Remember to use the breath to ease into and out of postures. Take your time. Honor your limitations. Hold each posture as long as possible.
Begin in Savasana – Corpse Pose
Relaxation – clear the mind. Spend a few minutes to lie still, on your back, with your feet flopped apart and your hands slightly away from your sides, palms turned up. Make certain that your head and neck are in line with your spine and gently bring your shoulder blades together. Breathe slowly and evenly, through your nose; long, steady inhales and exhales. Try with each exhale to relax a little more.
Symmetrical stretch – reach arms up overhead and stretch feet and arms towards opposite ends of the room
Relax (repeat 2-3 times)
Asymmetrical stretch – left arm and right leg; then reverse (repeat 2-3 times)
Bring knees up to chest and hug with interlaced fingers – rock side-to-side 2-3 times
Knee-to-chest and Leg Lift sequence
Lower left leg to ground – straight out on mat – keep it strong. Bring head to right knee on an exhale and inhale it away as you lower your head – repeat 3-4 times. Repeat with left knee. Bring knees back to chest – hug them in again and rock. Keep one knee bent and raise the other leg towards the ceiling, pushing up through the heel – lower slowly to the ground – (repeat 3-4 times), reverse legs. Then, inhale as you raise both legs; exhale as you lower them, slowly. Take a couple of restorative breaths.
Come to a seated position, cross- legged. Scoot back slightly on your sit bones. Keep your head and neck aligned and your spine straight. (If you find you are unable to sit on the floor comfortably with your back straight, use a cushion or folded blanket to lift the front of your pelvis slightly.)
Bring the soles of your feet together as close to your body as possible. Hold your feet with your hands. Inhale deeply and begin to lead with your chin, moving forward, keeping your back straight. Breathe. As you exhale, try to move lower into the pose. If you are comfortable, round your back and drop your head. Stay here for 8-10 breaths. Come out of this posture slowly – lifting up one vertebra at a time, head last.
Seated forward bends
Stay in a seated position and spread legs out at a wide angle, toes pointed up. Inhale your arms up and twist your torso to the right, leaving your legs and hips on the floor. On an exhale, begin to slowly fold forward over your right leg and grab your foot, ankle, or wherever you are comfortable. Breathe normally and hold 6-8 breaths. On an inhale, come back up, raise your arms overhead, straighten your torso and exhale. Inhale once again, twist to the left and repeat as the right side 6-8 breaths. Inhale your arms up, straighten your torso once again and as you exhale this time fold directly forward. Keep your back as straight as you can and breathe. Hold 6-8 breaths.
Come up on your hands and knees and push yourself back onto your heels, lowering you hips into Child’s Pose. You can leave you arms straight out in front of you, folded with your head resting on your hands, or bring your arms down next to your legs, palms up with your head on the floor. Breathe into your lower back and relax.
Stand up and come to the front of your mat.
Lift your shoulders up toward your ears, back, and down. Let arms hang down by your sides, palms facing in, back straight, legs strong. Gently close your eyes. Breathe normally for 4-5 breaths. Long inhales – long, complete exhales.
Wide-Angle Standing Forward Bend. Step your feet about 3-3 1/2 feet apart, toes pointed forward, feet parallel. Inhale your arms up and as you exhale, begin to bend at the hips, leading with your chin. Lower your hands to the ground. Bend your knees if you have to; the goal is to keep your knees locked with your palms flat on the floor – this is a great hamstring stretch. Let your head hang down between your arms. Push through your feet and hands and breathe 10-12 breaths in this position. Release your hands from the floor and just let your hands hang loosely in Rag Doll. As you begin to stand up, unfold one vertebra at a time, until your head comes up last. Stand quietly in Mountain Pose for a restorative 2-3 breaths. Repeat twice more.
Chair Pose and Squat Raises On your next inhale, begin to squat down about halfway, as if you are ready to sit in a chair. Bring your arms up to shoulder level in front of you and breathe. Stay in that position 6-8 breaths. On your next exhale, squat all the way down with your knees pointed out, your back as straight as you can make it, head erect, and hands pressed together at your heart center. Breathe. Take 6-8 breaths.
Squat Raises Move your hands to your feet and tuck your fingers under the inner edges. Inhale and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Exhale back into a squat. Repeat 4-6 times.
Come back down to your mat in Savasana for a few restorative breaths. Then turn onto your stomach, toes touching, heels flopped apart, arms extended ahead of you, nose to the floor. As you inhale, lift your right arm, left leg, and head. SLOWLY exhale them down. Next, inhale and lift your left arm, right leg, and head. Exhale them down slowly. Repeat 6 times on each side.
Cobra – stay on your stomach and bring your hands back alongside your mid-chest, fingers pointed forward, shoulders back and down. Inhale and begin to lift the front of your body from the lower back, not using your hands until you have to. Exhale as you come up the rest of the way by pushing your hands into the floor and raising up, leaving your hips and pelvis on the ground. Look straight ahead or close your eyes and breathe. SLOWLY lower yourself to the ground. Take one or two restorative breaths and repeat 6-8 times.
Push yourself back into child’s pose for two or three breaths. Then, roll onto your back and bring your knees up to your chest. Interlace your fingers and rock back and forth, side to side and loosen up your lower back.
Reclining hand-to-big-toe Pose . Lie on your back. Straighten your legs out in front of you, toes pointed up. (You may need a strap or belt for this pose) Inhale your right leg up and try to grab your big toe with your right hand. (Or wrap the strap around the foot just behind the ball of your foot) Keep your knee bent until you feel your hamstring loosen; try to straighten your leg and breathe. Keep your shoulders and head on the floor. Stay in this position for 15-20 breaths. Repeat on left leg.
Bridge Pose – Now, bring your knees up to the ceiling with your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. Reach down and grab your ankles. Inhale and raise your hips off the floor and back up to rest as comfortably on your feet and shoulders as possible. Breathe. Try to remain in this position for several breaths. Slowly lower yourself to the ground and rest for several restorative breaths. Repeat 2-3 times more.
Savasana – Rest for 5-10 minutes (see above) Pay attention to any places that are still tight or painful and breathe into them as you relax with each exhale.