Starting or expanding a yoga practice can be an awkward process. The good news is that yoga poses are also adaptable to different conditions, whether you are standing, sitting or reclining. Attempting poses in a different than the usual (or any) manner creates new functional pathways in the brain and tests your body’s ability to adapt to diverse conditions. The benefits are enhanced strength, improved focus and greater comfort. Here are two of my favorites.
The Lumbar Limbo refers to rolling your tailbone back, down and away from your navel, using your waist band as a limbo bar. You are tipping the end of your spine (and “buns”) toward the wall or floor behind you. The classic yoga pose, Downward Facing Dog, employs this rolling back of the tailbone.
Seated: Fold and roll a medium sized towel into a small log shape. Put two rubber bands around the ends to keep it rolled up. Place this in the small of your back, sit upright with feet flat on the floor, toes pointing forward. Legs are hip width apart. Hands rest on your mid-thighs area. Inhale, press your feet and hands down and gently draw your tailbone toward the wall behind you, under the towel. Release to a neutral position as you exhale. Try this several times. Did you sit up higher?
Laying on your back: Place your feet on the floor, hip width apart. Arms rest on the floor palms down. Press your feet and arms down, and gently draw your tailbone to the floor/bed behind you. Release to a neutral position as you exhale. Feel a nice gentle massage against your sacrum as your tail glides against the floor/bed. Notice your lower back creating a small curve and then flattening out. This is good.
Standing: Stand up straight, place your arms by your side or rest your hands on a chair back or counter. Press your feet down as you inhale. Move your tailbone toward the wall behind you in a subtle but firm manner. Are you standing taller? Don’t worry, no one noticed.
The Vogue refers to striking a pose with a gentle twist and settling into it.
Laying on your back: Have one or two large pillows on the floor/bed, over your head. Place your feet just forward of under your knees, with the feet and knees together. Let the arms rest on the floor or bed, palms down. As you exhale, the knees drop a small amount to one side. As you inhale, bring the knees back to pointing up, the feet and knees stay together and on the ground/bed. Do this several times in coordination with your breath. Then rest. Warm up the arms by raising them to the ceiling, making gentle circles, rolling them around. Then bring your arms overhead and support them with the pillows.
Drop the knees to one side, hold the pose, extend the opposite arm a bit more, breathe, and return to neutral with an inhale. Then switch sides. Move your body slowly. Smile for the camera.
Seated: Sit up as noted for the Lumbar Limbo. Imagine sitting side saddle on a horse. Place the right hand on and hold the right inner thigh (horn of the saddle). Let the left arm rest by your side. As you inhale and press your feet down, hold the right thigh firmly and turn your body to the left. Not your head! Keep facing almost forward as you breathe. Return to center and switch sides.
Standing: Rest your arms by your sides and point your feet forward. Move your right arm behind your back, bend the elbow, and hold onto your left forearm. Do your Lumbar Limbo under the right forearm that is reaching across your back and expand your chest. Hold for several breaths. Switch sides. This is a very gentle back bend and heart opener.
Whether you are confused or feel better, at least you tried something different and will continue to do so. That’s why you call it a practice. Explore and contact me with questions and comments:Howie@youcallthisyoga.org