YOGA FOR EVERYONE
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Poses

This section contains information on how to do some advanced poses. It is important to understand the foundation of the pose first and to take it one step at a time in order to do the pose safely. There is no rush. Simply observe and listen to your body with compassion and acceptance. With a consistent practice, you will begin to notice positive changes. Be patient and accept where you are in the process without any judgment.  Always listen to your body. Our yoga practice becomes a learning journey in which we discover more about ourselves along the path. It is not just about the destination. In fact, it is more rewarding to enjoy the journey!

CHALLENGE POSE #1: Mermaid Pose



Mermaid Pose (a variation of Pigeon pose) is an advanced pose and should only be attempted by those who are very comfortable in Pigeon Pose. To begin, start in Downward-Facing Dog and step your right shin to the front of the mat and extend your back leg straight. Work on squaring your hips by encouraging the left hip to fall towards the mat. Place your fingertips on the mat, and straighten your arms. Gently roll your shoulders back and down. Next, bend your left knee and reach back with your left hand and take hold your foot. Take a few breaths here to open up your thigh muscles (quadriceps).
 
If you are able to take it one step further, begin to slowly bend in your left elbow to draw the foot in closer towards your body. Please take your time here and listen to your body. It might take awhile before getting to this step. Be patient. You can always go back to the previous step until you are ready. Next, slide your left foot down the inside of your forearm until it lands in the crook of your elbow. Engage your core by lifting up through your belly and slowly reach the right hand back to clasp the left.

Keeping your hands clasped, lightly let the arms slide behind your back so that the right elbow points straight up towards the sky. Once the arm is behind you, take your gaze forward. Remember to keep the hips as squared as possible.  BREATHE, STAY FOCUSED, AND ENJOY THE POSE! Stay here for 8-10 breaths. Then slowly release your clasp and come back into Pigeon pose. When you are ready, go back into Downward Facing Dog and repeat these steps on the other side.

Benefits of Mermaid pose:
  • Opens the hips
  • Stretches the lower back, hip flexors and quadriceps
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Strengthens the core and pelvic floor
  • Improves your awareness and balance
  • Gives you a sense of freedom

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CHALLENGE POSE #2: Handstand



Handstand is one of the most challenging poses. As with many inversions, a major obstacle is a natural fear of falling. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, and take it one step at a time. At first, it is best to practice against a wall.  Place your mat against the wall and begin in Downward Facing Dog pose with your hands about 8 inches away from the wall.  Keep the gaze slightly forward, and then step one foot in closer to your hands and lift the other leg up. Make sure to keep the hips squared. Bend the bottom knee and practice small hops working on getting the hips over the shoulders and towards the wall. Each time, try pushing off the floor a little higher. This may be all you can do at this time. This is a perfectly good place to start.

When you feel ready, try lifting your legs all the way up towards the wall by engaging your core muscles. At first your heels may crash into the wall. As with any of the advanced poses, it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. You will eventually be able to kick up lightly towards the wall with control. Keep your shoulder blades lifted, your abdominals engaged, and gaze in between your hands.  Try to stay in the pose for 5 to 8 breaths, and gradually work yourself up a little more each time.

Once you get find the strength to stay for 8 breaths or longer, you might be ready to move away from the wall a bit. Take yourself several inches further back, but still close enough that the foot will touch the wall if needed. The key is to pretend like the wall isn’t there anymore. Eventually, you will build the strength, balance, and focus to be able to do it away from the wall.  

Just remember, it’s all about the journey and the lessons we learn along the way! J

BENEFITS OF HANDSTAND:

  • Builds core strength and upper body strength
  • Improves balance, both physically and mentally
  • Enhances circulation and decompresses the spine
  • Helps conquer challenges
  • Improves mood and focus

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CHALLENGE POSE #3: Warrior III

Warrior III is a challenging standing balance pose. One of the keys to finding a safe & stable expression of this pose is to engage the core muscles and keep the pelvis stable so you support your lower back. You can come into this pose either from Warrior I or Mountain pose. It is helpful to approach this pose in two phases: first finding a steady balance as you begin to lean forward, and then extending the arms. As you extend out through the fingertips, draw the shoulder blades down towards the hips. There is a tendency to roll the hip open in the extended leg, therefore use a slight internal rotation of the extended leg to drop the hip and counteract any imbalance in the pelvis. Try activating the standing leg as much as possible without locking out the knee. Lengthen from the core of the pelvis and try to maintain the hips level. Breathe, stay focused, and enjoy the pose!

Benefits of Warrior III pose:

  • Strengthens your legs, shoulders and arms
  • Stretches your hamstrings
  • Improves your concentration
  • Improves your core awareness, posture, and balance
  • Builds core strength
  • Quiets your mind and calms your nervous system

YIN POSES and RESTORATIVE POSES COMING SOON!

 

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