1. Centering ~ Spend a few moments coming into your body. Sit in Hero or Simple Cross Legged Pose with a lifted spine. Use a block, cushion or several books beneath your hips to encourage the pelvis to tip forward. Begin observing where you are grounded and where you are lifting. Invite an intention into your heart. Connect with something greater than your self. Be with your breath for at least five minutes.
2. Cat-Cow~ Invite the spine to move freely in sync with the breath. Exhale and tuck the pelvis and the head toward each other while lifting the abdominals and arcing the back — like a cat! Then, as you inhale, release the belly while lifting the sternum, head and sitbones. The torso is now in a ‘U’ shape. Keep the arms strong.
3. Reclining Back of the Leg Stretch– reclining on your back (may be done on a bed) draw left knee toward chest to lift and loop strap, tie, belt, or blanket over sole of foot. Press the lifted thigh back; press the thigh on the floor down. Extend through the inner ankle as you draw the 4th and 5th toe towards you.
Part 2: Reclining Back of the Leg Stretch B, rotate the thigh strongly from the hip joint to turn the knee and upper leg towards the floor. Do not go further than where you can keep the opposite hip down. Use your abdominal and the thigh muscles of the foot on the floor to help do that.
4. Mountain ~ Stand tall, with feet parallel, arms at sides. Third toe pointing straight ahead, check that heels are not turned out. Lift and spread toes then release them. Knees face soft and gaze straight ahead, parallel to the floor. Charge legs.Shins forward. Thighs press back. Lengthen back of neck. Upper arms rotate away from you. Soften shoulders and belly. Invite breath throughout torso.
5. Mountain with lifted arms ~ Continue from above but then drawing arms out of the shoulder sockets, stretching in a T position ….as you lift them overhead, release shoulders down towards kidneys. Soften as you gaze ahead. Feel the energy moving and radiating from your solar plexus and through your arms as well as the legs .
6. Forward Fold ~ May be done with bent knees. Release belly, shoulders, face. Tuck chin. Lift sitbones. Press soles of feet into floor. Release deeper with every exhalation. Stay for several breaths if it feels right to you. To come out, bend knees, and lift heart. Rise from the strength of the thighs.
7 .Tree ~ Begin in Mountain. Raise right leg as high up the inner left leg as you can. Find a position for the foot pressing on the leg that you can remain in for 5 – 10 breaths. Press standing thigh actively into sole of foot.
Repeat on other side.
Alternate: Face wall or stand at a right angle to wall and press fingertips onto wall until balance begins to develop.
8. Triangle ~ Return to Mountain. Step the feet 3- 4 feet apart. Turn back foot in, front foot heads straight in the direction you will lean. Heel of front foot is in line with arch of rear foot. Stretch out from the back hip as you lengthen the spine and release front groins deep into the body. Drop front arm down onto floor, block or chair beside front shin. Rotate and open your heart center. Breathe and observe energy moving from the heart through the arms, legs, and crown of head. Stay for a few breaths. Invite joy into the pose and into your life.
Alternate: If shoulders are tight, leave top arm on hip.
9. Stand in Reverse Namaste, smile. Press palms together. Move hands up back as high as you comfortably can. Honor the divine within.
Alternate for tight shoulders: Press thumb to sternum in front of chest or Hold elbows behind back.
10. Child Pose ~ Big Toes together, knees wide, spine long, tail dropping on or toward heels. Arms may be folded, with forehead resting on forearms. Stay for a couple of minutes as comfortable. Feel breath moving along the back of the body from tail through crown of head and vice versa.
Alternate: forehead on book or block, arms extended (pictured).
11. Legs Up The Wall ~ Hips at least a few inches away from wall, especially for tight hamstrings. Arms in cactus or, if shoulders tight, at sides of body. Invite brain to rest on back of skull. Invite organs to relax and rest on back of body. Use eyebag to promote deeper rest.
If your thoughts wander, acknowledge them but then nudge awareness back to observing whatever sensations arise, moment by moment. As your focus turns inward, the outer stresses will fade away. Invite soft breathing or chant mantra (such as the 2013 mantra 🙂 if mind is racing.
Stay for at least ten minutes, twenty is better!
12. Rest in Relaxation Pose ~Spend a few moments lying down quietly and honor the work you have done to sustain yourself and our world. It’s time to practice Be-ing, not do-ing.
Rotate arms outward from shoulders and turn palms up towards ceiling. Lift legs one at a time, a couple of inches off floor and let them release down and relax away from each other. Use folded blanket beneath head and neck if necessary for support. Cover yourself with a blanket and darken room or use eyebag to promote deeper relaxation.
OR Lower legs on back of chair (pictured to left).