Seated Twist - Overview
Beginner: Seated Twist is a confidence building and restorative sequence. Begin to strengthen the upper body and spine, while stretching and opening the hips. Remember to keep lengthening through your spine and only go as far into the poses as you feel comfortable. The breath body link is called heart opening link, and will help beginners develop strength. Can you feel tension in your ankles or hip rotators? Keep your feet parallel. On the inhale focus on the expansion in the chest. On the exhale focus on the contraction, your chin tucked in slightly to elongate your spine.
Advanced: Seated Twist is a rejuvenating and reflective sequence for the advanced yogi. The slower pace creates an opportunity to really focus on the quality of the breath. Once you are comfortable with the Heart Opening link, focus on your energy. Inhale and extend energy out from your core, letting tension leave with it. Exhale and return your hands to centre with fresh energy. Feel revitalized and open, ready to begin the sequence.
Downward Dog Pose
Beginner: Beginners benefit from downward facing dog as it stretches the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, right down to the arches of your feet! Don't worry if you cannot straighten your legs in this pose, it will come with time. For now, focus on keeping the back super flat and your knees deeply bent. Begin to push the legs straight while the back stays flat, opening into the tight hamstring muscles. If you have wrist problems, be very mindful of any pain you feel in this posture.
Advanced: To deepen in downward facing dog, the advanced practitioner can focus on sinking into the heels and lifting the tail bone. Keep your arms super-straight and energize the palms of the hands and fingers.
Swan Lift Pose
Beginner: Swan pose can be challenging for the beginning yogi as it is a deep hip opening pose. Be gentle with yourself, and go no further than your hip and groin muscles can afford. While you are learning this posture, you can put a block or towel under the hip of the front leg. The aim is to keep the hips even so give your body the support it needs to express the pose.
Advanced: Swan pose is a graceful and elegant posture for the advanced yogi. Tuck your tail slightly and lift the chest. Keep lifting from the back of the head and the shoulders. Your hips are level - beautiful. Now, can you pull belly to spine on the exhale? Focus on lifting the chest, not compressing the spine. Arms are straight, gaze is lifted slightly. Feel the serenity of this pose.
Seated Twist Pose
Beginner: Beginners can become more comfortable in the seated twist by sitting on a pillow to help align the spine. If this pose is difficult, keep arm wrapped around the knee and only twist as far back as you are comfortable today. Your gaze should follow the line of your back arm.
Advanced: Advanced yogis enjoy the wonderful spinal stretch provided by the seated twist. Extend your front arm along the outside of the raised leg and align the upper body with the line of the extended arm. Inch the fingers of the back arm along the floor toincrease the angle and get a deeper twist. Is your spine still long and tall? Keep your chin tucked!
Half Lotus Forward Fold Pose
Beginner: Half-lotus forward fold is a challenging posture for a beginner. If you are uncomfortable drawing the heel all the way up to the top of the thigh, place it along or just in front of the leg, wherever you are comfortable. Don't worry if you cannot fold over very far or at all, remember to breathe and enjoy a gentle stretch.
Advanced: This is an exciting and rewarding stretch for the advanced yogi! Remember to keep your seat grounded along the floor as you fold forward. Engage mula bandha and try to maintain your balance using your core muscles more and the strength of your arms less.
Beginner: Plank is a fantastic pose for beginners to strengthen their abdominal muscles and spine, as well as arms and wrists. Make sure to distribute your weight evenly across your hands and energize the abdominal muscles. If it is too much at first, you can bring your knees to the floor.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can enhance the benefits of plank pose by continuing to widen across the collarbones and pulling the shoulders away from the ears. Check your alignment: is your spine really straight? Is the core engaged?