Yoga for Every Body: 15 Minute Breathe and Balance Flow
Yoga Begins With Breath
Yoga is more than just stretching and balancing. It is a way of life. Yoga embraces the whole person to lead you on a path of well being, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
You do not need to embrace a specific religion to enjoy the benefits of yoga. The spirit of yoga welcomes all. What you do need is a desire to grow and a desire to love yourself beyond where you are today. Yoga is appropriate for all age and skill levels, and it's benefits are far-reaching.
This series of articles is written for people who have not yet explored yoga but would like to. It is also designed to help people who don't have time for a traditional yoga class.
This series covers some basic poses for beginners, and also the philosophy behind yoga. If you want to be more flexible, read on. If you want more balance, then continue. It only takes five minutes a day.
The most important part of yoga practice is breathing. Becoming aware of the breath is the basis for all poses. Before you begin this or any yoga practice, take a few moments to quiet your mind and focus on your breath.
Breathe deeply and check in with your body. Listen to your breath. Notice how you feel, physically and emotionally. Allow yourself to notice and observe your body, your breath, and your emotions.
Before you begin your practice, continue breathing deeply for a few more moments. Allow your mind to connect to your body. Now, you are in a place to begin.
Basic Yoga Philosophy
When practicing yoga, learning poses typically comes before practicing philosophy. It is important to find out that you can do a pose. The struggle with self to overcome fear, hesitation, and embarrassment will lead you on a path of growth and increased body awareness.
We all start at the beginning. Not knowing any yoga poses. Not understanding the seemingly complex thought system embraced by the enlightened gurus. At the beginning, we learn. We begin our yoga practice exactly where we are today. We don't worry about where we were yesterday, or where we want to be tomorrow. Today, we begin where we are. We breathe deeply and begin.
Start with a beginner's mind. We begin as an empty vessel, waiting to be filled. We begin with nothing to bring, but ourselves and our desire to practice. Nothing else matters.
As we learn simple poses, our mind slowly overcomes the ego which tears us down at every opportunity. Our true self learns that we are strong, capable, and smart. As we work through each pose, our true self is lifted. There is no perfect pose in yoga. Perfection is found in the practice. The practice of breathing, connecting the mind, body, and soul, and the practice of moving through the poses leads us to find perfection in each moment. We forget about being "perfect" and we meet ourselves exactly where we are.
The boost in confidence that follows creates a desire to improve our lives in other areas, and this juncture is where yoga philosophy comes in. The philosophy embraces breath, connection, and life. It leads us to a higher place of acceptance and confidence, as we learn that where we are is exactly where we need to be.
Gentle Yoga to Tackle the Present Moment
This practice serves to remind us to tackle the task at hand, in the moment. Rather than living in fear, we come fully into the present moment.
1. Begin in Mountain Pose. Look left and right several times. Drop the right ear to the right shoulder and gently bring the head forward and around to the left. Repeat several times. Drop the left ear to the left shoulder, gently drop chin toward chest and bring right ear to right shoulder. Repeat several times.
2. Step wide on the mat for Moonflower/Sunflower Flow. Legs step wide, feet pointed outward. Inhale, bring hands overhead, exhaling bring hands to waist. Repeat several times for Moonflower.
Inhale arms overhead, then exhale hands toward the mat or floor, sweeping fingertips across the mat. Inhale overhead, exhale hands toward the floor, for Sunflower. Repeat this flow several times to warm the body.
3. Inhale arms overhead, back to Mountain Pose. Prepare for Mountain/Chair/Forward Fold Flow. Exhale into Chair Pose. Inhale back to Mountain. After several repetitions, add a Forward Fold to the flow. Repeat the entire sequence 3-5 times.
4. Return to Mountain Pose and prepare for Bird Flow. Step the right foot back, opening arms wide, lifting the chest and shoulders, arching the spine. Step right foot forward, arms come together, the spine curves forward. Switch sides and repeat flow 5-7 times to get the blood flowing through the body. Attenuate the spine, thinking of the way a bicycle chain moves. Let the spine flow like connected links in a chain.
5. Return to Mountain Pose and prepare for Balancing Star Series. Inhaling, arms reach wide overhead, toward the corners of the room, fingers wide. Right leg opens out to the side with the foot pointing forward, heel pressing toward the mat. (Note: this is a balancing pose, not a movement to see how high you can lift your right leg.) Balance on the left leg for Balancing Star. Hold for 10-15 counts.
Lower the right foot and extend in front of you. Hold for 10-15 counts. Lower the right leg and lift to the side. Hold for 10-15 counts. Lower and lift directly behind you, keeping the right foot flexed. Hold for 10-15 counts.
6. Touch right toes to the mat behind you, taking a short but wide Lunge. Place right hand on right hip, left hand on your belly and thrust your pelvis forward. Notice the stretch in the right hip flexor and quadricep. Open arms to Cactus Arms. Hold this lunge for 10-15 counts.
7. Push off the right toes and return to Balancing Star. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
8. Return to Mountain Pose and repeat series on the left.
9. Balancing Star, Round 2. Begin in Mountain Pose. Lift right leg and return to Balancing Star. Hold each pose 10-15 seconds, lifting right leg to the right, to the front and behind you. While your right leg is lifted behind you, transition to next segment.
10. Bend left knee deeply and step right foot far behind you, into a Deep Lunge. Left knee is very bent. Tuck pelvis forward and open arms into Cactus Arms. Hold 10-15 seconds.
Hinge forward at the hips, leaning over left leg. Right heel comes to the mat. Create a long line from the top of your head to the right heel. Arms are holding cactus arms, squeezing shoulder blades together.
Extend both arms back, lifting palms toward the ceiling, 15-20 times.
Rotate palms to face the mat, pressing hands toward the floor, 15-20 times.
Turn palms to face each other and press hands toward each other 15-20 times.
Return arms to Cactus Arms. Bring torso upright. Press through the right toes and return to Balancing Star. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
7. Return to Mountain Pose and repeat series on the left side.
8. Return to Mountain Pose, inhale arms overhead, exhale Forward Fold.
9. Bring right heel behind you, and hold the ankle, bringing the right heel toward the right hip, for a quadricep stretch. (Note: This stretch can be done on the mat, lay on the left side and bring the right heel back.) Hold for 15-20 seconds. Switch sides.
10. Return to Mountain Pose. Cross the right ankle over the left knee for Balancing Pigeon Pose. Feel the stretch in the right hip and gluteus. (Note, this stretch can be done laying on the mat. Cross the right ankle over the left knee and bring the left knee toward the chest for Reclining Pigeon Pose.) Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.
11. Roll shoulders and release tension, then return to Mountain Pose. With eyes closed, connect to the breath and to your body. Remember to focus on the task at hand and not allow yourself to be overcome by anxiety, fear or stress.
My Credentials and Experience With Yoga
I am a certified yoga instructor, massage therapist, and life coach. I want to help everyone achieve their best life, today. Using the tools I've learned in yoga, massage and life coaching, I want to help you improve your life from the inside out.
Yoga is an important component of a complete life, as it combines the essence of breath, movement and feeling. Practicing yoga daily will help with your peace of mind, as well as balance and flexibility.
As I get older, I realize that some things that I used to do are no longer comfortable, so I have adjusted my yoga practice to be realistic for every body type, regardless of age, size, fitness level or experience.
Join me on the journey, as we explore yoga and the benefits of breathing and feeling.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.