Introduction to Yoga: Session 1

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Introduction to Yoga: Session 1 January 17, 2019

Please help yourself to the resources that serve you best. This information is completely optional, and intended to support those students in the Introduction to Yoga program offered through the City of Surrey at Standford Hall, Kwomais Point Park, in Ocean Park. This information may also be useful for any practitioner interested in the ‘basics’ of beginning a yoga practice. I also refer to this as a class for beginners, and re-beginners.

Help Yourself!~


Presiding Quote: “Ships are safest in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are for” (John A. Shedd)

Topics covered in Session 1:

8 Limbs of Yoga (Click here to be magically transported to an earlier blog that describes this)

Photo Credit:  www.boyoga.com  If you visit their site, you’ll find a deeper article, as well as this photo as a download in PDF format.

Photo Credit: www.boyoga.com If you visit their site, you’ll find a deeper article, as well as this photo as a download in PDF format.


Constructive Rest & the Psoas

Photo:  https://www.yogaelements.com/blog/2017/9/29/healing-your-vital-psoas-muscle-with-yoga   Click link to read a more in depth article on the psoas.   Constructive Rest Pose:  The benefit of this pose is that it releases the Psoas muscle (or Iliopsoas group). This is a very important and primal muscle in the body. Not only is the Psoas the only muscle group to bridge the upper and lower half of the body, it is also special because it does not respond to our will. We can’t ‘make’ our Psoas release with our minds, the way we can with other muscle groups. This pose sets the Psoas up to relax and release. With regular practice, you could feel a marked relaxation in the belly, as your organs happily move back into place (the Psoas when stressed presses the abdominal organs forward).

Photo: https://www.yogaelements.com/blog/2017/9/29/healing-your-vital-psoas-muscle-with-yoga

Click link to read a more in depth article on the psoas.

Constructive Rest Pose: The benefit of this pose is that it releases the Psoas muscle (or Iliopsoas group). This is a very important and primal muscle in the body. Not only is the Psoas the only muscle group to bridge the upper and lower half of the body, it is also special because it does not respond to our will. We can’t ‘make’ our Psoas release with our minds, the way we can with other muscle groups. This pose sets the Psoas up to relax and release. With regular practice, you could feel a marked relaxation in the belly, as your organs happily move back into place (the Psoas when stressed presses the abdominal organs forward).

Photo from Yoga Journal  Resting on your back, bend your knees and slide the souls of your feet in towards your buttocks. Press into your heels, and lift your hips up off the floor just enough to slide a thin cushion underneath your hips (you may also use a folded towel or blanket). Windshield wiper your feet a little wider than hip distance apart, and about 8-10 inches away from your buttocks. Allow your knees to spill in towards each other and you may wish to use a support (like a soft towel) to lean your knees into for comfort.

Photo from Yoga Journal

Resting on your back, bend your knees and slide the souls of your feet in towards your buttocks. Press into your heels, and lift your hips up off the floor just enough to slide a thin cushion underneath your hips (you may also use a folded towel or blanket). Windshield wiper your feet a little wider than hip distance apart, and about 8-10 inches away from your buttocks. Allow your knees to spill in towards each other and you may wish to use a support (like a soft towel) to lean your knees into for comfort.

The Resourceful Breath

I refer to ‘diaphramatic breathing’ as The Resourceful Breath to indicate the benefits inherent in the practice of breathing with intention, breathing fully and deeply. This breath is sumptuous during constructive rest, and resourceful throughout the entire practice because it creates internal structure.

The practice goes like this:

1) Sit or lay with a lengthened spine. Allow for flexibility and movement, so that your spine is not stiff, but is elogated through intention and micro adjustments. Laying on the floor uses gravity to naturally align the spine.

2) Release any tension in the cervical spine (neck). Allow the head to float (if sitting) or rest comfortably (if supine).

3) Breathe in through the nose, allowing the breath to expand the torso, to swell the belly. The biomechanics of this action are the lowering of the diaphram, which increases pressure on the belly towards distention, and allows the lungs to fill fully.

4) Exhale through the nose or mouth, which ever feels more native to your own body. As you exhale, slowly and mindfully, gently draw the belly button back and towards the spine. This creates internal support and tones the functional muscles of the breath.

5) Keep breathing, slowly and mindfully, expanding on the inhale, and emptying on the exhale. Fine a rhythm that serves relaxation, so that you are not forcing the breath. It takes practice, but with practice will bring greater ease, and increasing benefits.

I suggest this breath as it is fairly easy to remember, and supports the exertion phase of each asana.

6 Movements of the Spine

Photo Credit:  https://www.slideshare.net/pankajnsurange/anatomy-of-spine   In my yoga teacher training, we were taught that every warm up should include the six movements of the spine. Together, in class, we have approached these from several positions, including sitting, supine (lying on the back) and standing. This full range of motion is said to keep the spine healthy, and there are many who believe the health of the body is directly connected to the health of the spine. The spine is the first structure to develop in the embryo. Something to consider in terms of importance. We “spine” before we “brain”. That is why I begin practice with these gentle warming movements.

Photo Credit: https://www.slideshare.net/pankajnsurange/anatomy-of-spine

In my yoga teacher training, we were taught that every warm up should include the six movements of the spine. Together, in class, we have approached these from several positions, including sitting, supine (lying on the back) and standing. This full range of motion is said to keep the spine healthy, and there are many who believe the health of the body is directly connected to the health of the spine. The spine is the first structure to develop in the embryo. Something to consider in terms of importance. We “spine” before we “brain”. That is why I begin practice with these gentle warming movements.