Twelve Months of Abhaya fearless Yoga | Janu Sirsasana

Image Credit: chandra thuy tran

With all the huge changes happening around the world–the political as well as the many natural disasters–we might be feeling some anxiety.

In yoga, one of the benefits of forward bending postures is lowering anxiety.
Try out janu sirsasana a.k.a. head towards knee posture, which is a seated forward bend.

May practicing this posture help us find more space inside to face what’s happening outside.

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1. With your legs extended in front of you, find a steady comfortable seat. You may want to reach under your buttocks to spread the fleshy parts out of the way to expose the Sitz bones, making sure they are firmly rooted with the earth. Keep the feet engaged, sending energy out through the heels, toes up towards the sky. Rooting with the earth, extend energy down through the tailbone and extend energy up through the crown of the head, towards the sky.

2. On an in breath draw the right knee in, hugging it toward the chest, so much so that the foot comes off the earth. On an out breath assist the knee out towards the side of the body, placing the right foot on the other leg, above or below the opposite knee, but not on the knee.

3. On the next in breath extend both arms up towards the sky. Radiate energy out through the fingertips while drawing the shoulders down away from the ears.

4. On the next out breath hinge from the hips, allowing the torso to come forward 50 percent of how far you think you can hinge forward in this moment.  Note: You may hinge forward farther (or not as far) as you did yesterday, and you may not hinge forward to the same degree tomorrow.

5. On the next in breath come back up. Notice what feedback your body is giving you from the first pass into the posture. Maybe what you thought was 50 percent of your capacity for this moment was actually 90 percent, or maybe it was 25 percent or something in-between. Find a little more space in the body. Make any adjustments necessary.

6. On the next out breath hinge from the hips, allowing the torso to come forward 80 percent of how far you think you can hinge forward in this moment. And yes, this moment may be different from last week or next week. If it’s helpful, take a strap in both hands, looping it around the ball of the foot of the extended leg. Be careful not to pull on the strap; rather, use the strap as an extension of the arms, holding it firmly yet gently.

7. Use the in breath to lengthen, extending through the crown of the head and fingertips. Use the out breath to deepen into the posture. As much as possible, keep the back of the neck long. Once you discover where your 100 percent is for this moment, release all the muscular effort that is not required to maintain the structure of the posture. Allow the arms to come down. Allow the back to round. Relax the skin. Relax the jaw. What else are you holding onto that’s not necessary to maintain just the structure of the posture?

8. Maintain the posture for 3 to 5 breaths. On an in breath, slowly come back up. Assist the knee up from the side and repeat the posture on the other side of the body.

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Benefits

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve mild depression
  • Opens the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and groin
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Relieves anxiety, fatigue, headache, menstrual discomfort
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, insomnia, and sinusitis
  • Strengthens the back muscles during pregnancy (up to second trimester), done without coming forward, keeping your back spine concave and front torso long

Contraindications

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Knee injury: Don’t flex an injured knee completely, support it on a folded blanket

If you’re in the SF Bay Area, check out the weekly fearlessYoga class at CXC/YES!

Sundays | 9:30 – 11:00am
Every Body welcome.
Free for agents of social change. Donations welcome.

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