And with this, one of my favorite challenges comes to an end. If you are considering starting a yoga practice you should really give this challenge a shot. I have posted something about every pose with pictures and benefits. Hopefully, it will motivate someone to give it a go. If you have a friend who has been considering starting a practice, please share this with him or her.
Day 25: Low Lunge is one of those sneaky postures that looks easy until you are asked to do it in the middle of a Vinyasa sequence and suddenly you realise how much it is asking of your sense of balance. For a quiet little posture, it has many benefits. You can also challenge yourself by taking your arms up and over, moving into a backbend. Or even close your eyes – if you’re feeling extra bold.
day 26: Upward Facing Plank Pose (which I am doing in the picture above) is a beautiful heart opener that also helps strengthen the core. It seems like, no matter where I am when practicing this posture, I instantly feel as though I am on a beach somewhere taking in the sun. And I forget that it is stretching my arms and strengthening my wrists and instead feel like I am on a mini vacation. The posture also stretches the shoulders, chest, and front ankles while strengthening the legs.
Day 27: Paschimottanasana is a posture we do at the end of every Bikram class. For five years now, I have been thinking that the pose was all about strength and flexibility in my back. Yesterday, it finally occurred to me that I also needed to engage my legs and flex my feet, bringing them off the floor and closer to my head. While I may never get to the full Bikram expression (forehead touching thumbs with hands in yogi toe lock) I did get an inch closer. Which in the world of yoga is like ten miles.
Day 28: There is something about being upside down that I just love. Maybe it’s all the blood in my body rushing through my body on its way to my head. But I honestly feel better after doing a headstand. Tripod Headstand is my favorite inversion – I can do pikes, straddles, all sorts of things while I’m up there. The posture relaxes and energizes your mind while lengthening the spine. It eases pressure on your lower back while strengthening your core, back, neck, shoulders and arms. And it’s just fun.
Day 29: Dolphin Pose is 1000 times harder than it looks. It is considered a level one pose but I would much rather be in a headstand than this posture. It has a million benefits so it’s worth the pain. I have to shift to my forearms one at a time from Downward Facing Dog – eventually I am supposed to me able to put both elbows down at once. I’ll keep trying.
Day 30: Intense Side Stretch Pose or Parsvottasana is similar to the Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose I have done a million times in Bikram except that this asked for hands in silent prayer and a flat back while Bikram does it with hands in prayer over head and a rounded back. So I guess they aren’t similar at all. However, the benefits are almost exactly the same. Both versions stretch the spine (improving posture), shoulders, hips and hamstrings. It strengthens the legs while stimulating the abdominal organs (improving digestion).
Day 31: Ironically, my Bikram teacher had us take Shavasana silently in class today. A couple of people were fidgeting, one man actually sat up. At the end of the allotted two minutes, she commented on the fact that we should be able to be still for two minutes without someone saying be still, be still, be still for the entire time. The truth is, and people laugh at me all the time, I really think this is the hardest posture of all. To truly be still – with your body and mind – is one of the most challenging things in this hyper-connected- world of ours.
The June challenge starts tomorrow and has the added benefit of money being donated for every post. But I will miss this challenge and it’s return to basics very much.