Author and yoga teacher Jean Hall shares her 5 poses to support the soft flow of breath…
Check out our January schedule as Jean hosts a month of classes based on breath and movement: https://www.yogamatters.com/pages/community-yoga-classes-2023
Tadasana Antascara – Mountain Body moving
Stand and root your feet into the ground about hip width apart. Reach your arms up to the sky. Use your right hand to hold around your left wrist and slowly circle your arms over to the right as you sway your hips across to the left. Keep moving across until you feel the movement has come to its natural completion. Pause here, and breathe into the whole of your left side, sensing the support of the earth below and the spacious sky above.
When you feel ready, return to centre and relax your arms by your sides. Notice how your left side feels in relation to your right. Then repeat to the other side.
Variation: You can also do this seated in a chair.
Paschimottanasana – Back Opening over a bolster
Sit with your legs outstretched in front of you and the bolster lying vertically along your legs. Slowly ease forwards, bringing your belly, front ribs and chest to rest against the bolster. Place your hands anywhere along the bolster that feels comfortable and relax here for 10-20 breaths.
Variation: you can also try this with the pelvis raised up on another bolster or on the edge of a low sofa.
Jathara Parivartanasana – Resting Twist
Lie on your back gently hugging your knees into your chest. Open your arms wide and then roll your knees over to the right until they find the floor, keeping them close to your torso. Now rest your right hand on your belly and relax your left arm. Soften and yield into the ground for 10-20 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Variation – It may help to place a bolster between your knees. Or if you wish to deepen the twist, reach your top leg out and take hold of the top foot with the opposite hand.
Setu Bandhasana – Bridge Pose on a brick or bolster
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground hip width apart. Have your prop (bolster or brick within reaching distance). Take a few moments here to let your breath and body settle. Then raise your hips up and slide your brick or bolster underneath your sacrum. Rest the weight of your pelvis on the prop and allow your chest and abdomen to softly open. Ease the shoulders down and into the ground. Be mindful to keep the legs parallel as you breath and release here for a minute or two.
Viparita Karuni – Legs up the wall
Place your mat and bolster (or firm cushions) up against the wall and wriggle in, so you lie with your hips raised up on the supporting prop. Extend your feet up the wall whilst feeling your pelvis relax and release down into the bolster. Take time to rest here for 10-20 breaths.
Variations: If your legs don’t like to remain straight as they rest up the wall, you can move your bolster/cushions and hips further away from the wall so the legs may relax without the knees bending. Also explore different positions with your legs, like releasing them wide into a straddle position or bending the knees and placing the feet on the wall a little wider than the hips (a bit like a reclined squatting position)… play – nothing is wrong or right!
Any props required – bolster, cushion, wall