Whether you are a mother, father, grandparent, aunt or uncle, today’s yoga is for anyone in need of a nourishing and uplifting yoga session. It is nourishing because caregivers often give so much of their time to others that self-care is put on the back burner. This session is also meant to be uplifting because apart from feeling tremendous joy and satisfaction, many mothers will experience fears, worries, guilt, the sadness of losing, the letting go, … . Therefore, this Mother’s Day Yoga Special centres on the heart area: stretching chest muscles, strengthening and lengthening the upper back, it mobilises and engages an area that can often be held quite tightly.
Let’s move and breathe deeply.
These arm movements lift and rotate the ribcage and allow us to breathe more deeply and stretch chest muscles. Even with acute back pain they can be beneficial, but as always, do stop a movement if it hurts.
Raising the arms:
Inhale, turn the palms forward and lift both arms up so they come next to the head or even slightly behind the ears. Exhale, turn the palms down and lower the arms, until they are next to your legs or behind them.
Repeat several times.
Rotate the shoulders and allow the arms to flop gently from side to side.
Inhale and lift the shoulders nearer the ears, then drop them with a sigh, as if you are dropping a heavy weight, several times.
Inhale and raise one arm overhead. Think of lengthening it up and slightly over, so that both sides of your body stay long. Exhale and lower the arm. Repeat a few times, alternating arms and moving slowly, using the whole length of the breath.
-Place your hands underneath the shoulders so that the tips of the fingers are in line with the top of the shoulders.
-Engage the muscles of the lower abdomen to protect your lower back and hold the core firm.
-Leave the legs heavy, press down slightly through the toes and knees.
-Raise the head and shoulders forward and up without pushing with the arms. Because you are not pushing on your arms this is a small movement that spares the lower back but lengthens and strengthens the upper back.
-Keep the back of your neck long, looking at the mat rather than forward. The neck is supposed to continue the curve of the upper spine in this pose.
-Exhale and lower the head and shoulders down. Repeat a few times.
Strengthening the lower and upper back
This is a strong pose, not to be undertaken (yet) if you have lower back pain, or at least not without adjustments. I include it here because it may counter hunched shoulders and strengthens the upper as well as the lower back.
-Start in child’s pose with one arm extended in front of you, the other resting on your lower back.
-Inhale and reach the arm forward, straightening the spine to come parallel to the floor.
-In the same inhalation come up to sit on the feet or (harder) stand on the knees. This last movement engages the lower back muscles.
-Exhale and lower the body to the floor by bending in the hips and placing the head on the floor last.
Repeat a few times with each arm if it feels ok for your back.
There is something fun, young and careless about hanging down with the head. I like this feeling of hanging out, letting the spine lengthen with the pull of gravity. Unfortunately it is not advisable for some causes of back pain and the dog pose is often performed in such a way that it may increase neck tension and even cause headaches. If you want to learn how to do the dog pose properly without hurting shoulders, back or neck, do contact me here to set up a private session.
-Start in child’s pose with the arms stretched in front of you, fingers spread, hands shoulder-width apart.
-Tuck the toes under.
-Unfold the legs but keep them bent, at least for a while, so you feel that you are bending deeply in the hips and there is the sense of sending the tailbone back and upward while the spine is ‘hanging’.
-Keep the shoulders wide and roll the arms out so there is more space between the shoulder blades. Never push the chest down towards the floor.
-Stay for a few breaths and then return to child’s pose.
Finally, rest in the soothing child’s pose.
As you breathe in, sense the subtle expansion along the whole back: the ribs widen to the side, the back lifts and there is a widening all the way towards the lowest part of the back. Stay in this position for a while, allowing the breath to move the body in this subtle way.
Finish by resting on the back with the legs bent for at least 5 minutes. This is possibly the hardest thing to do, but give 5 minutes for the body to assimilate the movements and the mind to rest more deeply.
To work with me and learn more poses that can benefit your particular condition, contact me here to arrange a phone conversation.