UPAVISTHA KONASANA: SEATED WIDE LEGGED FORWARD BEND

This pose gives such a juicy stretch. It can be practiced anytime of day, but I really like this one for relieving tension and circulating energy at bedtime.

BENEFITS OF UPAVISTHA KONASANA:

  • stretches the inner thighs/groin

  • stretches the hamstrings

  • relieves mental stress

  • soothes the nervous system

  • promotes digestive health

  • circulates energy to the hips/pelvis and low back

  • benefits svadhisthana chakra

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION:

Be seated on your mat with the legs outstretched in front of you. If this is your first time trying this pose, I’d recommend starting by taking the feet about as wide as the width of your yoga mat. The further apart your feet are, the more intense the stretch will be. Flex evenly through the feet so all ten toes are pointing up toward the ceiling. Sit up tall, lengthening the tailbone away from the crown of the head. If you’re already feeling a good stretch, you can stay right here, or you can begin to walk the hands forward. Be sure that as you fold, your spine stays tall. Gently tuck the chin to create length in the back of the neck. Hold for 10 deep breaths or longer, depending on your comfort.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • the wider you take your feet, the more intense the stretch

  • flex the feet

  • keep the spine tall

  • tuck the chin

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ADDING PROPS: CUSHION UNDER HIPS

It’s common to experience lower back tension in forward folds. Adding a folded blanket under your hips will help to keep the low back comfortable, and you may find that it allows you to fold more deeply. Make sure that you sit at the edge of the blanket so that only your sit bones are on top of it.

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ADDING PROPS: BLOCKS OR WASHCLOTHS UNDER KNEES

Adding yoga blocks or rolled up washcloths under the knees is a good idea if you have tight hamstrings. If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and are hypermobile, this is a great option too.

ADDING PROPS: BLOCK, BOLSTER OR CHAIR UNDER FOREHEAD

For a more restorative experience, you can add a prop under your forehead so that you can fold forward and rest deeply. This is very soothing for the nervous system and the third eye chakra.

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SUPINE VARIATION

If being upright isn’t an option for you, try doing this pose supine at the wall. This option may give you a more intense stretch since you’ll have gravity pulling on you.

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CHAIR VARIATION

If getting down to the floor isn’t possible, you can experience the inner thigh stretch of upavistha konasana seated in a chair. To start, sit at the edge of the chair with the feet flat on the floor. Take the knees wide. Bring the elbows to your inner thighs and press the palms together at heart center. This will create gentle pressure that will deepen the inner thigh stretch. Hold for ten deep breaths.

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ALTERNATE POSE: BADDHA KONASANA

This pose offers similar benefits as Upavistha Konasana but without the hamstring stretch. You can choose to do this one upright (image above) or opt for the supine variation.


HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

VIRABHADRASANA III: WARRIOR III

I have such a love-hate relationship with Warrior III! It’s so effective at improving balance and strengthening the body. But it’s so HARD!

BENEFITS OF WARRIOR III:

  • strengthening for whole body (especially the glutes! 🍑)

  • improves balance

  • improves posture

  • strengthens the ankles and feet

  • stretches the hamstrings

  • grounding

  • empowering

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

From Tadasana, bring your hands together at your heart in prayer. Find your center. Engage your core. Hinge at the hips and begin to lift the right foot up off the floor. Flex the right foot as you lean forward, extending the leg straight back. Imagine trying to press that foot into a wall (or maybe actually use a wall if you want!) Keep a microbend in the knees to prevent hyperextension. Keep the hips squared (both hip points pointing down toward the mat like two headlights). You may need to pull the right hip in more than you think you do. Pull the navel in. Keep the shoulders relaxed. Experience a line of energy from the heel of the right foot to the crown of the head. If desired, you can extend the arms straight in front of you. This will make the pose more challenging. Keep the neck long and gaze at one point on the floor in front of you. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Microbend the knees

  • Engage your core!

  • Keep the hips square - right hip may need to come forward more than you feel like it does

  • keep the spine (including the neck) long

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ADDING A CHAIR OR BLOCKS FOR SUPPORT

Resting your hands on the seat of a chair or putting a yoga block under each hand will help you to balance in this pose as you build strength. (My head isn’t actually touching the back of the chair)

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ALTERNATE POSE: SPINAL BALANCE

This pose strengthens the same muscles and also challenges your balance, but you may find it a bit less intimidating since you’re closer to the floor in case you fall 😉

Start by coming into table top pose. Firm the abs in. Keeping the hips squared (both hip points pointing down toward the mat) extend the right leg straight back. Start by coming onto the ball of the foot, then experiment with lifting the leg up so that it’s parallel with the floor. Stay here, or further challenge yourself by lifting the opposite arm up. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths, then practice on the opposite side.

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ALTERNATE POSE: SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA

Supta Padangusthasana will give you a similar stretch as Warrior III, but without needing to balance.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

UTTHITA TADASANA: STAR POSE

Anytime I’m feeling low, disempowered, ungrounded, I find my power again in this pose. Standing with the feet firmly planted, muscles engaged, taking up space. The way we position our bodies affects us energetically, and I love that yoga gives us the tools we need to take conscious control of our own embodiment.

BENEFITS OF STAR POSE:

  • strengthens the whole body

  • grounding

  • energizing

  • relieves fatigue

  • empowering - boosts confidence

  • improves posture

  • improves circulation

  • increases breathing capacity (more prana = more energy)

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Start in Tadasana. From here, step the feet wide, about three feet apart. Press down evenly into all four corners of the feet and lift up through the arches. Engage the quads and inner thighs, keeping a microbend in the knees. Lengthen the tailbone and scoop the low abs in and up. Pull the front ribs in. You can keep the hands at your hips or together in prayer at the heart. For more challenge, you can extend them into a T position either with the palms face down or palms facing forward. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Keep your muscles active!

  • Strong core

  • Feel yourself rooting down as you simultaneously rise up

  • note: This pose is typically done with all 10 toes facing forward, but you can experiment with turning the toes out 45 degrees and see which one feels better for you

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THIS POSE IN THIS YOGA CLASS.

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CHAIR VARIATION

For the chair variation of this pose, sit at the edge of the seat with your feet flat on the floor. Take the knees wide and press firmly into the feet. The ankles should be directly below the knees. Pull the navel in toward your spine. Sit up tall. Keep the hands on your hips, together at prayer or extend the arms into T position. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

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SEATED VARIATION

Come into sukhasana and take the arms wide to focus on upper body strengthening. This is great if you have balance issues or joint pain in the lower body. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

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SUPINE VARIATION

Lie flat on your back with the shoulders in line with your hips. Extend the legs and take the feet wide. Flex the feet and activate the legs. Take the arms into T position with the palms facing up. Spread the finger tips. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Then relax the muscles. You can rest here as an alternative to savasana if you’d like. It can feel very empowering to let your body soread out and take up space.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

SETU BANDHA SARVANGASANA: BRIDGE POSE

Please be safe and warm up with some cat/cow stretches and cobra pose before attempting the traditional variation of bridge pose. Traditional bridge is a deep heart opening and shoulder opening pose, a shape that your body will be happier to make if your muscles are warm.

Please avoid practicing the traditional variation of this pose if you have any kind of neck injury. Scroll down for more variations.

BENEFITS OF BRIDGE POSE:

  • heart opening

  • benefits anahata chakra

  • strengthens the hamstrings, glutes and inner thighs

  • strengthens the core and low back

  • promotes thyroid health

  • alleviates fatigue

  • reduces insomnia

YOU CAN FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Lie on your back with the arms extended alongside your body, palms facing down. The feet are flat on the floor and all ten toes are pointing straight ahead. The feet should be about hip distance apart, so the heels are in line with your sit bones. Press into the soles of the feet and lift your hips. Adjust the position of your feet so that your ankles are directly below the knees. Keep the toes pointing forward. Feel the inner thighs magnetize toward one another. If you notice the knees splaying open, put a yoga block or a rolled up blanket between your thighs and squeeze the thighs together.

Feel the spine arch evenly. The sternum and collarbones lift. Snuggle the shoulder blades toward one another so that you’re lifting up onto the shoulders to create space for your neck. You can keep the palms of the hands pressing into the earth, or you can clasp the hands. You could also press the palms of the hands into the lower back for support if desired.

Hold for ten deep breaths, then lower the hips back down. Balance the spine by hugging the knees in toward your chest and then rest in savasana.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Toes face forward

  • Knees over ankles

  • Inner thighs magnetized toward one another - add a block here if you’re struggling

  • Avoid clenching your rear - this will put stress on the low back. If this happens, try adding a block between the thighs and squeeze the thighs together.

  • Snuggle the shoulder blades together, like you’re tucking your shoulders in.

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YOGA BLOCK UNDER THE SACRUM

Lie on your back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Press into the soles of the feet and lift your hips. With the hips lifted, slide a yoga block underneath your sacrum, adjusting the height to your comfort. The higher the block, the deeper the backbend will be. Snuggle your shoulder blades together, coming onto the tops of the shoulders. Tuck the chin into your chest for a stretch in the back of the neck. Let the majority of your weight rest on top of the block. Hold this pose for ten deep breaths or up to five minutes. To come out of this pose, press into your feet, lift the hips and remove the block. Roll yourself over to the side and slowly press yourself up to sit.

NON-INVERTED VARIATION

For this variation, set a yoga block in front of a bolster. Sit down on top of the block and lower yourself back onto the bolster. Adjust your position so that your sacrum is on top of the block and your entire spine is on the bolster. You can keep the feet below the knees and actively press into the soles of the feet, engaging the legs. For a more restorative option, you can take the feet as wide as the mat and let the knees fall in toward one another. Hold for ten deep breaths or up to five minutes.

This is a good option for people with neck pain.

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RESTORATIVE VARIATION

If lying flat isn’t comfortable, this variation can give you the same heart opening benefits of bridge pose. Set your bolster with one end over a yoga block, then lie back with the spine along the bolster. Take the arms alongside the body with the palms facing up. This will encourage the shoulders to open. The legs can be straight, or you may bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Rest here for as long as you’d like.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

UTKATA KONASANA: GODDESS POSE

Goddess pose is an empowering, sensual and challenging yoga pose. Also called “yogi squat,” this pose will strengthen your whole body.

BENEFITS OF GODDESS POSE:

  • stretches the inner thighs and groin

  • strengthens the quads and glutes

  • strengthens the core

  • strengthens the upper body (when done with arms up)

  • benefits svadhisthana chakra (sacral chakra)

  • inspires sensuality and creativity - awakens the divine feminine energy

  • grounding

  • empowering

  • energizing

YOU CAN FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

From Tadasana, step the feet wider than hip distance apart. Turn the toes out to 45 degrees. Press firmly into all four corners of the feet. Bend the knees and sink low in the hips. Try to get the knees to 90 degrees, and make sure the knees are stacked over ankles (my stance is just a tad short in the first photo). This will protect your knees from strain. Engage your core muscles, pulling the low abs and front ribs in. There are a lot of options for the arms here. You can choose to keep the hands on the hips. You could bring the hands together at prayer or you can take cactus arms (first photo) with the fingertips fanned and the arms active. Hold this pose for ten deep breaths or as long as you can ;)

To exit the pose, straighten the legs and step or hop the feet together.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • knees over ankles

  • core engaged

  • sink lower than you think you can

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CHAIR VARIATION

Doing this pose seated in a chair is still suuuper challenging! Sit at the edge of your seat and take the knees wide. Actively press into the feet. Feel the glutes and quads engage. Pull the navel in toward your spine. Knit the front ribs in. Keep the hands on your hips or together at prayer. For more challenge, take the arms up into cactus arms. Hold for ten deep breaths, then walk the feet back together.

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ALTERNATE POSE: MALASANA

You may find malasana a bit less challenging, and it will help you to build strength and flexibility in the lower body. It offers all the same energetic benefits as Goddess pose.

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ALTERNATE POSE: SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA

Reclining bound angle pose will also stretch the inner thighs and groin and offers similar energetic benefits. If you actively press the soles of the feet together and engage the inner thighs, you’ll get some muscle conditioning in this pose as well.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA: RECLINING BOUND ANGLE POSE

I've had students tell me that they've fallen asleep in this pose and woken up feeling amazing! When supported with props, this pose can be safely held for long periods of time. Feel free to combine all of these modification ideas for total support and relaxation.

BENEFITS OF RECLINING BOUND ANGLE POSE:

  • stretches the inner thighs

  • relieves menstrual discomfort

  • balances heart rate and blood pressure

  • relieves fatigue

  • calms the nervous system

  • recirculates energy to the hips, groin and lower back

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Bring the soles of the feet together and let your knees fall open to the sides. Lengthen your tailbone away from the crown of your head, tucking the tailbone slightly to relieve any lower back tension. The arms can rest alongside the body with the palms facing up, or you can rest the hands on top of your lower belly.

Hold this pose for 10 deep breaths or up to 20 minutes when you practice with props. To come out of the pose, bring your knees together, roll yourself over to the side and slowly press yourself up to sit.

ADDING PROPS: FOLDED BLANKETS OR YOGA BLOCKS UNDER KNEES

Adding a blanket or block under each knee will lessen the inner thigh stretch, making this pose more comfortable so that you can hold it for longer periods of time.

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ADDING PROPS: YOGA STRAP

Create a loop with a strap and slide it up around your waist. Lie on your back and come into this pose as you normally would. With the strap around your waist, secure the other end of the same loop around your feet. This allows you to hold this shape without any effort, and it releases the lower back.

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ADDING PROPS: BOLSTER

Reclining back on a bolster lessens the intensity of the inner thigh stretch and also gently opens the chest. Be sure to tuck the tailbone under to keep the lower back long. If you'd like, you could add folded blankets or pillows under each of your arms for 
additional support.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

PARSVA BALASANA: THREAD THE NEEDLE

This is one of the first yoga poses I learned! It targets the upper back, which can become tight from all of the time we spend hunched over our phones, our desks, etc. So poses like this one are something I am ALWAYS needing.

This pose is often referred to as thread the needle, but you may also hear it called revolved child’s pose.

BENEFITS OF THREAD THE NEEDLE:

  • opens the ribcage

  • relieves tension in the neck, shoulders, hips and back

  • calming for mind and body

  • stimulates digestion and promotes detoxification

  • benefits the solar plexus chakra and heart chakra

YOU CAN FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Come onto your hands and knees with the knees directly below your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders. Bend the right elbow, begin to twist toward the right, dropping the left shoulder toward the earth, then "thread" the left arm through. Rest the left temple and left shoulder on the floor. Once you feel stable, you may extend the right arm overhead to create space in the right side of the body. In this twist, it's normal to feel the hips shift slightly off center. This is okay! It's your body's way of protecting the integrity your pelvis and sacrum. Hold this pose for 5-10 deep breaths, then practice on the opposite side.

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VARIATION: TOP ARM BENT

Instead of stretching the top arm overhead, you can keep the elbow bent and the palm resting on the floor beneath the elbow at a right angle. Press into the palm of your hand if you would like to deepen the twist. 



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VARIATION: ADDING A BLANKET

Adding a blanket under the knees and curling the toes under may help to relieve knee discomfort in this pose.

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VARIATION: HIPS TO HEELS

Instead of staying up on the knees, you can do this twist from child's pose with the hips on the heels. This takes a lot of weight off of the knees, and it requires less upper body strength to hold this variation. The top arm can be bent or stretched overhead.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

JANU SIRSASANA: HEAD TO KNEE POSE

Despite the name, you don't need to be able to bring your nose all the way to your knee in order to practice this pose and get the benefits:

  • stretches the spine, hips and legs

  • relieves headaches

  • relieves fatigue

  • calms the mind

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Seated, swing both legs out in front of you. Sit up tall, pressing into both of your sit bones evenly. Lengthen the spine and relax your shoulders. Hug the left knee into your chest. Press the sole of the left foot into the inside of your right leg and let the left knee open to the side. Keep the right foot flexed, but avoid locking your right knee. If needed, place a rolled up blanket under your knee. Take a deep inhale, then exhale to walk your hands toward your foot. If you can't touch your toes, that's okay. If you can't touch your nose to your knee, that's okay too. It can be deeply relaxing to rest the head in this pose, so if it doesn't reach your leg, try one of the following modification ideas. Hold for ten deep breaths, and then practice on the opposite side.

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ADDING PROPS: Folded blanket under the hips

Adding a folded blanket underneath your sit bones tilts the pelvis forward slightly. Some people may find that this gives them more freedom to fold forward. You could also try a cushion, pillow or yoga block. Play around with the height to find what feels the best.

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ADDING PROPS: Folded blanket or pillow under the bent knee

Snuggle a folded blanket or a pillow underneath your bent knee, as close as you can get it to your hip. This is going to minimize the inner thigh and hip stretch, which might make it more comfortable for you to fold forward.

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ADDING PROPS: Block or bolster under the forehead

You can rest your forehead on top of a bolster or a yoga block. You might find that one side of your body is more open than the other, so you might need to adjust the height of your props when you switch sides.

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CHAIR VARIATIONS

For this seated variation, you'll sit at the edge of your chair with the feet flat on the floor. Lift the left foot and place the outer edge of the foot on a block or you can cross the left ankle over the right knee. Hold for ten deep breaths, then practice on the opposite side. 

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SUPINE VARIATION

This variation is a play on Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose). You'll come into this variation the same way you would Viparita Karani, only you're going to create the Janu Sirsasana shape with your legs. This is going to allow you to experience the same stretch without being upright and without folding forward. This may be a better option for people with severe low back pain, vertigo, or especially tight hips.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

PARSVOTTANASANA: PYRAMID POSE

This is a pose that I have not “mastered” yet, but I love practicing it and so I wanted to share it with you. Parsvottanasana provides an intense hamstring stretch, so please make sure that you have warmed up your body before you do this pose. Always approach with mindfulness. It is very easy to overstretch yourself in this pose.

Benefits of Parsvottanasana:

  • strengthens the lower body

  • stretches the hamstrings

  • creates length in the spine

  • grounding

  • improves balance

  • improves posture

  • promotes healthy digestion

  • traditional variation provides a slight inversion

FOR CLASSES WITH THIS POSE CLICK HERE.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Start in Tadasana with the feet hips width apart. Step your right foot straight back with all ten toes facing forward (my form isn’t 100% perfect in the photo). Press firmly into all four corners of the feet. Keep a soft bend in your knees. Engage your inner thigh muscles. Square the hips toward the front of your mat. You may feel the sensation of the left hip pulling back as the right hip moves forward. Create length in your spine, feeling the tailbone lengthen from the crown of your head. Hinge at your hips, keeping the spine tall, and fold forward over the front leg. Reach the fingertips toward the floor, either straight underneath the shoulders or you can flip the arms around so that the fingertips reach behind you. Dip the chin slightly to create length in the back of your neck. Hold for ten deep breaths, then practice on the opposite side.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Place the feet hips width apart, then step straight back

  • Square the hips

  • Keep the spine tall

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ADDING PROPS: BLOCKS UNDER THE HANDS

If folding all the way forward and placing the hands on the floor is putting stress on your body, try adding blocks under the hands. This will help you to create length in your spine and will lessen the intensity of the stretch.

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VARIATION: HALF PYRAMID

To come into this pose, start in low lunge (anjaneyasana) with your fingertips on the floor or with the hands on blocks. Shift your hips backwards so that they’re stacked over the back knee. Straighten the front leg and flex the foot. Remember to keep your hips squared toward the front of your mat. Hold for ten deep breaths and then practice on the opposite side.

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VARIATION: SEATED IN A CHAIR

For this variation, you will also need two yoga blocks. Start by sitting at the edge of the chair with the feet flat on the floor. Set the blocks on either side of your legs. Straighten the left leg in front of you and flex the foot so that the heel is on the floor. Increase the bend of the right knee so that the ball of the foot rests on the floor underneath your seat. Lengthen your tailbone away from the crown of your head. Relax the shoulders. Hinge at the hips and fold forward. Bring your hands on top of the blocks, adjusting the height as needed. The hands should be underneath your shoulders. Dip the chin and lengthen the back of the neck. Hold for ten deep breaths, then practice on the opposite side.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • Flex the front foot

  • Keep the spine tall

  • Hands underneath the shoulders

  • Keep the neck long by dipping the chin

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

TADASANA: MOUNTAIN POSE

Tadasana is frequently inserted throughout vinyasa (flow) yoga classes. This pose brings us into anatomical neutral and serves as a reference point for the rest of our movement during the practice. It may look easy, but holding this pose can be really challenging!

 

(If you are like me and have POTS, please practice this pose with support until you are sure that you can safely execute the traditional variation. Do not hold for long periods of time.)

 

BENEFITS OF TADASANA:

  • increases stamina
  • improves lower body strength
  • improves balance
  • improves posture/alignment
  • grounding
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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Stand with the feet hip distance apart and toes pointing straight ahead. Press into all four corners of the feet, feeling yourself rooting into the ground at these points as you simultaneously lift up through the arch of the foot. Keep a soft bend in the knees. Pull the lower belly and front ribs in. The arms are alongside the body with the palms facing forward and the fingertips spread wide. Relax the shoulders away from your ears and keep the chin parallel with the floor. Experience the sensation of simultaneously rooting down and rising up. Tailbone lengthening toward the earth as you reach through the crown of your head. Your body is a straight line of energy. Think shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles. Hold for 10 deep breaths or longer, depending on your comfort. You’ll be surprised how challenging this pose is!

BONUS TIP: If you struggle with poor posture, practicing this pose with your back against a wall can help to train your muscle memory so that your body will learn what it feels like to be in proper alignment. This can also help if your muscles become fatigued easily in this pose.

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KNEELING VARIATION

If you have foot or ankle pain or if you struggle with vertigo, the kneeling variation of this pose may feel better for you. Come into a kneeling position with the knees directly below your hips. The legs are at a right angle so that your ankles and feet are pointing straight back from the knee joint. Pull the lower belly and front ribs in. Relax the shoulders. Extend the arms alongside the body with the palms facing forward. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

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STANDING CHAIR VARIATION

If you struggle with balance, holding onto the back of a chair is a good insurance policy. Try not to press any weight into your hands unless you have to. Focus on keeping your legs strong. Feeling the connection of your feet with the earth. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

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SEATED CHAIR VARIATION

Be seated in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. The legs should be at a right angle so the feet are directly below your knees and the knees are in line with the hips. If your feet don’t reach the floor, you can place yoga blocks, a bolster or folded blanket under your feet. Actively press into the feet and sit bones. As you root down through the lower body, feel the spine lengthen. Pull the lower belly and front ribs in. Relax the shoulders. Keep the chin parallel with the floor.

Hold for 10 deep breaths or longer, depending on your comfort.

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ALTERNATIVE POSE: SAVASANA

If being upright is not an option for you right now, I would recommend practicing savasana instead. This way you can still receive the benefits of bringing the body into a neutral position and practicing proper posture.

 

 

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

SAVASANA: CORPSE POSE

It may appear that you're just lying there, but savasana is arguably the MOST important yoga posture of all. Savasana is typically done at the end of our yoga practices, and this is because savasana allows the mind and body to integrate all of the work you did throughout your practice. Yoga builds and circulates prana (life-force energy) and when you rest in savasana, you allow this prana to permeate your entbody.

Benefits of Savasana:

  • grounding
  • relaxing and calming
  • soothes the nervous system
  • relieves fatigue
  • promotes integration of body, mind and spirit
  • promotes good posture
  • benefits Sahasrara chakra (crown chakra)
  • meditative pose
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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Lie on your back. Make sure that the shoulders are in line with your hips. The feet are at least hip distance apart (or wider) with the feet relaxed and flopping open to the sides. Scoop the shoulder blades back so that they're away from your ears and pressing evenly into the mat. The arms are resting alongside your body with the palms facing up. This is a position of deep surrender and rest. Tuck the chin slightly to create length in the back of your neck. The eyes can be open or closed. Hold this pose for up to twenty minutes or even longer, depending on your practice.

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ADDING PROPS: Bolster under knees + Pillow under the head

This pose can be uncomfortable for people with lower back pain. Adding a bolster or a pillow under the knees can help to alleviate this discomfort. You can also add a pillow or yoga block underneath the head to help create length in the back of your neck.

If lying flat doesn’t feel good at all, you can elevate the upper body using a bolster propped on top of a yoga block.


ALTERNATE POSE: Constructive Rest Pose

If adding a bolster doesn't alleviate your lower back discomfort, you can practice constructive rest pose instead. To come into constructive rest pose, lie flat on your back. Bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Take the feet slightly wider than hip distance apart and let the knees fall in toward one another. The arms are extended alongside your body with the palms facing up. Hold this variation for as long as you like.


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ALTERNATE POSE: Side-Lying Pose

As the name suggests, for this pose, you'll lie on your side with the knees slightly bent to create length in the lower back. You can bring a pillow between your knees and a pillow under your head to keep your spine and hips in alignment. I also like to bring a bolster behind my back in this pose to feel extra safe and supported. You can also bring a pillow in front of your body and rest your top arm on it. 

ALTERNATE POSE: Seated in Chair

If lying down still doesn’t feel good, you can be seated in a chair with feet flat on the floor and the ankles directly below the knees. Rest the palms face-up on your thighs to create the same feeling of surrender.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

MALASANA: GARLAND POSE

Malasana (garland pose) is a deep hip opening pose. For some of us, it can feel intense and uncomfortable. In some cases, it may even feel painful for our hips, feet andankles. But when we give the body support with props, it can become a profoundly soothing and grounding experience. 

BENEFITS:

  • opens the hips
  • stretches the inner thighs
  • releases the lower back 
  • strengthens the ankles
  • improves hip and ankle flexibility
  • promotes healthy digestion
  • grounding and calming
  • benefits the root chakra
  • benefits the sacral chakra
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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

From standing, take the feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. Turn the toes out at a 45 degree angle (this will help the hips to open more freely). Lower your hips into a deep squat. Bring your hands together at your heart and use your elbows as a lever against the inner thighs to encourage the hips to open. Lengthen your spine, keep the chest proud. Seat your awareness at your feet to promote energetic grounding.

Hold this pose for ten deep breaths or longer, depending on your comfort.

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ADDING PROPS

You can support this pose with props in a couple different ways to resolve common problems I see in this pose. If you're struggling to reach the heels all the way to the floor, add a rolled up towel or blanket under the heels so that you can experience stability and fully root into your feet. If you're struggling to balance, add a block or a bolster under your hips. This can also lessen the intensity of the inner thigh and hip stretch.

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SUPINE VARIATION 

If putting weight on your feet/ankles is uncomfortable, you can do this pose lying down instead. To come into this variation, lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Take the knees wide as if you were trying to snuggle the knees into your armpits. You can hold the knees with the hands in front or behind. Hold for ten breaths or up to five minutes, depending on your comfort.

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CHAIR YOGA VARIATION

If you struggle with balance issues or if limited mobility makes it difficult to get down to the floor, doing this pose in a chair might be a better option for you. Sit at the edge of the chair and take the feet wide. You can prop the feet up on blocks or a bolster to make sure you're fully rooted into your lower body. Lean forward and place the elbows on top of your thighs or to mimic the traditional variation, you can bring the elbows to the insides of the thighs and use them as a lever to open the hips.

Hold for ten deep breaths or longer, depending on your comfort.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

VIPARITA KARANI: LEGS UP THE WALL POSE

This pose can be practiced at anytime of day. Because it is so grounding and restorative, it's especially good for those times when you're feeling "tired but wired." But it has many other benefits too:

  • calms an anxious mind
  • revives tired muscles
  • replenishes energy stores
  • balances blood pressure
  • soothes headaches
  • alleviates PMS symptoms
  • relieves insomnia
  • soothes the nervous system
  • can benefit patients with POTS (just make sure to exit slowly)
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TRADITIONAL VARIATION:

Be seated next to a wall with your left hip pressing into the wall. Begin to roll yourself onto your back and simultaneously swing your legs up the wall. You might need to do this quickly so you can get some momentum going. Once you've got your legs up the wall, make any adjustments so that your spine is straight and your hips are squared. The closer your hips are to the wall, the more stretch you will feel in the hamstrings. This pose is usually held for at least five minutes and up to thirty minutes. If it's your first time trying this pose, I would recommend starting with just ten deep breaths and increasing your duration slowly. This pose trains the circulatory system to balance blood pressure and blood circulation, so your body may need some time to get used to this. To come out of this pose, bend your knees into your chest and roll yourself over to the side. Press yourself up to sit very slowly. 

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VARIATION: FOLDED BLANKET OR BOLSTER UNDER SACRUM

Adding a folded blanket under your sacrum may lessen the intensity of the hamstring stretch and magnifies the pose's benefits by making it more of an inversion (head below the heart). You can add the blanket after you've gotten into position, or you can start sitting on top of it before you roll onto your back, whichever feels easier to you.

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VARIATION: KNEES BENT, FEET FLAT AGAINST THE WALL

Bending the knees and placing your feet flat against the wall will help if your hamstrings are tight. It also puts gentle pressure on your lower belly, massaging the internal organs. 

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VARIATION: YOGA STRAP AROUND THE THIGHS

Securing a yoga strap around the thighs eliminates any muscle engagement in this pose. With the strap, your muscles don't need to work to keep your legs together, so you can completely release into the pose.  

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VARIATION: LEGS ON CHAIR

You can use a chair instead of a wall for this pose. This completely eliminates the hamstring stretch and allows the legs to completely relax and surrender to gravity. 

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

ANJANEYASANA: LOW LUNGE

Anjaneyasana (low lunge) can feel graceful and empowering when we find the version of the pose that both challenges and supports our bodies well. Even if the traditional variation of the pose isn't feeling good for you, you can choose a different variation and still receive these benefits:

  • stretches the inner thighs (front leg in the pose)
  • opens the hips
  • stretches the psoas muscles (also called the hip flexors, which originate in your lower back and wrap all the way around to the front of your pelvis/groin area) - these muscles often become shortened and tight when we spend lots of time sitting down, and this can cause us problems like back pain and lower body instability
  • balances the sacral chakra - svadhisthana chakra
  • grounds the body and mind
  • challenges our balance (with the exception of the chair and supine variations)
  • energizes the body
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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

From uttanasana (standing forward bend), generously bend your knees and plant the palms of your hands into the floor. Step back with your right foot, landing on the toes. Lower your right knee to the floor and uncurl the toes. Make sure that your left knee is directly over your left ankle. Firmly root into your lower body. Square your hips - externally rotating the hip of your left leg (backward motion) and internally rotating the hip of your right leg (forward motion). We want the hips to be even - think parallel with the front of the mat. Engage your core muscles to stabilize and protect your lower back. Once you feel stable in your lower body, lift your chest, lengthen your spine. You can choose to extend the arms overhead or you can bring them together at your heart or you can rest your hands on top of your left knee. Hold for five to ten deep breaths, and then practice on the opposite side.

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ADJUSTING YOUR POSITION

This stretch can feel pretty intense for the psoas (hip flexors) and quads. If you feel an overstretched sensation, pinching or pulling, you may need to adjust the distance between your front foot and your back knee. Shortening your stance will lessen the intensity of the stretch and may also help you to feel more stable and balanced. 

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WITH PROPS

You can cushion your back knee and shin with a blanket to make this pose more comfortable.
Adding blocks under your hands will help you to balance in the pose more easily. This will in turn help you to focus on lengthening your spine and sinking evenly into your hips. 

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CHAIR VARIATION

If you have sensitive knees or struggle to balance, this chair variation will help you to safely practice this pose while still conditioning your strength, flexibility and balance. For this variation, you'll need a flat-bottomed chair and a yoga bolster or blocks. Start by sitting sideways in the chair with your bolster in front of your chair. Firmly plant your right foot on the floor (if it doesn't reach, you can put a block under your foot) and make sure that the knee is stacked over the ankle. Extend the left leg back and rest the knee and shin on top of the bolster. All the alignment cues from above still apply. Place your hands wherever it feels comfortable for you. Hold for five to ten deep breaths. Practice on both sides.

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SUPINE VARIATION

If being upright isn't in the cards for you right now, that's okay! You can enjoy the same stretch on your back. For this variation, start by lying on your back in savasana. Hug your right knee into your chest and play with the ankle of the bend of your knee. See what feels good. What's going to give you the best inner thigh stretch. Keep your left leg active. Flex the foot and press the thigh bone into the earth. If you'd like to go deeper, you can hold onto the outer edge of your right foot and come into a half happy baby pose variation. This is going to intensify the inner thigh and hip stretch. Hold for five to ten deep breaths, and make sure to practice on both sides.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses. 

BALASANA: CHILD'S POSE

Not everybody likes child’s pose. For many people, child's pose is a favorite. It's restorative, restful and cozy, and it can relieve pain and anxiety within the space of a few breaths. But it isn't that way for everybody.

As a yoga teacher, I have seen many students struggle to get comfortable in child's pose. Most people see child's pose as an easy pose that anybody can do even if it's their first time on the mat, but the reality is that some bodies just don't like the traditional shape of child's pose. Some bodies just don't want to bend that way, and that is perfectly okay! 

We shouldn't have to modify our bodies in order to fit the shape of our yoga practice, but rather our yoga practice should be modified to fit the shape of our bodies. There is nothing wrong with you if you don't like child's pose! But because this pose comes with so many benefits, let's explore some ways to make this pose more accessible.

Named balasana in sanskrit, child's pose comes with many benefits, including:

  • calming and grounding the mind and body
  • soothing headaches
  • opening the hips
  • stretching the spine
  • relieving lower back pain
  • stretching the shoulders
  • massaging the internal organs
  • soothing menstrual cramps

You can still get all of these amazing benefits with the modified variations of child's pose below. 

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TRADITIONAL CHILD’S POSE

Come down onto your hands and knees. Bring the big toes to touch. Knees can be together or apart, depending on your comfort. Taking the knees wide does give more space for the belly to expand with breath.

Walk the hands forward, reaching the arms straight out in front of you and draping your upper body over your thighs. Let your forehead find the floor. Take a big breath in and exhale, completely relax your entire body. Stay here for ten deep breaths or up to three minutes. Supported variations can be held longer. 

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CHILD'S POSE WITH PROPS

Start by coming down onto your knees. If you'd like, you can also place a folded blanket or cushion under your knees and under your hips for extra padding. Take your knees wide. Big toes touch. Bring the bolster between your knees so you can drape your entire torso over the top. These props help to correct the most common problem I see in child’s pose: booty floating way up in the air. Once you’re settled in, turn your head to one side. You can rest here for up to ten minutes. Just make sure that you turn your head to the opposite side halfway through so your neck doesn't become stiff.

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CHILD'S POSE WITH EXTENDED LEGS

For this variation, you will need a bolster and a yoga block. Lie down on your belly on top of the bolster. Stretch your legs out behind you, and rest your forehead on the yoga block. The arms can be bent with elbows under shoulders or the arms can be extended. This option is great for people with knee pain or neck pain, and it still gives you all the benefits of traditional child's pose. You may rest here for as long as you'd like.

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CHILD'S POSE IN A CHAIR

If getting down to the floor is a no-go for you, you'll love this third modification! This option uses two chairs facing each other, a yoga bolster and a yoga block. Sometimes we just have to get a bit creative!

To come into the pose, be seated in a chair with the feet flat on the floor. If they don't reach, use blocks or books to bring the floor to you. Set your block on the chair in front of you and place one end of the bolster on top of the block and the other end between your knees. Make sure it's secure and then drape your upper body over the bolster. You can rest here for up to ten minutes. But again, make sure you turn your head the opposite direction halfway through so your neck doesn't become stiff. 

I hope this pose helps you feel relaxed and supported. You deserve it!

If you'd like to see how to set up and execute these poses, play the video below.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!