Step by Step
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.
Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks.
Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.
Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
My journey with yoga all started with the pursuit for happiness. During my writing class three years ago, my teacher assigned us a journal project. The topic was on ways to overcome sadness. I pondered this topic quietly, but sighed as I wasn’t in the mood to write about ‘happiness.’ At this time, I had recently undergone two knee surgeries. I was only a girl in a wheelchair, rolling around, while everyone else remained oblivious in my presence. Did my teacher HAVE to ask me to write about this topic? To be completely honest, my happiness consisted of eating ice-cream, watching TV Marathons of Ellen DeGeneres, and sleeping.
However, later that night, I turned on my computer, and began working. I was keen on delivering exceptional work, but I didn’t know where to begin. I was also VERY serious about this project. At the end, this homework consisted of spending three hours of watching motivational YouTube videos, two hours of reading inspirational stories from ‘Love Gives Me Hope’, and two hours of scrolling through happiness quotes. I pulled out one quote that stood out from the rest, in particular. This one wasn’t the generic, ‘be yourself’ or ‘happiness is a choice’ type of quote. Instead, this quote was very direct, and called for immediate action. I believed B.K.S Lyengar was urging me to try yoga, when he said, “Yoga is the golden key that unlocks the door to peace, tranquillity and joy.” Scrolling further down the page, I smiled when I read aloud the second quote. It read, “Yoga is like the music, the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
During this period when I was on my wheelchair- besides eating and sleeping- I was very passionate about music. Rolling in a chair with four wheels didn’t stop me from pursuing my interests in music, because I remember strumming a guitar and singing around the house, daily. Even on weekend mornings, when my entire family was asleep!
Anyway, I was thrilled! If music and yoga are related, then I could probably participate, right? Could this be my calling? Maybe, maybe not. Well, I don’t take ‘maybe’ for an answer – ever. I wasn’t going to wait around to find out. For some reason, my heart was telling me to try something new. Now, as I am reflecting on the past, I can tell you with confidence that taking a ‘wheel’ forward helped me to discover the beauty of yoga.
My first classes were on-line, and I followed YouTube girls who completely endorsed the yoga lifestyle. I was content watching the videos. I enjoyed yoga so much that after awhile I began to attend classes at a local community centre nearby. I would switch up the yoga styles- which I totally recommend. It’s a trick to get your muscles into working a little harder. Otherwise, you won’t see any results. You can’t expect abs and nice arms if you are only lifting weights for one hour each day! For me, I attend the harder classes, in which we would do five minutes of the plank followed by more intense, core-strengthening exercises. On other days, I might be surrounded by elders, as we happily performed the downward facing dog, and other stretching exercises. Nevertheless, I ‘digged’ yoga, and I still do. Yoga makes me feel stronger, healthier, and more relaxed. I feel beautiful, and I want you all to feel beautiful too.
This summer, let us give yoga a try. Ladies, take your man with you. Just do it! Trust me, you’ll thank me later for this. Today, I will start you off with my favourite pose:
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Inhale, shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left heel toward your left buttock as you bend the knee. Press the head of your right thigh bone back, deep into the hip joint, and pull the knee cap up to keep the standing leg straight and strong.
There are two variations you might try here with your arms and hands. In either case, try to keep your torso relatively upright. The first is to reach back with your left hand and grasp the outside of your left foot or ankle. To avoid compression in your lower back, actively lift your pubis toward your navel, and at the same time, press your tailbone toward the floor.
Begin to lift your left foot up, away from the floor, and back, away from your torso. Extend the left thigh behind you and parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward, in front of your torso, parallel to the floor.
The second option with the hands is to sweep your right hand around behind your back and catch hold of the inner left foot. Then sweep the left hand back and grab the outside of the left foot. This variation will challenge your balance even more. Then raise the thigh as described in step 3. This second variation will increase the lift of your chest and the stretch of your shoulders.
Stay in the pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Then release the grasp on the foot, place the left foot back onto the floor, and repeat for the same length of time on the other side
For additional poses, check out: yogajournal.com.
*On a side note, if you are in Vancouver this summer and know someone between the ages 13-18, spread the word that the YMCA at Langara are offering free classes.
Please comment if you liked this post, and please share your yoga experiences!
Hugs all around