Published in Senior Living Magazine, January 2017. p.26
Life – A Daily Yoga Practice
Yoga has saved me from the American way of fitness – “No Pain No Gain” and “More is Better” (more weight, time, speed). A stuffed tortoise and hare are prominently displayed in my studio to remind us that slow and deliberate is more beneficial. Slow and deliberate movements are also easier to fit into the movements of daily life – and if we are moving too fast, Yoga reminds us to slow down. Once you become more aware of your body and breath through the practice of Yoga, every movement is influenced by it. I invite you to find ways to incorporate Yoga into your daily activities – to become more mindful of each movement, and moment.
Walking – Focus on good posture; relax shoulders away from ears; tongue away from roof of mouth; breathe through nostrils. Lead with your heart instead of head and neck, and move through the core. Engage the core (as if zipping up tight pair of jeans). Tilt the pelvis to remove any arch in the low back (imagine having a dragon’s tail to drop on the ground). Feel the feet gently pressing into the earth.
Standing – Stand with feet “fist” distance apart, stacking hips and knees over ankles. Root down through four corners of each foot (each side of ball and heel). Grip the earth with toes spread wide. Engage muscles in legs, glutes, core; tilt the pelvis to find your dragon’s tail. Extend through the side body, lifting the bottom ribs away from the waist. With shoulders back, turn the palms to face forward to open the heart; reach fingers for outside of heels to pull shoulders away from ears. Push top of crown to the sky while rooting feet down to the earth. Relax face, tongue, and jaw – Breathe.
Reaching – When reaching for a top shelf, under a bed, or behind obstacle, focus on reaching through the side body, not the shoulder. Extend the side body from the waist to the underarm, keeping the shoulder away from the ear. Breathe.
Working Overhead – Use your body’s bone structure for support. With arms raised, stack wrists over elbows and shoulders (Touchdown!). Relax shoulders away from the ears; open the heart; squeeze shoulder blades toward each other. Extend through side body. Gaze upward, keeping chin tucked slightly to avoid dropping head back and straining the neck.
Sitting – Lower to the chair without using your hands. Stack knees over ankles; engage core; slowly bend knees to lower hips to chair. Place back of body and head fully into chair, resting feet on floor. Sit up tall; arms/palms on armrests to relax shoulders away from ears. Rise from the chair without using hands. Stack knees over ankles; engage core; rise slowly by pressing feet into the earth. A friend used this practice during Church services, moving to and from seated, rising, and kneeling. (Look Mom, no hands!)
Driving – Place bottom of left foot on car floor, knee stacked over ankle to keep hips level. Place back of the body into the seat, and back of head against headrest. Place the hands “lightly” on the wheel at 9:00 and 3:00 (instead of 10:00 and 2:00), so the shoulders are even. Sit up tall; engage the core; breathe.
“The world is the gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.” (Swami Vivekananda)
Julie Hunt-Juneau, RYT 200
Yoga By Water