Type of Pose: Supine
Benefits: Gently stretches the hamstrings and calves. Can help reduce back pain by addressing Flat Low Back Posture.
1. Come to lie on your back with the legs outstretched.
2. Bend the right knee and hug it into your chest.
3. Place a yoga strap around the ball of the right foot. Hold the ends of the strap with each hand.
4. Straighten the right leg up toward the ceiling while holding tightly to the strap.
5. Stretch the right leg upwards with the foot flexed, but keep the ball of the hip joint resting in the socket and both sides of your butt equally pressing into the floor.
6. Keep the left foot flexed and the left leg pressing towards the floor.
7. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
8. To come out, bend the right knee back into your chest, bring the left knee to join it, and then do the left side.
Beginners: You may bend the left knee and bring the sole of the left foot to the floor if this is more comfortable.
Advanced: Instead of using the strap, take the right big toe in a yogi toe lock and then straighten the leg.
Type of pose: Standing, slight backbend
Benefits: Strengthens the legs, opens the chest and shoulders
1. From Downward Facing Dog, bring the right foot forward next to the right hand.
2. Pivot on the ball of the left foot and drop the left heel on to the floor with the toes turned out about 45 degrees from the heel.
3. Bend the right knee directly over the right ankle, so that a right angle is formed by the calf and thigh.
4. Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward, so that the hips are squared to the front.
5. Bring the arms out to the side and up.
6. Make your palms touch, and gaze up toward the thumbs, making a slight backbend.
7. Slide the shoulder blades down the back.
Repeat on the left side.
Beginners: Step the left foot out toward the left side of the mat a bit to allow more room for the hips to square. Place your hands on your hip bones, so you can feel whether they are squared forward. Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward. When you bring your arms up, keep them shoulder’s distance apart — that is more comfortable.
Advanced: Make sure the right knee stays directly over the right ankle. Line up the right heel with the center of the left arch. Ground down the outer edge of the left foot while lifting the inner arch of that foot. Really engage the quadriceps. Hold the pose for ten breaths.
Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II
Type of pose: Standing
Benefits: Strengthen the legs and arms, opens the chest and shoulders, tones the abdomen.
1. From Warrior I, open the arms out, bringing the right arm in front of you and the left arm behind.
2. Open the left hip back.
3. Keep the right knee bent and the right thigh parallel to the floor.
4. Draw the belly in slightly.
5. Find the shoulders directly over the hips.
6. Reach out through both finger tips.
7. The gaze is forward over the right hand.
8. Engage the triceps to support the arms, and the quadriceps to support the legs.
Repeat on the left side.
Beginners: Make sure the right knee stays tracked over the middle toe of the right foot. Don’t allow the knee to drift over to the left.
Advanced: Hold the pose for ten breaths.
Warrior III – Virabhadrasana III
Type of Pose: Standing, Balancing
Benefits: Strengthens the legs and abdomen, improves balance
1. From Warrior I, bring the hands onto your hips.
2. Bring your weight forward into your front foot as you gently kick up your back leg.
3. At the same time, bring the torso forward until it is parallel to the floor.
4. Keep the neck relaxed, as if it’s the natural extension of the spine.
5. Keep both hips pointing toward the floor as you bring the back leg in line with your body.
6. Flex the raised foot and keep the muscles of the raised leg actively engaged.
7. Bring the arms back along your sides.
8. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: Do the pose at the wall. You can either face the wall and bring your arms outstretched in front of you with your hands on the wall or turn around and bring the lifted back foot onto the wall.
Advanced: Try another arm variation. Bring the arms outstretched in front of you or into reverse namaste position behind your back.