Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Stretch for Sewists #9

Wow, it is already the end of May and time for another yoga pose to help those aching muscles.  Today I'll show you a pose that is not only good for your low back, but excellent for those of you who maybe have a herniated or slipped disc, as it gently helps realign the discs with the vertebrae.

As with any of these poses, listen to your body: if there is any pain, come out.  You want a steady tugging or tension feeling, the kind that makes you want to groan.  Also remember that this is a Yin style of doing this pose, so do not force or push; you want to relax into it.

Sphinx pose

This is an extension pose for your spine; in other words, a backbend.  Stage 1 is called Baby Cobra.
Tops of the feet are on your mat.
Arms bent, elbows tucked by your ribs, hands just in front of your shoulder heads.
Fingers are spread for good energy flow.
Head, shoulders, and collar bones lifted off the mat.
Relax your butt and leg muscles.

If that is quite easy and you'd like a deeper backbend, go to Stage 2, which is Sphinx.
Elbows are under your shoulders and you have a 90-degree angle at your elbow eyes.
Spread the fingers for good energy flow.
Tops of the feet are relaxed on the mat.
Relax your butt and leg muscles.  They will want to help hold you up, but you want the muscles and ligaments along your spine and in your low back to do the work.  You might have to remind yourself off and on throughout the hold to relax the larger muscles that keep wanting to take over.  In time, you will strengthen your low back.
Keep your head in line with your spine; imagine a triangle on the floor in front of you.  Your two hands are at opposite ends of the base.  Draw an imaginary line from each hand to the point of the triangle which is where your gaze falls, and then close your eyes and breathe.
Notice a delicious stretch or tugging along the abdominal tissues and in the front of the hips.

Remember Bernie Clark's mantra: If you're feeling it, you're doing it.  Breathe in and out slowly and steadily maybe to a count of 3 or 4 on each inhale and exhale, and hold here for 3 minutes if you can.  However, you can work up to 3 minutes; there is no need to start there, but you can also hold for 5 if you like.  Use your timer on your phone so you can close your eyes and go into your body, noticing the sensations.

There is a second arm position you might like, and one I've been preferring of late. This is the way Sarah Powers does Sphinx:
Grab opposite elbows.  Everything else is the same as I described above.
Here's what it looks like from the front:
To come out, first inhale.  On the exhale, slowly come down, turning your elbows out to the side, stacking one hand on top of the other making a pillow for your forehead, and relax completely.  Fill your low back with your breath, releasing.  Take a full minute to feel the pose leave your body.  You may further release if you like, by bending both legs at the knees and waving the feet gently back and forth like windshield wipers.

If you want to deepen this pose, simply spread your legs apart to the sides of your mat.
If you want to deepen the backbend even more, after resting a full minute from Sphinx, you may want to try...


Wing your hands out so the thumbs point to the top of your mat.  Push into your palms, straightening your arms as you do so, rising up even higher than in Sphinx.
MacGyver must've said something funny here or else poor gut-tormented-by Clindamycin Rocco might have farted...yeah that happens sometimes in yoga classes LOL
You will feel a much stronger stretch through the abdomen here, and in the front of the hip joints.  You will also feel a more intense bend in your low back.  Your butt and leg muscles are going to kick in, so keep reminding them, breathing, to relax.  You can rise up out of the shoulder girdle as in the above photo, or...

drape down into the shoulder girdle in a bit of a hunch.  Try both.  Then pick the one you feel you need.  Each one differs slightly in sensation, so get in tune with those sensations in your body.  Close your eyes.  Breathe.  You can even deepen this pose by spreading your legs apart as in Sphinx.  Those of you with super-flexible spines might like to bend your legs up touching your toes to the back of your head!  Hold this one for 3-5 minutes, or maybe less.  Come out as before, and be still as before.

Think of how often (or not) we do backbends as adults.  Uh huh....  Kind of like how often we sit on the floor cross-legged, right?  Are you remembering to spend 5 minutes a day while you watch the news, or while you do handwork in the evening sitting with your legs crossed?  Your hips will thank you!

I have the flimsy finished for my Uncle Frank!  Ha:  Frank's flaming orange finished flimsy!  Love figures of speech.  That one is alliteration.  ;-)
He's also partial to purple, his words, so of course I incorporated that.  Tish suggested maybe some white on white?  And before I even knew of his flaming orange favourite, I kept getting a feeling and a phrase (gosh the f-words, lol, just abound here!) "black tie affair" I knew I wanted there to be black and white in it as a nod to musicians and conductors, of which he is both.  So that is why you see a little black and white, and some music-themed fabric in there.  More details when I have a finish which should be by the end of Sunday!

There are scraps from a variety of projects, Aidan's "Radiance", my "Three-Quarter Patch Tote", Dayna's "Mariner's Compass", Callum's "Shift", a loose jumper-style dress I made in the early 2000s, in that wonderful rich eggplant, that I never wore because it made me look pregnant, along with various stash pieces.  Ah the joys of having an ample stash, and shopping within it!  Year of the stash, yeah baby!

I found this rather interesting:
Look at the centre fabrics of these two test blocks.  They are in Uncle Frank's quilt!!  Isn't that odd, but in a lovely way?!  I made these blocks last October when someone approached my friend Janette to ask if she would make her this quilt of Janette's:
Photo courtesy of Janette Kahil of Old Wooden Palette
Janette pointed that person to me, but sadly the commission didn't work out, even though, as you who read me know, my quote was more than reasonable for materials and time.  Janette's quilt was a kit, no longer available, made from a jelly roll.  I tried the first block (brown background above) as per Janette's memory and measurements, and then adapted the one section to save a seam and a little fabric, (green background fabric above).  I will write up a little tutorial for what I did, promise!

Remember my Benartex fat quarter bundles, sent to me for recommending friends to receive their e-magazine?  I used two of them in this quilt!
Wow, are they vibrant!  Can't wait to put a quilt together with the stack!


  1. Sphinx is a great pose, and I like the arm variation, I will go try that in a moment. I am thankful for yoga classes getting me more mobile in backbends.

    The quilt top for Frank looks wonderful. I think the nod to black and white and music blends beautifully with the purple and orange. And it is definitely fun to see fabrics used here and there and spread around the world with love.

  2. All those purple and oranges with the pop of whites is looking great!

  3. You know, this Sunday stretch reminds me of the poses kids lay in when they are playing board games on the floor. Children must be naturals at Yoga.
    Frank's partial to purple and flaming orange quilt is turning out great! That block looks like a lot of fun!

  4. Our Uncle Frank will love love LOVE this quilt!

  5. You're excellent tutorial on yoga poses is great! I'm feeling so much burn in shoulders from either sewing or looking at iPad too much. I always laugh at your funny remarks! Love Uncle Frank's top, thought I recognized the pattern;). Sorry you went to so much trouble for that girl before she backed out. Half way around the world, geeez! It may have been the shipping charges that killed that deal.

  6. OH! Thank you so much for reminding me of Sphinx and Cobra pose...perfect for my aching back! Love your flaming orange quilt...may have to try that block soon!

  7. I need to try this soon. I surprisingly spend a lot of time on the floor crisis-cross-applesauce. Comes with playing with the boys. (Didn't know it was so good for me.) That looks like a fun vibrant quilt.