04 Oct 2018 Kate Kendall Yoga poses for mindfulness 11733 views 3 min to read Because there’s something powerful in the pause. Practice mindfulness as you move through these yoga poses for a sense of ease and consciousness. Shapes & words by Kate Kendall. Energy & exerciseYogaStress relief & sleep support Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin 0 comments Mindfulness is being alert and conscious in each moment. It’s an age-old practice that is being introduced more and more into the most unlikely of places – schools, work spaces, cars and all those in-between moments. When practiced enough, mindfulness can be stretched into each and every moment; the conversations, the interactions, the doings and the beings. Yoga is a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness. Yoga is a time for focus, calm and awareness – all of which are key in mindfulness. Combine your yoga practice with mindfulness as a perfect remedy for those times when you feel ‘whelmy’, stressed and anxious. See larger image Mindfulness yoga sequence As you move through this sequence, be mindful of the breath. Listen to it closely and let your focus (or meditation) be on that of the sound of the breath as well as the sensations that arise through these simple movements. 1. Hero’s pose Great for: Stretching the quads (thighs), tops of feet and ankles and lengthening the spine. It’s also good for sitting in after a main meal to aid digestion. How to: 1. Come into a kneeling posture, sitting on top of your heels. If this feels too intense (remembering that a little bit of intensity is ok and only trains us to be mentally resilient) you can place a block (as pictured) underneath the sit bones to take the pressure off. 2. Place your hands in lap, lengthen the tail bone toward towards the earth and effortlessly lift through the entire spine. 3. Broaden your collar bones so that the shoulder blades kiss towards each other gently and you feel a broadness across the chest. 4. Stay for a minute or so – following simply the very gentle rhythm of your breath. 2. Child’s pose - Balasana Great for: Easing lower back ache and tightness as well as opening into the inner thighs, groin and chest. It’s the perfect place in this sequence to further develop your breath and begin to lengthen it into the lower lobes of the lungs which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is what gives us that super chilled, ‘yoga stoned’ effect after a moving meditation or yoga class. How to: 1. From hero’s pose, split the knees a little wider than hip distance apart and stretch your arms out in front. 2. Rest your forehead on the earth (or on the block if it doesn’t come all the way down). If you had the sit bones on a block in the first posture, feel how it feels here. If you don’t need it – remove. 3. Soften your shoulders down the back and begin to take slightly deeper breaths in and out of the nose. Imagine the breath moving in from the tips of the nostrils, through the back of the throat and down into the very base of your lungs. It may even help you to visualise the breath as a thread and give it a colour. It’s a mindfulness tool to keep you present. 4. If you’re used to practicing an ‘Ujjayi’ breath, allow for a slight constriction in the throat (or glottis) to create that sea-like, oceanic sound in the back of the throat – this stimulates and calms the nervous system. Stay a minute or so. Yoga poses for mindfulness 3. Seated moving meditation Great for: Experiencing meditation through simple movement and further developing the breath. With these arms movements we lengthen the side waist and spine, begin the stretch lightly the intercostal muscles as well as chest and shoulders. How to: 1. From child’s pose, lift yourself slowly and make your way into a cross legged posture (you can prop yourself onto the block again if you start to round the spine or slouch through the spine) 2. Start with hands at heart to close down your eyes and come in close contact with the rhythm of your breath again. Stay for a few moments until feeling grounded. 3. Inhale take your arms out to the side and then up above the head. 4. Exhale your arms out to the side and then back behind you to interlace the hands at the small of your back. 5. Inhale your knuckles and down and back whilst staying for the exhalation. 6. Inhale the arms out and up above head again, exhale the hands back through centre to heart again. Repeat this moving meditation 3-5 times. 4. Easy sit forward fold Great for: Stretching the hips, glutes and lower back. And – when coupled with breath work can be great for the digestive system. How to: 1. From the seated meditation cross the right leg in front of the left (unless it already is) and move your heels away from your hips so that when you look down there is an upside-down triangle shape. 2. Flex your feet (dorsi flex at ankles so that toes curl back and in towards your shins). 3. Grounding through your sit bones, inhale lift your arms out and up. 4. Exhale, keeping length through your spine, tilt forward from your hips and place hands shoulder distance apart in front. 5. Each inhalation whilst down lengthens your spine and each exhalation we draw the navel gently into the spine and up a little for that beautiful internal rinsing effect which is great for digestion. 6. Stay five-10 breaths. Come up slowly and switch sides (left leg in front) 5. Lateral bend Great for:Lengthening the side waist and stretching the intercostal muscles which is a great way to de-stress, improve digestion and expand your breath capacity. How to: 1. From your cross-legged posture, place your left hand down by your left side and away from your hips a little. 2. As you inhale lift your right arm up above head and then over to the left side so that you feel sensation all down the right side of the body. 3. Soften your shoulders and depending on intensity you would like, you could place your left forearm on the ground and / or bend right elbow to take hand behind head and lean back. Through this, however, endeavour to keep both sit bones grounded. 4. Stay and breath five breaths. Come up slowly and take a mindful moment to feel the sensations from that right side dissolve and soften before taking the second side. The pause between sides and just after coming out of postures is powerful. Click on image to download & print Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder and Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic. Follow @activeyogi to be inspired to move into more shapes for better wellbeing.