sunset yoga pose courtesy of Big Stock Photo
Brian Leaf : Sample Yoga Practice
Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi
Sample Yoga Practice
By Brian Leaf
You can record yourself reading the following directions and then play them back as you practice, or if you can’t say the word buttocks without giggling, you can download a recording of me guiding the practice at Misadventures-of-a-Yogi.com.
So now, find a comfortable spot and get yoga-ing.
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing
2. Skull-Shining Breath
3. Cat Lift and Round (also called Cat/Cow)
Repeat this four more times, slowly moving your arms up and down, coordinating your breath with the movement.
The next time your arms are overhead, hold them there. Press your feet into the ground. Press your crown up toward the ceiling — chin parallel to the ﬂoor. Press your ﬁngertips up toward the ceiling, simultaneously relaxing your shoulders. And breathe slow, deep breaths. Stay in this posture for eight breaths.
As you hold the posture, notice where you are straining. See if you can relax. Your muscles are working to hold up your arms, but your face, feet, buttocks, and legs can be relaxed. Soften your facial muscles. Relax your belly. Relax your feet and your neck. Practice being focused and alert, giving your all to the task, yet being relaxed and soft.
Now slowly lower your arms as you exhale.
Close your eyes and tune in to how you feel. Where do you feel strain?
Allow your body to make any small stretches or movements to release stress and tension. Open your eyes.
5. Half Sun Salute
Then exhale, bending your knees a bit, and slowly fold over, hinging at the waist, to touch your hands to the ﬂoor. Then, again, hinging at the waist, inhale as you come up halfway, sliding your hands up your legs. Then, exhale to fold back down.
Finally, inhale to come all the way back up to standing. This practice warms up your whole body and helps you connect to the rhythm of your breath.
6. Downward Dog
7. Fish Pose
Remove the towel, close your eyes, and feel any sensations. Allow your body to make any small stretches or movements to release stress and tension.
8. Relaxation Pose
(You can sample a few minutes of relaxing music here, probably not DMX.)
After a few minutes, begin to deepen the breath. (pause) Feel your belly and chest rise and fall with each breath. (pause) Wiggle your ﬁngers and toes. Then gently roll to one side and come to a seated position.
Notice how you feel after this yoga series. Set the intention to take this feeling into your day, into your relationships, into your work, into your life. Set the intention to notice your muscles as you go about your day. Notice when muscles that need not be activated are tense, such as a fist clenching while you’re driving in traffic, and allow those muscles to relax, unclench, and soften. Notice when muscles are stiff, and allow your body to make any small stretches or movements to release tension. This will reduce your stress, increase your vitality, and make you happier. •
Excerpted from the new book Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi © 2012 by Brian Leaf. Published with permission of www.newworldlibrary.com.
Brian Leaf, M.A. is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. He draws upon twenty-one years of intensive study, practice, and teaching of yoga, meditation, and holistic health. More »