Floor Savasana - Pranayama and Relaxation

1. Depending on the conditions, it is recommended to lie on the floor with a blanket or on the floor itself. A folded blanket is placed under the head, touching the top of the shoulders. If it is difficult to keep the legs straight and relaxed, please note that a rolled sticky mat is placed tightly alongside each leg. In the event that there is tightness or discomfort in the low back, a rolled sticky mat is placed under the knees and a block placed under the feet.

 2 A strap around the mid thigh often helps to maintain a relaxed position. Then place the hands behind the hips, open the chest, and lie down on the floor slowly keeping the chest and neck relaxed. Once prone on the floor, draw the flesh of the buttock down toward the thighs. If an eye-bag or folded towel is available, then place it over the eyes. Draw the shoulder blades toward the spine, with the lower point of the blades moving down and in toward the heart. Lift the space between the shoulder blades toward the heart. Then position the arms 30 degrees away from the hips, with the palms up, fi ngers relaxed, and the mound of the thumb descending to the floor. This will open the sides of the chest to allow easy, smooth breath.

3. Be sure that the chin is level with the sternum. If it is not, place an additional blanket or lift under the back of the head. Release the weight of the head into the blanket, balancing the weight of the head between the two points of the occipital bone. Release the weight of the jaw toward the ears. Allow the lips to part so that the upper lip drapes over the teeth. As the face releases tension, bring the eyes down toward the heart from the back of the skull, over the crown, down the forehead, over the eyebrows. The sides of the eye will elongate, easing tension from the temples.

4. A major portion of our nervous energy is used to maintain a pleasant expression. It is important to spend a few moments releasing the facial muscles to achieve a more satisfying Savasana. Allow the weight of the bones of the face to draw down toward the floor. The throat should be soft in the center, with the sides of the neck moving down toward the floor. With that action, the outer edge of the shoulders will descend into the floor, releasing any tension in the collarbones or upper ribs. The upper arm becomes heavy and the forearm spreads out. The wrist and hands become light together with the palms of the hands.

5. Allow the weight of the torso to rest against the floor. If there is a misalignment of the rib cage due to weakness of the torso muscles or curvature of the spinal column, then place a wedge or rolled sticky mat under the side of the torso that moves toward the floor, from the armpit to the waist.

6. The weight of the pelvis moves downward, causing the lower abdomen to soften away from the rim of the pelvic girdle. This releases any tension in the psoas muscles and the intestinal tract.

7. The heavy muscles of the thighs release toward the femur bones. The hamstrings are supported by the floor, allowing them to relax. The shins descend down without hyper extending the backs of the knees. If there is hyper extension, place a blanket or a sticky mat under the backs of the knees. The feet are at first touching at the insides of the heels, then, as they relax, allow them to separate.

8. The breath is even and soft. Encourage the breath to arise from behind the navel into the side chest. It is important to be focused on the breathing. There is a tendency to allow the events of the day to become prominent or to project ahead to what actions will occur after class or to just drift and dream. This asana is one of the most important to master. Not only is it an opportunity for the consciousness to absorb the lessons of the class, but also the organic results of the asana practice become part of the healing process that brings vibrant health. Savasana provides an opportunity to become quiet within, to experience the awakening of the inner body, and to learn how to listen to the inner body and address its needs on a daily basis through your hatha yoga practice. There is a sense of security in this pose because you are aware that the instructor is watching and is there to be of assistance. Absorbing the silence around you through the breath is a rare privilege and not often available.

9. When it is no longer possible to remain focused on the breath, then roll to your right. Rest the head in the crook of the right arm. Bring your blanket under the head on top of the arm. Bring the left knee over the right thigh and rest the inside of the knee on a block, blanket or rolled sticky mat. Stretch the right leg out and bring the back of the head into line with the right foot. Lie in a straight line from head to heel, left hand resting on the floor in front of the torso. Remain in this position with the eyes closed for a few minutes.

10. Sit up by pressing down with the left hand into a comfortable sitting position and put the blankets under the buttocks. Keeping the eyes closed, breath easily and softly. Open the eyes on the inhalation and salute the teacher.

11. Be mindful to return all the props to their place so that the yoga space is clean and clear. This applies not only to the commercial space, it is also important for your own practice space in your home.

Viloma Three - Pranayama and Relaxation

In this pranayama, the previous disciplines are combined. It is important that all three be done as a unit. If at any time fatigue is experienced, stop the practice and go to Savasana (the deep relaxation, or corpse pose).

1. Begin with the 3 smooth breaths.

2. At the end of the 3rd exhalation of the smooth breath, begin with a three part inhalation, as described in Viloma One.

3. At the top of the inhalation, begin the exhalation as described in Viloma Two.

4. At the end of the exhalation, begin the inhalation with the 3 smooth breaths.

5. At the completion of the pranayama practice, go directly to Savasana. Spend as much time as necessary to feel refreshed and invigorated before starting activities.

BENEFITS

The absorption of oxygen into the body is essential for those of us with MS. Our nervous systems demand an effective oxygen delivery system in order for us to complete our days’ activities. We also need an effective tool to handle the stress and tension that comes our way from so many diff erent sources.

The study of pranayama is vast and complex and requires a lifetime of practice and dedication. Selecting these five segments to begin with will enable us to experiment and develop a practice and reap the benefi ts of this most amazing practice. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many experienced and dedicated certifi ed teachers who have a daily pranayama practice and who are willing to share their experiences with us. Contact with these teachers would be of great benefit.

Those of us who have a pranayama practice teach from that practice and look forward to students who are willing to make a commitment to enhancing their knowledge and improve their health. We must also recognize that life is often fi lled with good intentions.

We often start off with a great deal of enthusiasm. Then one thing or another prevents us from fulfi lling our plans. We give up for just a little while, which then stretches into a long time, and we lose heart and become frustrated.

What is reassuring about pranayama is that the breath is always there, waiting to start again and again. Many longtime practitioners have stopped and started numerous times, until the practice has become firmly established, and now they would not give it up under any circumstances. Having seen the benefits it has brought to our lives, its value is beyond measure.
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