What a yoga (therapy) practice looks like

In an effort to share more of what I do with people who need it, I went to another networking meeting this afternoon. One of the things I struggle with in these situations is describing what I do, because the word “yoga” has become synonymous with chicks in colorful pants and men with rock hard abs doing handstands and all manner of gymnastics. So partially as a response to that, I recorded what MY yoga (therapy) practice currently looks like.

First, know that I’d been pretty much running around non-stop from 6 am, because I had to leave for a doctor’s appointment at 7 am. Usually I’d prefer to practice in the morning, but obviously that didn’t happen. It was about 3:45 pm before I finally got to it, and at that point my back was screaming and I realized I had hardly any water all day.

It’s sped up, but you’ll see that my practice is only 4 “poses” or movements. These are coordinated with long deep breathing and are designed to help relieve my pelvic / hip / sacral pain and to keep some external rotation in my upper back and shoulders (to prevent pain from working at the computer and driving–common “hunching” activities).

Next I do a  breathing practice with a specific ratio (a specific number of seconds for the inhale and exhale), breathing in through a curled tongue and out through my nose while moving my head up and down. We call this Sitali. It’s useful for cooling the mind-body system down (e.g. everything from anger to hot flashes).

Then I do a short meditation in which I link my mind to a large, vibrant tree, using my hands and my inhale to connect with its roots, trunk, and branches / leaves, and my exhale to bring the qualities of the tree into my system, in turn. When I feel connected to the tree, I stop the movement and stay with that feeling of being the tree.

When I feel ready, I close my practice with a few rounds of Chakravakrasana.

This is my “homework” from working with my Yoga Therapist, and my clients get similar homework when working with me. When practicing consistently (often in just 20-30 minutes a day), I notice a big difference in my pain, and/or how I handle having it, and my clients who do the work report the same. The effects are cumulative, meaning that the longer one practices, the more prominent the effects.


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