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Can Bending Your Body Into Different Postures Bring You Happiness?

Ritu Kapur
03/12/2020

CAN BENDING YOUR BODY INTO DIFFERENT POSTURES BRING YOU HAPPINESS?

FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF

Presenting 3 Simple Poses for Peace and Calm 

 

You might ask what’s the correlation between yoga and feeling happy? Do you still think that yoga is all about twisting your body into pretzel shapes? If the answer is remotely yes, you owe yourself a gentle yoga class in a yoga studio close to you. Call them and find out about the most gentle class they offer and go ahead, it’s time to dip your toes into the yoga pool which is actually an ocean. 

Have you heard that just putting a smile on your face, even if it’s fake, can instantly make you happy? Yoga does something like that for your whole body. After a 60 minute class, you will come out smiling from head to toe.  

Allow me to share 3 very simple poses that can help you put your body in a big wide smile. You can start a personal practice of just 10-20 minutes at home with very little prep time. Place your yoga mat on a carpeted space or use two mats to give enough padding for your spine. If you don’t own a yoga mat, just use a blanket on a carpeted space. Keep a few thick blankets to help position your neck, head and legs in a comfortable place. It is important to make yourself comfortable. If it doesn’t feel good, change something in your pose. If it’s painful, skip it.  Every body is different and yoga gives us so many poses to pick from. Remember that whatever you do, it should feel good in your body! Feel free to add an extra blanket under a sore hip or knee as needed. You can also add a few more simple things to change the mood, like burning a candle or incense, or playing light music that helps you feel calm, during this practice. Just know that adding the senses of smell and hearing can enhance your experience, especially in the beginning, but it’s completely optional. At some point, you may not need any of these additional things; just being present with your breath will be enough. 

Another thing you might want to consider is creating a designated calming space in your house where you can leave your mat spread-out or folded up with the blankets. This will allow you to access this peaceful oasis in your own house at any time you want it. 

Try one or all of these 3 gentle yoga poses which will help you feel stretched in a gentle way and will fill you with a feeling of gratitude for the beautiful body that you have the privilege of owning. During these poses, you can do some deep breathing by using slow mental counting: breathe in to the count of 4, breathe out to the count of 6. This simple practice can help you focus your mind better. At some point, the counting drops away and you can simply begin to notice the slow, smooth, effortless breaths coming/ going through your body. Watch these breaths like you would watch ocean waves, sitting by the beach, without any judgement. Allow yourself to be present in each moment with each breath and enjoy this process, this connection between your body, breath and mind. 

 

1.CHILD’S POSE

·       Start on your hands and knees.  Keep a folded blanket under your knees to give them enough padding. 

·       Keep your knees wide and lower your hips towards your ankles. You can use a folded blanket between your hips and ankles. 

·       Allow your belly to rest in between your legs. 

·       Keep your arms in front of you and bring your forehead on the ground. Option 1: use a blanket under your forehead if the head is too far from the ground. Option 2: bring your hands closer to your body and place them on top of each other with palms facing down, then rest your forehead on your hands. 

·       Bring your inner eye gaze to the center of the forehead and rest your attention on your breath. Simply watch the flow of your breath through the nostrils. 

·       You can open and close your mouth a couple of times to release any tension from your lower jaw. Soften your facial muscles and let this smile spread to the rest of your body. Notice your shoulders, spine and hips beginning to relax. 

·       You can stay in child’s pose as long as it feels good.  

·       To come out of the pose, can come back on hands and knees and bring gentle movements in your hips and neck. 

 

2.CROCODILE POSE

·       After child’s pose, you can lie down on your belly with your forehead resting on top of your hands. 

·       After 1-2 minutes of resting in this position, lift your head up a little bit and rest your forearms by your side. Palms are facing down but there’s no weight on the hands. 

·       Your legs should be right next to each other and you can squeeze your gluteus or buttocks to keep the legs engaged. 

·       Feel your elbows gently pressing towards your hips. 

·       Feel your spine and neck reaching towards the top of the mat. Your neck should be in a comfortable position, neither looking too far up or down. 

·       Stay in this pose for 4-5 deep breaths with a gentle smile on your face. 

·       This is a great pose to decompress and lengthen your lower back in a very gentle and controlled way. 

·       To come out of this pose, lie down on your belly again, roll over to your side and then roll on your back.



 

3.HAPPY BABY POSE

As the name suggests, it’s a very happy pose 😊.  After the crocodile pose, lie down on your back and bring your knees to your chest. You can rock side-to-side a few times and take some deep breaths. 

·       Start with your knees towards your chest, open your knees wide and bring your arms inside the knees. 

·       Reach for your ankles or your feet and spread them apart. Make sure that the ankles are aligned with the knees. 

·       Feel your tailbone resting on the ground. This is a great pose to stretch and open the hip muscles which in turn helps the spine. 

·       Don’t forget to keep a big smile on your face. You can stay still or gently rock side-to-side. After 3-5 breaths, bring your hands down to your knees and rest your feet on the ground with your knees bent. Take a few resting breaths. 

 

·       After a few breaths, straighten out your legs, let your whole body rest on the ground and bring attention to your face. Open & close your mouth, softening the facial muscles, and let this softening spread throughout your body, into your shoulders, spine, hips, legs and feet. Rest your head on a blanket and close your eyes, with inner eye gaze resting on your breath.  Simply notice your breath like a silent witness. Let it go! Stay here as long as you want. 

·       When you are ready to get up, gently roll over to your side with your knees pulled in towards your belly like a little child. Stay in the side-lying position for some time before you begin to get up. Press your weight onto both the elbow of the side you are on and the hand of the opposite arm and slowly raise yourself about half way, letting your spine and neck hang gently for a bit before slowly continuing to come up to a full and comfortable seated posture. You can sit and meditate on your breath for 3-5 minutes.  Become aware of the oneness of your body, your breath and your mind in this moment. Feel the gratitude for this amazing body that you have as you bow the head to yourself.

This whole practice can be done in 10-20 minutes depending on how long you stay in each pose. Start with these beginner friendly poses and make this practice your own. You can add other yoga poses that you may know or just pick one of the poses mentioned here. Yoga can be a great vehicle for positive physical and mental transformation. It’s important to determine which style of yoga is right for you. Trying different classes and different teachers closer to where you live, can help you find one that meets your needs. I wish you the very best in your yoga journey. Namaste! 

 

Ritu Kapur is the owner of Sohum Yoga and Meditation studio in Westborough, MA. She has been working as an Occupational Therapist with different age groups for 25 years and is a Registered Yoga teacher.  You can reach her at Ritu.Kapur@Sohum.org. Check out her class schedule at www.SOHUM.org

Illustrations by Jeffrey Longo



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Child Pose


Crocodile Pose


Happy Baby Pose

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