Tadasana | Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: (Inhale) Parallel feet- hip distance apart, spread the toes, micro bend in the knees- knees forward, (Exhale) shins forward & hips back, hug leg muscles to the bones, (Inhale) tuck tail bone, bring navel to the spine, lift heart, shoulders back and down, open chest. (Exhale)

Common Misalignments: Knees locked, unparallel feet, pelvis tilted too far back.

Preparation and Warm-up: Take two deep breaths, spread toes & lift toes up, bend knees and straighten legs.

Modifications and Props: Block in between calves/shins

Refinements and Adjustments: Ankle and second toe should be aligned, cow pelvic tilt, lengthen side of body, move shoulder blades onto the back. This is the very foundational base pose for many postures. When lost in yoga, always come back to your foundation, your Mountain pose.

Benefits Include: Spinal alignment, tones abdomen, improves posture, strengthens: arches, ankles, knees, thighs. Improves focus, reduces mild anxiety, and develops willpower.


Urdhva Hastasna | Upward Salute

Upward Salute

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: (Inhale) Parallel feet- hip distance apart, spread the toes, micro bend in the knees- knees forward, (Exhale) shins forward & hips back, hug leg muscles to the bones, (Inhale) tuck tail bone, bring navel to the spine, lift heart, shoulders back and down, open chest. (Exhale) Inhale and extend arms out and upward over head, arms shoulder width apart, palms facing inward, while maintaining open chest and shoulders back.

Common Misalignments: Shoulders scrunch to the ears, loss of activity in the legs, pelvic tilt moves forward, loss of action in the toes.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose

Modifications and Props: Block in between shins and between hands to create parallel limbs.

Refinements and Adjustments: Ankle and second toe should be aligned, cow pelvic tilt, lengthen side of body, move shoulder blades onto the back.

Benefits Include: Tones abdomen & arms, improves posture, strengthens arches: ankles, knees, thighs. Improves focus, reduces mild anxiety, and develops willpower.


Uttanasana | Standing Forward Fold

Forward Fold

Focal Point: At shins or belly button

Spinal Articulation: Flexion

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Stand in Mountain pose- feet parallel, toes spread wide, Inhale stretch arms up (upward salute) and extend from your low belly up through your fingertips, maintaining length, exhale, bend forward to touch the floor, look towards shin, neck aligned with spine. Keep leg muscles engaged, hips back shins forward, hip joins directly above ankles, root tailbone down draw shoulder blades onto your back, bend deeper, press your hands onto your calves while actively moving thighs back.

Common Misalignments: Hips too far back, neck looking up, feet unparallel, locked knees.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose, Upward Salute, Cat & Cow, Side Bends

Modifications and Props: Blocks under the hands to help keep legs straight.

Refinements and Adjustments: Micro bend in the knees, hook index fingers to your big toes, hug calves, hug elbows behind knees.

Benefits Include: Calming, soothes nervous system, relieves mild anxiety & depression.


Ardha Uttanasana | Monkey

Monkey

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Flexion

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: From (Standing Forward Fold), press your palms or fingertips into the floor (or blocks on the floor) beside your feet. With an inhale, straighten your elbows and arch your torso away from your thighs, finding as much length between your pelvis and navel as possible.

With your palms or fingertips push down and back against the floor, and lift the top of your sternum up away from the floor and forward. Bend your knees slightly to help get this movement without strain, creating an arch in your back.

Look forward, but be careful not to compress the back of your neck. Hold the arched-back position for a few breaths. Then, with an exhale, release your torso into full forward fold.

Common Misalignments: Hips too far back, neck looking up, feet unparallel, locked knees.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose, Upward Salute, Cat & Cow, Side Bends

Modifications and Props: High blocks under hands.

Refinements and Adjustments: Micro-bend in the knees, hips back-shins forward.

Benefits Include: Stretches the front torso, strengthens back muscles and improves posture, Stimulates the abdominal muscles.


Virabhadrasana | Warrior I

Warrior I

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Stand in mountain pose. Step right foot forward one full comfortable stride; turn left foot in slightly so that the foot faces forward but at a slight angle. Keep legs engaged, exhale and bend your right knee 90 degrees. Place your hands on your hips and square them to the front of the body. Keep the right knee directly over the ankle, externally rotate the thighs, fully extend back leg... Inhale and extend arms over your head, keep arms straight by squeezing your triceps and lengthen up through the fingertips, keep shoulders in sockets, bring shoulder blades down the back... Root the tail bone down, tilt pelvis up. Hold for a few breaths inhale, straighten front leg and come up to standing. Repeat on left side.

Common Misalignments: Knee collapsing towards big toe, feet misaligned.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain pose, Standing Forward Fold

Modifications and Props: Block in-between hands

Refinements and Adjustments: Lean into a back bend for a deeper stretch

Benefits Include: Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, abdomen, groin, strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back. Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles. Stimulates digestion & improves circulation.


Virabhadrasana II | Warrior II

Warrior II

Focal Point: Over fingertips of forward extended hand

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Stand in mountain pose, step feet wide apart, Inhale and extend arms out to the side, turn left foot in slightly, turn your right leg out directly to the side, align right heel with the arch of the left foot. Engage legs, exhale and bend your right knee to 90 degrees, right thigh parallel to the floor, keep the top of your left thigh back and lifting away from the floor, vertical torso.

Common Misalignments: Back thigh dragging toward the floor, front knee bending toward big toe instead of little toe.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose, Warrior I, High/Low Lunge

Modifications and Props: Decrease standing width

Refinements and Adjustments: The shoulders are centered over the pelvis with the sides of the torso equally long. You can also lean the torso slightly away from the back leg, tilting the arms parallel to the line of the top shoulders (you can turn palms up and down). This stretches the left side of the torso. Repeat on the opposite side.

Benefits Include: Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles, Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders, increases stamina.


Parsvakonasana | Extended Side Angle

Side Angle

Focal Point: Upward

Spinal Articulation: Flexion

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Stand in mountain pose. On an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet wide 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left.

Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee aim the inner knee toward the little-toe side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.

Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. Try to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left.

Common Misalignments: Back thigh dropping, front knee leaning towards big toe.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose, Triangle, Warrior I & II

Modifications and Props: Block under the palm on the floor

Refinements and Adjustments: Rest elbow on your knee.

Benefits Include: Strengthens ankles, knees & thighs, opens hips and groins, increase lung capacity, alleviates symptoms of arthritis, lengthens the spine, and improves digestion.


Vrksasana | Tree

Tree

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Stand in mountain pose. Spread toes and root down through all 4 corners of your feet. Inhale and elongate muscularly from your feet up into the core of the pelvis. Keeping the left leg strong and steady inhale bend your right foot against the inner left thigh. Bring palms together in front of your heart. Bring shoulders blades onto the back and down, keep hips squared, thighs and legs engaged.

Common Misalignments: Not rooting through all 4 points of foot, locked or hyper extended knees, shoulders rolled forward instead of back.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose

Modifications and Props: Rest toes on opposite and ankle and plant heal on the ground

Refinements and Adjustments: Shins forward, hips back, lengthen tail bone down.

Benefits Include: Remedies flat feet, strengthens arches, ankles, calves and thighs, lengthens spine, improves balance, opens shoulders, chest, thighs and hips, improves circulation, cultivates poise and focus.


Dandasana | Staff Pose

Staff Pose

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Sit on the floor with your legs together and extended in front of your torso. Sit towards the front of the sitting bones, and adjust and center the pubis and tail bone on the floor. Without hardening the belly, firm the thighs, press them down against the floor, rotate them slightly toward each other. Flex your feet by point your toes upward by pressing out through your heels.

Common Misalignments: Leaning back, poor posture, hunching back, lack of muscular energy in arms and legs.

Preparation and Warm-up: Mountain Pose

Modifications and Props: It may be helpful to sit on a blanket or a bolster to lift the pelvis and/or sit with your back against a wall.

Refinements and Adjustments: Keep spine long with natural curvature.

Benefits Include: Strengthens the back muscles, stretches the shoulders and chest, and improves posture.


Ardha Matsyendrasana | Half Lord of the Fish Pose

Half Lord Fish

Focal Point: Forward

Spinal Articulation: Neutral

Directions, Cues, and Key Actions: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, supported on a folded blanket. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, and slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together. Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor. You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at the right foot. With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, twist a little more with every exhalation.

Common Misalignments: Too much pressure on one portion of the spine, kinked neck.

Preparation and Warm-up: Butterfly, Seated Forward Bend

Modifications and Props: Bolster, block or blanket to sit on. Use a wall to help stretch into the pose.

Refinements and Adjustments: Keep the elbow bent and the hand raised towards the ceiling. Lean into a slight upper-back backbend, firming the shoulder blades against the back, and lift the front torso through the top sternum.

Benefits Include: Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck, energizes the spine, reduces fatigue, and relieves minor backache.

× Alternate Text