Happy New Year, you Ambitious people, you! Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Maybe they include “getting stronger,” “eating better” or “exercising more regularly” – all of which are extremely important to your health. But, have you ever considered adding “making more time for ME” to your list? For all you super Moms and Dads and workaholics out there, “me time” is probably not something you are super familiar with, but believe me when I tell you that taking a little time out every single day is one of the single best things you can do for bodies – inside and out. What’s more, taking a much needed time out will actually make you even better at confronting the rest of life’s challenges – whether that includes the terrible twos, challenging clients or that coworker who always has some problem (business-related or personal!) for you to solve.
Not surprisingly one of my favorite ways to find a little inner peace is on the yoga mat. No matter how hectic my day gets, I always try to squeeze in a session – whether it’s 90 minutes or three. From a quick post-run sequence to a bedside sun salute (jammies on, of course!) to Pranayama deep breathing at my desk, I always feel better for adding a little yoga to my day. You will too!
To help you get started, we are launching the Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month – a monthly write-up in which I will highlight one amazing yoga pose, its benefits, modifications and more. The best part is that when pieced together, the yoga poses will create a sequence that you can use at home when you need a little “me time” or just a good stretch.
The first pose of the month is actually a two-fer and includes a Pranayama deep breathing technique in a simple seated position. “Prana-what,” you say. Pranayama translates simply to “breath control.” But before you think I’m asking you to complete some David Blaine feat, pranayama does not challenge you to hold your breath. It teaches you how it more efficiently and effectively. In the yoga world they say that if you can control the breath you can control the mind, so think of pranayama as your secret way of quieting the mind, dealing with stress and telling your busy world to “hold on a sec.” You’re welcome!
Ambitious Pose of the Month (January 2013): Durgha 3-Part Breath in Sukhasana
1. Start seated at the top of your mat in Sukhasana (Easy Seat).
2. Place your hands comfortably on the tops of your thighs and sit up nice and tall.
3. Close the eyes and focus the attention on your breath. Try to deepen every inhale and exhale, releasing any tension in the body as you exhale.
4. Once the breath is steady, take one complete inhale and exhale. At the bottom of the next inhale, begin to take the inhale in 3 parts (like filling up a class of water), starting at the bottom of the torso and moving your way up.
5. Breathe a little bit of air into the belly and hold it.
6. Breathe a little bit more air into the ribcage and hold it there.
7. Breathe a little bit more air into the chest and hold it there.
8. Exhale it all the way out.
9. Repeat Steps 5-8 on your own – holding the air briefly after each part and following with one long exhale – for several cycles (anywhere from 10-30 complete breaths).
10. Once you are finished, allow the breath to return to normal.
11. Keeping the eyes closed, check in with the body and notice how you are feeling. Do you feel a bit calmer and more relaxed than when you started? Is your breath more steady?