Friday Fitness: Connecting the Elements with Four Basic Yoga Asanas
As many of you may know, our (H3’s) annual spring Yoga Retreat is just around the corner. In efforts to engage and encourage more yoga into your daily routine, I have decided to make yoga this Fitness Friday’s theme. As the weather begins to shape up, and spring begins to bloom, let’s take our yoga outside and re-connect with the four classical elements.
There are four basic outdoor asanas (postures) that yoga practitioners can easily integrate into their outdoor practice. Each posture and the elements of nature they represent have a corresponding impact on the physical as well as the spiritual body.
For example, earth exercises help to provide a grounding effect on our physical and spiritual body. These postures/exercises help to add more stability. Meanwhile, wind postures/exercises represent the ability to achieve freedom and self expression. These will help to nourish your body. Fire exercises present strength, power and zest. These postures represent the continual effort to meet and achieve goals. And lastly, water postures/exercises are the closing postures in your outdoor asana practice. The element of water represents rejuvenation and calm. As you practice your water asana outdoors, feel the elements of nature like a tide washing through your body. Let the water flood your body with soothing energy. As the water asana helps to calm and sooth, it resulting exceeds past your physical body and into your spiritual body.
The most basic position to begin with is that of a Mountain Pose. Then, raise your hands to your hearts center, meeting in prayer. With both your feet and heels remaining firm on the ground, inhale and extend your prayer upward. Slowly and with your arms raised still (prayer overhead), exhale and reach your prayer to the right, stretching your left side body. Think up and out, rather then just directly to the side. Keep your heart shined open to the sky. Inhale and return to center (prayer overhead). Exhale and repeat the stretch on the opposite side (left side). Inhale and return to center. Repeat this series about four times.
Start in Mountain Pose. Begin your inhalation by extending your arms out to your sides in a “T”. Exhale as you rotate (twist) your spine to the right. Allow your left arm to come to the center of your body, reaching to the front, and or creating an “L” formation with your arms. Inhale and return back to center (“T”). Keep your arms extended the entire time. Exhale and rotate to the left (“L”). Inhale and return back to center. Perform the series of rotations for at least 20 repetitions. After completing the series of rotations, bring your heels together and let both arms naturally rest on either side of your body.
Start in a Mountain Pose. Inhale as you sink into chair pose (bend your knees and lower your buttocks all the while bringing your arms up in the air). Be sure to keep the integrity in your spine. Keep your weight back in your heels, pelvic bowl under and lower abdominals pulled in. Make sure your ankles are properly aligned, and your knees are not over your toes. Hold this position for 5 breaths. Firing up the quadriceps, and the large muscles of the leg. Hold thru the sixth inhale, and on the exhale fold forward. Hold forward fold for several breaths, then repeat chair series. Repeat 10 sets (5 breaths each set).
Start in mountain pose with both heels and toes together. Hugs your legs together as if you were seeking to achieve a oneness, a state of perfect balance. Let your hands assume a prayer position at your hearts center. Then as you inhale, slowly lift your prayer over head. Once overheard release both hands to mimic the movement of a breaststroke. Perform this sweeping motion with your hands for about 20 repetitions. Apply breath work as you gracefully and meditatively sweep your arms overhead. Once you complete the 20, inhale to close your prayer overhead, and exhale your prayer back to your hearts center. Repeat this water series for 10 repetitions.