Riding the Wind - Overview
Beginner: Riding the wind is a challenging pose for a beginner. You may consider practicing near a wall or using a chair or extra support. It is fine if you cannot extend a straight leg in this pose. For now, focus on maintaining the forward alignment of the body as you bend your leg and catch hold of your toe with your index and middle finger. As you get more comfortable with the posture, begin to straighten the leg further.
Advanced: The advanced yogi can deepen in this posture by simply turning the head and placing the visual focus in opposition to the extended leg. Keep your hips square and continue to open and expand from the chest. If it is difficult for you to grasp the toe, you can hold on to your ankle, calf, or thigh. But remember that the key is to lift with your extended leg, not to pull with your arm. Keep the leg fully engaged and the shoulders relaxed. Remember: lift, don't pull! Find your breath and still the mind.
Beginner: Beginners benefit greatly from forward fold, as it stretches the leg muscles where we most commonly hold on to tightness. Feel the weight of the head as you fold forward. Be mindful of your body. Do you feel any pain behind the knees or near the tail bone? If so, bend your knees deeply until that tension is relieved. Only go to your limit. That is your perfect expression of the pose.
Advanced: Advanced practicioners can continue to benefit from this posture. To deepen your fold, lay your chest on the thighs as you deeply bend the knees. Now, as you straighten your legs, keep your chest glued to the thighs - the strength here comes from your abdominals and hip flexors. Engage mula bandha as you stretch your upper body towards the earth and your tail towards the sky - feel the expression of perfect opposition.
Beginner: A great pose for beginners to strengthen their thighs and arms. Sink the tail from diver pose down as the arms raise to align with the ears. Watch that the knees do not overshoot the toes. Don't force the position, let gravity do the work and pull you in the perfect amount of comfort and resistance.
Advanced: To deepen in powerful squatting pose, focus on super straight arms and really lengthening through the hands and fingers, while sinking the tail. Are your knees turning out? Keep your inner thighs engaged to keep the knees in proper alignment.
Beginner: Beginners benefit greatly from this aligning and opening posture. Stay balanced on your feet, keep your pelvis slightly tucked under, and lift from your chest as you reach through your arms. To protect your neck, be mindful of the placement of your head. Keep it evenly placed between your arms.
Advanced: The advanced practitioner can expand this pose by sending energy down the fronts of the legs while stretching the arms and chest up. Make space in the vertebrae and continue to open and expand the entire upper body.
Beginner: Tree pose is a great place for a beginner to improve their asymmetrical standing balance. For now, place your raised foot against the inside of your grounding leg wherever you feel most stable. You may keep your arms in prayer position until you feel strong enough to send the arms up through center on the exhale breath.
Advanced: Tree is a comfortable pose for the advanced yogi. Focus on pulling the kneecap up the standing leg. Check the alignment of the knees and hips. It is common to turn the knee out too far. Are your hips both facing forward? If not, you may be turning the raised leg out too far.
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.