by Holly Walck Kostura, certified Iyengar yoga teacher
It's almost Valentine's Day, so I've prepared a gift for you that's even more delicious than a box of chocolates: a yoga sequence of backward extensions.
I know--you want to know exactly how yoga could be more delicious than chocolate, right? Well, Hatha Yoga uses modalities (yoga postures and such) to bring us in union with the knowledge that we are not our bodies' desires (mmmm...dark chocolate-chunk brownies with walnuts and dried cherries) or our minds' aversions. Nope, instead we are, the Yoga Sutras tell us, the JOYFUL, PURE, and ETERNAL soul.
Yes, I said it, SOUL, which is said to be "the size of the thumb and dwell within the lotus of the heart." When we till the hardened soil of the body/mind using Hatha Yoga practices, it allows for all of that dirt to be moved out of the way so the deeply buried Soul can rise to the surface.
When practiced with integrity, this family of poses challenges the front of the body, which is often in a contracted state, to lengthen and open like the petals of a lotus flower being touched by the sunrise.
The backbends in this sequence strengthen the spinal muscles and prepare one for more advanced backbends. These stimulating poses can be just what the doctor ordered when the contents of your mind have caused dark stormy clouds to shutter your inner light because they help develop the inner courage required to face the truth head-on and take necessary actions. Only then can your heart's wisdom be realized.
From my divine heart to yours,
A Valentine's Day Yoga Practice: Accessing the Purity and Wisdom of the Heart
- Warm-up with a shoulder-opening sequence.
- Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
- Downward-facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and try these variations.
- Upward-facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
- Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
- Seated Angle Pose with a Twist (Upavistha Konasana, Parsva)
- Bound Angle Pose with a Twist (Baddha Konasana, Parsva)
- Supported Corpse Pose (Salamba Savasana)
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