by Sheri Vettel, Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200)
While nights spent sleeping on the Earth certainly offer us the wonderful benefits of grounding, the positions we end up snoozing in may result in soreness and aches once we rise. Also, after any late nights (perhaps at the drum circle) and repetitive motions done throughout the day, your body might be begging for a natural energy boost. As you prepare for your upcoming journey to Firefly, you may consider “packing” a little yoga too! Yoga is not only asana, or yoga postures, but a practice in uniting your mind, body, and breathe (pranayama) to keep your body’s energy flowing freely at the gathering. As always, honor ahimsa (non-violence) to yourself when attempting yoga postures for the first time, especially with any injuries, and feel free to look up any descriptions of postures you are unsure about first.
Yoga Postures After Sleeping on the Earth
Yoga For Sore Hips:
Try reclined pigeon pose.
Lay on the Earth with your knees bent, feet on the ground.
Cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh. Stay here, or if available to you, lift your left foot off the Earth as you gently bring your left knee toward your chest.
If you can, you may choose to thread your arms through your legs, placing your hands behind your left thigh or on top of your left shin.
Stay here for several breaths, release slowly, and repeat on the opposite side.
Yoga For an Aching Back:
Move through Cat and Cow pose.
Start in tabletop position, wrists stacked beneath your shoulders, knees stacked under your hips.
On an inhale, drop your belly toward the Earth and lift your chin.
On an exhale, round your spine, tucking your chin.
Flow through these two postures for several breaths.
Yoga For Upper Back and Shoulder Tension:
Take a twist (ideally sitting on the edge of one or two folded blankets or towels).
Sit up tall with your legs stretched out in front of you. Flex your toes toward your shins.
First, bend your right knee and hug it in close (your right heel will be next to your sits bones).
Press your fingertips into the Earth beside you to start lengthening your spine. On an inhale, lift your spine and the sides of your waist as you raise your right arm up.
On an exhale, twist to the left, pressing the back of your right arm into your right knee (do not let your right knee spill out to the side).
Hold here for a few breaths and then repeat this yummy twist to the right.
Yoga For Leg Cramps:
Take Reclining Big Toe Pose. Make sure you have a yoga strap or a rolled towel handy.
Lay down on the Earth, legs bent, feet on the Earth.
Hug your right knee up toward your heart and place your yoga strap or rolled towel around the head of your right heel.
Slowly begin to lift your right heel up toward the sky as you straighten your right leg. Straighten your arms and walk your hands up your towel as needed.
Stay relaxed in your upper body, letting your shoulders melt into the Earth beneath you.
Keep your left leg bent, or stretch it out in front of you, keeping it active, toes flexed toward your shin.
Stay here for several breaths and then repeat on the left side.
Yoga Postures for a Mid-Day Refresh
Yoga For Relieving Tired Legs:
Try legs up the tree (in lieu of legs up the wall) to release leg fatigue.
Sit with your left side (hip) next to a tree. Gently rotate your body to the left while lifting your legs up the tree. Adjust the positioning as needed for your comfort (you may need to play with the distance your sits bones are away from the tree).
Your head, shoulders, and back should rest on the Earth beneath you. Imagine melting your upper body into the Earth.
Close your eyes and relax here for at least 5 minutes. If at any point your legs feel too tingly, or you are uncomfortable, honor this, and gently come out.
Yoga For an Energy Boost:
Try Purvottanasana (East Stretch Pose) an energizing pose that offers a nice stretch along the front of your body.
Sit with your spine tall and long, both legs stretched out in front of you. Place your hands to the Earth behind you with your fingers facing in toward you. As you inhale, ground your palms into the Earth, straighten your arms, and lift your buttocks off the Earth.
Keep your legs straight, point your toes down, and squeeze your thighs together.
If you are without neck injury, you may choose to gently drop your head back behind you, otherwise you may keep it in line with your spine.
Yoga For Focus:
Try the standing balance, Eagle pose, to create a feeling of steadiness and focus.
Spread awareness through all four corners of your right foot as you ground it into the Earth. Put a bend in your right knee, lift your left foot and cross your left thigh (as high as possible) on top of your right thigh. Stay here, or if you are able, catch your left foot around your right calf.
Extend your arms in front of you. Cross your right arm over your left. Bend your elbows and stay here, or if you are able, complete the arm bind bringing your palms together.
Stay here for several breaths, focusing on a spot not moving in front of you. Unwind and repeat on the opposite side.
Pranayama for Concentration and Zen:
Try alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhana.
To practice, follow these steps:
- First, blow your nose!
- Sit in an upright comfortable position.
- Place your index and middle finger (on your right hand) lightly on the base of your thumb. This frees your thumb and ring finger to do the work. You can join your pinkie finger to meet the ring finger.
- Lightly place your thumb on right side of your nose and lightly place your ring finger on the left side of your nose.
- Use your thumb to gently close the right nostril and inhale fully through the left nostril.
- When your lungs are full, pause for a moment, close the left nostril with your ring finger, then open the right nostril and let out a big exhale.
- Following the rhythm of your own breath, continue the practice at least two full rounds.
Tip: At first, you may need to omit the pause between breathing through the right and left nostril–it takes practice!
Post-Drum Circle Wrist Stretches:
#1: This stretch can be intense, so take to your level of comfort.
Stretch your arms straight out in front of you.
Cross your right arm over your left and then clasp your fingers, palms touching.
Draw your hands down toward your belly as you bend your elbows.
Begin to lift your hands up toward the sky and straighten your arms slowly back out in front of you to your comfort level (it’s as if you were threading your hands through the hole between your arms).
Repeat on the opposite side.
#2: Bring your hands to prayer position at your chest.
Flip your palms out so that the backs of your hands are pressing together (you are now in reverse Namaste).
Slowly lower your hands down, along your body, toward your belly button. Stop here and stretch the backs of your wrists for a few breaths.