yoga to recharge
Flick on your energy switch and get centered with this ancient 10-minute yoga routine.
In the high peaks of the Himalayas, there are spiritual seekers known to have extraordinary endurance and youthfulness, not to mention that ever-elusive inner peace. Their secret? A centuries-old series of daily yogalike postures known as the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. “The monks found this routine to be a key to their age-defying vitality and inner fulfillment,” says Carolinda Witt, a teacher of the rites and author of The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Three Rivers Press, 2005). Thanks to Witt, who has adapted the rites for those who can’t travel to the Himalayas, you can experience the power of these five exercises in your own home. The moves target the chakras—the spinning energy centers that extend from the base of your spine to the crown of your head—and get them to spin rapidly, and in unison. “The rites rev up your chakras to their fullest potential,” says Witt. “It’s like turning on an inner power switch.” Besides a boost in energy, flexibility, and core strength, Witt’s students report handling stress better, feeling more focused, having a stronger sense of purpose, and experiencing an overall feeling of connectedness.
THE FIRST RITE
SpinningIncreases energy flow; improves balance and coordination; enhances circulation.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Creates a sense of joyfulness and freedom.
A. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height, palms facing down. Relax your shoulders and gaze forward. Begin spinning in place, clockwise.
B. Pivot on your right heel (but keep your right foot pressed into the floor—you’ll be sliding your toes in a clockwise circle) and step your left foot next to your right foot. Move at a speed that’s comfortable, and breathe normally through your nose. Avoid taking short, choppy steps with your left foot-the goal is to spin as smoothly as possible. Keep count of every turn by softly focusing on a stationary object, like a door or piece of furniture, and noting each time you pass it.
TO FINISH: When you’ve completed all your repetitions (for your first week, do three), stop and place your hands on your hips for balance. Close your eyes and take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Turn on both feet instead of anchoring yourself with your right foot, and increase your speed.
THE SECOND RITE
Modified Leg Raise Strengthens the core, hips, lower back, legs, and neck.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Promotes mental clarity and inner confidence.
A. Lie on your back on a yoga mat with a folded towel under your lower back. Keep your legs together and straight and place your hands behind your head, fingers interlaced. Contract your abdominals and press your pelvis toward the mat; keep your abs tight throughout this exercise. Inhale and lift your head and shoulders off the floor slightly. Hold your breath as you bend your right knee and bring it directly over your right hip, keeping your lower leg parallel to the floor.
B. Straighten your right leg and flex your foot, pointing it toward the ceiling.
TO FINISH: Exhale and bend your right knee until your lower leg is again parallel to the floor. Then bring your right foot to the mat and slide it down to meet your left foot as you lower your head and shoulders to the mat. Repeat the move with your left leg. When you’ve completed all your repetitions (for the first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Instead of raising one leg at a time, raise both legs. And instead of bending at the knee, use your abs to lift your legs straight off the mat and bring your feet toward the ceiling, keeping your lower back in contact with the mat.
THE THIRD RITE
PHYSICAL BENEFITS: Opens the front of the body; relieves muscle tension; stretches the spine.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Helps connect you to your emotions; gives you full access to your creativity; allows you to go with the flow.
A. Kneel on a yoga mat with your legs hip-width apart, your knees in line with your hips (contract your abdominals to keep your hips from pushing forward), your toes curled under, and your hands on your buttocks, fingers pointing down. Keep your back straight.
B. Keeping your abdominals contracted, inhale as you lift your chest (without puffing out your ribs). Arch your back slightly and look up, gently squeezing your shoulder blades together, keeping your neck long. (Rather than bending back, focus on lengthening up and opening your chest.)
TO FINISH: Exhale and return to start position. When you’ve completed all your repetitions (if this is your first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Deepen the stretch in your back: Press your shoulder blades together more firmly while lengthening your spine up. Squeeze your buttocks to keep your hips aligned over your knees.
THE FOURTH RITE
Tabletop Builds strong arms, wrists, shoulders, and legs; improves balance and stability; invigorates the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Initiates feelings of stability, balance, and order; enhances self–discipline and improves productivity.
A. Sit on a yoga mat with your legs about hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your feet flat on the floor about two feet away from you. Place your hands behind you near your hips, palms flat on the mat and fingers pointing toward your toes. Pull your abdominals toward your spine.
B. Inhale as you press down through your hands and feet, and lift your hips off the floor until they’re at the same height as your knees. Slide your knees forward until they’re aligned over your ankles. Bring your head back slightly and gaze toward the ceiling, keeping your neck long. Your posture should look like a flat tabletop with your torso parallel to the floor, arms straight, wrists aligned with shoulders, and knees aligned with ankles.
TO FINISH: Exhale and lower to the starting position. When you’ve completed all your repetitions (if this is your first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Start by sitting with your legs extended in front of you rather than bent; this will further strengthen and stretch the arms, wrists, and shoulders.
THE FIFTH RITE
Pendulum Relieves fatigue and stress; improves flexibility and overall strength.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Promotes insight, passion, and expansion.
A. Come onto your hands and knees on the yoga mat, with your hands under your shoulders (fingers pointing forward) and your knees under your hips. Keep your arms straight and move your hands forward three to five inches. Contract your abdominals and tuck your pelvis toward your spine. Curl your toes under. Inhale and lift your knees off the mat. Lift your tailbone toward the ceiling and straighten your legs as much as possible without locking your knees until your body forms an inverted V. Press your heels toward the floor. Keep your neck in line with your back and your head between your upper arms. Gaze toward the mat.
B. Exhale, contract your buttocks, come onto the balls of your feet, and lower your hips toward the mat while shifting your weight to your hands, keeping your arms straight. Slide your head forward and up, open your chest, and gaze up slightly. Press your shoulders back; your body should be parallel to but not touching the floor.
TO FINISH: Return to start position. When you’ve done all your repetitions (if this is your first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Contract your abdominals throughout the entire move to further strengthen your core.
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adapted from Natural Health Magazine, by Holy St. Lifer
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