Take a moment out of your workday to expand the breath, release muscular tension, and bring vitality and good posture into the spine.
When doing yoga in a chair, come to the edge of your seat so that the pelvis is neutral and the spine is tall and straight, rather than rounded. Bring the soles of the feet to touch the ground. Take off your shoes and socks if acceptable, in order to stretch the muscles of the feet.
On each pose, focus on the breath. Notice on the inhale, work to create more expansion across the chest and upper back. Create more length as the crown of the head, the heart and the spine grow taller. On every exhale, work to maintain the length and space you created on the inhale, as you feel the body soften and relax.
Come to sit “well” in your chair. Sit towards the edge of the seat and bring attention to the sitting bones. Ground down through the sitting bones and lengthen the tailbone down, towards the ground. Bring the feet hip-width distance apart and stack the feet under the knees. Draw the belly in towards the spine. Lift and
expand in the area of the chest. Notice if the ribcage is protruding out. Draw the lower ribs inward.
Start with breath to movement: On an inhale, reach the arms up over the head. On the exhale, draw the hands to heart center and pause. Bringing the palms to heart will help to bring balance to the hemispheres of the brain as well as it allows us to gaze inwards towards the heart. Notice what you need in that moment. Repeat this breath to movement exercise to bring your focus to the breath and notice the sensations in the body. Take up a lot of space on the inhale and accentuate the opening arms and chest, and notice the expansion of the breath.
Cow: On an inhale, reach the arms up over the head. Lift and expand through the chest. Spin the pinkies inward and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Lift the gaze if comfortable on the neck. Stretch and open the front line of the body.
Cat: On an exhale breath, round the spine. Bring the chin towards the chest and tuck the tailbone under. Draw the navel inwards, towards the spine. Enjoy the sensation and opening on the back-line of the body.
Accentuate the breath as you move. Close the eyes. Focus on extending and opening on the inhale, as the lungs take in more oxygen. Round the spine and draw the low-belly in towards the spine on the exhale, as the lungs and belly contract on the exhale, as you release toxins and stress.
Repeat Cow and Cat for 3-5, full-rounds of breath. Slow down and create even and smooth inhales and exhales.
Seated Side-Stretch: On an inhale, reach the arms up over the head. On an exhale, drop the left arm down and reach over to the left. On the inhale, lengthen, creating more length on the left side of the torso. On the exhale, deepen the stretch, without force. Repeat the same movements on the opposite side. Take 3-5 sets of this side-stretch.
Seated Forward Fold with Hands-Interlaced: Make sure that you are still sitting “well”. Notice if the pelvis is neutral and readjust in your seat to come towards the edge. Open the feet wider than hip-width distance.
Draw the arms behind the back and interlace the palms if available. Use a towel or strap if the palms don’t interlace. On an inhale breath, lift the sternum, towards the ceiling, and reach the fingers towards the ground. Notice the opening in the chest and shoulder girdle. On an exhale, fold forward with a flat-back. Rest in-between the legs. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine to protect the low-back.
Allow the palms to fall overhead, if accessible. Stay here and breathe for 3-5 rounds of breath. Notice the quiet and “calm” that this pose creates. Allow any mental obstacles and distractions to roll down the back and off the shoulders. Follow the breath as it moves up and down the spine.
Seated Half-Pigeon Pose: Cross the right leg over the left thigh, create the number four with your legs. Flex the right toes towards the face. On an inhale breath, lift the sternum and lengthen through the spine. On an exhale, fold-forward with a flat back. Hinge at the hips. To deepen the stretch, gently use the right elbow to nudge the right knee towards the ground. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine and draw the shoulder blades flush to the back. Notice the opening in the hip flexors. Stay here and breathe for 3-5 rounds of breath.
To come out: on an inhale breath, lift the gaze and begin to come back up. Once the torso is seated upright, exhale at the top. Repeat the same instructions on the opposite side.
Seated Prayer Twist: On an inhale, reach the arms up over the head. On an exhale, draw the hands to heart center. On the inhale, lengthen and extend more through the crown of the head and sternum. On the exhale, twist to the right, bringing the left elbow outside the right knee or in between the knees. Stack the elbows and the shoulders.
On the inhale, lift the belly up off of the thighs and create space. On the exhale, gently twist deeper. Use the breath to lead the movement, rather than muscling through a deeper twist. Open the heart up towards the ceiling. Check-in with the breath. If the breath is feeling “labored” you may be too deep into the twist. Back-out of the twist a bit and focus on the quality of the breath. Keep the spine long and the crown of the head reaching forward.
Option to open the arms to fly. Bring the left palm down and lift the right arm high. Notice the opening in the chest. Use the resistance of the left arm against the leg to accentuate the opening of the chest and the opening in the right shoulder. Option to take a “half-bind”. Bring the right arm behind the back for a deeper twist and shoulder opening.
To come out: slowly unwind and come back to center. On an inhale, lift the sternum and crown of the head towards the front of the room. Bring the palms to the shins. On the exhale fold forward. Take a moment to enjoy the spine in a neutral position before twisting to the opposite side. Completely relax the head and neck. Repeat on the opposite side.
Notice how you feel. Come back to a neutral seat. Close the eyes and notice the sensations in the body and in the breath. Notice if the breath moves more “freely”, without constrictions, and the mind and body is more at ease. Take these qualities of peace, expansion and feelings of ease back into your day.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, 500 hr. cert. yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga
Christi Iacono is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor, kids yoga instructor, and owner of In Rhythms Yoga. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. She guides adults, kids and families in the ancient tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her daily personal practice. She is passionate about sharing her experience, inspiration, and dedication with her students. She is committed to being a life-long student and teacher of the practice. Christi carefully works with each student in order to find the variation that best serves their body. Work to find the balance of effort and ease in every posture, “sthira sukham asanam.” Yoga is accessible to all.
IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa and yin-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as Tues. and Thurs. evening classes.
Donation-based yoga class:
Sat., March 7th, 9-10:15 am, proceeds donated to NEDA, National Eating Disorders Association.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and in her home. Visit http://www.apothecarysociety.com/ciacono to learn more.
*Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.