Of mind & body

Shared Joy: From Joanie Greggains to Yoga.

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I used to turn on PBS in the mornings to hear Joanie Griggins say in a very cheerful (far too cheerful for me in the mornings) voice: Good morning, good morning, good morning! I couldn’t hate her, because she was obviously so sincere.  But why 5 am?  Why? (This is not to disparage her.  I did those workouts, and that cheerful good morning woke me up fully in spite of myself).

I have bad knees, and I’m not cheerful until at least two cups of coffee have made their way down my gullet, which is why I do yoga.  That, and I have the disposition of a race horse.  If I don’t consciously and regularly do something to ground my energy, I’m going to drive everyone around me crazy.

I learned yoga for the first time from a long defunct gym in Las Cruces, New Mexico that was trying to walk the line between alternative/hippy chic and commercial gym.  I took a few classes, and ran out of money so I had to stop.  (This was back when my oldest, now an adult, was a toddler).

Over the years, I did some yoga at home, took classes now and then, but let it slip mostly by for over a decade.
Then I discovered Rodney Yee.  If anyone can get a woman motivated to bend like a pretzel, he can (pant)

So I did my tapes every morning until the old VCR finally died, and then couldn’t find it in DVD for quite some time (I have it now).  While I was waiting, I developed my own routine, one I don’t do every morning (because life gets in the way) but one that makes me feel a lot better throughout the day if I do it.  I stole some of the moves from Mr. Yee, and several others from Yoga Journal, which I subscribed to for a number of years.

I am NOT a yoga instructor, so do NOT take this for expert advice.  I am only a (semi) regular  amateur yogi who thinks that contributing yet another frugal way to exercise is a good thing.

Standard disclaimers apply: Talk to your doctor before exercising, and if it hurts, STOP!  If you have serious balance issues or other issues that might make this challenging, you’re probably better off going to a class where an instructor can move your limbs where they belong.  If you’ve never done yoga before, take a class with an instructor in any case.

Use a mat or a smooth, non-slippery surface, and either wear comfortable, non-binding clothing, or nothing at all.  (The danged kids have been home too much for nekkid yoga, more’s the pity).  Some of the terms may be unfamiliar to you, so check the links for online yoga resources that demonstrate them.

Yoga Routine: (Rest in Mountain pose, Warrior II pose, Down Dog pose or Staff pose between poses, as appropriate)

(Lying down part)

Lying on back, knee to chest alternating 5 each side
Lying on back, thigh over thigh, twist head and arms to opposite side, 5 each side

(Getting up part)

5 sets alternating cat stretches and arching back in a U with the head up (cow pose), on hands and knees

(Sitting stretches part)

Sitting forward bends 4 sets, staff, right, left, cobbler (legs spread wide with feet at sacral area [that means heels to private bits in yoga talk]), wide leg, both legs forward, return to staff.

(Standing part)
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Some people say all you really need are sun salutes.  I know that when I’m in a hurry, they are a good compromise, and there are a million ways to vary them)

4 Sun Salutes (Mountain, Forward bend, lunge, right leg back, plank pose, chest, knees, chin to floor, up to cobra pose,  down dog, hold (10), right leg forward to lunge, forward bend, up to mountain, namaste x4)

(the version in the video above is different than mine, but I really like her version a lot, and might try it out)

(Core part) (ouch!)

plank variation resting on elbows instead of hands hold 10 (this is hard!)
down dog variation on elbows instead of hands hold 20 (and so is this!)

(Standing part 2)

2 sets standing balance exercises(alternating sides):
Triangle pose, bend knee to deepen stretch,
Warrior I (Hands together in air, facing forward),
Side Angle Pose (one foot front, one foot back, deep breath, then bend at waist, bring face to  forward knee, arms behind back in prayer position or grasping alternate wrist) (hold 5-10 seconds)
Half Moon (hold for 5-10 seconds) (this one looks hard, and should be, but I don’t think it is)
Tree (hold for 5-10  seconds), (20 years, and I still fall down every. single. time)

(Sitting twists part)

2 Staff position twists set :
Half Lord of the Fishes Right foot to outside of left buttock, left leg over with foot to right of right knee, twist to left, left hand behind for support, right arm behind left knee, arm upright with palm in line with forearm, hold 5-10, reverse, hold 5-10
Staff, Right foot to left of left thigh, twist to right, hold 3, staff, left knee to right of right thigh, hold 5-10.

(Inversions and back stretches part)

Camel pose (kneeling, arch backwards, hands resting on calves), hold 10 +;  If you need to use a block or just not arch as much, that’s fine
Locust pose (face down, arms at sides, legs, chest and head lifted gently) hold 10+  (don’t over extend.  This can be challenging)
Cobra pose (lie face down, arch back so that weight is on hands, thighs, tops of feet), hold 10 + ;
Bow pose (lie face down, arch, grasp ankles with hands, lift legs, hold) (modified?) hold 10 +;  (this one is REALLY hard for me and sometimes I skip it)
Bridge pose (lie on back, lift body from neck to knees, feet flat on floor, hands on floor, clasped) hold 10 +
Shoulder stand hold 20 +, I love, love, love the shoulder stand, but always be careful doing it, as you can hurt yourself if you move quickly or wrong.  Use your hands to support your hips as you come back down.
Plow (shoulder stand, then continue moving legs so that feet touch floor behind head, arms outstretched in other direction) hold 20 +.  (again, fun and energizing, but be careful — support your hips as you come back down)

(Sitting poses part) (hold for 30 sec + each):

I use a pillow for some of these.
Adept (kneeling with feet together under buttocks, hands on thighs)
Hero (kneeling, feet spread so that buttocks are between them on floor, hands on thighs) This can be challenging if you, like me, have bad knees.  Don’t overextend.  Use a pillow or rolled up towel under your butt if needed.
Half Lotus.  I don’t find this difficult, but some people do. Always stop if a pose hurts, and modify it or skip it.
Lotus.  I’m not as flexible as I used to be, but I used to hang out and try to swim in lotus position (I sank, of course, but the physics of it was fun).  I can still do this with right leg over left, but can no longer switch.  Ahh, the joys of aging.

(Relaxation Poses) My favorite part.  Too bad I can’t start with dessert

Child pose (hold for 1-2 minutes) This is my favorite position.  When I’m having a very stressful day, sometimes I close my office door or go someplace private, and just fall into child’s pose until I’m together again.  It can be a bit stressful on the neck, so be aware.
Relaxation pose (hold for 1-5 minutes).  No link necessary.  Just lie on your back with your eyes closed and everything relaxed, arms slightly out from your sides, legs slightly apart.  You will find that as you tell each body part to relax, you fall into the position a little more.

The whole routine takes about 45 minutes.  I watch the news while I do it, which is not how they tell you to do it.  They tell you to listen to restful music, or do it in silence.  I do it on a bedroom floor I’ve just cleared of dirty laundry (mostly) with my husband, my cat and dogs stepping over me, sometimes yelling at the boys to get something or other done, RIGHT NOW.

And the real reason I posted this?  Now that I’ve posted it, I have to get back to doing it regularly.

Edited to add: This morning I did my yoga, and for the first time EVER, when balancing on my right foot, I was able to hold tree pose.  I still wobbled like a weeble on the left foot, though.

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