Each week smile in the sky will feature a different yoga pose and 5 physical health benefits and 5 mental health benefits related to it.
This week...lizard pose [sanskrit translation: utthan pristhasana: utthan (stretch) pristhasana (the back body pose).
This pose is wonderful for relieving stress: activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), and releasing tight hips and back muscles, so essential in our increasingly sedentary jobs and lives. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness.
Read on for more..
Physical benefit: LOWER BACK RELEASE
The dual action of the front leg pushing into the mat and the back leg active in this pose allow for a juicy stretch into the back body, from the hips towards the mid-back. Crucial for so many of us who spend a large portion of the day sitting.
Mental benefit: RELAXATION
Stimulation of the vagus nerve, activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), assists in allowing the body to begin its ‘rest and digest’ role. This is crucial for healing, absorbing nutrients and eliminating toxins, and contributes to a healthy body, healthy mind. See here for ways to stimulate your vagus nerve.
Mental benefit: FOCUS/CONCENTRATION
Breathing with awareness in the pose allows the body to release tight areas but also allows the mind to quieten. This pose is a beautiful one to practice mindfulness: awareness of sensations in the present moment. See here for a short video explaining mindfulness by the creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Physical benefit: IMPROVED POSTURE
Keeping the collarbones broad and opening the chest in this pose creates a more relaxed and open posture.
Mental benefit: EMOTIONAL RELEASE
Surrendering the body into the pose can allow an emotional release. Many teachers emphasise the link of the hips to emotions like sadness and fear. The welcoming of vulnerability in the pose can be empowering and create a sense of relief.
Physical benefit: FREE YOUR HIPS
Walking the front foot to the outer edge of your mat allows for the outer hip to open. This area can be particularly tight in men and many women struggle with this too.
Physical benefit: BALANCE AND STABILITY
The strong leg activation of this pose, keeping the body low to the mat, is a gentle way to improve balance with minimal face plant risk!
Mental benefit: CALM
The lizard pose, low to the ground while opening the groin, allows the body to cool. The lower body temperature assists PNS activation.
Physical benefit: QUADRICEP AND PSOAS STRETCH
The release of the quads and psoas muscles can create more space in the lower back.
Mental benefit: IMPROVED SLEEP
Stretching and releasing the muscles of the back allow the body to come into a resting state, and may help to ease insomnia. See here for more calming pre-sleep yoga.
To learn more about the mind-body connection and our services, including workshops for mental health, yoga, and research consultancy, please see www.smileinthesky123.weebly.com
Next week...bow pose [dhanurasana]