Join us for #HolidayHarmonyYoga, 31 days of yoga poses for the whole body, to restore, build strength, and center yourself during the holiday season! Even if you are just joining us, you’re free to jump in. Read this first: How to Participate & What to Know Before You Begin
Day 15 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Urdhva Dhanurasana, Lifted Bow or wheel pose (back flexibility). Start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet parallel to each other on your mat about hip distance apart. Bring your arms up overhead and bend them so you can place your palms flat on your mat above your shoulders. Finger tips should be pointing towards your body. First push up through your legs andfeet using your glutes and leg muscles like we did on day 5 for bridge pose. Then proceed to push up through your hands and shoulders to lift into wheel pose. If this isn’t happening, I have two modifications for you: a) use a yoga ball to assist you in this stretch by sitting on the ball, extending your spine along its curve, and bringing your arms up over head towards the floor or b) use a wall to walk yourself down into a bow pose. Once you’re in your bow, push your weight over your shoulders to get a great upper back and shoulder stretch. If your back is super bendy, walk your hands and feet in closer to one another and maybe touch your feet! Have fun and listen to what your body wants today from this pose.
Day 16 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Halasana, Plow Pose (restorative). Begin lying comfortably on your back. Option: place a blanket underneath your head, neck, and shoulders for added comfort. Using your core, lift your legs off the floor and bring them up over your head, laying your toes on the floor (either curled under or flat against the floor). Please listen to your body in this pose. If you have neck or back problems that could be aggravated, please substitute today’s pose with Balasana, child’s pose instead. Hand/arm options: you can use your hands on your back for added support, place them overhead and grab your feet, or leave them in a neutral position at your sides.
Day 17 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga isTittibhasana, Firefly Prep Straddle Lifts (strength). Here’s another great arm balance exercise to strengthen your core and upper body. As with our last strength exercise, Hasta Dandasana, L-sit position, using blocks to add height will help with this pose. You can always do it from the floor if you need more of a challenge! Start in a seated position with your legs in a comfortable straddle (about a 90 degree angle or smaller). Place your hands and arms about 6 inches or so in front of your crotch. Hands will be about shoulder distance apart. Fingers can be slightly turned out. As you’re going through this exercise, feel free to play around with your hand and finger placement. Find the positioning that works best for you! ☺ Before even starting to push into the ground, set up our shoulders correctly similarly to what we did for our L-sits. Engage and align your shoulders by angling them forward and down away from your ears. Rock your weight forward; transferring your weight from your butt into your hands. Try first to just get your butt off the ground, toes barely touching the floor. Again, 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 butt off the ground? Great! Now try to lift the rest of your legs and feet off the floor and balance for as long as you can. If you can’t hold it for very long, just do several reps in order to condition your muscles.
Day 18 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Hanumanasana, full splits (leg flexibility). Don’t worry if you don’t have your splits, you can still work towards them! Start with some leg kicks forwards and backwards to warm up your muscles, or take a nice hot shower. Then do some hamstring and hip flexor stretches to get your muscles ready for the splits. Don’t forget to stretch both sides of your splits. Some good hamstring stretches include Parigasana, Gate Posture (Day 3) and Supta Padangusthasana, Lying Splits (Day 8). For your hip flexors, I suggest holding Anjaneyasana, forward low lunge. You can also go back in forth between Anjaneyasana and a forward one legged fold. I love this active stretch combo.
When you are ready to stretch out your splits (to the extent of your current comfort level and progress), slowly and with control push your front leg forward and your back leg backwards from your lunge, creating a straight line. Try to keep your hips squared to the front of your mat, not letting your knees bend out to the side, especially your back leg. Use your mat to help with alignment. Only go as far as you are able to while getting a comfortable stretch. Feel free to use yoga blocks, a wall, or a pole to help you balance. You can also stick yoga blocks under your crotch for extra support! If you already have a decent split and need more of a stretch or want to work on better getting your hips squared, I recommend placing a yoga block under your front leg. You may not get your crotch to the floor, but the extra space will help you work towards oversplits and better alignment. You can remove the blocks near the end of your stretch to see how much better your alignment will feel!
Work at your own pace, my lovelies! Don’t forget both split sides and to hold each stretch for 30-90 seconds for maximum benefit!
Day 19 of #HolidayHarmonyYoga is Baddha Hasta Sirsasana A, Supported Headstand (balance). If you’re new to this pose, please use a wall behind you for support, or a spotter. Begin in a kneeling position. Arm and hand placement: a good way to gauge your arm placement is to grasp each elbow with the opposite hand. Place your forearms on your mat keeping this same distance from your elbows and then letting your forearms rotate upward so your two hands meet, palms facing upwards towards your face. This forms a triangle that will be your foundation in your headstand. You can interlock your fingers or place one hand on top of the other, which ever feels more comfortable to you. Next, place the top of your head into the “cup” formed by your hands; no twisting or undue stress should be placed on your neck. Think long and straight with your neck. Now straighten your feet behind you and use them to push your hips up and aligned with your shoulders or slightly past them.
Beginner options: extend one leg up to the sky and give a slight kick up with the other leg to get airborne or you can tuck both legs in an egg position and then extend upward. Use a wall if you need to.
Need more of a challenge? Try deadlifting into your headstand with straddle or pike leg positions. Whether you’re on a wall or freestanding, remember to maintain hollowbody position, keeping your core tight and engaged, not rounding out or backbending your spine. If you’re away from the wall and begin to fall backwards out of it, just remember to tuck in your chin to chest and you’ll be fine! Feel free to also play with different leg variations as well such as sunwheel legs, stag legs, straddle, or pike! Enjoy this great inversion and all its many benefits!