Top row: day 26-28 from left to right
Bottom row: day 29-31 from left to right
Day 26 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Sarvangasana, Shoulder Stand (restorative). The easiest way to get into shoulder stand is from Halasana, Plow Pose (see day 16). Place your hands on your mid/lower back, elbows out to the side on your mat for support. Gently lift one leg and then the other leg into a pike position to the sky. Feel free to play with other leg positions as well like stag legs, straddle, splits, sun-wheel, frog, or lotus. Just have fun and enjoy the nice opening of your back and neck in this pose! Happy Holidays to all of you and your lovely families!
Day 27 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Navasana, Boat Posture. This is an excellent core exercise for all levels. Start in a seated position on your mat, legs bent, feet flat, and sit bones grounded. Beginner variations: hands can be kept at you sides near your buttasana or slightly behind supporting you as your raise your bent legs off the floor until your shins are parallel to your mat. Or: hands can grab the back of your knees or thighs as you lift them off the floor into the same position above. Focus your gaze (drishti) at a constant point ahead of you to help you find balance and use the power of your breathe. Keep your spine straight, long, and engaged as you lean back to create balance in this pose. Intermediate variation: release your arms from the floor or the backs of your legs and extend them forward in front of you on either side of your bent legs. Advanced variations: from the intermediate variation, straighten your legs out. You can also raise your straight legs up as high as you can and grab your ankles with your hands for a challenging forward fold hamstring stretch while in your boat. Have fun working those core muscles!
Day 28 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Svarga Dvijasana, Bird of Paradise (leg flexibility). Here’s a little vinyasa flow to help you get into this challenging pose. I’ve shown you both of my sides for this pose, because I’m still working on it myself! On one side I have better leg flexibility, but bad balance and on the other side I have decent balance but worse leg flexibility…LOL. Feel free to use a wall or pole behind you to help with balance in this pose! Begin in Tadasana, mountain pose and swan dive forward into Uttanasana, forward fold. Step back with one leg for Virabhadrasana II, Warrior II (keep front leg bent at 90 degrees, front foot facing the top of your mat, back leg kept straight, and back foot turned out at about 45 degrees). Next find Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana, bound extended side angle pose by leaning your torso forward over your bent front leg. The same side arm as your front leg will cross the inside of your front thigh and reach underneath it while your other arm will wrap behind your back, along the outside of your thigh, and will meet your other hand underneath your thigh. If you have trouble making this bind, use a yoga strap, tie, or scarf to complete the bind. Hug your now trapped leg into the side of your torso as tightly as you can. Gently step your free leg in towards your trapped leg and begin to shift your weight into your free leg. When you find some balance slowly lift your trapped leg using your core muscles. Having a wall or pole behind you can help with balance. Keep your trapped leg bent if you don’t have the hamstring flexibility to straighten it yet. Safety first! If you’re feeling balanced and your hamstring is ready, then straighten your trapped leg up to the sky! Have fun and feel free to take any modification you need today!
Day 29 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Adho Mukha Vrksasana, handstand (balance). Definitely one of the more challenging balancing poses in yoga. Please feel free to use a wall, pole, crash mat, or spotter if would like or are new to this pose. I’m still working on getting my handstand off the wall completely. See my first video for the proper hollow-body alignment on the floor. To enter into your handstand you can do a step lunge into it (see left side video), hop up into it from downward dog, or dead-lift into it if that’s in your practice. Once you are air-born find your hollow-body with your core in order to balance in your pike leg handstand. This is one of the hardest handstand leg variations to hold, but it will force you to work on your hollow-body. If you would prefer a different leg variation (like straddle, stag, sunwheel, etc.) feel free to work on that variation. A great way to find your hollow-body in a supported pike handstand is to walk yourself up a wall while facing it (see right video). You need a lot of strength to do this so be careful. Walk your legs up the wall and then walk your chest into the wall until they are touching. This is your hollow-body pike leg handstand! You can use a crash mat or spotter behind you if you’re worried about falling backward. Have fun and practice your handstand with me!
Day 30 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Natarajasana, Lord of the Dance Pose (back flexibility). This is our last difficult pose for this challenge since tomorrow we’ll finished with a relaxing restorative pose. Natarajasana requires a little bit of everything that we have been practicing this entire month: balance, leg flexibility, back flexibility, and strength. However, I placed it on a back flexibility day, so that will be our focus and feel free to use a wall, table, chair, or pole to help you find balance so you can focus on getting an amazing shoulder and back stretch. Add the balance back into the equation if you need more of a challenge. Don’t just try to work on this pose cold; remember to warm up your back, shoulders, and legs before attempting this. Use any of our previous poses from this challenge to get your body ready for this intense pose. Urdhva Dhanurasana, Lifted Bow/Wheel pose (day 15) and Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana, King Pigeon (day 20) are especially good prep exercises for today’s pose. Once you’re warm begin in Tadasana, mountain pose. Lift one leg backwards while you lean forwards with your torso to balance. Holding onto a wall or pole will also help. Reach back with the same side arm as your lifted leg. Options for grabbing the foot: 1) if over-hand grip is not in your practice, please find under-hand grip by rotating your arm back and up from a neutral shoulder position and grabbing your leg, foot, or ankle with your thumb facing down. 2) for over-hand grip, flex your hind foot and grab with your same side hand, palm upwards. As you flex your leg towards your torso, gently rotate your grabbing arm until your elbow is overhead. Allow the space in your spine to expand allowing your head to come closer to your bound foot and extending through your hip flexor to raise your lifted leg to the sky. If you’re still working on the shoulder flexibility to do this, please use a yoga strap to make the foot/hand bind. Your free arm can help you balance or if you’re feeling very flexy and balanced reach for your bound foot so that both hands are grabbing your foot or yoga strap. Continue to extend through your leg to lift it up and overhead. Please stretch and try both sides! Remember to be safe and work at your own pace. This pose only comes with practice and your practice is your own personal yoga journey. Enjoy the process!
Day 31 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Viparita Karani, Legs-up-the Wall (restorative). This is our last day for this challenge! Time sure flies when you’re having fun! You will need a nice area of cleared wall space for you to place your legs up on. In order to get nice, up-close and personal with the wall, you’ll need to do what we did on day 13 for our Supta Samakonasana, Reclining Straddle pose. Start in a seated position with the wall at your side. As you lean back onto your elbows, lift your buttasana and legs sideways up onto the wall and rotate around so you’re facing the wall and your back is on the floor, resting in a neutral, comfortable position. Make sure your legs and buttasana are nice and straight up on the wall to get the full relaxing benefit of this pose. If you want added release in your back, you can prop your buttasana up on some yoga blocks. The pose will be a bit more challenging to get into with the yoga blocks, but the stretch feels amazing and is totally worth it!! ENJOY the calm before starting your New Year’s Eve plans! I loved sharing this yoga challenge with you and seeing all your hard work! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Thank you for participating! Wishing you much love, joy, contentment, and happiness for the New Year!!