Spring forth

Appears in the March 2019 issue.

By Alisa Kolar

Springtime is the season to shake off the winter blues and embrace a reawakened state of body and mind. Yoga is an ancient practice that bonds your body, mind, and soul, utilizing breath and postures. The spine is a major body part that serves as the bond between our brain, organs, and so much more, so we want to devote time and attention to keeping it young and mobile.

At Yoga by Degrees, one way we improve your back is with twisting postures, which benefit the body in several ways: detoxing, generating heat through core work, plus massaging internal organs and creating spinal mobility and flexibility. This mini flow will allow your back muscles to loosen up, while at the same time, frees your mind and enlivens your spirit.

THE GOAL To strengthen, tone and relax your spine and core.
THE PLAN Perform three rounds. The first time, hold each pose five breaths. The following two rounds, only one breath.
THE EQUIPMENT A yoga mat, blocks, and a smile.

Jathara Parivartanasana
Supine twist
Lie down on mat and pull knees in toward chest. Inhale, bringing arms out into a T shape. Exhale, twisting legs to left (use a block between thighs to support lower back if needed). Inhale and bring legs back to chest; exhale and repeat on right side.
Boat pose
Sit with legs bent and bring hands under knees with only tips of toes on mat. Lift chest and engage glutes. Lean back until you feel core tightening and spine lengthening. Keep legs straight or bent, without rocking to lower back. Bring palms together at chest and twist in both directions.
Chair pose
With feet together, bend knees and sink hips towards heels with arms straight overhead. Bring hands to heart and twist to right, without buckling knees. Repeat on left side.
Forward fold
Bend forward from hips, palms on floor. Step feet up to wrists, release head, and bend knees until comfortable. Move weight to toes and reach hips over heels, lengthening backs of legs. Bend into left knee and place left hand on a block or the floor. Straighten right leg and lift right arm up towards the ceiling. Repeat on right side.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-facing dog
From plank, pull belly to spine and push hips up and back until body is in a V shape. Release heels toward mat, even if they don’t touch. Keep spine long, but bend knees as necessary. Widen your feet mat-width distance. Reach with right hand for outside of left leg. Repeat twist on left side.
Crescent lunge
From forward fold, step left foot back into a low lunge, lifting torso off right thigh until shoulders stack over hips. Bend your left knee, or lower down to mat, to soften pose, or keep left leg straight to intensify. Place palms together in prayer position at heart and twist over front leg. Repeat twist on other side.
Corpse pose
Lie on mat and extend legs while releasing arms by your side. Physical cleansing is now complete; rest for a few minutes, reaping mental and
spiritual benefits, while your body cools off. Visualize the beauty of springtime and washing away the previous signs of winter.

Illustrations by Ievgenii Volyk