Every mickle mek a muscle finale
We have made it! This is the final week of our 30-day yoga challenge. We hope you have been enjoying the benefits. Remember to post your challenges using the #everymicklemekamuslce. There are still fabulous prizes to be won, so tune into The Gleaner's social media networks.
- Day 27: Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Begin in squat with your inner feet a few inches apart. If it isn't possible to keep your heels on the floor, use a thickly folded blanket. Separate your knees wider than your hips and lean the torso forward, between the inner thighs. Stretch your arms forward, then bend your elbows, place your hands on the floor and the backs of the upper arms against the shins. Snuggle your inner thighs against the sides of your torso, and your shins into your armpits, and slide the upper arms down as low on to the shins as possible. Lift up on to the balls of your feet and lean forward even more, taking the weight of your torso on to the backs of the upper arms. In Bakasana you consciously attempt to contract your front torso and round your back completely. Keep your tailbone as close to your heels as possible.With an exhalation, lean forward even more on to the backs of your upper arms, to the point where the balls of your feet leave the floor. Now your torso and legs are balanced on the backs of your upper arms.
If you are ready to go further, squeeze the legs against the arms, press the inner hands firmly to the floor and (with an inhalation) straighten the elbows. Seen from the side, the arms are angled slightly forward relative to the floor. The inner knees should be glued to the outer arms, high up near the armpits. Keep the head in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor, or lift the head slightly, without compressing the back of the neck, and look forward. Stay in the pose anywhere from 20 seconds to one minute. To release, exhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor, back into a squat.
Tips: Beginners tend to move into this pose by lifting their buttocks high away from their heels. In Bakasana try to keep yourself tucked tight, with the heels and buttocks close together. When you are ready to take the feet off the floor, push the upper arms against the shins and draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis to help you with the lift.
- Day 28 Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Lie supine on the floor, and, if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck.
Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward towards the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel.
Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor.
Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone towards the back of the knees. Lift the pubis towards the navel while lifting your chin slightly away from the sternum. Firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum towards the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.
Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down on to the floor.
Tips: Once the shoulders are rolled under, be sure not to pull them forcefully away from your ears, which tends to overstretch the neck. Lift the tops of the shoulders slightly towards the ears and push the inner shoulder blades away from the spine.
- Day 29 UrdhvaDhanurasana (Upward Bow/Wheel Pose)
Lie supine on the floor, bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your head, forearms relatively perpendicular to the floor, fingers pointing toward your shoulders.
Pressing your inner feet actively into the floor, exhale and push your tailbone up towards the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel.
Take two or three breaths, then firmly press the inner hands into the floor and your shoulder blades against the back and lift up on to the crown of your head, keeping your arms parallel.
Take two or three more breaths, and press your feet and hands into the floor, tailbone and shoulder blades against your back. With an exhalation, lift your head off the floor and straighten your arms. Turn the upper thighs slightly inward and firm the outer thighs.
Narrow the hip points and lengthen the tailbone towards the backs of the knees, lifting the pubis towards the navel. Turn the upper arms outward but keep the weight on the bases of the index fingers. Spread the shoulder blades across the back and let the head hang, or lift it slightly to look down at the floor. Stay in the pose for five to 10 seconds, breathing easily. Repeat anywhere from three to 10 times.
Tips: The knees and feet tend to splay as you lift into this pose, which compresses the lower back. In the starting position, loop and secure a strap around your thighs, just above the knees, to hold the thighs at hip width and parallel to each other. To keep the feet from turning out, place a block between them, with the bases of the big toes pressing the ends of the block. As you go up, press the feet into the block.
- Day 30 Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
This pose is traditionally performed with the legs in Lotus. But since this will be beyond the capacity of most beginners, we will work either with the knees bent, feet on the floor, or with the legs straight pressed against the floor.
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Inhale, lift your pelvis slightly off the floor, and slide your hands, palms down, below your buttocks.
Rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands (and don't lift them off as you perform this pose). Be sure to tuck your forearms and elbows close to the sides of your torso.
Inhale and press your forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Next press your scapulas into your back and, with an inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor. Then release your head back on to the floor.
Depending on how high you arch your back and lift your chest, either the back of your head or its crown will rest on the floor. There should be a minimal amount of weight on your head to avoid crunching your neck. You can keep your knees bent or straighten your legs on the floor. If you do the latter, keep your thighs active, and press out through the heels. Stay for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing smoothly.
With an exhalation, lower your torso and head to the floor. Draw your thighs up into your belly and squeeze.
Tips: Beginners sometimes strain their neck in this pose. If you feel any discomfort in your neck or throat, either lower your chest slightly towards the floor, or put a thickly folded blanket under the back of your head.
- Day 31 Savasana (Corpse Pose)
In Savasana, it's essential that the body be placed in a neutral position. Lie flat on your back with the body stretched out, the head in a straight line with the body, feet apart, arms beside the body and palms of the hands facing up.
Be relaxed and comfortable. Now close your eyes. There should be no movement during Savasana. In addition to quieting the physical body, it's also necessary to pacify the sense organs. Soften the root of the tongue, the wings of the nose, the channels of the inner ears, and the skin of the forehead, especially around the bridge of the nose between the eyebrows.
Let the eyes sink to the back of the head, then turn them downward to gaze at the heart. Release your brain to the back of the head. Stay in this pose for five minutes for every 30 minutes of practice.
To exit, first roll gently with an exhalation on to one side, preferably the right. Take two or three breaths. With another exhalation, press your hands against the floor and lift your torso, dragging your head slowly after. The head should always come up last.
Tips: Usually Savasana is performed with the legs turned out. Sometimes, though, after a practice session involving lots of outward rotation of the legs (as for standing poses), it feels good to do this pose with the legs turned in.
Take a strap and make a small loop. Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and slip the loop over your big toes. Lie back and turn your thighs inward, sliding your heels apart. The loop will help maintain the inward turn of the legs.
Check out some YouTube videos on Yoga Nidra Meditation that can be used while in Savasana.