September comes in with a rush of turbulence and transition.  I can hardly believe that summer is over. Our household is packing away our gear from vacation and settling into school and work mode.  For me, it’s these seasonal transitions that challenge my ability to stay grounded.  As fall arrives, I find my yoga practice changing to meet my need to sharpen my ability to focus my attention.  Here are some strategies you can integrate into your home yoga practice to be fully present.
Pranayama – Grounding breath strategies.  Repeat for at least 20 breaths.
Grounding Breath – Sit in a comfortable cross legged position with your palms facing down on your lap.   Feel the meeting point of your legs, feet, bottom and the floor.  As you inhale feel your spine lengthen, as you exhale focus your attention on the connection between your body and the floor.
Belted Breath – Secure a yoga belt around the lower ribs.  There should be just enough tension so the belt does not slip down on the exhale and leaves room for your natural inhale.  Close your eyes and breathe into the front sides and back of the belt. See if you can feel your breath through a full 360 degrees.  Keep the breath slow and relaxed.
Child’s Pose Back Breath – Move into child’s pose with knees tucked snuggly together with your belly resting on your thighs.  Support your forehead on your stacked hands or fists.  Draw your attention to your back body.  Your belly will be blocked by your thighs, which will push the breath into the low back all the way up the upper back.  As you inhale expand from the low back to the top of the shoulder blades, exhale from the shoulder blades to the low back.
Asana – Attention focus strategies
Triangle Pose – from the top of your mat, step back with your left foot into a wide stance 4.5 – 5 feet apart.  Place the front foot straight forward, line the back foot up parallel to the back of the mat. Anchor through the big toe of the front foot and the little toe side of the back foot.  Roll the front thigh slightly out and the back thigh in. Deepen the front hip crease and stretch your right arm forward as far as you can, then lower the arm to the lower leg or a block, extend the left arm up and gaze at the base of the left thumb.  Here’s where people start to lose their focus.  Adding motion to the pose can help to draw your attention into the present.  Lower your left arm down to touch the right hand and follow the movement of your hand with your gaze.  Raise the hand back up and follow the movement of the hand with your gaze.  Repeat 5-10 times, then perform on the other side.
Side Angle Pose – from triangle pose, bend the front knee and rest your right forearm on your right thigh.  Roll your left rib cage back to open the chest to the side of the room.  Extend the left arm overhead and gaze at the base of your left thumb.  Slowly circle the arm overhead, towards the top of the mat, then down towards the floor in a counter clockwise direction.  Continue to follow the movement of your hand with your gaze.  Repeat for 5- 10 circles, then perform on the other side.
Meditation – Find a comfortable seat.  Draw your attention to the tip of your nose.  Feel the breath enter and leave the body through the nose.  Maintain a natural breath without trying to change anything.  If your mind wanders away, gently draw your focus back to the tip of the nose.  Practice for 5 minutes, gradually increasing your meditation time by 1 minute intervals every 2-3 sessions.
~ Janet Carscadden, PT, OCS, Certified MDT
Join Janet this Fall for
Drop-in Yoga Alignment Classes – Tuesdays at 4:30
Yoga for a Healthy Back Series – starts September 17
Yoga Nidra Workshop – October 3

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