Plank strengthens the core and inner will. Learn to set reasonable goals through holding the pose for longer periods of time.
To get into position start on hands and knees with the hands right under the tops of the shoulders with the wrist creases parallel with the front of the mat. The fingers are spread comfortable wide and the knuckles and finger pads are firmly on the ground. As you keep the hands under the shoulders, extend the legs out straight with the toes on the ground. The body should form and straight line from head to heals.
To get the engagement necessary to hold the plank for long periods of time, lift the inner thighs up towards the ceiling and scoop the tailbone down towards the feet. This action creates the Mulabandha and Uddiyana bandha that engages the abdomen and perineum. As you keep the engagement and the arms straight, melt the chest towards the mat. This action will bring the shoulder blades together on the back. Breathe as deep as possible as you hold the pose.
For more of a challenge do pushups (Chaturanga Dandasana) from this position with the elbows bending backwards along the body. Make sure that the head of the arm bones stay in line with the rest of the body and don’t dip down towards the floor.
The boat pose builds strength in the third chakra or abdominal region. As you strengthen your body you will cultivate more energy for accomplishing all that you want.
Begin from a sitting position with the knees bent and the feet on the ground. As you inhale, lift the legs and balance on the sitting bones. Keep the back straight and the legs extended out 90 degrees from the torso. For more ease, bend your knees, which puts less stress on your back. Hold the position with an easeful breath.
As we push our limit of abdominal strength, we build our will. Holding this pose for longer periods over time encourages confidence as we surpass our perceived ability. Eventually this courage translates to other areas of our lives.
Start with your back on the mat and your knees bent. Lift the feet off the ground as if you were sitting in a chair and extend the arms toward the ceiling. This position will look like an upside down table. Make sure the abdominals are engaged during this exercise. To begin, lift the head and chest off the ground and hold it. Keep the breath even as the abdominals hold your shoulders and head off the ground. When you start feeling any strain in the neck you may take one hand down to support the head. This pose can be held up to 1 hour with practice. As the body begins the strain of working the abdominals, your body may shake. Allow the shaking and build your will to stay with the pose even through the pain of pushing the strength of the abdominal muscles.
Rest on your back when you finish and breathe. Stretch the legs and arms in opposite directions to stretch out the abdominal muscles.
Super person pose not only gives us the feeling of being a ‘super person’, it builds strength in our mid-back. With a strong back we can more easily support our body and move confidently through life.
To begin, lie on your belly with your legs extended straight behind you with the foot pointed and the toes extended. Inner rotate the thighs one at the time by moving the inner thighs up towards the ceiling. As you hold that inner rotation, scoop the tailbone towards the toes. You will feel an engagement of the abdomen and a lift at the perineum. With the hands next to the chest, lift the straight legs upwards towards the ceiling as you lengthen and lift the chest up and forward. Your body will be balanced on the belly.
For a more challenging pose, you may take the hands off the ground and out to the side of the body. An even more advanced version would be to take the arms over the head. Do the pose at your level of challenge so that within 5 deep breathes you have reached the maximum time that you can hold the pose. Rest with the head to one side. The pose may be done multiple times to strengthen the back.
As we arch our body in the bow pose our 3rdchakra is pressed physically into the ground bringing awareness and activating this area. As we add safe rocking back and forth we inject a bit of play to the pose. Invite more challenging fun by rolling on the side remaining in the bow position.
Begin lying on your belly with the feet hip width apart and the legs inner rotated. Scoop the tailbone and extend the chest forward. Keep that engagement as you bend your knees and take your ankles with your hands. With an inhale press the ankles away from your buttocks and left your head and neck back towards your feet. You will rest on your belly with a deep stretch in the 3rdchakra area.
As you hold the pose, breathe deeply and evenly. For more play, you can rock forward and back like a rocking horse. Another advanced variation is to roll to one side while you hold the bow position, breathe. Next, roll to the other side and breathe there. Come back to the center beginning pose and exhale down. Rest on your belly with the head to one side.
Zen Meditation and Yoga Retreat
A Day of Loving Kindness
A full day retreat at the Hidden Valley Zen Center designed to calm the mind and nurture the body. During this bliss filled day you will learn and practice Zen and Metta Meditation, do Hatha and Restorative Yoga, partake in Mindful Eating and enjoy the beauty of nature.
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