We all come to yoga for similar benefits. We strive for a freedom from daily stress, an ease for emotions, strength in our bodies, a release of physical tension, a boost in optimal health. And ultimately, we all strive for optimal health and to know ourselves more fully.
Daily yoga practice is a full-spectrum remedy for vitality. We begin with gratitude, intention setting, activated breath, physical movement and concentration of our mind which connects us to the deeper layers of our life force.
These practices downregulate our nervous system to make the body a place where change can happen and create a flow of energy that connects mind, body and spirit. When these aspects of our living are in union, we have a free flow of energy making an equanimous vessel for radiant life.
Here are six poses that, activated by your breath, work to reduce stress, stoke a strong immune system and maintain a constant flow of life force or prana. Yoga postures married with breath create a natural filtration that moves energy and blood and promotes organ function.
Do these poses for two to three minutes with long, deep breaths for full, energetic flow and release. Each breath cycle is four counts. Inhale, pause at the top, four counts exhale, pause at the bottom.
Deep hip flexion compresses the lymph located at your inner thighs. When you create a compression and then release, you flush fresh circulation through which helps to cleanse any congestion in the area.
Side-body stretching opens the muscles between your ribs so the ribcage can expand and contract more fully as you breathe, creating a bigger container for oxygen to move through you.
Opening the front of your hips after the compression of the first pose allows a rush of circulation to move down your front body. Your torso and quads harbor the stomach meridian, a channel directly coordinated with digestion.
This is a belly-down, upper backbend that helps reduce anxiety and depression. Putting a gentle bend in your upper back creates energy and an uplifted nature. It helps the forward and downward energy of sitting to move in the opposite direction, creating a channel for your spine to become long and move cranial fluid from your brain and sacrum.
This balancing pose squeezes all the major pressure points around the stations of lymph in your body. This compression creates a jolt of immunity-boosting fluid to move through you. This pose also builds strength in standing balance and focuses your mind.
Unwind your outer hips and spine while drawing back to the center. Not only does this relieve back tension, but it restores balance for your body to bear equal crossbody weight which strengthens your proprioception.
Return to hOMe, bringing everything together in your upright seat. The hips are open for sitting with ease. The spine is long to flow cranial fluid from head to hips. Shoulders are open to create a lift in your heart.
Long, deep, slow breaths (four counts in, pause at the top, four counts out, pause at the bottom) settle you. Then, return to natural breath, easy and soft. In the complete stillness of your physical body, become aware of the dynamic movement of your energetic body.
Thank you, body. Good body, wise body. Robust immune system, healthy heart, open mind.
About the Author
Shelby is the owner and founder of BFREE YOGA Austin. She has over 15 years of experience in the study and practice of yoga. Shelby is a nationally certified therapeutic massage and bodywork specialist and has worked in sports injury rehabilitation since 2003. She created the 200-hour Yoga Alliance-certified school of yoga, b*free(ology), which trains yoga instructors in alignment-based creative movement. Shelby has a history of teaching live music and yoga events. She has led classes for the Obama administration, Yoga Journal Magazine at three national conferences, Wanderlust Yoga Festivals in Colorado and California and has worked with Austin’s very own C3 Presents.