Monday, July 14, 2014

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Stand-up Paddle Yoga

Stand-up paddle yoga is invigorating, builds confidence and balance, and is a lot of fun. Unlike the the challenges of traditional surfing, stand-up paddle can be done on almost any given day and by anyone. You do not have to rely on the size of the swell, the wind, or how many people are in the line-up. Paddling takes a little balance and ability to take the risk of falling into the water. Add the qualities of yoga, letting go of judgment and competition, practice being mindful, and simply focus on the breath and being present. You may find it healing to the mind and body while also bringing peace to the soul.

Learning to balance on a “sup” board, takes a little balance and practice. Step on the board by placing the knees towards the middle of the board, lengthwise, bringing the knees hip-width distance apart. First, find your balance and come to the knees. When you are ready, rise up to the feet and keep the feet hip-width distance apart. To get a feel for the board, play with the weight by distributing and shifting the weight from side-to-side while slightly bending the knees. The paddle can be placed on the board lengthwise while practicing yoga.

To do Crescent Lunge, Anjaneyasana, first come into Child’s Pose,
Balasana, in order to gradually warm up the hips and shoulders while extending the spine. Allow the hips to sink over the heels and reach the fingertips forward on the board to allow the spine to extend and shoulders to open. Allow gravity to do the work. Allow the forehead to touch the board, if accessible. Stay here and breathe a few rounds of breath (one inhale and one exhale equals one round of breath).

On an inhale breath, slowly shift the weight forward and come into table-top, on the the hands and knees. On the exhale, gaze down and find your balance. Come into a low-lunge, and bring the left foot forward onto the board so that the left knee is above the ankle. Keep the right knee on the board to find your balance and for the first level of the pose. Keep the left foot and right knee at hip-widths distance.

On an inhale breath, bring the palms to the heart. On an exhale, draw the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone towards the board. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine. You can stay here and breathe and articulate this posture by growing the crown of the head towards the sky and enjoying the stretch in the right hip flexor and in the extension of the spine. Relax the face and the jaws.

If you want to go further, on an inhale breath, raise the arms over the head. Turn the pinkies inward and notice the opening in the space on the back, in between the shoulder blades. Option to stay here and breathe, opening and expanding through the area of the chest. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and activate the core, to protect the low-back. Option to lift the gaze towards the sky.

To move into a twist: drop the right palm to the inside of the left foot and open the left palm towards the sky. Continue to extend the crown of the head forward to lengthen more through the spine. Press down through the right palm to extend more through the chest and lift through the left fingers. Feel the opening in the left shoulder. Stay here and breathe.


Inhale to lengthen more through the spine and exhale to twist, using the breath to pull you into a deeper twist. Option to challenge yourself more, by curling the back toes and rise up off of the back knee. Take it slow
and notice the board as it begins to sway and move. Come back to the breath. Create long and smooth inhales and exhales to find your balance and your breath. Stay here for 3-5 rounds of breath. Drop back down to the knee and unwind from the twist. Bring the torso back to the center and the hands to the chest. Come back into Child’s Pose before repeating on the opposite side.

Notice how you feel. Option to rest into Savasana, Corpse Pose, on the board or on the beach. Lie down on the back and allow the feet to fall open wide. The palms can rest open towards the sky. Shimmy the shoulders underneath you and expand more through the heart space, through the chest. Allow the breath to flow naturally. Close the eyes and allow the sup yoga experience to settle. Notice the sensations around you. Be aware of the sounds, the smells and how it feels to be relaxing on the paddle board. Savor the moment of relaxation and the present moment. Know that no effort in yoga, either on land or on the water is wasted. Each time that we practice, we learn more about ourselves and we become more aware of our physical and subtle energies in the body.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Namaste,
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga

Christi Iacono is a certified yoga teacher, at the 500 hour level, and she is the owner of In Rhythms Yoga, in Clairemont. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mounts streets. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. She believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, Christi carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve their body. Contact christi@inrhythmsyoga.com for more info.

IRY offers regularly scheduled classes on, Sat., Sun. and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class. Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.

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