Yoga invites you to connect with your breath as you move through a variety of poses. This inner connection calms your mind, relaxes your body, improves your mood, increases flexibility, builds strength and reduces stress. As you practice, keep the sides of your mouth slightly lifted in a smile for an instant uplift.
Settle into your practice by sitting in easy pose, with your legs comfortably crossed. Gently close your eyes and become aware of your inhalations and exhalations. Notice any areas of tension in your body and focus on taking full breaths and relaxing. Chant "Aum" three times. Sit for about five minutes.
To warm up your spine, come onto your hands and knees and practice cat/cow pose. Exhale as you curve your back up and look back toward your thighs, and inhale as your curve your spine down and look straight ahead. Notice how you move with your breath. Add some cat/cow variations, such as twists -- with one arm lifted straight up -- and balances -- by lifting the opposite arm and leg.
Exhale and come up into downward-facing dog, focusing on the stability and support of your hands and feet to stretch your arms, legs and torso. Keep the heads of your arm bones integrated in your shoulder sockets as you slide your shoulders down your back. Hold for a few breaths. Inhale and bring your shoulders forward, directly over your hands for plank pose. Hold for three breaths. Exhale back to downward-facing dog. Repeat four times.
After plank pose, exhale and lower down to your mat. Make sure your legs and feet are parallel. Clasp your hands behind your back and, with your elbows bent, lengthen your spine and lift your chest and head off the floor. Hold for a few breaths, then lower down. Place your hands flat on the floor, on either side of your chest. Inhale, lift your chest and head, and stretch your spine forward into cobra pose. Hold for a few breaths, and then exhale back into downward-facing dog.
Walk your feet toward your hands and, as you inhale, lengthen your spine forward. Exhale into forward bend. Repeat four times. Improve your balance with tree pose. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift one leg and turn your knee out to the side. Place your foot on your inner calf or thigh and bring your palms together and lift your arms straight overhead. Separate your hands but keep your palms facing each other. Hold tree pose for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
Sit with your legs straight in front of you, slightly apart. Inhale and lengthen your spine upward. Exhale and bend forward, but keep your chest lifted. Use a yoga strap around your feet if you can't reach them.
Always finish your practice with corpse pose. Lie on your back with your palms out to your sides, palms facing upward, legs slightly apart. Gently close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale into full relaxation. After a minimum of five minutes in this pose, roll over to your left and come up to sit comfortably for a few minutes in meditation.
- "Yoga:The Path to Holistic Health"; B.K.S. Iyengar; 2001
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Yoga for Health: An Introduction