Support yourself in this first week of the year by adding the following poses into your daily practice. The theme for this week and within these poses is the balance of contents/container: stability of the skeleton and ease within the organs is mirrored by clarity of mind that holds space for emotions to arise without mental reactivity. Listen to the Somatic Meditation for the week of January 5th, 2015
Parsvakonasana (extended side-angle pose) works to strengthen, warm and tone the legs and back while opening the side body, hamstrings/adductors, chest and arms. In this pose you can imagine the rooted stability of the front leg lending its support to the lengthening back leg and side of the body that turns upward. Try relaxing your lower abdomen and feeling your organs soften. Feel the buoyancy of your lungs as they turn (bottom lung under top lung) supported by the clarity of your spine and integrity of your base. Modify the pose by placing the bottom arm elbow-to-knee, or the bottom hand on a block.
Upavishta Konasana (wide-angle seated forward bend) helps to support the torso by bringing attention to the pelvic floor and lower abdomen. Work in the pose to soften your belly and abdominal wall. Quiet your spine and ribs as you sense the support from the floor rising through your spine. Notice the effect of your breath in your pelvic floor and through your simple attention and breathing feel how your pelvic floor is support to your lower organs. For those with tight low-backs and hamstrings prop yourself up higher on folded blankets until you can sit comfortably and balanced between the front/back of your pelvis without strain in your lower back. As you prop your seat you may also need to prop the backs of your knees to protect against over stretching the connective tissue there- rolled blankets under the backs of your knees are great for this.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (half king of the fishes pose) tonifies the digestive organs and brings balance to the left and right sides of the body as well as balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Imagine the axis of your spine from tail to skull and feel the easeful gliding of your organs around the spinal axis. This pose can also easily be modified for a chair- keep your legs uncrossed and hips-width distance, sit forwards on the seat and use your hands to the back of the chair to twist.
Balasana (child's pose) gently lengthens the back while supporting the front. Allow the weight of your head to release fully either onto the floor, your hands or a cushion. Relax your brain. Soften your belly against the support of your thighs and breathe into your lower back. You can try this pose with knees wide apart and a cushion or bolster under your belly for a more restorative posture. Knees together and arms alongside your legs rather than extended forwards has a slightly more condensing inward effect.