Crane - Overview
Beginner: Crane is one of the most challenging and intriguing sequences in the series. Do not get bogged down in what you cannot do, focus on what you can do today. Focus on careful placement of the hands and feet. Have fun with this practice! You may surprise yourself. If not, return to center and the breath body links to regain your focus and flow. During the sun moon breath body link be mindful of your spinal alignment as you inhale and reach to the sun - tuck your tailbone under and focus on pulling your belly and chest up. On the exhale, contract your belly and use the strength of your arms to bring the calm energy of the moon back to you.
Advanced: Crane sequence is an exciting practice for the advanced yogi. Concentrate on energizing each pose and really feeling the boundless potential in the sequence. Make sure you maintain proper alignment and keep your hips square as you challenge yourself to deepen into each pose. in the breath link, feel the energy rising through you, lifting with the bandhas as you exhale. On the inhale, stretch your arms and upper body outward and up as the lower body reaches down to the earth.
Yoga Mudra Forward Fold
Beginner: Beginners benefit greatly from this enhancement of forward fold. In addition to stretching the backs of the legs and spine, this is also a chest and shoulder opening posture. Don't force the pose, let gravity do the work as you lower your head into the pose. You can try bending your knees if you feel too much pull in the knees, hamstrings, or gluteals.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can deepen this posture by really contracting the abdominals to pull in closer to the thighs. Feel gravity working to draw your clasped hands closer to the earth, release into that pull, but do not force the arms to go any lower. Check your feet, are your toes relaxed? If they are clenched, curling or tense, ease off the posture some.
Beginner: A fun posture for a beginner to attempt, do not get lost in trying to perfectly execute crane balance! There are many phases to learning the posture, have fun with it. Place your focus in the placement of the hands, make sure your hips are even, and extend your head out, not down, as you attempt the balance.
Advanced: To deepen in Crane, really contract the abdominals and place your legs as high up on the shoulders as possible. This will allow you to lift your body even higher. Are your feet energized? They should not hang, stagnant, but be active and ready for your descent back to a crouch. Push your middle finger solidly down to get a good strong lift through the arms.
Knee to Chest Pose
Beginner: Knee to chest pose is a wonderful way for a beginner to find center across both halves of the body. Start with a solid stance, the weight even on both feet. Stand tall in the grounding leg. As the opposing leg draws up, contract the abdominals and keep lifting through the spine.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can continue to benefit from knee to chest pose by focusing on the feet. Make sure all points of the foot are in contact with the ground. Clasp your hands around the leg, at or just below the knee, and create resistance between your hands and knee. Make sure that the spine does not round or collapse into the leg. Feel tall and long.
Beginner: Warrior III provides another way for the beginner's body to experiment with flight. Abdominals again are very important in this position, keep them engaged as you tilt the whole of the body from vertical towards horizontal. However far you can go into the posture today is fine. The most important part is making the line of the body very straight.
Advanced: Your body finds warrior III easily. Think of energizing the whole grounding leg and pushing the body higher with that leg. Keep your hips even. Is the foot and knee of the lifted leg pointing down? Try not to rotate them out. Reach from the sides of the waist through the arms and even the fingers.
Extended Leg Balancing
Beginner: Beginners can strengthen their abdominals and back through extended leg balancing. Use your arms to help maintain your balance as you straighten the lifted leg. Do not worry about how high you can raise your leg. The leg is lifted by energizing the muscles of the leg and using the abdominal muscles for support. With time and continued practice, you may begin to rasie your leg higher and more steadily.
Advanced: Use the energy of the standing leg to gain more strength from the extended leg balance. Are your shoulders down? They should stay relaxed and low, even as your arms are raised. Keep your spine really straight and reach through the foot on the raised leg. You can alternate pointing the toes and flexing the heels through the sequence.