Yoga is truly for everyone, but especially for readers, who tend to sit in slouched, hunched positions for hours at a time. I teach this class at library events and book signings, but even those of you too far away to attend my in-person events can benefit from the practice.
1. Sit in the middle of your chair with both feet planted firmly on the floor and your head extended up to the ceiling. Notice your body. Are there any areas that feel tight or achy? How do the sensations in your body reflect the stress or relaxation of your day?
2. Progressively lengthen your breath. As you inhale, lengthen your spine and feel the crown of your head extend up toward the ceiling. Gently contract your abdominal muscles with each exhale, which will gently flatten your low back. Allow the abdominal muscles to relax with each inhale. Take 6 – 10 breaths in this manner.
3. As you inhale, sweep both arms to the side and overhead, with the palms facing inward, toward the ears. As you exhale, sweep your arms back to your side and gently tilt the chin toward the pit of your throat. Do this 4 – 6 times.
4. Grasp the sides of the back of your chair with the palms facing inward. On inhale, gently squeeze the shoulder blades together as you lean your rib cage forward and away from the chair. This should have a gentle back bend quality. On exhale, release back up to sitting. Do this 6 times, then stay leaning forward for 4 breaths, lifting the ribs with each inhale.
5. Starting from your original seated position in posture 1, bring your palms to the tops of your thighs. On inhale, extend the crown of your head to the ceiling. On exhale, slide the hands down your legs and bend forward. Each subsequent inhale, use the hands to help you lift the ribs and come through a flattened back up to sitting again. Do this 6 – 8 times.
6. From your original seated position in posture 1, on inhale sweep both arms to the side and up to the ceiling, lacing the fingers together and pressing the palms up toward the ceiling. On exhale, lean toward the side, stretching the rib cage. Keep your belly lightly contracted and try to keep the shoulders directly in line with each other. On inhale, bring the torso back to the center and exhale to the opposite side. Do this 4 times each side, alternating sides.
7. Repeat posture number 5, but this time on inhale, sweep both arms to the side and up to the ceiling on inhale, and sweep the arms to the side as you fold forward on exhale. After 6 repetitions, stay folded forward for 6 breaths. Totally relax any tension in your body. On inhale, return to sitting.
8. Come back to the comfortable seated position in posture number 1, with both feet planted firmly on the floor and the crown of your head extended up to the ceiling. Notice your body again, without judgment. What were the effects of these movements on your body, your breath, your emotional state, your sense of focus?
Enjoy the practice and let me know what you think!
All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!
A Fatal Twist launched January 8!