Welcome to Part 2 of Beginning a Yoga Practice! Last time, I went over how simply sitting down and breathing with purpose and maybe some movement is the first part to beginning a yoga practice. This time, we will focus on a little more movement with our breath.
Following the same directions as last time, sit in a comfortable position and begin breathing deeply. Once you have established some deep breathing, gently bring your arms out to your sides with your fingertips gently resting on the ground. Exhale your air all the way out. Slowly inhale and raise your hands towards the ceiling. Try to keep your shoulder blades down your back and your shoulders relaxed. On your exhale, slowly drop your hands back down to the ground. Continue this breathing, raising your arms each time trying to match your movement to your breath. At the very start of your inhale, allow your fingertips to leave the ground…allowing them to come to the highest point at the end of your inhale. At the very beginning of your exhale, start dropping your hands down to the ground… letting your fingertips rest on the ground at the end of your exhale. Continue this breathing with movement for 5-10 cycles or however long feels comfortable. (Hint: We did this last time too)
Now we will try a couple other poses to incorporate our breath with movement. Come to your hands and knees. You want to position your wrists so they are right underneath your shoulders and your knees are right underneath your hips. Spread your fingertips wide so you are “high-fiving” the mat. By putting the pressure into the balls of your hands, you can avoid some unwanted pressure in your wrists. Create a neutral spine (neither flexed or curled) and keep your gaze softly down to the mat. On your inhale, slowly drop your belly and raise the crown of your head towards the ceiling.
On your exhale, slowly drop your tailbone and your chin towards the mat and curl your spine up towards the ceiling.
Continue this movement with your own breath – Inhaling and dropping your belly and exhaling and curling your spine towards the ceiling. Repeat this cycle about 5-10 times.
Now we will try some standing exercises using your breath. Stand with your feet hips distance apart. On your inhale, slowly raise your hands towards the ceiling. Try to keep your shoulder blades down your back and your shoulders relaxed. Allow your palms to face each other. On your exhale, slowly bend forward from the hips. Try to keep your back straight at first and then slowly curve forward. Drop your hands and the crown of your head towards the floor. On your next inhale, slowly unbend from the hips, keeping a straight back, and raise your hands back towards the ceiling. Exhale and allow your hands to fall back towards your sides. Repeat this series 2-3 more times, using a breath for each movement. Mentally try to focus on your breath for the entire series.
After finishing this exercise, lay down on your back and resume your normal breathing. Try to relax your muscles in your body and your face. Allow your tongue to hang loose inside your mouth and close your eyes. Stay like this for several minutes. When you feel ready, start wiggling your fingers and toes to wake up your body. Slowly roll to your right side and push yourself up into a seated position (either legs out front or legs crossed – like before). Take a deep inhale and a slow exhale.
Yay! You just did Yoga AGAIN!!
Hopefully this exercise gave you a greater idea how to connect your movement with your breath. If you found this challenging, try committing to this sequence two times a week until you feel comfortable with the gentle movement. Next time we will go over a simple movement sequence to bring more movement to your body.