This month I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided give you all a glimpse into my yoga practice.  I’ve been sharing 1 yoga pose a week on my Social Media pages with a detailed step-by-step breakdown of how to get in {and out} of the poses, and their benefits.

I had so much fun doing this, and received so much support and interested that I will continue to post a post a week.  This keeps me accountable, and keeps you stretching!

I think it’s so important to incorporate physical activity that you enjoy, and that helps to restore your mind and body to good health.

I would love to hear about your favorite poses or areas of attention you’d like to see a pose focus on.

Here’s this month’s recap:

{Pose # 1 – Thread the needle}
img_2913

{Benefits}                    

  1. Effectively stretches the hips, and also releases tension throughout the knees and lower back.
  2. Great hip opening exercise. This pose can be used to prep for arm balances and other more difficult hip opening poses such as pigeon pose.

 {How to do the pose}

  1. lie on your back, both knees bent, feet flat on the floor (hip distance apart)
  2. Cross the right ankle across the left knee. Flex the right foot (peel toes back and push into the heel).
  3. Bring right knee forward (as close to inline with left knee as possible – you should feel a light stretch). This maybe enough of a stretch for you.
  4. To deepen the stretch: bring left foot off of the floor, grasping both hands behind the left thigh or under the left kneed. Slowly draw the left knee into the chest
  5. Keep shoulders and head relaxed on the floor.
  6. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Lower foot onto the floor.  Repeat on the next side.

{Pose # 2 – Warrior 1}

img_2916

{Benefits of the pose}

  1. Stretches the following areas: Chest, lungs, neck, groins, back
  2. Strengthens the back muscles, and shoulders and arms
  3. Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves and ankles.

{How to do the pose}

  1. Start in Mountain pose (standing at the top of your mat. Feet hip distance apart. Head facing forward. Hand placed comfortably at your sides)
  2. On the exhale, step right foot back approx 4 feet (large step back into a high lunge). Raise arms perpendicular to the floor (parallel to each other) and the front knee should be stacked above ankles (90 degree angle) to avoid injury. Scapula sitting low on the back.
  3. Turn right toes out 90 degree (or a bit less) and front toes should be pointing forward. Both your right and left heels should be in line.
  4. Alignment Cue: Both your right and left heels should be in line. Bent knee ideally points between the big and second toe.
  5. Square the front of the pelvis with the front of your mat. Allow the body to sink into the pose. Feeling a stretch in the groin area. ! This may be enough of a stretch for you. To deepen the stretch: arch upper back slightly.
  6. If there is enough flexibility in the shoulders, bring the hands together and direct your gaze towards your raised prayer hands. Hold for 30 seconds (working up to a minute)
  7. To release the pose: lower arms and release the squaring of the pelvis. Walk feet in towards each other. Repeat on the other side.

{Pose # 3 – Reclined Spinal Twist}

img_3012

{Benefits}

  1. Stretches the glutes, abdominal and back muscles.
  2. The twist encourages blood flow to the digestive organs, increasing the overall health and function of your digestive system.
  3. Massages the abdominal muscles while strengthening them as well.
  4. Tones the waistline and removes toxins from the body.

{How to do the pose}

  1. Start lying on your back. Feet flat on the floor, about hip distance apart.
  2. On an exhale, bring both knees into the chest.
  3. Extend the left leg (while leaving the right knee drawn in), and bring the right arm stretched out at shoulder height, palm down.
  4. Shift the hips slightly to the right. On an exhale allow the right knee to fall to the left side.
  5. Gently rest the left hand on the right knee. Let your head rest on its ear facing the twisted knee. ! If your knee does not go to the floor comfortably, place a pillow or bolster under the knee for support.
  6. To deepen the stretch: turn and rest the head in the opposite direction of the twisted knee
  7. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, working up to a minute.
  8. To release: on an inhale draw the knees back into the chest. Extend the previously twisted kneed out, and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat 3-6 times per side.
  9. When you have completed both sides, bring both knees into the chest and rock back and forth to release any tension.

{Pose # 4 – Triangle Pose}

img_2970-2

{Benefits}

  1. Improves digestion and constipation
  2. Stimulates function of abdominal organs
  3. Stretches legs, muscles around the knees, ankle joints, hips, groin muscles, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine
  4. Strengthens legs, knees, ankles, abdominals, obliques and back

{How to do the pose}

  1. Start in Mountain pose (standing at the top of your mat. Feet hip distance apart. Head facing forward. Hand placed comfortably at your sides)
  2. On the exhale, step right foot back approx 4-5 feet (large step back into a triangle shape with your legs). Front leg is strong and straight, and back toes turned out approx 90 degrees, and check that heels are aligned.
  3. Take a few breaths to settle into the leg framework. When ready, brings arms to shoulder level, spread from front to back. ! Arms should be engaged {I like to imagine someone is pulling the middle finger of each hand in opposite directions}
  4. Shift your weight into the back hip. Keeping the arms straight, hinge at the hips {keeping the ear, shoulder and kneed on the same plane} bringing the front hand down to the floor beside the front outer ankle. ! It is more important to keep the front let straight and strong than to touch the ground. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  I used a block in the picture because my hamstrings were tight that that day. No block=no prob: get creative! Use a large tin with a cloth over top for padding/ the seat of a chair etc.  Hold for up to 1 minute.
  5. Modifications: If your hands don’t touch the ground you can use a prop (see previous point) or rest your front hand gently on the front shin or ankle.
  6. Alignment cues: Align shoulders so they are stacked one above the other Imagine a straight line going from the hand on the ground {or block} straight through the shoulders, and out through the middle finger of the opposite hand. Body should be flat on the backside ie. Imagine your back is flush against a wall.
  7. Head is in a neutral position gazing forward. To deepen the stretch: turn your head hazing up towards fingers.
  8. To release the pose: Press firmly through the feet and lift the torso to and upright position.  Lower your hands and turn your body to the opposite direction.  Repeat this stretch on the opposite side.

I hope you enjoy practicing these poses and incorporating them into your fitness/wellness/self-care routine.

If you have any questions, pose requests, or just want to say hello!  I’d love to hear from you.

Love+Light ,

Joel