CONSOLIDATE your WINTER ENERGY

Consolidate with every single drop.

CONSOLIDATE YOUR RESOURCES

Winter is coming to an end but beware, the nasty flu seems to going around for the 3rd or 4th time. This is a good moment to consolidate your Winter energy as a prelude to transitioning into the expansive power of Springtime.
Following on from the Invigorate / Eliminate Autumn yoga, let’s look at the Consolidate of Winter yoga. Here are a few basic, accessible dynamic poses to help you pull your energy together and become more aware of the depth of your resources.

ACTIVATE & STRETCH YOUR WATER MERIDIANS

Start with these stretches. Keep it light, bear in mind that you are activating your Water Element meridians and flow with the breath.
NOTE: these exercises are NOT full forward bends per se.

For the Bladder meridian

1       Preparation:

  • Sit up on the mat with legs straight out in front and firmly pressed together
  • Flex the feet (draw the outer edges slightly towards you) and reach the directly arms out in front
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed, spine lifted & chin tucked slightly in.

2       Action:

  • Exhale, hinging at the level of the pelvis, tilt the torso forward keeping the spine straight – go just to the point where your lower belly and back engage.
    NOTE: throughout the whole exercise, everything else (arms, legs, feet, chin, etc) stays as prepared in 1 (above)
  • Inhale return to upright
  • Exhale, hinging as before, lean backwards – just to the point where you can feel your lower belly engage
  • Inhale return to upright
  • Repeat over for 10 cycles – gradually going a little further in each direction
  • Do one final cycle – going further, with a slower exhalation – to consolidate the stretch.

3       Focus – Be aware of the full length of the Bladder meridian running:

  • from the inner eye sockets (bridge of the nose), over the top of the head
  • down the two sides of the spine then the sacrum and the back of the legs
  • then along the outer edges of the feet to the pinky toe-nail.

For the Kidney meridian

1       Preparation:

  • Sit up on the mat with one leg straight out in front of you
  • Bend the other leg so that the knee is out & the sole of the foot is to the straight leg knee
  • Flex both feet, pressing out with your Kidney 1 point, & reach the arms directly out in front – be careful to keep the chest/collarbones lifted & open
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed, spine lifted & chin tucked slightly in.

2       Action:

  • Exhale to hinge & tilt forward (as for the previous exercise)
    NOTE: make an effort to keep the chest/collarbones lifted & open
  • Inhale, return to upright
  • Exhale to hinge & lean backwards (as for the previous exercise)
  • Inhale, return to upright
  • Repeat over for 10 cycles – gradually going a little further in each direction
  • Do one final cycle – going further, with a slower exhalation – to consolidate the stretch.

3       Focus – Be aware of the full length of the Kidney meridian & in particular:

  • The back of the straight leg and above the hips in the lumbar zone
  • Uplift balanced between the back (either side of the spine) and the front chest

CONSOLIDATE THE STRENGTH OF YOUR WATER MERIDIANS

Both Bladder & Kidney exercises involve a pelvic lift and a corresponding sit-up.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE do NOT be disappointed if you cannot sit-up / lift very far. I barely know anybody who can sit up entirely. You may not move much – possibly not at all. This is not a problem – just visualize the movement & use your breathing to put the effort in as if you are actually doing it.

** Each exercise follows this same movement & breathing pattern:

  • Exhale to lift / sit-up (x8) – between each move, inhale & return to start position
  • Then, exhale to lift / sit-up & stay up to inhale
  • Exhale again, slowly, once, as you gently pump (x8) to go up a little further
  • Stay up to inhale & hold the breath in as long as you can
  • Then exhale slowly as you lift / sit-up as far as you can.

Bladder meridian position

On this occasion please put the hands behind the head.

PELVIC LIFT

1       Position & action:

  • Lying on the back with knees bent so that the soles of the feet are pressed together & close to bottom
  • The knees fall wide and stay as wide as possible throughout
  • The hands are interlaced behind head with elbows falling out to the floor – the chin is slightly tucked
  • The lower back – lumbar & sacrum – is pressed into floor (so that the pelvis tilts)
  • The back should stay long, the sacrum reaching away & the chin tucked as you move with the breath – lifting and lowering through this variation on Reclining Butterfly Pose

2       Focus:

  • The very lower lumbar – L4 / L5
  • The contraction around and into the sacrum

SIT-UP

1       Position & action:

  • As for the Pelvic Lift with the exception of …
  • The arms – stretched out in front of you (at 45 deg.) with hands back to back
  • Lead with the hands when you attempt to sit-up on exhalation

2       Focus:

  • Contraction up through the pelvic floor & front to back in the lower hara / belly to anchor your movement
  • Opening the whole spine as you keep the chin tucked & the hands pressed together & leading away from you

Kidney meridian position

PELVIC LIFT:

The pelvic lift looks like this – with the exception of the hand position.

1       Position & action:

  • As for the Bladder meridian lift (hands behind the head) with the exception that …
  • The legs – bent so that the feet are parallel, hip-width apart, pressed into the mat & close to buttocks
  • The knees point to the ceiling
  • The legs are in parallel and stay that way as you lift and lower through this variation on Bridge Pose
  • The lower back should stay long, the sacrum stretching away & the chin tucked throughout.

2       Focus:

  • Lumbar spine / waist area &
  • Lifting & opening the front chest, particularly on your final exhalation

SIT-UP

1       Position & action:

  • As for the Pelvic Lift with the exception of …
  • The legs – taken as wide as possible with knees bent till the feet just flatten to press into the floor
  • Keep the line of the leg straight – don’t let the knees fall either in or out as you move
  • Individual sit-ups (x8**) involve a ½ twist, taking the elbow to the opposite knee, alternating each time.

2       Focus:

  • Contraction up through the pelvic floor & front to back in the lower hara / belly to anchor your movement
  • Keeping the elbows out wide so that the front chest continues to lift and open
  • Twisting effort through the back of the lumbar waist.

GET A FIX YOUR ENERGY SHIFT

To have some idea of how you are going with consolidating your Water Element, use Masunaga’s Makko Ho for Winter. As you practice the yoga described in this post over a few days or weeks, I suggest you do Maunaga’s seasonal Zen exercise occasionally – before &/or afterwards – mapping your experience.

Every little drop of effort and awareness counts. Even over a short period of time, the shift in your Winter energy will be very clear.

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