A youthful body is characterised by the vital energy of a child. As young children our bodies were in constant motion. As adults we tend to move in a less dynamic range, and so our bodies gradually lose their ability to move fully. Lack of mobility, stiffened gait, inability to stoop and struggle to stand is the mark of aging. The pelvic centre, the area from our waist to the pelvic floor, is the body's centre of mass and weight. When we move anywhere, we are moving the pelvic centre. It is the body's grand central station.
The practices which follow offer an antidote to the forces which inhibit our freedom to move and deaden our vitality. Fit them into your routine and reclaim your youthfulness.
1. Lie on your back, with the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor. Inhale, and lift the feet off the floor by drawing the thighs into the torso. Exhale, and slowly lower the feet to the floor.
2. The Half-Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana): Sit with your spine erect and the legs extended in front of you. Bend the left leg and draw the heel in along the floor, or touching the right hip. Bend the right leg and place the right ankle on top of the left ankle. Repeat on the other side.
3. The Reclining Half Warrior Pose (Ardha Supta Virasana): If you are quite stiff in your hip joints, try this posture. Lie on your spine with knees bent and feet placed on the floor about 18 inches apart. Drop both knees to the left so that your lower body spirals to that side. You may feel a stretch in the muscle on the top of your right thigh. If you want to stretch more, pull the right heel up to the pelvis, allowing the knee to drop to the floor. Extend the left leg downward so the thighs are touching. Allow the entire back side of the pelvis to fall onto the floor. Relax and feel the released weight of your body stretching the muscles around your hip and thigh. To come out of this pose, bend the left leg, with the knee falling out to the left side, and roll onto your left side to sit up. This will protect your knee joints from any strain. Repeat on the other side.
4. Warrior and Reclining Warrior (Virasana and Supta Virasana): If you have a good amount of flexibility in your hips, sit directly between your heels with the palms placed on the soles of the feet. For more stretch, arch back to rest upon your elbows, and then finally rest your entire back on the floor. Stretch the arms overhead along the floor, palms together.
5. The Hand-to-Foot Pose (Padahastasana): From a standing position, inhale and raise the arms overhead. As you exhale, hinge forward from your hips, keeping the torso long and the arms extended. If they reach, place the palms on the floor in front or at the sides of the feet. Or allow the spine to curve and let the arms and top of your head hang towards the floor. If this feels like too much of a stretch in your hamstrings, bend the knees slightly. To come up, inhale and either reverse this process or bend your knees and roll up through your spine, with the chin coming off the chest last.
These asanas apart from keeping you young will give you more energy, improves digestion and overall health, and help you move freely for long. Keeping your pelvic centre supple will allow you to remain as active as you want to e.
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