Water Light - Overview
Beginner: Water Light is a smooth, flowing practice that will open your hips, increase flexibility in the spine, and stretch the hamstrings. Be mindful of your spine throughout the practice and only go as far as you feel comfortable. In time, you will gain flexibility and be able to deepen into the postures. 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 spinal alignment as you inhale and reach to the sun. On the exhale, use the strength of your arms to bring the energy of the moon.
Advanced: This sequence will allow you to enjoy fully rolling through the whole of the spine. Be mindful of your alignment and remember that flexibility varies from day to day. Take care to ease into each pose at first to gauge any tensions you may be holding. 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 the earth.
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: Crouch is a great way for beginners to work on lengthening the spine and hamstrings while strengthening the legs and feet. If you cannot sink your heels all the way to the floor, try widening your stance, or use a prop or folded towel beneath your heels.
Advanced: The advanced practitioner contines to benefit from the crouch position by focusing on really lengthening the spine and focusing on keeping all three bandhas lifted and engaged. Are our elbows pressing firmly into your knees? Keep your chin and shoulders down.
Beginner: Beginners must use caution when approaching this posture. Be very mindful of your back and only go as far as you feel comfortable and no further. It is more important to maintain your alignment than it is to get your toes to touch the floor. A prop placed beneath the spine or resting your feet on a chair or block may help you express the pose safely.
Advanced: The advanced practitioner knows how to safely approach this pose. Regardless, always take care on the first roll back, as flexiblity varies from one day to the next. Once you are in the pose, continue to lengthen through the spine and reach through the feet and toes. Can you lift through the spine while in the posture? Try to create an open feeling in your chest as your spine curls over it.
Cross-Legged Forward Fold
Beginner: A great pose for beginners, cross-legged forward fold takes the pressure off the hamstrings while allowing for a good stretch in the neck and back. Lower slowly into the pose and only go as far as you feel comfortable today. You may choose to use a prop beneath your legs or at your seat to bring added comfort to your legs and improve spinal alignment.
Advanced: A satisfying position for the advanced practitioner, deepen into the cross- legged forward fold by sinking the legs deeper towards the ground. Stretch your arms out ahead of you and let your chest sink fully to the earth.
Beginner: The mid-point between a forward fold and powerful squatting position, diver pose is a good pose for beginners to strengthen their legs and focus on finding an ideal balance point. Keep your chin slightly tucked in, neck long, shoulders down and relaxed. Keep your weight even along your feet, balanced in the balls of your feet and heels.
Advanced: For the advanced yogi to deepen in diver pose, focus on energizing the abdominal muscles and really sinking the tail. Can you raise your arms higher behind you? Push into that line of energy.
Powerful Squatting Pose/Chair Pose
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: Chest lift is a joyous and expansive pose for the beginning practitioner. Keep your pelvis slightly tucked and think of lifting up from the pelvis, through the abdomials, through the chest and out through the arms. If you feel compression or tightness in your spine, bring the lift back to a more comfortable place.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can deepen in chest lift by really rooting the feet as the chest lifts up. Are your shoulders down and relaxed? Be mindful of the rotation of the hands and the placement of each finger; they should be energized and continuing the line of the arms into space.