The evening wind down sequence focuses on stretching the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders; all areas that accumulate tension during the course of the day. You’ll notice that there are no Sun Salutations at the beginning of the sequence and that’s intentional. The idea is to gently nurture yourself by stretching, breathing, and tuning your awareness to your body and breath; really turning inward. This act of focusing on exactly what you’re doing in your body and breathing will help slow down the momentum of your mind so that when it’s time to let go and sleep, it’s easier to do that.
*Take 5-10 breaths in each pose and do each side before moving to the next. Rest, savor, and repeat often with this evening-sequence.
While the concept of Padmasana may seem simple, it is considered an intermediate to advanced pose and may not be comfortable for beginners. Lotus Pose is sitting cross-legged with the spine vertically straight, making it ideal for meditation and concentration.
In Sanskrit, Padmasana is derived from the words padma (meaning lotus) and sana (meaning seat or throne). The lotus, a sacred aquatic plant, is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols. Traditional Hindu texts say that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini (a dormant energy residing at the base of the spine that can be awakened through meditation and yoga).
Getting into Lotus Pose:
With palms down, sit on the floor with legs stretched straight out in front of you. Bend the right knee and bring the lower leg up into a cradle. The outer side of the foot should settle in the crook of the left elbow, while the knee should settle in the crook of the right elbow. Clasp hands outside the shin and hold this posture for a few moments.
To lengthen the spine, lift the front torso towards the inner right leg, but try not to round the lower back. Explore the full range of motion of the hip joint by gently rocking the leg back and forth. Repeat this process with the opposite leg.
Come back to sitting with the legs stretched out in front of you. Now, bend the right knee and bring the right ankle to the left hip crease, allowing the right foot to face upwards. Settle the foot into the hip crease. Repeat this process with the left leg and right hip crease.
Remember not to cross your legs the same way every time your try this pose. Make sure to alternate bringing your right and left legs in first. If you are a novice at yoga, try coming into half lotus before attempting full lotus, this means only coming into one side of the pose at a time. Consistent practice of this pose throughout pregnancy is said to help ease the pains of childbirth.
Benefits of Lotus Pose:
Yoga is not all headstands and back-bends. You don’t have to be flexible to start practicing yoga. You don’t have to be strong or a certain weight; you don’t even have to be mobile. Yoga is for anyone and everyone, and is extremely diverse. Everyone, from people with injuries or recovering from illness to people in wheelchairs or severe arthritis can reap the incredible benefits of yoga!
If you are new to yoga, there are certain postures that are essential for you to learn so you can feel comfortable in a class or practicing on your own at home. There are over 300 positions in the physical yoga (asana) practice, but these poses can start you off on the right path. If you do each one of these for 5-10 breaths, it also creates a great beginner’s yoga program for you to do every day.
Above are my picks for the 10 most important yoga poses for beginners. As always, consult your physician prior to beginning any yoga regimen. Remember to always practice yoga within your own means and modify poses when needed.
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