Yoga: Function in Life Over Perfect Form on the Mat
by Sally Konkol, RN, BSN, RYT-200
“Can you reach that bowl on the top shelf?”
We have all been there. Up on our tip toes, arm stretched as much as possible. Needing just another half inch. “There, I got it!” It is times like that when I continue to appreciate the functional benefits of yoga for everyday living.
Yoga movements, postures, and breathing practices help to keep us strong and balanced. Moving our arms, bending forward, lateral bending, twisting and balance are part of everyday living, and part of any yoga practice.
- Bending forward: think of tying your shoes; bending and reaching into the dryer for that last sock; or weeding the garden.
- Lateral bending: think of reaching under the couch for that dog toy; or washing windows.
- Twisting: think of looking in your blind spot while driving; or shoveling snow.
- Balance: think of reaching that top shelf on your tip toes.
Having strong legs, a strong back, and a strong core all aid in keeping us steady while we walk, climb stairs or anything else we do on any given day. Moving our bodies stimulates our circulation and lymphatic system, aiding in immunity. Weight bearing exercise helps to keep our bones strong. And the mindfulness of yoga helps decrease the stress that everyone has. This is what we can do for ourselves, this is self-care.
Here are some self-care practices you can try at home:
Balancing Tadasana (balance posture)
Begin by standing with feet hip distance apart. Feel grounded and steady. On an inhale, sweep your arms out to the side and up above your head. At the same time, lift your heals off the floor. On the exhale, sweep arms back down to your sides, as you bring your heals back down to the floor. Move intentionally with your inhale and exhale. Practice this posture 6 times.
Ardha Pārśvottānāsana (lateral forward bending posture)
Stand with left foot forward, right foot turned slightly outward, right arm overhead, and left arm folded behind your back. On exhale, bend forward, bending left knee slightly, bringing chest toward left thigh, and right hand to left foot. On inhale, lift chest and arm until torso is parallel to the ground. On exhale, return to the forward bend position. On inhale, return to starting position. Moving with your breath. Repeat 4 times, then switch sides.
Sukasana Parivrtti (seated twist posture)
Start with a comfortable seated position on your mat or in a chair. Place left hand on right knee. Place right hand behind your hips. On exhale, twist to the right, looking over your right shoulder. On inhale, return to starting position. Repeat 4 times, then switch sides.
Mindful Minute (breathing practice)
Inhale slowly, and think peace
Exhale slowly, and think calm
Take 8-10 slow, deep purposeful breaths
Think of that top shelf.
Can you reach your goals for self-care?
You can join me on Wednesdays at 4:15 for the Zoom class “Yoga for Self-Care: Creating Calm with Movement and Breathing. This class is intended for beginners, but all are welcome. Also, this class will be recorded and is available for 5 days.
Sally Konkol, RN, BSN, RYT-200, has been a yoga practitioner for 8 years and was certified as a yoga teacher by River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School in 2020. Her yoga teaching is straight forward and practical, helping the practice feel relevant and accessible to new and experienced students.