URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANA: UPWARD FACING DOG

Before attempting upward facing dog, please warm up your body with cat/cow stretches and cobra pose. Doing this pose without warming up first can cause lower back discomfort.

BENEFITS OF UPWARD FACING DOG:

  • opens the chest and shoulders

  • builds upper body strength

  • improves spinal flexibility

  • energizing

  • benefits the heart chakra and sacral chakra

YOU CAN FIND THIS POSE IN THIS YOGA CLASS.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

Lying on your belly, press the tops of the feet and all ten toes into the yoga mat. The feet can be together or hip distance apart. Engage the legs and lift the knee caps off the floor. Bring the hands below the shoulders. Fan the fingertips wide and firmly press all the knuckles into the yoga mat. Begin to open your heart, lifting the chest off the mat, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Press into the palms of the hands, straighten the arms and lift the hips up off the mat. Lengthen the tailbone away from crown of head and keep the core engaged. Feel the pelvis moving forward in space. These core actions will protect your low back. Keep the shoulders are away from the ears and broaden through the collarbones. Dip your chin to keep the back of the neck long, and gaze straight ahead. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. A good counterpose to practice after this one is child’s pose.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • engage the legs

  • engage the core and lengthen the tailbone

  • sensation of the pelvis moving forward in space

  • keep a microbend in the elbows and fan the fingers

  • press firmly into all the knuckles

  • dip your chin to create length in back of neck

  • gaze straight ahead

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ADDING PROPS: YOGA BLOCKS

Adding yoga blocks under the hands will give you a bit more height here so that it might be easier to lift the hips off the mat. Be extra mindful to keep your core strong so that your low back doesn’t sag too far and cause pinching.

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ADDING PROPS: YOGA BOLSTER

This variation is my current favorite! If you’re new to updog, I’d recommend starting here. It helps you to build strength while keeping the body supported. With the bolster underneath the pelvis, you can focus on engaging your core and really feeling the pelvis moving forward in space. So important for us to keep our low back safe in these backbends.

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CHAIR VARIATION

This is a great option if getting down to the floor isn’t possible for you right now. However, this variation is still just as challenging for the upper body!

ALTERNATE POSE: COBRA POSE

This pose is a great alternative if putting a lot of weight on your hands doesn’t feel good. Cobra pose still builds lots of strength in the body and opens the chest and shoulders.

ALTERNATE POSE: FISH POSE

If you’re looking for a deep back bend but you don’t want to lie on your belly or put weight into your hands, try one of these fish pose variations. Fish pose can be practiced passively when you add props, so you get all the benefits of opening the heart without any effort.

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. 

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. 

BHUJANGASANA: COBRA POSE

There are many incarnations of cobra pose, but I always like to practice and teach this pose without putting much weight into the hands. This means, it ends up looking more like a baby cobra pose. Not as impressive to look at, but the benefits are magnified. By relying on the back muscles to lift and hold the pose, you build strength in muscles that don’t get much attention in daily life. This helps to balance the spine and improve posture, which can lead to less pain and better breathing capacity.

BENEFITS OF COBRA POSE:

  • builds back and core strength

  • opens the chest and shoulders

  • balances the heart chakra

  • improves posture

  • improves breathing capacity

  • stimulating and energizing

YOU CAN FIND THIS POSE IN THESE YOGA CLASSES.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

INSTRUCTIONS:
Come down onto your mat and lie on your belly. Start by pressing the tops of the feet into the mat. (Some people teach this pose with the feet together, but I prefer it with the feet hip distance apart. I find this makes it more comfortable for the lower back.) Engage the legs - quads, hamstrings and inner thighs. Lift the kneecaps off the mat. Engage the lower belly. Lengthen the tailbone away from the crown of the head and press the hip bones into the mat. Bring the palms of the hands below the shoulders, but refrain from putting too much weight into them. They’re just there for support. The elbows are magnetized toward one another, and you may feel your biceps brushing against your torso. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and begin to lift your chest up off the mat. Feel the heart space open. Tuck the chin slightly in to create length in the back of your neck, gazing at the floor.

Hold for ten deep breaths, then relax in child’s pose to balance the spine.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Engage the legs and lower belly to protect the lower back

  • Press the hips into the mat

  • Squeeze the elbows and shoulder blades toward the midline

  • Use the upper back muscles to lift the chest - avoid using the hands

  • Tuck the chin to protect your neck (you may find that this helps your lower back too)

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VARIATION: TAKING THE ARMS WIDE

If hugging the arms close to the torso doesn’t feel comfortable, you can take the hands wide, pressing into the palms of the hands or coming onto the fingertips. This variation can be more intense as it takes the backbend deeper. Remember to keep your lower body engaged to protect your lower back.

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ADDING PROPS

Adding a folded blanket under the hip bones can make this pose more comfortable, especially if you’re doing this on a hard floor.

You can also add a bolster or a thick pillow underneath the chest. If your back muscles are particularly weak, this can help you to build strength. (Don’t fret. Most of us have weak back muscles.) Do your best to muscularly engage the same way you would if you were doing the traditional variation.

This variation can be held for ten deep breaths, or longer if desired.

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SEATED VARIATION

If getting down onto your belly isn’t possible for you right now, you can practice this seated cobra variation to open the chest and enliven the nervous system. This can be seated on the floor or in chair.

Start by sitting up tall with both sitting bones evenly pressing into the earth. Lengthen the tailbone away from the crown of the head. Engage the low belly and begin to arch evenly through the entire spine. Squeeze the shoulder blades together. Open the chest. Slightly dip your chin to keep the back of the neck long.

Hold for ten deep breaths.

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. 

VIRABHADRASANA II: WARRIOR II

We call ourselves chronic WARRIORS for a reason! Even when we may not feel strong in body, our spirit is strong 💪🏼 For this week’s #poseoftheweek we are channeling our inner warrior with Virabhadrasana II. 

BENEFITS:

➕Energizing

➕Grounding

➕Empowering

➕Strengthens the entire body

➕Stretches the inner thighs and opens the hips

➕Improves balance

 

TRADITIONAL VARIATION 

From standing, take the feet wider than hip distance apart. The wider your stance, the more intense the pose will be, so keep that in mind. Line up the heel of your fromt foot with the arch of your back foot. Bend the front knee so that the knee is directly over the ankle. This will protect your knee and also give you more stability. You may need to shorten your stance to achieve this, and that’s okay. Safety is more important than going as deep in the pose as possible. Activate your legs, press firmly into the feet. Engage the glute of the bent leg to open the hip and keep your knee over your ankle. Pull the belly and front ribs in. The hands come to the hips, or you can extend the arms to a T position. The gaze is over your fromt shoulder or straight ahead, whichever feels best for your neck. Hold this pose for five to ten breaths, then practice on the opposite side. 

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CHAIR WARRIOR 

If you are experiencing lower body weakness as a result of injury, illness or deconditioning, supporting this pose with a chair will allow you to rebuild your strength safely. This is also a good option if you have balance issues. All of the elements of warrior II are present here. All of the same muscles are activated. The only difference is that you’ve added a chair under the front thigh. To come into this pose, sit side-ways in your chair. Firmly plant the front foot, then swing your other leg behind you. Find your stable base, then extend your arms if desired. Hold for 5-10 breaths and practice on both sides.

FLOOR VARIATION 

This variation is a bit easier to balance in than the traditional variation and requires less muscle engagement. Only do this variation if you have happy knees! Padding the knees with a blanket can help, but keep in mind that most of your weight is on one knee in this pose.

To come into this variation, kneel on the floor. Keep your left knee directly below your left hip, and swing your bent right leg out to the side. Engage the right glute to open the hip and plant your right foot below your right knee. Engage your core. The hands find your hips or the arms extend to T position. 

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. 

 

TRIKONASANA: TRIANGLE POSE

Trikonasana (triangle pose) can feel totally liberating...or totally frightening. I have fallen so many times in this pose, but I always come back to it because it’s one of those poses that just has so much to offer. Supporting the pose with props can allow us to create the stability we need in the lower body in order to feel the expansion in the upper body, so don’t rush yourself to doing this pose free-standing if you aren’t ready. You can experience the same benefits with support, which include:

  • inner thigh stretch
  • lower body strengthening
  • core strengthening - including the obliques
  • improving our balance
  • opening the chest
  • energizing the body

TRADITIONAL VARIATION 

We’ll start with the left side, so your left foot will be in front. Take a wide stance, much like we do for Warrior II with the heel of the front foot in line with the arch of the back foot. Experiment with the length of your stance. The wider your feet, the deeper the stretch will be for the inner thigh. Lift your arms into a T position. Cock your right hip like you’ve got attitude and reach through your left fingertips. Get as long as you can through your upper body, then windmill the arms so the left hand comes down in front of your left shin bone. The top arm extends toward the sky or you can bend it and place the right hand on your right hip. Pull the front ribs in, keep thr core strong. You may feel your obliques activate here in order to keep your upper body lifted. Keep both shoulders plugged in their sockets as you lean back, creating space in your chest.  Taking the gaze up will challenge your balance, so feel free to keep your gaze straight ahead or toward the floor.

Hold for five to ten deep breaths. Then practice on the opposite side.

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WITH A BLOCK

Adding a block under the bottom hand to the inside of the front foot can help with balance and relieves a bit of the core effort. Feel free to play with the height of your block, but make sure you aren’t dumping all of your weight into it. You should still experience some core activation and side-body lift.

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CHAIR OPTION #1

This variation is similar to using a block, but it elevates the height, which might feel better for people with vertigo, POTS or balance issues.

CHAIR OPTION #2

This variation is something I invented, and I absolutely love it! It still allows you to engage all your muscles while the chair holds your weight and keeps you stable.

To come into this variation, be seated in a chair. Take your right leg straight out to the side, and keep your left leg bent in front of you, ankle stacked over knee. You’ll turn your body toward the right, reaching down with your left hand and up with your right hand. Open the chest as you pull your belly button in. You could add a block to this variation if desired or you could bend your bottom arm and rest your elbow on top of your bent leg. Feel free to play with the position of your top arm and with your gaze. 

Hold for ten deep breaths and then practice on the opposite side.

BONUS TIP:

In any of these variations, you have the option to practice against a wall, so that your back is pressing into the wall. This allows you to fully open the chest and find extention in your spine without worrying about falling backwards (which I have done...many times).

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. 

UTTIHITA CHATURANGA DANDASANA: PLANK POSE

Plank pose can be a very physically demanding pose, one that we may be tempted to avoid if we have chronic pain or chronic illness symptoms. But there are ways we can modify it to make it more comfortable and less demanding, so that we can find the version of the pose that challenges us without completely exhausting ourselves. We don't want to miss out on the benefits of this pose! If you have sensitive wrists, these modifications will help you too.

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TRADITIONAL VARIATION

For the traditional expression of this pose, we'll start in table top pose. This way we can set up the arms first and then bring in the legs. The shoulders should be stacked directly over your wrists. Externally rotate the shoulders so that the inside creases of the elbows are facing the front of the mat. Keep a micro-bend in the elbows to prevent locking or hyperextension. Press firmly into all ten fingertips. Lengthen the tailbone and engage the core muscles. Finally, extend the legs back, coming onto the toes. Hold for as long as possible. 5-10 breaths is a great goal to start with. When you are finished, take rest in child's pose so your body can recuperate.

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MODIFICATION #1: PLANK POSE ON FISTS

Instead of practicing plank pose with the hands flat, make fists and come onto the knuckles. Otherwise, your alignment will be the same. Practicing this way keeps the wrists straight and may help relieve wrist pain.

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MODIFICATION #2: FOREARM PLANK

This variation may also help those with sensitive wrists, but it can be more demanding on the shoulders. Begin in tabletop pose, then come down onto the forearms with the shoulders aligned over the elbows. Elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle. Lengthen the tailbone, engage the core muscles. When you are ready, extend the legs behind you and come onto the toes. 

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MODIFICATION #3: HALF PLANK

Again, you'll start in tabletop pose with the knees together. Walk the hands forward slightly, then drop the hips to engage the core muscles. The toes can be pointed or you can come onto the toes, whichever feels more comfortable.

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MODIFICATION #4: PLANK AT THE WALL

This variation places significantly less weight on the arms and hands. Face the wall and place the palms against the wall shoulder width apart and at shoulder height. Walk the feet back a bit and come onto the toes so that you're leaning into the wall. This will help you to build strength. 

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!

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA: DOWNWARD FACING DOG

I once heard a yoga instructor of mine call downward facing dog a "resting pose." Ha! I beg to differ. This pose is an energizing pose and is very physically demanding for the upper body. It strengthens the arms, shoulders and core muscles while lengthening the spine and stretching the hamstrings. It tones the digestive organs, and when done with the head supported, this pose can also relieve headaches and menstrual discomfort.

Check out the variations below to find the one that works best for your body, and don't forget that you can always ask questions here

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TRADITIONAL DOWNWARD FACING DOG

Start on hands and knees, but unlike tabletop pose, you'll walk the hands slightly in front of the shoulders. Spread the fingers wide and press firmly into all ten fingertips. Curl your toes under, and begin to lift your hips up toward the sky. Reach the heels toward the floor and straighten the legs as far as you are able (If your heels don't touch the floor, you might like the next modification option). Lengthen your tailbone away from the crown of your head. Engage the lower belly to protect your lower back and to prevent all of your weight from falling on your hands. Shoulders are plugged in their sockets, relaxed away from the ears. Take ten deep breaths here, then take rest in child's pose.

Modify or avoid this pose if you have a rotator cuff injury, high blood pressure, diarrhea, or carpal tunnel.

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VARIATION: BLANKET UNDER THE HEELS

Adding a blanket underneath your heels will allow you to ground your feet firmly into the earth while still maintaining a bend in your knees. This is helpful if you have tight hamstrings. 

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POSE ALTERNATIVE: DOLPHIN POSE

If you have sensitive wrists, dolphin pose might be a good alternative to downward facing dog. However, dolphin pose does put a lot more pressure on the shoulders and requires quite a bit of shoulder flexibility. To come into this pose, start on your hands and knees. Drop down to your forearms with the elbows in line with the wrists. Curl your toes under and begin to lift your hips and straighten your legs. Hold for ten deep breaths and then take rest in child's pose.

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CHAIR YOGA VARIATIONS

These variations are incredibly helpful if you have sensitive wrists, upper body weakness, headaches, dizziness, or balance issues. 

The first two standing variations are pretty similar, but the first one will give you more of an upper body stretch. The second variation, gives you a lower body stretch while allowing you to rest your head. This variation is especially beneficial for headaches.

The third chair variation allows you to support your entire body weight on the chair. You don't have to worry about balance at all, but you still get the benefits of the upper body stretch, lower back pain relief and benefits for the digestive system.

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!