1. Downward Facing Dog
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale and lift your hips, coming into an upside down “V” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for five breaths.
2. Arching Three-Legged Dog
This arm-strengthening variation of Three-Legged Dog involves bending the knee of your top leg, increasing the flexibility in your hip flexors, spine, and hamstrings.
- Begin in Down Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
- Keeping the left heel on the mat, raise your right leg in the air coming into Three-Legged Dog, and then bend the knee. Actively squeeze your right heel in toward your hip, lifting the knee high.
- Lift your head up and turn to look over your left shoulder, arching the spine. Think about drawing your head and foot toward each other (if your spine is extremely flexible, your foot and head will touch).
- Hold here for five breaths, keeping the belly still and breathing into the chest.
3. Extended Tabletop
Strong and poised like a ballerina, Extended Tabletop will open the front of your body, increase flexibility and strength in your shoulders, and tone your tush.
- From Arching Three-Legged Dog, slowly lower your right foot to the floor behind you as you simultaneously raise your right arm in the air. You’re essentially rotating your body 180 degrees so your belly is pointing up toward the ceiling. Readjust your feet if you need to so they are parallel and slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Press firmly into your feet to lift your hips high, engaging your glutes and hamstrings, and extend your right arm over your face.
- Hold here for five complete breaths, gazing at your extended hand or up toward the ceiling.
4. Balancing Star
This creative cross between Sage and Half Moon will tone both your upper body and core.
- From Extended Tabletop, lift your right arm and leg into the air, rotating your left toes so they point away from you.
- Stay here, balancing on your left hand and foot. Try to keep your shoulders, spine, and hips in one straight line, and gaze toward your right hand. Press your left fingertips into the mat to take some pressure out of your wrists.
- Hold here for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady. Then release back to Down Dog.
5. Quarter Dog
Not only will this easy-on-the-wrists variation of Down Dog intensely stretch the backs of your legs, but it will also work out your arms, shoulders, and upper back.
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- From Down Dog, spread your fingers wide and lower your forearms to the mat. Check to make sure you’re creating a straight line between your elbows and middle fingers.
- Keep your legs straight and lower your heels toward the ground as far as you can. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat.
- Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for five breaths. Then straighten your arms, coming back to Downward Dog.
6. One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff
Lifting one leg in this Chaturanga variation really targets your triceps and shoulders. It’s an advanced Chaturanga that requires more strength from your arms.
- From Down Dog, shift weight forward so your shoulders are directly over your wrists, coming into the top of a push-up position.
- Bend your elbows behind you, brushing your arms against the sides of your body as you lower down. Hold Four-Limbed Staff with your body in one straight line, making sure your elbows are at 90-degree angles.
- Lift your right leg a few inches off the floor, pointing your toes, and hold for three deep breaths. Release that foot to the floor, and lift your left leg for another three breaths.
- Release your left foot to the floor, inhale into Upward Facing Dog, and exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
This arm-balancing pose will tone your arms and increase flexibility in your hamstrings.
- First, Downward Facing Dog. Jump your feet up so they land behind your hands.
- Bring your hands back through your legs, and press your palms into your calves, trying to crawl deeper through your legs. Once your arms and shoulders are as far back behind your thighs as you can get them, plant your palms firmly behind your feet, cupping your heels with your thumb and index finger.
- Bend your knees and squat down, resting the backs of your legs as close to your shoulders as you can.
- Make sure your palms and fingers are spread wide as you shift weight into them. Lift your feet off the floor, either one at a time or both together, straightening your legs. Never place the weight on your wrist.
- Hold for five breaths and then release your feet to the floor, coming into a Wide Squat.
8. Side Crow
This variation of Crow involves a little spinal twist and is just the pose to work your upper body. It’s a perfect posture for people who want to use just their own weight to tone up their muscle.
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- From a Wide Squat, walk your feet together. Twist your torso to the right, and place both hands on the floor so they’re parallel with your thighs and shoulder-width apart.
- Place your outer right hip onto your right elbow and your outer right knee onto your left elbow.
- Shift weight into your palms, and lift your feet off the floor, coming into Side Crow. Hold here for five breaths, and then release your feet to the floor, coming back to a low squat position.
- Rotate your torso to the left, and repeat this pose on the other side. After five breaths, come back to a low squat.
9. Headstand B
This headstand variation is a killer move for your upper body, and for an added bonus, it’ll also tone your core.
- From a squat position, release your knees to the floor. Lower your elbows to the floor, and interlace your fingers, bringing your lowest pinky in front of the other pinky so both pinkies are on the floor, forming a semicircle with your hands.
- Place the back of your head against your palms and the top of your head on the mat. Once your head and forearms feel stable, straighten both legs and walk your feet toward your face as far as you can.
- Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your elbows planted firmly on the mat. Lift your right leg straight up toward the sky and then your left, coming into Bound Headstand (also called Headstand A).
- Hold this position for five deep breaths. To move into Headstand B, slowly lower both legs down halfway so that your legs are parallel with the floor, staying here.
- After five breaths, lower your feet all the way to the ground, resting in Child’s Pose.
- This is an advanced post, know your limit and listen to your body.
10. Child’s Pose
- Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart, and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lie your torso over your thighs. Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
- Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you.
- Stay here for five breaths.