Props to the Props

May 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

I have been tired and there is a great list of possible culprits; the heat, the running, my kids early rising, allergies, my rough food week, hormones?

Whatever it is I’ve being plagued by exhaustion.

After an energetic run on Saturday morning, my laziness took hold. It was hard to sit at the computer, so I took it with me to work horizontally on the sofa. When the girls needed milk I dragged my body to the fridge only to plop back down after handing over their sippy’s.

It was gross.

I decided to roll out my mat.

Knowing that I wasn’t ready to start standing, I lay flat on my back in savasana. I yawned and stretched there for a minute and then reached for my blocks.

For my friends who don’t practice, blocks are also known as props. They are helpful additions to poses when the body needs assistance getting there. They aid in alignment, too.

Certain poses and I always require blocks.

If, for example, I am going from warrior into half moon, I recognize that a block must be waiting by my front foot to give my hand a lift and to keep my spine from crunching down.

In triangle, it is more important to keep the spine straight that to be able to reach the floor. I’m not a yoga instructor and I try not to judge, but when I see a student pulled forward into triangle and bent over to reach the floor causing a U shape to their form, it takes everything in me not to march over and readjust their positioning.

Caring for the spine is more important than deepening a pose for the sake of the ego.

As I stared at the dining room ceiling deciding where to start, I made the call to stack two blocks and tuck them under my sacrum for a gentle assisted bridge pose.

By lifting the pelvis up off the floor a stretch is created along the spine. With the tail bone hanging over the edge of the blocks, the shoulders roll back, the chest is forced to lift and open, and the arms roll out to the side causing the lungs to fill with fresh air (prana).

I hung out there for a while. It felt good.

When I was ready I played with leg and foot positioning.

With bent knees and one foot planted on the floor, I pointed the toes of the other foot and curled them back toward my rear end, palm of hand to sole of foot and pressed into the mat causing a delicious front quad stretch. For balance I repeated with the other foot.

With legs straight and high, toes splayed and pointed down (yoga feet) I imagined a string being pulled through my heels.

I made a wide legged V and then froggy legs with the balls of my feet pushing together for resistance.

Coming down I eased the blocks out from below me and slowly curled my back flat to the floor. I rocked my knees back and forth until they fell all the way to the right, arms folding over me to the left; an unscheduled supine twist. As always to keep balance, I rolled my knees to the left and arms to the right. Breathing and resting, it felt like a great big body yawn.

The pose I had just exited (supported bridge) led perfectly into a shoulder stand cycle. Without planning or thinking about it I allowed my body to go there.

From an unsupported bridge to a shoulder stand and then to one of my most difficult poses, the plow.

Plow is difficult for girls with DD’s and despite my best efforts I often find myself with a crunchy spine, so instead of pressing my feet entirely overhead, I eased back into shoulder stand before returning to the floor.

The entire cycle was slow and just what I needed; restful and energizing at the same time.

This is the beauty of a home practice. Go with your flow and you get what you need.

Rejuvenated, I turned over and cat-cowed until I was ready for a dog, legs pressed into the floor and walking. One at a time I raised each leg high to the ceiling and then bent over into a hip stretch.

Surprisingly, I had generated enough energy that a few slow and deliberate salutations to the sun came pouring forth (a few breaths per movement).

Before I knew it I was in that zone. I popped up, turned on music and grabbed the incense out of my desk drawer. I struck a match and lit the fire igniting my home practice companion.

The energy that I’d created spread through my house and before I knew it my quietly playing kids wanted in on the action. Just like that my solitary yoga play was done.

A full home practice is is not as easy with kids around and because of them it rarely ends in savasana.

Still, that time on my mat was enough to give me what I needed to be more productive and present in my own life.

With newfound energy I cleaned up the kitchen, gathered cut up paper from around the children’s art table, went outside to water the garden and folded every last piece of clothing from the laundry bed. That alone was a miracle!

If it weren’t for those blocks I would have become one with the sofa; a blob of a mom with a messy house and a sadly wasted day.

So props to the props (in this instance the blocks) and to the home practice that pulled my being out of Lazyland and back to Mommyland where I belonged.

Me in supported bridge with stacked blocks. I put the image through instagram, which accounts for the filtering.

Triangle with a block. Image from ecofriendlyfitness.com.

Half Moon. See how straight her spine is. I imagine if her little girl wasn’t hanging on her leg it would be raised higher making her alignment just perfect. Image from http://www.MindBodyGreen.com.

Supported Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon. This could be me. I relate. Image from http://www.Yogaflavoredlife.com

My yoga teacher Jennifer Campbell-Overbeeke of Campbell Yoga demonstrating a three legged dog with a bent knee hip opener. There is nothing like this pose to open up the hip.

Hands as support in Shoulder Stand. Image from lovemyyoga.com

Plow. Can you see how boobies could cause a problem? http://www.lovemyyoga.com

There a are a lot of different blocks. I have the purple rubbery kind, but I’ve tried cork blocks, too. I don’t have a preference.

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§ 3 Responses to Props to the Props

  • Ilene says:

    Martha, I can relate to this post, and especially your discussion on triangle. I am an RYT and I have to adjust students in triangle more than any other pose, since it becomes a contest to see who can touch the floor for most people. Props to you for using your props. I am a huge fan of them. Glad you found your energy after your practice. So glad I found your blog! xo Ilene

    • Running in Mommyland says:

      I’m glad you found me …. and now I’ve found you! Very interested in your June Kale Smoothy Challenge. Am stopping by Whole Foods this afternoon to gather the goods. Will start tomorrow!

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