On the weekend I did something that you’d assume would be relatively drama free. I went bush walking. I think my lankiness and tendency to trip over my own feet combined with a rogue stone or branch caused me to slip over. And now, I am resting, icing, compressing and elevating my foot due to a sprained ankle.
My usual yoga practice, much to my dismay, has been temporarily put on on halt. But sprain or no sprain, I simply cannot keep myself completely away from yoga. My injury, got me thinking about gentle yoga and the importance of practising postures that focus on achieving relaxation and alignment.
This is not a yoga routine for a sprained ankle, but rather some gentle yoga postures you can try if you’re maybe very new to yoga or if you’re not feeling 100 percent able to complete your usual routine.
Ardha uttanasana (standing half forward bend)
The wall is your friend and it makes such a useful prop! Stand a few feet away from the wall. Your feet should be hip distance apart and parallel to each other. Place both hands on the wall, just a bit lower than shoulder height. You may need to step your feet a bit further back from the wall to bend at the hip and outstretch your arms. Remember to keep your feet under the hips. Ground your hands into the wall, and feet into the floor. This way, you achieve a rebounding effect and evenly disperse your weight.
Lie on your stomach. Bend your elbows and bring your forearms on the mat. Your legs should be outstretched behind you and roughly hip distance apart. Raise your chest off the mat, supported by your forearms and keep your chin parallel to the floor. This pose gives a very gentle back bend without causing too much pressure.
Dandasana (staff pose)
This is a simple pre-position, but I find it very beneficial for creating awareness in the body. Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you, feet together and toes pointing up. Bring your the palms of your hands beside your hips with fingers facing forward. Lengthen the upper body, extending the spine and opening the chest. Gently peel the shoulders back and bring the shoulder blades in. Sit in this position for a few moments just focusing on your breath and maintaining the length in your upper body.
Paschimottanasana (forward bend)
From dandasana raise your arms in the air above your head. Bend from the waist and bring your hands as close to your feet as possible. Don’t bring your chest to your legs just yet. Simply focus on lengthening and stretching the back and keeping it as straight as possible. If you feel comfortable, you can then enter the full forward bend and bring the chest closer to the legs.
Supported viparita karani (inverted posture)
This pose is just so relaxing. All you need is a wall and if you have some blankets or a bolster handy, it makes it even better.
Stack a pile of blankets parallel to the wall. If you are using a bolster, keep it just a few inches away from the wall. Coming into the pose involves a bit of manoeuvring. Sit on the blankets or bolster and sidle up close to the wall. Bring your hands onto the floor and swing or step your legs up onto the wall. Extend up legs so they are straight and bring your feet together. Your lower back should be nicely resting over the bolster if you are using one. Rest your upper body on the floor. Bent your elbows so each arm makes a 90 degree angle and rest them on the floor with the fingers pointing away from the head. Completely relax in this pose. If you want some variations you can open your legs wide or bring the soles of your feet together on the wall. This pose will also improve circulation. It works in a similar manner to the shoulder stand but on a gentler level.
These are really just a select few out of so many possible gentle yoga postures. The great thing about yoga is that it is so individual and there are variations you can try in almost any posture. So don’t feel daunted by yoga. There are after all gentle yoga options available for you!