Deep hip opening and forward bends towards firefly and tortoise

We gradually work deeply into the hips and hamstrings, and stretching the hip flexors at the fronts of the thighs first in standing poses then seated, and putting it all together in firefly pose (tittibhasana) – an arm balance – and tortoise pose – a deep forward bend. Options are offered for all levels.

This is part of a six part series exploring the breath, prana (energy or vitality), pranayama (ways of extending the breath) and prana vayu (the directions that energy travels in in the body), starting to focus particularly on the latter: Our breath is an indicator of our state of health and is affected by any imbalance in our bodies or minds: when we are excited, sad, agitated or in pain we breathe differently than when we are relaxed or at ease. Our breathing patterns influence our nervous system and through that the whole body, heart and mind.

The yogis say that prana (our spark of life) is mainly carried into the body by the breath. And through yoga practice our aim is to allow this energy to flow through the body more freely. It can move in the body in different directions – called the 5 prana vayu – and an awareness of these directions of energy can help us to find more alignment, openness and ease in poses and touch into our direct felt experience more deeply.