My class, Cool Down Flow, was designed to balance out other classes that lead you into peak poses without a cool down. It is just as important in your asana practice to balance out those standing postures with seated postures. It is especially important that you make time for the most beneficial pose of all (in my opinion) Savasana (Final Relaxation or Corpse Pose). I know we oftentimes conclude these videos with the ability for you to stay in Savasana for as long as you like, and I always recommend at least 3 minutes. It may sound like a lot if you have limited time, but you’ll be in a much more centered, blissed out state if you take the time to absorb the benefits of your practice.
Just because postures are seated, does not mean they are not active. I would argue Dandasana, Staff Pose, is one of the more challenging asanas. You need to have the proper strength in the core and flexibility in the hamstrings to sit upright with your arms straight alongside your torso. There is a reason why these poses were placed at the end. It is not a time for flopping into your folds but to really engage the proper muscles so the target muscles can lengthen and stretch. As someone with hyperextension in my knees, I am always conscious of which areas of my body are actually stretching. For example, Paschimottanasana. We oftentimes try to target the hamstrings in this seated forward fold, but if you hyperextend the knees then you actually may need to focus on lengthening the spine. A soft bend in the knees will help you to contract the quadriceps and hamstrings so you do not over extend your ligaments.
Another example is Pigeon Pose, one of my favorite poses, but one which so often leads to injury. Proper alignment in this pose can lead to a great hip opening and psoas stretch. Keep the front shin parallel to the top of the mat, flex the foot to protect the knee, and keep the back leg extending straight back parallel to the side of the mat. You may need to prop your pelvis up on a block or blanket to give you the necessary lift to square the hips and target the outer hip. If you want to move forward into King Pigeon, you will need have this all set up in order to add in the back bend. Healthy alignment = healthy body = healthy mind.
It is all interrelated. One of my favorite teachers always told us that this practice is about finding balance, especially as we enter into the cool, winter season. Your body may need more time to hibernate and rest. Honor that. Take these 20 minutes anytime you need to reboot and refresh. It’s designed to do just that. Enjoy!
You can view the whole class, Cool Down Flow here.
By Ali Owens