I love stretching my back out in Humble Warrior. Because it is an inversion blood is rushing to the head so it is a deeply calming pose whilst being challenging. This Variation of Humble Warrior adds the element of balance.
From a wide legged standing position turn both feet and the body to the left as you exhale soften and bend the left knee and raise onto the ball of the right foot. Keep the groin open and protect your knee by checking that you can see your big toe. Gently encourage your left knee to move towards the little toe side.
Interlace your fingers behind your back. Inhale to expand your chest and lungs.
As you exhale, continue to keep your heart open and gently bow forward. Your left shoulder may lovingly nudge your left leg even further to the left as you release your pelvis and drop deeper into the pose.
As you exit this pose, stay mindful that this deep stretch places potential stress on the knee and lower back if you stand up too quickly. Make sure you ground the back foot and gradually straighten the left leg as you rise on an inhale.
Repeat on the other side.
This backbend can be challenging for some people although student looks very comfortable here. So if you prefer to lift and lower several times then do that instead.
Begin lying on your back with knees bent, soles of your feet on the ground and knees to the ceiling. Place your feet parallel to each other with heels right under your knees.
Place your arms by your sides, palms face down.
On an exhale, press your feet firmly into the ground. Lift your tailbone off the ground, then lower back, then mid back.
Press your knees forward, away from your hips.
Lift your chest toward your chin, and your chin away from your chest. You can interlace the fingers to help get an upward lift.
Keep your thighs parallel, gently hugging the inner knees toward each other.
Hold for up to one minute. To release, gently lower your hips back down to the ground.
This is a briliant preparatory pose for Warrior 3, beautifully shown here by Dani.
From standing in Mountain with hands at heart centre step back with your right leg creating a deep lunge. Inhale the arms to lift up alongside your ears. Allow the right leg to strengthen by pushing the back of your knee towards the ceiling. Weight is over the front leg.
Hold here for at least 5 deep breaths, recognising the resilience you have.
Step back to Mountain. Repeat on the other side.
Next time you practise Warrior 3 you will find it super easy and your leg will float to the sky!
Begin kneeling. Consider using a block or blanket under your left knee.
Stretch the right leg out to the side (foot can point or be flexed). Inhale and raise the arms to shoulder height
This pose is a great pre-cursor to Triangle. So as in Triangle stretch over to the right as far as you can and wherever your hand lands is the perfect place for you! Some stretchy folks will be able to bind their peace fingers around the big toe but be alert that you do not want to fold forwards this a lateral (side) stretch.
Hold here for at least 5 deep breaths, enjoying the stretch primarily in side body.
Repeat on the other side.
Thanks to Maria, you look amazing and strong in this pose .
Following a bit of a theme but purely by happy accident as Julie and Robyn both looked so serene and poised in this squat.
Begin by squatting with knees together on balls of the feet.
Bring your left leg over the top of the right and sit on your right heel.
You can leave your fingertips on the floor to act like guy ropes of bring them up to prayer.
Stay here for several deep breaths, gazing over tip of the nose or if you like a challenge closing the eyes and going within.
Following on from last month with another squat! This month we have the joys of one legged squats. These are so good for strengthening the supporting ankle joint and hamstrings.
Start in Mountain. Bring the right leg above the left knee. Exhale and encourage the left knee to drop out heavily to the side thereby giving you a nice stretch in the glutes too. Each time you breathe out see if you can go a little lower. You can gently rest the forearms on the raised leg to increase the hip opening. You can hold for a few breaths and raise yourself upright before repeating aim to do twelve.
If this causes any pain to your knee joint then stop immediately.
The other day I was listening to the radio and the announcer said the next programme was about squatting. Great I thought I will listen in. Imagine my disappointment to find it was about squatting in unused buildings! Anyhow I was reminded that I had not shared this pose with you!
Begin standing with feet turned out. On an exhale drop down to a deep squat balancing on the balls of feet. Allow the chest to drop forward between the knees and when you have your balance on an inhale lift both arms up and as far overhead as possible. Stay here for 5 deep breaths before rising back up using the power of your quads.
Handstand can seem daunting but there are steps you can take to build up wrist strength and confidence.
Start in Down Dog near a wall and walk your way up to form a right angle with your body. Keep the fingers spread and the backs of the knuckles pressing into the earth. Keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine. Then over time you can walk your legs further up the wall! Eventually you will have enough core strength to balance freestyle like Jack!
To start 2019 I have chosen a forward bend which if practised with patience is calming and centring. Mentally when we do this asana we are leaving the past behind, so highly appropriate for the commencement of a New Year.
Padangusthasana helps prepare the yogi for the forward folds that occur later in class by stretching the hamstrings and calves, and strengthening the thighs. Like all forward bends, this pose has a soothing effect on the mind which helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Additionally, the gentle pressure of the abdomen against the thighs stimulates the liver and kidneys and supports improved digestion.
Begin standing in Mountain. Circle the arms overhead as you inhale. As you exhale fold, keep the knees bent if you need to. Really allow the upper body to relax and flop over like a rag doll. Take 3-5 deep breaths here before circling the arms and rising back into Mountain on an inhalation. Repeat 3-5 times.
Sit tall with your legs out in front of you in dandasana (staff pose). If your lower back rounds sit up on a folded blanket. You can keep your left leg extended, or bend your left knee, bringing your left heel to your right outer hip.
Bend your right knee in toward you, wrap your hands around your right shin, and draw your right knee up in toward your right armpit, flexing your right foot. Continue to sit tall, lengthening up through your spine. Then bring your left hand to hold the sole of your right foot, right under your heel, and bring your right hand to your outer right knee. Rock your leg from side to side a few times, like you’re cradling a baby.
You can stay here, or, if it feels comfortable and accessible today, you can bring your right knee to the crook of your right elbow. Stay here, or bring your right foot into the crook of your left elbow. Lift your shin up toward your sternum (breastbone), and lengthen up tall through your spine. Draw the little toe side of your right foot back toward your knee (it will tend to reach forward, away from your knee), and aim your knee toward the little-toe side of your foot, working to make your shin more horizontal. Press out through the ball of your right big toe.
Try to keep the foot flexed as this will help protect your knee.
Repeat on the other side.
Thank you for Maria who looks so serene each time she does this pose!