Have you been trying the simple yoga moves as part of your daily routine? I have really been taking it easy on you with some simple yoga moves to get us started. Today we are going to add another simple move to our sequence.
Let’s review what we have done so far, each move should be held for 3-5 minutes.
We started with child’s pose which will give us a gentle stretch to start our practice
Next, we went into the cat / cow sequence, which is simple yet gives us a nice back stretch and some core strength.
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips, and your wrists are under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. Take a big deep inhale.
- On the exhale, round your spine up towards the ceiling, and imagine you’re pulling your belly button up towards your spine, really engaging your abs. Tuck your chin towards your chest, and let your neck release. This is your cat-like shape.
- On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax and go loose. Lift your head and tailbone up towards the sky — without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck. This is the Cow portion of the pose.
- Continue flowing back and forth from Cat Pose to Cow Pose, and connect your breath to each movement — inhale for Cow Pose and exhale on Cat Pose.
- Repeat for at least 10 rounds, or until your spine is warmed up.
From there, we want to go into upward facing dog or up dog: come forward rolling over the toes without letting the thighs touch the floor.
2. Keep the legs engaged and off of the floor, while pressing the tops of the feet down and dropping the hips.
3. Make sure the shoulders stay over the wrists and are not hunched up near the ears.
Beginners: Bring your thighs to the floor and turn the feet one at a time if you cannot roll over the toes. Then lift the legs again. Bend the arms out to the sides and roll the
shoulders back to bring the shoulders over the wrists. Practice Cobra if Upward Facing Dog is not possible. If you find yourself rushing through this pose, slow down to tweak your alignment occasionally.
And finally, we ended with down dog
The role of downward facing dog is vast. Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:
- Stronger hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon
- Decrease in back pain by strengthening the entire back and shoulder girdle
- Elongated shoulders and shoulder blade area
- Decrease in tension and headaches by elongating the cervical spine and neck and relaxing the head
- Deepened respiration
- The pose resembles that of an upside down letter V. Look at your hands–they should be shoulders-width apart and your
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased full-body circulation wrist line (joint) should be parallel to the front edge of your mat. There should be equal space between each of your fingers and in general, your middle finger will point straight ahead.
It is very important that you engage or “plug” your entire hand fully into the ground at all times to avoid excess strain on your wrist joint. Your feet are hips-width apart and they are to remain parallel to each other, meaning your heel is directly behind your second toe. You would create a perfect square if you were to draw an imaginary line from left middle toe down to left heel, across to right heel, up to right second toe, and over to left second toe.
From there you will look at your lower leg or shin area. The shin area from ankle to knee will create a perfect rectangle when in the proper position. Your lower leg should never resemble a potential triangle, with your knees knocking in towards each other–this would risk tension on the inside knee. You should be supported equally by your upper and lower body, and not rest heavily in the legs. You will always be pushing the floor away and engaging the shoulders and the upper body, elongating, not sinking your neck into the shoulders and upper back. From a side view you will see a nice V–no rounding or arching in the back. See photo for an example. Beginners and those with tight hamstrings will start with bent knees
I wanted to re-emphasize the importance of some of these poses because, while they may seem so simple, execution is important to get the benefits of each move.
Finally, we are going to end this sequence with a forward fold
Step by Step
Stand with, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.
If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.
With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in itself.
Don’t roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.