When you are too busy for an entire practice, or just don’t feel pumped enough for your regular routine, it is a great time to work on the basics of a powerful practice: concentration, alignment, flexibility, and commitment. Whether you are a beginning or advanced yogi, runner, rock star, or raver, everyone needs to release the same major muscle groups, strengthen their core, and develop fierce focus for peak performance.While you’re performing the following moves, focus on maintaining excellent posture, and keeping the pose “active.” An “active” position is one in which your body weight is never “sitting dead weight.” Think of a perched bird, always ready for a perfect take-off. Firming the abdomen will lighten your center and take the load off vulnerable extremities. This will help prevent injuries down the road.Kundalini Focus Stretch is designed for occasions when time is pressing and you not only want to maintain what you have already gained, but also “step it up” a notch, so that when you have time for a complete practice you will have gained in efficiency, power, and finesse. We have repeatedly found that when up against a “can’t do” pose, the issue is not lack of strength and flexibility. but finesse, and how one thinks about the exercise. This is really just body awareness, learning how your unique body works. Learning to talk to your body the right way and hearing what it says back to you. This is what you gain when you slow down and zone in. We also recharge our nervous system when we work this way.
Start with as much cardio (up to 1/2 hour) as you have time for. If time is pressing, a twenty minute brisk walk is fine. Even 5 minutes of energetic walking in place with Breath of Fire or a coordinated breath will do.Remember – The secret to the Focus Stretch workout is moving slowly with a strong focus on alignment. Hold stretches until the initial tension you feel begins to melt. About 1-3 minutes is ideal. We finish with a Kundalini Twist with Breath of Fire for our immune system and energy.Calf Stretch: Stand with your feet side by side. The weight is balanced over the balls of the feel and heels. Place your hands on your hips or a countertop. Leading with the heel of your right foot, guide the right leg back behind your body. Your left leg is bent. Your right leg is straight, and both feet are pointed straight ahead. Allow the balls of the feet to soften. Keep the ankles lifted and allow your body to lean forward slowly until you feel a stretch in the right calf. Keep both feet flat at all times. Long Deep Breathing 1 -3 min. Switch legs and repeat.Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the floor and extend your legs in front of you. Have the knees bent and flex the feet. Bend forward at the hip joints (where thighs meet the pelvis) and reach for the feet. Try to have the balls of your feet relaxing into your fingers. Keep the back long. Do not round forward yet. Start to press the heels away from the pelvis to begin to straighten behind the knees. Keep the balls of the feet relaxed and ankles relaxed. Press as far forward with the heels as possible and hold this position for about 1.5 min. with Long Deep Breathing. Then press the heels forward again, holding the stretch for as long as you can. When you have gone as far as you can, separate the legs 12 inches and now allow yourself to gently hang over the legs until you feel your spine and hips release. Repeat this exercise one more time. Pressing from the heels is the key to straightening the legs, strengthening the joints, and making the thighs long and supple. Lunge Stretch: While kneeling, step your left foot forward and have the ankle directly beneath the knee, front foot flat. Drop the tailbone between the thighs until you feel a good stretch in the front of the right hip. Long Deep Breathing 1-3 min. Switch legs, and repeat.* If you are more advanced reach back with the right hand and grab hold of the right foot and slowly draw it toward you keeping the knee soft. Always have the knee and ankle joint in direct alignment with the sitting bone. Be careful not to overarch your back in this advanced version.Wide Legged Stretch: Stretch your legs in front of you and as far out to the sides as possible. Press the heels away from you as you angle the upper body forward from the hip joints. Mentally direct your inner thighs to “soften.” Hold until you feel the muscles release. 1-3 min. Long Deep Breathing, * When you become very supple in this stretch (the key is to keep the heels pressing outwards while softening everywhere else) you can walk your upper body right between your legs, then bring your legs together and transition into Cobra Pose.Plank Pose: From all fours press your left heel back until you straighten the left knee. The toes are tucked under. Press the right heel back to meet the left. You are now one straight line. The key to this is to keep the weight balanced on the hands in an “active” position, as if you could propel your entire body weight off the floor. When in correct position, the weight will be distributed between the pads at the base of the fingers and heels of the hands, with slightly more weight at the pads of the 2nd and 3rd fingers. The heels of the feet continuously press back (the balls of the feet are relaxed). Keep your abdominal muscles active. Don’t let your lower back sag. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat. Long Deep BreathingCore Power: Lie on your back with the feet flat and knees bent. The fingers are interlaced behind the head. Rock your tailbone to find a neutral position. Do NOT tuck the tailbone. Draw the abdominal muscles in and keep the tailbone on the floor as you draw the left knee and right elbow towards one another. You may only move a slight distance when focusing on keeping the tailbone down, but you should feel this working the lower abs intensely. Work slowly Do 12 reps, then change sides.Core Power 2: Now, with hands still clasped, straighten both legs and, maintaining the same form as above, do SLOW bicycles. Draw one knee in towards opposite elbow and switch sides. Keep going until you feel the burn. Keep your abdominals very tight to protect the lower back. You can do this with a coordinated breath, exhaling as the kneed comes in. This may resemble a slow form of Breath of Fire.
Kundalini Twist with Breath of Fire: Interlace your hands at the base of the skull. Press your elbows out to the sides. Begin the Breath of Fire and twist in rhythm with the breath. You are inhaling as you pass center and exhaling to either side. Do this for 1 – 3 min.Again, the moral of this story is that whatever your athletic discipline, the same rules apply, and by implementing these principles, concentration, alignment, flexibility, and commitment, progress is assured.MEDITATION FOR HEALTH AND BALNCE FOR YOU AND THOSE AROUND YOUWhen we’re in a state of stress, our environments invariably become chaotic. Conversely, when we’re in a state of balance, our surroundings and relationships tend to be more harmonious. This is a law of nature. Through the gift of consciousness, our inner state is linked to our external circumstances. Much of the stress that people incur is linked to the need to control, circumstances and outcomes. The great lesson is that the more we try to control, the more out of control things become. Life has a way of reflecting our machinations back to us. Meditation as a discipline, and way of life, is a means to live harmoniously and to leave a legacy of graceful existence.Sit comfortably with a straight spine. The index finger and thumbtip of the right hand are meeting. The other three fingers are straight. Form a right angle with the right arm. The right upper arm is held parallel to the ground, straight out to the side. Grasp the area just below the right shoulder with your left hand. Your eyes are closed and focused up and in towards the brow. Inhale in 4 strokes through the nose, thinking Sa-Ta-Na-Ma (Existence, Life, Death, Rebirth) Exhale in 8 strokes thinking Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma (Ra is Sun, Ma is Moon, as qualities of energy, male/female, Yin/Yang, etc. Ram means God or Totality)Continue for 3-5 min. (you can build up to 11 min. over time), then meditate with your hands in your lap for 2-5 min. and repeat the breathing exercise on the other side for an equal amount of time. To end this meditation, inhale, stretch your arms overhead, shake your hands and relax.This technique will balance the energy in your body and nervous system. That internal harmony will spread outwards and positively effect those around you. If, while practicing this, you feel discomfort in the armpit area, it is a sign that your lymphatic system is sluggish. If your shoulders hurt your diet needs improvement. If the upper arm is uncomfortable, your stomach is not producing enough hydrochloric acid. Remember, the beauty of this type of practice is that the discomfort you feel is a sign that the very things that need correcting are being corrected. While practicing, it is very important to learn to differentiate between discomfort and pain. Go through discomfort with a smile. Work around pain.This meditation was taught by Yogi Bhajan on October 21st, 1974. All Best to You,Ravi Singh & Ana Brettwww.raviana.com