Saturday, February 12, 2011

Relaxing Yoga Poses: Child's Pose (Part 1)

I love yoga - the ancient practice that combines measured breath with rhythmic movement, mind blowing stretches, and heart-opening vibrations. Like many yogis I know, I practice regularly to challenge myself on the mat and test my limits - but the stress relieving benefits of a regular practice are not to be ignored. Yoga has a way of calming the mind and helping us to find a greater sense of peace and balance, and there are many yoga poses designed to facilitate deep relaxation and foster recovery.

While some people push through class eager for savasana - also called corpse pose, the final pose in many yoga practices where you lay flat on your back and drift into a quiet, reflective state - there are several poses I find more relaxing and refreshing, and I wanted to share some of them with you. Even if you are not into yoga, you can enjoy making these poses a part of your life for the comfortable and easy stretches that they bring, or retreat to them when you need to rest and recharge during a particularly grueling day.

Let's kick it off with child's pose, a sort of fetal position taken with your shins on the ground. To get into child's pose, start by kneeling with both knees on the ground, sit back on your heels (you want your feet to be pointed so the tops of your feet are completely touching the ground), and drape your torso over you thighs, resting your forehead on the ground. Voila! Commence deep relaxation.

There are various ways you can enjoy this pose depending on what feels best for your body. You may opt to keep your knees touching one another, so your whole chest is resting on your thighs, or you may draw your knees wide and allow your chest to lower down to the ground between your knees. You may opt to stretch your arms above your head (pictured below) to gain a stretch along the sides of your body, or you might let your hand rest along your thighs or grasp them behind your feet (see above). You can rest the middle of your forehead on the ground, or you might rotate your head from side to side, resting one cheek on the ground for several breaths and then the other.

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