5 Supine Spinal Twist
Lying on your back, bring your knees to your chest. Extend your left leg out back to the floor and shift your hips slightly to the right. Use your left hand to guide the right knee over to the left side of your body towards the floor on your left. Make sure your body is still in a straight line from your left foot up to the crown of your head, and look over to the right if this feels good to you. Relax here for a minute or longer until you feel your body easing deeper into the pose. Repeat on the other side. You are only as young as your spine, as most yogis believe. This has a lot of truth to it, as when your back is ‘out of whack,’ you can’t live youthfully and spontaneously as a young person can. Make sure to treat your back well – get massages, chiropractic adjustments, and stretch and exercise it to keep it well and flexible into your old years.
4 Standing Straddle Splits
From Mountain, step into a wide (but comfortable) stance on your mat. Lift your arms to shoulder height, inhale, exhale and hinge your hips back to come forward, bringing your hands down to the mat. Keep your spine long, hips in line with the knees and chest forward and down. Press into the outer edges of the feet to keep the pressure equal in the legs, and breathe, allowing yourself to sink deeper with each breath, possibly allowing the top of your head to touch the mat. This is an excellent pose for stretching out the lower body while working on whole body stabilization.
Seated with your spine straight and sitting with your legs straight out in front of you, bring the feet in so that the soles meet. Holding the feet with the hands and with your elbows resting on your thighs (not knees) if comfortable, bring the feet in a few inches from your pelvis, and begin to lean forward. Relax as deeply forward as you like and as feels comfortable to you. Yogis have suggested that this pose be done daily. It is an excellent hip opener and stretches the hamstrings and glutes for all of us who work at computers or have fairly sedentary jobs.
From Mountain pose, bring your hands to your heart center, stare at a focal point that does not move, and shift your weight onto one leg. Bring your opposite foot onto the standing leg’s ankle, leg or thigh (not the knee). Make sure that your hips are level. Keep the hands at your heart center or reach them overhead if you feel like a little challenge. Reach down through your foot and up through your hands for strength and balance. Tree is an excellent stabilizer for the mind – when trying to balance here, it’s hard to think of anything else.
1 Chest Expansion
Standing in Mountain pose (standing with hips width apart at the front of your yoga mat and hands by your sides), reach your palms towards one another behind your body. If possible, interlace your hands and pull your shoulders back gently. Stay here, or bend your knees a little to hinge the hips into a forward bend, resting your belly on your thighs. Raise your hands up towards the sky while keeping your shoulders back. Stay here and breathe into the pose. Chest expansion is an excellent pose for relaxation as it realigns the spine while allowing you to stay still, breathe, and allow blood to flow easily to the brain.
If you are unable to attend yoga classes, practice poses at home to keep yourself centered. Yoga has become so popular in recent years because of its ability to relax and de-stress those who need it, which is unfortunately also growing in numbers. Get yoga DVDs, books, music and magazines to keep yourself reminded of yoga and check out the numerous websites for additional instruction and inspiration.