Warming up with Dasha Chalanam

About ten years ago, while studying to become an Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist at Kripalu, I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Scott Blossom. For those of you not familiar with Scott, he is a fabulous shadow yoga teacher, Ayurvedic consultant and traditional Chinese medicine doctor.  During my week with Scott, I learned Dasha Chalanam, which is the warm up for shadow yoga, and the warm up we did every morning during this training.  Dasha Chalanam was a sequence of 9 churns that went body part by body part until the whole body had synchronized movement like Sarpa the Snake! You could make this practice into what ever nourished you.  For example, it could be something that got you from point A to B, warmup  to vigorous practice.  Or, it could be a mindful exploration into your Guna’s, the qualities that make up both your mind and body.  In addition, it could work as an opportunity to build bone strength, delve into your organs and tissues.  For the beginning yogi, I imagine it is seen as a vehicle to get you from point A to B!  And 10 years ago, I wonder if that is how I looked at the sequence?  After practicing this sequence over and over, by myself, with various teachers and with Scott on fortunate occasions, Dasha Chalanam has become a part of me.  A sequence I don’t reserve only for the yoga mat! I practice on airplanes in the galley, outside elevators, in waiting lines and often use as a warm up in the classes I teach.  Secretly hoping, my students will also find nourishment from this warm up that moves beyond getting from point A to B. After all these years, I am ready to put my acquired version of Dasha Chalanam to print, to share with all of you.  Of course, it is best to do with a skilled teacher and I do hope you will join me on the mat.  For those of you who are already practicing with me, you can now take this home and do it on your own!  See where it takes you, could be a deep investigation into your inner landscape, a place of strength and growth, an addition to your daily morning routine?!

Dasha Chalanam Lisa Style:

  • Start Standing: feet heavy and hip with apart, knees bent generously, for men left hand on the belly right hand on top, women right hand on the belly left hand on top, eyes can be open or closed, internal and external gaze at the horizon
  • Pranayama: begin breathing in and out of the nose, spreading the prana(breath) throughout the entire body. Start to notice how you feel in both mind and body. Allow yourself enough time to feel rooted in your self and your practice
  • Feet/Ankle Circles: open eyes, hands by your sides, continue looking at horizon as you step your right foot behind you coming on the top of the foot.  Begin to churn top of foot into earth as you make 16 circles one direction, 16 circles the opposite direction, then change sides
  • Neck Circles: mindfully circling to the right 16 times and then to the left 16 times
  • Shoulder Circles: moving toward shoulders, circling forward 16 times and back 16 times
  • Wrist Circles: opening up the wrists, interlace your fingers, bring elbows together parallel to chest. Make 16 hand/wrist circles to the right, 16 to the left
  • Twisting: open arms like wings, right hand taps left shoulder as left hand taps right side lower back, look left. Then left hand taps right shoulder, right hand taps left side lower back, look right. Repeating 16 times.  Note: shoulder corresponds to lung meridian and lower back kidney meridian
  • Hip Circles: Spread feet a little wider than hip width apart. Ground feet as you begin to circle your hips to the right, 16 circles and to the left 16 circles. Notice how the upper body also begins to get involved!
  • Knee Circles: bring feet together, rest hands on thighs, bend the knees, engage belly as you churn both knees and ankles 16 circles to the right and 16 circles to the left.  Try and keep feet grounded throughout the circles.
  • Sarpa the snake: Feet a little wider than hip width apart, bring buttocks back as you round back, chin to the chest, then bring hips forward, as you open the heart, lift chin up.  Repeat 16 times!  Sarpa the snake puts everything together, feet are grounded, rest of the body mobile as you undulate the body moving from cat so to speak to cow with the whole body!!

I board airplane to US in 10 minutes, now feeling inspired to do my Dasha Chalanam in the airplane galley.  Curious to hear where you enjoy to do your Dasha Chalanam!

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