Heartmind - Overview
Beginner: The Heart Mind Sequence is challenging for beginners. Focus on pushing fully through the arms and legs and even distribution of weight across the body. These poses can be modified by bending the knees or resting the head on the ground. The breath body link is called heart opening link, and will help beginners develop strength. Can you feel tension in your ankles or hip rotators? Keep your feet parallel. On the inhale focus on the expansion in the chest. On the exhale focus on the contraction, your chin tucked in slightly to elongate your spine.
Advanced: The Heart Mind Sequence will test shoulder strength and leg. Notice the contrast between the poses, and how they affect different areas of the body. Elongate the spine in each pose. If you feel any compression of the spine, back out of that pose a little bit. Once you are comfortable with the Heart Opening link, focus on your energy. Inhale and extend energy out from your core, letting tension leave with it. Exhale and return your hands to centre with fresh energy. Feel revitalized and open, ready to begin 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: Sunbird is a wonderful pose for beginners to help stretch and strengthen the arms, chest and core. The grounded knee should be parallel with the hip, and hips stay level as the opposing leg lifts skyward. Don't push this pose! You should feel no compression of the spine.
Advanced: To deepen into sunbird lift, advanced yogis can expand and widen in the collarbone area while pushing outward with the insides of the arms. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and moving towards the back, but keep your shoulders relaxing away from your ears. Look up, but keep lifting from the back of the head as well to protect the neck.
Beginner: For the bow, keep elbows tucking into the body and rest your head along the floor. If this posture is hard on your knees, try adding an extra mat or placing your knees on a blanket. The leg should lift only as high as you are comfortable.
Advanced: In Sunbird bow, keep the head hovering gently above the floor, building immense strength in the shoulders and arms. Your abdominal muscles are super engaged, super energized. Is your toe rotated out? The hips should be square and the extended leg straight.
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?
Beginner: Cat rolling is fantastic for beginners to gently massage and envigorate the spine. On inhale, let the belly hang low and lift in the chest. On exhale, pull the abdominals in, and roll through the spine.
Advanced: Advanced practitioners can continue to expand through cat rolling by tuning in to every single vertebrae in the spine while flowing from cat bow to cat lift. Push evenly through the hands and arms. Are your shoulders down in the lift? In the bow, really make space between your shoulder blades and tuck the pelvis under.