How to Find Mind-Body Balance with Seated Yoga Asanas - dummies

How to Find Mind-Body Balance with Seated Yoga Asanas

By Therese Iknoian

You can just sit quietly to find mind-body balance, or you can sit while you bend or stretch. These are a few simple and popular yoga postures that involve bending and stretching.

Seated Asana #1: Butterfly — Baddha Konasana

If you have tight hips, this yoga asana may strike you as impossibly hard. However, some people may feel at ease from the first moment in this asana, even if they haven’t ever practiced flexibility before. Everybody’s hip joints are positioned differently — more to the front or more to the side — which may mean the ease or difficulty is genetic.

Use a folded blanket or a block to sit on so you can sit more comfortably and with a tall spine.

This yoga posture stretches your hips and inner thighs, as well as strengthening your back. After you fold over, you also stretch your back and ankles. Try Butterfly during your warm-up or stretching sections of your mind-body workout.

  1. Sit on the ground and bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet together in front of your groin. If you can, bring your heels closer toward your body, but only as far as you can while still sitting up with a tall, straight spine.

    Forget flapping your knees up and down like everybody used to do in this kind of position. That does nothing for your flexibility, and makes you look kind of silly, too; sort of like a gooney bird trying to take off.

  2. Inhale, then exhale and lengthen your spine out and forward by reaching, not just collapsing downward. For beginners, just sitting tall will do. As you get more flexible and in control of your body, you can fold over more and more.

  3. Use the exhalation of each breath to relax your muscles, your back and your hips, and let yourself lean over farther.

What to avoid in this mind-body stretch:

  • Collapsing in your chest to reach downward over your feet

  • Holding your breath

Seated Asana #2: Seated Forward Bend — Pashcimottanasana

This asana may look familiar to anyone who has ever done any traditional exercise, but with the mind-body and awareness elements added, it may feel a lot different. You stretch everything up and down the back of your body, including your back and the backs of your legs. Try Seated Forward Bend during your warm-up or stretching sections.

If you’re not flexible enough to do this comfortably, sit on folded blankets or a block to ease your hamstrings as you do this posture.

  1. Sit tall on the floor with a straight back and with your legs extended in front of you and your arms at your sides.

  2. Inhale and lift your arms overhead, palms facing in.

    You can choose between lifting your arms to the front, or sweeping them out to your sides. Pick a version that feels best to you and which you can accomplish with good form and control.

  3. Reach your arms and chest forward and out as you begin to lean forward from the hips over your legs.

    Until you are more flexible, you can bend your knees so you don’t strain your back or hamstrings. You may only end up a few inches forward with your hands resting on the floor beside your thighs. That’s okay.

  4. Breathe and use the exhalation and your mind to let your muscles relax and help you come farther forward over your legs.

  5. Release back up to a sitting position.

  6. Bend your knees and shake out your legs to relax the muscles before you do it again.

What to avoid in this mind-body stretch:

  • Collapsing through your chest

  • Bending forward from your shoulders rather than your hips