Breathing out self judgement

December was an incredible month for Yogaru. After many years of designing and building my 108 ASANA sequencing cards, it was a tough job keeping up with demands in retail and online. Thank you to all who have chosen to explore their home practice, you are part of a growing tribe! January brings with it a welcome return to teaching regular public classes in a beautiful new studio right on my doorstep in Blackrock – Moons Yoga Loft. This sequence is based on the class theme for the month of January with I am honoured to be starting from tomorrow morning!

No matter how hard you try to hide from it January is a month where we are besieged with pressure to set New Year’s Resolutions and change the way we are. Even if you’re quite happy with where you are, you can’t help digging deep to find some area for self criticism and conform to the mass hysteria. Last year I made a conscious effort to buck the trend by ‘Stepping gently into the New Year’. This year the same challenges face me and I’m looking to my breath to calm the mind and not get caught up on the merry go round.

Set yourself an intention for changing the internal chatter of self judgement to self care. The world would be a monotonous and one dimensional place to live in we were all perfectly formed and perfectly balanced. Variety is the spice of life in all its shapes and forms. Next time you catch yourself going down the route of ‘I’m not good enough’ change the conversation to ‘I am perfectly imperfect’! Say it in your mind, write it down, set a reminder on your phone. Remind yourself you are exactly who you need to be right now, and not in a months time after a gruelling New Years Resolution.

This sequence is an evolution of the ‘Step gently into the New Year’ sequence. It adds exploration of Viloma breath in movement and challenges you to look for the breath in your back body in Child’s Pose. Back body breathing stimulates the rest restore and digest nervous system response. As you inhale think ‘I am’ and on your exhale release self judgement and think ‘perfectly imperfect’.

Start your practice on your back with your knees bent, feet mat distance apart. Place your hands on your belly and feel the breath move through you. Take three to five rounds of Viloma breath – inhale for a long breath, and then exhale pause, exhale pause, exhale pause – dividing your exhale into three sections. Pause after your rounds and notice any change to you body and mind.

Think of how we react to stressful situations – we exhale deeply – this is the body trying to find balance again. Stay close to the breath and look to extend your exhale. Let the breath guide your movement in the mini flow sections of the sequence and follow the guide of which pose you inhale and exhale for.

  • After you have done three to five rounds of Viloma breath in a resting position move on to the core work section using the same breathing technique. For the first round you will be holding the left leg and lowering the right leg in increments of three as you take your three Viloma exhales, inhale brings the leg back up. In the second round you will keep your hands beside you or in cactus arms and use your core to draw your left knee into your chest as you take your three Viloma breath exhales, inhale brings the leg back up.

  • Pause in child pose before the Cat, Cow, Child Pose flow breathe into the back body. When going through this mini flow link each movement with your breath and let the breath dictate when you are ready to move on to the next pose, ‘+’ is an inhale and ‘-’ is an exhale. Pause in child pose again after and breathe into the back body again.

  • For half forward fold press your hands into your shins and reach your chest forward to feel the strength in your upper back. Pause here in this mini flow of row three.

  • Your final pose is a restorative pose using a bolster. Place the back of your pelvis towards the short end of the bolster. Gently ease yourself back onto the bolster and place your arms by your sides palms facing up. You can stay here for your full Savasana or, after about five minutes of your chest opener restorative, remove the bolster and come down to you mat for Savasana.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru