This is such a great pose to test and improve your balance as well as really stretch and open your chest, shoulders, hips, and thighs. I love incorporating this whenever I’m practicing Balancing Table Pose as it really goes well with this one. It can be challenging to grab your foot in this pose while keeping your hips level so if you’re having trouble with that try using a yoga strap around the lifted foot (you can also use a scarf or tie if you don’t have a strap).
Begin on your hands and knees in table pose
On an inhale lift your left leg back behind you bending it at the knee and pointing your toes towards the ceiling.
Push into your left hand as you carefully lift your right hand reaching it back and taking hold of the inside of your left foot.
Press the top of your foot into the hand to raise the leg higher towards the ceiling.
Hold for several breaths.
Opens and stretches the chest and shoulders
Stretches the hips, thighs and abdomen
Strengthens the upper back, arms, shoulders, and core muscles
Improves balance and concentration
Recently I posted a sequence to build upper body strength as well as a video to build core strength. Achieving arm balances like Crow Pose requires a strong upper body and core as well as the ability to focus to maintain your balance. Arm balances can be a lot of fun and starting with Crow Pose is a good place. If you are new to arm balances I recommend placing a pillow or blanket in front of you as it is possible to fall forward in this pose and hitting a soft pillow is much better than hitting your face on a hard surface or getting rug burn on your face from smashing into the carpet.
Begin in a Wide Squat pose with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders.
Bring your torso forward between your knees and place your palms on the mat in front of your body about shoulder width apart. Keep your fingers spread wide.
Draw your knees in close to your armpits and lift your sitting bones as high as possible, coming onto your toes.
Slowly lean forward, engage your core muscles and begin to lift one foot and then the other off the ground.
Draw your feet up towards your sitting bones and gaze forward and down.
Hold for as long as you can or about 30-60 seconds.
Strengthens and tones the core muscles
Strengthens the upper back, groin muscles, upper arms, forearms and wrists
Improves balance and concentration
I love poses that stretch the side body so Gate Pose makes its way into my practice quite frequently. It’s also a good stretch for the hips, groin, and hamstrings. If this pose is tough on your knees you can fold up your mat to double it under your knee or place a towel under your knee as well.
Begin by sitting on your heels in a kneeling position.
Bring your knees hip width apart and come up onto the knees.
Step your right foot out to the side with the toes pointing to the right.
Inhale and lift both arms up above you.
As you exhale bend over to the right, gently resting the right hand on the right thigh or shin, avoiding the knee.
Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. To come out, inhale rising up to center and drawing the right leg in.
Repeat on the other side.
Deeply stretches the sides of the torso
Stretches the hamstrings and groin
Opens the shoulders
Strengthens the core muscles
Stimulates the abdominal organs
Oh back pain…we’ve all had it before and some of us suffer from it on an ongoing basis. It can range from being a nuisance, to being debilitating. I’ve had my share of back pain and sometimes it’s in my upper back from slouching in a chair or sleeping the wrong way. Other times I feel it in my low back and typically that’s where it’s the worst for me. This sequence is designed to help relieve mild to moderate pain in both the lower and upper back, but many of the poses are more focused towards low back pain. This sequence is short, slow-paced, and accessible. Try it out and let me know what you think!
This back-bending pose is known for being energizing and helping make you feel refreshed. By bringing the heart above the head it makes it easier for blood to travel to the brain, giving you a burst of energy and focus. Also, if you are anything like me and you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or in a car, you might notice that your back naturally starts to round. This pose will open your shoulders and help reverse the rounding of the spine, improving your posture and helping to prevent back pain.
Since this is a back-bending pose, it’s better to warm-up the body first. Try starting with some Cat/Cow stretches, a Seated Spinal Twist, and Downward Facing Dog to prepare your body for this pose.
- Begin by lying on your back with your arms at your sides.
- Press your elbows into the mat and lift your hips, sliding your hands underneath your sitting bones with your palms pressing into the mat.
- Lift your head up off of the mat gazing at your feet.
- Press your elbows into the mat and expand your chest arching your back so that you can lower the crown of your head onto the mat.
- Stay here, or engage your core muscles to lift both legs off of the mat to about 45 degrees.
- Stretches the chest, neck, and shoulders
- Strengthens the legs, core, and upper back
- Helps relieve stiffness in the neck and shoulders
- Stretches the hips flexors
- Stimulates the thyroid gland
Posted in Yoga, Yoga How To
This seated balancing pose is one of my favorites! Holding both of your big toes while balancing on your sitting bones can be challenging. But this pose will build strength in the core muscles and stretch and lengthen the backs of the legs. Feel free to keep a slight bend in the knees or use a yoga strap to help make reaching your toes more accessible.
Begin seated with your feet flat on the mat.
Start to lean back slightly, keeping the spine long and lift the legs bringing the shins parallel with the ground.
Bring your pointer and middle finger around your big toes.
Lift your chest and balance on your sitting bones slowly beginning to straighten your legs, bringing your body into a V shape.
Relax your shoulders and hold for at least 30 seconds
Strengthens and tones the core muscles
Stretches and lengthens the backs of the legs
Opens the chest
Increases concentration and focus
I just recently got back from a long road trip. 12+ hours in the car and my body was feeling it, stiff muscles and joints and I was really tired. With the holiday season upon us, many of us will be spending at least a couple hours traveling, either in a car, plane, bus, train, etc. Whatever your mode of transportation, traveling for any extended period of time can cause the muscles to shorten and tighten. This yoga sequence was designed to prepare your body for long travel and can be done after travel to rejuvenate your body and mind so you don’t feel sluggish and sore.
Eagle Arms – Slouching in a seat for hours can cause tightness in the upper back and shoulders. This pose will open the upper back and improve posture. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Seated Spinal Twist – Relieve back pain and stimulate the abdominal organs with this gentle twist. Sit up tall to improve posture and keep the chest open to counteract roundness in the upper back. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Downward Facing Dog – This pose is everything you need wrapped into one. It will lengthen the back body, strengthen the upper body and core and energize the body and mind. Keep the neck long and draw the navel into the spine. Hold for at least 1 minute.
Low Lunge – The hips are the first to get tight when you sit for a long time, lunges will open the hips and stretch the hip flexors to keep your legs and hips happy on and after the trip! Hold for 30-60 seconds on each side.
Warrior I – This strengthening pose will energize your body and build strength in the legs to prevent the feeling of weakness you might get standing up after sitting for awhile. It’s a great pose to build core strength as well. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.