Monday, May 12, 2008

Get a Leg Up on Your Day

Reader Query: I am a devout reader of your inspiring and insightful blog! I am subscribed to a few blogs, and yours is always refreshing and to the point, perfect for a busybody such as myself. As a runner, surfer, and generally active person I usually stretch before bed and a bit in the morning as well. I was regularly practicing yoga at a studio (about a year ago . . . haha) but have stopped going due to lack of time and funds. I wanted to ask you if there are a few yoga positions that you could recommend to do in the morning, especially focusing on the legs/achilles. Any suggestions would be helpful!

Bravo to you, surfer/runner/self-proclaimed "busybody" gal! While you may not be "regularly practicing yoga at a studio," you clearly demonstrate a commitment to a yogic lifestyle that works for you, and, ultimately, that's the most important thing. Now, about those tight hammies . . .

Stretching in the morning is no easy task, so you'll want to take it slow. Here are seven (one for each sea!) gentle moves to help you greet the day and walk a bit taller for the duration of it.

1.) Supported rag doll: Hanging forward in a standing forward bend first thing in the a.m. can be difficult on groggy hamstrings, so be sure to soften/bend your knees. My recommendation would be to place a yoga block (or stack of books) under each hand; this creates the experience of lifting the floor up, so that you can relax into its support. A nice twist on the traditional move is to gently rock your hips in a circle (think of hula hooping), in one direction; then, switch directions.

Next, step back into . . .

2.) Downward dog: Lifting one leg into the air while pressing the heel of your lower leg toward the ground will access your achilles even more.

Drop your knees to the floor. Transition into . . .

3.) Toes pose: Kneel with your toes curled under, and sit on your heels. Stay for 10 breaths. As a counter-movement, place your hands on the floor behind you, and lift your knees off the floor (you'll get a great stretch in the tops of your feet).

Roll onto your back . . .

4.) Supine utthita hasta padangustasana: For an added stretch in your hamstring, lift your head and shoulders up off the floor as you imagine touching your nose to your shin.

5.) Dead bug: Great for the hips, inner thighs, and achilles.

6.) Supta baddha konasana: This can be done with the support of a block under each knee/thigh or a bolster under your back. Rest here for one minute.

7.) Fish: It's a nice counter-movement for the forward bends. Plus, you're at home in the water- like a fish- so I thought you might like this one.

Be sure to spend a couple minutes in sivasana to conclude your practice (all the props that Rodney Yee uses in the accompanying image are not necessary). Feel free to pick and choose poses to suit your mood or morning schedule. Namaste!

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