Rachel of Suburban Yogi

Back in Madison, every Friday night was Ladies Night. Usually, between 5-7 of us would get together at the local tea house, and talk about what was troubling us and what we were feeling good about. 

One night, a friend of mine, a former-Silicon Valley-er turned artist and writer, asked me if I had any yoga-advice about her Fibromyalgia. There were some things I came up with off the top of my head (gentle twists to help with the nervous system, for example), but, honestly, it wasn't something I had a lot of knowledge on.

I wish I had known about Suburban Yogi

British yoga teacher Rachel Hawes has been practicing yoga since she was a child and teaching since 2005.  She believes yoga is for everybody.  She has dealt with various health issues over the years including Fibromyaligia, Chronic Fatigue and congentital throacic scoliosis (a curvature of the upper spine).  If she can do this yoga thing, anybody can!!!  As well as general yoga Rachel has taught yoga for illness and injury, pregnancy yoga, mum and baby yoga and yoga for cancer.  

This is a site everyone should take a look at: if you teach, it's a great way to learn about modifications, and to affirm that you can teach to anyone. If you practice, it's a great reminder that everyone can practice. Plus, Americans love Britishisms. Rachel will be back when I get back after my tropical vacation. Look for her (and me, too) again in early February!

Rachel of Suburban Yogi

OK so, the first post is a gentle sequence.  This can be for beginners, people with chronic fatigue or other illness and is particularly suitable for people with back issues.

Begin lying down; knees bent, feet on the floor with the heels in line with the sit bones. Place one hand on the chest and one hand on the lower belly and observe the breath and the movement of the breath under the hands for a few moments until the breath has become steady soft and even. You can then hug the knees to the chest and rock on the back in any way that feels good for you. Finish up this centreing part of the practice with any sort of supine twist that is approriate for you. Then come onto the right hand side and come to sitting back on the heels towards the back of the mat.

Kneeling salutation

As you inhale stand up on the knees and reach the arms high, exhale into child's pose with the arms stretched infront, inhale to all fours and exhale into downward facing dog.  Then come back again, inhaling to all fours, exhaling to child, inhaling to standing on the knees stretching the arms up and then exhale to sitting back on the heels lowering the arms.  This is one round.

Take 3-5 rounds, moving slowly with the rhythm of the breath. Finish sitting back on the heels and take a couple of conscious breaths before coming to standing.

Virabhdrasana 1
Standing in tadasana toward the back of the mat take a big step forward with the right foot and turn the left foot out slightly.  Place the hands on the hips to ensure the hips are turned towards the front of the mat.  As you inhale, bend the right knee over the ankle and raise the arms alongside the ears, exhale and straighten the leg and lower the arms.  Repeat 5 times holding the final Virabhdrasana 1 for 5 breaths.

On the final exhale fold forward over the right thigh (keeping the right knee bent) and release the hands either side of the right foot.  Release for five breaths and then carefully come back into Virabhadrasana 1 again on an inhale.  Exhale straighten the right knee and release the arms and step back to the back of the mat. 

Repeat on the left side.

Parsvokonasana modification

Standing with the legs wide, the feet parrallel and the hands on the hips take a few moments to check in on your breath and your alignment. Then turn the right foot out and the left foot in slightly, lining up the heel of the right foot with the instep of the left. Square the shoulders back to the front.

On an inhale, bring the arms out to shoulder height, palms facing down.

Exhale - bend the right knee over the ankle and bring the right forearm on to the right thigh. Stretch the left arm, hand and fingers up to the ceiling, feeling the energy in the fingertips and drawing down through both feet equally.

Repeat 5 times to each side slowly with the rhythm of the breath and then hold for five breaths. Remember that this is the peak of the practice -- the central pose we have been working towards so take it slowly with inner awareness.

Padottanasana  - bending the knees if you want to really release the lower back.

Step back to standing towards the back of the mat in tadasana, taking a few conscious breaths before coming down to kneeling.

One more round of
 kneeling salutation - holding the downward dog for five breaths.

Come into savasana for a few moments

Finish the practice with some gentle pranayama. I advise 6-12 rounds of alternate nostril breathing with a 1:1 ratio.

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