Working with Depression, Mental Fatigue, and Creating Endurance
A woman's body has a natural system of cycles which repeat more often than any other mammal. Every 28 days or so during our “child-bearing years” we experience a building up of energy which gives us a sense of vitality and well-being and may or may not lead to a new life; coupled with a shedding of tissue and blood which can bring us into an internalized, intuitive, restful state.
In our culture, we revere the active state where we are “efficient” and “get a lot done”. It is borderline strange if someone desires to rest without being sick or tired. We are not rewarded for being reflective, for listening to our inner voices, for trusting that we will be ok if we aren't “doing” something.
The practice of yoga focused on asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breath awareness) puts us back in touch with our body-mind connection and makes us aware of these natural cycles again. These natural cycles are also reflected in our outer world in the cycles of day and night, the cycles of the moon from full to empty, the change of seasons from summer to winter. When we support our natural cycles and even appreciate them, we experience less tension and more contentment.
Today the moon is slightly more than half full waxing towards a full moon on March 12th. The full moon's brightness and fullness reflects the state of fertility, vitality and creativity. During this time in our yoga practice (in the middle of our menstrual cycle) we have more physical energy and stamina and may want to do a more active practice. Back extensions are an excellent way to utilize this energy and at the same time invigorate our kidneys and adrenal glands.
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (two-limbed inverted staff pose) or so eloquently called “the yogini's prayer” by B.K.S. Iyengar is a powerful back extension that brings life and light to the body and mind.
Below is a modified version of the “Women's Energizing Sequence” from Patricia Walden in “The Women's Book of Yoga & Health” written by Linda Sparrowe. This is an Intermediate level practice which assumes some knowledge of the foundational poses of Iyengar yoga. I have specified the poses that may not be appropriate for beginners. That said, don't be afraid to practice on your own and make mistakes! This is an important part of our practice. The willingness to explore, play and create!
- Urdhva Hastasana in Tadasana
- Utthita Trikonasana
- Virabhadrasana II
- Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Virabhadrasana I
- Virasana with Gomukhasana arms
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Salamba Sirsasana* (Advanced students, try a short Sirsasana II to work on actions needed for Urdhva Dhanurasana and Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana)
- Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (over a chair)
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Urdhva Dhanurasana*
- Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana*
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (use this to lengthen your back from the back extensions)
- Parsva Uttanasana
- Bharadvajasana I
- Chattush Padasana/Setu Bandha Sarvangasana with bent legs
- Salamba Sarvangasana (Beginners be at the wall with the legs on the wall to come up)
- Halasana (Beginners use a chair for your feet)
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana with support (bolster or block)
- Viparita Karani (on a bolster; straight legs, upavista konasana legs, swastikasana legs)
- Savasana with crossed legs on bolster
*Beginning level students may want to be instructed first before attempting at home
Stay tuned for the next installment of Exploring Cycles of Activity & Rest!