Dove - Overview
Beginner: Have fun with the challenges presented by this sequence. You will find familiarity in some poses, and will explore how to approach them when they are changed. Bring your confidence, observe the results of your efforts, then let it all go! The Sun Moon breath body link will call you to take control of your oppositional forces - strength in the legs and feet as you stretch your arms and spine. Be mindful of your alignment on the inhale - 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: Explore balance, arm strength and overall upper body flexibility in this sequence. Focus on expressing each pose fully, being aware of the nuances that increase the benefits of each position. Confidence and a playful approach will make it a lot of fun! Upon exhalation in the sun-moon breath body link, feel the earth energy rising through you, lifting with the bandhas. On the inhale, stretch your arms and upper body outward and up as the lower body reaches to down.
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Beginner: Concentrate on turning your toes in slightly. Begin to use the entire surface of your foot to ground and balance your body; this is challenging as we seldom try to control different parts of our feet. Give it a try in this strengthening pose. Hand placement should be even with your shoulders but do not worry if your hands do not touch the ground with straight legs. Bend your knees deeply for now and be patient with the tight muscles at the back of the thigh.
Advanced: Balance is not a problem as you sink into forward fold. Focus on improving the flow of oppositional energy in this pose. Lift from your tail bone so the spine can release down. Use the grounding force of your legs to push your tail higher, as you sink your head lower. Ground down with your palms and, if you are comfortable, you can bend your elbows deeply.
Wide-Legged Downward Dog
Beginner: The beginner yogi will enjoy Wide Legged Downward Dog, as the wider stance relieves tension experienced in the calf muscles when expressing Downward Dog with the more widely-used narrow stance. Keep toes turned in slightly and bring the focus of your efforts into proper placement of the hands. You can still bend the knees if this expression of the pose presents any difficulty.
Advanced: Advanced yogis will enjoy the fresh perspective of Wide-Legged Downward Dog. Think about lifting from the hips while sinking the head deeper towards the ground. Feel the stretch in the back. Are your shoulders relaxed? They should stay away from your ears, even as the arms are super-straight and pushing firmly into the floor.
Wide-Legged Standing Twist
Beginner: A great pose for beginning yogis to experience spinal twists without the forces of gravity working so strongly against the spine. Think of reaching out through the chest, then using the motion of the arms to open the chest to the side. If balance is a problem, keep your gaze to the ground.
Advanced: The advanced yogi can deepen the Wide-Legged Standing Twist by pushing fully through the grounded arm and extending that line of energy all the way through to the fingers of the raised arm. Is your chin tucked? Lift through the bahndas as you extend through your elbow, wrist and fingertips. Try to activate the muscles along the sides of your waist to deepen your stretch.
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. Push your middle finger solidly down to get a good strong lift through the arms.
Beginner: Side bending can pose a challenge for the beginner yogi. If sitting in this position is uncomfortable, try sitting on a block or cushion to relieve pressure in the knees. Be careful of the neck as you bend to the side, maintain a neutral position, don't let it fall too far forward or backward.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can deepen their side bend by focusing on the positioning of the chest and torso in this pose. The chest and ribs should rotate up and out, never slumping downward. Are you lifting from the spine? Shoulders stay low, even as the arms extend in Shiva Mudra.
Beginner: Dove pose can be challenging for the beginner yogi. Feel free to modify this posture by using a prop or block to sit on. Keep your chest lifted, even as the arms swing back. If balance is a problem, place your hands gently along the floor for balance as you bring your torso into the posture.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can have fun testing the limits of their balance with the Dove Posture. Be sure to keep your tail grounded as you extend the upper body over each leg. Chin stays tucked, and gaze extends forward. Can you raise your arms even higher? Don't let your chest collapse if you do!