Happy 17th! Today’s intent is to overcome stuckness. I first encountered the idea of stuckness in ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ by Robert M. Pirsig, and I found it very useful concept. For example, a while back I really wanted to be doing yoga every day, but day after day I didn’t manage to, though I didn’t really understand why. I realised after a while that I needed to identify exactly what I was getting stuck on, and it turned out to be two very simple things in combination: the first was that I had in my mind that I should wear ‘yoga clothes’ to do yoga, and the second was that I was living in a cold boat. As soon as I redefined ‘yoga clothes’ to include several woolly jumpers, and gave myself permission to run an extra heater while I was on the mat, I got into a really great groove of daily practice. So what is it that you want to achieve, and what is it that’s in your way? How can you do this yoga practice in a way which helps you get past mental stuckness?

Do each pose for five to eight breaths (or five to eight breaths on each side, if it’s asymmetrical). Do five to eight rounds of abs.

Never stretch into pain. Take care of your body. If you’re pregnant then skip the abs exercise and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right.

  1. Take three deep breaths, focussing on the sensation of breathing.

  2. Gentle stretch: Standing Forward Bend

    Standing Forward Bend

    How to do it: Stand with your feet about hip width distance. Activate your feet, tuck your tailbone down, telescope your ribs, and relax your shoulder blades down your back. Inhale and lift your heart, then on exhale forward bend. You can bend your knees as much as you want to. If your low back is tweaky then have your hands at the tops of your thighs and bring your torso no lower than parallel to the floor. Press through your arms to traction your back and tuck your tailbone down. Whichever variation you choose, relax your neck. Take five to eight breaths into where you feel the stretch, feeling for making space with your breath. When it’s time to come out, press your feet against the ground and use your abs muscles to float you back to standing.

  3. Abs exercise: Elbow to Knee

  4. Something zingy: Horse with Back Traction

    Horse with Back Traction

    How to do it: Have your feet about three feet apart. Turn toes out a little, then bend your knees as deeply as you can. Stack the back of your skull above the back of your hips. This is Horse. For Back Traction place your hands at the tops of your thighs, right in the hip crease, and straighten your arms. Press down strongly and tuck your tailbone down to make maximum space along your spine. Guide your breath into any tight spots which this pose reveals. Stay for five to eight breaths then release your arms, straighten your legs, and heel-toe your feet together.

  5. Final relaxation: Lie on your back in a warm place for at least a minute and let tension drain from your body.