Recently, I was struck rather forcefully with the Flu of the Century. It rendered me completely at the mercy of my bed and was the kind of bug that made putting my hair into a ponytail the big to-do of the day. In stark contrast to my usual days, even the thought of yoga made me want to pass out.
In between whimpers and coughs, I had a lot of time to think and I tried to gain some perspective from my illness. I thought copiously about misery; I tried to just be with the awfulness and not shove it away in vain, like I’ve been trained to befriend physical sensation in yoga postures; I reflected on gratitude that it wasn’t a stomach flu. I also thought that, truly, yoga’s physical posture practice, asana, is a gift, an honor, and a privilege.
There are healthy days I don’t always feel this way. My practice can sometimes feel like a chore or something to be accomplished by way of certain poses being done a certain way. Pfft. What lies. Practice is a gift, honor, and privilege that lets us as its humble practitioners show up regularly, hone and connect with our bodies at whatever capability they present to us, and enjoy purposefully moving for the health of it. For this very reason, I selected a “simple” yoga pose to remind each of us that it doesn’t just take “more, more, more” or a specifically fancy caliber of ability to be bettered in our minds, bodies and spirits by the treasure of our yoga practices.
Surrender onto your back and savor the sweetness of laying down. If this pose is all you have the time or energy for (or even doing this in the beginning or end of your day while laying in bed) it can make a helpful difference in your hips and back.
Draw your bent knees into your chest, holding your hands around your shins. If that creates tight, uncomfortable pressure in your knees, hold your hamstrings (back of thigh) so your knee joints are more open.
Straighten your elbows so your thighs are further away from you for more weighted release of your lower back into the ground. This will also require less range of motion out of your spine and pelvis.
Bend your elbows to deepen the experience, going softly and sensitively into the deep fold at your hip crease. Let your knees track a bit wider to gain more mobility. Alternate between knees wider and closer.
Add in a mild rock from side to side for a massaging action into your back. Alternate elbows slowly straightening and slowly bending as you rock to take the massage from your sacrum and outer hips to your mid-back.
Keep your shoulders relaxed and chin gently drawn toward your chest so the back of your neck is naturally long. If your chin is higher than your forehead, add support behind the base of your skull.
By: Hanna Riley, Courtesy of Bala Vinyasa Yoga.