Wednesday, October 23, 2013

20 Minute Restorative Chair Yoga Sequence by Alexander Smith



Restorative Introduction to the Practice of Yoga by Alexander Smith

Sit Straight: Rest your arms on your thighs, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Neck Rolls: Begin by slowly rolling your neck in circles in one direction. Switch and move in the other direction. Look Left, Look right. Inhale, look up. Exhale chin to chest

Shoulder Rolls: Bring your head back to center and begin to roll your shoulders up and back finding your range of motion. Switch directions and feel your shoulder muscles relaxing as they move

Release Hands: 1. Raise your hands up to 90 degrees and shake out your hands, releasing the finger and wrist joints. 2. Squeeze your hands in tight fists, feel the muscles in your forearm contracting, spread your fingers wide, repeat this a few times. 3. Interlock your fingers and press your palms outwards 4. Grab the top of your hand and bend the wrist down then switch and bend the wrist back, switch hands

Ujjai Breath: As we begin to move our torso, we will link our breath & movement. Today we will practice the Ujjai breath. Close your eyes, inhale deeply then exhale with your mouth open as you make an ‘H A’ sound as if you’re fogging a mirror; notice the feeling in the back of your throat. We will now close the mouth halfway through our exhale and still focus on the constriction at the back of your throat as we make the ocean sound through our nostrils. Inhale – ‘H A’, close ‘Ujjai.’ This time inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose creating the ocean sound of the Ujjai breath throughout the entire exhale. Throughout our workshop today we will use our ujjai breath as a point of focus, relaxation and as a way to connect with our bodies.

Take a few more Ujjai breaths…inhale…exhale…

Cat/Cow: Inhale, arch your back as you stick your front body forward into Cow position. Exhale and bend your spine like a crescent moon bringing your head towards your knees into Cat position. Inhale into cow. Exhale into cat. Inhale into cow and exhale into cat. 

Side Bends: With your feet planted firmly on the ground and your seat connected with the chair, inhale your spine straight.  Feel the vertebrae stacking one on top of the next. Exhale your right arm to the arm rest or your lap and raise your left arm up towards your ear as you stretch the left side of your body. Inhale, feel your spine straighten and exhale into the side stretch. Keep your seat and feet firmly planted. Inhale slowly rise up. Exhale left arm to arm rest or lap and raise your right arm up towards your ear. Inhale and exhale Ujjai breath and feel your breath washing away any tension as your body relaxes into the stretch. Inhale back up. 

Arms Up: With your seat toward the edge of the chair. Inhale and raise your arms up about your head palms facing each other. Shoulders draw down along the back.

Uttanasana: Exhale as you bend at your hips, hands to your ankles or the outsides of your thighs. Uttanasana. Inhale lengthen your spine and exhale allow your body to fold forward deeper over your thighs. You may feel the stretch in your glutes, lower back and back body. Don’t strain yourself, allow your breath to enter any area of tension and watch as the tension begins to dissolve as your body becomes more flexible and alive. Inhale…exhale… let the head hang heavy

Modified Seated-Triangle Twist: Exhale your hands to your hips and rise up half way. Place your left elbow on your left thigh and grab your right knee, inhale, and lengthen your spine and the crown of your head towards the front of the room. Exhale all your breath out as you sweep your right arm up towards the ceiling. Spiral your chest open to twist and gaze up towards your right hand. Take three ujjai breaths here. On your inhales straighten and on your exhales allow the body to twist a little deeper. Exhale your right elbow to your right thigh and grab your left knee. Inhale, lengthen your spine and exhale, and twist open to the left side. Inhale…exhale release back down into Uttanasana, forward fold, release everything toward the ground. Roll slowly back up straight stacking each vertebra on top of the next.

Arms Up: Inhale and raise your arms up about your head. Engage your legs and core. Feel your feet connected to the earth as if roots 

Chair Eagle Arms: Exhale, cross your left arm over your right and touch palms. Inhale and rise up your arms then exhale them downwards until you feel a stretch in the shoulders. Inhale…Exhale. If you’d like to increase the stretch, on an exhale bend forward at your hips while holding your arms in position. Release your arms to your thighs. Inhale rise your arms up, engage your thighs and your core. Exhale, cross your right arm over your left and touch palms. Inhale…Exhale… Release your arms down to your thighs.

Chair Pigeon: Come back up to sit. Bring your right ankle to rest on your left thigh, keep your knee in line with your ankle. Inhale straighten your spine and exhale, rest your right hand or elbow onto your right knee and your left arm on your left ankle, bend until you feel sensation in your right hip. Slowly rise up on an inhale, switch your legs and repeat.

Chair Spinal Twist: Sit towards the edge of your chair and firmly plant both feet into the ground. Inhale, raise your chest and straighten your spine. Exhale, your left hand to your right thigh and push your right hand into the arm rest twisting towards the back of the room. On your inhale lift your chest and straighten your spine and on your exhale twist deeper.

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