5 Tips for Getting Into Full Lotus
Many of us see value in full lotus. “Will I be able to meditate for hours on end, or have super powers?” The truth is YES…If you cultivate the mind and soul underneath the bodily appearance of full lotus. Here are some tips to get bendy in mind and body.
Our flexibility changes day to day, and being in tune with our bodies, and their limits on a particular day, is the most important part of asana for us yoga practitioners. If we don’t have the hip openness and strength that day, it may just be best for our knee joint and ligaments to find our edge for the day and back off.
2. Full Lotus doesn’t make you a better yogi
Patanjali only makes three comments on asana; with the first being that it should be “steady and comfortable”. It may look sweet in Yoga Journal, or when you find your friend who has never done yoga can hop into lotus.
But then we must come back to remembering that asana isn’t about getting a pose to look just “right”, but to make it indulgent and freeing in our bodies, rather than stiff and forced. The practice of yoga really opens us up off the mat as well. This makes the practice of life freeing, when we know that we can back off, rather than force situations and relationships.
3. Knee health
Sickle-ing of the foot, is the grim reaper for your knees. By keeping the ankle neutral, you are able to keep the tiny ligaments surrounding the knee happy, and healthy. This translates to flexing the foot up while placing the foot.
Double Pigeon is a great pose for opening up the outer hips, and getting movement in the psoas or hip flexor muscles. Sit cross-legged and reach for the shin farthest from you. Grab the inside of the shin (calf and heel). Lift the knee, then the flexed foot, up on top of your other shin. This should resemble two fire logs stacked on top of each other, with heel and knee lining up on both sides. If there is discomfort in the knee, or to release, carefully lift the knee first, with the foot still flexed, and lift the foot off the knee and place on the ground.
Sit with your legs wide apart. Lift the flesh out from behind you, and engage the quadriceps muscles to lift the knee caps. Begin on your right leg. Start at the groin, making your way down to the knee, use your hands to manually spin your thigh internally, so your kneecaps face up or forward, towards the front of the room. Repeat on the second side. Elongate through the spine, and lean the chest forward into this luxurious stretch.
Now you. Do you have any tips as to how you got into full lotus? It doesn’t mater how silly. What helped you in body or mind, to get to the point where there was no knee tension, and your hips felt open enough, and your mind stilled? Truth moment: I still can’t get into lotus without knee discomfort. Everyday is another day closer, as I enjoy the journey of opening up into my full lotus.
Top 10 Yoga Poses for Headaches
Yoga can be a beneficial therapeutic tool for relieving headaches brought on by muscle tension and stress. The majority of headaches originate from muscle stiffness and imbalances emanating from the neck and upper back. When headaches set in, using a series of restorative yoga exercises can greatly relieve both the cause and symptoms. Here are our top yoga poses and exercises that naturally treat headaches.
1. Cat Pose: The flowing motion of breath and spine helps release tension from the neck and upper back while also pouring refreshing energy through the body and mind.
2. Seated Twists: Besides increasing circulation throughout the entire length of the spine, the twisting motion in the upper spine (cervical region) often alleviates tension coming from the scalene muscles of the neck (anterior aspect).
3. Chest Openers: Much of the tension in the back body is a result of muscle dominance from the front body (called Upper Cross Syndrome). Expanding the chest and front shoulder muscles helps break down muscular imbalances and frees the tension coming from the neck.
4. Eagle Arms: This simple crossed arm pose can be done in Mountain Pose or any natural seated posture. This back expander can reach well into the mid and upper back targeting problematic muscles around the shoulder blades and the base of the neck. Take time in this arm pose to breath slow and full into the upper back and insure that you perform this arm pose on both sides.
5. Simple Neck Stretches: Gently move through the various muscle fiber lines by allowing your head to float down to one shoulder with gravity, down across the chest and into the other side – repeat with a natural, unforced motion. Avoid letting the head fall back-keep the motion in a half circle from one shoulder to the other. Pause where you find extra areas of resistance.
6. Child’s Pose: A perfect restorative yoga pose that slightly inverts the body. A gentle flow of extra blood circulates into the head helping relieve tension. With the legs slightly separated, you can easily settle into deep core and back breathing to encourage a flood of circulation to reach deep into the body. Note that the head and neck should be absolutely comfortable. If needed, keep you arms forward or bend the elbows and rest the forearms by your chest/under your shoulders so the palms face up-this will greatly unload any pressure from the neck.
7. Two Knee Reclining Twist: Unlike our seated twists, this reclining twist can be far more restorative and held longer to bring deeper focus into relaxing the nervous system while the chest expands and rejuvenates the spine. Give extra attention to releasing the shoulders into the mat to release dominance of the shoulder and chest muscles.
8. Legs Up The Wall Pose: This highly beneficial inverted pose is great for developing hamstring flexibility and for improving circulation in the lower limbs. For headaches, the extra flow of blood to the brain and the restorative support can be deeply relaxing and nourishing.
9. Alternate Nostril Breathing: The aim of alternate nostril breathing is to restore balance to the energy systems. With balance, we find release and calm. This yoga breathing exercise is easy to do for all levels and targets the nervous system by slowing brain waves, calming the mind, and purging stress.
10. Relaxation Pose: After doing a series of restorative yoga poses, take some time to simply relax and release in Savasana. Turn the focus away from the symptoms of your headache and settle into the sensation of mental and physical release. You may find a light eye pillow helpful in moving tension/pressure out of the eyes and forehead. Increase your comfort by placing a bolster under the knees and a thin pillow under the head. To complement the chest openers and reclining twists, lay with the arms open to the sides/palms facing the ceiling.