Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Stretch For Sewists #17 - Dragonfly

Yin Yoga names the poses with a lot of animal and insect names, this one no exception. It is also known as Straddle and as Upavistha Konasana which means wide-leg forward bend.  Begin by sitting on the floor.  This pose can aggravate sciatica, so be sure to elevate your hips by sitting on a folded up quilt or even a cushion. This helps tilt your pelvis forward, so if you have tight hamstrings, you may find raising your hips in this way helps.  Open your legs as far apart as you can, optimally until the point where you feel that tugging sensation we always look for in Yin.  Lean forward, feeling your pelvis lean towards the floor, and letting your back round, if that is okay for your back.
These are Capsules, Letters and Low Volume
Wait a second.... That is not a yoga pose!  Ooh, but it is sure some pretty eye candy, right?!  I was so happy to get my second installment of my Christmas gift from MacGyver, a fat eighth club of Art Gallery Fabrics from Pink Castle Fabrics.  We are supposed to get 20, but I guess because there was only 19, I got extra (like half a yard!) of the one. I'm thinking I may have to order some more of a couple of these, the one floral in the bottom row, third from the left, in particular.

Okay Dragonfly.  You know, just being able to get down and back up off the floor is something.  Do not think, 'forget it, ain't happenin'; take your time and you can do this! I've said it before here and I say it pretty much every class I teach: you will be amazed at how this simple act of getting down onto and back up off of the floor can help increase your mobility.  My friend Pat sent me the July issue of Prevention, with a cute bookmark marking the article she knew I'd be interested in.  You will be hearing more in my Sunday Stretch posts about personal trainer Katy's theories of maximizing movement, one of her main ones being live on the floor.  In other words, get off the chair as often as you can, and onto the floor, put your computer or iPad on a stool and use a nice big pillow to sit on or lean against while you read or work, put your coffee cups in the cupboard above your head so you have to reach up on tiptoes to get one every morning, and so on.

I have a yoga student who is in her late 60s, doing her best to avoid knee surgery, overweight, and who wouldn't come to yoga for several months because of embarrassment at how awkward she may have looked while trying to do this very thing.  I encouraged her not to stay away, telling her Yin is in a low light room, go in the back row, no one cares because our eyes are closed or heads are down the majority of the time.  So she tried again, and now has been coming regularly, and is so amazed and happy at her improvement! We modify stuff where her knees can't handle it, and she is able to go through the class just fine!

This pose will work your hips, low back and those knees.  Before we go any further, I must also interject a quick thank you to Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl, for doing a feature on my Yoga Poses monthly post on her Tuesday Tips and Tutorials.  Gee whiz! I was tickled that she'd do that. 🙏
If you have low back issues where you should not round, then keep your tummy pulled in to protect your low back and lean from the hips.

What if this pulls too intensely on the backs of your legs (hamstrings) or you have an aching, healing knee? No problem! Use a cushion to support that healing knee:
This will take the pressure right off it!  If this still pulls too intensely, then either engage your quads which will, in turn, lift or engage your kneecaps to protect the joint, or plant your foot soles on the yoga mat.  Yin is quite different than the Yang, active, warm, use-your-muscles style of yoga.  I have a group of marathon runners who come regularly, and several of them do this pose in the following fashion:
Say what? Legs bent up that much? You bet!
Even if you are flexible and not bothered in the hamstrings, you might like to try this.  You will see how it still gets right into the groin and inner thigh area.  Notice I am doing it with my back flat but that is just to show you that you do not have to round.  Perhaps you slowly start to let your legs straighten, either over the 3-5 minutes hold, or over several weeks of doing this pose

Relax!

The key to Yin is to relax your muscles.  We get into the connective tissues, that white stringy stuff, aka gristle, you see in a package of meat.  If you are a meat-eater, it's a pain to cut through, right?  That, my friends, is the connective tissue of the animal, and we have that webbing throughout our entire bodies, into the very cells themselves.  This webbing tightens up with stress, with repetitive stress (think sewing many hours at a time), with aging, with injury, and with surgery.  Scar tissue? That's connective tissues, which are mostly elongated fibres, a few criss-crossing, but in injuries or surgeries, they criss-cross big-time and mass around the injured area, protecting it, immobilizing it.  This is scar tissue.  It's great while we are healing, not so great when it's time to mobilize.  Yin can help to break that down and give you more mobility!

Breathe!

In any style of yoga, the breath is paramount.  So it is with Yin.  Breathe in and out slowly and steadily to a count of maybe 3 or 4, even 6 or 8, as long as it is not forced.  Kino MacGregor, Ashtangi extraordinaire, says something so beautiful at the closing of the Ashtanga Primary Series, on Cody, something to the effect of "Let every inhale carry with it the memory of the exhale, and let every exhale carry with it the memory of the inhale."  So beautiful, and so flowing and so in the moment.

Hold here for 3 minutes.  Use a timer; close your eyes and go within. Notice where you may be holding onto something: is it your shoulders?  your jaw? your tummy?  Let go... feet are floppy...
If you have a yoga block, you may find you can set it on its end and your forehead may come to rest on it, or maybe you rest your forearms on it as I am on the cushion here.  If you don't have a yoga block, use a cushion as I am.  DO NOT PULL.  Relax.  Have patience here; you can hurt yourself seriously if you pull.  Let gravity do the work; your work is to breathe, to relax and to surrender.  Listen to your heart beat.  Listen to your breath.

To come out, rise back up slowly on an inhale, letting your head come up last if it was dangling.  Take in a couple more breaths and then lean back on your hands without moving your legs. Take a couple more breaths.  Fold in your legs, one at a time to a loose cross-legged seat, and arch your back, looking up, for another couple of breaths.  Ahh! Enjoy the release as the blood rushes through the constricted areas.  This works much like massage therapy to remove blockages, release toxins, and give you more space, more ease of movement.  Be sure to have a drink of water once you head back to your sewing machine.

Possibilities

Yoga is for everyone. Truly. All body types, all ages.  It can do amazing things, on a physical level, yes, but on a mental and spiritual level as you quieten your mind and go within.  If your head and/or chest comes to your mat, you may like to turn it to one side (be sure to do both sides), spread your arms apart so your hands come by your feet.  This feels incredibly good in the shoulders.
Remember to take your glasses off...

It took me years to get to this point, and I've put it here to show you there is always somewhere to go, and there is hope for everyone to see change, for the better.  I think I was about 50, maybe a bit more, when I got my chest to the floor.  Although I'd been practising Ashtanga Yoga for years, I thank the long holds of Yin that allowed my connective tissues, the ligaments, tendons, etc., to slowly give, and allow me to do this with no pulling.  Every time I start to think, meh, I'm (choke) getting too old to ever be able to do that, something happens and I see the possibility.  Be open, I guess, and I admit I am not always, to that growth, that change...those possibilities!

Acupressure

Yin combines Chinese theories of acupressure and acupuncture with the East Indian yoga theories.  We tug on areas and therefore stimulate acupressure points.  The Chinese, like the East Indians, treat the body as a whole.  I tell my students to think in this way: every cell has a Liver component (detoxification), or a Urinary Bladder (elimination) component to it.  This helps us Westerners to understand.

With that in mind then, this pose affects the Liver Meridian as it flows up the inner legs and into the groin.  You may feel some frustration or even anger surface while holding this pose; just try to breathe through it, knowing that something is being released.  Issues in our tissues, remember?  It also affects the Urinary Bladder Meridian as it flows down either side of the spine, and down the backs of the legs.  Maybe fears arise...  The Kidney Meridian is affected also along the inner legs and groin, and the Spleen Meridian if you feel tugging on the insides of your knees.  All this means is that you are stimulating these organs and energy highways and quite possibly removing blockages, if there are any, so energy will flow better.  You, in turn, will feel better, by having better energy flow and better range of movement!

Next month we'll take a look at a couple Dragonfly variations you can do that will help release tension in your back, and in your shoulders while still working the legs

Design Challenge News

The third bi-weekly draw for the #30quiltdesignschallenge2017 happened Friday night, (144 designs in the hashtag pool!!) and Abigail at Cut and Alter was the winner! She won a gift certificate to The Red Hen Shop.

I hope you'll take a moment to visit Melody's shop and give her some support. She has some lovely fabrics, at reasonable prices, and has been so very generous in supporting the design challenge.  The final draw is on March 15, a gift certificate for $50!  Here is Abigail's design.  Along with shadow quilts that I've been playing a lot with since Windfall, I love transparency quilts.
Isn't that cool?!

Now.
If you suddenly find yourself dropping the projects, the commitments, ignoring the emails mounting, refusing to cook - 'you're on your own!' words coming out of your mouth to your family, because you just have to make Abigail's design (with credit to her of course, right, and not selling it, right) then you've been hit by a DrEAMi!  February's link-up was yesterday, but it runs through the end of the month, so, until Wednesday morning. 😉  If you already had a DrEAMi! moment or episode, then you can link it up there!

I'm off to sit on a floor and lean forward for a bit here; although I wrote some of this while sitting on the floor, I still spent too much time sitting in a chair writing this post! You can join me if you've been reading blogs for too long!  Don't forget to check out Craftsy (affiliate link) sometime today though: along with another great supplies and kits sale, they also have a ton of free stuff, classes and patterns, yep, free!


12 comments:

  1. I'll have to try yoga again at some point. I've tried a couple of times....the first unsuccessful, the second time was better but the place closed down. I believe you have to find the right teacher, right? Everyone is different. I want to like yoga....I am the least flexible person I know. I have had my own fitness victory this past year, so maybe I shouldn't give up on yoga!

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  2. Look at you getting right down. I may just have to give this yoga thing a try.

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  3. Thank you for these Sunday stretches. I just did this pose and it felt so good after a long day of cleaning. Happy to have found your blog via Quilting Jet Girl last week!

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  4. Great post Sandra. Thank you for taking the time to write these up. I love them.❤

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  5. As always, another so wonderful post. I love reading each and every word and looking at your pics. You are amazingly supple, and a marvelous yoga teacher to us all. Love and hugs as always Sandra, from your friend across the water. PS, forgot to sayi love the fabric too 😀 xx

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  6. That is a fabulous bundle of fabric and it definitely makes me wish I'd signed up for the monthly bundle. I adore AG fabrics (but then, who doesn't, if they ever felt them?)
    As you know, I am new to your blog ~ this Sunday stretch series is fascinating! I am also very new to yoga (as in - I still haven't made it all the way through the '30 days of beginner yoga'video series I found....) but I can already see how it is helping me to 'loosen up' - every single time I have 'checked in w my body' (while *not* practicing) I have had my shoulders pulled up, or some other form of tightness somewhere that I was unconsciously, but actively, holding onto. I've been really surprised by that, because I don't consider myself to be a person who holds stress in her body, but my brief encounter w yoga has shown me otherwise... Anyways - I know these posts must take a very long time to type up - so thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and insight.
    Happy sewing and stretching ~ Tracy

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  7. Your flexibility always amazes me. I love that last pic, with your little head touching the ground...you can see your handsome helper in the background. I hadn't noticed his little bum in the other pictures. And I LOVE those fabrics! I'm glad your box finally showed up.

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  8. Those fabrics are awesome. I thought I had enough word fabrics...apparently I quit too soon and may have to remedy that.

    Every time I read a Sunday yoga post, Sandra, I try a few moves for fun and wish (really wish) that either we had a yoga instructor nearby or that I lived near you. I'd love your classes! Your words are so soft and comforting that I want to be there.

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  9. Thanks for the great post! I always enjoy knowing WHY I am doing a certain pose, how I should feel, and what I should focus on. This sounds like one that I will have to incorporate into my days for sure. It's really too bad I can't sit in the middle of my office and do it right now. It will have to wait until I get home. :)

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  10. My husband amazes me with his flexibility in this pose. Like you he can place his chest on the floor with ease. I'm happy to have been able to slowly progress to getting my forearms on the ground. I like that yoga celebrates honoring our bodies in whatever form of the pose we are able to achieve. Thanks as always for sharing these postures!

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  11. You've got some fun stuff to play with. I'm starting slowly with chair yoga. My 75 year old mother swears by it.

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