What a wonderful class yesterday.  The time flew by fast and we weren’t able to do all of the poses as planned.   Next week you will be in for a treat, as Carmen will be leading that class and the next one as well.   Thank you for sharing some of your reflections on the practice.  I will put together a short questionnaire at the end of the series if you would like to go into more detail.  Keep reflecting on your Sankalpa as you journey through this practice.  For those just joining us, refer to the June 7th class for more information on Sankalpa.

Supported Forward Fold with Chair
Props: chair or table, blankets
Benefits: calming, centering, good transition and break pose from the rest of your day, gently stretches lower back, good for headaches, easy to do and easily accessible. Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed. 

Chair: place a chair on front of you as you sit either cross-legged in front of chair, or straddle chair or even stretch out legs under the chair legs.  Arms placed folded on chair in front of you. Rest forehead on arms. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest.  Close eyes.  Breath into back body.  Take a few deep inhales and exhale with a sigh through mouth.  Stay for up to 5 minutes. 

Table: Place your chair (no rollers) near your table so that you can easily lean forward. Sit at the edge of the chair with feet flat on the floor.  You should feel a nice stretch through the spine.  Rest forehead on amrs. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest. Close eyes. Breath into the back body.  Take a few deep inhales and exhale with a sigh though mouth. Stay for up to 5 minutes. 

Supported Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Badha Konasana)

Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows, rolled up blankets), 4 blankets, one extra blanket for warmth or for wrapping feet in, strap, eye pillow.
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 

Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees)  Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Props: 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll, maybe a bolster (see photo)
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.

Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above sacrum (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8″ from wall (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket with one hip pressed right up against the wall. As you lower down, swing your legs up the wall. Once in the pose, you can adjust distance to wall, angle of legs to all, blanket and placement of legs all for comfort.  Hips and tailbone will be in space between wall and blanket. Arms rest by your side, palms face up or variation with Goddess arms (photo above).  
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag to hang from soles of the feet.  Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs.  Tight hamstrings or really uncomfortable with legs directly up the wall? Try a bolster angled into the wall to rest legs on, add blankets for more support or move hips further from wall.  Another variation is Legs up on a Chair.

Mindfulness Meditation

We began class with a meditation focusing on the breath as it flows in and out of your body, where in the body does it go and the movement that it creates.  I was hoping to include this meditation for you to listen to.  Unfortunately the CD, Meditations for Coping with Cancer by Michael Baime, MD, was not able to be loaded into the blog.  Hopefully, you were able to open it up from the email.  For more information, please see Penn Program for Mindfulness.

Meditation on Metta 
Practicing loving kindness, compassion to self and to others.  Being able to open your heart unconditionally and encompassing all that is with acceptance, awareness and good will.  Metta is universal and can find expression in all religions and all societies. 

Meditate and reflect on your heart, acknowledge how it feels, open or closed, receptive or defended. Repeat this metta meditation to yourself.

May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be safe from harm
May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness
May I experience ease and wellbeing in mind, body and spirit.

****I’ll leave you with one more reflection from Buddha

The Buddha’s Words on Kindness (Metta Sutta)

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.