Yoga pose of the month: Engage inner strength with Warrior II
As the days grow shorter and indoor life gets busier, find your inner strength and focus by practising Warrior II pose
Source: Web exclusive: November 2010
Sandwiched between the magnificent colours and bounty of fall and the upcoming sparkling season of Christmas, November can be a bit of blah month, sending some of us into an emotional nosedive. But with a little tweaking in attitude we can apply the glass-half-full metaphor and make the most of those extra hours indoors by getting creative with a favourite hobby like knitting or new one like collaging old birthday cards and wrapping paper and making our own Christmas cards. Or we can wrap ourselves up and get out into nature and walk in the park or countryside, especially when the sun shines.
Whatever we decide to do to keep our spirits lifted we’re going to need a healthy dose of determination, and there’s no better yoga pose than ‘The Warrior’ to bring about that very experience.
Warrior pose (from the Hip series in my Kitchen Yoga book) invites us to tap into our inner strength so we can access our personal storehouse of willpower and determination (our core). When standing in Warrior, bring to mind a Zen archer with his laserlike stare and focused concentration. He’s not thinking about the weather, or what to eat. He’s in the present moment, distilling his energy to a single focused point. Warrior reminds us that we have the inner strength to face life’s frustrations and annoyances, even the November weather. So get it together, and practise warrior in your kitchen every time you feel like the glass is half empty and you’re turning into a curmudgeon.
Top 5 benefits:
‘ Strengthens and stabilizes hip, knee & ankle joints
‘ Strengthens & lengthens quadriceps (thighs)
‘ Releases shoulder tension and strengthens biceps and triceps
‘ Increases willpower, determination, focus and concentration
‘ De-stresses the body by quieting the mind
‘ Before paying the bills
‘ Before an important meeting
‘ When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed
‘ When you’re feeling sad and blue
‘ When you’re procrastinating and can’t concentrate
Recent hip or knee injury or surgery, certain rotator cuff conditions
1. Start with your feet together, then step your right foot forward about 3-4 feet. Turn the left foot out at a 45-degree angle, and make sure the right heel is in line with the arch of the back (left) foot.
2. Bend the right knee until knee is in line with ankle. (Don’t let knee extend beyond your toes, especially if you have knee issues.)
3. Turn your body to the left, squaring hips, and bring arms out in line with shoulders, palms facing down.
4. Relax shoulders down, tighten belly (core) and turn head to look directly over right hand.
5. Still eyes and focus on a single point in front of you, and breathe for 3 to 6 breaths. (Think Zen archer!)
6. Release arms, straighten front knee, pivot around to face opposite direction, and repeat on the other side.
When we breathe slowly and deeply in a yoga pose, we literally change our body chemistry so we get rid of toxic ‘stress’ hormones and create the good ‘anti-stress’ hormones. Yes, it’s that simple! So next time you feel anxious and stressed, take a moment to ground and breathe, and slip in a Kitchen Yoga pose. It’s the easiest way to move from grouchy to happy, especially when we’re busy!
Kitchen Yoga is available at www.ruthshawyoga.com in both print and ebook editions. Practice Kitchen Yoga for 2-5 minutes a day and you will fit 30 or more extra minutes of yoga a week, without adding one more ‘to-do’ in your busy schedule.