Vigorous poses can be really useful in our practice. In our world that always seems to demand so much of us, sometimes it’s actually really inspiring to push our own limits, step outside our comfort zones, and see what we’re made of. The poses I’ve included in Week Two are some of my favorites, and also those that I find most challenging. It’s as much a challenge for me to showcase and demo these postures as it is to practice them.
An important note to new yogis: these poses will likely require modification, especially if they’re new for you, so don’t feel like you have to work beyond your own capacity. If you’re not sure how to modify a posture, ask! Ask your teacher, or post a comment inquiring, and I’ll make sure to post a modification or simplification for a pose.
This week’s bonus content is a practice that can, let’s say, shake things up. Maha bandha, meaning The Great Seal, or Great lock, is a practice that requires both a pause after inhale and after exhale. In this practice, you use mulabhanda, uddiyanabandha and jalandarabandha all at the same time. It’s important that you know each of these practices in order to put them all together. My teacher would say that if your life is feeling stressful and anxious, this is a practice to hold off on; but if your life is smooth and easy, this practice over time will help you unlock some things, shake ‘em up. It’s not a suitable practice for pregnant people, nor for folks with high or low blood pressure, or ulcers, recovering from abdominal surgery six months or less, or with other stomach issues.
Take a comfortable seated pose, like siddhasana or padmasana. If you’re sitting with the shins crossed, take some height under the hips, so you have as much of the shins on the floor as possible.
Place hands on knees or thighs. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, pause briefly at the top of inhale, and exhale powerfully and completely.
At the bottom of the breath, pause. Draw the chin in and down; draw the navel in and up, expanding the base of the ribcage and sucking in the navel; lift the pelvic floor in and up toward the center of the body.
Pause with the breath held out for as long as you’re able to without straining.
Release mulabhanda so pelvic floor softens, uddiyana bandha so belly softens, and jalandhara bandha in this order. When your chin is lifted, inhale fully. Exhale.
This is one round. Take a normal, deep breath or two between rounds before the second round.
Try three rounds to start. Once you feel comfortable with three rounds, increase until you’re doing nine rounds.
This practice is a powerful energetic one, but is by no means for beginners. Please consult with a trusted teacher if you have any questions or concerns about it.