Yoga Bliss Gambia: The benefits of joint-freeing series – Pavanmuktasana Series

When was the last time you checked in with your body? It’s often only when we feel pain or discomfort that we start to notice and pay attention to our body parts closely. Regardless of whether you experience discomfort in your body or not, it is always beneficial to observe your body parts and the joint movements to keep them well conditioned.
In the joint-freeing series the practice allows you to move each joint gently and systematically through its natural range of motion.  The series starts with the feet and ankles, moves up to the knees, hips, torso and spine, and finishes with the upper limbs and neck.  The joint-freeing series is often given to people with osteoarthritis as it is a low impact exercise that can increase strength and flexibility.  It is also very beneficial to those who are introducing exercise to their life after a period of sedentary lifestyle.  The joint-freeing series is a fantastic platform to practice your mind and body connection.  It allows your mind to focus on certain muscles and joints as you perform the movement, this practice will ultimately give you a better understanding of your body.
In this month’s article, I will introduce you to the practice involving the lower limbs and hips. In your first practice keep a record of your joint suppleness, any discomfort in certain range of motion.
As we start this practice, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes that don’t restrict any movement. Start in Staff pose (Dandasana), a seated posture with your legs extended in front. If you are able to keep a good posture with your spine extended, chest open and your shoulders rolled back without any support keep this posture by engaging your core muscles. If you require additional support you can place your hands on the floor, or sit up against a wall. Start by observing your breath, inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Feel your chest and your stomach expand as you inhale deeply, and as you exhale observe your stomach and chest retracting. Continue for about 1 minute.

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.

While sitting in staff pose, place your hands under your right leg. As you inhale lift the leg up with the feet flexed up till about 45 degrees. As you exhale bend your knee towards your chest and bring the heel of your foot close to your bottom and place your foot flat on the mat. Inhale to extend your leg back into the 45degree angle and repeat for 6 rounds with your right leg, and 6 rounds with your left leg. Remember to keep your spine extended without hunching over, chest open and your shoulders rolled back.

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!

About Author

Melissa Kuwahata Daswani

Founder, Yoga Bliss Gambia and Yoga Bliss Creations
Melissa Daswani is a professional yoga teacher trained and accredited in Hatha Yoga from Rishikesh, India. She was introduced to yoga in the early adolesce by her mother who often practised yoga at their home and still continues to practice to date.

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.
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