Yoga for Road Trips

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Yoga Practice Tips | 0 comments

Yoga for Road Trips

Thanksgiving is the time we set aside for Gratitude. Not that we are not grateful every day, but on this day, we agree to slow down a bit and be grateful together. And that means being with family and friends, with the potential for a long road trip…which is why I’ve chosen to explore Virabhadrasana I, my favorite road trip pose! It represents not only the open heart, but also the courageous heart–courage in the face of adversity, a way to find ones strength, and be fully present in the face of likes and dislikes.

Many students find this pose challenging, often leaving them breathless and a bit achy in their low back or knees. The key is to perform the pose from your back body, not your front body. That means connecting to the action of drawing the muscles of the back of the rear leg up as the heel roots down, as well as moving the spine in toward our center and up.

Pictured here is a variation with the front foot on a chair. Imagine placing your foot on the bumper of your car at a rest stop!

This variation will help you in two ways. One: With the front foot elevated, you will automatically keep more weight in your rear heel and avoid collapsing in your low belly, thus protecting your lumbar spine. Two: By extending the back of the rear leg and lifting the spine out of your hips with your arms, you will lengthen your Psoas muscle–the muscle that gets cranky and contracted when we sit for long periods of time.

While in the pose, remember the three power points that support the spine: the top of the sacrum, T-12 (thoracic vertebrae 12), which is opposite the tip of your sternum, and the bottom edge of the shoulder blades. All three of these areas move forward and up to lift the spine and top chest.

Breathe deeply and root down to raise up. As your heel taps into the earth, watch for the sensation of the “underground river” or Life Force that Mathew Sanford so adeptly reminded us of!

Looking forward to a long road trip? You can find my top four yoga poses to do at rest stops at this link.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Lillah Schwartz

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