In this week’s class I focussed on the hips, beginning lying on our backs, and raising a straight leg up to the ceiling. We then worked slowly using a belt, to then take the leg out to the side, and then in the other direction across the body.
The aim of this was to relax and stretch the hip flexors, which can often become very tight if we spend long periods sitting down. You can find more on this topic in last week’s class blog.
After a series of backbends, we came to standing for a sequence using a chair. This many of you might associate with classes for older people. In fact chair based yoga is great for everybody, as it both encourages us to approach familiar postures in a different way, and work more deeply while the body weight is supported on the chair.
The chair not only offers the benefits of regular yoga, such as helping with flexibility, stress, and joint lubrication, but also enables us to continue to practise with injury, pain, and even arthritis. And for those with balance issues (most of us!), chair yoga is certainly the way to go.
You can also use a chair for stretching at work. Bear in mind you need a sturdy chair you feel comfortable and stable in, and nothing with wheels or too soft.
Begin by coming moving to the front edge of the seat, planting your sitting bones firmly. Make sure the knees are above the ankles, with the soles of the feet resting flat on the floor.
Seated Mountain (Tadasana)
Lift up from your core, balancing your posture, and focussing on your breath. Spend a few moments with the eyes closed bringing the attention inwards
Warrior I (Virbadrasana I)
Use your inhale to lift your arms out to the side, then raise your hands up palms facing above your head. As you exhale, roll your shoulders away from your ears, letting your shoulder blades slide down your back. Interlock the fingers and stretch further. Continue to take deep and even breaths as you settle in here, taking at least 5 deep breaths before you release your clasped hands on an exhale and let your arms gently float back to your sides.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottana)
Extend your spine, and slowly fold forward over your legs leading with the chest. You can start with your hands resting on your thighs and slide them down your legs as you fold for a little extra support, or you can hold the chair as you work toward laying your torso on your thighs. Use your core strength to come back to upright.
Lift the chest up and out as you clasp the rear two chair legs with the hands. Use this support to gently arch back keeping the sitting bones firmly planted. Feel the collar bones widen, and try not to over arch in the lumber.
As you inhale, extend your spine again, and raise your arms out to your sides and up. As you exhale, gently twist to the right with your upper body and lower your arms —your right hand will rest on the top of the chair back and help you to gently twist; your left hand can hold the right knee. Look over your right shoulder. Use your grip on the chair to help you stay in the twist but not to deepen it. Feel that you are keeping the shoulders and hips level. After 5 breaths, release this twist and return to facing the front. Repeat on your left side.
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