With your exhalation flex your feet so that the toes are pointed upwards as you inhale point your toes away from yourself. Observe which muscles are at work as you repeat this movement. Are the movement in both the left and right foot equal? Do you feel any discomfort? Does any joint crack? Repeat for 6 rounds
Start in staff pose with your feet flexed. As you inhale point and tilt the top of the feet inwards turning the soles outwards. AS you exhale bring the soles inwards together. Try to keep the movement within the ankle, avoiding any opening of the knees. Repeat for 6 rounds.
Next, start to rotate your feet clock wise while pointing your toes as you inhale, as you exhale continue the movement clock wise with your feet flexed back to the starting position. Inhale and make the movement in anti-clock wise, exhaling and returning back to the starting position. Repeat this set 6 times.
Continuing in staff pose, place your hands slightly away from your bottom for support. As you keep your spine extended, inhale and start to lift your right leg off the ground keeping your foot flexed. turn your knee and foot to the right to externally open the hip, and bring the leg out to the right to come into a straddle pose, keep the leg lifted slightly off the ground. As you exhale turn the toes inwards so that the hips rotate internally and bring your leg back to meet your left leg, returning to staff pose. Bring your awareness to the hip joint as this exercise requires external and internal rotation in the hip joint. Repeat 6 rounds with the right leg, and then 6 rounds with the left leg.
Now come onto all fours with your knees hips width apart and your hands directly under your shoulders with the palms pressing into the mat with the fingers spread apart. If you feel compression in your knees you can add some cushioning using a folded towel placed under the knees. Begin with the spine in a natural position, with your inhalation begin to turn your hips out so that the tail bone is pushing upwards, arch your spine, open the chest and shoulders and look upwards. As you exhale turn your hips in curve your spine upwards, open up your shoulder blades and tuck your chin in towards your chest. This is cat-cow pose (Bitilasana-Marjaryasana). Repeat this for 12 rounds
Now we have completed the joint-freeing series for the lower body. Try to practice this first thing in the morning before you begin your day. As you practice this series stay focussed on your breath and the movement. Bring your awareness to the joints and muscles involved and the sensation it creates as you perform the movements. You may find that some movements are challenging, or more challenging on one side than the other. These are important points to keep in mind and see how your body changes as you keep practicing every day. Monitor your progress as you continue your practice, not only in the physical aspects, but mentally as well.
Join me next month for the continuation of the joint-freeing series!
Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
Melissa started to indulge in yoga with a keen interest in her 20’s after researching the benefits of practising yoga.
In order to expand her knowledge and practice, she initially enrolled on official training in India during 2009. Her initial stint in yoga teaching began in 2012 in Togo, followed by expanding in the Gambia from 2016. Melissa’s style of teaching incorporates the fundamental and crucial steps of yoga called Hatha yoga, which encompasses the basis of all other styles of yoga. Melissa believes that every individual has something to gain from Yoga which is not limited to mental, physical or spiritual.
Yoga is not a religion but more a spiritual exercise as well as a practice that can universally be incorporated into your daily routine. Melissa offers regular weekly classes in Fajara, the Gambia, which is open to all levels.
She also runs a weekly beach yoga class which is very refreshing and energizing.
It’s her love and dedication towards teaching which allows her the opportunity to share the essence of yoga and its benefits to people from all walks of life.
Whether you reside in the Gambia or a visitor in The Gambia, Yoga Bliss Gambia would love to welcome you to their next class.