When science, spirituality & real life collide
Being present: the best present
Posture of the week: "Eight maids-a-milking" Gormukhasana (cow's head pose)
This week we are continuing our work on mindfulness & "being present". I invite you to start to think about how you can begin to weave this theme into your daily life. Maybe try becoming completely absorbed in an everyday task, take some time each day to notice your breath, scan your body & check-in with how you're feeling.
Our posture of the week is "eight maids-a-milking" also known as gormukhasana or cows head pose. This posture stretches into the hips & shoulders. It is very grounding.
Image 1: 8 maids-a-milking Gormukhasana; cows head pose
If it is comfortable I invite you to lie in supta baddha konasana (cobblers pose, see image 2, picture 1), soles of the feet together, knees pressing out to the side. Have the palms facing the the sky & take your thumb & first finger together in chin mudra.
Take a moment to notice the thoughts going through your mind, be aware of your emotions & notice how your body is feeling. Scan the body from head to toe, asking each area to release.
Take your full awareness to your breath; spend a few minutes here. It's normal for the mind to want to wonder, notice anything that comes up & guide your awareness back to the breath.
Inhale & take the knees back together coming into semi supine. Make any mindful movements you'd like to make; ankle circles, pelvic tilts, pointing & flexing the toes, neck rolls - anything you'd like to do. Try to coordinate the movement with the breath & try to keep your full awareness onto the movement & the breath.
As you inhale take the arms over head, as you exhale take the arms back into the side of the body. Do this at least six times & again, coordinate the breath breath with the movement & keep your full awareness here.
Let the arms rest at the side of your body with the palms facing the sky. Take the knees hip distance apart, the knees & ankles in alignment. As you inhale start to lift into dwi pada pitham (bridge pose); peel the lower back up from the earth vertebrae by vertebrae, as you exhale slowly lower. Do a few rounds, lifting & lowering, ease out when you are ready. (See image 2 picture 2).
Lift the right leg up towards the sky, flex the foot & hold around the back of the thigh. Draw the toes in towards the nose to stretch into the hamstring (supta padagusthasana, see image 2, picture 3). Ensure to soften your neck, shoulders & jaw & press your lower back into the earth. Hold for about 30 seconds & repeat on the left.
Come onto all fours. Image 2, pictures 4 & 5 show majariasana (cat pose). As you inhale let your abdominals release, let your back dip & take the chin up. As you exhale pull the abdominals up & under, let the back arch & take the chin to the chest. Repeat a number of times.
Keep the hips & knees in alignment (the bottom in the air) & stretch your arms out in front coming into anahata asana or puppy dog pose (see image 2, picture 6). Rest the forehead onto your mat or a cushion. You may feel the stretch across the chest & into the shoulders. Extending one arm by the side of the body & leaving one in front will make the stretch feel stronger. If you do this please ensure to make both side equal.
Lift the head out slowly & slide onto your tummy coming into salamba bhujangasana or sphinx pose (see Image 2, picture 7). Take the feet just in from hip distance, the elbows under the shoulders & the fore arms parallel on the mat. Inhale lifting the chest & chin. Hold for a few breaths.
Take a rest in child's pose then come back into a table top position. Step the right foot forward between the hands. Let the knee & ankle be in alignment as able. Wiggle to left knee back from hip distance. Make a tripod with the hands & lift the chest. As you inhale life the left knee coming into banarasana or low lunge (see image 2, picture 8). Hold for a few breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Step the feet together & come into standing. Take some time to do any additional shoulder or hip stretches.
Image 2: Picture 1: Supta baddha konasana. Picture 2: Dwi pada pittham. Picture 3: Supta padaguthasana. Pictures 4&5: Mjariasana. Picture 6: Anahata asana. Picture 7: Salamba bhujangasna. Picture 8: Banarasana.
13. There are a number of ways to come into gomukhasana. From a table top position place one knee in front of the other then sit back onto the earth or a block. Let the feet come out to the side. Take the right arm up overhead, rotate the shoulder so the palm faces the back of the room then reach the hand down the back of the shoulders. Take the left arm out to the side, in-line with the shoulder. Rotate the shoulder so the palm faces the back of the room then reach the hand up the back towards the shoulders. The two hands may meet; if the do you may claspe them. Use a yoga strap or dressing gown belt if needed. Repeat on the opposite side; alternate the knee that sits on top & change the arms. Release & give everything a shake out.
14. Have a lie onto your back & hug your knees into your chest. Roll your lower back onto the earth.
15. Rest the feet down onto the earth, take the arms to the side of the body with the palms facing the sky & lightly press the thumb & first finger together in chin mudra. Take a moment to observe your natural breath. Be completely mindful & aware of your breath for a few moments. If you wish, incorporate the mantra "Samprati hum", inhale "samprati", exhale "hum" (I am here, I am present).
16. Come out of relaxation slowly.
Don't forget to send picture of you practicing.