright and then move the neck very mindfully. Never do full neck circles! I have explained the reason for this in another blog ( https://beneyoga.co.uk/prioritising-neck-care/ ). Instead, there are three movement to try carefully:
Lift the chin while you inhale, lower it to the throat with the exhalation.
Exhale and rotate the head so you look to one side, inhale back to centre and exhale to the other side.
Exhale and lower one ear towards the shoulder, while the chin stays in the centre. Inhale to the centre. Repeat a few times and do the same repetitions to the other side.
These movements are not only for older people. We can all benefit from moving our joints every day in their whole range of movement, As this also slows down our breath, calms the mind and sharpens the concentration, what’s not to like??