Hello from Ireland everyone!
I am a yoga teacher and a creative type, happy to share this yoga-inspired routine with you. These movements have helped me a lot over the years. They are part of my daily yoga sequence.
Summer energy is hot, driven and active. Having a lot of work to do or hectic periods is common for many of us, and being productive can be good; just remember that body awareness is very important as you go along. Otherwise, you might experience burn-out. As for yoga and meditation, it’s interesting to ask yourself if you sometimes avoid your emotions and run from silence or solitude by keeping busy? If it feels like you are always on the go and that you have ‘no time’, that’s all the more reason to fit in some yoga!
Where you practice is important. Summer means warmer temperatures for a lot of us, and once it’s not raining, there are advantages to practicing outside, ideally close to nature. Think about your options. Is it possible to go somewhere quiet, green and serene? Is there a park or garden that you can use? In cities, look for trees, so that even in the midst of the concrete you can focus on natural sounds during your practice; trees attract birds! Walk around some morning and explore areas near where you live with fresh eyes. Bring a yoga mat, lie on it and test the ground. Find somewhere that feels good.
Do these simple yoga techniques at the same time every day for 3 weeks to feel the results. If for some reason you don’t get up on time, or you can’t practice every day, that’s ok. Just carry on whenever you can, in whatever way that you can. Life happens. It is not a rigid drill, so take it easy on yourself.
Before I go to bed I leave a mat, a blanket (or warm hoody) for shavasanna, notebook and pen by the door to pick up and go outside for yoga next morning. Practice begins once I open the door. If you have to walk any distance, you can begin as soon as you leave the house too; listen to the sounds of the day, breathe mindfully, walk with awareness, observe the mind. Before you start, consider your schedule for the rest of the morning and set an alarm on your phone if you need to. Arrange it so that when the alarm rings, you can still take at least 5 minutes for shavasanna.
Begin with Shavasana (corpse pose). Whether you are outdoors or inside, put a blanket on yourself when you are lying still, as your body temperature will drop.
- Lie on your mat and close your eyes. Tune into your body and pay attention to your breathing. Slow it down. Scan your body from toe to head, and again from head to toe. Notice any tension, hot or cold areas. As you breathe into each part of your body, let it relax even more. Come to full body awareness. Take a few minutes here. If your mind is wandering, control it by counting 1, 2, 3, 4….as you breathe in. Count as you breathe out too.
- Sitting up, straight legs out in front, and support yourself by putting your hands behind you. Look at your toes and start to move the toes of one foot, then the other. Fan out your toes then close them. Scrunch up the toes then relax them. Point them and stretch the foot forward. Flex the foot and bend the toes towards you. Experiment to see how many ways you can engage with your feet. Control the movements, alternating between both feet. Allow all other parts of the body to relax as you do so. Do 10-15 repetitions of each movement.
- Pause and feel where your body is warmed up already. Meditate on the root chakra for a few moments. Close your eyes and visualise the colour red. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, ignore this part and carry on….
- Ankle crank.
Bend your right leg at the knee, then rest your right leg across the left thigh. Your right ankle needs to be far enough over the opposite thigh that you can rotate it. Keep your left leg out straight. Hold the right ankle in your right hand and use your left hand to rotate the foot. Move slowly, 10 circles in each direction. Carefully swap sides and do the same for the other ankle.Stay sitting or stand up now; whatever you feel like.
- Put your fingertips on your shoulders, bend your arms at the elbows and rotate each shoulder in circles. First one, then the other. Go slower than you want to. Keep breathing mindfully. Can you count the breaths, and keep them the same length? Imagine you have wings growing out of your shoulder blades as you move in circles.
Keep your spine straight and head looking straight ahead.
- Take your arms and extend them out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Relax your shoulders. Engage your core. Clench and release your hands. Alternate between making fists and spreading your fingers out wide. Flex your hands from the wrists, moving up, then down. Repeat all movements 10 times.
Make fists and straighten your arms out in front of you, elbows locked. Rotate both hands in circles, moving together clockwise, then anti-clockwise until you feel that your wrists are fully warmed up.
- Start to turn your head to the left, super slowly. Relax your face and shoulders as you do so. Exhale as you turn out, and inhale as you return to centre. Alternate from left to right. Slow down.
Then look skywards, inhaling as you tilt your head back. Return to centre and exhale as you drop your head and look down, chin to chest, stretching out the back of the neck. Repeat 5-10 times.
Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder. Don’t turn your neck; look straight ahead. Pause when you reach your limit, and breathe. Mindfully bring your head to centre and repeat on the other side.
Roll your head in a full circle. Your neck will make a clicking sound in some sections. Imagine your head is on wheels that run along a track.
When you encounter a bumpy part on the track you are following, slow down even more and gently roll your neck through, then carry on following the circular track. Observe what happens in your neck. Each side might feel different.
- Lie down again, scan your body, focus on breathing and relax fully. These yogic movements are a kind of meditation that if you do slowly, can help you to feel grounded and focused for the day ahead. It takes practice. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Do these movements twice a day (or whenever you can) for a month and see what happens. I’d love to hear how you get on, so post a message on my blog anytime: www.12petals.net. To find me on Instagram, look here. Hopefully my words, artwork and photos will help you to get started. I am used to teaching verbally, so if you’d like vocal and video instruction designed specifically for your needs, contact me anytime. We are all unique, and I love assisting people one-to-one. Bye for now!
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- When doing sun salutations, stretch deeply and be mindful. Make an effort to move more slowly than you usually would. Keep going until you’ve had enough, or until your alarm goes off.
- Cover yourself with the blanket and take some time in savasanna. Listen to all the sounds around you and observe the breath. If you have any insights, write them in your notebook. Now go and have a great day!
Art, photos and writing by Kathryn Crowley 2018. www.12petals.net
Yoga is great for relaxation and strength; it’s one of my favourite hobbies. – Sarah (editor of Hobbyism)