Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bed-time Yoga Poses

Recently, I received an email from Lindsay from Casper, a new start-up mattress company asking if I would be interested to be part of their newest project "Bed-time Yoga Poses".  All I have to do was write a blog post of my favourite yoga poses or stretches which can be done on the bed which could be included in their blog post at the end of the campaign.    As I have been doing some of the yoga poses on the bed when I am too lazy to roll out my yoga mat, I decided to write the post.

Here are some of the yoga poses that I find so convenient to do on the bed whenever I need to stretch my body before going to sleep or when I get up in the morning.

Pigeon Pose

Image taken from here

This is my favourite pose to open my tight hips.  Pigeon pose helps to elongate the back, open the hips and groin, stretches the hamstrings, relieves pressure on the lower back and helps to treat sciatica.  On the bed, come on all fours on your hands and knees.  Slide your right knee forward towards your right hand.   You can keep your shin parallel to your knee or you can slide it a bit down if your hips are not flexible.   Slide your left leg back making sure that it is in line with its hip socket and the left foot is laying flat.  To keep pressure off the knee cap, the right thigh should have a external rotation while the left thigh should have a slight internal rotation.  Flex your right foot and ensure that your hips are square and you are not leaning on one side. Keeping your torso long, exhale and fold forward.  Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths before changing side.

Double Legs Lifts

Image taken from here
I do double legs lifts whenever I want to work on my core.  Double leg lifts strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.  Lie flat on the bed.  Place your hands at the sides or under your buttocks to stabilize your back on the bed.  As you inhale, raise both your legs, keeping the legs straight and your buttocks flat on the bed.  Exhale and lower your legs towards the bed slowly and with control, stopping at about 45 degrees or to a point at which you can no longer lower your legs without arching your lower back.  Inhale and slowly bring your legs straight back up to complete one cycle. Repeat 10 to 15 times.  Do not use your shoulders to help you lift the legs, the shoulders and neck should stay relaxed . Try to keep your lower back resting on the bed throughout each cycle and pull your navel in towards your spine to keep your abs tight.  You can bend the legs if you feel any strain on your lower back.

Modified Reclining Hero Pose

Image taken from here
This is a modified version of the Reclining Hero Pose which stretches the abdomen, thighs and deep hip flexors (psoas), knees and ankles.  I like to do this pose as it helps to treat digestive problems of intestinal gas and acidity and this restorative pose also helps to relieve tired legs.   Stack some folded blankets on the bed.  Kneel on the bed in front of the blankets, open your feet slightly wider than your hips, keeping the tops of your feet flat on the bed and your big toes angled in towards each other. Exhale and lean your body forward slightly as you sit your hips back halfway and slowly sit between your feet while drawing your calf muscles towards your heels. Place hands at the side of the body, exhale and lean backwards towards the blankets on the bed.  Take the weight on to your hands and then your elbows and forearms.  When you are on your elbows, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and  slowly release the buttocks and lower back by pushing yourself downwards towards your tailbone. Then finish reclining onto the blankets.  Hold in this position for 5 breaths or longer.  To get out of the pose, slowly release one leg and then the other.    When you are in the pose, you can allow a little bit of space between the knees as long as your thighs remained parallel to each other. Do not allow the knees to splay apart wider than your hips as it will cause sprain on the hips and lower back.

Reclining Supine Twist 

Image taken from here

Twisting poses provides many benefits to the body and mind as they not only help to develop flexibility in the spine, they also help to increases circulation and cleanse the internal organs.   I  like to do the reclining supine twist with my legs in eagle legs position on the bed as it helps to stretch the back muscles as well as the hips, relieving tension and pain after a day spent sitting at the desk.   Lie on the bed with your knees bend and your feet flat on the bed.  Open your arms in a T-shape, cross your right knee over your left knee and wrap your right foot over your left calf.  On an exhalation, shift your hips slightly to your right and drop your knees to the left, keeping the knees close to the chest. Turn your head to the right and try to keep your right shoulder down on the bed.  You can place a blanket under your right shoulder if it lifts up.  To deepen the twist, you can use your left hand to gently press your knees down.   Breathe deeply and stay in the pose for 10 breaths or more and then repeat on the other side.

Legs Up the Wall Pose

Image taken from here
This is my to-do pose on the hotel bed whenever I travel as this pose helps to relieve my tired legs after a day of sight-seeing and shopping.    This is a restorative as well as meditative pose as it rejuvenates the lower back and legs, ease tension and helps boost circulation and at the same time brings the body into a state of deep relaxation.   Lie on the bed with a wall and with an exhale, swings your legs up onto the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it.  If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching it.  Rest your head on the bed, keeping your spine straight and your knees slightly bend so that your kneecaps are not locked. Put your arms at the sides of your body, on your belly or above your head.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply. You can stay as long as you want in this pose,  If you have lower back pain, you can place a pillow beneath your back to support your body.

There are many other yoga poses which you can do on the comfort of your bed but make sure you have a good mattress that does not sink in when you are doing the poses.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Notes from my practice - Be Consistent

It has been almost five months since I last posted on this blog about my practice.   I guess it's because I have not been practicing consistently for the past few months.  I have been skipping classes and my practice has become quite stagnant and even deteriorating as I am having difficulty doing some of poses which I could do before.

One of the reasons I have been skipping classes is due to the ever-changing of teachers at Chi Fitness where I am practicing.   Having got used to practicing with one teacher when I first started practicing yoga, I find it difficult to adapt to the style of some of the teachers.   I would give myself a reason to skip the class if I don't feel like going to the teacher's class. I know that the problem lies with me and not with the teacher because whenever I do go to class, I always feel good after.    

I have been looking for inspiration to come back to my practice and thanks to the articles below posted by these inspiring yoga teachers, I am starting back on my yoga journey knowing that it's all up to ME to make it work. 

David Garrigues's Asana: The First Limb of Ashtanga Yoga 

Peg Mulqueen's Parampara: How important is the teacher/student relationship?

And this status update posted by Jason Crandell on his FB page will serve as a constant reminder for my practice.

"In order to strengthen and open your body, you have to be consistent in your practice.  In order to be consistent, you have to be honest and realistic with yourself about how much intensity is truly sustainable for you.  Challenge yourself to practice in a way that you can truly come back to time and time again."

I am also looking forward to attending Matthew Sweeney's workshop in Jakarta in June 2014 which I hope will help me find back the passion for my practice.