general blather

Seated Pranayama

Once you get comfortable doing Pranayama, you will be sitting most of the time. Whatever seated position you choose, have your knees level with or lower than your hips. Keep your pelvis upright, not tipping back so that you are struggling to stay up, and not tilting forward so that your abdomen is falling out of the pelvic bowl.

I am pretty tightly woven, so I tend to sit on a high support. Using a belt in this way gives you a very steady seat. The belt is just below your waist at the back, across the top of your pelvis. Position the buckle to be easy to adjust, with the strap end coming toward you. And oh, please, don’t let that hard buckle be right on your knee!
Virasana is a very stable pose.
Sit between your feet, and keep them pointing straight back.
Sitting against the wall is a good transition when you are learning. The wall gives you helpful feedback – where IS your back? When you first sit down at the wall, put your hands beside you, lift your buttocks and lean forward to push them back a bit close to the wall.
Cranky knees? Practice sitting on a chair. Keep your knees over your ankles and your pelvis upright.
I learned this way of sitting from my teacher Kim, who learned it from Geeta Iyengar. Heels on the outside of the chair and hands pulling outwards on the back help to keep your chest and hips open. Why do we want open chest and hips? Better breathing, of course.
general blather

Reclining Pranayama setups

When you are starting a pranayama practice, it’s best to do it reclining. Then you can focus on your breath instead of your breath and your posture.

If you are not feeling well or you are tired, reclining is a good option.

The bottom folded edge of the tan blanket goes just above your waist. The pink blanket goes just above your shoulders so that your neck is fully supported. Notice that the pink blanket is folded so that the fringe is on the side to give you maximum head real estate.
This is my favorite reclining pose because of the way it stairsteps the lift of your torso. The bottom folded edge of the tan blanket goes just above your waist. The bottom edge of the pink blanket goes to the bottom of your shoulder blades so that they are fully supported. The green blanket goes to the tops of your shoulders. Notice that all three blankets are folded the same way with the fringe to the side. The block is there to keep the supports from falling backwards.
This setup gives you a bit more lift to your chest. To get into this, sit a fist width away from the end of the bolster and extend your back as you roll back on your forearms. The bolster should not be jammed into your low back.
general blather, poses

Breathing

This morning on my walk, I was whining to my walking partner (14 years!) about having done nothing at all yesterday except lie around and feel bad.  Then I mentioned that I had done yoga, but it was all restorative.  She laughed.  “Get that ‘but’ out of there!” she said.  “You DID do something yesterday.  You did yoga, and it was all restorative.”  Wow.  Changing ‘but’ to ‘and’ made a huge difference.

On Saturday and Sunday, Mary Obendorfer was at our yoga studio for a workshop.  This is the first time I haven’t been able to attend the whole weekend’s worth of classes.  Mary is just great – warm, funny, sarcastic, a wonderful teacher with an enormous storehouse of knowledge.

I went to Pranayama classes both mornings.  Needless to say, I gave her a heads up about my health before class.  She was very alert to what I could and couldn’t do, and gave me different instructions at various points in the class.   In some ways, this illness is the universe’s way of getting my attention and getting me to start a pranayama practice for real.  Kind of a brute force method, but OK, I’m listening.

Mary also told me to do restorative inversions (rope Sirsasana, chair Sarvangasana, Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, etc.) with very long holds of 10 or 15 minutes.  She said it would make a big difference to my nervous system.  Sounds good to me.  AND it’s all restorative.  No buts about it.

Restorative means I’ll be restored.  I like that.