We can use the body (and the breath) to help us let go – ‘softening’ or ‘thinning’ the fluctuations and grippings that pervade our thought and emotional patterns. Typically, the yoga asanas that help us invite the capacity to let go are forward folds (or bends), and also yoga twists or twist and fold.
Folding or bending the body forward requires our entire back body to stretch. In yoga, the back of the body (or the West) represents consciousness, while the front body (or the East) represents manifestation. So, we are actually moving from consciousness to manifestation.
It is good to bear this in mind as you practise the poses below. It is always great to be able to manifest (whatever we are doing) skilfully and safely, rather in a haphazard, any-ole-way manner. What do we want the result of our manifestation to be?
The first three yoga postures below help you fold / bend forward towards your toes. In essence, the first three yoga poses helps to move you towards the final fourth pose.
Give all four of them a try and let me know how it goes for you.
Supta padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose).
This is a great yoga pose to begin any practice with. It helps with many yoga asanas, including adhomukha svanasana (downward facing dog) and any other kind of pose that requires lengthened hamstrings and hip flexor activation.
- Begin lying down on your back on the mat.
- As you lie down, lengthen your legs away from you and do your best to keep the knees and feet pointing upward.
- On your next exhale, bend your right knee towards your torso and hug in either over the shin or behind the knee.
- Maintain lengthening your left leg through the heel.
- Then loop your right foot with the yoga strap (or other prop) and the the ends of the strap in both hands.
- On the next inhale, stretch your right leg out and upwards through the heel, doing your best to maintain a straight knee.
- With each inhale, lengthen out your right leg, and with each exhale, press down on through the left thigh.
- If you find your right leg cannot get perpendicular to the floor, then bend your left leg on the mat.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and pressing downwards towards the mat.
- Maintain a broad upper back and the chest open.
- After five breaths, bend your right knee and release the right leg; follow the same process on the other side.
Bitilasana (Cow Pose).
This yoga posture can be considered a backbend or heart-opener. We usually sequence this together with Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) in the beginning of practice as a warm up, as it is great for your spine and entire torso, and also enhances your stability and mobility (to see how to use these two poses together, watch this video).
- On your yoga mat, begin in table top position i.e. on all fours / on hands and knees.
- Ensure your knees are right under your hips, and your wrists / elbows and shoulders are stacked over each other. Your elbow creases should point towards the thumb of the opposite hand.
- Spread your fingers out and press every knuckle of your fingers down on to the mat.
- Use a rolled towel, cushion or some padding under your knees if you have any issues with your knees.
- With your next inhale, tilt your pelvis forward by arching your low back, dropping your belly downward – but keep your abdominals activated to gain more mobility in the middle and upper back (where it should be moving).
- Keep your shoulders and chest broad, and keep your arms straight.
- Keep your hips stable – don’t move it forward or backward.
- Keep the back of neck long.
- Stay for five even breaths and exit by entering a neutral spine again.
Balasana (Child’s Pose).
This yoga asana is also called adhomukha virasana (downward facing hero pose) and is a perfect rest pose. In fact, it probably is the first pose anyone is introduced to during yoga practice.
Seriously, use this yoga pose as much as you like, but don’t abuse it! It is a disciplined practice, after all!
- On your yoga mat, sit back on your heels.
- Spread your knees wider than your hips, and draw the feet together until your big toes touch.
- Tilt your pelvis forward (see cow pose above) as you lengthen your heart space forward.
- On the next exhale, drawn your body down towards the mat between your thighs.
- Lengthen your arms forward, in line with your shoulders.
- Then lengthen your tailbone down towards your heels (backward tilting pelvis orientation).
- Lengthen the back of your neck by drawing the base of your skull away from the top of your spine.
- For forward bending practice, you may try to active your core and see if you can drawn the torso closer to the thighs (lower down) through each activation.
- Stay here as long as you like.
You can check a video demo of this yoga pose here.
Paschimottanasana (Intense-Stretch-of-the-West Pose).
This yoga posture leads us from consciousness to manifestation (for more on the philosophy, see here). It is indeed an intense stretch of the West (our back) and it is a great pose if done skilfully and safely.
- Sit on your mat, with your legs straight in front of you. Have your hands alongside right under your shoulders, by the side of your hips.
- Keep your spine lengthened upwards, with your abdominals activated, like a corset around your torso.
- As you inhale, reach upwards through your arms, lengthening your spine upward. Keep your chest open.
- On the exhale, lengthen forward towards (directionally, no ‘to’ – which is the end goal) through your hips, keeping in mind the processes you learnt in bitilasana above.
- Keep your knees and feet pointing upward, tilting your pelvis forward – and bending at the hips (rather than the waist).
- When you reach your destination (whether toes, feet, ankles or calves), keep drawing your shoulders back – and if possible, your chest forward.
- Lengthen the back of your neck by drawing the base of skull away from the top of your spine.
- Keep your breaths long and even – after five breaths or more, you may press down through your sit bones and sit upright.
Now you have learnt four poses to help you let go, and to reach your toes.
If you would like to go through this with me LIVE and for FREE, join my Yoga Challenge, see deets below!
The Mindful Mornings
If your days are fraught with stress and anxiety, this mini-course is for you!
It offers methods on how to incorporate mindfulness into your mornings and includes:
- An introductory video
- A guided meditation video
- A yoga movement practice video
- A video on examples of mindfulness routines you can incorporate into your mornings, AND
- Mindful Mornings Modalities – four videos
- Yoga Wall Stretches for the low back – four videos
- A mindful morning pdf checklist