Day 10 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Ustrasana, Camel pose (back flexibility). I love this gravity assisted back stretch. Begin in a kneeling position. Knees, legs, and feet about hip distance apart. Toes can be tucked under (easier option) or lying flat against the floor (harder option). If you have bad knees please double up your mat or use a soft blanket for cushioning. Start by trying to isolate different regions of your back and bending backwards. A great way to do this is to place your hands on your back for support to remind your body where you want it to bend from. Once you’ve warmed up your back this way, bend your back and place your hands on your heels for support. If your toes are tucked, this will be easier since your heels are higher off the ground. Try to visualize the spaces in between your vertebrae opening up and allowing you to tilt your upper body closer to the floor. First try looking at the wall behind you. For you super bendy backs, try looking for the floor behind you. For more of a challenge, flatten the toes against the floor to lower your heels. Still need more of a stretch? Move your hands slowly to your ankles and further up your calf or you can put your hands on the front of your thighs. No hands is also an option if you’ve got a really bendy back and you are warm: hands can be placed together at your heart or reaching up over your head. As with all back bending take it slow, listen to your body, and remember to let your breathe guide you.
Day 11 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Balasana, child’s pose (restorative). Everyone should love this pose! While this may be one of the simplest yoga poses, don’t underestimate its benefits. It’s a great pose to destress, oppose a backbending pose, and release your spine and shoulders. Begin in a kneeling position, hands on the floor in front of you about shoulder distance apart. Push your hips down and back so your buttasana is over your heels. Enjoy this amazing stretch. You can play with hand/arm positions: have them out in front above your head for a nice shoulder stretch, you can sway in your child’s pose by walking the hands over to your left and right, or you can lay your arms beside your legs palms up. Also, play with your leg position: you can have knees touching to get a nice round in your spine, hip distance apart, or slightly more open than hip distance to allow your upper body to fall in between your legs. Try all variations or do which ever one feels the most restorative for you!
Day 12 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Hasta Dandasana, L-sit position (strength). This is a hard one and will help build your core and shoulder strength! Use yoga blocks under your hands if you’re new to this pose. The added height will definitely help. Do it from the floor if you need more of a challenge! Start in a seatedposition with your knees bent close into your chest. Place your hands and arms on either side of your hips. Before we even start to push into the ground, let’s set up our shoulders correctly. Engage and align your shoulders by angling them forward and down away from your ears. Beginner position: keep your knees tucked into your chest and push up through your hands and shoulders (keep shoulder alignment as described above). Try first to just get your buttasana off the ground, toes barely touching the floor. If it isn’t working out, that’s ok; the mere act of engaging these muscles will help you work towards this pose. Did you get your buttasana off the ground? Great, now try getting both your buttasana and and your feet off the ground in this tucked position. Intermediate position: same as above but try to straighten one leg and lift up off the ground. Advanced position: try lifting off the ground with both legs straight and maybe lift the legs up past horizontal! Try your best and have fun with this one!!