Yoga, in its basic form, has been used to center the body and mind for over 5,000 years to bring balance to one’s mental and physical health. “The word Yoga means ‘to join or yoke together,’” according to the American Yoga Association, “and it brings the body and mind together into one harmonious experience.” While many people participate in this peaceful pastime, I believe it’s scarcely known that a sequence of moves and specific poses can help to solve a particular health problem. Elise Baer, certified part-time yoga instructor at SUNY Plattsburgh Memorial Gym and the Bridge Street Yoga Place in Plattsburgh, N.Y., has created a flow incorporating core poses and techniques, that helps to ease the pains of everyday life caused by sore hips, breathing problems, headaches and digestive issues.
To begin this healing journey, get comfortable on your mat area on the floor in which you have space to move around in. During Baer’s session,
calming instrumentals or piano music is played.
- Standing at the edge of your mat with your feet together, gently roll your shoulders back and bring your hands to “heart center”, which should resemble hands in prayer or the “Namaste” position.
- As you inhale, reach your arms up and arch your back. Exhale. A “swan dive” will help you flow into your next position, which is a forward fold. This
stretches your back muscles. Inhale as your fingertips stay on the floor and lift your head up, allowing your spine to stretch. Exhale as you fold forward again. These movements should effortlessly bring you to your first pose.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Baer incorporates this pose into her healing flow by:
- Stepping with your right foot (or whichever foot you choose) and lowering that knee into a deep lunge.
- Raise and slightly extend the chest as the arms are brought above the head. “Slowly start to open the chest and gaze up at the ceiling,” Baer instructs. Focus on taking deep breaths while this pose is held.
This pose “opens your chest while also stretching the thigh and groin area,” according to an article written by Jeff Nelson found on Yoga Journal’s website, a brand that has been
the leading authority on all things yoga since 1975.
To flow to the next pose:
- Exhale and bring the hands to meet your feet and step back into three-legged downward dog. Stay here and breathe until you are ready for the next pose!
Sleeping Pigeon (Eke Pada Rajakapotasana)
To flow into this pose, Baer suggests to:
- First, bend knee (again, whichever one you choose) and bring that knee behind the left wrist and opposite ankle behind your right wrist. Make sure your toes are tucked under your feet.
- Second, walk your hands out in front of you, place your head on the floor and inhale deeply.
Sitting for long amounts of time or overexertion can result in the shortening and tightening of the hip muscles. Sleeping Pigeon pose “provides the external rotation and flexion that your hips need to stay agile,” according to a description of this pose found on Yoga Journal’s website written by Jason Crandell.
Baer continues the flow by slowly walking the hands in front of the body on an exhale. She then drops her head and supports it in between her forearms. These movements bring you to the third pose:
Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
This pose is executed by bringing the hands in front of your left leg and stepping back into regular downward dog, Baer says.
- First, you must take a breath in this position.
- Next, on the exhale, Baer says to bring both elbows down to either side of your eyes while breathing deeply, dropping the chest as far down as possible.
Dolphin pose incorporates breathing and a relaxing stretch to provide a wide array of benefits. According to Yoga Journal’s online pose directory, aside from “improving digestion,” incorporating Dolphin pose into your flow can, “strengthen the arms and legs, help relieve stress and mild depression.” The article also states that it’s “therapeutic for high blood pressure.”
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The last pose in this healing flow, Child’s Pose is achieved by:
- Dropping the knees
- Sitting on the heels
- Straightening arms in front of the body
To reap the benefits of this position, Baer instructs people to, “Relax the head and bring your forehead to the floor.” This resting pose allows you to easily finish your flow, focus on your breathing and forget about the stresses of the external world. “Your head is lower than your heart in child’s pose,” says Baer, “which increases circulation and blood flow to your brain.”
Yoga is a time-honored practice which continues to provide health and emotional benefits to those who incorporate it into their lives. Executing this flow can provide comfort and relief from the stresses and ailments of our everyday lives.
*The American Yoga Association is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to providing information and resources on the topic of yoga.
**Photos by Sage Lewandowski