Your mind is most often your biggest enemy, I realized this today during power yoga class. Breathing through something, rather than giving up! The instructor of today’s power class is small and most people would be amazed by her overall power (I am guessing she can be seriously underestimated). When we think of a physically strong person, we usually think of a very muscular person, but this does not have to be the case.
Your mind is the place where your true power lies and if you can overcome your doubts, you can achieve so much more. This instructor has helped me a great deal in advancing in my practice, she is always there to give an extra bit of encouragement and to teach you how to appreciate the burn.
Today we will be looking at beginner yoga exercises, these will help you build a strong foundation for your practice and help you push through harder exercises in the future.
Are you looking to find a way to be more energized throughout the day?
Are you trying to cut back on coffee or energy drinks?
Do you want to not just “get through the day”, but actually enjoy your day from start to finish?
Want a stronger and healthier body?
Then breath of fire is for you!
Today we will start our practice with a very powerful pranayama. Before you start, get some tissues! No you are not going to cry, but you will have to blow your nose. This exercise will be invigorating, the perfect way to start your day.
What is breath of fire?
This is a very powerful breathing exercise, it oxygenates your blood and can help in strengthening your heart and lungs. It is a healthy alternative to your morning cup of coffee, it will wake you up and get you energized for the rest of the day! Breath of fire is a quick and continuous breath (think of a dog panting on a hot day or after running).
When practicing breath of fire, you are going pull your navel up and in rhythmically on the exhale (almost like being punched in the stomach. This means it is an active exhalation but a passive inhalation. All breathing is through the nose. Make sure that the pulling up of the navel happens on the exhale and do not pull your shoulders up.
Keep in mind that you might feel lightheaded, nauseated or out of breath. Don’t gasp for air. Just slow down your breathing for a moment. Breath of fire is not recommended for pregnant women (especially in the 1st trimester) or women in the 1st 3 days of menstruation.
Posture is key. Find a position that works for you, sitting upright or lying down. You want to keep your shoulders down and relaxed and relax your face as well. When first starting out you are going for 1 breath per second, as you progress in this practice you can go up to 2/3 breaths per second.
So now that you blew your nose (don’t put those tissues away, you might need them again soon), we can start:
– Close your eyes and focus on your natural breathing.
– Take a nice deep inhalation to prepare. Start with your forceful exhalation and continue for about 20 breaths.
– You can continue at the same pace for another 20 breaths or if this was easy for you, go to 2 breaths a second for 40 breaths.
– That’s it! If you need a visual of what it should look like, you can visit this video (Kundalini) and skip to 4:55 to see it.
Today we are going to do a simple sequence. It is called the sun salutation sequence A or (Surya namaskara A). It is a simple, yet vital part of creating a strong foundation for your practice. It is traditionally from Ashtanga yoga used to start your day (greeting the sun). Together with the kundalini you can be sure to feel as energized as the sun and start your day right!
In this sequence, I want you to pay attention to your breathing, slow and steady. Focus on when to inhale and when to exhale, it is very important in order to get all the benefits of these poses.
1. Mountain Pose with Hands in Prayer (Tadasana Namaskar)
Starting position is mountain pose with your hands in prayer. Make sure you are feeling grounded and distribute your weight evenly through your feet. Focus on your breathing, slow and steady.
2. Mountain Pose, arms overhead (Tadasana urdhva hastasana)
Inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and overhead. Reach your heart and arms to the sky, greeting the sun.
3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
As you exhale, pulling your belly in, hinging from the hips – fold forward, connecting down into the earth. Keep your legs engaged. You can hold onto your ankles here(if you can).
4. Half Standing Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
Inhale as you lengthen your spine, lift your gaze up. The crown of the head pulling to the front of the room. Fingertips touching the floor or on your shins.
5. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Go back to your forward bend as you exhale. Inhale here
6. Plank pose (Kumbhakasana)
On your next exhalation, bend your knees, plant your hands and jump (a light jump like a cat) or step back to plank. Inhale as you lengthen.
7. Four-limbed staff pose (Chaturanga dandasana)
Exhale and lower into Four-limbed staff pose, keeping your legs straight and pushing back into your heels or bringing your knees to the floor. Focus on your strong core, building heat as you hold this challenging posture.
8. Upward-facing dog (Urdhva mukha svanasana)
As you inhale roll forward and open your heart into Upward-facing dog. Pull your shoulders down and back, opening your chest. Engage your legs, relax your glutes.
9. Downward-facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana)
Exhale and roll into downward-facing dog. Grounding as you lengthen your spine, remember to focus on your spine and not as much on the straightening of the legs or getting the heels down. Take 5 deep and slow breaths here.
Inhale and lift one leg up (choose one and on your next round you will choose the opposite) and as you exhale step it forward, in between your hands into a lunge. If you find this hard, bend your knees to the floor right after downward dog, step the leg forward between the hands, then straighten the back knee into your lunge.
11. Mountain Pose
Step the back foot forward to meet the front foot. Inhale head up and exhale for a short forward fold. Inhale stretching your arms all the way up, over your head, palms to touch and exhale with your hands through the heart center.
Take a few breaths here, then repeat this sequence on the other side.
Here is an illustration I got from Vectorstock that is great to look at.
Have a look at my post Beginner yoga at home for an in-depth explanation on how to do the asanas if you are not yet familiar.
Hopefully now that you greeted the sun with an open heart and a nice fiery breath, you can go about your day. Always being grateful for what your body is capable of. Letting go of the things you couldn’t do. You are fire!