Sun Wind - Overview
Beginner: The Sun-Wind Sequence is a balance challenging flow for beginner yogis. Try to keep your abdominals tucked up into the spine and remember that how ever high you can lift your leg is fine. The breath-body link is Earth-Rain. The link pulls grounding energy from the earth while showering the mind and body with positive energy flow. Elbows seal as you lift your hands on the inhale. Drop shoulders and release tension on the exhale breath. Keep your weight balanced on both legs and feel grounded in your feet through the link.
Advanced: For the advanced yogi, the Sun-Wind sequence is both challenging and encouraging. Moving with grace through this flow will encourage flexibility while strengthening the legs, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Remember to keep your hips level and lift through the spine. The link is Earth-Rain. Focus on creating energy in the palms of the hands and as the forearms and elboows connect on the inhale lift. Drop the chin and lift from the head as your arms rain down on the exhalation. Feel grounded in your feet and tuck your tailbone gently under.
Extended Leg Balancing Pose
Beginner: Beginners can strengthen their abdominals and back through extended leg balancing. Use your arms to help maintain your balance as you straighten the lifted leg. Do not worry about how high you can raise your leg. The leg is lifted by energizing the muscles of the leg and using the abdominal muscles for support. With time and continued practice, you may begin to raise your leg higher and more steadily.
Advanced: Use the energy of the standing leg to gain more strength from the extended leg balance. Are your shoulders down? They should stay relaxed and low, even as your arms are raised. Keep your spine really straight and reach through the foot on the raised leg. You can alternate pointing the toes and flexing the heels through the sequence.
Downward Dog Pose
Beginner: Beginners benefit from downward facing dog as it stretches the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, right down to the arches of your feet! Don't worry if you cannot straighten your legs in this pose, it will come with time. For now, focus on keeping the back super flat and your knees deeply bent. Begin to push the legs straight while the back stays flat, opening into the tight hamstring muscles. If you have wrist problems, be very mindful of any pain you feel in this posture.
Advanced: To deepen in downward facing dog, the advanced practitioner can focus on sinking into the heels and lifting the tail bone. Keep your arms super-straight and energize the palms of the hands and fingers.
Beginner: If you have any difficulty with pigeon pose, beginners should consider using a pillow or rolled towel under and/or behind the knee to protect this delicate joint. Keep your shoulders dropped and chest lifted, hands gently along the ground for balance.
Advanced: The advanced yogi sinks easily into pigeon pose. Focus on tucking the tail under as you lift through the chest and front of the body. With the arms extended overhead, you can really energize the body and get a wonderful stretch through the entire front of your torso.
One-Legged Downward Dog
Beginner: Beginners should move into this pose with care. Hands should be evenly placed with weight evenly distributed across both hands and all fingers. However high you can raise your lifted leg is fine. Modify the pose by bending the knee of the grounded leg to relieve tension in the hamstrings.
Advanced: Advanced yogis continue to advance in one-legged downward dog by working to sink the heel fully to the ground while staying energized and strong in the hands and upper body. Engage mulah bandha in this pose and really reach through all the way through the foot of the extended leg.
Beginner: Plank is a fantastic pose for beginners to strengthen their abdominal muscles and spine, as well as arms and wrists. Make sure to distribute your weight evenly across your hands and energize the abdominal muscles. If it is too much at first, you can bring your knees to the floor.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can enhance the benefits of plank pose by continuing to widen across the collarbones and pulling the shoulders away from the ears. Check your alignment: is your spine really straight? Is the core engaged?