10 poses in 10 minutes! Plus, quick tips to get your daily meditation practice going...
Cory Bryant returned to YOGA NEPAL last March and led us on a yogic journey through the sacred sites, temple towns and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries of the Kathmandu Valley. We had the chance to explore the intersections of yoga and Buddhism and to connect with the full breadth of yoga practice, uncovering the grounded stillness within ourselves that opened us to the lessons and experiences of this magical place.
Here are some quick tips from Cory to get your daily practice going.
"One of the main reasons for doing asana is to develop and maintain a sound body that is able to sit in meditation posture and find stillness. Asana means "seat", which can be further expounded to mean "connection to the earth". Your connection to the earth can be strengthened through an asana practice that is grounded and comfortable. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tell us that asana should be "stirah sukham asanam", which means "my connection to the earth should be steady and joyful".
When you do asana practice, be sure to pay attention to where and how your body is positioned relative to the earth (aka, floor in most cases). Take note of which limbs and/or parts of your body are being used to establish your foundation. This is your connection to the earth. Bring awareness to the pose and be sure this connection is grounded, balanced and steady. From there, you can move further into the pose with the free parts of your body.
The "Jivamukti Magic 10" is a great way to warm up the body, calm the mind and prepare for seated practice. This is a simple asana routine that can be done in only 10 minutes, yet it opens up the energetic flow of the whole body.
Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Dog) - From tadasana, plant hands and step back to plank. Extend the body flat, on balls of feet with shoulders directly above wrists. This is the correct distance between hands and feet. Lift the sits bones up and drop the heels toward the floor keeping arms and legs extended. Affirm your connection to the earth by spreading the fingers wide with middle finger pointed forward, hands shoulder width apart. Place emphasis on the forefinger and thumb, slightly rotating the forearm in while rolling the shoulders open and down the back, creating space across the upper back. Feet are hip-width apart. Drop the head. After 10 breaths, walk the feet forward and fold over the legs to uttanasana.
Uttanasana (forward fold) - From down dog, walk the feet forward to the hands. Inhale, look up and lengthen through the top of your head with feet together or apart. Spread the toes wide and evenly connect to the earth through the feet. Then drop the head and fold over the legs. Bend the knees as needed and with each inhale lengthen the spine and use the exhale to fold deeper and further extend the legs. After 10 breaths, walk your feet out to the edges of your mat and squat down to malasana.
Malasana (squat) - Feet mat-width apart, knees tracked over middle of feet, spine extended, hands in prayer at heart, using the elbows to open the inner thighs, press heels down into the floor, into a folded blanket or sit on a block. After 10 breaths, take a seat on the floor.
Teepee Twist - 5 breaths each side. Seated with soles of the feet on the floor, feet and knees together, bend the left elbow and embrace both knees with the left arm, right hand on floor behind you, twist to the right. Do the left side. Then extend both legs straight.
Ardha Matsyendrasana - 5 breaths each side. Bend the right knee and cross the right foot over the extended left leg, placing the right foot adjacent to the outside of left knee or further down near left foot. With the left elbow bent, press the outside of left arm against the outside of right leg. Repeat on the left side. Then extend both legs straight.
Table Top - 10 breaths. Separate your feet hip-width apart and bend the knees. Place your hands behind you on floor, fingers pointing toward the feet, chin to chest. Inhale and lift up. Exhale and extend the head back. (The pelvis should be lifted as high or higher than knee level, with ankles under knees and wrists under shoulders).
Handstand - 5 to 25 breaths. Place hands on the floor about 3-5 inches from a wall, and leading with one leg kick up and follow with the other. Then rest the heels on wall, feet flexed, and drop the head between the arms. If kicking up is too challenging, try a modified handstand. Start on hands and knees, feet to the wall, and walk up to a 90 degree angle. Finish by simply hanging over your legs in uttanasana (no need to rest in child's pose). Then stand up for posture alignment.
Standing Posture Alignment - 5 breaths. Standing in tadasana, interlock the fingers behind the back, pressing the palms together. Lift the arms away from pelvis. Lift your heart and drop your chin to meet your lifted chest.
Standing Side Bends - 4 breaths. Extend the arms overhead, interlock the fingers, pressing the palms together. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and bend to the left side. Inhale to the upright position. Then exhale and bend to the right. Repeat once more to each side for a total of 2 rounds. Then inhale and come to an upright, standing position.
Standing Spinal Roll - 16 breaths.
Exhale: Place interlaced hands behind the head and spread the elbows wide.
Inhale: In the upright position, lengthen the spine, expand the chest and look up.
Exhale: Arch back. Continue to lift with each inhale and lean back on the exhale for a total of 3 breaths.
Inhale: Come to an upright position .
Exhale: Draw elbows towards each other, chin to chest, and slowly begin to roll down.
Eventually bring your forehead to/toward your knees.
Once there, slowly roll back up to standing and release the arms.
Exhale in tadasana.
After opening the body in this way, set aside a minimum of 5 minutes to do the following:
1. Choose your seat. You can sit cross legged, on a chair, or you can even stand. The important thing is that you purposely choose it such that you can find comfort and stillness.
2. Be still. Bring the mind to the body. For these 5 minutes, see if it is possible not to move, observing sensations as they come and go. If you must move, then do it purposely and efficiently with awareness. Then return to stillness.
3. Observe the sensations of your breath as it enters and exits the nostrils. If the mind becomes distracted, simply recognize that the mind has wandered off. Believe it or not, knowing that your mind has wandered is a moment of awareness. Then without judgment, as if nothing like that could ever bother you, simply return your attention to the breath.
Within all of us, is a nature that is completely free, beyond fear, unbound to the fluctuating conditions that affect our daily lives. Tapping into the awareness that recognizes this freedom helps us avoid "sweating the small stuff", dissolves our feeling of separateness from others, and allows us to focus on the aspects of life that uplift ourselves and those around us."
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Hope to see you in Kathmandu.
The Yoga Nepal Team
Marni, Lucas, Radhika and Bidur
P.S. Have you seen Kathmandu's version of HAPPY yet? Guaranteed to make you smile! Check it out: