Symbol of Yoga Pose is a true moving asana. It is an asana that affords a great deal of room for creative visualization (I suggest using the Tantric golden-white light relaxation visualization), and emotional and spiritual expression. Symbol of Yoga lends itself to modification, and it is an extremely powerful stretch for the upper torso: back, neck, shoulders, and rib cage. The difficulty level of Symbol of Yoga is what you make it – the asana can easily be practiced by beginners as well as advanced, and is also accessible to chair practice. Symbol of Yoga is valuable. Learn it and use it!
As a therapist, my only warnings for this pose are to warm up first, use no force, – allow yourself to “deepen” the pose gradually over a series of sessions – and remember to breathe easily and naturally while keeping your neck in the neutral position.
About the neutral position:
The C- spinal section that runs up the neck into the base of the skull is composed of very light, fine bones and the spinal cord of the Central Nervous System. To hold the odds of injury to a minimum during all exercise – not just Yoga – one must keep the chin forward and allow the chin to naturally dip down. If you are disturbed during Yoga, never “suddenly” turn your head.
If you receive an instruction from a Yoga teacher to allow your head to drop back or drop forward, this is a misspoken instruction. The correct instruction would be to allow your head to gently dip back or forwards.
Contraindications for Symbol of Yoga:
History of neck injuries, shoulder or rotator injuries, upper back or rib cage injuries, and lower aorta and esophageal issues. If you are going to combine Symbol of Yoga with Child’s Pose beware of knee injuries and lower back issues as added contraindications.
You can still perform Symbol of Yoga with contraindications. However, you will need to have your physician’s permission and work under the supervision of a Yoga therapist or an experienced Yoga teacher.
Symbol of Yoga Practice (combined with Easy Pose and Child’s Pose):
1)Kneeling, slowly lower yourself until you are sitting on your heels with your hands palms up in your lap. This is Easy Pose and is often used for seated meditation.
Tip: If you are unaccustomed to Easy Pose, plant your hands on either side of you on your way down and gently allow yourself to bend at the knees and lower yourself until you are sitting on your heels.
If your knees or insteps are sensitive prepare your mat with an extra Yoga blanket for padding. You may also use a single blanket roll between your sitting bones and your heels.
2)Bring your arms out to your sides and slowly arc upwards until your palms meet overhead. Pause here, and if everything feels okay, arc your arms out and down and bring them behind your back until your palms meet at the lower back and you may clasp your fingers.
3)Remembering to breathe, evenly raise your arms behind you with hands clasped as far as you comfortably can. Pause and feel the stretch in your arms, shoulders, back, neck (neutral position), chest, and ribs.
Tip: If everything feels okay, you may slowly lift your chin out of neutral position and gently allow your head to come back. If your triceps cramp, you are forcing your arms up too high. You can shake them out and try it again, lower this time.
If you wish to deepen the pose, you may rise up on your knees and fold (bend) forward from the waist as far as is comfortable – a long-term goal here would be to touch the floor with your head.
4)If you are standing up on your knees, come back down slowly and gently sitting on your heels. If you are already on your heels, stay. Keep your arms back, your hands clasped and count ten breaths.
5)Release your hands allowing your arms to fall to your sides. Finish Symbol of Yoga by moving into Child’s Pose. Modify the Pose with your hands grasping your heels or arches and hunch your shoulders over your knees for an upper back horizontal stretch for ten breaths, then move your arms into the long stretch forward position with forearms contacting the mat and hold for another ten breaths. Release, rest, and continue your routine.
Note: To modify Symbol of Yoga for a chair, sit as far back as you can, arc the arms up, palms meet and separate.
Arc the arms down and allow them to rest over the back of the chair, clasp hands, raise the arms.
Sit, feel the stretch and breathe for ten breaths. Release the position and rest. Continue with your routine.