Today is World Yoga Day! The goals for most yoga practices are to undo tension, rest, breathe, and release chronic muscular holding. As I loved to remind my yoga students, softness is not weakness!
Rather, the point of yoga is to open a channel of energy, find release, and allow positive change to manifest. This year, I am trying to focus more on self-care and not let winter get me (too) down. Part of my journey to yoga practice was learning about restorative poses.
As an outgoing teacher and writer, expressing myself and communicating with others is vital to me and my career. After yoga teacher training introduced me to the seven chakras, or energy centers of the body, I wanted to learn more about throat chakra and its connection with our physical and emotional bodies.
Before I even knew what chakras were, the throat chakra was my favorite. Associated with communication and consciousness, the throat chakra’s balance affects the throat and neck and how we express ourselves.
Exploring poses that soothe and open the throat chakra has become very important to my personal yoga practice. Giving your throat and neck some love with help increase and balance energy and aid communication, expression, and creativity. The following restorative yoga poses and modifications are for everyone!
Easy Neck Release
To warm up the throat, start with a gentle release to soften and open the neck. Make your way into a comfortable seated position. Place the index and middle fingers of your right hand on your left temple. Inhale deeply and draw the crown of the head toward the sky and tuck the chin into the chest. As you exhale, tip the right ear toward your right shoulder. Use your fingers as a guide to apply gentle pressure to the temple.
Stay for 10 to 15 breaths, releasing the right shoulder down and away from the ear. To release, gently prop your head upright using your fingers. Switch sides.
Baby Cobra and Cobra Poses
Next, try Baby Cobra and Cobra. From your seated position, make your way onto your stomach. Let the chin rest on the floor and draw the big toes together. Place the arms under the shoulder blades and tuck your elbows tightly in by your ribs. Take a deep breath in to center. Exhale.
On the next inhale, lift the head and chest from the mat and gaze softly a few inches in front of your hands. Feel the abdominal muscle engage against the floor as the neck opens. Keep the elbows tucked tightly against the ribs to work the biceps. As you exhale, lower the head and chest and rest the chin on the floor. Continue Baby Cobra reps with 5 or so more breaths.
If you want to open the neck further, lift the head and chest higher and let the bottom ribs graze the floor to explore the full expression of Cobra. Be mindful of any strain on your low back.
Supported Fish Pose
After opening the neck and back body with Easy Neck Release and Cobra Pose, roll over onto your back to set up for Supported Fish. Here, take a foam or cork block between the shoulder blades. Lower the mid-back over the block and let the head and neck release down toward the floor, opening the throat to the sky. Find a comfortable leg position, such as stretching the legs long or bending the knees and placing the feet on the floor.
If you don’t have a block, using a small pillow or rolled-up blanket as a bolster will also work. Stay for at least ten to fifteen breaths. Supported Fish Pose can make you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Lean into the sensations, letting the neck and shoulders release and the throat open as you breathe.
Shoulder Stand and Legs up the Wall
Shoulder Stand is a great counter-pose for the back and shoulders after coming out of Supported Fish. This inversion reverses circulation and sends fresh blood to the throat.
To come into Shoulder Stand, lie flat on your back with your arms and legs extended. Lift your legs into the air and flex the feet flat like you’re going to talk a walk on the ceiling. Roll the torso up and off of the mat to take the weight of the legs and torso onto your shoulders. Use your arms and hands as kickstands to support your lower back. Stay for five to ten breaths, and gently lower down to Savasana.
If Shoulder Stand is not in your practice, try Legs up the Wall for a modified inversion. Lie next to a wall on the floor or bed and extend the legs skyward, flexing the feet flat. Stay for five to ten breaths before gently releasing into Savasana (lying in stillness).
What is your favorite way to relax and restore?
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À votre santé,