Yoga for a Stressful Day | Short Routine | Easy Yoga

I know, I know. I said I wouldn’t post the routines here, but I realized it takes no time to post them. So you get the videos, but I’m too lazy to type out the whole routine.

I’ve been having a jam packed week, and there surely have to be other people out there who are suffering as well! Let’s take a few minutes to work it out.

New Year Yoga – 50min Routine

Let’s kick of the new year right, albeit a little late. I created this practice to set goals for ourselves and see where we are in our yoga, health, and life in general. This is to reflect on what we need to work on, our limits, and where we’d like to be. Take this as a moment to think about what you’re good at too, not just what you need to work on. And don’t feel as though needing to work on something is a bad thing! We are all working toward something. Here’s to achieving our goals and taking our time.

New Year Yoga

Tadasana: We’re going to start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with your feet about hip width apart and keep your feet parallel. Try not to lock your knees. Roll your shoulders back and stand nice and tall, but keep your chest relaxed down. If you already stand with good posture, this is likely similar to how you would normally stand. Let your hands hang loose at your sides. (Stay tuned for next week’s talk on proper alignment and Tadasana.) This is your moment to breath, smile, and reconnect with your body.

Standing Side Stretch: (This is called Half Moon in Bikram Yoga.) Bring your hands up in front of you, shoulder height, palms facing. Clasp your hands, so your fingers will be interlaced, and your palms will be touching. Keep your index fingers extending, kind of like they’re a steeple. Bring your arms up and overhead. Really ground your feet in this pose, your legs really need to support you. Lean your upper body to the right, keep your chest, head, and pelvis facing straight forward. Come out of it slowly, then lean to the left!

Shoulder Stretch: Bring your right arm up straight in front of you about shoulder height. Keep your palm facing in, toward the left. Bring your left arm under your right and hook it around your right arm. Your right arm should sit in your left elbow. Use your left arm and pull your right arm like a lever to the left. your arm will start to lay against your body. Sit up nice and tall, and try to avoid letting your shoulder’s hunch. I find moving back and forth in this pose to feel sort of nice. Switch sides!

Cowface: Bring your right arm straight out to the side, palm facing forward. Raise your arm straight up then bend your elbow, you’ll end up patting yourself on the back. Now straighten your left arm out to the side, but with your palm facing back. Lower your arm down and bend your elbow so the back of your hand can rest against your back. If it’s available to you, try to hook your fingers together, if not, hold a strap in your right hand has you get into this pose, then grab it with your left when it comes up your back. Being able to clasp your hands behind your back is not for everyone, and some people may never be able to do it simply because of our bodies! So never fear, straps are here! Also, straining is counter productive and more likely to cause injury. It’s better to back out of a pose and get a mild stretch than put yourself at risk for injuries!

Neck Circles: Draw big circles with your nose one direction, then the other. Avoid throwing your head back very far; it may help to think about trying to keep your neck movements gentle. Return to neutral then look left and right, then up and down.

Forward Fold/Shoulder Stretch: I like to do this with a wide legged stance. I always feel like I’m going to fall over if I have my feet together, though that is an option too. Clasp your hands together behind your back. Bend forward and raise your arms up. This pose feels great, but it’s best to make sure you’ve stretched your shoulders a little first if you have tight shoulders! To come up, bend your knees and lower your arms. Raise your torso up slowly. If you’re in this pose for an extended period of time you may feel dizzy if you stand too fast. If you do feel dizzy, remain still for a moment before moving on.

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation): I do 4 of these total. There are so many different kinds of this sequence that I encourage you to find one you like. After all this is all about doing what you want, so I’m gong to grant you a little freedom! Here’s the style I do:
Inhale arms up and over head
Exhale swan dive into Uttanasana or forward fold
Inhale into a flat back forward fold
Exhale into Uttanasana
Inhale and send your right foot back into a lunge (Left for the second round, right for third, left for the fourth)
Exhale and send your left foot back into a plank
Inhale
Exhale into a Chatturanga
Inhale into an Upward Facing Dog
Exhale into Downward Facing Dog
Breath here for a few moments
Inhale and look up between your hands
Exhale and bring your left foot forward into a lunge (Right second round, left for third, right for fourth)
Inhale and bring your right foot forward
Exhale into Uttanasana
Inhale into a flat back
Exhale forward fold
Inhale, slowly roll up, and raise your arms over head
Exhale and bring your hands down in a prayer position at your heart

Tadasana: Back to Tadasana. We’re only here for a moment to check in with ourselves and take a short break after our previous pose.

Tree: From Tadasana, slowly transfer your weight to only your right foot. Keep your hips level here. Come onto your left toes with a slightly bent left knee. Turn out your left knee. For some people, this will be their full pose. If you can, slowly lift your left foot up and place it on either your calf or inner thigh. Avoid placing your foot on your knee, this can actually damage your knee. Raise up your arms into big tree branches. You could stay there, or you can lower you arms in a prayer pose at your heart. (Thumbs at your sternum.) To come out, slowly lower your left foot to the ground. Switch!
If your tree faces a storm, don’t worry! There is no shame in shaking, wobbling, or even falling out of it. You can also always use a wall for support.

Transition to floor: I suggest coming into a gentle forward fold then sitting on down, nothing fancy since we’ve done a bunch of Downward Facing Dogs already!

Cobbler’s Pose: Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the sides. Have fun here and rock side to side, or make small pulses forward. We’re trying to loosen any tension in the hips and inner thighs, but this pose is an opportunity to have fun as well.

Wide Legged Forward Fold: Sit with your legs in a V. This is very similar to a seated forward fold. Begin with a straight back and lean forward. Once you’ve reached your limit stay there a moment, then relax into the pose.  If you’re flexible enough, you can rest your head on a block or book! Roll up slowly.
Face your right leg and do the same thing. Straight back, lean forward, then relax. When I come up from this pose, I like to stay facing my right leg, and do a quick side stretch by reaching my right up up and over head and leaning sideways over my left leg. Switch sides!

Seated Side Stretch: I find it is easiest to do this pose sitting in a cross-legged position. If that’s totally not for you, you can also kneel. You may need to place your hand on a block if you kneel. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip (this is the hand you would place on a block if you are kneeling). Your fingers should point out to the right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. Remember to switch sides!

Seated Twist: With your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. Your leg will be bent and completely on the ground, sort of like you’re sitting cross legged. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn your head to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch!

Thread The Needle: From your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, left your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh. This is a pretty common position for some people to sit. You may feel a stretch here on the outside of your right hip. If it is available to you, send your right hand in the gap created by your right leg, between your legs, and your left hand on the outside. Clasp them behind your left thigh. I recommend keeping your feet flexed in this pose to protect your knees. And switch side!

Wind-Relieving Pose: Lift your right foot off the ground, and bring it into your right chest. You can wrap your arms around your right shin, back of your right thigh, or use a strap in either place. People who are stiff or curvier may prefer to use a strap, but maybe not! Send your left leg out straight on the ground. This is a nice relaxing pose. You can turn this into a twist by sending that bent right knee over to rest on the ground to your left. I love twists, especially this one! Don’t forget to (you guessed it) switch sides!

Savasana: Draw smooth and slow circles with your nose. Try to do the same amount in both directions. Keep them small and sweet. We’re just working out the kinks, you don’t need to push your limits.
I hope this was wonderful and gave you the change to be a little introspective. Perhaps you even came out feeling like you have some goals!

Namaste

The Moose – 1 Hour Routine

A friend of mine asked me if I would do yoga with him recently, so I created a 1 hour routine (approximately) for him! I even let him name it.

Moose_(PSF)
Image Source: Wikipedia

What he wanted: A core work out. He told me he was hoping to strengthen his abs a bit, and being a yoga instructor, I’m a firm believer in focusing on the entire core, not just abs. Lo and behold, he later told me he found his back is too weak! So this was the perfect routine to spice up his core workout a little.

Limitations: None. Though he has had a knee injury, it healed. Overall stiffness in random areas was our biggest obstacle, but man you should see this guy rock a Downward Facing Dog.

Day of issues: He had done some serious calf presses a few days earlier and was super sore. Luckily he could finally walk again. It turned out not to be much of an issue though.

I recommend taking breaks as need be, and lots of child’s poses in between to help your body rest. There’s no reason to strain yourself!

Here I present to you:

The Moose

Seated side stretch: I find it is easiest to do this pose sitting in a cross-legged position. If that’s totally not for you, you can also kneel. You may need to place your hand on a block if you kneel. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip (this is the hand you would place on a block if you are kneeling). Your fingers should point out to the right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. Remember to switch sides!

Seated twist: With your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. Your leg will be bent and completely on the ground, sort of like you’re sitting cross legged. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn your head to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch!

Cat Pose: This pose is done from all fours, let the tops of your feet rest on the ground, and your palms should be firmly planted shoulder width apart on your mat. Inhale as you engage your abs, tuck your pelvis, round your back, and look down, like a cat arching it’s back. As you exhale, release your pelvis and let it tilt the opposite way, arch your back, and look straight-ish forward. Alternate these a few times. If you’d like, return to neutral flat back, then “wag your tail” back and forth. Pretty much, lean your butt from one side to the other. This can feel really nice! If your wrists don’t like being bent in this pose, you can also do this on your fists!

Forward fold: We did two seated forward folds. The first, sit on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. If you struggle to keep up right, you can sit on the edge of a blanket. First bend forward maintaining a flat back, then relax forward. Notice you only relax forward, avoid pushing and straining your back into a highly arched position.
The second version we did was almost exactly the same, except with our knees bent. This pose is great for those of us who can’t rest our torso on our thighs in a forward fold.

Wide legged forward fold: Sit with your legs in a V. This is very similar to a seated forward fold. Begin with a straight back and lean forward. Once you’ve reached your limit stay there a moment, then relax into the pose.  If you’re flexible enough, you can rest your head on a block or book! Roll up slowly.
Face your right leg and do the same thing. Straight back, lean forward, then relax. When I come up from this pose, I like to stay facing my right leg, and do a quick side stretch by reaching my right up up and over head and leaning sideways over my left leg. Switch sides!

Lunge/calf stretch: This one has a lot of ways to get into it, so experiment and find what works for you! I like to raise my right leg super high (three legged dog), then swing it down and forward to my right hand, and place my foot on the ground there. For some people it’s easier to drop your knees and scoot your foot forward. Drop your left knee on the ground, and release your left toes and rest on the top of that foot. Your right knee should not be in front of your right ankle. Your ankle should be at about a 90 degree angle, maybe a wider angle if you have ankle issues or discomfort. You should be getting a nice stretch in the front of your left hip. Walk your hands back, straighten that right leg, and rock onto your right heel to get a nice hamstring stretch. I recommend placing your hands on blocks or something to help be a bit more comfortable if you have tight hamstrings like I do. Switch sides! You can do this by going back to a lunge, lifting your back knee and sending your right foot back and repeating the entrance from downward facing dog, or if that is not available to you, you can scoot that right foot back and come into a table top position and then scoot that left foot forward.

Leg/Arm balance (Leg/Arm lifts): From a flat back table top position like we used in Cat, engage your abs and lift your right leg and left arm. Switch and lift your left leg and right arm. You can also do this one leg and one arm at a time, or, if you’d really like a challenge, lift the leg and arm of the same side, so right arm and right leg.

Plank/Chatturanga (opt. Side plank): For the basic plank position, you have 3 options with your arms and 2 with your legs here: You can keep your knees bend and on the mat, I recommend then keeping your feet off the mat if you can, or you can stay on your toes with your knees straight. Each of these arm positions also has slightly different benefits too, so maybe you want to try our each one!
Option 1: Straight arms. Your arms would be extended straight in front of you, like you are in a table to position.
Option 2: Rest on your elbows, with your forearms flat on the mat going straight out in front of you!
Option 3: Chatturanga arms! Start like in the first option, but you will lower yourself down so that your elbows are bending back. You want your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. This can be a very hard pose though, so don’t be afraid to back out, or do it on your knees. This one you can’t really do on your fists though. I suppose you could, so if you really like doing it like that go for it, but if you can, try doing it with your palms open and flat on the ground.
The side plank can be done from the first two options. You can always push up from Chatturanga into option 1 though, so don’t think you’ve committed to not trying out side planks. You really just move all your weight and roll over to your side and support your body using your right hand and foot. Don’t for get to do it on both sides!

Leg lifts/Circles: You get to lie flat on your back. I would keep your hands in toward your body, some even say put your hands palms down under your bottom. Squeeze your legs together and lift them straight up, so that they come up about 90 degrees from your body (if you don’t have that range of motion, this can be SUPER hard, but still worth it so long as you don’t feel pain.) While your legs are at that 90 degree angle, keep your feet flexed, once you start moving them around, you can point your toes, but always keep your feet active. No floppy feet. Lower your legs half way and hold it. If you can, draw large and small circles both directions with your toes. Drop your legs all the way down with 1 or 2 inches between your legs and the ground. More circles! Bring them up most of the way, but not completely. Circles!! And back to 90 degrees with your feet flexed, bend your knees and bring them into your chest. Give your legs a big hug. You can repeat this sequence as you see fit.

Reclined twist: Lie on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the ground about hip width apart. Relax here a moment. When you’re ready, let your knees relax over to your right side. You can place a blanket, block, books, etc. under your knees for support if they don’t come all the way to the ground. I like to place my right hand on top of my legs to help coax them down. Send your left arm straight out to the side, as if you were making a T with your arms (you can make a T with your arms too if you want.) When you bring your knees back up, your core should be doing a little work. Switch to the left side!

Boat: Sit up with your knees bent and your feet in front of you. Focus on trying to keep your back straight, before you start this pose, you may want to place your hands on your shins and pull yourself forward a bit to really help encourage that straight back. Not arching, just straight.  Release your hands. bring your arms up straight forward out of your shoulders, with your hands shoulder width apart. Rock back slightly so that your feet come off the ground. Then lift up your shins and feel so they’re parallel with the floor. Keep those toes pointed.
From here you have a few options. You can bring your fingertips together and rotate your upper body to the left and right so that your elbows alternately rock toward the floor, or you can straighten your legs, and try to create a 90 degree angle between your torso and legs. If you have tight hamstrings, like me, you’ll find that even if you have the ab strength, this full extension can be hard, but you can still try it out! To come out, bend your knees generously, and rock forward so that your toes, then entire foot, rests on the ground.

Bicycle: From a boat pose, you can alternately extend and bend your legs. It may help to place your hands behind your head, but keep your neck long, and avoid letting your chin touch your chest. The lower you get your extended leg, the better the work out. I’ve found with hip injuries, it’s hard to do that though, you still get a pretty good work out if your extended leg creates a V with your upper body.

Downward Facing Dog: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up! (For those who may not know, your sit bones are those two pointy bones in your bottom. There’s one in each cheek!)

Forward fold (Uttanasana) From Downward facing dog, step/hop/scoot your back feet up to your hands so that you’re in a nice forward fold. You can even keep your knees bent if you’d like to just dangle relaxed. Straighten up your legs and raise into a flat back bend. I find it helps to come up farther than you think you need too, then lower back down trying to keep your back flat. Relax forward into the forward fold again, then inhale as you slowly roll up. You can take your time here.

Warrior III: This one is a little hard to explain. So here’s a picture to help. I’ll still explain it though.

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Image Source: Flickr

You’ll want to get into a lunge of sorts with your right foot facing the short edge of your mat. This is often done starting from Warrior I, so getting into that pose should help. Keep that right knee bent and lean your body forward. Pick up your left foot and keep it straight and long. Notice in the image, they have their foot and entire leg facing the ground. Avoid letting your toes turn in or out. you can either point or flex your toes in this pose. Getting out is the same as getting into the pose. With all poses, especially balance poses, always enter and leave poses slowly and as controlled as possible. This lessens your risk of injury.
This is also a good moment to point out that the arch of the person picture’s foot is lifted. They aren’t letting that part of their foot touch the ground, or collapsing. (Obviously if you have very flat feet there is little you can do, but keep that thought in mind.)

Cow face
: Bring your right arm straight out to the side, palm facing forward. Raise your arm straight up then bend your elbow, you’ll end up patting yourself on the back. Now straighten your left arm out to the side, but with your palm facing back. Lower your arm down and bend your elbow so the back of your hand can rest against your back. If it’s available to you, try to hook your fingers together, if not, hold a strap in your right hand has you get into this pose, then grab it with your left when it comes up your back. Being able to clasp your hands behind your back is not for everyone, and some people may never be able to do it simply because of our bodies! So never fear, straps are here! Also, straining is counter productive and more likely to cause injury. It’s better to back out of a pose and get a mild stretch than put yourself at risk for injuries!

Shoulder Stretch: Bring your right arm up straight in front of you about shoulder height. Keep your palm facing in, toward the left. Bring your left arm under your right and hook it around your right arm. Your right arm should sit in your left elbow. Use your left arm and pull your right arm like a lever to the left. your arm will start to lay against your body. Sit up nice and tall, and try to avoid letting your shoulder’s hunch. I find moving back and forth in this pose to feel sort of nice. Switch sides!

Forward fold/Shoulder stretch: I like to do this with a wide legged stance. I always feel like I’m going to fall over if I have my feet together, though that is an option too. Clasp your hands together behind your back. Bend forward and raise your arms up. This pose feels great, but it’s best to make sure you’ve stretched your shoulders a little first if you have tight shoulders! To come up, bend your knees and lower your arms. Raise your torso up slowly. If you’re in this pose for an extended period of time you may feel dizzy if you stand too fast. If you do feel dizzy, remain still for a moment before moving on.

Downward facing dog: Come through a forward fold, and walk either your hands or feet out to come into Downward Facing Dog.

Cobra: You get to lie on your belly now! Nothing fancy, just lie down on your belly first. Don’t tuck your toes. Now place your hands on either side of your chest palms down. Your elbows will stick up in the air. I like to start with “baby” cobras. It’s a muscular version, as opposed to pushing into your hands to lift your chest. Really press the top of your feet into the ground, engage your quads, glutes, and core. Lift your head and chest up from the ground. To check if you’re doing your baby cobra right, try lifting your hands off the ground! Relax back down. You can do another of those, or, with the same muscles in mind, lift up nice and high by pushing into your hands into the ground.

Child’s Pose: Set your bottom down on your heals, lean your body forward and relax your head on the ground. If you can’t reach the ground, you can place pillow or block under your forehead. Send your hands out straight forward with your hands planted on the mat. You can keep your hands straight, or relax them on either side of your body.

Savasana: Send your feet out, lay flat on your back, let your feet flop to the side, your hands relax and fingers naturally curl. Let your body feel heavy. You earned this!

Chair Yoga – 15 minutes

Whether you’re unable to sit on the floor, or just don’t want to get on the floor, here’s some easy chair Yoga! This routine is perfect for total novices with limitations, or an office worker who needs a quick break! (Or anyone, want to try chair Yoga? You can!)

Requirements: A chair or couch.

Rather than over and over saying that each pose is a “modified X pose”, I’m telling you now. All the poses are based on other yoga poses, which are typically done standing or on the ground. So put away your mat and sit down!

Chair Yoga

Seated relaxation: Of course we need to start with a little seated breathing. This is a good moment to check in with yourself, especially if you’re unfamiliar with chair Yoga. I sit pretty far forward on the chair, this forces me to use my core to sit up straight. If you can’t do that, or ever get tired during the practice, feel free to scoot back and use the back rest as support. Try to maintain straight, upright posture if you do use the backrest.
Your feet should be about hip width apart, and you want your hips, knees, and ankles all at 90 degree angles. If you have any hip or knee injuries, it may be more comfortable to put your feet farther away and let your knees create a larger angle.

Point and flex feet: Straighten your right leg and either keep your heel on the ground, or raise your foot off the floor. If you’re looking to work on strength, lifting your foot off the ground will be more work. Point and flex your right foot then switch legs. Point and flex the same amount on each side.

Ankle circles: This is the same set up as the previous pose. Straight leg, lifted or heel on the ground. If you want more of a work out, lift both legs and draw circles with both of your feet simultaneously instead of one at a time.

Cat/Cow: Keep your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent. If you know how to do Cat pose on all-fours, this is the same thing, only seated. Hollow out your stomach, round your back let your chin drop to your chest. Hang out here for a moment before leading with your nose and drawing an arc for your spine to follow. Now your back is arched and you can look up slightly. Go back and forth between these two. You can do them with your breath, or hold each side for a moment.

Forward fold: Straighten you legs in front of you, keep your heels on the ground here. Flex both your feet, then fold forward. This is a great hamstring stretch. If you have super tight hamstrings, this version can be nice too, so you can focus more on relaxing and stretching, than using your muscles and struggling through a standing or seated version.

Side stretch: Plant your right hand on the right side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. With your left palmed turned out at your side, bring it up and over head from the side and lean to the right. Push into your right hand to come out, then switch sides!

Seated twist: Plant your right hand on the left side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. Now hold the back of your chair with your left hand, or push into the back. Use these two hands to help your body twist to the left. Turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Once in this pose, you may find you can place your left hand on the right side of the back of your chair. (If you’re on a could, just place your hand flat on the back and use it to support and push into your twist.) When you’re ready to release, start with our head and come back to a neutral position. Switch sides!

Arms straight up: Bring your arms and hands up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing. Interlace your fingers, and turn your palms out. Raise your hands up and overhead. If this is a strain on your shoulders, you can add a slight bend to your elbows, or come out of this slightly. You can create a slight back bend in this pose as well by tilting back slightly and looking up. When you’re ready, release your fingers and let them float down your sides. If you’d like, interlace your fingers the opposite way and doing it again! For most people, interlacing your fingers the opposite way will feel very strange.

Knee to chest (Wind relieving pose): Lift your right foot off the ground, and bring it into your right chest. You can wrap your arms around your right shin, back of your right thigh, or use a strap in either place. People who are stiff or curvier may prefer to use a strap, but maybe not!

Thread the needle: Lift your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh/knee. This is a pretty common position for some people to sit in. You may feel a stretch here on the outside of your right hip. If you feel like it, lean forward, first with a flight back, then relax forward. Your arms can be nice and relaxed in this pose. I recommend keeping your feet flexed in this pose to protect your knees. And switch side!

Child’s pose (W/ pillow): This is pretty simple. With your feet flat on the ground, a la our starting position, lean forward and let your body rest on your thighs. If you don’t feel comfortable like that, place a pillow or two (or three?) on your thighs an lean on those! In fact, do that even if you’re super bendy and can lay your torso on your thighs. It’s wonderful.

Seated Savasana: Remove that pillow and place it behind you, lean back, and let your feet move father away from you. Relax your feet and let them flop to the sides. Try to avoid slouching your back in our seated savasana. If you have a bed, clean floor, or couch, why not lie down completely?

Yum! I loved this routine. It’s so short, simple, sweet, and lazy. Kind of like me…minus short, simple, and sweet.

Namaste!

Yoga for a Bad Day – 15min Practice

Today we’re keeping it fun and easy. I came up with this routine on the spot one day when I was feeling really bad. That general bummed out feel can really stick with you, and it’s hard to shake off, so I created this to help us relax, smile, and maybe laugh a little.

I encourage you to insert your own poses into this practice, especially poses which you love doing. This practice isn’t about perfecting your downward facing dog, it is 100% about feeling better. So do what you need to do to feel better.

I’ll purposefully keep instructions to a minimum today so that you can find your own practice within this one. I also encourage doing this practice in a bed for that extra level of comfort.

Yoga for a Bad Day 

Seated Breathing: Sit however you’d like. This is your moment to focus in and relax. Take some really deep breaths, maybe even sigh if it feels good. Smile a little and move around. There is no need to sit completely motionless and still. If it helps, imagine blowing your stresses away. You can also picture them rolling off of your body. Close your eyes in this pose and take your time.

Neck circles: Draw smooth and slow circles with your nose. Try to do the same amount in both directions. Keep them small and sweet. We’re just working out the kinks, you don’t need to push your limits.

Seated Cat variation: If you know how to do Cat pose on all-fours, this is the same thing, only seated. Hollow out your stomach, round your back let your chin drop to your chest. Hang out here for a moment before leading with your nose and drawing an arc for your spine to follow. Now your back is arched and you can look up slightly. Go back and forth between these two. You can do them with your breath, or hold each side for a moment.

Shoulder stretch: Drop your right hand and arm. let them dangle very loose. To discourage myself from putting weight on my right palm, I keep the back of my right hand on my mat behind me. Weave your left hand and forearm behind you and hold onto the inside of your right elbow. Now drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Your left hand here can act as a weight and intensify the stretch. If you don’t like it, you can relax your hands in your lap or wherever you’d like. Move your head around. Turn to look up slightly and down. This can help you target tight spots. Switch sides!

Cobbler’s Pose: Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the sides. Have fun here and rock side to side, or make small pulses forward. We’re trying to loosen any tension in the hips and inner thighs, but this pose is an opportunity to have fun as well.

Seated Knees to Chest: Still seated on the floor, bring your knees into your chest. Now give your legs a big hug. You’re hugging yourself here. Rock side-to-side, front-to-back, or simply remain still. It can honestly feel good to give yourself a little bit of love. That’s all this pose is about. When you are ready, slowly roll onto your back, perhaps you’d like to back out of this pose a little bit before doing so.

Knees to Chest Pose: Once again draw your knees in toward your chest. Rock on your back and give yourself a nice little back massage. Place your hands on the tops of your knees and draw big circles with them. Have fun, move, breath, and smile.

Ankle rolls: If you’d like to remain in the position above, that’s absolutely an option. I like to do this as if I’m sitting in a chair that has fallen on it’s back. So my thighs are straight up and my shins are parallel to the floor. Make circles with your toes. You can also point and flex your toes.

Modified forward fold: You’ll need to sit back up for this one, if you’re feeling playful, bring your legs up as if you were about to enter Plow Pose, Your lets should be fairly straight, and your knees will be near your nose. Then swing your legs down and sit up! You can rock back and forth like this too, though I find doing it too fast on a hard floor can be uncomfortable.
From your seated position we will come into a forward fold, however, unless it is easy for you to relax with your legs completely straight, keep a bend in your knees. Keep your knees bent enough that your upper body can rest on your thighs. As your legs feel looser, you can scoot your heels farther away and straighten your legs more, but until then, enjoy this sweet modified forward fold. (Perhaps still try even if you can do a complete forward fold.)

Happy Baby: Lay back once more. This is my absolute favorite pose to do to cheer myself up. It’s the goofiest pose out there too, and it’s great for you! Bring your knees to your chest again, but this time draw your knees toward your armpits. Use your hands to hold the outside of your feet, or your index and middle fingers to your big toes. Draw your feet up so your knees are at about a 90 degree angle. From here you can rock side to side, alternate bending your legs. And remember, you’re a happy baby! You can smile and laugh!

Savasana: Let go and lay back. Now is the perfect chance to add in any other poses you would like to. If you’re ready to settle down though, let your feet relax. Maybe grab a pillow for under your head. Feel comfortable! I would normally say you should relax your face in Savasana, but today, you can enjoy a little smile.

Taking steps to feel better is so important. Even if we still feel a little stress after a practice like these, you have still done something to help yourself feel better. That is amazing! Even if you only started the practice or did 1 or 2 poses, you still did it.

You are wonderful.

Namaste

The Upper Body Routine – 20min Practice

Wheph, if there was ever a practice I need, it’s this! I am seriously lacking in the upper body department, but we all need to start somewhere, right? This practice was inspired by a friend who does rock climbing! She’s been looking for ways to strengthen and loosen her shoulders.

A forewarning: This will work more than your upper body, you may feel it in your abs, glutes, and even legs on occasion! And I’ve got one different pose for you today! You can replace a Downward Facing Dog with a Dolphin! Great for the shoulders!

20 minute Upper Body Practice

Virasana: We’re starting kneeling today. You are welcome to sit a different way, but this seems to work the best for me. Ideally, your big toes would touch, and your butt would be in between your heels in a nice little seat created by your feet. (Some people even teach that your bottom should be on the floor between your feet! Go there if you’d like.) If this is hard for you, there are loads of modifications to this pose.

  • Place a block between your feet and sit on that. You can use books too, anything that fits comfortably between your feet, really. You can also place a blanket on top of your block/books to give yourself a little throne.
  • Roll up a towel or small blanket between your ankles and the floor. Most people think this pose is all in the knees, but if your ankles are tight, it can still be a nightmare. This is a good way to relax and slowly stretch out your ankles.

If all else fails, it is absolutely fine to sit cross-legged, or even stand for these next few poses.

Shoulder stretch: Bring your right arm up straight in front of you about shoulder height. Keep your palm facing in, toward the left. Bring your left arm under your right and hook it around your right arm. Your right arm should sit in your left elbow. Use your left arm and pull your right arm like a lever to the left. your arm will start to lay against your body. Sit up nice and tall, and try to avoid letting your shoulder’s hunch. I find moving back and forth in this pose to feel sort of nice. Switch sides!

Side stretch: We’ve done this before. Hands straight in front of you, palms facing toward each other. Interlace your fingers, turn your palms out, and raise your arms up and over head. Now lean to the right. Try not to let one of your sit bones (Buttcheeks, point butt bones, whatever you call them) lift up. You want your legs and bottom to stay firmly planted. Inhale as you sit up straight, then leave to the left.

Cowface: Bring your right arm straight out to the side, palm facing forward. Raise your arm straight up then bend your elbow, you’ll end up patting yourself on the back. Now straighten your left arm out to the side, but with your palm facing back. Lower your arm down and bend your elbow so the back of your hand can rest against your back. If it’s available to you, try to hook your fingers together, if not, hold a strap in your right hand has you get into this pose, then grab it with your left when it comes up your back. Being able to clasp your hands behind your back is not for everyone, and some people may never be able to do it simply because of our bodies! So never fear, straps are here!

Planks/Chatturanga: For the basic plank position, you have 3 options with your arms and 2 with your legs here: You can keep your knees bend and on the mat, I recommend then keeping your feet off the mat if you can, or you can stay on your toes with your knees straight. Each of these arm positions also has slightly different benefits too, so maybe you want to try our each one!
Option 1: Straight arms. Your arms would be extended straight in front of you, like you are in a table to position.
Option 2: Rest on your elbows, with your forearms flat on the mat going straight out in front of you!
Option 3: Chatturanga arms! Start like in the first option, but you will lower yourself down so that your elbows are bending back. You want your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. This can be a very hard pose though, so don’t be afraid to back out, or do it on your knees. This one you can’t really do on your fists though. I suppose you could, so if you really like doing it like that go for it, but if you can, try doing it with your palms open and flat on the ground.

(Optional) Child’s Pose: For those of us who just need a break, take a Child’s Pose.

Side Planks: The side plank can be done from the first two options of plank position. You can always push up from Chatturanga into option 1 though, so don’t think you’ve committed to not trying out side planks. You really just move all your weight and roll over to your side and support your body using your right hand and foot. Don’t for get to do it on both sides! And if you can, try to go from a plank to a side plank, then roll back through a plank to the other side.

Down Dog/Dolphin: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up!

Alternate Leg Grabs: If you struggle with grabbing your legs in this pose check out the Core Yoga routine from last week to see another version of this pose.
This pose is done from a table top position, like the previous pose. Really think about your abs with this pose. They should be doing a lot of work. Your glutes, arms, back, sides, shoulders, everything! This is a very active pose for your whole body, so keep that structural integrity in your body as you do this. In this pose we lift one arm and the opposite leg usually. As you lift your right left, raise your right arm back and grab onto your ankle. Push your ankle into your hand and you’ll find your back may arch a little! (This is a bit like Bow Pose.) Switch!

Child’s Pose: Finally, relax in an Extended Child’s Pose, with those arms out straight to stretch out your shoulders a little.

Savasana: Flip onto your back, let your feet flop to the sides and your arms relax along side your body. You deserve this!

Namaste!

Yoga for a Busy Day – 10 Minute Practice

With the holidays upon us, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in stress. In the United States, it’s Thanksgiving week! It can be nice to have family and friends around, but do you still have time to do your practice? Or maybe you just need a short break from everything! Well throw that turkey in the oven, go hide in the bathroom, and check out this routine! You won’t need much space or time to do this, and let the stress will melt away.

Note: If you’ve been  standing all day and your feet just need a break, you can do this in a chair! (Or if you’re hiding in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet lid?) just keep your feet planted on the ground about hip width apart, if you can, sit straight without your back leaning on a backrest.

Yoga for a Busy Day 

Tadasana: We’re going to start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with your feet about hip width apart and keep your feet parallel. Try not to lock your knees. Roll your shoulders back and stand nice and tall, but keep your chest relaxed down. If you already stand with good posture, this is likely similar to how you would normally stand. Let your hands hang loose at your sides. (Stay tuned for next week’s talk on proper alignment and Tadasana.) This is your moment to breath, smile, and reconnect with your body.

Shoulder rolls: You can bring your fingertips to the tops of your shoulders with your elbows pointing out, or you can relax your arms down by your side. Make slow and gentle circles with your shoulders one direction, then the other.

Neck rolls: If your fingertips are on your shoulders, relax your arms down by your sides now. Draw big circles with your nose one direction, then the other. Avoid throwing your head back very far; it may help to think about trying to keep your neck movements gentle. Return to neutral then look left and right, then up and down.

Clasp hands above head: Bring your arms and hands up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing. Interlace your fingers, and turn your palms out. Raise your hands up and overhead. If this is a strain on your shoulders, you can add a slight bend to your elbows, or come out of this slightly. Release your fingers and let them float down your sides. If you’d like, interlace your fingers the opposite way and doing it again! For most people, interlacing your fingers the opposite way will feel very strange.

Side stretch: This pose will be different depending on if you’re standing or sitting. You are welcome to try to do this similar to the standing variation if you’re sitting. Let me know if it works for you!
Standing: (This is called Half Moon in Bikram Yoga.) Like the previous pose, bring your hands up in front of you, shoulder height, palms facing. This time, fully clasp your hands, so your fingers will be interlaced, and your palms will be touching. Keep your index fingers extending, kind of like they’re a steeple. Bring your arms up and overhead. Really ground your feet in this pose, your legs really need to support you. Lean your upper body to the right, keep your chest, head, and pelvis facing straight forward. Come out of it slowly, then lean to the left!
Seated: This would likely be best like the other seated side stretches we’ve done. Plant your right hand on the right side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. With your left palmed turned out at your side, bring it up and over head from the side and lean to the right. Push into your right hand to come out, then switch sides!

Forward fold: From standing, swan dive down into a forward fold. Let your knees bend deeply and relax here for a second. Straighten your knees, and lift into a flat back position. You can place your hands on your thighs, shins, or ankles depending on where is comfortable and where you can reach. Relax forward, bend your knees. Come back up into that flat back once more. Now relax forward and when you’re ready, inhale as you slowly roll up keeping your knees soft or with a gentle bend. As you’re coming back into a straight standing position, sweep your arms up and overhead. bring your palms down, and lower your hands to your heart (thumbs to sternum). You will now be in a prayer position.

Relaxation: If you want to get down on the floor and do some Savasana, you can. This is also a good opportunity to add in anything else you would like to this practice. Since my goal is to keep this practice simple and short, I’m going to suggest, keeping your hands in that prayer pose or relaxing your hands along your side and come back into the same pose we began with and close your eyes. Take this moment to relax and breath. If you did this practice standing, you can now choose to sit as well.

Now go forth and conquer the world!
Namaste

Core Yoga – A Basic Core Practice

Today’s routine is all about the core, which is more than just your abs. If you are looking for a 6-pack though, I got you. We’ll start with a little stretching to warm up our muscles and get our spine moving, then we’ll move onto the real meat of the practice, and finally wind down and end it all with some nice savasana.

As always, I have the routine typed out for you below! This time it’s the same routine as in the video with the addition of 1 pose, so you’re getting a 20 minute practice! And, per usual, I recommend reading the practice before you do it so it’s easier to just flow through! If you feel tired, you can always take a break, enter a child’s pose, or lay on your back with your knees in your chest, or anything else that feels yummy to you! Enjoy!
(You may notice some of the poses are the same as the previous practice.)

Basic Core Yoga

Seated side stretch: I find it’s easiest to do this pose sitting in a cross-legged position. If that’s totally not for you, you can also kneel. You may need to place your hand on a block if you kneel. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip (this is the hand you would place on a block if you are kneeling). Your fingers should point out to your right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. Remember to switch sides!

Seated twist: With your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. Your leg will be bent and completely on the ground, sort of like you’re sitting cross legged. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm, to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch!

Cat Pose: This post is done from all fours, let the tops of your feet rest on the ground, and your palms should be firmly planted shoulder width apart on your mat. Inhale as you engage your abs, tuck your pelvis, and round your back, like a cat arching it’s back. As you exhale, release your pelvis and let it tilt the opposite way, arch your back, and look straight-ish forward. Alternate these a few times. If you’d like, return to neutral flat back, then “wag your tail” back and forth. Pretty much, lean your butt from one side to the other. This can feel really nice! If your wrists don’t like being bent, you can also do this on your fists! (Most poses in this routine with your hands like that, you can substitute with fists.)

Leg/Arm Balance (Leg/Arm lifts): This pose is done from a table top position, like the previous pose. Really think about your abs with this pose. They should be doing a lot of work. Your glutes, arms, back, sides, shoulders, everything! This is a very active pose for your whole body, so keep that structural integrity in your body as you do this. In this pose we lift one arm and the opposite leg usually, however, you can also life just your legs, just your arms, or the same leg and arm (try it! It’s pretty hard, but it’s fun!) I usually lift my leg first, I focus on tightening my core, and pulling those muscles in, then lift up my leg and send it straight out to the back, kind of like I’m pointing with my entire leg to the wall behind me. Then I slowly lift the other arm, so I would lift my right leg and left arm. If your knees are digging into the floor too much, throw a blanket under your knees, or use two yoga mats. That should help. Switch sides! I do 2 on each side and hold them for a few seconds in the video.
Challenge: Hold it for more than a few seconds! 30 seconds, 1 minute. The longer you hold it, the more your body is working! 

Plank/Chatturanga (Optional – Side plank): For the basic plank position, you have 3 options with your arms and 2 with your legs here: You can keep your knees bend and on the mat, I recommend then keeping your feet off the mat if you can, or you can stay on your toes with your knees straight. Each of these arm positions also has slightly different benefits too, so maybe you want to try our each one!
Option 1: Straight arms. Your arms would be extended straight in front of you, like you are in a table to position.
Option 2: Rest on your elbows, with your forearms flat on the mat going straight out in front of you!
Option 3: Chatturanga arms! Start like in the first option, but you will lower yourself down so that your elbows are bending back. You want your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. This can be a very hard pose though, so don’t be afraid to back out, or do it on your knees. This one you can’t really do on your fists though. I suppose you could, so if you really like doing it like that go for it, but if you can, try doing it with your palms open and flat on the ground.
The side plank can be done from the first two options. You can always push up from Chatturanga into option 1 though, so don’t think you’ve committed to not trying out side planks. You really just move all your weight and roll over to your side and support your body using your right hand and foot. Don’t for get to do it on both sides!

Let Lifts/Circles: Here is your bonus pose! You get to lie flat on your back. I would keep your hands in toward your body, some even say put your hands palms down under your bottom. Squeeze your legs together and lift them straight up, so that they come up about 90 degrees from your body (if you don’t have that range of motion, this can be SUPER hard, but still worth it so long as you don’t feel pain.) While your legs are at that 90 degree angle, keep your feet flexed, once you start moving them around, you can point your toes, but always keep your feet active. No floppy feet. Lower your legs half way and hold it. If you can, draw large and small circles both directions with your toes. Drop your legs all the way down with 1 or 2 inches between your legs and the ground. More circles! Bring them up most of the way, but not completely. Circles!! And back to 90 degrees with your feet flexed, bend your knees and bring them into your chest. Give your legs a big hug. You can repeat this sequence as you see fit.

Reclined twist: Since we’ve just done a bunch of work, how about we take a break and enjoy a twist? Lie on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the ground about hip width apart. Relax here a moment. When you’re ready, let your knees relax over to your right side. You can place a blanket, block, books, etc. under your knees for support if they don’t come all the way to the ground. I like to place my right hand on top of my legs to help coax them down. Send your left arm straight out to the side, as if you were making a T with your arms (you can make a T with your arms too if you want.) When you bring your knees back up, your core should be doing a little work. Switch to the left side!

Boat: I’m a big fan of getting in one last little work out before we completely relax. If you feel like this is too much and you want to skip this, you can! Sit up with your knees bent and your feet in front of you. Focus on trying to keep your back straight, before you start this pose, you may want to place your hands on your shins and pull yourself forward a bit to really help encourage that straight back. Not arching, just straight.  Release your hands. bring your arms up straight forward out of your shoulders, with your hands shoulder width apart. Rock back slightly so that your feet come off the ground. Then lift up your shins and feel so they’re parallel with the floor. Keep those toes pointed.
From here you have a few options. You can bring your fingertips together and rotate your upper body to the left and right so that your elbows alternately rock toward the floor, or you can straighten your legs, and try to create a 90 degree angle between your torso and legs. If you have tight hamstrings, like me, you’ll find that even if you have the ab strength, this full extension can be hard, but you can still try it out! To come out, bend your knees generously, and rock forward so that your toes, then entire foot, rests on the ground.

Down Dog: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up! (For those who may not know, your sit bones are those two pointy bones in your bottom. There’s one in each cheek!)

Cobra: You get to lie on your belly now! Nothing fancy, just lie down on your belly first. Don’t tuck your toes. Now place your hands on either side of your chest palms down. Your elbows will stick up in the air. I like to start with “baby” cobras. It’s a muscular version, as opposed to pushing into your hands to lift your chest. Really press the top of your feet into the ground, engage your quads, glutes, and core. Lift your head and chest up from the ground. To check if you’re doing your baby cobra right, try lifting your hands off the ground! Relax back down. You can do another of those, or, with the same muscles in mind, lift up nice and high by pushing into your hands into the ground.

Child’s Pose: From Cobra, push up through a table top position, and continue sending your sit bones back. Set your bottom down on your heals. Your body should be leaning forward with your stomach resting on your thighs. If you can’t reach the ground, you can place pillow or block under your forehead. Send your hands out straight forward with your hands planted on the mat. You can keep your hands straight, or relax them on either side of your body.

Savasana: Flip onto your back, let your feet flop out (now you can have floppy feet) and let your fingers naturally curl. Now is the perfect time to do a little check in with your body. See how you’re feeling, if anything is hurting, etc. This is also the time to add in any other poses you might want to do before Savasana. Let your body feel heavy and take some nice long deep breaths. You deserve this.

Namaste

The Basic Total Body Practice

This is the first routine I’m sharing! As I stated in the video, this is actually an abbreviated version of a full routine I’ve done before. This routine is about 25 minutes long, but the full one can take a whole hour! I might as well give you the full routine, since you have the abbreviated on in the video above. You can play with this one as you see fit! I recommend reading it first, so you know what to expect and can use it more as a guide. This is a long one typed out! Enjoy!

Anything suggested in this should also be done with any limitations in mind. If what you are doing hurts, modify it or ask of alternate options. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself. We all have our limits!

The 1 Hour Total Body Practice:

Sukhasana and Breathing: Started in a seated position, I like crossed legs like Sukhasana, but kneeling like in virasana is acceptable as well. We want to start out really comfortable. Take some time to breath deeply. Sit up nice and tall. If you struggle to keep your back straight, sit on the end of a blanket, or even a block.

Neck + Shoulder rolls: From here, alternately drop your right ear to your right shoulder, and your left ear to your left shoulder. These should be gentle drops though! We just want to loosen up the neck a little bit. After that, make big circles with your nose by dropping your chin to your chest, rolling your left ear to your left shoulder, bringing your head up slightly (without throwing the head way back), roll right ear to right shoulder, then back to chin to chest. These should also be gentle. When you’ve done them one direction, switch directions and do the same amount both ways!

Side stretch: I find this works best in a cross legged position, so if it is available to you, sit cross legged. It is still possible to do this kneeling though if cross legged is totally out for you. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip. Your fingers should point out to your right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. If you are kneeling, you could place your hand on a block. Remember to switch sides!

Badda Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): Still sitting on the ground, if you’re kneeling you have to switch to sitting on your bottom for this one, bring the soles of your feet together in front of you. For some people your feet may be 6-12 inches in front of you, and your knees might be way in the air! Don’t worry, you can always place a blanket, books, blocks, bolsters, etc. under your knees to help support them so you can relax. If it is available to you, lean forward, first with a straight back, then relax and round the back gently. Maybe rest your elbows, or even forehead, on the ground in front of you.

Dandasana: 
Extend both your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your feet flexed in this pose. Your legs should feel like they’re doing a little bit of work. Try to sit up with a straight back, you could sit on the edge of a blanket for this one. Bring your palms straight in front of you at shoulder high, and shoulder width apart. Interlace your fingers and turn your palms out. Raise your arms up so your hands are above your head. If your shoulders don’t like this, you can add a slight bend to your elbows. This post can be hard if you have tight hamstrings.

Cat Posture: 
This post is done from all fours, let the tops of your feet rest on the ground, and your palms should be firmly planted shoulder width apart on your mat. Inhale as you engage your abs, tuck your pelvis, and round your back, like a cat arching it’s back. As you exhale, release your pelvis and let it tilt the opposite way, arch your back, and look straight forward. Alternate these a few times. If you’d like, return to neutral flat back, then “wag your tail” back and forth. Pretty much, lean your butt from one side to the other. This can feel really nice!

Table Top Posture (Alt Arms and Legs lifted): From a flat back table top position like we used in Cat, engage your abs and lift your right leg and left arm. Switch and lift your left leg and right arm. You can also do this one leg and one arm at a time, or, if you’d really like a challenge, lift the leg and arm of the same side, so right arm and right leg.

Downward facing dog: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up! (For those who may not know, your sit bones are those two pointy bones in your bottom. There’s one in each cheek!)

Lunge/calf stretch: This one has a lot of ways to get into it, so experiment and find what works for you! I like to raise my right leg super high (three legged dog), then swing it down and forward to my right hand, and place my foot on the ground there. For some people it’s easier to drop your knees and scoot your foot forward. Drop your left knee on the ground, and release your left toes and rest on the top of that foot. Your right knee should not be in front of your right ankle. Your ankle should be at about a 90 degree angle, maybe a wider angle if you have ankle issues or discomfort. You should be getting a nice stretch in the front of your left hip. Walk your hands back, straighten that right leg, and rock onto your right heel to get a nice hamstring stretch. I recommend placing your hands on blocks or something to help be a bit more comfortable if you have tight hamstrings like I do. Switch sides! You can do this by going back to a lunge, lifting your back knee and sending your right foot back and repeating the entrance from downward facing dog, or if that is not available to you, you can scoot that right foot back and come into a table top position and then scoot that left foot forward.

Uttanasana (Forward Fold): From a lunge, step your back foot up to your front foot so that you’re in a nice forward fold. You can even keep your knees bent if you’d like to just dangle relaxed. Straighten up your legs and raise into a flat back bend. I find it helps to come up farther than you think you need too, then sink back down trying to keep your back flat. Relax forward into the forward fold again, then inhale as you slowly roll up. You can take your time here.

Warrior II: Turn to face the long edge of your mat, then step your feet nice and wide. Some people like to put their arms out straight on either side and have their ankles line up with their wrists. I find that I always need a wider stance than that, and I’ve seen people with narrower stances, so feel free to try it, but keep that in mind. Turn your right toes to the right short edge of your mat, then bend your right knee and send your arms straight out of your shoulders. Your pelvis and shoulders should face the long edge of your mat to the best of your ability in this pose. Look out past your right finger tips. “Look to the future” as one of my instructors would say. Check that your right knee isn’t going past your right ankle. You can switch sides here, or continue with the next 2 poses, then switch and do it on the other side. I prefer the second option.

Extended side-angle: If your right toes are toward the right edge of your mat in Warrior II, bend your right elbow flip your left palm up, and lean to the right. Set your right arm on your thigh, then send that left arm up and over. You can turn to look forward. This should be kind of like the seated side stretch we did at the beginning, only you are now standing! Keep those legs strong and check those knee and ankle alignments. It is the same drill for the other side. To get out, simple bring your body up and return to Warrior II. From here you can continue to the next pose, or get out of Warrior II by straightening your bent knee and and relaxing your arms.

Trikonasana (Extended Triangle): From Warrior II, straighten your bent right knee and keep those arms out long. Hinge at the hips toward the right, so kind of like your upper body is sliding to the right. if you can, rest your right hand on your right leg (not your knee though) or maybe even place your right hand on a block or the floor! To come up, you can pull your body up, or bend that right need and come up to Warrior II. I find you’re less likely to strain yourself by coming up through Warrior II.

Downward Facing Dog: You know the drill for this one! From the previous pose, bring your legs together, turn to face the short edge of your mat, and dive down into forward fold, then step back into Downward Facing Dog.

Child’s Pose: 
From Downward Facing Dog, drop your knees, release your toes, and come onto the tops of your feet. Set your bottom down on your heals, lean your body forward and relax your head on the ground. If you can’t reach the ground, you can place pillow or block under your forehead. Send your hands out straight forward with your hands planted on the mat. You can keep your hands straight, or relax them on either side of your body.

Cobra: 
You get to lie on your belly now! Nothing fancy, just lie down on your belly first. Don’t tuck your toes. Now place your hands on either side of your chest palms down. Your elbows will stick up in the air. I like to start with “baby” cobras. It’s a muscular version, as opposed to pushing into your hands to lift your chest. Really press the top of your feet into the ground, engage your quads, glutes, and core. Lift your head and chest up from the ground. To check if you’re doing your baby cobra right, try lifting your hands off the ground! Relax back down. You can do another of those, or, with the same muscles in mind, lift up nice and high by pushing into your hands into the ground.

Locust: Lie flat face down on the ground with your hands beside your body. Think about those quads and glutes again! Really engage them and squeeze! You’ll be using your core too, so your back and abs should be doing work. Lift your head, chest, arms, and legs up! If this is a bit hard, you could just lift up your head, chest, and arms.

Seated twist: Now we’re going to sit on the ground again, with your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. your leg will be flat on the ground. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. You might look like a 3D pretzel. (Kind of.) Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm, to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch

Bridge Pose: On your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly planted. You’re going to be really using your abs and legs for this one. Push into your feet and slowly peel your spine up off the ground. Really push your legs into the ground, your legs pushing into the ground should be what’s really keeping your body in the air, not a ton of core strength.

Thread the needle: 
From your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, left your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh. This is a pretty common position for some people to sit. You may feel a stretch here on the outside of your right hip. If it is available to you, send your right hand in the gap created by your right leg, between your legs, and your left hand on the outside. Clasp them behind your left thigh. I recommend keeping your feet flexed in this pose to protect your knees. And switch side!

Wind-relieving pose: 
This is the same starting position as the previous two. Lift your right foot off the ground, and bring it into your right chest. You can wrap your arms around your right shin, back of your right thigh, or use a strap in either place. People who are stiff or curvier may prefer to use a strap, but maybe not! Send your left leg out straight on the ground. This is a nice relaxing pose. You can turn this into a twist by sending that bent right knee over to rest on the ground to your left. I love twists, especially this one! Don’t forget to (you guessed it) switch sides!

Savasana: Send your feet out, lay flat on your back, let your feet flop to the side, your hands relax and fingers naturally curl. Let your body feel heavy. You earned this!

I love this practice. You can even throw a Sun Salutation in the beginning if you’d like. That adds just a little element of cardio in.

Wheph, that took a while to type out! Worth it!

Namaste!