Yoga for your Mama…

Or rather, a yoga routine I designed for my mama. My mom recently had knee surgery and as a result became more aware of her health and fitness. It is very easy to be caught up in the fast paced day to day things that fill our lives and lose track of how important it is to take care of ourselves. The importance of self health is not only about how we feel and our energy levels its also about the people around us. We want our loved ones to live long and happy lives and they also want the same for us. Though I wasn’t happy that mom had to have knee surgery, I am ecstatic about her recent resolve to become a healthier individual. In light of that I designed and taught her a beginning yoga series made to help strengthen her knees and promote an overall feeling of health and vitality. This routine was made specifically so that it can be modified to more difficult positions as she improves with her fledgling yoga practice. It is my pleasure to share it with anyone who would like to use it.

My artist background is coming out a bit here. I don’t actually write out my routines so much as draw them out. Here it is as I gave it to mom. I have written it all out below.
First I started using a chair. Many people cannot make it to the ground or back up again because of a variety of challenges they face. As a yoga instructor I want to help them meet these challenges in a way that empowers. Some conditions that might benefit from chair yoga: knee injury, back injury, heart conditions and obesity.

  • Warming up is as always important. Stand purposefully in Mountain pose. Your feet hip width apart, pelvis tucked under and shoulders straight with your head up. Put your hands on your hips and rotate your hips. Be sure to hit every corner of your body: side, back, side and front. Repeat 4 times one direction and switch 4 times the other direction.
  • Still standing, rotate your shoulders up to your ears then back and push your scapulae down your spine. Repeat 4 times and then reverse for 4 times.
  • Place your hands on your hips and look to your left over your shoulder then your right. Repeat 8 times. Now rotate your ear to your right shoulder your chin to your chest and then up to your left shoulder and across (not back) to your right shoulder again. Repeat 4 times each direction.
  • Put your right foot forward and point your toe. Flex your toe up towards the ceiling. Repeat each foot 4 times.
  • Stand with your shoulder to the wall and support yourself with your hand. Point your outside leg and toe in front of you with a aduction to the hip (toe moved towards the wall) Now rotate your leg at the hip out to the side away from the wall and behind you still pointing your toe. Sweep it back in front. Repeat each side 4 times.
  • Sitting on edge of the the chair bring your hands out infront with arms curved as though you are holding a large beach ball. Now spread your arms wide out to the sides and stretch your sternum out and up. Repeat several times keeping the breath in mind as you expand and contract.
  • Arms out in directly from your shoulders flex one hand up and one hand down. This is good for your wrists and also starts to strengthen the arms.
  • Still with your arms out straight clasp your hands and rotate your wrists.
  • Sitting on the edge of the chair spread you knees wide enough for your body to come between and reach down to the floor. If you can’t reach all the way that is okay, you want to feel a stretch and opening in your lower back. People with heart conditions should never lower their heart below their knees. Instead keep the knees together lay your hands on your knees bend your arm and stretch your sternum forward and bend slightly.
  • Stand up and go to the back of the chair. Using it as support step one leg back and bend the front leg at a 90 degree angle. Your back foot should be behind your front foot 2 shoulder lengths and your foot turned out facing away from your body. Release one hand and bring it above your head arching your back in. Switch legs.
  • Step both legs in. Using the chair as support with one or both hands extend to your tip toes. Contract back down to your heels. Repeat 10 times.
  • If you feel you can reach the floor come to the floor. If not you are done for today. Good job! If you can reach the floor lie on your back and have a strap handy. I find scarves or towels work perfect. Pick up your leg, swing the “strap” behind your thigh and inch walk it up to behind your ankle. Pull your leg towards your same shoulder.
  • Still in the previous position pull your leg in towards your body slightly to the opposite shoulder until you feel an uncomfortable stretch in the outside hip.
  • Now let your leg slowly drop to the outside of your body pulling your strap towards you for a hip flexor stretch.
  • Bend your knee bringing your foot in and resting it on your thigh.  Now rotate your body at the waist for a twist. Bring your opposite arm out to the side of you and with your other hand push slightly on your knee.
  • Repeat on the opposite leg.
  • Roll over to your belly with your forehead on the floor and your arms to either side of you. Lift your chest up off the floor tightening your abdominal muscles. Push the tops of your feet into the ground. Hold for 3 – 5 breaths (they should be strained).
  • Still lying with your forehead on the ground support your head with your hands. Plant the tops of your feet to the ground. Lift one leg about 12 inches off the ground. Hold for 3 -5 breaths. Switch legs.
  • Roll to your right side and slowly come to easy sitting position (cross legs). Clasp your hands in front of you and arch your back forward.
  • Still in easy pose push your hands down and thrust your sternum to the sky. Lift your hands behind your back towards your head. If you already feel a stretch pushing your hands down then stay there.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back with your shoulders square. Vertically move your waist to the right with your hands moving out left and switch. Repeat 4 times each direction.
  • Still with your hands clasped behind you bend forward at your waist and let your hands move up behind you as much as possible without hurting yourself.
  • Return to neutral resting your hands on your knees or in your lap. Close your eyes and slow your breathing. Concentrate on how your body feels after your practice. Does it feel tingly? Energized? Tired? Acknowledge the work you have done. Take a few more restful breaths then open your eyes.  You are done. Good job!

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