This yoga sequence will help you to rinse out the muscles and digestive organs, which is great for this time of year! Use the directions and images and practice at home.
Start with some simple breathing techniques like 3 Part Breath to calm the Nervous System and prepare the body and mind. Then get into some warm ups like Sun Salutations, I suggest min. 3 of Sun Salutation A and 3 Sun Salutation B.
You can hold each pose for a minimum of 5 breaths (1 inhale and 1 exhale = 1 breath) or you can flow in and out of the poses holding each for 1 breath.
- Engage our bandhas (pelvic floor muscles and inner core)
- Stay with a steady calm and even breath
- Maintain length along spine from tail bone to crown of your head
- Practice makes it easier! Try this sequence at least 3 times a week and notice how the body and mind are each time. Always cultivating awareness!
- Standing Forward Bend (shoulder opener): Stand with feet hip distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back and inhale deeply. As you exhale fold your torso towards your legs. Allow your hands to fall over your back to release the shoulders. Relax deeper into the pose with each exhale, lengthen your breaths to calm the mind and settle the body into the pose. Gently come back to standing, rising on an inhale after 5 deep breaths.
- Standing Forward Fold: Standing with feet hip distance apart. Inhale to lengthen spine and engage bandhas. Exhale, pivoting form the hips fold forward, fold your torso towards your legs. Have a micro bend in your kees, a sensation of pulling up with the knee caps –this will help to open the hamstrings. If the hamstrings (back of legs) are tight bend knees to suit the body. By placing hands on the back of your calves you can draw your chest toward your legs, adding a deeper stretch. After 5 deep breaths, take and inhale to draw the body back up, again pivot from the hips and use the core strength.
- Down Dog: Get to know this one- a fab pose all on its own! Let’s start with the hands- they should be shoulder width apart and your 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 ground your entire hand fully (especially knuckles of your index finger and thumb) into the ground at all times to avoid excess strain on your wrist joint. Your feet are hip width apart and they are to remain parallel to each other. Find the range for placement of the feet, not too close but not too far apart, well supported from both legs and arms. Grounding with hands and feet. Shoulder blades working down along the spine, space between the shoulders and ears – no tension in the neck. Lengthen the back, soften the front. Raise the heels to find extension of the spine, the sit bones pointed to the ceiling, gradually lower heels to mat. Not essential to have heels on the mat – main point of pose is to straighten the back – no rounding or arching in the back, supported equally by your upper and lower body, elongating the neck and spine. Beginners and those with tight hamstrings will start with bent knees.
- Down Dog Split: from a down dog position, inhale and lift your right leg straight up. Keeping shoulders in square position, try not to rotate shoulders too much. Breathing here for 5. Alternative options: Keep hips square to mat and flex foot/Bend knee and open hip, look under left arm toward right foot. Inhale to draw right knee to chest and exhale to place right foot between hands; you can do this in stages if needed.
- Low Lunge: Once right foot is in place, you should feel a nice stretch into the hips, take a few breaths here perhaps sway the hips so they relax into the pose. You can place the left knee on the mat if you need support.
- High Lunge: Right leg at a 90degree angle, knee directly above the ankle. Thigh parallel to the mat. Tuck the left toes. Inhale to left the arm all the way up, gaze between the space of your hands. Hold for 5 deep breaths or alternatively you can lunge up and down, straightening the right leg on inhale and bending on exhale.
- Twisted Warrior: Right leg at a 90degree angle, knee directly above the ankle. Thigh parallel to the mat. From your high lunge, on your next exhale twist to the right. Sink your hips lower, use the strength of your legs. Your right hand is pointing to the back of your mat and left hand to the front. Keep arms at shoulder height; maintain length in your spine. Gaze to your right hand. This is a challenging posture, stay with 5 steady deep breaths. Modify on to the left knee if needed for balance.
- Warrior 2: Right leg at a 90degree angle, knee directly above the ankle. Thigh parallel to the mat. Legs are wide apart, right toes pointing forward, left heel comes down and left toes point to the left, parallel to short end of mat. Your hips and shoulders should face the left. Arms at shoulder height, feel the length from fingertips to finger tips. Long neck. Palms down. Gaze to your right hand.
- Reverse Warrior: Right leg at a 90degree angle, knee directly above the ankle. Thigh parallel to the mat. From Warrior 2 – lift your heart; slide your left hand down your back leg. Raise right hand above your chest, gaze to your right hand. To go deeper, adding a back bend, keep lifting your chest and stretch your right hand behind. Stay strong in your legs. Relax your shoulders. After 5 breaths, inhale to come back to Warrior 2.
- Gentle Twist: Right leg at a 90degree angle, knee directly above the ankle. Thigh parallel to the mat. Left hand on right thigh, right hand behind. Lengthen spine on inhale and exhale to twist a bit deeper. You can modify with left knee on mat. Or deepen by taking the left elbow to the outside of your right knee, hands in prayer at the heart centre. Press hands together and open elbows, one points up the other down. Lengthen from left heel to head. 5 breaths. This is a fab one for rinsing out the digestive system, take it at your own pace, stay for as many deep full breaths (breathe down into your digestive organs)
- Low Lunge – Seated: As before: Right foot in-between hands, you should feel a nice stretch into the hips, perhaps a little deeper the second time, relax the muscles surrounding the hips. Transition to seated twist: inhale lift the left knee and place behind or to the right of the right foot. Support the body and lower to sit down.
- Seated Twist: Right leg bent, left knee behind or to the right of right foot. Both sit bones on the mat. Long spine, hold right knee with lift hand (or deepen by hugging knee with left arm) inhale to lift and exhale to twist and look behind, to right or to the back of your mat. This can be held for a long time to cleanse and detox the digestive system and organs. Try not to collapse in the lower back and core. Keep drawing the navel towards the spine and sit up tall. Breathe smooth and deeply, 3 part breath.
And Finish with 5 minutes of meditation (focusing on the quality of breath) and relaxing Savasana – totally let go of your body, rest for 5-10 mins!