Asanas For Relaxation

Puppy Pose (Anahatasana or Uttana Shishosana)

This posture is wonderful for extending the spine, releasing tension in the back, opening the shoulders, and grounding through both the "third eye," or center temple, and heart. It can bring a relaxing quality to an overactive mind and offer an opening to the emotional heart.

Instructions: Beginning on hands and knees, stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Keeping your legs stationary, slowly walk your arms forward, stretching your spine until your chest is close (if not touching) your mat. You can either choose to relax your forehead onto the mat or begin to work your chin to the floor, being mindful not to create wrinkles in the back of your neck. Enjoy being here for five to ten breaths and then to release, carefully walk your hands back and return to a neutral tabletop position.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Stress and anxiety often cause us to have feelings of weakness both in mind and body. Standing balance postures are a very tangible way to find your roots and grow your strength. This posture can help support increased focus, balance, and full body awareness. It can also help the mind center when implementing a gaze point (dhristi) and breath (prana).

Instructions: Begin by standing with your feet together placing your hands onto your hips. Ground your balance into your left foot and carefully float your right thigh up towards your abdomen. Mindfully place the bottom of your right foot either on the calf or upper thigh (be aware not to press weight into the knee as it can cause injury). Pressing your right foot into your left leg, simultaneously press your left leg into your right thigh initiating upward moving energy (udana vayu), which governs speech, self-expression, and growth. Once your balance is established, draw the hands together in front of your heart in prayer position (anjali mudra). Work on keeping your heart and head lifting towards the sky while pressing firmly towards the earth with your standing leg, maintaining a steady breath. Repeat on the other side.

Headstand (Sirsasana)

Changing perspective by literally turning your world upside down can be highly beneficial. Headstands increases the digestive fire (agni), strengthen deep core muscles, support the ability to focus, benefit balance, and slow the fluctuations of and in the mind (vrittis).

Instructions: If you are new to the pose, start near a wall for support. Begin by coming onto hands and knees, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Take a deep breath and lower your forearms to the ground. Once the forearms are parallel, keep the elbows rooted and interlace the hands together, making a triangle with your arms. Place the crown of your head onto the ground and cradle it in your hands. Tuck your toes and lift your hips high. Start walking your feet towards your head, getting as close to your elbows as possible. Engage your abdominal muscles and press your forearms into the mat, lifting out of your shoulders. You can practice bringing one leg up and then the other until you feel steady. To enter full headstand, lift your feet straight up over your shoulders and hips until your legs are completely straight overhead. Hold for five to ten breaths, or longer if you desire. When you're ready, lower your feet down and rest in Child's Pose for a minimum of three breaths.

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